BIGASK

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch - BY DAR­REN DEV­LYN

WHEN Broad­way star Larry Hag­man ar­rived in Hol­ly­wood in the 1960s, he was sent five TV pi­lot scripts.

He chose to read for the part of as­tro­naut Tony Nel­son on I Dream of Jean­nie. Cre­ated by Sid­ney Shel­don, the show tapped into Amer­ica’s ob­ses­sion with space travel and was the per­fect ve­hi­cle to chal­lenge the hit Elizabeth Mont­gomery se­ries Be­witched.

Bar­bara Eden scored the role of Jean­nie, who com­pli­cated the life of up­tight Nel­son af­ter he aborted a mis­sion on a desert is­land and un­leashed her — a mag­i­cal and al­lur­ing ge­nie — from a bot­tle.

Hag­man was ac­cused of throw­ing tantrums on set, but Eden loved work­ing with him. Eden, 78, who is in Aus­tralia for the Su­panova Pop Cul­ture Expo, was deeply dis­tressed when he passed away in Novem­ber. What was the at­mos­phere like on the set of Jean­nie? Wow, how can I an­swer that. We re­spected each other. We had a won­der­ful cast and got along very well and saw each other out­side of work. When was the last time you spoke to Larry? Just be­fore he started on Dal­las (re­make). I had no idea he was ill. I don’t think he knew he was. Larry had his prob­lems be­fore but had al­ways come through. I was truly shocked when he passed away. There is talk of a bigscreen adap­ta­tion of Jean­nie. What are your thoughts on it? I think they’ll do it even­tu­ally. I have been in talks with them. I don’t think they’ve found the right writer. They have writ­ten about eight scripts, you know. I wouldn’t be Jean­nie, of course . . . maybe her mum. Howwell have you done out of Jean­nie — did you ne­go­ti­ate a deal re­gard­ing its syn­di­ca­tion? No. I sold my rights in the third year. I had no idea it would be so suc­cess­ful (laughs). It’s still on air; I get fan mail from all over. She (Jean­nie) is easy to live­with, I like her. Do you think, ‘‘Damn, why did I sign awaymy resid­ual rights?’’ I imag­ine it would have been fi­nan­cially very lu­cra­tive? I sup­pose so, but it doesn’t do me any good to cry over spilled milk. It was fine. Jean­nie was con­sid­ered quite risque, wasn’t it? I didn’t think so, but the net­work did. It was odd — we had girls on the show in biki­nis with their navel show­ing, but Jean­nie wasn’t al­lowed to show her navel. I didn’t un­der­stand their think­ing, but I didn’t really care whether it could be shown or not. And the bot­tle couldn’t be in his bed­room in the show. And there couldn’t be smoke in his bed­room. You co-starred­with Elvis Pres­ley in the movie Flam­ing Star. What was he like? Elvis was a gen­tle­man, fun to talk to, much more in­tel­li­gent than peo­ple think. And he could really ride a

horse, which I couldn’t. Su­panova Pop Cul­ture Expo Mel­bourne, April 13 and 14, Mel­bourne Show­grounds. Gold Coast, April 20 and 21, Gold Coast Con­ven­tion and Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre

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