Diminishing returns?

People have always wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes at Las Vegas casino hotels, right?  And if one show is a success, two is even better.  Well, how about three? 

Caesars Palace has granted unprecedented access to A&E Network to create a new real-life series offering the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at Las Vegas’ most legendary resort and casino, it was announced today by Abbe Raven, executive vice president and general manager, A&E Network.

In the spirit of A&E’s hit series AIRLINE, CAESARS will focus on trials, triumphs and tribulations of a compelling cast of Las Vegas characters, including a regular cast of Caesars Palace employees and a revolving cast of wide-eyed tourists, first-time gamblers, and other visitors of all descriptions who come to party in the world’s most famous adult playground.

Viewers will experience the Entertainment Capital of the World as they have never seen it before — through the eyes of the indomitable pit boss, the savvy sports book oddsmaker, the tactful hotel concierge, glamorous showgirls, imperious high-rollers, excited low-rollers, Vegas newlyweds and any number of the 60,000 visitors and employees who pass through the marbled hallways of Caesars Palace each day.

“We’re thrilled to have Caesars Palace as the setting for our next real-life series,” said Abbe Raven, executive vice president and general manager, A&E Network. “Viewers will have the unique opportunity, thanks to the unprecedented access Caesars has given us for the show, to experience the compelling stories that happen behind the scenes at the world’s most famous resort and casino.”

“We are pleased to have a television partner of the caliber of A&E Network to capture the innumerable intriguing stories to be found inside the storied walls of Caesars Palace,” said Mark Juliano, president of the renowned resort. “Caesars Palace possesses a mystique that eludes any other casino in Las Vegas. It is the perfect venue for A&E to create an engaging and entertaining television program which will showcase Las Vegas in an unscripted style as has never been done before.”

CAESARS: A&E Network to Produce a New Real-Life Series at the World’s Most Famous Casino Resort

I think the person who wrote this press release was a little burned out.  Why else would you use the word “cast” three times in the second paragraph?  And isn’t the whole idea behind reality TV that there is no “cast,” just reality?

It’s also interesting that this piece makes no mention of the fact that Caesars is ground zero for the biggest merger in American gaming history; I would guess that the show would be filmed as the deal progresses (or not). 

And why does every group have to have a descriptive adjective?  The ” indomitable pit boss, the savvy sports book oddsmaker, the tactful hotel concierge, glamorous showgirls, imperious high-rollers, excited low-rollers,” don’t just hang out at the casino; they walk through its “marbled hallways.”

Honestly, that whole paragraph reads like something out of MadLibs.  Just for fun, print that out, blank out the adjectives, and have your friends think of some new ones.  Post the results as comments.

In other news, espn.com’s DJ Gallo doesn’t get spectator poker.  From Page 2:

That’s it. I fold. I’m an outcast.

And it snuck up on me so quickly. A year-and-a-half ago, I was still pretty cool — in my early 20s, stylish and up on pop culture . . . but able to stop just short of that line that separates ‘cool’ from ‘annoying hipster.’

Yet today, I’m a social leper.


Because I’m the only male in America who doesn’t play poker.

So I’m going to start. I have to start. I don’t have a choice. It’s either submit to the poker craze or be devoured and spit out, left to roam the streets for the rest of my days with a huge scarlet “P” on my chest, muttering expletives about Phil Hellmuth.

I’ll join Poker Nation. But I don’t have to like it.

I visited my grandmother in the retirement home a while back. On the way down the hall, I passed a room where a bunch of old ladies, all connected to ventilators, were playing canasta. Yes, the cherry Jell-O they’d been served was enticing, but I still didn’t feel the urge to stand in the doorway for two hours and watch them play. I have absolutely zero interest in watching other people play cards.

Yet guys — guys supposedly just like me — are watching. They’re even planning their nights around it.

Millions of people. Maybe I just don’t get it.

ESPN carries a clock on the bottom of the screen now that counts down the hours, minutes and seconds until its next World Series of Poker broadcast. The only clock countdown I need to see on ESPN is the time my favorite NFL team has left before it makes its next draft pick. That, and maybe the time remaining until Maria Sharapova turns 18.

Yet on July 8, the Worldwide Leader in Sports pulled a 2.0 rating for its first show in the 2004 WSOP series — nearly double the ratings that the opening games of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals received. (Not that beating NHL ratings is the standard for television success, but at least hockey is a sport.)

Play Poker, or Else

I admit, I’m just as perplexed at the rise of gambling as a spectator sport, but who am I to judge?

If it’s now cool to express a disdain for the WSOP, does that mean that the poker craze is peaking?  Probably not.  I have to confess that I didn’t know that people pronounce it “wassup.”  I never heard anyone from Binion’s call  it that.  I call it the W-S-O-P or “the tournament” if its in context.

I have a feeling that, next year, hipsters will rediscover craps.  It has a history of coolness, and has just enough arcane math and prop bets to keep people perpetually interested.  You heard it here first.

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