Remembering our Woman of the Year moment with Paula Abdul

Ah, we remember the night in January 2007 when Paula Abdul was honored by Nevada Ballet Theatre as Woman of the Year at Wynn Las Vegas. Classical dance was overtaken by pop culture that evening as Abdul was riding the crest of “American Idol.”

The celebrated honoree spent the balance of the annual Black and White Ball being tailed by NBT officials, assorted guests and fans, and a film crew recording the Bravo reality show called “Hey Paula,” which ran for a month that summer. Also in the mix were crews representing “Insider,” “ET,” “Inside Edition,” “Access Hollywood” and “60 Minutes.”

As it turned out, “Hey Paula” was a befitting title for that entire experience. That’s what I kept calling to Abdul, trying to gain her attention for an interview. I later told NBT co-founder Nancy Houssels (who performed her own fancy footwork trying to keep pace with Abdul) that if there was ever a time I would be arrested for stalking, it would be then.

An expert dancer and choreographer (the most famous ex-Laker Girl ever), Abdul fondly recalls the evening, too.

“I remember so much was going on that night. It was such great honor to be honored by the Nevada Ballet Theatre, and all my ‘American Idol’ friends showed up,” Abdul, appearing Saturday night at Red Rock Ballroom, said in a phone interview this week. “It was a special, magical night. I am part of Las Vegas because of it.”

The “Idol” crew did roll in, with Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson arriving during the program in casual attire (Cowell in a gray, long-sleeved T-shirt and jeans). The dress code never reached the guys, who nonetheless added panache to the program.

The focus of recurring rumors of an extended engagement in town, Abdul is currently touring her dance-party show filled with her famous songs. “Straight Up,” the tour’s title, is one of them.

“This is, one-hundred percent, a fun show,” she says. “It’s got a lot of theatrics, multi-media, audience participation, your favorite hits, story-telling. It’s a really a different kind of show.”

Abdul is not a regular viewer of the series that became the very model for all contest-TV shows to follow.

“I saw one show, last year, but I’m traveling so much I don’t get a chance to watch it,” she says. “I’m a fan of shows that help launch new talent. But for me, it was a magical time, being part of something that really changed the trajectory of television.

“I’ll always have a warm place in my heart for it, but it’s a different show now, and a different time for me.”

D8 Sk8

You’ll really, um, fall for this holiday event …

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas opens its “Date Skate” night of ice skating and holiday movie classics at the Ice Rink at 7 p.m. Nov. 26 with “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.”

The series continues Mondays and Tuesdays through Jan. 1 with such famed films as “A Christmas Story,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “Home Alone.” Check the Cosmopolitan website for the full lineup. Admission is free, but you pay to rent the skates.

Our Phil of tradition

Las Vegas Philharmonic is bringing in a couple of Vegas favorites — one current, and one who has moved away — to its two “Classic Holiday” performances Dec. 1 at the Smith Center.

Ex- “Phantom — Las Vegas Spectacular” and “Million Dollar Quartet” cast member Kristen Hertzenberg and the aforementioned Cloer (we met him in the days of “Jersey Boys”) are joining the performances. Hertzenberg moved to Houston a few years ago, but returns occasionally to sing and smile and reconnect. In August, she joined her former “MDQ” cast mate Ben Hale at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz.

Along with singing yuletide classics, Cloer is also narrating “ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas” in both shows. The Las Vegas Master Singers are in the program. The shows are set for 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; tickets start at $30 and available at

Cool Hang Alert

Column fave Lisa Marie Smith, late of “Pin Up” at Stratosphere and “Baz” at Palazzo Theater, celebrates the release of her self-titled EP Monday night at ESports Arena at Luxor. Doors are at 6:30 p.m., DJ Optic spins (which means, he’s in the DJ booth) until about 7:30 p.m., then Smith performs her new Fervor Records release with her band until about 8:15. The party runs until 10 p..m.; admission is free but VIP packages are available by e-mailing

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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