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Exclusive interviews with the cast and production team of the hit tv series Dallas.
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DAVID JACOBS INTERVIEW
Interviewer - Welcome to David Jacobs, we have had hundreds of questions come in to Ultimate Dallas and KnotsLanding.net so we will kick off with a question about the Dallas movie.
Jamie Sue from New Zealand asks - "How did the idea for the new Dallas movie come about? What was the inspiration?"
David - There wasn't really any inspiration, the idea for a Dallas movie came about because there was a 'Fugitive' movie, a 'Charlie's Angels' movie and we started speculating about it and then we realized I still had the theatrical rights. We started visualizing it.
Caroline from England asks "Is the Pam/Bobby love story going to be a big part of the movie?"
David - Absolutely
Caroline also asks "Will we get to see Pam and Bobby meet, which we didn't in "Digger's Daughter" and fall in love?"
David - that's a very interesting story and a good question. I don't know yet and part of the reason is that Im not going to write this myself and we are talking to candidates to write it. The reason I'm not going to write it is that I have already written it and putting it in a 21st Century setting with a new story, a new cast, requires somebody a little bit younger than I am. As we have envisioned it so far we have imagined having the pilot episode of Dallas when Pam first marries Bobby as being a little prologue. I don't think we can have when they first met because the real Dallas fan knows, if they saw Dallas the early years, Pam and Bobby met when they were four years old.
Dan James from: Essex, England asks "To all us Dallas fans the talk of this movie is all very exciting, in fact I think its overwhelming, to think that the show you created and the show we and I all love so much, is going to be on the big screen is really huge. But what are you expecting from this movie? in terms of personal feelings, are you hoping this movie will be the one and only ultimate tribute to Dallas?"
David - I don't know if I would use the word tribute but I hope its a redefinition of Dallas, its a rebirth of Dallas. I like to think that Dallas would have another life for another generation and for another century and mean as much to people as it did in its old incarnation but now it seems there is no point doing it in the same scale you may as well do it on the big screen.
Richard Beijers from Netherlands asks "Hello Mr. Jacobs my question is: Is the music in the New Dallas Movie also from Jerrold Immel theme?"
David - Yes I don't see how we can do this movie without it.
Sascha from Germany asks In which time period the movie will play. In the eighties or in 2002?
David - It will be absolutely current.
William from New Orleans asks "Will it be a parody like the Brady Bunch movies? thanks"
David - Absolutely not. It has to have all the fun of Dallas, all the mordacity of Dallas but it has to take itself seriously.
David Nisbet from Scotland asks If the Dallas movie is a success, could there be a Knots Landing one too?
David - I would love to do a Knots Landing movie but I would tend to think not, because Knots Landing never had the world wide popularity of Dallas.
Interviewer - Why do you think that was?
David - Because Dallas was bigger than life. Knots Landing was a very middle class program and Dallas was about 'them' and Knots Landing was about 'us' and 'them' is always a more interesting subject for people.
David Nisbet also asks "What actors would you like to see in the Dallas movie?"
David - Lots of actors would be great, I can't say. Every popular actor in their 30's and 40's has been mentioned and I have seen the virtue in all of them. There are so many good actors around from a wide range from Kevin Costner , George Cloony would be great, there are a lot of actors who would love to sink his teeth into the role of JR.
Interviewer - Some reports have suggested John Travolta has been cast in the role.
David - No but he would be cool
Pamela in London asks - I always loved how the Dallas mini series was ground breaking and was grounded in real characters? Will the movie once again be doing that but set nowadays with characters and issues that inflict this generation?
David - Yes (laughs) I have my ideas but I'm not going to get the kind of quality writer I want if I make these pronouncements and ask the writer to come in and give a fresh take on it. We are talking about major writers so I have to hold myself back. For example I would like to see some of the scandals we have had in the United States, some of the Corporate scandals, Enron and Global Crossing infecting the Ewing family. But the writer may have another idea.
Jim2002 from Washington asks "Will Oil be featured still?"
David - I don't see how it can't. Oil is a bigger issue now than when Dallas came on. We wouldn't want to move away from Oil.
Cliff Barnes from New York asks "When do you see this movie being released? "
David - I think I would love to see it done in 2003 and released July 4th 2004. But as we are going after major actors a lot of this depends on their availability.
Jill Peterson from Tennessee asks "Which characters will be featured?
David - All the same characters you saw before, all the initial characters. So it's JR, Bobby, Jock and Ellie, Pamela, Sue Ellen, Lucy, Ray and Cliff Barnes. I think I included everybody.
Jordan tate from France asks "Dear Mr Jacobs , For you is it more difficult to be a scriptwriter for the television or for the cinema ? And what advice would you give to a young beginner scriptwriter ?"
David - My advice may not be the advice that everybody would give because it reflects my own experience. Mine would be not to start in screen writing but start writing short stories, working in journalism. Something which forces you to develop your story telling skills in a very controlled way. I think its good for young writers to have that imposed from outside, I didn't start to write for any drama until I was 37 years old.
Luis Guadalupe from Peru asks "Will any of the original actors of the show take part in this movie?"
David - Sure, if they will do it I would love to see them. Not too many. I would love to see Larry Hagman.
Wendell2002 from Saint-Petersburg asks Will Larry Hagman make cameo appearance, and as who?
David - We will have to wait for the script but I would love to see Larry Hagman as like the Governor or Senator of Texas who makes an important appearance.
Michael from Tennessee asks "Will you be filming at Southfork? "
David - I don't know if it will be the same Southfork, its been turned into a tourist site.
Joseph asks "Will the interior of Southfork be the same as the show?"
David - I would think the new interior would be decorated differently. That's the thing to think about, 2003 where would they live? Would they still have that house?
Frankie from Maryland asks "Mr. Jacobs, With all of the buzz the new movie is receiving, what are your thoughts on the negative opinions of some fans who say that the original cast should be the ones who should star in the new Dallas movie?"
David - I don't know how we would do that. The original cast are too old to play those same parts now. Victoria, Linda and Charlene are all still beautiful but Charlene is never going to play a seventeen year old again. She has a daughter older than seventeen (laughs)
Robin from The Netherlands asks "Do you think the new Dallas Movie will create a new interest in the series?"
David - To be very honest I am always shocked at how much interest still persists in Dallas. I have been interviewed by BBC1, BBC2, Channel 4 about four times just in the last two and half years. I don't know if there will be a new interest in the original series but in the scenes that Dallas suggest.
Milly from NYC asks "Won't it be difficult casting JR as Larry Hagman made the role his own?"
David - They redid the Fugitive and that role belonged to David Janson and they redid Mission Impossible with a new actor. If I were an actor I would think it would be a lot of fun, I would definitely want to do it but differently , I wouldn't try to be the same guy.
Jola from Japan asks "How do you see JR of the 21st Century? What kind of guy will he be?"
David - Not so obvious in his bigness, he would try to appear more a egalitarian, a little bit more cosmopolitan.
Jude from Texas asks "Do you think the movie will reflect different cultures as Dallas was very white".
David - Yes I hope so
Interviewer - One name that comes up to play Pam is Halle Berry.
David - Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez. What I like about it is that you can cast color blind. If you cast Pam as say with a Mexican background then so does Cliff have to have a Mexican background but to me that's great.
Pauline from: Glasgow, Scotland asks "Did you prefer Dallas or Knots Landing?
David - I didn't run Dallas, I ran Knots Landing. It was my full time job for 14 years, I was more like daddy. Where as Dallas, it was my first and I was actually working as a story editor on another show called 'Family' when Dallas started and so I was a little removed from it. Today I would say my affection for them both is equal but different but my connection with Knots Landing is much tighter.
Rotem from Israel asks I heard once that Dallas was based on a true family that live in Texas did you take one of their stories and turn it into a show?
David - No it wasn't based on a true family, my first idea was Knots Landing and when I took it to CBS there were no shows of that kind on television and the response from CBS was that they wanted to get into a continuing drama and they said they wanted to start out with something a little richer, more of a saga. The first thing I thought of was Romeo and Juliet and the word saga suggested Texas.
Rotem also asks In 1985 when Bobby "Died" he also died in Knots Landing , we find out it was just a dream I did not see any changes in Knots Landing . Why?
David -We never mentioned that again, once he came back we never mentioned it again. I thought that was a terrible decision, I always hated it. I always thought that was unfortunate, I have killed off characters before and brought them back, I did that with Lisa Hartman, but I didn't like how it was done on Dallas because people were very emotional when Bobby died and in a way when you say 'never mind it was all a dream' you are playing with their emotions in a negative way, I think they get angry.
Lukas from Canada asks "Hi David, first of all your writing of some of the early DALLAS scripts was amazing. My question is, was it hard to see some of the characters, themes, original idea's ect of the DALLAS you created get changed and sometimes ruined as the series run went on. It seems at some point in the show, the producers lost your original idea's and drifted off to the Bobby and JR's men's show, leaving strong women like Ellie, Sue Ellen, Pam and Lucy to drift. This did not happen on Knots Landing, just wondering your thoughts."
David - I absolutely agree with the comment. One of the things I am determined to achieve on this movie is that the women characters should take stronger , more aggressive roles. The character I want to see updated the most is Miss Ellie. I think she should be a very strong figure in Texas, a person of political power and maybe has some popularity from a TV show but to get her to be very powerful so whatever the story is that threatens the family she is the one who is the strongest in resolving it.
Toni Díaz from Barcelona, Spain asks "I´m a great fan of yours for your work as a writer, and I´d like to know if you have any favorite character of your own. Mine are Pamela Ewing and Karen Fairgate"
David - My favorite character in Dallas when I was writing it was Pam but the way it evolved it had to be JR. On Knots Landing the character of Karen is the person who expressed my personal feelings on issues, she was the one most like me, Sid was also in some ways but through the years I think Karen was the one I most identified with. However we had some guest roles such as Chip and Ciji, I loved those characters because they really stirred the pot.
Sarah B from Belfast, Northern Ireland asks "Hi David - First of all I'd like to say a big thank you for creating the most wonderful show on the planet. I've been a fan for 24 years, and I'm only 26 now! My favorite character is Sue Ellen, I just wanted to know, where did you get the idea of Sue Ellen from, and what are your personal feelings towards her? Many thanks"
David - Remember the story started with Bobby bringing home Pamela who he married which was a threat to JR, a threat in business because he had run the company the way he wanted and a threat to him personally because he and his wife had no child, so there was the possibility Bobby and Pam would have a child first which would become an heir, so I wanted to create the character that would become most affected by that and I liked the idea of JR having a 'trophy' wife, a former Miss Texas, someone who played the role all the time. I thought there's a great character who can fall apart before your eyes.
Ray2002 from New Jersey asks "Why were you not involved in Dallas following the mini series? I read you planned to kill off Bobby? How would he die? What did you plan to happen?"
David - When the mini series was filmed I was still working for another show, I had also written another pilot called 'Married' and I went on to produce that and then Knots Landing. I have seen the thing about killing Bobby off, it was never a suggestion, never a possibility, the difference was that Bobby, as I originally conceived him was much more a kid, much more a playboy, not a serious young man and part of Pamela's effort was to get him to get his act together. But CBS and the actor really wanted Bobby to be heroic right from the start.
Interviewer - Out of interest where did the Ewing name come from?
David - You know I don't know, I absolutely don't remember, I don't know why it just struck me as a Texas name. I found out there is automobile dealer in Texas and maybe I had seen that at some time passing through called 'Ewing Buicks' and maybe it just stuck with me.
Christine from Germany asks "I've been a member of Ultimate Dallas for 2 years and during these years I've been spending 95% of my online time on the Knots Landing forum discussing my favorite show. And I am knot the only one! Does it surprise you that Knots Landing still has such a huge following?"
David - It doesn't surprise me because the Knots Landing fans were very devoted but there was never as many of them as there were Dallas fans but they were always very passionate about it. Knots Landing left more of a subtle impact on television than Dallas did, here in the States I really do feel the Knots Landing fan base slipping away.
Interviewer - Its being rerun on SoapNet, it seems to have regained a following
David - Oh really, I love it then when I receive the checks (laughs)
Christine also asked "Is there any chance that Valene and Gary Ewing will be in the Dallas movie?"
David - I doubt it because in a two hour movie there is only so much service you can do to each of the characters. So I don't know
Allison from Sanford, FL asks "Did you have any story lines that you wish that you could have tackled at the time for Knots"
David - Because it was a hit but not a huge hit we had more freedom than what you would think. There was some discussion about the baby story not being in the best taste and I was kind of uneasy about it too but I can't recall any story now that I wish we had done. We had 14 years and you run out of ideas and we were really struggling at the end.
Jackie from CA asks "Knots Landing was so beloved and on the air for so long, with the nighttime soap genre in the toilet, how about creating a new Knots style soap? Maybe even with some of the same characters? I know I would watch it! Soap fans are hungry for your style of soap!"
David - That's nice to hear. If it does come back it wouldn't be for me, Iv done it.
Jake from Norway asks "Will there be another Knots Landing reunion film?"
David - I don't think so, it didn't do very well the last one, it wasn't very good either.
Adam Markle from Denver CO asks "Why did you retape Laura's video to Greg for the reunion movie? It didn't sound like Constance"
David - That's interesting, we must of had trouble making a deal but I'm not sure of that.
kl4me from Montreal asks "Was Laura written out in a way to keep her the door open for her possible return?"
David - No, Laura was only written out, not because she wasn't working, but because the show was beginning to get older and we were having to get rid of characters every year because it was getting to expensive. So we got rid of Richard, Laura, Julie Harris which broke my heart. That's one of the reasons Mike and I stopped doing the show, it was our decision not the network, we felt like we were amputating our own limbs.
Interviewer - Didn't Michelle Lee do some unpaid episodes?
David - The series before the last, they said we would have to loose some more characters, Mike and I said no but all we could do was get the actors to agree to do fewer shows. They all did 16 , 17 instead of 22 but Michelle wanted to be in every show so she agreed to do those shows for scale.
Val&Gary from Montreal ask "Knots was pitched to CBS before Dallas was. So were the characters of Val and Gary introduced on Dallas solely for the spin-off?"
David - Not initially, David Ackroyd was originally Gary and offered the part but wasn't available. Now later in episode 16 where Miss Ellie buys the house that was introduced solely for the spin off.
ChrisSumnerMatheson from San Antonio Texas asks "Why did Claudia Lonow leave the show? Rumor is she was unpopular with viewers"
David - Yeah that's part of it, she wasn't very happy anyway, later she became terrific but its very hard for kid actors, she was a very good actress but her character was not popular.
Holly Kinkade from Guthrie, OK asks "You've probably been asked this before, but how did Knots Landing stay on the air for 14 years?"
David - I think CBS forgot to cancel it (laughs). No I think it stayed on as long as it did because it captured a very steady audience, enough to ensure its renewal, it had a very good audience in terms of demographic and I think it stayed fresh. I don't think it stayed fresh for the last four years maybe but when it wasn't good it wasn't because it was stale, it was because we were trying something that didn't work. I think making the show a little harder towards the end, a little more jeopardy, a little noirish, the darkness of the stories didn't work.
Interviewer - Towards the end it seemed to loose the glamour, the money side, such as Karen not being able to pay Mac's bail.
David - That was another good thing about Knots Landing, because the people were so middle class it was able to show what the economy was like. When the country was getting richer in the 80's we made everybody richer, the resort, Sumners riches, you could always reflect that.
Ewings from UK asks "Did you feel prouder of Dallas or Knots Landing"
David - Prouder is a funny word, I think we did better drama on Knots Landing and I'm very proud the way we handled certain issues, certain issues of health, certain issues of friendship, it was very realistic. The worse episodes of Knots Landing in the early years was when we had to use a Dallas cast member because it screwed up the scale. But Dallas its hard not to be proud off, I always felt I just got lucky, the time was right, I was the right writer, with the right project at the right time.
David Nisbet from Scotland asks "Were any of the families on Knots based on real life people that you knew?"
David - Sort of when we started out, a couple of people were based on real people I knew. But as soon as you cast a television series with good actors it begins to evolve and change, it becomes as much the property of the actor as it becomes of yours.
Al from Phoenix, Arizona asks "When creating Knots Landing, how did the name come about? "
David - I couldn't think of anything to name it and in my head it was based on 'Palos Verdes' which is a little Peninsular south of Los Angeles which had cul-de-sacs. But it looked like it could of been called Landing, there are a lot of places in America which are called 'landing' which are on bodies of ocean, and then 'Knots' was a little joke, married people.
Kyle from New York asks "How did you come up with creating the character of Abby? Did she save the show from cancellation?"
David - No she didn't save the show from cancellation, we were doing ok. I always planned her, because it was technically a spin off from Dallas everybody expected there to be a JR so I wanted to make sure there wasn't a JR. So when we started the second season I brought in a woman who drove a Volvo station wagon and had two kids and so she was to become the villain but she was a great addition to the show. But Knots Landing did very well the first season so we would of been picked up anyway. Actually the year we got into most trouble was the year we lost Don Murry and we did some of the greatest stories we ever did, but the show became a little depressing I think and it started to fade a little bit, so if anyone saved that show, it was Kevin Dobson. But it wasn't really saving it, I don't think we were really in trouble, it was just we knew we needed to punch it up. We needed a strong male lead and Kevin was just terrific.
Interviewer - What was the story behind Don Murry leaving the show?
David - He had done a movie called 'Endless Love' and we were able to release him early to do the movie. I think he just got the bug of wanting to do feature films again, we all talked about it and we said ok. We thought we needed something to shake it up, killing him would be interesting but actually it hurt us because it was the third year. Don Murry was at a reunion at the 'Broadcasting Museum' and he said he left because he "wanted to see if there was more to life than fame and fortune" and he said "yes there was , obscurity and poverty"
Kyle also asked Why was the Gary Ewing-Pat William's affair never finalized?
David - People consummate too easily on the show, so lets get some tension. I tried not to have people sleeping around, its hard for the characters to recover from that. But we did it a lot anyway (laughs)
Interviewer - I actually liked how characters like Karen didn't stray from their marriage
David - I never would of let them, the nice thing about Gary and the Greg character, was that he could be good one season and bad the next. But it was out of the question for Mac and Karen to have affairs, in Val's case it was very hard to make her tempted as Joan was very defensive of that character.
Julie_mac from Illinois asks "How would you describe Knots Landing?"
David - My initial thought was that it would be scenes of a marriage times four, but it became a dramatic exploration of the way people related in the post sexual revolution world and how they kept their marriages together if they could, what the relationships meant to them. To Abby it was currency, sex equaled currency, that's how she got money. Some of our stories were weaker than others but we always tried to keep the characters realistic and true to their relationships or what we were trying to say.
Jason from Cardiff asks "What other TV shows or projects are you involved in?"
David - Iv actually retired, teaching a little bit, writing a little bit and traveling for the last couple of years. But the idea of doing a Dallas movie was really attractive but I don't really have the urge to do another television project.
The interview then ended but David Jacobs offered to return to take more questions Live in the Chat room, so stay tuned.
Special thanks to David Jacobs for taking questions and many thanks to all the fans of Dallas and Knots Landing who took the time to submit questions.
If you would like more information on the Dallas movie then check out http://www.Dallasthemovie.com or stop by the Live Chat room at http://www.ewingoil.net
Interview conducted by Colin Hunter firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Christina Gioberti
Special mention to the Knots Landing and Dallas message board community for their support.
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