×

Las Vegas

Gamble pays off for Peacock

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas — unless you want millions of people to see it. Then you’ve got to come up with a combo of flash, substance, drama and action to get audiences to tune in every week.

That mix is what NBC’s “Las Vegas” has been aiming for. The storyline centers on Josh Duhamel’s casino security expert Danny McCoy, who operates under mentor Big Ed Deline (James Caan) and can’t help but get wrapped up in his co-workers’ complicated lives. The high drama includes nabbing crooks, stopping bombs and, of course, making way for a wet T-shirt contest or two.

“I know that we’ve gotten compared to the shows from the ’70s, like ‘Love Boat,’ ‘Rockford Files,’ ‘A-Team,’ ‘Starsky & Hutch,’ ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and ‘Dukes of Hazzard.’ Guess what? Thank you for the compliment,” says show creator Gary Scott Thompson. “They were all shows that people really enjoyed and still talk about.”

With the high volume of bikini-clad girls, not to mention four gorgeous gals (Nikki Cox, Vanessa Marcil, Molly Sims and Marsha Thomason) in the ensemble cast, and wild camera shots — technically called “wooshes” by the staffers — zooming throughout the fictional casino, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the glitz and glamour of “Las Vegas.”

But during its debut season, episodes were written for all seven principal cast members, bringing personal issues into the mix and even ripping a topic from the headlines when Duhamel’s character, a former Marine, was called back into active service for a teary season finale.

“When you’ve got all of the wild stuff in Las Vegas, you don’t have to play it up,” explains Duhamel. “We’re more like these normal people who just happen to work in a place like this. I think that makes it more interesting, because we’re on the inside of this madness.”

And much of the madness is true, according to Thompson. “We take research trips to Las Vegas and ask the real security guys if it’s too far-fetched if we do X, Y and Z. They say, ‘Are you crazy? That happens all of the time,’ ” he says.

The frivolity of the show has attracted more willing guest stars — Paris Hilton, Sean Astin and Dennis Hopper — than writers know what to do with. “Alec Baldwin came on the show and said, ‘I had such a great time, you guys have to think of a way to get me back,’ ” says Thompson.

Duhamel and crew will certainly be ready for viewers to return next season. But if they have to TiVo an episode in order to hit the real tables in Sin City, that’s fine, too.

“Vegas is an assault on your senses that most people really like,” says Thompson. “That was my idea of creating the show: I’ll bring Vegas to you once a week. At the end of the episode if people say, ‘I want to go to Vegas,’ then I’ve done my job.”

Best episode: “Always Faithful” combined counterfeiting thieves, tear-jerking drama when former Marine Danny was called back to active duty, and one killer right hook by Big Ed.

Most complex character and why: Big Ed. The former military vet has age and stories over his younger counterparts — and knows how to carry himself around those Las Vegas old-timers.

What should happen next season: First, get Danny back from the war-torn desert to the Nevada desert; then keep having all of the cast members participate in the storylines. The best episodes incorporate everyone to resolve an issue.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • TV News Roundup: Netflix Drops Trailer

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Drops Trailer for Ryan Murphy's 'The Politician' (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix has drops the first trailer for “The Politician,” and “Killing Eve” adds two to its cast for season 3.  CASTING Harriet Walter and Danny Sapani, both alums of “The Crown,” are set to join the cast of “Killing Eve” for its third season. British writer Suzanne Heathcote, whose past credits include [...]

  • Lady Gaga

    Variety Earns 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Award Nominations

    Variety has received 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie award nominations for its coverage of the entertainment industry over the past year. The awards gala, which will take place at The Hilton Midtown in New York City on Oct. 30, celebrates publications that have demonstrated impressive investigative journalism, in addition to thoughtful digital and print design. [...]

  • Disneyland

    Disney Shares Slip Amid Reported Whistleblower Allegations of Inflated Revenue

    Sandra Kuba, a former senior financial analyst for Disney’s revenue operations unit, says she has filed a series of whistleblower tips with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging that the entertainment conglomerate repeatedly and systematically overstated its revenue for years, according to a MarketWatch report, by as much as $6 billion in a single [...]

  • Bob Bakish Joe Ianniello

    ViacomCBS Sets Board Members; Bob Bakish, Joe Ianniello New Deals Disclosed

    ViacomCBS has unveiled the 13 members of its board of directors and details of new employment contracts for president-CEO Bob Bakish and CBS chairman-CEO Joe Ianniello. The disclosure came Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, six days after Viacom and CBS at long last set an all-stock merger agreement valued at [...]

  • Carrie Underwood, left, and Reba McEntire

    CMAs Make Hosting Change: Brad Paisley Exits, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire Are In

    The CMA Awards have had the most consistent hosting situation of any music awards show in television, but 11 years after installing Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood as the reliable faces of the telecast, even ABC and the Country Music Association have decided it’s time for a switch. Come Nov. 13, Underwood will return for [...]

  • Ava Max iHeartRadio Wango Tango, Portraits,

    Megan Thee Stallion, CNCO, Ava Max to Perform at VMAs Pre-show

    CNCO, Megan Thee Stallion and “Sweet but Psycho” singer Ava Max (pictured) have been added to the performer lineup at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. The three will take the stage during the VMAs’ red carpet pre-show, hosted by Terrence J and Nessa. Zara Larsson will join the two hosts as a special correspondent. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content