Check Out Our Sports Photo Galleries Contact Us
Save ‘Reno 911!’ — You can’t be serious
by Harry Spencer
Sep 04, 2009 | 1565 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy of Comedy Central/Seth Olenick -
Thomas Lennon played Lt. Jim Dangle on the spoof of northern Nevada life and law enforcement, “Reno 911!” The show has been canceled, but the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority has launched a grassroots effort to bring it back.
Courtesy of Comedy Central/Seth Olenick - Thomas Lennon played Lt. Jim Dangle on the spoof of northern Nevada life and law enforcement, “Reno 911!” The show has been canceled, but the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority has launched a grassroots effort to bring it back.
If “image is everything,” as the tennis great Andre Agassi used to tell us in his TV commercials, then the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority must have its own image of Reno seriously flawed.

About two weeks ago, when the atrocious “Reno 911!” was canceled, the RSCVA was quick to jump on the bandwagon to retrieve the tawdry offering.

Poorly written, even worsely acted, the show was one of the most denigrating things to happen to the image of Reno that has ever appeared on the tube or in movie theaters. And there have been some pretty bad movies about Reno, such as the blowing farce “Kingpin.” Even the stellar cast of “Waking up in Reno” couldn’t save that pic from an early demise at the box office. In “Sister Act,” a small portion of which was filmed in Reno, the gangster element in the gaming industry was highly stressed. Even a superstar like Clint Eastwood couldn’t salvage a hit with his “Pink Cadillac” that did serious damage to one Virginia Street casino.

In Reno’s history, there have been some motion pictures that accurately depicted what Reno once was, the top film being “The Misfits.” This film has subsequently morphed into a steady staple on cable TV. Prior to World War II, any time the word “Reno” was mentioned in a script, it usually referred to the quickie divorce trade, which was OK since it probably drove a lot of business our way.

When “Reno 911!” first debuted some six years ago, it was greeted with instant disdain by most of the local gentry. The gross jokes and unsuitable costumes on some cast members, along with a lot of questionable double entendres, offended most viewers. Even those who tried to promote it by saying that any publicity is good publicity were considered way off base.

But now in comes the RSCVA, whose director of marketing, Michael Thomas, was quoted as saying, “ ‘Reno 911!’ has always been, I think, a little bit of an uncomfortable show for the community to get its arms around. It was so over the top and so outrageous, it clearly did not capture the real Reno.”

If that is true, why isn’t it being celebrated roundly at the RSCVA that the show has been canceled? If the RSCVA’s mission is to attract as many tourists and conventioneers as possible to the area, why would it support a show that depicts this community as backwards and totally inept, where no one is safe from lawbreakers — or worse yet, from law enforcement of the worst kind?

Nonetheless, Thomas on Aug. 15 reiterated his thought that, “I would say there are at least some of us in the marketing community who are sad to hear of the show’s cancellation.” Bill Harrah is probably spinning in his grave after hearing that statement.

As a follow-up, four days later on Aug. 19, RSCVA communications director Jill Stockton issued a statement that a Web site had been set up by the agency, www.savereno911. com. She was ecstatic that, “By 11:45 Tuesday morning, we had more than 70 people signed up for our petition.” If that wasn’t bad enough, she continued on with, “We’re really trying to drive traffic to our petition as a way to get the attention of some of the authority figures at Comedy Central, to encourage them to pay attention to the fans that like the show.” Her questionable rationale continued with, “I think it’s just another way to reinforce that Reno is a true original. We are a fun and exciting destination.”

When this subject about “Reno 911!” was brought up at a recent Kaffee Klatch of old-time marketers of this area, it was greeted with both guffaws and disbelief. One noted, “If, as the RSCVA is, you are in the business of selling all the positive attractions this area has to offer to potential visitors and conventioneers, why on Earth would you depict our great little city as some sort of backwoods dogpatch area?”

Another attendee noted that he had heard a lot of negative comments from various officers of the local law, both city police and county deputies, who were personally offended by the characters on the show. The lead Reno 911-er, who had created the show, was more known for his super short hot pants that constituted the lower portion of his uniform than for his thespianic ability. He noted with a snort, “That guy ain’t no Austin Powers!”

Whether or not the RSCVA gets back on track and cancels its support for the show’s return remains to be seen. One thing is certain: The agency that brought you Sterling the Butler and “America’s Adventure Place” slogan has thoroughly outdone itself this time.

Wolf Pack football reaches a plateau

It is a sure bet that most TV sets in Washoe County, whether at home or at a sports bar, will be tuned into today’s matchup between Nevada and Notre Dame. Other than playing for a national championship, a shot at the fighting Irish is the stuff of which coaches’ dreams are made. Go Chris and the Pack!

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.

Editor’s note: Harry Spencer’s column is sometimes a mix of reporting and opinion. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
Featured Businesses