Red Carpet Coverage: TNT's Dallas
Red carpets are not as glamorous as they might appear. Sure, you’re close enough to shake hands with the stars. But you’re also cramped into a tight space with a bunch of other sweaty journalists. This was my first red-carpet experience since the debacle that was Will Smith’s Dallas premiere of Seven Pounds. It was even worse than the movie, which was pretty terrible.
The weather at Thursday’s event was better, the event more organized and overall essentially stress-free.
First up was Jesse Metcalfe, referred to by the ladies next to me as “the hot gardener from Desperate Housewives.” He was also the title character in John Tucker Must Die, a movie that didn’t have the balls to live up to its title. Anyway, he was kind and patient, and I was surprised he stopped at every person with a mic or recorder to hear and answer their questions. I actually got caught off-guard and tongue-tied, because I expected him to walk past me.
“Dallas has the potential to be another Desperate Housewives,” he said. “You know, a television phenomenon.”
That remains to be seen. For all the hype around Dallas, the show is premiering on a Wednesday, on cable, during the summer, with only 10 episodes. That’s pretty low stakes, showing that TNT is hedging its bets. Then again, I don’t think anyone expected the History Channel’s Hatfields & McCoys miniseries to nab 15 million viewers. This could be huge for TNT, which doesn’t have any more NBA games to advertise during, unfortunately.
Still, the cast is super-optimistic, like Patrick Duffy. Now for people my age, Dallas is nothing but a pop-culture relic, something our parents talk about. The Lost finale had nothing on the anticipation surrounding the resolution of “Who Shot J.R?” As such, we only know Duffy as the dad on Step by Step, ABC’s Brady Bunch for the ’90s. I was glad he was so ready to talk about Step by Step when I asked him if there was a reunion on the horizon for that show. He said there were no talks, but he’d be open to it, particularly since he claims to keep up with the kids to this day. Good thing somebody is, because I can’t think of a single major project that’s involved any of them since the show went off the air in ’98. (Although Sasha Mitchell, the show’s breakout star, guest-starred on a several episodes of the original Dallas.)
Next up was Brenda Strong, who gives the show yet another Desperate Housewives connection (she played the deceased narrator). She, like one of the show’s producers, perks up when mentioning this take on the show will be “a little more gritty, a little more sexy.” She plays Ann Ewing, the new wife of Bobby Ewing, “as comfortable with champagne and caviar as she is with hog and hominy,” who’s also tough but supportive. That’s going to be a good fit for her, indeed.
Julie Gonzalo and Jordana Brewster play the hot young girlfriends of Christopher (Metcalfe) and J.R. III (Dallas-raised Josh Henderson). They, as expected, were upbeat about the show’s prospects and looked absolutely smashing.
Finally, we got to see the man of the hour: J.R. himself, Larry Hagman. He’s on the other side of 80 now and a cancer and alcoholism survivor, and doesn’t look nearly as spry as he did at his deceptive best on the original show. He’s only done the occasional film and TV guest spot (he’s particularly good in 1998’s Primary Colors) since then, but he mustered all the enthusiasm he could when talking about returning to his most famous role.
A reporter asked what it’s like returning to Dallas—the city and the show. “It’s like a license to steal,” he replied.
Hagman then fist-bumped me, which is pretty awesome. I later learned from my mentor and Dallas film critic legend Gary Cogill that it’s not necessarily because he’s hip, but rather doesn’t want to pass or receive any germs. Cool either way.
Henderson was rushed through the rest of his meet-and-greets (we lowly websites were at the end of the red carpet; the big broadcasters got first dibs… c’est la vie) but seemed the most enthusiastic, since he’s the Local Boy Made Good, returning to his hometown in a show about his hometown.
The show has already wrapped up production on season one, and filming season two (if it gets that far) in Dallas depends on how generous the city council and Texas Film Commission are (Their track record suggests otherwise, having lost countless movies and shows to the likes of Louisiana.). It should seem like a no-brainer that both groups would offer the proper incentives, but we’ll see how that all plays out.
This was a pretty great red-carpet experience, even if, as usual, it was a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. But a word of advice to any future sideline reporters: wear comfortable shoes. The cowboy boots may fit in with what you’re covering, but standing behind a velvet rope for two hours will make you regret your footwear choice.
For exclusive pictures from the red carpet, check out our facebook album here.
Dallas premieres Wednesday, June 13 at 9pm/8pm Central Time.