CW’s Dynasty Creators Reveal the Trick to Staging a Good Catfight


“They’re everywhere—from the Murdochs, to the Kardashians, obviously our current president, who is willing to go to great lengths to protect his family even if it gets him into criminal hot water,” Dynasty creator Josh Schwartz says of powerful families. “Everywhere you look, it seems like this concept of a family dynasty is back and stronger than ever.”

That’s precisely why Schwartz and his co-creators, Stephanie Savage and showrunner__Sallie Patrick,__ think 2017 is the perfect time to bring back this 80s drama sensation. After all, rich families and the disproportionate power they wield has become an increasingly central part of the American conversation—but at a time when inequality runs so publicly rampant, will Dynasty strike too close to reality?

For those who missed Dynasty’s original run, the series was a prime-time soap that aired on ABC for nine seasons before it wrapped up in 1989. It centered on the Carrington family, whose patriarch Blake struck it big in the oil industry. A spin-off titled The Colbys also aired for two seasons, although it never caught on the way ABC hoped. The reboot’s pilot finds Blake Carrington’s daughter Fallon bent on taking over as C.O.O. of her family’s company. Instead, what she gets is a new soon-to-be stepmom, Cristal—who happens to be vying for the same position. Meanwhile, Fallon’s brother Steven hooks up with a man viewers soon find out is actually Cristal’s nephew, Sammy Joe.

Schwartz and Savage, both seasoned writers and producers who worked together on teen dramas including The O.C. and Gossip Girl, are betting people will tune in even if Dynasty’s extravagance seems a little too real for comfort. Savage recalls watching the original series as a kid with her mother, who was such a big fan that she owned a Dynasty Collection necklace and matching earrings. (“We actually brought them to the set,” Savage says. “One of the background extras is wearing them in the wedding scene.”) Schwartz tuned in once he’d started working in the industry; as he put it, “You cannot work on a nighttime serial drama without feeling like you have . . . a pretty large debt to pay to the original Dynasty.

That said, the new show has been updated with nods to how the country and television have changed since the 80s. It’s far more diverse, for instance, as evidenced by the fact that Krystle—the woman who’s angling to be the new Carrington matriarch and C.E.O. of Carrington Atlantic—is now Venezuelan, and her name is spelled “Cristal.” Meanwhile, Heather Locklear’s character Sammy Jo has been replaced with a gay man named Sammy Joe. (As another nod to the times, the series will also do away with the original series’ homophobia.) Another big change is the setting: the CW drama takes place in Atlanta, while the original was set in Denver. Schwartz jokes that the changes Atlanta has faced in recent years are indicative of the struggle Carrington patriarch Blake will also face: “Either get with the times, or get left behind.”

Still, the franchise’s soapy DNA is still intact—and it fits in well alongside Schwartz and Savage’s previous output, especially Gossip Girl. Like the original CW sensation, Dynasty will center on its female rivals as well as the importance of family, and how a seemingly perfect world can actually be very rotten at its core. “Obviously this is the Atlanta, Georgia, version versus the New York version, so it might have bigger hats,” Schwartz said.

Gossip Girl, for all its designers and glamour, also exposed—in occasionally devastating relief—just how transactional relationships can become when they take place in a circle that’s obsessed with money and power. Dynasty will need to maintain similar perspective about its setting in order to avoid simply mirroring the reality most viewers see in the news every day. And of course, comic relief—and a few cat fights—will never hurt.

True to form, there is one great cat fight in the pilot, which led us to wonder what exactly goes into staging such an outrageous scene. According to Schwartz, the most important ingredient is “committed actors. Two women who are ready to blow off a little steam at work.”

And, Savage adds, “a dress that’s been rigged to lose its shoulder over and over again.”

Keep an eye out for that tonight. Dynasty premieres on CW at 9 P.M.

Get Vanity Fair’s HWD Newsletter

Sign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.

Full ScreenPhotos:7 TV Characters Who Have Gotten Stuck on a Subway Just Like You

Ilana and Abbi, Broad City

No tale of two girls’ misadventures in the Big Apple would be complete without at least one ill-fated subway ride. In Season 3, Abbi and Ilana experience just that in an episode titled, appropriately, “Getting There.” They just want to get to the airport—but as any New Yorker knows, the train has other plans.

Arnold and Friends, *Hey Arnold*

Arnold and Friends, Hey Arnold

There’s an entire episode of this 90s Nickelodeon staple about Arnold and the gang getting on a subway after dark, thanks to a movie that ran long. There’s a claustrophobic woman chanting “big open spaces,” a homeless guy telling everyone to “get out of my house,” and a dog that unexpectedly gives birth to puppies, bringing everyone together. The episode ends with everyone holding hands and singing—which, though imaginative, is perhaps the most unrealistic thing this cartoon ever did.

Photo: From Hulu.

Cory Matthews, *Boy Meets World*

Cory Matthews, Boy Meets World

What was it with 90s sitcoms and trapping people in trains? Cory, Sean, Eric, and Topanga get stuck underground on their way to a New Year’s Eve party—as a woman gives birth. But hey, they also manage to throw their own party on the train and find a P.S.A. starring Mr. Feeny.

The Tanner Family, *Full House*

The Tanner Family, Full House

Poor Uncle Jesse just wants to get to his long-delayed high-school graduation, but alas, Team Tanner gets stuck on a motionless B.A.R.T. train instead. (See, the subway is awful no matter where you live!) The silver lining? Jess convinces an aspiring high-school drop-out to stay in school, and ends up having an underground graduation ceremony of his own. Fun fact: something similar happened to a real-life Hunter College student this summer.

Oscar and Felix, *The Odd Couple*

Oscar and Felix, The Odd Couple

This one’s an oldie but a goodie: Oscar gets tired of New York City, so Felix tries to show him what a magical place this town can be. Unfortunately, they get stuck in a subway car with some very unfriendly company—including a woman who carries a defective flashlight just so she can hit people over the head with it, should they get too close. She’s clearly well versed in New York etiquette.

Photo: From CBS.

The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls

This one isn’t technically a subway story, but it’s a Golden Girls classic: remember the time our favorite four ladies got stuck at a train station overnight? They recall the incident in a flashback episode called “Bedtime Story” back in Season 2, remembering how they were stranded by the one train station from which trains actually left early. That’s how you know it’s fiction.

Photo: From NBC/.

Elaine Benes, *Seinfeld*

Elaine Benes, Seinfeld

Remember when poor Elaine gets stuck on a train that just keeps stopping? She also experiences that horror that every New Yorker knows so well: the lights cut out as the train sits motionless. Her silent, internal, vastly relatable screams of profane frustration will forever ring in our ears.

Photo: From Castle Rock Entertainment/Everett Collection.

Ilana and Abbi, <em>Broad City</em>

Ilana and Abbi, Broad City

No tale of two girls’ misadventures in the Big Apple would be complete without at least one ill-fated subway ride. In Season 3, Abbi and Ilana experience just that in an episode titled, appropriately, “Getting There.” They just want to get to the airport—but as any New Yorker knows, the train has other plans.

Arnold and Friends, <em>Hey Arnold</em>

Arnold and Friends, Hey Arnold

There’s an entire episode of this 90s Nickelodeon staple about Arnold and the gang getting on a subway after dark, thanks to a movie that ran long. There’s a claustrophobic woman chanting “big open spaces,” a homeless guy telling everyone to “get out of my house,” and a dog that unexpectedly gives birth to puppies, bringing everyone together. The episode ends with everyone holding hands and singing—which, though imaginative, is perhaps the most unrealistic thing this cartoon ever did.

From Hulu.

Cory Matthews, <em>Boy Meets World</em>

Cory Matthews, Boy Meets World

What was it with 90s sitcoms and trapping people in trains? Cory, Sean, Eric, and Topanga get stuck underground on their way to a New Year’s Eve party—as a woman gives birth. But hey, they also manage to throw their own party on the train and find a P.S.A. starring Mr. Feeny.

The Tanner Family, <em>Full House</em>

The Tanner Family, Full House

Poor Uncle Jesse just wants to get to his long-delayed high-school graduation, but alas, Team Tanner gets stuck on a motionless B.A.R.T. train instead. (See, the subway is awful no matter where you live!) The silver lining? Jess convinces an aspiring high-school drop-out to stay in school, and ends up having an underground graduation ceremony of his own. Fun fact: something similar happened to a real-life Hunter College student this summer.
Oscar and Felix, <em>The Odd Couple</em>

Oscar and Felix, The Odd Couple

This one’s an oldie but a goodie: Oscar gets tired of New York City, so Felix tries to show him what a magical place this town can be. Unfortunately, they get stuck in a subway car with some very unfriendly company—including a woman who carries a defective flashlight just so she can hit people over the head with it, should they get too close. She’s clearly well versed in New York etiquette.

From CBS.

The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls

This one isn’t technically a subway story, but it’s a Golden Girls classic: remember the time our favorite four ladies got stuck at a train station overnight? They recall the incident in a flashback episode called “Bedtime Story” back in Season 2, remembering how they were stranded by the one train station from which trains actually left early. That’s how you know it’s fiction.

From NBC/.

Elaine Benes, <em>Seinfeld</em>

Elaine Benes, Seinfeld

Remember when poor Elaine gets stuck on a train that just keeps stopping? She also experiences that horror that every New Yorker knows so well: the lights cut out as the train sits motionless. Her silent, internal, vastly relatable screams of profane frustration will forever ring in our ears.

From Castle Rock Entertainment/Everett Collection.



This News Credit Goes To >> Source link

Comments

comments