Where to find Vegas on your TV, Feb. 21-27
IN THE SPOTLIGHT:
Heat up the chicken wings, refrigerate the brewskies and get comfy and cozy in your man caves or she sheds as sports — in Vegas, or involving Vegas teams, all on TV — cast a big shadow over the listings this week.
Boxing powers your adrenaline rush? There’s the Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder vs. Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury heavyweight championship rematch at the MGM Grand Garden Arena to feed that need. The Feb. 22 match is pay-per-view ($79.99, provided jointly by ESPN+ and Fox, and live-streamed through the Fox Sports app, ESPN+, and cable/satellite providers). But stay tuned for pre-and-post-match programming info).
Racing more your speed, sorta speak? NASCAR Xfinity competition and related events should rev your engine. Or do you get the hottest over icy action? If so, our Vegas Golden Knights vs. the Anaheim Ducks should provide some chill thrills. Here’s where to find it all:
Wilder vs. Fury Weight-in/Undercard sneak peek (Feb. 21, Live, 3 p.m., ESPN2 and FS1; and 9 p.m., encore, on FSI); Prefight Show (Feb. 22 @ 4 p.m. on FS1); Prelims: Undercard Bout — including super-welterweight contest between Sebastian Fundora and Daniel Lewis (Feb. 22 @ 4:30 p.m. on FS1; and 5 p.m. on ESPN); Wilder vs. Fury Post-Show Recap and Analysis (Feb. 22 @ 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2)
NASCAR Xfinity Series: Qualifying Las Vegas (Feb. 22 @ 10 a.m. on FS1); NASCAR Cup Series: Qualifying Las Vegas (Feb. 22 @ 11:30 a.m. on FS1); NASCAR Race Day Preview: Las Vegas Live (Feb. 23 @ noon on FOX); NASCAR ARCA Menards Series West Racing from Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Feb. 25 @ 3 p.m. on NBCSN)
Vegas Golden Knights at Anaheim Ducks from the Honda Center (Feb. 23 @ 7 p.m. on NBCSN)
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown: Las Vegas (Feb. 23 @ midnight on CNN): Though it may be bittersweet — and we’re certainly not a part that’s unknown — let’s remember a special TV tour guide, the late Anthony Bourdain, as CNN repeats his trek through our town. Included are stops at the Huntridge Tavern, and visits with magician Penn Jillette and former Mayor Oscar B. Goodman.
The Professionals (Feb. 24 @ 11:30 p.m. on TCM): Valley of Fire State Park, take a deep, well-deserved bow for your stellar service to this 1966 Western with a big-name cast of the era, including Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Claudia Cardinale, Jack Palance and Ralph Bellamy. Plot nutshell: During the Mexican Revolution, a rancher hires four men to rescue his kidnapped wife from a former revolutionary-turned-bandito.
Of the 87 days it took to lens this rough-and-tumble flick, a full nine weeks happened at Valley of Fire State Park. Trivia nuggets: For specific camera angles, lighting and film platforms were carved out off the mountainside; Fire Canyon does its best imitation standing in for rural Mexico; and parts of the movie set still exist at White Domes. Lake Mead also pokes its scenery in for a cameo.
As noted in a retrospective on the making of The Professionals — which was nominated for three Oscars — both California’s Death Valley and Valley of Fire State Park were chosen for very specific reasons.
“Meant to simulate the badlands of northern Mexico, these locales appear like landscapes in Hell,” Williams writes. “Tortured, volcanic deserts deadly to human survival.”
Should we be … flattered?
BIG-SCREEN VEGAS THIS WEEK:
Sugartime (YouTube): Happy Valentine’s Day/89th birthday this month to longtime Vegas sweetie/resident Phyllis McGuire, a legend in this city, both for her persona-around-town and as one-third of the iconic McGuire Sisters. In her honor, we suggest you head over to YouTube to view HBO’s 1995 cable flick, Sugartime (not available on streaming services), which depicted the (purportedly) true, turbulent romance between McGuire, portrayed with sexy charm by Mary-Louise Parker, and mobster Sam Giancana, as interpreted by the always intense John Turturro.
Based on the book Man Against the Mob, by William F. Roemer Jr., the FBI agent who tracked Giancana, it includes portrayals of Frank Sinatra, Dan Rowan, Dick Martin and Bobby Kennedy. As Los Angeles Times critic Howard Rosenberg, described it upon its debut 25 years ago:
“HBO’s Sugartime is a diverting mobster-moll movie that leans heavily on a docu-comedy narrative in which humor and hit men surface about equally. … If director John N. Smith has Mary-Louise Parker playing McGuire a bit too wide-eyed, John Turturro is a commanding Giancana, whether exploding in rage or silently glowering. Even the air around him seems heavy with menace and danger, making his capitulation to the initially wholesome singer all the more intriguing.”
Heat (Feb. 21 @ 6 a.m. on RETRO): Vegas gets considerable screen time —virtually all of it, in fact — in 1986’s film-noir Heat (not to be confused with the superior Pacino-De Niro 1995 thriller of the same title, but with a different plot entirely). Burt Reynolds is a soft-hearted but violence-prone bodyguard/gambler in Vegas out to protect his pals, including a prostitute abused — in particularly disturbing ways — by a bratty junior crime boss. Vegas is everywhere, from the Strip — dig the Dunes and the Sands — to dive coffee shops to casino interiors to the Las Vegas Club to the Plaza. But it’s a downbeat and somewhat cursed exercise — it rotated through several directors and earned a meager $2.8 million, of which $2 mill alone went to Reynolds’ paycheck — but is graced mostly by one of Reynolds’ most nuanced performances. His natural charm is unforced and laid-back, if a tad morose. Still, enjoy the local travelogue.
Smokin’ Aces (Feb. 21 @ 10:15 a.m. on INDIE; Feb. 24 @ 9:50 a.m. and Feb. 26 @ 10:50 a.m. on STARZ): Would you settle for Nevada on TV with a plot nod to Vegas? Then add 2007’s Smokin’ Aces up your DVR sleeve. At least it’s about a Vegas character even if he’s not in town. This dark, comic action entry posits that a Vegas magician played by Jeremy Piven — and named Buddy “Aces” Israel (yup, we’re serious about that) – has become a mob informant, with a $1 mill bounty on his noggin while hiding out in a Lake Tahoe hotel. Among those trying to either protect the prey or collect the bounty for his rubout are characters played by Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Common, Andy Garcia, Taraji B. Henson, Ray Liotta, Chris Pine and Mathew Fox — plus singer Alicia Keys in her acting debut. Writer/director Joe Carnahan grew up near Lake Tahoe, and this is his cinematic love letter to its scenic wonders. Its MontBleu resort (formerly Caesars Tahoe) is cast as the “Nomad Casino.” Multiple action scenes were staged in and around Stateline, with the cooperation of the Nevada Highway Patrol and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, that included aerial shots, car chases and gunplay. But if you’re insistent on a true Vegas icon, wait for a cameo by Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton. That alone makes this flick Vegas on TV.
The Boss Baby (Feb. 21 @ 11 a.m. on FXX): Vegas in a computer-animated 3D comedy about kids? Sure, why not? We frown on letting actual children in casinos, but this is the movies, and in this one, they wind up in a bachelorette party limo and sip some Long Island Iced Tea. Oh, and there’s an Elvis impersonator — naturally. But hey, the kids are pretty much grown-ups in diapers anyway.
Midnight Run (Feb. 21 @ 1:55 p.m., Feb. 23 @ 11:40 p.m., Feb. 24 @ 2:40 a.m. on MAX): Co-stars Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin and Las Vegas split the laughs in this 1988 odd couple-buddy action comedy that bubbles from the unlikely but very real chemistry between bounty hunter De Niro and mob-embezzling accountant Grodin. Revel in several scenes featuring totems of Classic Vegas, including the Blue Angel Motel (and Betty Willis’ iconic signage) and the Aladdin Hotel; catch the camera finding the signs for the Stardust and the Dunes; and wander the cavernous environs of McCarran International Airport, where the departure terminals and ticketing lobby host some of the action. Oh, and anytime you see the famously grizzled face of Dennis Farina, you know you’re in Vegas — the late actor filmed all his scenes here, as he was headquartered in Vegas while shooting the TV series Crime Story at the time.
America’s Sweethearts (Feb. 22 @ 7:15 a.m., 6:15 p.m.; Feb. 25 @ 10:40 p.m., Feb. 26 @ 1:40 a.m. on STARZ channels): Hey Henderson — take a bow. You were a real sweetheart for hosting so much of the star-studded, Hollywood-insider romantic comedy, America’s Sweethearts from 2001. And you were rewarded with the presence of such mega-watt personalities as Billy Crystal (co-writer and co-star), Julia Roberts, John Cusack, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Hank Azaria, Stanley Tucci, Seth Green, Alan Arkin and Christopher Walken.
Despite that power-packed lineup, it’s a mild, forgettable diversion at best, about a publicist (Crystal), frantic to conceal the romantic split of the co-stars (Cusack and Zeta-Jones) of his new flick. Solution? Hold the press screening in a more remote locale to keep pesky reporters at bay. Enter what at the time was Henderson’s Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas — and is now The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa.
Within those lush environs are the scenic pleasures to be had for local viewers, with much of the resort — including the restaurants, the golf club and the Casbah Villas — getting ample lens time, graced by its Moroccan-style décor. Apparently, Lake Las Vegas provided superior service to the movie cast and crew, who were treated to a welcoming party at one of its fashionable restaurants.
Rush Hour 2 (Feb. 22 @ 8:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.; Feb. 24 @ 12:40 a.m.; Feb. 26 @ 10 p.m. on HBO channels): Cop cutups Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker somehow wind up in our town (don’t ask how) at the “Red Dragon” hotel-casino to solve a counterfeit money laundering scam in this 2001 martial arts laugher-sequel. Guess who played the Red Dragon? The now-defunct Desert Inn, which had already closed before filming began, but was all dressed up in a Chinese-palace theme.
Hot Shots! (Feb. 22 @ 11:40 a.m. and 2:40 p.m.; Feb. 24 @ 9:45 p.m.; Feb. 25 @ 12:45 a.m.; Feb. 27 @ 5:15 a.m. on STARZ channels): As a fond remembrance, keep an eye out for fleeting glimpses of the late, much-loved Dunes Hotel (may it rest in peace) in this 1991 Top Gun spoof. A pre-“tiger blood”-ed Charlie Sheen stars, along with Carl Elwes, Valeria Golino, Lloyd Bridges and Sheen’s future Two and a Half Men cohort, Jon Cryer.
Sgt. Bilko (Feb. 22 @ 9:30 p.m.; Feb. 23 @ 2:45 p.m.; Feb. 25 @ 2:35 p.m. on STARZ channels): This 1996 throwaway, with Steve Martin trying to step in for the legendary Phil Silvers in the sitcom role that is etched in TV history, features a scene shot at the Mirage. Perhaps you want to see it for that. Then again, perhaps not. A box-office bomb-e-roo, it also grabbed the award for “Worst Resurrection of a TV Show” at the 1996 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. YEESH!
The Hangover (Feb. 23 @ 7:30 p.m. on COMEDY CENTRAL: Cinematically speaking, our city is still hung over from The Hangover, the raucous 2009 comedy about a missing groom and a bachelor party gone off the rails that is a veritable Vegas smorgasbord. Bradley Cooper, Zack Galifanakis and Heather Graham (as a stripper/escort, of course) headline this Strip joyride that gives us such sights as a tiger in a bathroom, a chicken in a living room, a baby in a closet, a mattress impaled on a Caesars Palace statue and a naked man in the trunk of a Mercedes. … Oh, and Mike Tyson. (And no … no one dies.) More, you say? Read https://www.lasvegasnewswire.com/behind-the-camera-caesars-palace-lindsay-lohans-boo-boo-and-an-embarrassed-actor-part-of-the-hangover-legacy/
Jason Bourne (Feb. 24 @ 3 p.m.; Feb. 25 @ 7:30 a.m. on FX): This Matt Damon spy sequel actually managed to close down the Las Vegas Strip. One look at the car-chase crackup and you can see why. Learn all about it — and how the Nevada Film Office works with top-flight Hollywood productions of all kinds to make the cinematic magic happen — right here: Built by association.
Honeymoon in Vegas (Feb. 24 @ 3:15 p.m. on STARZ): Nicky Cage is back (yes, if you add in Leaving Las Vegas and Con Air, he’s got a thing for us, since he lives here, at least some of the time). In this 1992 laugher, gambler/con man James Caan wins $65K from broke PI Cage, so fiancée Sarah Jessica Parker goes off with Caan to pay off the debt. Comic hilarity ensues when Parker falls for Caan and Cage must win his gal back.
Resident Evil: Extinction (Feb. 25 @ 11:25 a.m. on STARZ): OMG! Post-apocalyptic ruins of Las Vegas! We suffer a rather dire fate in this 2007 installment of the horror franchise, in which Milla Jovovich and company cross the Mojave Desert while fleeing a zombie apocalypse. What survives? The Luxor stands. So does New York-New York, though the Statue of Liberty takes a substantial hit, as does the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, while the Tropicana is still standing, shakily. Others? Excalibur? Wynn Las Vegas? Bally’s? Bye, bye and bye. Perhaps when these undead invaders finish creating mayhem, they can do double duty at Planet Hollywood’s Zombie Burlesque.
The Great White Hype (Feb. 25 @ 3:45 p.m. on MAX): The MGM Grand gets a major promotional workout, albeit in a flick that reviewers and audiences were more inclined to think of as The Great White Tripe. This limp, 1996 wannabe sports-comedy stars Samuel L. Jackson (as a Don King caricature named Rev. Fred Sultan) and Damon Wayans (playing a boxer named James “The Grim Reaper” Roper). And it’s the MGM that plays host to the doofus boxing matches between characters played by Wayans and Peter Berg. Satirical points about racism miss their targets and hit the comedy canvas with a resounding thud, but some fun is to be had thanks to contributions from Jeff Goldblum as an anti-boxing crusader and Jon Lovitz as a PR toady.
Casino (Feb. 26 @ 7:30 a.m. on STARZ): Robert De Niro’s genius bookie Ace Rothstein (based on Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal), Joe Pesci’s brutal mob enforcer Nicky Santoro (based on Anthony “The Ant” Spilotro) and Sharon Stone’s gorgeous, greedy hustler Ginger McKenna (based on dancer/socialite Geri McGee) form the compelling triumvirate in director Martin Scorsese’s intense 1995 classic about the building and destroying of a casino empire, the fictional Tangiers (based on the Stardust). (And don’t forget Oscar B. Goodman, portrayed by — and played by — Oscar B. Goodman!) The Tangiers was re-created at the Riviera and the Landmark properties. What else will you see? Oh, how about … the Peppermill, the Jockey Club, Las Vegas National Golf Club, the La Concha Motel, the Regency Motel, Piero’s restaurant, Bally’s hotel-casino, Tony Roma’s restaurant, the Glass Pool Inn, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, McCarran International Airport, Fremont Street and Valley of Fire State Park. And who else will you see? Oh, how about … Steve Allen, Jayne Meadows, Dick Smothers, Frankie Avalon, Alan King, James Woods, Jerry Vale and Don Rickles. It doesn’t get more Vegas-y than this one, folks.
Think Like a Man Too (Feb. 27 @ 8:40 p.m. and 10:35 p.m. on FXM): Guess what? Another flick in which a Vegas wedding goes off the rails. Original, right? Kevin Hart toplines this one’s cast, which also includes Gabrielle Union, Wendy Williams and Kelsey Grammer, as relationship woes wreak havoc on bachelor and bachelorette blowouts, and a night in the pokey is in the cards. Everywhere you look in this 2014 comic romp — the Forum Shops at Caesars, the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, the Venus Pool Club, Nobu Restaurant, Planet Hollywood — it’s a visual Vegas smorgasbord.
Lethal Weapon 4 (Feb. 27 @ 9 p.m. on STARZ): “OKAY! OKAY! OKAY! WHATEVER! WHATEVER!” … Joe Pesci’s comic catchphrase, anyone? With his acclaimed, subdued — and Oscar-nominated — performance in this year’s The Irishman, this may be a good time to remember the actor’s frantic comic chops in the fourth edition of the Mel Gibson/Danny Glover cop-shop franchise from 1998. As for Vegas? Well, you can revisit your traffic nightmares in that nutty car-truck highway chase scene that was shot on our own Interstate 215, from Pecos Road to Windmill Lane. That stretch was closed for two weeks to film Gibson beating the snot out of baddies in vehicular traffic while an exasperated Glover tried to keep pace. Give the filmmakers credit, though: In exchange for inconveniencing us, they hired 50 local extras to drive on the roadway during the scene, and donated $5,000 to Child Haven, the local shelter for abused children — and gave them a tour of the set.
VEGAS HERE, THERE, EVERYWHERE:
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Feb. 21-27 @ 6 a.m. on USA; Feb. 24 @ 7 a.m. on OXYGN; Feb. 27 @ 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. on SYFY)
Friends: The One in Vegas — Part 1 (Feb. 21 @ 3:30 p.m. on TBS)
Modern Family: Las Vegas (Feb. 21 @ 7:30 p.m. on USA)
Flipping Vegas (Feb. 22 @ 7-10 a.m. on A&E; Feb. 24 @ 3 p.m.-1 a.m. on FYI)
Top This Party: Las Vegas (Feb. 22 @ 10 a.m. on LRW)
Vegas ER (Feb. 23 @ 6 a.m.-10 a.m. on DISCOVERY LIFE)
Bar Rescue: Down and Out in Las Vegas (Feb. 24 @ 1 a.m. on PARAMOUNT)
Vegas Rats Rods (Feb. 24 @ 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. on DISCOVERY)
Friends: The One in Vegas — Part 2 (Feb. 24 @ 10 a.m. on TBS)
Family Guy: Road to Vegas (Feb. 24 @ 7:30 p.m. on TBS)
The Profit: Las Vegas Mini Gran Prix (Feb. 25 @ 8 p.m. on CNBC)
Pawn Stars (Feb. 27 @ 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on HISTW)
— Steve Bornfeld
All listings are subject to change and are Pacific time. Also check for listed programs on streaming and on-demand services.