By Judy Thorburn
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
Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza Celebrates Grand Opening of Fifth Location in Las Vegas with Celebrity Cook-Off
It’s not unusual for a new restaurant in Las Vegas to have a grand opening celebration. However, I can’t recall a cooking contest ever being held on opening night. But, that is what took place last Wednesday evening, February 4 as part of the grand opening celebration at award winning Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza’s newest location at West Flamingo and 215.
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn
The media was invited to attend the exclusive, private grand opening event along with local celebrities and TV personalities who mingled with the guests before participating in a pizza making contest to benefit a good cause. Having a great time (or should I say taking the heat) in the kitchen was comedian George Wallace, strip entertainers Chris Phillips and Marley Taylor, aka Zowie Bowie, man about town reporter Robin Leach, Erich Bergen and Jeff Leibow of “Jersey Boys”, Channel 3 entertainment reporter Alicia Jacobs, KLUC's Morning Zoo and Dayna Roselli, and Dave McCann and Denise Valdez of Channel 8. All made an effort to create the best pizza from a list of ingredients supplied by Sammy’s.
Comedian George Wallace
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn
Dayna Roselli, Denise Valdez and Dave McCann of Channel 8
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn
Erich Bergen and Jeff Leibow of “Jersey Boys”
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn
Judging the pizzas on taste, texture and presentation were local journalists John Katsilometes, freelance writer Steve Friess, food critics John Curtas and Max Jacobson. The winners of the contest were Zowie Bowie with their creation of Vintage Vegas Pizza featuring Gouda, pineapples, pears, arugula, orange blossom honey and truffle oil. The pizza will be on sale at all five Sammy's locations in Las Vegas starting February 13 through February 28 with a portion of the proceeds donated to Opportunity Village, Zowie Bowie’s favorite charity.
Alicia Jacobs with Chris Phillips and Marley Taylor (aka Zowie Bowie)
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn
While the celebs were competing in the ultimate pizza showdown, invited guests including yours truly, got to sample a generous array of items from the menu, that were being passed around on trays by some of the most friendly servers in the valley. I knew ahead of time that I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from stuffing my face with several of the delicious menu items, so prior to showing up at the event, I spent some time in the gym in hopes of trying to offset the onset of calories I would consume. As it were, I couldn’t resist trying the mahi mahi tacos, crusted artichokes, coconut crusted chicken on a skewer, chicken lettuce wraps, ahi tuna burger, as well as an assortment off pizzas such as manouri feta cheese with oregano and orange blossom honey on artisan dough brushed with chili oil, baba ghanoush pizza on pita bread, and the Lebanese soft cheese pizza. If that wasn’t enough to delight the tastebuds and satisfy anyone’s palate, there was also duck tacos and kobe beef pizza for the avid carnivores among us.
One thing is for sure, whether you are a vegetarian or meet lover, the diverse, innovative menu at Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza is sure to fill the bill. For more information visit www.sammyspizza.com
Hard Rock Hotel Celebrates Expansion with Topping Off Ceremony of New Tower
On Friday, February 6 THE HARD ROCK HOTEL celebrated another milestone in their $759 million expansion with a TOPPING OFF CEREMONY in honor of their second tower, the all suite South Tower that is slated for completion in 2009. On hand was Yale Rowe, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Senior Vice President and General Manager of Operations and Phil Shalala, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Vice President of Marketing to watch as an Evergreen tree and American flag was placed at the top of the structure.
The new, 15 story building will feature 374 suited and eight luxurious “spa villas” on the main level with direct access via walkway to the Hard Rock’s world famous Beach Club swimming pool. Crowning the tower are seven penthouses, all tailored with a different theme.
Over 700 construction workers and executives from MJ Dean Construction and its subcontractors attended the 3-hour event, celebrating their accomplishment with a catered barbeque and raffles.
Other recent and upcoming “happenings” in and around Las Vegas include:
Last Friday, February 6, in celebration of the “Go Red for Women” campaign for the American Heart Association and in support of National Wear Red day, the world famous Viva Vision screen located at The Fremont Street Experience was completely illuminated in red at 6:10, 7:10 and 10:10pm.
Readers of TripAdvisor.com, the web’s largest travel community, have chosen SKYLOFTS and THE SIGNATURE AT MGM GRAND among the best of the best in their 2009 Travelers' Choice® Awards. Both hotels were listed as one of the “Top 10 Best for Romance in the U.S.” SKYLOFTS also was ranked among the “Top 100 Best Luxury Hotels in the World” and in the “Top 10 Best Luxury Hotels in the U.S.” The Mobil Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond SKYLOFTS, providing dramatic two-story accommodations, and the Mobil Four-Star Signature at MGM Grand, a non-gaming, non-smoking all-suite hotel, are two of only three Las Vegas hotels selected in the readers’ survey.
MGM Grand’s Crazy Horse Paris has announced the debut of Kristal D’Arc, the first American dancer to join the cast of the illustrious French cabaret. Kristal earned her position within the esteemed dance troupe by winning the American auditions held in Las Vegas in March 2008 along with celebrity guest judge Dita Von Teese.
Starting February 6, TONY ‘N TINA’S WEDDING an entertaining interactive show that satires an Italian-American wedding, debuts at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. From opening night through February 19, celebrity wedding crasher Joe Gannascoli, from the Sopranos, will appear at Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding. The all-inclusive dinner show features a full Italian buffet dinner, from the executive chefs of the award-winning Spice Market Buffet, wedding cake, a celebratory champagne toast, live band, dancing and plenty of laughs. Performances will be in “The Loft” at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, located on the Mezzanine (Mezz) level. Ticket prices to Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding start at $89.99, with VIP packages from $140.80 to $164.10 plus tax. Performances will be held on Monday through Saturday at 7 pm and dark on Sundays.
The Beatles tribute band, THE FAB, is performing FREE shows 7 – 10 p.m. (Three 45-minute sets) every Thursday beginning February 5, 2009 at Marilyn’s Lounge, located inside Eastside Cannery Casino & Hotel.
Due to their enormous popularity at Green Valley Ranch, STEEL PANTHER, one of the greatest heavy metal bands, brings their musicianship, wild and crazy antics, pristine hairdos and flashy spandex to the Access Showroom at ALIANTE STATION every Saturday night beginning Feb. 7 with doors at 10 p.m. The shows are open to adults 21 years and older and there is NO COST for admission. Entry to the shows will be first come, first served and based upon venue capacity. The band will continue to perform at Ovation inside Green Valley Ranch every Friday with doors opening at 11 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 2, through Sunday, March 1 Golden Gaming, which operates PT’s taverns, has teamed up with NASCAR driver Kurt Busch to offer guests and NASCAR fans alike a month of action-packed racing and grand prizes at all six PT’s tavern locations throughout the Las Vegas valley. Guests can qualify to win grand prizes throughout the month by getting behind the wheel of a racecar simulator and showing off their driving skills. The top 100 qualifiers with the fastest recorded race times will be eligible to win grand prizes. For more information, please visit www.goldengaminginc.com.
Terrible’s Primm Valley Casino Resorts presents Grammy Award winning recording artist and actor LL COOL J 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11 at Buffalo Bill’s in the Star of the Desert Arena. Tickets are $19.95, $29.95 and $44.95.
On Friday, February 13 from 2 – 5 pm at the Promenade Gift Shop inside the Flamingo Las Vegas, Flamingo headliner and owner of America’s most successful doll line, MARIE OSMOND will host a Valentine’s Day themed doll-signing event featuring her Bridal, Valentine and Sweet Tots Collections. Locals will receive a 10% discount on their doll purchase with a valid Nevada ID. Only Marie Osmond Dolls purchased during this special event will be signed.
THE TERRY FATOR STORE which offers exclusive branded merchandise from the new production featuring the comic impersonator opens February 14 at The Mirage. The retail outlet, located adjacent to the Terry Fator Theatre, provides a wide selection of keepsake items including the Winston Jr. puppet, tee shirts, posters, hats, key chains, mugs and show programs. Fator’s candid autobiography “Who’s the Dummy Now” also is available for purchase.
On Saturday, February 14 reality show sweethearts Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt will host a Valentine’s Day soiree at PURE NIGHTCLUB inside Caesar’s palace.
Sunday, February 15 from 10 a.m. – 12 noon in support of the national the Help Your Pet, Get to the Vet campaign, Advantage® is offering Las Vegas residents FREE basic wellness exams for their four-legged family members at the Animal Foundation located on 655 N. Mojave. The mission of the campaign is to distribute more than a quarter of a million dollars in Veterinary Vouchers to help offset costs and concerns for pet owners nationwide who are cutting back on veterinary services and facing difficult choices about how to pay for and prioritize their pets' care and wellness.
From February 16 through February 28, 2009, the Help Your Pet, Get to the Vet Campaign by Advantage® from Bayer Animal Health is lending a hand by giving up to 13,000 pet owners the chance to receive a $20 Veterinary Voucher. These vouchers can be used at any licensed veterinary clinic nationwide for preventive care services including: vaccinations, wellness checkups, flea and tick treatment and prevention, heartworm preventatives and dental care. Each voucher helps offset close to 20 percent2 of the average cost of a veterinary visit for cats and dogs.
Artist CHAD BROWN brings his fusion of architectural imagery and abstract techniques to the Winchester Gallery beginning Feb. 17. An artist reception will be held in his honor at the gallery located inside the Winchester Cultural Center at 3130 S. McLeod Drive from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 20. The exhibit will be on display at the gallery though April 17. Those interested in “your move” by Chad Brown can call the Winchester Cultural Center at 455-7340 or visit the Web site at www.accessclarkcounty.com/parks. The Winchester Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
The UNLV School of Architecture welcomes visiting professor RICK LOWE, founder of Project Row Houses in Houston, Texas, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 18 in the Downtown Design Center, located in the historic Fifth Street School, at the corner of Lewis and 4th Street. The lecture, “Toward Social Sculpture,” is preceded by a reception at 6:30 p.m. Both the reception and lecture are free and open to the public.
From 8 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. on February 19 & 20 UNLV College of Fine Arts students present a FREE performance of the show “SIN CITY ’67 ON THE AIR” before it travels at the end of the month to the 2009 Adelaide Fringe Festival in Australia. This original production of song, dance and comedy, based on The Las Vegas Show, a live television program that originated from Las Vegas in 1967, will be held at the Historic Fifth Street School Auditorium 401 S. Fourth St., Las Vegas, 89101
(located downtown at the corner of Lewis and Fourth St.)
February 21 at 7 p.m. CASHETTA, “The Queen of Magic” (aka Scott Weston) and one of the only female impersonator magicians in the world who combines a mix of Bette Midler and Dolly Parton along with the talents of David Copperfield, is bringing her show “Magic’s a Drag” to the Harmon Theater located at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort.“Magic’s a Drag” replaces the highly successful “Lucky Cheng’s Dinner Cabaret”, which ends its three-year engagement at the Harmon Theater on Feb. 14. General admission Tickets are $44.95 plus tax and fees and $59.95 plus tax and fees for VIP, which includes an all-you-can-drink wristband.
Also on February 21, McFADDEN’S Restaurant and Saloon at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino is offering FREE drinks for guests who are celebrating their birthday in the month of February. Anyone turning 21 years of age or older can enjoy birthday cocktails on the house, from 10 p.m. until midnight. Friends and family may join in on the birthday celebration with a $10 for ladies, $20 for guys all-you-can-drink special and $3 drinks from midnight until close.
Sunday, February 22, Rain Nightclub at the Palms Casino Resort will be the host of Oscar Night America, a fundraising event to benefit the Arthritis Foundation. This is the only Oscar party in Las Vegas to be sanctioned by The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The spectacular night begins at 4 p.m. where guests will walk the red carpet, imbibe on cocktails and participate in a silent auction before dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. and passed hors d’oeuvres will be served while guests enjoy the live Academy Awards® telecast. This exclusive event is by invitation only and tickets cannot be purchased at the door. Interested parties may visit www.secondbestoscarparty.com to register for an invitation, or call 702-987-3177.
Sunday, February 22 at 7 p.m. as part of the Charles Vanda Master Series, The UNLV Performing Arts Center presents the MUNICH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, with Philippe Entremont as conductor and piano soloist. The orchestra will perform an all-Beethoven program, including Emperor Concerto No. 5. Tickets are $45, $60, and $90 and can be purchased at the Performing Arts Center Box Office at 895-ARTS (2787) or by visiting pac.unlv.edu.
Eugene O’Neill’s anti-war drama, “THE SNIPER,” will be staged by the Fine Arts Department of the College of Southern Nevada on Feb 20, 21, 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m., and on Feb. 22 and Mar. 1 at 2 p.m. in the BackStage Theatre at the Cheyenne Campus. The Sniper” will be preceded by a one-man show with Brian Kral portraying the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, called "Eugene O’Neill at Tao House." Admission for the double bill is $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. For reservations, call 651-LIVE (5483). The CSN Performing Arts Center is located at 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., one mile east of I-15 North.
On Thursday, February 26 VIA BRASIL STEAKHOUSE, 1225 S. Fort Apache Rd., Suite 100 (located in the Fort Apache Commons shopping center) is hosting a FUNDRAISING DINNER FOR NEVADA CANCER INSTITUTE. The event begins at 7 pm and features Via Brasil’s signature “Rodizio” dinner at a special price of $44.95. Via Brasil Steakhouse will donate 30% of all sales (including dinner and alcohol) for this one night only to Nevada Cancer Institute. All are invited to show their support for a worthy cause and help fight cancer.
Tickets for the Las Vegas production of Disney’s award winning musical THE LION KING will go on sale to the public beginning Saturday, March 14 from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Guests who purchase tickets at the Mandalay Bay Events Center box office during the special on-sale event will receive commemorative Lion King gifts while supplies last. All other outlets, phone and online sales will launch at 10 a.m. Tickets will be available at the box office for $53, continuing up to $86 and $113.50. VIP packages, which include premium seating, a complimentary souvenir program and a complimentary VIP show merchandise item, will be available for $168.50. Tax and service fees are included in all prices. Preview performances for the first-ever sit-down Disney theatrical production in Las Vegas begin Tuesday May 5 with its; Grand Opening scheduled for May 15.
With thousands of race fans in Las Vegas for NASCAR weekend, Fremont Street Experience gets its wheels in motion for the 6th annual RACEJAM beginning 8 p.m. on Friday, February 27. The racing weekend will feature three days of live concerts, NASCAR merchandise booths and plenty of fast-paced fun. The scheduled entertainment lineup performing on both the 1st and 3rd Street stages includes Tony Marques and his country rock band, Trent Tomlinson, Southern Stue, the Artimus Pyle Band, HighWire, the Speaks Brothers and TJ Weaver. All concerts are FREE and open to the public and parking is available at the Fremont Street Experience parking garage located at Carson and 4th Streets.
The Children's Heart Foundation which continues to improve the lives of children who suffer from heart problems presents 6th ANNUAL WALK WITH THE HEART OF A CHILD on Saturday, February 28, 2009 at Fashion Show Mall. Community members and businesses who want to support Children’s Heart Foundation can phone (702) 967-3522 for sponsorship and team registration information. The walk begins at 8:30 a.m. with registration at 7 a.m. On-line registration is available now at chfn.org. Fees are $25 for adults, $15 for virtual walkers, and $10 for students and seniors.
Saturday, Feb. 28 SIEGFRIED AND ROY, Magicians of The Century, will deliver one final performance at the POWER OF LOVE Gala, inside the Bellagio Hotel and Casino to benefit Keep Memory Alive, the foundation for the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute. A select amount of tickets for the star-studded gala are still available. In addition to the unparalleled entertainment for the evening, guests will savor delights from celebrity chefs Wolfgang Puck, Todd English, Jean-Philippe Maury and Martin Heierling as well as renowned champagne, wine and spirits to awaken the senses. More information about the 2009 Power of Love Gala can be found at www.keepmemoryalive.org.
ABC News is producing “Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Returns,” a special edition of “20/20” about the Las Vegas entertainment icons and their farewell performance, scheduled to air 9 p.m. ET Friday, March 6, and anchored by Elizabeth Vargas.
The very dapper looking duo of Usher and Jermaine Dupri, each clad in a gray suit and dark sunglasses, dined at LAVO inside The Palazzo on Wednesday, February 4. Following dessert, the group adjourned to the second floor nightclub where DJ Crooked was spinning for the club’s weekly Label Junkie fashion show. They even took the time to greet fans who stopped by their table on the dance floor and both were spotted taking pictures and shooting video from their camera phones.
Sitting just a few tables away was star choreographer Cris Judd, with a stunning blonde.
Thursday, celebrated tattoo artist and star of LA Ink Kat Von D heralded the launch of her new book High Voltage Tattoo at TAO Las Vegas. The gregarious Kat posed on the red carpet with a copy of her new tome, her boyfriend Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe, and her friend, My Space sensation and transgender make-up artist Jeffree Star. The group then headed into the Asian bistro for dinner where they were joined by her dad, sister and Nikki’s son. Throughout the meal Kat stopped to take photos and sign copies of the book that fans brought by the table.
Kat Von D
Photo credit: Grace Rakich
Kat Von D, Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue and transgender makeup artist Jeffree Starr inside Tao
Photo credit: Grace Rakich
Also visiting TAO on Thursday was Kevin Federline, joined by girlfriend Victoria Prince. The duo dined with friends before heading to a table in nightclub near Kat Von D.
Photo credit: Grace Rakich
Friday night, Cincinnati Bengal Robert Geathers was spotted with friends upstairs in the nightclub at LAVO.
Saturday afternoon (February 7) Oakland Raiders Head Coach Tom Cable was spotted hanging out at PT's Pub this afternoon (located at 10940 S. Eastern in Henderson).
Former American Idol contestant and Gone Country starlet, Mikalah Gordon celebrated her 21st birthday at Tabú Ultra Lounge in MGM Grand. While inside Tabú, the petite Gordon got on top of the tables to greet the crowd and surprised everyone with an impromptu performance belting out “Killing Me Softly” by The Fugees followed by Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Immediately afterwards, Tabú’s sexy staff surprised Gordon with a beautiful chocolate cake. Surrounded by her entourage, the local beauty partied in true Vegas fashion all night long.
Mad Men actor Vincent Kartheiser, dressed in a gray suit and skinny tie, but with shaggy hair and scruffy beard, was seen dining atLAVO inside The Palazzo. Kartheiser dined with several male friends before heading upstairs to the nightclub where they maintained a low profile.
At Tao Las Vegas, Kevin Federline returned for a second time in a week. Federline arrived with girlfriend Victoria Prince who wore shorts and a blue top, despite the rainy Vegas weather.
Also spotted at Tao was bride-to-be Danica McKellar, who is currently on the comedy hit How I Met Your Mother. In celebration of her upcoming nuptials, the former star of The Wonder Years donned a veil while partying with a group of girlfriends.
Following their wedding, Sarah Shahi and Steve Howey enjoyed dinner along with 20 of their friends at Strip House inside Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.
Rocker Tommy Lee was spotted with another guy and a girl in the lounge at LAVO inside The Palazzo Sunday evening. Tommy also reminisced about a crazy night at sister restaurant TAO when he tried to climb the large Buddha that overlooks the restaurant space.
I will be back next week with more of what’s “happening” in and around Las Vegas.