Belled

We want to officially welcome everyone to The Designing Women Fan Club!!

We're very excited to be involved in this project and encourage everyone to participate and send in their ideas, suggestions and comments. Currently, the main forces behind the newsletters and the cast contacts are John Paul (who runs Designing Women Tribute) and Amie (who runs The Cabaret: The Official Dixie Carter Website). We've already been in contact with the representatives of most of the cast who are all excited about it, as well, and will be providing updates and information on their current projects. So, look for grand updates and a new look for the Tribute Page in general in the near future, as well as lots of fun and information extraordinaire through the Fan Club itself!

Designing Women is one of those rare shows that not only kept a huge and loyal following long after it stopped airing original episodes, but actually has a growing fanbase to this day. While Classics never die, the DW cast has also moved on to do some incredible work! So we want to focus on the memories of Designing Women, but also move on to the cast's current and future projects.

Each newsletter will include Special Announcements, a Table of Contents, and four regular features:

  • Feature Presentation: A featured Designing Women episode, classic article related to the show, or biographical focus on one of the cast members. Featured episodes will correspond with original episode summaries from Columbia Tri-Star appearing on The Designing Women Tribute Page.

  • Hot Off the Press: An update on one of the cast members or one of their post-Designing Women projects.

  • What Ever Happened to...?: Where are the members of Sugarbakers today? Fan Club members share their thoughts and opinions! Send in your ideas! The most creative ones will be included in the newsletters.

  • Trivia: Test your Designing Women knowledge with trivia from a featured episode.

In this first issue, we feature the episode "Dash Goff, the Writer," take a look at Dixie Carter in Family Law, and find out where Kristen thinks we can find Mary Jo and Suzanne today! So sit back and enjoy..... and don't forget to Email Belled with your feedback!


"Dash Goff, the Writer"

Be sure to check out the Episode Summary from Columbia Tri-Star for this episode. The Summary page includes all the quotations referred to in this segment, as well as additional commentary, facts, and pictures and not included in this newsletter.

We chose "Dash Goff, the Writer" specifically to christen the first issue of Belled because we feel it summarizes the feeling that the entire Designing Women series inspires. There is a softness and Southern charm to this episode that clearly sets the series apart from other "sitcoms" of its time.

Before Designing Women, Southerners had generally been written as loud and uneducated. Every episode of this series, however (especially in the first two seasons), displays the characters with such brilliant, incisive dialogue and wit that it totally undermines Hollywood's Dukes of Hazzard image of Southerners. That having been established in the first season and part of the second, what "Dash Goff, the Writer" does, in particular (as the 6th episode of season 2) is evoke the romantic South depicted in movies such as Gone With the Wind and gracefully meld it with the modern class, style, and humor that IS Designing Women.

Delta & Mac

The Episode Summary from Columbia Tri-Star makes Dash Goff sound like something of a scoundrel when he returns to Atlanta and visits ex-wife, Suzanne. But whether it was last minute direction or the fine, gentlemanly style of Gerald McRaney's acting, Dash actually comes across as a deep, genuinely decent human being in the episode itself. Initially, Dash's bitterness and sarcasm toward Suzanne is apparent; yet, regardless of the mutual bitchiness in their exchange of dialogue, there is also clearly a deep rapport, intimacy, and love between the two of them which really shines through any anger or animosity. (Either that, or the overwhelming chemistry and sexual tension between "Delta and Mac" completely takes over the screen.) Julia, also, reveals deep regard for Dash. When he first arrives at Sugarbakers, she rushes to embrace him and expresses how much she's genuinely missed her ex-brother-in-law, and his feeling for her is clearly reciprocal. After seeing how deeply he's touched two of the main characters long before we even knew them, it's natural to believe in Dash Goff -- as do the other main characters who are in the same situation as us in this case -- and to be affected by him, as well. As a result, Dash Goff quickly becomes a pivotal character of Designing Women, but, as a recurring character in his first episode, he is also, like us, in a unique position to observe the characters.

Despite the fact that this episode begins with Dash feeling down and out after not being able to sell his new novel, he is indelibly woven into many of our memories as the character who somehow found the words for which we, as viewers, were struggling .... Throughout the episode, as each main character meets with him to try and cheer him up and inspire him, he reads a description of each of them that he has written or improvised -- descriptions so crisp and eloquent and imaginatively precise that they leave a lasting impression on viewers and, to this day, still capture the soul of each character in a brilliant snapshot of language. Ironically, it is he who inspires the main characters (and us) in the end.

Southern Belles

In the final scene, Julia reads a note from Dash, thanking all of them for re-inspiring him. He describes the ladies in the tradition of fine Southern literature, and it is one of the most defining moments in the entire series -- underscored by a softened version of the theme "Georgia On My Mind" which plays as the final scene fades into an old fashioned photograph of the four ladies in gauzy dresses [pictured, right]. That note from Dash, coupled with his descriptions of each character throughout the episode and the brilliant production and editing of the last few moments with the music and fading to the "southern belle" photograph is a brilliant and defining example of the essence of Designing Women.

In later seasons when the episodes start to stray off track -- as they often do -- we need only look at this one episode to remind us what Linda Bloodworth-Thomason felt in her heart when she created and wrote this series.

"Dash Goff, the Writer" is Designing Women.

"Dash Goff" only appeared in one other episode, "Reservations for Eight," and one episode of Women of the House.


Dixie Carter Stars as Randi King on Family Law (CBS, Mon., 10pm)

"Playing a tough divorce lawyer, Carter blows everyone else off the screen in an all-too-brief appearance in the premiere." ~ R.D. Heldenfels for The Akron Beacon Journal, 9/18/99

"Dixie Carter turns in an entirely convincing performance as a bitch. Expect many breathless, head-weaving tirades from that one." ~ Jim Hanas, Fall 1999.

On September 20th, 1999, Dixie Carter burst onto the scene of Family Law as Randi King near the end of the Pilot episode. Wearing a red satiny suit with a black fur collar, she made her legal services available to main character, Lynn Holt (Kathleen Quinlan):

The Women of Family Law

"When your husband does get around to making a settlement offer, I want him to do it on his bare knees, bleeding from having crawled over here from his new, swanky office suite. I want to see him right here with his pants down around his ankles and whip marks on his bare back where he's been literally flogging himself for his stupidity and arrogance. And when we turn him down -- I wanna see him burst into tears, lick your shoes, and beg for mercy. And only then will I even consider you taking money from this poor excuse for a human being! How will I accomplish this outcome? (standing, smiling) Well, besides being a damn good attorney, I have only two qualifications -- I hate men, and I play very dirty." ~ Randi to Lynn Holt, 9/20/99

Her first appearance was brief, but, oh my, did Randi King leave her mark! Ms. Carter -- in just a few moments -- completely nailed this new character and left viewers screaming "more Randi!" In fact, Family Law creator and executive producer, Paul Haggis, was initially hesitant to cast Dixie Carter as an outrageous, flamboyant, cut-throat attorney precisely because he was afraid Julia Sugarbaker was too engraved in the memories of viewers. "That's why I wanted her to read the character," he explains. "But I forgot completely about Miss Sugarbaker [when she auditioned]. I saw the character as I had written it. She made a truly outrageous character, completely believable." (1)

Ms. Carter calls Randi a "tough cookie" and finds the role "very, very promising." While she says she is, "very grateful for the continuing support I feel from my dear friends out there who loved Designing Women as I did," she also hopes that those of us who remember her fondly as Julia Sugarbaker will tune into Family Law and see if we also "make a connection" with that show, in general, and Randi, in particular. (2)

Over a dozen episodes have aired this season so far, and one thing is certain: Randi King, as portrayed by Dixie Carter is believable and promising -- and oh so fun to watch!

The Cast of Family Law

Ms. Carter's inital entrance as Randi King was enough in itself to spark much interest in the show, and while previews of the Pilot generated luke-warm reviews, in general (3), her performance was always heralded! Recently, CBS announced that it is currently one of this season's top three rated shows. So if you haven't done so already, please be sure to tune into CBS on Mondays at 10pm and let CBS know what you think of the show and Randi King especially by emailing them at: audsvcs@cbs.com

So far -- to name a few highlights -- we've seen Randi re-live an excruciating experience as a prisoner when she's asked to defend one of her former prison guards, engage in an affair with her young assistant, demand payment from a man while he's in the men's room stall, defend a "superstar" canine, and represent a man convinced that his wife has been performing witchcraft on him. Not to mention the glorious pearls of wisdom only Ms. Carter can perform in her southern drawl and distinct tone. In fact, Randi's unique wardrobe alone will soon be featured in a special section of The Cabaret!

Even in an episode in which Randi isn't featured, such as this past week (1/17/00), Ms. Carter makes her mark and it's a delight to watch. Each and every performance shouldn't be missed!

NOTES & QUOTES: See The Official Family Law Website for lots of info on the show, in general, and The Cabaret: The Actress: Family Law for an in-depth look at Randi King; (1) quoted in "Veteran Actors Bring Experience to New Series," Susan King, The Los Angeles Times, 9/17/99; (2) AOL chat transcript with Dixie Carter, 9/20/99; (3) For a complete list of reviews: The Cabaret: Press Room


...Suzanne


"Suzanne left Washington after her term as "Representative Sugarbaker" was up, and returned to her native Atlanta, daughter in tow. She moved in with Julia, and used her status as a former Congresswoman to finally get into "Beaumont." She is once again a partner in Julia's design firm, and on the side she coaches little girls for beauty pageants." (submitted by Kristen)

...Mary Jo

"Mary Jo is married now, to a former client of Julia's new design firm, of which she is a partner. Her daughter Claudia is now living on her own in Atlanta, working with her mother. Quint is attending college now, and living with his father in a suburb of Atlanta." (submitted by Kristen)

Don't forget to Email "Belled" with reader feedback and to tell us where you think the "Designing Women" characters would be today for future issues!


from "Dash Goff, the Writer"

(1) How did Dash Goff first meet Suzanne?

(2) For what book did Anthony ask Mary Jo to write his book report?

(3) What was the name of Dash's novel?

(4) What was Mary Jo's favorite book growing up?