Robin Leach

Strip Scribbles: Liza Minnelli remembers ‘Mama’ Judy Garland

Liza Minnelli.
Photo: Ruven Afandor

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Liza Minnelli at the Las Vegas Hilton

Liza Minnelli's Meet-and-Greet at L.V. Hilton

'Eating Las Vegas' 2012 at Guy Savoy

Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour

Jamie Foxx's 44th Birthday at The Playboy Club

Chippendales Guest Ricardo Laguna

2012 EDC: Aerial Views

Las Vegas veteran and regular Liza Minnelli commemorated what would’ve been her mother’s 90th birthday Sunday -- Judy Garland died in 1969. Liza said: “Today is a day for celebration. We celebrate the privilege of having had Mama touch all of our lives.

“She left us with so many feelings we never would have discovered about ourselves until she exquisitely translated them to us with her voice. She is to be missed deeply, yes … but, what if we never had her? That’s what we celebrate today. Mama gave each and every one of us the gift of hope, laughter and love.”

On Sunday, Liza, a four-time Tony Award winner, attended the Gershwins’ “Porgy & Bess,” whose lyrics were co-written by her godfather Ira Gershwin. She also stopped backstage after the show to wish the cast good luck at Sunday night’s Tony Awards.

The show was nominated for 10 awards at the 66th annual Broadway ceremony, where it won “Best Revival of a Musical” and Best Actress for Audra McDonald. Liza heads to England today, where she’ll perform Thursday at the Hampton Court Palace Festival.


Las Vegas food critics John Curtas and Al Mancini have been given a go-ahead for a TV pilot on their often fiery and opposite opinions for The Travel Channel. Expect a New York Times feature next weekend on the punk-haired writer and the curmudgeon lawyer-foodie. Think Siskel & Ebert of the food world.

What hotel honcho is being rattled badly by Board and management declining his input and saying that he can exercise a buyout clause any time he wishes?

Did Steve Wynn really have to nix Tim Poster’s idea of renaming his new Japanese restaurant Nokada because of legal advice over the hotel mogul’s lawsuit against Japanese millionaire Kazuo Okada? The former Okada is now Mizumi.

Former Venetian chief Bill Weidner is developing a casino in The Philippines on land alongside the disputed Wynn-Okada site now part of the lawsuit.

Was comic Colin Kane “ fired” from his gig at The Laugh Factory in the Tropicana because of outraged customers who walked out on his obscene language? Andrew Dice Clay’s opening comic Wheels was brought in to replace him.

Sources tells me that even though Cirque du Soleil is readying a new Michael Jackson residency show for Mandalay Bay next year, there will be a King of Pop show going into the Rio shortly to displace several non-headline shows there.

Insiders at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy empire are saying that they’ll “probably” open a new venue in Las Vegas despite the shutdown of The Playboy Club at the Palms. “Other Playboy Clubs around the world continue to be successful, and brand licensing remains the company’s highest margin business,” my videographer spy Richard Corey told me.

Is restaurateur Michael Morton about to announce two projects, one downtown and one on the Strip, in the next two weeks as a follow-up to his La Cave at the Wynn after he left 9 Group at the Palms?

3-MONTH CARNEVALE BEGINS: The three-month, summerlong Carnevale at the Venetian and Palazzo officially begins tonight; it’s an Italian-inspired festival of food, wine, music, art and light spectaculars. Tonight, my favorite pop violin trio Alizma performs along with speed painter Salvador Live, who while breakdancing and interacting with the crowd creates art.

An unannounced celebrity will count down the Grand Finale, an inaugural showing of “The Light of Venice” 3D spectacular when the clock tower is illuminated. Additionally, there’s a parade of “lighted” characters through the hotels to the Doge’s Palace plaza at the Venetian Strip front.

OUR CONDOLENCES: Former Las Vegas magician and my friend Tony Blanco died just a week short of his 52nd birthday. Before losing his fight to Stage 4 colon cancer, Tony asked his fiance Jill Bedford to marry him before he passed away at his new home near Fresno, Calif. She was at his bedside for his final breath.

Fans, friends and fellow performers here are contributing to his funeral expenses and a scholarship fund for aspiring magicians. The Fresno arts community raised $3,300 with a memorial fundraiser this past weekend. Help Tony’s art and memory live on with a donation to the Tony Blanco Memorial Fund c/o West America Bank, 536 Shaw Ave., Clovis, CA 93612.


To celebrate their Food Network appearance on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” the crew from Lola’s Louisiana Kitchen hosts a viewing party in Images Lounge at the Stratosphere. Gastropub Mondays with gypsy jazz starts at Comme Ca in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas as the bar lounge is turned into a French-style speakeasy.

Our Las Vegas PBS outlet has a daylong fundraising stunt at Fremont Street’s Flightlinez until midnight with Curious George leading the way with story time and photo opportunities. Also there, BMX pro dirt jumper Ricardo Laguna and youngest DJ Baby Chino. All money from the zip-line rides goes to PBS. The Las Vegas PBS programming highlights will be shown at Fremont Street Experience’s super-screen twice tonight.

The fun of the 2012 Electric Daisy Carnival isn’t over yet, with Afrojack at Encore Beach Club and Skrillex at XS, both in Steve Wynn’s Encore. Monique Marvez, K.T. Tatara and Frazer Smith headline Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand through Sunday. And LMFAO’s Redfoo leads the party at Marquee in The Cosmopolitan.


Actor and singer Joey Lawrence goes bare-chested at Chippendales in The Rio but says he won’t perform The Full Monty, plus actor-singer Tyrese Gibson on how he escaped drugs and gangs to achieve Hollywood success.

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.

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