After a busy couple of weeks in Las Vegas leading up to the Miss USA pageant, the 51 hopefuls duked it out at Planet Hollywood on June 16, 2013 with Miss Connecticut Erin Brady taking the coveted crown.
Thanks to the folks at Miss USA for the pic.
Las Vegas shared the stage with the perky contestants during the competition’s live telecast, with segments devoted to a number of Sin City’s restaurants, attractions and famed skyline.
Here’s more from the new Miss USA.
This blog was glad to see Miss Nevada made the top 10, of course.
Well, at least this photo isn’t gratuitous.
Congrats to the new Miss USA, and check out five things about Erin Brady on the ABC News site.
The Vegas-wide Megabeat Progressive Poker Jackpot has hit again, this time with a prize pool of $914,474. With this progressive, anyone playing in a Total Rewards (the Caesars Entertainment family of casinos) poker room in Las Vegas gets a cut of the prize!
The jackpot hit at 7:08 a.m. on June 5, 2013. Two players were in a No-Limit Texas Hold’em game at Planet Hollywood, and one player’s great hand (four kings) lost to an even greater hand (four aces). It’s what’s known as a “bad beat” in poker circles, but it paid off big this time.
Where “cha” meets “ching.”
The player who “lost” (Robert, visiting from Germany) receives $182,952, the “winner” (Jungok from Dallas) gets $91,447 and 107 players in Total Rewards poker rooms across the city each get $5,982. For example, 36 players got paid at Rio Las Vegas, 29 at Bally’s, 16 at Flamingo and so on. Only in Vegas, baby!
Just a day earlier, we snapped a pic of a Megabeat tally board in the Bally’s poker room as the jackpot was climbing to its ultimate $914,474 total.
This blog only believes in premonitions as they relate to large amounts of free money.
BurGR restaurant at Planet Hollywood has quickly become one of the hottest burger joints in Vegas, but now it’s even hotter.
The restaurant recently lit up a cool new decorative feature along the restaurant’s outer wall, a 30-foot-long, glass-enclosed wall of flames.
No s’mores on the menu? Oh, well.
The fire shoots out of two sculptured, serpentining steel burners, making the restaurant an even more eye-catching addition to the diverse dining options at Planet Hollywood.
Here’s a video we captured yesterday, and from the looks of it, we may have consumed far too much caffeine. You know, directors like J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek Into Darkness”) actually shake their camera to create a sense of motion and a sense of energy. So, please don’t complain. It’s not “poorly done,” it’s “energetic.”
As you can imagine, the fire wall puts off some heat, which is why it’s been built with an additional layer of clear insulating material (see below).
Bonus: Still makes a great hand warmer.
The fire wall is a perfect fit for the BurGR menu, with offerings like “snap dogs” simmered in hot sauce and Jalapeno Poppers (five regular poppers, and one surprise popper that might melt your face off).
We’re 44% sure you can handle it.
Never fear, though! There’s a wall of ice at BurGR, too. A dizzying selection of beer is dispensed from it, actually.
After a stand-out season on NBC’s “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice,” Rio Las Vegas headliner Penn Jillette has been named a finalist in what’s sure to be a clash of the Titans, all for the sake of charity.
This blog is completely objective, let’s just say that up front.
For the show’s final competition of the season, Penn and country singer Trace Adkins have been tasked with creating their own flavor of ice cream.
On May 13, outside the Walgreen’s adjacent to Planet Hollywood at Harmon Center, Penn was joined by “Jubilee!” showgirls and other Las Vegas performers to launch his ice cream flavor, Vanilla & Chocolate Magic Swirtle.
Penn arrived via a small carbon footprint vehicle. It also happened to be a high calorie footprint vehicle, but let’s not get bogged down in details.
Trace Adkins’ flavor, Maple Macadamia Mash-Up, is not nearly as good as Penn’s flavor, despite this blog having no real basis of comparison, because we didn’t try that one. If you want an unbiased opinion about things, please visit another blog.
What we do know is Penn’s ice cream is vanilla-based, with salted caramel swirls and pieces of chocolate mixed in. Even if we weren’t biased, this blog would love it.
Can we please get past the speech-making to the ice cream giving-outing? Thanks.
After a few remarks, Penn and friends dove into the serious business of handing out ice cream samples to members of the crowd. Caesars Entertainment purchased 200 pints to get the party started.
Insert gratuitous photo of showgirls here.
At the ice cream social, Penn was joined by Opportunity Village clients, his Rio co-star, Teller, as well as Paris headliner Taylor Hicks, comedian George Wallace (Flamingo Las Vegas), comedy-magician Mac King (below, Harrah’s Las Vegas) and Blue Man Group.
Trivia: Before becoming a headliner on The Strip, Mac King was an expert pointer.
The competitors’ ice cream flavors will be sold at Walgreens and Duane Reade locations nationwide through May 18.
The “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” winner will be announced May 19, 2013.
Teller would agree: Being a Vegas magician is rough.
George Wallace seemed in his element, giving out ice cream as gleefully as the cash he sometimes gives away at his Flamingo shows. Note to ourselves: Attend more George Wallace performances.
George Wallace is as serious about generosity as he is about comedy.
If Penn Jillette can sell more ice cream than Trace Adkin, who is probably a very nice person, other than being on the losing end of a Vegas versus Nashville throw-down, Walgreen’s will award $100,000 to Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas-based charity that serves those with intellectual disabilities.
Paris headliner Taylor Hicks hangs out with two Opportunity Village clients.
The ice cream sales will also help determine who will be named the “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice,” and if Penn wins, another $250,000 would go to Opportunity Village.
If Penn doesn’t win, this blog agrees to eat an entire pint of ice cream. We’re selfless like that.
Penn’s playing for Opportunity Village has already brought in a whopping $400,000 to the organization. The Southern Nevada nonprofit provides vocational training, community employment, advocacy, arts and social recreation, among other services. They also do this. Find out more at OpportunityVillage.org.
Here are a few more photos from the “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” festivities on The Strip.
What’s not to love about P.F. Chang’s at Planet Hollywood? The food’s great, the place is always packed, and readers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal consistently pick the popular chain as the best Chinese food in Sin City.
The stage is set.
That’s all fine and good, but now P.F. Chang’s features something that’s won this blog over, too.
Giant. Frosty. Cocktails.
In Vegas, as in life, size matters.
P.F. Chang’s recently introduced three 96-ounce signature beauties sure to quench your thirst as you roam the Las Vegas Strip. They’re a great value, too, at $17, just slightly more than your typical puny cocktail at many casino bars and lounges in Sin City.
First up is the cocktail that’s won this blog’s heart, the Tequila Tai Punch. “Punch” being the operative word.
Yes, we have a crush on a beverage, and we don't care who knows it.
This beauty features Hanger One Mandarin Blossom vodka, El Tesoro Platinum Tequila, agave nectar, orange bitters and a blend of juices.
It’s adorable the way P.F. Chang’s calls these “Tiki for Two” glasses, as if someone would actually share their cocktail. Just adorable.
Next, it’s the Rye Man Down cocktail, with Knob Creek rye whiskey, Domaine de Canton (French ginger liqueur, we looked it up), as well as lemon and pineapple juices. Don’t skip the candied ginger garnish, or this blog may have to briskly slap you on the thigh.
Doing Vegas the way it was intended to be done.
Lastly, it’s Chang’s Mai Tai. Why do we call a Mai Tai a “signature cocktail”? Mainly because “we didn’t know what else to call it,” other than flat-out delicious.
Bring a friend. Or friends. All of them.
Chang’s Mai Tai includes Bacardi light rum, Hiram Walker Orange Curacao, fresh juices and a float of Myer’s dark rum and Bacardi 151 rum.
Of course, no blog lives by rum, dark or light, alone, so we dove into the menu to bring you some photos of the restaurant’s wok-fired dishes, both popular favorites and new offerings.
At Italian restaurants, you fill up on bread. At P.F. Chang's, you fill up on this.
Some of the highlights: Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps (pictured above, and we’re still thinking about it), the Tuna Tataki salad and Dynamite Shrimp appetizers, Crispy Honey Chicken, Mongolian Beef, Crispy Honey Shrimp and the Norwegian Salmon (either lemongrass-grilled or Asian grilled).
Some sea bass, in all its "right before we inhaled it" glory.
The weather’s gorgeous, so ask about P.F. Chang’s patio seating.
Bonus: One of the best people-watching spots in town.
Crush any remaining cravings with desserts like Banana Spring Rolls, Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake (below) and Tiramisu.
P.F. Chang’s is full of surprises!
Not everything has to come from China. It just has to be made from awesome.
Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay has another culinary hit on his hands with BurGR at Planet Hollywood, and the restaurant recently introduced new menu items to heat things up yet again.
BurGR (it’s written that way as a nod to the chef’s initials) has been winning over customers with its burgers boasting a unique blend of three beef cuts: short rib, brisket and chuck. The new offerings give diners some additional non-beef options.
First up is the Southern Yardbird Burger, with a chicken burger, sharp cheddar and mustard barbeque sauce, topped with a pickle and butter lettuce.
We're thinking some sort of wash is used so the seeds adhere to the gorgeous buns, but what do we know? We are a blog.
Next is the Fish & Crisp sandwich, with ale-battered cod, salt and vinegar crisps and fresh dill tartar sauce.
Which, we’ve just confirmed, is impossible to read without salivating.
"Crisps" are like fries, only Britisher. Which we acknowledge may not be a word.
The sandwich we couldn’t help but try was the new Damnation Chicken Burger.
This flavorful enticement includes fiery hot mayo and Maytag blue cheese, with a celery and carrot slaw. As the Damnation Chicken Burger implies, this one has a kick.
Insider tip: Order a shake to help douse the flames.
Chef Ramsay appears to have also read this blog’s mind by concocting a new shake to go along with the new burgers.
The shake has two layers, with an indulgent Oreo shake sitting beneath a generous portion of crème brûlée pudding. Some customers mix the layers, others use their over-sized straw to start at the bottom (the Oreo shake part) and work their way up.
A sweet, succulent stratification! A phrase this blog is trademarking immediately.
We bet the burgers at BurGR are unlike any you’ve ever had. If we lose that bet, we’ll gladly have another Oreo and pudding shake on your behalf. We’re self-sacrificing like that.
It’s called the Mega Beat Progressive Poker Jackpot, and it hit at Planet Hollywood on Mar. 9, 2013, resulting in thousands in cash for a winner who lost (but won, anyway), a winner (who won, then won even more) and hundreds of other players in poker rooms across Las Vegas.
Perhaps we should explain.
The Mega Beat Progressive Poker Jackpot is paid when a great poker hand loses to an even better one. (In poker, a “bad beat” is when a player with a strong hand loses, anyway.)
Mega Beat may very well end up being this blog's DJ name someday.
The Mega Beat jackpot is a progressive, so the jackpot grows larger over time. Think Cialis, but with money.
When it hit at Planet Hollywood, the prize pool totaled $672,420. The player with the “losing” hand (Alex Adams) was awarded 20% of that jackpot (a cool $136,675), the player with the hand that won (Scott Rosen) received 10% ($69,401), and the remaining 70% was divided among all the players at all the participating Caesars Entertainment poker rooms.
That’s right. When the Mega Beat jackpot hits, every player at every table gets a cut of the cash. At the time this jackpot hit (6:58 p.m. on Mar. 9), there were 238 players, so they each received $2,159. Just for being in the right place at the right time.
As the jackpot increases, it's easier to win. Just ask your dealer for details. The OTHER kind of dealer. What is the matter with you?
So, what hand did Alex Adams have when he lucked out and lost? He had four queens. (Hint: That’s a really, really good hand.) He lost to a heart straight flush to the queen.
Thanks to the Mega Beat Progressive Poker Jackpot, even when you lose you can win.
After the jackpot hits, it’s reset to $200,000. Video displays (see below) in all the participating poker rooms keep players up-to-date about the ever-growing jackpot, and shows real-time payouts, should the jackpot hit, as players come and go. Yay, technology.
The jackpot is more now. In fact, it's more now. And now. (Repeat.)
Poker rooms taking part in this progressive jackpot, aside from Planet Hollywood, of course, are Harrah’s Las Vegas, The Quad, Flamingo Las Vegas, Bally’s Las Vegas, Caesars Palace and Rio Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is always full of surprises, but winning $136,675 for a losing poker hand has to take the cake.
How do you welcome a performer like CeeLo Green, someone with a larger-than-life persona, to his new home on The Strip? With an over-the-top Sin City spectacle, of course.
The multi-talented Green made a dramatic, flame-fueled entrance as he was officially welcomed to Planet Hollywood to celebrate the start of his new show, “CeeLo Green is Loberace,” which opens Feb. 27, 2013.
Mr. Green is not known for understatement. Sort of like Vegas, you might say.
The Strip was shut down for a short period as Green, and a bevy of showgirls (they tend to travel in bevies), cruised down the famed Las Vegas Strip from Caesars Palace to Planet Hollywood.
We're thinking there's a new single in this for CeeLo. Suggested title: "Truck You."
The moving platform featured a piano spouting five-foot-tall flames, and other pyrotechnics, just for some added flair.
Like New Year's Eve on The Strip. Just soberer.
And speaking of flair…
Now, that's a welcoming committee.
Fans lined the street outside Planet Hollywood to greet the performer known for his epic hit single, “Forget You” (you know the better version) and his role on the hit reality series, “The Voice.”
Check out these video highlights from the evening’s festivities.
After disembarking his flame-throwermobile, Green took part in a Planet Hollywood tradition, placing his hands in cement and signing his name (with a chopstick, which this blog now owns).
It's a rough job, but somebody's got to do it.
CeeLo’s big arrival didn’t just magically happen, of course.
The crowd-pleasing stunt was months in the making, and we’ve got some exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos taken during the preparation process. Because that’s how this blog rolls.
CeeLo was hands-on during the planning of his hoopla.
The platform used for Green’s official welcome was built in a nearby warehouse, on a massive flatbed truck equipped with the flaming piano, LED light panels and hand-holds for the showgirls. The showgirls appear nightly in “Jubilee!” at Bally’s Las Vegas, just down the block from Planet Hollywood.
The planning of the event was meticulous because of the potentially-dangerous fire elements. We hear Green’s clothes were even treated with a flame-resistant chemical. Singed music superstars are not happy music superstars.
CeeLo reviews video of the flame effects with the production team.
The piano top was equipped with tubes which pumped flammable gas (see below), creating the leaping flames enjoyed by the crowds along Las Vegas Boulevard during Green’s arrival.
A little Las Vegas publicity stunt magic.
CeeLo Green’s new show is described as “part dance party, part live concert,” and will feature not only Green’s flamboyant sense of style, but also music that inspires him, from Rod Stewart to INXS to The Temptations.
The show will also have magic and showgirls, of course, because what Las Vegas show would be complete without them?
Did we really need to mention "Loberace" is a tip of the hat to the iconic Liberace? Please try and keep up.
Back in 2010, an intrepid hugger took to the Las Vegas Strip to break the world record for the most hugs in a 24-hour period. Jeff Ondash, nicknamed Teddy McHuggin, is coming back to The Strip on the weekend of Feb. 15, 2013 to break two new records.
You know you're awesome when you get a hug from Darth.
Ondash is striving to break the records as a way to raise awareness and funds for the American Heart Association. February, by the way, is National Heart Awareness Month.
Since 2010, Ondash had his 24-hour record (7,777 hugs) snatched away, but expects to reclaim it during a 24-hour period, 4:00 p.m. on Feb. 16 through 4:00 p.m. on Feb. 17.
In addition to getting his 24-hour record back (he’s shooting for 10,0000 hugs), he’ll also make a go of the eight-hour record, 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Feb. 15, 2013.
Cruising The Strip, we were happy to see the near-complete new escalator just outside PBR Rock Bar inside The Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.
Construction of the $2 million escalator seems to have happened in record time.
Escalator steps move 1-2 feet per second. Not that you need any more useless information in your brain.
Currently, when pedestrians reach the end of the overhead walkway at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon Avenue, heading toward Planet Hollywood, they only have the option of going south, or away from Planet Hollywood.
The new escalator will make visiting The Miracle Mile Shops and Planet Hollywood much more convenient, which is good, because there are, among other things, cocktails inside.
The escalator is being built to “balance the flow of traffic,” which, of course, when translated, means, “Um, hello, potential customers, over this way!”
We look forward to our first ride on the new escalator, because in Las Vegas, it’s not just an escalator, it’s an “adrenaline-fueled altitude-defying attraction experience destination.” Or something.
A slew of stars, including Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez, came out to stroll the red carpet at Planet Hollywood for the premiere of a new action flick, “Parker.”
Spoiler alert: In "Parker," Statham uses a handgun clip as a knife. Just to provide a sense of the film's milieu.
Jason Statham has made a tradition of opening his films at Planet Hollywood, saying, “I love this place. I’ve been coming here who knows how long. Maybe a dozen years. And every time I come, I always have a good time.” “The Mechanic” and “The Expendables” also made their debut at Planet Hollywood.
Jason Statham took a few moments to schmooze with fans, and we grabbed some video with the Pulse of Vegas Cam. Patent pending. Pointlessly, but pending.
We’re thinking of calling it The Shaky Cam. Now, back to the red carpet excitement! Look, it’s Jennifer Lopez!
We're not going to pander to the lowest common denominator by sharing a gratuitous photo of Jennifer Lopez from the back, sorry.
In “Parker,” Statham plays a crook who’s double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. Parker seeks his revenge, eventually calling upon the assistance of Jennifer Lopez’s character, who spends a good deal of the movie walking away from the camera, if you know what we’re saying. (We are not making this up.)
Are you familiar with this blog at all?
The film is based upon “Flashfire,” the 19th in a series of novels about the character, written by Donald Westlake under the name Richard Stark. Who we think was also Iron Man, but we’re too busy to look that up.
“Parker” is directed by bigtime director Taylor Hackford, who we snapped roaming the Planet Hollywood casino. Hackford also directed “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “Dolores Claiborne,” “The Devil’s Advocate” and “Ray.”
No, Taylor Hackford isn't related to Taylor Hicks. It doesn't work like that.
Statham commented, tongue-in-cheek, “Taylor [Hackford] pushed me in a different direction I’m not used to going in. I’m used to beating up tons of people, and doing things very efficiently. But Taylor really wanted me to get hurt, wanted me to bleed. He wanted me to sweat and be out of breath and be in pain, and I didn’t like it, not for one minute.”
A host of Vegas performers also hit the red carpet, including the event’s host and The Quad comedian-juggler, Jeff Civillico. Civillico gave Statham a run for his money, having recently been named one of the hunkiest headliners in Las Vegas.
Mention the hunk thing to Jeff Civillico after his show. He never fails to blush.
Also giving cameras a workout were “American Idol” alum Taylor Hicks (now performing at Napoleon’s at Paris Vegas) and Anthony Cools, comedy-magician at Paris.
Taylor Hicks recently extended his contract to perform through 2013 at Paris Las Vegas.
“Peepshow” stars Coco Austin, Cheaza and Josh Strickland kept the flashes popping.
Yep, that's the same Coco from "Ice Loves Coco" on the E! channel.
Former “Peepshow” star Holly Madison showed off her seven-months-pregnant baby bump, to the glee of fans the phalanx of photographers in attendance. You just never know who you’ll bump into in Sin City, baby.
This blog was ready with towels and boiling water, just in case.
Rounding out the roster of celebrities were comedian Carrot Top, celebrity chef Carla Pellegrino, model Claire Sinclair (below) and fighter and action star Randy Couture.
Claire Sinclair will soon star in her very own Las Vegas show, "Pin Up." Look it up on the Google.
Enjoy a few more nearly-in-focus pics from the “Parker” red carpet at Planet Hollywood in our exclusive gallery.
Two new tribute shows have opened at V Theater inside The Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, “Country Superstars” and “Tribute Royalty.”
If you guessed this is the poster for "Tribute Royalty," you may want to pursue a career that does not involve, you know, guessing.
“Country Superstars” features a live band and impersonators portraying country hit-makers like Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire, Brook & Dunn, Willie Nelson and others.
“Country Superstars,” which previously had a successful run downtown, performs nightly at 6:00 p.m. at V Theater.
If you guessed this is the poster for "Country Superstars," you may want to get a CAT scan.
“Tribute Royalty” calls itself a “high-energy concert phenomenon,” and despite that is probably pretty good because it features some of music’s biggest icons, like Michael Jackson, Elvis and the sneery woman above, whomever she may be.
Oh, and there are dancers. Which, in Vegas, tends to involve a good deal of skin.
“Tribute Royalty” shows daily at 4:00 p.m. (dark on Sundays), also at V Theater. Find out more about these new shows at the official V Theater site.