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Profile of PBS Vegas Documentary to Air Next Week

By Chuckmonster on Saturday, 12th November 2005 11:41am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 0


A magnet for 37 million tourists a year (about 100,000 a day), there's a ready-made fascination for anything related to Las Vegas, a phenomenon recently rediscovered by primetime programrs. Sturdy, informative and authoritative, "American Experience" parlays that interest into a two-part, three-hour special, "Las Vegas: An Unconventional History," that, though thorough and visually satisfying, doesn't quite live up to its "unconventional" billing.

In fact, it's downright ironic that "unconventional" should appear in the title because this is exactly the kind of documentary that would enjoy the blessings of a convention and visitors bureau. It is so celebratory and inoffensive that it was named the official documentary of the Las Vegas Centennial Commission, making it as close to an authorized biography as any story of a city can be.

The story of Las Vegas, like the silver mines that surround the city, has been pretty well exhausted, though this take is more comprehensive than just about any of its predecessors. Producers Amanda Pollak and Stephen Ives combined copious quantities of spectacular vintage footage and beautiful aerial shots with Michelle Ferrari's lucidly written script to come up with a program that is both well-organized and visually appealing. It follows a logical chronological outline, interrupted from time to time by vignettes about individual residents, including a den mother at a strip club, a hotel maid, a real estate agent and a newly minted blackjack dealer.



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