One Year After ‘Dallas,’ Cast and Crew Keep Busy

Dallas, Josh Henderson, TNT

Josh Henderson in August (Getty Images)

The final episode of TNT’s “Dallas” aired one year ago today. Here’s an update on the show’s stars and key players from behind the scenes.

JOSH HENDERSON has been cast as the male lead in “The Arrangement,” an eagerly anticipated E! pilot about an actress who is offered $10 million to marry Hollywood’s biggest star. Filming began this month in Vancouver.

Patrick Duffy, June (Getty Images)

Patrick Duffy in June (Getty Images)

PATRICK DUFFY will appear in “Trafficked,” a forthcoming feature film based on the best-selling book “Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery.” Duffy also led the TV series jury at the prestigious Monte Carlo Television Festival, and he guest starred on NBC’s “Welcome to Sweden” and ABC Family’s “The Fosters.”

LINDA GRAY published her memoirs, “The Road to Happiness is Always Under Construction,” guest starred on CW’s “Significant Mother” and appeared in the Hallmark Channel movie “Perfect Match.” She also stars in “Wally’s Will,” an independent short slated to play at film festivals.

JESSE METCALFE will be seen in “God’s Not Dead 2,” a Christian-themed film now in production. He also appeared in Hallmark Channel’s “A Country Wedding,” which drew big numbers in June, and the online flick “Dead Rising: Watchtower.”

JORDANA BREWSTER reprised her role as Mia in the latest “Fast and Furious” flick, “Furious 7,” which has grossed $1.5 billion since its release in April. Next up: Brewster will appear alongside John Travolta and Cuba Gooding Jr. in FX’s “American Crime Story,” a 2016 series about the O.J. Simpson trial, and then she’ll star in the second season of the ABC crime drama “Secrets and Lies.”

JULIE GONZALO has roles in two forthcoming films: “Waffle Street,” which stars Danny Glover, and the romantic comedy “The List.” She also stars in the independent film “I Did Not Forget You,” produced by Brenda Strong.

Brenda Strong, Dallas, TNT

Brenda Strong in July (Hallmark Channel)

BRENDA STRONG has joined the cast of “The 100,” a CW fantasy series that will return for its third season next year. The newly married Strong also co-stars in “Ice Sculpture Christmas,” a Hallmark Channel holiday movie.

MITCH PILEGGI will reprise his role as Walter Skinner in Fox’s six-episode “The X-Files” revival, slated to debut January 24. He also can be seen in the film “The Girl in the Photographs,” and he did a guest stint on CBS’s “Blue Bloods.”

EMMA BELL has been cast as the young Emily Dickinson in “A Quiet Passion,” a film starring Cynthia Nixon as the adult poet. Bell also stars in the short film “BYoutiful” and has roles in two other projects, “The Good Ones” and “See You in Valhalla.”

JUDITH LIGHT plays a grandmother in the recent release “Digging for Fire,” starring Orlando Bloom. She’ll also continue to be seen in Amazon’s Emmy-winning series “Transparent,” which will begin its second season December 4.

JUAN PABLO DI PACE played Jesus in NBC’s “A.D. The Bible Continues,” which aired in the spring. Di Pace will next be seen in the feature film “After the Reality” starring Matthew Morrison and Jane Lynch.

KEVIN PAGE has opened a gallery in Dallas to showcase artworks created through three-dimensional printing. His website is http://kevinpage3d.com/.

CYNTHIA CIDRE (Executive producer) is now an executive producer of ABC’s “Dallas”-esque drama “Blood and Oil,” which debuts September 27.

RODNEY CHARTERS (Cinematographer) is shooting director Zach Braff’s feature film “Going in Style,” which stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin as three retirees who plan a bank heist.

RACHEL SAGE KUNIN (Costume designer) has brought her talents to CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” which will begin its second season October 12.

CHARLES YUSKO (Hair stylist) is now hair department head for “From Dusk Till Dawn,” a series on the El Ray channel.

Which projects from the “Dallas” cast and crew are you looking forward to? Share your comments below and read more news from Dallas Decoder.

Dressing ‘Dallas’: A Day with Costume Designer Rachel Kunin

Dallas, Rachel Sage Kunin, TNT

Give her a hand

Rachel Sage Kunin is standing inside an antique store on the edge of Dallas, carefully examining an ornate ring. “This could work,” she says before handing over her credit card, scribbling her signature on the receipt and dashing back to her car.

It’s early April, and Kunin — the costume designer for TNT’s “Dallas” — is collecting jewelry for the show’s newest character: a woman who happens to be the secret daughter of J.R. Ewing.

In less than 24 hours, the cast and crew will film the scene that introduces the daughter, who’ll only be shown from behind. This is slated to be “Dallas’s” third-season cliffhanger, but after it’s filmed, the producers will decide to save the character’s debut for the following season — only to have TNT pull the rug out from under them by cancelling the show.

Of course, no one knows that right now. On this Tuesday morning, the “Dallas” cast and crew are focused on wrapping up production for the season — which is why Kunin is rushing around town, trying to find J.R.’s daughter’s jewelry before the cameras start rolling tomorrow morning.

But this isn’t anything new for Kunin. In her world, the clock is always ticking.

***

Dallas, Rachel Sage Kunin, TNT

Script to screen

During the 1980s heyday of the prime-time soap operas, costume designers were almost as famous as the stars they dressed. The “Dynasty” cast wore Nolan Miller, while the women of “Dallas” were outfitted by Travilla, the man who put Marilyn Monroe in a white cocktail dress before she stepped onto a subway grate in “The Seven Year Itch.”

The ’80s soaps employed separate costumers for men and women, but Kunin did it all. She created every outfit worn by ever actor in every scene on “Dallas,” including the extras who hovered silently in the background.

Kunin, who grew up watching the original “Dallas” on Friday nights with her family, sees costuming as an essential ingredient in TV storytelling. John Ross’s pinstriped suits helped the audience know he was bold and ambitious; Christopher’s plaid shirts and jeans reflected his all-American, boy-next-door qualities.

After reading a script, Kunin came up with a concept for each character, and then she fitted the actor with the costume she created. Next, Kunin snapped a photo of the costumed actor and emailed it to executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin, who usually approved her creations but sometimes asked for tweaks.

Kunin occasionally designed outfits herself — the beige, brown and orange dress that Sue Ellen wore in the third-season opener is a Kunin original — but she got most of the cast’s clothing off the rack. After three years on the job, Kunin forged relationships with many of the city’s top retailers, including several who allowed her to borrow clothing and jewelry.

Kunin considers herself a “method costumer,” putting herself in the shoes of each character when choosing their outfits. She would go to Dillard’s department store to buy clothing for Elena, but the wealthier Sue Ellen’s clothes came from upscale retailers like Stanley Korshak.

“I want every character to be as authentic as possible. If the audience doesn’t believe this is how a character would dress, they’re going to have a hard time believing everything else that character does,” Kunin says.

***

Dallas, Rachel Sage Kunin, TNT

Clothes encounters

Each season of “Dallas” was usually filmed in Texas from fall until spring. When the show was in production, Kunin’s days usually began before sunrise and stretched into the night.

On this Tuesday in April, Kunin — dressed in jeans and sneakers, her hair in a ponytail — arrives at the “Dallas” production offices before 6 a.m. She puts the finishing touches on the costumes the actors will wear today, including choosing Bobby’s necktie and Sue Ellen’s earrings for the season’s final corporate showdown at Ewing Global.

Kunin then heads to the antique store, where she buys the ring for J.R.’s daughter. Kunin’s been working on this costume for two days; it’s proving tougher than most because producers haven’t given her a lot of information about the daughter, except that she’s a bit of a free spirit.

Since the character will only be shown from the elbow down, Kunin has nicknamed her “The Hand.” The extra who’ll play the role will have no dialogue, so the jewelry is going to have to do most of the work, cluing the audience into what the woman is like.

Kunin has also collected rings from a strip mall jewelry store, as well as leather bands, bracelets and other pieces from shops around town. She always gathers more than she needs because she never knows when a last-minute script change might require her to come up with a different concept for a character.

“You always want to have options,” Kunin says.

***

Dallas, TNT

Rack of ages

By 12:30 p.m., Kunin is back at the production offices, which are located in an industrial neighborhood in the city. Her desk is crammed into a room shared by the rest of her team, including an assistant who helps shop for clothing and another who manages the department’s budget.

The walls are plastered with call sheets and production memos, as well as random notes like a list of each actor’s shoe size. Scattered about are the real treasures: the clothing racks that hold virtually every costume that has appeared on the TNT series — Sue Ellen’s suits, Harris Ryland’s socks, the leopard skin bra worn by Candace, John Ross’s hot-to-trot secretary.

Around 1:20 p.m., Kevin Page appears inside Kunin’s doorway to be fitted for the trench coat and boots he’ll wear during tomorrow’s big scene, when Bum accompanies John Ross to a foreign locale to meet The Hand. (The scene will be filmed in a nearby restaurant that’s been transformed into an exotic bar, courtesy of the “Dallas” set designers.)

A few minutes later, Kunin returns to her desk to email her snapshots of Page to Cidre and Robin. Her inbox contains bad news from the show’s casting department: The extra who’s been cast as The Hand can’t come in for her fitting until after dinner.

This means Kunin won’t be able to email Cidre and Robin snapshots of The Hand until much later than expected. If Kunin’s concept isn’t what her bosses have in mind, she’ll have to come up with a new look for the character before filming begins early the next day.

In other words: Kunin could be in for a long night.

***

Charles Yusko, Dallas, Rachel Sage Kunin, TNT

Hair and wardrobe

Rachel Sage Kunin grew up in Malibu. According to family lore, she refused to wear anything that didn’t twirl between the ages of 2 and 6. After attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, she took jobs designing costumes for small feature films, and then landed her first series gig: “Cane,” Cidre’s “Dallas”-esque drama about a sugarcane-raising family in South Florida.

Although Kunin has spent her career behind the scenes, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine her finding success in front of the camera. She’s beautiful and poised, with a dazzling smile. Colleagues describe her as remarkably mellow for someone who works in a pressure cooker.

Yet Kunin is also a notorious perfectionist: Soon after Page’s fitting, the extras who’ll appear in the background of the bar scene begin streaming through the office for their fittings. Although many of them will only appear on screen for a split-second, each one gets the full Kunin treatment.

After placing a hat atop one man’s head, she steps back, studies him and renders her verdict: “No, I’m not buying it.” Back into her clothing pile she goes, looking for something that will fit him better.

Sometime after 3 p.m., Kunin realizes she hasn’t had lunch and scarfs down a plate of food from the craft services table. The protein boost comes in the nick of time, because the rest of the afternoon becomes a whirlwind.

When Kunin isn’t doing more fittings with extras, she’s dying a T-shirt that will be worn by an actor playing a medical examiner.

When she isn’t reviewing her latest retail receipts with her assistant, she’s using a marker to change the “gemstones” on the antique store ring from orange to red.

When she isn’t lugging around a pile of costumes for later in the week, she’s having a pow-wow with hairdresser Charles Yusko, who wants to know how high Judith Light’s collar will pop before he styles the actress’s hair.

Sometime around 5 p.m., there’s a lull. Kunin plops onto her dressing room floor with tomorrow’s script and scribbles some notes in the margins.

It’s the first time she’s sat down in hours.

***

Bobby Ewing, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing

Showdown at Ewing Global

In the early evening, Kunin heads over to the soundstages, which are located next to the production offices. Outside, the building looks like an anonymous warehouse. Inside, it’s a land of make-believe. Here’s the Southfork kitchen. There’s Bobby and Ann’s bedroom. Around the corner is Harris’s den.

Kunin spots Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray, who are standing on their marks inside Ewing Global, getting ready to film a scene. Looking at Duffy, Kunin tilts her head, puts her hand on her hip and furrows her brow.

This is her light-hearted way of asking him why he isn’t wearing Bobby’s jacket. He gets it and explains that his character has probably been in a back room for hours, locked in tough negotiations with a government official over the future of the Ewing empire. Wouldn’t Bobby ditch his jacket under those circumstances?

Kunin isn’t convinced, so Duffy breaks into a comical whine and offers the truth: The studio lights are especially hot today. Gray playfully punches him in the arm and tells him to grow up.

By 7 p.m., Kunin is back at her desk. Yet another round of extras for the bar scene show up for their fittings, and then she receives an email from casting, telling her The Hand will be there soon.

It’s well past 8 when The Hand finally arrives. She’s a young woman, and she seems sweetly nervous. She tells Kunin she has previous experience doing this kind of thing — she once served as a hand double for Ashley Judd — but the only thing she knows about tomorrow’s scene is that she’ll be filmed from the elbow down.

The Hand has no idea how close she is to making “Dallas” history.

Kunin brings out the jewelry she’s collected, sits at her desk and arranges the pieces on the woman’s hands. When she’s satisfied with the look she’s created, she snaps a picture and emails it to Cidre and Robin.

Twenty minutes later, there’s a ping from Kunin’s phone. She picks it up and reads the message. A smile breaks across her face.

“Cynthia loves it!”

***

Dallas, TNT

The Hand (and the other one)

Several months later, after the season finale has aired, Cidre will tell interviewers about the scrapped scene that introduced J.R.’s daughter. She’ll also talk about shooting it again, this time with the actress who would’ve played the role permanently.

In other words: If “Dallas” had been renewed, Kunin would’ve gotten to do this all over again.

Not that she would’ve minded. As Kunin drives off the “Dallas” lot after her long day in April, she talks about how much she enjoys her job — even if it’s not as glamorous as a lot of people assume.

“It’s actually a lot of work,” Kunin says. “But I love it.”

 

Finale fashions

Here are some of the other looks “Dallas” costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin assembled for the show’s third-season finale:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What are your favorite “Dallas” looks? Share your comments below and read more features from Dallas Decoder.

TNT’s Dallas Styles: ‘Boxed In’

Antonio Jamarillo, Boxed In, Charles Yusko, Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Judith Light, Judith Ryland, Julie Gonzalo, Luis, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT

Every outfit on “Dallas” tells a story, and so does every hairstyle. In “Boxed In,” this week’s episode, the characters’ tresses told us a lot about how they were coping with their latest crisis: the kidnapping of Ann and Emma.

Consider Judith, whose unkempt mane symbolized her emotional unraveling. Her hair was almost as wild as it was last year, when she wound up in the hospital after taking that nasty spill down the stairs. I admire Judith Light’s willingness to appear less than perfect on camera, but I also admire how “Dallas’s” brilliant hairstylist, Charles Yusko, uses Judith’s locks to serve the storyline. No matter what the writers give Judith to do, Yusko always manages to create the perfect look for her. One fan said it best the other night during #DallasChat: Judith’s hair has become a character of its own.

My favorite look this week belonged to Julie Gonzalo, who was striking in the scene where Pamela slyly persuades Nasir to loan the Ewings the money they need to buy the divisions of their company being liquidated by the cartel. Gonzalo’s bright red lipstick reflected the power and confidence she brought to this scene, and I love how her hair was pulled back in that no-nonsense ponytail.

In another clever touch, costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin dressed Gonzalo in a smart black-and-white suit — a nod to the black-and-white Stella McCartney dress Pamela wore during her trip Las Vegas earlier in the season. (Meanwhile, Josh Henderson’s hair seemed a little bigger than usual in “Boxed In’s” Las Vegas scene, just like it was during John Ross’s first encounter with Nasir.)

While we’re on this subject: Some of us out here in Fan Land feel like taking the “Dallas” writers to the woodshed after Luis (Antonio Jaramillo) attempted to charm Ann by taking a swipe at Harris. “I don’t see him deserving you,” Luis said. “Perhaps he was more handsome with hair.” Ouch! This is the second consecutive episode in which someone has made a wisecrack about Harris’s hair, or lack thereof. Last week, John Ross referred to him as “that bald bastard.”

C’mon, writers! How about a little sympathy for the follicly challenged members of your cast — and those of us watching at home?

What were your favorite looks in “Boxed In”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and read more “Dallas Styles.”

TNT’s Dallas Styles: ‘Like a Bad Penny’

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Jesse Metcalfe, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Like a Bad Penny, Linda Gray, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

I knew I’d found my look of the week the moment Pamela turned up in that black-and-white dress in “Like a Bad Penny,” “Dallas’s” latest episode. The dress was a brilliant choice for Julie Gonzalo’s character for many reasons, beginning with its symbolic value: Pamela increasingly reminds fans of her mother-in-law Sue Ellen, who long ago made black-and-white outfits one of her signature looks.

Pamela’s dress, a Stella McCartney design, is a work of art: It features a rounded neck, long sleeves and contrasting panels that create a sexy, hourglass illusion. I also love how Gonzalo moved in it: The first time we saw her wearing it, when Pamela and John Ross turned the corner and came down the hall in the Las Vegas hotel, notice how Gonzalo sashayed. She looked so striking, I’m surprised the show didn’t give her a bigger entrance; if ever a scene called for a dramatic, slow-motion walk, this was it.

The dress was costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin’s pièce de résistance in “Like a Bad Penny,” but let’s also hear it for hair stylist Charles Yusko, who once again showed off Pamela’s emerald earrings without putting her hair up. Instead, Gonzalo’s hair was swept back; it reminded me of one of Victoria Principal’s styles on the original “Dallas.” The dress may have been Sue Ellen, but the hair was Aunt Pam.

Not to be “out-blinged,” Josh Henderson sported a nifty tie tack and cuff links during the Las Vegas scenes, along with the much-loved J.R. wristwatch, which boomeranged back to him after he gambled it away. I also loved Emma Bell’s red, multi-zippered coat; it wasn’t a traditional trench coat, but it still made an ideal accessory for Emma, who went Nancy Drew on us and started snooping into her father’s scheme against John Ross. I also want to give one more nod to Jesse Metcalfe’s beard, which is slated to go away during next week’s midseason finale. Sigh.

Finally, a few thoughts on the sanitarium stylings of Sue Ellen Ewing. She spent much of this episode in a gray T-shirt and seemed to wear very little makeup, which allowed us to focus on Linda Gray’s moving, heartfelt performance. And yet Sue Ellen remained beautiful nonetheless. If there’s a lesson here, it’s this: Even when she’s wearing nothing more than a simple tee, Linda Gray still looks amazing.

What were your favorite looks in “Like a Bad Penny”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and read more “Dallas Styles.”

The Dal-List: 31 Things That Happen When You Watch ‘Dallas’

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

Mr. Cool

What happens when “Dallas” fans watch the show? Here are 31 experiences we all share when we tune in to TNT on Monday nights.

1. You settle into your comfiest chair with a pint of ice cream and/or a tall glass of wine and think, “It’s ‘Dallas’ night. Life is good.”

2. The teaser scene starts. If it features Josh Henderson, you reach for something to fan yourself.

3. The theme song begins and you get chills because it’s biologically impossible to not get excited when you hear this music.

4. You see the three-way split-screen opening credits. You feel joy.

5. Before the first commercial break, someone blackmails someone else. (Note: This will happen at least six more times before the episode ends.)

6. Sex!

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

How does she do it?

7. Linda Gray appears and looks fantastic. You turn to the spouse/roommate/cat sitting next to you and say, “How does she manage to get more beautiful each week?”

8. The spouse/roommate/cat doesn’t make a peep because you’ve trained him/her/it to be completely silent when “Dallas” is on.

9. Is Sue Ellen blackmailing someone? Putting John Ross in his place? It doesn’t matter. Whatever she’s doing, you think, “Gray is totally crushing this scene.”

10. Someone mentions J.R. You smile and feel thankful for all the wonderful performances Larry Hagman gave us over the years.

11. Bobby (Patrick Duffy) calls John Ross “boy.” You realize you never get tired of hearing him do this.

12. Brenda Strong appears and you can’t help but wonder: Is Ann is going to shoot someone tonight?

13. Something happens in the storyline that doesn’t quite add up but you decide not to dwell on it because the rest of the show is So. Damn. Good.

14. You suddenly get a hankering for a Miller Lite. You’re not sure why.

15. You hop onto Twitter, read the cast’s tweets and feel impressed by how cool the actors are.

16. “Maybe I should buy a Microsoft Surface,” you think.

17. You notice how fantastic Jordana Brewster and Julie Gonzalo’s hair looks and wish Charles Yusko could style your hair too.

18. You see everyone’s amazing clothes and wonder if Rachel Sage Kunin would be willing to go shopping with you.

19. Nicolas appears. It occurs to you: Juan Pablo Di Pace is wearing too much clothing.

Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, TNT

Love to hate

20. Emma (Emma Bell) does something scandalous and you love it even though you pretend to hate her.

21. Harris (Mitch Pileggi) does something mean and you love it even though you pretend to hate him.

22. Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) doesn’t smile until Heather (AnnaLynne McCord) shows up but it’s OK because it’s the best smile ever and it’s always worth the wait.

23. Fracking!

24. Also: “Heritage!” “Tradition!” “Legacy!”

25. More sex.

26. Judith Light does something nuts.

27. The episode ends with a twist. You exclaim, “How did I not see that coming?!” followed by, “How is the show over already?!”

28. Once again, your spouse/roommate/cat knows better than to answer.

29. You think, “I can’t wait to read Dallas Decoder’s critique of this episode, which will probably be posted on Wednesday unless he’s busy in which case I’ll have to wait until Thursday.”

30. TNT plays the previews for next week’s show. You look at the nearest calendar and curse it because you have to wait seven whole days for another episode.

31. The closing credits end and TNT starts replaying the episode. You grab another pint of ice cream and/or refill your wineglass and start all over.

What did I overlook? Share your comments below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 29 — ‘Lifting the Veil’

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Lifting the Veil, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Long time coming

“Lifting the Veil” reveals new truths about several “Dallas” characters, beginning with John Ross. We’ve always known he was as ambitious and as charming as J.R., but in the scene where Sue Ellen confronts him about his infidelity and he treats her cruelly, we discover the son can also be as mean as the father. This episode offers fresh insight into Sue Ellen’s psyche as well. It’s clear now that she’s having trouble letting go of the past, although to be fair, every time she takes a nip from her flask, we’re reminded that the past has a pretty firm grip on her too.

The confrontation between mother and son is the hands-down highlight of “Lifting the Veil,” an hour that brims with history and heartache. The scene begins when Sue Ellen enters John Ross’s bedroom while he’s getting ready for his wedding and tells him she knows he’s been cheating with Emma. John Ross dismisses the relationship as “just business,” which only disgusts Sue Ellen further. “Just like your daddy, finding a way to explain infidelity,” she says. John Ross responds by pointing out the smell of alcohol on his mother’s breath, but she doesn’t back down and threatens to tell Pamela about his affair. John Ross is nonplussed. He brushes past Sue Ellen and delivers his lowest blow yet: “You have looked the other way you’re whole life, Mama. One more time’s not going to hurt.”

Josh Henderson does a nice job bringing John Ross’s dark side into the light, just like Larry Hagman used to do with J.R. For Henderson, though, this amounts to a creative risk: Until now, he’s played John Ross as a (mostly) likable rapscallion, but in this scene, the actor shows us he’s equally adept at making his character seem like an unapologetic jerk. Henderson makes John Ross’s ever-growing hubris feel believable throughout this episode (including during his pre-wedding visit to the brothel), but especially in this scene. Linda Gray, in the meantime, is as magnificent as ever. You can feel Sue Ellen’s pain when Gray delivers that “just like your daddy” line; it’s the character’s saddest moment since her graveside eulogy for her ex-husband in “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” In some ways, “Lifting the Veil” serves as a kind of companion piece to the funeral episode. The first one shows Sue Ellen grieving the loss of J.R.; in the second, she mourns his “return” through the sinful nature of their son.

I also like how Bethany Rooney, a first-time “Dallas” director, stages John Ross and Sue Ellen’s confrontation. The conversation unfolds while he’s fastening his cuff links and putting on his jacket; the casualness of his actions makes his words seem even more devastating. This is one of those times I wish TNT’s Southfork sets more closely resembled those used on the original “Dallas.” J.R. and Sue Ellen’s old bedroom was such a battleground; how cool would it have been to see John Ross and Sue Ellen clash in that setting? On the other hand: the newer bedroom has become a consequential place in its own right. This is where Sue Ellen once slapped J.R. and where she got drunk on the night before his funeral. It’s where John Ross defended his relationship with Pamela to his father and now, it’s where he defends his unfaithfulness to her to his mother.

Speaking of Pamela: I also like the “Lifting the Veil” scene where John Ross pleads with her to go through with their wedding, despite the fact that he was missing for much of the day. Henderson is so heartfelt, it almost inoculates John Ross from the anger we feel toward him after he’s mean to his mama. (Emphasis on “almost.”) Julie Gonzalo makes Pamela’s disappointment palpable, and I like how Taylor Hamra’s script gives her a line where she notes how much John Ross’s apologies sound like the ones Cliff used to offer her. It’s a subtle reminder that Pamela is still haunted by her daddy, just like John Ross is haunted by his.

This brings me to a gripe: I wish “Lifting the Veil” played up the old Barnes/Ewing feud a little more. The wedding of J.R.’s son and Cliff’s daughter is a moment of consequence to students of “Dallas” mythology; I’m glad Rooney gave us a glimpse of the framed photograph of J.R., but I would’ve also loved a shot of Cliff, stewing in his Mexican jail cell, knowing his daughter was marrying a Ewing back home. Likewise, “Dallas” does such a nice job of incorporating Audrey Landers into the narrative whenever she guest stars — Sue Ellen and Afton’s bitchy exchange was a special treat for longtime fans — so I can’t help but wonder why the show seems to struggle to find meaningful things for Steve Kanaly and Charlene Tilton to do when Ray and Lucy visit.

Additionally, it’s worth noting this episode takes place in a single day — you’d have to dig deep into “Dallas’s” past, all the way back to 1978’s “Barbecue,” to find another — although I wish the focus remained on the doings at Southfork the way it does in the early episode. I could do without most of the “Lifting the Veil” scenes set at the brothel (the fanciest little whorehouse in Texas?), especially the silly bit with the railroad commissioner and his canine fetish. The revelation that Judith Ryland is the madam is also a bit much, especially when you consider the show has already established her as a drug smuggler. Does Mother Ryland rob banks too? On the other hand: I like the twist that Harris is secretly working with John Ross’s secretary, Candace, although I’m not wild about his scheme to use her to collect, uh, DNA evidence from John Ross in order to frame him for a sex crime.

My reservations about the Rylands aside, you’ve got to love Judith Light’s 1980s lion’s–mane hair in her brothel scene, as well each actor’s pitch-perfect look at the wedding. Since interviewing “Dallas” costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin and hairstylist Charles Yusko, I’ve developed a much greater appreciation for how crucial the wardrobe and hair teams are to establishing each character’s persona. To see what I mean, go watch the wedding scenes at the end of the new show’s first episode, “Changing of the Guard.” Notice how much more sophisticated and womanly Gonzalo’s character looks in “Lifting the Veil” when compared to the earlier wedding? The two sequences were filmed just two years apart, so the change in the actress’s appearance is achieved mostly through Yusko and Kunin’s magic.

In a show that has more than its share of big stars, it’s always worth remembering that some of the brightest work behind the scenes.

Grade: B

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Afton Cooper, Audrey Landers, Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Lifting the Veil, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT

Like father, like husband

‘LIFTING THE VEIL’

Season 3, Episode 4

Telecast: March 17, 2014

Audience: 1.8 million viewers on March 17

Writer: Taylor Hamra

Director: Bethany Rooney

Synopsis: John Ross blackmails a Texas land-use commissioner into giving him a permit to drill on Southfork, while Harris tells Judith he’s secretly working with Ewing Energies secretary Candace, who’s going to help Harris frame John Ross so he can blackmail him and reclaim his files. Sue Ellen confronts John Ross about his affair with Emma, but John Ross dismisses his mother’s concerns and exchanges vows with Pamela. Christopher returns from Mexico and warns Elena that Nicolas is married, but Nicolas assures Elena he’s getting a divorce. Later, Lucia arrives in Dallas and threatens to expose secrets from Nicolas’s past if he doesn’t reconcile with her, while Christopher and Heather make love.

Cast: Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Emma Bell (Emma Ryland), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Angélica Celaya (Lucia Treviño), Candace (Jude Demorest), Juan Pablo Di Pace (Nicolas Treviño), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Ewing), Currie Graham (Commissioner Stanley Babcock), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Judith Light (Judith Ryland), AnnaLynne McCord (Heather), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Denyse Tontz (Chastity), Erika Page White (Sapphire)

“Lifting the Veil” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

TNT’s Dallas Styles: ‘Trust Me’

AnnaLynne McCord, Dallas, Harris Ryland, Heather, Juan Pablo Di Pace, Julie Gonzalo, Linda Gray, Mitch Pileggi, Nicolas Trevino, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT, Trust Me

The crowd may have been smaller than in days gone by and no one got dunked in the pool, but there’s one area where this week’s Ewing Barbecue lived up to tradition: the clothing. The Southfork shindigs on the original “Dallas” always allowed the characters to dress a little more playfully than usual, and so did the barbecue in “Trust Me,” TNT’s latest episode.

My favorite look belonged to Linda Gray, who sported a nifty brown cowgirl hat that brought back memories of the hats Sue Ellen wore to the Southfork hoedowns of the 1980s. I also couldn’t help but smile when AnnaLynne McCord’s character, Heather, showed up at the party in that beautiful white dress; it reminded me of the simple, elegant dress Pam Ewing sported at “Dallas’s” first barbecue in 1978. I also loved how costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin paired Heather’s dress with weathered cowgirl boots; it was an ideal combination for McCord’s tomboyish character.

Juan Pablo Di Pace was the best-dressed man at the barbecue (although Jesse Metcalfe was a close second in that dark blue denim shirt). Nicolas, an out-of-town Latin American businessman, came to the party dressed just like we would expect him to: Instead of western garb, he wore a light-colored sport coat and trousers and an open-collared white shirt that strategically showcased the St. Christopher’s medal that’s so important to the character. I also loved Pamela’s blue blouse and dark pants and boots — and how gorgeous did Julie Gonzalo’s hair look under that Southfork sunshine? (Kudos, Charles Yusko!)

My other favorite wardrobe selection from “Trust Me”: the purple shirt Mitch Pileggi wore in the scene where Harris pulled a gun on Judith. Only Pileggi could make a paisley print look badass — and wasn’t it nice to finally see him in something other than the gray T-shirt he’s been wearing since the end of the second season?

What were your favorite looks in “Trust Me”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and read more “Dallas Styles.”

Drill Bits: Ready to Take a Shot of J.R.? His Bourbon is Here

Linda Gray and Andy

Linda Gray and Andy Harmon hit the red carpet

Drink up

Drink up

The stars of “Dallas” came together last night for a party to preview the third season’s first episode — along with the show’s new three-way split-screen title sequence — and to launch the J.R. Ewing Bourbon.

That’s right. You can now take a shot of J.R. (or better yet, a whole glassful).

The bourbon, inspired by Larry Hagman’s famous character, will come in bottles that feature a screen-printed image of Southfork and a wooden stopper. The bourbon will sell for about $34.95 a bottle and hit store shelves beginning in late March.

Initially, the bourbon will be sold in 14 states in the south and Midwest, including these markets: Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, New Orleans, Chicago, Memphis, Kansas City, St. Louis, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Columbus, Little Rock, Atlanta, Denver and Phoenix.

Plans call for the bourbon to be available nationally by June and internationally by the end of the year.

Here’s how the Southfork Bottling Company, the new company behind the bourbon, describes the product in its news release:

“J.R. Ewing Bourbon is well balanced and possesses a maturity that adds to its complexity. The nose is classic and slightly fruity, with notes of vanilla, oak sweetness and a touch of orange. The taste profile is surprisingly mild, yet crisp, and exhibits a lightly spicy/honey taste that lingers on the palate.”

Sounds like J.R. has a product worthy of his name. In a statement, Andy Harmon, the bottling company’s co-founder, said the bourbon’s quality reflects “J.R.’s thirst for the best in life. … [T]he new brand really pays tribute to the character with whom everyone around the world is familiar.”

Among the bold-faced names attending the launch party: Emma Bell, Marlene Forte, Juan Pablo Di Pace, Julie Gonzalo, Linda Gray, Jesse Metcalfe and Mitch Pileggi.

The Ewings Take Manhattan

Talk about an oil slick

Talk about an oil slick

While we’re waiting to fill up with J.R.’s bourbon, we can all head to New York City to fill up with the Ewings’ gasoline.

A real-life Ewing Energies gas station will open somewhere in Manhattan on Monday, February 24, the day “Dallas’s” third season begins. John Ross (Josh Henderson) will announce the precise location in a video that’ll be posted Monday morning on the show’s Facebook page.

The stunt comes courtesy of Grey New York, which handles marketing for the show. To tout the opening, there’ll be radio spots, billboards and branded oil trucks and a sweepstakes to win “Black Gold Card,” Advertising Age reports.

New Yorkers can expect the Ewings to undercut the competition, just like J.R. once did on the original show. How low will prices go? As the Wall Street Journal points out, the national average price for a gallon of gas this week is $3.38. This compares to 62 cents a gallon when the original “Dallas” debuted in 1978 and 86 cents in 1980, the year J.R. was shot.

Big D, Big Apple

Big D, Big Apple

J.R. Takes Manhattan Too

In case you missed it: The new J.R. Ewing action figure from Figures Toy Company was recently spotted around Manhattan, where he checked out the billboards for “Dallas’s” new season featuring sexy shots of Henderson, Jordana Brewster, Julie Gonzalo and Jesse Metcalfe.

Visit Dallas Decoder’s Facebook page to see more shots like the one shown here.

Special thanks to Dallas Decoder’s better half, Cook In/Dine Out maestro Andrew, for serving as the hand model for these pictures. Poor Andrew’s hands are still thawing out.

The Reviews Are In

The reviews for “Dallas’s” third-season premiere are beginning to roll in, but isn’t yesterday’s write-up from yours truly the only one that really matters? In case you missed it, be sure to also check out our interview this week with Charles Yusko, the show’s hairstylist.

“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.

In Season 3, ‘Dallas’ Resets the Chessboard, J.R. Style

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Return, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Welcome back, darlins

Who misses J.R.? We all do, but the third season of TNT’s “Dallas” still manages to be fun, freewheeling television — even if our beloved Larry Hagman is no longer there to breathe life into his most famous character. Watching next week’s season premiere is a little like attending a family reunion after the loss of a favorite uncle. You can’t help but wish the old guy was still around, but isn’t it nice to see everyone else again?

Besides, it’s not like J.R. is gone altogether. His memory looms large in Season 3’s first two episodes. Some examples: John Ross inherits his daddy’s Southfork-sized belt buckle and hires contractors to renovate the house using blueprints J.R. commissioned before his death. Bobby, once again at odds with his ambitious nephew, growls that John Ross isn’t “half the man” J.R. was. Bum, the Ewings’ go-to private eye who now doubles as John Ross’s conscience, urges him to “grow into your father’s greatness, not his weakness.” There’s even a much-improved painting of J.R. hanging in the Ewing offices, allowing Hagman’s visage to peer over the shoulders of the other actors as they move around the set.

With so many verbal and visual references to J.R., isn’t the show just reminding us that this franchise has lost its marquee player? Yes, but since most of us can’t tune into “Dallas” without thinking about Hagman anyway, the producers might as well acknowledge the ghost in the room. Besides, when your franchise is built on a character as endlessly fascinating as J.R. Ewing, why not use him to pull everyone’s strings from the great beyond?

That’s why “The Return,” the third-season premiere, resets the “Dallas” chessboard, J.R.-style. The episode — penned by Cynthia Cidre and Robert Rovner and directed by Steve Robin — picks up 12 hours after last year’s finale, when we learned J.R. was dying of cancer and masterminded his own “murder” so archenemy Cliff Barnes could be framed for the crime, thus ending the Barnes/Ewing feud. (Ha!) The finale also positioned John Ross as J.R.’s heir in every way, and so at the beginning of “The Return,” we learn why the young newlywed went to that hotel room to cheat with Emma, who appears to have traded her pill habit for an addiction to risky encounters with John Ross.

We’ll also hear how John Ross justifies the fling to Kevin Page’s Bum; his excuse will sound familiar to longtime “Dallas” fans who remember how J.R. used to rationalize his cheating on Sue Ellen. This storyline has upset a lot of fans of the John Ross/Pamela pairing, but it allows Josh Henderson to display the sly charisma that makes him almost as much fun to watch as Hagman was in his heyday. And even though John Ross is a cheat, we can’t help but feel charmed by his relationship with Julie Gonzalo’s Pamela, whose smoldering gaze makes her the ideal match for the oh-so-suave Henderson. Let’s acknowledge something else too: As much as we despise Emma, there’s no denying that Emma Bell is terrific in this role. Not since Mary Crosby’s Kristin have “Dallas” viewers had a vixen who’s so much fun to hate.

During last year’s execution of the Ewings’ “master plan” against Cliff, almost all of the characters got in touch with their inner J.R., but Season 3 finds the good guys returning to familiar terrain. Patrick Duffy’s Bobby slides back into his role as the heroic guardian of Southfork traditions, while Jesse Metcalfe’s Christopher gets a refreshingly angst-free romance with Heather, a new ranch hand. This role is played with equal parts spunk and sex appeal by AnnaLynne McCord, who was the best part of the CW’s “90210” and makes a welcome addition to “Dallas,” a far better revival.

(Oh, and even though “The Return” begins 12 hours after Season 2 ended, Christopher now sports a face full of scruff. How did he grow a thick beard in a half-day? It’s probably better not to ask. Let’s consider it this era’s version of Sue Ellen’s hair, which magically shortened itself between seasons in the early 1980s, even though mere minutes had passed on screen.)

“The Return” also recasts Elena, once this show’s romantic heroine, into a shrewd schemer out for revenge — or as she calls it, “justice” — after Cliff revealed J.R. once stole oil-rich land from her father, just like Jock supposedly cheated Digger out of half the Ewing fortune. This might seem like a thin premise to extend the Barnes/Ewing feud, but it gives the underappreciated Jordana Brewster something to do besides moon over Henderson and Metcalfe’s characters. Cliff and Elena’s unlikely alliance also includes Nicolas Treviño, a dashing young billionaire played by Juan Pablo Di Pace, another strong addition to this ensemble.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: What about Sue Ellen? It’s no secret Linda Gray’s character is once again headed for rock bottom this season, although she goes nowhere near a drop of booze in “The Return.” Some fans hate to see Sue Ellen drinking again; I’m not wild about the idea either, but I have no doubt Gray will deliver another knockout performance, just like she did last year. She’s Hagman’s truest heir in a lot of ways, including this one: Like him, Gray can say more with an arched eyebrow or a wry smile than most actors can with a script full of dialogue. She exudes Old Hollywood star power, and whether Sue Ellen is drunk or sober, Gray always delivers riveting television.

“Dallas” fans also want to know about a couple of other favorites, including Brenda Strong’s Ann and her dastardly ex-husband Harris, played to menacing perfection by Mitch Pileggi. Regarding them, I’ll only say this: Just because you haven’t read much about their characters in “Dallas’s” pre-premiere publicity doesn’t mean they have nothing to do in the first two episodes. I also don’t want to give anything away about Judith Light’s character Judith Ryland, except to say her return in the season’s second hour, “Trust Me,” is a hoot.

That episode, written by Bruce Rasmussen and directed by Millicent Shelton, features a Ewing family gathering that showcases the brilliance of costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin, who never fails to impress, and hairdresser Charles Yusko, whose contributions to the success of this series shouldn’t be overlooked. You’ll also want to watch “Trust Me” to see the long-awaited reunion between two characters who had a charming scene last year, along with one of the most audacious moments I’ve ever seen on “Dallas” — or any other show, for that matter.

Most importantly, the episode ends with a shock that rocks two characters and will make you reconsider everything you think you know about a third. It’s a twist you’ll never see coming — and another reason this show remains so much fun, even without the man who got the party started.

“Dallas’s” third season begins Monday, February 24, at 9 p.m. Eastern on TNT. Are you excited? Share your comments below and read more opinions from Dallas Decoder.

The Dallas Decoder Interview: Charles Yusko

Charles Yusko, Dallas, TNT

Charles Yusko

Charles Yusko is the hottest hairdresser in showbiz, but you won’t find him in Hollywood. Yusko, a native Texan, works his magic with the cast of TNT’s “Dallas,” which is filmed in its namesake city and will begin its third season on Monday, February 24. Yusko recently took time from his busy schedule to answer our questions.

Let’s start with the basics. Tell us what you do.

I’m the department head. I maintain “the look.” That artistic vision is created by a team — including myself, the actors, writers, producers and directors. And depending on how elaborate the scene is, the hair department can include two or three more team members. To get ahold of my vision, I read the script and break down the scenes. I also articulate my vision to each actor. For really dramatic transformations, I convey my concepts to the director, producers and writers. To set the tone of “the look,” I closely collaborate with our wardrobe whiz, the timelessly impeccable Rachel Kunin.

Interesting. Can you give an example of how you and Rachel collaborate?

In Season 2, Rachel came to me and wanted to talk about the emerald earrings for a scene with Pamela. [She said,] “Hey, I have these fabulous earrings. Can you show them off? I’d really love her hair up.” But I don’t really like to do hair up. I like natural-looking hair. So I said, “I’ll give you those earrings shown off, but with her hair down.”

Now that I think about it, you did manage to show off Pamela’s famous emerald earrings — even though her hair was down.

That was an instance where the hair was a big deal, at least for me. We didn’t want to make it all about the earrings. But it was all about the earrings. So we gave just a hint of them, and then all of a sudden it was — bam! — the big reveal of the earrings.

Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Barnes Ewing, TNTA lot of fans probably don’t realize how important a character’s hair is. Hair tells us a lot about someone’s personality, doesn’t it?

I think we showed that last year with Julie [Gonzalo] and Emma [Bell]. Emma started off with the braid. That was a symbol of her innocence. And Julie’s look changes dramatically depending on if she has a side part or a middle part.

So what’s a typical day for you like?

Well, I usually start around 4:45 in the morning. When an actor comes in, they’ll come to me first because they’re going to have wet hair. And I’ll start [working on] them while another actor is in makeup. And then the department head makeup artist, Frieda Valenzuela, and I will flip flop: I’ll take the actor in her chair and she’ll take mine. And then I’ll go to the set, and then I’ll come back and do more actors. It ends up being a 65- to 70-hour week.

That includes weekends?

Yes. I spent part of last Saturday buying wigs for the show.

So for Season 3, has anyone’s look changed?

The show’s look was established by Melissa Yonkey [the department head from 2012 to 2013], who did a beautiful job. When we worked together on the first two seasons, Melissa shared her expertise. I gained as much as possible from her — like how to keep a swoop bang from falling in someone’s face. This season, I’m making some dynamic changes. To viewers, the changes might be subtle, which — for the most part — is how it should be. But the creative process has been extraordinary. However, you’ll just have to watch to see what happens.

So the actors give a lot of input?

All the time. It’s their hair. Their feedback — even if they tell me something ain’t working — is priceless. Oftentimes, we’re on the exact same page. Trust and communication are huge. They have a lot on their plate when they step out of the hair trailer. And when they do, I want them to feel like I’ve invested all of my talents into their performances.

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, TNTHow about Jesse Metcalfe’s new beard? Are you responsible for that?

No, that’s makeup. That’s considered the face, so that’s all makeup.

Do you have an opinion about the beard?

I love it.

Me too. I know it’s going to go away midseason. I’m already sad about it.

He looks great with it. But with the character, it was definitely the perfect time for that change to have a beard and not to have one.

Well, I know you can’t give away plot secrets, so let me ask you this: What happens when Mitch Pileggi sits in your chair?

He comes to my station and gives me a hug and then he walks back to makeup. [Laughs] But he’s so wonderful because he gives every single person in the trailer a hug, every day.

Hey, that’s not a bad deal at all.

He is the sweetest man. That’s the thing about the actors on “Dallas” — they play the most horrible, ruthless characters, but in real life, they’re the sweetest, most amazing people.

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNTThat brings me to Linda Gray. She’s such an icon; I would imagine it’s a thrill to do her hair.

Ever since my first day on “Dallas,” I would watch Linda on set. I was craving an opportunity to do her hair. And now that I’m the department head, I do Linda’s hair and she’s wonderful. On Halloween, she gave me this fake fur coat. She had done a photo shoot with fur coats and while she was doing it, she said she thought of me. So I said, “What do I do with this?” And she said, “You need to wear it for Halloween.” Well, I’m in Texas. It’s hot on Halloween. But it snowed last week and so I finally wore that thing. They kept calling me Cruella de Vil on set.

And did you get to work with Larry Hagman?

I did. I wasn’t his hairstylist but I did get to do his hair before he passed. The last scene he filmed was the one where he meets with John Ross and Bum in the courthouse restroom. I was the hairstylist for that scene.

What was that like?

Well, first of all, I’m a gay man with John Ross and a bunch of camera boys in a bathroom. So Larry made a joke. He said, “Aren’t you in heaven?” [Laughs] But working with Larry was incredible. I didn’t grow up with him — my family was Baptist, so we didn’t watch a lot of “Dallas” — but meeting him and knowing how much he did for the environment and how wonderful he was…. I mean, he didn’t have to be the person that he was. I was in awe of Larry.

Well, the way I hear it, a lot of people are in awe of you. Everyone speaks highly of you.

I’ve been on the show for three seasons, but this is the first season that I’m the department head. I was a key [a junior stylist] for a long time. And early on [on “Dallas”], they demoted me.

Oh, no.

No, it’s fine because Jesse swooped in and said, “Nobody cuts my hair but Charles.” [Laughs] He pretty much was the reason for me keeping my job. And in the second season, they asked me to be the key and I said, “OK, this is my chance.” And I went back and I worked really hard. I feel like I proved myself.

You’ve had an interesting road to success.

I was going to school to become a teacher to work with autistic children, and it was just hard on me. So I ended up working in the opera for a while, doing theatrical makeup, and then some friends and I took a “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” trip across the United States in an RV. We did crazy, fun drag in the Grand Canyon, and that really brought out my creative side. I ended up in hair school, and then I wound up working on movies like “The Alamo.” And every time I thought about getting out of film, something pulled me back in like “Temple Grandin.”

You were nominated for an Emmy for that one.

It was a great honor. I got to go to the ceremony and everything.

And now you’re a department head on “Dallas.”

It’s been a crazy, fun journey. The network and the producers have told me, “Thank you. You’re doing a great job.” And I just freeze up. All I can say is, “I’m so happy.” Because I love what I’m doing.

Share your comments below and read more interviews from Dallas Decoder.