SHOOTING STARS: Fight time’s the right time for ‘Ultimate Fighter’

  The battle rages on in “The Ultimate Fighter,” as the ninth season of the UFC-related reality series continues production through February at a variety of Las Vegas venues.
  And while the show’s producers considered shifting the show from its Southern Nevada base, “I’m not sure how you take ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ out of Las Vegas,” says Andrea Richter, co-executive producer of the series, which returns to cable’s Spike TV April 1.
  After all, Las Vegas is a legendary fight town — and neutral ground for “fighters from all over the world.”
  That in turn makes it an ideal locale for this year’s competition, “Team United States vs. Team United Kingdom.”
  After eight previous seasons in Las Vegas, “more people do know who we are” when combatants turn up to work out at local parks, Richter notes, explaining why the show’s silver vans, which transport cast members around town, no longer have “Ultimate Fighter” stickers on the side, as was the case during the show’s first season.
  That first season, “no one knew what to expect,” according to Richter.
  Now that they do, however, production officials “change it each season,” she adds, promising “new twists and turns. It’s incredibly important” to introduce new elements.
  “That’s the great thing about ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ — you never know what to expect,” Richter notes. After all, the cast members are “athletes — they’re not just coming to play.”
  Trivia time: Speaking of play, a pilot for a locally based game show hits the Strip Sunday.
  A collaboration between local game-show veteran Mark Richards and entertainer Stephen Sorrentino, “Cash Back Trivia” features Sorrentino chatting with random pedestrians, handing them cash and challenging them to answer trivia questions — or give the cash back.
  After the pilot is complete, Richards and Sorrentino will take it to local stations in hopes of finding a home for the proposed weekly half-hour show, Richards says.
  Making the grade: After studying the filmmaking process, from screenwriting to location scouting, students from the Las Vegas School of Film begin production this week on their class project, “Precision of Existence.”
  The fictional short focuses on a homeless character who “learns the ingredients to redemption are two parts hard work, one part hope,” thanks to a young woman and a kindly blind man, explains screenwriting instructor Daniel Meade, who’s helping to supervise the production.
  The short is expected to shoot various days — and nights — through March 9, at locations ranging from a Las Vegas eatery to a Henderson gasoline station.
  Meade describes the school’s process as a “boot camp-style” introduction to production.
  “We’re using whatever’s readily available,” he says of the locations, “because the budget is basically nothing.”
  World premiere: Local filmmaker Christopher Hood’s thriller “Casino Job” makes its DVD debut March 10, but not before the production premieres at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Silverton’s Silverton Pavilion.
  Maverick Entertainment will release the DVD version of Hood’s heist thriller, about five exotic dancers plotting revenge against a casino owner who wronged them. Hood shot the movie in 2007 and, except for a few Laughlin locations, it was filmed in Las Vegas, he notes.
  With DVD and overseas distribution, “we’ve had about as much success as you can have” with a low-budget film, Hood notes. “It has been a profitable film — which is obviously the goal.”
  Hood invites the general public to attend Tuesday’s premiere; if you’re interested, e-mail your RSVP to robinhoodfilms@cox.net (or phone 450-7950). For more information on Hood or his movies, click on www.robinhoodfilms.com.

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