The TV series, 'Falcon Crest', which starred Jane Wyman as Angela Gioberti and Stephen Elliot as Douglas Channing had been described as "the inter-generational chronicle of one wine-making family, the Giobertis, and their struggle to keep tight control over their vast holdings." Abby Dalton played Jane Wyman's on-screen daughter, "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 two branches of the central family, and there will be many conflicts. Julia has been skipped over as an heir to the vineyards and the winery. She wants to make sure that her son doesn't lose out. She's a very strong and determined woman." Bill Hayden continued, "The opening episode lays the groundwork for all sorts of future conflict and rivalry while introducing the series' principal characters in a dramatically interesting framework. 

"The main character is Jane Wyman, who provides a superbly bitchy and multi-faceted portrayal of the iron-willed, rich, powerful and often feared matriarch who is intent on orchestrating intrafamily rivalries as she expands her own power and holdings." Jane Wyman maintained, "The estate known as Falcon Crest is the building upon which the story is constructed and my character, Angela Channing, is the most crucial part of the architecture."

In one scene, Angela told her lawyer Phillip Erikson, "You know Phillip this is my favorite time of day - between light and dark." In another, "The past affects the future." And finally, "Risk is what it's all about. All of Falcon Crest was built of courage, to take chances." Anne Archer played advertising executive Cassandra Wilder observed, "The best parts for women are now (in the 1980s) in television. And the women on series are now bigger than life and powerful women. When an important television part comes along now all the major actresses will take it. It's become a new thing for stars to move back and forth between movies and roles in the prime-time soap operas."

Bill Hayden added, "In comparison to Jane Wyman's role, the rest of the characters appear low-key. However, they are finely fleshed out by a formidable cast." At one time Joan Collins watched 'Falcon Crest' told 'News America Syndicate', "They must be kidding. They have a woman on there (Sarah Douglas, Ursa in 'Superman') that's obviously supposed to be me, but it doesn't quite work."

David Selby offered, "We're a show that relies on the relationships between the characters. It's melodrama, but that doesn't mean it can't be well-written and well-acted. I like the format. You're not solving the crime of the week each night. But I think it's dangerous to rely on a cliffhanger. How do you keep topping yourself each year? Yet I know a lot of money and jobs are riding on doing just that."

In the 1982-83 season, E.G. Marshall played Henri Denault and Lana Turner played Jacqueline Perrault, the chief of the Cartel – a complex organization that in order to run it effectively the superior required courage to use the "raw and unadulterated power" available. Carlo Agretti and Angela Channing learnt about Henri Denault's activities as a Nazi collaborator during World War II which brought him sufficient wealth to build  his empire.

Henri Denault told Richard Channing, "I was a pragmatist. The opportunity was too great for me to allow archaic notions of morality and patriotism to stand in my way." Jacqueline sold Angela's son to Henri, "I remember the war just ended. Also Denault wanted a baby boy and I needed money. We all had to make compromises. We had to! My last husband's fortune gave me enough to push Denault aside and I took over (as chief of the Cartel)."

Robert Foxworth directed 15 episodes of 'Falcon Crest'. He recounted, "I enjoy the overall creative aspect of directing. I like coming up with images and staging and working with actors. I like having them do new things. I'm very easy as a director because I like actors. I want to see them explore themselves." Anne Archer acknowledged, "One thing I can't get used to is how fast they work on these shows. You just finish a rehearsal and it seems they're printing the film. You have to deliver the goods on the first take. I've noticed that the people who are on these shows give remarkable performances. They know their characters so well they become identified with the person they play."

Gina Lollobrigida played Francesca Gioberti, the Italian half-sister of Angela. Gina told the press, "I thought we were doing a rehearsal and the director says, 'That's a take.' I don't mind speed in movies. I have always worked very hard. In the first picture I did with Frank Sinatra ('Never So Few'), they were rewriting the script every night. Frank said, 'If you want another take, just say so,' which was unusual for him. After every scene he said, 'It's OK, Gina?'"

Of Francesca, "They changed the character and the situations to make it more suitable. My character is Italian, and that's good. She and Angela have the same father. He went off to Italy, met a pretty girl and had another daughter. Naturally, Angela is not happy to find a new sister she has to share her land and wealth with." Leslie Caron played a French philanthropist from Chase Gioberti's past, Nicole Sauguet.

Leslie remarked, "Television has always made me nervous. The pace is so fast. They give you the script the night before and you have to memorize it quickly. Also I am an actress who likes to move a lot. I don't like to be static. On TV, the director often asks you to stay put. The staging is more limited. It's mostly closeups. I am not becoming a permanent member of the 'Falcon Crest' cast. I appear in the series just long enough to create havoc. I play a most wicked, wicked woman."

Before 1987, Leslie had lived in England for 12 years, in the U.S. for 8 years and in France for 11 years. "I always carried a French passport and I have returned to Paris because it is one of the most cultural cities in the world – with so many museums, dance companies and theaters. In Paris, there are 360 films a week to choose from and 100 plays. Many of the films are old classics.

"Frenchmen stand in long queues to see them. We look at films differently than Americans do. I have an apartment near Musee D'Orsay with a view of the Seine. It is a wonderful city in which to live, and it is so close to all the other beautiful European capitals. After 11 years in Paris it is very difficult for me to think about living elsewhere."

Earl Hamner expressed, "Some people say that Earl Hamner has betrayed his commitment, as if 'Falcon Crest' is something shabby. I think it's a valid exploration of human characters and family situations. The public gets vicarious thrills from watching the rich take pratfalls and suffer. Richness seems to magnify drama." 'Knight-Ridder News Service' pointed out, "There is one more member of the family who needs explanation. He is a bird wearing a feathered hood and sitting on a pedestal in the last scene.

"Angela and Lance both pet him as awkwardly as if they were rubbing sandpaper. They never bother to explain about him, so here goes: The bird is a falcon used in the ancient sport of falconry. He wears a hood to blind him and keep him docile. In the sport, humans remove the hoods and use the birds to hunt with. They kill, then return to perch on their masters' fists."

Earl stated, "We do human drama that seems to please big audiences because of legitimate conflicts: traditional family vs. fractured family, power vs. weak, wealth vs. poor." Robert Foxworth disclosed, "We shoot all up and down the coast, and, when we're up in the Napa Valley, I get to go to some of the best restaurants every night. The best thing in the world is to relax in one of those mud baths they have up there, then go out to a restaurant and drink some of that wonderful wine."

Set in California's wine-making capital, Napa Valley (45 miles north of San Francisco), the location was also one the state's most popular tourist attraction, especially during the weekend and throughout the summer. The centerpiece of 'Falcon Crest' was the 12,000-square-foot Victorian house, Villa Miravalle (meaning Valley View) built in 1885 by Albert Scroepfer.

Villa Miravalle sat on top of the 257-acre Miravalle estate, which was also home to the Spring Mountain Winery founded in 1968 and the 24-acre St. Clements Vineyards. Michael and Shirley Robbins bought Villa Miravalle in 1974, renamed the house Falcon Crest in 1981 for the TV series. As noted, "The house is a memento of another era." The exterior of the house and the vineyard scenes shown on television were filmed at Napa Valley.

By the 1983-84 TV season, the Falcon Crest wines went on sale. Michael Robbins, a lawyer who also studied winemaking in France told the press his wines were made in the French tradition. Spring Mountain produced 3000 cases of the first Falcon Crest Napa Valley Chardonnay 1980 which sold for $13.99 a bottle and 1500 cases of the Falcon Crest Napa Valley Gamay Beaujolais 1981 which sold for $6.00 a bottle. Of the grapes on 'Falcon Crest', Robert Foxworth revealed, "They're all plastic. The studio brought in 5 tons of plastic grapes to hang on those vines."

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