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

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.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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