The cast of the "Dallas" remake.
The cast of the "Dallas" remake. - 
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David Brancaccio: TNT is among the most watched networks on cable, but it's top-rated show, "The Closer," is ending its seven-year run this summer, and TNT is looking for a replacement. Tonight, it launches a remake of the popular '80s primetime soap Dallas.

And as Sally Herships reports, the show's creators are aiming it squarely at a fancy demographic.

Sally Herships: The question is no longer "Who shot JR?" but "How long will JR be on screen?" The remake of "Dallas" features the original actors, but it's been 20 years since the show's last episode. Larry Hagman, who plays the lead character JR Ewing, is 80. JR's younger brother, played by Patrick Duffy, is 63. Older fans may be excited, but potential new ones may not.

Max Dawson: The conventional wisdom, within the media industries has always been, if you want to get young audiences you go with the youngest, hottest casts that you can get.

Max Dawson teaches film, TV and radio at Northwestern. Two of the main draws on the new show are the hunky sons of Bobby and JR, played by actors roughly half their age.

"Dallas" trailer: Oil is the past, John Ross. Couldn't disagree more. You'll never be a Ewing Christopher. This is about me and John Ross.

Thom Umstead: So that's when how you bring in these hunky guys and these beautiful young ladies, and what have you. And that's what's going to push the show going forward.

Herships: The hunky guys?

Umstead: Yeah. If you look at the demos, it's certainly eye candy for women.

Thom Umstead is programming editor for Multichannel News. He says younger viewers want to see content that resonates with them, and advertisers are willing to pay more to reach 18- to 35-year-olds, who demographically are the biggest spenders. So Max Dawson says a relaunch of "Dallas" with just the original cast wouldn't cut it.

Dawson: "Murder She Wrote": great show, fantastic drama. Angela Lansbury, Emmy-winning performances. That was a show that was never going to be watched by many people who weren't looking to invest in denture cream or life insurance plans or something like that.

But Dawson says trying to please all audiences can make a show seem schizophrenic, so he thinks the original cast could be just a televised set of training wheels and won't be around for very long. And on a show like "Dallas," that's already known for drama, gun-play and betrayal, it shouldn't be hard to kill them off.

In New York, I'm Sally Herships for Marketplace.