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Teller betting on Jillette’s dancing

Penn Jillette‘s biggest booster sees a lot of Fred Astaire in the 6-foot-6 illusionist.

Raymond Teller, the silent half of Penn & Teller, is planning to bet $5,000 that Jillette and his professional dance partner, Kym Johnson, win ABC’s upcoming “Dancing With the Stars.”

Oddsmakers are giving Jillette and Johnson a snowball’s chance, but Teller is convinced that they’re going to waltz away with a jackpot.

Teller knows Jillette “loves a challenge,” said Glenn Alai, the publicist for the Rio headliners.

Jillette isn’t just throwing himself into the challenge, he’s catapulting himself into the project, Alai said.

“He’s already dropped 50 pounds since Thanksgiving, and he thinks he’s going to lose another 25-30,” Alai said.

One Las Vegas oddsmaker, John Avello at Wynn Las Vegas, has Jillette and Johnson at 30-1, the longest odds on the board.

Nevada does not allow bets on entertainment programs, so Teller is taking his bet to an offshore online betting service.

Jillette is short on dancing background, other than some dance classes he took at Ringling Bros. clown college, Alai said.

Jillette has been working with Johnson at a Summerlin dance studio for about two weeks.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Defense attorney Michael Cristalli is taking on another client with a bad-girl rep. Cristalli, who got an acquittal for Sandy Murphy in the second Ted Binion murder trial, is representing former Miss Nevada USA Katie Rees, who was charged with resisting arrest Feb. 6 after police pulled her over about 3 a.m. Rees had a tooth chipped or knocked out in the incident, said her then-attorney Mario Torres of Tampa, Fla. She has a 7:30 a.m. court appearance Friday in front of Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure, who gained national exposure when O.J. Simpson appeared before him in connection with a September incident in Las Vegas. …

The announcement Wednesday that actor Patrick Swayze is undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer hit close to home for local publicist Bruce Merrin. He was actor Michael Landon‘s publicist when Landon announced he was diagnosed with the disease in 1991. Swayze’s physician, Dr. George Fisher, said the star of “Dirty Dancing” has a “very limited amount of disease, and he appears to be responding well to treatment thus far. All of the reports stating the time frame of his prognosis and his physical side effects are absolutely untrue. We are considerably more optimistic.”…

Ira Sternberg, public relations chief at the Las Vegas Hilton, was the envy of the fashion-forward crowd at the grand opening Monday of AGO at the Hard Rock Hotel. He was sporting a pair of shoes from the new Liberace line. They featured piano keys and Liberace’s calling card, glitter galore. Celebrity licensing agent Michael Feder and R. Darin Hollingsworth, executive director of the Liberace Foundation and Museum, were guests on Monday’s “Lunchtime With Ira, Live From The Las Vegas Hilton” and brought Sternberg a complimentary pair. …

Overheard at Monday’s news conference announcing comedy magician Nathan Burton‘s move to the Flamingo: talk about putting up a 60-foot high, 20,000-square-foot wrap, similar to Toni Braxton‘s, of Burton dangling from a straitjacket. That would be the equivalent of about 30 average-sized billboards and would cost about $150,000.

SIGHTINGS

Porn star Tera Patrick, shooting a cover for High Times, the marijuana magazine, on Wednesday in a Fantasy suite at the Palms. … Las Vegas native Thomas Ian Nicholas, who played Kevin Myers in “American Pie,” dining with his wife on Tuesday at Nove Italiano restaurant in the Palms. … Entrepreneur Rohan Marley, son of late music legend Bob Marley, checking out Moon nightclub Tuesday at the Palms. Also at Moon: Actor Efren Ramirez, of the hit movie “Napoleon Dynamite.”

THE PUNCH LINE

Hillary criticized Obama so strongly that at one point he yelled at her. He just said, ‘Hey, easy, lady, we’re not married.'” — David Letterman

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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