DALLAS If size is any indication in the world of glitzy Dallas premieres, then the new-generation update of the sudsy '80s series Dallas should be a raging success.
The cable network pulled out all the stops Thursday night, taking over the Winspear Opera House for a red-carpet screening of the first two episodes of the show, which debuts June 13 on TNT. The old stars of the old Dallas, and the young stars of the new Dallas walked the carpet, answering questions from a pack of baying international journalists (Mr Hagman, This is for Germany! We know you love Germany!), There was also a small crowd of onlookers who seemed pleased that Hollywood had taken a detour through Big D for the night, and a post-showing nosh of gnocchi, quail, and watermelon salad.
Compared to the low-rent premiere of "Lone Star," Fox's heavily hyped nighttime soap shot in Dallas, two years ago, this night was pure glitz and glamour. At Lone Star's premiere there was not a quail in sight -- and the show was scrapped after two episodes. Obviously, TNTs not taking any chances.
It seems everyone involved with the series is happy to be shooting in Dallas this time around, compared to L.A. where the original was mostly filmed. The tale of the warring oil-rich but morals-poor Ewing clan is not just for back lots anymore and this time, J.R. is being shot in Dallas.
The show is called Dallas for a reason, said Patrick Duffy, who plays Bobby Ewing, as he came down the red-carpet line. Shooting in Dallas is a must...You dont have to look at a palm tree and pretend its not a palm tree.
I loved [Dallas], said Jesse Metcalfe, who plays Christopher, Bobbys impetuous adopted son, whom you may remember as the gigolo gardener from the early episodes of Desperate Housewives. He says that when hes in town he likes to hang out in the Bishop Arts District and Del Friscos Grille in Uptown.
Linda Gray, who plays J.R.s former wife Sue Ellen, even put in a plug for Cowtown. I love Fort Worth, the Kimbell. Im going to get over there.
Brenda Strong, who plays Bobbys wife Ann, also said shes looking forward to hitting the Fort Worth museums.
For Josh Henderson, who plays John Ross, the son of J.R. and Sue Ellen and Christophers nemesis, being in Dallas is especially sweet. He spent much of his youth here (and Tulsa too, but theres no TV show called Tulsa.) I knew how big [the original] was to the city and the world, he said. Its surreal and a dream come true. Who knew that Dallas would come back?
J.R. himself, Larry Hagman, came down the line but, except for a brief chat with the Germans, pretty much ignored the press on his way down the carpet.
Inside, after some backslapping speeches by TNT execs, Evan Fitzmorris of the Texas Film Commission and Dallas city councils Pauline Medrano, the crowd finally got what it came for: shots of Dallas (Hey! Its the State Fair!) interspersed with the expected Ewing family shenanigans.
Now, whether any of this will make this update any more successful than all of the other series that were set in Dallas the last few years -- R.I.P. Good Guys, Chase, GCB, The Deep End, and the late, lamented and never-made-it-to-air 12 Miles of Bad Road -- remains to be seen. If nothing else, unlike those other shows, Dallas does have the originals legacy to fall back on which, no doubt, has sparked some viewer curiosity.
Whatever happens, TNT will have the memories of a nice party in Dallas.
Earlier in the evening, as the crowd arrived, there was an odd intersection of Dallas meeting Dallas. Separate from anything TNT had planned, acclaimed East Dallas singer-songwriter Salim Nourallah and his band, The Travoltas, were playing a free show on the Winspear lawn, his plaintive songs echoing out over the gathering throng who were probably wondering: Who is this guy and what does he have to do with J.R.?
Truth be told, hes got more to do with the real Dallas than Dallas but thats another story.