Vegas on TV

Where to find Vegas on your TV, Jan. 17-23


Roseanne: Vegas, Vegas (Jan. 18 @ 7:45 a.m. on TVLAND) Appearances of two Vegas icons — one a living legend, the other forever in memory — remind us of their greatness in lighthearted fashion in this replay of a 1991 episode of the original Roseanne. In this conclusion of a two-parter Vegas sojourn, (the opener precedes it at 7:10 a.m.), both Wayne Newton and the late Danny Gans (as a Wayner impersonator) figure into the plot as tipsy hecklers Roseanne and Nancy (Sandra Bernhard) mistake the latter for the former. Which makes sense, because Gans was that good.

The Profit: Las Vegas Mini Gran Prix (Jan 20 @ 7 a.m. on CNBC), Pawn Stars: Pawning for Treble (Jan. 20 @ 10 p.m. on HISTW) and Say Yes to the Nest: Vegas Dreams (Jan. 23 @ 7:30 a.m. on HGTV).

Vegas-style reality (as in reality TV) is headed up by a brand-new outing of Pawn Stars. This foray into the life of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop follows Rick to Chi-Town, where he has a run-in with a wrestling legend (uh-oh?) and a shot at obtaining a Michael Jordan championship jersey. But back here in our home environ, Chumlee hopes to score big on a 300-year-old violin, while a Batman playhouse swoops in on the action.

Elsewhere on the reality landscape, The Profit pays a visit to mini-racing/go-kart-frolicking Las Vegas Mini Gran Prix as host Marcus Lemonis brings his small-biz smarts to that fun-time outpost.  And on Say Yes to the Nest, “Vegas Dreams” are being chased by a pair of newlyweds aiming to settle down here in domestic bliss. Wielding a $1 million budget, the love-birdies are searching for a house with an office for the bride, a theater room for the groom, and a private space for his outspoken mother, who “plans to visit often.”

Perhaps, with that budget, the bride can afford to treat new hubby’s mommy to unlimited leaps off the Strat’s SkyJump. Seems like it was made for mothers-in-law — especially the “outspoken” ones.


Hot Shots! (Jan. 17 @ 2:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m. and 6:30 p.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.

Rain Man (Jan. 17 @ 10 a.m. and Jan. 18 @ 5:30 p.m. on THIS): With the possible exception of employees of a certain department store chain that was famously dissed (“Kmart sucks!”), 1988’s Rain Man remains a universally popular comedy-drama road flick. Exceptional performances by Tom Cruise as a callow wheeler-dealer, and Dustin Hoffman as his autistic savant brother light up this gem. As the pair hit Vegas and win big at the blackjack table, look for scenes filmed at Caesars Palace, including the Emperor’s Suite in the Forum Tower, which is still known as “Rain Main Suite.” Other Caesars scenes include those filmed at men’s shopping store Cuzzens, and Cleopatra’s Salon. And for the record: We’re very fond of Kmart.

The Hangover (Jan. 17 @ 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on MTV): 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 Behind the Camera: Caesars Palace, Lindsay Lohan’s boo-boo and an embarrassed actor part of ‘The Hangover’ legacy.

Leaving Las Vegas (Jan. 17 @ 5 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: Behind the Camera: Leaving Las Vegas.

Lethal Weapon 4(Jan. 17 @ 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Jan. 18 @ 9 a.m. and noon, and Jan. 23 @ noon and 7:10 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.

Resident Evil: Extinction (Jan. 18 @12:40 a.m., 3:40 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 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.

Midnight Run (Jan. 18 @ 7:50 a.m., Jan. 19 @ 11:50 a.m. and 2:50 p.m. and Jan. 22 @ 9:20 a.m. and 12:20 p.m. on MAX channels): 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.

Independence Day (Jan. 18 @ 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on IFC): “Kick the tires and light the fires, Big Daddy!” — so sayeth Harry Connick Jr.’s hotshot pilot, who winds up as sky-high roadkill in this campy 1996 defend-the-planet blockbuster, which features scenes set in our own Area 51. Here’s some trivial trivia on that: In the briefing room scene, a night vision pan shot of the base is an actual photo taken by a conspiracy theorist at “Freedom Ridge,” an area no longer accessible to the public. Why? … The truth is out there. (Oh wait, that’s from some paranoid alien-conspiracy show, isn’t it?) By the way, D.C gets leveled in this flick, not Vegas.

The Great White Hype (Jan. 18 @ 10:30 p.m. and Jan. 19 @ 11:30 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.

The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (Jan. 19 @ 9:05 a.m. on FREEFORM): YABBA-DABBA VEGAS BABY! What more do you need to know? Just that, and Ann-Margret (you can call her Ann Marg-Rock, thank you very much) sings the theme song, in a playful tribute to her Viva Las Vegas co-star Elvis Presley. Plus a new Fred Flintstone, Vegas-specific catchphrase: “Yabba-Dabba-Dough!”

Now You See Me (Jan. 19 @ 11:30 a.m. and Jan. 20 @ 7 a.m. on FX): Gallop along with a bunch of magicians known as The Four Horseman, as they pull off mid-performance bank heists and bestow the money on their audiences. Liberally sprinkled with stars — including Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman — this 2013 thriller features a cool Vegas travelogue of scenes filmed the at the Golden Gate hotel-casino, the Fremont Street Experience, the Aria hotel-casino and the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse. Oh — and scenes shot at the Neon Boneyard didn’t make the final theatrical cut, but do show up on the DVD.

Another Stakeout (Jan. 19 @ 6:35 p.m. on HBO): Vegas makes a few appearances — highlighted by some shots of the Plaza Hotel — in this underwhelming 1993 sequel to the original 1987 Stakeout. This time out, squabbling cops Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez are back on the gig, tracking Cathy Moriarty, the missing witness in the case of a (guess what?) Vegas mobster. Not that it (Heaven forbid!) trades in clichés or anything.

Rush Hour 2 (Jan. 19 @ 8:25 p.m. and Jan. 23 @ 10:15 a.m. and 1:15 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.

Bugsy (Jan. 19 @ 11:25 p.m. and Jan. 20 @ 11 a.m. on EPIX): First, the minuses: You won’t see much of honest-to-goodness Las Vegas in director Barry Levinson’s 1991 gangster epic that purports to chronicle Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s rise in our town and his “creation” of the Flamingo hotel-casino. For one thing, it was mostly shot in California, where a full-scale, time-warp replica of the Flamingo was built near Palm Desert and La Quinta. And for another, the mob dynamo gets more credit than history allows by the film never mentioning William Wilkerson, who actually conceived of and built the resort, and owned nearly half of it (Siegel only got involved as it neared completion). We know — details, details.  But Bugsy remains a triumphant piece of film-making, thanks largely to the towering lead performances of Warren Beatty as Siegel and Annette Benning as gal pal Virginia Hill. And Siegel’s embrace of Las Vegas (and checkered life) has helped fuel the mystique of Vegas to this day. An old expression applies here: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” And film it, too.  

Lost in America (Jan. 20 @ 3:10 a.m. on HBO): Take a time-travel excursion back to the affectionately-remembered Desert Inn hotel-casino in 1985’s just-as-affectionately-remembered road comedy, Lost in America. Delight anew as Albert Brooks and Julie Hagerty blow their cash on a spin of the roulette wheel, then try to persuade casino manager Garry Marshall to give back their money. The pitch: It would be a terrific advertising promotion for the DI. Yeah, right. Brooks’ creative plea: He and the missus are different from “all the other (a particularly colorful Yiddishism) who come here to see Wayne Newton.” And for a marital spat, the film plops the frazzled couple at the concrete arch at Hoover Dam. Vegas is honored to be a part of this classic Brooks entry, which is ranked No. 84 on the American Film Institute list, “100 years, 100 Laughs.”

Honeymoon in Vegas (Jan. 20 @ 7:50 a.m. and 9:30 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.

The Godfather (Jan. 21. @ 8 p.m. and Jan. 22 @ 9 a.m. on AMC) and The Godfather Part II (Jan. 22 @ midnight and 1 p.m. on AMC): C’mon, you remember this 1972 classic’s Vegas connection, don’cha? Ya know, when the Corleones in Part I muscle in on the territory of Bugsy Siegel-inspired Moe Green (Alex Rocco) — who is later shot through the eye (Bugsy-style!) but not before he accuses Corleone weak link Fredo (John Cazale) of, um, making love to (not exactly his phrasing) cocktail waitresses two at a time. It’s coming back to you, right? Yes, that’s the Tropicana hotel-casino featured in the original, with some interior scenes shot at the former Riviera. Catch glimpses of The Desert Inn in 1974’s Part II — and in a nod to the northern reaches of our state, stretches of Lake Tahoe smile for their closeup in the sequel.

Sgt. Bilko (Jan. 22@ 2:05 a.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!


Flipping Vegas (Jan. 18 @ 7-10 a.m. on A&E; Jan. 13 @ 3 p.m.-1 a.m. on FYI)

Top This Party: Las Vegas (Jan. 18 @ 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on LRW)

American Ninja Warrior: Las Vegas National Finals (Jan. 19 @ 2 p.m., Jan. 20 @ 7:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on NBCSN)

Malcolm in the Middle: Vegas (Jan. 20 @ 9 p.m. on FUSE)

Pawn Stars (Jan. 20 @ 11:05 p.m., Jan. 21 @ 1:05 a.m. and 3:05 a.m., and Jan. 23 @ 7 a.m.-noon 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.


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