STATELINE - Hundreds of miles from the motion picture nerve center known as Hollywood, actor Ray Liotta got into a late model Chrysler parked outside the Horizon Casino Resort.
With temperatures hovering in the mid-40s, this "Goodfella"-turned-FBI agent draped in a black suit was going for a ride.
Rigged to the back of a flat-bed trailer and pulled by a truck, the Chrysler would be tugged back and forth from Stateline to South Lake Tahoe until about the time the sun flirted over Lake Tahoe last week.
Film production for the comedy-action movie "Smokin' Aces," starring Liotta, Ben Affleck, Jeremy Piven, Taraji Henson and Alicia Keys, began last week in Stateline and South Lake Tahoe, and by all indications not only are things good on the set but off as well.
"The people in Stateline and Lake Tahoe have been very helpful," said film publicist Louise Spencer.
"Smokin' Aces" will be filmed through this month, using the casino floors of Caesars Tahoe and Horizon Casino Resort as the basis of the action-comedy by director Joe Carnahan of Sacramento.
More than 150 extras, many from Lake Tahoe, will be in the film, as well as about 100 production personnel, cast and crew members.
The movie is about the pursuit of a magician and mobster named Buddy Israel, played by Piven, who decides to jump bail and hide out inside a penthouse in a casino at Lake Tahoe.
The film follows a cast of federal agents, bail bondsmen, professional assassins and aging mobsters as they all simultaneously close in on Israel for what publicists are saying will be a funny, deadly and surprising finale.
"After reading the script, I thought it was brilliant. It is amazingly funny and clever," said Kathleen Dodge, executive director of the El Dorado/Lake Tahoe Film Commission. "We're very grateful to Joe Carnahan for making Lake Tahoe the backdrop to the film."
With assistance from the Nevada and California highway patrols, Douglas County Sheriff's Department and the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, much of last week's shooting revolved around driving scenes throughout the South Shore and along Lake Tahoe Boulevard.
Typical shooting days last about 12 hours, Spencer said. Both the Horizon and Caesars are the film's home base.
Based on the screenplay, the script calls for two casinos across the street from one another. All casinos in the area were contacted, and Caesars and Horizon expressed the most interest in pursuing the project, said Nevada Film Office Deputy Director Robin Holabird.
The movie is expected to pump more than $35,000 a day into the economy.