"Dallas" Creator David Jacobs Says He's Been Excluded from TNT Reboot
David Jacobs, creator of âDallasâ and â Knots Landing,â tells me heâs been excluded entirely from the coming reboot of the famous series on TNT. He will get to keep his âcreated byâ credit, but nothing else, no money, and no participation. âIâll get the $714 Writers Guild fee for a sequel,â Jacobs says. Jacobs tells me found out that âDallasâ was being restarted second hand. When he inquired about it, he says he told everyone â including new head writer Cynthia Cidreâthat he was essentially retired and didnât want to write the show. âI didnât want any authority,â he told her at their one lunch. But he did think a consultancy wouldnât be out of the question since basically, âDallasâ relies on all the characters he created in the 1970sâJR Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Sue Ellen, and their family, even the same Southfork Ranch set.
âAll I said was that Iâd like to be a presence. I told her if you need anything on the back story, Iâm there. I never heard anything from her again until I heard TNT ordered a pilot.â Jacobs was involved with the failed John Travolta movie version, because the movie and TV rights had been separated in his original contract. âIn the early 2000s, we took the movie to Warner Bros. They passed, and then New Regency bought the movie rights. But they didnât make the movie.â
When Jacobs finally read Cidreâs script, he thought it wasnât bad. âI said it wasnât audacious enough. I made some notes.â But Jacob says after he submitted them to the network he was told they wouldnât show them to Cidre. Why not? âI was told there were too many cooks. I was going to make a t shirt up that said, Too many cooks, get rid of the with the recipe.â
This year, when the producers put in for credits, they asked for âDeveloped by Cynthia Cidre, based on âDallasâ created by David Jacobs.â But the Writers Guild denied that, and ruled that the only credit was âCreated by David Jacobs.â It was his show, still, at least at the Writers Guild.
Once the WGA ruled for him, the production extended a tiny olive branchâbut with a proviso. âThey offered me some money and a consultancy, but made it clear they didnât care whether I didnât do any consulting. But they asked me to waive all my rights.â He refused, so negotiations came to an end. âI asked to see Cynthia, and I asked her to meet me for a drink or lunch. And she said no. She refused me three times. I wrote a memo to her and said, I donât want any authority.â Their lawyer told my lawyer I was too aggressive.â
After Jacobs created âDallas,â he went on to run âFamily,â an Emmy winning ABC drama of the 70s. But he always kept in touch with (the now deceased) Leonard Katzman, who ran âDallasâ for years. âI was around, thatâs all I wanted, to be around.â For the record, he told Katzman that the famous Bobby Ewing shower sceneâwhen Pamâs dream wiped out an entire awful seasonâ was a âdumb idea.â
Jacobs says now the producers have cut him out completely. âI will not waive my rights. The material isnât bad. But I read the scripts and found they were very plot driven. I thought she was going to have trouble down the road. The original âDallasâ and âKnots Landingâ ran five years too long because the audience was so engaged with the characters. You didnât need to come up with constant plot points. The scripts are good. But they should have been Bobbyâs kid the bad one, and JRâs kld the good one. Bobby has a new wife, and sheâs from Houston. She should have been from main line Philadelphia, or Boston or New York. Or very rich. But I never had the opportunity to express any of this.â
The revived âDallasâ launches on TNT on June 13th with a two hour premiere.