News of the death of British singer Amy Winehouse on Saturday struck close to home for Las Vegan Clinton Billups.
On Thursday, Billups signed papers arranging for her father, Mitch Winehouse, to perform as a jazz act for the Global Gaming Expo, which is expected to attract 25,000 gaming executives Oct. 4-6 to the Sands Expo & Convention Center.
Mitch Winehouse, a former cabdriver and salesman, had arrived this weekend in New York, where he was launching his U.S. tour at the Blue Note jazz club on Monday. He released an album of jazz covers in April.
The New York Times reported he had given up his pursuit of a singing career at 30 but refocused on it at the urging of his daughter, who had him join her on stage after her first album came out.
Tony Bennett, who is in Las Vegas for an appearance tonight at the Palms, recorded Johnny Greene's "Body and Soul" with Amy Winehouse in March for his "Duets II" album.
Bennett told Britain's Guardian that Winehouse "was my favorite to perform with on the whole album."
"Duets II," with 17 tracks, comes out Sept. 20. Also featured on the album with Bennett: John Mayer, Queen Latifah, Carrie Underwood, Lady Gaga and Willie Nelson.
ROUGH DAY FOR RADIOTHON
Maybe it was a heat-induced memory loss epidemic.
Or debt-limit anxiety.
Or a Vegas thing.
There's no explaining why, after five years without a no-show on ESPN 1100's annual 24-Hour Radiothon cancer charity, many of the biggest names went missing for The Caring Place fundraiser at the Palms on Friday.
Boxing legend Bernard Hopkins strolled in after his one-hour commitment had ended at 1 p.m. and, instead of showing contrition, he declined requests by organizers to take photos or sign anything for charity, according to Mitch Moss, ESPN 1100 program director.
Hall of Fame sports broadcaster Brent Musburger was spotted at the Palms for lunch, but missed his scheduled 4 p.m. appearance.
UNLV basketball greats Larry Johnson and Moses Scurry didn't make it for their 7 p.m. time slot. Scurry later apologized, saying he had the wrong date.
Luxor headliner Carrot Top called in almost 10 hours before his midnight appearance and had a good excuse: He's been under the weather lately.
You know the world is upside down when Mike Tyson wins the day as the model citizen. Word has it he postponed a vacation to make good on his commitment to sit in with a station personality and the person who was the high bidder to co-host the hour.
Musburger's absence got the most notoriety after local sports reporter Molly Sullivan, one of the celebrity co-hosts, tweeted:
"Alert: Brent Musberger (sic) is missing in Vegas. Yes, I'm serious. If found, please deliver him to @Palms. His time slot on ESPN Radio is ... now."
Once it hit the Twitterverse, the snarksters had a field day, while others, knowing Musburger's track record for being responsible and professional, were concerned.
FOXSports.com saw the tweet and helped contact Musburger, but it was too late.
He apologized profusely and, according to several sources, said he had the wrong day.
He is making up for it by taking prominent Las Vegas attorney Jim Jimmerson and his family to lunch today. Jimmerson wouldn't say how much he bid for the cause, but whatever it was gave him the honor of sitting in with Musburger.
Carrot Top promised his support, and Scurry "felt absolutely terrible," Moss said.
As far as Hopkins being invited back, Moss said that was "unlikely."
THE SCENE AND HEARD
NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus, with a friend at Ruth's Chris Steak House on Saturday. ... Rapper 50 Cent and Floyd Mayweather Jr. at N9NE steakhouse (Palms) Friday night. ... At Marquee's Boom Box Room Friday night: New York Knicks stars Amare Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin of the Denver Nuggets, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics, Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks, Rip Hamilton of the Detroit Pistons, Chuck Hayes of the Houston Rockets, Tyronn Lue of the Orlando Magic and Rudy Gay of the Memphis Grizzlies. Also seen at Marquee was Seattle Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant. ... Actress Octavia Spencer of the upcoming movie, "The Help," stopped by to meet Terry Fator before his Friday show at The Mirage.
THE PUNCH LINE
"Still no deal on the debt ceiling. Washington is keeping us on the edge of our seat -- a seat that will soon be repossessed." -- Craig Ferguson