Let's get one thing straight: Toby Keith is one of the coolest guys around. "Extra" was the first to interview the country music star when his restaurant, "I Love This Bar & Grill," opened last fall at Harrah's Casino on The Strip. Some themed restaurants in Las Vegas "have no soul," as Toby puts it. Well, "I Love This Bar & Grill" has soul to spare, thanks to the man, himself. Can you imagine the scene when Toby met with his world-renowned head chef to show him how to make a fried bologna sandwich? ("I told the guy the bologna had to be that thick," Toby revealed to me, holding his thumb and finger about a half-inch apart.) Now that same fried bologna is the restaurant's best seller.
I sat down with Toby at Harrah's Casino again Friday night, this time to talk about his new album "White Trash with Money." Toby's latest single, "Get Drunk and Be Somebody," seemed very fitting for the star's Vegas weekend. "We're going to get drunk and be somebody tonight, and then we're going to get drunk and be somebody else tomorrow night!" Toby said with that Sin City look in his eyes. And when Toby Keith says it, you'd better believe it.
I rolled out of Toby's suite at Harrah's early Friday night and hurried to downtown Las Vegas for Spike TV's AutoRox Awards Show, combining a love of loud music and unique cars. Spike TV built a huge, awesome stage about 15 feet off the ground right in the middle of Freemont Street to put all of the stars at eye level with the lights and neon of downtown's classic casinos.
"Extra" is the only entertainment show with a headquarters in Vegas, so we were the only show invited backstage to get exclusive interviews with Kiefer Sutherland, Pamela Anderson, Ice Cube, Dave Navarro, Cheech Marin, Carlos Mencia and every other celebrity enjoying the old-school surroundings.
Kiefer may be the star of "24," but he told me "21" is his game in Vegas. Cube and I talked about his upcoming role as THE teacher of youth in the big screen version of "Welcome Back Kotter." And Pamela Anderson took time out from doing a little kissing with a male performer from "Zumanity" (easy, it was just a friendly smooch) to chat about the "Baywatch" movie in development. Pam thinks Jessica Simpson would look great in a red bathing suit, and she is voting for Will Ferrell to take over David Hasselhoff's role.
Pamela and I met up again Saturday night at Pure Nightclub at Caesar's Palace where she was performing as an honorary Pussy Cat Doll. Ms. Anderson shared some secrets about the 7-figure condo she just bought in Panorama Towers off The Strip. Two words, gentlemen: stripper pole. Only in Vegas, baby.
Nick Lachey may have had one of the best seats in the Pussy Cat Lounge inside of Pure that night. The newly separated stud was seated directly underneath the swing that hoisted Pam Anderson about 20 feet into the air.
Oh, I also ran into Toby Keith again at Pure Saturday night. It was around 11:30, so his quest to "Get Drunk and Be Somebody Else" seemed to be in its infant stages.
"Toby, I gotta warn ya, they don't play too much country music here at Pure," I hesitantly said.
"Carlos, I just want to hear one song with a guitar!" he shot back.
I eventually made my way over to the DJ booth and threw out a request that would please both Toby and the rest of Pure's clientele. Ten minutes later, the hip-hop remix of "Sweet Home Alabama" brought cheers from the dance floor.
Walking by Toby's VIP table, I said, "There you go, buddy."
Toby extended his fist with a smile, we pounded and he sat back in his booth with a look of satisfaction.
Toby got his guitar. Proof once again that in Vegas, anything's possible.