Where to find Vegas on your TV, Feb. 7-13
IN THE SPOTLIGHT:
No Passport Required: Las Vegas (Feb. 10 @ 9 p.m.; Feb. 11 @ 1 a.m.; and Feb. 12 @ 3 a.m. on PBS): Do you know the Chinese community and culture of Las Vegas? You will now in this episode, in which host Marcus Samuelsson explores that proud and fascinating portion of our city in depth. During his adventures, Samuelsson makes hand-pulled noodles and Peking duck; eats regional delicacies including beef noodle soup, cumin lamb and fish braised in clay pots; explores the traditions of herbal medicine and Chinese teas; and enjoys Chinese musicians performing dance-and-drum routines in rehearsal — then partakes of a home-cooked meal with the performers and their families.
Expect to peek in on a cluster of Chinese eateries, including: KJ Kitchen, T&T Ginseng and Yi Mei Champion Taiwan Deli on Spring Mountain Road; Chengdu Taste on Schiff Drive; Kung Fu Thai and Chinese Restaurant on Valley View Boulevard.; Tea & Whisk on South Eastern Avenue; Fat Choy on East Sahara Avenue; Chubby Cattle on South Jones Boulevard; Shang Artisan Noodle on West Flamingo Road; Mott 32 on Las Vegas Boulevard South; and Flock & Fowl on Las Vegas Boulevard North. Joining in on the foodie journey are Vegas culinary masters Sheridan Su and UNLV graduate Sam Huang.
Taste Chinese Las Vegas in all its glory — and, as the title promises, there’s no passport required.
America’s Sweethearts (Feb. 12 @ 9 p.m. and Feb. 13 @ 6:20 a.m. on STARZ): 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.
Beverly Hills 90210: Lost in Las Vegas (Feb. 11 @ noon on POP): Vegas of the ’90s meets Pop Culture of the ‘90s in this episode of the original series in which David takes Val, Steve and Clare to Vegas, where, we are told, “a fool and his money …” You can finish the rest. Back at the home zip code, Brandon helps a damsel in distress, Kelly spends a night at Mark’s and Steve, it turns out, puts his name on Brandon’s old term paper. Ah, the good ol’ ’90s.
BIG-SCREEN VEGAS THIS WEEK:
Casino (Feb. 7 @ 9 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.
Resident Evil: Extinction (Feb. 7 @ 2:10 p.m. and 9 p.m.; Feb. 12 @ 12:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on STARZ channels): 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.
Smokin’ Aces (Feb. 7 @ 4:10 p.m.; Feb. 10 @ 12:55 a.m. and 10:55 a.m.; and Feb. 13 @ 8:10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on INDIE): 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.
Midnight Run (Feb. 8 @ 3:55 a.m. and 6:55 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.
Heat (Feb. 8 @ 5:40 a.m., 8:45 p.m.; Feb. 11 @ 3:15 p.m. on RETROPLEX) and The Cannonball Run (Feb. 8 @ 9:45 p.m.; Feb. 9 @ 6:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on MOVIEPLEX): Which Burt Reynolds-in-Vegas do you prefer? Understated and moody or unbridled and goofy? It’s a pick-’em in this STARZ run of the late Mustachioed One’s pop-ups in town.
Vegas gets more 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). 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.
More frenetic and yesteryear-star-laden (look — it’s cameos of the golden year versions of The Rat Pack!) is the frantically silly antics of 1981’s The Cannonball Run, about an outlaw cross-country car race.
Stars of the era (and pals of the Burt-ster) pack the call sheet, including Roger Moore, Dom DeLuise, Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Jamie Farr and Jackie Chan. It’s all too ridiculous for words (of which snarling critics had many) but it’s a fun remember-when retro ride, if you’re into that era’s nostalgia. Vegas-area factor: The opening sequence was filmed along the El Dorado Dry Lake Bed just outside Boulder City; and a chase scene features a Lamborghini speeding past the Railroad Pass Hotel-Casino in Henderson, toward the U.S.-95 overpass to Searchlight.
Fun fact: Check out an appearance by ex-Vegas showgirl-turned actress Valerie Perrine.
Rush Hour 2 (Feb. 8 @ 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.; Feb. 10 @ 11:35 p.m.; Feb. 13 @ 3 a.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.
Leprechaun 3 (Feb. 8 @ 8:05 p.m. and 11:05 p.m. on MAX channels): Gore and giggles? How can you go wrong? Well, we’ll leave that answer up to you after you take in this 1995 slasher three-quel in which the evil little titular fellow (Warwick Davis) comes to life in a Las Vegas pawnshop and goes on a rampage through our beloved town. It falls to a college student (John Gatins) who has gambled away his tuition money (naturally) to take the wicked imp down. Shot in only 14 days, largely in Los Angeles, it nonetheless lensed at Fremont Street and takes viewers through casinos including the Riviera, Excalibur, Stardust and Circus Circus, plus the former Pawn Place on 4th Street. Its promo taglines? “Welcome to Vegas: Your losing streak is about to begin!” and “Welcome to Vegas: The odds are you won’t leave alive!” (No, we won’t be employing those as marketing slogans, either.)
Lethal Weapon 4 (Feb. 9 @ 6:05 a.m., 9:05 a.m. and 6:50 p.m.; Feb. 12 @ 8 a.m., 11 a.m.; 3:50 p.m. and 6:50 p.m. on STARZ channels): “OKAY! OKAY! OKAY! OKAY! OKAY!” … 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.
Leaving Las Vegas (Feb. 9 @ 9 p.m. on THIS): It’s a downer — alcoholic Nic Cage comes to Vegas to drink himself to death and finds comfort in the arms of call girl Elizabeth Shue — but it’s brilliant. And it won Cage a well-deserved Oscar. Read all about it in detail here: https://www.lasvegasnewswire.com/1995s-leaving-las-vegas-is-dark-and-giddy/
Very Bad Things (Feb. 9 @ 9 p.m.; Feb. 10 @ midnight on STARZ): Though we’d never claim the title of this pitch-black comedy as a marketing slogan, it’s an apt description of what develops in this vicious 1998 thriller that is more or less The Hangover in hell. A cast including Jon Favreau, Cameron Diaz, Christian Slater, Jeremy Piven, Daniel Stern and Jeanne Tripplehorn topline this tale — about a third of which was filmed here — in which a group of party-hearty pals invade Vegas for a bachelor party. However, when a prostitute is killed, bodies begin piling up and buddies turn on each other as a coverup escalates. But hey — we do get to enjoy scenes including the merriment on Fremont Street and the vistas of Red Rock Canyon.
The Great White Hype (Feb. 10 @ 7:30 a.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.
Honeymoon in Vegas (Feb. 11 @ 12:30 a.m. 3:30 a.m. on STARZ channels): 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.
Hot Shots! (Feb. 11 @ 10:10 p.m.; Feb. 12 @ 1:10 a.m., 6:50 a.m. and 9:50 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.
Godzilla (Feb. 12 @ 10 p.m. on TNT): What did we ever do to tick off Hollywood? They destroy us in the 2014 reinvention of Godzilla. Hey Hollywood, go pick on someone else — Washington, D.C. perhaps. They haven’t had a good movie wipeout since Independence Day. Actually, scratch that — D.C. is doing a pretty stellar job of blowing itself up these days.
Sgt. Bilko (Feb. 13 @ 9:45 a.m. and 6:25 p.m. on STARZ): 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!
VEGAS HERE, THERE, EVERYWHERE:
Property Brothers: Forever Home — Las Vegas Classic (Feb. 7 @ 6 a.m. on HGTV)
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Feb. 7-13 @ 6 a.m. on USA; Feb. 10 @ 7 a.m. on OXYGN; and Feb. 13 @ 7:30-11:30 a.m. on SYFY)
Property Brothers: Forever Home — Suburban Vegas Upgrade (Feb. 7 @ 7 a.m. on HGTV)
Property Brothers: Forever Home — Dream Home in the Vegas Suburbs: (Feb. 7 @ 10 a.m. on HGTV)
American Ninja Warrior: Vegas Finals (Feb. 7 @ 10 a.m.-noon on NBCSN)
Roseanne: Vegas (Feb. 7 @ 11 a.m. on CMT)
Roseanne: Vegas, Vegas (Feb. 7 @ 11: 30 a.m. on CMT)
Flipping Vegas (Feb. 8 @ 7-10 a.m. on A&E; Feb. 10 @ 3 p.m.-1 a.m. on FYI)
Top This Party: Las Vegas (Feb. 8 @ 10 a.m. on LRW)
Pawn Stars (Feb. 10 @ 10 a.m.-noon; Feb. 11 @ 1:05 a.m. and 3:05 a.m.; and Feb. 13 @ 9 a.m.-noon on HISTW)
Keeping Up with the Kardashians: What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas (Feb. 12 @ 1:30 p.m. on E!)
— Steve Bornfeld
All listings are subject to change, and are Pacific time. Also check for listed programs on streaming and on-demand services.