By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman
Days of Our Lives, The Bold and the Beautiful, General Hospital: When I used to work on newspapers it was journalistic thinking that a list of three of anything — three sightings of groovy over-the-knee boots on the subway, three Hollywood divorces, three murders in a Queens neighborhood — signal the birth a new trend. Now, with the leave-takings of three leading men — Peter Reckell (Bo) from Days of Our Lives and Ronn Moss (Ridge) from The Bold and the Beautiful (both because of reduced salaries), and the rumored departure of Steve Burton from General Hospital (do you believe it will actually happen?) — we practically have another new daytime trend. And central, long-term veteran actors abandoning our sinking shows has become a really serious problem. I guess this is a sign of the soap times, as the daytime drama medium implodes all the more.
Can headwriters successfully handle the exits of the centerpiece actors of their shows? Or will the loss of these leading men leave too big a hole in their shows and cause ratings slides? Can recasts of such important central characters work? In the past, replacements in roles that were defined by the very long-term actors who played them were hard to adjust to initially. But the new actors were ultimately successfully and their major characters lived on with popularity. Examples are Jerry ver Dorn’s replacement of the late Clint Ritchie as Clint on One Life to Live and in the changing faces in the role of Ed Bauer (Mark Hulswit, Peter Simon) on Guiding Light. In both cases, new actors eventually improved the characters overall and gave the writers some new qualities to work with. But that was another time in daytime. In this soap era there’s comparatively little to no time for audiences to get used to the new actors (before the approaching end of the medium). Decades ago, it took me years to get used to Vicky Wyndham as Rachel Davis when she took over for the very popular Robin Strasser on Another World. Can the fans adjust to replacements for Bo, Ridge and possibly Jason fast enough? Or are the original actors who have played them forever irreplaceable? I guess we are about to find out.
Marlena Shorts: Here are just a few quick comments on things I’ve seen this week … Why oh why did they have to kill off Dr. Tim Reid on The Young and the Restless? I loved him especially with Phyllis back in the 90s and now that he was blackmailing her. They sparkled and were so funny together (I admit I also loved Tim because actor Aaron Lustig is a doppelganger for Phillipe L’Ouef). Lustig is one of those character actors who add so much color to our drab soaps, a species, for example, like GH’s Bruce Weitz as the late Anthony Zacchara that seems to be dying out with the rest … Loved it on B&B when take-no-nonsense Bill Spencer put his son Liam into a headlock after Junior was caught partying with Steffy before his aborted wedding to Hope. (Loved Liam’s party hair dyed brown with just the shock of hot pink in the front.) If only someone would put a headlock on the interminable, all-encompassing young triangle story that’s choking so many fans’ enjoyment of this show … So I’m very confused as to what to think now that newly out and very confused Will has slept with Gabi, a girl on Days. What do you think? … Sebastian Roche is such a scene stealer as Jerry Jacks on GH. If only half of the young marble-mouthed actors on daytime could get a handle on this actor’s marvelous diction … Speaking of actors’ leave-taking, did anyone this week read the bizarro and edited-for-length Entertainment Weekly interview with Ronn Moss as to “exactly” why he’s exiting B&B. I couldn’t tell “exactly” anything after reading Moss’ mixed-up reasoning and long-winded quotes. Talk about being dazed and confused! Among other strange things, he talks about a “sign” he believes is making his exit OK: on his last day at the studio, Moss saw a clock that had stopped at the exact minute of his birth. Huh? Read this interview and ask: does our poor dear Ronn really know what he’s doing?