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

Playboy's 50th Annual Playmate of the Year Announced at Palms Resort

For the first time in its 50 year history, the Playboy Playmate of the Year was announced at a special dinner celebration in Las Vegas instead of the traditional Playboy Mansion luncheon in Beverly Hills. This year Playboy founder Hugh Hefner decided to push it up a notch and have it at the Palms Resort and Casino which is home to the one and only Playboy Club. Hef joined Palms Owner, George Maloof for this unprecedented event that took place the evening of May 2 in the Palms ballroom with 2001 Playmate of the Year and The Celebrity Apprentice star Brande Roderick acting as host.

Ida Ljungqvist and Hugh Hefner
Photo credit: Burt Davis

Upon introducing Hefner, Brande said, “It is an honor for me to introduce a man who paved the way for us (playmate centerfolds) tonight.  He gave us friendship, love and support and is one of my dearest friends and superhero.”

Brande went on to joke that George Maloof has dated as many Playmates as Hefner and asked if he was the next Hef? George’s response was, “No, there is only one. The great respect I have for Hef goes beyond his mansion and beautiful women. Mostly I have admired his accomplishments all these years; his business sense and his continuing to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Brande Roderick, Ida Ljungqvist, Hugh Hefner and George Maloof
Photo credit: Dianne R. Davis

Others in attendance included celebrity chef Kerry Simon (who supplied the surf and turf dinner), Las Vegas native, Alisha Taylor who appeared in Playboy as a one of the Women of Wall Street, and over 50 former centerfold playmates, many of whom walked the red carpet before entering the ballroom.

Alisha Taylor
Photo credit: Burt Davis

But the focal point of the evening was the announcement and appearance of 2009 Playmate of the Year, Ida Ljungqvist, whose larger than life nude photos of her adorned the ballroom walls.

In 2007, the dark skinned beauty, born in Tanzania of a Swedish father and Tanazian mother, was spotted by then Playmate of the Year, Sara Jean Underwood while working in Bebe, a Beverly Hills boutique.  She was then introduced her to Playmate photo editor and Star of the Girls Next Door Holly Madison which led to Ida posing in the March 2008 magazine followed by her being voted Playmate of the Year by readers.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Upon accepting her award Ida had trouble keeping her emotions in check.  She appeared to be so overwhelmed with joy and excitement that she stumbled with her words, jumped up and down. “This is a pretty freaky, awesome evening”, she said, while trying to hold back tears.

Photo credit: Burt Davis

Photo credit: Dianne R. Davis

Photo credit: Dianne R. Davis

In addition to the award, Ida received a check for $100,000, 2009 Mazda 6 in the color of her choice, and a one of a kind engraved bottle of Patron platinum tequila.  After handing her the keys to the car Hef jokingly warned the beauty, “You can’t drink this bottle and drive at the same time.”

As for what’s in her future, Ida is involved in charity work, and is primarily very active with the philanthropic group Empowerment Works, which helps communities and individuals learn to support and protect themselves. Posing nude again for any photos appears to be out of the picture.

Jersey Boys Celebrates First Anniversary at Palazzo Resort

On May 3, JERSEY BOYS Las Vegas, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, celebrated its first anniversary on The Las Vegas Strip at the Palazzo Resort-Hotel-Casino with a cake presentation at curtain call. On hand to share in the evening’s celebration with cast members was original Four Season, Tommy Devito.

jersey boys anniversary - travis cloer jeff leibow deven may tommy devito rick faugno and erich bergen 08

jersey boys anniversary  - travis cloer deven may jeff leibow rick faugno and erich bergen 11

El Cortez Celebrates Grand Opening of New Cabana Suites

On Thursday, May 7 The El Cortez in downtown Las Vegas celebrated the grand opening of its Cabana Suites with Mayor Goodman and a ribbon cutting at the new property’s boutique hotel at 5 p.m.  The newly opened El Cortez Cabana Suites brings a new boutique style of rooms and design to the Fremont East Entertainment District.


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

Entertainer Danny Gans, who passed way suddenly early Friday May 1 at the age of 52, was laid to rest on Tuesday, morning, May 12 in a private service attended by his family and a few close friends. On Thursday, May 21st, a memorial service will be held in the theater at Encore where Gans performed his last show on April 29th. Due to the size of the theater, only invited guests will be permitted to attend.

On May 6, The Las Vegas City Council gave unanimous approval to several agenda items that clear the way for construction to begin on The Smith Center for the Performing Arts which will be located in the Union Park 61-acre, mixed-use, master-planned urban center in downtown Las Vegas. The 4.75-acre cultural complex will feature music, theater, and dance companies who celebrate cultures from all over the world.  Groundbreaking for The Smith Center is planned for spring 2009 with a projected opening in early 2012.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Relativity Media’s recently acquired film and lifestyle property, Rogue, announced that they are partnering on a multi level entertainment deal never before accomplished by a hotel casino property and an entertainment brand. The deal grants Rogue the official naming rights to Hard Rock’s legendary concert venue The Joint, which will now be called The Rogue Joint. In addition to several co-marketing opportunities between the companies such as social networking and cross promotions, The Rogue Joint will host a select slate of Rogue film premieres and screenings. The Rogue brand will also receive on-site presence throughout the Hard Rock, including a dedicated in-room channel programmed with Rogue films and trailers for upcoming releases, retail product, and presence at the world famous Hard Rock pool. 

Mandi McCary, the newly elected 2009 President of the Las Vegas Women in Communications, has rejoined the team of accomplished Las Vegas public relations agency PR Plus as an account executive. McCary worked for several years at PR Plus before leaving in 2005.  “We’re excited to have Mandi back on the team,” said Alissa Kelly, partner and chief operating officer of PR Plus. “She has always been professional when dealing with her clients, the media and her colleagues.”

Mandi McCary

To celebrate their one-year anniversary in Las Vegas and promote a more green conscious option for city transportation, Cricket Communications, Inc, a leading provider of unlimited wireless services is providing FREE bus rides on the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada’s (RTC) transit system. The free rides will be available system-wide from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 20.

Lance Burton will be back performing his show at Monte Carlo on Tuesday, June 2, foot.  During a recent performance Burton suffered a broken bone in his foot that required surgery. This is the first time Lance Burton has broken a bone during the 15,000 shows that he has performed over 30 years. He's headlined at the Monte Carlo for the past 13 years. The accident happened 10-12 minutes into the show.  All tickets are refundable from the point of purchase.

For the first time ever beginning May 15, Blue Man Group in Las Vegas is offering one free child’s ticket for their show at the Venetian with the purchase of one regularly-priced adult ticket for Las Vegas locals. The free ticket offer is valid for children ages 3 to 12 and applies to all ticket prices.   Free children’s tickets are subject to availability and are not valid during holidays.  Tickets can be purchased by mentioning the code KIDS FREE at any Venetian or Palazzo box office or by calling 702.414.9001. Individuals must present their Nevada ID when picking up tickets.

The CineVegas Under the Stars outdoor screening series at the Springs Preserve continues on Friday, May 15 with WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. In addition to the screening of the 1971 classic film, there will be face painting, balloon artists and Willy Wonka himself! The film screens at 8pm, but doors open at 5pm for guests to enjoy the venue's museums, galleries and gardens. Tickets are $10 each.

Saturday, May 16 at 5:30 p.m. The Orleans is hosting Blues & Brews, summer event at the pool featuring Las Vegas’ No. 1 Blues band, John Earl & The Boogieman Band playing a mixture of Blues, Southern Rock, Classic Rock n’ Roll, and Old School R&B.  More than 50 types of beer will be available for tasting as well as an array of delectable sausage samplings. Live gaming will be set up poolside and making a special appearance are the Rounder Girls from the casino lifestyle magazine Rounder. Advance admission tickets are on sale at The Orleans Showroom Box Office for $30 or $35 purchased at the door.

On Sunday, May 17 at 5 p.m. TV Channel 13 will air a special half-hour edition of Entertainment Las Vegas Style – Danny Gans talks with Tony Sacca “Sharing Personal Moments”.  Channel 13 is revising their local programming in order to air this show at a prime time. The original interview with Las Vegas headliner, Danny Gans who unexpectedly passed away on May 2, took place in his dressing room at The Mirage in July 2002. The one-of-a-kind interview had Gans discussing his childhood, influences, love for sports, life-changing decisions, love for his family, and what Las Vegas meant to him.

May 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. Whoopi Goldberg will take the stage at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas for performances that will feature her unique, candid and often humorous observations on a wide range of subjects. Tickets are on sale for $79, $89 and $99, plus service charge and tax.

On Saturday, May 23 at 9 p.m. local band Face First will reunite after a 20-year hiatus for its “We’re Not Dead Yet” tour at Tailspin Bar & Grill located at 6295 South Pecos,just north of Sunset in Green Valley.  Face First got its start in 1985 when five UNLV students formed the group to cover the giant hits of the day. Expect them to bring down the house, once again with the reminiscent cover sounds of Van Halen, Simple Minds, Def Leppard and more.

World Boxing Association’s mandatory challenger for the world super lightweight championship Dimitry “Star of David” Salita will gamble to face Raul “El Toro” Munoz over 10 rounds at the Star of the Desert Arena in Buffalo Bill’s Resort & Casino 6:30 p.m. Sunday, May 24, 2009. The “Duel in the Desert” Boxing and MMA event will feature three boxing and seven mixed martial arts bouts, rounding out a combination of talents and styles.  Current IBF international champion, 27-year- old Salita, will meet the winner of the Andreas Kotelnik vs. Amir Kahn WBA world championship in London on June 27, 2009 as the “official challenger.” The dangerous 33-year old Munoz is the former USA mid-American light middleweight champion. The exciting undefeated Sharif “The Lion” Bogere will contend in a six-round lightweight bout. His opponent will be announced at a later time. Doors will open 6 p.m. with the first bout at 6:30 p.m. in Star of the Desert Arena. Tickets are $100, $50 and $20.

On May 23, “All-Star” Jam band Team Noise, comprised of Kevin Baldes from LIT on bass and vocals, Keri Kelli from Alice Cooper and Skid Row on guitar and vocals, Jimmy D’Anda from BulletBoys on drums and Andrew Freeman from The Offspring and Lynch Mob on lead vocals and guitar will perform at Rock Room inside Penthouse Las Vegas, 3525 W. Russell Rd.  Doors open at 10 p.m. Guests must be 21 years and older. Tickets are $15.

On May 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., The Clark County Museum, 1830 S Boulder Hwy, Henderson, will celebrate County Centennial Day with activities for the whole family that includes craft demonstrations, a meet and greet by Authors Lynn Zook and Carey Burke who will autograph copies of their new book, called “Las Vegas: 1905-1965,” which will be available for purchase.  The book is part of the Postcard History Series published by Arcadia Press.  Admission for that day is free.

Exhibits on display include a hand-made model train, the work of master carpenter Norman “Gus” Gardiner and restored historic cars from the The Model T and Model A Ford clubs.

Visitors will have an opportunity to see the progress on the ongoing restoration of the museum’s two newest acquisitions, the Candlelight Wedding Chapel and the 1911 railroad cottage. The Wedding Chapel, moved from just south of the Riviera, is slated to open on November 14 with a gala celebration. Those interested in additional information on Clark County’s Centennial celebrations can visit the Web site at or call 702-455-8200.

The Palms Casino Resort presents The Love Festival this Memorial Day Weekend at the Palms Pools and Bungalows and Rain Nightclub.  What started out as an underground party in 1992 has since grown into one of the largest and longest running electronic music festivals in the world.   This year’s four day festival lineup includes Paul Van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, Carl Cox, DJ AM, Eddie Halliwell, Mark Farina and many more. For more information visit

Comedian Lewis Black will perform his hilarious stand-up routine for the first time inside the Terry Fator Theatre at The Mirage May 23 at 10 p.m. and May 24 at 9 p.m. Tickets are priced at $89, $79 and $69, not including taxes and service fees,

To show appreciation to locals for supporting MGM Grand’s Crazy Horse Paris since its start in Las Vegas in 2001, the French sensation says “thank you” by offering a 2-for-1 locals special beginning Friday, May 1 through Monday, June 8.  Any guest who presents valid Nevada identification will be able to redeem the offer.  

On Sunday, May 31, The 2009 Nevada Child Seekers' Charity Golf Tournament sponsored by Cox Communications will take place at the Bali Hai Golf Club in Las Vegas.  The event will feature UNLIMITED FREE sponsored food and drink, great goodie bags, thousands of dollars worth of great raffle prizes, a putting contest and more. The cost is $250 per person, or $ 800 for four.

The 2009 Super Summer Theatre season kicks off with performances of “Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story” on Wednesday, June 3 at the Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. Opening night is Thursday, June 4 . Performances are Wednesday – Saturday (June 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20). Gates open at 6 p.m.  Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $10 at the UNLV Box Office or online at  A limited number of tickets are available at the gate the night of the show for $15. Remaining shows for the 2009 Season include “West Side Story,” “Once on This Island” and “Working.”  For more information, call 702.594.PLAY.  Spring Mountain Ranch is located 10 miles west of 215 on Charleston.

Celebrity sightings:

Tuesday night 5/5, Wilmer Valderrama rang in Cinco de Mayo Las Vegas style at LAVO inside The Palazzo.  Fresh off three months of filming, Valderrama arrived looking fitter than ever. After spending the Day at TAO Beach, he and a group of friends first hit the restaurant to give LAVO's new Italian menu a try before they headed up to the nightclub to really start the party.

Wilmer Valderrama

Singer and television personality Brooke Hogan celebrated her 21st birthday with an entourage of 13 guests in Las Vegas with a dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago inside The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. 

Professional boxer, Kelly Pavlik (a.k.a. The Ghost) hung out at Playboy Club and Moon Nightclub inside Palms Casino Resort.

Kelly Pavlik

Thursday night 5/7, members of the Dave Matthews Band and friends celebrated the birthday of bassist, Stefan Lessard inside Playboy Club. Lessard and band mates, Dave Matthews (lead vocalist), Rashawn Ross (trumpeter) and Jeff Coffin (saxophonist) were joined by a large group of about 60 friends, which included actor best known for his role in American Pie, Jason Biggs. 

Actor Clifton Collins, who appears in the new Star Trek movie, partied at ghostbar for the launch of BANG! a rock night.

Friday night (5/8) actor Chris Evans was spotted Friday night at LAVO inside The Palazzo.  The Fantastic Four star was in town with a group of guys and girls celebrating a friend’s birthday.

Actor and DJ Danny Masterson aka DJ Mom Jeans performed at Rain Nightclub inside the Palms Casino Resort. Prior to Rain, Masterson dined at N9NE Steakhouse with a group of friends in the main dining room.

Saturday night (5/9)…

At LAVO, Sean “Diddy” Combs grabbed the spotlight and the microphone, pumping up the crowd. He was joined by girlfriend Cassie, who was seemingly unfazed by the sexy leaked photos of her floating around the Internet, and San Diego Charger Shawne Merriman.  At the next table over was Jonah Hill, Diddy’s co-star in the upcoming film Get Him to the Greek.

Over at TAO, Chris Evans topped off a day spent at TAO Beach with dinner at the Asian Bistro, followed by a VIP table in the Moat section.

Also dining at TAO was regular David Spade. At another table in the packed dining room was Mike Tyson.

Spotted at TAO Beach earlier in the day was Rob Kluge from the NBC show Momma’s Boys.

Pop singer-songwriter Colbie Caillet partied at Playboy Club inside Palms Casino Resort.  She arrived with a party of six and they sat at a table drinking Ketel One mixed drinks. 

Sunday night (5/10) Boris Diaw of the Charlotte Bobcats dined at Nove Italiano inside Palms Casino Resort with seven friends. 

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

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