The Dallas Decoder Interview: Patrick Duffy

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing

Patrick Duffy is everything you would expect him to be: smart, thoughtful, funny and above all, kind. I was honored to interview him recently, and I’m excited to share our conversation with my fellow “Dallas” fans.

It’s been eight months since “Dallas” was canceled. How’s life treating you?

Well, it’s been more than a year since the show ended because we were canceled long after we finished filming the third season. It’s been a year of catching up with your own private life, which you never put totally on hold when you’re working, and spending time in the place that you really love to be. I do miss the day-to-day experience of being with those close friends of mine from the show.

Let’s talk about the cancellation. Why do you think TNT dropped the show?

I think it’s not even a secret as to why it was canceled: the regime change at TNT. We had two very strong advocates in [executives] Steve Koonin and Michael Wright. They both left, and in that vacuum, other people wanted to make their mark. They thought “Dallas” harkened back instead of leaning forward. They wanted to clean house, and we happened to be one of the victims.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

The unexpected

It’s still heartbreaking for fans. How about you?

As Linda [Gray] will tell you, this isn’t our first day at the picnic. We’ve both had shows canceled before. It was a bit of a shock because it was more unexpected than in previous cancellations, where you know the ratings are dying and it’s just a matter of time. This one caught most of us by surprise.

The ratings did drop in the third season, though. What do you attribute that to?

I think everyone would assume part of it was Larry [Hagman] dying. I would not even assume that. I would take that as a definite. [TNT] also split the third season, and we were doing very well under the old method of airing a full season at a time. I don’t really know what to think. I feel the quality of the shows — oddly enough — improved in the third year. Larry’s passing made everybody up their game, which is why I was more than a little surprised and disappointed that we weren’t picked up.

I agree that in a lot of ways, the show was only getting better.

I really thought we had the potential to prove to the world that the show is not about one person. Larry said that year after year. The show is “Dallas,” and “Dallas” can be anything if it’s done correctly. He said that when I left the show, he said it when other people left the show, and he would have said it when he left the show. It would have been harder for him to say it. … [Laughs]

Some fans cite the drug cartel storyline as an example of the new “Dallas” straying too far from its origins. What’s your take?

I don’t know if I agree with that. We see a lot of news about the influence of the drug trade in mid- to southern Texas. So I didn’t object to it. I thought it was a viable subject line. I think it might have been overemphasized. It might have been better as a tangential story instead of an absolute focus, and I think we expanded our cast a bit precipitously. I loved every regular cast member we added, but “Dallas” has always been about the Ewing family, and when you expand it too much and too soon, I don’t think the show stayed as “pure” as it might have been. But those are little things.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Fired up

You inspired a lot of fans during the #SaveDallas campaign. What was it like to see so many people rallying behind the show?

I had a double feeling about it. I was so encouraged that so many viewers saw value in our show. At the same time, it was bittersweet because I was more than 75 percent sure nothing was going to happen at TNT. I knew that they weren’t going to say, “Oops” [and reverse the cancellation]. And I knew just enough of the financial complexities of making “Dallas” that it would be next-to-impossible for a new network or entity to take it over. So I felt it was wonderful [that #SaveDallas] was so wishful and positive and hopeful, and yet the Titanic is going down. You can bail as much as you want — and God love everybody who had a bucket — but it’s still going down.

A lot of fans haven’t given up.

I know. I go on Twitter and see how many people are still hashtagging #SaveDallas. And I don’t want to deter anybody from fulfilling every conceivable idea they might have. I live my life that way. I encourage everybody to do their best. I’ve had both my boys in competitions of various sorts over the years, and as a parent you sometimes think, “Oh my God, they’re going to lose so bad.” But what do you do? You don’t say to your kid, “You know, you’re going to lose son, but. …” So you just say, “You can do it. Come on!”

You weren’t involved in the behind-the-scenes discussions, but as far as you know, was there ever a point where the show came close to finding a new home?

I know that [showrunners] Cynthia [Cidre] and Mike [Robin] were desperately meeting with people — bona fide executive meetings all over the place. And Peter Roth at Warner Bros. was devastated when the show was canceled. He wanted to do everything conceivable to see if there was a place where it could reside. But when I would talk to them and they would report with ever-increasing regularity how this conversation fell through, and how that deal couldn’t happen, I started to just think, “Well, I have a feeling we’re putting this one to bed.”

It sounded as if the CW was a real possibility at one point.

Yeah. I think the reason is because of the CBS and Warner Bros. affiliation and the connection to Les Moonves [the CBS president and chief executive officer who once worked for Lorimar, producer of the original “Dallas.”] There were a lot of historical lines there. If a family member was going to bail you out, maybe that would be the one. But again, I think the financial complexity just doomed us.

Ann Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

The end?

So you think “Dallas” is over for good?

I’ve learned to never say never. I died once and came back, but I don’t see the situation resolving itself. You would have to gather together the same group of people who’ve been spending the past year moving forward with their careers. But if it happened and I were available, I’d be the first person in line for wardrobe.

Bobby was the steward of Southfork. Would you be interested in taking a creative role behind the scenes — becoming the steward of “Dallas”?

I don’t know if I’m the type of creative person who can do that. “Dallas” is unique. If I understood it and if Larry understood it, the final reunion movie [1998’s “War of the Ewings”] would not have been the turkey it was. We were in charge of that one and it was terrible. I’ll be the first to admit that. So no, I don’t believe I could pick up the reins and produce a continuation of “Dallas.” Cynthia could, and I think she would do it in a heartbeat if she were available and somebody asked her to pick it up again. But I don’t think I know anybody else that could do it.

Do you have any idea what was in store for Bobby? There were a few scripts written for the fourth season. Everyone is dying to know what was in those storylines.

[Laughs] Nothing ever crossed my desk to read for the fourth season, but Cynthia and I were very close and hopefully will remain so for the rest of our lives. And she was telling me what would happen and a lot of it had to do with Christopher’s death. What does it do to Bobby to lose his adopted son, and then what’s in the history of “Dallas” that would eventually bring him out of that? And there are a lot of characters invented in the first incarnation of “Dallas” that could be brought in to play on the new show in a very appropriate way.

Ooh. Can you give an example?

I know Steve [Kanaly] was going to be brought in for a lot of episodes in Season 4. Cynthia knew that he was a definite positive for the show.

So maybe we would finally have seen Bobby’s other son, Lucas, who was raised by Ray Krebbs?

Well, I think that’s got to be the elephant in the room whenever you talk about Bobby losing one son — who is an adopted son. Family was the most important thing to Bobby. So where is the handoff in his mind of who takes over when Bobby dies? That’s his mission, to find that person. So I can’t imagine that they would leave that stone unturned.

I’m also curious about this half-sister of John Ross’s. Any idea who J.R.’s daughter was going to be?

I don’t know at all what they had in mind in terms of casting. I can’t imagine. It’s not uncommon for Texas oil billionaires to have dual families. H.L. Hunt had two families simultaneously for years. And Larry talked about the idea when he was alive. What if J.R. had an entire second life?

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Simmer down now

So when you look back on the new “Dallas,” what are the highlights?

For me, personally, I loved the maturation of the character of Bobby. I thought Cynthia hit the right note with his aging process, who he was after we saw him after that length of time. She maintained Bobby’s essence, but she gave him that sort of calm outlook. “I’ve lived long enough now. I’m not quite as fiery as I used to be. I know the drill.” I really liked that. I felt very comfortable in his shoes at that time. And speaking of shoes, when the new show was starting production, I went back and thought, “Well, maybe Bobby’s not so cowboy anymore.” And I told wardrobe, find me a really nice pair of Italian slip-on shoes for Bobby to wear. And I put them on the first day of work and went back to Rachel [Sage Kunin, the show’s costume designer] and said, “Dear God, get me the boots. I cannot be Bobby Ewing in these shoes!”


Really! It didn’t feel right. Linda told me years ago that she can’t be Sue Ellen in flats. She’s got to wear high heels. Sue Ellen wears heels. Bobby has to have boots, and once I came to that realization, then I was okay. [Laughs] But I agreed with everything that Cynthia put him through in the course of those three years. Certain things I objected to, but I know they were right.

Can you give an example of something you objected to?

Well, the thing that I thought was devastating to the character of Bobby was in the reading of [J.R.’s] will when we find out Mama gave half of Southfork to John Ross.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

Enemy mine

Yeah, what’s up with that?

Yeah, well, that’s exactly what I said when I read it in the script! First, I called Cynthia and said, “What the hell?” [Laughs] I thought, “Nooo.” First of all, how did that stay hidden for 30 years? But it added such a tension in the storyline. It made me as an actor find different things to do. But I never would have entertained that if I had been in charge and somebody would’ve suggested it. I would have said, “No, that can’t be. That wouldn’t happen. Mama wouldn’t do that. I’m sorry.” But it was the right thing to do.

It really helped elevate Josh Henderson’s character to be Bobby’s new adversary.

And he had one of the hardest parts. How do you be the new J.R. Ewing? But Josh’s growth pattern as an actor playing that part for three years was probably the largest bell curve. And he really filled that responsibility. Brenda Strong had the other hardest part. How do you replace Pamela?

She also had to replace Miss Ellie, in a sense.

She had to replace everybody! [Laughs] She had to replace Sheree [J. Wilson], she had to replace Pamela, she had to replace Mama. My favorite horse, my dog. She had a thankless job and she did it. She was the perfect choice and the perfect rendition of who could fill those responsibilities on “Dallas.”

You’ve mentioned Larry. Do you miss him?

No, I don’t. I’ve said that from the day after he died. I don’t think I’ll ever miss him in the sense that — right now, I’m looking at a picture of the two of us. I’m sitting at my desk and there’s a picture of him and me here, holding a big fish between us that we caught in the river that runs through my ranch.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, TNT


I think we saw that picture on the show.

Probably. We donated a lot of pictures for the show. But I think until the day I die, I will be so satiated with my relationship with Larry. There are no empty spots. There is a sense of longing for the day-to-day connection. That I miss. I miss the phone ringing and he’d go, “Hi-ditty-ditty.” He would always do a little Irish tune before he would say, “Hey.” Those are the moments I miss. But just as I was telling you that, I hear it in my ear. I hear it as clear as if the phone had just rung and he had done it.

I know you remain close to Linda, who’s getting ready to publish her book. Will you write one?

Nope. I admire Linda for writing her book. Larry wrote his. I am too private a person. My private life and my private feelings are exactly that, and if you write a book, it should make you want to be honest. I’ve always had the title of my autobiography, which is “What I Choose to Recall.” I stole the lyrics from Merle Haggard song.

I love that song.

Yeah, and to me it’s the perfect title for an autobiography that’s not totally honest.

That song played during “J.R.’s Masterpiece” during the memorial sequence.

Really? [Singing] “Everything does change, except what you choose to recall.” [Laughs] Had I written it, that would have been the title of my autobiography.

Share your comments below and read more Dallas Decoder interviews.

Five More Who Mattered: Dallas Decoder’s Other 2014 VIPs

Cynthia Cidre, Dallas, Josh Henderson, Michael M. Robin, Patrick Duffy, Peter Roth, TNT

The fans are Dallas Decoder’s Persons of the Year, but here are five others who made important contributions to “Dallas” in 2014:

Five More Who Mattered - Cidre and Robin copy

The bosses

Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin. If you’re a fan of the new “Dallas,” then join me in honoring executive producers Cidre and Robin for delivering an entertaining show and then fighting like hell to save it after TNT dropped the ax. Their version of “Dallas” wasn’t every fan’s cup of Texas tea, but a lot of us loved it. This show will be missed. We salute the showrunners and thank them for their contributions to one of television’s great franchises.


The leader

The leader

Patrick Duffy. To me, Duffy is Bobby Ewing — and that’s why it came as no surprise when he became a leading voice of the #SaveDallas movement. I mean, isn’t that exactly what Bobby would’ve done in that situation? Duffy held fans together and offered us inspiration when we needed it most. He also earned a spot on this list when he returned to the “Dallas” director’s chair after a 23-year absence with “Hurt,” this year’s best episode.


The star

The star

Josh Henderson. Did you get chills when John Ross told Sue Ellen he wasn’t his father? How about when he smashed the gun barrel into Luis’s face and came this close to pulling the trigger? What about the time our young hero broke down while listening to J.R.’s old voicemail? Saying goodbye to John Ross is tough, but at least we don’t have to bid farewell to Henderson, a great actor who’s going to be entertaining us for a long time to come.


The player

The chief

Peter Roth. Peter who? Roth runs the television arm of Warner Bros., the studio that produced “Dallas.” During the #SaveDallas campaign, while the rest of us were drumming up support for the show on social media, Roth’s team was beating the bushes in Hollywood to find the Ewings a new home. They didn’t succeed, but fans thank them for trying. After all, if “Dallas” taught us anything, it’s this: Even promising deals sometimes don’t work out.


Who did I miss? Share your choices for “Dallas’s” 2014 VIPs below and read more opinions 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.

Let’s Hear It for ‘Dallas’ Fans!

#SaveDallas, Dallas, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Save Dallas, TNT

Applause! (Paley Center for Media)

I want to take a few moments to applaud everyone who participated in the #SaveDallas campaign. We’re all disappointed with the outcome, but we shouldn’t be disappointed with ourselves. We put up a good fight.

If nothing else, the past few weeks revealed how much “Dallas” means to its fans. When you read the tweets, Facebook posts and reader comments on sites like this one, you begin to appreciate how this show about fictional feuding families brought many real families together. An entire generation came of age while watching “Dallas” at the knees of their moms and dads. Now many of those kids are adults who watch “Dallas” with their own children. Few other shows can make that claim.

The #SaveDallas campaign also provided fans with an opportunity to share wonderful stories about how “Dallas” touched their lives. I loved hearing from the woman who told me about the Friday evening in 1981 when her mother went into labor with her; it seems mom wouldn’t leave for the hospital until “Dallas” was over. “I was a fan before birth!” the daughter tweeted. Other stories were poignant, like the one from the widow who wanted “Dallas” saved because she enjoyed watching the show with her late husband. “Dallas is all I got left,” she wrote. I wish the series could’ve been rescued for her alone.

It was also gratifying to see the extended “Dallas” family come together to support the fans as we tried to support them. We received so much encouragement from Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and other cast members, as well as several stars from the original series. Since #SaveDallas ended yesterday, it’s been equally heartwarming to read the thank-you messages the cast has sent everyone through social media. Not only do the fans love “Dallas,” but “Dallas” loves the fans back.

Special commendations go to everyone who did the heavy lifting behind the scenes, beginning with executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin, who poured their hearts into getting “Dallas” back on the air. I also admire the good people at Warner Horizon, the studio that produced “Dallas.” These folks knocked on a lot of doors in their quest to find a new home for the show. They deserve our gratitude.

Above all, I salute my fellow fans. Everyone who participated in this campaign tried their best, including the fans behind the petitions, Facebook pages and videos, as well as everyone who jammed the switchboards at the networks we targeted and filled the inboxes of the industry’s top executives. Special thanks go to the fans who sent approximately 1 million #SaveDallas tweets during the course of our six-week effort. I recommended the hashtag and so I’m quite biased, but as far as I’m concerned, each tweet was an expression of love for the show and the people who made it.

I wish all the tweets, Facebook “likes” and petition signatures had been enough to keep “Dallas” going — and for a while, I thought they might — but I guess that wasn’t realistic. Television is a business, and this show’s fate was destined to be decided on a spreadsheet, not on social media. This doesn’t mean fans didn’t have an important role to play, because we did. Our job was to raise our voices and let the world know how much we love “Dallas” and wanted the show to go on.

By that measure, #SaveDallas was a huge success.

What did you think of the #SaveDallas campaign? Share your comments below.

BREAKING NEWS: The Efforts to Save ‘Dallas’ Have Ended

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

The end

The efforts to find “Dallas” a new home have ended, executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin said today.

“After a 6-week attempt to try and land our beloved ‘Dallas’ at another network, we have to inform you that we have not succeeded. Warner Horizon has attempted, in a Herculean way, to try and find us a new home, but at the end of the day it did not work out,” Cidre and Robin wrote in a statement to “Dallas” fans.

The complete message appears below.

In a recent radio interview, “Dallas” star Patrick Duffy discussed the complexities of getting the show back on the air. In addition to finding a new network for “Dallas,” new foreign and online distribution deals were required, Duffy said.

Today’s news effectively ends the #SaveDallas campaign that began October 4, the day after TNT canceled the show. In the weeks that followed, as “Dallas’s” production studio Warner Horizon shopped the series to other networks, fans sent approximately 1 million #SaveDallas tweets and added more than 84,000 signatures to an online petition calling for another network to pick up the show.

“Dallas” devotees received encouragement from stars such as Duffy and Linda Gray, who praised fans’ persistence and ingenuity in interviews and social media posts.

In their statement, Cidre and Robin also hailed the #SaveDallas campaign as “a truly remarkable undertaking” and thanked fans for their support. “We cannot fully express how much we loved making this show for you and with you,” they wrote.

Here’s Cidre and Robin’s full statement:

Hi Friends,

Well, we have come to the end. After a 6-week attempt to try and land our beloved “Dallas” at another network, we have to inform you that we have not succeeded. Warner Horizon has attempted, in a Herculean way, to try and find us a new home, but at the end of the day it did not work out.

We so appreciate the outpouring of support by all of you, and the #SaveDallas campaign was a truly remarkable undertaking. We cannot fully express how much we loved making this show for you and with you. We had 3 wonderful years together, and we had the times of our lives bringing this iconic show back to television. Thank you for your support; thank you for your loyalty to our wonderful characters; and thank you for watching our show.

We wish you all our very best, and thank you again for loving “Dallas.”

With great admiration and appreciation,

Cynthia Cidre and Michael Robin

How do you feel about the end of the #SaveDallas campaign? Share your comments below and read more news from Dallas Decoder.

The Dallas Decoder Interview: Linda Gray

#SaveDallas, Dallas, Linda Gray, Save Dallas, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Forever Sue Ellen

TNT has canceled “Dallas,” but don’t tell Linda Gray the show is over. I was honored to speak to her today about the #SaveDallas campaign.

Fans are so upset that “Dallas” has been cancelled. What happened?

It’s challenging to even describe what happened. We lost our two biggest cheerleaders when Steve Koonin and Michael Wright [the top executives in charge of TNT’s programming] left their positions. Meanwhile, we were left wondering if we were going to get picked up or not. We were kept waiting for someone to come in, and then when that person or persons were put into place, we were kept waiting to find out if they liked us or not. [Laughs] And then they decided, “Nope, we don’t want ‘Dallas.’”

How did you hear the news?

Our producers, Cynthia [Cidre] and Mike [Robin], called us on Friday afternoon. When you look at your phone and you see that both of your producers are on the line, it’s either good news or not so good news. [Laughs] This was not such good news.

What did they tell you?

Cynthia and Mike both said, “We haven’t given up. We’re going to see if another network wants us.” But the beauty of this has been the fans. The whole #SaveDallas campaign has been a huge revelation to me. It’s been so lovely. I’m very, very grateful for that. There’s been such an outpouring of love.

#SaveDallas, Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, Save Dallas, TNT

Never give up

I was saddened when I heard about the cancellation on Friday, but then I saw your tweets on Saturday and I thought, “There’s hope!”

Always, Chris. Always! There’s always hope. [Laughs] I flashed back to the original series. In the beginning, CBS had us on Saturday night. We didn’t do so well there. And then they put us on Sunday night. We didn’t do so well there either. But then they put us on Friday night and we took off! CBS loved us. They nurtured us. [The new series] hasn’t been nurtured. We were on opposite “The Voice,” the Emmys, “Monday Night Football.”

You had one of the toughest time slots in television.

Yes, but this isn’t bah humbug. I’m not bashing TNT — not at all. I just feel like what happens with corporate executives is they see numbers — and that’s it. That’s what they do, and God bless them. But there are also a lot of people who want to be entertained, and this cast loved entertaining the audience.

“Dallas” is a special show. I loved the original series, and I love this one too. They’re different, but I love them both.

They should be different. Times are different.

So what do you think are the chances of saving “Dallas”?

Personally, I think they’re great. It’s a built-in brand. It comes with publicity you can’t buy, and it’s lasted a long time. And we want to be with people who care about us and don’t just look at the bottom line. This show deserves a fair shot. We need another shot. And if TNT doesn’t do it, we hope another network will pick us up. Other shows have done that. It does happen. And if it’s meant to happen here, it will.

#SaveDallas, Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Save Dallas, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Team Ewing

The fans really appreciate the encouragement you and Patrick [Duffy] have given us.

Patrick said over the weekend he’s not done with Bobby Ewing. And amen to that, I say. I ain’t done with Sue Ellen Ewing either! [Laughs] When we spoke to Cynthia, she’s got the first script for Season 4 written — and I think a lot of good stuff is going to happen. The cast doesn’t know what it will be, but we want to get our little fingers on it and find out.

Is it official that Warner Bros. [the studio that produces “Dallas”] is going to shop the show around to other outlets?

I don’t know, but at least there’s buzz out there. I was at a function last night and [CBS chief executive] Les Moonves was there and he told me he’s been inundated with emails from fans who want him to pick it up. He was just smiling and said, “You wouldn’t believe the emails I’ve gotten.” I smiled right back and said, “Great!” [Laughs] The fans are not afraid at all. It’s not, “Oh, how do I get in touch with the head of CBS?” They just do it! They slammed the switchboards at TNT. They shut them down!

Maybe TNT will reverse its decision. I’ve been encouraging fans to be positive when they tweet at the studio and the network.

Exactly. TNT may say, “Oh, we made a mistake. We weren’t thinking. We’ve now come to our senses.” I encourage the fans to be positive too.

So what would Larry Hagman think of all this?

Oh God, he’d be furious. I’ve seen him mad. [Laughs] He’d hit them hard and it would be with humor, but he would be very honest and forthright. He’d probably say something similar to what Patrick said: “J.R.’s not finished yet.” That’s how we all feel.

He’d be right too. J.R. will never be finished! I love how the show honors him.

I think that’s why Season 3 has been so special. We were all kind of fumbling around after he died, but this season, everybody thought, “Pull up the boot straps. Get back on that horse and do it.” Patrick and I have discussed this. Everyone was shining this season — the cast, the writers, everyone. The original show had a small cast, and you got to know every character intimately. Sometimes when shows are brand new, they’re long and shallow, but they don’t go deep. In Season 3, I think, we went deep.

You were pleased with Sue Ellen’s direction this year?

I was very happy with what they did with Sue Ellen this season. You know, I cringed when she started drinking again. I thought, “My gosh, here we go again. Haven’t I done that before? Didn’t I do it well?” [Laughs] But I felt this time, it was handled very well. And I thought the scenes with Josh [Henderson] were wonderful. He really hit his stride this season.

#SaveDallas, Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Scene of the season

The scene where John Ross screams, “I am not my father!” is my favorite moment of the season.

Here’s the backstory on that: It was shot at night. It was the end of the day. So Josh and I were in a back bedroom in Sue Ellen’s home while they were doing the lighting and setting up. And we were like two caged animals. We didn’t speak. We didn’t talk.


He’s usually tweeting and carrying on. “Hey, Mama. How you doing?” But this time, I sat in my chair and went over my lines in my head and we never spoke. I mean, we didn’t plan it that way. It wasn’t like, “Oh, we’re not talking.” And then when we came out [to shoot the scene], man, you could feel it. The crew was very quiet. They knew it was an emotional scene. It was hard, and it was intense. It was something else. It was just amazing. That’s why it was so good. You went deep with Josh’s character. You went deep with Sue Ellen. She was blaming everybody and never looking at herself. It was such an intense, intense scene — because it was real.

That’s why this cancellation breaks my heart! How do you cancel a show that delivers amazing moments like that one?

Absolutely. To be canceled after that was like, “Oh, rats!” We’re all in the groove now, and then we get canceled.

So what’s your final message to the fans?

I would love to thank the fans for their love and their support and their outcry. I hope we get to continue making the show because I don’t think we’re finished.

So keep fighting?

Keep fighting! Yes, at all times. Keep fighting.

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

The Dallas Decoder Interview: Cynthia Cidre

Cynthia Cidre, Dallas, TNT, Which Ewing Dies?

Cynthia Cidre

Spoiler alert! “Dallas” fans are still reeling from this week’s season finale, in which Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) was killed when his car blew up and John Ross (Josh Henderson) learned J.R. has a secret daughter. I spoke with executive producer Cynthia Cidre about the cliffhangers — and what fans will see if “Dallas” returns next year.

Is Christopher really dead?

Yes. Believe me, we thought about teasing that: Did he die? Did he not die? And then, because I knew he was going to be dead for sure, I just felt dirty about doing that. It didn’t feel honest. So I thought the explosion was pretty big, and pretty definite — although I’m told all the blogs are saying he’s not really dead.

Yeah, the readers on my site are filling up the comments section with all kinds of theories.

That’s fun. I’ve got to read that.

But why kill a Ewing?

Well, we aim to surprise everybody — always. We like doing what you don’t see coming at the end of every season. I thought we did that well in Season 1, when we found out Rebecca was Pamela Barnes, and then we had Season 2 end with Elena finding out J.R. cheated her father. We always want to do the unexpected. And what would people expect less than if you actually killed off one of your main characters?

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Endgame, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT, Which Ewing Dies?

Swan song

Why Christopher?

If you really think about it, there were really only two options. I couldn’t kill Sue Ellen or Bobby because somebody might kill me. I couldn’t kill John Ross because the show is really on Josh’s shoulders since Larry [Hagman] died. That left Ann and Christopher. Whose death would have the bigger impact? It would be Christopher’s.

Was there a lot of debate in the writers’ room?

We pitched it back and forth for months and months: “Are we doing it? Can we do it? Are we insane? This will drive the fan nuts. They’ll want to watch the next season to see what happens. No, we can’t do it. Yes, we can. No, we can’t.” And by the way, it costs a lot of money, so we had to get permission from the studio and the network. Finally, when the money came through, Mike [Robin, a “Dallas” executive producer and director] and I looked at each other and said, “Oh, my God. I guess we’re really doing it.”

When was the scene filmed?

Only about three weeks ago. That we kept it secret is more incredible. At a certain point, only the writers and Mike knew, and then it became the studio, and then it became the network. Every time it went to someone else, I would freak and think, “How are you going to keep this secret?” Then we had to budget it and schedule it, and that involved a whole other film crew because our crew was not working. So we used the crew for “Major Crimes.”

You kept it in the TNT family.

They didn’t know what they were shooting. They knew there was going to be an explosion, but they had no idea what show, what character. And then when Jordana [Brewster] showed up on set, they realized, “Oh my God, we’re shooting the finale for ‘Dallas.’” We talked to them afterwards and said, “Guys, you’re so great to do this. You showed up on a Saturday. Thank you for your time. Please, please, please keep this to yourselves.”

Jesse Metcalfe gave a nice statement to Entertainment Weekly. What was Jordana’s reaction to the news?

I only told her the night before we shot it. She was shocked. At first she thought we were killing her because we wouldn’t tell her what we were shooting. So I finally told her, “Just rest easy. We’re not killing you, okay?”

It was a big twist, which is why I’m sorry it aired on such a tough night. What’s your reaction to the ratings?

Well, we held our own, which is insane since seven other shows premiered that day. There was “The Blacklist,” there was “The Voice,” there was “Monday Night Football.” Literally, I’m stunned. But we’re a DVR darling. Every episode this summer has gone up [significantly in viewers through DVR playback]. All I can do is make a show we’re proud of and hope the diehard fans show up.

Dallas, Bobby Ewing, Brave New World, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT, Which Ewing Dies?

Brave new world

You’re still waiting to hear whether you’ll be renewed for a fourth year, but as you said the other day, you’ve already started writing next season’s storylines. So how’s Bobby going to cope with his son’s death?

I just finished the first [episode] outline and it’s all about him. How’s he dealing with this? He has a pretty good idea who did it, even though there’s absolutely no proof. And Nicolas is in Mexico, so he can’t get to him. So you’re going to see a slightly different Bobby than you’ve seen before. He’s extraordinarily angry and vengeful, he’s extraordinarily hurt — and he’s refusing to express his hurt.

What about the rest of the family?

It affects everybody. Elena’s guilt goes without saying. She feels like her hands are dirty. There’s going to be a tortured relationship between her and Bobby. Believe me, this will be the emotional core of the show. The other thing that will be at the core of it is John Ross’s sister.

Yes, let’s talk about her. What can you say?

I can tell you that although J.R. has many spawns around town — if not around the world — this girl is different and special, and there’s a reason for that. That’s going to be the surprise that I hope will make your head spin.

You’re killing me here.

We had originally filmed the scene of John Ross finding her as an alternate ending because we didn’t know if we were going to get the money to blow up the car. But because we hadn’t cast the actress, all you were going to see was [the character’s] hand, and it was a great hand. It had bitten cuticles and some chipped nails and a bunch of bracelets. It was in a very exotic location. And we shot it, and it worked, but we thought because we’re going to move forward six months [when the new season opens], it would be better if John Ross finds her then. Because what the heck is he doing with her for six months?

So who’s this character’s mother?

It was a woman. [Laughs]

That’s good to know!

She’s passed away, so we’re not going to meet her. If I tell you that, then I would be spoiling something that I think would be a lot of fun — which, by the way, has been a pitch in our writers’ room for three years. We have something called the “duck pond,” where we throw up crazy ideas. And finally, that one looked good to us this year, so we’re employing it.

Will we see more old favorites from the original show?

Yes. There will be one who is a very, very, very popular old character. We’re excited to bring him or her back.

Wait, what? You’re not going to tell me if it’s a him or a her?

[Laughs] Okay, it’s a her. We’re looking forward to that storyline. It’ll be a lot of fun.

What about Cliff Barnes? Will Ken Kercheval be back?

Maybe. We’ve used him extensively for three seasons, but he’s in jail. We decided to leave him in jail, and so that kind of hurt us a little bit. There’s not a lot he can do from there. But there are some pitches about that also.

What about this business of adding a wing onto Southfork?

We’re doing it!


It burned! We have to add a wing. [Laughs] It’s a two-bedroom house with 15 people living in it.

But what about fans like me who consider Southfork sacred ground?

That’s why we’re going to put [the addition] in the back of the house. You won’t get to see it from the front, so the silhouette of the house will remain the same. We did not want to upset anybody. But we’ve made fun of [Southfork’s size] from the beginning.

I think that’s part of the show’s charm.

Yeah, definitely. We talk about it all the time. I mean, if you’ve ever visited that house, it’s probably 2,000 square feet, but somehow there are eight bedrooms. [Laughs]

Speaking of fans: Do you pay attention to the fan sites?

Not that much because I hate to get sucked into it. I mean, I want to hear all the good ones, and I want to hear the bad ones too. Mike Robin always leads with the good news. I lead with the bad news. That’s how I want notes from the studio. That’s how I want notes from the network. Just give me the bad news and I’ll fix it.

Brave New World, Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT, Which Ewing Dies?

Listen up

Fans talk a lot about the show on social media. Do you do that?


Why is that?

I don’t know. I feel like it’s passed me by — like I didn’t catch on at the beginning — and now my brain is so overloaded, unless I dump some “Gilligan’s Island” from my hard drive, I can’t learn anything new. But I know it’s very important, and thank goodness, all of our actors do it. They’re really into it, and they have a lot of followers. I also know the younger members of our writing staff do it. I just haven’t. Every time somebody tries to introduce me to it, I’m like, “No, I have so many emails I have to answer!”

But you hear what fans say. Is it hard to balance giving them what they want with pursuing your own creative vision for the show?

Maybe, because I’m not sure I always give the fans what they want. Maybe they’d like it to be more soapier than it is. I come from very dark writing. I wrote violent movies for Michael Mann and many other dark directors. That’s a place where I’m comfortable, and so I’ll often go to that place. Sometimes it works, and sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s probably not the best choice.

Can you give an example?

I just did it in something we were [discussing] for Season 4 about Pamela. I said, “How about she does this and this and this,” and then Robert Rovner [a “Dallas” executive producer and writer] said, “But that’s not empowering for her.” And I said, “You know what? You’re absolutely right.” I was going to a dark place for her. But I just want to work to the best of my ability, and I do want to make it delicious, and so I try never to steal that from the show.

You mentioned the “duck pond” in the writers’ room. Do I dare ask what other ideas are up there?

Most of them are goofy — and then one day they’re not goofy any more.

What I’d give to be a fly on the wall when you guys are discussing this stuff.

You have no idea. There are four comedy writers [on staff] and the things that get said inside that room — you can’t repeat them on the outside. Seriously, it’s insane. Every other day, I’m crying. We have fun. And at the end of the day, somehow the work gets done.

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

The Dallas Decoder Interview: Rodney Charters

Rodney Charters (Photo: Douglas Kirland)

Rodney Charters (Photo: Douglas Kirland)

Rodney Charters is the director of photography — a.k.a. cinematographer — for TNT’s “Dallas,” which resumes its third season on Monday, August 18. The New Zealand native previously worked on “24,” where he earned two Emmy nominations, as well as series such as “Shameless” and “Nashville.” I spoke to Charters in the spring, as he was wrapping up production on “Dallas’s” third-season finale, and then caught up with him again last week.

You have one of the coolest jobs on “Dallas.” For readers who may not know, can you explain what you do?

The director of photography is really responsible for “imaging” the script. It places me in sort of an interesting position of being on the right hand of the director and, along with the production designer, one of two people who help the director realize his or her vision. The director is the captain of the ship, but the director of photography and the production designer are the lieutenants.

So you help determine what viewers see on their screens — how the actors appear in a given shot, how they’re lit, the overall look of the scene, et cetera.

We’re shooting a scene today where the director wants to look through a window into a darkened bar and see a character, and then pull [the camera] out through the window — without seeing himself in the reflection — to find another character doing something to the first person’s car. So we’ll try to achieve that by putting up a dark false wall to hide the camera, or we’ll use filters to take away the reflection.

That sounds like a lot of work for a single shot.

You have to be ahead of the game because we never have an enormous amount of time to shoot an episode. Yesterday, we had two locations that required quite a bit of work. We were in a restaurant that had a certain style of lamp, but the production designer and the set decorator wanted to bring in more lamps, and they all needed to be hung 20 feet from a very tall ceiling. And they worked very carefully to do that before we arrived, so that once we showed up, we were ready to shoot.

Dallas, Michael M. Robin, Rodney Charters, TNT

Director Michael M. Robin and Charters

There’s a lot of teamwork involved, isn’t it?

Every time a cinematographer touches a camera, he needs to think of half a dozen other people he needs to work with in order to bring about what happens in the frame.

And that includes your own team. Talk a little bit about how the work is divvied up.

My right hand man is my gaffer. He’s responsible for physically placing all of the lights for me. There’s a team of grips who are responsible for mounting and putting up the equipment that supports the cameras. And then, of course, there are the camera operators. So roughly there’s a team of 15 to 20 people who work directly for me on set, and then I liaise with several others.

Like Rachel Sage Kunin, the costume designer.

She’ll consult with me about whether the material in a costume is going to work. On the Ewing Global set, there’s a green screen hanging outside the window, and we project the Dallas skyline onto that screen [in post-production]. If an actor wore green in one of those scenes, the exterior of Dallas might show up on their clothing. So all of that comes into play.

Dallas, Linda Gray, Rodney Charters, TNT

Linda Gray and Charters (David Strick/The Hollywood Reporter)

That raises an interesting point. Most of “Dallas’s” interior shots — including all the rooms inside Southfork — are filmed on a soundstage, while the exterior shots are shot outdoors. Which environment do you prefer?

I think a balance is worthy. There are some efficiencies on a stage because lights have been pre-hung and actors feel comfortable in certain areas, so you can leave some lights up to save time. But I’m a firm believer that what we put before the camera should feel as real as possible. When we’re shooting on the Southfork stage and you see through the window to the trees outside, that’s actually a giant photo mural. That presents challenges because when we shoot exteriors at Southfork in the winter, the trees are just woody nobs, and then when we go back to the stage, the trees outside look like they’re flowering.

Could you do green screens on the Southfork sets?

Green screen has its own problems. Backings reflect onto any reflective material on the set, so if you have glass tables or other glass surfaces as we do at Southfork, you run into problems. In the large apartment that Pamela occupied for so long, any lights we put up are then reflected in the windows. We drop the blinds down one section because we are on the 19th floor and we cannot rotate the windows, which is our trick on the Ewing Global set, where all the glass is on a gimbal. In Pamela’s apartment, we struggle to avoid seeing ourselves [so] we put up walls of black material and then wear black to avoid seeing the camera and the operators.

Hollywood magic!

There are always multiple solutions to any challenge. You’re always looking for the decisions that will allow you to get 200 people on and off a set within a 12-hour day. Today we’re starting at 1 o’clock and we’ll shoot right through the night. We’ll probably end up finishing at 3 a.m. We’re going to be in and out of four different locations, and only one of those is a stage. That’s a huge amount of loading and unloading of 15 tractor-trailer units full of equipment.

It sounds like every day is like making a movie.

The difference is you’re on a television schedule. A feature [film crew] can say, “Look, we’re going to be on this street corner, right at sunset, and we want to photograph it just as the dying rays of the sun are visible.” And everything works around that one moment. You prepare for it, you arrive at that spot and then you shoot that. And that may be all you do that day. [On “Dallas”], we may shoot 12 pages of script in order to have a lighter page count for a complex stunt day — a page being roughly a minute of finished screen time. A feature film crew will shoot only two pages of script, so they can do one scene a day and they can appropriately arrive and execute the whole scene just at the magic moment when the light is hitting its perfection.

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, Rodney Charters, TNT

On set with Jesse Metcalfe

So what do you like best about your job?

I love working with the actors to make them feel comfortable in the space we provide them. There’s a process to how you light a show and the mood and tone you set — the actors pick up on that and it helps them with their performance. Sometimes a director will say, “I don’t see enough of the eyes. Can you do something here?” Because ultimately, all of the true emotion in a scene is expressed by the eyes. And if the eyes aren’t there, you don’t telegraph what’s going on with the actor.

You must enjoy working with Linda Gray, who has such amazing eyes.

Oh, she’s fantastic. The whole cast is extraordinary. We’re really blessed. Great actors, all of them. We just try to make them feel at home. And it rapidly becomes a team. It’s like professional sports. Everybody’s being trained at a high level and they easily fit together. They do the job they’ve trained to do, and they do it well.

You’ve also directed some episodes. You must enjoy that.

Directing is the ultimate. It’s like playing a Stradivarius. [Laughs] The big picture becomes very, very complex when you’re not only responsible for positioning and framing the images, but also working closely with the actors. Because the director will walk away from the monitors at the “video village” and go right past the camera and talk very quietly with an actor. It’s you and the actor, trying to motivate a performance. Only the director can do that, and ultimately, there’s nothing better.

You directed last season’s racecar episode, which is one of my favorites.

Well, that was up my alley because it moved fast and had a lot of action. We’re usually much more of a language kind of show, with most of the action in the bedroom. [Laughs]

Dallas, D.T.R., Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Judith Light, Judith Ryland, TNT

Emma Bell and Judith Light in “D.T.R.”

You also directed “D.T.R.,” the episode where Sue Ellen blackmails the governor and Emma and Judith have that tense showdown in the restaurant.

That scene was particularly cool. I was thrilled to be able to elicit those kind of performances. Both of those actors — Emma Bell and Judith Light — are superb. I loved the physicality of [Light’s] hand grabbing the documents and both hands sliding across the table. Little touches like that — if you don’t photograph them, they’re not going to be in the scene.

So what’s your proudest accomplishment on “Dallas”?

Well, that scene is pretty high on the list, [along with] one dangerously dramatic scene in [the third season’s 13th episode, airing September 15]. I also had fun with the pilot, because it helped set the tone and look of the show. But overall, there’s a sense of satisfaction about the whole series. You can see the city of Dallas [on “Dallas”]. That’s important to me because I try to make it feel as real as possible. But it’s a soap, let’s face it.

How do you feel about doing the big close-ups, which are a “Dallas” staple?

Well, a lot of people are watching on television on tablets and smartphones, so the big close-ups are helpful in those instances. We’re facing a big change in the way people watch television. It’s all on-demand now. And “demand” may be the shopping queue or the bank queue. There’s a myriad of different places where people can choose to watch their favorite episodes. I was in Singapore [recently] and watched a young woman commuting while she watched her favorite soap — a hospital drama made in Korea and translated into her local dialect but under her bigger screen was an iPhone and a stream of chat which she would respond to as she watched. I was fascinated [because] I believe this is the future of success, delivering to the world on demand. But we have got to get her to fall in love with “Dallas”!

Dallas, "Changing of the Guard," John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

Josh Henderson in “Changing of the Guard”

How do you like to watch television?

I don’t have a television, to be honest. I use Apple TV to watch what I want on demand. Appointment TV is gradually taking over fans’ viewing habits.

Really, no TV?

No. I have a 60-inch screen, and in the process of finishing off the shows, I receive an online master. It doesn’t get any better than the way I watch it. It’s a pristine, 50-gigabyte file of digital data. But generally, I’m an on-demand person. I’d rather buy an online stream and watch it on my 60-inch screen.

Well, maybe we’ll all just come over to your house and watch “Dallas” on your big screen!

Yeah, OK. [Laughs]

But seriously: You’ve spoken before about how much you appreciate the fans.

I really do thank them for continuing to watch us. It’s the most vital part of what we do. I’m on Twitter — I’m @rodneykiwi — and it’s very satisfying to see what the fans are saying. It’s a tremendous worldwide community. It’s very exciting to think that our product is being seen in Arabian villages in the darkest part of the Sahara in Africa. It’s just a fantastic business to be in.

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

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 33 — ‘Where There’s Smoke’

Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT, Where There's Smoke

What’s she thinking?

Southfork catches fire again in “Where There’s Smoke,” although much of the heat in this episode comes from Pamela’s ménage a trois with John Ross and Emma. It’s shocking to see her make out with her husband and his mistress, although Pamela’s sudden seizure at the end of the scene proves an even bigger surprise. When I watched this cliffhanger for the first time the other night, I was left with a slew of questions: Is this an accident, or does the pill bottle in Pamela’s pocket mean she intentionally overdosed? Is she trying to kill herself, or does she merely want to scare John Ross and Emma? Could she be faking it?

It turns out we don’t have to wait until August, when “Dallas’s” third season will resume, for the answers to most of these questions: Yesterday, showrunner Cynthia Cidre told TV Line that Pamela was out to “punish” John Ross and Emma. “She wanted them to never be able to have sex again without thinking of her vomiting on them,” Cidre said. Well, OK then.

This still leaves open the question of whether or not Pamela is like Sue Ellen, which is probably the most interesting point to debate anyway. Earlier in the episode, Pamela puts down her mother-in-law, telling her she isn’t “weak” and “sniveling” like her. (Linda Gray’s reaction shots in this scene are heartbreaking.) By taking revenge against John Ross and Emma instead of hitting the bottle like Sue Ellen, Pamela seems to prove her point. On the other hand, if vengeance involves swallowing pills, is Pamela really all that different from Sue Ellen? Perhaps this storyline is meant to fit with one of this season’s broader themes, which is how “Dallas’s” younger generation is doomed to repeat the old guard’s mistakes.

But no matter how this cliffhanger is resolved, there’s no doubt the big sex scene has raised a ruckus among “Dallas” fans. Some say the series went too far by showing a three-way; others love the unexpected twist. I’m in the latter camp. Without question, the show is going out of its way to be provocative, but let’s face it: Sex has always been part of “Dallas’s” DNA. Isn’t this is the show that began with a teenage girl rolling around in the hay with a silver-haired cowboy? Besides, I don’t find John Ross, Pamela and Emma kissing and fondling each other as distasteful as seeing J.R. force Holly Harwood to have sex with him against her will, which is what happened in a 1983 episode. Now that was disturbing.

To me, the threesome feels like a fitting climax to a storyline that’s been building since the end of the previous season, when John Ross and Emma first cavorted in an Omni hotel room. I especially like how Cidre and Robert Rovner, who co-wrote this episode, bring everything full circle by bringing back Pamela and Emma’s green corsets. You also have to hand it to the actors: Josh Henderson does a nice job conveying John Ross’s hesitation about joining Pamela and Emma in bed — you can feel the character’s bewilderment — while Emma Bell always makes her character seem like she’s up for anything. Of course, the standout is Julie Gonzalo. Pamela hasn’t had much to do lately except gaze adoringly at John Ross, but “Where There’s Smoke” makes up for it. During the course of a single day, Pamela goes from feeling stunned to hurt to angry to aroused, and Gonzalo nails every scene. She’s become one of “Dallas’s” most reliable performers.

Surprisingly, I find the Pamela/John Ross/Emma cliffhanger more compelling than the Southfork fire, which lacks suspense. Is there any doubt Sue Ellen, Bobby and Christopher will all survive? A bigger problem: This fire seems like it comes from out of nowhere, unlike the 1983 version, when the inferno felt like the perfect way to end a season in which everything went to hell for the Ewings. Nevertheless, the “Where There’s Smoke” fire is a technical marvel. The special effects are superb, and whether or not it’s intentional, director Michael M. Robin and cinematographer Rodney Charters mimic some of the shots from the original fire. (You can see a side-by-side comparison on my Facebook page.)

More “Where There’s Smoke” highlights: Patrick Duffy is terrific in the scene where Bobby blows up at Ann, although as one Dallas Decoder reader pointed out on Twitter, Bobby is being a bit of a hypocrite. Yes, Ann probably should’ve told her husband about John Ross and Emma’s affair, but has Bobby gotten around to telling his wife that he framed Cliff for J.R.’s “murder?” Meanwhile, Ann and Harris’s kiss is surprisingly moving. This scene works not just because Brenda Strong and Mitch Pileggi are so good in their roles, but also because the show has taken its time telling their story, slowly revealing Ann’s vulnerability and Harris’s humanity.

I also like seeing Christopher and Heather grow closer — the ever-expanding McCabe clan is quickly surpassing the Ramoses as the show’s most believably down-to-earth family — and I’m glad this episode keeps the Mexican cartel and brothel business to a merciful minimum. It’s also good to see Elena acknowledge that J.R. — not Christopher — hurt her father; isn’t this what fans have been screaming at their TVs all season? The next scene, where Nicolas pokes holes in Elena’s diaphragm, is puzzling: By impregnating her, does he hope to control her? On the other hand, if this is the reason the Doors’ “Break On Through (To the Other Side)” was chosen for the episode-ending montage, I’m all for it.

Finally, like a lot of fans, I’m not sure what to make of the fact “North By Northwest” is playing on Sue Ellen’s TV when she gets drunk before the fire starts. In the movie, Cary Grant plays a man who unwittingly falls into a spy game but ultimately turns the tables on his enemies and takes control of the situation. Could this be a signal that Gray’s character is about to get back on track? Or is the film’s appearance nothing more than a sly plug for Turner Classic Movies, one of TNT’s sister channels?

I hope it’s the former. I’ve been patient while “Dallas” allows Sue Ellen’s relapse to play out, but now that she’s back where her fall from the wagon began — in the bedroom where J.R. once slept — it feels like this storyline has come full circle too. Is this where our beloved heroine begins the road back to sobriety? That’s the real cliffhanger, isn’t it?

Grade: B


Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT, Where There's Smoke

Full circle?


Season 3, Episode 8

Telecast: April 14, 2014

Audience: 2.1 million viewers on April 14

Writers: Cynthia Cidre and Robert Rovner

Director: Michael M. Robin

Synopsis: Pamela sees the video of John Ross and Emma and lashes out at Sue Ellen and Ann when she realizes they knew about the affair. Bobby becomes angry at Ann for keeping the secret from him, which prompts her to turn to Harris, who kisses her. John Ross figures out Harris has been trying to frame him and tells Judith to call off her son, while Judith urges Emma to turn on John Ross. Drew tells Nicolas he wants to settle the feud with the Ewings “with blood,” while Nicolas sabotages Elena’s birth control when she begins getting cold feet about their revenge scheme. Pamela finds John Ross and Emma in a hotel room and has a threesome with them, only to begin convulsing after an apparent overdose. Bobby and Christopher learn Bo blames the Ewings for his troubles and come home to Southfork to find the house in flames with Sue Ellen passed out inside.

Cast: Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Emma Bell (Emma Ryland), Donny Boaz (Bo McCabe), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Dallas Clark (Michael McCabe), Jude Demorest (Candace), Juan Pablo Di Pace (Nicolas Treviño), Akai Draco (Sheriff Derrick), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Antonio Jaramillo (Luis), Judith Light (Judith Ryland), AnnaLynne McCord (Heather McCabe), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Steven Walters (Reece)

“Where There’s Smoke” is available at, and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Drill Bits: It’s Another Ratings Uptick for ‘Dallas’

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, Like a Bad Penny, TNT

Crunch those numbers, Christopher

“Dallas” experienced another slight increase in the ratings this week. The latest episode, “Like a Bad Penny,” debuted to 1.87 million viewers on April 7, up 3 percent from one week ago. The episode drew 580,000 viewers in the advertiser-coveted demographic of adults between ages 18 and 49, an increase of almost 4 percent.

This is the third week in a row that “Dallas” has grown its audience since March 17, when the show hit a series low of 1.78 million viewers.

Interestingly, “Dallas” faced tougher-than-usual competition on April 7. “Like a Bad Penny” debuted opposite CBS’s coverage of the NCAA basketball championship, which drew 16.7 million viewers from 9 to 10 p.m. Also during this hour, ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” grabbed 14.2 million viewers, followed by NBC’s “The Voice” (11.9 million) and Fox’s “The Following” (4.5 million).

“Dallas’s” previous episode, “Like Father, Like Son,” debuted on March 31 to 1.82 million viewers, including 559,000 adults between ages 18 and 49. However, when DVR users who recorded the episode and watched it a few days later are counted, the “Like Father, Like Son” audience rose to 2.6 million viewers, including 1.2 million adults between ages 25 and 54, an audience TNT targets.

“Dallas” is averaging 1.98 million viewers on Mondays at 9 p.m. this season, down from 2.7 million viewers in this time slot last year. However, when DVR users are included, “Dallas’s” weekly viewership rises to approximately 2.7 million viewers, making it the fourth most-watched original drama on TNT’s winter schedule. “Major Crimes” is the top show with 7.4 million viewers, followed by “Rizzoli & Isles (5.6 million) and “Perception” (3.3 million).

TNT also continues to replay new “Dallas” episodes later on Monday nights, where the show draws hundreds of thousands of additional viewers. On April 7, after “Like a Bad Penny” debuted at 9 p.m., TNT showed the episode again at 10 p.m., where it clocked 703,000 viewers.

Behind the Scenes at ‘Dallas’

The “Dallas” producers hosted an NCAA-themed bash on their Dallas soundstages last week. WSAW, the city’s CBS station, has a behind-the-scenes look at the sets, including a brief chat with executive producer Michael M. Robin.

Return to Forney

Before “Dallas” wrapped production on the third season last week, the crew filmed scenes around Forney, Texas — which also happens to be home of the Southern Cross Ranch, the Farlow family spread seen on the original series. has the scoop, although it isn’t clear if the Ewings will be paying another visit to the Southern Cross on the TNT show.

Look Who’s Talking

DVR alert: Patrick Duffy is scheduled to appear on “The Talk” on Thursday, April 10. CBS airs the show at 2 p.m. in most cities.

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