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Ill wind delivered Hicks to stardom

Bally’s headliner Taylor Hicks is heading to the Republican National Convention and into another hurricane scare.

Weather permitting, the former “American Idol” winner will be performing on the final night of the convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

He reportedly will sing the Doobie Brothers’ hit “Taking It to the Streets.” Given the weather forecast for Tropical Storm Isaac, a more appropriate song might be Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind.”

Coping with hurricanes is nothing new for Hicks, who grew up in Alabama.

He rode out Hurricane Opal in 1995 and was chased out of New Orleans in 2005, fleeing the wrath of Katrina in a taxicab

“I was at a wedding and planning to sing at the reception,” he said, “but we didn’t get there. We were just trying to get to higher ground.”

But being chased out of the South by Katrina turned out to be the biggest break of his career.

More on that in a minute.

Landing a spot on the final night of the GOP convention is “a real blessing,” Hicks said.

“It’s been in the works for some time, and I’m thrilled to be part of the American political process,” he said.

He added, “I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to entertain America as many times as I can, whether here in Las Vegas or at one of our country’s political conventions.”

Hurricane Katrina is directly responsible for all of the career opportunities since that crazy cab ride.

It took 15 hours to get to West Monroe, La., in a New Orleans cab, a trip that would normally take a couple of hours. “No air conditioning,” Hicks recalled.

From West Monroe he took a rental car to his home in Birmingham. On the way he learned that because he didn’t get to use his airline ticket, Southwest Airlines gave him a voucher good for a trip to anywhere in the United States.

“Totally on a whim,” he said, he chose Las Vegas and arrived at 1 a.m.

“Forty-five minutes later my brother called and said ‘American Idol’ was holding an audition that day.

“I didn’t even go to bed,” he said. “I went down to the convention center about 4:30 a.m., and the rest is history.

“Fate sometimes plays an interesting hand,” he said.

WILD WEEK

Prince Harry’s naked romp AND Celine Dion’s topless photo in the same week?

Yup, the Caesars Palace headliner has her fans buzzing about her sexiest photo shoot.

V Magazine shot it at her Florida home for the September issue.

The most provocative pose has Dion covering her bare breasts with her leather glove-clad arms. (If you were in an office pool that required having “Prince Harry,” “Celine” and “topless photo” mentioned in the same sentence, this is your lucky day).

In the chic black-and-white photo shoot she flaunts her long legs in short shorts and a swimsuit. There were several glam shots as well.

The magazine said it was her first non-promotional magazine shoot in nearly six years.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

I (Love) Burgers at the Palazzo has come up with a very British menu item to commemorate Prince Harry’s scandal. “The Exposed Prince” burger is available to U.K. visitors at 20 percent off if they “flash” a passport. It features a ground kobe patty, aged Boxing cheddar, a garlic onion chutney, with a fried egg and HP sauce on an open-faced pretzel bun. No word whether that comes with nude billiards lessons on the side.

THE PUNCH LINE

“Packing for the RNC (Republican National Convention) is more complicated than previously anticipated. What can I bring that works for on air, hosting a party & a hurricane?” – Meghan McCain, daughter of 2008 GOP presidential candidate John McCain, on Twitter on Friday.

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

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