General Hospital’s Stephen Macht: Can Character Actors Save Soaps?

Stephen Macht

By Marlena De Lacroix

Every week for months, there have been rumors that Stephen Macht’s tough mob lawyer character, Trevor Lansing, is about to be whacked on General Hospital.   So, while there’s still time, I’d like to say that I’m really enjoying Macht’s performances in the role this season.  Yes, Macht, the 60ish actor with the pock markets, the slitty, beady brown eyes, and the formidable stack of gray-white hair.  I bet he’s never heard the word “hottie” in his life.

But, oh, can this actor talk and talk and talk and talk!  Or, more  precisely, confront, confront, confront.  It’s been Trevor’s job to protect the Zacchara family business, (led by the seldom seen loony bin [Read more...]

The Young and the Restless: How Latham Tried But Failed to Reinvent the Wheel

Lynn Marie Latham

By Patrick Erwin

I confess I  was glued to my TV last week for the soap opera that was The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer. The governor, once praised as a smart, brave man, was stripped of his title in a very public and humiliating way. And the reaction reminded me of  “schadenfreude” a German word that describes when someone is joyous and happy at the downfall of another.

I mention all of this because it reminds me of the joy and happiness heard ’round the soap world when it was announced that Lynn Marie Latham, the former head writer and executive producer of The Young and the Restless, was fired. For a while there,  [Read more...]

As the World Turns: Good-bye to Martha Byrne, The Real Thing

Martha ByrneBy Marlena De Lacroix

It’s hard to watch daytime soaps chip away piece by piece, and of course no one actor is daytime TV.  But watching Martha Byrne leave As the World Turns (because of a contract disagreement  with P&G) is really painful.  If ATWT can be looked at as a truly American, heartland soap (as do my friend Sam Ford and his students do in his soap class at MIT), than Byrne is indeed Mom and Apple Pie.

But not in the goody, goody sense!  For the last twenty-three years (with one hiatus), we’ve watched her Lily grow up from a bubbly, giggly teenager to wise wife and mother.  We love Lily and Martha because they are both always true and real.

Bryne, then a teenager from New Jersey, came to soaps by way of Broadway’s Annie, in which she played one of the orphans.  As Lily, there was no hiding behind tons of make-up, false eyelashes and teen queen phony cleavage.  At age 15, when Byrne made her debut on ATWT, Lily was just [Read more...]

Marlena to One Life to Live: “I Hate Todd”

Tervor St. JohnBy Marlena De Lacroix

I never liked the character of Todd Manning on One Life to Live.  I never understood him.   After he was introduced in 1992 as one of three gang rapists of college coed Marty Saybrooke, the character skyrocketed to become one of most popular characters on OLTL, if not all of soaps, and has stayed that way until today.

Why? Why have millions of soap viewers been obsessed — enamored — with this convicted rapist for the last 16 years (with hiatuses, as when the character left town and returned)?  Why has the show devoted years of storyline time to and all but made a hero out of … a criminal?

Perhaps now, the mystery of Todd will be fully unraveled.  After years of endless storylines meant to redeem him (which I will recount below), OLTL looks [Read more...]

Guiding Light’s New Look: First Impressions

By Patrick Erwin

Three weeks ago, before it even debuted, I recommended giving Guiding Light‘s new production style a chance. After a week or so of shows, here are some first impressions: 

THE GOOD:  Some of the new sets read very nicely on screen. In particular, the outdoor sets and the larger sets look great. Many of the outdoor scenes do a good job of doing what this whole process should do: namely, open up the perspective on what you’re seeing without distracting you from what’s happening on screen.

For example, there was a scene last week with Josh and Reva at a bridge after Jonathan left town again, and it really worked well because it did seem so natural — absolutely true to life  [Read more...]

Douglas Marland: A Personal Remembrance

Douglas Marland:  May 5, 1935 – March 6, 1993

Douglas Marland

By Marlena De Lacroix

In 1981 I was the editor of a soap magazine which had a great reputation and no budget.  Every year we gave out awards, but we had to do it in small ceremonies on the set.  My head was whirling from the first one on the set of All My Children.  An actor I had admired who played a nasty character took his statuette, turned to me and said, ” I can’t accept this.  It’s made of plastic.”

We went over to Guiding Light to give Douglas Marland his award for Best Writing. There were perhaps three people on the set.  Tanned, dressed beautifully in a custom-made light blue double breasted blue suit, Doug accepted his statuette with a long, heartfelt speech and tears of gratitude in his eyes.  That is how I met Doug. I was fortunate enough to know him as a journalistic source and friend for the next 13 years.

Doug was a very real, very charming person, full of the gusto of a life he thoroughly enjoyed living, long before he ever became [Read more...]

Remembering Douglas Marland: Timeless Storylines, Timeless Talent

 Douglas Marland:  May 5, 1935 – March 6, 1993

By Patrick Erwin

It’s been fifteen years since Douglas Marland’s death. That seems impossible to me, but then again, maybe that’s because I still see aspects of his work and his characters on screen every day.

Certainly, his body of work has had a big impact on me. I was eagerly watching his work before I even knew who he was. When I watched Another World and The Doctors during those sick days and snow days, Doug was writing those shows. When my sisters became big fans of General Hospital and I watched to see what the fuss [Read more...]

Remembering Douglas Marland: Actors Recall Their Marland Moments, Part 2

Douglas Marland:  May 5, 1935 – March 6, 1993 

By Patrick Erwin

We continue our celebration of the life and work of Douglas Marland with some more memories from the people who performed Doug’s work on a daily basis — the actors. Today we’re featuring comments from two gifted performers who worked with Doug on As The World Turns, Hayley (Barr) Sparks and Tamara Tunie, as well as Michael Tylo, who played Quinton Chamberlain on Guiding Light.

[Read more...]

Remembering Douglas Marland: Highlights of a Great Career

  Douglas MarlandMay 5, 1935 – March 6, 1993Loving

By Patrick Erwin

As an actor:

– Doug appeared in a 1956 episode of Playhouse 90 called Forbidden Area (as Marland Messner, his real name).

– In 1973, he appeared on As The World Turns, playing Lisa’s doctor, Eric Lonsberry, during the infamous “phantom fetus” storyline.

– Doug also appeared [Read more...]

Remembering Douglas Marland: A Week-long Celebration

Douglas Marland:  May 5, 1935 – March 6, 1993

By Marlena De Lacroix

Can it really be 15 years since the light was turned off? 
 
Those were the words of my friend, soap historian Leona Barad when I wrote to her  telling her we were planning a special week of articles here at marlenadelacroix.com to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Douglas Marland’s death on March 6, 1993, at age 58.

Because Doug was a light not just in the lives of people he worked with on soaps, but also to the millions of viewers who loved the shows he served as headwriter over the years, we celebrate his life and work this week with a series of special articles, reminiscences and critical analyses of his soaps.

We start  today with a series of interviews with a group of the actors on his shows, some of the many he especially enjoyed writing for and who [Read more...]