At this very moment the Television Critics Association is holding its biannual press tour in Pasadena, during which the stars of series debuting and returning parade across a stage to tell writers how great those series are. Yesterday, during the press-the-flesh, Variety's Stuart Levine grabbed TNT and TBS programming chief Michael Wright to talk about that Dallas relaunch, which will mingle casts original (perhaps even Larry Hagman after all) and still-unknown. Of the pilot, penned by Cynthia Cidre, Wright says:
"I don't want to give away the plot, but she found something authentic to business and to Dallas that allows them to trade on the same dynamic of the super wealthy," Wright said. "Dallas was always something of an Upstairs Downstairs paradigm. If it wasn't the rich and poor, it was attitude -- entitlement versus a populist point of view. This covers all that."
The piece says production's scheduled to begin "in only a few months." But where? Last we'd heard, Warner Horizon, the production company making the new Dallas, was still trying to decide between Texas and Louisiana, which likes to say its production incentives "lead the nation." But those incentives involve tax credits and rebates; Texas offers tiered payments, depending upon how much is spent. And the city of Dallas is willing to kick in a little as well, on top of what the state can and will offer.
There's a good chance the amount Texas offers producers will drop sooner than later, given the state's $25-billion budget shortfall. There was a report issued in mid-November by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that insisted states are giving too much to studios and getting too little in return. And only three weeks ago, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts released a economic-development incentives study critical of the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program: "Spending is on reimbursement for working capital, which has relatively less long-term economic benefit to the state than job creation or capital investment."
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Shortly before the holidays, Janis Burklund, head of the Dallas Film Commission, told us the city had made its own offer to Warner Horizon. And still, she told Unfair Park last night, there's no word on where Dallas will shoot. Says Burklund, the city remains in discussions with the production company, which is presently weighing its options -- Dallas or Louisiana or maybe even somewhere else. And consider this: Warner Horizon is presently shooting another pilot in Texas -- the made-for-Lifetime Meet Jane, starring Molly Parker. There's no chance they'd shoot J.R. in Austin, is there?