For our next American Icon, Studio 360 is headed to Southfork Ranch…via Estonia!
After the premiere of nine new stories this fall, our second series of American Icons episodes is nearly complete. There’s just one more show left to make – yours! Throughout the broadcasts, we’ve been asking listeners to nominate their own Icons. We got some great ideas, but none impressed us more than Laura Detre’s suggestion of the television series Dallas, which ran from 1979 – 1991 on CBS.
Laura says Dallas presented an alluring, glamorous vision of capitalism that may have had an even larger impact abroad than here at home. Especially in the old Eastern Bloc.
How much impact could one American soap opera have? A lot, according to Jaak Kilmi a film director who grew up behind the Iron Curtain in Tallinn, Estonia in the 1970s and 80s. At one point during the Cold War, Tallinn began receiving Western television programs from a giant transmitter in nearby Finland. Kilmi told us no television program was more loved or influential than Dallas: “It was a substitute for a nice life that we didn’t have. We wanted to believe that people live in skyscrapers and have beautiful cars.”
Jaak had even more to say about Dallas and the fall of Communism. We’ll share that when our American Icons story is broadcast in the spring. In the meantime, Jaak’s movie about American soft power in Soviet Estonia (including David Hasselhoff’s modest contribution) is out now in limited release. It’s called Disco and Atomic War, and it recently won Best Documentary prize at the Warsaw International Film Festival.