Dueling Southforks

Quick -- spot the real Southfork Ranch, the one in Parker. Good for you. (It's the one on the left.) The other one's a replica built in the mid-'90s by "corrupt Romanian billionaire Ilie Alexandru," as he's described on Ultimate Dallas. The only real difference, aside from a few exterior alterations, notes the fansite: It's much bigger and way gaudier than the rather modest TV-set-turned-tourist-attraction just north of town. And, it sits on 247 acres in Slobozia.

"Southfork Dallas in Hermes Land" is a cross between an amusement park and a resort based on the Southfork ranch including a 132-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower, vernacular gypsy pagodas and castles. The Southfork Ranch in Slobozia is a sort of do-it-yourself reconstruction, interpreted from videotapes of the television series and books on the architecture of the American South.

I mention it only because The Austrian Times, to which I canceled my subscription years ago, reports this morning that after a shootout with Romanian police in '01, Alexandru -- who "used to stride around the estate in cowboy boots with a JR-style 10 gallon hat and six-guns" -- was jailed and the property seized. It was then sold off to repay some debts, and has just been "converted into a luxury hotel for fans of the series." Because, after all, Dallas did change the world.

Ah, and speaking of that November '08 clusterfudge at Southfork, there's a new DVD chronicling the whole wingding, including a cast dinner at the House of Blues and a sitdown with Gary Cogill. Here's the trailer:


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