Originally, Yahoo’s streaming television comedy, Sin City Saints, was supposed to take place in Seattle. The alliteration would have still worked in the title, but there’s a lot less sinning in Emerald City — even with legalized cannabis. The change to Las Vegas gave the star of the show, Andrew Santino, more time and opportunity to actually kick it with the former NBA players who joined him on the project. In fact, the partying you see on the show isn’t that far removed from what they were doing behind the camera.
The first eight episodes currently streaming on Yahoo Screen, took two months of filming while Santino and the rest of the cast stayed in the Orleans Hotel and Casino. The Orleans is where the majority of the show was shot, so there weren’t any green screens when you see the Nevada desert outside of Santino’s fictional owner’s office.
With Chris Hanson, Steve Ballmer and other tycoons in the middle of trying to relocate the Sacramento Kings to the former home of the Sonics, co-creator and producer Mike Tollin says “the very earliest incarnation was actually set in Seattle. But there was a sense they were getting a team.”
We spoke with Tollin and Santino about the early stages of the show, and what it was like to cast and work with the NBA players who appear throughout the first eight episodes: Baron Davis plays a former star and burger chain entrepreneur; Rick Fox is the entitled GM with a few championships on his resume; John Salley doesn’t have as much screen time as the other two, but he stopped by the set for a couple days to ad-lib some doozies as the fictional team’s home announcer.
“We kinda get basketball in Vegas.” – Mike Tollin
But before the NBA players came aboard, the show had to come to fruition.
“I started pitching [the show] later in 2012,” Tollin recounts. “And it looked at the time like Steve Ballmer had his sights set on Seattle and the Kings might move. So we decided to steer clear of Seattle. We knew that Vegas has not only had the All-Star Game there, but Summer League. We did a two-hour doc for CBS on Summer League, two summer’s ago. So we kinda get basketball in Vegas.”
The problem was making a fictional show about professional basketball without overtly mentioning the NBA. Right now, an NBA team is a long way from the horizon, especially after the 2007 All-Star game in Vegas led to a “Hip Hop Woodstock” that still gives David Stern nightmares.
For Tollin, an NBA team based in the neon lights of the Nevada desert was “not that far-fetched, but it’s not going to happen, certainly in the near future,” thereby avoiding an overlap with an actual NBA team. “We should only be so lucky we run long enough that it collides with a real team,” Tollin admitted on the phone.
So how do you keep it realistic within the Vegas setting even though they’ve never housed an actual professional basketball team? You hire three former NBA players, only one of whom has appeared in an All-Star game, but with the other two well-known enough to hazard a double-take during the show to recall when you saw them gallivanting around an NBA court.