Planet Hollywood rolls dice

New Tinseltown, Sin City nexus

Las Vegas continues to thrive on checkered pasts.

While the city witnessed yet another piece of its past put to rest Tuesday with the implosion of one its oldest hotels, the New Frontier, it also played host Wednesday to the Democratic debate. Now the gambling mecca looks ahead to the grand opening this weekend of its latest reincarnation: the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

The list of those expected to attend the celebration Friday and Saturday include Judd Apatow, Minnie Driver and Jon Stewart as well as Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis, two of the original backers of the Planet Hollywood franchise that launched in the early '90s only later to go bankrupt twice. Willis will perform with his band Thursday, while Barbra Streisand is scheduled to perform Saturday.

The resort, which was renovated from what was formerly the Aladdin, aims to be an interface between Hollywood and Las Vegas, serving as a venue for movie premieres, TV and film production and poker tournaments. Its investors include Planet Hollywood founder and CEO Robert Earl.

The property's 2,600 rooms will house memorabilia valued at $20 million, while the resort includes 15 restaurants including Koi and Strip House, live entertainment and more than 170 specialty shops.

"It's contemporary and a 24-hour party," Earl said. "We've created a unique backdrop for relations between Vegas and Hollywood, and we now have a $2 billion asset on the Strip with our trademark."

The recently wrapped "What Happens in Vegas ...," starring Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz, filmed at the resort, while Sony's "Resident Evil: Extinction" had its premiere there in September.

It's enough to wonder whether Elvis Presley, who played his first Vegas concert at the recently departed New Frontier, would have been "All Shook Up" or declaring "Viva Las Vegas!"