Las Vegas for the Wynn

I've long been fascinated by the titans of Las Vegas, and I even met the legendary Steve Wynn while working for Production Arts on the lighting and show control systems for the original Buccaneer Bay show at the Treasure Island hotel back in the mid-nineties. If you listen carefully, you can hear Wynn's voice as the British captain in this video of the show:

The show was goofy but well done, but, sadly, has since been replaced by the horrid Sirens of TI show (the ships have even been painted pink!). Here's some of my pictures from the original (click for more and larger images):

Note that you can see to the horizon in the background; that part of sky has since been replaced by the  Wynn hotel.  When I was working on the show, the Mirage existed, but the Bellagio hadn't even been built yet (I watched the demolition of the Dunes (which was demolished to make room for the Bellagio) from the roof of the then unopened Treasure Island hotel). Below is a photo of lighting designers David Hersey and Ted Mather at work; that's my Richmond Sound Design Amiga Stage Manager 3000 machine to the right, which was taking time code from the audio show control system (designed by George Kindler) and firing cues to the ETC Console.

 

Here's a panorama of the construction I shot from the balcony of a motel across the street (long since gone), click for a larger version:

I've been thinking about all this since I just finished reading Winner Takes All: Steve Wynn, Kirk Kerkorian, Gary Loveman, and the Race to Own Las Vegas by Christina Binkley. I think it's interesting reading for anyone in the entertainment technology business, since Vegas has become the epicenter of the modern mega spectacle, for which Wynn is primarily responsible.  Wynn did the volcano at the Mirage, was the first to gamble on Cirque du Soleil, did the Bellagio fountains, and, most recently, the "Lake of Dreams", which graces the cover of my book (the Wynn was the only casino that would give me a picture for free!)

The book primarily covers the business struggles of Wynn and his competitors, but there are plenty of mentions of the entertainment aspects of those deals, and it's all pretty fascinating.  I found the book a bit hard to follow (why don't these authors include photos of the protagonists to help visually oriented people keep everyone straight?), but still worth a read: