Did Donna Reed Win Her Settlement Against The Producers Of Dallas?

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Billy Wall, Feb 14, 2019.

  1. Billy Wall

    Billy Wall Soap Chat Active Member

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    I read where Donna Reed sued the producers of Dallas over a breach of contract when she was abruptly fired when Barbara Bel Geddis decided to return. Seemed like she had a good case. Did she win it?
     
  2. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Contracts usually protect the studio and not the actor, in series TV. If it had gone to court, it would have been expensive and lengthy and she probably wouldn't have won. But Lorimar settled, no doubt to avoid a pricey legal battle and to get the story out of the press.
     
  3. Frank Underwood

    Frank Underwood Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Her demands were rather extreme too. She asked for 7.5 million and tried to halt production on the show. In the end, she got what she was owed, which was a little over a million. Not that Lorimar wasn't in the wrong. They should have ponied up the money she was owed per her contract to begin with, but because they didn't, Reed tried to exploit the situation.

    Reed ended up dying shortly after too. It's really a shame that her last role was on Dallas. Not only because she was fired and had to fight for what was owed to her in her contract, but because her performance as Miss Ellie has been so widely panned. Here was this beloved actress who ended up on this hit show where fans, cast, and production all wanted her gone.

    And as we all know, the whole Miss Ellie debacle was just the beginning of constant blunders that destroyed the show's reputation and ushered in a slow, painful death.
     
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  4. Angela Channing

    Angela Channing Soap Chat Warrior

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    I didn't realise she only got her contract paid in full I would have thought she should have been awarded something for damage to reputation and received compensation for how that could negatively impact on her future earnings.
     
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  5. Frank Underwood

    Frank Underwood Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    It was an out of court settlement, and I'm assuming her lawyer advised her to take the deal due to the length and uncertainty of a court case.

    I also read that her request to halt production on Dallas was an attempt to regain the role of Miss Ellie. According to her lawsuit, exposure on Dallas meant more to Reed than the money.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
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  6. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    I agree that contracts are crafted to protect the studio, but once it is in the hands of the jurors, it is anyone's guess. Look at Hunter Tylo suing Aaron Spelling over firing her from Melrose Place before she had even been in the role. One would think she had no leg to stand on since she had not even started filming, but that did not end up being the case.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
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  7. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Correct. Juries can do anything and be all sorts of subjective. Which is another reason to settle.
     
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  8. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Fan

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    You all bring out good points. It's why I enjoy reading your posts.
    I would say that nobody won. The producers thought, "If there is anybody who can replace Barbara Bel Geddes, it would be Donna Reed. She is a highly regarded actress, and the fans of Barbara would also be fans of Donna".

    I understand them thinking along those lines. But as we know now, there is nobody who could replace Barbara Bel Geddes. She did a great job of developing her character and making it her own.
     
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  9. Toni

    Toni Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Sometimes I forget what Donna Reed´s widower said about her intention of "playing the role as a true Texan matriarch", and just wonder if Travilla was the one to blame. If Donna´s clothes had reminded more of Barbara´s style, would it have changed anything? Would Donna have been more accepted? Because Travilla tended to dress Ms. Reed in RED, no less...I don´t mean that she had to wear sacks only, but Miss Ellie wasn´t a self-conscious woman (maybe only the first months after her mastectomy). Anyway...

    upload_2019-2-15_0-12-34.jpeg

    "Smile Lucy darling..."​
     
  10. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    I think once Reed was cast, they just threw BBG's Ellie away. They wrote her differently, too.
     
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  11. Billy Wall

    Billy Wall Soap Chat Active Member

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    I’m currently watching season 8 and you are correct. Her conversation with Sue Ellen about JR confirms that. This was after JR was caught by Jamie kissing another woman and they were fighting Cliff and soon Jamie for Ewing Oil.
     
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  12. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator Staff Member Original Member Since 1998

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    [​IMG]

    "Smile Lucy darling" - that's Charlie :D
     
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  13. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Fan

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    One of the biggest issues was not Donna Reed's fault. When Miss Ellie took down Jock's portrait, it just happened to be Donna Reed playing the role. This by itself was enough to make people dislike her version of Miss Ellie.

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Toni

    Toni Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    That was a JOKE, Sarah. Speaking tons of Donna Dread´s Miss Ellie...
     
  15. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    That is what they do, on purpose, in daytime when they recast a role, "taking it in a new direction."
    I can see that Reed trying to copycat BBG would be futile. It's just that the direction they (and perhaps she) took the role was the abyss.
     
  16. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Yes, daytime soaps are more like the stage -- the suspension of disbelief is much greater, so recasting even major roles is accepted. But primetime shows in all their 35mm glory are more like movies, and they have to go farther to convince the audience of the three dimensionality of it all --- and that doesn't happen by recasting core characters (something DYNASTY never learned).
     
  17. Billy Wall

    Billy Wall Soap Chat Active Member

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    Lol...I missed those daytime “The part of ______is now being played by______” voice overs.
     
  18. Mustard

    Mustard Soap Chat Fan

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    It was settled out of court in September 1985, after 4-5 months of legal disputes. Reed was given approximately $1,000,000, most of which was what had been in her contract which ran until mid 1987. Not that she had any time to enjoy the money because she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the month after and she passed away in January 1986. Had Reed carried on as Miss Ellie, we'd have seen her do, at most, 20 episodes that season.

    During the whole legal disputes of that time, Reed had tried, and failed, to halt production on the new Dallas season, or at least to stop any scenes being recorded which involved the Miss Ellie character.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
  19. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator Staff Member Original Member Since 1998

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    I know, I was JOKING too.... (obviously badly) :fp:
     
  20. Chris2

    Chris2 Soap Chat Active Member

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    Some shows even had fun with it. I think it was “Santa Barbara” that handled the recast of one of the main characters by having him get punched out and drop to the floor. When he got it up, it was a new actor.
     
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