Monthly Archives: September 2009

Las Vegas Scores Some ‘Love’ in Tennis Contest

Las Vegas was one of the finalists in the United States Tennis Association’s Best Tennis Town contest, but did not finish in the top three. tennis

The winner was Midland, Mich., with the first runner-up going to Ojai, Calif., and Independence, Kan., was named second runner-up.  The announcements were made earlier this month at the U.S. Open. 

As one of seven honorable mentions, Las Vegas will receive $2,000 worth of tennis equipment.  No word on when the equipment will be received or where it will be used. 

The competition was organized to spotlight towns that demonstrated a commitment to promoting the sport.

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Huge Night of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Las Vegas on Oct. 2 – “Slash & Friends”

Velvet Revolver/ex-Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash has just revealed a huge lineup of musicians who will join him for his all-star concert in Las Vegas on October 2. Slash

The concert, billed “Slash & Friends”, celebrates the 20th anniversary of Las Vegas hotel, casino and white tiger playground the Mirage.

According to Slash, the “house band” for the Mirage gig will consist of:

* Tommy Clufetos (Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent) – Drums
* Johnny Griparic (Slash’s Snakepit) – Bass
* Ted “Zig Zag” Andreadis (Guns N’ Roses) – Keyboards
* John 5 (Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson) – Guitar
* Slash – Guitar
* Franky Perez (Scars on Broadway) – Vocals

Slash’s special guests that night are “more or less in this order”:

* Rocco Deluca (The Burden)
* Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Dolls)
* Courtney Love (Hole)
* Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick)
* Robin Zander (Cheap Trick)
* Joe Perry (Aerosmith)

Slash says, “Matt Sorum [Velvet Revolver, ex-Guns N’ Roses] is [also] jamming a couple songs, plus there will be some other surprises. I also just got confirmation that the Joe Perry Project is playing as well, [so] it promises to be a bitchin’ evening.”

Slash has spent the last few months recording material for his forthcoming solo album, which will be released under the “Slash & Friends” banner. He says, “the [record] is in its mixing stage and the mixes to this point sound great. We have recorded 18 songs, with one more I want to track in the next couple weeks.” He adds, “the record is still slated for a February/March release.”

Slash tracked most of the CD with former Nine Inch Nails drummer Josh Freese and ex-Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney. Confirmed guest singers so far include Ozzy Osbourne, Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows and Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave). The CD was produced by Eric Valentine (Good Charlotte, Queens of the Stone Age) and features additional appearances by ex-Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and former Nirvana drummer and current Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl.

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Harrah’s Extends World Series of Poker Contract with IMG Sports & Entertainment

Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment and IMG Sports & Entertainment announced a four-year contract extension for global representation of the WSOP property. 

According to the agreement, IMG will continue to use its international network to help establish the brand in areas beyond Las Vegas and London. 

“We are looking to emphasize the ‘World’ in World Series of Poker as our vision of the brand extends beyond the annual events in Las Vegas and London,” said Mitch Garber, CEO of Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment. 

“By tapping the global reach and expertise of IMG, we are confident that together we can take the brand to new levels on the international stage through new international bracelet events and other WSOP licensed poker events.”

 IMG has worked with the WSOP since 2005 and helped attract corporate sponsors like Jack Link’s, Hershey’s and Planters.

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Jessica Biel to Climb Africa’s Highest Mountain

Actress Jessica Biel, a frequent visitor to Las Vegas, is apparently moving up in the world. The 27-year-old star has signed on to climb Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, in January to raise awareness for the need for clean water worldwide. JessicaBiel

She will be joined by singer Lupe Fiasco and actress Isabel Lucas, who will be going on the “Summit on the Summit” expedition, which is the brainchild of Biel’s friend, singer Kenna, whose father suffered from waterborne diseases in Ethiopia as a child.

“This is a basic human necessity that needs to be addressed now,” Biel said in a statement about her decision to climb the more than 19,000 feet to the mountain’s peak. 

According to the Associated Press, more celebrity climbers will be announced in the next few months.

The climb will also raise funds for the Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and PlayPumps International.

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Las Vegas Strip Club Looking to Grease Pole Again

The federal government has wanted to unload the Crazy Horse Too strip club in Las Vegas ever since the U.S. Marshals Service assumed ownership of it in 2007 as part of a plea agreement with its former owner, felon Rick Rizzolo. 

After two years and at least one failed attempt, the marshals finally have an agreement in place, largely confidential, with a new potential buyer, Mayor Oscar Goodman and several attorneys close to the case confirmed late last week. 

Pete Rinato, a local attorney for the prospective buyer, said the buyer signed a contract with the Marshals Service about three weeks ago. He declined to name his client, who he said is a “non-local,” but added that his name would be released soon. 

In a larger sense, an alliance of sorts has been formed, said several attorneys  knowledgeable about the deal, a kind of “strange bedfellows” pact in which many of the normally adversarial parties are now allied because they’re eager for the sale to go through. 

Those parties include the prospective buyer, the federal government, Rizzolo and the man who successfully sued the now-shuttered club after his neck was broken there. This alliance doesn’t yet include the city, though it might before all is said and done. 

The agreement hinges on the owner of a Russell Road strip club, calling itself the Crazy Horse 3, giving up that name so future owners of the Crazy Horse Too, on Industrial Road, can retain sole rights to the name. 

The pact is also relying on the city to grant a liquor license and exotic dance permit to the club’s buyer, so the value of the club can be boosted. Without a liquor license, the club is valued at about $5 million — chump change compared to what it would be with the proper licenses. As of 15 months ago, with the licenses, the club was valued at $32 million. 

Rinato said a lawsuit will soon be filed against the owners of the Crazy Horse 3, demanding that they give up that name. 

After serving roughly 10 months in federal prison for tax evasion, Rizzolo was released in early 2008. As part of his guilty plea, Rizzolo was allowed to use proceeds from the sale of the gentleman’s club to satisfy tens of millions of dollars in debts he owes various parties. 

Goodman said he didn’t know who the potential buyer is- and hasn’t asked. 

Others who do know, include federal officials, but they aren’t talking. 

Federal agents seized the Crazy Horse Too in September 2007. The following June, Pro criticized the marshals for not applying for a city liquor license and simply taking over the club. 

At the time, the marshals said they didn’t want to run a strip club. Three months later they changed their tune, recognizing that they needed the licenses to get a higher sale price.

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‘Subway Man’ Speaks in Las Vegas on Sept. 30

Jared Fogle, the man who more than 10 years ago lost over 245 pounds by eating two SUBWAY sandwiches a day, will be at the White Middle School in Las Vegas this Wednesday, September 30, 2009 from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. to speak to students, teachers and faculty about the need to eat healthy and stay fit.  JaredFogle

White Middle School hosts 1,300 children in grades 6, 7 and 8 and is an active participant in the Vegas PBS Keeping Kids Fit program. Jared’s story resonates with children and provides a real life incentive for kids to stay healthy and fit. 

On the heels of a national study on obesity released earlier this summer, Jared has been speaking at venues across the country about the importance of making healthy food choices.  With our country’s health care crisis at an all time high and health care related costs due to obesity in the billions. Jared, who has been a long-time advocate for children, believes that by investing in prevention through education it can make a significant impact. 

Vegas PBS Keeping Kids Fit was started two years ago and has been recognized for program excellence both nationally and locally. Keeping Kids Fit incorporates diverse forms of technology along with hands on instruction to promote wellness. The program targets children and families who are statistically at a higher risk for childhood obesity.

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Silver Slipper Gets New Las Vegas Home

The famous neon slipper once sat atop of the historic Silver Slipper Gambling Hall, a part of the Last Frontier Village, a replica of an old western town that was once located on Las Vegas Boulevard in Las Vegas.  

Silver Slipper neon signAlthough the Silver Slipper opened in 1950, the sign did not go up until the 1960s. The Last Frontier became the New Frontier, which was eventually absorbed into the Frontier. The slipper was designed by Jack Larsen, Sr., a designer at Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO). The sign is 12 feet high and 17 feet wide. The slipper’s main body contains 900 incandescent light bulbs, with about 80 more in the bow. 

The slipper is part of Las Vegas’ $1.1 million Neon Sign Improvement Project that includes three vintage neon signs placed in the heart of the Cultural Corridor.  It was refurbished and set into place on the median island of Las Vegas Boulevard, located just south of Washington Avenue in what is called the Cultural Corridor of Las Vegas by eight workers from Ultra Signs on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009 at approximately 11 p.m. after first being refurbished by Rafael Construction. 

The slipper is the last of three Las Vegas vintage signs to be set in place on the corridor, following the Bow & Arrow Motel sign set into place north of Bonanza on Aug. 24 and, a week later, by the installation of Binion’s Horseshoe sign north of Washington Avenue.  New landscaped median islands are also being installed. 

City crews will now work to provide power and conduct a series of tests prior to the signs being officially put into service. 

The cultural corridor is made up of the highest concentration of cultural institutions in Las Vegas and includes Cashman Center, the Las Vegas Library, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Lied Discovery Children’s Museum, The Neon Museum, the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park and the Reed Whipple Cultural Center.

Please watch the video of the installation:

http://video214.com/play/0IFyBBBcRJhslXBK3V5KOw/s/dark/

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Las Vegas Nightclubs Gone Too Wild?

Even in wild, anything goes Las Vegas, apparently, there are limits on what can and can’t be done in nightclubs.

In July, gaming regulators slapped the Planet Hollywood casino with a $500,000 fine for its Prive nightclub’s bad behavior, including “topless and lewd activity” and dumping club-goers in the casino “in various states of consciousness.”

The same month, the Rio closed its Sapphire topless pool, managed by a local gentleman’s club, after authorities arrested 10 people on suspicion of prostitution and drug crimes. Over Labor Day weekend, eight more arrests on similar charges were made at the Hard Rock Hotel’s pool club party, Rehab.

It’s all part of a crackdown by Las Vegas authorities on what they see as clubs gone wild.

“The quarrel is not, ‘You guys are offering entertainment that’s going to offend Middle America.’ We all want to keep Middle America coming to us to have fun. But we have rules,” said Randall Sayre of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. During the heyday of the “What happens here, stays here” tourism campaign, the must-have accessory for any Las Vegas Strip casino was a pulsating nightclub that lured Hollywood starlets and drunken tourists willing to pay for a few hours of shimmer.

That has sometimes proved to be an ill-fated mix. Though the clubs are reliable moneymakers and publicity machines, some have vexed officials with their fraternity-style antics — including stripping contests, fistfights, and alleged drug use and sexual assaults.

In the last decade, smoky lounges on the Strip gave way to three-story mega-clubs and booze-drenched pool parties. Out on the cutting edge of trendy are clubs such as the bronze-walled XS, the centerpiece of casino magnate Steve Wynn’s resort Encore.

Most of the clubs, which pull in tens of millions of dollars from high-volume sales of alcohol and special seating, successfully keep thousands of tourists under control. But the venues, jostling for the same young crowd, have a penchant for envelope-pushing — and the casinos, Sayre said, have mostly kept their hands off the cash machines.

In the last two years, Clark County has warned clubs about a wet-boxer-shorts contest and women shedding shirts at events named “Lose the Tan Lines” and “Boobs or Bust.” Some clubs launched stripping contests; others tried to sneak around no-nudity ordinances by slathering women in body paint.

Many nightlife problems are far graver, however, which could prove problematic for casinos in the long run. Gaming regulators can hold them responsible for most anything that unfolds on their properties.

In 2006, the state Gaming Control Board told casinos it was concerned about reports of violent, excessively drunk and underage club-goers. In the last year, authorities have noticed an uptick in prostitution and narcotics crimes at Strip hot spots, said Officer Bill Cassell of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

But it was “Prive-gate” that truly rattled the town’s after-dark scene and it appears no end is in sight for the enforcement and creation of new clubbing rules to govern Las Vegas partygoers.

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Las Vegas’ Restroom Boom

The Las Vegas economy may be lounging in the crapper, but some of their restrooms are a flushing success.  Specifically, the heads at Zeffirino Ristorante, in the Venetian, nearly won a national contest. Now they stand as monuments to a fading era of opulence. Zeffirino

The point still remains that they were almost  voted as America’s Best Restrooms.

But Zeffirino Ristorante’s louves couldn’t apparently quite wipe out Radio City Music Hall’s in the annual publicity-stunt contest. Or the marble-columned facilities at the Tremont Plaza Hotel in Baltimore. Or the winning entry, at the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre in Branson, Mo. (The men’s room has a pool table. And a fireplace!)

But the men’s and ladies’ rooms at Zeffirino Ristorante, with marble floors, butter-pecan-colored tiles and other Italian imports, still hold significance on the Las Vegas Strip. 

For the Venetian bathrooms to even attempt to vault into the contest’s top 10 is somewhat remarkable: Casino lavatories usually evoke all the charm of their airport cousins. Add to that the scent of Captain Morgan, Marlboros and Lysol and — at least in the ladies’ room — the murmurs of women primping for men or crying over them.

More notably, Zeffirino’s (almost) award-winning restroom is a monument to Las Vegas’ bygone luxury era.

In 2006, before the recession chiseled away at profligate spending, the Italian restaurant in the Venetian poured nearly $1 million into transforming a private dining room into a pair of lavish lavatories.

It made perfect sense that, on the ever-more-ornate Strip, a women’s restroom would boast a limestone lion’s head trickling water into a basin filled with fresh roses.

Now, with the economic downturn trimming the average Zeffirino dinner bill by about a third, the bathrooms are examples of the Las Vegas Strip excess to be gawked at by bargain-hunters.
 
The America’s Best Restroom contest was sponsored by Cintas Corp., which makes restroom supplies. The public was invited to vote online, and the results were announced this summer.

The contest website notes, “In one recent survey, more than 75% of respondents said they would not return to a restaurant if the restrooms were not well kept.”

The website didn’t offer specifics on the survey, but added: “In the face of statistics like this, we felt it was worth giving credit where credit is due. At this site we are honoring companies and organizations who go above and beyond the call of duty to present a pleasant, even memorable experience in a public restroom.”

When Zeffirino Ristorante, a spinoff of a family-run eatery in Genoa, Italy, opened in 1999, owners had pumped $11 million into its look, said managing director Giuliano Berto, who grew up outside Venice and wanted Zeffirino’s to have an old-money feel. The restaurant is next to the casino’s Grand Canal Shoppes and its serenading gondoliers.

Nearly all the decor was shipped from Italy, including a wishing well from Naples with carved figures of maidens. The restaurant’s ceiling was painted to suggest centuries of water damage, though the Venetian opened only a decade ago.

The urinals are even framed with red drapery.

Inside the women’s restroom are marble tiles, cherry-wood doors and four stalls, each with its own Murano glass sink, rococo-style mirror and hand towels emblazoned with a yellow stripe and the restaurant name.

(The cloth towels only appear at certain hours. Lunch patrons must settle for paper towels: The bathroom attendant only works at night, and the pricey linens are often stolen.)

Berto is convinced that better pictures of his bathrooms would have clinched the Best Restroom prize.

Still, his landed in the top five and qualified for the “America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame.”

And he can boast that Zeffirino’s still beat out Chicago’s Drake Hotel — it has palm tree murals and a chandelier — and six other restrooms, none of them in Las Vegas.

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Johnny Sauter Wins His First NASCAR Truck Race in Las Vegas

Johnny Sauter raced to his first career NASCAR Trucks Series victory, taking the lead away from Matt Crafton with only 16 laps left and held on to win the Las Vegas 350 on Saturday night. JohnnySauter

Crafton, who took over the lead following a caution period with 26 laps remaining, held on to finish second in the 146-lap race on the 1.5-mile oval. 

“My truck just didn’t have the speed that Johnny Sauter’s did,” said Crafton, second in the standings — 197 points behind leader Ron Hornaday Jr. “Wow, that truck was fast.”

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“Reefer Madness: The Musical” in Las Vegas

“Reefer Madness: The Musical” is being performed at the College of Southern Nevada’s BackStage Theater in Las Vegas through October 4. 

Created by the Atlas Theatre Ensemble, the two-act, two-hour play is a raucous musical comedy that takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the hysteria caused when clean-cut kids fall prey to marijuana. A satirical, political commentary, the play also contains adult content that may be inappropriate for younger audiences. 

Inspired by the 1936 documentary  film of the same name, there’s a 15-member cast and a five-piece band, performing musical numbers that range in style from Broadway to swing to Las Vegas-chorus line. 

Tickets are $15, $12 for students and seniors. For reservations, please call the CSN Box Office at 651-5483. The theater is located in the CSN Performing Arts Center at 3200 East Cheyenne Avenue, North Las Vegas.

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‘Peepshow’ in Las Vegas not for Camera Peeking

Scandalous photographs recently snapped at a risqué Las Vegas show have raised questions about technology versus security. 

The photos were of performer Aubrey O’Day in topless revue “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood. AubreyODay

Between cameras and cell phones, pictures can be easily snapped and even full length movies can be recorded — causing rising concerns now to producers and performers. 

The pictures taken were not suitable for children and were something the performer did not want to see surfacing on the Internet. 

“I decided to call out tonight because of some nude photos that were illegally obtained last night at the show,” O’Day said.   

O’Day cancelled an appearance earlier this week after the nude pictures circulated the Web. She later posted a video on YouTube addressing the candid photos. 

“It made me feel bad. It made me insecure about my body,” O’Day said. 

Security officials said they are not sure how the photos were captured. “We don’t allow any cameras in the theater,” said vice president of BASE Entertainment Marks Chowning. 

But even with all the security detail and bag checks, many devices still do sneak inside. 

Chowning works for the company that manages “Peepshow” and said it’s a problem that’s getting tougher to handle.  “It’s somewhat of a losing battle. As you know, the devices are getting smaller and better equipped with more technology,” Chowning said. 

At almost every Las Vegas show, nude or not, recording is forbidden.  Knowing it’s almost impossible to stop everyone, “Peepshow” uses trained eyes and even night vision goggles to weed out clandestine photographers. 

“We will be more aggressive about watching the audience. We will have the night vision goggles in use, and people who are found in violation of the policy will be ejected from the theater,” Chowning said.  “Really trying to protect what the women want protected, which is not having naked pictures of them strewn about the Internet,” Chowning said. 

O’Day has since returned to “Peepshow” after sitting out one night. The show opened earlier this year.

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Las Vegas’ Colorful Legend Bob Stupak Dies

The brash, enterprising Las Vegas legend and casino mogul who brought the Stratosphere to the Strip has sadly died.  Bob Stupak, 67, died Friday afternoon from leukemia at Desert Springs Hospital, with his family by his side. 

Stupak accomplished a lot of things in life and met a lot of people over the years since coming to Vegas in 1971, and on Friday night, friends remembered a man they called a legend. 

“I was surprised and stunned,” said Dr. Lonnie Hammargren. 

As word spread of Stupak’s death, the memories of the casino mogul were still very much alive. 

“Bob had ideas and did things that people wouldn’t do,” Hammargren said. 

Perhaps no one has more memorabilia in one place than former Lt. Gov. Hammargren. His backyard is a lasting legacy to Stupak’s creations, including a model space ship that graced the top of Stupak’s Vegas World in the late ‘70s. 

 “He loved to rock the boat,” said Howard Schwartz. Schwartz met Stupak in the early ‘80s while working at the Gambler’s Book Shop. “He came into the store, and he always had questions about new games or something innovative he wanted to try,” Schwartz said. 

That innovative spirit led Stupak to build what still is the tallest structure in Las Vegas — the 1,149-foot-tall Stratosphere — in 1996. 

The Stratosphere seemed a metaphor for all of Stupak’s life struggles: Its construction was stalled by a dramatic fire high in its pedestal that rained embers onto the street, and three months after its 1996 opening — and a year after he nearly died in a motorcycle crash — he resigned as chairman as the property was falling into bankruptcy. 

It was after that when he pitched his Titanic casino, which Las Vegas city officials promptly rejected. 

Stupak’s bickering with city and county politicians, and his contention that he could do a better job, led to several blustery runs for public office and a stint at publishing his own maverick weekly newspaper, the now defunct Las Vegas Bullet.

In his inaugural run for mayor in 1987, he sent gift fruit baskets to potential voters. Stupak also financed the unsuccessful Las Vegas City Council campaigns of his daughter Nicole in 1991 and his son, Nevada, in 1999. 

Stupak also was credited with helping to get his then nurse-turned-girlfriend, Janet Moncrief, elected to Las Vegas City Council in 2003. She wound up being the only council member ever to be recalled from office. Stupak tossed his hat into the political arena for the last time in 2006, making a run for lieutenant governor of Nevada. He finished third, garnering 17 percent of the statewide vote. 

In the late 1990s Stupak began helping charitable causes through his foundation, including opening a community center in one of the poorest areas of town. 

For his philanthropic efforts, the Las Vegas City Council on Feb. 23, 1996, issued a proclamation citing Stupak for his “valuable pioneering efforts” and “his outstanding generosity … in answering the call of children, the homeless and the underprivileged.” 

In more recent years, a seemingly mellower Stupak kept a much lower profile, content to play in high stakes poker games at the Bellagio and other major Strip resort card rooms and shirking the limelight he once sought with much fervor. He also was seen occasionally on televised poker events, including a final table during the first season of the World Poker Tour. 

Streetwise and poker-savvy, abrasive and ambitious, Bob Stupak was always the ultimate Las Vegas gambler and huckster, always pushing the envelope if it would bring him publicity. 

Always the independent (his nickname was “the Polish Maverick”), he was more aggravating than charming, but always a topic of conversation, which pleased him. 

“He thought of himself as larger than he was and could often come off as gruff and angry, especially if you disagreed with him,” said Howard Schwartz, operator of the Gamblers Book Shop. “Bob Stupak liked being controversial — he swam upstream. It was almost overkill how he tried to earn people’s respect, which he never truly got. People would smile and shake his hand then talk about him behind his back.” 

Stupak was sometimes the survivor — like after a horrific motorcycle crash that crushed every bone in his face and left him in a coma 14 years ago — and sometimes the loser, running unsuccessfully to be the Las Vegas mayor, a Clark County commissioner and the Nevada lieutenant governor. 

What he did win at was poker. A fixture at the old World Series of Poker at what is now Binion’s, in 1989 he won a $139,500 purse in the $5,000 buy-in no-limit deuce-to-7 world championship. He made the final table of that event three more times during his career. 

“Bob was a decathlon gambler — sports bets, propositions, poker — everything at once,” said Las Vegas oddsmaker and gambler Lem Banker, who gave Stupak the advice to take Cincinnati plus 6 1/2 points in the 1989 Super Bowl against San Francisco for Stupak’s legendary $1 million winning bet. “He had a lot of heart and a lot of brains.” 

Besides children Nevada and Nicole, Stupak is survived by another daughter, Summer; two sisters, Linda Phillips and Nancy O’Conner, and two former wives, Sandra Blumen and Annette Hatton. 

Stupak requested that there not be a funeral service.

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CityCenter Gets Ready to Blossom in Las Vegas – Opening Schedule

In just three short months, the world will be introduced to CityCenter in Las Vegas. An extraordinary urban resort destination brought to life by eight world-renowned architects, CityCenter will debut a new era of resort experiences with an ambition to refine and redefine Las Vegas. 

Conceived to bring a true center to The Strip, CityCenter will be much more than a collection of resorts and residences; it will rather be a true community – a welcoming environment for people to gather, relax and enjoy. Great pedestrian corridors, dynamic public spaces, authentic richness and diversity of experiences will voke the energy of the world’s most exciting places. 

CityCenter’s public Fine Art Collection will enliven the street and engage passersby. As if in a trolling gallery, guests will happen upon works by world-renowned artists such as Maya Lin or Nancy Rubins as they wander through CityCenter’s walkways, hotels and residences. 

Upon opening, CityCenter will be one of the largest sustainable developments in existence, bringing a new level of environmental consciousness to the world-famous Strip. The U.S. Green Building Council already has awarded Gold LEED(R) certification to ARIA’s hotel tower, convention center and theater; as well as Vdara Hotel. CityCenter’s remaining venues are poised to receive a combination of Silver and Gold LEED(R) ratings.

(Prior to this, Las Vegas Backstage Access has written many articles on specific venues.  Please use the search feature to find under, “CityCenter.”) 

CITYCENTER’S GRAND OPENING SCHEDULE: 

    —  Vdara Hotel – December 1, 2009

    —  Crystals retail and entertainment district – December 3, 2009

    —  Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas – December 4, 2009

    —  ARIA Resort & Casino – December 16, 2009

    —  The Harmon – Late 2010 

Residential occupancies slated to begin mid-January 2010.

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It’s Official: Singer Wayne Newton is Back Entertaining on the Las Vegas Strip

As scooped by Las Vegas Backstage Access on Sept. 17, it’s official now:  Singer Wayne Newton is being welcomed back to perform on the Las Vegas Strip at the Tropicana Hotel-Casino and celebrate his 50-year iconic career. WayneNewtonb

Officials for the Tropicana Las Vegas hotel-casino said that the 67-year-old “Danke Schoen” crooner plans start a limited run next month. 

The show will be titled “Once Before I Go,” and is being promoted as a look back at Newton’s career and life story. 

Newton said in a statement that the show is exciting and artistically challenging, and “the kind of show I’ve always wanted to do.” 

In addition to performances at various Las Vegas casinos during his illustrious career, Newton toured Australia in 2006 and also recently appeared on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

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Las Vegas Group Posts $10,000 Pot Smokin’ Contest

A Las Vegas group wants to legalize marijuana and they’re offering a unique challenge that could make someone $10,000 richer.  That can buy a whole lot of pot for the lucky winner.potsmoking

The group says it will write a check to anyone who can prove drinking alcohol is safer than smoking marijuana. Marijuana advocates say their goal is to legalize and regulate marijuana. 

With this $10,000 challenge, the group says it hopes to educate the public and show that drinking alcohol is more dangerous than smoking pot. 

“We are confident that will not need to pay out this $10,000,” said David Schwartz, Marijuana Policy Project of Nevada. At a news conference yesterday, the group said using marijuana is safer than drinking alcohol and hopes their challenge will prove it. 

In order to win the payola you must disprove three points: First, that alcohol is significantly more toxic than marijuana. Second, that the health effects from long term alcohol cause more deaths each year than from long term marijuana use. And finally, that violent crime committed by people under the influence of alcohol is more prevalent than violent crime committed by people under the influence of marijuana. 

“It’s been on the ballot twice before and in the last round — in 2006 — it garnered 44 percent of the vote which is a record vote. And in the future if we go through the initiative process, we think it will do quite well,” Schwartz said. 

But while the group might believe smoking marijuana is safer than drinking alcohol, a local drug and alcohol counselor says the dangers and consequences are actually very similar. Erin Kinard says both lead to addiction, both are a gateway to more serious drugs and both can cause people to become violent. 

Click here to take the challenge- if you dare!

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Liza Minnelli to Film Tony Award-Winning Special in Las Vegas on September 30

“Liza’s at the Palace” will be filmed in the Hollywood Theatre at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Wednesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 1, 2009. All of the material performed during her New York engagement will be included in the filming. The program will capture many of her greatest hits and also be an affectionate tribute to her godmother, the late Kay Thompson, who was a groundbreaking singer-dancer, songwriter, vocal arranger and musical director/vocal coach at MGM Studios. LizaMinnelli

As reported by BroadwayWorld.com and now confirmed by PBS, celebrating the one year anniversary of Liza Minnelli’s Tony Award-winning performance “Liza’s at the Palace,” American Public Television (ATP) will distribute the long-awaited special in December, 2009 and it will also be released on DVD in early 2010 by MPI Home Video. 

Minnelli’s unanimously acclaimed Broadway performances were sold out for five weeks in December last year and fans around the world have been eagerly anticipating news of this  broadcast. 

The television event will be directed by Matthew Diamond and executive produced by JoAnn Young, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.  In addition to the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event, Minnelli received a 2009 Drama Desk Award for her performances at the Palace. 

Now in her fifth decade as an internationally celebrated entertainer, she has won every major show business honor including an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and four Tony Awards, making her part of a select group of performers who have won the entertainment industry’s top four achievement awards. 

She will be joined in the Las Vegas filming by her Broadway co-star and musical director, the legendary pianist, singer and composer Billy Stritch. Her quartet of dynamic singer/dancers, Cortes Alexander, Jim Caruso, Johnny Rodgers and Tiger Martina will recreate their roles as the Williams Brothers, which included the young Andy Williams and his talented siblings. 

The show will again be directed by Ron Lewis, the award-winning choreographer and director. Musical conductor/drummer is Michael Berkowitz, a well-known conductor of pop orchestras all over the world. 

JoAnn Young has written and/or produced more than 50 television specials including documentaries and musical performances. 

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are the executive producers.  Together their film and television projects have won six Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, 11 Primetime Emmy Awards, and two Peabody Awards. For television, their movies have amassed 69 Emmy nominations. 

Tickets are now available at any MGM Grand box office and all Las Vegas Ticketmaster locations. Tickets also are available for purchase online at www.mgmgrand.com and www.ticketmaster.com.

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John Varvatos Celebrates Grand Opening of his new Bowery NYC Store in Las Vegas Tonight with Performance by Cheap Trick

True legends of epic proportions will come together tonight, Thursday, Sept. 24, in Las Vegas as John Varvatos, right, JohnVarvatosand hard rockers Cheap Trick join forces and team up to celebrate the opening of John Varvatos Bowery NYC at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.  Action kicks off at 7 p.m.. 

Fresh off a recent tour promoting their newest record, “The Latest,” Cheap Trick, comprised of Bun E. Carlos, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Robin Zander, will perform at the boutique’s grand opening celebration.

Varvatos’ new 3,000 square-foot Hard Rock boutique is where fashion and music can live and groove together.  The store features a stage with top-of-the-line gear for planned events like the opening party, as well as for impromptu jam sessions from visiting rockers, stars and shoppers alike.  

In addition to offering all three John Varvatos brands (Collection, Star USA and Converse), the new store is the exclusive Nevada dealer of James Trussart guitars.  Made from custom shaped metals, these high-end guitars have landed in the hands of well-known collectors such as Billy Gibbons of ZZ-Top, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, and Rick Neilson of Cheap Trick. 

If you’d like an article reviewing the venue, interviews with the talent, or professional photography for your publication, please fill out a comment to this post and Las Vegas Backstage Access will get back to you later today.

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The Road to ‘Fame’ Stops in Las Vegas Tonight

Tonight, Thursday, Sept 24, at 6 p.m. there will be a special “Fame” movie screening and red carpet at the Paris Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.  

Confirmed talent includes Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Debbie Allen.  Portraying a dance teacher in the original, Allen graduates to Principal Simms in the current film.       Additional cast planning on attending are Kristy Flores (Rosie), Walter Perez (Victor), Asher Book (Marco), Paul McGill (Kevin), Paul Iacono (Neil), Kay Panabaker (Jenny), Kherington Payne (Alice) along with director Kevin Tanchareon. 

A retelling of the original Oscar-winning hit film, “Fame” follows a talented group of dancers, singers, actors and artists for four years at the New York City High School of Performing Arts. 

If you’d like an article, interviews or professional photography with these stars for your publication, please fill out a comment to this post and Las Vegas Backstage Access will get back to you later today.

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World’s Largest Helium Balloon Comes to Life in Las Vegas Tonight

Cloud Nine Entertainment will celebrate tonight the inflation of their new Cloud Nine Balloon, a brand-new Las Vegas Strip attraction set to take flight early October, arguably being the world’s largest land-tethered helium balloon. 

Inflation teams will begin tonight setting up and inflating the 75-foot diameter balloon at 8:30 p.m., directly across from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.  The process will use 210,000 cubic feet of helium and will take approximately five hours. 

Cloud Nine will officially take flight on Monday, October 5, offering breathtaking 360-degree views of the famed Las Vegas skyline from nearly 500 feet in the air. The balloon will be tethered to the ground, safely elevating up to 30 passengers at a time. Ticket prices will start at $17.50 for children and $22.50 for adults.

The innovative Cloud Nine Balloon was developed by Cloud Nine Entertainment, LLC and designed by the Parisian-based company Aerophile S.A. For more information please visit www.Cloud9vegas.com

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Fountainbleau Hotel-Casino on Life Support in Las Vegas

At least one unidentified potential buyer is negotiating to take over the bankrupt Fontainebleau hotel-casino development in Las Vegas. 

But significant hurdles still remain for the resort to be sold and its construction completed, including difficulties a buyer may have in obtaining financing.

Stung by substantial losses on Las Vegas casino and real estate deals, banks and investors have been wary about investing in Las Vegas during the recession — especially with a growing over-supply of hotel rooms on and around the Las Vegas Strip. 

Fontainebleau also indicated it’s less likely it will succeed with efforts to force Bank of America and other big banks to continue financing the $2.9 billion resort on Las Vegas Boulevard. 

Fontainebleau, however, cautioned the sale of the project would be a complex transaction complicated by its inability to include the resort’s separately-financed retail component in the bankruptcy and “the difficulty that any purchaser will face in the current credit environment obtaining financing to complete the project.” 

Besides these factors, any sale would be subjected to scrutiny by bank and investment company lenders, bondholders and contractors — groups each owed hundreds of millions of dollars. 

While the potential buyer for Fontainebleau has not been identified, the companies most mentioned as being interested in the deal are Penn National Gaming, which has been looking for an opportunity to expand to Las Vegas; and deep-pocketed Apollo Management L.P. — one of the companies that controls Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.

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Man Gets Legally & Physically Burned at Burning Man

The Nevada Supreme Court has refused to reinstate a lawsuit by a man who approached the flames at the Burning Man festival and got burned. 

The justices voted unanimously on Sept. 16 to deny review of an appeal by Anthony Beninati, who sought damages from the promoter of the annual celebration in the Nevada desert. 

Beninati, a real estate manager from Los Angeles, was badly burned at the September 2005 event in Black Rock City, Nev. He was making his third visit to the weeklong festival, which ends with the torching of a 60-foot wood sculpture. 

Once the Burning Man topples, some participants throw objects into the bonfire.  Beninati approached with the photo of a friend who had recently died in a motorcycle accident. He walked 7 to 10 feet into the burning embers, with flames on either side of him, threw in the photo, took a few more steps forward, then tripped – over a hidden obstacle, he said – and fell into the fire. He was badly burned on his hands and legs and was airlifted to a hospital. 

Beninati’s suit accused Black Rock City LLC, the San Francisco-based promoter, of negligently allowing people to approach the fire without safe pathways. 

In a June 30 ruling, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said anyone who takes part in an event with obvious dangers – downhill skiing, mountain climbing or walking up to a bonfire – knowingly risks injury. 

“The risk of falling and being burned by the flames or hot ash was inherent, obvious and necessary to the event,” the court said in a 3-0 decision that upheld a judge’s dismissal of the suit. 

Evan Marshall, Beninati’s lawyer, said that suits by people injured in risky activities have been dismissed in the past only when the plaintiff was in a dangerous profession, such as law enforcement, or took part in a hazardous sport. 

Marshall further said a jury should have been allowed to decide whether the promoter of a cultural event used reasonable care to protect participants from preventable injuries. 

The case is Beninati vs. Black Rock, S175409.

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Charo Sidelines Her “Cuchi-Cuchi” in Las Vegas

Charo is on hiatus from the Riviera in Las Vegas for at least a month — maybe as long as three — after she injured herCharo ankle and knee in a backstage fall as she was leaving the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon Sept. 7. No return date has been set.

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Stripper Poles Being Outlawed for Use by Guests in Las Vegas Clubs

Clark County Nevada officials are working on establishing a new law to ban the use of stripper poles by guests in nightclubs, a move that arose in the wake of yanking the Prive nightclub’s liquor license.  Stripperpole

County spokesman Dan Kulin reportedly told the Las Vegas Weekly reporter Xania Woodman that “allowing customers to use dance poles implicitly encourages inappropriate and/or lewd behavior.” 

What’s next?  To best prevent further debauchery and otherwise lewd behavior, perhaps only water and soft drinks should to be served after 9 p.m. in Las Vegas nightclubs?  Maybe an accompanying new ad slogan: “What happens in Vegas, happens everywhere?”

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Miley Cyrus vs. Britney Spears in Las Vegas This Weekend

With professional boxing being such a huge draw in Las Vegas, why not try celebrity sing-offs to help Las Vegas’ choking economy?  That’s what will happen on September 26 as pint-size pop culture icon Miley Cyrus goes up against the sometimes notorious, but always colorful – and aging – pop star Britney Spears. MileyBritney

Singer and actress Miley Cyrus, whose “Party in the U.S.A” recently jumped to a number two ranking on the Billboard Hot 100 after her risqué pole dancing performance at the Teen Choice Awards, might just be up for a good challenge as she performs on the same night, down the street at Thomas & Mack. 

Offering cheap $25 tickets as her “Welcome Back to School Mania Special,”  you can’t fault the Hannah Montana star for at least giving it her all to try to pack ‘em in.   And who knows, maybe she’ll be sporting ever more mature makeup and be seen with either beau Liam Hemsworth  or Carter Jenkins walking her down the Strip? 

As of this writing, tickets are still available online at UNLVTickets.com, by phone (702-739-FANS) and at UNLV ticket outlets.

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Britney Spears to Film Las Vegas “Circus” Performance in 3-D?

Britney Spears fans might just be seeing the pop star in yet another creative dimension. Spears is reportedly planning to film her sold out “Circus Starring Britney Spears ” Las Vegas performance in 3-D on September 26th and 27th at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. 

The Spears’ camp has been providing clues to the announcement, including a cryptic blog posting last week using the number 3. “So sit back and relax, be patient one more tim3/the answer can be found within this little rhyme,” it read. 

Originally they planned on making it official in a week or two. “Very exciting announcement that many of you have been waiting for coming soon,” said manager Adam Leber in a Twitter update. “Might be a week, and it might be 2 so stay tuned.”

There’s no word on when the 3-D concert film would be released. If it happens, it would be Britney’s second concert filmed in Las Vegas, when her “Dream Within A Dream” Vegas concert date premiered on HBO and later DVD in 2001.

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It’s Tough, Very Tough Being Heidi Fleiss

The television soap opera Guiding Light recently aired its final episode after running a glorious 72 years.  But, as normally is the case, when one show leaves, something is always right there waiting in the wings to fill the entertainment vacuum.    Sporting a similar theme on a variation, there is the inimitable Heidi Fleiss.  Although she’s not 72 yet – she only looks that old – hardly a day goes by when one drama is replaced with yet another surrounding Fleiss’ colorful and checkered life in and around Sin City-  the city’s monicker and her lifelong passion, no matter how it is packaged.

For today’s update Las Vegas Backstage Access learns that the former “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss’ Las Vegas dog grooming business has been shut down by a judge as part of a civil lawsuit, just two days after she was sentenced to three years probation on felony drug charges.

Fleiss’ Dirty Dog salon had been open only three days when Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ordered it closed last Thursday.

The ruling was in response to a motion filed by Jeffery Marvian, who claims his estranged wife conspired to sell the business to Fleiss in violation of the couple’s ongoing divorce action.

Marvian’s attorney, Shelley Lubritz, apparently has the smoking gun:  She said she recorded a conversation in which her client’s wife, Nickol Marvian, admitted selling the business to Fleiss and porn star Kendra Jade Rossi behind Jeffery Marvian’s back.

Lubritz said the Marvians took out a $60,000 second mortgage on their home to start the shop, so they both have an interest in the business.

Gonzalez ordered Dirty Dog to remain closed until a Sept. 30 hearing that could determine whether Fleiss will be allowed to reopen the salon.

Fleiss on Friday denied any involvement in a conspiracy and said she is confident the business will be allowed to reopen.

“I’ll just have to tell my side to the judge,” she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I already had a sign made up that says I’ll be open on the first (of October). On the first, I’m offering free self-washes to anyone who comes in.”

Last Tuesday, Fleiss was placed on probation for three years stemming from her arrest in the rural Nevada town of Parhrump where she lives. Fleiss pleaded guilty to unlawful use of methamphetamine and possession of the painkiller hydrocodone without a prescription.

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Emmys Honor Las Vegas Entertainers

Although the Emmy awards tomorrow won’t involve Las Vegas nominees for the CBS prime-time ceremonies, they were included in the prior Creative Arts ceremonies on Sept. 12 in Los Angeles.  Las Vegas Backstage Access takes time out to honor their contributions. 

PennandTeller2Emmy nominations honored Rio headliners Penn & Teller, left, and stage designer Andy Walmsley,Andy Walmsley right. Penn Jillette and Teller — along with writer Michael Goudeau, who also performs with Lance Burton — were nominated for Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming for their Showtime series “Bullshit!” The “New Age Medicine” episode was singled out in the series that devotes each half-hour to debunking its selected topic.  

The series also was nominated for its editing, though Jillette and Teller were not personally nominated in that category. The series has been nominated 13 times previously, five for writing and four for overall nods in the reality category. In its seventh season, it is Showtime’s longest-running series. 

Walmsley’s set for “American Idol” was nominated for Outstanding Art Direction for Variety, Music Or Nonfiction Programming. 

The British set designer moved to Las Vegas four years ago and his recent work includes the sets for Mirage headliner Terry Fator and Flamingo magician Nathan Burton. It’s his third Emmy nomination (same category, all for “Idol”). 

Walmsley also is launching a Web site for Las Vegas entertainment professionals: www.vegasliveshowpro.com.

 Although not Las Vegas-based, David Rockwell — the ubiquitous designer who created the sets for “Peepshow,” the custom theater for “Phantom” and retail-restaurant space at CityCenter — is competing against Walmsley. Rockwell is nominated for his stage design for the Academy Awards.

Los Angeles-based choreographers Napoleon and Tabitha D’Umo, both graduates of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, were also nominated for Outstanding Choreography for “So You Think You Can Dance,” as was Mia Michaels, who chroeographed Celine Dion’s “A New Day.”

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“Greeky” Weekend in Las Vegas

This weekend the 37th annual Greek Food Festival in Las Vegas brings tantalizing and yummy foods, uplifting sounds and many traditions of Greece to enjoy. There will be plenty of prizes and Greek dancing to two live Greek bands (audience participation a must) and Greek things for sale. Also, a children’s entertainment area will provide hours of enjoyment for the younger guests. GreekFestival

You can enjoy all the Beauty of Santorini and the fun of Mykonos at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, 5300 El Camino Rd., on Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. 

Admission is $5 and free for those under 12. Admission is also free for active duty military and immediate family with ID. Check their website for more information.

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Michael Jackson Las Vegas Tribute Announces Financial Results

The financial dust has finally settled from all that tribute “moonwalking” by Las Vegas entertainers for Michael Jackson.  The Aug. 29 Michael Jackson tribute at the Palms Casino & Resort reportedly raised at least $103,00 for the Public Education Foundation. A near-final report by co-producer Steve Friess lists expenses of $21,434 against total revenues of $124,685.

The producers paid $6,000 to have the event filmed, hoping it leads to a local TV broadcast with a call-to-action for the foundation. There’s even talk of a DVD if clearances can be obtained for the songs.

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Las Vegas’ New Homeless ‘Leper’ Colony?

A Las Vegas activist has launched a brand new proposal to take the great majority of Las Vegas homeless off of Sin City streets, where they’ve been shunned and put down by politicians and others for decades, and build the first planned truly self-contained, fuly functioning and viable homeless community in the United States. 

It would be located on more than 600 acres, just north of the Las Vegas Valley.  The homeless would be able to live and work there without fear of violence or being kicked out as previously when they take up residence on Las Vegas sidewalks, and especially a homeless area known as “Tent City,” bounding and Main Street and Foremaster, where many men, women and familes used to call their Las Vegas home, but now has been shut down for safety reasons. 

With the homeless now scattered throughout the Valley, homeless activist Dr. Joseph D’Angelo has spent years trying to come up with his plan to help the homeless in a way that’s favorable to Las Vegas.  He unveiled it to local leaders yesterday, including Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, long a detractor to the plight of the homeless. 

“Joshua’s Community — would be the first true homeless community in the nation,” D’Angelo said. 

At the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition meeting, D’Angelo proposed a fully self-contained community, 29 miles north of the city, just outside the Paiute Indian reservation. It’s on government land, and D’Angelo is asking Washington to grant 640 acres of land to build pavilion-style homes, schools and everything a community needs to function– far from being a lepper colony. 

“By moving people out of town, away from the lure of the city, they’re going to hang onto their money,” D’Angelo said. 

And the homeless said a place to get back on their feet is the biggest step. “You don’t know who could be that next entrepreneur. You don’t know who could be that next singer or dancer. It could be the one that’s on the side of the road,” a homeless resident said. 

This community would be funded through private grants and not taxpayer money. The Las Vegas board promised it will look into the plan over the next few weeks.   D’Angelo said he’s confident that he can get this project going as soon as possible. He said he just wants the blessing of the planning coalition to help seal the deal. 

The community is also intended to rehabilitate the homeless.

It is planned to support as many as 15,000 people when fully completed.

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Fine Art of CityCenter Artists, Architects on Exhibit at Bellagio in Las Vegas

Sadly, with most of the fine art style of Las Vegas museums closing up shop– Las Vegas culture — including the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum at the Venetian and Las Vegas Art Museum, and lesser robust ones opening by appointment only, it’s refreshing to know the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is apparently still going strong. 

Tomorrow, in fact, the Bellagio Gallery is debuting 12+7: Artists and Architects of CityCenter.   Organized in partnership with the CityCenter Fine Art Collection and its curatorial advisor Michele C. Quinn, the exhibition will feature sculpture, drawings, paintings and models by 12 of the contemporary artists and seven of the master architects whose work will dramatically change the artistic landscape in Las Vegas when the $9.1 billion, 76-acre CityCenter opens in December (please search for other articles using “CityCenter” in Las Vegas Backstage Access). 

The art exhibition will offer a sneak peek at the highly anticipated CityCenter development, showcasing artwork by such artists as Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Antony Gormley, Tony Cragg, Nancy Rubins, Peter Wegner and Richard Long. 

Also included are early sketches and architectural models of CityCenter’s towers, retail and the entertainment district designed by architects Pelli Clarke Pelli, Helmut Jahn, Studio Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Vinoly, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Foster + Partners and Rockwell Group. 

Admission is $15 for general admission, $12 for Nevada residents and seniors 65 and older, and $10 for students, teachers and military with valid ID.  Children 12 and younger are free.  Tickets and further information by calling 702-693-7871 or online at www.bellagio.com

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Crooner Wayne Newton to Headline Tropicana in Las Vegas?

Momentarily it will be officially announced that aging crooner Wayne Newton will be back on the Las Vegas Strip as a resident headliner at the Tropicana. WayneNewton

Although the aging Las Vegas icon has lost his robust trademark singing voice of 50 years, this time a new show described as a “theatrical extravaganza,” will focus more on his personality and charm, not his singing. 

Jack Wishna, the agent brokering the deal through his CP America company, has acknowledged a pending contract but said he couldn’t discuss content until it is final. 

Others say Newton is finally ditching the bandstand crooner format he clung to with diminishing returns in this decade, and that his show will be reformatted to emphasize his strengths and not his weaknesses. 

A new format could go one of two directions or somehow combine them: A variety show in which Newton would introduce guest stars, or a “Joker Is Wild” shift (named after the Sinatra movie bio of Joe E. Lewis) that would have him maybe sing “Danke Schoen,” but mostly tell jokes, play his banjo and serve up backstage yarns from his long career. 

Please stay tuned for more updates from Las Vegas Backstage Access.

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What’s Up with Steve Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas?

There is much controversy swirling around a supposed new nightclub and beach at Encore in Las Vegas, the newest signature resort in the Wynn collection, which opened  on December 22, 2008. 

Many are saying the nightclub has been named Switch Beach and the club’s monicker will be Wet Kiss.  

Plus, as Steve Wynn and his wife Elaine are going through the steps of their costly divorce, recently selling stock to plan for the eventuality as reported by Las Vegas Backstage Access, Steve now has reportedly purchased another luxury yacht.

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Former Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss Sentenced to Be Sober for Three Years

Las Vegas Backstage Access continues to follow the trials and tribulations of former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss.  Now we learn she has been sentenced after pleading guilty to charges of methamphetamine use and possession of painkiller hydrocodone without a prescription in Nye County, Nevada. 

Former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss, who is a resident in Nye County and has a residence just outside Pahrump, Nevada, received sentencing for a drug arrest. 

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Heidi Fleiss, 43, was sentenced Tuesday in Pahrump to three years of probation and ordered to give up drugs, alcohol, and gambling. 

While on probation she is subject to random drug testing and must go through a court-mandated drug seminar. 

Ironically, she has completed a drug treatment as paid cast member on the VH-1 reality show “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” which will air in 2010. 

Fleiss commented to press that she should not have any issues keeping the terms of her probation. Fleiss said, “Anything that’s going to keep me on the right path, I’m all for. This whole thing was stupid on my part. I’m just irritated with myself.” 

On February 7, 2008 she was caught in a traffic stop outside a Pahrump plumbing supply store and possessed six hydrocodone pills without a prescription. After her arrest she took a mandated blood test that came back positive for methamphetamine. 

She pleaded guilty this July to charges of methamphetamine use and possession of hydrocodone without a prescription. 

The article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Nye Country District Attorney, Bob Beckett said that Fleiss was barred from gambling after a parole and probation report suggested casino games might fuel her addictions. 

Fleiss replied: “It’s probably a good thing. It’s like being barred from eating hot dogs, who cares?”  She quickly added, however, that getting permission every time she leaves the state “such a hassle.” 

Fleiss is far from being out of a passle of current legal troubles.  She faces some landlord issues after they filed a $40,000 lawsuit seeking damages from parrots to a rental house Fleiss was staying in.  And she is also being sued over her business venture, a dog grooming business called ‘Dirty Dog’ which is caught up in a messy divorce between the former owners. 

Fleiss said in the report, “Sometimes being Heidi Fleiss can be a pain in the ass.”

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‘Bloodless’ Bullfighting Catches Kitschy Las Vegas Off-Guard

Bullfighting1875sFace it:  Every day is really a crap shoot in Las Vegas.  Some days are great.  Others are so-so.  And yet still others are pure hell.  But imagine your worst nightmare of waking up to face-to-face to a grunting, over one thousand pound drooling bull – the epitome of True Mean reincarnated – staring you down with flaming red eyes, refusing to budge an inch.  And yet you’re tasked to make him “play” with you, armed only with a bright red or pink cape and a Velcro-tipped stick.   Goliath had it better.  And, if this isn’t bad enough– you don’t wake up. Bullfighting1861s

That nightmare became a real sweaty and death defying reality for some of the world’s greatest bullfighters yesterday when a sparse, but extremely enthusiastic crowd of approximately 500 people, most of whom were Hispanic and spoke Spanish, paid from $60 to $650 each to see a very rare “bloodless” bullfight at the South Point hotel-casino south of the Las Vegas Strip. 

The event, staged in part to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day, which is this Wednesday, was reportedly the first bullfight staged in the Las Vegas Valley since 1965, when one was staged outside Las Vegas, near what today is Primm, Nevada. 

Bullfighting1834sHow does the new sport work?  A patch of Velcro is fastened to the bull’s back and, rather than using a killing sword, the matador tries to deftly attach a Velcro-coated stick to the bull’s withers.  Though it appears they’ve stabbed the bull, the animal is unhurt and walks away to fight another day, as does the bullfighter.   Win-win.  Or is it?

For the matadors this emerging style of bullfighting is extremely dangerous when compared to regular bullfighting because the animals are not injured or first weakened by the placing of metal spears in the bull before the final kill. 

The matadors, wearing the traje de luces, or the colorful sequined suit of lights, included several who are the cultural icons in their home countries of Mexico and Spain, made quite a show of taunting the bulls.   Some made $500,000 just for an afternoon appearance. 

Las Vegas, the City of Kitsch, would normally have gobbled up this type of event up with fans ya-hooing it from the rafters. But the small crowd in the events center that holds thousands testifies not only to our sour economy but  the combination of the limited event marketing and having the event kickoff on non-prime weekdays.  

Bloodless bullfighting has just started to take hold throughout the U.S., becoming popular elsewhere, including California. 

In Mexico, Spain, and Portugal – the home of bullfighting – bullfights are huge events; parties can go on seemingly endlessly before and after the event. 

Outside the event, a handful of PETA members voiced objections to the event, saying that the bulls were in danger and at risk for injury and that promoting bullfighting in general was not a good thing. 

The event continues at 2 p.m. today and will return to South Point on Sept. 27-30.

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R.I.P. Patrick Swayze

PatrickSwayzeAfter a two year valiant, largely private battle with type four pancreatic cancer, the Dirty Dancing and Ghost iconic movie star Patrick Swayze yesterday lost his battle of life.  He was 57 years old.

The raw masculine, charming and graceful man who was dubbed by People magazine as the “Sexiest Man Alive,” was also a licensed pilot.  In 2000 he was forced to make an emergecny landing while flying solo in his twin-engine Cessna from California to Las Vegas after experiencing mechanical problems. 

Swayze and his wife Lisa Niemi also appeared on the red carpet during the second day of the celebration for the grand opening of Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas on April 17, 2007.

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Paris Hilton Immortalized?

Part-time Las Vegan and party maven Paris Hilton was immortalized this week when the new edition of the “Oxford Book of Quotations”Paris Hilton hit the book shelves.  Her contribution? Simply: “That’s hot.” The book also includes her quote: “Dress cute wherever you go, life is too short to blend in.”

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M Resort Spa Casino Hosts Inaugural Italian Festival in Las Vegas

The M Resort Spa Casino is continuing their “foodie” tradition by bringing back a Las Vegas favorite.  After serving as the setting for the 2009 season of Bravo’s Top Chef,  the Marnell family, M Resort owners, are hosting their Italian Festival poolside at the Villagio Del Sole.   The event is scheduled for October 17 and 18th from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.   Admission is free. 

The first Italian Festival was held 17 years ago at the Marnell family’s Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.  It quickly became a locals’ favorite, bringing thousands of people to the Rio’s two-day event.  

“I’m looking forward to starting a new tradition with it [The Italian Festival] here at the M…I hope people bring their whole family and enjoy great Italian food and entertainment in an unbelievable setting,” said Anthony Marnell III, Chairman and CEO of the M Resort Casino Spa. 

Guests at the Italian Festival will be able to sample calzones, pizza and more prepared by local restaurants as well as the M Resort’s own world renowned chefs.  There will be Bocce tournaments and grape stomping and spaghetti eating contests.  But if nothing else, the trip to the Henderson hotel would be worth it just to sample the dessert table – stacked high with cheesecake, biscotti, Italian ices, cannoli and spumoni.

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CSI Invites Forensic Laymen to Solve Crimes in Las Vegas

As previously reported by Las Vegas Backstage Access on July 27, a CSI exhibit was being planned for Las Vegas, Crime Scene Tourism Sprouts in Las Vegas   Now it’s a reality. 

If you didn’t get enough of “CSI:  Crime Scene Investigation” on TV, now, hopefully, you can get your fill by trying you brain and hands at “CSI:  The Experience,” a brand-new attraction to the only city where a “CSI” exhibit truly makes sense, Las Vegas. 

The new interactive multimedia playground opened at the MGM Grand today, a project that took EMS Exhibits only six months and $5 million to create the 12,000-square-foot exhibit. 

Budding forensic specialists can try their skill in solving one of three crimes.  Each crime takes from 60 to 90 minutes to solve. Upon completion of each, visitors receive a CSI diploma.  

It’s also the sort of activity that’s good for corporate team-building, because it encourages communication, says Doris Pommerening, spokeswoman for EMS Exhibits Inc.   The exhibit can accommodate a group size of 45 people. 

The exhibit is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.  Admission costs $30 and successive visits cost $26 each until all three crimes are completed.

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Carmen Electra Strikes Again in Las Vegas

As reported in July by Las Vegas Backstage Access (https://vbablogger.com/2009/07/14/carmen-electra-goes-topless-in-las-vegas/ ), Las Vegas regular Carmen Electra took her performance at the MGM Grand’s Crazy Horse ParisCarmenElectra2 beyond the expected by tossing aside her pasties and taking to the stage completely topless.  The positive response to this performance has led to a return engagement for the 37-year-old former Playmate.  Electra will once again be on the cabaret stage at the Crazy Horse Paris starring in two shows nightly starting Monday, October 7.  She will participate in the ensemble routine “Etoile de Paris” as well as solo routines choreographed around her personal dance style.

Tickets price begins at $75 and can be purchase at the MGM Grand or any MGM Mirage ticket outlet.  Guests to this performance must be 18 years or older.

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Michael Jackson’s Glove Auctioned for $49,000

Forty-nine thousand dollars.  A four, a nine, and three zeros.   Yep, that’s the amount the Las Vegas Hard Rock paid for the jewel encrusted glove worn by Michael Jackson during his 1996 wedding to his second wife, Debbie Rowe.  On the day the two were married, they attended a Sydney, Australia  premiere of the film “Ghosts”.  At the conclusion of the performance, Jackson tossed his glove into the crowd where it was caught by music memorabilia collector, Bill Hibble.      MichaelJacksonglove

This is the first of the iconic Jackson gloves that has gone on sale since his June 25th death.  However there are at least three more scheduled for auction this year.  In November, the Hard Rock Cafe New York will be hosting a memorabilia auction to support MusiCares.  One of the evenings top draws is expected to be the sequined glove Jackson wore at the 1983 Motown 25th Anniversary special – the event where he first performed his “moonwalk”. 

Curator Warwick Stone plans to place Jackson’s wedding glove on display with other memorabilia at the Las Vegas Hard Rock, but, as of yet, hasn’t announced when.

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Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas Celebrates First Birthday

Elegant sin is still hanging on in Sin City as the Las Vegas’ Erotic Heritage Museum celebrates its first anniversary all this month with a one-of-a-kind exhibition entitled “Sex on the Streets,” featuring contemporary, noncensored artistic works inside the huge 17,000 square-foot museum. eroticheritagemuseum

In celebration of the exhibit, urban artists Vezun, Veks 3, KD Matheson, Dray, Damien Drake, Gearboxxxrox and Ras One are donating their time and materials to paint murals on the outside of the museum building. 

“Not only will this draw attention to the artists, but it will draw attention to the building as an existing body of work itself,” says Dr. Laura Henkel, EHM resident curator. 

The museum will showcase works by Mark Burns and art graduate Ann Davis Mulford; photo-realist Ross Johnson; pop artists Bobby Logic and Francois Dubeau; figurative artist Tom of Finland, Hector Silva; illustrative artist Michael Kirwin; and many more talented artists. 

The anniversary party will take place September 12 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. 

For more information, www.eroticheritagemuseum.com

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Biggest Tattoo Show on Earth Comes to Las Vegas

Everything tats will be the order of the day when Mario Barth brings the biggest tattoo show on earth on Oct. 2-4 to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.  The event showcases the latest trends, fashions and techniques in the tattoo industry.  tattoo

There is something for all participants, including seminars, training, certification classes, competitions and demonstrations on tattooing, body piercing, body modification, jewelry manufacturing, reconstructive tattooing, permanent cosmetics, and laser removal.  Lots of music, food and fun for the entire family. 

Complimented by Las Vegas’ burgeoning tattoo industry with dozens of tattoo shops and more continuing to open, over 500 of the world’s best tattoo artists will be on hand at the show. 

The inked show also provides non-stop entertainment, including appearances and nightly partying with the likes of Tommy Lee, DJ Steve Aoki, DJ Aero, DJ Scotty Boy.  Celebrity MC of the event is Evan Seinfeld of Biohazard. 

All Las Vegas residents can get a free three-day convention pass by visiting www.FreeTattooTickets.com/944 

For more event information, visit www.TattooExpo09.com

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Hoorah for Model Erika Macke of “Models of the Runway”

“Models of the Runway”   5’10”  model Erika Macke is a red-haired beauty that lived in Las Vegas during her younger years before moving with her family to Los Angeles. In fact, she got her first modeling job from the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper at age 17. ErikaMacke

Paired with designer Qristyl Frazier for the challenge to create a pregnancy chic look for Rebecca Romijn, Macke was also a star athlete with many trophies to show for it, and she took her winning streak through the third episode of “Runway,” before deciding that doing a national commercial and earning her SAG card – always one of her goals – was the best course of action to take rather than continuing in the catwalk competition– much to the chagrin of Heidi Klum, Macke’s lifelong idol. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access congratulates Ericka and extends our wishes for a bright future.

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B.B. King Brings Thrilling Blues Club to Las Vegas

BBKingThe “Thrill is Gone” no longer as the King of Blues brings his popular restaurant, bar and nightlife venue, B.B. King’s Blues Club, to Las Vegas. The namesake that made Lucille famous is set to open winter 2009 at The Mirage.   With very few blues clubs in Las Vegas, this club will be a welcome addition.

From early morning to late night, B.B. King’s Blues Club will serve the best in Creole cuisine fused with that southern comfort touch. Palates of Las Vegas visitors and locals alike are sure to be awakened by signature items such as Fried Dill Pickles, Gumbo Ya Ya Straight from the Bayou, Lip Smacking Ribs, Southern Fried Catfish and Banana Bread Pudding.   

And it doesn’t stop with the food- the drink concoctions are just as tasty and full of soul – from the Boll Weevil that’s sure to pack a punch to the Wang Dang Doodle that the women will love. 

It is an all-in-one experience as B.B. King’s Blues Club offers music seven nights a week from funky and fast to soulful and smooth. Come for dinner and experience the tunes that emanate from the in-room stage. As the night progresses, so will the tunes as guests turn to the dance floor to dance the night away. The house bands at B.B. King’s Blues Club surpass the standard of what many know to be a house band, and friends of the King are likely to stop by at any time to join them and jam the night away. 

B.B. King’s Blues Club at The Mirage will be located across from The Beatles Revolution Lounge and next to Samba Brazilian Steakhouse. The 558-seat venue will feature four bars; one outside looking into the club and three inside, all with great views of the stage and entertainment. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night dining; open until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 4 a.m. on weekends or until the last man (or woman) is left standing. The signature retail section of the famed blues club will be open all hours for patrons to take home some soul, including T-shirts, glassware, guitar picks and more. For more information: www.bbkingclubs.com

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Tori Spelling & Dean McDermott Fall in Love with Las Vegas

Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott spent Labor Day weekend at The Palazzo in Las Vegas with their children, Liam and Stella.  The family of four left Los Angeles on Friday afternoon, piling into their luxurious Volkswagen Routan for a holiday weekend road trip to Las Vegas. ToriSpelling

Tori and Dean were excited to arrive in Las Vegas and felt so at home with all of their favorite people surrounding them, including their handsome son Liam, their beautiful daughter Stella, and the Guncles— Scout Masterson and Bill Horn who were recently married.  The newlyweds were sporting bracelets with the word “GUNCLES” beaded on.  

After they arrived, Tori and Dean relaxed in their suite for a while and then went straight off to Canyon Ranch Spa Club for a hot rocks couple’s massage.  

Afterwards, they went back to their luxurious suite at The Palazzo to get ready to see Joan Rivers.  Tori and Dean were excited to see her perform and went backstage after the show to hang out with Joan. 

Dean, Tori and The Guncles were hungry after the show so they went to Wolfgang Puck’s CUT restaurant for dinner.  Fans stopped Tori in the casino to say how much they loved her.  Tori looked stunning in her long green dress, while Dean was sporting a seersucker Juicy Couture blazer.  The couple went to bed early so that they could get ready for their big day hosting the pool event at AZURE at The Palazzo Las Vegas for ABSOLUT Saturdays.  

On Saturday afternoon, Tori and Dean headed down with the Guncles to ABSOLUT Saturday at AZURE pool at The Palazzo Las Vegas.  Tori was decked out in a Point bathing suite, Costume National shoes and a pink romper by Ra Mona La Rue.  Hubby Dean was decked head to toe in his favorite brand– Affliction board shorts and an Affliction t-shirt. 

Tori and Dean walked down the infamous blue carpet together and then Tori did another walk with the Guncles, Scout and Bill. Regina King from NBC’s Southland and Melissa Rivers also walked the carpet.  Fans gathered as Tori signed copies of her book, “Mommywood,” and was very receptive to all the Palazzo guests.  Dean stood by Tori’s side the entire time, affectionately calling her “T” and made sure that she was drinking enough water.  

The couple lounged in the Las Vegas sun at AZURE in a cabana, spritzing each other down with Evian water and feeding each other cold, frozen grapes. Dean ate Wolfgang Puck’s signature Margarita pizza (Tori had 2 slices!) while Tori sipped champagne.  To top off the afternoon, Tori and Dean relaxed with a Champagne on the Rocks couples massage provided by The Palazzo’s Canyon Ranch Spa Club in their private cabana. 

Tori was so excited to learn that Barneys New York was located inside the hotel at The Shoppes at The Palazzo. The Guncles commented that Tori had been working so hard lately (she is designing her own children’s clothing line) and that this weekend was just what she needed.

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Conductor Edwin Outwater Joins “Sgt. Pepper Live” Concert in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Backstage Access has learned that prominent conductor Edwin Outwater will be joining the “Sgt. Pepper Live” project once again to lead the full symphony orchestra for “Sgt. Pepper Live” featuring Cheap Trick at the Las Vegas Hilton, the concert previously written on by Las Vegas Backstage Access on Aug. 26. EdwinOutwater

Outwater was the guest conductor at both “Sgt. Pepper Live” shows at the Hollywood Bowl and will be guest conducting the Las Vegas Hilton shows, Sept. 13-15, 17-19 and 21-23.   He is currently the the music director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in Ontario, Canada. Prior to his current position, he served as resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and held the post of music director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. In both capacities, he worked closely with Michael Tilson Thomas, accompanying the orchestra on tour and conducting numerous concerts each season. He made his subscription debut in 2002, with Kurt Masur conducting Britten’s “War Requiem,” and has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Evelyn Glennie and many others. His consistently innovative programs have featured the works of composers such as John Adams, Thomas Adès, Chen Yi, Gabriela Lena Frank, HK Gruber, Lou Harrison, Robin Holloway, Nathaniel Stookey and Tan Dun. 

Internationally, Outwater has appeared with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Adelaide Symphony, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of New Zealand. He has put together many music education programs for youths and has been on the faculties of the University of Tulsa, the Idyllwild Arts Academy and the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2004, he was awarded the Leonard Bernstein award for excellence in educational programming and the MET LIFE award for community outreach. Outwater is a Harvard University graduate with a master’s degree in conducting from the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Cheap Trick is best known for its classic singles “I Want You To Want Me” and “Surrender.” The band recorded the album All Shook Up in 1980 with Sir George Martin and Geoff Emerick, producer and engineer of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Emerick will continue to be in charge of the audio production for “Sgt. Pepper Live.”  He received Grammy awards for the engineering of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road.

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Topless Vampire Show Takes Bite in Las Vegas

The topless vampire show “Bite” is still going strong, celebrating its fifth year at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.   More than a half-million fans have attended 1,500 performances of the offbeat rock ‘n’ roll musical, produced and written by Tim Molyneux. vampire

“Vampires allow us to do the things that provide the ingredients for a great Las Vegas show:  fun music, high-energy, acrobatics in the air and on the stage, magic, martial arts, gymnastics, contortion, comedy, drama, great dancing, live singing and sexy girls.  The show tells a compelling story through the lyrics of the sons and the classic vampire lore of lost love,” says Molyneux.

Wow, what a mouthful- and what a vampire feast!  The show is at 10:30 p.m. Fridays though Wednesdays, dark Thursdays; $49.45; 702-380-7711.

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Book Industry Steams Full Speed Ahead

With the economy languishing in the doldrums, the good news is that the book business is steaming full speed ahead, thanks primarily to biographies and autobiographies galore which are selling like the proverbial hotcakes.  

Sen. Ted Kennedy’s “True Compass” autobiography has become very popular upon the death of the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.  

Capt. Chesley Sullenberger reflects on his life and the miraculous landing in the Hudson River in “Highest Duty.”  

And, due to the recently released film “Julie & Julia,” Julia Child, though deceased, is again the country’s most popular cookbook writer and her longtime editor, Judith Jones, even has a memoir out about her own love of food. 

Not to be outstripped, supermodel and TV star Heidi Klum is also getting into the visual autobiography act, and her status is about to get a whole lot steamier thanks to a new very sexy coffee table book on her called “Rankin’s Heidilicious” which is due out in October from publisher teNeues. 

“It’s very naughty, I’ve been shooting with this photographer, Rankin, for seven years and working with him is fun because he always makes me look different,” Klum says.  “He always gets me to take my clothes off for some reason. We’ll do some job and then he’ll say, ‘Why don’t we shoot some more things?’ and I’ll wind up without anything on.” 

In fact, steaming hot book sales have been the order of the day for many book industry genres.  The Association of American Publishers, which had been reporting declines for much of this year, finally had some good news last week, announcing a whopping 21.5 percent sales increase for June. 

Adding to the sizzling book revenue upswing, Las Vegan and eight-time Grand Slam tennis singles champion Andre Agassi, who retired from professional tennis in 2006, has recently announced that his autobiography, “Open,” is heading to bookstore shelves in November. In the book, he discusses his start in tennis as a child, his relationship with his father and his failed marriage to Brooke Shields. AndreAgassi2

Andre Agassi’s autobiography will be published by Alfred A. Knopf and be out on November 9 says Sonny Mehta, Chairman of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. 

“Open” is a deeply personal account of Agassi’s life on and off the court and will be simultaneously published in Canada, England, Germany, France and the Netherlands. 

The Knopf first printing has been set at 500,000 copies, and it will also be available as a Random House audio book. 

Moreover, ’60 Minutes’ has agreed to conduct the first interview with Agassi about his autobiography and ‘People’ magazine and ‘Sports Illustrated’ have both purchased first serial rights to the book. 

“No one ever asked me if I wanted to play tennis,” Agassi writes, “let alone make it my life.” In “Open,” he recalls for the first time a childhood without choices. Forced to embrace tennis, banished to a brutal tennis camp while still in grade school, catapulted to fame while still in his teens, Agassi grew up feeling isolated, alienated, detached.   He writes on how he reconnected, how he overcame his fears, fought through his loneliness, found strength and purpose in the decision to devote his life to others — and in the love of one extraordinary woman. 

Agassi writes with uncommon candor about his father, his family, his best friends and first loves. He recounts the intimate details of his doomed marriage to Brooke Shields. 

Agassi describes the grind of playing championship tennis, the physical toll and greater mental toll. He recalls his most painful moments in the sport — humiliating defeats, career-threatening injuries, ridicule from fans and media — but celebrates the maturity to which they all led. He also puts his fellow players, including legendary greats, under the microscope of his astounding memory. With precision and grace he recalls their quirks, gifts, foibles, and the demons with which they often struggled.

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Prison Buses Haul Feeling-No-Pain Las Vegas Sinners

Crime and punishment always gets center stage in Las Vegas.  On the heels of continuing high-profile criminal trials and Las Vegas announcing plans to finally construct a Mob museum (as previously reported by Las Vegas Backstage Access on Jan. 16, March 17, June 20 and Aug. 5), now you have an option of either taking a cab, limousine or, if real daring-do is in your blood, get whisked around Las Vegas in an authentic prison bus. prisonbus

It’s a 1950s style prison bus with bars on the windows, ready to take you to the nightclubs, bars, brothels, or whatever flights of fancy you desire. The company Las Vegas Con Xpress offers rides in these old and very kitschy prison buses, authentic right down to the graffiti. 

“Prisoners” or passengers are loaded up in the back behind a locked gate. You even get to pick your own “Sheriff”, also known as your tour guide.  Once loaded up and locked down, the prison bus heads to all the hottest spots in town. 

Con Xpress founder Danny Sinatra thought it criminal to pass up on his unique venture.  “Never in the U.S. have prison buses been put back into public use for charter services,” Sinatra says. 

There’s no question the buses are attracting attention. Since operations began about a month ago the buses have been involved in lots of drama, being pulled over by local police, Nevada State Police and, yes, even Homeland Security. 

Tourists swarm the bus, getting a fun kick out of this odd blast from the past.  “For a bachelorette or bachelor party it would be fun”, said Ray Navarro, visiting Las Vegas from Arizona. 

Sinatra says he’s fully licensed to operate his charter business and he is working with local law enforcement as well as security at casinos to let them know his buses are out on the streets. 

The company charges $180 per hour and the bus will hold 45 people.  For further information, call 702-588-8197.

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Sextress Heidi Fleiss Trys to Go Clean, Winds Up Dirty- Again!

Even when Heidi Fleiss tries to go clean, the former ‘Hollywood Madam’ winds up getting dirty. 

Days after Las Vegas Backstage Access reported on August 31 about her new pet gromming business venture, Fleiss and two business partners were sued by a man who claimed the business was purchased illegally! 

The plaintiff, Jeffrey Marvian, originally opened the Little Buddy Bath pet groomer with his wife before the couple’s marriage soured and they planned to divorce. Court papers said the couple borrowed $60,000 against the equity in their home to pay for the business. 

But Marvian claimed his wife, Nickol, sold “Little Buddy” to Fleiss and former porn star Kendra Rossi without his consent or knowledge. 

To hide the sale, Marvian claimed his wife was paid nothing and instead entered into a deal to be featured in a reality television show that focused on Fleiss’ attempt to run the shop. 

A judge has yet to hear Marvian’s complaint. 

The lawsuit cited Fliess saying she is the owner of Little Buddy Bath but planned to change the name to “Dirty Dogs.” That name is similar to the “Dirty Laundry” moniker she gave to a laundromat Fleiss opened in Pahrump. 

Fleiss insisted the name is just a play on words, and customers shouldn’t expect anything more than a professional service at both businesses. 

“As far as the sex business goes, I have no interest in it. I know that business better than anyone. No one can run a sex business like me. I just have zero interest in it,” Fleiss said. “My feet are barely getting wet in this business, and I wish I would have been in this business from the start.”

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Comic Judy Tenuta in Las Vegas

Grammy nominated comic, author, and producer Judy Tenuta, named the best female comedian at the AmericanJudyTenuta Comedy Awards and star of her own many specials on HBO, Showtime, and Lifetime is now gracing the Harmon Theatre stage in Las Vegas with her unequalled ribald humor this Sunday at 8:30 p.m.

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Burning Man LIVE!

For those of you that are not one of the fortunate 48,000 or so radical and self-reliant Burning Man participants- called ”Burners” -now hanging out and trying to survive the sweltering heat in Black Rock City in Nevada with few worldly possessions, at least you can relax in the comfort of your home and see a techno live streaming view of the self-expressive, artistic event that runs through September 7 at:  http://www.ustream. tv/channel/ burningman- live    Not only can you view the event live, but you can socially chat online at the same time.   My how technology is all pervasive, not matter where you go in life.

Last time Las Vegas Backstage Access took a peek, we saw bicyclers galore peddling on the dusty playa– and then an ambulance raced across the screen in the foreground.  What fun!

[On March 25, we wrote an article on Burning Man.]

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Cannery Casino Plays Musical Chairs with Executives

Cannery Casino Resorts, the Las Vegas-based company that owns The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, is restructuring its executive line-up to allow its founders to spend more time on long-term strategic planning, according to a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Cannery

The newspaper reported that CCR named Tom Lettero to the newly created position of president. Lettero also will retain his duties as chief financial officer.

Xavier Walsh was hired from Melbourne, Australia-based casino owner Crown Ltd. to be CCR’s chief operating officer, a position Lettero is surrendering.

Walsh will oversee operations of all CCR properties, which also include the Cannery in North Las Vegas and the Rampart Casino at the JW Marriott at Summerlin. 

Walsh’s prior employer, Crown Ltd., suspended its attempt to purchase CCR for $1.75 billion in March. While Crown still has a two-year option to close the sale, the company, controlled by billionaire James Packer, paid $325 million for a 24.5 percent stake in Cannery pending regulatory approval.

 CCR, like its competitors, is burdened by heavy debt and declining casino revenue.   It had about $860 million in debt in late May. Executives told the newspaper the company is financially strong and is making plans beyond the current economy.

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Playboy’s Finest in Las Vegas over Labor Day Weekend

Playboy’s finest temptresses will transform Studio 54 inside the MGM Grand into their personal playground over Labor Day weekend, September 4 & 5, in Las Vegas. 

The venue will be transformed into a Playboy fans’ paradise with back-to-back evenings featuring the magazine’s finest beauties, including Hugh Hefner’s former main squeeze, Holly Madison. 

LindsayWagnerOn Friday, Sept. 4 the Studio 54 line-up will include the ultimate Playboy Playmate experience with some of the most celebrated models in recent years, including Lindsay Wagner, left,  www.myspace.com/lindsayw06 (Miss November 2007), Tiffany Selby www.tiffanyselby.net/ (Miss July 2007), Monica Leigh www.monicaleigh.net/(Miss March 2006), Stephanie Larimore (Miss June 2006) and Jordan Monroe www.myspace.com/ecr2004(Miss October 2006). 

If that’s enough, on Saturday, Sept. 5, Studio 54 will welcome the former Dancing with the Stars contestant and Girlshollymadison3 Next Door fan-favorite Holly Madison, right, will host the evening’s festivities. The blonde bombshell is currently starring in the lead role of the sultry adult production Peepshow on the Las Vegas Strip. www.hollymadison.com/home

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Reality Star Megan Hauserman from VH1’s “Megan Wants a Millionarie” in Las Vegas on September 4

Reality TV star beauty Megan Hauserman from the hugely popular VH1’s “Megan Wants a Millionaire,” as well as “I Love Money,” “Charm School” and “Rock of Love,” and winner of “Beauty and the Geek,” will kick off Labor Day weekend in Las Vegas on Friday evening, September 4 at Playground, Las Vegas’ first multiple entertainment and nightlife venue. The blonde bombshell will be accompanied by her best friend and reality TV co-star from “Megan Wants a Millionaire,” Cecille Gahr. MeganHauserman

Playground is a multiple room entertainment facility that includes Crazy Horse III (gentlemen’s club), the Rock Room (live music), Sushi All Night (fresh sushi by Sushi Avenue), Harem Hookah (hookah lounge) and Obsession (nightclub playing hip hop, house and mashups).  The 40,000+ square-foot venue is located minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip two blocks west of I-15 at 3525 W. Russell Rd. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access will provide you a spot or feature article and/or professional photography for this event and new venue for your publication.  If interested, please provide comment to this article or newsletter/contact tab on September 3 and we will get back to you.

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Mandarin Oriental Annouces Pierre Gagnaire’s Twist Restaurant in Las Vegas’ CityCenter

Mandarin Oriental, prominently situated at the entrance of CityCenter in Las Vegas, will introduce the award-winning cuisine of three-star Michelin Chef Pierre Gagnaire at the luxury hotel’s signature restaurant, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire.

Opening in December 2009, Twist will be Gagnaire’s first restaurant in the United States. The innovative menu will infuse the simplicity of classic French cuisine with a modern spin, relying on a pairing of flavors and textures for which Gagnaire is known.

In a distinguished career that spans more than 35 years, Gagnaire has gained the highest acclaim for his restaurants in Paris, London, Tokyo, Seoul, Dubai and his namesake restaurant, “Pierre” at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. 

Gagnaire is well-known for being at the forefront of the fusion movement. Beginning his career in St. Etienne, Gaganaire won three Michelin Stars and tore at the conventions of classic French cooking by introducing radical juxtapositions of tastes and textures. His influence on cooking has been recognized worldwide. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access will provide you a spot or feature article and/or professional photography for this or any of the many new venues opening in CityCenter this December for your publication.  If interested, please provide comment to this article or newsletter/contact tab and we will get back to you.

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“What Happens Here, Stays Here” Ad Slogan Competes for Madison Avenue Hall of Fame

The “What Happens Here, Stays Here” Las Vegas slogan is up for one of the biggest awards in the advertising world: a spot on the Advertising Walk of Fame on Madison Avenue. 

Still going strong after seven years, R & R Partners says its wildly popular advertising slogan was the brainchild of two employees. Interestingly, both say they each came up with the idea on their own at the same time.

But before “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” they tried a several campaigns, including “Freedom Party”; “Vegas is Calling”; “What You Want, When You Want It”; and “Las Vegas – Open 24 Hours.” 

None of these, or any new ones for that matter, have had the same impact.

“In the recent economic downturn, we’ve had to take the campaign in some different directions,” explains Randy Snow, R & R Partners. “And people have asked what happened to ‘What Happens Here, Stays Here’?” 

The winner will be announced on September 22. 

Las Vegas is up against several other tourist destinations in the competition, including the “I Love New York” and “Virginia’s For Lovers” campaigns.

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Police Confiscate Floyd Mayweather’s Arsenal, Investigate Shooting Incident

“Impulsive” is written all over professional boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr., a hallmark of his boxing career and his life.  

Las Vegas police are continuing to investigate an Aug. 16 shooting outside a Las Vegas skating rink that uncovered two handguns, ammunition and two bulletproof vests from the Summerlin, Nevada boxer’s home.floydmayweather2

One of the alleged victims in the shooting incident reporteldy told investigators that the six-time champion threatened him 10 minutes before another man shot at his car from the rink’s parking lot as they drove away.    

Mayweather’s Rolls Royce was seen in the parking lot of the Crystal Palace Skating Center, on Boulder Highway near Flamingo Road.   A witness, 24-year-old Quincey Williams, told the Review-Journal the boxer threatened him over a text message Williams sent him saying he hoped the undefeated Mayweather would lose. 

Mayweather said, “He’s got enough money to get me hit,” Williams said. Williams considered it a threat to his life. 

Not more than an hour later, as Williams and a friend were leaving, Williams said the car he was riding in was peppered with six gunshots.

Fortunately, no one was hit by the shooting. 

Mayweather has not been named as an official suspect, and a man police are seeking has not been arrested. 

This incident preceded his guest star episode on Monday Night RAW that, despite negative fan comments, scored extremely high on total viewer ratings according to WWE standards– it was the second highest rating since WWE started their “guest host” storyline. 

Mayweather has had various run-ins with the law in the past. A year ago, about $7 million in jewelry was stolen from his Summerlin home, believed to be one of the most lucrative burglaries in Las Vegas history. 

In 2002, he pleaded guilty to two charges of domestic violence and received a suspended six-month sentence.  

In 2003, Mayweather faced a felony domestic violence charge involving the mother of three of his children. A jury acquitted him after the woman recanted her original story that Mayweather hit her. 

In 2004, a Justice of the Peace, Deborah Lippis, convicted him on two counts of misdemeanor battery after two women claimed he punched them outside a nightclub. 

Mayweather, a six-time world champion in multiple weight classes, retired from the ring in 2008. But then, as he did in the past, he quickly “unretired” and now has a Sept. 19 12-round welterweight bout scheduled at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with Juan Manuel Marquez that will be televised on HBO.

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Paul Abdul Bringing Revue Stage Show to Las Vegas?

Former “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul has reportedly stepped up talks to bring a revue-style stage show to Las Vegas. PaulaAbdul

The former Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader was rumored last year to be in negotiations with executives at several Las Vegas casinos to headline a cheer-themed stage show in late 2009. 

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper, Abdul — who relinquished her seat on “American Idol” earlier this month — is now seriously talking to the Venetian, the Wynn Las Vegas, and the Las Vegas Hilton to take residency in Sin City. 

It’s not the first time Abdul has been in talks to star on the strip — the singer was also on the verge of signing a deal with bosses at the Silverton Casino & Hotel in 2006 before talks fell through after she chastised hotel employees there for missing her plane flight back to New York on New Year’s.

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