Max Baer Jr. hasn't given up on Reno casino

RENO, Nev. - Six months after negotiations broke down over it, actor Max Baer Jr. still wants to build his $175 million Jethro's Beverly Hillbillies Mansion and Casino here.

But Baer only wants to build the resort at Park Lane Mall, and mall owner Macerich Co. of Santa Monica, Calif., parted ways with him last October, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

''Dreams are nice, but dreams without a lot of reality are nothing,'' said Baer, whose project is based on the television show he starred in 30 years ago as the dimwitted Jethro Bodine.

''If and when either Macerich decides to do something with the (mall) or they sell it to someone else, if those people are willing ... then I would be more than happy to look favorably at Reno.''

David Contis, chief operating officer for Macerich, is on medical leave and couldn't be reached for comment.

But last October, he said his company couldn't wait for Baer to secure financing for the project, which would feature a Cement Pond swimming pool and Granny's Shot Gun Wedding Chapel.

Baer insists it was impossible to secure the financing without first obtaining a formal agreement with the mall to allow construction on the property.

''It was not me that backed out of the deal,'' Baer said.

Last month, the city of Reno extended a deadline to July 12, 2001 for Macerich to obtain a building permit for the project.

Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin said he met with Contis two months ago, but the developer still had no plans to pursue the project.

Griffin supports Baer's resort, saying it would help the city at a time when it's facing stiff competition from Las Vegas megaresorts and Indian reservation casinos in California.

''I think it makes sense,'' the mayor said.

Baer, 62, who has homes in Las Vegas and at nearby Lake Tahoe, said he only wants to build at Park Lane Mall because the total package of a casino, mall and movie theater is critical to its overall success.

In the meantime, Baer is preparing to launch a Beverly Hillbillies Web site selling more than 400 products such as Jethro's Beef Jerky.

He also preparing to do a movie that features his heavyweight boxer father, and is considering buying a casino in another state that he can convert to a Hillbillies theme.


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