TNT is currently negotiating deals with veteran Dallas stars Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray to head down south in early February to join a cast of hot, younger Ewings for a continuation of the 1978-91 primetime soap. And a lot has changed since we last visited with the Ewings in CBS's 1996 and 1998 reunion movies. For starters, Miss Ellie and Clayton are dead and buried on the ranch, reflecting the real-life losses of Howard Keel and Barbara Bel Geddes, and Bobby Ewing (Duffy) is remarried. But J.R. is still scheming and Sue Ellen has remained a powerful confidant and sober mother to all grown-up John Ross.
Ever the money man, Larry tells me he's still waiting for the bucks to be put on the table before he signs on. "I read the script and liked it," says Larry. "A lot of it is exposition to explain what's happened since we went off in the '90s. Miss Ellie's passed on and such. But they haven't made a firm offer yet. We're kicking ideas around, but nothing's been struck in gold. We'll see how it goes; I'm still ambivalent about it."
Far more optimistic are Patrick and Linda. "I read the script and was extremely impressed with it," says Patrick, who has heard shooting will take place in Texas, Louisiana or New Mexico. "I'd managed to read the scripts for the feature films Fox was planning a few years ago and they were atrocious. Just awful, so I didn't know what to expect from TNT. But this read like one of the better episodes at the height of Dallas. It's a perfect sequel to continuing the Dallas tradition."
Linda's been assured by the new show's writer, Cynthia Cidre, that Sue Ellen will remain the strong woman she evolved into by the original's conclusion. "I don't want Sue Ellen to become a victim yet again," Linda says.
As for the plot, Patrick tells me, "It's carried by John Ross, Christopher [Bobby and Pam's son] and their group, but they put us in enough to carry our old fans with us. J.R. responds to business deals" just as he always did, J.R. and Bobby's acrimonious relationship continues, and "Bobby's married happily — and not to Pamela."
While Patrick says he'd love to see Bobby one day reunited with Victoria Principal's Pam, TNT shouldn't even think about getting Sue Ellen and J.R. back together. Cracks Linda: "If they try that, there might be another shooting!"
Pick up the new issue of TV Guide Magazine to read the Dallas stars' reflections on this month's 30th anniversary of 1980's "Who Shot J.R.?" reveal.