Judy Thorburn | Editor in Chief | Writer | ColumnistJudy Thorburn's 'Vegas Happenings' column

By Judy Thorburn This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - Las Vegas Round The Clock

Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - The Flick Chicks
Director of Communications - Nevada Film Alliance

Stars and Filmmakers Honored at CinemaCon 2017

Caesars Palace hosted CinemaCon 2017, the official convention of NATO (National Theater Owners Convention) from Monday, March 27 through Thursday, March 30.  For attendees, this annual convention which celebrates the movie going experience and  brings together theatre owners and managers with movie studios, distributors and vendors and the latest technological innovations, was getting to experience live, in person, appearances by some of the biggest stars and filmmakers in the business. And this year was no exception.

During daily major studio presentations, which gave attendees a preview glimpse of the studios' upcoming slate of new releases for the summer of 2017 and beyond, several A list filmmakers and stars showed up on stage to talk about and help promote their upcoming films.  The four day event closed with the final night Big Screen Achievement Awards  ceremony, which honored top and rising industry talent.  The event, staged inside the Colosseum, was hosted by Access Hollywood's Natalie Morales, who introduced and presented the following individual categories and their award recipients.

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Male Star of the Year – Charlie Hunnam (star of the upcoming, re-imagined, King Arthur:  Legend of the Sword, out on May 12, 2017 and The Lost City of Z, out on April 14, 2017).
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


Jessica Chastain 2017 CinemaCon Photo credit Stephen Thorburn 3477
Female Star of the Year –  Two time Academy ward nominee Jessica Chastain  (in the newly released 'The Zookeeper's Wife' and the forthcoming film adaptation of Molly Bloom's memoir, Molly's Game).
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


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Cinema Icon Award  - Academy Award winner Goldie Hawn, who returns to the screen, after a 14 year hiatus, in the mother/daughter comedy “Snatched” opposite Amy Schumer, in theatres on May 12, 2017.
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


Salma Hayek 2017 CinemaCon Photo credit Stephen Thorburn 3302
CinemaCon Vanguard Award – Academy Award nominee Salma Hayek (soon to be seen in the Hitman's Bodyguard , August 18, 2017 and How To Be a Latin Lover, in theaters April 28,2017).
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


John Cena 2017 CinemaCon Photo credit Stephen Thorburn 3274
Action Star of the Year – John Cena (soon to be heard as the voice of the animated bull, 'Ferdinand', and star of the upcoming deadly psychological thriller, 'The Wall', in theatres on May 12, 2107).
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


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Distinguished Decade of Achievement in Film – Two time Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts (soon to be seen in The Book of Henry, in theatres on June 16, 2017).
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


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Producer of the Year –  Chris Meledandri, the Academy Award-nominated founder and CEO of Illumination, who is responsible for the hugely successful “Despicable Me,” “Ice Age” and animated Dr. Seuss franchises.
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


Eugenio Derbez 2017 CinemaCon Photo credit Stephen Thorburn 3209
International Achievement in Comedy – Mexican filmmaker and actor Eugenio Derbez (soon to be seen starring in his self written and directed comedy, How to Be a Latin Lover, in theatres on April 28, 2017).
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


Jordan Peele
Director of the Year – Jordan Peele (for his surprise, box office, mega blockbuster, the comedy/horror flick, 'Get Out’). Due to high wind storms, he was unable to travel to Las Vegas to accept the award, but appeared by video to thank Cinemacon for the honor.


Ansel Elgort 2017 CinemaCon Photo credit Stephen Thorburn 3404
Male Star of Tomorrow – Ansel Elgort (soon to be seen in the upcoming, action packed, 'Baby Driver', in theatres on August 11, 2017).
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


Sofia Boutella 2017 CinemaCon Photo credit Stephen Thorburn 3362
Female Star of Tomorrow – Sofia Boutella (soon to be seen as the titled character The Mummy, in theatres on June 9, 2017,  and opposite Charlize Theron in the action/spy thriller, 'Atomic Blonde’).
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


Kumail Nanjaiani 2017 CinemaCon Photo credit Stephen Thorburn 3258
Comedy Star of the Year – Kumail Nanjaiani (soon to be seen in 'The Big Sick', in theatres on June 23, 2017, which is based on true events surrounding his real life wife and himself).
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


Isabel Moner 2017 CinemaCon Photo credit Stephen Thorburn 3145
Rising Star of the Year – 15 year old, Isabel Moner (soon to be seen in 'Transformers: The Last Knight', in theatres on June 23, 2017).
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


Brenton Twaites 2017 CinemaCon Photo credit Stephen Thorburn 3182
Breakthrough Performer of the Year – Brenton Twaites (soon to be seen in the 'Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Men Tell No Tales', opposite Johnny Depp, in theatres on May 26, 2017).
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


Earlier in the week, during the International Day Luncheon on Monday, March 27, Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, the directors of Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” were presented with the “CinemaCon® International Filmmakers of the Year Award.


W Las Vegas Holds VIP Grand Opening Event

After a soft opening on December 16, 2016, W Hotels Worldwide, now part of Marriott International, held its official Grand Opening of W Las Vegas, on Friday evening, March 31, 2017 with a private party for invited VIP guests.  Among the list of attendees who came to celebrate the big night were W Las Vegas General Manager Mark Eberwein,  Global Brand Leader Anthony Ingham, Olivia Culpo (former Miss Universe),  New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, actress/producer Cara Santana, actors Jesse Metcalfe and Ryan Guzman, cast members of Divas Las Vegas, twin DJ's Coco and Breezy, Chanel Iman, cabaret singer Lady Rizo, performer AlunaGeorge and more.

W Las Vegas General Manager Mark Eberwein R Global Brand Leader Anthony Ingham L

Olivia Culpo W Grand Opening 3611
Olivia Culpo
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


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Ryan Guzman
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


Chanel Iman W Grand Opening 3601
Chanel Iman
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


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Cara Santana with fiancee, Jesse Metcalfe
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


(L-R) Jesse Metcalfe, Cara Santana, Danny Amendola and Olivia Culpo attend the W Las Vegas Grand Opening Celebration on March 31, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for W Las Vegas)

The festivities included exciting performances and lively sets from DJ’s Coco & Breezy, Lady Rizo, and a headlining performance from AlunaGeorge – who had the packed room grooving to her hits To U, I’m in Control,  I Remember, and Together. Throughout the evening, guests sipped on hand-crafted specialty cocktails and even moved the party into W Las Vegas’ Living Room, well into the wee hours of the morning.

Twin DJs Coco and Breezy W Grand Opening
Twin DJs Coco and Breezy
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


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Lady Rizo
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


AlunaGeorge W Grand Opening
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


Divas Vas Vegas cast members W Grand Opening 3633
Divas Las Vegas performers
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

W Las Vegas (a luxury lifestyle hotel) was designed by Gensler Architects and AvroKO, and remixes its desert locale with the electric lights of the legendary Strip. Each of the bold and energetic 289 guest rooms and suites, designed by Philippe Starck, offer an exclusive escape from the chaos of Sin City  and feature a cheeky interpretation of luxury hospitality that Starck is known for,  as well as the brand's signature W bedding  and Bliss® bath amenities. Decidedly chic, the hotel’s 2,382 square foot Extreme WOW Suite (designed by multi-talented artist Lenny Kravitz) adorns the top of the tower, and is highlighted by a spacious balcony with sweeping mountain views.

Housed within the lux tower of SLS Las Vegas, on the north end of the iconic Las Vegas Strip, the hotel provides guests with the ultimate insider access to Las Vegas, along with its renowned Whatever/Whenever service, that offers guests whatever they want, whenever they want it.

W Las Vegas features than 15,000 square feet of ultra-modern meeting and event space, in addition to an AWAY Spa, FIT fitness center, the destination W Living Room Bar and WET pool deck.  Guests can mix and mingle at world-class dining venues including Bazaar Meat by José Andrés; Katsuya; Cleo; Umami Burger; 800 Degrees Neopolitan Pizza; Northside Café; and The Perq; along with coveted nightlife venues such as Foxtail, The Foundry, Sayers Club Las Vegas and the SLS Las Vegas Casino.

“If there are two things in this world that were truly made for each other, it’s W Hotels and Las Vegas,” said Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide.  “After nearly two decades of anticipation, W Las Vegas will show guests a different side of the strip, offering an unexpected and irreverent twist on the typical Sin City experience.”

Additional recent and upcoming “happenings” in and around Las Vegas include:

On Monday, March 27, Insomniac visited the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Nevada’s Lied Clubhouse for a special surprise, announcing the local nonprofit will serve as the 2017 beneficiary of the third annual EDC Week Charity Auction. The funds raised from this year’s auction will go towards creating much-needed art programs for the children across all Boys & Girls Clubs in Southern Nevada.

Insomniac transformed the Lied Clubhouse gym into a colorful celebration with EDC-inspired daisies and balloon arches, silly costumed characters, and the Boys & Girls Club’s resident DJ playing dance music favorites, creating a magical experience for the children and staff as they took in the surprise announcement that was before them. Pasquale Rotella, Insomniac Founder and CEO, stood alongside Andy Bischel, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada, to make the announcement. Hundreds of children at the clubhouse witnessed the news, and were gifted with brand new arts and crafts goodies as they jumped out of their seats with joy.

The first phase of auction items for the 2017 EDC Week Charity Auction are now open for bidding through Thursday, April 6 at 12 PM PT. Fans from around the world have the opportunity to bid on more than 30 once-in-a-lifetime EDC Week experiences ranging from the Insomniac Golden Ticket, the opportunity to propose on stage, dropping the first track of the weekend, your own private trailer in the artist area, a VIP golf cart champagne tour, hanging out with Pasquale Rotella in his cabana and much more.

In 2015, Insomniac launched the first-ever EDC Week Charity Auction in partnership with eBay For Charity and the leading companies in Las Vegas, raising approximately $70,000 for Culture Shock Las Vegas. In 2016, the initiative raised more than $120,000 for The Shade Tree.

ESSENCE VEGAS, Las Vegas’ premier marijuana dispensary and resource center, is celebrating its first anniversary in Las Vegas by giving back to those who have served the United States so bravely. Using donations that were collected in the three locations throughout the last 12 months, Essence Vegas will present a check of more than $14,500 to VETERANS VILLAGE LAS VEGAS, a transitional and permanent housing residence dedicated to Veterans in need get back on their feet. This represents the first five-figure donation to a community organization by a dispensary or cannabis-related business since legalization took place. Located at 1150 South Las Vegas Blvd. in Downtown Las Vegas, Veterans Village Las Vegas provides supplies and services to Veterans United States Military, including housing, medical and mental health services, employment training, referrals and placements, food pantry/nutrition programs and transportation to the VA Hospital and primary care clinic.

PROOF TAVERN, a new gaming and dining establishment in the Lake Las Vegas community, is scheduled to open in MonteLago Village in early April. Proof Tavern will provide patrons 21 and over with a diverse array of menu items ranging from American comfort foods to classic favorites with a modern twist, a full service bar including specialty craft cocktails, wine and spirits and gaming.  Proof Tavern will be the only gaming establishment within the Lake Las Vegas community, offering 15 video poker machines for patrons to enjoy. The tavern will host various gaming promotions and offers throughout the year.  
For the third consecutive year, INSOMNIAC has teamed up with EBAY FOR CHARITY to bring the 2017 EDC WEEK CHARITY AUCTION to life, raising funds for the wonderful work of the BOYS & GIRLS CLUB OF SOUTHERN NEVADA. Bids are now open for the first wave of priceless experiences surrounding North America’s largest dance music festival, Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) Las Vegas.

The first phase of the auction (from now until Thursday, April 6) offers fans new, unparalleled access to EDC Las Vegas, which will celebrate its 21st edition Under the Electric Sky at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway from June 16 – 18. Auction winners can sail the festival grounds on the Bass Wench Art Car, hang out with Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella in his SkyDeck cabana, tag the wasteLAND stage with a piece of art and much more. Participants will have 10 days to place their bid for the chance of a lifetime. All auction items are available at eBay.com/Insomniac, with many bids starting at just $0.99 where 100 percent of the funds raised will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada.

LAS VEGAS WEST FEST featuring Hip Hop Legends Ice Cube, E-40 and Too $hort Comes to Orleans Arena April 7.Rounding out the show’s lineup are DJ Quik, Tha Dogg Pound, Rodney O and Joe Cooley.

Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets start at $54 plus tax and fees, and can be purchased in-person at gift shops inside The Orleans, Suncoast, Gold Coast and Sam’s Town. Tickets may also be purchased the day of the show (depending upon availability) at the venue box office.

WET’N’WILD LAS VEGAS dives into spring break with sun-filled activities Saturday, April 8 to Sunday, April 16. The iconic water park and local nonprofit, The Josh Stevens Foundation, will hold a “Be Kind” pledge day on Saturday, April 8 as well as a fan meet and greet hosted by HOT 97.5 and Q106.9 with Cierra Ramirez of FREEFORM’s hit television show “The Fosters.”

The first 250 children (17 years of age and under) to sign the “Be Kind” pledge wall, when the park opens for the day on April 8, will receive free entry. Of those 250 kids, the first 50 children in line will also get an exclusive meet and greet with Ramirez from 2 to 4 p.m. Additionally, adults and children who use the promo code “KIND” may purchase tickets for $19.99 online at wetnwildlasvegas.com or at the ticket windows on the day of the event. A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to The Josh Stevens Foundation, an organization dedicated to recognizing and celebrating heartfelt acts of kindness.

Daily spring break events include DJ’s playing top hits from noon to 4 p.m.; foam pit parties at 1 p.m.; a Ninja Warrior obstacle course hosted by Camp Rhino, an organization whose purpose is to help adults and children find their passion in fitness and nutrition, from noon to 4 p.m.; trivia contests; and scavenger hunts. “Sunny The Bunny” will host an Easter meet and greet on Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16 at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wet’n’Wild has also announced that for a limited time, guests who purchase two Season Passes will receive one Season Pass for free. Season Passes offer unlimited entry during operating hours as well as select food, beverage and retail discounts.

In celebration of World Rock ‘N’ Roll Day, Harrah’s Las Vegas headliners TENORS OF ROCK are teaming up with the AMERICAN RED CROSS to combat the ongoing need for BLOOD DONATIONS across the valley. All volunteers who sign up in advance and give blood at the Smith’s Food & Drug Store blood drive (2255 E. Centennial Pkwy) between 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 13, will receive a voucher for TWO COMPLIMENTARY TICKETS to experience TENORS OF ROCK, and will be entered to win a staycation that includes a one-night stay for two at Harrah’s Las Vegas, and a $75 dining credit to Toby Keith’s ‘I Love This Bar & Grill.’ All interested donors must schedule an appointment in advance at RedCrossBlood.org using the sponsor code: RockAndRollLV.

ORANGETHEORY FITNESS, the scientifically-designed group interval training concept that has helped countless members lose weight, get toned and meet their overall fitness goals, is opening its newest Las Vegas location in Spring Valley on Monday, April 17. Conveniently located off the I-215, Orangetheory® Fitness will be located at 5990 S. Rainbow Blvd., Suite 200.  The studio will celebrate a private grand opening on Sat., April 15 before opening to the public on Mon., April 17 with classes beginning at 5 a.m. Memberships are on sale now at pre-opening discounted rates.

 Country superstar RODNEY ATKINS will headline “BACK THE BADGE” a benefit concert which will support southern Nevada’s local law enforcement, at the Orleans Arena on Thursday, April 20.  Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Injured Police Officers Fund (IPOF) and the Southern Nevada Concerns of Police Survivors (SNVCOPS). The IPOF provides financial assistance to police officers and their families facing an injury or death in the line of duty. The SNVCOPS provides resources to the families and colleagues of fallen police officers, including counseling reimbursements, peer support, retreats, camps and scholarships. Both organizations support the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, North Las Vegas Police Department and Henderson Police Department.  Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Doors open one hour prior to the show. Tickets start at $25 plus tax and fees, and can be purchased  in-person at gift shops inside The Orleans, Suncoast, Gold Coast and Sam’s Town. Tickets may also be purchased the day of the show (depending upon availability) at the venue box office. Table purchases start at $150 and include dinner as well as show admission.

Aid for AIDS of Nevada's (AFAN) 27TH ANNUAL AIDS WALK LAS VEGAS will take place on Sunday, April 23 at Town Square. As AFAN's largest fundraiser, last year's walk saw more than 5,000 walkers and raised $350,000 to support essential services for those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.  Penn & Teller will serve as grand marshals for the 16th consecutive year and are encouraging walkers to take the Penn & Teller Challenge, matching every challenger's $250+ donation dollar for dollar. The top challenger will be awarded with AFAN swag and other prizes, including tickets to various Las Vegas shows.  Marco and Johiah from the Sunny 106.5 Morning Radio Show will host the opening ceremony and introduce performances from Chippendales, RuPaul's Drag Race's Coco Montrese, Absinthe's Green Fairy Melody Sweets, nonprofit arts group Broadway in the Hood, the Las Vegas Pride Spinners, America's Got Talent's Tape Face and original musical "Clown Town" written by Michael Brennan. Several of Nevada's public officials will present a proclamation to AFAN for its unyielding commitment to making Nevada AIDS free. People of all ages are encouraged to register for the family and pet friendly event. Registration does require a $10 donation or fundraising goal to participate in the walk, unless waived by the AFAN events team for special circumstances. For additional information and to register, visit afanlv.org.

Flash back to the 1970’s with DISCO EXPLOSION! at Cannery Casino Hotel’s The Club on Saturday, April 29. The show’s lineup includes The Village People,Sister Sledge and The Trammps featuring Earl Young.  Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets start at $34.95 plus taxes and convenience fees.

Eccentric glam metal quartet STEEL PANTHER will electrify the stage for two nights at House of Blues Las Vegas on May 4 & 11. Doors: 8 p.m. Show: 9 p.m. 18+Tickets start at $22, plus applicable fees and go on sale Friday, March 31 at 10 a.m. PT.

Celebrity sightings:

Sunday, April 2....

Heartthrob reality star and entrepreneur, Brody Jenner, world-famous DJ, Alesso and handsome actor and stage performer, Tyson Beckford, all partied at Crazy Horse III ) deep into the early morning hours.

Following the debut performance of his new single at the 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards, country superstar Chris Stapleton, joined by a party of 50 people,  dined at Jenna and Michael Morton's downtown Las Vegas hotspot, La Comida.

Saturday, April 1...

Twisted Sister frontman, Rock 'n' Roll legend Dee Snider shared laughs with the audience during Dana Carvey and John Lovitz's comedy show, "Reunited, at The Foundry at SLS Las Vegas.

Dee Snider SLS Las Vegas
Dana Carvey, Dee Snider, and Jon Lovitz


Recording artist Leona Lewis celebrated her birthday with a night out with 15 of her closest friends. The “Bleeding Love” star started off her night with a special dinner at Beauty & Essex in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, before she and her group headed to TAO Nightclub in The Venetian where they took over a VIP table and Lewis was surprised with a celebratory presentation from the staff.

Leona Lewis Celebrates Her Birthday at TAO 4.1.17
Leona Lewis Celebrates Her Birthday at TAO 4.1.17
Photo credit: Brenton Ho


Thursday, March 30...

Best known for his villain character “T-Bag” on Prison Break, actor Robert Knepper dined at Andiamo Italian Steakhouse at the D Las Vegas with his wife, Nadine and producer Marklen Kennedy and his wife. ”

Richard Wilk Robert Knepper with wife Nadine and friends
Richard Wilk Robert Knepper with wife Nadine and friends
Photo credit: The D Las Vegas


Following their appearances at CinemaCon's studio presentations, stars packed the FIZZ Las Vegas inside Caesars Palace.  Mingling in the private party were Justice League stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher; Suicide Squad’s Jared Leto; Ed Helms of The Hangover series; and top celebs including Ana De Armas, Rosario Dawson, Dave Franco, Katherine Heigl, Charlie Hunnam, Chris Pine and Justin Theroux.

Tom Felton, better known as Draco Malfoy from the legendary “Harry Potter” series, was spotted with five friends at Hakkasan Nightclub inside MGM Grand.

Tom Felton
Tom Felton (R)
Photo credit: Aaron Garcia


Country music superstars Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley were spotted dining at Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant. In town to host the Academy of Country Music Awards, the friends arrived to the acclaimed restaurant shortly after 7 p.m. where they were seated inside the Main Dining Room with a large group of friends.

Members of the rock band Plain White T’s were spotted at TAO Nightclub in The Venetian. The group took in the party from a VIP table as Justin Credible manned the decks for Worship Thursday.

Tuesday, March 28...

“Blade” star Wesley Snipes, successful Hollywood filmmaker Brett Ratner, R&B singer-songwriter Keith Sweat, and “Vanderpump Rules” reality TV personality Tom Sandoval were all spotted enjoying a fun night out at OMNIA Nightclub inside Caesars Palace.

Sunday, March 26...

TYGA kicked off his highly anticipated Daylight Beach Club residency as well as celebrate their five year grand opening and launch of Lit Sundays.

Photo courtesy of Daylight Beach Club


Saturday, March 26...

Spago by Wolfgang Puck at The Forum Shops at Caesars welcomed Las Vegas native Brandon Flowers, lead vocalist of the GRAMMY-Nominated band The Killers, and his wife, Tana.

Also spotted at the restaurant just a few tables over was Backstreet Boys phenomenon Nick Carter as he made his Saturday night a family affair, joined by wife Lauren and 11-month-old son, Odin Reign.

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