My Dallas Morning News SHOT IN TEXAS column from today.
BY JOE O’CONNELL
Special to the Dallas Morning News
ABC is expected to begin production in the Dallas-Fort Worth area Monday on the pilot of Good Christian Bitches, and TNT’s reboot of the Dallas TV series will start production in April.
The pilots are positive signs for the North Texas film and television industry, which went from hosting production on three network series—The Good Guys, Lone Star and Chase—to none.
Dallas seems like a lock to be more than a pilot since original Dallas stars Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray signed on. The new show follows their grown-up children, with two Desperate Housewives stars leading the cast--Josh Henderson as John Ross and Jesse Metcalfe as Christopher.
Good Christian Bitches follows the “high school mean girl” (Leslie Bibb) who returns to Dallas after her divorce and runs into the old gang, which includes Kristen Chenoweth (Glee), Annie Potts (Designing Women), Miriam Shor (Damages), and Marisol Nichols (24).
The show’s title, taken from Kim Gatlin’s book on which it is based, is likely to change, but not before it has generated some national controversy. Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association sent out an email to members seeking petition signatures protesting the show even before it shoots.
“Disney-owned ABC has no reservations about creating hate speech against Christians,” Wildmon wrote, “but you can be sure they would never consider a show called Good Muslim B-tches or Good Jewish B-tches.
ABC spokesperson Erin Felentzer said every show in the pilot stage is considered to have a working title and offered no comment on the protest.
“I never thought that name would stick,” said Janis Burklund, head of the Dallas Film Commission, who remains more concerned about how much the Texas Legislature may cut funding for filming incentives program aimed at attracting networks to shoot in the state from the current two-year $60 million total to as little as $10 million.
“We’re more concerned about the future,” said Burklund, since the current batch of pilots will fall under current funding. “At least one if not more series have backed off while they wait and see what happens.” Details on productions needs for both shows are at the commission’s web site, filmdfw.com.
The Good Christian Bitches pilot from Darren Starr (Sex and the City) is actually what’s called a “pilot presentation,” essentially half a pilot that showcases its potential as a full series. But the current star power behind the show gives it a strong shot of making ABC’s fall schedule.
Earlier this month during Texas Film Hall of Fame ceremonies in Austin, film and television producer Scott Robbe said a clause barring incentives for projects showing Texas in a bad light may be what’s really keeping many investors away at this point.
“That’s got to go!” said Robbe, who recently moved to Austin where he is working on an upcoming Austin shoot of a nursing home-set horror thriller called The Home. It’s expected to feature Elijah Wood, Michelle Rodriguez, Ed Asner, Hal Holbrook, Louise Fletcher and Cloris Leachman. Robbe is also working with Gus Van Sant on a documentary about the AIDS advocacy group ACT UP.