TV veteran Lon Zimmet’s writing and producing credits include Happy Endings, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Scrubs, and he’s the creator and executive producer behind the new Fox comedy LA to Vegas, set on the weekly Friday and Sunday flights between LA and Las Vegas. The LA resident, who calls Vegas “just one of my favorite places to be,” spoke to the Weekly about his show’s origins and its connections to our city.
What’s your personal experience with visiting Las Vegas? When I first moved out to LA, it was right when ESPN starting airing the World Series of Poker, so a lot of people started getting very into poker. And luckily for me, my father was a huge card player, so I grew up playing cards. So I discovered that as Vegas was blowing up with people getting interested in poker [who] had no idea how to play, I could get in there and make some money playing them.
When you were making those trips, did you see some of the same passengers and flight crew each time, as on the show? You definitely see the same sorts of people. You start to recognize the types—the people flying out just to gamble, the people flying out just to get unbelievably messed up for the weekend, the people flying out to be strippers, which is the big thing on the LA to Vegas route. Only on the flight from Vegas back to LA do you randomly sit next to the politest porn star in the world offering to give you some water.
Is there any chance you’ll get to shoot in Vegas this season? Probably not this season. Hopefully we’ll be a huge hit, and then they’ll open up the purse and then we can come to Vegas for a month and do all of our things.
Are there any Vegas movies or TV shows that inspired you? Nothing that’s directly inspired this [show]. I love The Hangover, and I feel like I watched National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation at a time that was impressionable for me, so that a lot more of that movie than I expected has stuck with me. But no, I feel like there haven’t been, in the last 15 years—aside from The Hangover—really iconic Vegas movies or TV shows. So hopefully we can encapsulate at least some of that.
How involved are executive producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay? They weighed in a lot during the pilot, as far as casting-type stuff. They were very helpful. Now they’ve been extremely supportive in putting weight behind whatever they’ve needed to, but mostly it’s been kind of hands-off and trusting us to do it and letting us do our thing.