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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Las Vegas: Interview with Molly Sims and Gary Scott Thompson (WARNING: SPOILERS!)

I spoke earlier today with Las Vegas star Molly Sims and the show’s executive producer, Gary Scott Thompson. The two were kind enough to do a press conference call to discuss this week’s season finale of Las Vegas and the big changes coming to The Montecito next season.

Next year, the show is moving forward without original cast members James Caan (Ed) and Nikki Cox (Mary). No decision has been made yet on who will take Ed or Mary’s jobs at the fictional hotel, or who the new owner of the Montecito will be, Thompson said. He also would not divulge whether the popular recurring character of Casey Manning is truly swimming with the fishes — er squid — or if he’ll pop up again next season.

What is certain is that this Friday’s season finale is going to be a thrill ride for Las Vegas fans, Thompson said.

“There’s an explosion. Molly’s character is pregnant. We’ve got a shooting,” he teased.

Thompson wouldn’t confirm whether Delinda would have a baby bump next season, despite a valiant attempt by Sims, and reporters, to get him to spill script secrets. What is known is that Sims has not been fitted for a fake pregnancy tummy yet.

For the legions of Cox fans wanting the scoop on why she isn’t returning, Thompson did comment on her departure: “She has other things that she wanted to explore and try out,” he said. It was recently reported in The Hollywood Reporter that Cox was allegedly a victim of budget cuts, but Thompson didn’t mention that.

Sims and Thompson shared some fun anecdotes during the call, discussed their favorite Vegas moments and talked about what other NBC show they’d like to see do a crossover. Hint: Steve Carell, there’s a suite waiting for you and the rest of The Office gang at The Montecito.

Here are the highlights of the interview:

Will Caan and Cox be back for guest spots?
Thompson: “Jimmy did say, ‘ I don’t’ want to leave you in the lurch, so why don’t I come back from time to time, (schedule permitting.)’ He was very open to doing guest spots, possibly the season opener, and then maybe some other ones down the line. I think it would have been easier for Jimmy, if we didn’t get picked up for season five, then he wouldn’t have had to say, ‘Count me out.’ I’m hoping that Nikki will want to come back and do some guest spots, as well."

Why isn’t Caan returning next season?
Thompson: “Jimmy wanted to do features. He was itching to do a movie, and he couldn’t do them while we were shooting. TV is really tough. Eighty-seven episodes is a long time to be away from a feature career. That’s four years; that’s an eternity in features. He turned down a lot of features over four years. Some of them we tried to make work, but with the schedule of TV, it’s impossible.”

Why isn’t Cox returning next season?
Thompson:
“Nikki just got married, and she has other things that she wanted to explore and try out. I can’t speak for her personally about what her plans are in her personal life. (That’s probably a question directed toward her people.) She comes from the sitcom world, and I think she really wanted to go back and do sitcoms and try some other things. People don’t really understand that it’s very difficult being on a show as long as this. And kudos to the people who make it past five or six years. But most (who do) are on sitcoms, which are really easy to shoot, compared to a drama. (On sitcoms) they do a table read, they have one rehearsal, and they shoot the thing. When you’re on a drama, it is an eight-day episode, anywhere from 12-18 hours a day, five days a week, for almost 11 months straight. Our first season, we were shooting 18 and 20-hour-days, and sometimes in our second season, too. It’s really hard on people to play a character for so long and to keep doing the same thing over and over again. They just want changes. In Jimmy’s case, he’s toward the end of his career and wanted to move on and do some stuff that he really wanted to do. And in Nikki’s case, she’s at the beginning of hers, and there are other options and opportunities out there. As an actor, as a writer, creator, no one wants you unless someone else has you. The opportunity to jump is usually while the iron is hot. You don’t jump after the show goes down, because, well, the show has failed. But, to jump off a successful show means you’re going to have lots of other options.”

How will cast changes change the dynamic and plots for next year?
Sims:I think anytime someone leaves and they bring new people in, it ultimately changes the dynamic. It’s always someone new, and someone you’re not used to working with, someone that brings new energy. I don’t believe in replacing the old with the new, but I have to say that it’ll be surprising. That’s the best way to describe it.”

Thompson: “There is no way we can ever replace James Caan or Nikki Cox. These are two valuable players on Las Vegas. I don’t like the word “replacement,” because we can’t replace them. Obviously characters come and go on Las Vegas all the time. Some stay longer than others. Some fly off the roof. That’s what we’re gonna have to sit down and figure out, when I get the writing staff back here because we start shooting early in April. We’ve got a lot of things hanging. We have to figure out who owns the Montecito. Is there gonna be a replacement for the James Caan character or for (Mary’s) position? Are there new people going to come in, or are the old people gonna take over some of those jobs? We haven’t quite figured that out yet. My objective was just to get us to season five, so I wrote this incredible cliffhanger. My objective was, if I close everything up, there’s a reason for them to say, “Series over.” And if I don’t do that, then, they can’t say, “Series over,” or 15 million people are gonna be really pissed off at NBC. (The cast changes) are a new development. The departure of a couple cast members was kind of a surprise, and the season finale had already been written. And it’s going to be kind of challenging to get us out of the situation I put us in.”

Las Vegas has done several crossovers with Crossing Jordan. Are there any other NBC shows that you’d like to see do crossovers?
Sims:
“I wish Steve Carell (The Office) would come.”
Thompson:The Office could come to Vegas for a convention. Let’s put that out in the universe. And apparently, we live in the same universe as Heroes, because they have come to the Montecito, and they have shot on our set. And every time they’re in Vegas, we see the little Montecito sign. We’re open to anything, because on our show we can do that. Everybody goes to Vegas, so there’s no reason why any show couldn’t come to Vegas.”

I received a ton of mail after Casey Manning was killed by a giant squid. Is Dean Cain’s character truly dead and was that the point of the autopsy comment, or will he pop up again next season?
Thompson:
(Laughter) “I actually got a ton of mail, too. And then when they found out that he’d been poisoned, and possibly whacked, because he had leveraged the Montecito to the hilt, I got another ton of mail. I can’t say one way or another. I can’t divulge that in case it may or may not be a storyline. But, I will say one thing, the greatest thing about the giant squid was two days later, off the coast of New Zealand, the largest squid ever found was pulled in by a fisherman. It was like 83 feet long.”

Will Cheryl Ladd be returning as Jillian?
Thompson:
“I’ve spoken to Cheryl. She wants to come back. She loves being on the show. She actually pitched that she’s the new owner of the Montecito! So, I’ll take that into consideration, Cheryl. Thank you.”

Online fans seem to love the Sam and Delinda scenes? Are there any plans for more friendship scenes between the girls? And what’s it like working with Vanessa Marcil?
Sims:
“We call her “little whipper-snapper.” She’s an amazing, feisty, little actress. I think she is one of the best on our show. She’s so fun to work with. The girl speaks faster, and clearer, than any person I’ve ever met, to the point where I start speaking faster.”
Thompson: “I always have to step in and go, ‘Molly, you’re picking up her cadence. Stop.”
Sims: “She’s so fun and mean and fabulous. It’s great.”
Thompson: “But to answer your question, “Yes, they’ll have lots of scenes together next season.”

What’s the mood on set since Cox and Caan announced they’re leaving?
Sims: “It’s always hard when you’ve been with people for four years. Nikki is one of my best friends. Jimmy has been such a pleasure and such an amazing teacher. I’m gonna miss them. It came as a shock and a surprise. They were amazing people to work with. The amazing thing about our show is that we all really like one another. I think on most shows that’s not always true, but in our case, it is. I knew that Jimmy had turned down a lot of stuff, I just didn’t think he was gonna go.
Thompson: Look, George Clooney left ER and that show is thriving. People come and people go. That’s what’s expected. It’s gonna happen. Hopefully, we’ll be lucky that we’ll be on for another five years and more people will come and go.”

Molly, do you identify with your character?
Sims: “Yeah. I totally identify when I’m kissing Josh. I identify really well! She’s fun and charming. I think she dresses a little sexier (than me.) She’s more blatant, and a little more manipulative than I am.”
Thompson: “What we try to do is take a lot of the traits of our actors and incorporate them. Sometimes, something will happen to our actors, and unbeknownst to them, it’ll turn up in a script, just because we think it’s funny. We’ll hear about something that happened to one of the actors, over the weekend, and sneak it into a script. And that’s just a way of entertaining ourselves, after four years of seeing each other every single day. We see more of each other than we do our own families.”

What happens when the cast/show goes to Las Vegas? Do the casinos treat you like local heroes and welcome you to the inner sanctum?
Sims:
“When we go to Vegas, we are treated like princes and princesses."
Thompson: “Yes, we’ve been in the inner sanctum. We are treated very well. But, I hate to hang out with Molly because she’s mobbed all the time."
Sims: “And they call you by your characters name. They scream, ‘Danny, Sam, Delinda.’ It’s strange. I think a lot of people aren’t from Vegas and think the Montecito is really there."
Thompson: “Yes, they do. It’s one of the number one questions asked of cab drivers, “Where is the Montecito?”

Much thanks to Sims and Thompson for taking time to chat.

The Las Vegas season finale airs Friday, March 9, on NBC at 9 p.m. EST.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you are reading this Nikki, please come back and do some guest spots.

tube talk addict said...

Jennifer, Great article!!! Thank you for asking the Casey question. I'm bummed we didn't get an answer, but at least you tried. I've been checking your site all day waiting to read this and it didn't disappoint. As usual, your writing is excellent and fun and seems like you're talking to all of us. Love Tube Talk!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Great to hear that James Caan and Nikki Cox may guest on the show at times. Plus it's nice to know Cheryl Ladd might still be around. Mitch is the only one unaccounted for, I wonder if his character is the one to die.

Anonymous said...

I'd like Cheryl Ladd come back with a more important role. We love her!!!

tube talk addict said...

Hey Tube Talk Girl, they are talking about you over at the LA Times blog. You go Girl!

mandalay bay said...

Awesome write-up, Jennifer. Really enjoyable. So glad you asked the Casey question.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for asking all our questions! I really appreciate it.

Molly and Gary's comments about Vanessa were cute, I hope Casey will be back at some point.

Anonymous said...

I am happy that JC will be back possibly next season for a few episodes...One of the main reasons I watch LV is because of JC and without him there it would be weird watching but if he pops up every couple of episodes or so I think I can survive. I am gonna miss Nikki, hopefully she atleast comes back for the 1st episode of the season to tie off her character...

I cant wait, the finale had to be one of if not the best I had ever seen!

LeaC said...

Love Vegas!!!!!!!!!!! Great article, and The Season Finale "WOW" I can not wait to see what happens. Hope James and Nikki have great success, they will be missed.

Anonymous said...

I am a devoted fan but am disappointed in the season finale, that Ed & Danny didn't try to stop Mary from shooting her dad instead of all 3 shooting at the same time?? Why didn't the police show up to stop the plane leaving with Sam being kidnapped instead of Mike scaling a fence and arriving too late??? We are an intelligent viewing audience & neither of these scenarios were realistic! James Caan & Nikki Cox will be greatly missed!!!!!

Shan said...

It's a major ass shame that James Caan is going...

This guy is not replaceable in any way, he practically set the foundation for the show, he is the foundation stone in my view.

With him gone, it's like removing the foundation stone and in my view, the show's appeal will drizzle off and simple die. Better get off the wagon everyone!!

They still can get him back if the show is getting fucked I reckon, it'll be worth paying the money...

SO far, Season 1 - 4, totally fabulous!

Anonymous said...

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bye Sarah W LAS VEGAS!!!
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