Emeril stirring up new LV sports bar

Emptying the notebook after the 13th Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children benefit concert on Saturday at Wynn Las Vegas:

Star chef Emeril Lagasse broke some news on the red carpet: He’s putting a sports bar into the space formerly occupied by 40/40 Club, which was recently sold back to The Palazzo by entertainment mogul Jay-Z.

Lagasse said he hopes to have it open near the end of the football season.

“We’re going to have a lot of fun with it and do the ultimate sports bar. Killer food and great fun,” said Lagasse, who already operates Emeril’s Fish House at MGM Grand, Delmonico at The Venetian and Table 10 at The Palazzo.

He’s considering naming it “E.J.’s,” after his son, Emeril John, 5. “It may be E.J.’s Sports Bar & Grill,” Lagasse said, with a chuckle.

The 40/40 Club opened on New Year’s Eve and was purchased by The Palazzo in August. It is currently used as a sports book.

The wildest ovation of night went to special guest performer Charice Pempengco, whose star has been soaring since appearances with Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah and Celine Dion (go to YouTube.com for their duet). The 16-year-old phenom from the Philippines wowed the crowd with a medley from “The Bodyguard.” Grand Slam musical director David Foster, who has won more than a dozen Grammys as a musical producer, said he’s hoping to sign her to a deal, but right now, “she’s working with Oprah and Oprah’s people.”

No announcement is planned on how much the event raised in its first year at the Wynn. The previous 12 were held in the MGM Grand Garden, where a crowd of 8,200 last year helped push the evening’s total to $9.1 million for the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation. This year’s event drew 1,900, close to the 2,000 who sat at tables on the arena floor in the past. The venue switch made it more of a corporate affair, with table sales only, the highest going for $85,000 for 10 seats. Agassi, in a statement released Sunday, called it an “amazing party” that celebrated “the many successful years of raising money for underserved children.”

DIFFERENT VERSIONS

An Oregon man contends his speech impediment was ridiculed by Pete Rose at a sports collectibles store at Caesars Palace.

In an e-mail, Jim Scornerston of Talent, Ore., said he approached the former baseball great on Oct. 4 at Field of Dreams to “let him know I was a fan.”

Rose, who signs his merchandise at the store during four appearances a week, showed no interest in talking, according to Scornerston, who said he hadn’t purchased any merchandise.

“I told him how much I used to love to get up Saturday mornings with my sister to watch ‘The Baseball Bunch,'” said Scornerston, referring to a syndicated TV baseball show hosted by Rose’s former teammate, Johnny Bench.

According to Scornerston, Rose was “clearly annoyed” and responded by mocking Scornerston’s lisp, saying, “Did ya thee me on Thaturdayth? With your thithter?’ Then just looks away.”

“I was humiliated. I’m embarrassed just to repeat the story now,” said Scornerston, 33.

“At first, it’d happened so fast I almost thought he was trying to be funny, I forced an embarrassed little laugh. And said, ‘OK, just wanted to say hi.’ He just says (still looking away), ‘Roger that.'”

When Scornerston left the store and began sharing the account with a buddy, they saw Rose “staring right at us.” Rose made a wincing expression and then waved his hand behind him, suggesting he had passed gas, said Scornerston.

“Real class,” he added.

“A total bum rap,” responded Jim Nagourney, general manager of Field of Dreams. He said Rose “remembers the man and vehemently denies the nasty allegations.”

“Not only does Pete graciously pose for photos with nonbuyers,” Nagourney said, “he even keeps a supply of ‘Pete Rose’ cookie packages, which he autographs and hands out to kids whose parents cannot afford to make a purchase.”

Fans who don’t purchase merchandise are allowed to shake hands with Rose while friends or family take photos, Nagourney said. Fans who want to sit next to Rose while they have their picture taken are required to purchase an item, with prices ranging from $70 for an autograph to $400 for personalized merchandise.

“Pete’s been doing this gig for four years and this is the first complaint,” said Nagourney, who in a 2007 interview said Rose’s Field of Dreams job earns more than $1 million a year.

THE PUNCH LINE

Donny Osmond, asked about the super-sized Donny and Marie promotional wrap on the face of the Flamingo, said he has tried to sleep in the hotel but “my room is so bright. And then I realize they put me behind Marie’s teeth.”

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

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