Somewhere in the world there is an episode of Dynasty airing right now.
More than 30 years after its creation, the iconic nighttime soap opera still resonates with audiences, so show creators Richard Shapiro and Esther Shapiro are following the trend set by the big screen remakes of series like Sex and the City, The A-Team, Charlie's Angels, Starsky & Hutch and the planned 21 Jump Street film by rebooting Dynasty as a new film franchise.
"The time is right," said Esther Shapiro, co-creator of the series with her husband Richard. "Nostalgia has always been big, but we want to take it a step further. We want to go back to the beginning with these characters and use the film to trace their roots. We're taking Blake Carrington back to his young manhood and when he met Alexis, and setting the movie in the Mad Men era of the 1960s. It will give us the opportunity to start fresh, without the constraints that television placed on our characters in the series."
Richard Shapiro, who has reinvented himself as an author of literary fiction with the current release of his novel Tobacco Brown (TobaccoBrown.com), is eager to put his characters into the movies because of the creative freedom offered by the big screen.
"In a way, these characters were prisoners in television," he said. "We were always constrained by the smaller budget of a TV series, and all the standards and practices that governed the content of the show. In the movie, if we want to have some James Bond style action, we can afford to do that. If we want to have a steamy love scene, we can do that. If we want to go a few steps beyond what they would allow on 1980s TV, we can move ahead those few steps, and then some."
The script for the movie, which does not have a release date set, is currently being written by the Shapiro's, with the intention of it being shot sometime over the next year.
"After we stopped producing new episodes, we were astounded by the staying power of the show and its characters," Richard said. "We knew it was popular, but when it hit worldwide syndication, it took on a life of its own. It is still extremely popular around the world, so unlike a lot of American-made movies, we think it might even play stronger globally than it does at home."
But both Shapiro's are quick to add that this will be a new take on Dynasty, with a nod to where the fans know each of the characters eventually wind up.
"We're taking the Dynasty family to places they've never been before," Richard said. "It's fun, because the fans of the show will know from the series where each of the characters end up, eventually, but what they won't know is how they get there. There will be some very unlikely twists and situations, and people will not be expecting a lot of what we're planning. We're going to do a lot of coloring outside the lines."
That matches where Richard has been taking his writing, as his latest novel is just as unconventional. In Tobacco Brown, he breaks the fourth wall when the narrator of the story boots the main character out of the book, and becomes a character himself.
"Cognitive science assures us," he added, "that the mind continues to grow if you use it. Mine, I have to confess, has taken itself places I never dreamed it would. Tobacco Brown is nothing like I've ever written (or read). And the movie will be the old Dynasty, of course, but with horns."