Is Giada De Laurentiis opening a second restaurant in Las Vegas?

We start the work week with very tasty Wicked Whispers + Racy Rumors!

Chefs up and down the Strip are abuzz with gossip that Italian chef and Food Network superstar Giada De Laurentiis will open a second Las Vegas restaurant before the end of the year. I am reliably told that the deal is set. Caesars Palace officials will not yet confirm that it’ll be located in that property. Giada has run her successful restaurant Giada at The Cromwell for three years.

Giada won’t confirm its location, either, but did admit to me mysteriously: “It’s a significant step in the Giadization in Las Vegas. Now I don’t intend to be Gordon Ramsay, but I needed another challenge, and I think that just to be relevant …

“There’s only so much you can do with one restaurant after three years to revamp it and make it cool. You need something else to bring press to you. You need a second step, and it also needed to happen in a different place.

“Las Vegas is the mecca of food and partying in the world. … There is no other place that is this international. People know us everywhere. People come here for just sheer entertainment, whatever kind you want. It’s hard to stay relevant, especially for a person who has only one spot.

“I’m still the girl in the boys club of chefs. So in my mind, I’m like, ‘OK, let me get this where it needs to be,’ and I did that. Then I have to think about my next step, so I’m on my next step. I’m on my next two steps. It helps all of it to be synergistic to the entire brand. You don’t just go mimicking the same thing everywhere. That’s not how this works, at least not for me.”

We can expect an official confirmation about her new eatery shortly. On Tuesday, we’ll post my interview with Gordon after he announced that his theatrical dining experience Hell’s Kitchen will open at Caesars in December.

* Playboy beauty Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett and Jai Rodriguez have set a May 27 opening date for their show “Sex Tips for Straight Women From a Gay Man.” It will open in the Anthony Cools Showroom at Paris Las Vegas, and Kendra has already filmed some of her preparation and rehearsals for her reality-TV series, “Kendra on Top.”

* I’m hearing solid buzz that singer-songwriter Ashlee Simpson is about to sign to star as Marilyn Monroe in the showcase of the new Marilyn Monroe musical to be presented at Mark Shunock’s community charity theater The Space in June.

* Actress, singer and dancer Julianne Hough hosts and serves as executive producer of The Miss USA Pageant on May 14 at Mandalay Bay Events Center and airing on Fox. Contestants from all 50 states and The District of Columbia will compete for the title. Model, designer and body activist Ashley Graham returns as backstage host. First-night preliminaries are May 11, and Lauren York of North Las Vegas is our state queen.

In addition to Julianne and her brother, Derek Hough, bringing their show to The Smith Center for the Performing Arts on June 16, “Dancing With the Stars Live” is at The Orleans Arena on Aug. 6 with Lindsay Arnold, Sharna Burgess, Artem Chigvintsev, Sasha Farber, Keo Motsepe, Gleb Savchenko, Emma Slater, Alan Bersten, Hayley Erbert and Britt Stewart.

* UFC has signed a multiyear agreement with T-Mobile Arena to be an anchor tenant with a minimum of four events per year, plus International Fight Week. The Las Vegas Golden Knights team is the other anchor tenant. It is the first time that a global sports brand other than a pro sports franchise has been named as an anchor tenant for a sports-and-entertainment venue.

* Circus Circus is expanding its summer pool experiences with Splash Zone, a 50-foot slide tower with three water attractions — a speed slide, aqua tube and four-lane mat racer. Water cannonballs, tilting buckets and splash falls also are being added for completion by June.

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