Tag Archives: Aria

It happened: American Idol contestants invaded Las Vegas!

What Las Vegas Backstage Access reported yesterday, came true:  Season 9 “American Idol” finalists were spirited quietly away on an overnight trip to Las Vegas.  

On Friday the finalists arrived and took in Cirque du Soleil’s “Viva Elvis” show and then they took over the stage on Saturday for a critique and mentoring by Adam Lambert, Season 8 “Idol” runner-up. 

Lambert flew in from Vancouver to meet the contestants, who rehearsed Elvis hits such as “Viva Las Vegas.” Lambert told them not to be afraid to jump out of character. 

Season 9 finalist Crystal Bowersox was standoffish at the Friday meetup, eating by herself at the Aria buffet as other fellow contestants ate together. 

No photos were released of the “Viva Elvis” event and security personnel went so far as to temporarily confiscate cell phones for most of their three-hour stay in the Elvis theater at Aria. 

The “Idol” contingent left about 6 p.m. on Saturday. 

Meanwhile, across town at Sam Boyd Stadium, Season 8 winner Kris Allen tweaked Lambert during Pet-a-Palooza, which drew an estimated 28,000 happy four-legged beast owners {also reported by Las Vegas Backstage Access yesterday}.

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American Idol Heading to Las Vegas?

The top nine of “American Idol” just may be going to Las Vegas for Elvis Week! 

At least that’s what the latest rumors say. According to The Wrap, gay glam-rocker Adam Lambert and the season 9 crew may convene at the Aria Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip for Lambert to mentor Idol hopefuls.  Aria happens to house Cirque du Soleil’s new “Viva Elvis” show.

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$5,000-a-spin Slot Machines in Las Vegas

High rollers are not just hanging around at the card tables in Las Vegas anymore. 

Aria in the new CityCenter complex in Las Vegas boasts $5,000 denomination slot machines with a max bet of 1 credit per spin. 

Dig deep and just maybe you too can have a thrill!

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Jay-Z, Beyonce, Champagne & Dining Mix to Revive Slumping Las Vegas

Las Vegas is definitely showing signs of perking up and bouncing back if popping champagne corks and dining on haute cuisine is any indication. 

What city needs Big Brother and trillion-dollar bailouts when you’re lucky enough just to have Jay-Z and wife, Beyonce, grace your presence?

Jay-Z and Beyonce battled preganancy rumors like true rock stars last weekend — by hitting up Las Vegas with gusto. After Jigga rocked out at the Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms alongside Young Jeezy and Trey Songz, he joined B at the hotel’s Mint High Roller gaming lounge around 4 a.m. 

Music mogul Jay-Z was also celebrity host and a big part of the crowd draw at Tao nightclub last Saturday night with Beyoncé. 

A colossal 3.9-gallon bottle of Ace of Spades champagne is now for sale at the Tao nightclub in the Venetian for $100,000, thanks to the big price boost that comes with Jay-Z’s autograph on the bottle Saturday. 

The bottle, known as a Nebuchadnezzar in the bottle family – only two in the world -holds five times the amount of bubbly that comes in a double magnum, but is only half of the king of champagne bottles, the 30-liter Melchizedek. 

Jay-Z featured the champagne in his 2006 video “Show Me What You Got” after Cristal boss Frédéric Rouzaud made some disparaging remarks about the music mogul’s fondness for Cristal. Jay-Z led a boycott of Cristal and switched his allegiance. 

The mega-club Tao, which opened in September, 2005, announced it had a monster night that didn’t include champagne imbibing last Saturday– a record 1,400 dinner covers on the restaurant side and more than 7,000 people going through the nightclub, another record. 

Then, further down the Strip at CityCenter, the Light Group nightclub Haze at Aria was the scene of an epic champagne-buying spree last Saturday night. A photo of the high roller’s receipt for $182,000-plus turned up on an Aria casino host’s Twitter site. 

According to the casino host, the big spender ordered super-sized bottles: one each of Cristal, Moet Chandon, Dom Perignon and an unidentified brand of vodka. 

He left a $30,000 tip on top of the automatic 20 percent gratuity. 

The man made the purchase after asking for an entire section of the nightclub. Told he would have to “buy big” for that to happen, he ordered the four bottles, which appear much larger than magnums.  A magnum holds two bottles, a Jeroboam four bottles and a Methuselah eight bottles.

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Las Vegas Chefs Battle for Best Chef of the Year honors at James Beard Awards

Three Las Vegas chefs are battling for the coveted title of Best Chef of the Year Southwest in the 2010 James Beard Awards, and several other Strip chefs are represented in the Oscars of the food industry, as well. 

The finalists were announced last week in New Orleans, and the winners will be announced May 3 at New York’s Lincoln Center. 

The three Best Chefs of the Southwest finalists are the off-Strip Saipan Chutima from Lotus of Siam, Claude Le Tohic from Joël Robuchon at MGM and Rick Moonen from RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay. 

Michael Mina from MGM, Mandalay Bay, Bellagio and Aria is recognized twice in the prestigious awards: His RN74 in San Francisco is nominated for Best New Restaurant, and his self-named restaurant, also in the City by the Bay, is nominated for Outstanding Service, competing against Robuchon’s restaurant at MGM Grand.

Robuchon’s MGM pastry chef Kamel Guechuda is up for the Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year. 

Chef Tom Colicchio, well known to foodies here for his Craft at MGM and as host of Bravo’s Top Chef, is nominated as Outstanding Chef of the Year for his original Craft in Manhattan. 

Two other New York chefs with outposts in Las Vegas will also battle in the Outstanding Restaurant Award category: Mario Batali, who has restaurants at The Venetian and Palazzo, has been nominated for his Babbo in New York City and Daniel Boulud from the Wynn for his Daniel in Manhattan. 

Timothy Hollingsworth, former Venetian chef for Thomas Keller Brasserie and now at Thomas’ French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., has been nominated for Rising Star Chef of the Year. 

In other Las Vegas chef news, Todd English from Bellagio and Aria was nominated for Best TV Special for Food Trip With Todd English, as was The Venetian and Palazzo’s Emeril Lagasse who will go head-to-head with English in the TV category for Emeril’s Culinary Adventures: Napa

And architect and designer David Rockwell, who has masterminded numerous Las Vegas restaurants, Crystals at MGM’s CityCenter and the show Peepshow at Planet Hollywood, will be inducted into the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

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Celebrity Shenanigans in Las Vegas

Lindsay Lohan is apparently back to her vintage shenanigan ways again, this time heading to Milan for fashion week when she had previously committed to hosting a club night Saturday at Las Vegas hotspot Pure nightclub.

The thrill-a-minute ditzy Lohan abruptly canceled her appearance at the club on the day of Saturday’s planned event, with no explanation to anyone, and was later spotted and photographed in Milan. 

Though Lohan may have stealthily skipped out from her Las nightclub engagement, still Sin City got a double dose of star-power on Saturday night when Mariah Carey and Ciara appeared at Haze Nightclub. Mariah was presented with a huge tiered cake after wrapping her Angels Advocate  tour at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, while Ciara hosted the evening at the ARIA Hotel & Casino hotspot at CityCenter, singing along to her hits “Goodies” and “Oh.”

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Elvis Presley Comes Back to Las Vegas

And you thought he was…dead?  Pshaw!  Elvis performed his last show in Las Vegas and now is back to his old Sin City haunts, if only in spirit.  But his show will, hopefully, run forever. 

Viva Elvis premiered on Feb. 19 and is the seventh Cirque du Soleil show on the Las Vegas Strip. It is one of the centerpieces of the new $8.5 billion MGM Mirage CityCenter, located in a new theater in the Aria Hotel and Casino. 

Viva Elvis features all of his greatest hits set to music and embellished with spectacular sets and effects, dancing and acrobatics. It positively fills the eyes-all the time steering clear of the somber and darker sides of Elvis, thanks to the untiring efforts of Priscilla Presley and Elvis Presley Enterprises to protect the Elvis legacy. 

This is a spectacularly beautiful show and it is one of only two Cirque shows in Las Vegas to employ a proscenium stage rather than using a theater-in-the-round setup. 

There are other singers, but the only male voice belongs to The King himself. The evening opens witha huge video-jukebox. On the screen is Elvis singing Blue Suede Shoes. It’s light, fun and immediately gets the audience in the mood for more of his music. Don’t Be Cruel is next, followed by Junior Clay, the only actor in the show. He is Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker. He comes out to explain that Elvis had a twin brother who died at birth and Elvis missed his twin his entire life. Thus he introduces the next number, One Night– a love song, more shouted than sung and is very effective. But here, for some reason, it’s used to portray brotherly love. 

Two acrobats do their schtick on a large wire guitar suspended upstage center. As they’re doing their acrobatics, there’s a woman sitting at an old upright piano softly playing and singing the song. No argument that Elvis missed his twin. And no argument that these two guys on the guitar are really good at what they do. The only argument is against taking such a passionate number and doing this to it. 

The next scene goes back to Elvis’ childhood in Tupelo, MS. Old photos are projected on the screen as the townsfolk carrying umbrellas come out on the stage and perform All Shook Up as a gospel tune. And the woman singing the song actually changes the lyrics to say “I’m itchin’ like a woman on fuzzy tree.”

The spectacle is a grand and joyous event that will stick in your mind for a long time — a terrific celebration of Elvis’ music. The dancing and acrobatics are lavish and exuberant. The on-stage band is exellent. And the production values are incomparable. It’s just plain fun to watch with wonderful sets, colorful costumes and captivating special effects. 

Yes, the show is a bit pricey in a struggling Las Vegas economy, tickets ranging from $114 to $200, but well worth the price if you can afford it.  Shows are at 7 and 9:30 p.m., Fridays though Tuesdays.  702-531-2031. 

Long live The King!

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