Seen Around Town: Jennifer Hudson Slays for the Power of Love, Vegas Uncork’d Brings Loads to the Table

Celebrities frequent our city around the clock. Here's the most notable visits of the week.

If you were a celebrity in Las Vegas this weekend, congratulations. That means you weren’t at Ja Rule’s #FyreFestival.

The man continues to make bad life choices. Ja turned down 2 Fast 2 Furious 15 years ago and it’s been downhill ever since. He could have been part of a multi-billion dollar film franchise, and instead he did a movie with Steven Seagal, got ripped for appearing on FOX News during the election, and now he’s taking the fall for this Fyre Festival disaster.

But everyone loves a comeback. If Ja got himself a Las Vegas residency, we’d go.

Anyway, on with the sightings.

Thursday 27

Jennifer Hudson can hustle.

When Gwen Stefani ruptured her eardrum on Wednesday night and had to cancel her appearance at Keep Memory Alive’s 21st annual Power of Love gala, Hudson stepped in as a last-second replacement. She made it to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in time for the Thursday event and performed to a crowd of donors and celebrities, including Larry King, Larry Ruvo, Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis, Siegfried and Roy, Steve Wynn, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Erich Bergen, chefs Wolfgang Puck and Michael Mina, Steve Schirripa, Vince Neil and Jon Bon Jovi, who also took the stage during the evening.

Hudson shares our “Hero of the Week” honors with fellow gala attendee Andre Agassi. The tennis star, who attended with wife Steffi Graf, was presented with the Community Leadership Award and pledged a $1 million gift to the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

Good people.

Chefs/owners of Border Grill at The Forum Shops at Caesars Mary Sue Milliken (L) Susan Feniger. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit)

Friday 28

This was the one weekend out of the year we were guaranteed to eat well. That’s what happens when Vegas Uncork’d comes up on the calendar.

The epicurean event, now in its 11th year, brought the world’s biggest chefs to Las Vegas for four days of fine dining.

Spotted at Friday’s Grand Tasting at Caesars Palace: chefs John Um, Timon Balloo, Olivier Dubreuil, Mary Sue Milliken, Giada De Laurentiis, Susan Feniger, Bobby Flay, Guy Savoy, Nobu Matsuhisa, Steve Martorano and Gordon Ramsay.

Ramsay had a busy weekend. Not only did he announce plans to open a “Hell’s Kitchen” themed restaurant on Friday, he also surprised a couple at their wedding, stepping into the ceremony just as the couple was on their way out. The place went nuts.

Speaking of marriages, former child-bride-turned-reality-television personality-turned strip club hostess Courtney Stodden celebrated her divorce from Punisher: War Zone actor Doug Hutchison at Crazy Horse III on Friday. Even if you don’t watch garbage TV shows, you probably know Stodden married Hutchison in Las Vegas, in 2011, when she was 16 and he was 51. It was a big scandal.

Courtney Stodden celebrates with cake.

Now she’s divorced at 22 and making strip club appearances. She also sings a song titled “Asphalt,” in which the chorus is “Booty gets hot on the asphalt.” It’s awful.

And we better get used to this: Oakland Raiders tight end Jared Cook spent part of his Friday night hanging out in the VIP section at TAO Nightclub inside the Venetian.

Saturday 29

Cook’s bosses made headlines last week for taking a player accused of sexual assault in the first round of the NFL draft. However, that didn’t dim the draft party celebration the team threw at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign on Saturday. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak announced the Raiders’ fourth- and fifth-round picks, respectively.

Meanwhile, the NFL’s biggest Las Vegas cheerleader was blowing up grand opening weekend at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Rehab pool party. We need to get a street named after Rob Gronkowski—dude is always here, and wherever he goes, good times follow.

On Saturday he took the stage during Flo Rida’s performance of “Cake” in front of the Rehab crowd. Then Flavor Flav showed up—not kidding—and suddenly we’re all screaming, “Take me to Rehab!”  

This was also draft weekend for the new BIG3 basketball league, a three-on-three league made up of former NBA players. The league was created by rapper-actor Ice Cube, who brought the draft party to Planet Hollywood for the weekend. It was basically a who’s who of GOAT players, including Julius “Dr J” Erving, Charles Oakley and Gary Payton. Actor Michael Rapaport, who’s GOAT in his own special way, provided commentary.

Cube will be back in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 6. He’s performing at Mandalay Bay’s Daylight beach club.

If you were at The Palazzo on Saturday night, you would have gotten a taste of the Sweet Escape: An Evening of Buddy, Beignets, Bonbons & Booze on the pool deck. The Vegas Uncork’d event featured appearances by chefs Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro and Lorena Garcia, who is opening her Chica restaurant at The Venetian this month.

But the main attraction was the doughnut wall behind the red carpet—just doughnuts on top of doughnuts. We would have eaten our way through the whole thing like Homer Simpson but we came to our senses just in time.

Meanwhile the classy Dr. Jill Biden gave the keynote address at this year’s Heart of Education Awards at The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall. The event honored 20 Clark County educators selected among 900 finalists for their contributions and achievements in the field of education.

Sunday 30

Kevin Hart’s long-awaited return to the Hard Rock went off without a hitch, with the actor-comedian getting the royal treatment at Rehab. Hart was presented with his own jersey before his hosting appearance, which included Champagne sprays, lots of skin – everything you’ve come to expect from Las Vegas’ original pool party.

We’re so glad we live here.