James Franco to General Hospital? Marlena’s Top 10!

By Marlena De Lacroix

James Franco to guest star for two months on General Hospital has to be the biggest bombshell news in the decades I’ve watched and written about soaps.  I just heard, and it’s fabulous!  As much as I love soaps, my mind jumped to wise guy remarks, a la David Letterman’s nightly Top 10.James Franco

And I have no shame: here’s my instant Top 10 list.  Marlena challenges you  to add your remarks after mine, all in good fun, of course.

10.  I saw James Franco in his breakout role, James Dean in a TV movie bio of Dean, the first and greatest “younger” star ever.  James Dean was a genius; young Franco displayed genius playing him.  Have you ever heard the word genius being applied to anyone (yes, even the bravura Anthony Geary) on GH?      

9.  This casting dispels the Big Lie told by the soap magazines for the 35 years I’ve been reading them, namely that every soap actor is great. Can you imagine Deke Cheatwood in a scene with Franco?

8.  Steve Burton on the same stage as Franco?  If you thought Burton’s hair stood straight up on his head naturally, you can imagine [Read more...]

Guiding Light’s Last Fade-out: Only Love Can Save the Soap World

By Marlena De Lacroix

I thought Kim Zimmer looked absolutely gorgeous in her last scene on Guiding Light set a year after the action, when Reva and Josh pledged their love “always.”  Clad in a  emerald gown, the top of her blond hair nicely swept back, she looked truly amazing.  A goddess, indeed.

Surprised I wrote this?  Well, I m going to surprise you even more. I really don’t want to nitpick the details of the last episode of GL.  Bitching and moaning about which characters’ stories were poorly concluded and which other characters’ stories

At least if it had to end, GL was still about love when it went down.  Not misogyny, not hate. And truly, truly, I really do believe that if the soap world is to survive, only love can save it.

surprisingly didn’t get a windup is way too easy.  The ending of a 72-year-old soap  needs deeper examining.  What does it mean to the long history of the show?  What does the end of Guiding Light [Read more...]

Celebrating the Glorious Life of Guiding Light: From 1992, Marlena’s Analysis of GL at its Peak

blogtalkradioDon’t miss Marlena’s farewell to Guiding Light on blogtalkradio’s Brandon’s Buzz at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 or later on the network’s archive.

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 By Marlena De Lacroix

In March 1992, Guiding Light reached the apex of soap quality, that perfect blend of excellence in writing, acting and production.   I thought it had everything going for it to  reach #1 in the ratings.  Here’s my column from Soap Opera Weekly, March 2, 1992,   Volume 3, Issue 9, in which I analyzed this blueprint for building a perfect soap.  A framed copy of this column hung over the desk of GL’s then executive producer Jill Farren Phelps for the duration of her stay there.

Intelligence, integrity, heart — GL had all three. It was a soap that not only deserved to rise to the top of the ratings, but should have stayed there forever. What a tragedy we are losing America’s oldest and historically beloved soap on Friday.   Farewell, Guiding Light.  You were glorious!

Here’s my column as it appeared originally. If you can [Read more...]

ABC’s Misguided “Sweeps” Tries to Feed Off of Guiding Light’s Death

By Marlena De Lacroix

I usually don’t read a lot of previews or spoilers.  But what I’ve seen this week and what I’ve read for the rest of the month of September alarms me.  The ABC soaps seem to think its sweeps month, staging stunts and attention-getting storylines that are de rigueur in crucial ratings-measuring months.  September isn’t one of them.   Dance marathons (All My Children),  a carnival that concludes with a bloody accident (General Hospital), a Russian drug dealer holding citizens hostage (One Life to Live) — these scream, “Look at me, pay attention to me, love me-me-me!”  Kind of like the stunts my little puppy Nigel stages at least three times a day!Guiding Light cast

Now why would ABC Daytime be making all this extra effort now?  Can it be because Guiding Light on CBS plays its last episode next Friday, and  ABC wants to attract their soon-to-be soapless fans.  The mainstream press, such as this Sunday’s 60 Minutes‘ report on the end of GL, is also shining a light on the whole soap world.  Why not take advantage of that spotlight to attract new viewers?

Now, I ask you Guiding Light fans:  what will you be doing in the next week, beside crying? You’ll be remembering 73-year-old show that was mostly [Read more...]

The Daytime Emmys: Happy At Last

newFor another view of the Daytime Emmys, read the post following this one by Marlena’s longtime friend and colleague Ed Martin.  A veteran TV industry journalist and analyst, Ed is a columnist for JackMyers.com.

By Marlena De Lacroix

From out of a dying soap industry, from out of a cable network I never watch, last night arrived the most unexpected shock of my decades-long soap watching/journalism life: a Daytime Emmys that was pretty good.  Who know that after most of us gave up the fight and moved on to other lives that daytime would finally get what we (the actors, the press, and hopefully the fans) had fought for forever: a Daytime Emmys that wasn’t condescending to daytime soaps!

Hooray!  No soaps-are-stupid jokes!  It’s taken the always awkward Daytime Emmys since 1974 — the year they were first broadcast by themselves – not to make fun of what they’re celebrating.  Even though this year’s ceremony was on 

Best of all, without the traditional sneering and disrespect for soaps, many moments of actual warmth emerged.  It’s called professional showmanship with heart, and the producers of the Emmys this year have it! Yes, yes — emotion — that’s what daytime soaps are all about.  And used to be about. 

such a small scale, it grew large because it finally treated soaps with dignity. They are not, as most people in the world think, and we soap fans know in our hearts – a punch line!

Unlike in past years, the host wasn’t sleazy or smarmy (like Bob Barker) or totally miscast (as Eric Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott unintentionally were [Read more...]

Daytime Emmys 2009: The Beginning of the End?

By Ed Martin 

Watching the 36th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on The CW during the dog days of August confirmed what I already knew: These are dark days indeed for the daypart overall and for soap operas in particular.

It’s not that the telecast was all bad: I actually prefer smaller venues for the Daytime Emmy celebration (the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles for last night’s show, ballrooms at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan during the ceremony’s glory years) and I always enjoy an entertaining opening number at any awards event. (Vanessa Williams‘ reworked-for-daytime rendition of Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You was almost as much fun as Neil Patrick Harris‘ surprise closing song at this year’s Tony Awards.) Best of all, in the soap categories the awards were spread over a number of different shows. Only As the World Turns went totally unrewarded during the telecast. (On Saturday it picked up a couple of Creative Arts Emmys, so no soap went home empty handed.)

In fact, I was pleased with most of the winners in the daytime drama categories, from the tie for Outstanding Supporting Actor between the long overdue Vincent Irizarry of All My Children and the very deserving Jeff Branson of Guiding Light to

The biggest disgrace was the rushed tribute to the soon-to-be-terminated Guiding Light, which has already completed production and will have its last telecast in two weeks … The other big bad of the night was the brush-off to The Bold and the Beautiful at night’s end.

the surprise Outstanding Lead Actress win for Susan Haskell of One Life to Live. (Her portrayal of repeat rape victim Marty Saybrooke in the year’s most controversial soap story was consistently riveting.) Even though it would have been [Read more...]

Marlena Returns Monday 8/31 to Review Daytime Emmys

Hi, everyone! What a week!  Moose and I had to cancel our August vacation to take good care of our 12-week-old puppy, Nigel Bartholomew-Smythe.  And then my computer crashed, and it took days to find and set up a new one.  Today I realized that the Daytime Emmys are Sunday!Nigel BS  I will also be resuming regular postings now that my  official summer-long hiatus is over.  As you all know, I couldn’t resist posting a bit this summer and the promised Part 2, to “Marlena’s Summer End Review, Part I” will appear here next week.

Darling readers who may have looked  here for Emmy predictions,  forgive me. I didn’t do them this year.  I was  offline all week.   I assure you I will have plenty to say about the awards and the broadcast itself Monday.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture of our beautiful beagle, Nigel  (yes, named after the One Life to Live character, played by Peter Bartlett. )  The first Emmys I wrote about and attended were in 1980; whoever thought a puppy would upstage them 29 years later?

Marlena’s Summer In Review (Part 1)

beagleBy 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 beaglePeter Bartlett 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 [Read more...]

One Life to Live Insults Women — Again!

Thinking Fans argue pros and cons of OLTL’s Grey Gardens spoof: Marilyn Henry applauds, “It never occurred to me it was anti-woman at all. I was happy to see two of the show’s vets get a big chunk of air time in an imaginative bit of spoofiness” … while Steve says, “This spoof fell flat for me because it wasn’t about Blair or Dorian at all. It was about Todd. And we saw that Blair was worthless because she did not have her dream man” … and much more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Remember Nola’s fantasies on Guiding Light in the early 80s?  She imagined herself as the heroine in movies like The Wizard Of Oz, Wuthering Heights and Gone With the Wind.  These fantasies had, from the start, been part of the character of a poor but spunky girl living in her mother’s Springfield boarding house.gg  These movies were all classics, so when GL actually went out and produced the fantasy scenes (starring Nola) the audience automatically knew what they were watching.

Yesterday on One Life to Live, we were shown Dorian actually dressed up as a weird old woman in a housecoat and Blair wearing some kind of headscarf in a surreal  incarnation of La Boulie filled with disorder, trash and cats.  Was this a movie fantasy?  Blair never had movie fantasies before and she’s been

Daytime used to distinguish itself by doing social issue stories on the mentally ill.  How times have changed!   How revolting it is yet again to see a network’s misogyny on display.

on the show nearly twenty years. How organic to her character is this?

I’m sure there were many OLTL viewers across America who didn’t know what they were watching. What the hell was this supposed to be? I didn’t [Read more...]

Marlena Returns to Brandon’s Buzz!

Though our Marlena (a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman) is supposed to be on vacation, an invitation to appear on blogtalkradio’s Brandon’s Buzz on Friday, July 31, proved irresistible.brandon's buzz

So she’s put aside her summer poolside re-reading of Gone With the Wind and has been espied of late poring over the cast lists of the eight surviving network soaps.  As she studies the lists, she laughs, she scoffs, she giggles, she shakes her head in wonder and dismay. What is she thinking? We’ll have to tune in to find out.

Brandon, her old friend and knowledgeable host of the weekly show, promises:

“Her first visit was such a smashing success that she’s coming back for more! Marlena De Lacroix herself returns to Brandon’s Buzz to discuss the continuing disintegration of All My Children, to debunk a series of daytime myths, and to question seriously whether The Young and the Restless lives up to the deafening hype that surrounds it!”

blogtalktadio logoSo take an early lunch and catch the show live at 11 a.m., or replay it later from blogtalkradio’s inexhaustible archive.