Where to find Vegas on your TV, Jan. 3-9
IN THE SPOTLIGHT:
Lethal Weapon 4: (Jan. 4 @ 11:50 p.m. and Jan. 5 @ 5:50 p.m. on STARZ): “OKAY! OKAY! OKAY! OKAY! OKAY!” … Joe Pesci’s comic catchphrase, anyone? With his acclaimed subdued 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 (Jan. 4 @ 3 p.m. on THIS-TV): 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.
Indecent Proposal (Jan. 5 @ 12:30 p.m. on MYSTERY): With more-than-decent star power, 1993’s Indecent Proposal deposits married high school sweeties David (Woody Harrelson) and Diana (Demi Moore) in Vegas, where they promptly gamble away all of their savings. Enter billionaire John Gage (Robert Redford), who (quite understandably) gets the hots for Diana, and offers the couple a million bucks to spend the night with her. Marital angst ensues. No Real Housewives plot could top that. In fact, no Real Housewife could out-sexy Demi Moore. Note the Vegas backdrops including the sports book and Benihana Village at the Las Vegas Hilton (now Westgate Las Vegas), the California Hotel & Casino and the volcano flames and rushing waterfall courtesy of the Mirage. Sharp-eyed viewers might also note the geographical oopsie when a helicopter takes off from (supposedly) the Hilton, with the sign for Downtown’s Lady Luck hotel-casino (now the Downtown Grand) clearly visible and nowhere near the Hilton. Not the first time filmmakers have rearranged the puzzle pieces of our geography, nor the last.
Flipping Vegas (Jan. 6 @ 1 p.m.-1 a.m. on FYI) and Pawn Stars (Jan. 8 @ 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on HISTW): In the mood to binge (translation: overdose) on Las Vegas reality (which in TV terms is semi-reality)? Here’s your chance as Flipping Vegas unspools 12 hours of the fix-and-flip realty realities of Scott and Amie Yancey. Then, the indestructible Pawn Stars only underperforms them by an hour as the barter adventures play out for 11 hours at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. It’s Vegas you want? It’s Vegas you get. … And get … And get …
BIG-SCREEN VEGAS THIS WEEK:
Another Stakeout (Jan. 3 @ 2:25 p.m., Jan. 7 @ 4:40 a.m. and Jan. 8 @ 6 a.m. on HBO channels): 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.
Bugsy (Jan. 4 @ 5:40 p.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.
Honeymoon in Vegas (Jan. 4 @ 10:35 p.m., and Jan. 5 @ 5:50 a.m. and 5 p.m. on MOVIEPLEX; and Jan. 8 @ 9:40 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.
What Happens in Vegas (Jan. 4 @ 11:55 p.m. and Jan. 5 @ 7 a.m. on FREEFORM): Take a bow, Vegas — this one, obviously, is based on our famous catchphrase. Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher star in this 2008 comedy as a pair of Vegas partyers who get over-lubricated, then sober up to realize they’ve gotten — uh-oh! — hitched. Plus a huge jackpot plays into the plot. Well, of course it does. Vegas, baby!
Think Like a Man Too (Jan. 5 @ noon and 8:55 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.
The Hangover (Jan. 5 @ 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; and Jan. 8 @ 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on PARAMOUNT): 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/
Now You See Me (Jan. 5 @ 2 p.m. and Jan. 6 @ 9:30 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.
Midnight Run (Jan. 7 @ 12:10 a.m. and Jan. 9 @ 6:50 p.m. on MOMAX): 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.
The Great White Hype (Jan. 7 @ 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. on MAX channels): 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.
Very Bad Things (Jan. 8 @ 2:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. 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.
Rush Hour 2 (Jan. 8 @ 2:25 p.m. on HBO): 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.
Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (Jan. 9 @ 1:20 a.m. on STARZ): For the Vegas-curious, there’s only one reason to take in this 1991 critical/box office fizzle: that admittedly stunning moment when the lead characters make an escape by leaping off the roof of the late, storied Dunes hotel into a pool (that may or may not have been the actual Dunes pool). Otherwise, this biker opus starring Mickey Rourke and Don Johnson as hog-straddling buddies who rob a bank’s armored car, unaware its cargo is actually a new street drug, leaves little impression. But if you sit through it, you can do a bit of costar-gazing, with sightings of Giancarlo Esposito, Tom Sizemore, Daniel Baldwin and Vanessa Williams.
Lost in America (Jan. 9 @ 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.”
Sgt. Bilko (Jan. 9 @ 6:45 a.m. and 8 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:
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Jan. 3-8 @ 6 a.m. and Jan. 9 @ 6:30 a.m. on USA; Jan. 6 @ 7 a.m. on OXYGN; and Jan. 9 @ 7-11 a.m. on SYFY)
Property Brothers Forever Home: Dream Home in the Vegas Suburbs (Jan. 3 @ 9 a.m. on HGTV)
Property Brothers Forever Home: Las Vegas Classic (Jan. 3 @ 11 a.m. on HGTV)
American Ninja Warrior: Las Vegas National Finals (Jan. 3 @ 1-3 p.m. on NBCSN)
Top This Party: Las Vegas (Jan. 4 @ 10 a.m. on LRW)
Monster Jam: All-Star Las Vegas Saturday (Jan. 4 @ 10 p.m. on NBCSN)
Sister Wives: Leaving Las Vegas (Jan. 5 @ 6 p.m. on TLC)
Flip or Flop Vegas: (Jan. 9 @ 8 a.m.-noon on HGTV)
— Steve Bornfeld
(All listings are subject to change, and are Pacific time. Also check for listed programs on streaming and on-demand services.)