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Billboard Music Awards returning to MGM Grand

Who says you can’t go home again?

Certainly not the 2011 Billboard Music Awards, which returns to the MGM Grand Garden on Sunday for a live 5 p.m. telecast — timed to coincide with the start of the prime-time TV schedule on the East Coast. (Inevitably, we Pacific time-zone types get the tape-delayed version three hours later.)

In 1996, the Billboard show became the first awards telecast to move to Las Vegas, after five years in Los Angeles and one in New York.

The show spent 10 years at the MGM Grand — but, following the 2006 broadcast, the awards disappeared from the airwaves. Until now.

Although the show is back at the MGM Grand, it has a new broadcast home on ABC; previous versions aired on Fox.

Promising "Maximum Music/Maximum Vegas," the show boasts a musical lineup spanning musical genres, from Beyoncé and Rihanna to Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum.

The fact that Vegas shares top billing with the music is hardly accidental; the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is partnering with Billboard to present the event.

Flip side: The glitz of the Strip may be what pops into many minds when the words "Las Vegas" come up. But TV audiences will see a different side of Southern Nevada on A&E’s upcoming reality series, "Flipping Vegas," which just concluded more than four months of production, in preparation for a mid-June debut.

People think of Las Vegas "just as the Strip — or just as gambling," says executive producer John Platt.

In addition to introducing viewers to various neighborhoods hard hit by foreclosures — from North Las Vegas and Summerlin to Henderson and Lake Las Vegas — "Flipping Vegas" will introduce viewers to the area’s pioneer spirit.

"I see Las Vegas as sort of the Wild West in a lot of ways," Platt says. And the show’s central figure, house-flipper Scott Yancey , "is the new cowboy who’s come to town to make his fortune."

In seven hourlong episodes, viewers will see Yancey scrambling to make deals on short sales and foreclosures, then renovating the often-trashed houses to attract buyers.

"The house itself is a major character" in each episode, Platt says.

Then again, so is Yancey, who’s described by executive producer Jon Kroll as a bigger-than-life character. Especially when he and his designer — wife Amie — disagree.

"Their relationship generates high drama — and a lot of comedy," Platt observes. "Sometimes it gets very heated, but if you step back, it’s quite funny to watch the two of them go at it."

And that personal element, in Platt’s view, helps set "Flipping Vegas" apart from other shows that focus on "the nuts and bolts of flipping a house."

But so does the Vegas element, Kroll contends.

"It does feel like an only-in-Vegas show," he says. "You get a sense that he (Yancey) has rolled the dice."

‘Warrior’ time: A new, locally produced feature also aims to "shine a different light in Las Vegas," explains Joaquin Rodriguez, director of "Time Warrior," which begins a three-week shoot today.

"Most films about Las Vegas are related to gambling and casinos," he says, noting Las Vegas "is a city with a lot of diversity" — which Rodriguez plans to explore in "Time Warriors."

The feature focuses on a pirated video game that lands in the hands of two teens (Thomas Graninger , Brandon Dold ), who become obsessed with the game — and wind up becoming real Time Warriors, in the service of the evil Lord of War.

Reality check: Spike’s "Auction Hunters" are expected in town this week to bid on the contents of abandoned storage units. And the modeling hopefuls of "Model Latina" get out of the house — that is, the mansion they share during the competition — to hit the heights of the Stratosphere on Wednesday. The show will air on Si TV, which relaunches July 4 as nuvoTV .

Carol Cling’s Shooting Stars column appears Mondays. Contact her at (702) 383-0272 or ccling@reviewjournal. com.

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