Producer of Dallas TV show hopes he's impressing the natives

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on July 12, 2012 at 12:17 AM

DALLAS - We call it Adair's. A little bar on Commerce in Deep Ellum, part honky tonk, part funky hangout. Bands play. Beers flow. No champagne served.

That is, unless a Ewing shows up.

"In the show, this is the closest bar to Southfork," said owner Joel Morales, "and it's not even [named] Adair's."

The crew of Dallas shot inside his bar on two separate days last winter, and turned it into Piggy's Cantina. Set designers came in and covered up posters and neon beer signs, adding their own instead.

"I grew up watching the show," he said. "[So to see the bar I own in a scene is] really crazy. It's cool though."

Piggy's is where JR's son, John Ross, celebrates striking oil in the pilot episode, treating his crew to bottles of champagne.

"I saw the scene and I was like, 'Wow! This is on Dallas!'" Morales said. "'My grandma's gonna love this!'"

Grandmas, grandpas, and grand kids everywhere know the show and the theme song, but there's a chance they might not know the real city. Producer Ken Topolsky didn't.

"I hadn't been here in many years," he said. "The last time was maybe 15 or 20 years before. It's changed."

Topolsky is the producer bringing the remade Dallas to the world.

"This is a gorgeous city, it photographs well," he said. "It's a city to be proud of. This is a city that -- you understand Texas once you've been to Dallas."

The Dallas he is portraying stays true to some cowboy roots, while embracing modern times.

"I hope it feels organic," he said. "So people say, 'That's Dallas! I know where that is!'"

Every second of Dallas was filmed in Dallas. And some locations are obvious, like Southfork, Cowboys Stadium or Fair Park. Some are not.

Sue Ellen's office is actually inside St. Ann Court, a high rise in Uptown. The conference room outside her office is, in reality, the board room of Harwood International.

John Ross's loft, with a spectacular view of downtown Dallas, is inside The Beat Lofts, on Belleview near Southside on Lamar.

"Cedars Social was a bar that John Ross and Christopher hung out at," Topolsky said.

There is a scene with Bobby's wife, Ann, and daughter-in-law, Rebecca, meeting inside the Winspear Opera House. Dallas Police Headquarters served as a backdrop for shooting, as did Neiman Marcus downtown, UT Southwestern, SMU, the Dallas County Courthouse, and several private residences.

They shot extensively inside the Omni Hotel.

"Cliff Barnes, his penthouse was here," said Dallas Film commissioner Janis Burklund, standing inside the hotel. "The scene where John Ross meets the guy to see who sent the e-mail, was filmed on the pool deck with this gorgeous skyline view behind it."

They even filmed in the hotel's hallways.

"Everywhere we went, the Arts District, uptown, downtown, towards Southfork, it just felt right," Topolsky said.

"Even here," he said, from the roof of Southside on Lamar, where many skyline shots were filmed, "you look at it, and it just feels right."

The show created 300 temporary jobs during each day of filming, and those people pumped an estimated $28.8 million into the region's economy.

But when it comes to exposure, Burklund said "it's truly priceless."

She just attended a conference of film commissioners from across the world. "I got a lot of congratulations," she admitted.

Was there jealousy?

"A little bit!" she said.

Barbara Buzzell has done public relations and marketing in the city of Dallas for 30 years.

"As a famous commercial says, 'It's priceless!'" she said, when trying to estimate how much the show is worth to the city.

"I think it starts from the beginning credits," Buzzell said. "It's doing a great job of showing the new Dallas, the Arts District, the new architecture."

"It's allowing businesses and visitors to revisit, rethink, and maybe do a Dallas double-take," she continued. "Dallas is the place to be, and Dallas, the TV show, is one great ad for the city."

The shows hosts are happy to keep the Texas hospitality coming.

"I'm hoping they come back!" Adair's owner Joel Morales said.

He was an extra in his own bar.

"I was a bartender for a split second, serving Patrick Duffy and another guy beers. On one hand, I hope the scene makes it. On the other, not really," he said with a laugh.

The show has been renewed for a second season. Topolsky, who is staying in Dallas this summer, and has almost taken up part-time residency, said they'll begin shooting 15 shows for season two this fall.

It's unclear if Adair's will become Piggy's again, or what new locations may debut. Topolsky would only give one little hint about season two.

"In the last episode [of season one] is a pretty incredible shot that will give you a sense of what will happen in the second season. It takes place in the building that houses Ewing Energy," he said pointing to the skyline. "You're going to see two people there, and it's going to take your breath away when you see what happens."

That's all he'd say. So forgive us, for a cliffhanger ending of our own.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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