20150721

DYNASTY

"Every recession needs an escape," Aaron Spelling pointed out in 1984. "Look how well Charlie Chaplin did during the Depression? People who can't pay the rent want to look back and laugh at the problems of the rich and famous...People are starving for glamor. There's a recession going on and they need to escape."

John James believed, "A series like 'Dynasty' produces 25 shows a year. (Daytime) soaps do more than 300 episodes in one year. It's obvious the storylines in prime time have much more impact. The episodes move ahead much faster...In a continuing TV drama we do 45 minutes of dialog involving human relationships and emotions every week." 'Dynasty' had been described as "a continuing, larger-than-life story about wealth and power and the quest for power." 

"TV is the medium of today (in 1985) and the future," John James made the comment at the time. "Feature films are becoming like Broadway with only 7 to 10 quality pictures being made a year. TV is constantly improving, especially 2-hour movies which deal with important issues and significant stories. Their impact is 10 times greater on the public." John also made the point, "'Dynasty' has changed actors' attitudes about working in television. Now (in the 1980s) it's okay for all actors to work in prime time series. Look at the big stars in 'The Colbys', and more major stars may be added in the future." 

In 1985, Charlton Heston turned down the opportunity to make a run for Alan Cranston's senate seat so he could appear on 'The Colbys'. He reasoned, "Truly, I would rather play a senator than be one." On 'The Colbys', "the idea is to undertake a long term exploration of a character. The problem of most series is that for the most part they duplicate the same episode over and over. It is possible to do a series in another way, as the English have shown us." 

Alan Cranston had served in the Senate for 4 terms from 1968 to 1993. Larry Eichel made the observation in 1986, "Over the years, Alan Cranston has been a lucky man. Whenever the Democratic Senator from California would go before the voters, the Republican Party would help him out by giving him a dogmatic, conservative opponent - an ideologue with little appeal to moderate Democrats, independents or even moderate Republicans." It was understood Alan Cranston had previously worked as a journalist for the International News Service covering Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler and Ethiopia. He had told the press, "I became very concerned about American isolationism, the fact that there were many Americans wanting to have nothing to do with what was happening in the rest of the world. I didn't want to spend my life writing about such evil people and their terrible deeds; I'd rather be involved in the action." 

"'The Colbys' is an actor's show," John James observed. "Charlton Heston, Barbara Stanwyck and Ricardo Montalb├ín have all been major movie stars. We look more like a weekly movie than a TV show. In one scene I watched the 3 of them doing the special things film actors were trained to do and it was like going back to the 1960s watching them do their work...Both Spelling and Doug Cramer, his partner, assured me they would not spare any expense. And knowing how they changed 'Dynasty' over the years to keep it fresh and interesting, I believed them...They convinced me it would be great to recreate a show like 'Dynasty' and do it even better. We're not going to be the flip side of a hit record." 

Charlton Heston remarked, "They ('Dynasty') both have a preoccupation with love and power and sex. We want to make ours ('The Colbys') different. That's an obvious prerequisite. Not to say what Johnny's (Forsythe) doing is wrong." John Forsythe remembered, "I directed Chuck on Broadway in a 1956 revival of 'Mr. Roberts'. We've been friends and tennis-playing buddies over the years." John James described Jason Colby and Blake Carrington, "They don't trust each other. They're antagonistic enough for good drama." 

Charlton Heston insisted, "I had certain control over the kind of man he's (Jason) going to be. There are very few permissible villains in prime time TV, but bankers, businessmen and military men over the rank of major are popular categories. One of the things I want to do with this series ('The Colbys') is demonstrate that a rich businessman can be a good man." 

Back in 1983, John Forsythe told Kay Gardella of New York Daily News, "Before I took the role I prepared several pages of history on him – his background, what drives him, what school he went to, what his parents were like, his home life, the clothes he likes to wear, and so forth. While I don't reveal these facts, they help me create the role. I've always thought of him as the quintessential American tycoon. I've known a lot of businessmen like him. They're like the Mafia. In the marketplace they can be ruthless, domineering, tough and hard, But at home, like the Mafia, they're devoted to their wives, children and friends. There's a totally different morality involved." 

Ricardo Montalb├ín had entertained audiences for 7 seasons (from 1977 to 1984)  on 'Fantasy Island'. On 'The Colbys', "Usually you get a script with a beginning, middle and end but in this case every night is opening night because you never know what's coming up. You open your script and say: 'I do what?' But it's very exciting. I'm never had this experience as an actor before and I'm having a wonderful time." 

Aaron Spelling told The Guardian in 1992, "I've been chastised for entertaining the audience. I'd rather be accused of pleasing them than the critics. I'm proud of what I've done. People need to have a valve release. I really do think so. And as times get tougher – and obviously we are not out of this recession, we maybe are entering a bigger one – I think it's needed even more than ever."

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