Disappointed fans say 'Dallas' reunion broke costly promises

Print
Email
|

by By MARK NORRIS / The Dallas Morning News norrism@dallasnews.com

wfaa.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 11:40 AM

The Dallas reunion had some of the storylines that made the television show famous: money problems, broken promises and hurt feelings.

TIM GRUBER/DMN
Stephanie Meade, of Seattle, got her wish of getting a photo taken with actor Patrick Duffy on Saturday night.

The event, held Saturday night at Southfork Ranch in Parker, originally was planned as a more intimate get-together with cast members Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray. But with media coverage around the world and promotion on Web sites like UltimateDallas.com, the barbecue kept getting bigger.

"They called for the bigger show," said Brad Stevens, one of the event organizers. "Not us, the world did."

Some fans, like Susan McKitrick of Colorado Springs, Colo., left unhappy.

The 34-year-old called the night a "complete disaster," saying she received none of the perks that were supposed to accompany her $500 ticket: a meet and greet with cast members, pictures and reserved seating.

"I am beyond disappointed," she said.

Linda McIntyre, a 46-year-old from Medford, N.J., said she bought $1,000 tickets that included a private cocktail hour with the cast. She said she got to take a quick picture with the cast but didn't get to speak or interact with them for the rest of the night as was promised.

"It was just a cattle call," Ms. McIntyre said.

Mr. Stevens said he got involved in the reunion as a favor to his friend, Jason Hardison, the event's creator and lead organizer.

"We didn't have a lot of money for a staff," Mr. Stevens said. "We had good intention - solid, good hearts."

Mr. Stevens said that with the economic downturn and a compressed 90-day schedule, sponsorships were hard to come by, so ticket sales were pushed as a source of revenue.

He said organizers did not oversell the event. They expected 2,500 people to show up, Mr. Stevens said, but a rough count by the caterer indicated the actual number was closer to 4,000. Southfork officials disputed that figure, estimating the crowd at between 1,500 and 2,000.

Mr. Stevens said so many people showed up early that the assigned seating wound up not working out, as people claimed seats wherever they found them.

"People just moved around. They didn't care any more and stepped over people," Mr. Stevens said. "I asked them to be nice, be polite. Some of them weren't."

Also less than nice were some of the comments left on a story about the event on dallasnews.com. Message boards at UltimateDallas.com are filled with fans voicing complaints about the event.

Forever Resorts, the operator of Southfork Ranch, said it began getting calls from upset fans Sunday and they continued Monday.

Darla Cook, a spokeswoman for Forever Resorts, said her company sympathizes with the fans and is directing them to Mr. Hardison.

"It was held at Southfork, but it was not our party," Ms. Cook said. "I think we did everything we could."

Mr. Stevens said organizers are trying to piece together what went wrong.

"Yes, it's true. Promises were not met. People jetted from across the ocean," he said. "Do you know how devastated I am?"

Mr. Hardison, who works for Austin Media Group, told WFAA-TV (Channel 8) on Sunday that fans would be able to get refunds on a case-by-case basis.

But calls Monday to Mr. Hardison's cellphone went unanswered and his voicemail box was filled. The telephone number at the Austin Media Group's office was disconnected.

Print
Email
|