New questions about 'Dallas' reunion promoter

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by By JONATHAN BETZ / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 4:21 PM

Who's to blame?

Jonathan Betz reports

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PARKER - It was supposed to be the event of the year - Saturday's "Dallas" TV show reunion at the real Southfork Ranch, with many members of the original cast in attendance.

But the stellar night was tarnished for thousands, and News 8 has uncovered new information about the person organizing the event.

Everyone from the sponsor to the directors of Souhfork Ranch are just as upset as the fans over what they call a badly bungled reunion.

It's been years since Southfork has seen this much drama, as directors of what is now an event and conference facility continued to distance themselves from the star-studded weekend event.

"I think it possibly... it was absolutely not handled in the best manner," said Southfork sales manager Sally Peavy.

Southfork said it was hired by a firm called Austin Media Group to host the TV show's 30th anniversary.

"We had nothing to do with the ticket sales or seating assignments or anything like that," Peavy said.

News 8 learned that Austin Media Group's address goes to an Austin apartment complex. The firm never incorporated with the State of Texas.

We tracked down AMG's president, Jason Hardison at an exclusive Dallas hotel, but he refused to open the door. Hardison failed to appear for a later interview he had scheduled with us, but in phone conversations, he blamed Southfork Ranch for problems with the "Dallas" cast reunion.

"I feel that we were probably misled, as was the public that bought tickets" said Sherry Haughwout, Southfork Ranch manager.

Fans have lit up blogs with their complaints. Many paid up to $1,000 for access and photos with the stars - perks that never materialized.

Instead, insiders described a free-for-all, in which hundreds more showed up than had been expected, overwhelming organizers.

Assigned seats were withdrawn at the last minute; staffers scrambled to provide enough tables; and a private cocktail party with the stars never happened.

"That's the whole point," said Elizabeth Knight, a fan who attended the reunion. "I wouldn't pay hundreds of dollars to see Southfork."

Insiders say the promoter was a long-time family friend of "Dallas" star Larry Hagman, and that's why they cast arrived.

Now Southfork execs say they wish they had taken a closer look at the company.

Fans who shelled out hundreds - even thousands of dollars still want to know where all that money went. And Southfork says Austin Media Group still owed it thousands of dollars for the event.

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