Reno divorce ranches and Las Vegas gaming inspire Hollywood

Postcard of Flamingo Hotel and Bugsy Siegal

Dick Wolf preps American Babylon

Dick Wolf (Law & Order) is prepping a new series, American Babylon, a period drama chronicling the story of the creation of Las Vegas. The series is inspired by the book, The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America by Sally Denton & Roger Morris. Mixing fictional characters and historical figures, the series explores the dreams, the power, corruption, and redemption of the “Miracle in the Desert”.

“I have always been fascinated by Las Vegas, a city that has the most colorful history of any in our country,” said Dick Wolf. 

Drum roll, please

It’s been a few years since Bill and I collaborated on our book, The Divorce Seekers: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler, and I am still fascinated by the Reno divorce era and the romantic image of Eastern socialites mixing it up out West with cowboys. 

The Divorce Seekers became the source book or “bible” (as it’s called) for an upclose glimpse into life on an exclusive Nevada divorce ranch  – the six-week residence of choice for wealthy Easterners and celebrities, who wanted to avoid the prying eyes of the press.

I am pleased to announce that in May 2020, The Divorce Seekers was optioned by Emmy and Humanitas Award-winning writer/producer Judd Pillot for a broadcast, cable, or streaming series. “Dick Wolf’s American Babylon bodes well for our project,” said Judd Pillot.  

If I were in the studio or network casting department for this series, who would be my choice to play the Bill McGee character – the handsome and young dude wrangler on an exclusive Reno divorce ranch surrounded by all those wealthy and beautiful women? The late star of two-dozen-plus Westerns, Glenn Ford.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments with your casting choice…

Best from Casa McGee,

3 thoughts on “Reno divorce ranches and Las Vegas gaming inspire Hollywood

  1. “My parents and I were at the Flamingo Hotel in December 1948. Before the Flamingo, Bugsy’s revolutionary project, the only place to stay in Las Vegas was the El Rancho, where cars stopped for food and “air coolers” – devices that fit over the opened right front car windows, were filled with water, and the wind blew through them – prior to crossing the two lane desert highway to California. We were on our way to New Orleans and my dad had business in Las Vegas. My mother and I were at the craps table, when an unsavory character took our winnings and left without saying a word. My mother nudged me not to do anything.”
    –Richard C. Block, former president, Kaiser Broadcasting

    (Note: The Flamingo Hotel opened on December 26, 1946. The weather was bad, guests stayed away, the grand opening was a flop, and the hotel closed down two weeks later. It re-opened March 1, 1947, with better results. In December 1947, Bill McGee and a couple of his cowboy friends flew from Reno to Las Vegas for 24 hours of non-stop gambling and drinking at the Flamingo. –Sandra McGee)

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