Question: I heard that Las Vegas canned Nikki Cox and that James Caan is leaving of his own free will.


Answer: That's NBC's story and they're sticking to it. My Vegas mole, however, says Caan's exit was more of a mutual decision. It's true that he was itching to get back into the features world, but it's also true that Vegas producers, in exchange for a fifth season, had to cut the show's budget drastically — and eliminating Caan's seven-figure salary was like killing 16 PETA-approved animatronic birds with one stone. Not surprisingly, exec producer Gary Scott Thompson denied all of this in an interview yesterday with TVGuide.com's very own Matt Mitovich. "It's more on Jimmy's part," he maintained. "He wanted to do features again. TV's really tough. Eighty-seven episodes is a long time to be away from a feature career. He was itching to do movies and he couldn't do them while we were shooting; he turned down a lot of features in the last four years."