‘Death of a Vegas Showgirl’ actress says victim spoke to her through clairvoyant

Before she portrayed murdered “Fantasy” dancer Debbie Flores Narvaez in “Death of a Vegas Showgirl” (8 p.m. Saturday, Lifetime), Roselyn Sanchez spent several hours speaking with the victim’s sister, Celeste.

The actress says she also heard from Flores Narvaez herself.

A week before she began shooting the movie, Sanchez taped an episode of E!’s clairvoyant series, “Hollywood Medium With Tyler Henry.” She insists there’s no way Henry could have known about the project, which hadn’t yet been announced for legal reasons.

“She took over the reading,” Sanchez says of Flores Narvaez, “and it was unbelievable how adamant she was about letting me know that she was dancing in heaven, basically, that this was happening, that I was going to be able to tell her story.

“Among the many things that she said, the most important thing was, ‘I want everybody to know I didn’t deserve it.’ And it broke my heart to hear it. I mean, it broke my heart.”

Flores Narvaez was about to get her big break with a solo number in “Fantasy” at Luxor when she went missing Dec. 12, 2010. After a nearly monthlong search that attracted national attention, her dismembered body was found in two concrete-filled tubs.

Jason “Blu” Griffith, a dancer in Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” with whom Flores Narvaez had a turbulent yearlong relationship, was eventually sentenced to 10 years to life in prison for her murder.

“I remember when it happened in 2010,” Sanchez says, “because it was such a nationwide case. … So fast-forward to two years ago, when I get this email from the authors of the book saying we want you to read this book. Her family says you remind them of their daughter.”

It didn’t take long for Sanchez (“Without a Trace”) to buy the rights to “Dancing on Her Grave: The Murder of a Las Vegas Showgirl” by Diana Montane and Carolina Sarassa and begin the process of bringing it to the screen.

At the time, Sanchez was filming Lifetime’s “Devious Maids” in Atlanta, where Flores Narvaez’s sister, Celeste, lives.

“We sat down, and we met for hours. And I let her know that it was very important for me to have (the family’s) blessing,” Sanchez says. “That I wanted to really represent her properly. … It was a lovely meeting, and to this day, we’re in touch. And I hope to God that they’re happy when they see the movie.”

Because “Death of a Vegas Showgirl” was being filmed while Griffith was appealing his conviction, Sanchez and the rest of the producers had plenty of legal hurdles to clear.

“We had to be very impartial,” she says. “We present four ways, because there’s four different stories of what happened the night that he killed her. So we show every single one of those moments, and it’s up to the audience to decide what they think really happened.”

One of those theories is that Griffith was acting in self-defense. And “Death of a Vegas Showgirl” does show Flores Narvaez acting increasingly erratically. She slashes Griffith’s tires and texts him relentlessly, including from outside his house, even though it’s clear he wanted nothing more to do with her at that point.

“Of course, I’m biased,” Sanchez admits. “To me, I believe that it wasn’t self-defense. I believe that he lost his (mind), and he killed her. And what he did after that was absolutely horrific.”

“Fantasy” was rebranded as “Rendezvous” in the movie, yet the version sent to critics still referenced Cirque du Soleil and “Love.”

“Even shooting the Luxor exteriors, we have to be really careful with the amount of time the camera stays on the actual structure of the hotel,” Sanchez says. For legal reasons, they weren’t even allowed to cast actors that looked like many of their real-life counterparts. “But the core and the essence of the whole thing is there,” she insists.

Another of what Sanchez calls “creative liberties” was in elevating the relationship between Flores Narvaez and her roommate (Fiona Vroom). Celeste told Sanchez that the two weren’t that close, but in the movie, the two are best friends always looking out for each other.

“Debbie, I love you. But sometimes you date the wrong type of guys,” the roommate, Roxie, says of Griffith. “This guy, he’s just on a no-fly list. I think you should avoid him.” Later, Roxie observes, “She is obsessively fixated on him.”

But Flores Narvaez simply can’t stay away from Griffith, telling Roxie, “He’s amazing, and he makes me feel so good, and he’s so hot! And he’s kind, and he’s so hot! And he has a killer body, and he’s so freakin’ hot!”

Despite her sometimes unstable behavior, Sanchez wants viewers to see only the good in the late dancer. She also hopes to show that anyone is capable of falling victim to this type of relationship.

“To me, the most important part was that I want people to fall in love with her, to know that under no circumstances she deserved what he did,” Sanchez says. “That this was a girl, full of life. Young, beautiful, talented, super educated. She had three degrees. It’s complete nonsense when you have these young girls getting involved in dysfunctional, toxic relationships, and they just can’t get out of it.”

And, in part, the actress sees “Death of a Vegas Showgirl” as a type of public service message.

“If it touches one life, one girl that’s going through a bad relationship and understands, ‘Let me get out of this before he kills me,’ if we can save one girl, I’ll be happy.”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com. On Twitter: @life_onthecouch.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Skybar at Waldorf Astoria lets you sip your way through Las Vegas history
Skybar At Waldorf Astoria Lets You Sip Your Way Through Las Vegas History (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stan Lee in Las Vegas for Madame Tussauds unveiling
Stan Lee Las Vegas speaks with the Review-Journal's Chris Lawrence about his love for his fans and shared universes. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ultimate Belgium Waffle Sundae at Lavo
Lavo at the Palazzo serves a 16-scoop ice cream sundae that costs $800. (Rochelle Ricahrds, Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel lLas Vegas Review-Journal)
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"The Lion King" roars into Las Vegas
New music club 172 brings loud luxury to Las Vegas
New music venue at the Rio brings rock ’n’ roll and food together at intimate club. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fans fear for Zak Bagans’ safety in Las Vegas Halloween TV special
Fly Linq zip line time lapse
Fly Linq zip line timelapse
Shaq opens Las Vegas restaurant, Big Chicken
Shaq opens Las Vegas restaurant, Big Chicken
Robert Deniro And Chef Nobu Talk About The Success Of Nobu
Robert Deniro And Chef Nobu Talk About The Success Of Nobu (Al Mancini Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center (Janna Karel/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recycled Art and Cute Dogs at Summerlin Festival Of Arts
Recycled Art, Cute Dogs Abound At Summerlin Festival Of Arts (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like