Film and TV

On the Set With Billy Zane, a Cool Dude and, Now, "a Citizen of Dallas and So Happy To Be"

Tales of Billy Zane sightings are not hard to come by in recent weeks, from kids' hospital charity fundraisers to the AT&T Performing Arts Center gala opening to the AC/DC show a few days ago. If nothing else, he can be found at least twice a week at Premiere Video on Mockingbird Lane, chatting up proprietors Sam Wade and Heather Hankamer.

"It's my office," Zane says, sitting in his other office -- the set of The Deep End on a sound stage at The Studios at Las Colinas. "Those guys are awesome. I'm trying to envision a film channel Sam should host and just walk people through and pick from that amazing collection. They're really true curators."

Zane has been here for several weeks and will remain here till at least year's end; no word yet on whether ABC will order from Fox, the show's producer, more than six episodes of the legal dramedy, a midseason replacement due to bow in the spring. We'll have more about the making of the show later: Patrick Michels and I spent the afternoon on the set, itself a surreal site -- a sturdy yet wholly make-believe law office whose windows reveal a phony Los Angeles skyline drenched in smoggy sunshine. Till then, then, Zane spends quite a bit of our interview chatting up Dallas, his home-away-from for who knows how long -- perhaps only till December, maybe a whole season or several depending upon network execs' capricious whims.

Jump for his love letter to our home town.

"I am a citizen of Dallas and so happy to be," he says. "Got my routine -- hitting the yoga, the Whole Foods, cycling the Katy Trail. I've spent probably the majority of my adult life on location, usually in the jungle or at sea." He laughs. "When I've got basketball across the street, following a major concert, it's pretty cool.

"The quality of my experiences is purely credited to the caliber of the friends I've met here, who have been either the avid supporters of the arts I met at the Wyly or just members of the crew who want to share their slice of heaven. It's been extraordinary. Last week we helped organize a charity fundraiser for a local childrens hospital. It was great, so much fun, and we raised a lot of money. I've never done something like that on such short notice. But that's a testament to how things happen here. It moves." He snaps. Punctuation -- like that. He grins.

"Other than a small town in Australia where I wanted to get a farm -- and that was completely impractical -- this is a very practical option, and I think regardless of whether the series goes for years or now, I would strongly consider a second residence in Dallas."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky