Hallmark Channel Showcases Two ‘Dallas’ Stars in Movies

Country Wedding, Hallmark Channel Jesse Metcalfe, Linda Gray, Perfect Match

Return engagements

It’s not the same as seeing “Dallas” return as a weekly series, but the Hallmark Channel will feature two of the show’s stars in new movies during the next two Saturday nights. Both productions are worth checking out, even if you find yourself pretending you’re watching an alternate-reality version of the Ewings.

Hallmark Channel, Linda Gray, Perfect Match


First up: “Perfect Match,” which debuts June 20 and casts Danica McKellar (“The Wonder Years”) and Paul Greene as competing wedding planners who fall for each other while helping a young couple arrange their ceremony. Linda Gray plays Gabby, the groom’s mother, and it should come as no surprise to hear she’s the best part of the movie. The script doesn’t give Gray nearly enough to do, but at this point, the actress has mastered the art of making the most of limited screen time. The twinkle in her eye when Gabby plays matchmaker for the lead characters is worth the price of admission alone. Like Sue Ellen, Gabby is stylish and classy — and every time she mentions her son’s fiancée Lucy, you might have to remind yourself she’s not referring to Charlene Tilton’s “Dallas” character — but otherwise “Perfect Match” doesn’t have much in common with the Ewing family saga. Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: After all the suffering Sue Ellen did last year, isn’t it nice to see Gray in something lighter?

Country Wedding, Hallmark Channel, Jesse Metcalfe

Like old times

Up next: “A Country Wedding,” debuting June 27, stars Jesse Metcalfe as Bradley Suttons, a famous country singer who finds himself torn between the self-centered starlet he’s engaged to marry and the down-to-earth childhood sweetheart who unexpectedly re-enters his life. (Gee, wonder which gal we’re supposed to root for?) This movie is a little weightier than “Perfect Match,” and it’s certainly the more “Dallas”-like of the two: “A Country Wedding” takes place in rural Texas, so there are lots of scenes of Metcalfe riding horses, hanging out in barns and mending fences (metaphorical and otherwise). We even get to see the actor wrangle some livestock, just like he did during the calf-birthing sequence during his first year at Southfork. “A Country Wedding” also offers some surprises, beginning with this: Metcalfe can sing! He carries a tune nicely, and his musical performances give the movie its best moments. On the other hand, every time Metcalfe belts out his character’s signature tune — the melancholy “A Cowboy Rides Away” — you might find yourself thinking about how poor Christopher Ewing got blown away last year.

If that memory depresses you as much as it does me, maybe Hallmark Channel will cast more “Dallas” actors in more movies to cheer us up?

Are you looking forward to “Perfect Match” and “A Country Wedding”? Share your comments below and read more opinions from Dallas Decoder.

Linda Gray Tackles New Roles — and a New Book

Dallas, Hallmark Channel, Linda Gray, Perfect Match

Linda Gray

Linda Gray has spent the past six months playing four roles on two continents.

The iconic “Dallas” star appeared in a London stage production of “Cinderella” during the holidays, then came home to California to film a cable movie, an independent feature film and a new online soap opera.

She also wrote a book.

Hey, you weren’t expecting to Sue Ellen Ewing’s alter ego to slow down, were you?

“It’s been fabulous,” Gray told Dallas Decoder last week. “I feel very fortunate because I got to have all these different experiences, one right after another.”

Gray’s fans will begin to see the results of her busy schedule on June 20, when her Hallmark Channel movie, “Perfect Match,” debuts. She plays Gabby, the mother of the groom in a story about dueling wedding planners who fall in love.

Gray describes the movie as “very Hallmark-y,” right down to the happy ending.

In other words: Don’t tune in expecting to see a Southfork-style wedding.

“No, not at all,” she said with a laugh. “Nobody gets dunked in the pool.”

Gray donned heavy makeup for her role as an eccentric, elderly matron in the feature “Wally’s Will,” which will be shown at film festivals this year.

She also plays Joanna, the matriarch of a wealthy candy-making family, in the online soap opera “Winterthorne,” debuting August 27.

“She’s weird and wonderful. She wears all these feathers,” Gray said. “It’s one appearance, but I would say she’s an important character.”

The Write Stuff

Hallmark Channel, Linda Gray, Perfect Match

“A Perfect Match”

Gray’s most intriguing project might be her memoir, “The Road to Happiness is Always Under Construction,” which will be published September 8.

She began writing the book while working in London last year. In between performances, she Skyped with her editor in New York City and wrote a chapter at a time, dashing off drafts via email.

The book will cover her experiences as a mother and grandmother, as well as her career. She writes about playing Sue Ellen on both incarnations of “Dallas,” as well as her longtime friendships with co-stars Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy.

Gray promises lots of candor. She doesn’t want to give too much away, but the book will include her experiences working with the original show’s executive producer, Leonard Katzman, who she said wasn’t always nice to her.

She also writes about a scene she felt Sue Ellen should never have been part of, along with other behind-the-scenes revelations that are bound to fascinate “Dallas” diehards.

“I wanted to write about the good and the not-so-good,” Gray said. “I don’t write anything mean or dismissive — I just share what I’ve learned. Everyone may not like it, but I can’t worry about that. As I get older, I find that the things that used to worry me don’t worry me anymore.”

‘The Trampoline Effect’

Linda Gray, Wally's Will

“Wally’s Will”

One passage in the memoir will detail what Gray calls “the Trampoline Effect,” a period last year marked by high points, like her return to the London stage in “Cinderella,” and low moments, including the death of her beloved cat and “Dallas’s” cancellation.

She also writes about the fan-driven #SaveDallas campaign to rescue the series, which she found inspiring.

“I still believe we should have been given another season — even if it was something like eight episodes,” Gray said. “They could have billed it as the end of ‘Dallas.’ The fans invested so much in the series. They don’t deserve to be kept hanging.”

The cancellation was “like breaking up a family,” Gray said. She stays in touch with friends from the show, including Jordana Brewster, Julie Gonzalo and costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin, who all got together with Gray for lunch recently.

“Everyone is moving on, but we all miss working together,” she said.

Above all, Gray misses Sue Ellen.

“I always say she was the most interesting woman on television in the ’80s. I had to wait 20 years to play her again, and then I got her back and they took her away from me,” Gray said.

Although the “Dallas” writers penned several fourth-season scripts before TNT pulled the plug, Gray doesn’t know what was planned for Sue Ellen. She suspects the newly sober heroine was going to throw herself into her career and clash with her estranged son, John Ross (Josh Henderson), and his new ally Judith Ryland (Judith Light).

“I think we would have seen Sue Ellen and Judith go at it, which would have been such fun,” she said.

Gray believes “Dallas” remains a viable brand with worldwide appeal, although she doesn’t expect the series to return anytime soon.

“I never say never,” she said. “If it happens, it happens and that would be wonderful. I just don’t want to have to wait another 20 years to play Sue Ellen.”

Are you looking forward to Linda Gray’s new projects? Share your comments below and read more news from Dallas Decoder.