20190219

FALCON CREST

"In a serial, every change has a domino effect. It was very much like running a marathon and being told a mile-and-a-half was cut out of the track. All of a sudden your pacing is different," Jeff Freilich told 'The New York Times' in 1988. In discussing the 1987-88 season of the TV series, 'Falcon Crest', Jeff Freilich expressed, "I believe the only way to keep a show alive and fresh in the long run is to make it reborn. You tend to take things for granted unless you shake up the stories and change the direction your characters might be going in." 

As told to 'The Los Angeles Times', "Ultimately, you don't want to do eight stories that involve different characters. You want to do three stories that involve everyone in the cast." The character of Maggie, "She's the core of the show. Maggie's problems relate most closely to the kinds of problems our audience has." In 1985, Lee Rich called Jeff Freilich to take over as co-executive producer of 'Falcon Crest', "So, I made lots of changes and turned 'Falcon Crest' into a show that I would want to watch." 

In an interview with Marc Bradley in 2003, Jeff Freilich told fans, "When I first took over 'Falcon Crest' ... I didn’t want to change the series so radically that the audience would lose interest … Television is a very stressful, very exhausting business because you only have seven days to film a one-hour show and only a week or two to write it … Ideas need to be challenged, then changed and change takes time.

"I immediately called Mark Snow who had just purchased a synclavier — one of the early, high-tech synthesizers — and asked him to score almost the entire season. Then, I went to Hawaii with my family to try to conceive of the entire season’s worth of stories on my own … But, most importantly, I decided to make 'Falcon Crest' less of a tedious soap opera and more of a twisty, dramatic mystery. Life in California’s wine country is filled with intrigue and violence. 'Falcon Crest' needed more of both of those qualities.

"In addition, I wanted to completely change storylines. Peripheral characters had no meaning in the stories I had planned for season 6 (1986-87). Each of my two seasons (1986-88) on 'Falcon Crest' was planned differently. Season 6 was completely built around my ability to convince Kim Novak to return to the screen. We planned the season around a single storyline and added subplots as we went along. 

"We did not know how the season would end until halfway through the year (by episode 14). Season 7 was very different. We knew exactly what would happen at the end of episode 28 before we exposed a single frame of film. We planned the whole season for Melissa to take control of Falcon Crest. But, each season involved the same creative process. I would independently conceive of a 'shape' for the season, a general beginning, middle and end, as if I were writing a novel. 

"Then, I would meet with the other writers for several hours a day for several weeks. We would share our ideas and argue over twists and new characters. It was like plotting a 28-hour movie and took an enormous amount of time. But, it was crucial we had a specific direction. 'Falcon Crest' suffered in the past from plotting that was done with no preparation, at the last minute. A tight thriller has to be carefully conceived. Elements are introduced, and then paid off much later. 

"Characters have to have secrets that surface at the right moments. This kind of storytelling must be well thought out … I wanted to start my first season of 'Falcon Crest' in the most spectacular way possible. I wanted to attract as much publicity and attention as we could. I had made a creative decision to bring lots of big names to 'Falcon Crest' and create interesting, 'campy' roles for them. Joanne Brough began calling agents to see who was available or who might be interested. 

"'Vertigo' was always one of my favorites of Hitchcock. We researched Kim Novak's whereabouts and Joanne discovered that Kim might be interested in returning to the screen — but only on certain terms. I had to fly up to her home near Monterey and present my ideas ... I suggested we 'remake' 'Vertigo' on 'Falcon Crest' … In creating a parody of Hitchcock I intended to make a statement: 'Falcon Crest' would become more of a thriller — and 'Falcon Crest' would have a sense of humor. 

"Bringing Kim Novak to 'Falcon Crest' also announced that there would be many surprises on the show and that we would attract actors that would appeal to the audience. It was my idea to develop a storyline for Kim that paralleled 'Vertigo', but it was with many people's help that the story succeeded, not the least of all Kim … Take my word, working on 'Falcon Crest' was fun more often than not. 

"After the success of season 6 in which 'Falcon Crest' once again rose to the top of the ratings, we made a decision to introduce the concept of short-term, high profile guest stars to attract an even larger audience. Many notable actors approached us requesting to be on the show. I made a list of all the actors with whom I had never had the pleasure of working and asked them to join us. Most of them agreed. 

"As a child, I was a fan of the film 'Gigi' and was eager to work with Leslie Caron. The writers and I created the character of Nicole Sauguet. She served two very important purposes: first, she helped shroud the disappearance of Chase in mystery, giving him a past that Maggie was never aware of. Second, she helped introduce the key component of the entire season, the conspiracy of The Thirteen. Leslie exceeded my expectations and was a delight to have on the set. 

"While I was directing the courtroom show (season 6, episode 27 'Chain Reaction'), the other writers would sit with me while the set was being lit and we would plan season 7 together. It was a difficult job, but once we decided that Angela would lose Falcon Crest to Melissa things got easier. It was exhausting. At the end of a 28-episode season, even the most imaginative writers run out of ideas. But, somehow we created an interesting season 7 despite our fatigue.

"I believe any film or television show must have a point of view. 'Falcon Crest', for example, in season 7 dealt with the concept that a small group of very powerful men conspired to dictate economic and political policies ... I also believe that television, particularly, is not a platform from which to preach. It is entertainment and can never be taken too seriously. There is a way to make a point and be amusing at the same time. So, rather than write true-to-life stories, we wrote dark parodies." 

20190218

SARAH DOUGLAS

Sarah Douglas was 26-year-old when she played Ursa in the motion picture 'Superman' (1978). In 1980, Sarah reprised the role in 'Superman II'. 'Sussex Life' reported in 2008, "Sarah beat more than 600 actresses to the 'Superman' role, although it was something of a miracle because her audition was postponed eight times. When she did finally audition, she said she was so tired and cranky it came across in the read-through, and, ironically, it was just the mean streak the casting directors were looking for." 

In an one-on-one with Barry Freiman as part of the 2005 Cult TV Superhero Celebration Expo, Sarah Douglas disclosed there was a reason her screen test was not on the 'Superman: The Movie' Special Edition DVD, "My screen test wasn't there because I didn't screen test. I didn't screen test for it. The others were on there. I was busy doing another movie called 'The People That Time Forgot' at the time and I had a series of interviews, and I certainly did a little scene in the small office, but I didn't test for it."      

Between 1983 and 1985, Sarah, then in her early 30s, played Queen Taramis in 'Conan the Destroyer' and as Pamela in both the TV mini-series 'V: The Final Battle' and prime time soap, 'Falcon Crest'. Producer Dino De Laurentiis reportedly had Sarah in mind for the part of "the terrifying sorceress". Sarah Douglas told Associated Press, "I turned down 'Conan' six times. I said, 'Oh, no, not another evil queen flashing her eyes and sucking in her cheeks!' But then I heard that Grace Jones was going to be in the picture, that intrigued me. I had read about how she crashed in and out of England and all the wild things she has done. I responded to the challenge."

"V" referred to visitors (or reptilians from another world in human skin and were allergic to red-dust chemical except in warmer climate). The 6-hour sequel, 'The Final Battle' shown in May 1984 attracted an estimated 100 million viewers. It was, as the narrator observed, "the greatest event mankind has ever witnessed." 'V' told a tale about those thousands of visitors who had landed on Earth in 50 motherships measured 3 miles across and all positioned around the world's key urban centers.

NBC felt compelled to preempt 'Knight Rider' with the "epic the world has been waiting for - man's first alien encounter." 'V' (reportedly costing NBC $23 million to make) and the sequel 'V: The Final Battle' were monster hits, winning around 40 shares of the audience when it went on air. The visitors came to Earth with the intention of colonizing the planet in order to take control of Earth's water supply and to use humans as slaves and for food. David Handler of 'Newspaper Enterprise Association' noted, "The mini-series was something fresh. After all, the future of mankind was at stake."

In 1961, 'People' magazine reported, "at age 9, Sarah Douglas was cast as Oberon in a school production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' in her hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. But she was demoted to third fairy because of a schoolroom prank. At 14 (in 1966), she wanted to join the National Youth Theatre of England and was selected from the 3,500 other kids who tried out."

In 2017, Sarah Douglas appeared in the time travel indie film, 'Displacement', about second chances, missed opportunities and fate. In the interview with Jeff Fountain, Sarah Douglas recounted, "I did my first film, called 'The Final Program', and that was my very first job. Then it just went on, it was splendid, my 20s were fabulous, I just assumed it was always going to be like that, believe me, I'm in my 60s, I know it’s not always like that but back then it was just one thing after another and I took it like it was the most normal thing in the world."

In a separate interview with 'StarryMag', Sarah Douglas told Lisa Steinberg, "I arrived in Hollywood in 1982 and I was already 30-year-old when I came to LA. I look back now and boy oh boy would I have done things a little bit differently. I missed a lot of opportunities because I didn’t really grab them. We think that we have all the time in the world and we haven’t. The truth is it rushes by. So, this film ('Displacement') does resonate with me because stuff happens. My God it happens! And you have to really take advantage and take notice.

"You have to be really observant and not sit back. I certainly sat back in the very beginning because it was all happening around me. It was all a whirlwind when I arrived in LA. I came out and I was on 'Falcon Crest' for a couple of years. I had never worked like that because I had worked in England and suddenly you are on a nighttime soap and you are working two or three days every seven days and on my days off I wasn't really filling my time. I was sitting by a pool loving being in Hollywood.

"I certainly don’t regret anything. I would just have done things slightly different … I'm relatively new to social media. I’ve done Facebook since the beginning, but how different my career and my life had been if there were social media. I watch you all work it all the time. Everybody is working it and selling themselves. We’re all sort of commodities now and it was different when I started. Firstly, any attention you got was from the press and to get that press you had to be noticed.

"Fortunately, I was lucky to get enormous opportunities and to travel around the world for 'Superman'. But I was selling 'Superman'. I didn’t sell me. I didn’t understand about selling me. And also you didn't sell you. You didn't sell yourself as a commodity. Now it seems like everybody is a commodity. Whether you are on Instagram eating an ice cream and promoting that, everything is an opportunity and everybody seems to be selling themselves all the time.

"I'm not overly comfortable with that, but it's a different world … It's a different world. I can't say I would have done things much differently because I can't say there is much differently I could do except missing out on opportunities … This movie ('Displacement') says to grab every moment and live every moment! It's a good little movie and as I said it has lots in there. It's a mind bend of reality, what's going on and what is real and what is fantasy. It's kind of like living in Hollywood because I never figured out what was real and what was fantasy."

Sarah Douglas also made the observation, "I think female superheroes are marvelous … Back in the day, there wasn’t anybody … My character Ursa was sort of the first one out there and I completely, totally adore and am so grateful to have had that opportunity … It's a different world and so much fun. I’m excited for girls and women everywhere that they have these wonderful people to look up to. There is a lot going on within the wonderful world of superpowers and they are coming at you from every direction. I find it very exciting.

"It's 40 years. I looked at something and found the call sheet. It was in my scrapbook that had lovingly been put together by my family. There was my call sheet from 40 years (ago). It was April 1977 of my first day on set with Marlon Brando. We’re still doing it! People are still writing, talking and wanting to hear about 'Superman' ... I just think it would be wonderful and I would be so honored to be asked to be in something like that ('Smallville' or 'Supergirl') with all this new generation of fans and people watching who maybe don't know me from 'Superman'. Maybe they know Ursa, but they don’t know me as Sarah Douglas. It would be nice to introduce myself to them again."

'People' magazine reported Sarah Douglas was cast to play the abrasive secretary/chief of security, Pamela Lynch, on 'Falcon Crest' because of her performance in the Phantom Zone on 'Superman'. As told to 'United Press International' in 1984, "American prime time TV series have invented an entirely new category of roles for British actresses and I must give credit to Joan (Collins) for her marvelously malevolent part in 'Dynasty'. I play more of an outright villainess than bitch as Pamela Lynch in 'Falcon Crest'."

It was understood, upper-class English accent allowed British women to be more convincing as back-biting, vengeful vixens than Americans because "the really important thing is our turn of phrase. A British woman's way with words makes her more cynical than her American counterpart. We get away with murder when we deliver bitchy lines with a wry smile and a theatrically trained voice.

"The delivery disconcerts the audience because they never know whether we quite mean what we're saying. Most of the time, of course, I very much do mean what I've said, and so does the character of Pamela. I'm basically trashy, but the accent helps because Americans can't possibly believe they've heard what I've said, especially if it is wickedly racy. Historically, a certain class of English family has made a point of rearing female children to be frightfully British in manner.

"It is most clearly seen in the Royal family - the stiff upper lip. Maggie Thatcher is another good example of the Englishwoman's aloofness and concealment of emotion. Actually, I'm quite well-bred. I was brought up in the English tradition of ever-so-nice circumstances, taught to be a thoroughgoing lady who finds it unnecessary to reveal her true feelings.

"Things are slowly loosening up for British women, thank God. I can be obnoxious. I know because my husband (at the time) tells me I can. But like many other Englishwomen I've become bored with being a goody two shoes. However, to this day (in 1984), when I say or do something outrageously shocking, my mother explains to friends, 'Oh, Sarah is, after all, an actress!'"

As Pamela Lynch, Sarah Douglas stated at the time, "They wanted me to sign a five-year contract for 'Falcon Crest,' but I refused … I had taken the series thinking it would be episodic, but they were using me every day. We worked it out so I spent four days a week in Mexico City on 'Conan' and three days in Burbank for the series." Head writer, Bob McCullough acknowledged, "But she was so good that she catapulted beyond her character."

In later interview, Sarah recalled, "They cooked up a smouldering feud between me and Gina Lollobrigida, even though I barely knew her." Sarah also told Thomas J. Pucher in 2001, "I felt that they lost their direction with me, a little by the second season (1984-85). They just didn’t know what to do with Pamela Lynch after it was established that the viewing audience didn't like the plot line with the cartel!"

20190216

FALCON CREST

Lee Rich "was a very innovative programmer, very savvy, always jolly. He could be abrasive, but that's not bad in the television industry," Earl Hamner told 'The Los Angeles Times' in 2012. Fred Silverman added, "It's difficult to go from a buying position to a seller, and he made that transition very well. He was that very unusual executive who had great business sense but also great creative instincts." 

The son of a banker, Lee Rich had served in the navy as a lieutenant in World War II. Fred Silverman continued, "He probably had more influence on what the networks programmed than maybe 99% of the program executives that were at the networks during the period that he was actively employed." Lee Rich stated in 1987, "Advertising is the best background I could have ever had for this business. I learned the business, and that's a major problem with people out here - they don't know the business." 

In 1980, public interest were whipped into a frenzy over the soap opera mystery of the year: Who shot J.R.? on 'Dallas'. For eight months (from March to November) covering spring, summer and the fall, 'United Press International' reported, CBS and Lorimar Productions tantalized viewers by prolonging the suspense over the shooting of a fictional character with media stories (in magazines, newspapers and on TV) and a plethora of buttons, T-shirts, bumper stickers and other gimmicks addressing the question of 'Who Shot J.R.?'.

When the puzzle was finally resolved and the burning question answered, CBS cheerfully claimed, "It is also possible that when the national Nielsen figures are tallied, 'Dallas' may turn out to be the highest rated program of any category, a distinction formerly held by (the 1977 mini-series) 'Roots'." As pointed out, not since network television started in 1947 had a prime time series captured the imagination of so many viewers as the 'Who Shot J.R.?' controversy.

"My daddy would have been tickled to death," Bing Crosby's daughter, Mary remarked. Four alternative endings were reportedly filmed. As understood, over 150 members of the cast, producers and network officials associated with 'Dallas', the No. 1-rated show at the time, celebrated the solving of the mystery at Chasen's (in West Hollywood). Larry Hagman conceded, "I didn't know who it was myself."

A statement from CBS read, "Based on the overnight national ratings it appears certain that the Friday night episode of 'Dallas' is now the highest rated episode of a regularly scheduled series." 'The Washington Post' described "the long, long-awaited episode of 'Dallas' in which J.R.'s assailant was revealed" as the "single hour of closely watched television." David Sims of 'The Atlantic' noted in 2015, "As with many classic TV cliffhangers, the show's writers went into things with no particular idea of how to resolve the mystery, arriving at the conclusion just by a logical process of elimination."

Soap operas were popular during bad economic times (such as the Great Depression of the 1930s). In the early 1980s, the prime time dramas 'Dallas', 'Dynasty' and 'Falcon Crest' were all big Nielsen rating winners. Leigh Taylor-Young of 'The Hamptons' explained to 'United Press International', "In the '80s people are interested in human behavior, especially of the very rich, and by their responses the viewers are able to define who they are.

"I don't believe today's (1983) audiences want to escape into the fantasies of the rich like they did in the 1930s. But they are fascinated by the fact that even the enormously wealthy have human problems like everyone else. Soaps about powerful, financially independent people demonstrate the rich hurt as much as anybody and that money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness."

In 1981, 'Falcon Crest', another Warner Communications' Lorimar series went on air. Set in California's Napa Valley, CBS was convinced the series starring President Reagan's first wife, Jane Wyman as the matriarch of Falcon Crest was a sure winner, particularly since 'Falcon Crest' (about the wine industry) was teamed up on Friday nights with 'The Dukes of Hazzard' and 'Dallas'.

In the 1984-85 TV season, NBC counterprogrammed against CBS with 'Miami Vice' (going for a younger audience) aired opposite 'Falcon Crest' (watched mostly by women over 35). Discussing the ratings trend, Earl Hamner told the 'Chicago Tribune' in 1986, ''I can only speak for 'Falcon Crest', but I do not think its death is imminent. We have been told to go ahead with the 'bible' (story line) for next season (1986-87) and to start setting directors, which is a healthy sign of life. In 'Miami Vice', we're up against the steamroller of all time, yet we've been able to maintain a very decent audience.

"We still get 30, 33 shares (percentage of those TVs in use), which is damn good. In general, we are also kind of tied to the apron strings of 'Dallas' because we inherit the audience from their timeslot. But when you spot the ratings going down, you examine it and see what you can do. For instance, later this month (March 1986) we'll be introducing a new character, which I think will raise the temperature a bit.

"The daughter of Chao Li (Lee Fong in the pilot), the major domo at Falcon Crest, who arrives from Communist China and gets involved in an uncharacteristically uncomplicated love story. Then, too, since we have superb actors, we can more fully explore their characters' emotions. Now, most of the time, I will admit, we explore them on the bed, but our shows aren't totally written from the groin.''

In the 1986-87 TV season, NBC decided to move 'Miami Vice' up an hour from Fridays at 10pm to 9pm to compete directly against 'Dallas'. Of the head-to-head, Leonard Katzman told the press, "I do think that we appeal to different audiences. Secondly, I would think the move to 9 o'clock might not be totally beneficial to 'Miami Vice', not only because they're up against 'Dallas' but because they might suffer the same thing when we moved from 10 to 9 (to make way for 'Falcon Crest'). The people who go out to dinner or whatever and return expecting to see the show won't be able to do so. We found our ratings dropped a little when we moved to 9."

David Poltrack, then vice president for research at CBS, told the 'Chicago Tribune', ''The soaps may slip a little, but I don't see them dropping beneath the acceptable level of performance - about a 17 rating - which 'The Colbys' is just about making (in the second half of the 1985-86 season). Perhaps they (ABC) chose to spin it off at an inopportune time - 'Dynasty' itself was struggling (with the Moldavia story and the key character Krystle Carrington's doppelgänger) - and they (ABC) also put it against 'Cheers' and 'Simon & Simon'.

"'Knots Landing' (in its 7th season) is the show that's really holding up strong. The characters are right out of middle-class America and are a little more believable than those in the bigger-than-life fantasies. 'Dynasty', with the whole Moldavian thing, may have stretched the fantasy a little too far, and the readjustment of the whole protagonist-antagonist relationship on 'Dallas' since the death of Bobby Ewing is perhaps its particular problem.

"There really hasn't emerged a counterpart to J.R. with the power of Bobby, which is critical to the show. 'Falcon Crest', from the qualitative point of view, probably has gotten inherently stronger this season (1985-86). And it's lost only two rating points since last year (1984-85 season) despite being up against 'Miami Vice'. As for new night-time soaps, none is on drawing boards for the fall season (1986-87).

"You have to look at where you'd put one. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights are covered, people don't stay home every Saturday night and on Sundays and Mondays you have an established pattern of mini-series and major films that pull people away. For example, when CBS had 'Emerald Point N.A.S.' on Monday nights, NBC had one big movie after another. So Tuesday is the only night that has the potential.''

In creating 'Falcon Crest', Earl Hamner made known, "My family first came to Virginia because Thomas Jefferson wanted to start a wine industry. His neighbor, Philip Mazzei, imported four Italian grape growers from a town called Lucca in Tuscany. When the vines wouldn't grow, three of the Italians went back, but the one that stayed, Giannini, became my forbearer."

In his 2009 book, 'Prime Time Soap Operas', Douglas Snauffer informed, "One summer day in 1981, while driving along Mulholland Drive above Los Angeles, Hamner passed a residence called ‘Falcon’s Lair’, and found it an interesting name. So instead of 'The Vintage Years' (name of movie pilot), which CBS thought was about older generations, his new series became 'Falcon Crest'."

20190214

DALLAS

"'Dallas', the ultimate American nighttime soap that single-handedly revived the television serial. Will today’s (2012) audiences return to Southfork Ranch to watch the new 'Dallas' (on TNT) — which follows the next generation of Ewings?" Karen Valby of 'Entertainment Weekly' asked in 2012. In 1979, Jason Bonderoff, the editor of 'Daylight TV' told 'The Washington Post', "'Dallas' is a hit because this is the first generation that's grown up on soap operas."

"Watching soaps is no longer a lower-class thing for bored housewives to do. It's not a negative thing. This generation is much more open-minded. It's just another influence of daytime soaps. This has been coming a little bit at a time. There have been nighttime soaps for longer than people realize. We call them situation comedies, but it's just a difference in words. On shows like 'M*A*S*H' (1972-1983) and 'The Waltons' (1972-1981) and 'Mary Tyler Moore,' character development was more important than plot."

As noted, "The key is that each night's programs will have decreasingly defined beginnings, middles and ends. Despite its awesome success, 'Dallas' - like so many events in the broadcast industry - happened virtually by accident." David Jacobs described the 'Dallas' phenomenon, "… I came up with this Romeo and Juliet in the oil industry in Texas. I started with the character of Pamela, and she comes into this family and disrupts it. She marries Bobby Ewing, their fathers hate each other, her brother hates the Ewings, and his brother runs the Ewing empire. Everybody was everybody’s enemy. I sent the pages over to Mike (Filerman)…"

Patrick Duffy added, "Originally Bobby was supposed to die at the end of the first five episodes. The new series was going to take off with Pamela living at Southfork. In a meeting with CBS, Leonard (Katzman) said, 'She now has 200 million dollars. Why does she live in a bedroom at Southfork?' And somebody at CBS said, 'Maybe Bobby doesn’t die?'"

John Bloom of 'D' magazine reported in 2012, "There may be an example somewhere in thespian history of a better fit between actor and part. Perhaps Joseph Jefferson, who played Rip Van Winkle for 40 years in the 19th century, or Yul Brynner, who did 'The King and I' 4,526 times, or James Arness, who did 20 seasons as Marshal Matt Dillon. But in all those other cases, the actor was working from a script or a tradition that had already been established.

"Larry Hagman came into 'Dallas' with fifth billing and an underwritten part. Hagman wasn’t even the actor they wanted ... In early 'TV Guide' listings, Hagman’s name wasn’t even mentioned. The stars of the show were Victoria Principal (initially Linda Evans) and Patrick Duffy (‘The Man From Atlantis’). The story was Romeo and Juliet, the Montagues and the Capulets ... As originally envisioned, all the dramatic action would revolve around the tragic love match.

"In the original script, David Jacobs modeled Bobby Ewing after Brick in 'Cat On A Hot Tin Roof'. (Eventually) Bobby Ewing became the 'good' brother … Instead of being a thorn in the side of Miss Ellie and Jock, he became the man who marries for true love and tries to carry on the legacy of the family. He was a do-gooder. Suddenly J.R. became the engine of all action. Within a few episodes, Romeo and Juliet had become Cain and Abel, and Larry Hagman moved up into the starring credits. A lot of that had to do with how he played the role."

On an average night in the first half of the 1979-1980 season, some 33 million viewers watched then television's only prime-time soap opera, 'Dallas'. Joel Swerdlow of 'The Washington Post' explained, "It has a powerful grasp on the American psyche. 'Dallas' ranked an impressive 10th for the first 16 weeks of the 1979 season, and it's the only top-rated program on what is often the lowest-rated viewing night of the week. A Nielsen spokesman calls its time slot - 10pm Friday - 'the pits'. But it works."

Leonard Katzman believed, "Its appeal is voyeurism. We have an audience that likes to sit back and fantasize about what they'd do if they were wealthy, beautiful and greedy." 'The Washington Post' continued, "As a result, on an average Friday evening, 23.4% of the television homes in America - and 40% of the sets actually turned on at that time - are tuned to 'Dallas'. By comparison, the figures for No. 1-rated '60 Minutes' (on Sunday evening at 7pm) are 27.9% and 45%."

Leonard Katzman noted at the time, the actors "take great enjoyment out of playing the roles as written. Nobody wants to fool with success." 'The Washington Post' continued, "Another measure of success is the speed with which the show's spin-off is appearing. The ever-powerful 'All In The Family' (1971-79) and 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' (1970-77) took years to produce progeny, but 'Dallas' required less than two full seasons. However, there is little connection between 'Dallas' and 'Knots Landing'." Bud Grant pointed out, 'The important thing is to do a spin-off when it's hot. It's very difficult now for brand-new shows to succeed. Familiarity gives us a leg up."

At the end of the 1980-81 TV season, 'Dallas' ended with the episode 'Ewing-Gate'. 'United Press International' reported in April 1981, "At the moment, Lee Rich, president of Lorimar, and producer Leonard Katzman, who wrote the script and is directing the episode, are the only ones who know what the new cliffhanger is all about. The actors, line producers, directors, staff and crew are pretty much all in the dark about this year's cliffhanger. Members of the cast found the last few pages of their script blank except for the legend: 'Note: Balance of script to be seen only on a need-to-know basis.'"

Jared Martin played Dusty Farlow, "Dusty's an interesting guy. At the beginning of the series he was an itinerant rodeo cowboy and now he's evolved as a multimillionaire. Things like that can happen in a soap opera and nobody ever questions how or why." Of the season-finale episode, "I'm not in on the need-to-know part of the story. I haven't seen the final pages, which means I won't be the one holding the smoking gun or being found dead. But you never know.

"There are about 29 other characters to deal with in our huge cast and there's no telling what any of them will do. Most of us in the cast are curious about the latest cliffhanger. It would be interesting to see Dusty in a head-to-head confrontation with J.R. But I doubt if that will be the situation. I don't think it will be an unexpected pregnancy. Sue Ellen has already gone through one of those, plus alcoholism and God know what else. Maybe there will be a surprising death involved.

"There's a soap opera formula that decrees the more popular the character, the more the viewer response when he or she is killed off. For a good solid cliffhanger, the situation ideally should involve one of the seven major characters in the show. I think it will center around Sue Ellen and that Dusty will play some part in it. Supposing I did know what the cliffhanger is? I wouldn't say a word. I've been told Lorimar has taken out a bond on the actors' salaries so if anyone reveals the new cliffhanger, they can be dropped from the series."

In 1991, the weekly series of 'Dallas' wrapped. 'Entertainment Weekly' paid tribute, "'Happy families are all alike,' wrote Tolstoy. 'Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.' Too bad Leo never met the Ewing clan; they could have given him story material that would have curled Anna Karenina's hair. When 'Dallas' first flickered across TV screens on Sunday, April 2, 1978, nobody could have imagined it would become the signpost of an era — a long, lewd, delectably lurid family feud, megadosed with sex, money, and cattle, that both foretold and outlasted the Age of Greed and provided the most abidingly awesome villain in TV history.

"You could tell that 'Dallas' had conquered the world when the world’s leaders began to denounce it. Danish Center Democrat Erhard Jakobsen warned darkly in 1982, 'I would not be surprised if 'Dallas' was planned by a circle of leftist intellectuals in Hollywood as a socialist slander campaign. This series reinforces the idea that capitalists behave as dirty dogs.' 

"At an arts conference in Paris, the French Socialist cultural minister, addressing, among others, Graham Greene and John Kenneth Galbraith, indicted the show as a sinister example of 'American cultural imperialism'. Perhaps the united political front against the Ewings and their ilk arose because they were much more popular than the politicians. 

"More than half of all Danes watched every early episode. When J.R. was shot in 1980, an estimated 25 million Brits tuned in. By 1982, 'Dallas' was No. 1 in Israel; it became a hit practically everywhere from there to Indonesia. 'Dallas' has been seen in more than 100 countries, according to its syndicator, Worldvision Enterprises. Japan alone proved immune. 

"'Dallas crashed and burned here,' says James Bailey of Tokyo's 'Mainichi Daily News'. 'Some say it's because the Japanese have tightly knit families and didn't like the Ewings’ internecine warfare, but I doubt such cultural theories. It was just programmed against an invincible show, 'The Best Ten', starring the two most popular TV personalities in the country.' Everywhere else, 'Dallas' beat everyone and everything. 

"'When J.R. got shot, it was what we call 'a streetsweeper' in Germany,' says Karen Martin of Germany’s Burda Publications. 'Everyone was home watching 'Dallas'. Germans do like the idea of the strong man. They're law-obedient and they like the fact that (J.R.) treats his mother well. And he does not take any s— from anybody. That part of his appeal was global.' The Ewings may even have affected the course of history. George Steiner, writing in London's 'Observer' in 1990, said, 'With 'Dallas' being viewed east of the Wall, the dismemberment of the regime may have become inevitable.'"

Mary Crosby told the Associated Press in 2018, "I was there during the show's rise, which was very exciting. None of us imagined what the show would become." Jared Martin acknowledged at the time, "I see a career as a river that flows along and sometimes stops for a while. This stop in 'Dallas' seems a good place for me." Speaking to 'Star-Telegram' in 2018, Victoria Principal voiced, "What a gift to have been part of it. And it's a gift that keeps on giving. The show became part of the tapestry of their (the fans') lives. They remember 'Dallas,' they cherish 'Dallas' and they still want to celebrate 'Dallas.' It’s so extraordinary."

20190209

DALLAS

Southfork Ranch was one of the most visited homes in America, 'D' magazine reported in 2002. During its original run, over 350 million viewers in 96 countries watched 'Dallas'. It was understood 'Dallas' was dubbed in some countries, running in English or with subtitles in others. Around the world by 1983, in England, France, Germany, South Africa, Israel, Thailand, Iceland, Bangladesh, Brunei, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Romania plus 88 other countries, the character of J.R. Ewing was the visual symbol of all that was quintessentially American. 

On the other hand, Patrick Duffy recounted, network chiefs "remind me that Bobby is the symbol of everything that is good and decent about American manhood … The most they will allow Bobby is to be tempted in the big, dirty business world. Power corrupts and even Bobby Ewing can be tempted by that, it seems." B. Donald (Bud) Grant, one-time president of CBS Entertainment was the man, 'The New York Times' noted, who started the continuing storyline trend by putting 'Dallas' on the air. 

'Dallas' pioneered a new television genre when it premiered back in April 1978. Kim LeMasters explained to 'Entertainment Weekly' in 2012, "CBS before 'Dallas' was 'Barnaby Jones', 'Cannon', 'Hawaii Five-0' — procedural dramas, cop shows — nothing with the panache Mike (Filerman) and David (Jacobs) brought. It was exactly the right moment for the American public. We were coming out of the recession of the late '70s. We were entering the '80s when greed was good."

Its success was contributed to the excellent use of suspense. The 'Who Shot J.R.?' cliffhanger probably still held the record as the most talked about season conclusion of any series ever. Loraine Despres added, "J.R. is shot on Friday (in March 1980). I come into the office on Monday and 'Time' magazine is calling, 'Newsweek' is calling. I mean, we thought it had been a cool idea, but nobody expected it to become a phenomenon. My script was stolen from the production offices. But we'd written different scripts as a preemptive strike."

Speaking to 'Us' magazine in 1983, Philip Capice told Rana Arons, "'Dallas' is not in danger of running out of cliffhangers. Neither is 'Dynasty'. We look for a dramatic cliffhanger to end each season, an incident that fits into the story … People don't want to know. It's more delicious to play games, guessing and not knowing until the (next) season opens … 'Dallas' cliffhangers stemmed from characters' conflicts – emotional and physical.

"The J.R. shooting was a fun way to wrap up six different story lines. These endings usually serve a dramatic purpose; we're not just trying to dream up a new disaster. At times, we'll say, 'We've gone too far', but ours is not a show that mirrors life. It's at least half tongue-in-cheek. I was astounded by Europeans who accuse 'Dallas' of polluting the world's image of America. If those people think the show reflects America, we're in trouble. It only reflects our fantasies."

Speaking to 'Copley News Service', Victoria Principal described 'Dallas', "It's like the novels you buy at the airport. Haven't you ever gone to the airport with nothing to read and bought a book there that you wouldn't have picked out in a bookstore? I do that all the time. I get on the plane and find myself enjoying one of those novels thoroughly. 'Dallas' is like a book that's better than your average paperback but not quite hardcover.

"I can put my finger on the secret of 'Dallas' popularity. I knew the show was going to be popular and why, when I first read a script. I said then, 'Whether I'm in this show or not, I know I'm going to watch it, because I'll want to know what these people are doing.' This is the heaviest pilot season in seven years. And a lot of people are looking for a nighttime soap opera niche. There's a trend developing, but we got there first."

Patrick Duffy pointed out at the time, "I think the show is well-acted and has good plots and a good storyline … I really think that 'Dallas' could go on for as long as something like 'Bonanza'." In 1984, Lorimar launched an aggressive public relations campaign to syndicate 'Dallas'. Syndicated programming or rerunning weekly hour-long serial on a five-times-a-week schedule required minimum 66 episodes (usually about three first-run seasons).

Pat Kenney of Lorimar told 'The Washington Post' at the time, "'Dallas' will build an audience just like it did in prime time, and it will be a springboard for a whole new form of television." Philip Capice made the point, "'Dallas'' cliffhangers revolve around Sue Ellen and J.R.. They're the most dramatic characters, with an emotional involvement that fascinates our audience."

Hence, with the marketing campaign for 'Dallas' in syndication, the slogan would be, "What is the fatal attraction that keeps Sue Ellen coming back to J.R.?" In 1980, 'Movie Mirror plus TV' magazine quoted Sue Ellen telling about her relationship with J.R., "In spite of our battles I just can't live without J.R.!" Larry Hagman made the comment at the time, "When Linda (Gray) and I work together, the sparks fly. She plays Sue Ellen with a smouldering sexiness coupled with an innocent bitchiness that just intrigues people."

In another edition, 'Movie Mirror' magazine trumpeted, "Sue Ellen: It's time to stand on her own two feet!" Linda Gray told the press at the time, "I used to feel nervous about creating a fictional character who could make such a tremendous impression on people. But then I realized that Sue Ellen was something very special and I could be proud of her. I have come to terms with the fact that I made Sue Ellen what she is, and I accept praise for it graciously. Now I'm not embarrassed any more … Every time I read a new script I'm amazed at what she has to go through."

Patrick Duffy disclosed, "I am not privy to future scripts – none of us is. We generally get scripts about two episodes ahead of what we're filming. About every seven days we get a new script." 'The Washington Post' reported in 1984, "In addition to ads on radio, television and billboards, it is conducting a telephone contest titled 'Dallas Confidential'. Callers win a chance to ask J.R. a question, such as how to explain Sue Ellen's weakness for him."

Bill Crosedale, one-time vice president for television for Batten Barton Durstine & Osborn advertising agency, told 'The New York Times' in 1986, "There's just a certain commitment that viewers have to make to a continuing serial, watching it on the same day, week in, week out. How many hours a week can you commit to this programming?''

'Dallas' was initially filmed entirely in Texas until production moved to Los Angeles. However Victoria Principal maintained, "I don't think moving back to Los Angeles has changed the personality of the show because, in the first place, all of us know the people we are playing so well that they don't change. Anyway, 'Dallas' is like a smoked rib. The flavor has been cooked in to stay."

As understood, each season, cast and crew spent some ten-and-a-half month filming including two months of location shooting in Texas, "It adds a real authenticity to the look of 'Dallas'. You can smell the dust and the heat, and there's a certain real Texas attittude that takes hold down there." Victoria Principal also voiced, "On a full-fledged summer shoot, I've seen the temperature read 44 degrees. It's physically gruelling. I chew ice from the moment I get up until I fall asleep."

Jesse Metcalfe told 'EW' in 2012, "Can they remake 'Dallas'? That’s the elephant in the room. But I read the (TNT 'Dallas') script and thought it was great."

20190129

THE DREAM ACADEMY

'Life In A Northern Town' by The Dream Academy peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1986. "Like Sinatra in a younger day," formed part of the lyrics. "He said 'In winter 1963; It felt like the world would freeze; With John F. Kennedy; And The Beatles.'" The song was written by Nick Laird-Clowes and Gilbert Gabriel in memory of Nick Drake, an influential legend to many British musicians and songwriters since 1974. 

'rediscoverthe80s.com', January 2018: : What are your feelings about 'Life In A Northern Town' now about 29 years later? 

Gilbert Gabriel: I think it still holds up pretty darn well. I feel it was a great achievement to accomplish making a record that is still loved today (in 2018). 

Speaking to 'Mojo' in 2011, Nick Laird-Clowes recounted, "The song was created in a Southgate bedsit where Gilbert Gabriel had a room. We wrote it while sitting on a floor. Just two guitars - one nylon strung with just three strings on it, while the other was the same guitar that was on the cover of Nick Drake's 'Bryter Layter'. We had the idea, even before we sat down, to write a folk song with an African-style chorus. 

"We started it and when we got to the verse melody, there was something about it that reminded me of Nick Drake, who I had been turned on to in 1972 by Roundhouse DJ Jeff Dexter. It was Jeff who first informed me what a brilliant record 'Bryter Layter' was. He claimed, 'I know where that guitar is and one day we'll get hold of it.' I was working at the RCA record factory in Ladbroke Grove at the time and bought Nick Drake's guitar for £100. When the single was completed I dedicated it to Nick." 

In calling the song 'Life In A Northern Town', Nick Laird-Clowes made known, "I played him (Paul Simon) the song and he asked, 'What are you going to call it - 'Ah Hey Ma Ma Ma?' I told him that we intended to name it 'Morning Lasted All Day.' 'That's no good,' he said and so I came up with 'Life In A Northern Town' which he thought was a great title. The lyric emerged because I was an early presenter on 'The Tube' and Geoff Wonfor, who went on to shoot 'The Beatles Anthology' series, showed me the long lines of people unemployed and the shipyards that were closed down. That's what 'Life In Northern Town' is really all about."

In 1985, Paul Simon began training Nick Laird-Clowes in harmony and music theory. As told to 'The New York Times', "When Paul volunteered to teach me, I borrowed the money to come to New York and study with him. We worked four or five hours a day, two or three times a week for two months. One of his major lessons was that if you work just a little harder than everyone else you can pull yourself a little bit ahead of them. He also taught me that you didn't have to make musical discoveries by accident, that with a thorough knowledge of harmony, you could actually design interesting music.''

Will Harris, 'rhino.com', 2015: When you set aside the three-part harmonies, what led you to the sounds of The Act (formed in 1979) and then to the more pastoral material favored by The Dream Academy (formed in 1983)?

Nick Laird-Clowes: Well, we went from the three-part harmony acoustic stuff to The Act, which was kind of new wave. Elvis Costello meets the Byrds meets Tom Petty, really, is what I was trying to do. I'd gone to New York, I'd gone to the mod club, I'd seen what was happening. And I'd stayed there for a few months, and I just thought, 'Right, this is it: I've got to form this kind of band.'

And we got signed, amazingly, by Joe Boyd to his Hannibal Records. And Joe was my hero, because I loved Nick Drake! But we weren't doing anything like Nick Drake, and we were working with John Wood, who was Nick Drake's engineer/producer, as well as Joe! So we did that, but it didn't work. And this was the second band I'd had.

A lot of people never got any records out, and I'd made three records, and one of them never got released, but I made one with the first band, one with the second band, and they'd had a really good shot. So I had to think, 'Why isn't it working?' And that's when I realized - to my horror - 'I'm copying other people! I've been copying people because that's how I've learned to do it, but by copying, I'm always a stage behind. By the time I get my Byrds/Elvis Costello thing out, Elvis is on to a whole new thing.'

In fact, the salutary lesson was actually meeting Elvis somewhere, and him saying, 'What band are you in?' And we said, 'The Act.' And he went, 'Oh, are you the one that does the Byrds or the one that does me?' And by 'the one that does the Byrds,' he meant R.E.M., and we were the one that did him. And I was horrified! I had to say, 'I think the one that does you.' But I was thinking, 'Oh, God, that's a terrible thing to say!' So what was great was realizing - after months of torturous soul searching - that you can't copy, you've got to find your own voice, however hard that is.

In 1976, Marc Bolan gave Nick Laird-Clowes's Beatles-influenced band Alphalfa their first studio session. As told to James McNair of the UK 'Independent' in 1999, "In the studio he was trying to teach us something that it's taken me years to learn. Bolan knew that getting that energy on to tape was all that mattered." In writing song, Paul Simon reportedly also told Nick Laird-Clowes, "Rule number one: fact is always more interesting than fiction."

'rediscoverthe80s.com', January 2018: The Dream Academy had its biggest hit with 'Life In A Northern Town' which you co-wrote with Laird-Clowes and was released in 1985. Please take us back to when it was written and recorded. What can you tell us about back-story about how that particular song was conceived? What inspired it? 

Gilbert Gabriel: I remember this song emerging gradually from the ether in autumn when I was living in Southgate in a shared house with other students. I was endlessly experimenting with different guitar chord shapes higher up the guitar fretboard on a guitar with only five strings. Eventually, I found two chords that seemed to achieve a sense of consonance that seemed to mesmerize me. 

Nick then learned it and came up with a lower inversion that I embellished with a colorful chord progression played on the Solina synthesizer. Nick and I would then sing various chants over these chords inspired by a library tape of some African children I asked my girlfriend to borrow from her college library. The idea was to 're-conjure' the '60s and more idealistic times through the visual imagery of the verses that were fused with a chant that sounded universal. 

Hence the reference to The Beatles and JFK that became the axiom that we would build it around as well as the massive chant. We consciously wanted to create a song that had a wide demographic appeal but communicated something honest, beautiful and universal - a song that could appeal to children, adults and grandparents. I think we achieved this.

Speaking to the press in early 1986, Nick Laird-Clowes, then 28, stated, "Though we are very much an '80s band, the music that was popular when I was an adolescent still has a special meaning. Albums like the Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds,' Love's 'Forever Changes,' Neil Young's surreal mini-symphonies with the Buffalo Springfield, and everything by the Beatles have been seminal influences. The period from 1965 to '68 was unique because people were taking so many musical risks, experimenting with strings, delving into Eastern instruments and philosophy, and mixing it all up.''

As told to the UK 'Telegraph' in 1999, "'Life In A Northern Town' was officially the most played radio single of 1985. And when you've got a record in America that's Top 10 the whole country sings it.'"

20190125

THE BEE GEES

"The Bee Gees (founded by Robin Gibb), were a cultural phenomenon," 'The Paris Review' observed. In 1983, their song, 'Islands In The Stream', performed by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Inspired by the 1970 book, 'Islands In The Stream' by Ernest Hemingway, published some nine years after his death, Maurice Gibb told the BBC in 2009, the song was initially written for Marvin Gaye. 

In 2005, the song topped the Country Music Television's poll of the best country duets of all time. At first Kenny Rogers recorded 'Islands In The Stream' solo with Barry Gibb producing. As told to 'People', "It all started when Barry Gibb wrote 'Islands In The Stream', and he gave it to me to record — he was producing an album." However after "singing it for four days", Kenny Rogers decided he did not click with the song. 

"I finally said, 'Barry, I don’t even like this song anymore' and he said, 'You know what we need? We need Dolly Parton.'” In an interview with 'Taste of Country', Kenny Rogers recounted, "And my manager said, 'I just saw her downstairs', so I said, 'Go get her and bring her back.' So he brought her back in and once she came in, that song was never the same. She lit it up and we became good friends from that point on." 

Speaking to 'People' in 2017, Kenny Rogers described of the a-ha moment, "I had a recording studio at the time and she was downstairs and my manager Ken Kragen said, 'I just saw her!' and I said, 'Well, go get her!' He went downstairs and she came marching into the room, and once she came in and started singing the song was never the same. It took on a personality of its own." It was noted 'Islands In The Stream' was the only country song to reach No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 100 until 2000 (some 17 years later), when Lonestar topped the chart with 'Amazed'. 

The UK 'Telegraph', December 2015: It's three decades since 'Islands In The Stream', your duet with Dolly Parton. Is that still a favourite? 

Kenny Rogers: 'Islands' was a huge song for me. It was originally written by the Bee Gees for Marvin Gaye but then they asked me to do it as part of a whole album. I sang it in rehearsals for four days and then said to Barry Gibb, 'I don't even like it any more'. He said he had just run into Dolly Parton and would ask her to sing with me. I love working with Dolly and I give her full credit because that song was one of my career-making ones. The Bee Gees were so good at writing on the upbeat. It's just a happy song and I still do it live, singing both parts and trying to sound like Dolly. 

In October 2017, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton did a last-ever performance of 'Islands In The Stream' during the epic 'All In for the Gambler: Kenny Rogers' Farewell Concert Celebration' at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. 

Speaking to the 'Christian Science Monitor' at the start of the 1981-82 television season, B. Donald (Bud) Grant, then president of CBS Entertaiment Division told Arthur Unger, "As long as I've been here (at CBS) we've had a consistent point of view, and that is series programming. That's the backbone of the CBS schedule. Series programming is the most popular and efficient form for television. 

"Three or four years ago (around 1977) there was a definite division of opinion between the way we (CBS) approached things and the way NBC did - they (NBC) went for event programming, specials, mini-series, that sort of thing. Well, my theory is - find successful series programming, develop it, put it on the air, promote it well, advertise it well. TV series go in cycles. There used to be a slew of westerns on the air. And then there were private eye shows. It's the public. They like one thing until the point of saturation and then the pendulum swings the other way. So television is always going through cycles. I think it is evolution, but I don't think it is revolution." 

Arthur Unger then wondered, "Can Mr. Grant predict the next trend in TV?" Bud Grant replied, "Nobody knows what that will be. Trends are set by one producer finding a hit - and the rest following along. But you usually find a hit by stumbling across it - you think a show will be good, but ... I can't honestly say to you that I thought 'Dallas' was going to turn out to be one of the highest-rated shows on TV. I thought it would be successful but ... it started a trend. Success dictates trends." 

At the time, Arthur Unger observed NBC was trying to create a trend. However Bud Grant believed, "I know what happened there. NBC looked at shows they had developed and decided they wouldn't work. At the last minute they had to get new shows for the fall so they put together stars and producers … I don't think that stars make television. I think that television makes stars. Look at 'M*A*S*H.' Alan Alda wasn't exactly a household name before that show. Did you ever hear of Henry Winkler before 'Happy Days'?"

Writing for 'The Paris Review' in July 2014, Bob Stanley reminded readers, "The Bee Gees' dominance of the charts in the disco era was above and beyond Chic, Giorgio Moroder, even Donna Summer. Their sound track to 'Saturday Night Fever' sold thirty million copies. They were responsible for writing and producing eight of 1978's number ones, something only Lennon and McCartney in 1963/64 could rival — and John and Paul hadn't been the producers, only the writers. 

"Even given the task of writing a song called 'Grease', they came up with a classic. At one point in March they were behind five singles in the American Top 10. In 1978 they accounted for 2% of the entire record industry's profits … This happened because they were blending white soul, R&B, and dance music in a way that suited pretty much every club, every radio station, every American citizen in 1978. They melded black and white influences into a more satisfying whole than anyone since Elvis. Simply, they were defining pop culture in 1978. Like ABBA, there is a well of melancholic emotion, even paranoia, in the Bee Gees' music."

Speaking to the BBC in 2012, lyricist Sir Tim Rice remarked, "You can easily speak about them in the same breath as Lennon and McCartney and Elton John and Bernie Taupin. They were fantastic performers and singers but of course why they will last forever is the songs. They had jolly good melodies and very original lyrics and they were songs an awful lot of people could identify with. In a way, unusually for most pop singers, they actually got better as they went on.

"'Islands In The Stream' and 'I Am A Woman In Love' (Barbra Streisand, No. 1 in 1980) and all these other songs were quite late in their career. Their influences are such that a lot of people from The Fugees to Take That, from blatant pop acts like Steps to quite sophisticated acts today (in 2012), are covering their songs. And of course, people who have done their songs over the years include legendary artists like Al Green, Elvis, Nina Simone and Barbra Streisand. These are Division One artists."

Gary Osborne added, "The Beatles were in a different league, then there was the Gibbs, then there was everyone else. I don't even think (Mick) Jagger and (Keith) Richards could quibble with that, just in terms of the quality of the actual songs. In the dance era, the groove was very important, but the Bee Gees weren't about the groove. They were about the song, whereas the Rolling Stones are about the feel of the riffs.

"We love the vibe and the synth on 'Jive Talkin'' and all those things, but when you strip them down to a guitar they would have worked in any era. They were just classy writers. They won 29 Ivor Novello Awards between them in pretty much every category we've got, culminating in the Academy Fellowship in 2005. And in songwriting terms that pretty much says it all. They just wrote brilliant tunes. It's not a mystery but it's magic."

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