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‘Vegas’ premiere harkens to the days of Cowboy Wynn and wins the night

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Steve Wynn and former Clark County Sheriff Ralph Lamb share a laugh before a screening of the premiere of “Vegas” at Green Valley Ranch on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012.
Photo: Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau

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'Vegas' Network Premiere

Ralph Lamb at the prime time network TV premiere of "Vegas" held Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012 at the Green Valley Ranch Resort.

Ralph Lamb at the prime time network TV premiere of "Vegas" held Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012 at the Green Valley Ranch Resort.

Ralph Lamb at the prime time network TV premiere of "Vegas" held Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012 at the Green Valley Ranch Resort.

Ralph Lamb at the prime time network TV premiere of "Vegas" held Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012 at the Green Valley Ranch Resort.

It was a mob scene for those eager to watch Mob scenes.

“Vegas,” the new CBS drama based on the life and career of longtime Las Vegas Sheriff Ralph Lamb, premiered Tuesday night. To usher in the new series, which stars Dennis Quaid as the irascible lawman, Lamb was the guest of honor at a viewing party at Green Valley Ranch’s Grand Events Center.

The event was a benefit for the Injured Police Officers Fund, and it is expected that the take exceeded $100,000 as Steve Wynn and Larry Ruvo offered to match the money raised at the event, which was about $50,000.

In what was dubbed Ralph Lamb Day across the state, Lamb was introduced by a pair of former Nevada governors, Richard Bryan and Bob Miller, along with KLAS Channel 8 investigative reporter George Knapp. With Ruvo at his side, Wynn also talked of the Las Vegas of generations ago, when Wynn was something of a rodeo cowboy.

Wynn kept two horses at Lamb’s ranch on Smoke Ranch Road, which was appointed with such rodeo amenities as stables and a ring for steer roping. Wynn’s horses were named Chicaro and Spider. Chicaro was given to Wynn by Darwin Lamb, a former Clark County commissioner and one of 11 siblings in the iconic Lamb family. Spider was given to Wynn by Las Vegas resort legend Benny Binion.

In an interview about three years ago, Wynn recalled, ““I was a header in team roping out at Ralph Lamb’s house when there was nothing near Ralph Lamb’s house, and we had a whole bunch of competitions out there,” adding that he spent about five years competing and suffered an assortment of injuries. He was once thrown head first over a steer and was nearly gored by its horns.

“I had a ball doing it, but it was really dangerous,” Wynn recalled.

The series also stars Michael Chiklis as chief antagonist Vincent Savino, an amalgamation of Mob figures who conducted business in Vegas in the 1960s and ’70s, and Carrie-Ann Moss as district attorney/potential love interest Katherine O’Connell. The acting and staging are appealing to anyone who yearns for a hint of the Old Vegas that longtime residents often recall with bittersweet nostalgia.

The show’s premiere did very well where it counts: ratings. “Vegas” won its time slot Tuesday night, luring a total of 14.7 million viewers for a 9.3 rating and a 15 share. That was more than double the total viewership numbers posted by “Private Practice” on ABC and “Parenthood” on NBC. The show is particularly strong among viewers ages 55 and older.

Apart from the TV show, in December the 85-year-old Lamb is to be honored in a more familiar forum: a rodeo arena. A formal recognition of his life career is being planned for the National Finals Rodeo, set for Dec. 6-15 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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