By Judy Thorburn

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Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - Las Vegas Round The Clock
Entertainment Reporter/Film Critic - Las Vegas Tribune
Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - The Flick Chicks
Director of Communications - Nevada Film Alliance

Bellagio's Conservatory & Botanical Gardens Offers Visitors A Dazzling Winter Display

Through January 6, 2010, Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is offering visitors the opportunity to feast their eyes on spectacular winter holiday display rich in nostalgia and filled with beautiful botanical creations.


Featured in the display is a polar bear family that shows a baby bear frolicking playfully on his back while mama and papa bear watch with affection. The polar bears’ fur is made of 34,000 white carnations, carefully hand-applied by Bellagio horticulturists and kept fresh by a specially designed water drip system.

Nearby, eight reindeer, each made of 110 pounds of whole pecans and wearing a brilliant collar of cranberry-red, dried botanicals, are captured in mid-flight as they guide a present-filled, red-lacquer sleigh into a snowy sky. The reindeer appears to soar over a giant, living holiday card comprised of thousands of blooming flowers.


At the centerpiece of this beautiful exhibit is an inspiring stately 42-foot tall majestic Shasta Fir ablaze in thousands of twinkling lights and encircled by oversized holiday ornaments that appears to float in mid-air. Around the holiday tree’s base are four, 15 feet tall grand toy soldiers standing at attention.

Nearby, a 7-foot-tall, custom-sculpted rocking horse stands in the midst of a whimsical rail display featuring a working Bellagio-emblazoned train. In another corner is a flower-clad snowman surrounded by giant 13-foot-tall peppermint sticks.

Visitors to the Bellagio are invited to enjoy this FREE memorable winter display through January 6, 2010.

The Palazzo Las Vegas Kicks-off Holiday Season with Arctic Inspired Winter Décor

On December 9, The Palazzo Las Vegas partnered with Polar Bear International (PBI) in celebrating the arrival of the holiday season by unveiling an environmentally conscious and educational winter display to raise awareness about the conservation of polar bears.


The Arctic inspired winter wonderland display is located in the Waterfall Atrium and consists of a 16-foot tall polar bear mother and 6-foot tall polar bear baby, made entirely of 10,000 specially-developed “Polar Bear” white poinsettias developed exclusively by Ecke Ranch. A portion of the proceeds of each poinsettia sold will be donated to PBI.The larger-than-life topiary weighs in at approximately 5,000 lbs.



The holiday event, lead by an Ice King and Queen, began with the pouring of over 225,000 cranberries donated by Ocean Spray into a water feature continuing with the topping off of the polar bear topiary and snow falling from the ceiling adding to the Arctic theme.



Nation’s Tallest Christmas Tree Lit at “M” Resort
Photos credit: Stephen Thorburn

The night air was brisk and cold, but that didn’t stop thousands of local residents and visitors, young and old, from coming out to the M Resort on Saturday evening, December 12 to join in the festivities for the lighting of the tallest Christmas tree in the nation.


Radio personalities, Melanie and Michael from SUNY 106.5 hosted the evening’s family friendly event that included free hot chocolate, hot coffee, hot apple cider, cookies and candy canes plus entertainment by Cannon Middle School Choir singing Christmas carols, a performance by “Dance Zone Company” and the musical stylings of “Phat Strad”, an all female electric string instrument quartet.

Melanie and Michael from SUNY 106.5
Cannon Middle School Choir

Dance Zone Company”

Dance Zone Company”

“Phat Strad”

Anthony Marnell III, founder, Chairman and CEO of the M Resort, was on hand, along with his young son and daughter to throw the switch that lit up the tree. The 109 foot tall, White Fir tree, weighing 22,000 lbs was transported from Oregon. “It took seven days to get in the ground and decorated”, said Marnell. He then added, “This tree is dedicated to all the children in the valley who could not have a tree in their home. It is here for all of them to enjoy.”

Anthony Marnell III, founder, Chairman and CEO of the M Resort

The event also was a way for the M Resort to show their support for local charities. Prior to the event, attendees were encouraged to bring canned food, gently used coats and new, unwrapped toys to benefit Three Square Food Bank, Catholic Charities, and Toys For Tots.

Cirque du Soleil's 'Viva Elvis' Previewed at Press Conference
Photos credit: Judy Thorburn

Prior to the the following day’s grand opening celebration of Aria, on Tuesday, December 15 Cirque du Soleil hosted a press conference inside the resort’s brand new 2,000 seat, Elvis Theatre to introduce the media to their newest Las Vegas show in partnership with Elvis Presley Enterprises, Viva Elvis, a tribute to the life and music of Elvis Presley. On hand to talk about the show, which took three years in the making, was Cirque du Soleil’s founder Guy Laliberté; Gilles Ste-Croix, Artistic Guide and Senior Vice-President - Creative Content and Development of New Projects; Vincent Paterson, Writer, Director and Co-Choreographer, Robert FX Sillerman; CEO of CKX Inc (parent company of Elvis Enterprises); and Priscilla Presley, along with MGM Mirage executives.


Guy Laliberté

Priscilla Presley

Gilles Ste-Croix

Robert FX Sillerman

Vincent Paterson

Robert FX Sillerman, Priscilla Presley and Guy Laliberté

Sillerman stated that he first saw Elvis perform in Las Vegas in 1971 and now “Elvis is back where he belongs. Cirque has created, not only a memorable and educational piece, but looks at the future of what tomorrow has to offer. This preview combines a treasure trove of artifacts from Elvis’ vault; home movies with Priscilla; footage that will make your heart stop; and what a transcended performer he was. This is a continuation of what the man started in Las Vegas. When we acquired Elvis Enterprises, I thought we must return him to Las Vegas. In its unique way only the creative team of Cirque du Soeleil has been able to translate the raw, unique appeal of a Las Vegas partnership borne out of majesty.”

“Viva will pay tribute to the incredible talent Elvis had. The show highlights the exhilaration and beauty of his music on a grand scale” said Laliberte, before thanking Priscilla for her input in the creative process.

When it was Priscilla’s chance to speak she said, “It has been a journey for me since we sat down three years ago. It reminded me of the anxiety Elvis felt years ago (about opening in Las Vegas).” But she was convinced after visiting Cirque’s headquarters in Canada and seeing "the costumes, the wigs, the imagination”. Priscilla then added, “Elvis was the first Las Vegas entertainer in rock and roll to break boundaries. The fusion of Elvis with Cirque brings about a unique, abstract way of realizing the vision. I can’t imagine anyone else doing it. This is a very different Cirque and this theatre can only hold the bigness of Elvis here.”

St. Croix said, “After today, everyone will know Elvis is back. In a very humble way we tried to see it through Elvis’ eyes. I want (the audience) to feel Elvis as we felt him, in the production of the show.”

The afternoon event also included a special sneak peak of the show with a gimpse of six musical numbers: Blue Suede Shoes, One Night With You, All Shook Up, I’m Saved, and Got A Lotta Lovin.





The musical production is a fusion of live music and dancers acrobats, and actors along with photos, videos, and remastered Elvis tracks featuring the “King’s” true voice. The artistic components are part of an overall creative vision designed to showcase the timeless music of Elvis, his unique voice and his unequaled talent as a performer.


Special preview performances of Viva Elvis began on Wednesday night, December 16 and will run for through December 27. Regular performances begin January 18. The official premiere is February 19.

Tickets range in price from $99 to $175 with Preview Performances offering a 25% discount off the full price. Ticket prices do not include 10% live entertainment tax and $7.50 service fee.

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

Mayor Oscar Goodman declared December 4 Lani Misalucha day in Las Vegas. Angelo Giordano, of Giordano World Entertainment and Producer of the show “Voices” starring Lani Misalucha, surprised and presented Lani with the Proclamation during her performance at The Voices Showroom in The Las Vegas Hilton.

Lani Misalucha
© Cody Boor/ RETNA/

Angelo Giordano, surprised and presented Lani with the Proclamation.
© Cody Boor/ RETNA/

On December 8, Mayor Oscar B. Goodman flipped the switch to light Las Vegas’ official Christmas tree at the Fremont Street Experience. Also on hand were Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese, Fremont Street Experience President, Jeff Victor, and Santa Claus.

The 50-foot tree was garnished with festive decorations and stands below the 12.5 million lights of the Viva Vision screen. Directly following the ceremony, Fremont Street Experience’s holiday show, Candy & The Canes, performed a live song and dance show to holiday music hits.

Mayor Oscar Goodman, along with Santa Claus, Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese and Fremont Street Experience President, Jeff Victor and friends, pose in front of the Fremont Street Experience Christmas tree moments after flipping the switch.


The official Las Vegas Christmas tree will be on display at the Fremont Street Experience through the Christmas holiday.

On December 9, Vegas nightlife and casino personalities laced up their gloves for a good cause at Fight Club 3 charity boxing tournament inside The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Making a special guest appearance was legendary boxer, Sugar Ray Leonard. The boxing champion applauded the Hard Rock for putting on such a great event and said he will be back for Fight Club 4.

Photo credit: Scott Berry

Photo credit: Cody Boors

Photo credit: Cody Boors

In order to let the local residents celebrate the holiday season on a budget, South Point Hotel and Casino has slashed the prices of all drinks at their casino bars from December 14th through Christmas Eve (December 24th). Every drink on the bar is only $2. That includes imports, and premium liquors.

Brad Sugars, N9NE Group member, best-selling author and business coach, joined N9NE Group co-owner Jenna Morton on Dec. 14 at the KLUC Toy Drive where Sugars donated 250 bikes on behalf of the N9NE Group to help KLUC achieve their 1,500 bike mark. Sugar’s donation brought them just passed the 1,400 mark. The N9NE Group served as a sponsor for this year’s Toy Drive and donated more than 2,000 books collected by N9NE Group team members on Friday, December 11.

Brad Sugars

(L-R) Spence Nofsinger (KLUC), Jenna Morton, Brad Sugars

For the 15th year in a row, on Sunday December 13, Lance Burton and Friends along with Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus entertained a full house at the Zelzah Shrine Temple auditorium.

Lance Burton

Crystals, the retail and entertainment district at CityCenter, celebrated its grand opening with a generous $25,000 donation to The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Proceeds from the Crystals grand opening also went to benefit the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, Nevada Ballet Theater and Nevada Cancer Institute.

“Similar to CityCenter, The Smith Center plans to elevate the experience in Las Vegas for those who live and vacation here,” says Myron Martin, president and chief executive officer of The Smith Center. “It is donations like this and the support of companies like CityCenter that help bring our vision to life.”

Sahara Hotel & Casino has announced its winter entertainment schedule as follows:

The Magic and Tigers of Rick Thomas will be dark Thursday, Dec. 24 and Friday, Dec. 25. Regularly scheduled performances will resume Saturday, Dec. 26. The Magic & Tigers of Rick Thomas is showcased Tuesday through Sunday at 7 p.m. (dark Monday) inside the Theater.

The Comedy Stop will be dark Monday, Dec. 21 through Thursday, Dec. 24. Regularly scheduled performances will resume Friday, Dec. 25. The Comedy Stop is showcased nightly at 9 p.m. inside the Congo Room.

Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show will be dark Sunday and Monday, Dec. 13, 14, 20 and 21, Jan. 3, 4, 10, 11, 24, 25 and 31, and Feb. 1 and 7. Regularly scheduled performances remain showcased nightly at 7 p.m. in the Congo Room at Sahara Hotel & Casino.

Sky Zone Recreational Center at 4915 Steptoe St., Suite 400 in
Las Vegas will host a 3-D dodgeball tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 29 and Wednesday, Dec. 30. The tournament is $60 per team and open to the public. Teams may consist of 6 to 8 members for a 6 vs. 6 game. Winners of each tournament will receive a cash prize, in addition to other giveaways.

Every half-hour from 10 a.m. to midnight December 17 through the 31st, Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino will broadcast more than 20 different holiday messages from famous Las Vegas personalities, headliners and show cast members including greetings from Mayor Oscar Goodman, Blue Man Group, Chester Bennington, PEEPSHOW star Holly Madison, rocker Sammy Hagar, host of Robin Leach, Donny and Marie Osmond, Zowie Bowie, George Wallace, Coach Lon Kruger, Gordie Brown, and Santana band members among others. Each video is unique and can be seen and heard by anyone cruising The Strip on Miracle Mile Shops’ record breaking LED video screens at the heart of Las Vegas Boulevard.

Las Vegas’ famed Fremont Street Experience is ready for a rockin’ New Year’s 2010 Weekend celebration with its 2nd Annual TributePalooza. New Year’s Eve includes live concerts by eight of the world’s best tribute bands, a 2009 year-in-review show on the Viva Vision screen, followed by a countdown to midnight with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and then Fireworks by Grucci under the canopy choreographed to virtual fireworks on Viva Vision.

TributePalooza bands will deliver performances emulating classic favorites Aerosmith, Depeche Mode, Guns N’ Roses, INXS, Led Zeppelin, No Doubt, U2 and Van Halen. Plus, there will be a live stage show, “Jimi Hendrix and the Psychedelic Ride.”

New Year’s Eve is the only day of the year with ticketed admission to Fremont Street Experience. Wristbands are $10 for locals with valid Nevada ID and $20 for out-of-state visitors. Fremont Street Experience is restricted to persons 21 and over on New Year’s Eve.

Legendary funk band, Family performs at The Orleans Showroom January 1 and 2. The show features Jerry Martini and Cynthia Robinson, original-founding members of Sly & the Family Stone, inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Tickets are now available and are priced at $19.95, plus tax. The show is 8:00 p.m.

“America’s Got Talent” finalist Grandma Lee headlines at Bonkerz Comedy Club inside Palace Station Jan. 7 through Jan. 9. The sassy senior won the 2003 Las Vegas Comedy Festival at the MGM Grand and was chosen as a finalist for the 2004 season of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.”Audience members also have the chance to be a part of Lee’s new DVD, “Grandma Lee Unleashed,” which is filming during all five of her shows at Bonkerz. Tickets are $29.95 each. Palace Station hotel guests and locals with a valid Nevada ID receive a $10 discount.

Sweet Surrender offering cupcakes, cookies, lollipops, toffee, licorice, hard candies and dipped treats has opened at The Palazzo Las Vegas. The cupcake shop is located at the casino floor next to guest elevators.

The following shows have closed:

The Steve Wyrick Entertainment Complex, in the Miracle Mile Mall at Planet Hollywood.

After nine month at the Harmon Theatre, female impersonator Scott Weston, aka “Cashetta—Queen of Magic” has closed his “Magic’s A Drag” show.

Anthony Cool’s “Freaks” is no longer performing at O’Sheas Casino.

Celebrity sightings:

Wednesday, Dec. 9,

Las Vegas: Lead guitarist for Alice in Chains, Jerry Cantrell was seen playing poker inside the Poker Lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Alice in Chains is in town to perform at The Joint inside the Hard Rock on Friday, Dec. 11th.

Ian Ziering was spotted dining at LAVO Italian Restaurant.

Thursday, December 10,

Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari celebrated his 31st birthday with dinner and a party at TAO. He was joined by friends and family.



Friday, December 12,

Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington was spotted having dinner with his family inside Pink Taco at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Bennington performed with his side-project, Dead by Sunrise, during Holiday Havoc inside The Joint later in the evening.

Saturday Dec. 12,

Fashion designer Roberto Cavalli was spotted dining at TAO Asian Bistro dining with friends.

Sightings at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino…

Alternative rock band Muse and Lisa Marie Presley spotted partying, at separate tables, till 3 a.m. at Wasted Space.

Actors Mekhi Phifer and Omar Miller were seen playing craps with a group of Marines. In addition, “Heroes” actress Dawn Olivieri is currently staying on property

Monday night December 13,

Twin tennis pros Bob and Mike Bryan, who have won 56 tour titles, were spotted dining at LAVO with friends.

Thursday night, December 17…

Bryan Greenberg (Bride Wars)and Victor Rasuk from Mark Wahlbergs new NYC’s entourage HBO series "How to Make it in America" had dinner at Fix.

Spotted enjoying Worship Thursday at TAO were St. Louis Ram Donnie Avery, former NFL pro Jamie Sharper and several other friends.

On Friday, December 18,

Ice hockey legend, Wayne Gretzky, joined by his wife Janet and a friend, was spotted having lunch on Friday at Dos Caminos inside The Palazzo.

After concert related drama earlier in the week Kid Cudi found himself on a stage in Vegas Friday night after all. Vodka cocktail in hand, the rapper hopped up on the LAVO catwalk around 1 am and proclaimed to the crowd that they were “witnessing the rebirth of Cudi right now in Vegas.” The rising star was joined by a large group of friends including Bryan Greenberg and Victor Rasuk of HBO’s upcoming “How to Make it in America,” which also features Cudi.

Kid Cudi
Photo Credit: Al Powers

Young celebrity royalty chose LAVO for several birthday celebrations. Paulina Gretzky, daughter of legendary hockey star Wayne Gretzky and actress Janet Jones Gretzky turned 21 at midnight and headed to the club to celebrate after an Italian feast with her parents and friends downstairs at LAVO.

Paulina Gretzky
Photo Credit: Al Powers

Hannah Selleck, daughter of actor Tom Selleck, was also celebrating being legal at LAVO with a large group of friends from California. Hannah, who turned 21 on Wednesday, partied at the packed hot spot until the club closed.

Hannah Selleck
Photo Credit: Al Powers

I will be back next week with more of what’s “happening” in and around Las Vegas.