When MTV came to Las Vegas three years ago, some of the Strip’s biggest hotel-casinos refused to host ‘‘The Real World.’’
A long production schedule, concerns over patron privacy and a target audience too young to visit Vegas were reasons they cited.
The reality show transformed the eventual host — the then fledgling, off-Strip Palms hotel-casino — into THE place for celebs and beautiful twentysomethings.
‘‘If they had to try and buy that kind of advertising, they wouldn’t be able to afford it,’’ said Jeanne Corcoran of the Nevada Film Office. ‘‘No one could.’’
Fast-forward to 2004: Vegas has rolled out the red carpet to TV producers.
Two prime-time shows devoted to all things Vegas already are on the air, two more are on this month, and another two in the fall — not to mention all the poker and travel shows from and about the city.
The two new reality shows:
• ‘‘The Casino,’’ set inside the Golden Nugget hotel-casino, focuses on a new pair of thirtysomething owners, Tom Breitling and Tim Poster, and debuts 8 p.m. Monday on KSAZ-TV (Channel 10). It’s produced by Mark Burnett, creator of ‘‘Survivor’’ and ‘‘The Apprentice.’’
• ‘‘American Casino,’’ which began earlier this month on Discovery Channel, is less about the owners and more about the everyday challenges of working in a casino. From handling drunken guests to managing a Super Bowl party for thousands, the show (Fridays at 8 p.m.) follows employees as they go to work at the suburban Green Valley Ranch hotel-casino.
‘‘There’s a mystique about (Las Vegas) that people find insatiable. And that’s what we’re capitalizing on,’’ said Mark Finkelpearl, one of the executive producers of ‘‘American Casino.’’
Come fall, there’ll be the animated spin on Las Vegas with ‘‘Father of the Pride,’’ about a family of white lions that perform in the famed Siegfried and Roy show.
The comedy on NBC’s prime-time lineup joins ‘‘Las Vegas,’’ which stars James Caan as a casino boss and was the highest-rated new drama for the 2003-04 season.
It wasn’t until the 2000 debut on CBS of ‘‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’’ that Hollywood forged its current affinity with Vegas.
The trend has meant big business for the state. In 2003, total production revenues in Nevada exceeded $104 million. Of that, nearly $60 million came from TV shows and specials.
But all things Vegas can only last so long. When the neon dims and ratings drop, Hollywood will move on to the next big thing, and Las Vegas will be off on another marketing strategy.
‘‘Vegas is the Madonna of cities,’’ said Anthony Curtis, editor of Las Vegas Advisor, a consumer newsletter. ‘‘It’s going to find a way to reinvent. But what’s happening now is as good as anything they’ve found yet.’’