Friday, April 6, 2007

OLTL's Erika Slezak Speaks Her Mind...and How!

Many thanks to a living legend in soap journalism, Marlena De La Croix, for tipping soap fans off to this amazing, no-holds-barred interview with the normally reserved Erika Slezak ("Victoria Lord Davidson", ONE LIFE TO LIVE), who sounds off in her March 2007 "Erika's World" fan newsletter on exactly how and where OLTL has lost it's way (and she names names!) and tackles issues such as the firing of popular co-stars, the depiction of teen sexuality on the show, reacts to the firing of GENERAL HOSPITAL vet Stuart Damon, and offers the real reasons behind some of the show's decisions. I cannot properly describe how frank, candid, and genuinely interesting Slezak's Q&A is.

Equally good is Marlena De La Croix's latest contribution to the soap community, a blog entitled Savoring Soaps. It reflects De La Croix's decades of experience as a soap viewer, fan, and journalist--and shows she is still as insightful as ever. Her take on the Slezak interview is as good as the interview itself! I highly recommend checking it out.

Erika Slezak's newsletter is here (it's a .pdf).

Marlena De La Croix's Savoring Soaps blog here.

Thursday, April 5, 2007 Reader to B&B: Take Some Responsibility

Wow...a startling provocative indictment of B&B from a family counselor and reader of (who have all rights to this material):

Dear Soapdom,

I started watching THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL from its inception, and I always enjoyed the little intriguing segments -- when I needed
fantasy -- but the writers have shown such a blatant disrespect for family life.

I entered the field of family counseling because there are so many broken teens, who were tramautized by family: rapes; marriages ended; incest, just to name a few of the heart-wrenching situations that brought life-changing events in their lives!

Yet, without any concern for your young viewers, [B&B] place[s] in their faces:

A sick young man like Rick, who believes it's alright to make sex with his young [former niece and step-] sister! Why not promote something healthy, like a man thinking of the effect this will have on the young
woman over time?

Why does Brooke, always have to be a tramp? Where is [their] sense of moral obligation??? The twisted thinking of [the] writers has caused me to re-think my sources of entertainment, and I assure you, watching this twisted program will not be one of my choices.

For a change, let age appropiate (sic) behavior be the bases for a storyline; let [the] characters own up to their wrong course; give Ridge and Brooke a chance to build a fantastic company together, let a competitive development between the two companies come. [They should] stop making Ridge look like a cartoon character...[and] make him strong, not a bully!

Young people are troubled with so many issues today.

Isn't it [their] responsibility also to provide healthy alternatives to the sick projections of family life that are kept feeding the youth of America who are raised in dysfunctional families? (The writers need to
work out their issues in therapy!)

Please let the lives (of the characters) be important!!!


Betty, via email

Executive Producer Frank Valenti dishes OLTL

Over on sister blog ONE LIFE TO LIVE Frank Valenti comments on several OLTL hot topics, including Emmy nominations (and snubs), and the possible return of fan favorite Roger Howarth (ex-"Todd Manning," AS THE WORLD TURNS' "Paul Ryan").

Check out the full post here.

When Casting Announcements for One Show Ruin Enjoyment of Another

In a piece for the Columbus Dispatch, writer Molly Willow advocates a little discretion in casting announcements:
Notices of casting often spoil surprises Even before I sat down for the season finale of PRISON BREAK, I knew things wouldn't turn out well for agent Paul Kellerman.

Not in an "Oh, I totally saw that coming" way (we all knew Meredith wasn't going to die on GREY'S ANATOMY). I mean, I actually knew because the actor who plays Kellerman, Paul Adelstein, has a new job.

This isn't insider TV critic stuff; I read it in The Hollywood Reporter almost a month ago. (Speaking of Grey's, Kellerman's fate rested on some doctors on ABC; Adelstein's new job is in the planned Grey's spinoff.) Casting announcements are the same reason I doubt that the Fox comedy The War at Home will be renewed: Its star, Michael Rapaport, has been cast as the male lead of the new CBS fall comedy Fugly.


Although I like knowing which of my favorite actors will be appearing where announcements can take the surprise out of television.
Read the full article here.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Has UGLY BETTY made 'plain and chunky' the 'new beautiful?

Writer Carol McGraw asks if "plain and chucky [is] the new beautiful?" and ponders whether UGLY BETTY may be partly responsible (or at least reflective) of a shift in American thought.

This is more an article on standards of beauty and attractiveness, but may offer some insight into why shows cast actors the way they do.

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Melanie McFarland: Keep the (FRIDAY NIGHT) LIGHTS On!

Seattle TV critic Melanie McFarland makes an impassioned case for why the low-rated FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS deserves to be saved (and watched by you).

She opens with "[LIGHTS] still hasn't been picked up for next season, and people like me are part of the problem" and closes with "WATCH IT."

It's worth reading here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

TVGuide's Daniel Coleridge Dishes the Daytime Emmy Nominations

Daniel Coleridge,'s Soaps editor and columnist (and author of the highly entertaining Q Guide to Soap Operas) recently sat down with Tom O'Neil of to dissect this year's Daytime Emmy nominations, and the whole thing was recorded for posterity...

You can listen to Daniel's self-described "rants and raves" by checking out the podcast here.

(Need to review the soap-related Daytime Emmy Nominations list? Click here.)

Brian Frons' Has Got Opinions...Lot's of 'em!

Run over to sister blog to check out ABC Daytime President Brian Frons's opinions on...well, pretty much everything (including answers to the questions of whether a cancelled DAYS OF OUR LIVES could ever end up on ABC and exactly when ALL MY CHILDREN's transgender storyline will be wrapping up).

Frons lets loose on MyNetworkTV's failed telenovela experiment, NBC's "[weak] commitment to daytime historically," and GENERAL HOSPITAL's exclusion from the "best show" category in this year's Emmy nominations.

And, then there's this quote: "Do you say to a woman ‘I’m going to divorce you in two years’ and expect them to still sleep with you?"

To read Fron's comments, click here.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Judi Evans (and my daily viewership!) returning to DAYS

TEST - A 24 February post from my TV Guide Community Blog "You Really Watch That Stuff?"

The new issue of Soap Opera Digest reports that when Ken Corday (executive producer of DAYS OF OUR LIVES) spoke at the farewell celebration for Farah Fath (“Mimi”) and Judi Evans (“Bonnie”), he noted that we could “soon” see Evans back in her signature DAYS role, long-suffering heroine “Adrienne Kiriakis.”

Frankly, I couldn’t be happier…straighten and darken the hair, class up the wardrobe and get Evans back where she belongs ASAP! The character of Bonnie was a lark and must have been fun for the game-as-a-girl-scout Evans, who spent her three previous iconic soap stints (as Adrienne, GUIDING LIGHT’s “Beth,” and Another World’s “Paulina”) crying her eyes out. While John Ingle (ex-“Mickey”) reportedly struggled with its absurdity, the Bonnie-Mickey pairing revitalized the character of Mickey and fanned a fire within Suzanne Rogers's “Maggie” (a 60+ year-old character who roared back from the dead to fight for her man) that I had forgotten was there!

Truth be told, though, Bonnie had run her course, and an expert actress like Evans deserves more.On a soap full of modern, independent heroines (policewoman “Hope,” former-spy “Billie,” physician “Marlena”), layered anti-heroines (scheming “Sami,” “Chelsea,” “Kate”), and whiny “poor me” damsels-in-distress (“Belle,” and, sadly these days, “Kayla”), Adrienne will be a welcome re-addition…a “classic” soap heroine, in the vein of GENERAL HOSPITAL’s “Laura Spencer,” among others, with a fragile soul, passionate belief in love, and a quiet strength born of pain.

Like GH’s Laura, Genie Francis, Evans cries those big heavy tears so integral to those great “soapy” moments, breaking the viewers hearts along the way, and then pulls it all back together with grace and determination that makes you want to cheer for the character to get everything she wants…this is a great move for Corday, writer Hogan Sheffer, and the uncertain future of NBC soaps.

Granted, the circumstances, and Corday’s follow-up comments to SOD, dictate that Adrienne will likely return in a recurring capacity in support of her brother (the recently returned “Steve ‘Patch’ Johnson”), similar to the upcoming short-term return(s) of the other Johnson sibling, fan-favorite “Jack Devereaux” (played by Matthew Ashford), but that is okay. No need to crowd the canvas with too many characters in need of full-time story, but the stage will be set nicely for a longer term return when the circumstances are right…and maybe a few guest stints by Wally Kurth (as Adrienne’s husband “Justin Kiriakis”), too. All in all, I’m very excited. Just seeing all three “Johnson” siblings on-screen together will be reward enough.

Please, DAYS…don’t make us wait too long!

Dancing With the (new) Stars: intrigued, curious, and just wondering...

TEST - A reprint of a February 26 post from my Community Blog, "You Really Watch That Stuff?" on this year's 'soap-free' Dancing with the Stars:

Last week, ABC announced the roster of "stars" for the new season of Dancing with the Stars, and I admit, I am intrigued...and curious.

A couple of years ago, DTWTS turned out to be one of the most pleasant surprises on TV for me. I hadn't planned on tuning in until I saw contestant (and eventual winner) Kelly Monaco in a promo. Soon I was hooked, rediscovering a crop of engaging old "stars" I had all but forgotten about, and made DTWTS appointment TV.

It was one of last season's surprise "emotional favorites," Jerry Springer, who predicted the top contender for that soft-spot this season on Good Morning America: landmine and animal rights activist (and, yes, acrimoniously estranged wife of Beatle Paul McCartney) Heather Mills.

Talk about something unexpected. Mills is hardly the standard fare we've become accostomed to. In fact, the addition of Mills, who had one leg amputated at the knee and uses a prosthetic in its place, will do many wonderful things--and add a dimension of social consciousness to the show without having to preach at us--and I heartily endorse the choice.

The rest of the field doesn't have many surprises, continues to have stars that have broad family appeal (Hannah Montana's Billy Ray Cyrus) and does include the predictable (in a "comfort food" sense, not a bad way) mix of former boy-banders, beauty queens, and b-listers, but this season's line-up IS missing one element that has become a mainstay on the show to date: a soap star.

I mentioned Kelly Monaco earlier on purpose. As a soap viewer, I was already a fan of Monaco's from her work on the now-defunct soap PORT CHARLES and, later, GENERAL HOSPITAL. It was because of Monaco that a few friends and I decided to check out the first show, and, like much of America, soon found it must-see TV.

Wooing the notoriously passionate and loyal soap fan base was no doubt a key factor in casting the relatively unknown (outside of soap circles, where she was fervently popular) Monaco, as well as daytime vet (and then-host of SoapNet's Soap Talk chat show) Lisa Rinna on Season 2, and Saved By the Bell star Mario Lopez, on-contract with CBS's THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL at the time of his casting. All three, no doubt contributed in bringing eyeballs to the party...and the show did it's part every week to keep them there.

Which is why I am wondering about the show's decision to forgo a daytime star (even a daytime talk show host, who, has Springer demonstrated, have cult followings of their own) this go-round, in a line-up that still managed to find room for ex-model Paulina Porizkova and former Miss USA Shandi Finnessey. (If you're struggling to remember who these women are in the first place, you're not alone.)

DTWTS has clearly become a cultural phenomenon, taking off in the ratings and on the American "buzz" meter more than anyone could have predicted...and that's a good thing. But I wonder if the show's runaway success has led the producers to conclude that they no longer need to court daytime fans to build a fan base, a supposition that is likely true, given the passionate following the show has on its own.

But the show's enduring popularity and solid fan-base should hardly be a reason to cut the soap stars from the show (as an audience grabbing "gimmick" no longer needed), it should in fact be guaranteeing a place for a daytime star on all the seasons to come.

Why? Loyalty for starters, and gratitude as well. ABC and DTWTS built their sensational fan following around the core fan-bases for the stars in their original line-ups, and none have been more passionate and loyal than the soap fans who came along with Monaco, Rinna, and Lopez. While these fans are loyal DTWTS fans as well now, it would be tip of the hat to an audience who was there in the beginning (making up many of the show's most vocal supporters--not to mention unheard of attention in the high-readership soap press given to a prime-time reality show), and a gesture of goodwill designed to keep their crossover audience excited about new DTWTS shows, all by continuing to pluck a bright star from Daytime for a single slot each season.

While the almost knee-jerk reaction to a chance to no longer have to use soap stars (perceived, sadly, as almost C-listers by some in Hollywood) is to cast them aside and look elsewhere, I think it is a mistake in this case, not only because of the nice things it would say to the Soaps-DTWTS fan base (a key group they will want to maintain as the shiny "newness," and ratings start to drop off in future years), but because every time they bring a new actor from a new soap on, they bring on a new group of potential viewers, passionate fans of that actor or show, who may be persuaded to sample DTWTS for the first time.

Does ABC really want to toss that away?

All copyrights retained by original authors, photographers, and rights holders. Original
Soappipe and Soappipe|Opinion content copyright 2007 (or current year) by Benjamin Bryant, all rights reserved.

Use of original Soappipe material either by reprint or linking is permitted without further permissions needed, as long as "Soappipe," "Soappipe|Opinion," or "Ben Bryant" is credited.