Movie Honorees

Well, the 10th annual CineVegas Film Festival is off and running. As part of the celebration, the festival will honor six actors who have made significant artistic contributions to film and the film industry. The Marquee Award will be given to Anjelica Huston for her accomplishments in the film industry throughout her esteemed career. Don Cheadle, Rosario Dawson, Viggo Mortsensen and Sam Rockwell each will be honored with a Half-Life Award for the work they have done thus far in their careers.

The honorees will participate in moderated conversations, which are open to the public, on Friday, June 20, and Saturday, June 21. Additionally, James Caan will be honored with the festival’s special Vegas Icon Award, which is presented to an actor who embodies the spirit of Las Vegas and who has delivered memorable performances in films and shows set in the city. The awards will be given out on Friday, June 20, at the CineVegas Honorees Reception at the Planet Hollywood pool. Make sure you bring your cameras.

Some sad news, but not all bad. Nevada Ballet Theatre’s Principal Dancer, Elena Shokhina, has retired. A dancer with the company for more than seven years, Shokhina took her final bow following opening night of the company’s season finale, "Cinderella." But while Shokhina leaves the NBT as a dancer, she joins the faculty of the Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre, the company’s affiliated school.

Her teaching duties include levels five and six of the school’s pre-professional program. In addition, she will be an instructor for the Nevada Ballet Theatre Senior Youth Company. A former member of the famed Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia, Shokhina danced professionally with the St. Petersburg Ballet before joining Nevada Ballet Theatre in 2000.

And kudos to the Nevada Ballet Theatre, which has been invited to perform at The Kennedy Center’s 24th Annual Open House Arts Festival, entitled "American Stories, Songs and Steps," on Sept. 13. The open house is part of The Kennedy Center’s season opener, "Prelude 2008: Arts Across America," presenting more than 35 performances showcasing artists from all 50 states. The NBT will share a bill with the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. A very happy Nancy Houssels, co-founder and co-chairwoman of the Nevada Ballet Theatre, said, "This is a milestone for our company. To witness Nevada Ballet Theatre performing at The Kennedy Center has been a personal dream of mine for many years." And for all of us who have watched it become one of the finest ballet theatres in the country.

Here’s something for the kids. Comedian/magician Mac King will team up with the North Las Vegas Library District on Saturday, June 21, to host a magic show for students taking part in the Summer Reading Club. King will make guest appearances at the North Las Vegas Library at 9:30 a.m. and Aliante Library at 11 a.m. to promote children’s literacy and encourage participation in the program.

King, who performs at Harrah’s, hosts the annual Mac King Book Drive and volunteers to read and perform at local public schools. He is also the creator of "Mac King’s Magic in a Minute," which includes a line of magic kits, books, toys and products, and a nationally syndicated weekly comic strip.

Knowing how Americans feel about the price of gas, Circus Circus is offering free gas if you stay at the resort. A two-day stay will earn you a $25 gasoline credit; three nights get you $50. You’ll also receive a $25 gaming credit, two-for-one dinner at the buffet, $4 off a ride pass at Adventuredome and a fun book with $100 in coupons. This offer runs thru Aug. 31.

The last of the legendary casino operators in our town has called it quits. Jackie Gaughan, king of the downtown casinos, has sold his stake in the El Cortez, his signature property where he still lives. Gaughan, 87, moved to Vegas in 1951 and at one point owned the Flamingo, Showboat, Plaza, Golden Nugget, Las Vegas Club, Gold Spike, Western Hotel and the El Cortez. Despite Las Vegas’ growth, Gaughan always operated his casinos like a small-town general store, where everybody was greeted by their first name and treated fairly. Sad to see him bow out.

I was also sad to see the closing of the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum at The Venetian. It lasted for some 6 1/2 years, longer than a lot of people thought it would, but not as long as a lot of us would have liked. Unfortunately, when anything is housed in a casino and it’s not a moneymaker, chances are slim that it will have a long life. For instance, the original Guggenheim space at the resort was 63,000 square feet and hosted only one exhibit, a 15-month-long run of "The Art of Motorcycle." That space was turned into a $40-million custom-built theater to house "Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular" and the Guggenheim was moved to an off-lobby site. There are no plans to move it to another location, so that leaves only the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts for the culturally minded to visit.

Good luck and I’ll see you on the Strip. And don’t forget to check out www.valleyblogs.com. If you have a question or a Las Vegas experience you would like to share with my readers, please e-mail me at lennylasvegas@gmail.com Please include your full name and the city or town where you live.

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