Dynasty: Part III

FILMED April-November 1980

The original schedule for OIL allotted 24 days to film a two-hour pilot. As I’ve written, production closed down after 21 days, and John Forsythe was cast to replace George Peppard in the role of Blake Carrington. After a three-month delay caused by the actors’ strike, filming resumed in November on DYNASTY, as the production was now retitled. 13 days was scheduled to 1) reshoot the scenes involving the new Blake Carrington, 2) shoot the scenes scheduled for the final three days of the original schedule that had not been filmed and 3) shoot the added scenes that had been written to extend the pilot to three hours. Thus the total number of days it took to film DYNASTY was 34 days. I bring up this long-winded discussion to point out that according to their original 2-hour 24-day schedule, that was allowing 12 filming days per hour. Thus a 3-hour film would warrant a 36-day schedule. But in spite of the hazards involved in recasting a major role, exacerbated by the three-month strike, the show was brought in two days under that warranted schedule. And it’s only taken me 34 years to figure that out – that’s 1 year for each day of filming.

The wedding day has arrived. Pay close attention as the line of cars wait to enter. The art directors, when designing the gate that I requested for the estate, outdid themselves. Notice the long low brick wall lining both sides of the road leading up to the gate. We may have topped CITIZEN KANE’s gate.

The lunch scene between Matthew and Lindsay was one of the added scenes to extend the length of the film — as was the next scene.

I’ve wondered about the following scene. I’m sure it was in the Shapiro’s original plans to include the confrontation between Matthew and Claudia somewhere – but where? Was it projected to be sometime later in the series or was the scene originally intended to be in the pilot, but because the original two-hour length of the pilot was already overloaded, it was not included?

Whatever their original intention, how fortuitous that it ended up here. I think this six-minute scene, a minute shy of the seven minutes for the Blake-Steven confrontation, is equally insightful and, although less bombastic, equally dynamic. It would have been emotionally moving occurring on any day. The fact that the scene took place on the day when Krystle, a woman still loved by Matthew, was going to be married, added another dimension to the scene and revealed so much about Matthew.

Consideration was given when planning the reshooting of the wedding reception to preserving as much of the original filming as possible and inserting the newly shot scenes with John Forsythe as Blake Carrington. There were two reasons that plan was discarded. The garden we filmed in April was no longer in pristine condition. We had to film elsewhere, and there would have been a matching problem. So we just selected one of the other six formal gardens. The other problem was that for the April filming, the speaking guest roles were cast locally, since that was less expensive for the company. Even if the salaries had been the same, there was the saving on round trip air flights from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and the added lodging and per diem to be paid to Hollywood actors that local actors would not receive. As I remember, a casting director in San Francisco was hired, but since I was not involved (there was no time for me to interview actors) the results were not satisfactory. When we returned in November, those roles were recast with Hollywood actors whom I selected, and we shot a whole new wedding reception.

The lady in the red hat was my dear friend, Mavis Palmer. What is not often realized is how much a short scene like that relies on the casting; that casting for type is just as important as casting for talent.

The actor playing Brad was my close friend, Barry Cahill, whom I had known since the late 50’s, when he was one of 79 actors in the PLAYHOUSE 90 production of SEVEN AGAINST THE WALL. Barry had appeared for me in TH FUGITIVE, THE WALTONS, THE BLUE KNIGHT and THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HEIDI, plus which he was married to my dear friend, Rachel Ames.

I don’t remember whether the quarterback, the halfback and the mattress-back were cast locally or imported from Hollywood.

The scene of Jeff (John James) meeting Fallon in the reception line was filmed in November. The following long scene of the two of them was filmed in April, but during the editing of the film the Shapiro’s wanted to add to one of Jeff’s speeches.

Here is the last page of the scene filmed in April:


Here is the page as amended:


As you can see the first speech on the page was extended, so in November we put John in front of a green bush and filmed a close-up.

I knew John briefly because he was one of the four actors who tested for the role of Steven Carrington. What I didn’t know was that Jeff was John’s first role as a member of the Screen Actors Guild, the actors union for working in film. He was not totally inexperienced however. He was a member of AFTRA, the union for actors working in television, and had appeared on SEARCH FOR TOMORROW, a New York based soap opera.

Earlier there was an accident at Walters oil rig.

When we filmed the accident in early May, a stunt man played the injured man who was sent off to the hospital. During the film’s editing it was decided something more was needed to motivate Walter’s further actions. The Shapiro’s wrote an added scene that was filmed in November, and actor Jerry Ayres took over the role of the injured man.

Poor Jerry Ayres. For you Trekkie fans, Jerry played one of the crew attacked by the poisonous white cloud in OBSESSION on STAR TREK. That time I killed him.

I had a thing about the network’s continual desire for action and violence and their reluctance to show the results of that violence on screen. I deplored the dime-sized dot of blood on a wounded man’s shirt following a shooting. The man injured in the accident at the oil rig had been seriously injured. I was determined it was going to show. There was only a brief look at his mangled leg, but I filmed it so there was no way to cut it out. There was no other way to get Walter through the door and to the injured man’s side without the shot showing the injury.

To be continued

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5 Responses to Dynasty: Part III

  1. Gilles says:

    Oh great, I was going to ask you about the actress who played Louise (the lady in red) as she wasn’t credited – just like Molly Cheek and Ellen Geer. I’ve just added her on IMDB ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0567440/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast ) and the Dynasty wiki ( http://carringtondynasty.wikia.com/wiki/Oil_III_%281981%29#Cast )

    Is it true than in the first version of the pilot, Joseph (the majordomo) was played by Shay Duffin instead of Lee Bergere ?

    • Ralph says:

      There is a Shay Duffin playing the role of Robert listed on the call sheets of the first version, and it is Robert who tells Steven his father wants to see him before the big scene.
      And I want to add I have visited your website and congratulate you. I did better with the English script. My French has deteriorated, but I got some info that way too.

  2. Gilles says:

    M. Senensky, thank you very much for your congratulations and for your information about Shay Duffin. 🙂

  3. Kevin says:

    The gate scene in question was entirely shot at Filoli the ?

    I wondered exactly how he reshoot of the wedding reception was handled. Great details!

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