By Marlena De Lacroix
What a summer, and it’s not over yet!
Moose and I deeply mourn the loss of my mother, who passed away in April. This very week we adopted an exquisite beagle puppy I’ve named Nigel. As in Mr. Bartholomew Smythe, the One Life to Live character, played so capably by Peter Bartlett, who has given me so much laughter and joy over the years. I also watched a lot of soaps this summer, but uncharacteristically (the first time in 30 years) I didn’t feel like writing about them.
I watched the last remnants of my old favorite soap, All My Children, dissolve in front of my eyes. It was once the most idiosyncratic and indivudual of soaps because Agnes Nixon wrote with genuine wisdom, wit and heart that always brought me
Conditions on soaps have to get better when the summer is over! The Emmys, the end of GL, the big 20th anniversary of my old mag, Soap Opera Weekly, are coming up and I’m sure there will be lots of hype and hoopla.
joy. Charles Pratt is writing generically bad soap as if it were Love of Life, Somerset, Sunset Beach, or any other long-cancelled soap. So how fitting is it that ABC announced the show is moving from here (Manhattan ) to L.A., land of the bland!
When the news broke, Marlena had a flash of a fall night in 1995 when ABC threw a party for the debut of the soap The City, which they had just transformed from Loving. Of course the party was held in a Soho loft, the new locale of The City. Late in the evening, Marlena watched as the daytime executives responsible for this decision danced for joy — they were very, very drunk — over their brilliant strategy to save Loving. Since when do daytime execs get drunk in front of the press, let alone dance, Marlena thought at the time. None of these ABC Daytime executives work in daytime today.
So what brought real emotion and real feeling this summer on soaps? I keep watching Guiding Light, waiting for its approaching September 18th finale to make me cry. Marlena always cries at the last episode of any soap (well, except for brain dead Sunset Beach) but GL hasn’t given me any tears yet. Except when I saw the magnificent actor Peter Simon (Ed) return, and remembered what a sour interview the actor had been years ago. And the storylines — aside from symbolically giving Phillip three months to live — why?? Otalia would have saved this show if only it had kicked into gear two years earlier!
Instead, I spend most of the summer fixating on Kim Zimmer/Reva’s heft. Kim was the first soap star I ever met, when my career godmother, the late Seli Groves, took me to the set of The Doctors in 1980 . My photographer wanted some good shots, so Kim obliged by hanging upside down from the two story-tall camera dolly. What a trouper, even then!
So here we are all these years later, and it’s still Kim and me on the soap scene. It’s politically incorrect, even anti-feminist, but I can’t get over how jumbo Kim has grown this summer. And that they let Reva wear tank tops! It happens that Kim and I are exactly the same age (okay, she’s three months younger) and I can testify, middle-age is not kind to female bodies. My question is, how in world does P&G let Kim get away with appearing on camera like that? (Somewhere ingénues are starving and Erika Slezak is giving yet another interview on how hard she diets.)
I think Zimmer’s heft is a power thing. For 25 years she has successfully defended her throne as the star of this show against all comers (Michelle Forbes, Cynthia Watrous, et al.) and the weight must have something to do maintaining a superior position. (Don’t you love how I play Dr. Freud?) Even though she reportedly never liked what I wrote about Reva over the years, I wish Kim the best and am sure she’ll be coming to another soap soon.
Conditions on soaps have to get better when the summer is over! The Emmys, the end of GL, the big 20th anniversary of my old mag, Soap Opera Weekly, are coming up and I’m sure there will be lots of hype and hoopla. And as I always have over the years, Marlena will to tell you exactly what she really thinks!
And speaking of SOW, I’d like to welcome my friend since 1980, the mag’s founding editor Mimi Torchin, back to the blogosphere. Check out her latest post here.
Coming in Part 2: Observations on summer soap “stars” Y&R and OLTL.
Beagle art from The Beagle Shop. We’ll put up a real photo as soon as we have one.