Stars are bright in Dallas

A film based on the long-running TV drama Dallas is moving toward reality, with a cast as big as the state of Texas. John Travolta, Jennifer Lopez, Shirley Maclaine, and Luke Wilson are all said to be in negotiations for roles in the upcoming TV show adaptation.

According to Variety, Travolta is in talks to play Ewing family patriarch J.R., the cunning oil baron played by Larry Hagman for all 13 seasons the series ran on TV.

Jennifer Lopez is lined up to play J.R.s long-suffering wife, Sue Ellen, and Luke Wilson is in talks to play JR's comparitively noble younger brother, Bobby. Shirley Maclaine has signed on to play Miss Ellie, J.R.'s mother and the queen of Southfork Ranch, where the Ewing clan lived.

The Dallas movie is being directed by Robert Luketic, who recently did the Jennifer Lopez vehicle Monster In Law.

The Dallas production recently made news when movie producers pondered filming the movie in Toronto, Canada, due to tax breaks filmmakers receive there. The mayor of Dallas together with Dallas business groups launched a "Shoot J.R. in Dallas" campaign to lure the movie producers there.

The campaign makes a reference to the classic "Who shot J.R.?" cliffhanger of the 1979 season finale, wherein J.R. was shot by an unknown member of the family. When the show premiered the next season, a staggering 83 million viewers tuned in to find out the answer; by comparison, TV's current number-one rated show, American Idol, is a runaway hit with around 30 million viewers a week. (If you don't know who shot J.R., is not going to spoil it for you.)

As last year's Dukes of Hazzard movie showed, TV shows continue to be fodder for filmmakers.

Yesterday it was announced that Ice Cube will play Gabe Kotter in a big-screen remake of Welcome Back, Kotter. The 1970 sitcom is the show that rocketed John Travolta to stardom.

In other TV-to-film news, action-movie producer Mace Nuefeld is readying a film based on The Equalizer, an '80s series about a mercenary who helps out New York citizens with a classified ad asking, "Need help? Odds against you? Call The Equalizer." Paul McGuigan, director of Wicker Park and the upcoming Lucky Number Slevin, is lined up to helm the project.

The Kiefer Sutherland terrorist actioner 24 is also on the shooting block and may make it to theaters sooner than any of the above-mentioned projects. The producers might be readying a film for the break between the current season and the next. This move would be similar to that of another Fox show, The X-Files, which had a film in theaters while the show was still in production.

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