"Television is most enlightening when it becomes a mirror, capturing our most human moments and our most trying situations," Fred Rothenberg observed. On 'Falcon Crest', David Selby played Richard Channing, the publisher of 'The San Francisco Globe' and also its chairman of the board. When Richard Channing expressed his desire to leave the Cartel headquarter in New York City for California, Henri Denault, his adoptive father complained, "Newspapers? They’re a dying business. Second anachronism."
Richard's secretary Diana also remarked, "Newspapers are hardly a large profit area." However Richard maintained, "The papers give us a chance to use another form of power - information. Control what people think and you control their lives." David Selby explained, "Because of television's hectic nature, an actor playing a character on a weekly series inevitably draws more on his own personality. I have a real temper and I use that for Richard.
"I don't hold grudges or anything like that, but my rages are immediate and strong. I let Channing use that. You've got to use part of yourself or you'll go crazy. Then the writers start writing to your personality. I've worked very hard at building a character, and I think Channing is one of the best male characters on television today (by 1985). He has a conscience. If anything defeats him, it will be his conscience."
In 1942, at the height of World War II, Angela Channing gave birth to her son Richard. Viewers were told in 1987, Angela's ex-husband Douglas Channing and his mistress, Angela's former sister-in-law, Jacqueline Perrault, the chief of the Cartel, told Angela her first child was stillborn. When Richard was 4, Henri Denault, a Nazi collaborator, adopted Richard at an orphanage in Europe. For 10 years since 1972, Richard Channing spent close to $500,000 searching for his mother.
In episode 12 of season 2, aptly titled "…Divided We Fall", Richard Channing announced at a party held at Falcon Crest and attended by "three generations of beautiful Gioberti women (2 by marriage and one by birth)" that Jacqueline Perrault was the mother he had been searching for since arriving in Tuscany Valley. Angela was horrified to learn it was Jacqueline, her former sister-in-law, who had turned out to be the woman who broke up her marriage to Douglas Channing in 1947, in the early years of the Cold War. Angela also learnt Jacqueline then married Jean Pierre Charbon, Henri Denault's half-brother after she divorced Angela's brother, Jason. Jacqueline sold Angela's son Richard to Henri. There was never any adoption.
The Cartel, a multi-billion dollar per annum business specializing in Brazilian timber, African diamonds, Indonesian copra, American wheat and Japanese steel. It took 30 years (or since the start of the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953) to bring the Cartel to this point, according to Henri Denault, who was said also played the European money markets.
Henri Denault (to Richard Channing): As your adoptive father I only want to be a good teacher, that's all. I was never anything more. When you were 12 (*) years old, you contacted every adoptive agencies in the country in spite of the fact that your records have been – that I have them - destroyed. You discovered your real name was Channing. You took that name for yourself. Then I knew this day would come. And now you want more, you want out (of the Cartel). You want your freedom. You want to see if you can do what I have done. But freedom is never free. Quid pro quo - something for something.
(*) Joanne Walmsley advised, "Number 12 represents the completed cycle of experience and when an individual reincarnates as the number 12 they have completed a full cycle of experience and learned of the possibility of regeneration toward a higher-consciousness. They belong to a group of developed souls who have accumulated an unusual inner-strength through many and varied lifetimes. They may still, however, be hindered by old habits that need to be changed. The soul then attracts what it needs as a learning experience. A reversal of negative thoughts can bring about very favourable and positive effects and can aid in achieving their goals and aspirations."
Quid pro quo, Richard told Henri Denault in exchange for initial funding and the assistance of a secretary, Diana Hunter, he would help solve the Cartel's cash-flow problem by delivering the California wine industry which included real estate, governmental subsidies and enormous profit. David Selby made the observation, "Careers are funny. I look back and I think, it hasn't been a bad career for a guy who started out as a ghost (in 'Dark Shadows').
"I had started to do something on 'Flamingo Road' (voodoo) that I didn't get a chance to develop. Michael Tyrone remained a rather broad character, a total Machiavellian with very little redeeming virtue. Channing has become much more complicated than Tyrone. There are more subtleties, even if they do dress alike. When Earl (Hamner) asked me to come over, I told him it was only because I already had the wardrobe.
"Acting wasn't something that was a choice. I come from a family of coal miners and farmers. I think I started thinking about acting watching films and television. I was a big dreamer. And television was a real avenue for dreams in West Virginia. It was hard to get out of West Virginia. We weren't the aristocracy of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. If you went to a college like Yale or Carnegie-Mellon, there's a real network that helps you get started. The first time I got out, I literally hopped on a train with $25 in my pocket."
Susan Sullivan remembered, "The scripts constantly surprise me. We can’t write too far ahead because we have to see what’s working." Bob Foxworth added, "With a large cast, the acting part gets, frankly, kind of boring … It’s really hard to define a role of this sort. It’s not a type or a character that fits into a pigeonhole." Dramas such as 'Dallas' and 'Falcon Crest', Susan pointed out, "These are fantasy shows, escapes.
"This is not hard-core reality. It has escapism value. It’s nice to escape reality for an hour." However "you need an IQ of 140 to follow the storyline. With 14 characters we have so many storylines. In order to keep up you must watch and pay attention … Still, I feel the audiences are real smart. And I think the studios sometimes forget that and go too far. And when they do, when they take that extra, unnecessary step, they lose you guys out there." Earl Hamner described "'Falcon Crest' is like a book with different chapters, with satisfying experiences within each chapter."
Psychiatrist Dr. Gregory Young spent close to 20 years researching 12 styles of personality and wrote his findings in the 1978 book, 'Your Personality And How To Live With It'. Speaking to Barbara Burtoff, he gave as TV examples of Ambitious Personality: J.R. Ewing on 'Dallas', Alexis Morrell on 'Dynasty' or Angela Gioberti on 'Falcon Crest'.
"Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing. The ambitious person sees all of life as a challenge. He/she can be competitive, aggressive and walk all over you if that’s the only way to reach the goal." On 'Falcon Crest', Angela married 4 times to keep Falcon Crest (Douglas Channing, Phillip Erikson, Peter Stavros and Frank Agretti). "This person can be charming, likable, agreeable provided you don’t obstruct success plans." Angela had made grandson, Lance, heir and positioned great grandson Joseph (named after her grandfather), as future winemaker.
"At work, the ambitious person functions well in an independent capacity. He/she makes a good boss – happy when you do well because that makes him/her look well and get ahead." In one scene, Angela reminded daughter Julia that her son, Angela "carry Lance into the vineyard before he could walk - just like my father did with me. We spent every waking hour coaching, teaching and grooming him to treasure what we have here. He just has to be taught a lesson."
"But don’t trust the ambitious individual when working beside you on the team or in a less superior capacity. This person is always plotting, scheming how to reach the next step up the ladder to the top – nothing less will do. In romance, this person does not take time to smell the roses. Goal-oriented, this individual has a mental rating system for a mate and may jump quickly for the seemingly right man or woman."
In one scene, Douglas Channing told Angela she was the heart and soul of Falcon Crest, "It was your first love. I could never compete Angela." However Angela reasoned, "What about your newspapers? You were just as involved in your work as I was with mine." Douglas lamented, "Sometimes I wish we're different." Angela offered, "Oh we have some good times Doug but it just couldn't work out. We're so much alike - so independent."
"In family life, this person has a tough time gearing down from the rigorous striving of the work world. He/she may allow work to take time away from family or apply the same goals to satisfying parenting. The ambitious mom may feel frustrated if unable to accomplish goals beyond homemaking, either in a career or community activities."
Emma: At meal time I am as hungry as a lion and then when I get to the table and I see all your faces I lose my appetite.
Julia: Are we so grim?
Emma: Grim is not the word. Lance is rude. Melissa is two-faced. You are moody and mother is plotting the overthrow of the entire world especially anyone who look at her cross swords.
Susan Sullivan made the comment, "On these kind of soap opera type of shows, they give you a character and then they cast it and I think they cast it so the actor sort of fill it in like a paint by number. You bring your personality and your own idiosyncrasy to the character and hopefully that makes it work." Lorenzo Lamas believed, "Acting and driving are very similar. Both take tremendous concentration and discipline. (In the 1985-86 season) I started finding bits of humor in the mundane dialog we have to use. I began to see a little humor in the fact that Lance, the character I play, is completely unaware of everything around him. He’s in his own little world and nothing touches him. I found humor in that and played on it."