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July 29, 2014

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Strip Scribbles: Shania Twain, Murray Sawchuck, Epicurean Affair, Bobby Flay and ‘Rat Rods’

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Tom Donoghue / DonoghuePhotography.com

Shania Twain arrives at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, May 18, 2014, in Las Vegas.

Shania Twain Clubhouse

Caesars Palace headliner Shania Twain visits her Shania Twain Clubhouse in Las Vegas on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, as part of her Shania Kids Can Foundation. Launch slideshow »

Several Las Vegas schoolchildren will be presenting their end-of-year report cards to Caesars Palace headliner superstar Shania Twain next week. Last fall, I interviewed Shania after her charitable foundation Shania Kids Can donated funds and furniture to needy Las Vegas elementary school students.

Now we’re returning to the clubhouse to hear about their adventures and experiences and check in on their success stories and education progress. We’ll have that inspirational follow-up story next week now that Shania is back with her run of residency shows at the Colosseum.

Murray Sawchuck

MURRAY’S MAGIC: Tropicana headliner magician Murray Sawchuck hosts the new “Gold and Silver Pawn TV Show” on the Discovery Channel on Friday. He’s created a matching experts magic kit that launches nationwide in June to go with the TV program.

All next week, Murray headlines at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, commuting back and forth. He’ll be seeing double as he zips through TSA checkpoints at McCarran Airport because his new comedy video about what needs to be scanned is now playing there.

Murray, who cuts his beautiful Playboy cyber model and “Fantasy” at the Luxor star wife Chloe Crawford in half nightly during his shows, just celebrated his second anniversary at the Tropicana and will be seen on the upcoming CW special “Masters of Illusion.”

TASTE TREATS: For the fifth year, Palazzo is playing host tonight to the Epicurean Affair, which raises scholarships for the Nevada Restaurant Association. Award-winning celebrity chef Julian Serrano is leading the brigade of the best chefs of Las Vegas. About 70 restaurants and beverage purveyors will be represented.

For the fifth consecutive time, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in Caesars has been awarded Three Square Food Bank’s Gold Plate for selling the most covers during the recent Spring Restaurant Week. Diners had the opportunity to add extra dollars to their checks to help supply meals to the needy.

Bobby’s restaurant donations rang up $9,985 in donations, meaning nearly 29,955 meals. During five years, Mesa Grill has raised more than $52,000 in the Restaurant Week program, resulting in more than 100,000 meals. Fall Restaurant Week is Aug. 22-28.

Rat Rods

RAT RODS REALITY: Yet another Las Vegas reality TV show is making it big in cable TV ratings. Discovery has a hit on its hands with “Vegas Rat Rods.” Steve Darnell and his team of rat rod specialists are master automotive fabricators. They work out of a sprawling garage, Welder Up, on the outskirts of the Strip rebuilding one-of-a-kind Mad Max-style rat rod cars out of hidden treasure for customers.

An expert picker, Steve finds hidden treasure in junkyards, farmers’ fields and swap meets. His crew and he assemble finds into rolling works of auto art. In each Monday episode, creativity and imagination are taken to the next level as each rat rod created represents customer.

Next Monday’s episode features an original 1928 Buick gangster car. From a shotgun gearshift and mason jar tail lights to death row electric chair car seats and horseshoe gas peddles, each rat rod featured is discarded treasure, high-tech performance parts and wild imagination from Steve and his team of seven men and one tattooed Canadian beauty.

Opportunity Village

Sunset Springs Ranch

MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR GIFT$: Congratulations to our beloved charity Opportunity Village celebrating its 60th anniversary. To mark the milestone, the Engelstad Family Foundation donated $35 million, the largest private foundation gift ever to an organization serving people with intellectual disabilities. Dorothy and Lacy Harbe, owners of the former Wayne Newton estate, stepped forward with an additional donation of $10 million.

Contributing videographer Chris Rauschnot of 24KMedia on Twitter attended for these YouTube videos. The Opportunity Village announcement with Mayor Carolyn Goodman was held at Sunset Springs Ranch, formerly known as Wayne Newton's Casa de Shenandoah.

QUICK NOTES

James Bond movie producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are among the theater angels backing the touring company of “Once” that’s at our Smith Center through Sunday.

Demand for Excalibur headliners hunks Thunder From Down Under has been so strong that the bare-chested boys have added a third show every Saturday for the summer. It brings them to 13 performances a week, which as they say in Sydney is “fair dinkum heaps spiffy.”

Since childhood, our pal Las Vegas entertainer and TV host Tony Sacca has been in showbiz. It’s an unlikely story of how he came to Las Vegas from his father’s butcher’s shop and his mother working as a sewing machine operator in a tailor’s sweatshop in South Philadelphia. Now he’s written a tell-all biography with Arlene Krieger: “A 50-Year Journey From the City of Brotherly Love to the Entertainment Capital of the World.” He’ll sign copies at Barnes & Noble in Henderson on May 31 and then later at the Italian American Club.

STAR SURVEILLANCE

2014 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand

Casper Smart and Jennifer Lopez arrive at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, May 18, 2014, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

2014 Billboard Music Awards: Winners Backstage

Imagine Dragons backstage in the media room of the 2014 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, May 18, 2014, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Instead of putting on the ritz with five 2014 Billboard Music Awards wins, Ryan Walker of hometown winners Imagine Dragons went to the bar of the downtown Mexican eatery La Comida the day afterward in a black T-shirt, shorts and baseball cap for chicken tacos and a margarita to celebrate.

Las Vegas undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. hosted an over-the-top 14th birthday party for his daughter Iyanna and 30 of her family and friends, including her grandmother, at Sugar Factory in Town Square. The teens enjoyed mini cheeseburgers, fried mac and cheese pops and the 24 ice cream scoop King Kong Sundae.

Former NBA player Devean George dined at MTO Cafe downtown and enjoyed a broccoli omelet and chicken sausage in a waffle.

Canadian pop-rock band Marianas Trench celebrated Victoria Day with a free concert and a meet-and-greet for fans at the D Las Vegas downtown at Fremont Street Experience.

TONIGHT’S TIPS

The 2014 Epicurean Affair is at Palazzo.

Andrew “Dice” Clay is back at Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel with his blistering shock comedy.

Comedians Rickey Reyes and Phil Cummings are at Rampart.

Will Hoge kicks off the “Back in the Saddle” country concert series at Santa Fe Station.

Soul Rebels and Dumpstaphunk are at Brooklyn Bowl in the Linq.

Almost Normal is at House of Blues in Mandalay Bay.

DJs kick off the 2014 Memorial Day Weekend parties early with DJ Irie at Drai’s Beach Club and Nightclub on opening weekend atop the Cromwell; Carnage at Tao in the Venetian; Afrojack at Hakkasan in MGM Grand; and Zedd at Encore Beach Club and then Surrender in Steve Wynn’s Encore.

TOMORROW’S TEASE

Our four-day, 96-hour Weekend Celebrity Preview and party rundown for 2014MDW with stars galore enjoying sun and fun on and off the Strip. Plus, 2014 Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez departs for the 2014 Miss USA Pageant.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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