SHOOTING STARS: ‘CSI,’ CNN visit Vegas


  Two iconic acronyms dominate this week’s production landscape.
  CBS’ long-running “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” — which is set in Las Vegas but seldom films here — makes a rare road trip to hometown territory, with a planned Wednesday shoot west of the Strip, on Polaris Avenue between Russell Road and Hacienda Avenue.
  And CNN’s chief national correspondent, John King, visits Las Vegas this week to participate in the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention.
  But he’d be here even if NAB weren’t, covering state-of-Nevada stories for his weekly “State of the Union” program, which airs Sundays.
  After covering Nevada extensively last year during the presidential campaign, King’s “happy to come back” to Las Vegas, in part because “your state is a laboratory for better and, in many cases, for worse” during the current economic downturn.
  In addition to covering Las Vegas’ worst-in-the-nation foreclosure situation, King plans to explore how plunging home prices have enabled some locals to buy homes they wouldn’t have been able to afford a few years ago, he says.
  And, in addition to the overall unemployment picture, King plans to talk with locals in the casino and hospitality industries who’ve had their work weeks go from 40 to 20 hours, making it tough to pay the bills.
  “Vegas in particular is a unique laboratory” for economic challenges, he comments.
  Also on his Las Vegas interview schedule: Mayor Oscar Goodman, who’s not only “a colorful and interesting character” but a govnerment official “in the middle of this mix,” King says. Most of the shot-in-Vegas footage is destined for Sunday’s “State of the Union,” but some local coverage may show up on CNN either before or afterwards.
  “Vegas is a big bright shining thing you can’t miss,” he says, but “I love the city because of its diversity.”
  ‘Recession’ report: Speaking of the economic downturn, Vegas PBS’ “Recession Rx” continues its weekly focus on economic matters, with executive producer and host Cathy Hanson joining Metro officer Kathy Perkins, in an area hit hard by foreclosures, to focus on how abandoned homes impact local crime.
  Hanson also plans to complete a segment featuring Janet Blumen, president and chief executive officer of the Foundation for an Independent Tomorrow, which helps unemployed (and underemployed) Nevadans toward financial stability.
  “Wheel” deal: “Wheel of Fortune” isn’t spinning into Planet Hollywood until July, when the syndicated game show will tape four weeks of episodes.
  Starting Friday, however, the show’s promotional Wheelmobile rolls into town in search of “energetic, enthusiastic and fun” folks who want to be contestants.
  The Wheelmobile will be at Planet Nissan, 5850 Centennial Center Blvd., from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and at Henderson Nissan, 295 Auto Mall Drive, from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday . (If you miss the Wheelmobile this weekend, you’ll have another shot next weekend at The Venetian; stay tuned to next week’s Shooting Stars for details.)
  “Wheel” staffers will start distributing contestant applications an hour before shows begin at 5, 6:30 and 8 p.m. Friday and 2, 3:30 and 5 p.m. Saturday. Attendees may fill out contestant applications; random drawings will determine who will be invited to play a simulated game and be evaluated as a potential contestant.
  Stage to screen: Last November, the ever-edgy Onyx Theatre presented “The Art of Prostitution,” a late-night theater piece, created by Senegalese Cirque du Soleil perforer Wassa Coulibaly which explored the characters of seven prostitutes — and featured a variety of Strip performers.
  A filmed version is scheduled to launch a three-week shoot Monday, with two days of location work in the desert and the remainder of the shoot around Las Vegas.
  Fittingly, one of the locations is the Onyx itself, located in Commercial Center, notes producer Robert Osorio.
  But “you won’t be able to tell it’s Las Vegas,” Osorio says, adding that he “really wants to separate it from Las Vegas.”
  The 45-minute production, which was inspired by actual events, will delve into the characters’ backgrounds a bit more than the stage production did, he explains. And, once completed, it’s heading for the film festival circuit.
  Reeling 'round the clock: Last weekend, a record 50-plus filmmaking teams were expected to shoot short films in the annual the 48 Hour Film Project competition.
  This week, audiences (and filmmakers) get the chance to catch the finished products on the big screen — at 7 and 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the Palms’ Brenden Theatres. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the door 30 minutes before the first screening. More information on the contest is available online at www.48hourfilm.com/lasvegas.
  Crunch time: Who knew, but apparently our British cousins have a taste for Doritos. Or at least they will when they catch a new Doritos commercial (or advert, as the Brits like to say) that filmed in Las Vegas last week at the Little White Chapel and the Fremont Street Experience.
  The tongue-in-cheek spot features three geeks in a stretch limo, an Elvis impersonator — and flying dodgeballs making a definite impact on the participants. Just another night in Pair-a-dice ...