He’s Back: Paul Rauch for Real!

Y&R

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 20:  Christian in Boston loved Rauch’s OLTL except for the lighting (bring sunglasses!) … James expresses respect … but Cherry Ames lists Rauch’s soap sins, chapter and verse … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Paul Rauch. That name may send you screaming from the room if you ever worked for him unsuccessfully, if you judge a man in totality by his bad soaps (Santa Barbara, Guiding Light) or if you are a typical internet poster who relies on rumors, innuendo and chapters of  tell-all memoirs.

But now that Rauch is back as co-executive producer of The Young and the Restless (at the age of 74, after recovering from a heart attack) I’d like to offer some first person testimony. And I can do it freely and ethically because I am a journalist, and don’t have to work  for him.  I knew and interviewed Rauch regularly from 1980-2001

I’ve always maintained that despite his stormy temperament and the people he is said to have hurt, Paul is a genius.

when he was in New York executive-producing Another World, TexasOne Life to Live and Guiding Light.  Like everyone, I had terrible, terrible times with him (I have stories — let’s just say no one could intimidate a young girl reporter better than Paul) but then again I had incredibly engaging and enlightening conversations with him over the years, too.

Ironically, it is the same young students of soap opera out there cursing at him on the net who would probably die to have to chance to have an audience with him.  Every time I interviewed Paul, I learned more in 20 minutes about the fine art of making soap opera than I ever could any other way. lighthouseA serious art collector (it always cracked me up that Paul had a print of Edward  Hopper’s classic painting “The Lighthouse at Two Lights” in his office at Guiding Light), he has an incredible eye for the visual composition and texture of the image on screen.  Between that and his up-to-the-second technical knowledge, his explanations of such things as his lighting ideas, why he photographed scenes in radical new ways, and his innovative location shooting techniques, made you appreciate what he was after in a fresh way. Or he could make you understand why soaps are now casting models with perfectly beautiful faces by explaining why the technicalities of cable competition (which was new in the late 90s) called for such a (to me, awful) thing.

And he has amazing taste in actors.  Before you scream “Kim Zimmer” at me, this is the man who gave great actors like Ray Liotta (he grew up on Another World) their show-biz starts.  I used to see him all the time at the New York theater in the 80s scouting talent.  He recognized and relished using superb leading actors like Vicky Wyndham (AW), Beverlee McKinsey (AW and Texas) and Erika Slezak (One Life To Live).

I’ve always maintained that despite his stormy temperament and the people he is said to have hurt, Paul is a genius.  He’s produced soaps for 40 years (2 Emmys), moving with the times from style to style.  There was the classic, almost Shakespearean quality of AW (which was soap opera nirvana for the Thinking Fan); the campy, high budget days of OLTL , and even the very early days of GL (before he and those boobs Brown and Esensten poisoned us with the clone story).Y&R

Because he moves with the times and is a genuine Thinking Producer, Paul is a great choice for Y&R.  Among other things, the show needs a definitive post-Bill Bell style, since it’s been drifting all over the place since Bill’s death. Y&R is his kind of show: it is rich in dramatic texture and has many sophisticated characters (the Abbots, the Newmans) who are tastefully wealthy.  Although I haven’t seen Paul in years, I’m sure he still approaches his work with all the intensity and meticulous attention a show like Y&R badly needs to stay on top in these troubled, troubled soap times.

Welcome back, Paul!

Comments

  1. David says:

    Hi Marlena, I would kill to get Paul Rauch back at Guiding Light. Thank you for enlightening us about this soap genius! You are so right about him changing with the times and his artistry as a producer. I wonder what he would think of the current production model at GL??? Sigh… He’s just the man to whip Y&R into shape…. I hope the rest of the CBS line-up follows suit… STAT!!

    David

  2. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    Thanks for the Rauch column. I have a great deal of respect for his work on screen, even if I don’t like some of the backstage tales I often hear about him.

    Look forward to seeing what he can do at Y&R.

    Another World was never better than when he was at the helm. And his OLTL was so much fun. Was always sorry that he couldn’t work his magic at Santa Barbara.

    And despite the clone story, the Santos clan and San Cristobel on Guiding Light, I think the beginning of the end for GL happened when MADD (then PGP head Mary-Alice Dwyer Dobbin) fired him.

  3. Carl says:

    Paul eventually did significant damage to GL, but he also had some deliciously entertaining moments. Unfortunately, I can’t stay with a show that involves Hogan Sheffer. He has major problems with women (witness the immediate turning of Nikki into a simpering, boozing, spineless mess who lives only for Victor) and worships cold, sociopathic manly men (like Victor Newman). The ruination of Adam Newman (who could have been such a complex character) to prop up Nick, Victoria, and Victor is classic Sheffer.

    What I wonder about is how this will affect Y&R’s minority cast…I don’t think any Paul Rauch show has ever been known for a focus on minority characters, while that was, for many years, one of Y&R’s biggest draws.

  4. Jonathan Reiner says:

    Connie —

    Brilliant, on-the-mark column. As a longtime Rauch fan AND someone who works behind the scenes these days, I am champing at the bit to see Paul bring his technical expertise and theatricality to Y&R (AND it’s in HD!). I’m also excited to see how he and Hogan mesh; imagine how the WORLD (pun intended) might be different these days if Hogan had gone to GL instead of ATWT back in 2000. Food for thought.

    Regardless, Paul’s return is a most-welcome development.

    Marlena says: Jonathan! Haven’t seen or heard from you in years! (JR was one of the first interns at SOW years ago, and he was by far the brightest and funniest of all!) Thank you so much! Since I know you got to know Paul here in Manhattan too, this means a lot to me dear. I heard through the grapevine you are doing fabulously in L.A. in an industry job. Marlena is so, so proud of you!

  5. Christian in Boston says:

    I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Paul Rauch’s OLTL. I loved his addictive stories, the focus on Viki, Tina, Gabrielle, ect. I really loved his taste in contemporary background music (see any mid to late 80s OLTL Youtube videos) and his enormous sets. His lighting for the show was utterly terrible though. The completely blinding brightness did neither the sets or his actors any favors. Go to Youtube, put on sunglasses, and witness this for yourself. Thank God that Linda Gottlieb overhauled the show’s lighting which she called “terrible.” Beyond that, I am so excited and I agree — he has great taste in what actors have the talent and appeal to be showcased. He has never favored the young kids either. And I am 33 and would much rather watch Melody Thomas Scott, Eric Braden, and Erika Skezak than David Fumero and Justice Boulding. UGH.

    I have also seen some of Paul Rauch’s AW on Youtube and I was very impressed with the look of the show.

    Y&R is my “other” show besides OLTL- and in the 80′s Y&R and OLTL were so much fun to watch as a duo because they were SO DIFFERENT. Paul Rauch’s bright lighting, campy but utterly addictive storylines and pastel colored Miami Vice style sets vs. Y&R’s dark lighting, SLOW old fashioned storylines and 1940′s old movie style lush sets.

    I am excited about his joining Y&R- with the exception of his taste in lighting. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not destroy Y&R’s signature look. Mr. Rauch (with the exception of AW) has the reputation for brightening up all of his shows lighting.

    But I love the fact that someone with a real point of view (and who produced my favorite show (OLTL) of all time)is now joining Y&R.

    And I wish he would bring back the show’s orchestral background music that Lynn Marie Latham ditched!

    I miss how soaps each had their own visual and sonic identities back in the day.

    I am very excited to see someone with true executive producing experience and VISION (these shows have lost their identities) and not someone like Frank Valentini who is essentially Brian Fron’s puppet.

    Marlena says: But wait a minute, didn’t Frank Valentini start out his soap career at OLTL in the 80s as Paul’s production assistant? Didn’t Paul give Frank years worth of training as a producer? It’s true!

  6. Carl says:

    I always have the utmost respect for your insightful, articulate opinions Marlena. Here, though, I must respectfully disagree. Some things in life are unforgivable. Destroying Santa Barbara is one of them. For that matter, so is the final shot of SB’s finale. I am still bitter (clearly).

    Marlena says: Carl, I spared myself the end of Santa Barbara and I never saw the last scene. I heard it was pretty self-indulgent, though, on Paul’s part. As I wrote, my purpose was to put some light on Paul the person, not to criticize the shows he did. Outside of SB, I suffered through all of his bad ones too!

  7. Cherry Ames says:

    I respect your opinion and your obvious respect for Paul Rauch — serious art collector, Mahler lover, cigar smoker, soap producer with a serious ego. Maybe he is a genius, maybe not. But he certainly ruined soap watching for this viewer.

    I quit watching AW after his notorious firing spree, GR, VD and JC. That was not genius IMO but a really serious error in judgement. Certainly, I was not privy to backstage info. but I quit watching nonetheless. Because as a viewer I loved Steve and Alice and I really could not have cared less what GR and JC were like to work with. They were a large part of what drove the ratings to be high and make the company a fair amount of $$. (Virginia Dwyer famously was quoted as saying that Harding Lemay had actually killed the character (with his lack of understanding the character) long before he wrote her offscreen death). George was killed offscreen and Jacquie was replaced with a similar looking but much less charismatic actress. Total disrespect for the audience,IMO. Not a bright idea much less an act of genius.

    VW became the lead heroine and changed overnight from nasty, interesting, grasping, schemer to someone unrecognizable. She started speaking with a slight uppercrust accent and spouting lines like “More’s the pity,” There’s no hope for it” and “We’re all at 6s and 7s”. Steve built Alice a house, Mac bought Rachel a mansion, Alice had a miscarriage while Steve was with Rachel, Rachel had a miscarriage while Mac was tied up with Iris. IOW, Rachel became Alice and Iris became Rachel and the plot was almost unchanged. I guess that’s more to do with his headwriter than with PR/ EP. My point is that it wasn’t solely the writing that the audience loved and made the show a success. We also adored the actors who brought to life tortured Steve Frame and Alice Matthews. AW’s loss was OLTL’s gain.

    However, he also made OLTL the laughing stock of the industry with Eterna and that silly space ship, out of body, near death visit to heaven. I rolled my eyes and tuned out. Conveniently, he claimed his wife (one of them) had a similar experience. Yeah, right. That’s the ticket. Didin’t buy it then, don’t buy it now. I know it’s shocking to think that anyone in show biz would embellish the truth or actually lie to make a point! But it happens. I also disliked the few bits of Wild West, Back to the Future style rip off. (God I sound like a cranky *itch but it’s part of my charm, lol).

    I couldn’t stand Tina as played by Andrea Evans and I still maintain OLTL’s high ratings at that time were due to being the lead in to GH with Luke and Laura madness back in the 1980s and less to do with the genius of Paul Rauch

    Next up, he took over Santa Barbara and I tuned out. Kim Zimmer didn’t fit in there somehow and I can take Miss Zimmer in small doses as the brassy, trashy, Reva Shayne but that’s all. I’m sure she is a dynamic actress and she does truly inhabit the character but she is bit wearing to watch her emote day in and day out. (Or to watch her “sweat her balls off in Peapack” What a classy dame, eh?).

    Guiding Light he mangled. Tuned out again. That clone story, Reva through the painting…”Nuff said.

    Oh and he’s the genius who expanded AW to ninety minutes. It wasn’t enough that he increased AW from 30 min. to a full hour and gave us (the non Mahler-listening yokels) half the quality in twice the amount of time. I will always believe that AW going to an hour was purely a business, bean counter, P&G type move. It saved the company money but at the expense of quality. Damn. It has to be hard enough to crank out material for an hour long show (or 40 minutes) once a week but to do so 5 times per week, 52 weeks per year. It doesn’t leave much time for actors to study, to get into character, to memorize lines or to rehearse.

    AW to 90 minutes bombed. Not very forward thinking because nowadays many of us don’t have the time nor the desire to devote an hour per day to our soap much less an extra 30 minutes. Boneheaded move: Yes. Genius: No.

    And as far as wanting models instead of actors — that’s another reason, IMO, soaps are failing and failing faster than ever. I’d prefer looks AND acting ability but if I can only have one or the other I’d take a Meryl Streep over a Lindsay Lohan anyday of the week and Twice on Sundays! See that’s just the trouble. Soapwriters haven’t the time to write compelling material, actors don’t have the material to work with nor the time to rehearse. Vicious cycle. I don’t like the way soaps have been dumbed down and since I don’t drink fine brandy, smoke Cuban cigars or collect fine works of art (though I do love Edward Hopper), I guess I’m supposed to be shallow enough to prefer “purty people” over good actors. He’s just dead wrong. The soap audience has left in droves because: the stories are dumb and the acting is often subpar because, in some cases, the young actors don’t have the experience necessary and they have barely enough time to learn lines.

    Well, I have said entirely too much and I do respect you and your knowledge as well as your opinions. I’ll just agree to disagree on Paul Rauch’s Genius. He sure as hell didn’t know what his audience member ever wanted and I will go on record as saying his time at Y&R will be two years or less at best. All of the above is purely my own opinion as informed or subjective as it may be. I intend no disrespect even to the subject of this discussion (even though I believe he is a creep with a bad case of short man syndrome). Ciao.

    Marlena says: Cherry baby you know I love you and always appreciate your letters. But as I said above and will repeat, what I wrote in this column wasn’t meant to criticize the storylines (okay, I did one clone joke) but to shed some light on the Paul the real person. In other words, there’s more to judge a soap producer or writer by than just his/her work. All of these people praised or barbequed by soap posters every day are real people, with real lives, just like you and me.

    It was my privilege as a soap reporter to get to interview writers, producers and actors over the years and to get to know them. Believe me, many of them resemble the content and quality of their work, but most of them were very, very different. What I’m saying (or suggesting) is judge the work, not the person.

  8. Dale says:

    The name Paul Rauch seems to generate a polarizing opinion. But I am somewhere in the middle.

    There can be no denying that Mr. Rauch is is a visionary and an extremely innovative producer. He takes chances and he likes to push boundaries. When his innovations score (OLTL’s Heaven), it’s soap Nirvana. When they don’t (GL’s Clone), well that’s another story.

    I was not a viewer of AW in it’s Golden 70′s heyday. But I have read so many positive critiques, commentaries and raves of that period that I accept that AW at the time was the contemporary soap masterpiece of it’s day. But by the time he left it, it was in tatters, critically and commercially.

    I am a lifetime OLTL viewer, and was there for every day of the seven years that Rauch produced that show from August 1984 to May 1991. I could write a book on those years! He had a pretty shaky start there – organized crime wars between people we did not know, lethargic plots, a focus on people like blonde buxom Jinx Avery, Trent Chapin, and some of the worst kid actors I have ever seen running around some old abandoned theater for weeks! Even I cannot remember the names of those characters, and I remember ALL about OLTL! LOL!

    Then, in January 1985, came the return of Andrea Evans , an actress that people either love or hate. Her return set in motion OLTL’s BEST period ever, IMO. Rauch and headwriters Peggy O’Shea and Sam Hall brilliantly centered the show on Erika Slezak (and to a slightly lesser extend, Evans), and for the next three years (to the end of 1987) OLTL hummed along at a very entertaining pace. Marlena, you don’t have room for me to detail everything that was so right about OLTL during that time! OLTL was a classic soap during that period, and the ratings soared.

    Then came the decline…….1888, Faux Bo, Eterna, Badderly Island….OY! But even in those dark days, there was some light. Who can deny that Eterna was a “it’s so cheesy that I cant’ stop looking” debacle? OLTL overtook GH for the #2 spot in the ratings the week that Eterna crumbled! Say what you will about Rauch, but he knew how to put on a show, and he kept his OLTL ratings relatively high during his experimental phase. But the show pretty much collapsed along with Eterna soon thereafter, and the remainder of 1989, 1990 and 1991 were utter disasters. By the time he left OLTL it was in tatters, critically and commercially.

    At Santa Barbara, Rauch tried to fix another broken toy and from what I saw, it wasn’t half bad. Of course, he did not have the time to put his stamp on that show and get the momentum going that was so critically needed for that show. SB was a lost cause by the time he took over.

    Then came Guiding Light! Much like he did at OLTL, Rauch whipped that show into shape fairly quickly. The Annie Dutton saga, along with Reva’s trial was some of the best soap I have ever watched. He re-introduced veteran characters like Beth and Harley, introduced fairy tale romance elements with San Cristobel and showcased one of my all time fave triangles with Dinah/Hart/Cassie. His GL at that time was can’t miss. Yes, it was brightly lit, like his OLTL, but it was eye catching. The sets were gorgeous and so were the performers!

    Then came the clone….and the the time travel painting, Holly as a crazy kidnapper and the mob war. By the time Rauch left, the show was in tatters, critically and commercially. Are you sensing a pattern here?

    I think that any show on the air right now could benefit from Rauch’s experience, vision and savvy. I also think he is the last the producer out there who is not afraid to challenge the network and fight to execute HIS vision HIS way. He is no Network puppet! But I really do believe, based on his scorecard, that he needs to get in, fix it up and get out. Paul is genius at putting a broken show back together and things go OK for awhile. But at a certain point, he likes to “experiment” and push those boundaries! Who knows? Maybe the soap audience today is ready for a change. But Y&R’s look, feel and format are an institution, and Rauch had best be careful on how far he pushes his agenda. Otherwise, he will most likely leave the show in commercial and critical tatters.

  9. JONNYSBRO says:

    I am glad to see Paul Rauch back in daytime because IMO he is old school daytime. I do not think Rauch’s GL was bad, I think it was a mixed bag. The first year was fabulous. 1997 GL with Cynthia Watros was pure magic on TV. GL before Paul took over looked so dated, the stories bad, and rumors of cancellation were swirling around it. Paul took the show over and have it a much needed makeover. The first year had a lot of buzz and the ratings went up bigtime. He did go south a bit in 1998 after Cynthia left the show. The Clone storyline IMO at the time was a bad story but in today’s soap world it actually looks better then most. It did not fit GL’s tone.

    The problem with Rauch’s GL: he kept E&B too long at the helm. They were head writers at GL for over three years. His last year at GL was actually pretty good but he quit and then it went to hell in a handbasket. My favorite Rauch time is of course his OLTL. OLTL looked so expensive back then. It was fun, outrageous, campy, high rated, and so 80s. I am glad to see Y&R try to go back old school because Lynn Latham killed it with her primetime fast paced approach. Rauch is in his mid 70s but glad to see he is back. I heard Marlena that Rauch was one of the most intimidating executive producers you could met. He never put up with anything and only demanded quality.

  10. David C says:

    Fascinating column (as always). Paul Rauch is a master at putting on a show, in particular a show in the soap genre. But his work is sterling when he’s paired with a writer with a strong vision and I think, a good pair of cajones, genre notwithstanding. Look at the golden highly rated years of the ninety five percent of Lemay’s time as writer of Another World. Then ABC soaps led by a surging All My Children and the skyrocketing General Hospital of 1978 had millions turn their dials to that network despite Another World being consistently excellent. Then NBC panicked. (By the way, look at the solid shrinking of the Days of Our Lives audience once it expanded to an hour in the spring of 1975. That show ‘s ratings were declining long before the Another World rating trouble began in the fall of ’78.

    Now, two hour long NBC soaps were losing audiences to ABC and NBC panicked. Rauch was smart enough to know that he wanted to keep his job so the 90 minuted obscenity began. Lemay was gone in two months and the show never recovered.

    Rauch works magic with a strong head writer. Maybe that’s why CBS has brought him to Y&R. He knows his stuff. He has a great track record. This is not intended as a defense of Rauch rather a pointing out of the circumstances he’s had to work under.

  11. renee says:

    I wish I knew who reigned over soaps during the hey days of this soap line or this soap story. You guys are good. I was just a little old viewer who either loved her soap opera or not. Liked a character or hated her, or him.
    Now I love Y & R, and I have huge fights with my friend Di about it. Well, I fight and she nods in her email responses. Basically I say kill Gloria and Amber. I’ve said that forEVAH. And that’s how I learned to start reading who was writing for Y & R. And now she’s gone. So Paul, kill Gloria and Amber. LOL

    Actually I thought some of the best stuff that happened on Y & R happened during the writer’s strike. Hmmmm. And I can’t say I like the direction the storyline has been taking the last six months or so, so Paul, you’re on notice. Clean it up. I have a lot invested in certain characters and I do not like the way they are acting (hint, Jack toward Sharon). Clean it up. Some of the acting is wayyyyyyy too thin (hint, Amber whining all the time and Colleen falling for a man all the time, in fact everyone falls in love wayyyy too fast on Bell shows). Clean it up. Some things are swept under the rug as if they didn’t occur with no repercussions (hint, Nikki falls off the wagon and miraculously falls back sober). Clean it up. Some things are just abnormal (hint, how long can Paul go without sex). Clean it up. Some storylines are repeated just a little too too quickly (hint, folks known by one name are called by another name so we won’t recognize them in the script too soon Chloe – Kate, Liam – Billy). Clean it up.

    Done for now.
    Clean it UP.

    Marlena says: Soaps were designed so that viewers don’t have to or need to know who is writing or producing them. All you used to be expected to do was care about the characters! Speaking of, I have always deplored Amber, both on B&B and Y&R. She’s so brassy and brainless, I find her an embarassment to womanhood. And Renee — you are so right, there is a lot to be cleaned up on Y&R. I have adored Judith Chapman as a superb actress back to when she was on As the World Turns as Natalie. But they’re over the top and into the realm of the ridiculous, which is where Gloria has been going lately. Bet you Paul takes her down a notch or two very soon.

  12. Marilyn Henry says:

    Well, Marlena, you already know what I feel about Mr Rauch.

    I always think of him as that ‘show killer’. When he let Tina take over OLTL and had her on every day, with her squeaky voice and silly coniving, that cured me of OLTL for years. I heard about those fantasy stories like Eternia and Bo going back to the old west, but thankfully I wasn’t watching in those days. Just reading about such stunts on my beloved OLTL made me cringe. Then when, in his arrogance, he though he should have got an Emmy for it and showed his bitterness by calling the very deserving winner Santa Barbara ‘That little show nobody watches’, that really curdled me. My bitterness was furthered by him stealing darling Louise Sorel from SB and then dumping her later. But the absolute final blow was when he took over that ‘little show nobody watches’ and proceeded to run it straight into the ground. That was simply unforgivable. The Dobsons had a marvelous concept going and before they were thrown off the lot, SB was a jewel among soaps, and Rauch simply ignored their premise and tried to make the show ordinary. Genius? I don’t know Rauch, but I suspect HE thinks he is a genius. ( And IMHO he couldn’t be more wrong!)

    Cherry Ames, above, said it all for me. I shudder when I hear he is being hired on a soap, and give a little prayer it isn’t one I watch.

    I appreciate that you are far more knowledgable and that you have actually met him and talked with him and have gleaned more than my superficial impression, so I do hope I haven’t offended with this. But Rauch is one behind-the-scenes name that sends shivers through me.

  13. SilasCrocker says:

    I know that you are telling us about the “other,” side of the backstage talent, but I don’t know if viewers really care. I could care less if Rauch is a old time producer who would rival L.B. Mayer or if Ellen Wheeler is nice to kittens. Its the product they put out which matters to me, as a viewer.

    As a GL fan (I never really watched any other show but ATWT) I can agree with others that Rauchie was a mixed bag…bright lights, pastel business suits, crazy sex kittenish blondes and Kim Zimmer the STAR of the show aside, the guy wasnt half bad most of the time. I do think most of the misfires were the nets and MADD’s fault, including the infamous firing of Zaz. (The worst thing to happen to GL, even more then the killing of Maureen, was a cheap jack fairy tale kingdom named San Crud to a lot of GL fans, I believe it was MADD who had wanted to be “swept away,” by princes and princesses, good God, we viewers are still be subjected to Brad Cole to this day!!!!)

    While Rauchie was there GL WAS still GL, (well, except for a few months where San Crud took over.) The Bauers were still there, Ross, Blake and Holly were all featured (I am in the minority that I liked Holly the Stalker, MG rocked that leather jacket and gloves) Phillip and the Spauldings werent laughing stocks and the stories, howevers dumb at times, followed their own internal logic. Not so with Wheeler’s Folly, but that is for another post.

    I think if someone is there to reign him he will be great for Y & R…if only Bloom would wake up and send someone to save GL.

  14. It’s interesting to see such a span of opinions on Paul Rauch. I have mixed opinions, myself, of him.

    I actually always thought the best AND the worst thing about Rauch’s last few shows was that I think for the most part, other than regular EP contributions, it SEEMED as if he kinda got out of the way of the writers.

    For example, I agree with Cherry about SB and Kim Zimmer, but I think a lot of that mess had more to do with Pamela Long writing the show (remember those Reva-esque shower scenes with Jodie and Cruz?) than with Rauch.

    I think he actually may have been a dragonslayer at GL and held off inevitable cast cuts and budget cuts….that show varied in quality dramatically under his watch (great under Taggart, mediocre under Gold, hideous under B&E). But the show kept their cast and it’s no coincidence that it’s shed a lot of cast, crew and prestige in the years since he left. (Yes, I never thought I’d say it but I almost miss him at GL.)

    I mean, when Claire Labine wrote GL it was uneven – all character and no plot. It was LOVELY character exposition (and needed refocus for some characters), but after a few months the show stagnated….point being, I didn’t get the sense he ever really interfered/contributed/got in the way, because the work I saw seemed so in tune with these writers. That work, for better or worse, seemed to be very Claire.

    It will be interesting to see how Rauch and Sheffer click.

    I always wondered what GH’s Bob Guza would have done with Rauch as his EP. Would that balance Guza’s misogynistic writing, or would it be testosterone overload? I shudder to think.

  15. Nancy says:

    I’ve read a few horror stories about Rauch but, as a GH fan, or rather a Jane Elliot fan who watches GH, I’d love to see Rauch come to the show. Up to a point, it’s the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t, but GH has hit rock bottom.

    When Rauch produced OLTL, the show was not only very focused on the female characters, but also written from their perspective. When Guza says that Sonny is the “heart and soul” of GH, you know it’s as bad as it gets.

    Marlena says: Nancy, the mind boggles at the fantasy of Paul going to General Hospital. I can’t even see the tasteful Paul taking a tour of a studio which houses a show with such lowly values! But I have always loved the intelligent, formidible Ms. Elliot. The thought of the two of them working together is very intriguing but also a bit mind-boggling. What a soap clash of the titans that would be!

  16. Cindy says:

    I have not commented in a while, but I certainly enjoy this blog (column). I don’t know anything about Paul Rauch, but from what you say, he has passion and I like that. I also like what you said in response to a question: soaps are written for those of us who don’t know much about who writes or who produces. I personally invest in a character and I feel betrayed when that character is not developed or when there is no payoff.

    Back on topic: I’m enjoying Y&R right now. I hope the new producer creates a show that is not afraid to go right up to “the line”, but know where that line is and doesn’t cross it. I like a soap the makes me invest in a character and instories that anger me, that draw me in, but don’t offend me.

    Take care and I enjoy this column.

    Marlena says: Cindy, thanks for your very sweet letter! And for echoing a line which popped out of my head: soaps are written for those of us who don’t know much about who writes or who produces. I’m sure this one would be thrown around like a hot potato on the ever-contentious soap opera opinion boards.

  17. PK ( Kel ) says:

    There is so much to respond to here … and I will as soon as I have a spare moment. I too cheer the grandeur of this man’s accomplishments yet totally agree also with the people who balk. Two quick points: YES he made AW into a veritable Masterpiece Theater of daytime, and YES IMHO he wrecked it to a point where IT NEVER EVER FULLY RECOVERED for nearly 30 years. But I had to respond not only to shout out toYOU dear Marlena for broaching this topic with again the phenomenal rich history context it deserves. But CHERRY!! Mentioned my composer so beloved it’s my email addy!! Even if she was validly pointing out Paul’s somewhat off-putting classical-music loving hauteur. Because finally, as TERRIBLY iffy as his GL was, the fact that he TOLD the Lohengrin story was the ONLY decent thing poor Marcy Walker had to do that made one REMOTE lick of sense. (And it wasn’t all that much sense at that — but it referred to OPERA!!! YAY!!)

    Yes, I will write more and more coherently when it isn”t 3:40 am on a day that started with 1030 am rehearsals. hehe :)

    Marlena says: Kel, I don’t understand the end of your letter even though I just looked up Lohengrin on Wikipedia. (Please don’t tell my students — I don’t let them use Wikipedia.) Marcy Walker when she was on Santa Barbara or Guiding Light? Which storyline are you talking about? I know Paul is a fan of German opera, but was it Mahler or Wagner or both?

    As Moose just remarked , isn’t it fitting that a soap producer was an opera fan in the first place.

  18. Silas Crocker says:

    Walker wasn’t on GL when Rauch was there … Phelps brought her on and Laibson “thankfully,” got rid of her. Oh, the mere mention of Tangy Hill is enough to send any GL fan running for the door in horror!

    Marlena says: I know that! I even know who created “you,” the character of Silas Crocker played by Benjamin Hendrickson on GL. It was Douglas Marland.

  19. Silas Crocker says:

    Very true Marlena…though I was correcting the above poster who seems to think that Walker was on GL when Rauch was…or am I reading the post wrong??? Oh, well, one’s head begins to ache as they plot evil schemes in between kidnappings.

  20. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    As Silas pointed out, Marcy Walker was long gone from GL before Rauch arrived.

    Don’t even think they were together on Santa Barbara. Marcy left SB in August 1991 to head off to primetime to do Palace Guard. As I recal, Rauch didn’t arrive at SB until fall 1991.

    So, I have no idea what PK (Kel) is talking about.

  21. tess says:

    Another poster expressed concern about the role minorities will have when Paul Rauch becomes co- executive producer of Y&R. The poster seems to think that Rauch has no interest in African-American characters and performers. Not entirely true.

    When Rauch was producing ANOTHER WORLD, a slew of black performers were introduced. Remember Roy Bingham and his lovely wife, caterer, Henrietta? Roy had an affair with sophisticated business woman, Quinn Harding, who was the antithesis of Henrietta.

    Elements of the story were thoughtful, well-written and well-acted.

    Rauch was producing ONE LIFE TO LIVE when the wonderful Lillian Heyman was dismissed and later on, Ellen Holly was shown the door. But a fantastic story idea came along. Bobby Blue played by the divine Blair Underwood joined the cast. From what I recall, Bobby appeared to be a street kid who met an uppercrust black girl whose father didn’t approve of his darling daughter’s involvement with a “thug.” Sadly, the story didn’t play out and it would have been a fascinating tale that many black people could have related to.

    On GUIDING LIGHT, Victoria Spaulding was a black Spaulding. I think it would have been thrilling had the audience been given the opportunity to see how the black Spaulding would have fared in corporate America. When Rauch was there, David Grant went from street dude to preppy– a white guy dipped in caramel if you will.

    Rauch had some captivating ideas for African-American characters, but didn’t follow through with any of it.

    I wish he’d do something to inject vitality in Y&R’s black characters. Save Drucilla, I find them all to be one-note and blah.

    I guess my point is that Rauch cares about black characters, offering universal stories to the black community, but unique to daytime, but sadly, he usually doesn’t follow through.

    Marlena says: Thank you for this very interesting letter and recap of soap history. I remember that AW’s Roy was played by Morgan Freeman, then a struggling New York theater actor — but was that in the Rauch years? When Paul does an interview for his new position on Y&R, I hope the reporter will be smart enough to bring up the facts and accusations in this letter. I’d love to hear what he has to say, as the African-American characters on Y&R have historically been a key to its superior quality and top-rated status.

  22. Silas Crocker says:

    To be fair, I think the problem with the Vickie and David Grant story was more the fault of the wretched E & B then it was Rauch. They brought the characters on to show they cared about history but then did nothing with them. Vickie in particular was supposed to have a hot story with Alex…that was the reason they brought Marj back but it was dropped (dont want to eat into KZ’s airtime don’t ya know, we gotta send her to a goofy island nation with princes!!!…) I would say Vickie was miscast, but she wasnt on enough.

    I will say that Rauch will let bygones be bygones…as he asked Maeve Kinkaid to come back to GL and given their past, that was professional.

  23. Pat says:

    All I know of Mr Rauch is that Joan Collins considered him “delightful and an absolute professional”….that, coming from JC, says something. JC, for all her notoriety onscreen was also very involved in the behind the scenes at ‘Dynasty’ in terms of the writing for her character. She knows what works and what doesn’t, she liked Rauch and Rauch liked her, so I’m all for it.

  24. Blake says:

    I am watching Y&R lately and have to say that its really interesting and has gotten my attention! I have seen the show on and off for at least a decade, and there have been times when the show was really good that I would have to tune in every day possible, and the show is like that right now. And I forgot that Paul Raunch joined the show recently, and I figured that must be the reason why its gotten better.
    I was shocked to see the characters/actors in Paris! I first assumed that they were in a city in America pretending to look like Paris, then I realized it was the real thing!!! I’m suprised that any soap still has that kind of budget, even Y&R!!!
    The scenes from Paris are so beautifully lit and filmed. Even though I hate Sharon with Nick I loved the scene where they kissed! It was so beautifully shot and so romantic. Same with Ashley and Victor. I’m actually upset that they won’t be in Paris now.
    And the story with Katherine and Marge is interesting also. And its going to be great seeing Katherine thinking she’s Marge and living her life. And how great is it going to be when everyone finds out Katherine is alive!
    I loved Raunch’s GL when he started in late 1996 to about mid 1998. I agree when the clone story came on the show was lame for the most part. But he made GL such a beautiful and interesting show to watch again. He brought back Fiona Hutchinson as Jenna (even though he ended up killing her off a couple of years later!) and Beth Ehlers as Harley.
    He also had a thing for the young blondes on the show like Cynthia Watros (Annie), Rebecca Budig (Michelle), Beth Chamberlain (Beth). I think he liked Kim Zimmer but not as much as he did with Cynthia and Beth Chamberlain. I seriously think he had the hots for those two actresses, they were constantly on and were the sex kittens of the show.
    But it seems he’s doing the same thing he did with GL and years ago on Y&R to Y&R again, everything is beautiful and interesting again!

  25. antmunoz says:

    Silas, the Vicky Spaulding story was completely mishandled. You’re right, Marj Dusay was brought back essentially to clash with her niece, Vicky (although many in the soap press still thought Vicky was her deceased mother, Victoria, Alex’s half-sister). Shades of Alex’s squabbles with her OTHER former niece-made-half-sister, Amanda. It didn’t help that Vicky “Brandon” was brought onto the show as Michael The Clone Doctor’s lab assistant. (And that Vanessa had it in for Vicky when Michael blew up in the lab, LOL.) Vicky was recast, from the patrician Karen Williams to the brassy Victoria Platt. GL kept trying to start a “black” storyline, with Vivian Grant pushing David towards Vicky, and yes, they did date (off-screen, as well). Later, the character of Ruth was introduced to start a triangle. (Remember that little “gem?” Ruth holds Reva hostage to protest some social services issue with her son, but basically gets the kid back and gets away with it. She then starts working at Company and becomes the blue-collar contrast to the increasing snobbish Vicky. Ruth, and then Vicky and David, then disappear, forever.) However, it was nothing compared to previous stories that featured Gilly, Hamp, Griffin (who dated Vicky once and then disappeared himself!), Vivian, Charles, David, Kat, et al. Vicky’s still out there and could easily be resurrected if GL ever wants to integrate again. I think these days on GL, Australians pass as “diversity.”

  26. James DePaiva says:

    I was fortunate enough to be given a great opportunity by Paul. And I can say that none of my years at OLTL were as fulfilling as those working for Paul. I have never had a producer that was so willing to listen to an actor’s ideas about a scene or character. And so willing to go with them if he thought it was better for the show. I saw Paul constantly watch rehearsals for the possibilities a performer might bring to the story that hadn’t occurred to him or the writers. He was always on the look out for that magical chemistry between an actress and an actor, because he knew when it came down to it; Soaps are supposed to be love stories.

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