Paris Hilton's father Rick launches gambling reality-competition show '777'
By Wade Paulsen, 07/01/2004
Yet another member of the Hilton family is searching for fame on reality TV.
According to Daily Variety, Rick Hilton, the Hilton Hotels heir better known as the father of "celebutantes" Paris and Nicky Hilton, is preparing a reality-competition show focused on gambling entitled 777. The show will feature seven Las Vegas high-rollers who each ante up $1 million of their own cash to play, with the winner walking off with the entire $7 million pot.
Filming for the show would take place over seven days, with the contestants sharing a suite and engaging in several games of chance overseen by 777's resident "pit boss." The project is currently being pitched to networks, although it has yet to find a home.
The show came together as Rick Hilton talked to Jason Hervey, who is a producer (along with Endemol USA) of Rick's wife Kathy's upcoming NBC reality show, The Good Life. Hervey, part of Bischoff-Hervey Entertainment, connected Rick with producer Scott Sternberg (Rock & Roll Jeopardy), who was looking to make a Vegas show, and 777 was the result.
Sternberg says that he has been on the prowl for "whales" willing to ante up $1 million in return for (i) the publicity of reality TV and (ii) the chance to win $6 million. We note that this may be difficult, since they would be the real financiers of the show, but they aren't being cut in on any part of the production payments.
We also note that Rick Hilton's involvement does not mean that Hilton Hotels will be involved in any way, since the hotel chain has divested its Las Vegas gambling properties (the Flamingo and the Las Vegas Hilton, although the Las Vegas Hilton still operates a licensed Hilton Hotel).
Despite the success of celebrity poker (fueled by such events as Oscar-winning actor-writer Ben Affleck's victory at a major poker tourney), not all reality-TV gambling has turned to gold. For example, Fox's The Casino has been plagued by disappointing ratings. Thus, it is no "sure thing" that 777 will get picked up by a network. But it's not a "longshot" either.
Meanwhile, the Hilton family hasn't been so firmly in the public eye in 50 years, since Rick's grandfather Conrad Hilton married beauty queen-turned-actress Zsa Zsa Gabor in the 1940s and Rick's uncle Nicky married 18-year-old Elizabeth Taylor in 1950. While Rick's father, Barron Hilton, stayed out of the limelight, Rick will join both his wife Kathy and his daughter Paris (The Simple Life) as reality-TV stars.
Only 20-year-old daughter Nicky (named for her great-uncle) is missing from the Hilton reality-TV craze -- but, considering the positive ratings for her sister's The Simple Life 2, we expect to see Nicky join the family business soon enough.