The “Dallas” goodbye to J.R. Ewing is nearly complete.
Tuesday (Jan. 22) marks the end of filming the pivotal chapter that bids farewell to the iconic character and the actor who played him — the late Larry Hagman — as Season 2 of the serial’s TNT reboot nears its premiere Monday, Jan. 28. Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray, who are reprising their Bobby and Sue Ellen roles in the new version, naturally have big roles in the story … but other past staples of “Dallas” also are present.
“We just did a memorial scene at the Petroleum Club,” executive producer Cynthia Cidre tells Zap2it of the episode expected to be televised in early March. “That’s the more rollicking part, where people are telling funny stories about J.R. Right now, we’re shooting the funeral, which is private for family only. He’s being buried at Southfork, so Ray and Gary and Lucy (again played by original ‘Dallas’ actors Steve Kanaly, Ted Shackelford and Charlene Tilton) are there.”
Cidre developed the concept for the new “Dallas” and doesn’t deny that revising the rest of second season, following Hagman’s death, has been a huge challenge. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” she reasons, “or as our line producer says, ‘Necessity is just a mother.’ We have wonderfully inventive people in the writers’ room, and we were able to retool that last episode [that Hagman was slated to be in] and create this new one to honor not just J.R. Ewing, but also Larry Hagman.
“I think we’ve come up with some really fun stuff that, by the end of the season when all the mysteries are revealed, will satisfy the audience tremendously. We’re kind of excited about it. It made us focus, in a weird way. Patrick is the only one I’ve told where we’re headed, and he was really moved. He welled right up and said, ‘You done good. Larry would have loved it.’ It was lovely to hear that.”
Expect another big surprise at the end of the J.R. memorial episode … something the new “Dallas” is quite capable of, as proven by the conclusion of Season 1, which put forth a whopper about a major character’s true parentage.
“The script went out, except to the actors who are in the scene, without that scene,” Cidre reports of the J.R.-centric March episode. “We shot it Friday, and the crew members all kept coming to me and saying, ‘That’s a great surprise! We didn’t know!’ Then I felt bad that they’d been excluded in that way, but now, everybody knows. When you’re watching 30 takes of a scene, you pretty much know what happens.”