Drill Bits: At the Real Southfork, Business is Booming

Changing of the Guard, Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

See you at the souvenir shop

Call it the TNT Effect: Since the cable channel’s new “Dallas” series debuted June 13, tourists have flocked to the Southfork Ranch in Parker, Texas.

The number of weekday visitors to the property has doubled to about 300, the Austin-American Statesman reported last week. Southfork’s attractions include daily tours of the ranch house, as well as a museum where props and other memorabilia from the old show – including the gun used to shoot J.R. and Lucy’s wedding dress – are displayed.

“I’ve seen people cry when they get here and say, ‘Oh my Lord, I’ve tried to come here my whole life,” Sally Peavy, Southfork’s sales manager, told the Abilene Reporter-News.

The ranch also evokes a lot of nostalgia for the “Dallas” cast, who filmed several outdoor scenes there for the TNT episodes, just like they did throughout much of the original show’s 1978-1991 run.

“It’s very interesting to drive down that driveway at Southfork because it brought back so many memories,” Linda Gray told me and other bloggers during a recent press call. “And it’s still small. People are always surprised at how small it is. But then on film, they made it look so big and expansive.”

Just Go

Speaking of that press call, it yielded a cute moment that’s too good to not share.

TNT set up the call so folks like yours truly could interview Gray and Josh Henderson, and while Gray was telling us about the camaraderie among the TNT show’s older cast members, two unexpected visitors popped into the room where she was seated.

The transcript:

Larry Hagman: Hello lovely lady, this is Larry Hagman here.

Patrick Duffy: And this Patrick Duffy.

Gray: See what I mean? … Get out. I love you. Get out of here. Go into the other room. Go.

Hagman: I’ve been thrown out of better places than this.

Ratings, Please

Since “Truth and Consequences,” this week’s TNT episode, debuted on Independence Day, the show’s weekly Nielsen ratings have been delayed. Hopefully they’ll be announced sometime today.

A word of caution: Television viewership always plummets on the Fourth of July, so the numbers for “Truth and Consequences” are bound to be lower than usual. “Dallas” averaged 5.2 million viewers during its first three Wednesday telecasts, although the numbers go up when people who record the show and watch it later are counted.

The good news, of course, is TNT announced last week it has renewed “Dallas” for a second season. For the show’s second go-round, the cable channel will produce 15 episodes, five more than we’re getting this summer.

Filming is expected to begin in the fall; no word on when the season will be telecast.

Line of the Week

“I know all the things Daddy used to say.”

Bobby’s line to J.R. in “Truth and Consequences” made me laugh aloud. As much as I love it when J.R. quotes Jock (even though Jim Davis’s character probably never said half the things his eldest son attributes to him), it’s about time someone told J.R. to quit using those down-home euphemisms to justify his schemes.

Drink and Be Wary

A reminder: This week’s “Dallas Drinks” offering is The Rebecca, a refreshing summertime cocktail inspired by Julie Gonzalo’s character.

The recipe comes from Andrew, the devilishly handsome and clever blogger at Cook In/Dine Out. The essential ingredient: Bénédictine liqueur, an herbal beverage from France whose recipe is so secret supposedly only three people know it.

How many people know Rebecca’s secret? We can hardly wait to find out.

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