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
www.theflickchicks.com

2008 Las Vegas Marathon

On Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008 The Las Vegas Marathon kicked off at 6 a.m. at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino with a display of fireworks as runners ran down the legendary Las Vegas Strip.  The Las Vegas Marathon first debuted in 2005 and gained worldwide media attention with its unique blend of running Elvi, an “only in Vegas” run-through wedding chapel and an unprecedented opportunity to run the Las Vegas Strip.

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Temperature at the start of this year’s marathon was a chilly 48 degrees. Approximately 15,000 runners participated including representatives from 47 countries, 178 Elvi, 47 couples married on the course, one marriage proposal at the finish line (she accepted) and the oldest marathon runner who admitted to being 91 years old.

The first man to reach the finish line was Abebe Yimier of Ethiopia who lives in Las Vegas and formerly worked at the Palms Casino Resort before he decided to concentrate on running full-time. The 28 year old was the First Clark County Winner of the Las Vegas Marathon. The female winner was 33 year old Nadezhda Tuptova of Russia.


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Abebe Yimier of Ethiopia

 

 

Mirage Introduces New Volcano Attraction

On Tuesday evening at dusk, The Mirage unveiled its new volcano attraction; an audio/visual spectacle that raises the bar with never-before-seen fire effects designed specifically for The Mirage using the latest developments in flame-expression technology, a new Meyer Sound state-of-the-art sound system, and an exclusive soundtrack composed by Grateful Dead drummer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Mickey Hart, and Indian tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain.

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Soon-to-be Mirage headliner, impressionist/singer/ventriloquist Terry Fator acted as Master of Ceremonies for the event. Joining him on stage was Grammy Award-winner Hart, as well as Mirage President Scott Sibella and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. Following the inaugural eruption,  celebratory fireworks from the top of The Volcano lit up the Las Vegas sky.

Technology and the Las Vegas Strip have come a long way since 1989, making for an increasingly competitive tourism market," said Sibella. "With tonight's rebirth of our Volcano the exterior of the resort reflects the energy and excitement found within the new Mirage."

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In addition to commemorating the renovation of The Strip's most enduring landmark, The Mirage used the opportunity to shine light on the value of music programs in local schools. In honor of the new Volcano and the exclusive soundtrack composed by Hart and Hussain, The Mirage made a donation to the Clark County School District to be used to support music in schools.


Mayor Goodman Flips the Switch at Fremont Street’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, December 9, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, along with family, friends and members of the Holiday Lights on Ice performance took the stage at Fremont Street Experience for the annual tree lighting ceremony in celebration of the holidays. The Mayor did the honor of flipping the switch to light up the 60-foot Christmas tree.

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Hard Rock Hosts filming of “Middle Men” starring Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht

Monday night, December 8 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino hosted the filming of the much-anticipated major motion picture “Middle Men” starring Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht, which chronicles the birth and early days of the online adult entertainment industry.  The scene was held outside the main entrance of the Hard Rock, featuring a mock red carpet for the AVN awards in 2003 where all three actors walked the carpet.  Following each take, Wilson hung out with his girlfriend in the background while Macht stayed close to wife Jacinda Barrett (also in the movie) and their baby.  Ribisi laid low with a cup of Starbucks and cigarettes in between takes.  The red carpet scene began at 7 p.m. and finally wrapped at approximately 10 p.m.

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Giovanni Ribisi

 

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Luke Wilson

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Gabriel Macht


McDonald’s One of a Kind “Viva McDonalds” Restaurant Debuts on The Strip

On Thursday December 11, a Grand Opening Celebration was held for McDonald’s new flagship restaurant located on the Las Vegas strip across the street from the Riviera.  Known as Viva McDonalds, the new restaurant is the only Las Vegas-themed restaurant in the world and the first of its kind utilizing state of the art new technology in order to create fresher, better tasting food on a daily basis for its customers.

To celebrate the Grand Opening, the first 111 guests who entered when the doors opened at 11 a.m. were treated to gifts including a Viva McDonald’s t-shirt, a yard long cup and a McDonald’s gift card. Those in attendance were able to mingle and have their photos taken with the cast of McDonaldland characters including Birdie, Grimace and the Hamburglar, all of whom came out of retirement for this event.

After driving down the Las Vegas Strip in a red Cadillac, Ronald McDonald®, made a grand entrance. Mayor Oscar B. Goodman was on hand and assisted with the ribbon cutting and gifted Ronald McDonald with a key to the city.  Ronald, in turn, surprised the Mayor with a big red shoe signed by Ronald himself.

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Also in attendance was comedy magician “Mac” King, who joined in the festivities and partnered with Viva McDonald’s by working behind the counter for one hour to help raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Greater Las Vegas. A portion of the proceeds were donated to the charity. In between sales, King performed magic tricks for the crowd.   An Elvis impersonator provided some added entertainment by singing various hits.

Belaggio Conservatory Transforms into Enchanting Winter Wonderland

Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens has unveiled a new winter exhibit that is on display for the visiting viewing public.

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The magical display features a dazzling 45 foot tall holiday tree ablaze in more than 12,000 holiday lights, flying reindeer, towering toy soldiers and an oversized holiday wreath.  Nearby stands a charming snowman family as well as six reindeer encrusted with pecans that can be seen lifting a present-laden sleigh into the sky.

Just around the corner at Jean Philippe Pâtisserie, a 240 lb display made of a luscious combination of dark, milk and white chocolate, which took one month for Pastry Chef Jean-Philippe Maury and his team to create, features a chocolate Santa dressed in a suit of sugar icing, and a chocolate airplane.

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Visitors are invited to enjoy these whimsical holiday displays through January 3, 2009.  As always, the Belaggio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is FREE and open to the public.


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

Blondies Sports Bar & Grill inside Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood is showing it support for the local non-profit organization The Shade Tree, by donating all money received from $25 gift card purchases now through Jan 1, 2009 to the shelter.  Blondies is also currently accepting donations of unwrapped toys and office supplies on behalf of the organization.  Those interested in purchasing a gift card or donating an item are urged to stop by the hostess stand any day between 11 a.m. and 2 a.m. 

Flamingo Las Vegas headliner comedian George Wallace is offering customers two VIP tickets to his “Best 10 p.m. Show” and two dinners at the Paradise Garden Buffet in the Flamingo for only $99. This offer can be enjoyed now through Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2009.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino invites everyone to celebrate 2008 at its Cheers Las Vegas! Holidayparty, 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17.  The much-anticipated property-wide open bar event is sure to be the largest ever hosted by the Hard Rock.  Female staff members of the Hard Rock will show their holiday spirit by replacing their uniforms with sexy Santa suits,  and complimentary cocktails, and hors d’ oeuvres will be offered throughout the entire property including Center Bar, Pink Taco, AGO, Wasted Space and the Poker Lounge.

Everyone is invited to The Vegas Tenors concert on Saturday, Dec. 20, at 3 p.m. at the West Las Vegas Arts Center. These four professional musicians, Lou Ragland, Freddie Empire, Lambus Dean and Latif Shadi, have performed as lead singers in some of the best-known performing groups in the world. Admission is FREE. The center is located at 947 W. Lake Mead Blvd.  For more information or directions to the West Las Vegas Arts Center, call
(702) 229-4800.

The Razzle Bam Boom Family Christmas Show, a musical extravaganza for the entire family will be presented on Saturday, Dec. 20 beginning at 2 p.m. at the Charleston Heights Arts Center. The show stars the award-winning duo of Mark Beckwith and Obediah Thomas, who specializes in children’s and family entertainment. Tickets are priced at $3. The center is located at 800 S. Brush St. For tickets and information, call (702) 229-6383.

On Tuesday, December 23rd at 9:00pm, The Beatles Revolution Lounge inside The Mirage Hotel & Casino is hosting FA-COCK-TA's Hipster Hannukah Ho-Down!  a fantastical Jewish comedy hip-hop extravaganza in celebration of the release of FA-COCK-TA's (aka Jewish Dave, Avi D.O.G, and MC Ethel) debut album "Loxstarz." Doors open at 9 p.m. - show starts at 10 p.m. The cost is $10 and admission is limited to age 21 +. For reservations call
(702) 692-8383. Check the hip-hop comedy trio out at www.myspace.com/facocktarocks

Terrible’s Primm Valley Casino Resorts is offering Clark County residents (with valid resident identification) a free vacation available Wednesday, Dec. 10 through Wednesday, Dec. 31. Guests may book their FREECATION at
www.primmspecials.com.
Terrible’s FREECATION includes: One free night’s stay at Buffalo Bill’s, Whiskey Pete’s or Primm Valley Resort;  Two all-day attraction passes valid for the Desperado Rollercoaster, Attraction Zone Arcade, Turbo Drop and the Adventure Canyon Log Flume at Buffalo Bill’s and Two free tickets to the Sin City Kitties, a burlesque cabaret production, inside the Whiskey Pete’s showroom. Restrictions may apply. For more information, call
1.800.FUNSTOP (1.800.386.7867).

Red Rock Harley-Davidson located at 2260 S. Rainbow Boulevard in Las Vegas, is hosting a Harley-day party Saturday, December 20 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. for adults.  The event will be a naughty adult winter wonderland with an opportunity for photos with a seductive Ms. Claus (free with a store purchase), a DJ spinning the hottest holiday rock classics, complimentary appetizers, sexy go-go dancers and scantily dressed elves that will roam the crowd to entice every bad little boy or girl in the crowd.  The event will also include store giveaways at the top of every hour.

The Stratosphere Casino Hotel and Tower will host a regular Smooth Jazz Ladies Night at Romance Lounge every Wednesday night from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., excluding Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, through March 11, 2009. Ladies are invited to enjoy an unparalleled view of Las Vegas, fabulous drink specials, live jazz by the William Moran Jazz Trio and the chance to win a designer purse.

Smooth Jazz Ladies Night will offer martinis at half-price for ladies and the first 75 ladies will receive a free glass of Moet & Chandon champagne.  Ladies can register in advance to win a designer purse on The Oasis website at
www.1057theOasis.com <http://www.1057theOasis.com>  and can also register in person at Romance Lounge, during Smooth Jazz Ladies Night, to receive an additional drawing ticket. Other giveaways include a $100 gift certificate to Top of the World, a $50 gift certificate for Romance Lounge, $25 in free slot play, tickets for two to American Superstars and tickets for two to Bite.  Romance Lounge is located on Level 107 of the Stratosphere Tower.

The popular Stoney’s brand, known for entertaining Las Vegas with the hottest country nightlife will celebrate the Grand Opening of Stoney’s North Forty at Santa Fe Station, 4949 N. Rancho, on Dec. 31 with a New Year’s Eve party beginning at 9 p.m. The grand opening event includes a midnight balloon drop and champagne toast for $25 in advance and $35 at the door. In addition, the popular $20 all-you-can-drink beer specials will also be offered. To purchase tickets, please call 702-435-BULL (2855).

In advance of the opening, Santa Fe Station will unveil Stoney’s Rockin’ Pit, a dedicated gaming pit offering six blackjack tables, Stoney’s-themed dealers and of course rockin’ music,  for a limited time beginning Friday, Dec. 26 through January 17. The pit will be open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Players in Stoney’s Rockin’ Pit Dec. 26-31 will receive a raffle ticket for each blackjack they hit and be entered into a drawing to pick 28 lucky people who will have a chance to compete in the first tournament scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 31.  The winner will receive a VIP table and bottle service that night inside Stoney’s North Forty.  Similar blackjack tournaments will occur each weekend through January 17 inside the Stoney’s Rockin’ Pit.


Celebrity sightings:

Wednesday afternoon, December 10, actor Luke Wilson was spotted dining with a guest at Spago inside the Forum Shops at Caesars.

Actor Dennis Haskins, better known as “Mr. Belding” from the hit television series Saved By The Bell, was spotted taking in a performance by former Hawaiian Tropic model turned singer Amanda Henkel during a NFR party at Hawaiian Tropic Zone inside Miracle Mile Shops on Wednesday, Dec. 10. Haskins later took the stage with Cody McCarver, member of country band Confederate Railroad, and serenaded the crowd.

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On December 8, Major League Baseball's top managers came together for a benefit reception for Nevada Cancer Institute at Fix restaurant in the Bellagio.  St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa, along with his friend and local businessman Jim Hammer, helped organize the reception titled “Strike Out Cancer”.
Those managers attending included Joe Girardi (New York Yankees), Jim Leyland (Detroit Tigers), Ozzie Guillen (Chicago White Sox), Bruce Bocce (San Francisco Giants), Dusty Baker (Cincinnati Reds), Bobby Cox (Atlanta Braves), Lou Pinella (Chicago Cubs) and Dave Tremblay (Baltimore Orioles). All are in Las Vegas for Major League Baseball's winter meetings. Others in attendance included MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren, Bellagio president Randy Morton, former UNLV head basketball coach and longtime LaRussa friend Charlie Spoonhauer, former major leaguer and current TBS announcer Buck Martinez, Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

Friday night, Oakland A's slugger, Frank Thomas returned to LAVO inside The Palazzo.  The designated hitter was spotted with friends at a table in the nightclub where they enjoyed Veuve Clicquot and cabernet sauvignon.

On Saturday actor Chris Evans (Fantastic Four) and Kyle Howard (My Boys) were spotted filming a commercial for Las Vegas Tourism at LAVO inside The Palazzo. Afterwards, they were joined by two friends and the group danced the night away drinking Grey Goose, Red Bull and the occasional shot of Patron.  Later in the evening they headed over to check out the scene at sister club TAO.

On Saturday evening, former Laguna Beach heartthrob and One Tree Hill guest star, Stephen Colletti was spotted at Studio 54’s after-hours party – Late Night 54.  Colletti arrived at the legendary nightclub in the early hours of the morning with a group of friends.

Sunday, Reigning US Open Doubles champions twins, Bob and Mike Bryan, along with family and friends, chose Vice Sunday at LAVO inside The Palazzo as the place to celebrate the completion of their 2nd annual Camp Bryan tennis event. After dinner, the group made their way to the nightclub for a table on the dance floor where Mike Bryan surprised his girlfriend Lucile with cupcakes and sparklers for her birthday and of course some shout outs from DJ Vice. 

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Mike and Bob Bryan
Photo credit: Grace Rakich 

Monday evening, actress/celebrity poker player Jennifer Tilly and a guest was spotted having dinner at the Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, inside MGM Grand.


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


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