Monthly Archives: April 2009

Terry Fator’s Quantum Las Vegas Leap

Just three years ago Terry Fator was giving a performance at a fair near Houston, Texas to an audience of one.   He considered walking away from show business but made a fateful decision to audition one more time and after winningterryfator2 the second season of America’s Got Talent, Fator has stopped wondering whether he’s in the right profession. 

Fator has signed a five-year contract to perform nightly at The Mirage Casino and Resort in Las Vegas. He is replacing Danny Gans, who has moved to Steve Wynn’s Encore, and will be presenting his show at the Terry Fator Theatre. 

But if the ventriloquist act isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, take a look at the artists who are working the room on the nights that Winston the Impersonating Turtle is taking a break.   Ray Ramono and Brad Garrett, Ron White and Lewis Black will all give it a whirl in the Terry Fator Theatre in 2009. 

Don’t  count out the entertainment value of a night with Fator and company:   “I look at myself as a talk show host and the characters are my guests,” says Fator. “I can guarantee anyone who comes to my show, within a second or two, will feel that the puppet is the real entity.”

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Don’t be a Scaredy-Cat- Be Their Prey in Las Vegas

When I was a kid, my brothers and I would spend hours each week hanging on the fence at the sand pit.  I couldn’t tell bulldozeryou what those bull dozers and earth excavators were doing – it wasn’t a proper rock quarry or even a real sand pit – but we would race around the bend, following those machines around that acre-wide hole in the ground, super impressed with the big loads, loud noise and heavy hauling.  Those drivers were our rock stars. 

Now there’s a new company in Henderson, Nevada that has made a bet that there are plenty of similar people who have never lost their childhood fascination and attraction to ‘dozers and Cat’s.  Big Dig Las Vegas is offering even the most novice of equipment operators – no experience required – the chance to get behind the controls of one or more real earth movers.  They will pick-up visitors at their hotels and wisk them to their 10-acre ‘playground’ for a day of car-smashing and earth-moving fun like no other.  You’ll hear the metal-gnawing machine groan with each bite and the earth shake with each excruciatingly juicy grab-and-drop. 

Some restrictions apply – you have to be 18 and sober to participate.  But as long as you meet those criteria you can select from the Dozer Adventure, Agression Session or Hard Core Challenge  (maybe that allows you to rain destruction down on one of the half-finished casinos?) and you could just get your agresssions out and spend part of your family reunion enjoying the most healthy and legal form of destruction that the Las Vegas Valley has to offer.

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Mariah Carey & Hubby Nick Cannon Plan Lavish One-Year Anniversary Bash in Las Vegas

Mariah Carey and husband Nick Cannon will be literally rolling the dice for their one-year-anniversary with a lavish celebration in Las Vegas. mariahcarey

The Glitter star stunned fans last year when she married hip-hop star Cannon in a private ceremony in the Bahamas on April 30. 

A year later, the duo is still going strong and are planning their one-year anniversary party in Sin City at the end of April, it’s claimed. 

The celebrations will reportedly begin at 11 p.m, on April 30 and go on until the early hours of the morning at the Palms’ Moon nightclub in Las Vegas. 

Mariah’s marriage to Nick was her second time – she split from recording-industry mogul Tommy Mottola in 1998, after five years together.

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Sin City’s Trick-or-Treating Costume Party on April 28

Dust off your Halloween costumes and empty your trick-or-treat bags – Blush Boutique Nightclub in the Wynn Las Vegas is hosting it’s first “Halfway to Halloween” party on April 28. halloween

A $2,500 prize will be awarded to the lady dressed in the hottest costume.  Las Vegas ladies and all service industry professionals will be able to get in free and the doors open at 9 p.m. 

But be sure to dress in your wildest attire because costumes are mandatory.

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Actress Kelly Monaco Robbed, Hid Under Las Vegas Bed

Actress Kelly Monaco found herself at the centre of a terrifying burglary in Las Vegas after an intruder broke into her hotel room while she was sleeping.kellymonaco

The former General Hospital star is in Sin City performing in the saucy revue Peepshow alongside ex-Spice Girl Mel B (Melanie Brown).

But her stay in the gambling Mecca turned disgustingly sour when she woke up in the early hours last Thursday morning to hear an intruder burst into her penthouse suite at the Planet Hollywood resort. 

Monaco reportedly hid under her bed during the incident, and when she emerged she found the suite’s living room had been burglarized.  The star filed a report with police, and the perp was quickly caught later on Thursday, but detectives have failed to confirm what was stolen, according to TMZ.com.

Monaco has since increased her security by hiring bodyguards to protect her for the rest of her acting stint in Las Vegas.

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World’s Largest Martini Prepares for Las Vegas Christening

Las Vegas-based Opportunity Village is teaming with Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas to create the city’s largest gin-based martini, The Opportunitini.  The unveiling event is Tuesday, April 28, at 6 p.m. in front of Hard Rock Cafe’s signature guitar martiniin Las Vegas at 4475 Paradise Road. 

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will be on-hand with his bevy of Vegas showgirls and world-class entertainment to ceremoniously top off the 20-gallon martini that will then be served to guests at the ceremony.     

The Opportunitini is the brainchild of mixologists at Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Cafe and will be placed on their menu for the entire summer.  Proceeds from the sales of the drink will benefit the men and women at Opportunity Village, which is celebrating its 55th year of providing vocational training, social skills, job training and placement and opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities in Las Vegas.   

“We are very excited about partnering with the Hard Rock Cafe to unveil The Opportunitini,” says Linda Smith, Chief Development Officer at Opportunity Village.  “The record-breaking attempt promises to be an exciting event and the drink will be the perfect adult thirst quencher during those hot summer months.”

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Top Chef Filming in Las Vegas?

If the Tweets on Twitter are to be believed, the sixth season of Bravo TV’s Top Chef has reportedly begun filming on location in Las Vegas.  top-chef And apparently Los Angeles Times reporters are believers too, saying that filming for Season Six will begin today.

Las Vegas has already been an integral part of Top Chef history. The Season One finale took place at the MGM Grand and most of the season’s shows have found Las Vegas chef’s represented in the kitchen including Season One runner up Tiffani Faison, Season Two runner up Marcel Vigneron, Season Three winner  Hung Huynh, and Season Five chef Eugene “Gene” Villiatora.   

Althought the host site has not been officially named, the newly opened M Resort in Henderson, Nevada is rumored to be the site of the chef-on-chef competition.  

Other reports have Top Chef filming in Seattle, Washington.  However, it’s possible that both stories are true.  Bravo TV has announced both a “Top Chef Junior” and “Top Chef Master” series – spin-offs of the original TV show that targets a different caliber of culinary king and viewer. 

“Top Chef Master” will begin airing June 10 and will feature 24 prominent Las Vegas chefs, including Hubert Keller, Rick Moonen, Roy Yamaguchi and Ludo Lefebvre.

Keller has Fleur de Lys restaurants in San Francisco, his home, and at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas; Moonen co-owns rick Moonen’s RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay; Yamaguchi has two Roy’s Restaurants in Las Vegas and Lefebvre recently left Lavo at The Palazzo in Las Vegas to open Ludo Bites in Los Angeles.

Stay tuned to Las Vegas Backstage Access for more Top Chef details.

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UNLV’s Frank Summers Selected in NFL Draft by Pittsburgh Steelers

BREAKING NEWS- – The NFL Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers have just chosen UNLV running back Frank Summers in the 5th round of the NFL Draft. franksummers

Summers, nicknamed “The Tank,” is the first Rebel runner drafted since 1988 when Ickey Woods was the 31st pick to the Cincinatti Bengals.  Summers did not lose a fumble during his UNLV career and holds both the longest rushing score and longest receiving score records in UNLV history (2007).    

Named the “Toughest Player to Bring Down in the Mountain West Conference” in 2008, Summers selection by the Steelers didn’t come as a surprise to most analysts.  During the March Pro Day at UNLV, the Steelers had two scouts and a running back coach keeping track of Summers’ performance – including several pass-catching drills part-way through the workout.  And just a couple of weeks ago Summers flew out to Pittsburgh for an organizational meet and greet. 

Summers was the 169th pick in the current NFL draft and is expected to step in as a short-yardage specialist for the Steelers – a position previously held by Gary Russell and Jerome Bettis.

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Susan G. Koman Foundation’s Las Vegas Race for Cancer Cure

“It started with a promise…it will end with a cure.” susankoman

The 14th annual Susan G. Koman Southern Nevada Race for the Cure will be held on May 2 in Las Vegas.  The route will begin at Las Vegas Blvd. and Clark and continue through downtown to Las Vegas Blvd and Fremont – the Fremont Street Experience. 

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation was established by Nancy Brinker after her sister, Suzy, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978.  Treatment options were limited and there was little if any public recognition of the cause or impact of breast cancer.  Suzy died at the age of 36 and her sister Nancy made it her goal to fund health care options, develop treatments and raise awareness of this deadly disease.  The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation officially opened its doors in 1982.  

The Race for the Cure is the largest single fundraiser for the Koman organization.   Proceeds from the race help fund breast health education, cancer screening, patient support and treatment.  

On average, 75 percent of the funds raised in Nevada stay in Nevada to help local women.  

Online registration will be available through Monday April 27, however you may register up to and including race day and there is still time to be a sponsor or volunteer at the event.

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Jay Leno Makes Rare Las Vegas, Tonight Show Cancellations

The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas had to cancel the April 24 and 25 performances of late night talk show host Jay Leno.  jay-lenoThe 58-year-old entertainer checked himself into Providence St. Joseph Medical Centre hospital on Thursday with what was diagnosed as possible food poisoning.  Leno was also forced to cancel two live episode tapings of his Tonight Show – a first since he took over the Tonight Show reigns in 1992.  

(May 4 UPDATE:  Reportedly, Leno was not sick or anything, just plain wornout, needing to take the time off.)

Leno will be leaving late night in May for a prime-time show set to debut this September.  Tonight Show hosting duties will be passed to Conan O’Brien. 

No replacement dates have been announced for Leno’s Mirage performances.

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Beyonce Heads for Las Vegas Glitter

Since Las Vegas first grew out of the desert dust, powerful female entertainers have always found a home in the main beyonceshowrooms of Las Vegas casinos and hotels.   In just the past year, Las Vegas marquis have invited tourists to spend an evening with Celine Dion, Cher, Bette Midler,Taylor Swift, Rita Rudner, and coming this July, appearing at the Encore Theatre, in Steve Wynn’s latest and greatest Wynn Las Vegas hotel – Beyonce.   

Beyonce Knowles began her “I am…Sasha Fierce” tour in Edmonton Canada in March 2009.  After several dates in Canada, the tour moved on to Europe in April with stops in Austria, France, Germany and Spain along the way and ending with a series of performances in England. 

On June 21 Knowles’ Sasha tour makes its way stateside to Madison Square Garden in New York and continues across the country until July 30 when her tour arrives for four nights in Las Vegas.  

The title of Beyonce’s current album is a play on the persona she created over the past few years.  One half of the tracks of “I am…” are personal stories and come from the singer’s soul.  The other half of the album, “….Sasha Fierce” is full of the spark and flame that has come from the stage persona of Sasha.  And Beyonce will be bringing her all-female band and this high octane combination to Las Vegas for their joint Encore Theater marquis moment in July. 

Mike Ross of the Edmonton Sun recently gave Beyonce’s performance at Rexall Place 4.5 out of 5 stars rating stating, “Beyonce can sing traditional R&B if she wants. She proved it late last night – wailing on the Etta James classic At Last, which she performed for the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama.”

Tickets will go on sale through Ticketmaster on Saturday, April 25.  And – the good news – Beyonce is making first 2,000 seats available for $20 (plus applicable service charges).

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Elvis Investors All Shook Up in Las Vegas

The Elvis-themed resort planned for the Las Vegas Strip may not become a reality.  A group of investors who had planned to build the resort on the 18 acres across from CityCenter could be forced to sell their property because of a default on a $475 million mortgage loan. 

New York-based FX Real Estate and Entertainment said its lenders informed the company on April 9 of the bank’s intention to sell the land “to satisfy the principal amount…owed to them under the mortgage loan and secured by the property.” 

FX said it would not be able to resolve the default issue by the May 18 deadline and “is considering all legal options, including bankruptcy proceedings” to prevent the sale of the property.

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Michael Phelps Swims Upstream for Miss California USA Carrie Prejean

Despite all the flap and fallout arising from Perez Hilton’s question and Miss California USA Carrie Prejean’s truthful carrieprejeananswer about legalizing same-sex marriage during the Miss USA Pageant on Sunday in Las Vegas, it appears that the record-breaking eight Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps is taking to the blond bombshell like a beached fish out of water. 

Seemingly not able to get enough of each other, they met last September at the Palms Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas and Phelps became instantly hooked with line and sinker when seeing her hook when the two played basketball in the Hardwood Suite at the Palms, according to Jon Gray, assistant to Palms owner George Maloof. 

Prejean, captain of her Vista (California) High School varsity basketball team, continues to clandestinely roll with Phelps and “he always calls her when he is in town and they go out,” says Prejean’s grandmother, Jeanette Copolla when recently talking with Radaronline.com 

A photograph of Prejean, with a drink in her hands, and smoke-loving Phelps, who looked like he just came off a 24-hour flight from China, appeared in Radaronline yesterday. 

Meanwhile, Phelps continues to bait yet another fish, Carolynn “Caz” Pal, a cocktail server at Moon nightclub in the Palms.

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Robin Williams’ Comedy Featured at CineVegas Film Festival in Las Vegas

Robin Williams is always a tough act to follow.  But at the 11th annual CineVegas film festival in Las Vegas from June 10 through 15 at the Palms Casino & Hotel he’ll be the last act. robinwilliams

His dark comedy “World’s Greatest Dad” directed by Bobcat Goldthwait will close the six-day film extravaganza.  The film features Williams as a high school poetry teacher trying to connect with his teenage son (Darryl Sabara) and an art teacher (Alexis Gilmore) – until a freak accident triggers both tragedy and opportunity. 

The very popular annual Las Vegas festival features a “Pioneer Documentaries” section featuring seven non-fiction films including the world premier of the poker documentary “All In.” 

“Diamond Discoveries” section spotlights new independent films available for distribution, among them “Palermo Shooting,” starring CineVegas chair Dennis Hopper, and “Vegas:  Based on a True Story,” about a compulsive gambler and his blue-collar family living on the outskirts of Glitter City. 

The festival’s “Area 52” is devoted to midnight showings of underground and cult films. 

A special section will also spotlight features and shorts produced in Nevada, or by Nevada filmmakers, including the world premiere of “Thor at the Bus Stop,” which follows a mythical creature on his final journey. 

More information is online at www.CineVegas.com

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Las Vegas Benefit Concert on May 2 for Trina Johnson-Finn

On May 2 a benefit concert will be held in Las Vegas for Las Vegas celebrity impersonator Trina Johnson-Finn, who has been jailed in South America for more than seven weeks.   trinajohnsonfinn

Johnson-Finn goes on trial in early May on charges of fraudulently performing as Tony Braxton in the South American nation of Suriname. 

Johnny Stuart, longtime operator of the “Legends In Concert,” is having the event at his Legends Ranch from noon to 8 p.m.

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Las Vegas Embraces Hip-Hop Culture

Las Vegas is finally getting in the groove and embracing the hip-hop culture movement, sort of.  hiphop

On April 25 they’re hosting the “Hip-Hop Culture 2009…The Evolution” event which features Las Vegas DJs, MCs, poets, artists, dancers, fashion designers, and other assorted artsy-fartsy types in an effort to keep its positive, “encouraging youth to stay in school and support good communities, while at the same time discouraging gang participation, violence and drug use.”  

A good cause for Sin City. 

The event will start at 2 p.m. at the Sammy Davis Jr. Plaza at Lorenzi Park, 720 Twin Lakes Drive in Las Vegas. $5, $3 for seniors and children 6-12. 702-229-4800.

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Lindsay Lohan Shuns Stripping, Outed by Prive Nightclub for Drinking in Las Vegas

Although Lindsay Lohan is reportedly not going to strip down and perform in the newly opened Peepshow at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas opposite Spice Girl Mel B, her behind-the-scenes boozing has been made public by bosses of a Las Vegas nightclub who claim to have seen the actress downing vodka. 

The Mean Girls star – who is newly-single after splitting from girlfriend Samantha Ronson – as been outed by management at Prive nightclub in the Planet Hollywood for drinking alcohol when she claims to be tee-toataling after several stints in rehab. 

According to TMZ, the nightclub released a statement saying:  “Mel [B] was drinking Merlot and Lindsay asked for a Vodka drink mixed with soda water and a splash of cranberry.” 

Lindsay lashed out at a reporter who quizzed her about her ongoing imbibing relationship with alcohol only last week, responding with: “I don’t drink…a**hole.” 

The actress attended rehab and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for alcohol and substance abuse in 2007.

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Learn How to Use Your Fly in Las Vegas

It’s not what you think.  Actually, some say it’s better, more skillful.  The Nevada Department of Wildlife  (the other flyfishingvariety) will be having a free Introduction to Fly Fishing class on April 25 at the NDOW Las Vegas office and the Floyd Lamb Park in Las Vegas. 

The classes will cover basics such as knot tying, terminology and the equipment needed to fly fish, along with casting skills. 

There is also another fly-tying workshop on April 28. 

For more information and registration contact Ivy Santee at 702-486-5127, ext. 3503.

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Liberace Show, Museum & Foundation Sparkles in Las Vegas

As the promotion of Las Vegas culture continues to be challenged, with many museums closing or facing severe budget cuts, the Liberace Museum continues to weather the economic storm.  In fact, it’s just celebrated its 30th anniversary. liberace1

Liberace’s fan popularity continues to soar.  A new show titled Liberace: The Man, The Music & The Memories has been announced for Broadway this fall. The musical will recreate the experience of a Liberace concert in a Las Vegas show room. The musician and comedian Wayland Pickard has been cast in the leading role. 

Liberace opened his museum in 1979, three years after establishing his Liberace Foundation for helping students of the arts.  All proceeds from the museum still support the foundation’s mission.  So far, 2,500 scholars have received $5.2 million in awards. 

Over the years, the museum hasn’t changed much.  And though his fans are aging, still about 50,000 people tour the Liberace Museum daily, says museum director Tanya Combs.  Featuring his cars, pianos, clothes, and jewels, the people who come through the doors watched Liberace on television, saw him in concert, or just heard the museum in a fun attraction, she adds. 

Then there are those people who know Liberace, with his bejeweled costumes, larger-than-life jewelry and penchant for flashy shows- the kin of Las Vegas kitsch. 

Liberace performed in Las Vegas for the first time in 1944, playing the piano at the Las Frontier Hotel.  He dubbed himself Mr. Showmanship in 1956 during an engagement at the Riviera, and make Las Vegas his official residence.  

Liberace represented a style of entertainment that became the very essence and embodiment of the City of Entertainment.

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‘What Happens in Las Vegas Will Stay There’ for Three More Years

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has approved a new three-year advertising and marketing deal with R&R Partners, creators of the “What happens here, stays here” popular Las Vegas advertising slogan. 

The new deal is shorter than two previous five-year pacts with R&R but comes with an option for a three-year extension to 2012.

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Paris Hilton on the Cheap in Las Vegas

Paris Hilton often calls Las Vegas her partying home.  Now that lifestyle may become even more of a regular reality, albeit more austere, as season two of her reality TV show “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF” faces the grim reality of diminished glamour brought on parishilton2by economic facts of life. 

Contestants of the show have to face the realities of living in a mansion that costs half as much as the home of the show that was rented last season.  If that’s not enough indignity to suffer, trips to New York and Tokyo are out this year, as the show’s production budget has been cut by 10 percent. 

With the recession continuing to eat into advertising revenue at TV networks, a popular solution has emerged – even cheaper reality TV.   This after reality shows already were TV’s low-budget alternative, costing about $950,000 per episode, versus $1.7 million for a scripted drama. 

MTV, which plans to air the new Hilton show this summer, is filling more air time with new reality series rather than reruns, but, even so, its programming costs are down 17 percent per half hour, said Tony DiSanto, head of programming at the channel. 

Sorry, Paris.

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Parrotheads in Las Vegas A-hoy!

Legendary singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett will be returning once again to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for a one night show on May 16.   jimmybuffett

After gaining considerable success in the music business, Buffett opened the Margaritaville restaurants which are now found in 11 locations including 3555 Las Vegas Blvd. South on the Las Vegas Strip.  His business empire also includes the Radio Margaritaville station on Sirius Satellite, extensive Margaritaville merchandising and he continues touring in support of his body of music.   

Tickets for the May 16 performance are reportedly still available: http://www.mgmgrand.com/entertainment/grand-garden-arena.aspx or www.vegas.com

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Lindsay Lohan Spotted Shopping for Men in Las Vegas

Lindsay Lohan is apparently putting an end to her lady lovin’ ways and getting back on the straight and narrow. 

The “Mean Girl”- who was in Las Vegas last weekend – was spotted leaving several clubs with an unidentified man in tow only days after allegedly cozying up to Body of Lies megastar Leonardo DiCaprio in Hollywood.   lindsay-lohan

Lindsay also put in an appearance at the opening of Mel B’s new burlesque-style show opening, aptly titled Peep Show, where she reportedly proceeded to eye-up young, unsuspecting male prey. 

The actress told Mel she was “back on men”, after recently calling it a day with her lover of two years, DJ Samantha Ronson.  The couple ended their fiery romance over two weeks ago.

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Justin Timberlake Loves Swigging Tequila 901

Justin Timberlake may want to take a page from the book of illustrious Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman when it comes to promoting liquor in Las Vegas.  While Goodman occasionally makes appearances with showgirls and gin, justintimberlakeTimberlake now likes to dance and sing his way through Las Vegas appearances with his new 901 tequila buddy.  He’s been spotted at XS at Encore, the Playboy Club at the Palms, and elsewhere swigging on the yummy brew. 

901 is the area code of Memphis where Timberlake grew up and according to Timberlake, “It’s also the time that the evening stops and the night officially begins.” 

901 tequila will be available in May, sold exclusively in Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles.

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Las Vegan Alicia Taylor Poses Nude in Playboy’s May Edition

Playboy’s May edition will include Las Vegas native Alicia Taylor,37,  in their “Women of Wall Street” spread on page 40, curled up next to an Investor’s Business Daily and a pillow.aliciataylor

The Rancho High School homecoming queen and UNLV business management graduate is also in the running for the new Bravo TV series, “Real Housewives of Las Vegas.” 

Taylor, a self-made multimillionarie, married her high school sweetheart and has worked in the lending and finance industry for almost 20 years, founding Mortgage Solutions LLC in 2004.

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Blowing Smoke May Again Become Fashionable in Las Vegas

Some people in Las Vegas are quick to contend that smoking, bars, and entertainment are inextricably linked together.   After all, how better can one relax?  It’s just the right thing to do, right?smoking

But for almost three years a Nevada voter-approved no-smoking law has been in effect that prohibits smoking in restaurants, bars that serve food, slot machine areas of grocery sorters, arcades and about every public place except the gaming areas of casinos.   Though the law exists, it has very little bit to it, with few even getting a citation.

Now that measure is headed for a legislative showdown.  And when the smoke settles, smokers may just be headed out to light cigs in their favorite watering hole to the delight of bar and tavern owners. 

The Nevada Senate voted 14-5 last Friday to advance bill SB372 that would allow adults to smoke in bars that serve food effective December 9.  The bill is also expected to be received well by the Assembly. 

Business owners contend the smoking ban was responsible for closing 47 bars in Clark County and the loss of hundreds and jobs. They further said profits are off 15 to 50 percent and their customer based has dropped by 25 percent.    

The smoking ban also lost $41 million for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority when a cigar and smokers’ convention moved to New Orleans where patrons could smoke on the convention floor. 

The Nevada Tavern Owners’ Association has further challenged the constitutionality of the smoking ban in an April 6 lawsuit awaiting the Nevada Supreme Court’s decision. 

However, anti-smoking advocates contend that tavern and bar owners are ignoring the fact that the economy has bone into a recession, using the ban as a scapegoat for business failure.    

Adding water to dowse the cigs, opponents say, smoking is just plain deadly, citing studies from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that show smokers cost the country $96 billion a year in direct health care costs, and an additional $97 billion a year in lost productivity.

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‘Fearless’ Taylor Swift Makes Tracks Back to Las Vegas

Not many artists have an opportunity to make a concert entrance by descending from the rafters in an elevator and exiting to the showroom floor via a David Copperfield magic illusion, but young country music star sensation Taylor Swift had just that, stealing the moment at the 2009 Academy of County Music Awards at the MGM Grand Las Vegas on April 5.  taylorswift1

Swift will be back in Las Vegas on May 23 as she brings her Fearless Tour 2009 to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.  Opening acts will be American Idol alum Kelli Pickler and country music group Gloriana. 

A few tickets are still available if you want to watch the Nielsen 2008’s top-selling artist perform.

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Marie Osmond Perserves, Stays on Top

Marie Osmond’s life is a blur.  She wouldn’t have it any other way.  And, amid all the hubbub in a topsy turvy and sometimes cruel entertainment industry, she stays on top. marieosmond

Marie, the only Osmond sister, lives in Las Vegas, says she is still a homebody as much as high roller — a mother to eight kids, a woman who struggles with her weight, time management, career choices and choosing a partner. 

“I really don’t think my life is all that interesting,” said Osmond as she boarded a plane to sign her new book, Might as Well Laugh About It Now.  “But I am flattered by the people that have read it and identify with it.”  Her book chronicles various events in her life, from defending her father’s leadership of the family business to extolling her parents’ influence on her value system. 

Recent TV gigs, ranging from her 2007 stint on “Dancing with the Stars” to appearances on “Oprah,” have reintroduced Osmond to a new generation or two who didn’t know her much beyond the squeaky-clean teenager of the 1970s-era “Donny and Marie” variety show. 

Now a doll designer popular on the QVC cable shopping channel, Osmond agrees life in the media fishbowl is a trade-off in privacy, but she uses the attention to benefit others. Osmond and actor John Schneider dreamed up the Children’s Miracle Network in 1983. It’s a charity, Osmond says, that annually helps 17 million children and their families. The charity idea grew out the death of her brother’s infant daughter. 

“We are all in fishbowls,” she said in an interview. “You just have to learn to be OK with yourself.” 

As much as her later career has been separated from her family act, her life is still very much tied to the brothers with whom she traveled the world last year in performances marking the family’s 50 years in show business. 

Her Las Vegas stage show at the Flamingo with brother Donny is on hiatus until April 21, but she has contracted for two more years and a solo syndicated TV talk show is in the works for this fall. 

It’s all just another day for the work in progress Marie Osmond.

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Criss Angel Blasts Perez Hilton in Las Vegas

criss-angelDefinitely no love is lost between “Mindfreak” Las Vegas illusionist Criss Angel and celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton. perez-hilton

As Angel was ending his magic show Friday at the Luxor in Las Vegas, he announced that he had someone special in the audience, asking Perez Hilton to stand up. 

“We have the world’s biggest douchebag asshole in the house!” shouted an agitated Angel. 

Perez Hilton, whose real name is Mario Lavandeira, smiled broadly and fired back:  “Thanks for the free tickets.” 

The buzz is that Angel berated the blogger after his camp saw Perez Hilton’s Twitter site, which carried real-time comments dissing Angel’s show, including “unbelievably BAD!” and “I would rather be getting a root canal.” 

So what you say? Perez Hilton has reportedly 600,000 “followers” on his Twitter social networking site.   That’s a whole lot of free marketing publicity.

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Mary Tyler Moore to be Honored at NAB Dinner in Las Vegas

Mary Tyler Moore will be among those honored at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Television Chairman’s Award dinner on April 20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. marytylermoore

The NAB advances the interests of more than 8,300 radio and television stations through legislative, regulatory and public affairs actions. 

At the 2009 event long-time entertainer Mary Tyler Moore will be honored with the NAB Distinguished Service Award which recognizes broadcasters who “have made significant and lasting contributions to the broadcasting industry”.  Past winners in this category have included President Reagan, Edward R. Murrow, Bob Hope, Walter Cronkite and Oprah Winfrey. 

NAB President and CEO David Rehr said of Moore “We are proud to honor her with our Distinguished Service Award for the tremendous impact she’s had on broadcasting and for her many years of public service.” 

The NAB Show will be April 18 through 23 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Las Vegas Hilton.  Exhibits begin on April 20.  NAB Show information:  http://www.nabshow.com/2009/eventInfo/default.asp

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Las Vegas Buying Spree Led to General Growth Properties $27.3 Billion Downfall

Long predicted and now a reality, General Growth Properties has finally collapsed under nearly $27.3 billion in debt, much of it attributed to a Las Vegas property buying spree. 

In Las Vegas, General Growth and its subsidiaries own three malls on the Las Vegas Strip; retail, residential and office real estate in Summerlin; and two regional malls for locals- Meadows and Boulevard malls.  Strip properties are the Fashion Show mall, Grand Canal Shoppes, and the Shoppes at the Palazzo.  Their Summerlin holdings include The Hughes Corporation, which owns the stalled-in-construction Summerlin Centre retail, office and residential development.

The Chicago-based real estate investment trust on Thursday filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York federal court, leaving judges, lawyers and creditors haggle over holdings in about 200 complex properties in 22 states, including pending cases for 360 separate entities, including at least 16 with Las Vegas connections. 

The malls will continue to operate during bankruptcy proceedings, which experts say could drag on for years.

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Miss USA Pageant Plays Musical Chairs

billybushThe Miss USA beauty pageant co-host for tomorrow’s smackdown, oops …showdown will not be “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush.  No, correct that, he’s back into the thick of things now.  Bush previously cited stomach problems when he withdrew and Mark Walberg was asked to pinch hit.  

Bush, first cousin of former President George W. Bush, will co-host with “My Name is Earl” star Nadine Velasquez. 

Pageant judges will by Robert Earl, Shandi Finnessey, Willie Geist, Brian Graden, Shelley Hennig, Perez Hilton, Alicia Jacobs, Claudia Jordan, John Miller, Kelly Monaco, Kenan Thompson, Eric Trump and, last but not least, late entry Holly Madison, the ex-girlfriend of Hugh Hefner and Criss Angel.  Should prove interesting with Madison at odds with fellow judge Alicia Jacobs. 

Try saying all those names in one breath.  Can they really all agree?

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Sold-Out Crowd Rocks new Joint Opening in Las Vegas

The bad economy, $5 beer prices, and long lines didn’t put a damper on the high spirits last night in Las Vegas as The Killers performed to a sold-out crowd during the opening night of The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel. killers

Among the celebrities in attendance were tennis great Andre Agassi and wife Steffi Graf, actor Owen Wilson and Stephen Dorff. 

The new Joint is a bigger, shinier version of the old Joint, complet with a better sound and lighting system and overall crowd experience.  It also features balconies and VIP suites designed for high rollers, with food ranging from sushi to burger sliders. 

Tonight’s show is Avenged Sevenfold and on Sunday Paul McCartney takes the stage. 

The looming question that remains is whether the new Joint and the $750 million renovation can help to bring back the good ol’ entertainment days when virtually all major performer performed at the Las Vegas venue.

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Iconic Porn Star Marilyn Chambers is Dead, Las Vegas Memories Live On

Porn star/actress Marilyn Chambers is dead at 56. She was found April 12 in her Southern California home by her 17-year-old daughter, McKenna Marie Taylor.  Chambers is also survived by her brother, Bill Briggs, and her sister, Jann Smith.   marilynchambers1

But, sadly, news of her death barely made a blip on the Las Vegas virtually anything goes  entertainment news radar. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access waited and waited for something to appear, then decided an article was in order on the verge of her birthday.  After all, she is credited for bringing pornographic films into the mainstream and, in so doing, substantially added to Las Vegas’ colorful and alluring mystique. 

Born Marilyn Ann Briggs on April 22, 1952 in Providence, Rhode Island, Chambers was an attractive, effervescent young woman who had begun her career as a mainstream model and actress, finding fame as the smiling blonde cuddling a laughing, nappy-clad baby on Ivory Snow ads, a popular brand of detergent. When she then appeared in an adult film featuring hard-core inter-racial sex, Procter & Gamble, whose products were claimed to be “100% pure,” quickly pulled the boxes from the shelves. 

Though the manufacturer quickly replaced her,  it was later discovered that she also had a small role in the 1970 Barbara Streisand film “The Owl and the Pussycat.” 

Chambers traded her wholesome image as an all-American pin-up girl for notoriety as a porn star, credited with bringing hard-core adult films into the mainstream consciousness when she starred in the explicit very low-budget 1972 movie “Behind the Green Door.” 

Chambers was the first crossover adult movie star. 

Chambers, also known as Marilyn Ann Taylor, and then-husband/manager Chuck Traynor were fairly high-profile Las Vegas residents during the 1980s, when they co-owned a local gun and survival store, The Survival Store, backing operating partner Bob Irwin in the gun store and shooting range at Interstate 15 and Spring Mountain Road in Las Vegas. 

It was Chambers that popularized the “machine gun and bikini” image used to promote the store – a similar ploy used even today by gun stores around the country – for several years before she separated from Traynor, who was controversial for his earlier marriage to porn star Linda Lovelace (Linda Susan Boreman) and her allegations of abuse. 

Chambers and fellow actresses Linda Lovelace and Georgina Spelvin skyrocketed to fame and stardom at this time when both American social mores and the quality of hard-core sex films were changing. 

For the first time, films like “Behind the Green Door” and “Deep Throat” (also released in 1972 and starring Lovelace) had decent acting and legitimate, albeit fairly thin plots. As the audiences for them grew to include couples, they also began to take on higher production values and to be seen in places other than sleazy theaters. 

She followed the “Green Door” film with other hard-core films “Resurrection of Eve,” in 1973 and “Inside Marilyn Chambers” in 1975. Then she announced in 1976 that she was giving up adult films to pursue other interests. She starred in the 1977 horror movie “Rabid” and to put together a song-and-dance show that played Las Vegas and elsewhere.  After this, the rest of her career she spent shuffling between sex and horror flicks. 

In October 1974, Chambers performed in the dinner-theater comedy “Mind With the Dirty Man” at Las Vegas’ Union Plaza (in reference to the Union Pacific railroad station that originally stood at the site now known as the Plaza Hotel and Casino).  It was at this period she was attempting to spin her notoriety into non-porn endeavors, with plaza owners including the likes of prominent Las Vegas businessmen Sam Boyd, Howard Cannon and Jackie Gaughan.  She returned to the Plaza stage in early 1978 for “Last of the Red Hot Lovers.” 

But by 1979, Chambers was back acting in sex films and onstage for a short-lived engagement in the one-woman show “Sex Surrogate” at the Jolly Trolley casino in Las Vegas. The show drew the quick ire of Las Vegas officials because full nudity is banned in casinos with unrestricted gaming. 

In 1981, Chambers became a fulltime Clark County Nevada resident and known well-known enough that a routine summons for jury duty caused a courthouse stir and generated newspaper coverage. She was dismissed after explaining to the judge, “I’m an entertainer and I have to be in Cleveland Wednesday for an engagement.” 

Chambers, married and divorced three times, remained in Las Vegas through the 1980s after her separation from Traynor, who died in 2002. She also dated Bobby D’Apice, who later made headlines as the Crazy Horse Too shift manager in Las Vegas that was sentenced to prison for breaking the neck of a customer. 

In an online chat with AdultDVDtalk.com in 2000, Chambers attempted to explain what caused her to take such a radically different career path after “The Owl and the Pussycat” and her modeling work. 

“Back then in my naive brain I was thinking that something like ‘Behind the Green Door’ had never been done before and the way our sexual revolution was traveling I really thought it was going to be a stepping stone which would further my acting career,” she said. 

She learned afterward, she said, that wasn’t the case. “There will always be a stigma on people who do adult films,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that that’s the way society has made it.” 

She returned to adult films in 1980 in “Insatiable” and through the rest of her career went back and forth between explicit movies and R-rated ones. Hirsch noted that one of the most striking things about Chambers’ career was its longevity in a business where stars quickly fade. She still has a photo gallery on the Web site Adult Video News and the Internet Movie Database credits her as recently completing a film called, “Porndogs: The Adventures of Sadie” with Ron Jeremy. 

Although Chambers was quick to point out in 2000 that she had done more R-rated films that X-rated ones, she made no apologies for the latter:  “I have to say that the adult films have been a total pleasure,” she said. “They were like getting paid to live out my greatest fantasies. The rest of the stuff … sometimes got to be a real grind.” 

Marilyn Chambers was ranked by Playboy magazine as one of the top 100 sex stars of the 20th century and was named among the top 10 adult film stars of all time. 

Her Southern California death currently remains under investigation.

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Stay and Play in Las Vegas- PLEASE!

Las Vegas visitor volume, occupancy and spending are down as businesses and casinos continue to struggle and reinvent themselves in the recession.  Now Las Vegas is turning to their residents to help them survive.  Hopefully, this will be the winning hand that convinces residents to stay and play awhile before, during, or after their regular vacations. 

There are package deals galore offered at resorts, not only in Las Vegas, but also in Primm, Boulder City, Mesquite and Laughlin. Almost every resort and restaurant is jumping on the bandwagon by offering amazing deals so sweet, locals are opting for a staycation. 

“Stay and play here” is the new Las Vegas slogan aimed at getting locals to spend money in their own backyard. “That’s what we want them to do. We want them to stay in Las Vegas and spend the night instead of traveling to other cities,” said Palms Resort Owner George Maloof. 

Maloof, along with other resort CEO’s are making a deals people can’t refuse. Half-off dinner at Paris, discounts on rooms and rides at New York New York, to name a few. 

“I think the local people just need to be reminded of how great this city is and what great amenities we have. There’s nothing like it in the world,” said Maloof. 

The deals range from entertainment, to shopping, dining and room reservations are all listed on the website http://www.stayandplayhere.com , a site created by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. 

Almost every Las Vegas hotel and casino has jumped on the bandwagon. 

To take advantage of all the deals, all you need is your Nevada State ID.

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Comedian Bob Newhart to Receive NAB Award in Las Vegas

Droll comedian/actor Bob Newhart will be inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame during the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show Television Luncheon on April 20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. bobnewhart

Newhart is being recognized for his contributions to entertainment which span comedy albums, two highly successful television series and several movies and guest appearances.   The award will be given to Newhart by NAB President and CEO David K. Rehr.

Past NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame television inductees include Bob Barker, Regis Philbin, The Tonight Show, and Star Trek. 

The NAB Show will be April 18 through 23 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Las Vegas Hilton.  Exhibits will begin on April 20.  NAB Show information:  http://www.nabshow.com/2009/eventInfo/default.asp

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Esquire is looking for a few good men in Las Vegas (???)

Well, a few REAL men, to be exact, as in really well-dressed! Esquire Magazine, with partners The Bellagio Hotel and The Bank Nightclub, will host the 2009 Best Dressed Real Man event and Style Lounge at The Bank nightclub in Las Vegas, Friday, April 17 from 8-10:30 p.m. esquire

The fashionable men will have the opportunity to register for the contest in person (and in style) while enjoying a Kenneth Cole trunk show, a Nivea for Men grooming station, a display of IWC Schaffhausen watches, Gentleman Jack specialty cocktails, complimentary Michelob Ultra and hors d’oeuvres. All BDRM guests will be offered complimentary entrance to the event, and will be able to stay and party at The Bank for the afterparty. 

When voting ends on May 31, five finalists will be narrowed down to one winner who will receive a $33,200 prize package consisting of $5,000 Kenneth Cole wardrobe, a $5,000 designer wardrobe, a two-day/three-night trip to New York City for the winner and a guest, plus two tickets to a runway fashion show, $15,000 cash, plus a one-year supply of Nivea for Men products, an IWC watch, and the winner will also be featured in Esquire’s September Style 2009 issue. 

As if that weren’t enough, all BDRM entries received will automatically be entered into the Nivea for Men Work Smarter, Play Harder Man of the Week contest. 

Come dressed to conquer.  Bragging rights? Absolutely.

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Miss Nevada’s Gown to Win the Crown?

For decades there’s been a standard beauty pageant look- Aqua net hair, bright red lipstick and that too bright never fading smile.  But in the last 10 years, a new image has emerged.   The padded shoulders and brittle taffeta skirts have slowly been replaced with more current fashion designs including an evening gown created by Project Runway designer Kayne Gillespie. 

This year, Miss Nevada-USA Georgina Vaughan will take the fashion focus all the way to haute couture with a wardrobe of designs by Lana Fuchs of Lana Fuchs Couture. 

A Las Vegas resident since 1995, Lana Fuchs has designed one of a kind clothing worn by celebrities such as Paula lanafuchs1Abdul and Meaghan Martin.  And now she has created a weeks worth of looks for Georgina Vaughan including a fashion forward evening gown that is expected to help set the Las Vegas local apart from the other 50 Miss USA contestants. 

“There’s such a mold of the typical pageant girl,” she says. “Being blond, people prejudge you.”  

Lana Fuchs had a successful runway debut at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Los Angeles in October 2008.  She’s also been featured in Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, In Touch Weekly and 944. 

The Miss USA Pageant will be televised live from the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Las Vegas on Sunday, April 19th, starting at 7 p.m. on NBC.

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Jessica Simpson: Blond if you do, blond if you don’t

Jessica Simpson, a frequent Las Vegas visitor, is one of those talented types who can’t seem to catch a break.  As a pop singer she was constantly compared to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera – too voluptuous to be nice and not jessicasimpsongritty enough to be naughty.   

Her personal life has been the used as the source to create tabloid top sellers with pictures and stories of men who have, and who haven’t, spent time with her.  

And now only months after settling into her single woman skin and stepping up to the country music mic, Simpson appears to be ending her foray into her musical roots.  While she remains part of the Sony Music Group on the Epic label, Simpson is no longer involved with Sony Music Nashville.  Lauren Auslander a former spokesperson for Simpson said, “She (Simpson) was on loan to Sony Nashville for her country album.”   

Many fans believe that Simpson is a favorite target of the media and is often portrayed in a less than favorable light because of petty jealousy.  In a recent interview, Rascal Flatts’ lead singer Gary Levox said Simpson “..is in a spot where whatever she does, they pick her apart. They need to just leave her alone and just let her sing.” 

“She’s a wonderfully gifted singer,” added bassist Jay DeMarcus. “All the other stuff overshadows what she’s really about and it’s unfortunate, because there’s more to her there than just tabloid fodder.” 

It could be Jessica Simpson will spend her time in the spotlight being the blonde everyone loves to hate.  But with her talent, it’s more likely, Las Vegas Backstage Access believes, that she’ll find a way to rebound like blonde archetype Madonna than fall into the archives like Taylor Dayne.

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Las Vegas’ ‘Robin Hood’ Reaches Out to Captain Phillips & Crew of Maersk Alabama

In 2008, a Las Vegas gambler came up with a grand plan:  use his special skills at the gaming tables to assist families in need.  He then set up a Web site and chose two families to assist.  Robin Hood 702 (“Robin Hood,” as in taking from the rich casinos and giving to the poor; “702” for the Vegas area code) flew the two families to Vegas in October 2008 and sent them home with more than $20,000 each. robinhood

Now, Robin Hood 702 wants to give to the captain and crew of the Maersk Alabama.  The Maersk Alabama encountered Somalia pirates just a week ago and Captain Phillips was taken hostage in the Maresk’s emergency launch.  

RH702 has offered to bring Captain Phillips, the 19 member crew of the Maersk and each of their significant others for a weekend in Las Vegas.  He’ll pick up the airfare, the hotel room and the cost of all meals. 

“It really touched my heart that someone would sacrifice their own life … for pirates to take him and spare his crew,” Robin Hood 702 said. “It touched my heart…I decided even though Robin Hood 702 is about helping people in financial crisis, I wanted to do something special for these people too.” 

Robin Hood 702 hides his good deeds behind the cover of a secret identify in order to keep the focus on the deed and not on himself.  This isn’t a celebrity stirring up publicity.  And locals who know the true identify of RH702 can’t say enough about him.  

Barry Dakake, executive chef at the 9 Steak House in the Palms Hotel and Casino, said “… this is what kind of person this guy is. This is coming from him. This ain’t coming from no organization, this is him. Robin Hood is putting this together himself and it’s very unique, very special.” 

But RH702 believes it is Captain Phillips and his crew who are special:  “…I want to recognize them as heroes.”    

Captain Phillips may be reunited with his family today.

Welcome to Vegas, Maersk Alabama!  Courtesy of the one, the only. . . Robin Hood 702 (please click on link).

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Walk and Sip Vino at Las Vegas Wine Walk

The second of the 2009 Wine Walk events to support the New Vista Community will be held Saturday, April 25 at Boca Fashion Village, 750 S. Rampart Blvd., Las Vegas.  The price is $30 per person or two for $50; the event will run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.  The season’s first Wine Walk took place Saturday, April 5 at Towne Square.  winewalk

For five years this successful charity fundraiser has been held exclusively on the east side of Las Vegas.  However, this year people living in northwest Las Vegas are being invited to participate with a series of dates in Summerlin.  Guests will have an opportunity to taste more than twenty different wines while leisurely shopping at Boca Fashion Village or Towne Square. Live entertainment will be provided and Designated Drivers will be made available as needed at no charge to Wine Walker participants.

2009 Wine Walk schedule: 

Town Square – May 5, September 5 and October 3

Summerlin-Boca Park – April 25, May 23, September 26 and October 17 

New Vista has been providing health care, life skills training and homes to people with learning and developmental disabilities since 1986.   Services are paid for by direct contribution, the New Vista Community Emporium (a second hand new and used retail store located at 5220 W. Charleston in Las Vegas) and fund raisers like the annual Wine Walk. 

Further information on New Vista and the Wine Walk may be found at http://newvistacommunity.org/

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Penn & Teller, Harrah’s Entertainment Give Back to Las Vegas

Comedy-magic duo Penn & Teller will present Goodwill of Southern Nevada with hundreds of men’s and women’s business suits that were collected throughout the Harrah’s Entertainment properties. The event starts at 11 a.m.  April 15 at the Penn & Teller box office in the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. pennandteller

The event’s purpose is to raise awareness of Harrah’s Entertainment’s ‘Giving Back to the Community’ resource fair that focuses on professional and personal development on Thursday, April 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  at the Rio Pavillion Ballroom in the Rio Convention Center at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. 

Workshops and presentations planned for April 16 include opportunities to improve skills in job searching, health and wellness, nutrition, and create awareness of financial and community resources available.  Highlights include resume review, interview practice and feedback, free mammograms, health screenings and dental checks, healthy cooking demos and more than 30 organizations that provide services to Las Vegas. 

Both events are free and open to the public.

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Indian Petroglyphs never had it so good

Kevin James Manix, 58, born in Boulder City, Nevada and now living in Henderson, Nevada, knows where all the great petroglyphs are in the Southwest– but he’s just not telling exactly where. petroglyphs

“I don’t tell people where these things are,” Manix said. “We’ve got to preserve them.” 

Mannix’s 35 primo photographs of them, though, weave an unbelievable story.  The photographs were taken between 2002 and 2007 and all feature ancient art – petroglyphs or rock art – and were taken at various places, including Grand Gulch in Utah, White River Narrows in Nevada, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  For some, he walked 50 miles just to take one photograph. 

Mannix is sharing some of the images he has captured, once hidden and left by Native  Americans, in a Southwest Photography exhibit that runs through May 3 at the Rainbow Library Art Gallery, 3501 N. Buffalo Drive, in Las Vegas.

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Las Vegas ‘Tea Party’ Planned for April 15

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution clearly states that free speech is the right of all its citizens.  And on April 15, citizens in many locations across the country will be joining together in many “tea party” events. tea-party

The question for many is whether these tea party events will represent the true power of the people or is it a group of merchants that are using a political hot button to protect their own financial interests?  Some of those looking back over the past eight years at the insurance swaps that were at the core of our current economic failures aren’t so sure that this grass roots movement isn’t designed to cover yet another business-based referendum. 

These modern tea parties are based in part on a historical event in Boston Harbor in 1773 where the Sons of Liberty boarded the Eleanor, the Beaver and the Dartmouth and tossed more than 300 chests of tea leaves into the water in protest of taxation without representation.  The Tea Act meant that exports from England would be taxed at the point they left the country rather than taxed at the point of purchase in the Colonies.   This would reduce the cost of the tea overall but would force taxation without representation. 

Current tea party participants, however, are not protesting imported tea but rather the Obama administration’s national budget and fiscal plans.  This kind of budget battle isn’t new – each administration has had detractors and supporters on both sides of the budget battle.   During George W. Bush’s eight-year presidency his budget proposals were soundly derided for focusing too much on war spending and too little on national health and human services.  

The symbolism of the tea party is meant to invoke a grass roots image of government by the people.  However, not all of the 2009 participants may be aware of all aspects of the original event.  Dutch tea was being smuggled into the America’s.  The 1773 Tea Act would make the imported East India Company’s stock less expensive than the tea supplied by the smugglers.  Legitimate tea merchants that were not consignees of the East India Company were also worried that they would face financial ruin as a result of their competitors selling at a lower rate.  

Much like today, there was a political divide with strong leaders on each side of the aisle.  Benjamin Franklin called for the repayment of the lost tea and four merchants, most notably Robert Murray of New York, actually approached the local British representative to cover the costs of the lost product.   Samuel Adams has been identified by some historians as initiating the well organized event at a meeting of the Sons of Liberty by using the phrase: “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country!”  And regardless of whether Adams sent the crowds to the docks or not, it is well established that he supported the idea of not paying the tax. 

So now, on April 15 around the United States, citizens will meet under a new collective banner of protesting excessive government spending and taxation.  There are stories of rabble rousers trying to infiltrate the events and disturb the new tea party.  But for sure there will be plenty of media coverage supplemented with citizen journalist cell phone videos and personal blogs.  

The question remains to be seen if these events such as the one scheduled in front of the post office in Las Vegas at 1001 Sunset Road from noon to 7 p.m. this Wednesday, April 15 will have a significant impact on the budget negotiations in Washington.  Or will the protests merely result in a failed attempt to play off of historical imagery to promote a current agenda?

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Cheap Las Vegas Booze, Lotsa Fun

Hey, it’s a recession isn’t it?  You wouldn’t necessarily know it by frequenting many of the Las Vegas nightclubs and ordering bottle service for your guests.  Raining C-notes is the rule, not the exception.  It’s hard to get an economical buzz on anymore. 

Until now. 

O’Sheas Casino on the Las Vegas Strip is offering – are you sitting down? – an unbeatable mouth watering 24/7 special where you can purchase a 750-milliliter bottle of Smirnoff or Jack Daniel’s nestled in a stylish brown paper bag with six austere plastic cups and a pitcher containing your mixer of choice.  All this for just $45. 

If one of their bars is packed,  don’t wait, just race to the other one. 

So, it’s time to get out and shake off the recession blues and hit the Las Vegas streets for some cheap booze and entertainment.  And for great comraderie, be sure to bring all your friends and reasonable facsimiles thereof.

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Kelsey Grammar Tapped for NAB Award in Las Vegas

Emmy and Golden Globe winner Kelsey Grammar will receive the first Television Chairman’s Award at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show Television Luncheon on April 20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. kelseygrammar

Best known as the repressed Dr. Frasier Crane from the series “Frasier,” Grammar has also served as producer, executive producer and director on a variety of projects including the NBC series “Medium” and the CW program “Girlfriends”.  

The Television Chairman Award was developed to “recognize individuals for a significant breakthrough in one or more specific art disciplines in television.” 

K. James Yager, CEO of Barrington Broadcast Group and NAB Television Board chairman, said, “His multifaceted talent makes him the perfect first-time honoree of this award.” 

The NAB Show will be April 18 – 23 with events at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Las Vegas Hilton.  Exhibits will begin on April 20.  NAB Show information is available at http://www.nabshow.com/2009/eventInfo/default.asp

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Ne-Yo has come a long way . . .

While studying at the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies as a performing and visual arts major, Shaffer Smith neyolearned that it’s okay to be different.  Today, 29-year-old Ne-Yo – Shaffer was renamed after Matrix movie character Neo – doesn’t need to be concerned at all about being different.  He appears to be quite comfortable in his role as a three-time Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter, actor and record producer. 

Ne-Yo has accepted his fourth acting gig, being part of the cast of George Lucas “Red Tails” – a film about the World War II Tuskegee pilots.  Yes,  it’s that George Lucas and it’s those Tuskegee pilots.  

This will also be the feature film directorial debut for Anthony Hemingway.  In addition to Ne-Yo, the ensemble cast includes Terrance Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bryan Cranston, Nate Parker and Method Man.

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Guns ‘n Beer Sin City Showdown

Like to get away from it all?  Have a brewskie and try your luck at video poker?  Now you can get all that and – if you’re really feeling lucky – a new 9mm Smith and Wesson handgun to call your own and have some good clean fun!  drinkingguns

The O’Aces Bar & Grill in Las Vegas, 4955 S. Decatur Blvd., is amping up their promotions campaign to lure in a new caliber of customers in our knee-deep recession.   They’re offering a smokin’ 9mm Smith and Wesson handgun as their jackpot to any video poker customer that is lucky enough to hit two royal flush bullseyes within a month.  That’s right.

The spirited promotion is stirring up a whirlwind of controversy, even for a city that sees and does it all.  Some say it’s downright dangerous, providing a legal license to kill.  Bar management quickly counters, saying they’re just being innovative and trying anything they can to survive, adding “it’s our right to bear arms.”  

So far, their innovative new business promotion is  proving to be a silver bullet killer- they’re bringing in customers they’ve never seen before. 

No word on what President Obama is planning to do to curb the proliferation of such handguns.

Win two royals and a scantily clad cocktail waitress just slings you the shiny gun from under the bar and you pack out the heat ?  Wrong.   Instead, the winning,  albeit most likely tipsy gambler receives a voucher that they then take to a gun store, pass a background check, pay the license fees- then pack the heat.    

And, yesiree, there are some other strings attached:  Gamblers need to plunk down at least a buck twenty-five and they must be active O’Aces rewards club members. 

Hurry, don’t miss out on this gunslinging action.  There’s still time to win.  Several of their customers have won one royal flush, but not two of the winning hands- yet. 

Bottoms up!

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Las Vegas Workers’ Rights Symposium

A workers’ rights pow-wow in Las Vegas?  Surely, you jest, right?  It’s amazing to Las Vegas Backstage Access that in a city located smack-dab in a Right to Work state there is any concern for the rights of worker bees that are not already part of a collective labor union.  The employer has long ruled the roost in Las Vegas.

That mindset is now being challenged as a five-year-old coalition of private and public organizations, called EMPLEO, or Employment Education Outreach, assemble for their first event ever to enable Las Vegas workers to learn about their rights. 

Prior annual events in Las Vegas have focused solely on employer issues.  Until now.  Such an event for workers in our valley has been lacking for, supposedly, want of a space to hold it, at least according to Silvia Salazar, investigator with the Las Vegas office of the Labor Department. 

The timing couldn’t be better given Las Vegas’ current economic situation.

The event is from 9 a.m. to noon on April 18 at the Pearson Community Center, 1625 W. Carey Ave.  Info: 702-388-6001.

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Furry-Tailed Hip Hopsters in Sin City

Ah, yes, Easter Sunday arrives anew in Las Vegas.  With no shortage of the fluffy, furry-tailed creatures constantly bunnyprowling the Playboy Club in the Palms Casino & Hotel and  just cruisin’ the Strip, egg hunting ops always abound in the City of Entertainment. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access scoured the many valley activities and found a unique Easter Sunday event – the real day.  It features wild, yet PG-rated fun times of a natural kind for children at the Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, an enjoyable 18 mile drive west of Las Vegas off of Charleston Boulevard.  They will have their second annual egg hunt on Sunday starting at 10 a.m. 

“We had a very good turnout last year with over 300 kids,” says park ranger Scott Egy.    According to Egy, they’ll have “well over a 100 plastic eggs” that will be hidden for this year’s hunt.  Each egg will be numbered and at the end of the hunt, volunteers will call out numbers for children to collect a prize. The eggs will be the dentist-friendly kind, not filled with candy because of the wildlife frequenting the area, Egy says. 

The park has a $5 entrance fee per vehicle and will open at 8 a.m.  Attendees may bring their own baskets for the hunt, but bags will also be available for children to color if they don’t have a basket.  702-875-4141

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Las Vegas Cougars Pimp PUMA’s

In this uncertain and perilous economy we live, companies grab on to any glimmering ray of hope, no matter how dim.  Companies are pushed to the brink, gearing up to an unprecedented creative overdrive.  Just look at General Motors and Segway.  With GM trembling on the brink of bankruptcy, having already grabbed $13 billion in their government bailout, and now faced with the challenge of producing substantial results – people want to buy their cars – in about 50 days to the Feds or die trying. 

GM has reinvented themselves in warp speed, entering into a new partnership with Segway to produce a new 300-pound urban assault car– a vehicle not showing the characteristic smiling metal or plastic grille. It’s General Motors’ latest effort to lend its expertise in car manufacturing and exterior design and recast itself, hopefully, as a viable, environmentally friendly automaker.

The zero emissions, green power electric prototype vehicle was demonstrated in New York on April 7.  The joint GM and Segway project, coined “Project P.U.M.A.” (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility), consists of a lithium-ion battery powered two-seater that is canopied in a roll cage and has two wheels.  Having a top speed of 35 m.p.h., the PUMA can travel up to 35 miles between recharges.  About half the length of a Smart car, it basically consists of two Segway PTs (Personal Transporters) joined in a chassis with a transparent shield covering the top and front, and an electric drive and batteries from GM. 

But that’s not the half of it.    Despite not having airbags, the vehicle has other lifesaving and stress reduction advantages.   The cars sport automatic vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems — they can drive and park themselves, automatically detecting other moving vehicles and people in their path, while continuously synchronizing with each other to ease the flow of traffic.    The OnStar wireless communication system will enable people to communicate and locate each other in a city. 

What does this have to do with Las Vegas?  We should join in on the GM partnership, of course.  Squash those sugarplum fairy ideas of building a Las Vegas mob shrine or building that new Taj Mahal city hall.  Think American; invest in GM.  Help turn their dream into a reality. 

For GM and Las Vegas leaders, the challenge and incentive is now to show the government and the public that they’re capable of forward thinking when it comes to implementing programs that save people money, relieve city congestion and curb our urban driving rage syndrome. 

The City of Las Vegas should take part of the pent up budgeted money and use it to promote the new idea and commercialization of it all by building the requisite city electric-powered infrastructure.   Since many Las Vegas homes don’t have garages to house and charge electric vehicles, develop electric-charged depots that are conveniently dispersed throughout the city. 

Further, facing a heated Las Vegas unemployment rate over 10 percent, twice as much as a year ago, the city should part with their budgeted money to hire pick-wielding laborers to expand Las Vegas’ deplorable bike lane network.  That way the environmentally friendly PUMAS won’t be pounced on by competing gas guzzlers as they rapidly fade into dinosaur la-la land. 

Though GM says it would cost only 25 to 30 percent as much to own and operate PUMA as a conventional car, our city could be at least socially gracious enough to self-fund their own economic stimulus bailout program, so Las Vegas down and out people faced with ever shrinking incomes could purchase a PUMA to call their own. 

The thought of having no more driving stress is surreal. Not whiling away time in endless traffic jams that have become a continuous part of Las Vegas life?  Can it happen? 

And imagine all the positive Las Vegas nightlife by-products:  Pimp a PUMA and safely drive AND drink all night long on the Strip.  Gone are all those drunken driving cases that clog our already taxed court system.  Drivers just program in their entire fave peep list and automatically travel incognito throughout the evening- safely, without texting and tweeting.  

Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan would no doubt be in her tenth heaven. 

Just pray the automatic pilot doesn’t fail.

Check out the PUMA in action.

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Dialing In Las Vegas Fun

We’ve all spent mind-expanding, sometimes numbing, but yet entertaining hours watching at one time or another television quiz shows like “Jeopardy,” “Wheel of Fortune” and “Family Feud.”  

The brainchild behind these shows and others like them over the past 25 years is Las Vegas resident Mark Richards.   He’s now trying for a revival.  But instead of trendy television being the medium, he’s hoping that his new weekly two-hour radio quiz show will grab and hold the attention of Las Vegas listeners. 

Richards’ current object of affection is called the “The Radio Game Show,” which will be an amalgamation of his prior shows and premiers on KNUU970-AM in Las Vegas at 1:05 p.m. PST this Sunday, April 12. 

“Nobody in the country is doing a game show on radio,” says Richard, who also owns a video production company.  “Some stations are doing contests for tickets for show, but not a game show like this one.” 

If successful, the quiz show guru plans to syndicate his show across the country. 

He might just have his dream come true.  After all, he has succeeded with the show in the past.  The show ran in the San Diego, Los Angeles, and other cities in the 1980s.  He even brought the show to Las Vegas in 1990, where it aired for about two weeks on KVEG 97.5-FM and then on KENO 1460-AM for about three years. 

Godspeed, Mr. Richards.

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Holly Madison Strikes Again

Holly Madison, the former Playboy playmate, commenting on what she missed most about living with Hugh Hefner, her ex-boyfriend, at last weekend’s 83rd birthday bash for Hef in Las Vegas at the Palms Casino & Hotel:hughhefnerholly 

“The mansion has a fantastic zoo with birds and monkeys – I used to work in the zoo a lot and was really close to the zoo staff.  I fancied myself as an amateur zoologist.”

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Peabody Awards Won by Las Vegas Journalists

The 68th annual Peabody Awards, representing the “best in electronic media,” were announced on April 1, by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications.   Winners of this years most prestigious media awards include CNN for their coverage of the 2008 presidential primaries,  NBC for it’s coverage of the Beijing Olympics, PBS’ for “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill.”

Las Vegas’ own KLAS-TV Channel 8 investigative reporter George Knapp and photojournalist Matt Adams for “Crossfire: Water, Power and Politics”. 

Knapp and Adams along with Channel 8 photojournalist Alex Brauer and producer Ian Russell spent three years collecting information and preparing the piece which aired March 22 and April 20, 2008.  

Water in the Southwest is a priceless commodity and the constant topic of hot debate.  Whether it’s droughts, floods or the rechanneling of rural waters to metropolitan locations, water is more vital and valuable than gold.  The Crossfire special report focused on population growth and the politics of water in Southern Nevada. 

In making their announcement, the Peabody judges called the reporting “a brave, meticulous examination” of plans to pump water from rural Nevada to the Las Vegas Valley. 

Knapp and Adams will join other Peabody winners at the May 18 awards ceremony, hosted by NBC’s Brian Williams in New York City.

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Top Las Vegas Chefs Sharpen Knifes, Battle for James Beard Awards

For culinary chefs it’s a big deal- and a huge honor.  Top Las Vegas semifinal chef nominees are now vying for the coveted James Beard Awards.   Wynn Las Vegas chef Paul Bartolotta is on track for a rare double James Beard award win for best chef and is competing against Claude Le Tohic of Joel Robuchon at the Mansion at the MGM Grand.  Raku is trying for best new restaurant; rising star chef of the year, Vanessa Garcia, Restaurant Charlie, at the Palazzo; rising star chef of the year, Sarah Kosilkowski, Michael Mina at Bellagio; and best chef, Saipin Chutima, Lotus of Siam, round out the Las Vegas competitors. 

The winners will be announced the first week of May in New York City.

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Las Vegas SPA-tacular!

Just the thought of going to the dentist makes most people wince, if not race for them ‘thar hills.   

That’s why it’s odd that some people are now actually seeking out the services of Summerlin-based Las Vegas Beautiful Smiles.  Offering a wide range of cosmetic dental services, ranging from gum treatments and teeth whitening to crowns, braces, and porcelain veneers, they perform all their dental procedures in comfy and cozy style. 

You won’t hear the buzz of a migraine-creating drill- electric hand pieces have replaced them. 

Gone also is the overwhelming fluoride smell in the air.  Scented candles insure that. 

Clients enjoy complimentary paraffin wax treatments as they watch TV in massage chairs. 

And it doesn’t end there.  Patients partake in a “before” and “after” photo shoot to document their change and commemorate their experience. 

Las Vegas Beautiful Smile is located at 1781 Village Center Circle, Suite 110, in Las Vegas.  702-445-7075.

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All Rise: The King is Back in the Building

For some, death is really not in their cards, it’s just a lifetime spent in purgatory.

Keeping with tradition, Las Vegas will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley this July with one of the largest Elvis conventions in the world. According to John Stuart, a long-time Las Vegas producer and the mastermind behind “Legends in Concert,” an award-winning celebrity impersonation show in Las Vegas, the idea is to bring back to faux life “all major people who were in the original concert 40 years ago.”

Though not an original Elvis band member, Sean Klush, the BBC’s “World’s Greatest Elvis” in 2007 is also planning to make his sparkling appearance. 

Elvis fans will get a a chance to take a special backstage tour and even participate in an Elvis impersonation contest. 

The King’s once-in-a-lifetime revival extravaganza is scheduled for July 15 through 19 at the Las Vegas Hilton.

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Kato who? Uh, is he the homeboy of O.J. Simpson?

O.J. Simpson is cooling his heels in the Big House at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Northern Nevada, eating savory “mystery meat” while serving his nine-to-thirty-three-year term for his memorabilia heist that went terribly wrong at Palace Station.  But his house guest back in 1994 when he was charged with killing his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, was Kato Kaelin. 

Kaelin, now 50, testified at the 1995 murder trial and his life has been inextricably linked to the former football star ever since. 

Kaelin’s transition from real life reality to acting has been seamless.  He has been a Screen Actors Guild card-carrying katokaelinmember for 22 years.  A year before the killings, he had tested, albeit unsuccessfully, for a part in the film “Dumb and Dumber.”  

After the trial Kaelin was launched into faux stardom, going on a speaking tour and appearing in several TV reality shows and films.   For the past five year he has worked for National Lampoon in Los Angeles developing film projects.

Coming full turn, Kaelin now graces the Planet Hollywood stage in Las Vegas as a wedding crasher in “Tony and Tina’s Wedding.”   His character plays Tony’s house guest for five years, sleeping, fittingly, on the couch.

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Las Vegas Tribute to Rhythm and Blues Legend Ruth Brown

A tribute to rhythm and blues legend Ruth Brown will be on April 9 at the Bootlegger Bistro in Las Vegas. ruth-brown

The Tony Award-winning Brown, who also won a Grammy, died at age 78 on November 17, 2006 in Henderson, Nevada. 

Her original Bootlegger band and son Ronnie McPhatter will be among the large number of musicians attending,  including Dennis Bono, Regi Brown, Jimmy Castor, Sonny Charles of the Checkmates, Wendy Edmead of The Pointer Sisters, and Earl and Sonny Turner of The Platters. 

A $5 admission donation will be charged, with all proceeds going to The Society of Singers.  The Bootlegger Bistro is located at 7700 Las Vegas Blvd. South, No. 1, in Las Vegas (702-736-4939).

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Criminal Minds Star Morphs into ‘Allllvinnn!’

CBS’s Criminal Minds very popular actor Matthew Gray Gubler is a Las Vegas product born and bred.  Performing as matthewgublerthe three Ph.D. degree-holding Dr. Spencer Reid on the TV series since 2005,  Gubler was raised in a quiet neighborhood near Bob Baskin Park in Las Vegas, later graduating from the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts High School and later attended a four-year class at the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, majoring in drama and graduating in 1998.  

After that “The Gube,” started his “profiling” career by studying at the University of California in Santa Cruz and two year later decided to leave California and move to New York to enroll at  the Tisch School of the Arts, later graduating from that school in 2002.  While in Manhattan he walked the runways for some of the biggest fashion designers including Marc Jacobs, Burrberry, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger and Sisley. 

Gubler, 29, is now taking a brief television break from his “personal voyage of desperation and tragedy,” to voice Simon in the new Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel movie planned for release on December 25th by 20th Century Fox.

 “I welcome the role with open arms because it’s so fun- not that I don’t love looking at bloody fingerprints,” says a confident and beaming Gubler. 

Okay!

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Las Vegas Goes Country, Hollywood Tags Along

When Las Vegas hosts a party, stand back- nothing is ever commonplace in the City of Entertainment.  Last night’s 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Arena proved to be no exception.   The buzz of the award’s evening followed a week of Las Vegas fun, glitz, and glamour as Hollywood stars joined with country music’s best and brightest. 

The three-hour awards show featured award presenters Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jamie Foxx and Matthew McConaughey, but all eyes were on legendary Reba McEntire as she hosted the show for the 11th consecutive year.  

Providing a fitting prelude to the awards, hundreds of frenzied fans greeted their favorite musicians and singers on the red carpet outside of the MGM Grand before the show. 

After Kenny Chesney performed “Out Last Night”, Jennifer Love Hewitt arrived on stage wearing in a long white flowing gown and announced the first award of the night for Song of the Year among award contenders George Strait, Jamey Johnson, Heidi Newfield, Brad Paisley and Trace Adkins. 

Jennifer said she was not only a big fan of country music but also of Vegas. “There’s no place I’d rather be,” she said before announcing, in a surprise win, that Jamey Johnson had won for “In Color.” 

In the competition for Top Vocal Duo award, the very popular Sugarland beat out Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry and Joey + Rory.  Sugarland is playing at live in concert at the Primm Valley Casino Resorts on July 24.  [Las Vegas Backstage Access February 11 article.] 

Las Vegas resident, MGM Grand illusionist and Magician of the Century David Copperfield, a coming-out country music fan that attended the ACM for the first time, donned a black Stetson while he pulled up his sleeves and made Taylor Swift magically appear from an overhead empty suspended box on the stage.  Swift hung around a bit to receive her crystal award for having the most record sales in the year and winning the Album of the Year Award for “Fearless.” 

Hollywood superstar and frequent Las Vegas entertainer Jamie Foxx, raised in Texas, confessed he was also a country music fan and then proceeded to introduce country music legend George Strait, saying he will be a guest singer for his friend at a taping in Las Vegas today for a May 27 CBS special when Strait is honored as Artist of the Decade.   Straight, with a career spanning 25 years, is the most nominated artist in the history of the Academy of Country Music Awards with a total of 78. 

Las Vegas’ hometown product Julianne Hough – she attended Las Vegas Academy and her mother lives here – julieanne1provided a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction moment, though subtle, before gushing and accepting with pride her duo Top New Artist and fan favorite Top New Female Artist awards as her country singer boyfriend Chuck Wicks waited in the wings, cheering her on. 

Julianne and Chuck left this morning from Las Vegas on a flight to be back in Hollywood for tomorrow night’s episode of Dancing With the Stars, where they will partner for a Viennese Waltz to a Rascal Flatts number.   (Rascal Flatts won once again.)

The highlight and culmination of the evening came when Carrie Underwood won the Entertainer of the Year award, carrieunderwoodbeing the lone female among nominees Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, George Strait and Keith Urban.  Matthew McConaughey made the awards presentation.   (Did she really venture out after the event and check out George Strait’s ‘white boots’ in McConaughey’s car?) 

There was never a dull moment.  Even before it started, Tim McGraw got in a production fracas that ended with him walking out before the show started. 

Sporting his ‘Made In USA’ labeled guitar, John Rich sang to a cheering crowd “Shutting Detroit Down,” a ballad of frustration on corporate greed and workers getting the short end of the proverbial stick. 

Toby Keith took the opportunity to single out a reporter from a Nashville newspaper over the publication of a Rolling Stone story by actor Ethan Hawke. Both Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson denied the story, but the Tennessean published it anyway without reaching out to Toby. He lambasted the reporter with a series of F-bombs, and it seriously looked as if he might leave the media stage and go after the writer — but cooler heads prevailed, and Toby left the room abruptly. 

Behind the scenes, Trace Adkins, who was the runner-up on the first season of Celebrity Apprentice, took a verbal shot at this season’s participant Dennis Rodman. Trace said that if the former bad boy of basketball didn’t change his ways, it would wind up killing him. 

All this action in just one grand and glorious Las Vegas evening.

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World’s Largest Heliport Plans Grand Las Vegas Valley Liftoff

Our economy is tanking, but don’t tell that to the thousands of tourists that daily fly in helicopters to get a birdseye view of the majestic Grand Canyon.  An average of 99 helicopters fly out daily from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, just six fewer than the 2005 peak.  And that doesn’t include the additional 3,500 customers that are planned to fly daily from the new Boulder City Aerocenter [Las Vegas Backstage Access April 2 article].

The first phase of the proposed 229-acre Sloan heliport, costing an estimated $115 million and projected for a mid-heliport2011 completion, will provide the home for 80 to 110 helipads.  

That will make the heliport the biggest on the planet, say Federal Aviation Administration officials. 

The heliport will also clear McCarran airport space for jetliners to bring much-needed tourists to boost the Las Vegas Valley’s economy, while safely moving helicopters away from crowded city neighborhoods. 

The FAA has recently signed off on the environmental assessment that now paves the way for the Bureau of Land Management to transfer the Sloan heliport property to Clark County.

Heliport project groundbreaking is planned for early 2010. 

Maverick Helicopters is planned to be the first tenant to lease heliport space, which may approved as early as April 7 when the Clark County commissioners meet to discuss the matter.   Two more tour operators could join Maverick in occupying the heliport.

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Fifteen Bankrupt Casinos

Operating 15 casinos in Nevada, Iowa and Missouri and a 600-location, 6,800-machine Nevada slot route, and herbstcontinuing to be hammered by a sour economy, Herbst Gaming has filed a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan that will result in the company losing ownership of its casinos but retaining control of its Nevada slot machine route.  

The current management team is planned to remain in place and employees will receive pay and benefits, and suppliers will be paid regularly vows Herbst Gaming CEO Troy Herbst, who owns the gaming company with his brothers.

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Got $1 Million? Wanna Start a Las Vegas Casino?

It’s a real downer for Asian’s in Las Vegas.   The vision of Andrew Lai for over seven years was to build an Asian-themed hotel-casino in Las Vegas.  

The hopes of having two towers with a combined 3,400 rooms, a 70,000-square-foot casino, 500,000 square feet of retail space, and employ 6,000 to 8,000 workers, are now dashed on the rocks- literally. dragoncity

Lai and a group of investors planned to build the 28-story Dragon City hotel/resort on 22 acres near Spring Mountain and Wynn Roads in Las Vegas. 

Instead they’re being forced to auction off the dirt just to try to pay the bills. 

The gaming zoned site that is arguably the largest singe asset ever sold at an open outcry real estate auction, is being placed on the block at MGM Grand on May 16 by Spring Mountain Wynn Investments LLC, with an opening bid of $27.5 million, or $1.25 million per acre.  Bidders will need a $1 million deposit before bidding.   

The property is appraised for $174 million, or $7.9 million per acre, but a high sale price seems unlikely given the sour real estate market and continuing credit crunch.

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NASCAR Award Ceremonies Planned for Las Vegas

Although some minor details need to be ironed out, it’s almost a done deal that Las Vegas will be the new home to the NASCAR Sprint Cup banquet, awards ceremonies and postseason celebrations in the first week of December, most likely December 4. nascarawards

The event honors the top 10 NASCAR drivers from the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. 

A major event acquisition coup for Las Vegas,  for the past 27 years the prestigious event was held in New York City. 

Planning has been in the works for the past two years by Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) president Rossi Ralenkotter and his team.  Speedway Motorsports Inc., owner of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, has lobbied for the event. 

The LVCVA would reportedly pay NASCAR between $500,000 and $1 million for each year of the contract, which may be for three to five years. 

NASCAR would be the second major professional sport to shift its awards ceremony to Las Vegas this year.  Ralenkotter negotiated a three-year deal to bring the NHL awards to the Palms Casino & Hotel on June 18.

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Another Las Vegas Burlesque Show Bites the Desert Dust

On the heels of Las Vegas burlesque show closures, including the recent Folies Bergere that closed on March 28 after ivan-kanetheir 49-year-run, Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce also called it quits, succumbing to the ongoing ravages of the economy last weekend after more than four years of being in the retail shops area adjacent to MGM Mirage’s Mandalay Bay. 

Kane fueled the retro burlesque revival with Forty Deuce in Las Vegas and his Hollywood nightclub.  Now both are shuttered. Kane’s name only remains on the subdued Café Was.

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Cure for Recession Blues?

Most everyone to some extent has or is being touched by our economic recession blues.  A new prescription for those ills is debuting at 7:30 p.m. on April 6 on KLVX-TV, Channel 10 (Vegas PBS) when they air “Recession Rx,” and also show it on their Web site (www.VegasPBS.org/rx), YouTube and as an Internet stream and podcast. 

All of our recession’s biggest aches and pains – the mortgage crisis, home foreclosures, unemployment, bankruptcy, health care, job searches and training, legal problems, even psychological issues – will be diagnosed on “Rx,” a half-hour, 13-week series. 

“We’re not solving everybody’s problems, but we’re setting out to say what’s out there,” says Cathy Hanson, host of the television show.

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A Little Less Juiced Sin City

Although reportedly ‘safe and sane’ energy juice drinks are now alternatively swigged in copious amounts nightly by Paris Hilton and her clan to keep them up all night and partying hearty, it’s nice to know that less juice of yet a different type can also be a good thing in the City of Entertainment.  

Although many states reported little or no change in energy use during Earth Hour, officials at NV Energy report that earth-hourenergy consumption during the March 28 one-hour event [click on prior Las Vegas Backstage Access articles: 1  2] in the Las Vegas Valley dropped roughly 3 percent below a typical Saturday night. 

Although virtually every Las Vegas hotel-casino on the Strip powered down their exterior lights for an hour during that evening, it’s really difficult to accurately determine how much of that power drop might have come from conservation-minded residents turning down or off their lights as the company doesn’t differentiate between power use along the resort corridor and residential consumption. 

But saving energy really wasn’t the goal of Earth Hour.  Rather, the idea was a call for world action for climate change, letting policymakers know the people mean business on the issue. 

Las Vegas means business on climate change initiatives and saving energy costs.

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Las Vegas Topless Strip Clubs Rain Cash-For-Customers

As former topless cabaret mogul and government informant Michael Galardi walks the Las Vegas Strip schmoozing and looking for a new gig, a high-stakes strip poker match of a different type is agressively being played out at many Las Vegas topless adult entertainment clubs. 

Long a “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” accepted business practice, Las Vegas strip clubs handsomely tipped cabbies that delivered lusty patrons to their doorstep.  Fifty bucks was the norm for over a decade.strip-clubs1

Until now.  

As home prices and sales continue to plummet and people try to find jobs or at least hold on to their employment, many Las Vegas topless strip clubs have seen fit to double the cab tip ante to at least $100 per customer.   That new ransom could equates to an average estimated payout of $5 million a year by each participating strip club.  A C-note buy in for participating in the cash-for-customers game is commonly paid by Ricks’ Cabaret Gentlemen’s Club, Treasures, Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club, and many more- at least the ones that aren’t secretly looking for new owners or staving off their bankruptcy. 

No end appears in sight for the advancing Taxi Topless War.  Many clubs are trying to recoup rising “acquisition” costs by charging higher cover charges and drink prices.   Rick’s CEO and President Eric Langan mirrors the intentions of many strip club owners, saying he has no intention to be outbid by his Sin City bretheren and is willing to write off the expenses as the cost of marketing. 

As Las Vegas cab and limo drivers rake in record amounts of dough, they’re also arguing more with doormen to cut ever higher deals.   And it’s not uncommon to see cab drivers pass up picking up ladies waiting for a ride on the street in favor of waiting gents that can bring them more revenue.

Casino hosts, too, are also rapidly buying in to the very lucrative cash-for-customers game.   They’re not just referring their clients to the strip clubs, but hosting them inside the caverns of lust.

And, of course, you can bet your last dollar that the IRS will eventually come sniffing around and look for its due.

Recession hitting the Las Vegas topless clubs?  Pshaw!

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Rock ‘N Roll Double-Header Tour Heading to Las Vegas?

This summer, Def Leppard and Bryan Adams will give the phrase “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” a whole new meaning def-leppardas they co-headline a nationwide Rock ‘N Roll Double-Header Tour. Teaming up for the first time, two of the most popular rock acts to ever take the stage are slated to perform at 26 minor league baseball stadiums around the country, starting on June 1 when they travel to Portland, Oregon, home of the Beavers.

Bryan Adams and Def Leppard, combined, have sold more than 100,000,000 albums worldwide. Each made their album debut in 1980 — and 25 years later they are still hitting performance homeruns. Only five rock groups can claim two original albums selling 10,000,000 plus copies each in the U.S.: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Van Halen and Def Leppard. 

However, not seeing the Las Vegas 51s, our 27-year-old Triple-A minor league baseball franchise team that plays at Cashman Field, on the concert tour list, Las Vegas Backstage Access is checking with Chicago-based promoter Jam Productions to see if they’ve simply flubbed up.  

Or could it just be that Derek Stevens, CEO of the Stevens Baseball Group, who bought the franchise from Mandalay Baseball Properties in 2008 has other plans for his team this season?

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Las Vegas Metro Police- Fast as a Speeding Tweet

The Las Vegas Metro Police Department (LVMPD) is the latest addition to our city’s zany social networking tweeting crowd. Now along with chatting on Cirque du Soleil characters, virtual partying with the Playmates on Palms Vegas and following celebrity sightings at the speed of neon light on Myvegasscene.com, you can get up-to- the-minute updates on the whereabouts of Las Vegas vice cops. 

Twitter members send 140-character maximum text “tweet” messages like “Metro is setting up a perimeter near Warms Springs & Rainbow. Please avoid the area,” and can plan their “life” accordingly. 

Metro is also posting photos of suspects and alerts about missing children. “This is huge, because if we have people on their cell phones who subscribe to this site, as they are taking their kids to school and dropping their kids off, they may see this little four-year-old wandering around in his pajamas,” said Metro Officer Ramon Denby in an interview with Las Vegas One. 

So far, the results are promising:  In the three days the feed has been up, it already has 332 followers. 

LVMPD joins a number of city police departments (Boston, Toronto and Milwaukee, to name a few) that leverage Twitter to help fight crime in their communities and make residents’ life easier by providing instant alerts. 

But it’s not just the hard-core stuff:  Twitters were also the first to know that the local metro cops were serving lunch at the Las Vegas Valley’s Applebee’s locations on March 26, with all tips going to Special Olympics fundraising efforts.

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Las Vegas Art Scenesters Buckle Up for Bumpy Roller Coaster Ride

The Las Vegas Art Museum shutdown last month.  The Nevada Ballet has cutback on staff and postponed programs.  The Las Vegas Philharmonic is cutting back and holding on.   art

The Nevada Opera Theatre, though feeling the economic impact,  is cushioned somewhat by their pre-recession budgeting. 

“The effect on us has not been as traumatic as on the philharmonic and the ballet because of their much larger agenda and audience participation,” said founder and director Eileen Hayes, whose theatre actually has seen a budget increase from about $225,000 to $300,000. 

“Yes, contributions have been down, especially between the last two years and this year, but we’ve been in the mode of reducing our once big deficit dramatically over the last few years. And our audience attendance is really starting to rebound.” 

Beyond those factors, the company has not tied itself to a set season of performances and the attendant costs. When it does perform, it is at smaller, less expensive venues. Though for the past two years the company has not staged its usual production at UNLV’s large Artemus Ham Hall, Hayes expects that to resume. Tickets have been kept less than $50, and the group has kept close tabs on production budgets. 

“We’re just being very careful what we do,” Hayes said. “We have cut back on guest performers over the last several years. We used to bring in entire sets and costumes, but now we’ve gotten frugal and rent pieces locally and from Southern California. We used to rent entire sets from New York, but those days are gone.” 

At Opera Las Vegas, finances are actually on the upswing. Citing “prudent and creative fundraising,” Hal West, vice president of marketing and public relations, said his company is aiming for a 50 percent budgetary hike, increasing program investments from $50,000 to $75,000. Containing expenditures by staging only two productions this year, they briefly considered doubling the top $40 ticket price but nixed that notion. 

Similarly, the 32-year-old Las Vegas Little Theatre, Las Vegas’ oldest community theater, is functioning fairly well on a nearly $200,000 budget, maintaining six productions in the main stage theater and three in the smaller Black Box. 

“We’re not rolling in money, but we’re no worse than in previous years, paying our rent and electric bills,” said board President Walter Niejadlik, noting that keeping expectations reasonable and avoiding grandiose goals helps steady the balance sheet. “We’re not doing huge productions costing $20,000 a pop that never have a shot at making money back. It’s the undoing of a lot of arts organizations in this town. Everyone’s going to be the next greatest thing, doing art for art’s sake, but with no business sense.” 

Theater audiences traditionally skew older than for other art forms — on average, 65 to 70 years old, Niejadlik said — with more discretionary income to spend on the arts. But that demographic reality has a sad side: the steady attrition of season subscribers. Las Vegas Little Theatre loses about 70 subscribers a year. 

“Without being terribly morbid, they’re dying,” Niejadlik said. “We get a list of subscribers who have passed away. Our big focus is on getting younger folks into the theater.”

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Las Vegas Travel Web Site Upgrades Customer Options

VEGAS.com has revamped its Web site, enabling the creation of custom Las Vegas travel package for their customers with just one visit to the site. 

The improved VEGAS.com allows consumers to move seamlessly through its many offerings , adding items to their virtual shopping carts and checking out in one transaction after all the trip’s components – travel, lodging, shows and other activities – are  in place.  

Shoppers check on ticket availability for shows and other Las Vegas entertainment options before making their hotel and airline reservations at a package rate. 

It also offers flights from 400 airlines – up from one – and supports making flight reservations to Las Vegas from 1,700 cities, up from 90. 

When combined with the thousands of hotel, show, tour, golf, nightclub and restaurant options marketed by the site, VEGAS.com estimates that it will enable consumers to choose from 207 billion possible combinations of Las Vegas tourism offerings.

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Sky Holds Answer to Las Vegas Woes?

In this choking, restless economy, how do you draw better focus to your Las Vegas casino or hotel?  Simple:  Put a camera view on the side of your business.  

SkyTag, a building wrap design firm, has provided the ‘guiding light,’ draping two sides of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas with an advertisement that mimics what you see when you look through the lens of your camera or video recorder.   

This “camera” is taking a photograph of the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.  By using this local landmark as the centerpiece to the design, SkyTag has managed to not just focus attention on the Luxor but also focus attention on Las Vegas.  And with some luck, this campaign may just focus attention on SkyTag itself as a viable advertising alternative.

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Out with Miss America, In with Miss USA

No sooner than Miss America pageant contestants sashayed in and out of Las Vegas, then 51 Miss USA contestants strutted in to take their place at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.  On April 4 at 6 p.m. all the Miss USA contestants will have their first official welcoming ceremony, with the public invited to come out and meet, greet and photograph the bevy of beauties outside the resort on Las Vegas Boulevard plaza, 3667 Las Vegas Boulevard South. 

The iconic Donald Trump-owned Miss USA® Pageant returns for its second year to Las Vegas and the Theatre for the Performing Arts at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Representing Miss Nevada USA will be Georgina Vaughan, who will have a brief four-mile drive from her home in georgiavaugnSummerlin to the festivities.   The local 20-year-old blonde beauty plans to wear a bikini from Jessica Simpson’s swimsuit line for that part of the competition and promises that she’s also going to take a risk with her evening gown competition as well.

“It’s definitely going to be something spectacular and different. I want to be a trendsetter because that’s what Nevada is all about in the first place. It’s going to have a real sparkle to it, but nobody will see it until the actual moment I walk in it for the competition.”

Rounding out the Las Vegas welcoming committee entourage will be Crystal Stewart, 2008 Miss USA®; Thomas McCartney, president and CEO of Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino; Lawrence Weekly, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Board of Director and Clark County Commissioner; and other dignitaries.  KLUC’s Chet Buchanan will be onsite as the local emcee.

If the mass meet and greet is just too bland for you, might want to consider attending the Sunday, April 5 pajama brunch at Simon at Palms Place from noon to 2 p.m.  Twenty-six Miss USA contestants will be in their jammies eating anything yummy.    Then that evening the high metabolism blessed lovelies will pig out on pasta at Buca di Beppo in Las Vegas and be entertained by chef Michael Miyahara.

There is no word on whether Katie Rees, Miss Nevada USA 2007, who was stripped of her title after racy photos emerged of her kissing other women, will show up to kibitz with the new flock of beauties.

Also, no blog postings are being planned about having fun at Guantanamo Bay, as happened when Miss Universe Venezulean beaty queen Dayana Mendoza visited the detainee camp with Miss USA 2008 Crystal Stewart and posted her late-March bombshell entry.  It quickly vanished and was replaced by a statement from embarassed Paula M. Shugart, president of the Miss Universe organization.

The 2009 Miss USA® Pageant will air live on NBC on April 19, 2009.

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Playboy Icon Hugh Hefner Turns 83 in Las Vegas this Weekend

hugh-hefnerHugh Hefner will be prancing around all this weekend in his aged red robe all over the Palms Casino in Las Vegas celebrating his 83rd birthday. 

There’s a Palms Place pool party scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 4 at the Playboy Club & Moon Nightclub. 

And there is great potential for some memorable catfights, as Hef’s “old” flame, Holly Madison (and, recently, Criss Angel’s ex), is reportedly joining her “Girls Next Door” gal pals, Kendra and Bridget.   During this fray, Hef will meticulously grooming their replacements with tender loving care: Crystal Harris and 19-year-old twins Karissa and Kristina Shannon.   

If you’re planning on going, be sure to bring Hef a birthday present:  Viagra

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Business Booms for M Resort in Las Vegas Valley

Anthony Marnell III opened his new $1 billion M Resort property in Henderson, Nevada on March 1 and Las Vegas Backstage Access was there and wrote on it.  The resort was swamped with 4,000 guests on opening night, forcing many guest to park their cars on the dirt just to get in.  

Attendance continues to surge.  The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that 20,000 people, lured by the promise of $10 in free slot play, signed up for their slot club in the first two day.    Other guests swamp the two eateries, the Red Cup Café and the Vig Deli.  Table games, at least the $10 ones, are generally packed with clients, even during the week. 

Encouraged by the results, Marnell has expanded his 1,800-member work force by 250 people.  That’s a 14 percent increase in a down economy.

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Boulder City Boosts Nevada Tourism Appeal with New Air Terminal

The Boulder City Municipal Airport in Boulder City, Nevada, located about 40 minutes outside from central Las Vegas, has been waiting many years to get a showcase air terminal for their 3,500 customers who fly helicopters and planes daily to the Grand Canyon.  Now their dream is a reality with the opening of the new $9 million Boulder City Aerocenter.  The 30,000-square-foot terminal at the airport is the project of Southern Nevada’s Halvorson family – largest air tour operators in the world – which own Papillion Grand Canyon Helicopters, Grand Canyon/Scenic Airlines and the Canyon Flight Trading Company. 

The terminal has allowed the myriad of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas flight tour operations to consolidate at one location and in so doing reduced some of the mounting air clutter over residential areas and provided more takeoff and landing slots for bigger aircraft at McCarran airport in Las Vegas.

Dramatic 26-foot tall windows face the ramp, runway, and offer a panoramic view of the desert and mountains beyond. 

A large retail store features clothing, accessories, and souvenirs, along with a photo processing center and café. 

On the second floor there are offices and a call center where approximately 350 employees accept travel reservations and conducts tours in 16 languages.

Not bad for a sleepy little Nevada town with no gambling allowed.

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President Obama Makes Tracks to ‘City of Excess’

It must not be a bad business move anymore to attend a junket in the City of Excess. 

President Barack Obama is planning to visit Las Vegas on May 26, headlining a fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. 

It will be Obama’s first visit to Nevada since being elected president.   

Although it’s not known whether the president will have a public event while he is in Southern Nevada, a political firestorm and public outcry was created in February when President Obama announced in his speech that companies that receive taxpayer bailout money shouldn’t use it party in Las Vegas. 

The White House has been mum on the details of the president’s visit, but Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley says she expects Obama to talk about the importance of leisure and business travel. 

“I believe that he’s going to be using that opportunity to say…that it’s part of the American dream, this travel, and encourage people not only to do leisure travel, which Las Vegas is famous for, but business travel as well,” Berkley said last week from the House floor. 

It’s also not known if Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will be scheduling a face-to-face pow-wow with the president after the mayor requested a formal retraction from him after hearing the president’s speech statements.

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Carlos Santana to Headline The Joint in Las Vegas Hard Rock

Iconic guitarist Carlos Santana, 61, and his band, including drummer Dennis Chambers and keyboardist Chester carlossantanaThompson, has just signed a two-year deal through 2010 to do 36 shows a year in the newly refurbished The Joint, which opens on April 17.   Their Supernatural tour starts on May 27 and continues through June 14; they’re scheduled to return in September. 

Santana said he will approach his upcoming The Joint residency “from the point of bringing a spiritual confidence,” philosophically musing “a sunset and sunrise is never the same.  Making love is never the same unless you’re doing something wrong.”

Produced by media production company Frank the Plumber, the group will do four shows a week for three weeks per run.   Tickets go on sale today.

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Las Vegas’ Sexiest Cocktail Waitresses

Sooner or later Las Vegas Backstage Access knew it would happen:  a Las Vegas branded sexiest cocktail waitress contest.  Who would have thunk it?  Sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper, there were 4,539 respondents that were ultimately paired down to a field of 10.  And the winner is… Luxor’s LAX nightclub server Jordan “J-Lee” Abeyta- all 5 feet, 2 inches of 36-24-32 of her. jordanabeyta

The single Abeyta, 22, of Portuguese and Spanish descent, who someday wants to host a travel show on cable TV, briefly talked about her victory: “I’m really honored to be chosen.  All the girls in the contest were beautiful.  Maybe they’ll [customers] recognize me, come in and want to sit at my table.”  

Clicking her six-inch stilettos smartly, Abeyta turns and works her magic- like she does three nights a week across the three football field lengths of hardwood floor at the LAX nightclub from 10 p.m. to 4 or 5 a.m. 

Abeyta earned 21 percent of the vote, followed by competitors Andrea Atkinson from Christian Audigier The Nightclub (16 percent) and Joey Williams from Tao (14 percent).

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