NEVADA EASY© - - A Mini-Series created by Burton Peretsky
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Nevada Easy – Copyright © & Registered, Writers Guild of America.
Nevada Easy is a sweeping historical mini-series that relates the saga of the powerful, greed-and-lust-driven Jericho family of Nevada, going back five generations and set against the Nevada casino industry and the turbulent history of the American West, including Russian Alaska, California in the Gold Rush days, and Nevada's Virginia City and the silver mining that created it. A completed script is available for Episode I, “It Was Murder!”
n the spirit of Rich Man Poor Man, Roots, Centennial, Shogun, The Thorn Birds, Winds of War and John Adams, Nevada Easy is sweeping historical mini-series (it can also be re-written as a single feature film or as a one-hour prime time dramatic series) that relates the saga of the powerful (and fictional) Jericho family of Nevada, going back five generations and set against the turbulent history of that state as well as northern California in the Gold Rush days and even Russian Alaska. Nevada Easy is also the name of the largest chain of casino hotels in the world, run today by the last surviving member of the wealthy side of the Jericho family, the glamorous but tough-as-nails Queen of Las Vegas, Victoria Jericho.
The secret of the Nevada Easy fortune unfolds in Episode I -- two brothers are prospecting in 1859 in Washoe Territory (Northern Nevada), near what is now Reno. Together, they discover the richest lode of silver in history. That night, alone on the mountainside, they revel in their find, drinking themselves drunk. Old rivalries and jealousies flare, and they begin to fight. The older brother Zebulon takes a rock and strikes his brother Ezekiel dead. Two weeks after his brother's funeral, Zebulon returns to the site of the discovery and files the claim as if he had found the silver by himself. He names his claim the "Nevada E-Z" -- "E" for his late brother Ezekiel and "Z" for his own name, Zebulon. Zebulon's (not Ezekiel's) heirs share in the huge wealth that the silver generates, and his sons and grandsons use the fortune to become railroad barons, wealthy ranchers, and finally in the 20th and 21st Centuries, owners of the Nevada Easy Casinos.
Present-day Reno newspaper reporter Lee Jericho, the last of the poor side of the Jericho family, discovers Zebulon's previously unknown confession, in which the guilt-ridden murderer decrees that after his death, BOTH sides of the family ought to share equally in the Nevada Easy wealth. Also in the present day, Dian DeLeo, the young and sensual daughter of Arizona's nationally respected governor finds out that she was actually given up for adoption at birth by a woman identified only as "L. Jericho of Nevada." The young woman sets out to find her birth parents and becomes involved in the Jericho family fight, and -- with her new lover, Lee Jericho -- she and he encounter a series of deadly confrontations with a mobster determined to maintain his behind-the-scenes hold on Victoria and her Nevada Easy casino empire.
Part of the appeal of Nevada Easy lies in its inside look at the casino gaming industry from its 1931 birth in Reno and Las Vegas to its status 80 years later in the 21st Century as an enormous, global revenue-generator. Without a doubt, casino gaming is hugely popular - from sea to sea in America and in such casino hotspots as Macau (yes, China! It’s now the world’s biggest casino locale.), Singapore, the Philippines, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Western Europe and South Africa. In 2010, global gaming revenues are estimated to have increased 8.8 percent over 2009 to a record $109.4 billion.
By 2014, global gaming will generate a predicted $156.8 billion in revenue, with the U.S. alone generating $68.3 billion, the largest share of casino revenue of any region in the world. Today, 40 U.S. states, alphabetically from Alabama to Wyoming, offer commercial or tribal casino gaming, and that number is growing year by year. Nevada casinos, although they were hit hard during the recent recession, are on the road to recovery, experiencing double-digit percentage growth in recent months. The state’s gaming industry is expected to increase its gaming revenue from $10.2 billion in 2009 to $12.5 billion by 2014.
The creator of Nevada Easy, Burt Peretsky is a former senior-level Las Vegas casino industry executive (former Director of Marketing for the legendary Sands Las Vegas and former Director of Corporate Publicity for Del Webb Hotels, then the owners of the three Nevada Sahara hotel/casino properties and the Las Vegas Mint Hotel/Casino). Peretsky also worked for ten years in major-market, network-affiliate television.
Characters in Nevada Easy
Lee Jericho -- Thirty-ish reporter on the staff of the (fictional) Reno World Journal, he is researching and writing a series of stories chronicling the rise of his wealthy Jericho cousins, when he discovers a never-before-revealed, to-be-read-after-my-death “confession” of his great-grand-uncle. The document proves that Lee’s great-grandfather was murdered by his own brother shortly after together they discovered the largest lode of silver in history. The murderer decrees that after his death, both his sons and his late brother’s sons should share equally in the fortune created by the silver mines. Lee decides to claim his rightful legacy, including part ownership of the Jericho family’s “Nevada Easy” casino empire, the largest chain of casinos in the world.
Dian DeLeo -- The 28-year-old beautiful, sexual and sensual daughter of the right-to-life, “Adoption, not Abortion” governor of Arizona, she finds out that she, herself, was adopted shortly after her birth by the governor and his wife. Dian sets out to find her birth parents, knowing only that her birth certificate lists her mother as “L Jericho” of Nevada and father, “Unknown.” The only L. Jericho she can find in Nevada is Lee, but of course, he’s a man. Lee invites her to come to Las Vegas, and together they begin their quests to align their respective realities with history and their respective places vis-à-vis the Jericho and Nevada Easy family fortune.
Victoria Jericho -- The fiery, early-fortyish unmarried owner of the Nevada Easy casino empire, she is the last surviving member of the wealthy side of the Jericho family. Smart, extremely outspoken, fierce and feared, she runs the casinos with an iron hand and is considered the “Queen of Las Vegas” and the most powerful person -- woman or man -- in the gaming industry. Nobody knows -- and she keeps the secret to her death -- that she is the birth mother of Dian DeLeo.
Gerry “Little Dog” Rosario -- Gerry’s late father “Big Dog” was the gangster and power-behind-the-scenes at the Nevada Easy casinos when Victoria’s father pioneered and ran the casino empire. Now “Little Dog” is the ominous and criminal element who seems to have enormous sway over Victoria and the happenings at the casinos. He’s certainly not happy to hear that Lee Jericho and Dian DeLeo may be making claims on the Nevada Easy casino empire.
Barney Jericho -- A casino industry pioneer, he created the Nevada Easy brand, first in 1931 in Reno, and then in Las Vegas, transforming the old-style “sawdust joints” into first-class destination resorts as the 20th Century progressed. He remains helpless when a vicious gangster (see next character) “takes over” his casinos, calling the shots on all important decisions.
Gerry “Big Dog” Rosario -- The menacing and controlling presence behind-the-scenes during the early years of the Nevada Easy casinos, he’s the representative in Las Vegas of the Miami mob. His skimming and scamming of the casinos emboldens him and his namesake son. Brutal and brazen, he at one point rapes Barney Jericho’s 15-year-old daughter, Victoria.
Victoria Jericho (as a teenager) -- Barney Jericho’s only child, at the age of 15, she is raped by Gerry “Big Dog” Rosario, becomes pregnant and is secretly sent to an unwed mothers “school” in Phoenix where she haves and gives up for adoption a baby girl. A clerk at the hospital where Victoria gives birth records the mother’s name as “V” Jericho on the birth certificate, but the “V” looks more like an “L” on the document.
Zebulon Jericho -- The older of two brothers who spend their teenage years with their extremely religious mother in California’s Gold Rush territory. About ten years later, he and his brother set out as prospectors in what is today Northern Nevada, where they discover the largest lode of silver in history. The night of their discovery, Zebulon - in a drunken rage - murders his brother. He will take his brother’s body back to California for burial, claiming that he died in an accident on the mountainside. Misunderstanding of a passage in Deuteronomy and believing that he is permitted to “take” his late brother’s wife, he brutally rapes her, suffering a bloody gash and lifelong scar on his cheek at her hands. He returns to Nevada, files the silver claim on his own. Only he and his side of the family share in the fabulous wealth the silver generates and, in turn, ranching and railroading in the 19th Century and -- in the 20th and 21 Centuries -- the Nevada Easy casinos. Zebulon becomes a driving force in the boomtown of Virginia City and in the political life of early Nevada. Before his death, he confesses his crimes to his minister and signs and entrusts to his minister’s keeping a document saying that after he dies, his wealth and what wealth follows should, for all times, be shared equally by both sides of his family -- his and his brother’s descendants. That document lies undiscovered until Lee Jericho finds it in Present Day.
Ezekiel Jericho -- The younger of the brothers and the “E” in the “Nevada E-Z” claim his brother has made. Ezekiel had married his brother Zebulon’s former girlfriend and was the father of two little sons. On the same day that he and his brother discover the largest lode of silver in history, Ezekiel is murdered by Zebulon.
Elizabeth Jericho (Ezekiel’s widow) -- A beautiful woman in her youth, she was the first love of Zebulon Jericho, but later married Zebulon’s brother Ezekiel, and they became parents of two sons. After Ezekiel’s death, she is brutally raped by Zebulon, and in the struggle, she grabs a piece of broken glass and gashes Zebulon’s cheek, giving him a permanent disfiguring scar.
Isaiah Jericho (Ezekiel’s and Elizabeth’s younger son) -- Never to have been an heir to his uncle Zebulon’s fortune, Isaiah nevertheless is given a superintendent’s job in the Nevada E-Z silver mines. In 1906, he learns from his dying mother that she had been raped as a young woman by Zebulon, and that she had given him that infamous scar on his cheek. Enraged, Isaiah breaks into Zebulon’s mansion and shoots and kills his elderly uncle. Isaiah has murdered one of the state’s most respected citizens and its largest employer; he is lynched by an angry mob and hung only a few yards away from the site of the discovery of the Nevada E-Z silver.
Michael Jericho (originally named Vitus Mikhailov) -- Vitus Mikhailov, as a 17-year-old Russian serf apprenticed as a carpenter, is taken with his masters aboard the British vessel, HMS Jericho, to the Russian colony of New Archangel in Alaska. There, he helps build a city once called “The Paris of the North Pacific.” Vitus falls in love and beds a beautiful fellow serf named Anna who is brutally beaten by their overseer. After the worst of those beatings one dark Alaskan night, Vitus attacks and kills the overseer. Fearing now for his own life, he says goodbye to Anna and escapes from Alaska as a stowaway aboard a Spanish merchant ship. At sea, bound for the Russian colony at California’s Fort Ross, the captain and crew discover him and threaten to throw him overboard, but he pays them off with gold he had taken from the dead overseer’s pocket and takes the name of Michael Jericho (after the British ship that took him to the New World). At Fort Ross, he meets and marries Sarah Beaumont, and they have two sons, Zebulon and Ezekiel. The small family is invited to join Captain John Sutter’s new Central California settlement, where carpenter Michael Jericho becomes second-in-charge of Sutter’s sawmill. Michael becomes involved in California’s Bear Flag Rebellion and becomes the only casualty. He is buried on the banks of the American River. Gold is discovered in 1849 at Sutter’s Mill, triggering the famous and frenzied California Gold Rush.
Igor Krimsky -- The brutal overseer of serfs at New Archangel, he torments his charges and often beats them with his horsewhip. One night, when the serf Anna forgets to add wood to the household’s fireplace, Krimsky erupts with anger and whips her brutally. This, in turn, enrages Anna’s lover Vitus, who attacks and kills Krimsky using Krimsky’s own whip.
Anna -- She is the young and beautiful serf who serves as the cook and maid in the overseer’s household. She is also the lover of fellow serf Vitus Mikhailov.
Sarah Beaumont Jericho -- The wife and later widow of Michael Jericho. She was raised as a Quaker in Pennsylvania before her family migrated to California in covered wagons. Deeply religious throughout her life, she forced her stringent beliefs on her husband, and after his death, she similarly raised her two children Zebulon and Ezekiel. During the Gold Rush years, she supported herself and her children at first by taking in laundry, but her laundry morphed into a bordello, and she became known in later years as the Gold Rush’s “First Madame.”
Episode I – It Was Murder! – Synopsis:
n the opening teaser, we see brothers Ezekiel and Zebulon Jericho in 1859 discovering a huge lode of silver, but in celebrating that night alone on a mountainside, old rivalries lead to a fistfight and to Zebulon murdering Ezekiel. Switch to present day to begin Act I…
Lee Jericho, the last surviving member of the poor side of the Jericho family, is a general assignment reporter for the (fictional) Reno World Journal newspaper. In Episode I, Lee is researching a series of stories on his rich Nevada Easy cousins. In an old church in Virginia City that had been supported generously in the late 19th Century by Zebulon Jericho (the “Z” with his brother Ezekiel in the huge 1859 silver claim, Nevada E-Z), Lee finds, copies, but leaves in place a previously undisclosed confession letter and “last will” in which a guilt-ridden Zebulon admits murdering his brother Ezekiel. Zebulon also admits to filing the claim on his own, thereby enriching his heirs and disenfranchising his murdered brother’s heirs. But, in a dramatic “I Am Cain” letter and last will, Zebulon bequeaths his fortune not only to his own sons and grandsons, but also to his brother Ezekiel’s family.
Taking his copy of the letter to a lawyer, Lee Jericho is advised that, indeed, he has a legitimate claim on the fortune. Hoping for a quick settlement, Lee decides, before beginning any legal action, to travel to Las Vegas to meet with his cousin Victoria Jericho, the hard-as-nails owner of the Nevada Easy casinos. But, before he goes to Las Vegas to meet with Victoria, he receives a phone call from Dian DeLeo, the daughter of Arizona’s nationally respected right-to-life “Adoption, Not Abortion” governor. Dian, who was recently “outed” by the news media for having an abortion herself, has found out – when her father blurted it out to a TV reporter – that she had been an unwanted child and was adopted at birth by the DeLeo’s. Dian is looking for her birth parents and knows only that her natural mother is identified on Dian’s birth certificate as “L. Jericho of Nevada.” She can’t find any Jericho on the Internet with that initial, except for Lee. So, she calls his number, hoping that he is a she!
Lee is intrigued that this public figure, Dian, may be a member of his family, and he wants to help her. But the only female in the family that could possibly be her mother is Victoria, but her initial is a “V” and she was only about 15 years old back then. In any case, Dian also wants to talk with Victoria, and Lee invites her to meet him in Las Vegas. He will include Dian in his meeting with Victoria at the flagship hotel of the chain of casinos that Victoria owns and runs with an iron fist – the Nevada Easy Las Vegas Strip Casino.
When Lee arrives at the Las Vegas Easy, he is afforded the royal treatment on orders from Victoria – he’s given the Sammy Davis Jr. suite and carte blanche throughout the hotel. When he meets Dian at the hotel, and when she complains that the Paparazzi have been hounding her, he suggests they have a private dinner in his suite. They have an elegant, romantic dinner that ends in her staying with him and a night of serious lovemaking.
The story switches back and forth from present-day in Episode I to the early 19th Century story of Michael Jericho, the first of the family to come to America. His story is told partially through excerpts from Lee’s newspaper series on the family. Michael Jericho comes to Russian Alaska as a serf named Vitus Mikhailov. We follow his progress on a small Russian ship that takes him and his Russian overlords from Saint Petersburg to Plymouth in England, and from Plymouth, aboard a British frigate named the Jericho, all the way to the Russian settlement of New Archangel, now known as Sitka, Alaska.
In Alaska, he is brutally treated by a cruel Russian overseer, whom he finally murders. Mikhailov escapes from Alaska stowing away aboard a Spanish merchant ship and taking the Anglicized first name of Michael and the surname – from the ship that carried him to the New World – Jericho. The Spanish ship is headed to the Russian settlement of Fort Ross in northern California. At Fort Ross, he continues his life as a carpenter and meets and marries a very religious Quaker woman named Sarah Beaumont. They have two sons, Ezekiel and Zebulon. When Fort Ross is purchased by the Swiss immigrant John Sutter, Michael is approached by Sutter’s deputy James W. Marshall (the real person who later discovers gold at Sutter’s Mill), who invites Michael to join the Sutter group inland and to be his second-in-command in the construction of a great sawmill at Sutter’s Fort. Upon learning that Sarah Beaumont’s family comes from New Hope, PA, across the river from his own birthplace Lambertville, New Jersey, Marshall promises to help the Jericho’s in any way possible and to act as their champion/sponsor if they will come to Sutter’s Fort.
“You must join us, sir, at Sutter’s Fort!” Marshall tells Michael. “Captain Sutter has magnificent plans. We will make history at Sutter’s Fort, Michael Jericho! History!”
Back in present-day, we learn that behind-the-scenes at the Nevada Easy casinos is the menacing presence of Gerry ―Little Dog‖ Rosario, the son of mobster Gerry “Big Dog” Rosario who helped create the original Nevada Easy downtown Las Vegas casino with Victoria’s father, the legendary Barney Jericho. “Little Dog” seems to have inordinate power behind the scenes at the Easy, despite his innocuous title of Entertainment Director; we see him bossing people around, telling Victoria to fire an employee, and generally being “in charge.”
Rosario is there when Lee and Dian finally meet with Victoria. When Lee and Dian tell their respective stories to Victoria and show her Lee’s copy of Zebulon’s “I Am Cain” letter and Dian’s birth certificate, Rosario grabs the documents, reads them, throws them on the floor and angrily calls Lee and Dian fakers. He vows they’ll never get a piece of the Easy, and he storms out of Victoria’s office, slamming the door behind him.
After Rosario’s departure, Dian tells Victoria that she resents his outburst, and that she doesn’t want anything to do with the Nevada Easy fortune. All she wants is to find her birth parents.
And Lee says to Victoria that all he wants is “to bring the story of our family full circle – to be fair to everyone and to right the wrongs done over a century and a half in the name of the Jerichos and in the name of Nevada Easy … That’s all I want!”
A complete script for Episode I is written and available. Contact Burt Peretsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-828-4714.
Episode II - Gold!! - Synopsis
pisode II opens with the teaser: Zebulon Jericho - after the brothers have discovered silver together and after Zebulon has murdered Ezekiel – is taking his dead brother back to the Sacramento area, where they had been living and where they were brought up during the California Gold Rush. We see the funeral, and then Zebulon, a misguided religious zealot by this time in his life, rapes Ezekiel's widow, Elizabeth, believing that Deuteronomy 25:5 gives him that right ["When brothers live together and one of them dies...the widow's husband's brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her."]. At the end of the rape scene, Elizabeth slashes Zebulon's face with a scissors, and he bears the terrible scar on his countenance for the rest of his life.
Act I begins in present-day, when we see Victoria Jericho meeting alone this time (without Rosario) with Lee and Dian. She is polite but takes a hard line vis-à-vis Lee's challenge to the fortune and her sole ownership of the Nevada Easy casinos. She offers him free room, food, and beverage at any of the Nevada Easy hotels any time, but she won't yield an inch on sharing any ownership or part of the fortune with Lee. In a separate touching scene between Victoria and Dian, Victoria reveals her soft side, offering herself to Dian as a friend in whom she can always confide, a mother-figure, if you will. Also in this episode, we see "Little Dog" Rosario's mob procedures, in which he and his thugs engage in "skimming" from the various hotels' "count rooms," where all the gaming revenue is collected and counted. Rosario's minions steal thousands each week from the count room and most of the money is shipped back to the Miami Mob, as it has been for many years!
Act II goes back to the original Jericho, Michael. He and his wife Sarah, and their two sons, E&Z, leave Fort Ross and go to Central California's Sutter's Fort, where Michael is killed in the "Bear Flag Revolt," an actual event that created the short-lived Republic of California. Fittingly for a former serf who yearned to become free in the New World, Michael Jericho is buried on the banks of the American River. After his death, James W. Marshall (Remember? He told Michael he'd watch out for Michael's family) becomes the protector and financial supporter of Sarah and the two youngsters. That's the same James W. Marshall who (actually) discovers gold at Sutter's Mill.
The Gold Rush begins, and over the next ten years, the boys, Ezekiel and Zebulon, grow up watching the frenzied Gold Rush scenes, with shootings, claim jumping, and all the craziness that the Gold Rush engendered. Brought up by their Quaker mother, the boys become religious fanatics. Finally, ten years later, after seeing people getting fabulously wealthy on gold, the boys who are now men (Ezekiel has married Zebulon's old heartthrob Elizabeth, and they also have two sons) strike out for Washoe Territory to prospect for their own fortune. There, they find the silver strike that creates the family fortune, and there, before the claim is filed, Zebulon murders Ezekiel. Over the years, Zebulon's wealth increases to huge proportions, and he becomes the wealthiest person in the state, and his mines become the biggest employer. He also marries and has one son of his own. Zebulon is wracked with guilt all these years, and in 1899, dictates his "I am Cain" to-be-read-after-my-death confession and last will and testament to his Virginia City minister.
Episode II ends seven years later, in 1906, when the minister goes off on a journey to Marin County, California, to a seminary to bring home a young minister who will replace him at the Virginia City church. Stopping off in San Francisco, the minister is killed in the Great San Francisco earthquake. His body is never identified, and nobody back in Virginia City realizes that he has been killed. Two days after the earthquake, back in Virginia City, Isaiah Jericho, Ezekiel's and Elizabeth's older son, finds out from his own dying mother that Uncle Zebulon received his infamous facial scar after raping Elizabeth some 47 years earlier. Enraged, Isaiah goes to Zebulon's house and shoots his uncle dead.
He has killed the county's richest man and the employer to thousands of men. A posse is formed, and it hunts down Isaiah and lynches him, hanging him from a tree just a few yards away from the original Nevada E-Z mine. Of course, Zebulon's to-be-read-after-my-death confession is never revealed, because the minister to whom it was dictated and entrusted was also dead!
Episode III – Easy Money – Synopsis:
ct I opens with the teaser of a Virginia City church burning to the ground in an arson fire. The to-be-read-after-my-death Zebulon Jericho confession letter -- sitting in its envelope in the old minister's roll-top desk in the burning church -- is destroyed in the fire, putting in jeopardy the validity of Lee's claim on the fortune. This episode also has scenes of the case being tried in court (but we don't learn the verdict until Episode IV). Also in this episode, we see a couple of anonymous attempts on the lives of Lee and Dian, but they escape injury. They also fall in love in this episode and make plans to marry.
We also meet and learn the story of Barney Jericho, who created the Nevada Easy casinos in the 1930s and 1940s and who had to accommodate the Mob in the person of Gerry "Big Dog" Rosario (Little Dog's father), who, in the early days of Las Vegas as a casino city, muscles Barney into giving him and his Miami mobsters a "piece" of the gambling action. Later, we see Big Dog raping Barney's 15-year-old daughter Victoria, while the pitiful Barney remains helpless against the mobster monster. Barney gets his eventual revenge on the mobster/rapist several years later, pushing Big Dog to his death from atop the construction site of the Nevada Easy Strip Resort and telling everyone it was an accident that killed Rosario.
Episode IV – A Killing – Synopsis:
e learn in the opening teaser that the jury has decided against Lee's claim on the Nevada Easy fortune, because he couldn't produce the original to-be-read-after-my-death confession. The Nevada Easy lawyers had argued that Lee's Xerox copy, with the minister's handwriting throughout and only Zebulon's handwriting on the signature could easily be forged. All now seems lost for Lee's grand hopes to share in the fortune his side of the family was cheated out of 150 years ago.
In the story's dénouement, an embattled Little Dog Rosario, beset on all sides by law enforcement for his skimming and by his own mob for not sending enough money back to Miami, takes out his frustrations on Lee and Dian. In a fight scene with Victoria present, Rosario has decked Lee and is about to shoot Dian, when Victoria dives in front of her and takes the bullet. She is killed. Security guards rush into the room and disarm Rosario.
In the penultimate scene, we learn that Dian and Lee, now married, are expecting at any moment. We are at the Nevada Easy resort in Las Vegas, and Victoria's will is being read. In the will, Victoria reveals that after Big Dog Rosario raped her, Barney and his wife sent the 15-year-old now-pregnant girl to a Phoenix home for unwed mothers. Indeed, she gave birth to a little girl, and when the clerk filled out that little girl's birth certificate, he wrote "V. Jericho" as the mother's name. But the handwritten "V" looked more like an "L," and that was why Dian and everyone else couldn't find Dian's birth mother. In the will, Victoria sets the record straight - and she dramatically leaves all her worldly possessions to -- that's right -- her daughter, Dian DeLeo Jericho!
A short time later, Dian Jericho gives birth to TWINS! Both are boys, and she and Lee name them Ezekiel and Zachary (not Zebulon, because he was a murderer). Nevada E-Z and the Jericho family are back together again, and our story ends on that happy note!
A complete screenplay of Episode I, "It Was Murder!", is available by contacting Burt Peretsky at email@example.com or 781-828-4714.