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'Dynasty,' One More Time

The prime-time soap opera "Dynasty" premiered 25 years ago. Fans tuned in for all the dirty business dealings and outrageous catfights.

Now, reports The Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman, the oil-rich Carrington clan is reuniting for a prime-time special, "Dynasty Reunion: Catfights and Caviar."

On the set where the special was shot, Joan Collins still commanded attention, teasing the camera.

Collins played Alexis, the vixen who married so may times she was Mrs. Morrell Carrington Colby Dexter.

"Dynasty" was shot in a grand manor in northern California, outside San Mateo. It was, Kauffman noted, the back drop for the backstabbing, the high drama, and high camp.

The show was about family, money, secrets, and sex.

"A lot of the men that Alexis was with," Collins recalled to Kauffman, "she used them, purely sexually, as a lot of men do for women."

John Forsythe played billionaire tycoon Blake Carrington.

"Joan Collins was a tremendous plus to the show," he told Kauffman. "I expected that she was going to be good, but … she was a powerhouse."

Gordon Thomson portrayed the villainous, spoiled Carrington son. But forget about upstaging Alexis.

Thomson says Alexis was one of the world-class "bitches. Absolutely, but she was good at it, because she brought a lot more to it than just being a cardboard bitch."

Blake Carrington was caught between Alexis, his "ex", and his current wife, Krystle, played by Linda Evans.

Their catfights, Kauffman observes, were legendary.

"The fight scene that everybody seems to remember the most is the lily pond," Collins pointed out to Kauffman. "I think," Evans agreed, "because it was so outrageous in those days for two women to take each other down in the water. … I mean, you went under, I went under. We pulled, we pushed. They were like rats."

Fans aren't the only ones who enjoyed watching the catfights. Cast members would often show up on the set, even when they weren't working, just to watch the wild scenes.

For Evans, the thrill wasn't so much the fighting, but as the glamour: "It was a woman's fantasy, to be able to choose anything she wants to wear, and to have women come up to me on the street and say, 'Oh, I love that outfit, where'd you get that, and I'm gonna have some something made like that.' It was extraordinary."

Fashion mixed with melodrama. Catherine Oxenberg played Amanda, described by Kauffman as another Carrington wild child.

"One day," Oxenberg remembered, "I'd be in love with a person. Then the next day, I would hate that person; then the next day, I would have an affair with my mother's husband, then I'd be committing suicide."

Remember, Kauffman marveled, this was decades before "Desperate Housewives"!

"Dynasty" was one of the first network prime-time shows with a gay character: the Carrington son, Steven.

"At the time," Kauffman asked Al Corley, who played Steven, "did you realize you were trailblazing, breaking barriers?"

"There would be no 'Brokeback Mountain' without Steven Carrington, so they say," replied Corley.

Of course, Kauffman says, his lover would be murdered by his father, just another plot twist in the outrageous adventures of the fabulously wealthy and wacky Carringtons.

"We had tremendous chemistry," Collins put it simply.

"Was this the character of a career?" Kauffman wanted to know.

"Absolutely," said Collins. "I mean, to get a part like Alexis, which is so juicy and so wonderful."

"It's a holiday," Thomson laughed. "Take a lovely trip with wonderful-looking, screwed-up rich people."

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