Corporate scandal, corporate greed, corporate deception. Sounds like J.R. Ewing's kinda world.
Perhaps appropriately then comes word that the slick Texas oilman and his back-biting kin, denizens all of the iconic, 1978-91 prime-time soap Dallas, will be revived for these Enron times in a planned feature film, today's Daily Variety reports.
Series creator David Jacobs will produce, along with former Sony exec Michael Costigan, the trade paper says.
Dallas the motion picture will be an updated take on the Ewing clan, with an all-new cast. No word on who will dare try to fill Larry Hagman's 10-gallon hat as baddie J.R.
While big-screen versions of old TV shows have tended to camp it up (see: Charlie's Angels), Jacobs sounds dead serious about playing J.R. dead serious.
"Before people would have been interested in who is screwing each other," Jacobs says in Variety. "Now it's the national crimes that are affecting everyone. The conflict is still about family conflicts, but the stakes are higher now."
Of course, the stakes weren't all that low in the original series. In 1980, the show took the then-audacious route of pumping its lead character full of led in its third-season closer. While J.R. lived to see the fourth season, the bigger question came in the form of the now-famous, "Who shot J.R.?"
Due to an Industry-wide actors' strike, which delayed the start of the 1980-81 TV season, the answer didn't come for eight long months. By the time J.R.'s sister-in-law Kristen Shepard (Mary Crosby) was unmasked as the culprit in November 1980, the previously top 5 show was a number one-with-a-bullet phenomenon. The she-shot-J.R. episode, entitled "Who Done It?," remains prime-time's second most-watched program ever, behind the 1983 finale of M*A*S*H.
While the series slipped out of the top 10 after 1986, staggered to a bizarre finish in 1992 (wherein J.R. apparently kills himself following a visit from Joel Grey) and remains hard to come by in reruns in the States, its fan base is still sizable, especially abroad, says one expert on Dallas--the real, live city.
"If someone arrives at the airport from an international flight," says Greg Elam, of the Dallas Convention and Visitor's Bureau, "they will walk over you on their way to Southfork." (Note: Yes, the ranch used to stand in for the Ewings' digs really is in Dallas.)
With news of the movie hitting the Web on Thursday, Colin Hunter, of the fan site Ultimate Dallas, says he's been "flooded with emails from fans all over the world," with most of the missives containing casting tips.
The consensus picks, per Hunter: Tommy Lee Jones as J.R., Drew Barrymore as his wild niece, Lucy, and ol' J.R. himself, Larry Hagman, now 71, as the family patriarch, Jock Ewing.
Dallas twice has been revived in TV-movie form: 1996's Dallas: J.R. Returns and 1998's Dallas: War of the Ewings, both featuring original cast members Hagman, Patrick Duffy, as J.R.'s good brother, Bobby, and Linda Gray, as J.R.'s on-again, off-again spouse, Sue Ellen, among others.
Hunter, a Londoner who had been collecting online signatures to petition the Hollywood powers-that-be for a Dallas revival, calls plans for the feature film "amazing."
"I'm quite excited about it," Hunter says. "It's a drama with great characters."
Kinda like the Enron boardroom.