Don't let them turn 'Dallas' into 'Bewitched'

Greesesteel_lOkay, I don’t know how true this is, ’cause I read it on Page Six, but this item about the troubled, long-gestating Dallas movie says that John Travolta is out as J.R. Ewing, to be replaced by… Ben Stiller? According to the article, the filmmakers have abandoned all pretense of turning the long-running TV drama into a big-screen drama and are now going the camp route, trying to make a behind-the-scenes comedy à la Bewitched. (Because that turned out so well.)

As a longtime Dallas fan (yep… so shoot me, like Kristin shot J.R.), this whole scenario fills me with dread and disgust. Whether it’s going to be a comedy (a bad idea… Dallas often had silly plot twists — I’ll never forgive the producers for the whole Bobby-was-in- the-shower-and-the-whole-season-was-a-dream shark jumper — but it was always played straight, never campy like Dynasty) or a drama, the film version will hinge on finding the right J.R. I never warmed to the casting of Travolta; while he can play charismatic Southern womanizing weasels (his Bill Clinton in Primary Colors remains the most unjustly underrated performance of his career), he’s not evil enough to be J.R. So if he’s really off the project, I’m not sorry to see him go, but Ben Stiller? Uh… he can convincingly play a heterosexual male who speaks English, but otherwise, his resemblance to Larry Hagman’s J.R. is nonexistent. Hey, filmmakers, why not cast Will Ferrell? Steve Carell? Eddie Murphy? (Who says J.R. has to be white?) Keira Knightley? (Who says he has to be a man? Or middle-aged? Or American?) None of these choices is any more absurd than Ben Stiller.

Free advice: Either hire Alec Baldwin to play J.R. (he proves every week on 30 Rock that he can play an oily, smooth, ruthless capitalist who’s still charming and seductive) and make it a straight drama. Or abandon the project altogether. In fact, much as I love Alec Baldwin and think he’d be perfect for the role, I’d still prefer option No. 2. I mean, we didn’t really need a big-screen Dallas, did we?

addCredit(“Travolta: Jim Spellman/WireImage; Stiller: Charley Gallay/Getty Images”)

Comments (19 total) Add your comment
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  • JoeC

    I’m with you, Gary. I remember the original, and I loved the early days. But ‘Dallas’ was a product of the 80’s; it’s dated now. This can only turn out badly. Let it go…..

  • AA

    I vote for Option 2. Enough already with the TV-to-Movie projects!!

  • DalGal

    Being the proud Texan (and Dallasite) I can tell you that I do not want this movie made. It just sounds so lame. No one could pull J.R. off like Larry Hagman (maybe Alec, I can see it) but as you said, is this really necessary? The answer is NO! How many other TV series turned movie has been a huge blockbuster? None that come to mind. Dukes, Starsky and Hutch, SWAT, Bewitched, etc…Bad Movies! Get a original idea Hollywood!

  • Elizabeth

    Let’s not make this movie, its not worth it.

  • me

    the very thought of Ben Stiller sullying the role of JR turns my stomach. I vote option number 2. drop the project.
    Now how do we get Patrick Duffy on Dancing with the stars?

  • Anna

    Charlie’s Angels and The Brady Bunch did well but that’s about it.

  • Stef

    Won’t this be the third re-imagining of the movie version of Dallas? I thought the first one was straight up Drama and included J-Lo in the cast. I have not been hopeful for any of the movie variations. Dallas should not be touched.

  • Brian

    I like the Alec Baldwin idea.

  • Ames

    When they had reunion specials of shows like Dynasty or Dallas, didn’t the networks bury them on Saturday night? Why would anyone assume a movie version would attract a bigger audience?

  • mark in nyc

    what a stinker! Instead of wasting the money on this sure to fail venutre can’t they just give me the $50 mil?

  • Taylor

    Wonder why Travolta dropped out? Maybe he thinks he would embarass himself. Oops. he did that in Hairspray so that can’t be the reason. hmmmm

  • Tom

    Travolta as JR Ewing was ridiculous, as is the lame-o idea of turning the proposed Dallas flick into a comedy (ugh!), but replacing “Revolta” with Ben Stiller is a HORRID idea! Please let this whole concept die now!

  • donner

    Alec Baldwin would be an awesome JR Ewing, if done in the campy-tv version, but not as a music, comedy or serious drama…c’mon, its Texas! Big Hair! Big nails! Sweaters with rhinestones! There’s nothing serious about that at all..
    however, I agree – there should be NO DALLAS MOVIE AT ALL…I can’t stress that enough…i loved the show, but the thought of a movie with Ben STiller as JR? I’m boycotting it already!

  • DanOregon

    There is only one man who can play JR and be convincing. His name is Dick Cheney and he’ll be available in Jan. 09.
    Frankly, I think TV’s Dirty Sexy Money will be a far superior parody of Dallas than anything the filmmakers can think of.

  • Shy

    Ben Stiller would not be a good JR. Alec Baldwin would work or someone else. Dallas should not be a comedy. When have we seen Ben Stiller in a dramatic role. My husband says he is too short anyway. JR is supposed to be ruthless.

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