"In with the old, out with the new," was the modus operandi of the 1981-82 television season. 'The Chicago Tribune' reported at the time, the new television series launched in 1981-82 were going down in flames. Viewers surprisingly had reacted to the overwhelming majority of them by switching channels. Only newcomer 'Falcon Crest', a late addition to the 1981-82 lineup, debut on December 4 1981, made it to the Top 20, averaging 30 share. 

A pair of old-timers, 'Dallas' and '60 Minutes', took first and second place respectively, but the paper noted "proving that viewer taste is diverse if it's anything." Filmed predominantly around Napa Valley in California, 'Falcon Crest' was watched by approximately 21% of the homes in the United States with TV sets during the 1981-82 season. And of the homes with TV switched on between 10:00pm and 11:00pm on Friday nights, 37% were watching 'Falcon Crest'. Lorenzo Lamas pointed out, "If we couldn't make it there … we couldn't make it anywhere."

In 1979, Earl Hamner approached Jane Wyman to play the part of Angela Channing on 'Falcon Crest'. In an interview with James Bawden, Jane recounted, "I told him I’d heard Barbara Stanwyck had turned it down and he said that was an untrue rumor. It had never been offered to her. He said he was looking for a sympathic actress and warned me I’d be typed in the press as a female J.R.

"He said he was dramatizing the flip side of 'The Waltons' (1971-1981) – this family was infected by wealth, whereas poverty had threatened his Depression story. The pilot was tagged 'The Vintage Years' because of the grape-growing story, and I had to sport a white fright wig which I positively hated and I had a crazy daughter up in the attic. It was dreadful, but Lorimar had a contract with CBS for the hour after their hit 'Dallas' so we soldiered on. I virtually produced the second pilot. Some of the regulars, like Clu Gulager and Samantha Eggar, were replaced. I remade my character, Angie Channing. She now wore only the best. Storyline were hardened."

In an interview with Norm Goldman, Robert L. McCullough mentioned, "Many of the series concepts came from a serious collaborative effort among certain network executives, studio development teams, and senior producers. Aaron Spelling, for example, could throw out a dozen amazing show ideas in a single casual conversation. He simply had a firm grip on the cultural milieu of his time and knew what the audience responded to.

"He was simply masterful at acquiring powerful literary properties and guiding their development as popular television fare. He simply handed me copies of 'Hollywood Wives', 'Airport', and 'Dark Mansions' and said 'go make a good show.' The same was true of 'Falcon Crest', which was a failed pilot at CBS. I was invited by Lorimar TV executives and the network to 'make it better', which, after considerable research into the art and business of winemaking, I think we did in fairly short order. My tenure on that show was creatively wonderful and fulfilling."

Earl Hamner told students at the University of Cincinnati in 2004, "Television has the power and the ability to enlighten, to educate, to lift viewers to new levels of experience." Fred Rothenberg observed, "Television is most enlightening when it becomes a mirror, capturing our most human moments and our most trying situations." George Roy Hill added, "I avoid making fashionable films because it takes me 18 months to complete a film and I'm not smart enough to know what the fashions will be by the time I'd be finished. Yet it's not at all strange for me to be working on a social drama . . . It's always a question of sustaining dramatic interest and tension."

Earl believed, "Richness seems to magnify drama. We do human drama that seems to please big audiences because of legitimate conflicts: traditional family versus fractured family, power versus weak, wealth versus poor." In creating the TV series 'Falcon Crest' (1981-1990), Earl went back to his family roots. His ancestors were said to be Italian winemakers who were brought into the United States by Thomas Jefferson. When Bill Conti wrote the music for 'Falcon Crest', "I gave the theme a lot of rhythm with strings carrying a long melodic line and horns providing the energy" because "for a television theme you have to have catchy music that holds the audience long enough so they won't reach for the dial to change channels."

In the 1984-85 season, Earl brought Gina Lollobrigida to "add a dash of oregano and a touch of garlic to the cast of 'Falcon Crest.'" The producers felt "the Italian seasoning will improve the recipe". John Perry called Gina's performances "terrific". Gina even got a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting. "Gina at all times was totally prepared. She knew her lines. She was well-rehearsed. She came in and did her work without any problems. We are not sorry she was our choice," John made known.

'Falcon Crest' was Gina's "first venture into television. I learned a lot in experience in this short time with 'Falcon Crest'. I thought we were doing a rehearsal and the director said, 'That's a take' … In movies you do scenes over until they are just right. Not so for TV. They improvise often on 'Falcon Crest' which is difficult for me because English is not my native tongue," Gina explained.

Earl Hamner Jr. had said, "Every TV script should begin with 'Once upon a time'. It should have a beginning, middle and an end. 'Falcon Crest' is like a book with different chapters, with satisfying experiences within each chapter. A valid exploration of human characters and family situations." Abby Dalton discovered, "He hopes to achieve a Lillian Hellman-type study of people, their relationships with one another and the emotional and psychological undercurrents that motivate them." Three months before 'Falcon Crest' went on air, Abby Dalton disclosed, "I've had the first script for only a few days, so none of us is sure where the stories and characters will be going. I do know that there are 2 branches of the central family, and there will be many conflicts." 

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