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New Year’s Day: Celebrities and stuntmen usher in 2009 on the Las Vegas Strip

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Carmen Electra and Fergie on the red carpet for Tao and Lavo.
Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna/www.erikkabikphoto.com

It was the most star-studded of all New Year’s Eve celebrations that Las Vegas has witnessed.

Even though our fireworks displays didn’t shower the Strip as in previous years because of new rooftop fire regulations, the stars themselves made up for it with another form of firepower and stunt excitement.

The Duchess herself, Fergie, reigned royal at her Venetian concert and then hosting the midnight countdown at the new Lavo hotspot in the Palazzo. David Spade was among the stars at Fergie’s red carpet, and next door Carmen Electra held court at sister restaurant and nightclub Tao in The Venetian.

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Usher played NYE 2008 host at the Bank.

Over at the Bank in the Bellagio, smooth R&B singer Usher and wife Tamika handled the official countdown into 2009. At Pure in Caesars Palace, hosts Pete Wentz and Ashley Simpson-Wentz welcomed fellow celebrities Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt along with the Kardashian family. Heidi went off to ring in the New Year at Christian Audigier in Treasure Island, while sisters Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian did the honors at LAX in the Luxor.

Although there were hugs, kisses and even prominent displays of engagement rings, the stars remained mum on marriage. I tried every which way to get Fergie to spill the date later this month for when she will marry handsome Josh Duhamel. She happily showed me the engagement ring and candidly talked about wanting babies but avoided the exact wedding date revelation.

“The babies will wait until after the upcoming Black Eyed Peas tour,” she laughed, “but we’re definitely going to have them.”

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Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt on the red carpet at Pure.

Spencer showed off The Hills co-star and gal pal Heidi Montag’s ring finger with its sparkler but refused to say anything about whether their Mexico marriage was real or whether it had been made legal in a California courtroom. As Hills viewers know, the couple didn’t make it legal in the season finale of the MTV show.

Seconds after stunt driver Rhys Millen crawled out of his overturned truck at The Rio, I spoke with him, and we’ll have that exclusive interview later today. Rhys described it as 99 percent successful because he completed the backflip, but he was annoyed at the too-fast landing, which toppled his truck in another 360-degree spill. He escaped uninjured.

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Robbie Maddison.

Although motorcyclist Robbie Maddison miraculously and successfully jumped the Arc de Triomphe at Paris Las Vegas in front of thousands packed onto the Strip, he broke his left hand on the freefall afterwards. He was taken to a hospital for treatment for the injury between his thumb and index finger. Robbie has promised to talk with me later this morning. Their ESPN Red Bull No Fear No Limits TV special finished as Robbie Knievel made his successful jump and landing across the exploding Mirage volcano that was aired on Fox.

Executive producer Jeff Androsky told me seconds after Kaptain Knievel’s successful leap across the fireballs and explosions: “It went exactly as planned with next to no advance preparation. It looked spectacular and was right on the money. Robbie was absolutely amazing, and the shots we got as he flew through the air from take-off to landing were the real money shots.”

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Josh Duhamel and Fergie ring in 2009.

Fabulous fashions! The wardrobe change award of the night goes to Fergie, who appeared in six outfits from her red carpet walk to her stage song and dance show and the midnight countdown. More incredible was that her night had begun in Los Angeles just 90 minutes before her Palazzo appearance when she taped her spots for Ryan Seacrest’s New Year’s Eve show in Times Square. She made it to Vegas in precision timing! Check back later for my exclusive Vegas DeLuxe video interview for the full scoop.

Happy New Year, everybody, and enjoy our stories, photos and videos! And check out the extensive and terrific NYE coverage by our colleagues at www.lasvegasweekly.com.

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Carmen Electra and Rob Patterson on New Year's Eve.

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