Elaine Wynn picked for board of center

Elaine Wynn’s duties included writing a thank-you note this weekend to the president of the United States.

During an interview Saturday, she shared what she intends to say to President Barack Obama, who announced on July 22 her appointment to the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The appointment is “a dream come true,” she said, because of her “love of the arts and as a longtime supporter of the Kennedy Center.”

I asked her whether she had met President Kennedy and she said yes, and that she intended to include that in the letter as well as where she was and how she learned of Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.

As Miss Miami Beach 1960, the former Elaine Pascal was an 18-year-old recent high school graduate when she attended the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in mid-July.

She was a member of Miami Beach’s public relations delegation that hoped to land a future Democratic presidential convention.

She was introduced to Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson at a reception for the nominee.

On Nov. 22, 1963, she was leaving a political science class at George Washington University, blocks from the White House, when she heard that Kennedy was dead.

“So it’s kind of ironic,” she said, that her first major assignment will be to co-chair a February event honoring Kennedy. All she can say, for now, is that it will “span a two-week period and culminate in an extraordinary performance.”

Her first official meeting with board members is scheduled for next month, one of three meetings a year for the 40-member board.

Her ex-husband, hotel developer Steve Wynn, was appointed to the board in 2006 by President George W. Bush. Wynn resigned earlier this year without completing his full six-year term.

I asked her if Steve had stepped in on her behalf. “I don’t exactly know how the terms were,” she said, “but a trustee is not allowed to select their replacement. They can resign, but this is a nontransferable position. Only a president decides who is on the board.”

Board appointees are usually major donors of the party in office. Steve Wynn has been a frequent Obama critic.

She was notified earlier this summer of the president’s intentions and underwent a vetting process that involved a telephone interview with a White House attorney . She was at the White House for a Mother’s Day Tea in the East Room. The event was to honor mothers, daughters and granddaughters who previously resided there.

The Wynns have been longtime arts advocates and Kennedy Center donors. They sponsored a Nevada Ballet delegation’s appearance at the Kennedy Center last year.

She has already met with David Rubenstein, chairman of the Kennedy Center “so I’ve already started my work. I hope I can expose Nevada to more good publicity through my work and chairing this prestigious event.”

The Kennedy Center celebrates its 40th anniversary in September 2011.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda gave old friend Don Logan a good-natured ribbing during a radio interview Friday on ESPN affiliate KWWN-AM 1100. Lasorda said Logan, a longtime executive with the Las Vegas 51s, the Dodgers’ former Class AAA affiliate, was going on and on about Logan, who was being honored at the station’s radiothon cancer benefit as “Sportsman of the Year.” Logan is “so generous,” said Lasorda, “he wanted to give $25,000 to the family of the unknown soldier.”

SIGHTINGS

Actress Jenny McCarthy, at Blue Man Group (The Venetian) with her family on Friday night. … Amir Iqbal Khan, British-Pakistani boxer and current WBA world light welterweight champion, at Palms’ clubs Moon and ghostbar on Friday. … “Bachelorette” host Chris Harrison, celebrating his birthday with a rose party at Blush Boutique Nightclub (Wynn) on Friday. The ABC reality show star, who turned 39 on Monday, passed out roses to female friends. He was with his wife, Gwen. … At Pure (Caesars) on Friday: Lance Bass, with a group that included several soap stars. Also in the club: NBA vet Larry Hughes and Jim Lee, legendary comic artist and current co-publisher of DC Comics.

THE PUNCH LINE

“Leonardo DiCaprio officially dropped out of Mel Gibson’s new Viking movie. Mel doesn’t know yet because everyone is afraid to phone him.” — Craig Ferguson

Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

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