Monday, November 10, 2003
Larry Hagman was tempted to give away one of Hollywood's best-kept secrets.
But, fortunately for "Dallas," he wasn't as greedy as his notorious character, John Ross "J.R." Ewing Jr.
A conglomerate of newspapers in London, The Hague and Johannesburg had offered Hagman $250,000 to give away the secret that led to a worldwide obsession in the year 1980: Who shot J.R.?
Hagman said he declined the offer for business reasons: "I was right in the middle of (contract) negotiations. I didn't want to mess that up."
As it turned out, Hagman made a lot more than $250,000 by staying loyal to the prime-time drama. "Dallas" ran from 1978 to 1991 on CBS.
On Tuesday, Hagman joins "Dallas" co-stars Linda Gray (Sue Ellen), Patrick Duffy (Bobby) and Charlene Tilton (Lucy) on "Soap Talk." Taped Oct. 11, the episode airs at 10 p.m. CST on SOAPnet, Sunflower Broadband Channel 66.
The cable network also is airing "Dallas" episodes at various times Monday through Friday. In addition -- hold on to your Stetsons -- the network will show the "House Divided" episode, in which J.R. was shot, at 6 p.m. Friday.
The 1979-80 season cliffhanger led to an obsession that swept the nation and the world. When the answer came in the fall 1980 season premiere, the story became, at the time, the highest-rated TV episode in history.
It's the kind of secret Hollywood probably couldn't keep today, not with the speed of plot spoilers on the Internet. (It was J.R.'s wife Sue Ellen's sister, Kristin Shepard, played by Mary Crosby, who shot J.R.)
The "Soap Talk" episode, with soap star hosts Lisa Rinna and Ty Treadway, features clips of the not-to-be-trusted J.R. being nasty, including the scene of him getting rid of Sue Ellen by putting her in a sanitarium.
It was Hagman who convinced Duffy to return when the latter left "Dallas." Duffy's character, Bobby, J.R.'s brother, was left for dead for an entire season.
After Duffy decided to come back, the producers wrote a 1986 episode in which the shower door opens and Bobby comes out and says "good morning" to wife Pam (Victoria Principal). Turns out the entire 1985-86 season was just a dream.
"Dallas" was groundbreaking in its day for dealing with issues such as alcoholism and mental health, and the series had one of TV's first openly gay characters. (Lucy almost married him.) The other characters would go over the top in story lines about betrayal and deception, and J.R. was the ultimate show villain.