Monday, Sept. 22, 2003 | 8:22 a.m.
Hollywood and Las Vegas. A perfect marriage.
The nuptials got off to a grand start Tuesday night with the world-premiere screening of "Las Vegas."
NBC's new hourlong drama, which premieres tonight at 10 on KVBC Channel 3, is the latest pairing of Tinseltown and Sin City.
A trend that began and died with the late-'70s/early-'80s detective series "VEGA$" was resurrected three years ago with "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."
The gritty drama series concerning a group of high-tech specialized investigators is No. 1 in the ratings.
"Las Vegas appeals to the networks because there is a level of association with viewers," said "CSI" creator and longtime Las Vegas resident Anthony Zuiker. "Everyone's been to Vegas at least once in their life. When drama unfolds in a city they've been in, it, quite simply, is more exciting."
While the familiarity and glitz may appeal to viewers, filming in Las Vegas does have its downside -- especially to a show such as "CSI," which routinely features stories involving dead bodies turning up in strange locations all over the city.
"Hotels are still nervous with the subject matter of death," Zuiker said. "There are two types of casino executives in Las Vegas: the 'Visionaries' and the 'Nervous Jervouses.' The visionaries are the ones that realize allowing 'CSI' to feature their hotel in front of 30 million people is the best advertising money can't buy. The Nervous Jervouses are the ones that fear that seeing a dead body in their hotel will hurt their business. When we get that vibe we move on.
"It's a crapshoot. The smart executives make out. The nervous ones lose out. It's that simple."
Mayor Oscar Goodman said it's in the city's best financial interest to accommodate film and TV producers.
"I was in the movie 'Casino' and saw the kind of money spent by producers and the fun tourists had in seeing stars when they were in town," he said. "It's adding a certain glitz with the city not normally here before. It's a plus to what we already had."
The city itself is very supportive of the series, with Goodman and several representatives of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority flying to the premiere party Tuesday.
Goodman even served as a celebrity dealer for a high-stakes charity poker game between the cast and one grand-prize winner.
"I think what you saw (Tuesday) was indicative of how we feel of the films being made here," he said. "It's very beneficial for us."
While Sin City has had small-screen success with "VEGA$" and now "CSI," FX's series "Lucky" wasn't so, well, lucky.
The critically acclaimed series about a compulsive gambler living in Las Vegas failed to find much of an audience -- even with star John Corbett riding high off the film success of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."
Nevertheless, the show received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. As TV Guide noted, it was a first for a basic cable show.
In a town where it's possible to win by losing, the fate of "Lucky" seems only appropriate.
Meanwhile, for those itching for more Sin City on prime time, there's the seemingly ubiquitous specials on the Discovery and Travel Channels, reality shows such as "Fear Factor," as well as the occasional investigative reports from news series such as "Dateline" and "PrimeTime Live."
And, as the mayor said, the more attention the better.
"I just wish they'd offer me a part."