While TNT may be counting on pretty young things like Jordana Brewster and Jesse Metcalfe to fuel interest in its new continuation of the old series "Dallas," the stars who really got the journalists at the TCA press tour fired up were the original show's "Big Three" -- Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy. Hagman, wearing an enormous hat and looking fighting trim despite a cancer diagnosis last year, got the biggest laugh of the afternoon, despite some zingers from Duffy.
When a reporter mentioned Hagman's legendary salary battles with the original series, Hagman cracked, "I think everyone on 'Friends' owes me at least 10 percent."
Executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin assured the audience that the show was not a reboot or a remake of the original, but a continuation. They also made it clear that Duffy, Hagman and Grey were not "bait" for the new show but the goal was "to integrate them fully with the cast. It's not two separate storylines."
Duffy added, "So far, we've been in every episode. That's why we wanted to do the show. We want to tow the load as much as everyone else."
The show will also be a faithful continuation, according to Cidre. "I never wanted to violate anything that actually happened," she said, adding that, "Someone is researching all these episodes... maybe no one [on the show] has seen all 357, but we want to honor that show and the original conception of that show."
Of course, the younger members of the cast may still need to familiarize themselves with the series (which ran from 1978 to 1991). After discussing whether they were born before or after J.R.'s shooting, they did try to make it clear they were influenced by the show, even if it was in a very peripheral way. "I would run around the TV and be told to shut up while [my family was] watching it," said Josh Henderson.
One element in the original series audience members were curious about was whether or not Pam Ewing, played by Victoria Principal until 1987, would be brought back. "I don't know yet," admitted Cidre.
Duffy, for one, wouldn't mind seeing Principal (or at least Pam) return. "She had an impact on me, too," adding that he was "all for it" if the return of any original character improved the show. The only actor he said we won't be seeing was an obvious one. "By elimination, Barbara (Bel Geddes) will not be returning." The actress died in 2005.
Though Hagman mentioned "kids in their twenties and thirties" knew him better for "I Dream of Jeannie" reruns than Dallas, Duffy mentioned that he still gets jokes about the shower scene which revealed the entire previous season was just a dream. "People refer to it all the time... I don't get in the shower anymore. That's these guys," he said, gesturing to his younger co-stars.
While the BIg Three may not be showing a lot of skin (Hagman said his cancer treatment is going well and he's working a full schedule), they're not shying away from more physical scenes. Gesturing toward Gray, Hagman said, "She gave me my first slap" on the new show.
After telling Hagman not to give the audience spoilers, she grinned widely."But it was great."