Vegas Infinite Portals, Al Fresco Dining, Dam Film Festival

In Vegas VIP Scene-ery by Christine McKellar


contributed by Jackie Brett

ESPN AND CAESARS ENT. DEBUT NEW STATE-OF-THE-ART STUDIO: ESPN and Caesars Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: CZR) opened their new marquee location studio at The LINQ Hotel + Experience on, Aug. 24, with produced segments for “SportsCenter” and digital platforms. With the new studio, ESPN will expand its content with Caesars to bring more Vegas-exclusive sports betting and entertainment news to fans globally. The new, 6,000-square-foot facility includes three studios and features 12 cameras, including two exterior robotic cameras. It will operate using ESPN’s REMI production workflow, with 24 transmit and receive paths to ESPN control rooms and technical operations around the country. A first for ESPN, the studio is built out with state-of-the-art UHD 4K-capable technology. It will serve as the epicenter of ESPN’s sports betting-themed content for linear, digital and social shows. The studio will also play a vital role during major sporting events, including the growing number of franchises and marquee events in Las Vegas. Beginning Sept. 8, ESPN’s sports betting news and information program “Daily Wager,” which celebrated its one-year anniversary in March, will permanently move to Las Vegas and originate from the LINQ studio as it returns to ESPN2 at 6 p.m. ET on weekdays after a pandemic-caused hiatus. “Daily Wager” is hosted by Doug Kezirian, who has covered sports betting for more than 15 years, and is joined on the program by sports betting experts as well as ESPN analysts and reporters. This fall, ESPN will also expand its sports betting-themed content into multiple platforms with the launch of a new digital show.

‘WINK WORLD: PORTALS TO THE INFINITE’ WILL OPEN AT AREA15: This fall, Chris Wink, co-founder of Blue Man Group, will bring “Wink World: Portals To The Infinite” to AREA15, the experiential entertainment complex opening soon. The development marks Wink’s most ambitious art and entertainment project since departing Blue Man Group in 2017. Wink designed the 1,500-square-foot experience to take the entertaining fusion of whimsy, color, art, technology, and music he pioneered with Blue Man Group to the next level. Visitors will walk through six infinity-mirror rooms, each one featuring a stunning production number. Transforming everyday objects into art or entertainment will highlight ceiling fans becoming transformed into kinetic art and children’s toys like Slinkies and Hoberman Spheres elevated into a chorus line of dancers and entertainers. Wink’s description is “equal parts psychedelic art house and carnival funhouse,” with Wink World exploring the concept of infinity in a variety of conceptual and aesthetic ways. Wink employed the talent of psychedelic artist Alex Aliume, who created a custom painting for the entrance, featuring one eye that is open looking out at the world, and another one closed looking within. Meanwhile, one hand is raised in reverence, while the other gives the rebellious defiance finger introducing a dose of humor. This combination of elements illustrates the sublime, yet playful sensibility embodied in all of Wink’s work. The sixth and final room will contain 30 stunning new Aliume kinetic artworks. Wink is also known for co-founding the New York City-based Blue School, which promotes creativity and emotional intelligence in students ranging from pre-school through eighth grade. He is an award-winning writer and performer, Grammy-nominated composer, and a frequent public speaker on the subject of creativity. Wink is currently the director of content and cool s**t for AREA15.

REAL BODIES AT BALLY’S REOPENS WITH COVID-19 CONTENT: The Real Bodies at Bally’s exhibit on the Lower Level is reopening with the addition of new COVID-19 content. The attraction, featuring 20 real, perfectly preserved human bodies and more than 200 anatomical specimens now includes the latest science-based information about the novel coronavirus, including 3-D printed virus models, and a COVID-19 short film explaining in everyday language how the virus reacts to your body and how it can be spread. Interesting facts about the virus, including how it affects each of the different body systems, and related topics will be found throughout the exhibition, as well as social distancing floor decals.  Visitors will explore 11 galleries and be able to learn about COVID-19 within the context of each major system of the human anatomy—from respiration to digestion to circulation. The exhibit also addresses efforts related to treatment of the novel coronavirus, as well as the cascading effects the pandemic wrought on human health and healthcare beyond that which is directly attributable to the virus. Real Bodies at Bally’s is open Thursday-Sunday at 10 a.m. Tickets are $29.95 for adults and $18 for children 3-12.

LEE LANIER PAINTS OPENS AT THE ARTS FACTORY: Joining other local artists in the heart of the Arts District downtown, local artist Lee Lanier has opened his first art gallery, Lee Lanier Paints, at The Arts Factory, featuring more than three dozen of his paintings. Lanier, a professional computer animator since 1994, created visual effects for numerous feature films at Walt Disney Studios. While at DreamWorks, he was a senior animator on “Antz” and “Shrek.” Along the way, Lanier directed a series of independent, animated short films. He currently lives in Boulder City, began painting professionally in 2015, and has done a series of public murals in both Boulder City and Las Vegas. He is also the co-founder and current president of the annual Dam Short Film Festival in Boulder City. Now a contemporary figurative painter, Lanier’s acrylic on canvas art – made up of mostly empowered female images – are large, complex, and full of symbolic details. Tying into his computer animation background, Lanier adds another layer to the art experience by weaving AR (Augmented Reality) into some of his work. Visitors can download the Artivive app and hover their phone over the paintings to explore the deeper meaning and symbolism in each piece. His canvases range from $40 to $50,000. Lee Lanier Paints is located at 107 E. Charleston Blvd. #160. Hours are Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., by appointment. On his website, you can find a VR (Virtual Reality) version of the gallery for free.

DAM SHORT FILM FESTIVAL ACCEPTING SHORT FILM SUBMISSIONS: The Nevada-based Dam Short Film Festival is accepting film submissions until Oct. 1 for the 17th annual event taking place in the historic town of Boulder City, Nev., home to Hoover Dam, from Feb. 11-15, 2021. Cognizant of and sensitive to the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic, planning for the best-case scenario, is being executed with extreme caution and along with creating alternative arrangements. As one of the Top 100 Best Reviewed Film Festivals worldwide on FilmFreeway, the Dam Short Film Festival welcomes short film submissions of all themes from any year of production and a total runtime of 40 minutes or less. Submission categories include: Drama, Comedy, Documentary, Animation, Sci-Fi/Horror, Music Video, Nevada Filmmaker, and Student. A “Best of” accolade will be awarded to one film from each category, based on audience votes, as well as an overall “Audience Favorite” award and two board-chosen awards, the Leslie Paige Award for Excellence in Short Filmmaking and the Best Screenplay award. There is a discounted COVID-19 rate until Sept. 1, and a late submission deadline of Nov. 1. Full details on submission requirements and prices can be found on the event’s website.

THE VEGAS ROOM HOSTS TWO NIGHTS OF BROADWAY CLASSICS: Broadway star Brent Barrett and his husband, entertainer Bernie Blanks, will perform two nights of classic Broadway songs on Thursday-Friday, Sept. 3 and 4 at The Vegas Room at 953 E Sahara Avenue, Suite E18 to benefit Golden Rainbow, which helps people living with HIV/AIDS in Southern Nevada. Barrett and Blanks will entertain with insightful banter and personal life reminiscence along with duets and solos from classic Broadway shows. Called “Islands in the Stream,” tickets on The Vegas Room’s website start at $79 and include a handcrafted five-course dinner by Executive Chef David James Robinson at 6:30 p.m. and preferred seating for the 8 p.m. performance. Note stringent protocols are in place.  Barrett has entertained millions of fans around the world, starring in “CHICAGO – The Musical,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Grand Hotel,” “Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular” and “Kiss Me, Kate,” along with recording three solo albums and touring with The Four Phantoms and The Broadway Tenors. Blanks lived and performed in Europe for 20 years before moving to Las Vegas.

BIG SUR OYSTER BAR AT SOUTH POINT REOPENS WITH UPDATED MENU: Big Sur Oyster Bar inside South Point is now open noon–midnight daily and debuting a new menu with updated pricing and an expanded seating area adhering to all social distancing guidelines. Some of the new items include the tropical crab cocktail, tempura shrimp, Big Sur lump crab cake, honey lemon glazed salmon and more. Oysters of the day are served by the half dozen or dozen and offered at market price. Prices on the all-day menu have been reduced. Now available daily from noon–4 p.m. is the exclusive items and prices during the “What the Shuck” happy hour. There are also half priced raw oysters and clams.

VINNY GROSSO PERFORMS VIRTUAL MAGIC SHOW FOR SERVING OUR KIDS: The next flight for “Over The Air: Magic By Vinny Grosso” will depart on Saturday, Aug. 29, at 5:30 p.m. The hour-long interactive show is a fundraiser to benefit The Serving Our Kids Foundation, a nonprofit organization feeding and serving the weekend nutrition needs of several thousand local homeless and at-risk children. Grosso’s show is an innovative family-friendly brand of comedy and illusion. If his name is familiar, it’s because Grosso has made multiple appearances on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” “America’s Got Talent,” and “Masters of Illusion.” He’s performed around the world and now lives in Las Vegas. He’s also a former president of The Society of American Magicians, and a graduate from Villanova University with a degree in mechanical engineering where he learned to create his own original illusions. Registration is online at the nonprofit’s website with several participation options starting from $75.

DANIEL MELO MORALES IS ROGERS ART LOFT’S ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCY: The Rogers Art Loft at The Lucy, a multi-disciplinary artist-in-residency program dedicated to inclusivity, originality, and empowerment of artists, successfully pivoted to a virtual format due to Covid-19 and is set to welcome its third virtual artist-in-residence, Daniel Melo Morales, beginning Aug. 31. A Latinx interdisciplinary artist and educator, Morales currently resides in San Francisco where he will remain while participating in his virtual artist-in-residency. During his residency, Morales will further explore vocality and sound.  His residency begins with a virtual artist in conversation on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. and will include other participatory elements including virtual studio visit, Instagram Takeover, and final culminating performance. During his virtual performance, “Bodies Affected by Frequencies and Intensities,” Morales will be continuing his investigation of vocality. He has begun by exploring two aspects: the sound of the human voice independent of language meaning and the sound of breath itself. Morales work has been shown in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, New York, and San Francisco and is currently held in various private collections including in Colombia and the United States. His residency kicks off with a free, public virtual artist talk over Zoom on Friday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. PT. He will have a virtual studio visit on Thursday, Sept.10 at 2 p.m. and a week-long Instagram Takeover from Sept. 11–18. He will offer a virtual culminating performance on Friday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. For more information and to register for events, sign up for the Rogers Art Loft email blast.

THE LINQ PROMENADE CELEBRATES NATIONAL EAT OUTSIDE DAY: On Monday, Aug. 31, The LINQ Promenade is inviting the public to celebrate National Eat Outside Day and enjoy the diverse roster of outdoor dining experiences there offering options from breakfast to lunch, happy hour, dinner and late-night bites while social distancing. Dining choices include: Chayo Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar with two-stories and  spacious patios on both levels; Favorite Bistro an elegant venue with an outdoor setting; Maxie’s serving breakfast and lunch outdoors near the base of the High Roller Observation Wheel; Off The Strip Bistro + Bar a classic bistro and bar with comfort food on their outdoor patio; Flour & Barley – Brick Oven Pizza with a 1,200-square-foot patio, In-N-Out Burger near the fountain stage; Virgil’s Real BBQ with two-stories and patios on both levels; Yard House also with a two-level outdoor patio and beer garden; and ameriCAN Beer & Cocktails in the heart promenade with open outdoor patio seating.

FARM TABLE DINNERS RETURN WITH NEW FORMAT: Returning from a summer family visit to Cape Cod, James Beard nominees Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla are bringing back the popular Farm Table Dinner series with a Cape Cod-inspired dinner in conjunction with the third anniversary of their cookbook, “Honey Salt Food & Drink – A Culinary Scrapbook.” The series relaunch is set for Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. with festivities at their Honey Salt restaurant at 1031 S. Rampart Blvd. The format might look a little different due to safety protocols. Instead of family-style all culinary favorites will be served individually, and groups will max at six. All guests will need to wear a mask while not at their table. Tickets online are $55 with an optional wine pairing for an additional $25.


MGM Resorts International is reopening The Mirage on Aug. 27, leaving Park MGM as the company’s one Strip resort still on the sidelines. In Nevada, gaming was allowed to reopen on June 4 after a 78-day coronavirus shutdown and MGM reopened three of its nine Strip-area properties that weekend.  The Nightclub & Bar Show scheduled for Oct. 19-21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center has been forced for the first time in 34 years to cancel, due to the coronavirus. The 2021 edition is scheduled for June 28-30, 2021. All attendee registration tickets purchased for the original Nightclub & Bar Show 2020 dates this year will be honored for a full credit towards the 2021 event. Five locals recently won nearly $85,000 in slot wins at Arizona Charlie’s, with four jackpot winners at the Boulder location and one at Decatur. The first won $28,000 playing video Keno; second $16,064 on the Lightning Link machine, third $10,894 at the Dragon Link machine; fourth $10,039 on the Treasure Ball machine; and last person hitting $20,000 with a royal flush playing video poker. Mercato Della Pescheria located at The Venetian welcomed UFC Welterweight Daniel Rodriguez for his post-fight dinner around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 22 just moments after his first-round knockout against opponent Dwight Grant. Rodriguez was joined by his camp. UFC Featherweight Trevin Jones was also spotted at an adjacent table with a group of close friends after his second-round technical knockout against opponent Timur Valiev.