Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011 | 5:41 p.m.
- Oscar Goodman, Gregory Popovich
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Oscar Goodman plays a gunned-down former mayor well enough. Now we’ll see how the late-blooming thespian handles his role as judge and jury.
Details of Goodman’s next entertainment foray spilled out like an overflowing Bombay Sapphire martini Wednesday night. Fittingly enough, the scene was the Plaza, the epicenter of Goodman’s post-mayoral career forays. The event was a grandiose, Vegas-styled viewing party in the Plaza Showroom to celebrate Goodman’s appearance on Wednesday’s episode of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
The Plaza will be home to the Goodman-owned steakhouse and adjoining speakeasy set to open by the end of the year in the glass dome once occupied by Firefly, Center Stage Restaurant and, generations ago, the hotel pool. The Plaza’s throwback entertainment venue should play into another Goodman project. Unless something unforeseen unfolds, the Plaza Showroom is to be the setting for the pilot of a courtroom-fashioned show with the working title “Vegas Night Court With Oscar Goodman.”
As show producer Wayne Jefferies said Wednesday night, the plan is for the shooting for the pilot to take place the week of Nov. 4 in the showroom. If that goal isn’t met, producers are gunning for Nov. 14. Jefferies knows his way around Vegas-centered programming, as he also was instrumental in launching “Pawn Stars” to national (and unimpeded) prominence on The History Channel. On the Goodman project, Jefferies is listed as creator and executive producer, teaming with former “Judge Judy” and “Judge Joe Brown” executive producer Jerry Kupcinet.
Jefferies says the show will air on a major network. He can’t say, other than to offer, “It’s either ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox. … I can’t say anything else about who is interested. It’s a very sensitive matter, and I don’t want to compromise my relationship with the network.”
The network version would be for prime time, in the 7 to 9 p.m. range, Jefferies said, with a version planned for syndication that could air at any time during the day or night. Sort of a 24/7 appeal, like the city itself.
Naturally, the Goodman-as-judge show will embrace some uniquely Vegas effects.
“He’ll walk in with showgirls and fanfare,” Jefferies said. “He’ll have a martini, but he’ll wear a robe. It’ll be phenomenal.”
Make it a double phenomenal, with an olive.
Jefferies, who has lived in Las Vegas since age 12, came up with the courtroom show idea a couple of years ago and delivered it to Goodman last year. Goodman has already said how much he loved the idea, which is “a lot,” as he is the star.
“This just hit me like a ton of bricks, just like when I saw Rick (Harrison) and the family (stars of “Pawn Stars”). It just jumped off the page,” Jefferies said. “Oscar Goodman is the next, better Judge Judy.”
The ever-magnanimous Goodman is certainly working toward a career in front of the camera. His appearance on “CSI” was the vision of series writer Dustin Abraham, a Las Vegas native who fairly idolizes Goodman and has long been a friend of the Goodman family.
“I knew him when I was a kid,” Abraham said about a half-hour before last night’s “CSI” was splashed across a series of projection screens at a full-capacity Plaza Showroom. “I actually worked with his daughter at Banana Republic (laughing) a long time ago, at Fashion Show. I was 18, 19 at the time.”
Cara Goodman, the daughter of Oscar and Carolyn Goodman, was in attendance and confirmed that she worked with Abraham at Banana Republic. Neither had any particularly fascinating anecdotes about those days, but Cara Goodman did say, “You knew it was the Banana Republic because of the Jeep in the store. But, yep, we did work there together.”
Small town, right?
As previously noted, Carolyn Goodman was actually written into the “CSI” episode featuring her husband but could not make the shooting schedule. “She was busy doing mayor things,” Abraham said.
Mayor Goodman, in fact, was convening with the mayor of Mexicali as her husband was off in L.A. being shot with blanks.
As for her own acting objectives, Carolyn Goodman said, “I have no idea. I have just started this job, which is a wonderful opportunity. I haven’t given (acting) much thought.”
Oscar Goodman had to overcome an inherent malady faced by even the greatest actors.
“I had a meeting once with (Robert) De Niro, a while back, and he worked with Oscar in ‘Casino,’ ” Abraham said. “He said, ‘Oscar can’t remember his lines!’ So for Oscar, we had these big cue cards made up. They are hilarious.”
Goodman did a commendable job of reciting his lines and lavished praise on director Martha Coolidge for coaching him through the process.
“I am not doing any more acting unless Martha is with me,” Goodman told the crowd. “She is un-be-lievable!”
Abraham had the idea to write an episode about Goodman when he first read about plans for The Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas, one of Goodman’s pet projects during his final term as mayor. He thought of an idea to have Goodman shot to death at The Mob Museum opening, reasoning, “What could be better than the Mob attorney former mayor getting hit at The Mob Museum? Where else could that happen but Las Vegas?”
With contributions from producer Carol Mendelsohn and executive producer Don McGill, the plot shifted to keep Goodman alive. During the scene where he was plugged four times, he was wearing a bullet-proof suit, prompting him to explain to Ted Danson during the episode, “I’m not afraid! I’m just prepared, baby!” The audience cheered that line, and every other delivered by Goodman.
“I thought of shooting Oscar Goodman, and the first thing I thought was, ‘Let’s do it! That’s promotable!’ ” Abraham said, representing a growing list of TV types eager to shoot the ex-mayor -- with cameras or prop guns.
“He’s a legend,” Abraham said. “Mostly, I didn’t even care about the story or episode. I just wanted to do something cool for Oscar.”