Daily Archives: March 14, 2009

Michael Jackson’s “This Is It!” Tour Sells 20,000 Tickets Per Hour

thisisittourEuropeans apparently still love the 50-year-old ‘Gold’ Gloved Wonder, who inhabited Las Vegas in reclusive style before recently moving to Hollywood.  

And his fans don’t mind paying for Jackson’s concerts in our economic recession.

Following Jackson’s 12-year tour layoff, AEG organizers now have extended his original 10-concert, $1 million per concert, deal at London’s 02 Arena to a total of 50, extending his planned performances out to February 2010.  

Tickets sold like proverbial hotcakes- with plenty of syrup:  360,000 tickets were sold in 18 hours during the presale, equating to 20,000 tickets per hour, and 33 tickets per minute.  

If – IF – Michael Jackson shows up and makes all his concerts, that will mean 1 million fans will have witnessed in person the aura and karma exuding from the self-proclaimed aging King of Pop.

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Las Vegas Nightclub Discrimination Lawsuit Continues

Las Vegas Strip casino and shopping mall lost a bid on Thursday to throw out a hip hop nightclub’s lawsuit alleging it is being discriminated against because most of its patrons are black. poetrynightclub

U.S. District Court Judge James Mahan said it was too early to make a decision until he hears more about Poetry nightclub’s claims of corporate racial bias against Caesars Palace, the Forum Shops and property owner Simon Property Group Inc. 

“There’s enough here that it survives a motion to dismiss,” Mahan said from the bench at the end of a one-hour procedural hearing. The judge said that the civil lawsuit was still in early pleading stages, and called for written motions before scheduling more arguments. 

Club owner Phase II Chin LLC, in a civil lawsuit filed Feb. 7, 2008, seeks unspecified monetary damages and orders prohibiting “racially-motivated” discrimination by the corporate entities.  “They don’t want black patrons in this establishment,” club attorney Harold Gewerter told the judge Thursday. “They don’t come out and say they don’t want minority patrons in there. But they show it with their conduct.” 

Caesars, Simon and the Forum Shops deny the discrimination bias claims, and lawyers argued that the case amounts to a lease contract dispute. They said Poetry was operating under an illegal sublease with the Wolfgang Puck restaurant, Chinois.  “Any claims of any racial bias are outrageous and completely false,” Gary Thompson, spokesman for Caesars Palace owner Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., said in a telephone interview. “The actual facts will come out as the case proceeds.”

Lawyer Charles McCrea Jr., representing Forum Shops and Simon Properties, said there was no evidence of bias in the four breach of lease notices he said the property owners sent to Chinois.  “We have a right to notify them the management contract violated the lease,” McCrae said. “Nothing in those notices alludes to race or demography.” 

Caesars lawyer Steve Morris said the casino was even further removed from any relationship with the club. “There is no contract with Caesars,” Morris told the judge, arguing that without a contractual relationship between the club and the casino, there could be no bias. 

Club representatives say they have a management contract, not a sublease, to operate an after-hours club upstairs from Chinois. Gewerter argued that made the club a “third party beneficiary” of the Chinois contract with Forum Shops, Simon and Caesars. 

The club, initially called OPM, opened in May 2003. The lawsuit alleges that by January 2005, Caesars, Forum Shops and Simon began “an ongoing campaign of harassment and misconduct” to force the club out. 

Club manager Michael Goodwin said outside court Thursday that because his club caters to a black clientele, casino and mall managers blame it for “every negative activity in Las Vegas and around Caesars Palace having to do with African-American people.” 

Goodwin denied incidents that officials cite involved club patrons, and said owners of the casino and upscale 160-store mall also imposed prohibitively expensive security requirements as a condition of allowing entry to the club through the main Forum Shops concourse-which Goodwin called “the only dignified way to enter.” 

Goodwin said he employs 30 security staffers inside the club and hires four armed Las Vegas police officers per night outside the club, which is open 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. four nights a week. He said he can’t pay what he called “impossible money” for more.  That means patrons in trendy club clothing have to enter by a back door and an unsightly litter-strewn service hallway.

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The Lion King Cast Announced

Casting has been announced for the new Las Vegas production of the Tony-winning The Lion King, which will begin previews at the Mandalay Bay Theatre on May 5 with an official opening May 15. lionking

The cast features performers who have triumphed in productions of Lion King around the world, including stagings in New York, Taipei, South Africa, London, Los Angeles, Australia, Toronto, Shanghai, Paris and Holland.  

Thom Sesma (The Times They Are A-Changin’) will play the evil Scar with Alton F. White (Ragtime) as Mufasa and Los Angeles native Marvette Williams as Sarabi. South African native Buyi Zama will play Rafiki.  The cast will also feature Kissy Simmons (Nala), Clifton Oliver (Simba), Damian Baldet (Timon), Patrick Kerr (Zazu) and Adam Kozlowski (Pumbaa). The three hyenas will be played by Keith Bennett (Banzai), Jacquie Hodges (Shenzi) and Robbie Swift (Ed). Duane Ervin and Elijah Johnson will alternate in the role of Young Simba, and Ruby Crawford and Jade Nelson will alternate in the role of Young Nala. 

Since its Broadway opening on Nov. 13, 1997, The Lion King has been seen by 45 million people worldwide. Directed by Julie Taymor – who became the first woman to ever receive a Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical – The Lion King has become an international hit with productions playing all around the globe. The Elton John-Tim Rice musical has won over 30 major awards. Those include six Tony Awards, including one for Best Musical; eight Drama Desk Awards; six Outer Critics Circle Awards; two Sir Laurence Oliviers; the Evening Standard Award for Best Theatrical Event; and three Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards. 

Tickets will go on sale to the public March 14 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center at (702) 632-7580 or (800) 745-3000 or by visiting www.mandalaybay.com or www.ticketmaster.com.

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Criss Angel Receives Good News: Awarded “Magician of the Decade”

crissangelFor a change, good news showers down on Las Vegas illusionist Criss Angel.  The International Magicians Society has awarded the 41-year-old Angel, whose real name is Christopher Sarantakos, its first-ever Merlin Award for “Magician of the Decade” last Saturday in honor of his magical accomplishments. Angel previously received the organization’s “Magician of the Year” honor in 2001, 204, 2005, 2007 and 2008. 

The famed illusionist appeared humble when accepting the award, telling those attending, “I never set out to win awards, just to push my own envelope and try to create something that’s never been done.”

Criss Angel’s “Believe” illusion show opened at the Luxor in Las Vegas early in January to mixed reviews and almost immediately went dark for a Cirque du Soleil “magical” revamping before reopening later in the month.

To add to Angel’s mishaps, in late February, Angel broke up with his girlfriend, Holly Madison, who previously had been dating Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner until last October.

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James Packer, Crown Casino Scraps Cannery Casino Resorts Deal

Australian billionaire James Packer, 41, has scrapped his plans, at least for now, for a $1.75 billion takeover of Cannery Casino Resorts LLC.  Had the deal gone through, Packer would have obtained three Nevada casinos. 

Packer’s Crown Casino enterprise, Australia’s biggest, rose 13.5 percent on the news- an especially good sign as the Australian media has been especially hard on Packer as of late. jamespacker

Packer’s fortune shrank to half this past year according to Forbes Magazine and Crown has lost 56 percent of its value.

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KITT, Knight Rider Varoom into Las Vegas

Paul Casey Productions is bringing KITT back to Las Vegas.  Knight Rider fans know that both the 1982 original series pilot and the 2008 revamped series opener were based in Las Vegas and on March 20 and 21 the Fremont Street Experience will be the sight of this fundraising weekend.   knightrider

Although Hoff won’t be attending as he will be filming in New York “Dancing with the Stars” segments, organizers for the event promise many of the leading characters of the Knight Rider series will be on hand.

Events include a wedding at the drive-in chapel with KITT as the best man, a celebrity meet and greet, Q&A sessions and celebrity autograph sessions.  In addition, there will be KITT car displays and a moment with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. 

One of the primary objectives of the Knight Rider Festival is to gather donations for the Children’s Miracle Network.  The Super Pursuit Mode KITT Fundraiser began months ago encouraging participants to collect money for the Children’s Miracle Network.  Funds collected at the Knight Rider Festival will go directly to the pediatric unit at St. Rose Dominican Hospital in Henderson.  The top 3 earners will be recognized with a Jay Orhberg Super Pursuit Award.

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Sir Paul McCartney’s Las Vegas April 19 Performance Sells Out In Seconds

Tickets for a one-off gig by Sir Paul McCartney in Las Vegas sold out in seven seconds after going on sale.  Just 4,000 fans will be fortunate to see the former Beatle perform at the grand opening of the New Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on April 19. paulmccartney

Sales opened on February 14, Valentine’s Day, and sold at a rate of almost 600 seats a second, according to promoter Concerts West, saying it would be “a night like Vegas has never seen before.” 

Prior to this, Take That held the record for the fastest sell-out of a music tour when all 600,000 tickets for their Circus tour sold out in four-and-a-half hours last year. 

Organizers claim Sir Paul has beaten that sell-out feat, although this has yet to be verified by the Guinness Book of Records. 

The new $60 million Joint is double the size of its predecessor.  Almost every leading band has performed there at some time, including Oasis, The Killers, Linkin Park and Bon Jovi performed. 

McCartney is also set to headline the opening day of the Coachella music festival in California in April.

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