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SI models plan big Vegas splash

The Sports Illustrated swimsuit models are returning to Las Vegas, this time to make a bigger splash.

A much-expanded schedule is planned for their visit next week.

Shortly after the cover-girl ceremony is held in New York City on Tuesday, the models will fly to Las Vegas, where they will participate in numerous activities over two days.

Their first scheduled stop will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at Margaritaville at the Flamingo. From there they go to The Mirage for a poker tournament, followed by an appearance at the Garden of the Gods at Caesars Palace.

Thursday’s schedule includes appearances in The Mirage lobby from noon to 2 p.m., Le Cabaret at Paris Las Vegas from 1-3 p.m. and Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo from 3-5 p.m.

They’ll make nightclub appearances at Jet at The Mirage on Wednesday (9 p.m.), Vanity at the Hard Rock towers on Thursday (9 p.m.) and Tao (Venetian) at 1 a.m. Friday. All three are invite-only events.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Talks between Paula Abdul and local hotels are reaching critical mass. She was spotted in the valet area of Planet Hollywood Resort on Monday chatting with Hilton exec Ken Ciancimino, who confirmed that he’s been shaping a deal with Abdul for quite some time. “She’s got a lot of irons in the fire, a lot of offers,” Ciancimino said. It was over lunch in 2002 that Abdul mentioned Barry Manilow was road weary and recommended him to Ciancimino. “Paula gave us the idea. David Brenner gave us the phone number.” From all indications, some major announcements involving Abdul are imminent. …

Strip teasers: Harrah’s is seeking a building permit for a three-story, 72,000-square-foot Strip-front build-out on the southwest corner of Paris Las Vegas. That space, which now has a fountain and an outdoor dining area, would get a retail store, new restaurants and a nightclub. … Also: The Tropicana is reportedly negotiating a deal with nightclub chain Nikki Beach. …

I dropped in on Bette Midler‘s cast and crew afterparty Sunday and came away with this bit of news: Midler’s longtime executive assistant, Jill Hattersley, flatly stated that there’s no truth to the rumors that the entertainer is heading for Steve Wynn‘s Encore Theater. …

British reality show star and former fashion cover girl Katie Price, aka Jordan, and British cage fighter Alex Reid were married Tuesday in the chapel at Wynn Las Vegas. He won Britain’s “Big Brother” TV show last week. …

I’ll be at the World Market Center today, signing copies of my latest book, “Sinsational Celebrity Tales,” for attendees of the 2010 Winter Las Vegas Market. I’ll be at the base of the escalator in Building B, across from Mundo restaurant, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. …

The newest Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar, at 4480 Paradise Road, is hosting a fundraiser for Haitian quake victims Tuesday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Food, water and monetary donations will be accepted by the Red Cross. Ferraro’s is kicking in a portion of the food and bar proceeds.

SIGHTINGS

Heather Graham, getting a surprise birthday weekend from her boyfriend/film director Yaniv Raz, who set up a stay in a villa at The Mirage, dinner at Japonais and a workout with Cirque du Soleil’s “KA” performers Emma Nicholson and Jason Biltz. Graham even got to fulfill her dream of flying on stage. … Joan Collins of “Dynasty” fame, at Spago (Forum Shops at Caesars) on Sunday. … At Haze (Aria at CityCenter): Tom Felton, who plays Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies.

THE PUNCH LINE

“Britain and the U.S. are proposing a half-billion dollar fund to create jobs for Taliban members who agree to lay down their arms. If it works there, they’re going to offer the same deal to NBA players.” — Jay Leno

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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