Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with The Young and the Restless’ Elizabeth Hendrickson

By Damon L. Jacobs 

Combine the beauty of Jennifer Garner and the comic timing of Debra Messing and what do you get?  The hysterically entertaining and insightful Elizabeth Hendrickson!  Elizabeth HendricksonDuring SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” we talked about her experiences and life lessons learned from mistakes on All My Children and her current run on The Young and the Restless.

D:  What part of yourself are you bringing to Chloe in Y&R these days?
E:  Humor.  I’d say 98% of her humor comes from me.  When I was on All My Children I got really bored with myself.  I came into this job (as Chloe) as literally a blank canvas.  They had absolutely no idea.  They had seen me in something on stage and brought me in to read and they just created this character for me.  So I knew from being on AMC that  when I started Maggie, I didn’t really take control . I didn’t realize that whatever you bring, they use.  Like if you start to eye roll all the time you’ll see “Maggie eye rolls.”  That’s how I found they would write my character, and I didn’t take advantage of that.  So when I came on as Chloe I said, “The world is my oyster.  I’m going to [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with All My Children’s Bobbie Eakes

Thinking Bobans (Bobbie fans) on Ms. Eakes: Says renee, “I’ve become a Boban because of her insightfulness” … and DSO816, “She’s an unheralded and spirited actress” … and Dana Webb, “She is so down to earth and balanced” … and more. See Comments below.  

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By Damon L. Jacobs

Before meeting Bobbie Eakes on SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” I knew she had talent, I knew she had beauty, I knew she had an amazing singing voice.  Bobbie EakesWhat I didn’t know was how much humor, intelligence, and self-awareness had contributed to her portrayal of Krystal on All My Children.  In our talk at sea, she she shared life lessons, reflections on a 20-year career in soaps, and why Krystal’s recent behavior makes perfect sense.

D:  So Krystal has had a very hard past year losing her daughter Babe.  How have you approached this as an actress?
B:  Well, at the point she lost Babe I really had not lost anyone that close to me.  But since then I have.  My mother-in-law and father-in-law died within ten days of each other, that was after Babe died.  We were really close to them … I was really close to them.  Loss of a close family member can be so devastating.  I don’t have any children.  So, as an actor you just have to imagine what that would be like to lose a daughter.  People say having a child is the most amazing experience and if you lose a child it’s the worst thing in the world.  So I go on what people tell me.  You put yourself in a state where you imagine what it’s like to go through that.

D:  It seemed like Krystal was trying to numb herself out with pills so she wouldn’t have to go through that.  
B:  Well, that wasn’t her intention, but David Hayward came along and [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck With As the World Turns’ Van Hansis

Thinking Van Fans on Mr. Hansis’ sea-going chat: Morgan D. enthuses, “Van is amazing, but we all knew that. But look how much brighter he shines when he is asked INTELLIGENT questions” … Mary says, “It’s always nice to hear an actor be able to really understand his character” … while Tom confirms, “As someone who has met, and talked to, Van at several fan events, I can say that this interview captures his personality beautifully” … and more more. See Comments below.  

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By Damon L. Jacobs

As the World Turns‘ Van Hansis (Luke Snyder) is definitely one of the more outspoken and risk-taking actors working on daytime today. The pairing of Luke and Noah (Jake Silberman), who are gay, has been one of the most popular soap couples ever.  Van HansisHe has taken on the challenge of lending integrity to a role that is controversial, symbolic, and the center of many political debates. During our chat on SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” Hansis talked about finding out what it is like to make a social impact in the world, about Luke’s legacy as a Grimaldi, and the truth behind Luke’s REAL feelings for Brian (his amorous step grandfather, played by Laurence Lau): 

D:  Luke has been going through some serious stuff these past six months. 
V:  Yes, definitely.  It’s been fun to play. 

D:  What’s been the best part for you recently?
V:  I like that they’re giving Luke more layers than he had before.  He’s still a very good guy, but he’s conflicted and has a lot more issues now, a lot of which he has brought on himself.  It all started with him trying to steal the election and it’s all built upon that.  The character is now [Read more...]

How Helena Cassadine Can Save General Hospital

Thinking Fans Comment Update: James speculates, “My own preference for bringing back the vets would be a storyline where it is revealed that they all joined a witness protection program and are brought back to testify against Sonny” … while Melanie declares, “The good think about the outrageousness of soaps (and characters like Helena) is that anything is possible” … and more. See Comments below.  

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Constance TowersBy Ed Martin  

Constance Towers this week will reprise her recurring role as the murderous madwoman Helena Cassadine on General Hospital In happier times I would consider this to be unfortunate news, because I have never been a fan of this wildly inconsistent character, an all-powerful, unstoppable, bloodthirsty ghoul that would seem more at home in a comic book than a daytime drama (even though Constance Towers is sublime in the role, but more on her later).   

But this time I think I will welcome Helena back with open arms, because these are increasingly desperate days on mob-centric, violence-filled GH.  Helena’s return will be brief, and I suspect it won’t amount to very much. But allow me to suggest a scenario I’ve fantasized that might salvage this show, one that

I can’t wholly condemn Helena because, even though the show’s writers and producers don’t know what to do with her and haven’t a clue how to showcase her to maximum effect, her return appearances bring Ms. Towers back to daytime, and that is always a reason to celebrate.

would place Helena at the center of all the franchise-restoring action. I now believe she could be utilized in a story that would undo much of the seemingly irreversible damage that has been done to GH during [Read more...]

Guiding Light: What Happened? Start Your THINKING Long Ago

Thinking Fans savor vintage Guiding Light: Mike Goldberg says, “It seems to me that Guiding Light has had so many magical periods and then so many dreadful periods. The era you describe was magnificent” … while from Italy, Giada declares, “I don’t want to be a ‘laudator temporis acti,’ someone who praises the past for its own sake, but I do believe we’re not seeing in the present moment soaps as good as we used to” … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix

It’s been so difficult to write since last week’s  cancellation of Guiding Light.  So painful to see it go, so awful to lose a show that is literally the cradle of all soap operas.Guiding Light 1

I only stopped feeling bad when I realized that the cancellation freed me from ruminating about the disasters of the past year (the “new” production model!). Instead, I could reflect on and savor memories of the remarkable and glorious 72-year history of GL. Not just to reminisce, but to think about why GL was an excellent and superbly crafted classic soap for so long, and how over the years so many of the elements that made it so popular and compelling were carelessly discarded.  I decided to pick one era –1980-82, the first years I watched — and examine it through the eyes of someone who’s watched thirty years of subsequent soap opera history.  Some might call what happened during those years modernization.  Others might call it slow destruction …

You have to remember that GL in1980-82 stood in a shadow. In those days everyone, especially the young and hip, were swooning over the magical Luke and Laura story on General Hospital, which had hit all of daytime with a tidal wave of

GL was truly an ensemble effort.  As a viewer, you felt very much an integral part of Springfield, too!  It was like a real place, a real home.  Which once upon a time is what all soaps were.   

popularity in the summer of 1980, the summer on the run.  I was the new editor of a magazine called Afternoon TV, and was responsible for [Read more...]

Grief Counseling from the Soap Shrink: How To Cope When the Light Goes Out

Thinking Fans mourn:  Matthew J. Cormier says, “I can’t even begin to know how Guiding Light fans are dealing with the loss right now. I was such a wreck when Loving, The City and Port Charles were cancelled and they didn’t run nearly as long as Guiding Light” … while Blake reflects, “It’s really going to hit me some time, but right now I just feel sad every time I see an article about GL being cancelled” … and more. See Comments below. 

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Guiding LightBy Damon L. Jacobs

Fans of CBS’ Guiding Light, as well any one who cares about the future of the daytime soap opera genre, have had reason to grieve this past week.  Even if the cancellation wasn’t a complete shock, it was nevertheless a cruel jolt to lose this beloved institution, and it deserves to be mourned as such.  My “cyber step brother” Patrick Erwin is eloquently sharing his emotional journey of coping by using Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages Of Grief at A Thousand Other Worlds . It is my hope that as a community we can work through this tragic death together and help each other reach and stay at the “acceptance” phase.  Here are some tools that can help:

1.  Allow yourself to feel whatever feelings come up around GL‘s cancellation.  You may feel angry, disappointed, exasperated, depressed, maybe [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with One Life to Live’s Kathy Brier

Thinking Fans salute Ms. Brier: John says, “It’s sort of depressing thinking how daytime has actually gone downhill in the time since Kathy Brier came on to OLTL, when at the time she was a breath of fresh air in a medium that was already pretty moribund” … while Jake says, “Brier’s acting chops stand out on a show that is showcasing some really questionable performances these days” … and more. See Comments below.

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By Damon L. Jacobs

Kathy Brier’s fiery portrayal of Marcie McBain on One Life to Live has had a profound impact on me personally, as well as on millions of soap viewers.  Unfortunately, news of her firing from the show came days after this interview took place on Soapnet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise.” Kathy BrierThe ABC publicist has declined to make Ms. Brier available for follow-up comment about the contents of this interview, pending the conclusion of her storyline. 

So we’re left to wonder: Did she know she was leaving?  Some have speculated she did, but I leave it to you the Thinking Fan to decide for yourself. Please read on to learn how she has dealt with weight issues, Nathaniel Marston’s absence, and what profession she truly wants to enter. (HINT: The answer thrilled the Soap Shrink!) 

D:  Marcie started off as a three day part?
K:  Yes, three days.

D:  My first memory of Marcie was in the diner, after Joey Buchanan rebuffed her, and she went straight for the sundae.
K:  Oh yes.  I made that up. I added that, it was not in there. [Read more...]

Guiding Light Cancelled! After 72 Years Does It Have to Stay Dead?

Thinking Fans share their grief: Skylar laments, ”I want to call my great grandmother and tell her the news, as I’m sure she doesn’t know. But I really don’t want to be the one to deliver the news: a friend of 72 years is set to disappear forever”  … while BL says, “I’m glad for all the people I’ve met and become pals with over the years due to our shared interest in Guiding Light. The show coming to a close won’t change that or erase all the memories” … and more. See Comments below.

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It’s official: CBS has cancelled Guiding Light, the New York Post reports, though TV Week says Procter & Gamble will seek a new home for the show. How profound is the loss of Guiding Light to American television? Here’s a powerful guest column by our friend, longtime TV trade reporter Ed Martin of JackMyers.com, aimed at top network television programmers, who might not have a full knowledge of what Guiding Light really means to the American audience. Look for Marlena’s commentary here soon. 

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Guiding Light logoBy Ed Martin

CBS made history today in a bad way. It cancelled Procter & Gamble Productions’ classic soap opera Guiding Light, the longest running scripted franchise in the history of modern media!

I have during the last ten years written many times about Guiding Light for Myers Reports and other publications, and whenever possible I have used those platforms to remind executives at CBS and P&G that GL isn’t simply another soap opera — it’s an American institution and a national treasure at that. Everyone reading this column has a relative, living or deceased, who either listened to GL during its run on radio (beginning in 1937) or watched it since it transitioned to television in 1952. Some of our parents can actually say that they first enjoyed this show on radio with their parents and still follow it on TV.

It isn’t sufficient to refer to this achievement as rare. This is a success story unparalleled in the history of modern media. Think about this: With few exceptions (most notoriously  the marathon daily news coverage of the O.J. Simpson

With all due respect to the fine folks at Nielsen, daytime audience measurement is, at its very best, irrefutably flawed.  The very idea that viewership for soap operas would decline in direct proportion to the ever-expanding increase in viewing options is utter bullshit.

double-murder trial), Guiding Light has been in continuous daily production through eight decades! The durability of this franchise makes it way too significant to fall victim to the current recession, when desperate [Read more...]

Guiding Light: Keep It Burning!

Thinking Fans cherish Guiding Light memories: Levi recalls, “(GL) was a show my grandmother and I talked about on the phone and watched together. Even on her deathbed, we still talked about our favorite soap” … while Jonathan Reiner declares, “Losing GL is not just a blow for the genre, it’s a major loss for 20th Century Americana” … and David C. worries, “Now, the show has been allowed to die a good death. But is that death the beginning of the end of the U.S. daytime soap genre as we know it?” … and more. See Comments below.  

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Many years ago, I called the late Jim Reilly to see what his reaction was to an ABC soap being cancelled. His Days of Our Lives  (on NBC) was riding high and I expected him to be festive. “Oh no, Marlena,” he said. “When one soap gets cancelled, it hurts all of us.  It’s a tragedy for all soaps.”GL classic logo

And that’s how it feels now for Guiding Light (incidentally, a show Reilly was a co-headwriter for in the early 90s.)  As of this writing, GL‘s fate is officially undetermined, but last night trade stories (like this one) appeared that say official word of cancellation may be near.

That cancellation would affect everyone in the soap community.  Chances are, if you are a longtime soap watcher, you watched and loved Guiding Light at some point, or you watch and love it now.  So many generations of fantastic soap actors have passed through the show.  Over six decades of its remarkable life on TV and radio,  the town of Springfield has been a very real place.   Losing GL would not only be the loss of a media institution, it would be the loss of a piece of America that belongs to all of us.  The way its very human drama has reflected life in America all these decades, it is us.

So if you’d like to show your support for the show at this crucial time, I urge you to call, email or write.  My colleague Patrick Erwin has the contact numbers, urls and addresses you need to use to help save this show.  It’s here on his blog A Thousand Other Worlds under “Fighting Back.”

Soaps March: When a House Is Not a Home

Thinking Fans Comment Update: Ann demands to know, “Why is Guza doing this to Robin? It kills me to see people on the GH boards calling wonderful brave Robin a slut and a cheat because this PPD is being used to destroy her character” … while Elvira rejoices, “Guiding Light’s creative resurgence (headed by the old-school Otalia story, which is every bit as good as the stories that riveted me during the golden age of soaps) is still going strong” … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix 

I had a really hard time watching soaps during March.  My old favorite,  All My Children, was a dead bore. My other old favorite, The Bold and Beautiful, went from the ridiculous to out of control, as warring, one-upping “brothers” Rick and Ridge seemed more like those old rival cartoon characters spy vs. spySpy vs. Spy in Mad Magazine than living, breathing human beings. On As the World Turns, 17-year-old Liberty married Parker, who is barely 16.   How desperate for story can a soap get?

Marlena is a hardcore soap watcher of countless decades, so my feelings of overall alienation from soaps this month may be part of a much larger  trend. Are you a loyalist who didn’t feel so loyal to soaps in March?  And how does that make you feel?  I feel … homeless.

But here are a few brief comments on soaps I could watch:     

One Life to Live: At least there were some wonderful, powerful  performances by almost  everyone in the Matthew is paralyzed/Shane has leukemia story.  But this new Stacy … yikes!  She is clearly intended to be [Read more...]