Sighting: Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala Celebration brings stars out for a cause at ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas 4.4.14

Last night, sports and entertainment stars including Michael Jordan, Aaron Rodgers, Bruce Jenner, Nick Jonas, Ken Griffey Jr., Juan Pablo Galavis & Nikki Ferrell, Boyz II Men, Josh Freeman, Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Adrian Young, among dozens of others, gathered at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas for the 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Celebration.

The star-studded annual gala marked a night of celebration kicking off the two days of exclusive celebrity golf competition at Shadow Creek in the name of charitable fundraising. Also in attendance was eight-year-old Lucas, a Make-A-Wish “wish kid” who fulfilled his dream of meeting MJ earlier in the day. Lucas received celebrity treatment, following celebrities including Jesse Williams, Alan Thicke, Brandi Chastain, Gretchen Rossi, Slade Smiley, Vince Coleman, Ozzie Smith, Mario Umansky, Chris Chelios, Brian Baumgartner, Flex Alexander, Mike Piazza and many more, down the red carpet as dozens of cameras flashed away.

At the gala celebration inside ARIA, celebrities mingled over a multiple-course gourmet dinner from incredible ARIA restaurants including Jean Georges Steakhouse, Sage, & Julian Serrano.

Jordan sat front row and center at a table by the stage, alongside pals including Ahmad Rashad and Stuart Scott. Bill Cramsey, ARIA’s Executive Director of National Marketing, introduced the tournament host and welcomed him to the stage, crediting MJ’s celebrity invitational tournament for the role it has played in the success of the resort itself.

Jordan welcomed guests to the gala and thanked ARIA, Shadow Creek, sponsors and volunteers for their time and service. Jordan also thanked all of his friends for taking the time out of their busy schedules to attend the tournament, reminding them that it’s not for him, but for the many people who receive support from the benefiting charities each year. He encouraged fellow celebs to find “wish kid” Lucas at the gala – telling the crowd how much fun they had together at the course and explaining that Lucas, and the many other children whose lives have been touched throughout MJCI’s thirteen years, are the true inspiration for holding events such as the celebration gala.

The celebrities and VIPs enjoyed an evening of entertainment hosted by magician, comedian, actor and television personality Justin Willman, a regular guest on The Tonight Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Chelsea Lately and host of Cupcake Wars.

Willman had the audience in stitches as he pulled Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant and former NFL halfback Jerome Bettis on stage for several magic tricks through his standup routine.

The gala’s headlining performer and GRAMMY Award-winning artist T-Pain brought the crowd to their feet as he launched his energetic set with hit song “Good Life” and thrilling the crowd with performances of some of his most famous collaborations including Jaime Foxx’s “Blame It,” Lil Wayne’s “Got Money,” Rick Ross’ “The Boss” and Flo Rida’s six-time, multi-platinum “Low,” among others.

Stars took to the dance floor to dance the night away, including actress Janet Jones-Gretzky who was spotted breaking it down to “Black And Yellow” alongside Alan Thicke’s wife and actress Tanya Callau.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and innovator of funk George Clinton surprised the crowd by joining T-Pain on stage for superstar collaboration of T-Pain and Maino’s 2009 hit, “All The Above.”

The legendary funk performer was next joined on stage by his band Parliament-Funkadelic to deliver signature songs “Bring The Funk,” “Flashlight” and more. Clinton, who has been performing for more than 50 years, put on an epic set, stepping off the stage and into the crowd numerous times to invigorate the dance floor and boogie with guests. The band jammed a continuous set featuring live saxophone, drums, soulful backup vocals and electric guitars and bases.

The celebration continued late into the night, as the ballroom transformed into a popup nightclub.

13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala At ARIA Resort & Casino 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala At ARIA Resort & Casino Gretchen Rossi & Slade Smiley at MJCI Gala ARIA Las Vegas 4.4.14 Credit Judy Eddy WENN 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala At ARIA Resort & Casino 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala At ARIA Resort & Casino 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala At ARIA Resort & Casino

13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala At ARIA Resort & Casino 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala At ARIA Resort & Casino 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala At ARIA Resort & Casino 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala At ARIA Resort & Casino 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala At ARIA Resort & Casino 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala At ARIA Resort & Casino

Photo Credit: Isaac Brekken/Ethan Miller

George Clinton, T-Pain to Headline Vegas Gala for Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational at ARIA Resort & Casino



Celebration Hosted by Magician & Comedian Justin Willman

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee George Clinton and  GRAMMY Award-winning artist T-Pain will headline the 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational (MJCI) Celebration in Las Vegas with a private performance at ARIA Resort & Casino Friday, April 4 for the tournament’s celebrities and VIP invited guests.

An innovator of funk music, Clinton has been performing for more than 50 years and is the founder of the funk, soul and rock music group Parliament-Funkadelic (P-Funk). Known for his hits “Atomic Dog” and “Bring The Funk,” the multi-talented artist will perform decades of fan favorites.

T-Pain will join Clinton on stage for a unique multi-genre collaboration unlike any other. Currently touring following the release of his fifth studio album, T-Pain’s numerous chart-topping hits include, “Buy U A Drank,” “5 O’Clock,” “Bartender,” and “Can’t Believe It,” along with collaborations such as Survivor’s “I’m On A Boat,” Kanye West’s “Good Life,” Jaime Foxx’s “Blame It,” and

Flo Rida’s six-time, multi-platinum “Low,” among others.

Famed magician, comedian, actor and television personality Justin Willman will host the evening’s festivities. Currently on tour, Willman is a regular guest on The Tonight Show, The Ellen Degeneres Show and Chelsea Lately. He also hosts Cupcake Wars on the Food Network and Win, Lose or Draw on the Disney Channel.

The annual gala will mark a night of celebration following the two-day Celebrity-Amateur tournament April 3 and 4, which pairs one celebrity with four amateur participants. The two-day Celebrity-Amateur tournament leads into the weekend’s MJCI two-person, 36-hole scramble format tournament, including only competing celebrities, April 5 and 6.

Celebrities from the worlds of sports and entertainment scheduled to attend include host Michael Jordan, Marcus Allen, Boyz II Men, Brian Baumgartner, Jerome Bettis, Brandi Chastain, Chris Chelios, Roger Clemens, Vince Coleman, Richard Dent, Eric Dickerson, Julius Erving, Joey Fatone, Josh Freeman, Dwight Freeney, Wayne Gretzky, Ken Griffey, Jr., Penny Hardaway, Dan Jansen, Brody Jenner, Bruce Jenner, Nick Jonas, Janet Jones-Gretzky, Toni Kukoc, Greg Maddux, Christina Milian, Jonathan Ogden, Paul O’Neill, Jake Owen, Juan Pablo & Nikki Ferrell, Patrick Peterson, Mike Piazza, Ahmad Rashad, Aaron Rodgers, Ray Romano, Gretchen Rossi & Slade Smiley, Stuart Scott, Ozzie Smith, John Smoltz, Alan Thicke, Mauricio Umansky, Brian Urlacher, Luke Wilson, Russell Wilson, Winky Wright, Adrian Young and more.

Since its inception in 2001, MJCI has raised nearly $7 million for charities including this year’s beneficiaries Make-A-Wish, James R. Jordan Foundation, Keep Memory Alive, Opportunity Village and Cats Care, the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats’ charity arm.

Tickets are now on sale and available at all 10 MGM Resorts’ box offices and concierge desks in Las Vegas, and online at, and Fans who wish to experience this exclusive event can purchase daily or weekly general admission and VIP ticket packages. VIP guests will enjoy added perks including free general admission parking at Shadow Creek (a $10 daily value), unparalleled views from the openair Jordan Brand VIP Hospitality Deck, complimentary food and fullservice bars.

Prices are as follows:

Daily General Admission Pass                       $30/Thursday-Sunday
Weekly General Admission Pass                    $100/Thursday-Sunday
Daily VIP Pass                                                $150/Thursday-Sunday
Weekly VIP Pass                                            $500/Thursday-Sunday


Discounted tickets are available for military service members, senior citizens 65 years of age or older and college/university students with valid identification. Each group will receive 25 percent off daily or weekly general admission tickets. Additionally, the tournament offers a “Bring the Kids for Free” general admission ticket pass which provides access to Shadow Creek for youth 17 years of age and younger when accompanied by a general admission ticketed adult (up to two children per paid adult).

All ticketholders can enjoy complimentary shuttle service between ARIA and Shadow Creek. Shuttles will depart every 30 minutes from ARIA’s North Valet entrance Thursday and Friday of the tournament from 6 a.m.2 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Continuous return service from Shadow Creek to ARIA will be provided until 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For more information about MJCI, visit, or call (877) 253-5847.


About ARIA Resort & Casino
ARIA Resort & Casino is a stunning AAA Five Diamond resort on The Strip featuring spectacular amenities, high-end service, premium meeting and convention space, striking architecture and sustainable design. Combined with its unparalleled offerings including the luxurious Shops at Crystals and the first-of-its-kind public Fine Art Collection, ARIA introduces a new generation of resort experiences, unlike anything Las Vegas has ever seen.  ARIA and its neighboring properties within CityCenter are a joint venture between MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) and Infinity World Development Corp, a subsidiary of Dubai World. For more information and reservations, visit or call toll free at (866) 359-7757; also find ARIA on Facebook and Twitter.


Michael Jordan 2013 Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament Results


After 4 days of fantatsic golf and celebrity entertainment at the famous Shadow Creek Golf Course winners were anounced Sunday after the final round. Coming in at -11 under par baseball legends Ozzie Smith and Vince Coleman walked away as the 2013 winners. The dynamic baseball duo join other previous MLB winners John Smoltz and Rollie Fingers. It was Coleman’s third win as he won the rain shortened 2008 event and also in 2002. Other previous winners are Brandi Chastain, Michael Jordan himself, Toni Kukoc, Dr. J Julius Erving, Janet Jones-Gretzky and more. Last year’s event raised over $500,000 for charity and it was great to be a part of this years tournament.

Coming in second was the team of Ahmad Rashad and Wayne Gretzky. Third place went to Jerry Rice and Jason Taylor. Host Michael Jordan and Dwight Freeney shot even par.

Presented by The Aria Resort and Casino and held at the most amazing golf course I have ever set foot on – Shadow Creek Golf Course. How could you go wrong with the best host, best celebrites, best golf course and best hotel casino. Can’t wait until next year!

Bruce Merrin’s Celebrity Speakers & Entertainment Celebrates 40th Anniversary!

Bruce Merrin’s Celebrity Speakers & Entertainment Celebrates 40th Anniversary!

Bruce Merrin’s Celebrity Speakers & Entertainment,, is celebrating its 40 year anniversary this week. The company was born when Bruce took his client, legendary actor Michael Landon, to Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show” at NBC in Burbank. After Michael’s appearance, Johnny Carson came to Landon’s dressing room and invited Michael Landon and Bruce to his Malibu home.

While enjoying dinner at Johnny Carson’s luxurious home on the beach, Carson suggested that Bruce begin a Celebrity Speakers Bureau. “I’ll be your first client,” quipped Carson. “I’ll be your second client,” added Landon. Thus, Bruce Launched his famous company that evening. The next day he added Ed McMahon, co-host of the Carson Show, and Freddie deCordova, the Executive Producer as new clients!

“It has been a dream come true to book so many people whom I have admired and respected. We have booked every Past President of the United States since President Ronald Reagan, most of the sports superstars, all of the famous astronauts, top newsmakers and best selling authors and motivational and inspirational speakers. The first sports star I booked was Jackie Robinson. That was an honor and privilege,” Merrin states.

Recently Merrin booked actor William Shatner for a major insurance association at the Dolphin Court Resort in Orlando; Dr Wayne Dyer for a large corporation in Palm Beach, Fl.; Steve Garvey, Mike Ditka and Jamaal Silk Wilkes for a Las Vegas convention event; and Cheryl Landon for a medical group in California.

“My favorite booking in Nevada was for the City of Mesquite. They wanted to stage an all day event that would attract worldwide attention. I booked President Gerald Ford, Bruce Jenner, Cheryl Landon, F-16 Pilot Scott O’Grady and Rich Little. I received a glowing letter stating that this extravaganza put Mesquite on the map!!!! I was so impressed with President Ford. After he concluded his presentation, secret service staff rushed to the stage to whisk him away. Many people in the audience were asking President Ford questions. So he brushed the secret service off, and stayed for a full hour answering all of the questions. What a class act,” Merrin comments.

The most embarrassing booking in the company’s 40 year history occurred with one of the original 7 astronauts. He was booked to address a worldwide gathering of McDonnel Douglas Aircraft top executives at their annual meeting. The astronaut was seated with the President and the Vice President, and the Chairman of the Board introduced the astronaut. As he approached the podium, the audience noticed his wobbly walk. In less than 60 seconds, when the astronaut began his speech, he was asked to leave!!!!

Merrin attended UCLA and graduated from the famous Film School. During that time, the UCLA Bruins were winning NCAA Basketball Championships guided by Coach John Wooden. He led UCLA to a record 10 NCAA titles. Coach Wooden preached his “Pryamid of Success” to his players.

Merrin booked Coach Wooden for over 100 paid speaking engagements, and Merrin shares that Wooden truly impacted his life with his wisdom and his humble attitude. Merrin has a photo of him with Coach Wooden hanging proudly on a wall in his office, accompanied by a hand written letter on John Wooden stationery with thesewords: “Dear Bruce, Although it is a very simple word and if often used without true feeling, when it is used with sincerity, no collection of words can be more expressive or meaningful than—-THANKS!!!! Sincerely, John Wooden.

Merrin has had the pleasure to book LASSIE for paid appearances. Merrin’s family had many collies when he was growing up as a kid! On one booking, LASSIE had to fly with Bruce to San Francisco on American Airliines. Lassie satNext to Merrin on First Class, and you can imagine the startled look on the passengers as they boarded the plane. Merrin also cherishes a photo of him with Lassie taken at the famous Lassie Ranch in California with trainer Rudd Weatherwax.

During Merrin’s first year, he booked Michael Landon, Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon and Freddie deCordova for a spectacular event staged at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu for Free Arts for Abused Children. “It touched my heart that I was blessed to work with superstars who believed in me at such a young age!!!” Merrin says.

Merrin has been a Las Vegas resident for 23 years. He lives in The Lakes. He is the President of the Stirling Club Business Network Group. He has also served as a Captain of 3 different Nevada State Championship tennis teams.

Bruce Merrin’s Celebrity Speakers specializes in booking its clients for corporate and association events worldwide.

Bruce Merrin and Ellie Smith
Bruce Merrin and Ellie Smith