By Judy Thorburn

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

Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens celebrates year of the Tiger

The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens unveiled a spectacular new exhibit on January 10 that celebrates the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Tiger. The Conservatory’s design is guided by the ancient practice of Feng Shui – the art of using surroundings to attract harmony, balance and positive life energy.

Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

At the centerpiece of this unique display, filled with hidden meaning, is a majestic tiger with “fur” comprised of dried yellow and orange marigold petals.  The third animal in the Asian zodiac, the tiger serves as a symbol of luck and bravery.  

The tiger stands among a garden of Taihu rocks and overlooks a tranquil pond of Koi, a symbol of abundance and fortune.  Rocks and water are viewed as essential features of any traditional Chinese garden and symbolize the larger world around us.

Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Just steps away from the magnificent tiger is an 18-foot-tall Chinese God of Prosperity standing amidst gold leafed I-Ching coins, a traditional Chinese money symbol.  Widely recognized as the strongest symbol of good fortune and great luck in the New Year, the God of Prosperity is flanked by two Ming Dynasty-styled dings, ancestral vessels that protect against bad fortunes.

Nearby a trio of charming, 6-foot-tall giant pandas, (considered a national treasure in China) made of more than 9,000 living plants can be found frolicking in a lush garden filled with towering bamboo.

Visitors also will find a zigzag bridge leading to a beautiful, wing-tipped Ming Dynasty-styled gazebo painted a deep red lacquer with shimmering gold trim and green-tiled roofs.  The color red signifies happiness while the upturned roofline will ward off evil spirits.  The sharp pattern of the bridge protects against negative energy and bad spirits.  A majestic mountain, seen as a pillar between heaven and earth, serves as a dramatic backdrop.

Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

The teachings of Feng Shui also are used to purposely position the flow of water into Bellagio’s Conservatory, and not away, ensuring the flow of positive energy.  Oversized brilliant-red, silk Chinese lanterns throughout the conservatory add to the beauty of this spectacular exhibit.

Visitors are invited to celebrate Chinese New Year in Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens through February 28. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

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

On January 14, LBS: A Burger Joint presented Karen Iglesias, President of the Make a Wish Foundation of Southern Nevada a check in the amount of $8447.94.  The money raised will be used to grant a wish to a terminally ill patient.

As part of its “Immediate Needs” program for 2010, on January 15, United Way of Southern Nevada presented Catholic Charities with a check in the amount of $400,000 to assist in the nonprofit’s mission of reducing poverty, supporting families and empowering the southern Nevada community.  Dan Goulet, President and CEO of United Way of Southern Nevada and Monsignor Patrick Leary, Executive Director of Catholic Charities were on site to restock the local food pantry with goods.  

Three GRAMMY nominations for 2010 have ties to Las Vegas. Albums by both Jamie Foxx and Eminem were worked on at the hip recording studio located inside the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas which has seen the likes of past GRAMMY winners such as Maroon 5, Tony Bennett and Mary J. Blige. “It’s an honor to continuously have Grammy nominated talent from all genres lay down tracks in our studio.  We congratulate this year’s nominees and look forward to working with them again,” said Director of Studio at the Palms Zoe Thrall. This year’s GRAMMY awards ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 31.

The UNLV Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery is featuring The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States project January 20 to February 20. Included in the exhibit are works by Stephen Antonakos, Lynda Benglis, Richard Tuttle, and Bettina Werner. These works constitute one of the most remarkable collections of contemporary art in America. The Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery is located in the Alta Ham Fine Arts building on the UNLV campus and is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free.

Legendary singing group, The Temptations return to The Orleans Showroom January 22-24 starting at 8 p.m. each evening. Tickets are available now and are priced from $34.95, plus tax.

Bonkerz Comedy Club inside Palace Station is hosting a fundraiser during it 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows on Friday, Jan. 22 to help with the recent devastation in Haiti. Both shows are headlined by Bear and 50 percent of the show proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross towards Haiti relief and development. Tickets are $29.95 each.

Giordano World Entertainment is premiering the film REACH FOR ME at the Las Vegas Hilton on January 22, 2010 with a star-studded red carpet event featuring the films stars including Academy award nominee Seymour Cassel, Lacey Chabert, Lorena Peril, Johnny Whitworth, Adrienne Barbeau, Alfre Woodard, Charlene Blaine and Director LeVar Burton. In addition to the movie`s producers, director, and cast, confirmed celebrity guests to attend include: Steve Buschemi, Kelly Clinton, Zac Efron/High School Musical, Queen Emily, Corey Haim, Masiela Lusha/George Lopez Show, Frank Molina/American Sunset, Lani Misalucha & cast, Miguel Nunez Jr., Lorena Peril of Sin City Bad Girls, Lalesha Railsback / The Mondavi Gang, Steve Railsback, Rudy Ruettiger of "Rudy", Model Estella Warren, Billy Zane/ Titanic,Adrienne Barbeau, Jacqueline Bisset, Charlene Blaine, Director LeVar Burton, Academy Award nominee Seymour Cassel, Lacey Chabert, Larry Hankin, Johnny Whitworth, Emmy Award winner Alfre Woodard and many more celebrities.

The UNLV Department of Dance and Ballet Mink Colbert present TRANSIT(ION) III: Dancing on the Rainbow at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 23 in UNLV Ham Fine Arts Studio One. The performance is the concluding chapter of the ballet trilogy by Margot Mink Colbert, and is a choreographic jog through the cultural ups and downs of the 1930s to the present. A variety of music will be featured, from Leonard Bernstein to the Beastie Boys. Tickets are $18 general admission, and $10 for students, seniors, and military.

Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns will perform January 25 at 10:30 p.m. in the Tiffany Theater at the Tropicana Las Vegas. The show is free of charge and open to the public.

“Open Wings-Broken Strings” featuring acoustic performances by Eddie Kowalczyk of Live, Art Alexakis of Everclear and Leigh Nash of Sixpence None The Richer will perform on Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. in the 742-seat Venetian Showroom at The Venetian Las Vegas. The event will feature Red Bull specialty cocktails and will be presented in partnership with KMXB’s Mix 94.1 FM. Tickets are on sale and priced at $27.75, $47.75 and $67.75 inclusive of tax and handling fees.

The UNLV Performing Arts Center presents three of Broadway’s brightest stars – Christiane Noll, Leslie Krizter, and David Burnham – for The Best Sounds of Rodgers and Hammerstein: Broadway in Concert at 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 30 as part of the New York Stage and Beyond Series. The performance includes songs from South Pacific, The King and I, Carousel, The Sound of Music, Oklahoma, and many more. Tickets are $40, $55, and $85 and can be purchased at the Performing Arts Center Box Office at 895-ARTS (2787) or by visiting

In an effort to provide relief and support to earthquake victims in Haiti, “The Divine Miss M.,” Bette Midler announced she would be collecting monetary donations and matching the amount received from concerned fans through the final performance of The Showgirl Must Go On at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on Sun., Jan. 31. So far, the combination of Bette’s fans and her matching donations has resulted in $38,742.62 that will support the relief efforts. All funds will go to Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization operating in Haiti.

WBC Welterweight World Champion Andre Berto has withdrawn from his January 30 fight against WBA Welterweight World Champion Sugar Shane Mosley at Mandalay Bay, saying that due to the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti and deeply affected his family who resides there, he is physically and emotionally unable to prepare for the bout. All tickets previously purchased for the Mosley-Berto fight can be refunded at the original point of sale.

The Palms Casino Resort has announced that award-winning comedy club, Playboy Comedy, will be the featured entertainment in The Lounge beginning Feb. 18, 2010. The club will be hosted each week by Cort McCown and Paul Hughes. Playboy Comedy kicks off its residency with the following schedule: Feb. 18 through 20 – East Coast comic Nick Di Paolo and  Feb. 25 through 27 – Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco.  Show times are 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday nights and 8 and 10 p.m. on Saturday. Ticket prices are $39.99 (including tax) which includes entry into the legendary Playboy Club following the show.

The company that operates Harmon Theater and Krave nightclub at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood has announced it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Celebrity sightings:

Saturday, Jan. 9 Crooner John Legend celebrated his birthday at Haze at Aria.

John Legend
Photo courtesy of The Light Group

Tuesday night at LAVO the cast of “High School Reunion” celebrated their show, which premiered on TV Land. The classmates and many of their friends from Chaparral gathered at LAVO to kick off the series and toast to the first episode, which features Joe, the football star romancing his former flame Jodi, the cheerleader, and Summer Girls Lissette and Elena showing off their still smoking hot bodies as high school drama ensues and the cast is forced to confront their issues from the past.

Tracy Barkhoff, Eric Lowell, John Mikolainis, Lissette Waugh
Photo credit: Al Powers
Joe Basso, Rachelle Ramirez-Smith, Justin Taggart, and Marcel Chevalier
Photo credit: Al Powers
Lakoiya Williams, Antanus Pullum, Elena Machin, Treda Ealy
Photo credit: Al Powers
Jodi Jorajoruan, Mark Kasel, and Lori Dasilua
Photo credit: Al Powers
Cyndi Stueben, Tracy Barkoff
Photo credit: Al Powers
“Summer Girls” Lissette Waugh, Elena Machin
Photo credit: Al Powers

After dining earlier in the restaurant LMFAO appeared and took over the microphone to entertain the packed club

Photo credit: Al Powers

Spotted in the crowd at LAVO was UFC fighter Tito Ortiz, enjoying a guys night out with friends.  

On Wed., January 13, pop songstress Olivia Newton John and designer to the stars Bob Mackie, took in Bette Midler’s The Showgirl Must Go On at The Colosseum at Caesars. After the show, they came back to say hello to their long time friend, the Divine Miss M.

Thursday night LMFAO hosted Worship Thursday at TAO.  LMFAO took the stage just after 1 am and performed four songs for the packed house, including their newest song – “Out of Your Mind,” which features Lil Jon.   They stayed until 2:30 am and took photos with fans throughout the night

Photo credit: Al Powers
Photo credit: Al Powers

Friday, January 15…

Heavyweight boxing champion Smokin' Joe Frazier hosted the first Legend of the Sport series inside Lagasse's Stadium at The Palazzo.

Paris Hilton kicked off her weekend long bash to celebrate the launch of her Web site,, at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Hilton started off the weekend by enjoying an intimate dinner at Nobu with 10 friends including boyfriend Doug Reinhardt. Afterwards, the group headed off to the new Vanity nightclub, where they danced the night away.

Paris Hilton
Photo credit: Cody Boor / Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Let’s Make A Deal host Wayne Brady was spotted having cocktails with friends in the VIP section of Blush at the Wynn Resort.

Wayne Brady
Photo courtesy of Magnetic Public Relations

Hip hop group LMFAO was spotted hang out in the DJ booth at the new Vanity nightclub at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Also seen at Vanity were NFL player Larry Johnson, rapper Shwayze and singer Cisco Adler.

LMFAO at Vanity
Photo credit: Cody Boor / Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Saturday night, January 16…

Hilton continued her celebrating with a Web site launch party at Vanity nightclub. After making an appearance on the carpet, she headed to dinner with friends at Rare 120 but returned to Vanity about 12:20 a.m. where she and her entourage partied into the early morning hours.

Paris Hilton
Photo credit: Scott Harrison / Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Paris Hilton and Doug Reinhardt
Photo credit: Scott Harrison / Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Nina Dobrev, the leading starlet on The CW’s hit show The Vampire Diaries, gathered with her closest friends and cast mates at the legendary Studio 54 to celebrate her 21st birthday.

Nina Dobrev
Photo credit: © RD/ Erik Kabik/ Retna

Cast group photo (left to right): Steven R. McQueen, Candice Accola, Nina Dobrev, Zach Roerig, Sara Canning, Kayla Ewell.
Photo credit: © RD/ Erik Kabik/ Retna

Joining in on the festivities were The Vampire Diaries co-stars Kayla Ewell, Zach Roerig, Sara Canning, Katerina Graham, Candice Accola and Steven R. McQueen. The entire ensemble walked the red carpet with the exception of Nina’s two leading men, Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder who attended the event under the radar, avoiding the flashing cameras. They joined the group inside for twenty minutes before heading to the blackjack tables on the casino floor with series newcomer Matt Davis.

Fellow stars of The CW programs, Matt Lanter (90210), Sara Paxton (The Beautiful Life), Nico Tortorella (The Beautiful Life), and Benjamin Hollingsworth (The Beautiful Life) were also present for the celebration.

Noci Tortorell and Sara Paxton
Photo credit: © RD/ Erik Kabik/ Retna

Celebrity chef Ming Tsai dined at the bar at Society Café at Encore.

Also at Society Café over the weekend was Frankie Avalon enjoying poached eggs and an English muffin.

Los Angeles socialite Susan Casden was seen at Wynn Las Vegas hotspot Blush.

Susan Casden and girlfriends at Blush
Photo courtesy of Magnetic Public Relations

Katee Sackhoff hosted at LAVO to celebrate the new season of the TV series “24”.  The vivacious actress was joined by her parents and friends, including her Battlestar Galactica co-star Tricia Helfer. They were also spotted dining at TAO on Friday night as part of their Vegas weekend.

Tricia Helfer and Katee Sackhoff
Photo Credit: Al Powers
Tricia Helfer and Katee Sackhoff
Photo Credit: Al Powers

Also seen at LAVO on Saturday was Bill Rancic, the winner of the first season of “The Apprentice”, and current co-star of “Giuliana and Bill” on the E! and Style Networks.  Rancic dined with executives from the E! Entertainment Network.

Over at TAO, DJ Steve Angello headlined Global House Sessions, spinning for a packed nightclub.

Sunday, Jan. 17…

Kid Rock aka Bob Ritchie celebrated his 39th birthday at LAVO .

At Vanity nightclub at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino:

Actor and comedian Eddie Griffin sitting with musician and composer Morris Day in a VIP booth just off the dance-floor.  Later that night, Actor and UFC fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who plays “Sgt. Bosco 'B.A.' Baracus” in the upcoming movie “The A-Team”, got on the microphone as the A-Team theme song blasted throughout the club

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Photo credit: Cody Boor / Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

All American Rejects lead Tyson get a big surprise when Avril Lavigne showed up at The Bank and joined him for 2 songs.

Photo courtesy of The Light Group
Avril Lavigne
Photo courtesy of The Light Group

Attending  Bette Midler The Showgirl Must Go On at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace were Congresswoman Shelly Berkley, former Peepshow star Mel B, and chart-topper Pink with husband Carey Hart.

Pink surprised Bette with an impromptu duet of Bette's beloved hit "The Rose."  Bette was speechless and truly surprised when Pink walked on stage and began singing. The two ladies embraced and swayed as they sang together.

Monday afternoon, January 18,  Gerry McCambridge, star of The Mentalist Live! at V Theater inside Miracle Mile Shops was seen taping segments for FX’s “DVD on TV” show along with hosts Dave Holmes and Jennifer Lothrop.

Monday afternoon, Olympic gold medalist and former world heavyweight boxing champion, Joe Frazier (nicknamed “Smokin Joe”) and his manager, dined at Cabo Wabo Cantina in Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Smokin' Joe Frazier
Photo courtesy of Wicked Creative

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


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