Where to find Vegas on your TV, Jan. 31 – Feb. 6
IN THE SPOTLIGHT:
Smokin’ Aces (Feb. 2 @ 2:15 a.m. and 7:10 p.m. on STARZ; and Feb. 6 @ 11 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.
Cherry 2000 (Feb. 1 @ 12:30 a.m. on TCM): How about a flick seemingly lensed everywhere in Nevada EXCEPT the Vegas we love? Then set your DVR to the sci-fi oddity Cherry 2000, which, though made in 1985, was shelved for three years and then tossed into the video market (i.e., oblivion) in 1988. This one takes place in the “future” (or for us, the past) of 2017, when the U.S. is a post-apocalyptic wasteland. A despondent man played by David Andrews is distraught because his sexually subservient robot wife has short-circuited (during an intimate encounter on a wet kitchen floor … seriously). To find a replacement, he must enter into the lawless zone (hey, that’s us!) because that’s the only place a replacement for the vintage “wife” model can be found.
You want Nevada, disguised as a ghostly netherworld? You get it in the form of the Valley of Fire State Park, the Las Vegas Wash, the Eldorado Valley Dry Lake Bed, Goldfield, Beatty, Rhyolite, Tonopah and Hoover Dam. Melanie Griffith co-stars as a tracker of hypersexualized robots. However, the movie industry pretty much lost track of this cinematic dystopian weirdness, until TCM unearthed it for us. Um … thanks?
Jason Bourne (Feb. 5 @ 4:30 p.m.; and Feb. 6 @ noon on FXX): 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.
BIG-SCREEN VEGAS THIS WEEK:
Midnight Run (Jan. 31 @ 2:30 a.m.; Feb. 3 @ 3:05 a.m. and 6:05 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.
Sgt. Bilko (Jan. 31 @ 2:25 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!
Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (Jan. 31 @ 3:35 p.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.
Lethal Weapon 4 (Jan. 31 @ 7 p.m.; Feb. 1 @ 8:25 a.m. and 11:25 a.m.; and Feb. 6 @ 9:50 a.m. and 8:50 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.
Resident Evil: Extinction (Feb. 1 @ 10:55 a.m.; and Feb. 4 @ 2:20 p.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.
Rush Hour 2 (Feb. 1 @ 8:50 p.m. and 11:50 p.m.; and Feb. 4 @ 9:25 a.m. and 12:25 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.
The Hangover (Feb. 1 @ 9 p.m. and 11:30 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 BEHIND THE CAMERA: Caesars Palace, Lindsay Lohan’s boo-boo and an embarrassed actor part of ‘The Hangover’ legacy
Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (Feb. 2 @ 5:30 p.m.; and Feb. 3 @ 4 a.m. on TBS): Calling this 2005 Sandra Bullock vehicle “silly” is over-praising it (Rotten Tomatoes bestows an abysmal 15 percent approval rating on it). But Vegas clichés at least get a good workout in this slight sequel, especially when William Shatner (at his winking, self-mocking best) is kidnapped and stashed at the ship at Treasure Island, and Bullock, Regina King and Diedrich Bader wind up at a drag club hollering out Tina Turner tunes. We question whether that would make Proud Mary proud.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Feb. 3 @ 3:45 a.m.; Feb. 5 @ 8:30 a.m.; and Feb. 6 @ 12:30 a.m. on IFC): In this 2013 Strip-magicians-at-war comedy, marquee prestidigitators played by Steve Carrell and Steve Buscemi (and partially based on Siegfried & Roy) take on an aggressive, hipster challenger practicing a danger-brand of street magic, played by Jim Carrey (partly based on Criss Angel). MGM magic maven David Copperfield served as a film advisor and shared a few confidential secrets with the filmmakers —for which they had to sign secrecy contracts. Look for scenes shot at Bally’s Las Vegas, Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, Fremont Street, Binion’s Gambling Hall and exterior shots up and down both the Strip and Downtown Las Vegas.
Honeymoon in Vegas (Feb. 3 @ 2:15 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.
Showgirls (Feb. 3 @ 10 p.m. and Feb. 4 @ 1 a.m. on STARZ channels): Was it the most notorious stinker about Las Vegas ever made … or the most devilishly clever cult film about Las Vegas ever made? Or both. Read all about it here: Diary of a mad movie.
Hot Shots! (Feb. 4 @ 7:30 p.m. on STARZ): 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.
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (Feb. 6 @ midnight and 11 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!”
VEGAS HERE, THERE, EVERYWHERE:
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Jan. 31, Feb. 1, 3, and 5 @ 6 a.m. and Feb. 6 @ 6:15 a.m. on USA; and Feb. 6 @ 7-10 a.m. on SYFY)
The Profit: Las Vegas Mini Gran Prix (Jan. 31 @ 9 p.m. and Feb. 4 @ 10 p.m. on CNBC)
Flipping Vegas (Feb. 1 @ 7-10 a.m. on A&E; Feb. 3 @ 3 p.m.-1 a.m. on FYI)
Top This Party: Las Vegas (Feb. 1 @ 10 a.m. on LRW)
Futurama: Viva Mars Vegas (Feb. 2 @ 7 p.m. on SYFY)
Pawn Stars (Feb. 3 @ 11:05 p.m.; Feb. 4 @ 1:05 a.m. and 3:05 a.m.; and Feb. 6 @ 9-10:30 a.m. on HISTW)
Roseanne: Vegas Interruptus (Feb. 5 @ 11:40 a.m. on CMT)
American Ninja Warrior: Vegas Finals (Feb. 5 @ 1-4 p.m. on NBCSN)
Property Brothers: Hometown Vegas (Feb. 5 @ 5 p.m. on HGTV)
Property Brothers: Vegas for Good (Feb. 5 @ 7 p.m. 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.