Monday, October 17, 2005

Was J.R Ewing A Romanian Freedom Fighter?

You've read of how Dallas was beamed into the New Guinea Highlands, now for the story of how the screening of Dalllas into Romania could have helped overthrow their dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu.

The nice guy who played J.R Ewing, Larry Hagman once told People Magazine:
“Ceausescu had put three hours on TV—two were of political speeches, and one hour was an episode of Dallas—to show the corruptness of America. The people saw that and said, hey, why don’t we have that? So they took him out and shot him.”
Reason Magazine's Matt Welch went to Romania, stayed at a Dallas themed hotel and spoke to the some of the country's top film directors to find out how much of Hagman's story is true.

Unfortunately, not much. In fact, for most of Ceausescu's rule the public Romanian television was reknowned for its local and imported content. It was only in the last throws of the dictator's rule when TV was reduced to three hours a day to save money on electricity when imported shows were considered too expensive to run.

Romania's head programmer at the time, Ion Ionel told Welch that he saved the screening of Dallas with the cunning plan to sign Dallas on an "absurdly long term contract," with the show's distributors. Eventually Dallas was axed 71 episodes later, when the contract ended in 1981.

Almost ten years later in 1989 and days after Ceausescu was shot, Dallas was one of the first shows to get back on air.

Link to Matt Welch's full article.

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