Friday, October 8, 2010

Return to Falcon Crest

When people think of the great primetime soaps of the 80s, there are two categories: the ABC/Aaron Spelling brand (which included DYNASTY, THE COLBYS and the non-serialized HOTEL) and the Lorimar stable (which included the CBS hits DALLAS, KNOTS LANDING and NBC's FLAMINGO ROAD). The classiest of the Lorimar sudsers, FALCON CREST came from an unlikely creator, Mr. Earl Hamner, Jr. - the novelist whose semi-autobiographical novel Spencer's Mountain became a 1961 film starring Henry Fonda as the patriarch of a large Wyoming family much like Hamner's. In 1971, the Spencers came to television as THE WALTONS in the acclaimed TV-movie THE HOMECOMING: A CHRISTMAS STORY - which led to the long-running Depression-era family drama which anchored CBS's Thursday-night schedule for the next decade.
As THE WALTONS was winding down, Hamner set out to create a new family drama, this one called THE VINTAGE YEARS based on his mother's half of the family. The original pilot was shot, but was soon molded into a more adult soap and re-christened FALCON CREST, after the fictional Tuscany Valley vineyard owned by the Gioberti/Channing family. 
The series, led by Jane Wyman as the driven matriarch Angela Channing ran for nine seasons on CBS, spending much of its time in the Top 40 thanks to it's initially convenient post-DALLAS timeslot. But FALCON CREST grew into an international hit with a European fan base that still thrives 20 years later.

The Warner Archive Collection recently released Season 2 of the series on DVD, and this coming Tuesday, October 12 (at 7PM) the prestigious Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles will host the first ever FALCON CREST Reunion featuring scheduled appearances by Earl Hamner, Susan Sullivan (Maggie Gioberti), Lorenzo Lamas (Lance Cumson), Abby Dalton (Julia Cumson), Ana Alicia (Melissa Agretti), Jamie Rose (Vickie Gioberti), Margaret Ladd (Emma Channing), William R. Moses (Cole Gioberti) and David Selby (Richard Channing). You can purchase tickets to this once-in-a-lifetime the event here. Let's raise our glasses for a toast to FALCON CREST!

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