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Las Vegas

Las Vegas ( Fri. (6), Sat. (7), 6-8 p.m., A&E) Filmed in Las Vegas by MPH Entertainment for A&E Network. Executive producers, Jim Milio, Mark Hufnail, Melissa Jo Peltier; executive producer for A&E, Michael Katz; producer, Susan Berman; associate producers, Kelly McPherson, Christopher Meindl; directors, Milio, Peltier; writers, Berman, Milio, Peltier; editors, Allison MacEwan, Chris Simpson; camera, I-Li Chen, Piers Bath, Tom Zannes, Bob Keys, Jefferson Miller; music, Kevin Kiner. Narrator: Richard Crenna. Top-notch docu backs up its bet and rolls sevens spelling out the history of the desert gambling Mecca. Part one runs from rustlers to Rat Pack, expertly paralleling the lawlessness of the Wild West with the migration of Mormons and misfits, while the feds repeatedly attempt to govern with an iron fist. Part two is all neon: Sinatra, Elvis, the mob implosion and the arrival of Strip mastermind Steve Wynn. While the final hour repetitively harps on the question of how large Vegas can grow before it evaporates availability of water is given only a cursory nod much of the four captivating hours are spent reminiscing and chronologically stringing together actions and reactions. Fifty-plus interviewees provide the thread, each edited to an appropriate length between sound bite and monologue. Rose Marie is the expert witness: Her testimony, coupled with her home movies of '50s marquees, explicate the development of the Strip courtesy of the mob. Writer Michael Ventura supplies sociological commentary to balance "Casino" author Nicholas Pileggi's historical anecdotes.Photographs from each decade provide a well-used timeline of the Strip's development and downtown's seedy origins. Historians are as lively as comic Shecky Greene and producer George Schlatter. Producer and author Susan Berman offers solid first-hand accounts of growing up in a Vegas mob household. (Berman has authored a companion book that will be released along with homevideo.) Much like the city itself, show is a fascinating juxtaposition of events. During the Depression, Las Vegas was a boomtown thanks to Hoover Dam; as the city entered the flush '80s hurting, it was still trying to shed mob influence and roll out the red carpet to corporate America. Every step of the way, Vegas has found a savior Ben Siegel, newspaper publisher Howard Greenspun, Sinatra, Howard Hughes, Wynn to reshape the city and provide its direction. And without proffering any conclusions, docu suggests the city gave up character for cash and convenience, and where that will lead is anybody's guess. Phil Gallo

With:
Narrator: Richard Crenna.

Las Vegas ( Fri. (6), Sat. (7), 6-8 p.m., A&E) Filmed in Las Vegas by MPH Entertainment for A&E Network. Executive producers, Jim Milio, Mark Hufnail, Melissa Jo Peltier; executive producer for A&E, Michael Katz; producer, Susan Berman; associate producers, Kelly McPherson, Christopher Meindl; directors, Milio, Peltier; writers, Berman, Milio, Peltier; editors, Allison MacEwan, Chris Simpson; camera, I-Li Chen, Piers Bath, Tom Zannes, Bob Keys, Jefferson Miller; music, Kevin Kiner. Narrator: Richard Crenna. Top-notch docu backs up its bet and rolls sevens spelling out the history of the desert gambling Mecca. Part one runs from rustlers to Rat Pack, expertly paralleling the lawlessness of the Wild West with the migration of Mormons and misfits, while the feds repeatedly attempt to govern with an iron fist. Part two is all neon: Sinatra, Elvis, the mob implosion and the arrival of Strip mastermind Steve Wynn. While the final hour repetitively harps on the question of how large Vegas can grow before it evaporates availability of water is given only a cursory nod much of the four captivating hours are spent reminiscing and chronologically stringing together actions and reactions. Fifty-plus interviewees provide the thread, each edited to an appropriate length between sound bite and monologue. Rose Marie is the expert witness: Her testimony, coupled with her home movies of ’50s marquees, explicate the development of the Strip courtesy of the mob. Writer Michael Ventura supplies sociological commentary to balance “Casino” author Nicholas Pileggi’s historical anecdotes.Photographs from each decade provide a well-used timeline of the Strip’s development and downtown’s seedy origins. Historians are as lively as comic Shecky Greene and producer George Schlatter. Producer and author Susan Berman offers solid first-hand accounts of growing up in a Vegas mob household. (Berman has authored a companion book that will be released along with homevideo.) Much like the city itself, show is a fascinating juxtaposition of events. During the Depression, Las Vegas was a boomtown thanks to Hoover Dam; as the city entered the flush ’80s hurting, it was still trying to shed mob influence and roll out the red carpet to corporate America. Every step of the way, Vegas has found a savior Ben Siegel, newspaper publisher Howard Greenspun, Sinatra, Howard Hughes, Wynn to reshape the city and provide its direction. And without proffering any conclusions, docu suggests the city gave up character for cash and convenience, and where that will lead is anybody’s guess. Phil Gallo

Las Vegas

Fri. (6), Sat. (7), 6-8 p.m., A&E

Production: Filmed in Las Vegas by MPH Entertainment for A&E Network. Executive producers, Jim Milio, Mark Hufnail, Melissa Jo Peltier; executive producer for A&E, Michael Katz; producer, Susan Berman; associate producers, Kelly McPherson, Christopher Meindl; directors, Milio, Peltier; writers, Berman, Milio, Peltier; editors, Allison MacEwan, Chris Simpson.

Cast: Narrator: Richard Crenna.Camera, I-Li Chen, Piers Bath, Tom Zannes, Bob Keys, Jefferson Miller; music, Kevin Kiner.

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