'Dallas' was "the story of an American family." Leonard Katzman clarified, "In a sense, we are the only real family show on television prime time (in 1979), in that it is a real family. Families in other shows are all so good, with nobody raising their voice or doing bad things." David Jacobs explained, "Let's be frank, when I wrote 'Dallas', I was really tempted to see how crazy I could get. You know, 'Is this too crazy', 'No it's not too crazy'. 

"The moment that made 'Dallas' a show that would live forever, at least forever in television terms – which is at least 3 more years (at the time to the 1983-84 season) – was the moment J.R. walked into his baby son's room. That one scene, with J.R. and the baby all by themselves, nobody else saw, except the 53 million people or whatever watching the show around the world – that one moment lets you get as crazy as you want with them the next week. If your characters are real enough, you can sell anything storywise because of the suspension of disbelief which is much stronger on television. On paper, it looks like shtik." 

On reflection, 'Gannett News Service' remarked, "'Dallas' was the TV show that defined the four basic food groups of prime time soap (greed, lust, vanity and power)." 'The Tampa Tribune' expressed, "The prevailing theme of 'Dallas' is power, the relentless, vicious quest for power by all the characters involved, most notably J.R. Ewing, corporate America's answer to Yassir Arafat. Jacobs loves power, the uses of it, the consequences of it, the fun of it." 

David Jacobs elaborated, "It's a good adversary, it's a good obstacle. In drama, whether it's melodrama like 'Dallas' or vanilla drama like 'Knots Landing', you still have people wanting, wanting something. There has to be obstacles to that. You're looking at them, the rich, the powerful – I think they love to see Sue Ellen miserable, you know? Because you say, 'Look at all that money and all that power, and she's still a drunk.'" 

"This show ('Knots Landing') is what they term a more 'reality-based' show than say, 'Dallas', so the motivation has to be more real," Donna Mills concurred. "Playing Abby is a high for me because I get to do, vicariously, all those wicked things I would never do. It's a pleasure being the one who's stirring things up and knowing that viewers are really paying attention to you. Women, I think, are especially fascinated by Abby because they somewhat identify with her. 

"Everyone has instincts that aren't good, brave, reverent and true. They are tempted, now and then, to do something wicked, though they usually suppress it. So they love to be a character who doesn't have a conscience, who follows through and just lets it all go. It's a vicarious kind of thrill for them. They enjoy seeing what Abby can get away with. What makes Abby fun to play is that she absolutely does not have a conscience. It will never be written into the show because the viewer must not be made to feel sympathy for a character like her, but as an actress, I try to reason why she has no guilt feelings." 

Leonard Katzman maintained, "Any show that arouses strong emotions is successful. Certainly it's better this way, than being critically acclaimed, with no audience. You work just as hard on a show that does not succeed." Larry Hagman added, "It is proof they're all tuning in. Acting is a license to steal. A lot of fun that pays well, with people taking you places and entertaining you." 

Leonard Katzman continued, "People like him (J.R.) because secretly they would like to be as bad as he is, and get away with it, the way he does … It's ('Dallas') a world of rich people, who dress well and have power. There are good guys and bad guys. Viewers can easily take sides. Also, our viewers stay with us because while each show is complete in itself (in the 1978-79 season), it remains a continuing drama – and you'll notice how I slipped over the word 'soap'. But in a sense we are appealing to the same type of emotions that people have when they watch the soaps." 

Larry Hagman convinced 'Dallas' was popular because it appealed "to the devil that is in each of us." Donna Mills observed, "I think a lot of people think a man can get away with a lot more of this kind of stuff than a woman, I think it's as acceptable now for a woman. She's not cheating on anybody, and that makes it less bad than J.R. If she sleeps with somebody's husband, his wife must not be treating him very nice anyway. These things do happen, I mean where do all these swinging couple places come from? It all exists to a larger extent, I think, than we portray it on a show like 'Knots Landing'." 

Leonard Katzman theorized, "Up till this time (end of 1980-81 season), obviously we're living in a much more liberal society. We have a lady on the show played by Linda Gray, who if you would look at what she has done – cheated on her husband, became an alcoholic, almost lost their baby, had a car crash – and yet she is a sympathetic character because J.R. is such, uh, so much worse than she is. Obviously people accept that now. On the other hand ... we seldom have any overt sex on the show. Ours is much more intimation than realization. I think it's an absolute pendulum, as it's always been." 

Speaking to 'Green Bay Press-Gazette', Larry Hagman made the point, "When there is a scene where J.R. enters the room (in a rage) I come in with the nicest smile on my face. I always do the direct opposite to written direction and now if you think I am being overly mean, as J.R., then I must tell you that I come from Texas, 50 miles west of Dallas, and I know the people there, and I can tell you J.R. does not hold a handkerchief to the guys who are really in the business. 

"The last time I went home, I met a friend who said, 'Why, Larry, that's the cutest little science fiction show you're on.' Open the paper any morning and you'll see where some major oil company has yet again swindled the country out of a couple of hundred million dollars. No senator in Texas ever got elected without a little oil money somewhere along the line. The climate in Texas is what it is because there's a lot of money down there – and mine makes you full of greed and avarice and all that. Texas has had money so long these elements have become part of the local character." 

Donna Mills noted, "I think they (the producers) don't want to alienate the audience with this character (Abby). I could be her, I could do what she does, except I have a conscience." Susan Flannery described Leslie Stewart, "She's a modern-day career woman. She's totally different from the other women on the show – she's career minded, they're family minded; she's male-oriented in a different way than they are." 

David Jacobs believed "(Sex) should never be snide, and on 'Charlie's Angels' it's snide. I don't think it is on 'Dallas' or 'Knots Landing'. It's important enough to people, not just their performance, but how they use sex – how men and women use sex as part of their tools to achieve that they want to achieve, which is a degrading experience in a way. But people do that, and I think it's real."

At one time, The Moral Majority and The National Federation for Decency protested demanding for boycott by advertisers of shows the groups considered offensive. Leonard Katzman argued, "I think just the words 'boycott' and 'blacklist' are the worst words you can possibly use in this society." 

It was reported David Jacobs normally wrote with a central character and then built the rest of the story around that character, "That's the way I work because I'm an unreconstructed novelist. In 'Dallas', it was Pamela … I take a character and put him (or her) out of context. We talked about doing something southwest, something rich and doing something in cattle and oil and all that. So I took the poor girl right? That was Pamela and we move her into this family."

Victoria Principal voiced, "I have the sweetest memories of the mini-series. Those are still my five favorite shows." Leonard Katzman made known, "We used to call it 'Pammy Knows Best'. Then we began to feel that the show wouldn't have a long life that way, the story of a wife who solves everybody's problems." 

Larry Hagman revealed, "I'm a great believer in nepotism. It’s just so hard for new people to get their foot in the Hollywood door. The more help you can give your kids, the better; hell, I give help to my friends, why not my kids? The life expectancy of an actress in full bloom is about 10 years. This is also a totally male-dominated industry, a male chauvinist organization. But the sooner (daughter) Heidi cracks it, the sooner she can get a career going. 

"Already, at 21 years of age, she is actually kind of late. But I wanted her to get a couple of college years under the belt to see if she liked the academic life; like me, she didn't. I came home the other day and there on the table was a check for $2,500. When I asked where it came from, (wife) Maj said, 'Oh, just a little pool I did for Jack Haley.' Why in the past year, Maj had made $25,000 from building jacuzzies. She contracts out the work, but in the final stages she gets in there herself, spraying gunite." 

In 1987, Susan Flannery returned to daytime television on 'The Bold And The Beautiful'. Susan told the press at the time, "I received a phone call from Bill Bell, who had written for me when I portrayed Laura (on 'Days of our Lives'). He called and asked if I'd be interested and if I was willing to sit down and talk with him about the story. We did, and I said, 'Sure, that sounds all right.'

"It's fun to start something brand new, like 'B&B'. It's easier to do a soap in a half-hour form. You don't have the heavy workload you have on an hour show. Working on 'B&B' will still give me a lot of time to do the other things that I want to do." Susan Flannery was a licensed pilot, "I get bored. I just want to learn things and do things. You just have to move along and learn. You're in the grave a long time."

Susan also made the observation, "The shows are much faster-paced today. The stories move much quicker, the production values are much improved, and there is also a lot more money spent on the shows today than in the past. When I was on 'Days', I wore the same shoes for eight years. We'll have to wait for the audience response to the character (Stephanie) to see how her storyline progresses.

"She has a big secret, and we're going to take the first year (1987) to unravel it slowly but surely. She's not exactly a 'good girl', so there'll be some twists and turns, I hope. At least, it'll be different. If it wouldn't be, I wouldn't have agreed to do it. He (Bill Bell) knows what I can and can't do. I like the half hour form, as opposed to a full hour. It's easy to do, and you can get a nice amount of story into that time frame."

Before 'The Bold And The Beautiful', Susan Flannery was involved in project development at Columbia Pictures Television, "Sometimes, you sort of go down another lane, and you don't even know you're heading down it. I often think that every performer should try that; it certainly gives you an appreciation of what the writers, producers and directors have to go through."

In October 1991, Susan Flannery started directing full episodes of 'The Bold And The Beautiful', "I enjoy the technical aspects. It's like pieces of a puzzle that all fit together. And you're choreographing the cameras and the actors. I directed them all along anyway! Having acted with all of them, I know them so well. I try to find ways to do everything to help them, and steer away from their weaknesses. Not that the other directors don't but it's a different language."

Stephen Shortridge was surprised when he reported in April 1987, "The show has jelled. It's come together already. Susan takes pretty dramatic lines and underplays them. It's very effective. I see a soap style. Writers overdo the dramatics. And if you play it too close to the script, you can mess up. Susan Flannery is my guide. We (the cast) relate.

"On 'Murder, She Wrote', I left a trail for Angela Lansbury, and then went home. Grateful for the job, but I didn't learn anything. (Bill) Bell works off character emotions, their reactions. Out of that you get a story. He's concerned with what happens to the people. You may have talking heads, but one is affecting another. That's soap. Action doesn't work in this medium. At least, I don't think it does. Usually it looks so stagy and false."

Blog Archive