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SHOOTING STARS: Sweet deal for ‘Poker’

  It’s still “Dark” at downtown’s Golden Nugget — but not for much longer.
  NBC’s “Poker After Dark” is scheduled to wrap up production today on 78 episodes for its fifth season, reports Mori Eskandani, who runs the show’s Las Vegas-based production company, Poker PROductions.
  The show’s still using the same set, Eskandani notes. But that set is in a new setting — the Nugget’s new Grand events center — following four seasons at the South Point.
  “It’s all just economics,” Eskandani says of the show’s move downtown. “We were very, very happy at South Point,” but the show has “a different deal with the Golden Nugget. It’s a little bit of a bigger marketing deal for the Golden Nugget.”
  Regardless of location, however, the secret of the show’s success remains the same, in Eskandani’s view: “The quality of the players.” Such poker stars as Doyle Brunson, pictured at right, Annie Duke, Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson, Jennifer Harman, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Gabe Kaplan, Phil Laak, Howard Lederer and Daniel Negreanu, plus celebrity players Don Cheadle, Orel Hershiser and Jennifer Tilly, were among the expected participants.
  On the show, “People learn from the best and get to see every hand,” Eskandani explains. “And it’s entertaining on top of that.”
  World of knowledge: The German TV documentary “Mission Knowledge Worldwide” initially planned a Las Vegas visit for a simple reason: “because Las Vegas is a very impressive city that definitely has to be part of such a project,” explains Joachim Foerster of Munich-based Maximus Films.
  But because their visit coincides with the 2008 Professional Bull Riders finals (continuing through Nov. 9 at Thomas & Mack Center), the documentary also plans “a report about the job of a bullfighter as one of the hardest and toughest jobs,” Foerster reports.
“Mission Knowledge Worldwide” (which also plans U.S. stops in Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Anchorage, Alaska) will be shown early next year on Germany’s most popular science show, “Galileo.”
  Quick hits: Also on the international beat, HBO Family Latin America’s “Explora” is slated to explore Las Vegas, with planned visits to Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef, Circus Circus’ Adventuredome and Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage. A Japanese travel show also is expected in town. And History Channel’s “Modern Marvels” returns to Las Vegas for a scheduled visit to Planet Hollywood’s Spice Market Buffet.
  Musical notes: When he’s in town, showroom legend Tom Jones usually hangs out at the MGM Grand. (His current Hollywood Theatre gig runs through Nov. 12.)
On Sunday, however, he was expected to turn up at Planet Hollywood — for a very good cause, as star of a karaoke-themed spot for Britain’s Comic Relief. (“American Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe also was expected to participate.)
  The spot is scheduled to run March 13 as part of “Red Nose Day,” Comic Relief’s biannual initiative during which public and private personalities, from stars to schoolkids, are invited to “Do Something Funny For Money.”
  And if the locations in Mariah Carey’s latest music video, “I Stay in Love,” look a bit familiar, they should. That’s because the video, which debuted last week, filmed in early October at Bellagio’s Bank nightclub and trademark fountains, as well as in Southern Nevada’s trademark desert.

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