Friday, March 29, 2019

Julie Newmar joins Dark Shadows cast as ... Julia Hoffman

Julie fucking Newmar, guys.

I've had a solid week to plan this announcement and I still don't know where to begin. The idea that Julie Newmar is involved in any capacity with Dark Shadows is exciting enough ... but the fact that she's filling Grayson Hall's sizeable shoes in the upcoming Big Finish serial Bloodline has made me blow a fuse. There's always been something transcendent about Newmar, a performer whose ruthless appeal shows no regard for age, race, gender or sexual identity ... if you're reading this and have a pulse, it's likely your heart rate  just quickened.

I could devote an entire website to Newmar's career, so to summarize it for a blog post seems foolhardy. So I'm going to keep this nerdcore: Dark Shadows is just the latest cult television show in Newmar's already well-feathered cap. Among her other genre credits are Batman, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, The Monkees, Bewitched and Get Smart. With those kinds of credits it  seems inevitable that she'd arrive at some point in Collinsport. But I don't think anybody would have predicted she'd show up as Julia Hoffman, a character that attracts interesting actresses like a magnet. Newmar follows Grayson Hall, Barbara SteeleKelly Hu and Helena Bonham Carter ... Big Finish has been famously reticent about replacing the original cast members of Dark Shadows in their audio line and their patience here had paid off.

If you follow the Dark Shadows audio line's Twitter feed, you've already heard a preview of Newmar's performance. Sneaky bastards that they are, a clip of Newmar was anonymously included in a teaser back on March 20.

Dark Shadows: Bloodline written by Alan Flanagan, Will Howells, Aaron Lamont and Rob Morris, features the return of the cursed Collins family – those that survived the events of Bloodlust. As family and friends gather at the Collinwood estate for the wedding of David Collins and Amy Jennings, a new mystery starts to unfold. Bloodline will be serialized bi-weekly beginning in April and is available for pre-order at Big Finish.

Now that I've caught my breath, here's the official statement from Big Finish:

Barnabas Collins (Andrew Collins) is returning to Collinsport - but this time he is not alone, as Big Finish are thrilled to announce that Julie Newmar – the original Catwoman in Batman – is taking on the role of Doctor Julia Hoffman in the forthcoming Dark Shadows series, Bloodline.

Julie Newmar recording her lines for Dark Shadows: Bloodline.
“Saying that the character of Julia Hoffman is an icon is the biggest understatement you could make,” says co-producer Joseph Lidster. “She was brought into the television series as a Van Helsing-type character who was destined to be killed by the vampire, Barnabas Collins, after thirteen weeks. Grayson Hall, who played Julia, had other ideas. She went into that TV show and took it over. Julia’s relationship with Barnabas – changing from mortal enemy to best friend – was what really made Dark Shadows soar. Grayson’s performance was astonishing, and the character is fascinating. She deliberately puts herself in danger because she wants to ‘cure’ Barnabas. Why? Because she’s a scientist and she’s fascinated by him. As their relationship develops there is a hint that she might have stronger feelings for him, and they become best friends travelling through time and parallel universes to save the Collins family. Sadly, Grayson Hall passed away in 1985, so the audio series has only had hints of what Julia has been up to since we last met her. We knew that one day we would want to bring her back, but who could possibly play such an iconic character? Enter iconic actress Julie Newmar…”

“We’d been talking about bringing back Julia for years,” says co-producer David Darlington, “and had come up with dozens of what felt like brilliant ideas as to who could play her – only to go off every one of those ideas, usually the next morning. But having written the scripts for Bloodline, we were kind of committed to casting *somebody*! The license holder Jim Pierson came to us with a few suggestions, and top of his list was Julie Newmar. To be honest, I don’t think we quite believed him at first…”

“Julie agreed to read the scripts,” Lidster continues, “and we think she fell in love with the character. Trying to sum up Julie Newmar is pretty much impossible. She’s an actress/singer/dancer/writer/lingerie inventor/real estate mogul/gay rights campaigner and so much more, so we’re thrilled that she agreed to take on the role.”

Julia Hoffman will return for the wedding of David Collins and Amy Cunningham, but where has she been these last few years? Followers of the Big Finish Dark Shadows Twitter account (@darkshadowsbfp) have been reminded of how - and why - Barnabas left Collinsport to find her…

So, Barnabas Collins and Julia Hoffman… welcome back to Collinsport.

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