Travolta to still play J.R. Ewing in comedy

Regency and 20th Century Fox are overhauling the bigscreen adaptation of TV series “Dallas,” about the oil-rich Ewing clan, and this time they’re drilling for laughs.

Betty Thomas, the director who mined two spoof movie hits from “The Brady Bunch,” is in discussions to direct. Pam Brady, who most recently scripted “Hot Rod,” is penning the script.

John Travolta remains attached to play slimy oil tycoon J.R. Ewing.

When the movie was derailed late last year, Gurinder Chadha (“Bend It Like Beckham”) was directing. Luke Wilson was attached to play Bobby Ewing with Shirley MacLaine to play Miss Ellie, while producers were talking with Meg Ryan to play Sue Ellen after Jennifer Lopez dropped out.

The budget for the comic “Dallas” should be lower than the projected $65 million for the straight-faced version.

There is also hope that a comedy about the dysfunctional Ewings will appeal to a younger audience, which has become a Regency priority. Studio is eyeing a January start date.

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