The late Larry Hagman will make his final appearance as J.R. Ewing on "Dallas" tonight. The death of the show's defining character poses challenges for TNT, which has placed a big primetime bet on this revived series.
J.R. was the TV villain an entire generation of Americans loved to hate.
“We all knew what he would be when he came back, evil. But reptilian-ly, charmingly evil,” says Deadline Hollywood reporter Dominic Patten, who writes about TV and TV ratings.
He says season one of the new "Dallas" opened with a bang last June, drawing 6.9 million viewers an episode. But in season two, which started early this year, the audience has fallen by 60 percent. It’s partly timing, according to Patten.
“Debuting a show in the summer is a lot different than debuting a show in January,” he says. There’s not a lot going on in the summer TV-wise, but in January, “they’re bringing "Dallas" back when the Super Bowl and reality shows were all at full force. That’s a hard game to win.”
He also says the current season has gotten less marketing oomph from TNT, partly because TNT had already pulled out all the stops for the initial return of the series. Also, the company may have been sensitive about advertising right after Hagman’s death.
Brand strategist Adam Hanft says the show might bring back more actors from the original series to drum up some buzz. But he expects regular "Dallas" viewers to keep tuning in even after the show lays J.R. to rest.
“It’s a big void, but people who really love this show, really love this show, and there's some tolerance built in,” Hanft says. “It’s not like the writers and producers killed him off," causing a viewer backlash. "Here, the fans know something happened that nobody could control, so fans will give a hall pass for a while to see what emerges.”
J.R. Ewing is gone, but the show he made will live on -- at least for now.
This morning, week two of the multibillion dollar BP oil spill trial gets going.
So far, there have been no bombshells in the plaintiff's opening argument. Though what is surprising to some is that the trial is actually still going on, instead of a settlement over environmental damage.
So far, the plaintiffs have gone over errors in the BP disaster that are widely known: A technician missing blowout signs, questionable well-design and testing.
BP denied gross negligence -- and the market's reaction: hardly any change to the stock price.
"The market still believes that there will be a settlement," says Investec analyst Stuart Joyner in London. "That we're not looking at a three or four year or even longer process in terms of resolution of this issue." He says BP wants to avoid an embarrassing trial, and the risk of losing and shelling out $30 billion.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias says the plaintiffs -- the feds, the states, private parties -- may want to settle as well, avoiding a decade or more of lawsuits.
"The closest precedent is probably the Exxon Valdez disaster," Tobias says. "And that litigation went on interminably."
Conversely, Tobias thinks the value of continuing the trial would be to hash out publicly what happened.
Once court arguments really get going and antagonistic, many analysts say the settlement window will start to close. That could happen in the next week or two.
The College of Cardinals is holding its first official meetings Monday at the Vatican. Some want the conclave to start as soon as possible; others want time to get to know each other. The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has posed challenges for the cardinals as they set out to choose the next pope.
Local builders in Gaza say they can't find everyday items like cement and gravel. Yet Israeli officials say they have widened the categories of items allowed into Gaza.
Involving kids in preparing dinner may be a better way to get kids to eat their vegetables than strictures like "no dessert until you eat your vegetables." But health experts say there's nothing wrong with an occasional treat.
Despite current trends, most parents assume their own kids won't grow up to be overweight adults. That 'optimism bias' has neurological roots, brain scientists say.
More self-preparation tools have become available this tax season. Some people may be anxious about doing their taxes online, but an expert from Consumer Reports says it's worth a shot.