Universal Classics is hoping to hit the jackpot with new artist Matt Dusk.
The jazz singer will be featured prominently in TV producer Mark Burnett’s new series, “The Casino.”
Burnett’s newest creation follows his phenomenal success with reality shows “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.” It is his first to include a musical element and also signals Burnett’s bow in the music business.
“The Casino,” which debuts June 14 on Fox, is an unscripted drama about Tim Poster and Tom Breitling, the new owners of the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino. It follows the pair as they strive to bring the Las Vegas casino back to the glory days of the Rat Pack.
That’s where Dusk fits in. The 24-year-old standards singer sounds remarkably like Rat Packer Frank Sinatra.
Universal Classics’ Decca imprint had already signed Dusk and was prepping the release of his label debut, “Two Shots,” for an early-2004 release when Burnett came calling.
Clyde Leiberman, a former Universal Music Group executive, now works for Mark Burnett Productions. He was aware of Dusk and suggested him for the show, according to Conrad Riggs, co-executive producer of “The Casino.”
Poster and Breitling saw him perform and agreed to add him to the plot.
Editors are still working on the 13-episode series, but Burnett says that Dusk will get considerable airtime both performing and as a main character.
“It’s all about Matt wanting to work up to playing in the big room in the casino,” Burnett says of Dusk’s storyline.
Additionally, the album’s title track is the show’s theme song. Dusk’s music also will be used in promotional ads for the series.
“The show is a great opportunity,” Dusk says. “My goal behind doing it was to give the music a chance to be heard.”
“In the end, my main focus is the music,” Dusk continues. “If ‘The Casino’ didn’t come about, I’d still be on the road promoting the record. The show is the icing on the cake, but you still have the cake if the icing doesn’t turn out.”
Having conquered the world of TV, Burnett admits he has his eye on music, including possibly starting his own label.
“There are lots of challenges in the music industry, which, to me, equals opportunities,” he says.
He has had conversations with Universal but says he’s not limiting himself. “Why does it have to be just one label?” he asks. “‘Survivor’ is on CBS, ‘The Apprentice’ is on NBC.”
He declined to say when he would make his next musical move.