Richard Branson I'm All About Vegas This Weekend!!! Space Training Can Wait

Richard Branson sure looks like he's putting his billionaire space race on the back burner ... 'cause the only thing he's betting on this weekend is Vegas, baby!!!

The Virgin Galactic honcho was a true ring leader Friday in Sin City, and dressed the part while roaming around his new Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. It officially opened back in March, but the celebration was largely muted due to the pandemic.

But, with Nevada lifting restrictions on June 1, Branson launched his official grand opening this weekend ... dubbing it "Unstoppable Weekend." He and his crew hit up the joint and gave away tons of cool stuff, and he took selfies with guests all over the casino.

Looks like fun, but also looks like a strange way to train for a sub-orbital flight to space in just 3 weeks! We can't recall any images of John Glenn or the Apollo 11 crew at a craps table. šŸ¤·šŸ½ā€ā™‚ļø

Remember, Branson's reportedly trying to move up his Virgin Galactic launch to the July 4 weekend in an effort to beat Amazon's Jeff Bezos out of Earth's atmosphere.

Bezos announced he and his bro will be on the first crewed flight for his Blue Origin aerospace company, which is set for July 20.

These Vegas pics might have Bezos thinking he's got an edge in the "whose is bigger" competition with Branson. Stay tuned ...

Ben Affleck Hits Tables in Vegas for Work & Play ... While J Lo Shoots in Miami

KILLIN' TIME IN VEGAS
TMZ.com

Work is separating Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez for the time being, but he's still making time to have some fun on his own ... he's in Las Vegas, hitting the tables and directing a project.

Check out this video we got -- Ben was at the Wynn Resort and Casino early Wednesday morning, standing alone at a table ... just the dealer and him. Unclear what game he was playing, but witnesses tell us he was in the high limit room. Naturally.

We're told casino staff was standing guard to shoo away any fans who happened to notice one half of Bennifer laying down bets around 3 AM.

EARLIER THAT DAY
TMZ.com

The witnesses say there were no camera crews during his time at the tables ... an important detail, because Ben is actually working in Vegas too. We got more video of him Wednesday afternoon shooting something over at The Palazzo, but we're told the actor shot a ton of other scenes in the working casino, too.

You can hear someone yelling, "action" as he started walking through the casino, but a source tells us Ben is also directing the project.

While he and Jennifer have been nearly inseparable since reuniting last month, y'know what they say ... duty calls. Even they gotta pay the bills.

As we told you, J Lo is down in Miami where she was shooting a music video Tuesday night ... and posing with a few cops who were there for security.

Gene Simmons Kissing CA Goodbye for $8.2 Million!!! Scoops Up New Vegas Pad

Gene Simmons appears to be making good on his plan to leave California for Nevada ... he just dropped over $8 million for a rockin' mansion near Las Vegas.

The KISS star nabbed a 6-bed, 8-bath palace in Henderson with 11,000 square feet of living space and distinctively modern features ... like a floating pathway entrance over a koi pond and floor-to-ceiling glass walls.

Gene and his family jewels will have room to move -- the place has seriously spacious rooms inside ... and outside there's a pool, hot tub, built-in barbecue and a courtyard. Desert cool, baby!

We broke the story ... Simmons put his recently renovated Beverly Hills mansion back on the market in March for $25 million.

He'd initially listed it for $22 mil, but then took it off the market and made several improvements.

Around that time, he told reporters he was leaving California, saying ... "There are earthquakes, fires and pandemics every year. Even though there is nice sunshine, Iā€™m done."

Gene must be serious, because along with buying a new home in Henderson ... he slashed the asking price on his Bev Hills home to just under $20 mil. As they say, priced to move!!!

Zac Efron just made a similar move to sell his L.A. home, and it worked ... so good luck, Gene.

Larry Flynt's Hustler Club Holds Pop-Up Vaccine Clinic ... That's So Vegas!!!

Larry Flynt's Hustler Club had one sweet vaccination deal going over the weekend -- get jabbed, and get a dance from one of their strippers.

The famous Las Vegas strip club turned into a pop-up vaccine clinic as health officials there try to encourage the public to get COVID-19 vaccines -- as demand has dropped dramatically -- and this was one of the more creative ways to do it.

Free Johnson & Johnson shots in a strip joint? Jokes kinda write themselves.

For those who showed up Friday, the club offered a 1-year Platinum Membership Card, a complimentary bottle, free dances from a vaccinated entertainer, tickets to see its famous Sexxy After Dark show and a limo. The total value of this lovely package ... a whopping $5,000.

JoAnn Rupiper, the chief nurse of the Southern Nevada Health District who monitored the pop-up clinic, told the AP, "This is just another way to access our population. It might attract some people who like the novelty of it, I suppose."

The Hustler Club's joint in New Orleans hosted a similar vaccination site ... offering those who showed proof of vaccination a membership card that gave them and 5 friends free admission, among other perks.

All in all ... the pop-up clinic in Vegas administered around 100 shots before the strip club got going for its regular biz.

Other vaccination incentive packages across the country include cash lotteries, marijuana joints or free beer, but Vegas? Well, go with whatcha know!!!

Jon Taffer THE ROARING 20s ARE COMING TO SIN CITY ... And Buffets are Coming Back Too!!!

VEGAS IS BACK!!!
TMZ.com

Jon Taffer says things are looking up after the pandemic decimated Vegas ... but he's not focusing on the world-famous strip, he says it's all about helping the little guys.

The "Bar Rescue" star joined us Tuesday on "TMZ Live" and told us why the smaller joints catering to Sin City locals need his help, and why business that survived coronavirus closures and restrictions could soon cash in big time.

Jon says the upcoming season of "Bar Rescue" is all about Vegas, because the City had one of the country's highest unemployment rates during the height of the pandemic ... with the hospitality industry taking the brunt.

The way Jon sees it ... major hotels and businesses on the strip will be just fine, but the bars targeting locals off the strip are in need of rescuing, and he's ready to get to work.

Lots of folks think of buffets when they think of Vegas, and Jon says those are coming back to life too ... with vaccines playing a key role.

You can see Jon's full interview Tuesday on "TMZ Live" (check local listings) -- he's hoping this summer provides a repeat of the roaring 20s.

O.J. Simpson Settles Defamation Suit W/ Vegas Hotel

O.J. Simpson can put his beef with The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in the rearview ... because we've learned he's settled his defamation lawsuit with the hotel.

According to new legal docs, obtained by TMZ, The Juice and the Cosmo agreed to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice, and the judge signed off. Usually, that points to some type of settlement, though neither side is talking details.

O.J.'s lawyer, Malcolm LaVergne, tells TMZ ... "The Simpson/Cosmopolitan matter has been resolved."

11/11/17
I DID NOTHING WRONG
SplashNews.com

As we reported ... Simpson sued the Cosmopolitan over a Nov. 8, 2017 incident in which he was kicked off the property following an alleged drunken episode at a hotel bar.

Following the incident, hotel staff told TMZ ... O.J. was wasted and became disruptive, getting angry with hotel employees ... resulting in broken glasses at the bar.

O.J. denied the allegations, saying the story humiliated and embarrassed him ... and in 2019 he filed his defamation suit against the Cosmo.

Most recently, the Cosmo said O.J.'s reputation as a violent convicted criminal is already so tarnished, there's no way his rep could take a hit from allegations of drunken shenanigans.

But, now it appears the two sides worked something out to make the case go away.

We reached out to the Cosmo ... so far, no word back.

Zak Bagans Haunted Museum Car Crashes Through Gates ... Smashes Into Security Car

CURSED COLLISION
TMZ.com

Zak Bagans' Haunted Museum attracts all kinds of strange activity, like this car that came barreling through the gates before plowing into a security guard's car ... and it's on video.

The scary incident went down last week on a rainy night in Las Vegas, and you see a car traveling on the wrong side of the road come smashing through the museum's outer fence.

The car is moving at a pretty fast clip when it smacks into security's parked car, and the impact sends the parked car flying into a museum sign, causing even more damage.

The back-to-back crashes don't seem to slow the car at all ... the driver zooms off into the night almost as if nothing happened.

According to the police report, the driver lost control of the car in rainy conditions as it crashed through the gate ... and the security guard inside the parked car was rushed to a hospital. We're told the security guard luckily only suffered minor injuries and is on the mend.

Our law enforcement sources tell us no arrests have been made and the case remains an open investigation.

Trevor Lawrence Low-Key Bachelor Party In Vegas ... Bro-Down At The Tables!!!

How's the best NFL draft prospect in the country celebrating his final weeks as an unmarried man??

VEGAS, BABY!!!

TMZ Sports has learned Trevor Lawrence hit up Sin City for a low-key bachelor party over the weekend -- bro-ing down at a casino table with his pals and living it up just days before he's set to marry his longtime GF, Marissa Mowry.

A witness tells us the 21-year-old ex-Clemson QB was at Mandalay Bay at around 11:30 p.m. Sunday ... gambling with some buds and keeping his surgically repaired left shoulder safe in a sling.

We're told Lawrence had security to watch his back ... but was super cool with fans who recognized him.

Unclear which game Lawrence was playing and how much cash he was betting ... but don't worry, he can afford to gamble -- as next month's projected #1 overall pick, he's expected to sign a 4-year deal worth around $40 MILLION!!

As for the upcoming nuptials, Lawrence and Mowry -- who have dated since 2016 and got engaged in July 2020 -- are scheduled to tie the knot sometime in early April.

Think Urban Meyer's got his wedding gift all picked out yet???

Nicolas Cage Gets Married for 5th Time ... To 26-Year-Old in Vegas

7:15 PM PT -- We just got the first pics from Nicolas and Riko's wedding which was held at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas.

Nic's rep Shannon Barr tells TMZ ... the date, February 16, was special for the groom ... it's Nic's late father's birthday. Riko -- who Nic met over a year ago in Japan -- was wearing a handmade Japanese bridal kimono, and Nic was rocking a tux by Tom Ford.

We're told the ceremony included traditional Catholic and Shinto vows, but in true Nic fashion they also kept things unique ... adding some poetry from Walt Whitman and Haiku.

Seemingly acknowledging, his 5th time down the aisle might shock some folks, Nick says, "It's true, and we are very happy."

BTW, his ex-wife Alice Kim and their son, Kal, celebrated with the happy couple after the ceremony.

Nicolas Cage is going back to the wedding well ... he got married for a whopping 5th time, and once again he tied the knot in Sin City.

The 56-year-old actor married 26-year-old Riko Shibata last month in Nevada, according to the Clark County Clerk's Office. The records show Riko took Nic's last name, and on Feb. 16 they said "I Do."

Nic, who lives in Las Vegas, announced his engagement to Riko back in August after proposing over FaceTime. Riko was in Japan when he popped the question, so Nicolas sent the engagement ring via FedEx.

It's the 5th marriage for Nicolas ... and the union comes less than 2 years after his last marriage to Erika Koike ended in divorce after only 4 days. DailyMail was first to report the news of his new bride.

He's also previously been married to Alice Kim, Lisa Marie Presley and Patricia Arquette.

Vegas Weddings Chapels Losing the V-Day Bump ... COVID's Crushing Love!!!

Valentine's Day is usually rush hour at Las Vegas wedding chapels, but a bunch of Elvis pastors WILL be lonesome this weekend ... due to the pandemic.

According to the Graceland Wedding Chapel ... it conducted a whopping 75 ceremonies on V-Day 2020 -- just weeks before COVID-19 changed the world -- but it only has 50 on the books so far for 2021.

The famous chapel tells TMZ ... roughly half its business typically comes from international guests, but with coronavirus travel restrictions that number's a big, fat zero this year.

Graceland says it hopes to get 60 wedding ceremonies booked before Sunday, but that's still a significant decline of at least 20 percent.

A rep for Chapel of the Flowers tells us their wedding ceremony bookings are also down 20 percent this year compared to last ... but it's even worse at a couple other spots.

Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel says it's down 50 percent for V-Day, and like Graceland ... the lack of international couples is crushing its bottom line. As of now, it says it only has 17 wedding reservations for Sunday ... which is incredibly low.

The owner of Bliss Wedding Chapel, which just opened in October, tells us he's been banking on a Valentine's Day surge for some much-needed cash ... but it's not happening.

He says he's been in the biz for a while and would expect a solid 50 ceremonies under normal conditions ... but COVID's limited bookings to just 26, so far.

One thing the chapels cited for their struggles is having to operate at half-capacity. Like the Bliss owner put it -- weddings are the opposite of social distancing, so couples who would be forced to cut the guest list are simply opting to wait or go elsewhere.

The good news -- Elvis is still in the building. Graceland says couples can still have an Elvis impersonator conduct the legal vows and perform ... and he can do it all in a mask

Larry Flynt Strippers & Booze for Wild Sendoff!!!

Larry Flynt's "Celebration of Life" will amount to one big happy ending -- a fitting homegoing for the man who built a porn empire.

Flynt's famed Hustler Club in Las Vegas is planning to honor its founder with one helluva sendoff next weekend that will mirror Larry's lifestyle. The club's popular dance group, "Sexxy After Dark," will perform during the ceremony.

There will also be an on-stage memorial presentation followed by a rooftop balloon release. We're told bartenders will be serving up a signature vodka drink called the Flynt Goldfinger.

The good news? You're all invited!!! Well, if you're at least 21, it's open to the public. Tickets start at $50 and maximum party size is 4. Social distancing and other COVID-19 regulations will be enforced too.

TMZ broke the story ... Flynt, who launched Hustler magazine in 1974, died Wednesday in L.A. from heart failure -- but no better place to toast him than Sin City

Joe Exotic No, He Didn't Get Pardoned ... Just Being Impersonated

Joe Exotic is NOT living it up on the Vegas strip with 'Tiger King' stars Jeff and Lauren Lowe -- he's still behind bars, and the guy hanging with the couple is all about show biz.

'Tiger King' fans went nuts over the weekend when Jeff and Lauren started posting photos and videos with someone who looked a lot like Joe, leading folks to believe he was free. No dice.

Sources with direct knowledge tell TMZ ... the photos show Jeff and Lauren at lunch in Sin City with Vegas Joe, a Joe Exotic lookalike who was recently hired to impersonate the 'Tiger King' star in an upcoming Vegas show.

Vegas Joe is a dead ringer ... he's got the clothes, mannerisms, piercings, tattoos and voice of Joe Exotic down to a T. We're told Vegas Joe didn't even have to audition for the lead role after production crew members saw him on the strip.

As for the show ... we're told it's basically going to be an hour-long parody play with dancers and performers, plus an escape room. The hope is for a mid-summer premiere, or whenever Nevada allows live shows to fully reopen amid the pandemic.

Our sources say Jeff will be featured in the show, along with other 'Tiger King' alums making appearances from time to time ... including alleged hitman-for-hire Alan Glover, the nanny and Lauren.

Meanwhile, the real Joe is still pushing for a pardon from President Biden after getting snubbed by Donald Trump.

Siegfried Fischbacher Vegas Strip Pays Touching Tribute Sin City's Lit for Him!!!

The Vegas strip's shining a little brighter to honor one of its adopted sons ... lighting up the marquees to honor the late Siegfried Fischbacher.

Sin City paid tribute to the legendary magician/tiger tamer Thursday night when virtually every hotel on Las Vegas Blvd. lit up its marquee to bid him farewell. The tribute started at 5 PM ... and you can see Park MGM, Aria and the MGM were among the hotels that took part.

Siegfried and Roy arrived in Vegas in the 1970s and performed at the Stardust Hotel, MGM Grand, New Frontier Hotel.

While Siegfried got top billing at various hotels ... he undoubtedly shined the brightest at the Mirage, where he and his partner, Roy Horn, built a worldwide brand from 1990 until 2003. Before their debut there, the duo described the new show to Steve Wynn as "above and beyond anything anyone had seen in Las Vegas."

Kenneth Field, the producer, told 20/20 that the new show "was probably the most expensive show in the history of the world at the time it was built." A cool $30 million. Siegfried and Roy's show would go on to become the most visited show on the strip.

As we reported ... 81-year-old Siegfried died Wednesday and just 2 days after announcing he had cancer. His death came 8 months after Roy's passing. Siegfried died at his home in Las Vegas from pancreatic cancer. His sister said he "fell asleep gently and peacefully."

Siegfried & Roy Siegfried Fischbacher Dead at 81

Siegfried Fischbacher -- half of the famous Siegfried & Roy magic act -- has died just 2 days after announcing he had cancer ... and 8 months after his professional partner, Roy Horn.

Siegfried died Wednesday night at his home in Las Vegas from pancreatic cancer. His sister says he "fell asleep gently and peacefully."

The longtime magician had just announced his terminal diagnosis, and though he'd undergone a lengthy surgery to remove a malignant tumor ... the cancer had already spread. Siegfried was reportedly released from the hospital at his own request to spend his final days at home.

Vegas, of course, is where Siegfried & Roy made names for themselves ... with their popular act best known for featuring white tigers and lions. The duo performed together for 4 decades, best known for their run at The Mirage from 1990 until 2003 ... which was hailed the most visited show on the Strip.

Their act ended after Roy suffered a career-ending injury when a tiger named Montecore attacked him on stage, leaving him partially paralyzed.

Roy died last May at the age of 75 from complications of COVID-19. Siegfried said at the time, "The world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend."

Both men were from Germany -- they met while working on a cruise ship in 1957 -- and began a 50-year journey together in the entertainment biz. Siegfried once said ... "We did what we did out of love, not for success or money. We had a deep respect for each other. We literally raised each other: I created Roy and Roy created Siegfried."

Siegfried was 81.

RIP

Las Vegas Lets It Ride with Fireworks for 2021 ... Despite COVID Pandemic

THE SHOW GOES ON
AP

When it comes to the coronavirus, what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas with COVID and all ... and that's why the New Year's Eve fireworks show is so troubling.

The city put on a typical fireworks display from The Plaza Hotel & Casino as the clock struck midnight in an untypical year, and spectators swarmed to watch and celebrate ringing in 2021.

Obviously ... not very safe with COVID-19 cases surging everywhere, and fireworks naturally draw crowds, so you have to wonder who made this decision.

Earlier on New Year's Eve, tens of thousands of people also thumbed their noses at the virus by walking the Strip like there's no pandemic ... despite Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak urging people to stay home.

It's all very strange, since Vegas did cancel other big parties and fireworks displays, even replacing one with an implosion of a huge 2020 sign.

That gesture doesn't really mean much though ... if everyone's going to act the same in the new year when it comes to COVID.

NFL's Vontaze Burfict 'Secret Pizza' Mug Shot Released ... After Alleged Vegas Battery

2:34 PM PT -- 12/9 -- TMZ Sports has obtained Burfict's mug shot ... and yeah, it ain't hard to tell the dude was PISSED about getting arrested.

We've also obtained police documents from the case ... and in them, a security guard says Burfict and two other men were the aggressors at around midnight on Dec. 4.

The guard claims he was helping another security guard calm down Burfict and his pals when one of the men "was recording on his phone and placed it in my face and stated 'what the f*ck these dudes doing behind us look at these clowns following us.'"

The guard alleges in the docs that things got physical with him and the other guard while they were on a Cosmo escalator together.

In the docs, the guard alleges one of the men tried to shove him down the escalator. The guard also claims another one of the men took a swing at the other guard.

It's not clear in the docs which man was allegedly Burfict.

Burfict is due in court on Feb. 3 for a hearing in the case.

NFL linebacker Vontaze Burfict was arrested for allegedly attacking a security guard at a Vegas casino over the weekend, TMZ Sports has learned.

The 30-year-old former Cincinnati Bengals star -- who later played for the Raiders -- was taken into custody for misdemeanor battery ... but nobody knew why, until now.

A spokesperson for the Las Vegas Metro Police Dept. tells us ... Burfict was arrested Saturday for battering a security officer at The Cosmopolitan resort, casino and hotel.

But, the backstory is wild ...

Multiple sources tell us Burfict and at least 1 other person were looking for a restaurant at the Cosmo called "Secret Pizza." ... which is intentionally hard to find!

It's like a speakeasy for pizza -- a hidden eatery located at an unmarked location on the Cosmo property. We know what you're thinking ... how's the food? It's got 4 stars on Yelp!

Though Barstool's Dave Portnoy once did a Pizza Review from there -- he wasn't as impressed.

We're told Burfict and his crew were having a tough time locating the place -- and at some point, they felt like security was following them.

At one point, there was an incident between Vontaze and the security guards -- with the guards claiming Burfict got physical.

Security detained Burfict until police arrived -- that's when he was formally arrested.

We reached out to Burfict's camp to get his side of the story -- we'll let you know when we hear back.

Originally published -- 12/7 9:44 AM PT

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