New ‘Dallas’ TV show now casting for local sites

Martin Schoeller/TNT
The cast of TNT’s “Dallas” includes (from left): Jordana Brewster, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Brenda Strong, Jesse Metcalfe and Julie Gonzalo.

Thanks to an innovative arrangement between the city of Dallas and TV producers, TNT’s new Dallaswill not only be shot here, it might be shot in your living room or at your favorite restaurant or, who knows, on the helipad of your downtown high-rise.

“We’re asking the community, anyone who is interested in having their property used — their home, business, some sort of attraction — to email us and we’ll forward them on to the producers,” said Janis Burklund, director of the Dallas Film Commission.

Think of it as a virtual casting call for locations. You submit a photo and a brief explanation of what makes your place a perfect spot for a scene in Dallas. And then like every other showbiz hopeful, you wait for your phone to ring.

In this age of switchblade cynicism, it’s tempting to dismiss this kind of American Idol-styled initiative with a “puh-leeze” eyeroll as an empty PR stunt. But everyone involved is serious, and seriously excited, about it.

“I think this is a great idea and I can’t wait to see what kinds of ideas come out of it,” said Cynthia Cidre, the writer-producer overseeing the Dallas reboot. “I don’t remember anything quite like this ever having been done before.

“This is a new Dallas and we want it to be in the new Dallas,” Cidre said. “This is a knockout city. I can’t believe all the incredible things you have going on there. We want to use all of that. We want to show Dallas as Dallas, not as some caricature.”

The show, expected to start shooting this fall and air next summer, will feature original stars Larry Hagman(J.R.), Patrick Duffy (Bobby) and Linda Gray (Sue Ellen), along with a new generation to continue the Ewings’ business battles and bedroom intrigue.

This casting call extends Dallas producers’ commitment to tap into the city when creating the new series. Fans of the original remember that the city’s presence didn’t extend much beyond the title sequence. The show was shot in Los Angeles, with only occasional glimpses of this downtown building or that local highway. Even all the indoor scenes set in Collin County’s iconic Southfork Ranch were shot on stage sets in some studio lot.

But this time around is different; television has changed. Viewers today are accustomed to shows that emphasize an authentic look and feel. Think of how Friday Night Lights, shot in and around Austin, created a beautifully detailed and genuine portrait of small-town Texas life. It’s this kind of rooted realism that the new Dallas is shooting for.

“I was talking with Larry [Hagman] and Patrick [Duffy], and they said they would spend one month a year in Dallas while making the old show,” Cidre said. “We want this show to live and breathe in Dallas. We don’t want to have to hide the palm trees the way you do when you shoot in Los Angeles.”

This is where the community comes into play. Who, after all, knows the good, the bad and the ugly (TV ugly, of course, not ugly ugly) better than the people who live here?

By enlisting the entire population of North Texas, the new Dallas will have an army of location scouts.

“I would have loved to have something like this to work with,” said Burklund, referring to her time spent as location manager for the Dallas-based series Walker, Texas Ranger.

She said the writers “can write to a location knowing they will be able to shoot there” and also “make sure that Dallas isn’t too stereotyped by the show.”

And there it is: the dark side of Dallas’ pop-culture success. Thanks to a procession of TV shows and movies (not to mention, cartoons), the rest of the world has a cowboys-and-Cadillacs image of Dallas that hardly mirrors the real thing. Leading that parade is, of course, the late, great prime-time soap opera,Dallas.

“We don’t feel that way — at all,” Cidre said. “We’re making a grounded family drama. This won’t be aDynasty-style, dripping-in-diamonds soap opera.

“The reason we’re shooting in Dallas is that we love the city. We want to make Dallas proud.”

Casting call details

To submit your property, email dallastv@dallascityhall.com. Include your phone number, email and street address, along with photos, a brief description of the property and why you’d like to participate.