Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 | 4:15 p.m.
On Friday night at Rocks Lounge, ceaselessly gyrating Zowie Bowie frontman Chris Phillips motioned to a mass of folks assembled in the club’s VIP area and said, “You might have noticed we have ‘America’s Most Wanted’ filming here tonight!”
Not quite, but huddled under floodlights in one of the club’s indoor cabanas were a collection of noteworthy (and, occasionally, nefarious) Las Vegas entertainers: Frank Marino of “Divas Las Vegas,” Golden Nugget impressionist Gordie Brown, hypnotist Marc Savard of V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood and Laugh Factory at Tropicana magician Murray Sawchuck.
Cameras were trained on this assortment of entertainment misfits, and the very preliminary — as in, barely off the runway — concept is to produce a sizzle reel of these showmen for a based-in-Las Vegas reality TV show. Phillips is featured in the potential project, too, and his next big gig is at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday at Bally’s, a show titled “Zowie Bowie and Friends Late Night Vegas.”
One of those friends is trumpet ace and bandleader David Perrico, who is leading a crack 20-piece orchestra, and Phillips is investigating the idea of hosting the show regularly at Bally’s Windows live entertainment venue, where you also find “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” and was the most recent showroom for The Amazing Johnathan until he abruptly pulled his act out of the hotel in December.
Regardless of whether this “Headliners of Las Vegas” (my term) concept goes anywhere, this is a fine pack of fellas to represent Las Vegas on TV. It’s a wildly diverse, talented and hardworking selection of local newsmakers. They perform different types of shows and are funny and interesting and (in the cases of Marino and Brown) prone to personality multiplicity.
As they were recorded, you got the feeling that if this project ever found a home, Vegas itself would be the star.
It would be nothing like “Sin City Rules.”
Maybe you have seen the TLC reality TV show centered on a quintet of purportedly powerful women who live in Vegas (at least, when they are not thought to be AWOL). If you have seen an episode, you would be rare, as poor ratings sent the show from its original Sunday night slot to Tuesday, where producers hoped that the lead-in of the new shows “Totally T-Boz” and “The Sisterhood” would somehow improve viewership.
If you are a “Sin City Rules” fan who dials into the show each week, the table has turned cold, at least if you want to see the show again on TV anywhere in the United States. The cast of “Sin City Rules” was told this week the show is going to be pulled from the TLC schedule after five of eight shows in its first (and only) season have aired, but it will still be available on the TLC official website. The first reporting of the show being canceled was Wednesday on the reality TV website TV Fishbowl, but the show is not totally latent.
Curiously, over five episodes, “Sin City Rules” has drawn high enough ratings in European markets to merit finishing the final three episodes (Nos. 6 through 8), which are to air overseas. But even if it is better received in Vienna than Vegas, its on-air history in the U.S. has ended, just a couple of weeks after a bizarre chain of events in which cast member Amy Hanley was reported to be maybe missing, or just unaccounted for, in a spree of Twitter and Facebook messages. She surfaced on Facebook after about a 24-hour period of social media speculation on her whereabouts, her odd behavior evidently prompted by the publishing of nude photos she wrongly blamed co-star Alicia Jacobs for leaking to the public.
These theatrics followed an overture Hanley made to my colleague Robin Leach to conduct a group interview with the entire cast so they could answer questions about the show and their lives and unveil some as-yet unspecified community project. They offered to conduct the session over dinner at Oscar’s Beef, Booze & Broads, even, the Plaza restaurant owned by ex-Mayor Oscar Goodman, whose wife is current Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who does not count herself among the show’s fans.
To many viewers, watching the premiere episode of “Sin City Rules” was about as entertaining as watching a person get branded, as Lana Fuchs unleashed a series of unprovoked and unfounded allegations against Jacobs. Staged conflict and controversy is a hallmark of every reality TV show, but Fuchs’ behavior was off the pale even by cable standards.
Because “Sin City Rules” aired on a popular cable outlet (TLC also airs infantile sensation “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo”) and produced by a powerful production company (Evolution Media), the reason for the show’s failure will likely fall to the cast. Not enough viewers cared to spend time with this bunch, and Jacobs drafted a statement today that places the blame for failure squarely on two members of the cast (guess which ones). In part, Jacobs wrote in an e-mail release, "I love working with TLC and EVOLUTION MEDIA on 'Sin City Rules,' but really wish that a couple of my cast members had behaved in a manner befitting the high caliber of women I've always known to represent our amazing city."
And know this: Las Vegas tourism officials will not miss “Sin City Rules” one bit.
So it is on to The Next Big Thing in VegasVille, where there is never a dearth of ideas for reality TV shows. I’m seriously rooting for this “Headliners of Las Vegas” idea, which would finally give Marino (the city’s longest-running headliner ever) a chance to reach a national audience on a weekly basis.
At its core, this show would focus on individuals who know what Vegas — and its high-energy entertainment scene — is all about.