This summer TNT is reinventing the classic TV series “Dallas” and bringing back to TV. It is bringing a mix of original and new characters. Linda Gray is returning to her role, along with new co-star Josh Henderson. “Dallas” premiers Wednesday, June 13th at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on TNT. Media Mikes had a chance to ask them a few questions about what we can expect from the new 2012 “Dallas”.
Mike Smith: How do you feel that the new series is different from the old one? And in what ways is it the same?
Linda Gray: It took a diamond and polished it. What can I say? It’s magic. It was magic in 1978 and it’s got a little 2012 fairy dust sprinkled on it. It’s just wonderful.
MS: Josh, were you familiar with the original show?
Josh Henderson: I was, yes. I’m originally from Dallas, Texas. I was born there, so with my family it was a very kind of popular thing. My me maw – my grandmother, “Dallas” was her favorite show and she kind of always said, being from Dallas, Texas you go to church and you watch “Dallas”. That’s kind of what you do out there. So it was definitely something that I knew of. I was a little too young to remember actual details of the show, but I definitely knew of how big of a deal it was as a child.
MS: Linda, what are some of the story lines that you can tease this season?
LG: Well, the original show took place when our children, Christopher and John Ross were very young. Now it is the perfect timing. I’m always about timing. I think “Dallas” originally started at perfect timing in history, and how its now perfect timing again when both Christopher and John Ross are grown-ups. They each have their own values and the focus is on where they want to go with their lives, and with whom. So it’s focuses on a rivalry, and this competition. And there’s all these wonderful things that one would expect from the show. There’s a love triangle, so it takes all of the things that were with the original show and it just kind of amps it up. There’s a little cayenne pepper thrown in here. So we’re just taking what it was and amping it up a little bit. A lot.
MS: Linda, what was it like coming back with this character for you personally?
LG: It gets better and better and better every year. You know, we started out, we all had families and on the show there were deaths and divorces, and births, and all kinds of wonderful things that happen in normal families, but this was our Dallas family. And now we’re grandparents, all of us, and we were about five years old, the three of us. So we hang out, we laugh and we love. I don’t know exactly what happens here to make this show absolutely magical, and I think it is. I use the word seamless, because it seemed as if we had shot this about a month ago. And nothing was different. Dallas, the city had changed, and grown and become more art conscious. They have a beautiful art section. And everything about it is enhanced. So, we’re just quite pleased about the way it all came about.
MS: Josh, your character seems to have a lot of his daddy in him, as it were. On kind of a cross, back-stabbing, and plans on top of plans, and comes with a lot of layers, can you reflect?
JH: Well, John Ross is really trying. I think he’s at a pivotal moment in his life where he’s trying to really make his presence known as a businessman. He only knows one way to do business, and that’s kind of how he’s seen his father do business. And it might not be in everyone’s mind the best way, but in his mind it’s the only way, and he knows that it gets stuff done. So he kind of learned from, in his mind, the best and at the end of the day he doesn’t have a great relationship at this point with either of his parents. So he kind of feels like he’s on his own, and I know that he at some point would love to be able to confide with his mother, but he just doesn’t really – he’s not comfortable with that as of right now where he’s at. He’s really kind of trying to do things on his own and put his foot down and kind of put his footprint in, I guess, in this whole Ewing legacy. And so it’s – he definitely is somewhat like his father and, you know, I know his mother is now at the point where she’s kind of trying to give him some advice and hoping that he’ll listen, I guess.
MS: Can you tell us how has Southfork changed over the years?
LG: Well, I think it’s become a big business in how – I mean, every tourist who’s ever come to Texas wants to go to Southfork. I think it’s their number two tourist attraction. So it’s very interesting to drive down that driveway at Southfork, because it brought back so many memories — so many years spent there. And it’s still small. People are always surprised at how small it is. But then on film, they made it look so big and expansive. And it’s just, you play the theme song and that’s a character. You look at Southfork — that’s another character. So those were all the characters that embraced the whole series. So they give you what you had before and it’s just a bit enhanced.
MS: Josh, did you get any tips from Larry on how to play more of the dastardly side of John Ross?
JH: You know, the first thing he ever said to me when we were on set was, “Enjoy the ride.” He literally just said, “Have fun. Enjoy the ride.” I mean, I think with this show, “Dallas” does bring a whole new ride to your life and I think what made the original so special was that they, you know, Larry, Linda, Patrick — the original cast — they truly had fun and they really like each other. I think that when that happens, you can trust your coworker or the actor that you’re with in the scene more, meaning that you can go deeper with the characters to make a better TV show. So he really just said, “Enjoy the ride,” and they have embraced the new generation unbelievably. Like, they just made us feel so comfortable from day one. I guess they had a lot of trust and faith in us as kind of the new generation. And us being so comfortable really, I think, helped the entire dynamic of the show and the character relationships and everything else.
MS: This show really has the potential of hitting both audiences of the original and brand new people who have never seen it before. What would you say that this show has to offer for both sets of people?
LG: I think that it will bring our global audience to the new show. There’ll be kind of a lock that one. And then what will bring them to the new part is that they’ll see the extended family. They’ll see our children grown up, they’ll see their focus in life, they’ll see which business they have decided to go into, they’ll see a love triangle. So it’s the expansion of the original show. It still has the same family, but the family’s grown and it’s expanded. And there’s still the same rivalry and greed and all this craziness that went on in the first series. It will continue, so I think that you’re in for a great ride.
JH: Yes. I think like Linda said, it’s everything about the original that made the original so great and so kind of, you know, magnetizing that people had to run back to the TV every week. They really kind of did well of transcending that into the new generation of Dallas. And I think for me and the cast, our main goal is to satisfy the original fans of the show, give them what they want, give them what they’ve been missing for 21 years. The show, I believe, speaks for itself. So the new audience, hopefully some of the younger generation can bring in some the new kind of younger people. I think as long as they give us a shot, they’ll truly, really enjoy the show. What’s great about this one is that you don’t even have to have ever seen the original to really be able to hop on board with these storylines. That’s how good the show is.
MS: What do you think it is about Dallas that really resonates with fans?
LG: That’s a question that’s really hard to answer. I don’t really know. I think that when it first began, there were a lot of people that didn’t know quite what it was — was it a nighttime soap opera? — what was it? And I think that it was all about timing. I’ve always go back to that. In television historically, there’s always been shows that were perfectly timed. “I Love Lucy” was at a perfect time, there were a lot of doctor shows, now there’s a lot of reality shows. And I think that in 1978 it was a perfect time for something bigger than life. People wanted to see something big, like oil like the movie “Giant”. They wanted to see something big. They wanted to see people with money, they wanted oil and big shoulder pads and cars and all that stuff. And they wanted to see family dynamics. So I think that the original fans were connected to what happens when you have all that money and you have all these problems. It’s dysfunction at its’ finest, so I think people were initially drawn to all of that. And they saw it in maybe themselves or a boss or somebody in business. They saw the business dealings of J.R. Ewing, which attracted a lot of the men to the show, so they thought, “Wow, look at this guy. He’s a bad guy and we like him,” right? So that was sort of confusing at first to people. It’s like, “Wow, we really like that guy. He’s really doing all these ridiculous things.” And then they loved the way that he treated his wife, because then they could feel sorry for Sue Ellen and then be beating up on him. It was quite, then the intrigue started and then it’s the whole water cooler thing was, you know, it was all – it was all about the water cooler and people were talking about it the next day. There was a ground swell that happened and it just built and built and built so that it was then it just a magnet so it attracted everybody. This is just a continuation of all the people that had all of those things fulfilled. Again, to me it’s all about timing. It’s another perfect time.