EXCLUSIVE: After one of the longest courtships in recent TV history, TNT is prepared to proceed with its Dallas reboot without original star Larry Hagman over salary issues. Hagman and fellow Dallas alums Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy were first approached by TNT and Warner Horizon TV about joining a potential updated Dallas series in late summer 2009 when the project was put in development. A year later, at the beginning of September this year, TNT ordered 3 pilots, including Dallas. The reboot, written and executive produced by Cane creator Cynthia Cidre, was described by the network as focusing “on the offspring of bitter rivals and brothers J.R. and Bobby Ewing, who clash over the future of the Ewing dynasty while the fate of Southfork itself weighs in the balance.” The subsequent breakdown for the pilot listed the characters of J.R.’s son, John Ross, and Bobby and Pam Ewing’s adopted son, Christopher, as the leads, while Duffy’s Bobby, Hagman’s J.R. and Gray’s Sue Ellen were down as supporting. TNT has since cast the other two pilots ordered at the same as Dallas, Perception and the untitled Allan Loeb project, as well as another one, Bird Dog, which it greenlighted almost 2 months later. But there has been virtually no movement on Dallas as TNT and Warner Horizon had been looking to lock in the original actors before casting the leads. While Gray and Duffy had agreed to join the pilot, the network and the studio have not been able to reach a deal with Hagman who has been holding out for more money. (Make that a lot of money.) With the situation at a stalemate more than 3 months in, I hear the project’s producers have come up with an alternative plan for the project that doesn’t include Hagman, with J.R. represented only through archive footage from the original series. And I hear that TNT brass really liked the revised script by Cidre that doesn’t feature present-day J.R., which is said to be as good as the original script. Negotiations with Hagman continue and there is still a good chance that he will ultimately sign on, but he doesn’t have a big leverage anymore as the producers and the network are moving to cast the other roles and shoot the pilot with or without him. Warners and TNT have already started seeing people for the leads on tape in New York. Meanwhile, Hagman just won $1.1 million in an arbitration ruling against Citigroup (plus $10 million in punitive damages he plans to give to charities), and he also recently signed on to guest star in an episode of Desperate Housewives.
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.