Jesse Metcalfe

DALLAS RE-DEUX --- As a devout viewer of the original CBS Dallas (1978-1991), I was a bit dubious when TNT announced plans to re-launch the series last. I say only a bit, as with that tacit announcement came the fact that three of the original stars, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Grey, were returning as well. In the intervening years, whenever someone mentioned the original show, I must confess I felt a little less than honorable in even championing it. Let’s face it, it was a prime-time soap opera, but, that said, the writing was surprisingly good and the ebbs-and-flows of its characters rather miraculous; but, Hagman, Duffy and Gray brought a professional sheen to the new show and all have risen fittingly to the occasion in this new version. 

Hagman, who I loved in many early-black-and-white shows, as well as I Dream of Jeannie (with Barbara Eden), was truly sensational. There are many who said that Dallas was Hagman … and, I cannot disagree. He was Dallas; JR … the man you loved to hate. The re-booted show’s first season was pretty damn good; Hagman, looking noticeably older and not in the best of health was as tremendous as always. Duffy more than held his own and Gray, was a nice touch; although I understand there was some confusion on how best to re-work her character into the new show. The stories, introducing the second generation of Dallas-stars made some sense, but the beauty of seeing those three original stars was sublime. Late last year, Hagman passed, even before their second as season was done filming, so the writers and producers were sent scrambling. His death in the series was monumental, as it should have been, and that episode and the next paid the proper homage to him and the character.

 In the funeral episode, the Dallas theme-song, was played by a single trumpet ... it was, hauntingly beautiful. Interestingly enough, the 'Who shot JR question,' has been used yet again and so far, it’s holding up surprisingly well. The 1980 Dallas episode titled (which answered the question Who Shot JR the first time) Who Done It remains the second highest rated prime-time telecast ever. The final scene in that episode was a major point in the series as Duffy rose to the occasion and knew, from then on out, his character knew he'd have to be the bad guy … or, the guy who got things done. For my money, Duffy’s acting has always been underrated to a degree, but, I have to say that his episodes since that transition have been nothing short of brilliant. Mark my words; his role now is essential to the show. Up till now, it’s was JR’s son (Josh Henderson) working against Bobby’s son (Jesse Metcalfe) … now, they're working together and the action has been ratcheted up. Mitch Pileggi, from The X Files, has been cast these two seasons as a probable enemy (Harris Ryland) to The Ewing clan; he has ever so slowly wound up as JR’s possible killer. In many ways, he is the surprise of this re-boot is splendid. If you watched this show and held it is esteem, do yourself a favor and watch this re-boot.

RIP GUITARIST HUGH McCRACKEN --- Session guitarist Hugh McCracken died on March 28th at the age of 61 of Leukemia. McCracken will be forever remembered for his stellar work on Paul McCartney’s 1971 album Ram – including the #1 hit “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”; as well as on John Lennon’s classic “Happy Xmas(War Is Over)”, as well as Lennon’s final recordings for his, and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy.

There’s a funny story that when he played with Lennon, he asked Hugh if he did indeed play with McCartney … and, Hugh said yes. Lennon said that exercise was an audition for his work. Funny! He also played with Roberta Flack; Hall & Oates; Bob Dylan; Billy Joel; Steely Dan; Aretha Franklin; James Taylor; Freddy King; Janis Ian; Bette Midler; Dr. John; and, Art Garfunkel. A legend … he will be remembered and missed.

ANNETTE SILENCED ---Pop culture icon Annette Funicello, who began her career at age 13, as one of the original members of the Mickey Mouse club in the 1950’s died today at 70 from complications due to Multiple Sclerosis, which she had battled for the past 25 years. Funicello was born October 22, 1942 in Utica, New York and was 4 years old when she moved with her family to Los Angeles. At age 13 while dancing the lead in Swan Lake at the Starlight Bowl, she was invited by Walt Disney to audition for his new children’s series titled The Mickey Mouse Club. After her audition she was hired on the spot and thus began her meteoric career.

The show ran for three seasons and continues even today in reruns. She was the only Mouseketeer to remain under contract to Disney and appeared also on their shows, Zorro (1957), The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca (1958), and starred in the Disney films The Shaggy Dog (1959), Babes in Toyland (1961), The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964), and The Monkey’s Uncle (1965).

In the early 1960’s, she starred in a series of beach party movies with fellow teen idol Frankie Avalon; including Beach Party (1963); Muscle Beach Party (1964); Bikini Beach (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), and How To Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). The two also re-teamed in 1987, to produce Back to the Beach, as parents to a pair of troublesome teenagers. She also recorded several Top 40 singles, including “Tall Paul,” “First Name Initial,” “How Will I Know,” and “Pineapple Princess.” She will be terribly missed by a generation of teens, now grown, but well remember her and Avalon frolicking on the beach.