HD Screens Take To Las Vegas
Pawn Stars, a show about a real Las Vegas pawn shop, is a TV hit and has become a tourist draw.
Jude Joffe-Block
November 28, 2011

LAS VEGAS -- People from all over the world come to Las Vegas for vacation. But now the city is increasingly visible in most American living rooms as the back-drop for a growing number of television shows.

Pawn Stars on the History Channel follows a Las Vegas pawnshop and is one of the most watched on cable. The same production company has created another success, American Restoration, about a Las Vegas family restoring antiques.

Now Pawn Stars manager, Wayne Jeffries, has a vision for turning Las Vegas' larger than life ex-Mayor Oscar Goodman into the star of a new night court show.

“He just has a personality that is so dynamic,” Jeffries said. “He is just a natural behind the bench.”

The show is filming its pilot now in front of a live audience. If it is picked up, it will feature Goodman settling real civil disputes in the style of Judge Judy, with his trademark martini and showgirls by his side.

“You are going to have a lot of racy episodes, because there are a lot of racy things that go on in this town that don't go on in (places like) Kansas City,” Jeffries said.

The unusual activities in Vegas may be why Discovery Studios chose to focus on the Clark County coroner's office for a show set to air next year.

Photo courtesy Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority.
Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman may star in his own court show on television.

Camera crews will follow coroner Mike Murphy and his team as they examine corpses and try to identify unclaimed bodies. In exchange, Clark County will earn $5,000 per episode that airs.

“There is this thing about Las Vegas that people just want to know what is going on both in front of the scenes and behind the scenes,” Murphy told Nevada Public Radio.

In fact, according to Jeffries: "There are more shows probably shot down in this area per capita than Hollywood."

National intrigue surrounding the city, its 24-hour schedule and cheaper filming costs are among the reasons for the rising interest in television production. But it doesn’t mean every Vegas-themed show is a winner.

"This town has a lot to offer in many ways," Jeffries said. "But in no way shape or form will you sell a TV show just because it was shot in Las Vegas."

Plenty of shows have flopped, including a few that took viewers behind the scenes at casinos.