In 1975, the total audience share in "after-dark hours" for the three television networks was 92%. By 1982, that share had fallen to 78%. In order to attract viewers away from cable and independent stations, the networks decided to offer original programing to the viewer during the summer time as an alternative. One of the new shows went on air between July and August 1983 was the 5-part TV mini-series, 'The Hamptons', sandwiched between two popular reruns, 'The Fall Guy' and 'Dynasty'. Up against 'The Facts of Life' and the movie, 'Zapped!', the first episode attracted 14% rating and 28% share. 

Budgeted at $2.4 million, the Gloria Monty co-production was videotaped entirely on location in East Hampton and around New York City to give 'The Hamptons' a more immediate look and feel. Producer Charles Pratt observed, "The creators, Bill Bast and Paul Huson, have written interesting, well-paced scripts." Centered around two blue-blooded, old-monied New England families "whose destinies are bound by complicated pasts and constant corporate struggles", Gloria Monty conceded, "With 'The Hamptons', we really broke our backs to get it ready in time, and it's the first show to be done completely on tape at the actual locations. It was quite a feat." 

Linda Gray believed, "TV is a dynamic medium. It has to stay in touch with society. It has to grow as society grows and deal with subjects that are relevant to people's lives." Founded in 1648, the Hamptons comprised towns, hamlets and villages and was located about 100 miles east of New York City. It was understood the Hamptons was "the playground for anybody who wants to be somebody." 

On reflection, Gloria Monty remarked, "To me, the Hamptons are wonderful and have an aura all their own. I've always loved two books, 'Appointment In Samarra' by John O'Hara and F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby', so we've made the mystique of that contemporary. What happens to the very wealthy person who suddenly loses his money and isn't equipped to handle it? There are three very different strata we deal with in the series: the old money, the new money and the in-between. I couldn't think of any other place in which I’d rather tell this story." 

By 1983, new money was said, had overwhelmed old money. Sociologists theorized the success of prime time soaps such as 'Dallas', 'Dynasty' and 'Falcon Crest' were "a manifestation of the current economic recession." In bad economic times such as during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the masses submerged their frustrations through fantasy about rich people and their lifestyles "while digesting their macaroni and beer." 

Leigh Taylor-Young offered, "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 (in 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."

Larry Hagman made the observation, "The height of the success of 'Dallas' came during a recession, and I think people like (to see) glitz, wealth and so forth." Larry also insisted 'Dallas' was successful because "first, it's about family – and maybe the all-time dysfunctional family, but it's still family. And we all have families, and can relate in our own way to the dynamics between and among the Ewings. 

"Also, it's a show about privilege and power, and while we don't all have that – at least not in the way J.R. had it – we're still fascinated by those who have it and how they use it … I've known a lot of people like J.R., and they believe they're doing just what they should be doing. As a matter of fact, when I meet some of them they'll tell me just how much they always admired old J.R.." 

Leigh Taylor-Young continued, "We're very different. We hope to provide enough reality so that viewers will care about the people and their problems rather than be absorbed by their wardrobes, hairdos and the obvious trappings of wealth. From what I've seen of the other soaps, and I haven't really tuned them in very often, 'The Hamptons' much more realistically portrays the very wealthy, at least from what I've seen and read about the rich. There's a fantasy quality about 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty'. 

"Our series examines the temptations, tests and challenges of an enormously rich family and the choices they make as individuals. Naturally, situations and relationships are dramatized to keep viewers interested. But we haven’t caricatured the individuals. We're hoping to touch people's hearts." Director Burt Brinckerhof maintained viewers would see "the wealthy and the powerful having the same problems we all have, with the difference being that they are trying to escape them through a fantasy life.'' 

Set in a jointly owned department store chain, Bibi Besch told Jay Bobbin, "It's really more than just a department-store situation; it's big business generalized. One of the characters is involved in a corporation called Syndrex, which is one of those amorphous holding companies. This one’s about the very rich, and I think it stands a better chance of being successful because of that. People love to look into the bedrooms of the wealthy because their lives seem to be so different. We shot in some houses on Lily Pond Road in East Hampton, and that's the road with all the big mansions. It was wonderful to see how the other half lives."

One Hamptonian complained, "It's Hollywood's view of what the Hamptons should look like. I've never seen anyone drive a Ferrari or a Porsche up to a party here. Everyone drive BMWs or Mercedeses. And this is the last place you would go to scuba dive. The sea bottom here is as black as coal. No one wears tuxedos." Patricia Murray Wood, a member of the Vandebilt family added, "It's Southern California's view of the Hamptons. I've never seen anyone in black sequined dresses cut down to the navel. Most women here wear honest cotton."

It was noted 'The Hamptons' used the same techniques as the daytime dramas - one-camera photography, antagonistic and romantic storylines, obvious acting and direction, and dialog in the style of afternoon soaps. Of the show's sexual content, especially John Reilly's character's relationship with his stepdaughter, Leigh Taylor-Young reasoned, "I've been working for 20 years. I don't invest myself in hope. We live in a world now where … incest has already been dealt with in nighttime television movies. So this particular public we have in 1983 – certainly it will offend some people, because always, no matter what you're going to do in life or film, you're always going to offend somebody."

In 1978, the network gave Gloria Monty 13 weeks to find a cure for the ratings ills that plagued the dying 'General Hospital'. By 1981, Gloria's 4th year with the show, 'General Hospital' had become one of the biggest successes of its genre. Gloria broke new ground in storytelling by introducing action-adventure and science-fiction to the tried-and-true daytime staples of romance and infidelity.

Gloria made the point, "Before (daytime drama), the theater was the center of my world. Years of running acting workshops and directing 50 or so plays in New York taught me most of the lessons I used when I first began in television. The most important of them was that above all, you must play to the audience, not to each other. In theater, you can quickly gauge the success of what what you are trying to do by listening to the reaction of the people out there in front of you.

"You don't have that in television, obviously – but once you know the rules live theater teaches you, you can apply them in most every form of drama … It isn't the job of television to reflect people's lives. We should be giving them an opportunity to escape from the ordinary and see their fantasies played out by their favorite actors and actresses.

"Characters must be believably motivated if they are to hold the interest of the audience. As a director, I long ago learned that an actor can have insights into a character which no one else has. And if he doesn’t feel comfortable with a scene, you owe it to him to listen. On the other hand, actors and actresses can sometimes overreact to new directions because they are too involved with their character. There's a middle ground, and the two doors to my office are always open so anyone on the show can come in and help me find it!"  

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