Miss America, feature trio share location spotlight

It’s deja vu all over again, as Shooting Stars, and your humble correspondent, return to the pages of the Review-Journal following more than two years of online-only duty, keeping tabs on movie and TV production in and around Neon Nirvana.

From now on, tune in Mondays for in-print (and online) reports on Las Vegas’ location scene. (As always, watch the Review-Journal’s Vegas Voice blog for Shooting Stars Extras, focusing on casting calls and late-breaking location news.)

And now, on with the show!

Pageant parade: It’s the Miss America Pageant’s 90th birthday, and organizers will be ready to party when the competition returns to network television Saturday night. (The show goes live at 5 p.m. from Planet Hollywood for viewers in the Eastern and Central time zones. It airs locally, on a tape-delayed basis, at 8 p.m. on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.)

The revived network connection "puts a little more pressure on us," acknowledges Art McMaster, Miss America Organization president. "We have to step it up a notch."

And the 90th-anniversary celebration — the pageant’s sixth telecast from Las Vegas — will help them to do just that, in part by flying at least 48 former Miss America title-holders to Las Vegas to appear. According to McMaster, "That’s the most we’ve ever had at one time and location."

Triple feature: Three separate features are rolling in Las Vegas this week.

The Hungarian production "The Gambler" begins a three-week shoot Wednesday, reports Rich Hopkins, who joins fellow Las Vegan Jeremy Settles as the project’s U.S. producers.

The drama, based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic novel, follows the adventures of a Hungarian family visiting Las Vegas; Andi Vasluianu, Ion Sapdaru, Torok Illyes Orsolya, Oana Pellea and Shamgar Amram star for award-winning director Szabolcs Hajdu.

"The Gambler" will be based downtown, with locations ranging from Fremont Street to the Funk House, Hopkins reports, noting "there are a lot of eclectic and cool areas" to showcase.

"Liars, Fires and Bears," from writer-director Jeremy Cloe, enters its second week of production at a variety of locations, including bus stations, gas stations and stretches of highway near Red Rock Canyon.

The movie focuses on 9-year-old Eve (played by Megli Micek), a street-savvy orphan, who coaxes Dave, a 27-year-old drunk (Lundon Boyd, Cloe’s co-writer), into helping her reunite with her brother.

Although the movie is set in Las Vegas, it’s presented "as a citizen would see it," explains Cloe, who’s expanding an award-winning short he made while at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

"Our convenience stores have slot machines, the bar has slot machines," Cloe notes, but in general, "this could just be any city."

Rounding out the week’s feature trio: "On Break," a comedy about a guy taking a break from his longtime girlfriend to visit Vegas with his friends. Naturally, the shoot centers "on and around the Strip," reports Jarek King, who’s writing and directing with Parker Seaman and Matt Sweeney; King and Seaman also co-star with Jake Axlebank, Cole McFarlane and Gillian Marshall.

Reality check: From "Pawn Stars" to the regulars of "Holly’s World," Las Vegas has its share of reality-TV favorites.

A new family joins the fray this week in "Tanked," an upcoming Animal Planet series focusing on acrylic aquarium maven Brett Raymer — chief operating officer of Las Vegas-based Acrylic Tank Manufacturing — and his family.

Customers would tell Raymer, " ’You guys are great — you should be on TV,’ " he recalls. "So I said to my pop, ‘We gotta do something.’ "

That something took several years to develop, but now that production is getting under way, "I love it," Raymer says. "I can’t wait till we start filming."

Also on tap: the Food Network’s "Kid in a Candy Store," with Adam Gertler, back for pickup and background shots following a December shoot at Max Brenner and Popcorn Girl.

Carol Cling’s Shooting Stars column appears Mondays. Contact her at (702) 383-0272 or e-mail her at ccling@reviewjournal.com.

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