Ken Kercheval, Larry Hagman Ken Kercheval, Larry Hagman

J.R. Ewing is not going to be happy about this one darn bit: TNT's new Dallas, premiering next summer, has recruited Ken Kercheval to resume his iconic role of Cliff Barnes, the sad-sack oilman who was repeatedly duped by Larry Hagman's scheming J.R. during the soap's original 1978-1991 run. This time around, J.R. and Cliff will be the elders, mirroring the ruthless rivalry of their late fathers, Jock Ewing and Digger Barnes.

"Everyone was asking me if I was going to be involved, and I said, 'I haven't heard a damn word!'" says Ken. That's why he was thrilled to receive a call inviting him to view the pilot and discuss the role. Ken gives the new series high marks. "The young Ewings [Josh Henderson as John Ross and Jesse Metcalfe as Christopher] are really good actors, and it's beautifully photographed.

Cliff will be in the third, fourth and 10th episodes, says executive producer Cynthia Cidre. "He returns to reunite with his nephew Christopher, whom he hasn't seen in several years, and to try to rekindle a romance with his ex-love Sue Ellen," Cynthia teases. "Along the way he pours salt on some old wounds in the Ewing clan, chief among them his old nemesis J.R." 

As for what he's most looking forward to about the gig, Ken says, "I don't think Cliff's going back to sit at a barbecue and enjoy some ribs. There's got to be some conflict with J.R., because that's what the show was about."

Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!