By Judy Thorburn

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Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - Las Vegas Round The Clock

Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - The Flick Chicks
Director of Communications - Nevada Film Alliance
http://www.theflickchicks.com

Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens Reveals New Spring Display

Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens has revealed its new Spring display that is open to the public and FREE to view through May 13. This year’s show debuts the enchanting musical sounds of the harp and violin, a rotating windmill and a floral exhibition showcasing tulips, azaleas, hibiscus and lilies. A carousel, waterfall and ceiling-hung hand-painted parasols invite the spirit of spring with open arms.

For the first time during the Conservatory’s spring display, guests can enjoy live musical performances 5 p.m. - 6 p.m. daily, from the Victorian Gazebo in the South Garden. The sounds of the harp and violin transport guests to a serene village through compositions and arrangements inspired by European musical masters like Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Chopin.

Steps away and making its debut at Bellagio, a 26-foot-tall windmill, weighing approximately 9,000 pounds, lures visitors into a captivating garden surrounded by magnolia, weeping willow, bottle and plum trees. A stunning mother swan and her cygnets, made of 5,000 feathers and simulated fur, frolic in the cool water beneath a 24-foot-long stone bridge.

Near the entrance to the Conservatory, a colorful 11-foot-tall carousel, weighing 5,600 pounds, is accented with shades of emerald, plum, ginger and ruby and surrounded by large daffodils. Bumble bees made of preserved sunflowers and mums buzz about the daffodils while four custom-painted sets of over-sized traditional Dutch clogs complete the springtime ambiance.

In conjunction with the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art’s new exhibit “Claude Monet: Impressions of Light,” the Conservatory has created a floral interpretation of Claude Monet’s Fisherman’s Cottage on the Cliffs at Varengeville (1879). Located in the Giardini corner, the recreated painting is fitted within a 6-foot tall elaborately carved frame.

Also new to the spring display is the high-definition streaming Earthcam, allowing guests to experience the Conservatory from anywhere in the world. Perched above the Botanical Gardens, the Earthcam provides a live look at each seasonal transformation and transports guests to the beauty of Bellagio, around the clock, all year long.

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The spring exhibit within Bellagio's Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is complimentary to the public and open daily, 24 hours a day.

The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas host James Beard Foundation Award Press Conference and Benefit Dinner

The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas hosted the 2012 James Beard Foundation Award nominations press conference on Monday, March 19.  Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, and other board members presented the semifinalists in each category.  Ungaro expressed her gratitude for the host property, citing that The Venetian and The Palazzo are home to more James Beard Award-winning chefs than any other property in the world. Executive Chef of The Venetian and The Palazzo Olivier Dubreuil created an outstanding menu including seared Wagyu strip loin with crunchy purple potato mash, baby branch carrots and Japanese artichoke, croquet Madame with slow cooked egg in rosemary ham béchamel, truffle brioche toast and Gruyere cheese and Moroccan lamb and sweet potato hash filled “cigar” with yoghurt gelee, lemon crunch and cilantro.

Later in the evening, The Venetian and The Palazzo hosted the Friends of James Beard Foundation Benefit Dinner to salute their 25th anniversary and to support the foundation’s scholarship fund. Food enthusiasts and their guests enjoyed a delectable five course menu prepared by chefs representing James Beard Award-winning restaurants including Matthew Hurley from CUT by Wolfgang Puck, Jacob Wetherington from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon, Jason Neve from Mario Batali’s B&B Ristorante and Carnevino, Sean Roe from Emeril Lagasse’s Table 10, James Beard Award-winner Luciano Pellegrini from Piero Selvaggio’s Valentino and Olivier Dubreuil, Executive Chef for The Venetian and The Palazzo with wine pairings provided by Southern Wine & Spirits. Courses included roasted heirloom beet salad sun chokes, petite mache and black truffle vinaigrette; hand-made orecchiette with local spring vegetables, arugula pesto and mangalitsa pancetta; roasted sturgeon with wild mushrooms, fava beans and red wine sauce; spring lamb medallions over a fava bean puree with a spring garlic-flavored demiglace, served with whit easparagus tips, butter fried potato tourney, wild mushrooms and fava beans; and chocolate mascarpone cream, nougatine tuile with sweet Amarena cherries with balsamic reduction.

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JBF board, John Caparella and Olivier Dubreuil
Photo credit: Robyn Anrzejczak / ImagesOfVegas.com

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Table setting
Photo credit: Robyn Anrzejczak / ImagesOfVegas.com

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JBF chefs
Photo credit: Robyn Anrzejczak / ImagesOfVegas.com

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In the kitchen with the chefs
Photo credit: Robyn Anrzejczak / ImagesOfVegas.com

Additional recent and upcoming happenings include:

Rapper and reality TV star, Flavor Flav opened his new eatery, House of Flavor, in Las Vegas on Thursday, March 16.  House of Flavor is located on Maryland Parkway near Desert Inn Road, in the former home of Capozzoli's, a popular Italian restaurant that was destroyed by a fire in 2007.Flavor Fav's latest business venture offers an array of soul food favorites, such as macaroni and cheese, rice and gravy, coleslaw, and collard greens and, of course, fried chicken. The featured specialty is red velvet waffle.

This isn't Flav's first culinary venture. Flav, whose real name is William Drayton Jr., opened up a restaurant last year in Iowa that specialized in fried chicken.  The eatery, named  Flav’s Fried Chicken   was open for just four months before it closed its doors due to management issues. Flav, who resides in Las Vegas, also claims that the establishment was far from his home base and he could not be as hands-on as he wanted to be.

Drai’s After Hours, an exciting place to enjoy the early morning Vegas nightlife, at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon marked 15 commendable years with a red carpet celebration and the U.S. debut of DJ Jamie Jones on Thursday, March 15.

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Victor Drai, owner and operator of Drai’s After Hours and Bruce Leslie pose on the red carpet outside of Drai’s After Hours
Photo credit: Cashman Photography

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Victor Drai, owner and operator of Drai’s After Hours poses with Rick Mazer, Regional President of Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon
Photo credit: Cashman Photography

The world famous Laugh Factory and the New Tropicana Las Vegas recently announced they will launch a multi-venue comedy experience at the recently transformed Strip property. Fun World Media has partnered with Laugh Factory to build this new comedy empire and the first stage of the roll-out will be opening Laugh Factory Las Vegas, a comedy showroom starring the hottest comedians in the business, from established stand-up superstars to the young rising stars of tomorrow.

Legendary Motown musical groups The Platters, Cornell Gunter’s Coasters & The Marvelettes are performing at 8:30 p.m. nightly at The Crown Theater inside the Rio.

More than 500 walkers are on tap to participate in the annual Las Vegas 2012 MDA Muscle Walk on Saturday, March 24 at Town Square. The MDA Muscle Walk is held to pay tribute to and raise funds for children and adults served by the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The walks are family-oriented gatherings and light exercise for everyone — children, adults, grandparents, students, corporate teams and more. Register by visiting musclewalkmda.org/LasVegas or contact the Muscular Dystrophy Association office at (702) 822-6920.  Registration is at 7 a.m and at 8:30 a.m. the walk begins. Participants should arrive at least 30 minutes before the walk start time.

Findlay Cadillac and The Las Vegas Cadillac & LaSalle Club invite the public to come out to Town Square Park and Town Square West on March 25 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to enjoy a display of Cadillac vehicles from the past several decades. The area will be lined with more than 60 Cadillac cars including vintage and classic styles all the way through the new 2012 models. The show is free and open to the public and includes live music, Cadillac art exhibits and raffles throughout the day.

Actor-comedian Eddie Griffin brings his brand of “Comedy without a Condom” to The King’s Room at The Rio beginning Monday, April 2nd at 7 p.m. He performed at The Rio on New Year’s Eve and was such a hit that they are bringing him back for a six-month run in The King’s Comedy Club.

Ben & Jerry’s will commemorate its 34th Annual “Free Cone Day” at Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops at the District at Green Valley Ranch and inside Sunset Station Hotel & Casino on Tuesday, April 3.  Gracious celebrity guests will roll up their sleeves, dig in and work to help raise money by scooping ice cream throughout the day between Noon and 8 p.m. to benefit Lied Discovery Children’s Museum and St. Jude’s Ranch for Children.

All small cones are FREE with no purchase necessary but patrons are encouraged to make a donation to the store’s respective charity partners. The star-studded line-up will be announced shortly.

Sway Pool Lounge at Silverton Casino Hotel celebrates its re-opening on Saturday, April 14 at 6 p.m. The event kicks off the Bikinis, Bands and Burgers concert series with food specials for purchase by Johnny Rockets, drink specials and a performance by Grammy Award winning reggae band Steel Pulse at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $30 the day of.

The JOHN LENNON EDUCATIONAL TOUR BUS will pull up to The Mirage Hotel & Casino for public tours and recording sessions April 11 – 14.  Guests will have an opportunity to interact with the latest in recording and video technology including products from Avid, Epiphone, Apple and more.  The Lennon Bus is a non-profit mobile recording studio and HD production facility that travels the country year-round providing students of all ages with hands-on multimedia experiences.

ADBRACADABRA the ultimate ABBA tribute band returns to the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino April 20 – 21. Tickets are $19-$39 (plus tax and service charge).

Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino recently welcomed to its gaming floor the first-ever Frank Marino and “Divas Las Vegas”-themed gaming table. The game puts a new spin on the typical betting wheel. Instead of betting on numbers, guests now have the opportunity to bet on impersonators from the show, including Cher, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Janet Jackson and, of course, Marino.

The world-famous dance crew Jabbawockeez extends the run of its celebrated show “MÜS.I.C.” through April 21, 2012 at Monte Carlo Resort and Casino.

Performances are Thursday and Friday at 9:30 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and Sunday and Monday at 7:30 p.m. The show is dark Tuesday and Wednesday. Starting Friday, March 23, Jabbawockeez will add a 7 p.m. performance every Friday through April 20. Tickets begin at $52, not including applicable service charges and taxes.

FITZGERALDS CASINO & HOTEL in downtown Las Vegas is undergoing a dramatic transformation to become the D LAS VEGAS CASINO HOTEL, scheduled for completion in fall 2012. Upon completion, the D will introduce daily live entertainment, one of Vegas’ only two-level casinos; 638 remodeled contemporary rooms and suites; and two high-energy bars – the LONGBAR and the D Bar – situated in the casino and on the Fremont Street Experience.

The PLAYBOY CLUB AT THE PALMS will close for undisclosed reasons. "After a strong six-year run, the Palms Casino Resort and Playboy Enterprises will end their partnership in early June and each pursue new brand opportunities in Las Vegas nightlife," The Palms said in a statement. "The Palms and Playboy Enterprises have shared a great relationship and wish each other future success.”  There is no word as what the Playboy Club space will be converted to or whether Playboy Enterprises plans to open a new club at another location in Las Vegas.

Celebrity sightings:

Tuesday, March 13...

Actor Nicolas Cage spotted enjoying dinner with his wife Alice Kim and son Kal-El at  Lombardi’s Romagna Mia inside Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.

Hometown favorite, singer/actor Ne-Yo & Malibu Red hosted the Nightclub & Bar Top 100 Platinum Party at Marquee Nightclub.

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Ne-Yo on the red carpet
Photo credit: David Becker/Wire Image

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Ne-Yo makes a grand entrance at Marquee Nightclub
Photo credit: David Becker/Wire Image

Wednesday, March 14...

Jake Pavelka of season 14 of hit reality TV show “The Bachelor” was spotted enjoying Blue Man Group at The Venetian.

Former *NSYNC member and 'Dancing With the Stars' season 3 runner-up Joey Fatone attended Absinthe at Caesars Palace on March 14, where he immortalized his presence with a cast photo afterwards.

Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars (History Channel) attended the evening's performance of Jersey Boys at its new home, Paris Las Vegas.

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Rob Marnell (Bob Gaudio), Jeff Leibow (Nick Massi), Rick Harrison, Graham Fenton (Frankie Valli) and Deven May (Tommy DeVito).
Photo credit: Jersey Boys Las Vegas

Friday night, March 16...

Hugh Hefner's ex-fiancée, blonde bombshell Crystal Harris was the guest of honor at Crazy Horse III Gentlemen's Club and Posh Boutique Nightclub.

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Crystal Harris poses on the red carpet at Crazy Horse III and Posh Boutique Nightclub
Photo credit: Jeff Bottari/WireImage

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Crystal Harris showing off her ‘runaway bride’ themed cake at Crazy Horse III
Photo credit: Jeff Bottari/WireImage

Actor and comedian Jon Lovitz and UFC President Dana White, accompanied by an entourage of friends, partied together at Hyde Bellagio in Bellagio Resort & Casino. Arriving later in the night was retired NFL star William McGinest.

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Jon Lovitz and Dana White
Photo Credit: Shane O’Neal

Four time NBA champion, Shaquille O’Neal, joined by a large group of 20 friends, kicked off his 40th birthday celebration weekend at the Asian Bistro TAO. After dinner they headed up to the club to catch Apl.de.Ap’s DJ set.

LAVO featured the return of resident DJs The Soundclash, composed of recording artist and DJ Lupe Fiasco and DJ Sky Gellatly. Dirty South entertained a packed club at Marquee.

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Dirty South
Photo credit: Al Powers/Powers Imagery

Saturday, March 17...

Continuing his birthday celebration Shaquille O’Neal and a large group of friends dined at LAVO. Afterwards, Shaq made his way to the nightclub where he jumped into the booth with DJ Obi One and grabbed the mic.   Obi One treated club goers to a medley of songs with Shaq shouting out to the club at all times.

At TAO, Swedish indie pop band Miike Snow made their Vegas nightclub debut after dining at the Asian Bistro. Once upstairs in the nightclub they took over a VIP sky box in the moat section before heading to the DJ booth where they entertained club goers with a set of favorite hits.

Kaskade returned to a packed house at Marquee.

Hockey star Sean Avery, who just announced he will likely retire at the end of the season, was spotted checking out the superstar DJ, as was Stephanie Fantauzzi from the hit Showtime series Shameless.

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Shaquille O'Neal
LAVO Photo Credit: Denise Truscello/Wire Image

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Shaquille O'Neal
LAVO Photo Credit: Denise Truscello/Wire Image

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Shaquille O'Neal
LAVO Photo Credit: Denise Truscello/Wire Image

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Miike Snow
TAO Photo Credit: Al Powers/Powers Imagery

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Miike Snow
TAO Photo Credit: Al Powers/Powers Imagery

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Kaskade
Marquee Photo Credit: Brenton Ho/Powers Imagery

Clyde "The Glide" Drexler stopped by Lagasse's Stadium at The Palazzo with friend Sam Perkins to catch some of the March Madness action. Drexler, Olympic gold medalist and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, and Perkins, of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, chatted with fans and signed autographs, jerseys and basketballs.

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Clyde Drexler
Photo credit: Jacob Andrzejczak / ImagesOfVegas.com

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Sam Perkins
Photo credit: Jacob Andrzejczak / ImagesOfVegas.com

Stunning television star, model and dancer Carmen Electra and friends celebrated the evening of St. Patrick's day at Chateau Nightclub & Gardens at Paris Las Vegas.

Prior to heading up to Chateau, Electra stopped by Sugar Factory American Brasserie for a sweet stop.

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Carmen Electra on the red carpet at Chateau Nightclub & Gardens in Las Vegas
Photo Credit: David Becker/WireImage

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Carmen Electra dances at Chateau Nightclub & Gardens in Las Vegas
Photo Credit: David Becker/WireImage

Christopher "Big Black" Boykin, one half of the "Rob & Big" duo, hosted a St. Patrick's Day bash at LAX Nightclub. Big Black started the night off with dinner and drinks at the Asian restaurant Social House with his entourage of five, before making his way to the Las Vegas hot spot around midnight.

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Christopher "Big Black" Boykin
Photo credit: Brenton Ho of Powers Imagery LLC

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LAX Nightclub
Photo credit: Brenton Ho of Powers Imagery LLC