10/08/2003 12:00AM

The man everyone wants to hear

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The most-anticipated first-round matchup in this year's Stardust Invitational football handicapping tournament takes place Friday night when oddsmaker Ken White takes on handicapper Lem Banker, possibly the best-known sports bettor of them all.

White, who won the first two editions of this nine-year-old event in 1995 and 1996, has been the owner and operator of Nevada Sports Executives since 1989, supplying odds and information to the Stardust and other sports books, and has said publicly that he is looking into buying Las Vegas Sports Consultants.

But the main attraction will be Banker, a winning sports bettor who shares his top plays on the "You Can Bet On It" radio show each Friday and on local newscasts. He is sure to have his own rooting section when each handicapper gives out seven plays in the hour-long program at 9 p.m. in the Stardust sports book (and aired live in nine western states on KDWN AM-720 and on the world wide web at kdwn.com).

"We've been trying to get Lem in the contest for years," race and sports book director Bob Scucci said. "We see this as a real coup. Both Lem and Ken have great opinions, and it should be a great show."

'Sportspage' and 'Jarhead' in front

Many of the 346 entrants in the Las Vegas SuperContest and the 131 in the Station Casinos Gambler's Challenge are trying to make a name for themselves when it comes to picking football winners - and the prize money doesn't hurt, either.

The contestant using the alias "thesportspage.com" (actually, it's Mark Franco of Vegas Insider) went 3-2 last week to hold onto first place in the SuperContest with a record of 20-5 (80 percent) through five weeks. "Peter and Paul" is a game behind at 19-6, with the threesome of "Soup du Jour," "The Slovak," and "Three21" another half-game back at 18-6-1.

In the Gambler's Challenge, "Jarhead" moved into first place with a 17-7-1 mark, followed by "Fred Sharwell" and "Lvasportsfez" at 17-8. That last name is LVAsports.com's Steve Fezzik, who went 4-3 with a best-bet winner last week in the Stardust Invitational to defeat Andy Iskoe (1-6).

Plays from all the leaders in the Hilton and Stations contests will be available in their respective sports books on Friday afternoon, as well as all the other participants who are trying to become rich and famous.

New show for Robin Leach

Robin Leach, best known as the longtime host of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," is debuting a new show this Friday night called "Penthouse Vegas."

As with "Lifestyles," Leach is the host, but he isn't propped up as the star. The theme is to bring Vegas celebrities together in a party-type atmosphere.

"I am not the interviewer," Leach said. "They chat amongst themselves as cameras eavesdrop. This is totally different TV. I am an instigator as party ringmaster."

The show has been likened to the old "Playboy After Dark" TV shows of the late 1960's with Hugh Hefner throwing cocktail parties with musical guests and skits. Among the acts to appear in the "Penthouse Vegas" pilot will be Charo and former Motley Crue singer Vince Neil teaching each other their styles of playing guitar. Comedienne Rita Rudner and singer Clint Holmes will also be featured.

The premiere is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. on the local Fox affiliate (Channel 5), though it could be later if the Cubs and Marlins play another extra-inning game like they did Tuesday. It is also slated for 30 other markets from coast to coast. Check your local listings.

Leach is also working on a show called "Life of Luxury," an updating of the old "Lifestyles" show, that will be shown during November sweeps on ABC. Leach interviewed Donald Trump for the show and is conducting more interviews next week.

Leach is becoming much more visible these days, though he never really went away after "Lifestyles" went off the air in 1997 after an amazing 14-year run. He helped launch the Food Network, hosting several shows, and appeared earlier this year on ABC's "I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here!" He also is the Entertainment Editor for Channel 5 here in town.

Proving he's a renaissance man, Leach is one of 10 local celebrities who make NFL picks each Friday in the Las Vegas Sun. He is 10-5 (67 percent) against the spread this season and tied with Penn and Teller for second place. Mayor Oscar Goodman is the leader at 11-3-1. In fact, seven of the 10 celebs are showing a profit.

Vegas news and notes

Leach, as well as the rest of the Vegas media, has been working around the clock on the Roy Horn (of "Siegfried and Roy" fame) story after he was mauled by a white tiger during a show last Friday night. The Mirage announced Monday that the show has been permanently canceled, that cast members were receiving severance packages, and that the hotel would start looking for replacement acts for that theater. In addition to "Siegfried and Roy," The Mirage also has impressionist Danny Gans, who has been named "Entertainer of the Year" on numerous occasions by many local publications.

* In an update of another story, boxing promoter Bob Arum has backpedaled on his earlier accusations about the judging in the Oscar De La Hoya-Shane Mosley fight last month. He had been ordered to appear at the Nevada Athletic Commission meeting next Wednesday to back up his claims, but Arum recanted, apologized, and asked that he not have to appear. The commission accepted the apology, and excused him from appearing, but warned him that future baseless outbursts would not be tolerated. Arum is also expected to remain in the sport despite threatening to retire at the end of the year.