Dallas: Big Screen Version to Be a Comedy

John Travolta to play J.R. EwingIt looks like the on-again/off-again big screen adaptation of Dallas will finally be coming to the big-screen, though in a very surprising way.

The TV series Dallas ran for 13 seasons and 357 episodes on CBS from 1978 until 1991. It was a top-rated drama for much of its run and had the U.S. wondering “Who Shot J.R.?” for an entire summer. The show ended on a cliffhanger but it was thankfully resolved in 1996 in the first of two reunion movies.

20th Century Fox has had plans for making a $65 million movie version of Dallas for some time. Australian director Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde) was once attached and the studio announced that John Travolta would play J.R. Ewing, with Luke Wilson as Bobby, Shirley MacLaine as Miss Ellie, and Jennifer Lopez as Sue Ellen. Luketic was reportedly not pleased with the casting choices and left the project, followed soonafter by Lopez. Meg Ryan was cast to take Lopez’s place.

Early last year, Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) was set to take over the project and wanted to make the film more “global” rather than focusing on Texas as the series had. In September 2006, Wilson, MacLaine and Ryan were all dropped because Chadha wasn’t pleased with the casting choices either. She has since left the project and only Travolta remains attached.

It’s now been announced that veteran director and former Hill Street Blues actress Betty Thomas is being hired to finally get Dallas into movie theaters. Pam Brady, who wrote Hot Rod and created FOX’s The Loop sitcom, is penning the script. Both Thomas and Brady would seem like odd choices for Dallas except that the studio now wants to make the movie a lower-budgeted comedy. Thomas certainly has experience adapting TV shows for the big-screen since she directed 1995’s very successful The Brady Bunch Movie. Will Dallas follow in that same self-effacing style? Production is expected to being in January so stay tuned! TV Series Finale home page

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