No one lays down with JR!
Dallas - the series communicates like no other the image of the American dream, of money and power. Just like JR Ewing allias Larry Hagman. The actor came from nearby Fort Worth and was well known to the old oil families of Dallas, the Joiners, Crows and Hunts, who still have much influence in the city today. At the same time, Hagmann also acted as brand ambassador for the city.
Robin Hardy, driver at limousine service Premier Transportation, once drove him around with serial wife Linda Gray for a day: "They were really like an old couple," he says with a laugh. He did not need a bodyguard: "No one ever strikes with JR!" The joke shows how much series and truth lie together.
The Southfork Ranch - between film and reality
The Southfork Ranch is a little disappointing: The Ewing house is in fact much smaller than on TV, the driveway is looped for the screen to work longer, and the pool is really more like a bathtub. "You can see how much fake it is," says Joan Manganello, who has been leading tourists here since 1995.
Originally, the house belonged to the farmer JR Duncan, who had to sell it already in the 80ern because of the popularity of the series. Since then, the ranch has been a magnet for tourists from all over the world - with a merchandising shop, museum, tourist train and conference center.
Who shot JR?
Today, however, the film people are there. And the actors are wearing cowboy hats! It's been shooting here for two years - the new episodes of the series that have just started in Germany. In the US, they are already in season two and correspondingly great is the enthusiasm - especially of the female staff for the new, young male lead actor Josh Henderson, who also aptly comes from Dallas and plays the son of JR.
JR's funeral will be on the schedule in a few weeks, but how it will disappear from the series after Larry Hagmann's death is a secret that not even the staff on the ranch know. The old marketing phrase "Who shot JR?" Is back in the room.
Dallas is the location of the new series
Not only in the series, but also in reality, the old skaters have handed over the scepter to the young generation: the old series from the 80ers was largely made in California, only the outside recordings were shot in Dallas, explains Bre Peterson.
"The new series, on the other hand, is being shot entirely in Dallas and the surrounding area, and that's where the city plays a big role." She probably also likes the new series better from the point of view of the tourism managers because it presents Dallas a lot better.
TV series as an economic factor
Because the series is a true economic factor for the region: Only the Southfork Ranch has 300.000 visitors a year - and the number of visitors have increased significantly in the last year since the new series was broadcast, says Sales Manager Sally Peavy.
For a long time, the main characters have had houses in Dallas, the small-scale actors are recruited from the region anyway. Each series episode brings 2,9 million dollars through merchandising, hotels and restaurants - and taxes.
A campaign for JR's return
But it's not for nothing: When it became known that Private TNT was planning a new edition of the series, there was a regular campaign to get Dallas to Dallas, as driver Robin Hardy tells me.
200.000 is paying the city of Dallas for each season, as journalist Robert Wilonsky reports on dallasnews.com. And he has calculated exactly how much the city is investing, how much it hopes to get for it - and how hard it is to fight for every dollar, because there is always the fear that the series might, as in the past, be turned elsewhere.
There is also a piece of truth in every cliché
No wonder, then, that you do not really know how to deal with the hate-like stereotype. Apparently, the city, together with the series, has managed to make the transition to a younger, more modern image without breaking with tradition.
However, that the cliché of oil magnates and cowboy hats will continue to live in this way for a while in the minds of those responsible for tourism. There is a piece of truth in every cliché. A difficult balancing act.
Dallas - a piece of cultural history
Quite everyone, at least when he is about 30 and from West Germany, a smile flits across my face when I say I'll visit the Southfork Ranch. "Greet the spirit of JR," someone tells me in reference to the death of Larry Hagman last fall.
This shows across all layers, how much the TV series about the Texas oil baron is a piece of cultural history - and how formative for our image Dallas.
No one is wearing cowboy hats!
For Dallas itself, with over 1,2 million inhabitants after all, the ninth largest city in the US, but the series is more of a burden, says Bre Peterson from the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Bre is center 20 and has not witnessed the great time of the series. For them, Dallas is simply a city where one can live well: "The oil industry is not as important as other industries, cowboy hats, except for JR, and we have a lot of culture here," she says, pointing to me that the city this year also with the 50. Anniversary of Kennedy's assassination.
14 billion dollars were invested
You want to believe her. After all, $ 14 billion was invested in the city - including the construction of a 275-square-kilometer arts district with museums and theaters. The Perot Museum opened in December alone cost $ 185 million. 26 million visitors come to the city each year, most of them for business purposes.
The money comes not only from the public, but also from private sources. "In development", as the press material summarizes generously. A $ 5 million marketing campaign was launched in the fall. Even though there are more alternative corners like the Bishop Arts District in Dallas, you can practically see the city's wealth. And the clichés practically jump at you.
Join the old and the new Texas
In the newly opened restaurant Stampede 66, owner Stephan Pyles, described by the New York Times as a genius of the kitchen, wants to combine old and new Texas. You can see that from the wire-horse heads that are hung up for decoration.
Going from table to table and visiting the guests in person is a good thing for him: "I grew up in a truck stop in West Texas and wanted to reflect this atmosphere in my restaurant," he tells me. The food is basically Texan, but at a slightly higher level, he explains his very successful Concept.
The American Dream: From Taxidermy to Millionaire?
Even my Ethiopian taxi driver lives here the American dream: Before he came to Dallas three months ago because of his wife, he lived four years in Frankfurt am Main. Now he lacks the German Gemütlichkeit: "Here everything is much faster than in regulated Germany - but not necessarily better," he says.
He made his taxi in only 4 days - impossible in Germany. Finding the destination with the navigation device does not really work, he has to ask a colleague for directions, but his personal goal is already clear: "If you're smart, you can make a lot of money here fast!"
Just like JR Ewing, who, together with Dallas, is an important economic factor for the city. And so it will be in the second part.
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