‘Vegas’ Deals Security Into America’s Living Rooms
Electronic security has gone prime time and is ready for its close-up. Although you won’t find it in your TV Guide listings alongside “Las Vegas” co-stars James Caan and Josh Duhamel, video surveillance plays just as prominent a role in the new NBC series airing Mondays at 9 p.m.
The hour-long drama features Caan as Big Ed Deline, surveillance team chief for the Montecito, a fictional resort and casino based on Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay. Duhamel plays his right-hand man, Danny McCoy. Together, they rely on the latest in video surveillance technology to combat card-counting cheaters, costly streaks of random luck, rival casinos stealing their big-money players and other assorted security matters.
Created by Gary Scott Thompson, writer of the feature film “The Fast and the Furious,” “Las Vegas” is a slick, sexy and glitzy production that has attracted more male viewers between the ages of 18-49 (a prized advertiser demographic) than any other new program. As a result, more television viewers are being exposed to the capabilities of electronic security’s devices and systems than ever before.
Security Sales & Integration recently arranged an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the show’s elaborate set located in Culver City, Calif., to observe an episode being produced. Afterward, SSI spoke to those behind and in front of the cameras to find out how the serious business of security has been turned into escapist entertainment for millions of Americans.
Producers Find NBC Parent Company Has Their Security Answers
When the creators and production team began putting NBC’s “Las Vegas” pilot together, they had no idea the solutions to their security gadgetry needs were right under their noses. In what turned out to be a happy coincidence, the network’s parent company, GE, is also one of the world’s leading providers of electronic security technology.
When GE entered the electronic security industry by acquiring Interlogix in 2001, management probably envisioned a lot more synergy with its building controls and electronics businesses than its entertainment interests. Nevertheless, a year or so later, Bob Wright, vice chairman of GE and president/CEO of NBC, approached GE Security President/CEO Ken Boyda about the idea of tapping into this relationship.
“Wright suggested a pilot being shot at Mandalay Bay could make a great collaboration for GE equipment to be used in the actual production environment of a Las Vegas security operation,” explains Jay Pinkert, GE Security director of communications. “Ken forwarded the information to myself and some folks in the Video Systems Group so we could get the ball rolling.”
Ironically, while that was taking place, members of the production crew were busy discovering for themselves that GE’s electronic security solutions offered them everything they desired to bring the show to fruition.
“I actually picked the GE system before I realized it was part of the same company as NBC,” says Robert Chartier, “Las Vegas” video supervisor and CEO of 24frame.com, a company specializing in transferring 30-frame-per-second (fps) film into 24 fps video. “I don’t believe there could have been any bigger coincidence than GE having a security division and this show being all about security.”
Video Supervisor Visits Facility, Goes on Shopping Spree
Chartier then visited GE Security’s Corvalis, Ore., location to get a first-hand look the company’s array of products. The facility was the original headquarters of Kalatel, which was acquired by Interlogix before it became part of GE.
“Robert flew up to Corvalis, where our Video Systems Group is based, to talk with some of the product managers and learn what was possible and how the products could be configured, networked and so forth,” says Pinkert. “We provided catalogs of what we had and he went on a little shopping trip. He was really surprised by the plug-and-play aspects of the equipment.”
Chartier adds, “I told them what I needed and they advised me. I have never dealt with equipment that was so user-friendly. Everything was so easy, especially compared to other company’s products I had researched and tried out.
Mandalay Bay Serves as Model for Elaborate Set Design, Installation
The original plan was to shoot “Las Vegas” on location in actual casinos. However, it quickly became apparent that would not be practical due to several logistical issues. Two of the primary obstacles were regulating noise and getting communication devices to work properly in that environment.
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