TCA 2012: 'Vegas' Star Dennis Quaid on Returning to TV

Dennis Quaid ShoWest 2009 - P 2012
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Dennis Quaid ShoWest 2009 - P 2012

With its big-screen pedigree and star Dennis Quaid, CBS aims to break the procedural mold with Vegas, a show that nevertheless has distinct procedural elements.

The 1960s-set drama has Quaid playing real-life sheriff Ralph Lamb opposite Michael Chiklis’ Chicago mob boss who comes to Las Vegas to extract profits from the city’s many vices. The series, which began as a big-screen treatment from writer Nicholas Pileggi (CasinoGoodfellas), will have Quaid’s Sheriff Lamb solving the crime of the week, so to speak. But the overarching storyline will revolve around the relationship between the two men and the evolution of Las Vegas from sleepy ranching community to Sin City, USA.

Quaid allowed that the last time he appeared on a television series was in 1977 in the Robert Blake series Baretta. “A lot of exciting things are happening now on television,” said Quaid. “A lot of the best writers are working in television. [Vegas] seemed really authentic and a chance to play a character and let him unfold over a long period of time.”

Executive producer Greg Walker (who also produced the quickly canceled Vegas-set CBS drama The Defenders), said Vegas will include various crime for Quaid’s Sheriff Lamb and his team to solve. But those stories  will be “interwoven with this larger canvas.”

Chiklis opened the Vegas panel on Sunday by snapping a picture of the media reporters assembled in the Beverly Hilton ballroom for CBS’ portion of summer press tour - and promptly posting it on his Twitter feed. And Jason O’Mara, who comes to Vegas from Terra Nova, had some biting criticism for Fox over its handling of the canceled Steven Spielberg drama.

“Fox took a very long time to make what was ultimately a premature decision,” said O’Mara. And he added that he never really thought Netflix would follow through with an offer to pick up the series and save it from cancelation. “I’m not sure how realistic that was,” said O’Mara, adding that he’d been “keeping his eye” on Vegas throughout the Terra Nova machinations.

“This stood out to me very clearly in the sea of pilots,” he said.