Everyone loves to get in the creative minds of writers, especially if they come up with something that is unique. Many in the poker world love to hear from David Levien and Brian Koppelman, the duo who wrote the seminal poker movie Rounders (and, to a lesser extent, Runner Runner). Now the creator of a new television comedy on Fox is admitting that his new program was borne of weekend trips to Las Vegas to play poker.
Writer Lon Zimmet is the creator of the new Fox Television comedy LA to Vegas, a half-hour comedy that premiered last week on the Fox network. In an interview with Christopher Lawrence of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Zimmet admitted that, as a struggling writer during the “Moneymaker Boom” in poker, he would frequently go to Las Vegas to ply his poker playing skills. From those trips, it seems, the birth of a television series came.
“I started making (the trip) a lot,” Zimmet stated to Lawrence. “(I) realized a lot of people were getting introduced to poker after I’d been playing for years and (I) could make money off it…So I used to come out one weekend a month and it would pay my rent for the month and it would pay for food for the month.” After more than a decade of fermenting in his mind, Zimmet decided, “That might be a show. (This) might be something.”
The show itself looks quite interesting and does have some outright funny moments. It focuses on the people around the low-budget airline Jackpot Airlines and one particular flight which leaves on a Friday and returns on a Sunday. Captain Dave, portrayed by former The Practice star Dylan McDermott, is more interested in entertaining his passengers than flying the plane. In fact, he is more likely to give his customers suggestions on where to get a steak (or a lap dance) rather than his real job, flying.
McDermott’s character is countered by a flight attendant who is more than his equal. Ronnie, portrayed by actor Kim Matula, is constantly looking for a new job, to be able to get away from what she calls, “People not looking to cheat on their wives and butt-smuggle molly.” They are joined by three constant passengers – an economics professor from UCLA (whom Ronnie initiates into the “Mile High Club” in the first episode), a gambler, and a stripper who makes the commute each weekend and solicits other women to be dancers on the flight. These core five (and another flight attendant, Bernard (Nathan Lee Graham) that really didn’t get a great deal of attention in the first episode) make up the cast.
Or, as Matula says to Lawrence, “It’s The Love Boat in the sky, only dirtier (and the thought of what this show might be like on cable or, even better, on HBO makes the mind wander!).”
The first episode does delve into the dancer recruiting a young lady to “working the pole” while she is on her way with her fiancé to Vegas to elope on a Friday. As the half-hour rolls along, there is other things that show up – the gambler prop betting everything that goes on and Captain Dave’s insistence on wanting to show his Muay Thai skills – and, before you know it, Sunday has rolled around and the fiancé returns sans bride. He becomes a bit agitated at the entire crew and Captain Dave must restrain him (using his Muay Thai abilities) and have him arrested once they return to Los Angeles.
Zimmet promises that there will be more of those short trips – and what went on during them – in the future. “I made sure to pack a staff full of people who are very familiar with Las Vegas, so everyone has their own stories,” he says to Lawrence. “One of my writers actually used to take trips where he’d (get money) from someone just to…place sports bets for them.” Such stories as that seem to be what will make up the gist of LA to Vegas soon.
LA to Vegas will settle into its time slot on Tuesdays at 9PM (Eastern Time) and should be well worth the time for people who know Las Vegas to get to know. It will, at the minimum, give those who know the scene well a chance to say, “Yep…I’ve seen that.”