Matt York / AP
Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 | 6:28 p.m.
Mark Memorial Day Weekend on your calendar because Las Vegas will sound like the running of the bulls in Pamplona with the snarling, snorting animals. For the first time, the Top 50 PBR riders in the world standings will compete in an outdoor event right on the Strip, each one striving to successfully ride the most bulls in one weekend and be the Last Cowboy Standing.
It’s the second of four major events for the 2015 Built Ford Tough Series. Think of it like the Triple Crown but with the brutal bucking broncos. The first of the majors is at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 28. Las Vegas hosts at MGM Resorts Village opposite the Luxor for the second event, followed by Nashville and wrapping at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Our outdoor festival from May 23-25 titled PBR Cowboys Spring Break also will feature VIP concerts and other activities. A total prize purse of $250,000 is at stake as the riders battle the bulls with the event winner guaranteed a $100,000 Bad Boy Mowers Bonus.
GIRL’S BEST FRIEND: With Valentine’s Day and wedding proposals en masse just around the corner, a young man’s fancy turns to diamonds, which we all know are a girl’s best friend. On Monday, the world’s largest, first-ever laboratory cultivated Pure Grown Diamond — 3.04 carats ($23,000 vs. a $46,000 mined diamond) — was unveiled at the Rio. The Pure Grown Diamonds mature within six to 10 weeks and are eco-friendly and “conflict free.”
Lisa Bissell, president of Pure Grown Diamonds, showed off the scientific breakthrough of the beauty that’s indistinguishable from mined sparklers even under a microscope, according to the International Gemological Institute. Lisa says about 6 million U.S. couples will get engaged in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day.
“Rough diamond prices are up 75 percent since 2009, so guys suffer sticker shock when shopping for the ring or bracelets, earrings and necklaces,” said Lisa. The “farmed” diamonds cost 30 to 40 percent less.
JACKIE’S TRIUMPH: She’s still got the voice of an angel. It’s remarkable, and her power is growing as she grows up. Jackie Evancho is now 14 and had the audience on its feet with wild applause at the end of every song she performed at the Smith Center. It was extraordinary how one second her voice was the only sound and the next the entire theater burst into appreciation. Everybody had enthusiasm and a positive reaction to her talents.
As expected from my interview posted Jan. 8 with the charming youngster, she had the crowd spellbound with her song selections from her new and past albums. Jackie breezed through Don McLean’s amazing “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night).” Her encore of “The Lord’s Prayer” was a religious experience unto itself. But as fans pointed out, she experimented going right out of her normal milieu of classics and popera with Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.”
Jackie gets more and more polished as the teen years tick on. She might sound a little nervous and giggly, unsure onstage in talking with the audience, but once the singing takes over, she’s at the highest levels of confidence with perfection in everything. Her ad-libs about school, dad, her behavior and music favorites are so spontaneous and natural, it adds to the terms of endearment. But that voice in song is pure heaven on high.
I met with her father and her before the show and laughed with her that she’s become such a world traveler that she’d forgotten she’d played the Smith Center. Jackie’s next stop will be Atlanta after returning to Pittsburgh and her hometown school where instead of being a superstar she knuckles under to schoolwork.
NEXT UBER? The same technology that brought the world instant car-driver hires is now being used by the Bite Squad to deliver restaurant meals in the valley. More than 300 restaurant partners have signed up with BiteSquad.com. It couldn’t be simpler: After signing on, enter your address for the meal delivery and up pops a huge list of restaurant choices.
Place your order by clicking the menu items and then use the Order Tracker like real-time GPS to follow your driver as the meal is picked up and delivered to you. The new Urban Turban Bombay Kitchen and Tapas Bar is the latest to sign up with Bite Squad. The program began in Minneapolis and is working well there and also in Seattle. Next up: the Gift Squad.
DROWNING SORROWS: Las Vegas is the one place to go to forget the blues. Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch partied at Foxtail Nightclub in SLS Las Vegas with his cousins for a boys’ night out on the Strip to unwind from losing Super Bowl 49 in Phoenix.
He stayed at the bar for most of the night after arriving at 2 a.m. from Arizona. He enjoyed his usual Hennessy cognac on the rocks and unwinding into the predawn hours.
EDDIE AWARDS: I’m a huge fan of Keifer Sutherland’s “24,” and star Mary Lynn Rajskub, who portrays computer whiz and general savior Chloe O’Brian, has won over audiences with her cool, no-nonsense attitude. I didn’t even recognize her when she glammed up to be the comedy MC at the American Cinema Editors annual Eddie Awards — and I was on the stage beside her at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
I was a presenter along with Rene Russo, Matt Damon, Chris Pratt and “Downton Abbey’s” Allen Leech, no relation! Who knew Mary Lynn could deliver slashing comedy jabs so brilliantly? I know that she’s going to wind up on her current national comedy tour at the Lipshtick series in the Venetian. I presented the Eddie for best editing of a reality-TV series program, which went to Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” on CNN. The series once filmed here at Atomic Liquors downtown.
POKER PAYOUTS: The World Series of Poker has made a major change to its payout structure for the Main Event, replacing the $10 million first-place guarantee in favor of guaranteeing winning payouts to the first 1,000 placed winners. The Main Event will still award a massive prize to its champion.
If participation numbers are the same as 2014 (6,683), this year’s winner would walk away with $8 million. In addition, all Final Table participants would receive at least $1 million, but even if you fall and place anywhere between 694th and 1,000th place, you still pick up winnings of $15,000.
AIRPORT CHILL: Tech-savvy travelers coming and going through our McCarran International Airport and elsewhere now have access to the perfect airport lounge oasis in just a few taps on their smart phones thanks to Lounge Buddy. The new app helps travelers find spaces at McCarran to relax and escape terminal chaos with instant guaranteed access to their “The Club” lounge location.
With the Lounge Buddy app, in less than 60 seconds two of the swanky lounges await with free snacks, beverages and Wi-Fi at McCarran. The app also gets admission to 32 partner locations including 14 across America and 18 in Britain.
STORYTELLERS: “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian star Mark Shunock has announced the lineup for his next “Mondays Dark” concert benefits Feb. 16 at Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel that will assist Blind Center of Nevada.
His show titled “Storytellers” will feature Las Vegas entertainers working on their night off: Graham Fenton, Skye Dee Miles, Rockie Brown, Sean Critchfield, Niki Scalera, Chadwick Johnson and more.
“50 Shades! The Parody” opens at Windows Theater in Bally’s. Our Q+A with Tatiana Mac (Anastasia Steele) was posted early this morning.
“Menopause the Musical” opens in its new home at the Improv in Harrah’s. Our Q+A with Paige O’Hara was posted this afternoon.
Silverstein is at House of Blues in Mandalay Bay.
The Wailers conclude their second night at Brooklyn Bowl in Linq Promenade.
Owen Benjamin, Sean Kent and Jodi Borello headline at the Improv through Sunday.
Jennifer Romas wears next-to-nothing for her day job but wears many hats as producer, star and choreographer of her new show “Sexxy” at Westgate Las Vegas, which has its official grand opening. Plus, a fascinating Q+A with singer Engelbert Humperdinck as he readies for his first-ever concert at the Smith Center over Valentine’s Day Weekend.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years 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 Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.