It was a year of surprises in Las Vegas, thanks to a royal scandal, an Olympic beauty who turned call girl and a jaw-dropping Justin Bieber moment.
My top 10 local celebrity stories of 2012 includes breakups, hookups and other news that hit the headlines:
1. Photos of Prince Harry’s buck-naked billiards in an Encore VIP suite went global within hours.
2. Olympian distance runner Suzy Favor Hamilton fessed up to being a $600-an-hour, $6,000-a-day escort in Las Vegas and elsewhere.
3. Bieber won least likely wingman of the year when he showed up in Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s entourage, carrying a championship belt into the ring. Bieber’s management team had to be talked off the Stratosphere’s ledge.
4. Biggest romantic shocker: The engagement of 95-year-old Kirk Kerkorian, the largest shareholder in MGM Resorts International, to Oklahoma City socialite Lu Beard, described as a longtime friend.
5. Biggest breakups: Entertainment giant Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), a major player in Las Vegas, announced in September it was planning to sell its assets. Other splits: Mayweather and rapper 50 Cent and former “Peepshow’ BFFs Holly Madison and Angel Porrino.
6. Mike Tyson’s strong performance in his one-man show “Undisputed Truth” was the latest twist to the ex-champ’s stunning turnaround.
7. UFC president Dana White severed ties with the Palms after learning his credit line was cut in half without being notified.
8. Best marketing move: Shania Twain’s arrival at the Caesars Palace fountains on horseback after helping herd rodeo horses down the partially closed Strip.
9. Garth Brooks’ opt-out of his final year at Wynn Las Vegas
10. The suicide of deal maker Jack Wishna, who died of carbon monoxide after being found in a classic Bentley previously owned by Wayne Newton.
A New Year’s Day reality show featuring over-the-top Las Vegas weddings didn’t start out that way.
Remember all the rumblings about a “Housewives of Las Vegas” project?
Local socialite Joan Hammer was part of a sizzle reel that was pitched to Bravo executive Andy Cohen in Palms Springs.
Cohen passed on it, but personally walked it over to the president of the Style Network to keep it in the NBC family.
Style decided to team up Hammer and her 10-year event planning partner, Tory Cooper, on “Priceless Affairs,” which premiered last week and airs again on Tuesday.
It’s all about over-the-top Las Vegas weddings.
“No backstabbing, like that other show (“Sin City Rules”), Hammer said. “I don’t want to be mentioned in the same sentence with that terrible show.”
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Word on the streets has local hotels asking for $3,000 for suites facing the Strip for the fireworks show tonight. …
TLC has moved “Sin City Rules” from Sunday to Tuesday night in hopes of boosting weak ratings.
Former Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema, who jumped to Arkansas earlier this month, spotted rooting for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Brando’s Sports Bar, a Chicago Bears bar on Blue Diamond Road. … At UFC 155 on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden: Carrie Underwood and her husband, Mike Fisher, of the Nashville Predators, Mike Tyson, Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Laura Prepon, Jaime Pressly, MC Hammer and Shane Victorino of the Boston Red Sox.
THE PUNCH LINE
“Every time Drew Barrymore is on the show, tell her it’s my birthday.” – From David Letterman’s Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions
Norm Clarke can be reached at 702-383-0244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke. His weekly segment, “Norm Clarke’s Vegas,” airs during the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13 every Thursday.