Dynasty producers talk reimagining the beloved primetime soap
The Trumps. The Clintons. The Murdochs. The Kardashians. It’s been more than 30 years since Dynasty first hit the air, but the theme of families obsessed with power and legacy is more relevant than ever, which is precisely why it’s being rebooted on The CW. “We live in an age of dynasties,” executive producer Josh Schwartz says. “It felt like a particularly relevant time to bring the show back.”
The original series, created by Esther and Richard Shapiro, ran on ABC from 1981 to ’89 and told the story of the Carringtons and the Colbys, two warring clans in a battle of old money versus new. There were catfights. There were mansions. There was Joan Collins. (The reboot will have at least two of those things.) “It was the Rolls-Royce of primetime soaps,” showrunner Sallie Patrick (Revenge) says. “Before there was the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones, there was the Moldavian Massacre on Dynasty. To have a chance to find out what 2017’s version of that show could be was very exciting.”
The 2017 version will certainly look different, from the setting — the show swaps Denver for Atlanta — to the characters. “The original show was driven through Blake’s point of view,” Schwartz says. “But we liked having the point of entry to the show being two women battling for the Carrington name: Cristal and Fallon.” As the patriarch of the Carrington family — and more important, head of a global energy empire at Carrington Atlantic — Blake (Grant Show) is the man with the power. Cristal (Nathalie Kelley), his fiancée and subordinate in the office, and Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies), his highly driven daughter, quickly clash in the pilot as they fight for Blake’s love — and the COO position at the company.
But the women aren’t the only ones who will struggle to see eye to eye. Blake and his son, Steven (James Mackay), will also lock heads, though unlike the original series, it won’t be about Steven’s homosexuality. This Steven is “out and proud,” says Patrick, who notes that it’s his son’s liberal ideals that Blake takes issue with most. And don’t forget Cristal’s mysterious nephew Sammy Jo (Rafael de la Fuente). The character formerly portrayed by Heather Locklear is now a gay man — though Patrick previews he has “every bit of the pot-stirring troublemaker vibe that Heather Locklear had on the original.”
The list of changes goes on — the Colbys are African-American, for instance — but there’s one element of the original show they’ll never tweak. Speaking of his first sit-down with the Shapiros, Schwartz remembers: “What Esther said was: Blake Carrington was a guy who could run this amazing company, but the one place that he really struggles is running his own family. However much these people may turn on each other and plot against each other, they still did love each other in that way that only a family bond can sustain.” Apparently they just have a more dramatic way of showing it — which includes catfights, a show staple that Schwartz admits they can’t live without. And as far as executive producer Stephanie Savage is concerned, they also couldn’t remake Dynasty without the house. “Carrington Manor is the apex,” Savage says. “As somebody who’s worked in the genre for many years, that’s the house that haunts your dreams.”
With all that in mind, the reboot is setting out to “meet our moment the way the original Dynasty met its moment,” Schwartz says, with Savage adding, “[Our mission is to] embody the time and have fun telling a twisted tale.”
Dynasty premieres Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.