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

New TGI Fridays Launched at the Gold Coast

On Monday morning Boyd Gaming celebrated the grand opening of TGI Friday’s inside the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino as part of the introduction of the new restaurant lineup for all four of its Gold Coast properties and to offer the most popular amenities to its guests. On hand for the event and ceremonial ribbon cutting were several executives from Boyd Gaming including Boyd Gaming CEO, Bill Boyd; Boyd Gaming V.P of Marketing John Sheldon; Gold Coast V.P./General Manager Kerrie Burke; and executives from the Briad Group which manages and operates TGI Friday’s.

TGI Fridays at the Gold Coast
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

The launch of TGI Fridays at the Gold Coast preceded the opening of two more TGI Friday restaurants, with the other Sam’s Town and Suncoast locations to open on October 22 and November 3 respectively. The three new locations joins the enormously popular TGI Friday’s at the Orleans Hotel and Casino which opened its doors nearly two years ago. The Gold Coast and Sam’s Town locations are the first in Nevada to offer a complete breakfast menu, serving daily from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

“The T.G.I. Friday’s at The Orleans has been tremendously successful and our guests immediately responded to the familiar T.G.I. Friday’s brand,” said Paul Chakmak, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Boyd Gaming. “We have an excellent relationship with T.G.I. Friday’s franchisee The Briad Group, LLC, and we are excited to expand the T.G.I. Friday’s brand into all Coast Casino properties.”

TGI Fridays at the Gold Coast
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

“I am proud of the relationship we have established with Boyd Gaming,” said Brad Honigfeld, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Briad Group, who has successfully guided the growth of the T.G.I. Friday’s brand in the Las Vegas market.  “The significant success of our Orleans Casino and Hotel location leads the way for expansion into their sister properties.

A variety of new restaurants are joining T.G.I. Friday’s at the four Coast Casino properties.  Salvatore’s Italian Steakhouse, operated by the Fellini Group, recently opened at the Suncoast.   This fall, the quick dining selections at The Orleans will expand to include Fuddruckers, Sbarro and Baskin-Robbins. A quick-serve Deli opened adjacent to the newly expanded race and sports book at Sam’s Town, and last April Dunkin’ Donuts opened a location inside the casino. Executive chef Kevin Wu, creator of the award-winning Ping Pang Pong at Gold Coast, and partner Karrie Hung opened the Noodle Exchange at the Gold Coast.

TGI Fridays at the Gold Coast
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

“By diversifying our restaurant offerings at Coast Casinos, we continue to appeal to a variety of tastes and budgets. This ongoing evolution adds to the complete entertainment experience we strive to offer our customers,” Chakmak said.

Treasure Island Unveils New Street Sign in Celebration of Sirens of TI Anniversary

On Tuesday October 21, Treasure Island commemorated the fifth anniversary of its highly successful nightly outdoor production, the Sirens of TI, by renaming the street leading into the property as “Sirens Cove Blvd.”  Formerly “Buccaneer Blvd,” the new name celebrates the iconic Las Vegas show that has welcomed more than 10 million viewers in the last five years – a true milestone in a city of constant reinvention.

Members of the sexy female cast were raised high above Las Vegas Blvd. to reveal the sign and posed for photos with the lush backdrop of TI’s palm trees swaying in the background. On hand were a trio of hunky Pirates from the cast, along with TI President and COO Tom Mikulich who witnessed the milestone event and lent his congratulations to the hardworking cast.

The Sirens of TI, which celebrates its fifth anniversary on October 25, features a 17th century clash between a group of beautiful, tempting Sirens and a band of renegade Pirates. The mesmerizing show encompasses swordplay, high-diving acrobatics and eye-popping pyrotechnics and was created by Emmy-award-winning director Kenny Ortega and features a musical score by award-winning record producer and songwriter Emilio Estefan.  The Sirens of TI can be seen at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino nightly at 7 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Madame Tussauds Unveils Wax Figure of High School Musical star Zac Efron

On Tuesday morning Madame Tussauds Las Vegas unveiled the new wax figure of Zac Efron - just in time for the big screen release of High School Musical 3: Senior Year, in which Zac reprises his role as basketball team captain Troy Bolton.  Dressed in ‘Wildcats’ uniform and holding a basketball, the Zac figure stands in an interactive High School Musical 3: Senior Year themed environment where kids and fans of all ages can get up close to the movie star and have their photo taken with his likeness.  Zac’s wax figure is surrounded by high school fixtures such as team pom-poms and megaphones, where fans can instantly become a fellow team member or spirited ‘Wildcats’ cheerleader.  Local cheerleading and drill teams were also on hand to get the energy going for those in attendance, before the figure was unveiled to the public.

Idol to millions of children worldwide, the singing and dancing star was measured up for his replica earlier this year by Madame Tussauds sculptors while on the set of High School Musical 3: Senior Year.

Zac Efron’s wax likeness will be in Las Vegas for a limited engagement, and will relocate to Madame Tussauds Hollywood after its summer 2009 opening.

Star Studded Gala Premiere of the Real Deal! at the Venetian

On the evening of Tuesday, October 21, poker stars and celebrities from the entertainment world attended the Red Carpet Premiere of The Real Deal!  the first ever live, interactive poker-themed stage-show at The Venetian that was followed by an after party at LAVO at the Palazzo. The show, created and co-produced by entertainment industry icon Merv Adelson is hosted by sharp tongued comic Vinnie Favorite and lovely blonde hostess Lacey Jones and features the top poker pros in the world in a one of a kind format that combines humor, improvisation, poker, and audience participation with the latest in wireless technology and abundant prizes, including a chance to win $1,000,000.

The Real Deal! poker pros including Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Jennifer Harmon, Phil Hellmuth Jr., Phil Laak, Antonio Esfandiari, Gavin Smith, Eli Elezra, Scotty Nguyen and Todd Brunson were joined by celebrities Jennifer Tilly,  Don Johnson, Tim Conway, Bob Newhart, Mike Connors,  Steve Lawrence, Robert Wagner, Clint Holmes and his wife Kelly Clinton. Also in attendance was Wagner’s actress wife, Jill St. John, Venetian owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, and Venetian President Rob Goldstein.

Poker Pros

Photos credit: Stephen Thorburn

Entertainment industry veterans Johnson, Conway, Lawrence, Newhart, Connors and Wagner played alongside poker pros Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth for the chance to be named The Real Deal! premiere poker champion. Mike Connors managed to outplay his fellow celebrity guest players, Daniel and Phil to walk out of The Venetian Showroom as the first celebrity guest to defeat the poker pros.

Robert Wagner, Jill Saint James and Mike Conners

Bob Newhart, Tim Conway and Steve Lawrence

Jennifer Tilly and Phil Laak

Robert Wagner and Don Johnson
Photos credit: Stephen Thorburn

Each Thursday, Friday and Saturday the rotating roster of pokers pros from the show will host a meet and greet for the show’s VIP ticket holders in the lounge at LAVO following their 5:30 pm show.

The Real Deal! will be presented Tuesday through Sunday at 5 p.m., primetime performances on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and dark on Monday.  Tickets range from $45 - $125 excluding taxes and fees.

Inaugural Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event Fetches Over $29 Million in Sales

On Oct. 16-18, 2008 over $29 million (including Buyer’s Premium) in collector cars were sold during the inaugural Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event that took place at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Bidders worldwide competed for over 500 vehicles that sold at No Reserve, including a 1949 MG TC that was Carroll Shelby’s first road race car, Funkmaster Flex’s custom 2006 Ford Mustang GT, a 2003 Saleen S7 and a 1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn Custom.  Over 50,000 people attended the automotive auction and lifestyle event, which was broadcast live in high-definition on SPEED.

Seven cars were sold for various charities totaling over $655,000 including $150,000 for the 2008 Barrett-Jackson Limited Edition Shelby GT.  This rare Mustang was signed by the host and judges of “American Idol”, with all proceeds from the sale benefiting The Lili Claire Foundation. Additional charity vehicles included a 1949 MG TC Raced by Carroll Shelby that fetched $313,500, a 2006 custom Ford Mustang, that was modified on ESPN2’s “Car Wars With Funkmaster Flex”, that went for $300,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and a 2007 Dodge Charger raced by NASCAR star Kurt Busch for $85,000.  In 2008, Barrett-Jackson has raised over $6.7 million for charities.

The inaugural Las Vegas event attracted more than 1,200 bidders with over 50 percent being first timers. More than 120 vendors and sponsors displayed a variety of items including aircraft, custom cars, racing gear, collectibles, jewelry and clothing.

For more information about Barrett-Jackson, visit

T & T Tequila Opens at the Luxor

On Wednesday, Oct. 22 MTV reality vixen, Tila Tequila, hosted the Grand Opening of the latest strip hot spot, T&T (Tacos & Tequila) inside The Luxor. Joining the starlet for the launch of the edgy new Mexican restaurant with a fun, high energy vibe, were illusionist Criss Angel, comedian Carrot Top, the girls of Fantasy, Thunder From Down Under, magician Nathan Burton and rock-capella group MOSAIC.

T&T Tacos Tequila
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Tila Tequila

T&T is the first project owned and operated by Drive This Entertainment! and its partners Michael Frey and Craig Gilbert.  The highly stylized restaurant embodies traditional and modern Mexican style elements intermixed with rock-n-roll flair, and boasts a bold and flavorful menu designed by world-renowned restaurateur Chef Richard Sandoval that is complete with an array of appetizers, soups and salads as well as traditional entrees including enchiladas, burritos and tacos, flamed grilled beef, pork chicken or shrimp entree selections, and exciting homemade desserts.   The restaurant also features lip smacking specialty cocktails, an extensive list of more than 70 tequilas, and a selection of sangria, wine and champagne.

T&T Tacos Tequila Servers

T&T Tacos Tequila
Photos credit: Stephen Thorburn

Located above hotel registration at Luxor, T & T is open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and offers late night dining (with a limited menu) until 3 a.m. For more information call (702) 262-5225.

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

Seven restaurants within MGM MIRAGE properties have received honors from Michelin Guide’s Las Vegas edition.  Receiving top honors is the Michelin three-star restaurant, Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand, the only Las Vegas recipient of this well-respected distinction. A three-star Michelin restaurant is defined by the following:  “One always eats extremely well here, often superbly.  Distinctive dishes are precisely executed, using superlative ingredients.” The restaurant joins the ranks of only 69 other restaurants worldwide, including Jean-George and Le Bernardin in New York, to hold Michelin’s highest star rating.

Earning an impressive two stars for its “excellent cooking, worth a detour” and for exhibiting “skillfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding quality” is Chef Julian Serrano’s Picasso at Bellagio.  Rounding out the honors and capturing one star are five impressive restaurants – L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand, Le Cirque at Bellagio, MICHAEL MINA Bellagio, Aureole at Mandalay Bay and miX atop THEhotel at Mandalay Bay.

For local residents who have yet to see “Nathan Burton Comedy Magic Show” now is your chance to take advantage of a special offer. Show your Nevada ID at the Flamingo Box Office (NOT at the normal buffet cashier) to purchase a Paradise Garden buffet for the special price of $19.95 plus tax and receive a complimentary (as in FREE) show ticket to "Nathan Burton Comedy Magic."  Offer good for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner (which normally costs $21.99).

Last Tuesday afternoon (October 21, 2008) two-time Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR) World Champion bull rider Justin McBride (Elk City, Okla.) announced that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2008 PBR World Finals in November. McBride got his career start on a rodeo scholarship at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). A retirement party in McBride’s honor is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008 at 7 p.m. at Silverton Casino Lodge with a special performance by modern country musical group Sterns County 17.  The celebration is open to everyone age 21 and over.  $10 admission at the door grants access to the party and two complimentary drinks.

Justin McBride

To celebrate the 2008 Professional Bull Riders World Finals Oct. 31 – Nov. 8, Silverton Casino Lodge will transform into a modern day Wild West saloon for bull riding enthusiasts. Beginning October 31, fans are invited to visit Silverton Casino Lodge for live entertainment, exclusive event coverage and pre-event and post-event parties. In addition, famed bull riding competitors Justin McBride, Brendon Clark and Sean Willingham will host the nightly celebrations and be available for meet and greet and autograph signing sessions. During each party, guests will enjoy DJ spun music and live entertainment including performances by Brian Lumley and Red Dirt Underground, Sterns County 17 and more. All bull riding parties at Silverton Casino Lodge are open to the public. Cover charge at the door may apply to parties in the entertainment pavilion. Fans attending the live events at the Thomas & Mack Center will receive complimentary shuttle service to and from Silverton Casino Lodge. For more information, please call (702) 263-7777 or visit

From 10 a.m to 10 p.m. on Halloween, Friday, October 31, The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay will be transformed into a Haunted Reef.  Admission is FREE for children 12 and under dressed in costumes and they will also receive complimentary sugary sweets. Guests 17 years of age and older donating or pledging to give blood at the United Blood Services booth from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (set up just for Haunted Reef) will also receive complimentary entry into Shark Reef Aquarium. 

Saturday, November 8   The English Beat, one of the most well-known ska revival bands that has been touring and performing a signature mix of ska, punk, pop and reggae for worldwide audiences since the late 1970s, will perform at The Canyon Club Las Vegas, located inside the Four Queens Hotel & Casino. The band’s hit singles include “Mirror in the Bathroom,” Too Nice To Talk To” and “Can’t Get Used To Losing You.” Tickets for The English Beat are $20 for locals and $30 general admission. Doors open at 7 p.m.  

On Sunday, November 2 at 2 p.m., the 24th Annual 76 Trombones + 4 Concert will be held in the UNLV Artemus Ham Concert Hall. This year’s guest jazz artist will be trombonist Andy Hunter, a New York-based musician who regularly tours internationally and performs with such elite Manhattan big bands as the Charlie Mingus Orchestra. The guest classical artist will be Maciej Pietraszko. Pietraszko is a member of the New York City Opera Orchestra and former principal trombonist with the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida. If purchased in advance general admission ticket price is $10, $5 for seniors, students and military. On the day of the concert, general admission will be $12 and $7 for seniors, students and military. Tickets can be reserved by calling the UNLV Performing Arts Center Box Office: 895-2787.

The UNLV Performing Arts Center continues its Classical Guitar Series at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 4 with the Montreal Guitar Trio (MG3), Glenn Lévesque, Marc Morin and Sébastien Dufour. Tickets are $35 (not including $1 facilities fee) and can be purchased at the Performing Arts Center Box Office at 895-ARTS (2787) or by visiting Student rush tickets are $13 each and available one hour prior to each event, based on availability and with valid student I.D. UNLV faculty and staff discounts also are available.

A lot of exciting events are scheduled at Montelago Village at Lake Las Vegas for the following weekends through November:

Bow Wow Halloween Costume Contest: October 25, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Dress up your furry, four-legged friends for the fun Halloween Bow Wow Costume Contest and Parade. Prizes for the winners. Cost: $10 per dog entry fee.

Halloween: October 31, from 5 – 10 p.m. Movies: “Ghostbusters” at 5:30 p.m. & “Poltergeist” at 7:30 p.m. Adult Costume Contest: 9 p.m. Bring the kids to safely trick-or-treat through The Village, catch Halloween-themed movies, or win prizes in the Adult Costume Contest at Sonrisa Grill. Cost: Free

Dia de los Muertos: November 1, from 4 – 8 p.m. Celebrate this traditional Mexican holiday with a barbeque, libations and entertainment.  Cost: Free admission, cost for food & drink

Floating Ice Rink Opens: November 14. Visitors can experience the joy of ice skating on the floating ice rink, one of the first in the country. All-day skating passes are $12.00 per child and $15.00 per adult.

For more information on all events, please visit or call 702-564-4766.

The original members of The Comets, Marshall Lytle, Dick Richards and Joey D’Ambrosio, joined by new members David Byrd and Jackson Haney will perform their classic hits at The Club inside the Cannery Casino & Hotel on Saturday, November 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $14.95 plus tax and fees.

Paris Las Vegas is presenting its 2nd Annual Beaujolais Nouveau Celebration set to kick-off at 12:01 Thursday, November 20, 2008. Honoring the long tradition regulated by French law, Beaujolais Nouveau, a red wine made from Gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region of France, is released no sooner than the third Thursday of November, when it is ready for consumption just six weeks after the harvest.  So, at one minute past midnight, huge celebrations are held all over the world to taste the latest wine. More than 65 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau will be consumed in the months to follow. Festivities will commence one minute past midnight on Thursday, November 20 with the delivery of the wine launching the weekend of activities to celebrate the 2008 release. Paris Las Vegas will host special events, tastings and unique Beaujolais Nouveau featured wine pairing menus at its restaurants. Public is invited to receive a complimentary tasting of this year’s vintage in commemorative keepsake Beaujolais Nouveau glassware.  Hours: Thursday, 12noon – 6pm; Friday and Saturday, 12noon – 8 pm. Thursday, November 20th – Sunday, November 23rd.

Friday, November 7th thru Sunday, November 9th, The Department of Film and the UNLV Short Film Archive are sponsoring the 5th annual 48-Hour Short Film Contest on the UNLV campus. Beginning Friday at 6 pm. Filmmaker entrants will be given 48 hours to write, shoot, edit and score a film that incorporates 4 randomly chosen elements: a genre, a prop, a character and a line-of-dialogue. Upon deadline, the completed films will be screened, judged and winners announced.  Rules & Regulations and an entry form can be obtained on the UNLV Short Film Archive website: or call David Schmoeller at 702-895-2535. Entry Deadline is 5pm, Wednesday, October 29, 2008.

Brazilian musicians Carlos Stasi and Luis Guello perform their percussion works on Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Nicholas J. Horn Theatre at the College of Southern Nevada on the Cheyenne Campus.  Stasi and Guello are known for their expertise on two main instruments, the reco-reco and the pandeiro, respectively. Duo Ello is formed from the words duo and elo (meaning ‘link’) which, when said together, form duelo or ‘duel’ and refers to the way they perform by offering a constant dialogue between one another. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students. For reservations, call the CSN Box Office at 651-LIVE (5483).The CSN Performing Arts Center is located at 3200 East Cheyenne Ave., one mile east of I-15 North.

November 14 – 16, Variety Live!, direct from the London Palladium (a contemporary version of the Ed Sullivan Show) will be presented in the showroom of the Sun Coast Hotel and Casino.  The show features a variety of performers including Larissa Youen’s breathtaking hula-hoop act, the post modern magic of Jason Bryne, Variety Award Winner Charlie Frye & Company, the hilarious Jeff Hobson, the outstanding physical comedy of Rob Torres, England’s new singing sensation Ben Stone and Germany’s Antje Pode, the fantastic foot juggler.  Show time for Variety Live is 7:30 PM.  Tickets priced from $19.95 plus tax can be purchased by calling the box office at 702-636-7075.
Celebrity sightings:

Katharine McPhee, songstress and American Idol runner up, treated her dancers to dinner at LAVO inside The Palazzo Tuesday evening.  After dinner they headed upstairs to a dance floor table in the nightclub.

Katharine McPhee

Holly Madison, Hefner-ex and Girls Next Door reality star, spent an entire evening at LAVO beginning at 6 pm, Tuesday night. She attended the opening of the Executive Lounge mixer at LAVO with George Maloof before the two sat for dinner in the restaurant.  Afterwards, Holly and her stuffed animal pug puppy adjourned to meet a large group of friends who were seated on the hookah patio.  Later in the evening motocross star Cary Hart joined everyone outside.

Holly Madison

Spotted heading up to the nightclub were celebrity chefs Daniel Boulud and Paul Bartolotta.  At a separate table upstairs was Ari Fleisher, former press secretary for President George W. Bush.

At LAVO Residance Thursdays inside The Palazzo were partners Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich.  They showed their moves on the dance floor to the sounds of Chris Garcia before making the move late night over to Tao.

Dining at LAVO earlier in the evening was fashion designer Catherine Malandrino and her family.   Catherine and her husband enjoyed Greek Salad, Pizza Margherita, Shrimp Scampi, Kobe Sliders, Tuna Tartare, Octopus Salad, Apple Crisp and a Single Scoop of Ice Cream, while their son stuck with the Pizza.

Friday night LAVO inside The Palazzo was the post-show location of choice for two comedians, Craig Ferguson and Joel McHale. After his stand up concert Craig Ferguson made his way over to LAVO to join LAVO’s Noah Tepperberg for dinner. Chef Ludo sent out signature favorites including Kobe Burgers and Ultimate Pizza.

After dinner the entire table made their way up to the nightclub.
Joel McHale also chose LAVO for his post show performance late night meal.  He was joined by his wife and several friends the group for a lively meal and closed the dining room down.

Erin Lucas, co-star of MTV's upcoming The Hills spinoff "The City" celebrated her birthday at LAVO with her boyfriend and a group of girlfriends. Erin made her way up to the nightclub after dinner and was surprised by cupcake cones with sparklers as the group sang happy birthday.

Matt Dallas, star of TV’s KYLE XY was spotted at LAVO celebrating his birthday as well with a large group of guys and a lone female.  After dinner they adjourned to the nightclub where they continued with Grey Goose and was delivered cupcake cones to top off Matt’s birthday celebration.

Former Bush press secretary Ari Fleisher returned to LAVO for the second time this week.  Spotted upstairs in the nightclub, Fleisher and his date danced among friends.

Saturday night actor Johnathon Schaech and his girlfriend actress Jana Kramer dined at LAVO inside The Palazzo before heading upstairs to the nightclub.

Also upstairs in the nightclub was Real World Sydney’s Trisha Cummings with two of her reality show cast mates.  

LAVO’s Chef Ludo, who served as a host chef for the James Beard Foundation Taste America Gala Saturday night, brought a group of culinary notables to the nightclub for a post event celebration.  Spotted among the group, pastry gurus Francios Payard and Gregory Gorreau, Todd Williams, Chef de Cuisine of Bradley Ogden, Frank Savoy, the son of Guy Savoy and GM of his father’s eponymous Las Vegas outpost and Chef Olivier Dubreuil who heads up the kitchens of The Palazzo and The Venetian.

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