With Vegas Gangster Pilot, CBS Joins TV’s ’60s Craze

by | February 22, 2012 at 1:38 PM | TV News

Michael Chiklis is gearing up to play a Vegas mobster in a new CBS '60s pilot (Photo: Getty Images)

CBS is finally joining TV’s march backward in time to the 1960s, with a pilot for a gangster series set in ’60s Las Vegas.

That’s the word from this story on New York magazine’s “Vulture” Web site.

The story says CBS has said yes to the production of a pilot for a series currently titled “Ralph Lamb,” about the real-life longest-serving sheriff of Clark County, Nev., which includes Las Vegas. The real-life Lamb’s 18-year reign stretched from the ’60s into the ’70s. He reportedly once approached director Sam Peckinpah to do a movie about his career starring Clint Eastwood, but that project never happened.

This time around, the project is in the hands of crime-story scribe Nicholas Pileggi, who wrote the original books and screenplays for Martin Scorsese’s gangster movies “Goodfellas” and “Casino” (the latter tracing the history of the Vegas mob from the ’60s to the ’80s.

For the CBS “Ralph Lamb” pilot, Dennis Quaid is reportedly in negotiations to play the title role, with none other than Michael Chiklis being lined up to play a gangster with whom Lamb squares off.

Our take: As fans of the Scorsese gangster movies (in fact, we’re more like hopeless addicts for “Goodfellas” and “Casino”), we tend to perk up when Nick Pileggi’s name arises in a context such as this. And we have no less adoration for Michael Chiklis either.

Plus, we remain intrigued by this whole ’60s craze that’s hit TV in recent seasons, ever since AMC put itself on the map with “Mad Men,” the most critically acclaimed TV series since “The Sopranos.”

The attention paid to “Mad Men” then got the bigger networks interested in ’60s projects of their own, but the first two out of the gate failed — “The Playboy Club” on NBC, which was canceled last fall after three weeks; and “Pan Am” on ABC, which hasn’t been canceled yet but its low ratings probably won’t earn it a second season.

Now here comes CBS with a ’60s series of its own (and bear in mind: It’s only a pilot, which means there’s no guarantee it’ll ever become a series). As gangster-movie fans, we have high hopes this one will see the light of day. Once upon a time in 1986, NBC tried a show like this — it was called “Crime Story” and it was from producer Michael Mann and starred Dennis Farina (now the two are working together on HBO’s “Luck”). “Crime Story” didn’t last nearly long enough. We hope “Ralph Lamb” doesn’t share that fate.

Feelin’ groovy? Then why not watch the most recent episode of ABC’s ’60s series “Pan Am”?