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Association Bisnow
May 23, 2008



Okay, maybe we imagined that. But last night the man who owns Las Vegas was in town mixing with another thousand descendants and friends of Italy at the National Building Museum—including entertainment Tony Bennett.


Steve (the man to thank for "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas"), takes a moment for our camera after being interviewed by Italian American Network anchor Lana Musolino, who asked the mogul about his cultural blend of Jewish and Italian ancestry. The night was the 20th anniversary gala of the Sons of Italy Foundation's National Education and Leadership Awards, and naturally Steve was an honoree.


The best thing about being Italian-American according to Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito, left? "The ability we have to understand people . . . and red wine," he told us. And a fan of Tony Bennett? "I am, but my wife is an even bigger fan. I have something for him to sign." As for Congressman Nick Lampson (D-TX), Ellis Island is the reason he's not Nick Lampasona. "All my grandparents came from Sicily but our name was Americanized." Still, Lampson tells us he founded an Italian club outside of Houston.


Eighty-one years young, Tony Bennett showed crowd his heart was here last night, not just in San Fran, and that he might have learned a thing or two about crooning from old Italian buds Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.


Tony Soprano wasn't able to make it but Soprano's star Joe Pantoliano, a.k.a Ralph Cifaretto (head re-attached, you'll note), donning the hat in the center, was surrounded by good company: honoree (and Qorvis Communications founder) Michael Petruzzello with wife Wendy, and Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), gearing up to run for a third term.


Criminal Minds star Joe Mantegna was once spoofed for being typecast as a gangster while hosting Saturday Night Live, but he told the crowd that he always asks that his characters be Italian-Americans "to balance out the negative stereotypes we get in the business."


The boot-shaped nation also takes credit for former Congresswoman Connie Morella (R-MD) and husband Anthony, back from Paris where she served as ambassador to the OECD. The couple was up at Harvard's Kennedy School where Connie was a resident fellow, and lunched with Ted and Caroline Kennedy. Now they're off to their house on the Chesapeake Bay for the weekend.


Flags of our Fathers and Running with Scissors star Joseph Cross is rumored to be the next Leonardo DiCaprio. The child star, still dimpled but now of drinking age, attends Trinity College and just finished filming Falling Up with Snoop Dog.


Night at the Museum. Ben Stiller might have left town after filming at the Smithsonian this week, but we nominate the amazing National Building Museum for the next sequel. The Sons of Italy actually made the wine that the crowd tippled while bopping to Bennett.


Karin Tanabe is The Scene Bisnow's reporter. Send tips and info to karin@bisnow.com

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