Vegas transports audiences back in time to the birth of the neon lights we know today.
By Valerie Milano
Santa Clarita, CA (Hollywood Today) 1/21/2013—“I kept hearing that he was the most fascinating character, rarely allowed anybody to really find out who he was, except he was a legend in Las Vegas and at a certain point was the most powerful person in Las Vegas, including the governor, because he controlled the work cards and the booze licensing,” creator Nicholas Pileggi said of real life Sheriff Ralph Lamb while on the set of the new CBS series Vegas. Continuing, Pileggi joked, “So if you were a casino and Ralph Lamb didn’t like you, he would yank your liquor license. And try to be a casino without a liquor license.”
Inspired by the true stories of former Las Vegas Sheriff Ralph Lamb, portrayed by Dennis Quaid, Vegas takes audiences back to the early 1960’s when the gambling and entertainment capital we all know today was in its infancy. Ralph Lamb, a true cowboy by definition, is faced with the challenge of keeping order in his town following the arrival of Chicago mobster Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis), new manager of the Savoy Casino. His two deputies, his brother Jack (Jason O’Mara), his son Dixon (Taylor Handley), and Assistant District Attorney Katherine O’Connell (Carrie-Anne Moss) work alongside the sheriff, investigating Sin City’s increasing corruption. Drama, crime, and murder ensue while Lamb and Savino fight for control of Las Vegas.
Both powerful men, it is their nature to clash. Dennis Quaid commented about this dynamic power struggle saying, “It’s almost like they (Lamb and Savino) are from another country, really, speaking different languages, in a way. He owns the building, but I own the land underneath it.”
Creator Nick Pileggi (Casino, Goodfellas) has a passion for the history of Las Vegas which shines through in his newest endeavor. “I thought it was clearly the richest period in which to dip into this story. And that’s what we’ve done and that’s what these unbelievable actors are showing,” he told journalists last week at the TCA Press Conference.
When asked about the possibility of cameos from famous icons of the 1960’s such as the Rat Pack and Frank Sinatra, creator Greg Walker said, “We are not going to reinvent history that way…We figured the fictional world that Nick (Pileggi) has created and we are helping to bring alive has enough great characters in it.”
As for the remainder of the premiere season, Quaid said of his character, “…he had this thing with his wife who died a while back who I think we are still going to be finding out about as that story unfolds along the saga hopefully that we are going to have here…he’s kind of loosened up because he has to be more social. He’s out there dealing with people.”
In addition to the wonderfully dramatic and intriguing depiction of characters on Vegas, another great accomplishment is production designer Carey Meyer’s amazingly accurate recreation of Las Vegas, specifically Fremont Street in 1961. Pileggi said, “It was an amazing thing. To come in and it was kind of a time capsule…These atomic lights. I hadn’t seen them in years. And the curves, all of these curves, that’s so period…It was just mind blowing.”
The TCA Press Event was a trip back to 1960’s Las Vegas in itself. Following the Q&A, attendees were invited to eat, drink, gamble, and enjoy the sets. Every detail in the Savoy Casino, down to the electrical plugs were accurate to the time period. Stepping outside the soundstage and onto “Fremont Street” was like taking a step back in time, decades before the massive hotels and the strip like it is today. Watch Vegas Tuesday nights at 10pm on CBS.