Todd Williamson/Associated Press/Invision
Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012 | 1:07 p.m.
You can find our downtown Fremont Street just 20 minutes north of the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif., in the town of Santa Clarita, California’s 24th largest city.
I can hear you wondering if I’ve had one too many magnums of bubbly -- “What is Robin rambling on about now?” -- Fremont Street is in downtown Las Vegas nearly 400 miles east of Santa Clarita.
True, but to the producers of the new hit drama “Vegas” on CBS, the re-created Sin City of the 1950s in Santa Clarita is just a horse shoe’s throw from Hollywood studios.
It’s just one of the many tricks of cinematography that make it an easy daily commute for actor Dennis Quaid and his co-stars.
“I really enjoy coming home every day after work and sleeping in my own bed instead of crashing in whatever city I’m shooting in,” Dennis told our colleagues at Los Angeles Confidential magazine.
“I’m now able to tell my 4-year-old daughter I’ll be home tonight instead of several days away. We couldn’t do that if we were even in real Vegas because of the long production hours.”
In the new winter edition of Confidential, Dennis confides that his cocaine use in the 1980s had brought him to within five years of death before rehab changed his life. “I spent the ’90s just re-learning life,” he admitted. “I was adrift as an actor a little bit. I was losing the fire in my belly. Then I re-proved myself.”
Dennis portrays the role of real-life one-time Sheriff Ralph Lamb, who battled Mob bosses here as “the city transformed into the nation’s neon gambling capital from just a dusty cow town.”
In a long film career, this is Dennis’ first TV series in more than three decades; he appeared in an episode of “Baretta” in 1977. Then came his breakout role in 1979’s “Breaking Away,” followed by dozens of credits, from “The Big Easy” to playing former President Bill Clinton in HBO’s “Special Relationship” to astronaut Gordon Cooper in “The Right Stuff.”
Formerly married to actress Meg Ryan (1991-2001), he is now reconciled with real-estate wife Kimberly and their twins, Thomas and Zoe.
Dennis told our Confidential colleagues: “ ‘Vegas’ just seemed like a really good fit; it’s cowboys versus gangsters basically. It was a huge decision. I’d been looking for something to do on television for a couple of years now because I feel what’s going on in television is what was going on in the movies in the ’70s.
“A lot of great writers have moved to television, and they’re doing some really good stuff. ‘Vegas’ came along, and creator and executive producer Nick Pileggi, who created ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Casino,’ has a great pedigree.”
Asked about Vegas the town, the “Vegas” star grinned: “I have this philosophy that no one should stay more than 57 hours in Vegas. I’ve spent my share of time there, let’s put it that way.”
“Vegas” has held steady since its debut and is helping CBS win the Tuesday ratings night with nearly 12 million viewers at 10 p.m. PT.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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