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

On Sunday afternoon, The 2008 Meatball Awards ceremony and show was presented in the showroom at the Plaza Hotel in downtown Las Vegas.  This was the second year I attended the annual event which acknowledges and honors entertainers, chefs, sommeliers, members of the media and entrepreneurs regarded as the “backbones of the entertainment industry” that have made Las Vegas the entertainment capitol of the world.  The Meatball Awards was the brainchild of the late Don Manarino who passed away in 2003, but friend and singer Grant Griffin has kept the awards going, as producer, throughout the years.

This year’s Master of Ceremonies was none other than one of the funniest men on the planet, sharp tongued comedian Vinnie Favorito who made a grand entrance through the audience and up to the stage accompanied by a showgirl on each arm.  Decked out in his signature black leather jacket, shirt and pants,  Favorito, whose brand of comedy is based on poking fun at any victim within range kept the audience in stitches with his no holds barred jabs at the recipients.  And as usual he was in top form, never missing an opportunity to take aim at his ready and willing targets, and those who, let me put it bluntly, were a no show.

Vinnie Favarito

Honorees that were present to receive their awards were impressionist Larry Jones, TV anchorwoman Maria Silva, entertainment journalist Mike Weatherford, singer/comedian Kelly Clinton, master butler Valentino Crespo, magician Jeff Hobson, multi talented performers, The Scintas (siblings Frankie, Joey and Chrissi); Entertainer of the Years “Defending the Caveman” star Kevin Burke, and El Mundo newspaper founder Edmundo “Eddie” Escobedo. Unfortunately, several honorees were not in attendance for one reason or another, and other notable Las Vegans accepted their awards on their behalf.

Larry G Jones

Maria Silva

Mike Weatherford

Lorraine Hunt Bono presents award to Kelly Clinton

Valentino Crespa

Jeff Hobson

The Scintas

Kevin Burke

Edmundo “Eddie” Escobedo

Entertainment highlights, other than the biting, hilarious humor of Favorito, was provided by impressionist Babe Piers, The Vegas Tenors singing “This Magic Moment”;  a song from Grammy award winning singer/producer Larry Hart, Kelly Clinton interacting with a few men in the audience as she sang “I Like Bald Headed Men”, acclaimed baritone Grant Griffin doing his renditions of “Impossible Dream” and “Portrait of My Love” and Kelly’s husband, singer and consummate showman, Clint Holmes who brought down the house with his powerful, emotionally charged “Who Will Stand”, the title song he wrote for the documentary feature film of the same name.

babe_pierre_02 babe_pierre_01
Babe Piers as Robert Deniro and Ed Sullivan

The Las Vegas Tenors

Larry Hart

Kelly Clinton

Grant Griffin

Clint Holmes

Two of the most memorable quotes of the evening came from Female Singer of the Year recipent Kelly Clinton and  Magician of the Year Jeff Hobson. In accepting her award from Lorraine Hunt-Bono,  Kelly quipped, “I’ve been called a meatball before, but this time, it isn’t an insult”. Hobson, a comedic magician, turned to Favorito and had the audience laughing when he described him as “the offspring of Curly from the Three Stooges and Tony of the Sopranos.”

Male Singer of the Year, Martin Nievera was unable to attend, but after Tony Ruivivar of the Society of Seven made the presentation, Nievera appeared on video accepting his award. Las Vegas “personality” and legend in his own mind, Monti Rock III, who gained notoriety for appearing as a guest more times  than anyone on the Johnny Carson Show, as the disco club Deejay in Saturday Night Fever and having a hit single in the early 70’s under the psyeudonym Disco Tex and the Sex-o-lettes, was the perfect foil for both presenter Mike Weatherford and Favorito.

Monti, who can be seen at almost every show, restaurant, or any other grand opening event was not in attendance to receive his “Life Achievement Award” causing Weatherford to jokingly exclaim, “This is the first time I have been out in public and have not seen Monti. I get all my column news from Monti.”  To that Vinnie added, ‘Monti didn’t show because he didn’t get a ticket.”

The legendary singing group, The Marvelettes, recipients of the “Keeping the Sound Alive” award could not make the celebratory event, but Meat Ball Awards coordinator, CarolAnn Bass, one of the trio’s biggest fans, who admits to seeing them perform 491 times, accepted on behalf of Paula, Rita and Farrah.

CarolAnn Bass

Grant Griffin presented and accepted one of the Life Achievement Awards on behalf of Thalia Dondero whom he praised as a  “local legend” for her achievement which includes sixty plus chair positions in the Las Vegas community.  But the biggest surprise was not seeing Mayor Oscar Goodman in attendance to accept his Mayor of the Year Award.  Although he was not able to be there in person, renowned talent agent Jaki Baskow came to the podium and praised the colorful mayor for changing the face of downtown. She also read a proclamation announcing October 5 as Official Meatball Day and in its “fifth year anniversary, recognizing entertainers who have left a mark on vintage Las Vegas.”

Jaki Baskow and Grant Griffin
Above Photos Credit: Stephen Thorburn

What could more appropriate than to end the Meatball Awards with a meatball buffet that offered samplings from several Las Vegas restaurants. Later that evening, the celebration continued with an after party at Vox Wine lounge in Henderson.

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

On Saturday October 11, comic magician Amazing Johnathan was honored with the Best Comedic Magician Award at the World Magic awards in Santa Monica, Ca. Amazing Johnathan performed a five minute segment with his assistant, Psychic Tanya. The two-hour awards show hosted by Emmy award winning actor Neil Patrick Harris, features the world’s top magicians, and will be broadcast on MyNetworkTV later this year.  Amazing Jonathan appears Friday through Saturday at the Harmon Theatre next to the Miracle Mile Shops ay Planet Hollywood.

On Monday, Oct. 13, Silverton Casino Lodge will offer Discovery Club members five-times points on any slot or video poker machine and a buffet from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Seasons Buffet for only $5.

Las Vegas-based alternative rock group Left Standing recently got signed to
Tom Kat Records. The official record signing took place at the House of Blues inside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, after the group performed for a live acoustic showcase

at Acoustic Strip.   Acoustic Strip is presented every Thursday night at 9pm, when acoustic artists play original music in an up-close, intimate setting inside the House of Blues Courtyard.

Acoustic Strip is an all-ages event and admission is free.  Drink specials and great food are featured every week,

along with a variety of House of Blues giveaways.  For additional information regarding Acoustic Strip, please contact House of Blues at 702-632-7600.

The Steak House at Circus Circus is no longer offering Champagne Brunch but, as always, is open for dinner, Sunday -Friday, 5 p.m. - 10 p.m., and Saturday, 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.

While Christina Aguilera tribute artist, Lorena Peril, is taking a break, The American Superstars show at the Stratosphere Casino Hotel and Tower has added Elisa Furr as Celine Dion for a special limited engagement October 10 – 27, 2008. Furr will perform a set of some of Dion’s biggest hits including “All Coming Back,” “Power of Love,” and “River Deep Mountain High.”

Showtimes are Sunday through Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. in the Stratosphere’s Theater of the Stars Showroom.

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Southern Hills Hospital is offering a free Lunch and Learn class to educate men about the importance of self exams and routine checkups. Although breast cancer occurs mainly in women, men have breast tissue that can undergo the cancerous change too.  The educational class and lunch will be held Tuesday Oct. 14 from 11:30a.m. - 1 p.m. in the education Room at Southern Hills Hospital located 9300 W. Sunset Road on Fort Apache, 1 block west of Sunset Road from I-215.  The class will be taught by Raul Meoz, MD. Seating is limited and interested patrons may reserve their space by calling Southern Hills Hospital at 702- 233-5300.

Tickets are now on sale for The Real Deal!  the first ever live, interactive poker-themed stage-show, set to debut in The Venetian Showroom at The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas on October 21st (with paid previews beginning Oct. 14.)  The show, created by entertainment industry icon and show co-executive producer Merv Adelson features the top poker pros in the world along with host Paul Rodriguez and hostess Lacey Jones, will feature a one-of-a-kind combination of humor, improvisation, poker, and audience participation sure to entertain poker enthusiasts and non-players alike. Professional poker players set to star in the show include the legendary Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Jr., Antonio Esfandiari, Gavin Smith, Eli Elezra, Jennifer Harman, Phil Laak, Scotty Nguyen, and Todd Brunson.

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.

From Oct. 16-18, 2008, vehicles that have been owned by celebrities such as Toby Keith, Evel Knievel and Nicholas Cage will be sold at No Reserve in the Mandalay Bay Events Center during BARRETT-JACKSON inaugural collector car event in Las Vegas. “Barrett-Jackson automotive lifestyle events have earned a reputation for being the most exciting place to buy, sell and enjoy collector cars,” said Craig Jackson, Chairman/CEO of Barrett-Jackson.  “Celebrities who are as passionate about cars as we are, also love to be part of the action.  For our inaugural Las Vegas event, several vehicles that are currently or previously owned by some of the biggest names in the world will run over the block.” For more information about Barrett-Jackson, visit or call (480) 421-6694.

Due to overwhelming fan demand, Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew LIVE has added a stop at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on October 17 to its 2008 North American tour. The electrifying tour features the return of America’s Best Dance Crew Season 1 winners, the incredible masked men of JabbaWockeeZ, and five of the hottest dance crews from the show’s first two seasons as they battle it out, live on stage each night. Fans can visit for the latest tour updates and information.


On Tuesday, October 21, The College of Fine Arts Department of Music celebrates the 70th birthday of composer-in-residence, Virko Baley with a special NEXTET concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Doc Rando Hall of the Beam Music Center. The concert, Voices, is comprised entirely of Baley’s original music and also marks his almost 40 years at UNLV. The concert is free and open to the public.

The UNLV Concert Singers and Chamber Chorale open their 2008-2009 concert season with "Amazing Americana!" on Friday, October 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall located on the northeast end of the university campus. Ticket prices are $10 General admission, $8 Seniors/Military, $5 UNLV Faculty/Staff and $5 for students.

On Friday, October 17 at 7 p.m., The City of Henderson Cultural Arts & Tourism Department will unveil a new mosaic art mural “Artistic Freedom,” designed by Hal Carter at the Henderson Events Plaza, located at 200 S. Water Street, on Friday, October 17 at 7 p.m. Admission and parking is free. The colorful tile collage with its array of instruments and symbols from music, visual arts and theatre represent the full spectrum of the events that the City of Henderson hosts yearly.

Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 25, the annual entertainment event, “Parrot’s Paradise,” returns to the east parking lot at MGM Grand from 3:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. The festival atmosphere featuring live entertainment is held in conjunction with the Jimmy Buffett concert which begins at 8 p.m. in the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  Admission is free and concessions will be available for an additional charge.  

Oct. 23 at 9 p.m. at the Harmon Theatre,  Michael Johns and Terry Stokes, the bad boys of hypnosis, will be   celebrating their 2,000th "Hypnosis Unleashed" show (the longest continually running hypnosis show on the Strip).

Friday, October 24, for one night only, Rock en Español leader Miguel Mateos will perform as part of Latin 80s night at  the Masquerade Showroom inside The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The rock and pop music singer/songwriter is known for his hits including “Cuando Seas Grande,” “Atado a un Sentimiento” and “Extra, Extra.” Latin 80s night begins at 8 p.m. and Mateos will take the stage at 10:30 p.m.

James Lee Barrett’s powerful, antiwar musical “Shenandoah” is being staged by the Department of Fine Arts at the College of Southern Nevada on Oct. 24, 25, 31, Nov. 1, 7, and 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 26, Nov. 2 and 9 at 2 p.m. in the Nicholas J. Horn Theatre at the Cheyenne Campus.  Admission is $12.50 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. For reservations, call 651-LIVE (5483).

For a special two night engagement, Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25, internationally celebrated vocalist Freda Payne brings her critically acclaimed show, “A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald,” to The Club, located inside the Cannery Casino & Hotel. Both shows start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.

Keith Green, who gained notoriety as a National and Professional Figure Ice Skating Champion, is longer skating professionally, but he is still working with ice.  These days he can be found mixing signature cocktails as a “celebrity” bartender for Morton’s The Steakhouse in Las Vegas, 400 East Flamingo Road. Green has quite a following of regular guests and is known as a great conversationalist. “I enjoy bartending at Morton’s and being part of a great team,” said Green.  “Our guests visit for a great dining experience, cocktails that are second-to-none and warm, professional service.  Just like the entertainment industry, Morton’s strives to make sure every guest has a great time and a memorable experience.”

Keith Green

The following is a sample of Halloween “happenings” in store for Las Vegas locals and visitors alike: The Canyon Club Las Vegas, located inside the Four Queens Hotel & Casino, presents New Orleans fun-loving rock band Cowboy Mouth. Doors open at 7 p.m.  Tickets for Cowboy Mouth are $15 for locals and $25 general admission.

Korn lead vocalist, Jonathan Davis will host a Halloween party inside LAX Nightclub at Luxor on Friday, October 31 and deliver a spellbinding performance for the masses as the nightclub is transformed into a gothic haunt-spot for bewitching beauties and ghostly goblins.

SUSHISAMBA strip at The Palazzo Las Vegas will host Spooky KaBOOki  inspired by the highly stylized, mask-like makeup and outrageously colorful costume of traditional Japanese Kabuki theater.  From its bizarre stylizations and outlandish characters, to its unique stage techniques and keren (visual tricks) – the concept of Kabuki will be brilliantly transformed and shockingly brought to life at SUSHISAMBA’s Halloween celebration.  This year’s frighteningly fun festivities will include:  A killer costume contest with 1st place $200 SUSHISAMBA gift certificate and runners-up each receiving a $100 gift certificate, and Terror-ific tunes by DJ Dracula.

Risqué de Paris, the sexiest ultra lounge and nightclub overlooking the Strip at Paris Las Vegas presents a Halloween Bash and $5000 cash costume contest. Doors open at 10:30 p.m. The cost is $20, with local women receiving complimentary entry.  2-FOR-1 Bud Light Lime all night

PT’s and Sierra Gold hosts their 2nd annual wicked costume contest Friday, Oct. 31, with the showdown beginning at 7pm. One winner from each of the 36 tavern locations will be awarded $100 cash. In addition, guests can participate in games for other great prizes.  Guests who arrive in their costumes will receive their first drink complimentary. PT’s and Sierra Gold are also offering Bud, Bud Light and Bacardi specials.

Starting at noon on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31, Harrah’s Carnaval Court will host Superheroes and Villains” featuring Halloween-themed cocktails, drink specials, giveaways and beautiful Bacardi girls. Live bands Wonder Boogie and The Crashers will entertain guests all day and night. Local radio stations KOMP 92.3, the rock station and The Point, 97.1, number one for classic rock,  will broadcast live, giving away dozens of “trick or treat flight night” prizes including: Roundtrip airfare from Allegiant Air and prizes from Vegas Indoors Skydiving. “Superheroes and Villains” is open to persons 21 years or older with a valid ID. There will be a $10 cover charge starting at 8pm.

The Imperial Palace, will host the 5th annual “Scary-okee” Halloween karaoke party on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31 starting at 9 p.m. and continuing on until 3 a.m. In addition to the standard selection of karaoke songs, “Scary-okee” patrons may choose from the “Wheel of Terror,” featuring haunted tunes such as “Monster Mash” and “Werewolves of London.” The bar will serve up a variety of themed cocktails such as “Purple People Eaters,” “Terror Tooters,” and “Scary-okee Punch.” Costume, air guitar, and “bootie shaking” contests will keep the party going until the early morning hours.  Winners of the costume contest will take away cash prizes in three categories: male, female, and couple. “Scary-okee” is free to all persons over 21 with valid ID.

Celebrity sightings:

On Wednesday, Oct. 8, Kevin Sorbo, best known as “Hercules” from the 1990s Hercules television series, spotted enjoying dinner at Strip House inside Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Thursday afternoon, October 9, Chris Carrabba, lead singer and guitarist of the acoustic-alternative band Dashboard Confessional, was spotted checking out the Beach Club bar at the pool at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Carrabba performed later in the evening on the Paradise Stage at the Hard Rock as part of the Rock Band Live Tour featuring Panic at the Disco and Dashboard Confessional (with special guests Plain White T's and The Cab). Following the concert, Carrabba was spotted inside Wasted Space. The Sin City Sinners were performing inside the rock lounge and gave a shout out to the band.

Friday night, singer Steve Rossi and impressionist Rich Little were seen in the audience at Tony Orlando’s show at the South Point Hotel & Casino.

steve rossi  10-10-2008 9-00-26 pm 2576x1932
Steve Rossi
Photo credit: Dianne R. Davis

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Rich Little
Photo credit: Dianne R. Davis

Kirsten Dunst treated her best friend to a birthday trip to Las Vegas and kicked off the weekend at LAVO inside The Palazzo with a celebratory dinner.  They continued the party upstairs in the nightclub with a table on the dance floor and cupcake cones with sparklers for the birthday girl and then were transported around the hotel via the LAVO/TAO Escalade cart.

Also dining at LAVO on Friday was Justin Bartha, who is currently filming in Vegas.  He was joined by two friends. After dinner they headed up to the nightclub for a few Heineken’s.

Lake Bell and her What Happens in Vegas costar Jason Sudekis of Saturday Night Live were joined for dinner at LAVO with fellow actors Lindsay Sloane & Nick Kroll.

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel were spotted enjoying the Kings of Leon concert Saturday night inside the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.  They arrived after the first song and sat at their table in the balcony.  Prior to the concert the two dined at Nobu.

Actor Paul Walker was also spotted at the Kings of Leon concert and partied inside Wasted Space with friends following the show.

Paul Walker
Photo credit: Hard Rock Hotel

At midnight, Caleb and Nathan of Kings of Leon hung out at the Center Bar at Hard Rock and chatted with fans for two hours.

Oct.12 was a busy night for celebrity guests at Bette Midler The Showgirl Must Go On!  Attending separately, the following were at the show: Franco Dragone, Senator Harry Reid, Linda Perry (songwriter for artists such as Celine Dion, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, etc) and movie producer/director/screen writer Nora Ephron (You’ve Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle,  and My Blue Heaven among others).

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