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Reruns To Re-Watch

Ever Dream of Jeannie as J.R.'s Nightmare

December 16, 1990|SUSAN KING | Times Staff Writer

There's a familiar face arriving on CBS' "Dallas" Friday at 10 p.m. for a five-episode stint--Barbara Eden.

When a "Dallas" producer called Eden and asked her to guest star, it meant a reunion with her "I Dream of Jeannie" co-star Larry (J.R. Ewing) Hagman. But don't expect Eden to expose her navel, say "Yes, master" or blink in and out of the Ewing Ranch.

"I play a former Texan, Lee Ann De La Vega, who is an oil heiress," Eden said. "She had a wonderful marriage and her husband died and left her with all of these billions and billions of dollars. Isn't that wonderful? She is brilliant, of course, and a brilliant business woman."

And she's bad. "Well," said Eden with a laugh, "not exactly bad. She is just smart. J.R. knew her when they were in college, but he doesn't remember her. She comes back (to Dallas) because she meets someone who J.R. had wronged and she remembers what a rascal he was and is and decides to rectify a few wrongs."

Eden and Hagman hadn't worked together since they did the TV movie "A Howling in the Woods" 15 years ago.

"We looked at each other the first day (of shooting) and it was like nothing had ever changed," Eden said. "We both started humming the theme from 'The Twilight Zone.'

"We have wanted to work together but we have been so busy on different projects. That's what happens in our field. You become so close doing a TV series or a TV movie and suddenly you go in different directions. We have seen each other about once every two years at social functions."

Though "I Dream of Jeannie" left the NBC airwaves 20 years ago, the comedy is alive and well in syndication. "It has never been off the air since day one," said Eden. "It is somewhere in the world."

"Jeannie" is even a big hit in such Eastern European countries as the Soviet Union and Poland. "I get fan mail from Russia," Eden said. "I was so surprised. The letters were in English. I don't get a lot, not as much as from England or Germany or Austria, but it's very satisfying."

Eden had no idea that 25 years after its debut, "I Dream of Jeannie" would still be going strong. "It was just a job," she said.

The actress is under contract to do another series for NBC. "Hopefully, they will choose the project very soon," she said. "It doesn't matter if it is a comedy or a drama, an actor only wants good material and a good director and hopefully a good time slot."

"Dallas" airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on CBS. "I Dream of Jeannie" reruns airs Sundays at noon and 12:30 p.m. on KCOP.

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