|By Norm Clarke, Las Vegas
Review-JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 16, 2009--Donald Trump and MGM Mirage management won't be exchanging Christmas cards.
The controversial New York real estate developer is raining on CityCenter's parade, calling it "an absolute catastrophe."
He made the incendiary comment Monday during an interview with CNN talk show host Larry King.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday with Vegas Confidential, Trump expanded on his remarks about the $8.5 billion, 67-acre, multi-tower project on the Strip. Aria, CityCenter's main hotel and casino, officially opens today.
"The biggest problem is it costs so much," Trump said. "It cost billions more than anticipated and it's going to be hard to recover from that."
He added, "I love Kirk (Kerkorian) and I hope it works out for them."
Trump said he came away with reservations after seeing CityCenter.
I asked him whether his reaction had anything to do with recent published comments made by MGM Mirage chairman and CEO Jim Murren. Trump skipped over the question and instead turned the focus on his Las Vegas project, Trump International Tower.
"It is doing very nicely. It was built ahead of schedule and on budget," said Trump.
Murren may have incurred Trump's wrath when he last month compared CityCenter to other Las Vegas towers in an article Steve Friess wrote for L.A. Weekly. The Panorama Towers, said Murren, are "not Fifth Avenue. And Trump certainly is not Fifth Avenue, and it doesn't have Central Park in front of it like CityCenter does."
Asked to comment, Alan Feldman, senior vice president of public affairs for MGM Mirage, e-mailed a terse, 11-words response:
"I can hardly imagine anyone's opinion that matters less than his," Feldman said.
'ELVIS' GALA RESET
Cirque du Soleil's creators of "Viva Elvis" acknowledged on Tuesday that a combination of construction delays and show revisions dashed hopes of a gala opening on Jan. 8, which would have been Elvis' 75th birthday.
The new date of Feb. 19 was announced by Cirque founder Guy Laliberte before a media showcase held a day before the unveiling of the show on the opening night of CityCenter's Aria.
Cirque executive Gille Ste-Croix told Review-Journal entertainment critic Mike Weatherford that construction delays shaved four weeks of onstage rehearsal from the schedule.
"The show is not complete, and it's not what we wish," Ste- Croix told Weatherford, whose show preview runs in the R-J's Friday Neon section.
Ste-Croix, Cirque's senior vice president of creative content and new projects development, said CityCenter CEO Bobby Baldwin wanted previews for the Aria opening and holiday season.
The show will basically play as-is during the previews before creators start tearing into it again Jan. 3 to prepare for opening night. Tickets for the show range from $99 to $175 and will be discounted 25 percent during the previews, a publicist said.
Laliberte was not available to reporters after the 18-minute showcase.
The show's executive producer, Stephane Mongeau, confirmed previous Vegas Confidential reports that the show was undergoing a major reshuffling, among them the recent departure of the main Elvis actor, Leo Days, a top Elvis tribute artist.
"There were more actors playing key roles. We made the decision to narrow this to one character," Mongeau said. An actor playing Elvis' former manager, Colonel Tom Parker, will narrate at points during the 30-song show.
"We made some adjustments," Mongeau said. "It's a normal creative process. ... we believe now that we are on the right track and have all the solutions."
THE SCENE AND HEARD
About 450 credentials have been issued for today's opening of Aria. CNN is going live throughout the day. Reporters are coming from Germany, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France.
THE PUNCH LINE
"Tiger Woods won't be playing golf for a while. In fact, the last person to pick up a club at his house was his wife." -- David Letterman
Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.
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