Two-hour telepic to chart rise and fall of classic sudser
HOLLYWOOD — Break out the champagne and shoulder pads: ABC is building a new “Dynasty.”
Alphabet has greenlit production on a two-hour telepic that will explore the rise and fall of Aaron Spelling’s classic primetime sudser. Matthew Miller (“The Perfect You”) is writing and directing the project, which is being exec produced by Stanley M. Brooks and Greg Gugliotta — the team behind NBC’s successful 2003 “Three’s Company” mockumentary.
Casting has already started for the pic, which is expected to be ready in time for May sweeps. Donna Rosenstein, the ABC casting vet who was at the net during the “Dynasty” glory days, is already on the prowl for thesps to portray key thesps and execs involved in the creation and production of the skein.
Pic is being produced by Once Upon a Time Prods. in association with Nitelite Entertainment.
Unlike Brooks and Gugliotta’s “Three’s Company” pic, the untitled “Dynasty” project won’t be a tell-all behind-the-scenes dishfest focusing on out-of-control actors or power-mad webheads.
“We realized we can’t do that; it’s been done,” said ABC senior VP of longform Quinn Taylor, noting that, in any case, there wasn’t that much tension between the actors on the show.
“Linda Evans was baking cookies for the cast,” Taylor said.
Behind the scenes
Instead, “This is about the creation of the show, the network politics involved in (needing) a hit show and the pressure to keep one-upping yourself (to stay atop the Nielsens).”
What’s more, Miller designed the script so that the saga of “Dynasty” — which premiered on ABC just days before Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inauguration and ended a few months after he left office — serves as a metaphor for the entire decade of the 1980s.
“If ‘Three’s Company’ was about absolute stardom corrupting absolutely, this is the story of the Reagan years as told through the era of ‘Dynasty,’ ” Brooks said. “It’s going to be social commentary and darkly comedic.”
Gugliotta added, “It hopefully will be the kind of movie people talk about as a reflection of the era. It’s a much bigger story than just ‘Dynasty.’ ”
Taylor said Miller has come up with an “element that is daring and different” to help widen the story out beyond just one TV show.
“We’re going to track a middle-class family through the ’80s and see how their lives unfold as they watch the show,” he said. Segs with the family will be brief and serve to get viewers into and out of certain phases of the history of “Dynasty.”
Still, the majority of the pic will be focused on Hollywood.
“Dynasty” was created by Richard and Esther Shapiro for ABC in reaction to CBS’ “Dallas,” and in some ways the story of “Dynasty” is a classic example of how network politics affects the creative process.
“The drama here is really about more, more, more, more, more,” Brooks said. “If J.R. was shot, let’s massacre the entire cast. By the end of the show, they had aliens. It was always, how could we be bigger, more eccentric than ‘Dallas.’ ”
Indeed, “All the characters in the movie go on this roller coaster ride of more, more, more,” Gugliotta added. “Esther Shapiro becomes totally immersed in the success of the show and its merchandising. … Esther and Richard wanted to create this rich TV drama, and what transpired was something else.”
Support from Spelling
Neither Spelling nor the Shapiros will be involved in the production of the pic, although Taylor said he has gotten Spelling’s blessing for the project.
“I spoke to him about it,” Taylor said. “He looked at the outline, he gave it his blessing and he said, ‘Enjoy.’ ”
While casting is just starting on the pic, Brooks said he’s already thinking about who should play ABC exec Tony Thomopoulos. “We might use the same actor as in the ‘Three’s Company’ movie,’ ” he said, referring to thesp Gary Hudson.
Brooks and Gugliotta are teamed for NBC’s upcoming “The Legend of Butch and Sundance”; duo also worked together on the Eye’s hit mini “Living With the Dead.”
“Dynasty” pic was put together for Brooks and Gugliotta by ICM; Miller’s repped by Endeavor.