Character Actors Add Much Needed Character To Soaps

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Bergen Williams as truth-telling Alice Gunderson on General Hospital

Soap stories, most of which are about romance and love triangles, do tend to get repetitive.  Adding variety and spice to this formula are character roles, which do a lot to make soaps more interesting.  These characters often provide comic relief and serve as “talk tos” for the main characters.

Colorful and amusing character parts have enriched soaps since the beginning.

On Another World in the 70s, Anne Meacham as Iris’s assistant Louise Goddard always drew laughs when she talked to plants about  the show’s tangled plots, “confiding” in the greenery in a deep, soothing voice. In the 80s, Brent Collins on AW  was memorable as Felicia Gallant’s wise-cracking sidekick.  (A versatile actor, he also played the evil, unfunny Mr. Big on As the World Turns.)  At the same time on Days of Our Lives,  Arleen Sorkin and  John DeLancie served as comic foils to leads Marlena and Roman – Arleen as the ditzy blond  Calliope and John as the stuffed shirt Eugene.  Meanwhile, on All My Children, the country-fried Opal (Dorothy Lyman, Jill  Larson) was the talk-to for Erica, and was so popular she became a main character.

Now more than ever, today’s meager menu of four soaps needs to be made tastier by the addition of the adroit services of stellar character actors:

All the goings-on at The Bold and the Beautiful’s Forrester Creations are comically commented on by Pam (Ally Mills) and her boyfriend Charlie (Dick Christie), turning the office staff into an irreverent Greek chorus. Often they “get” what’s happening before the main characters do. Pam, you may recall, was first to catch on to how crazy Quinn is.

A fine example of comic acting was on display just this month as Ilene Kristen guested on General Hospital as her old  Ryan’s Hope character Delia Reid Ryan, her patented kookiness undiminished by the passing years,  Delia, in a real stroke of writing brilliance, was revealed to be the mother of  Ava (Maura West).  Like mother like daughter — both are conniving  and mocking. This time Delia came to stay with pregnant Ava and her baby daddy Sonny and wound up busting into Sonny’s safe before she was escorted out of town by Sean.

Another comic character that is much beloved by the GH audience is Alice Gunderson (Bergen Williams), the truth-telling wrestler and former Quartermaine maid who is now a real thorn in the side of Tracy.  Alice is on to the fact that Tracy is trying to secretly take over ELQ, the family business.  Recently Alice proved she really does have a heart by having a heart attack, and now needs a heart transplant to save her life.

Speaking of thorns, a shining example of tour de force character acting is now being offered by Ray Wise, whose seductive con man Ian Ward is now a thorn in the sides of many Genoa City residents on The Young and the Restless.   Right now, he’s suing Nikki for emotional disturbance (!) because she lied and told him he was Dylan’s biological father. In this storyline, Wise has been particularly well paired with Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki) and Eric Braeden, who plays Nikki’s exasperated and combative  husband Victor.

 These are some of my faves. Who are yours?

The 2014 Daytime Emmys: A Pleasant Evening Online

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Amelia Heinle, Best Supporting Actress

This year’s Daytime Emmys – for the first time, streamed live  online but not televised — they turned out to be relatively painless.  Without commercials, the show flowed nicely, and was capably produced. Hostess Kathy Griffin was funny and full of salt and vinegar as always. The absence of television cameras did not discourage the celebrities and glitterati of the daytime world from showing up, including everyone from legendary  game show host Monty Hall to plenty of nominees plus Best Show presenter Donna Mills, who entered to the theme from Knots Landing.

The big winner was The Young and the Restless, which won for Best Show.   A win for Best Writing (picked up by Shelly Altman) set the tone for Y&R’s winning night. Amelia Heinle (Victoria) won for Best Supporting Actress.  Billy Miller, who had the storyline of the year with his character Billy’s daughter’s death in an automobile accident, won Best Actor.  Hunter King (who plays Summer) won for starring in a storyline which centered on the identity of her biological father.  A most pleasant win was for Special Episode in which the late Jeanne Cooper, who played Katherine for decades, was honored posthumously. Executive  Producer Jill Farren Phelps gave a very gracious acceptance speech. She attempted to give another for Y&R ’s win as Best Show, but was interrupted by Griffin, who was hurriedly trying to close the webcast.

It was a very good year, too, for Days of Our Lives which won Best Younger Actor for Chandler Massey (ex-Will) and Best Supporting Actor for Eric Martsolf (Brady). Martsolf heartily thanked co-star Eileen Davidson, who won for Best Actress.  She kiddingly thanked frequent winner and fellow nominee  Heather Tom (Katie, The Bold and the Beautiful) for “sharing” the award.  Davidson finally got the award she deserves for creating the iconic daytime character Kristen DiMera.

There were echoes of cancelled soaps: One Life to Live won Best Direction. Venice, an online soap, won for Best Limited Series soap. The statuette was picked up by one of its stars, an emotional Crystal Chappell.

The Red Carpet Show was thorough, interviewing everyone from soap stars to soap bloggers, but marred somewhat by the flat jokes of inexperienced nonsoap hostesses.

But all in all, the Daytime Emmys 2014, the first to be streamed online, weren’t bad at all.   As a matter of fact, they deserved to be televised.  

Daytime Emmy Nominations – Marlena Still Cares

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman    

The Daytime Emmy nominations for 2014 have been announced. Do you care?  After all these years, Marlena still does. So let’s discuss:

Best Actor:  Aside from Jason Thompson (Patrick, General Hospital) the other four nominees all come from The Young and the Restless:  Peter Bergman (Jack), Doug Davidson (Paul), Christian LeBlanc (Michael) and Billy Miller (ex-Billy.)  Miller, who performed with great strength in the storyline in which Billy’s daughter Delia was run over by a car, should be the winner.  Oddly enough, Michael Muhney, who so masterfully played guilt-filled Adam, who ran over Delia, was not even nominated.  (Muhney has since left the show.)

Best Actress:  Eileen Davidson (Kristen, Days of Our Lives) by all accounts had a particularly good year, and she is the favorite in this category.   Also nominated from Days was Arianne Zucker (Nicole).  Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke, The Bold and the Beautiful), who had her big scenes the year before when Stephanie died, was also nominated.  But never underestimate Heather Tom, whose teary Katie on B&B had a stellar year as her character survived her husband Bill’s infidelity with Brooke.  Tom has won the statuette five times before.

Best Supporting Actress:   Y&R’s Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe) and Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea) had great years as Chloe’s daughter Delia was killed by a drunk driver.  Also nominated from Y&R  as the so-so Amelia Heinle (Victoria).  Kelly Sullivan, whose Connie was murdered on GH also had a very emotional  year.  But the best of this worthy slate is Jane Elliot (Tracy, GH ), who  virtually steals the show in every scene she’s in, and should be the big winner here.

Best Supporting Actor:  Nominees in this category include Steve Burton (Dylan, Y&R), Scott Clifton (Liam, B&B), Dominic Zamprogna (Dante, GH) and Eric Martsolf (Brady, Days). But Bradford Anderson (Spinelli, GH), who had tear-filled scenes as baby Connie’s biological daddy before departing for Portlandia, deserves the win in this category.

Best Younger Actress:  This category is a toss-up.  Nominated are Kristen Alderson (Kiki, GH), Linsey Godfrey (Caroline, B&B), Hunter King (Summer,Y&R), Kim Matula (Hope, B&B) and Kelley Missal (Danielle, One Life to Live).  Each is eminently watchable and has much to recommend her.

Best Young Actor: Another category where there is no clear winner among the deserving nominees.  Nominated are Bryan Craig (Morgan, GH), Chad Duell (Michael, GH), Max Ehrich (Fenmore, Y&R), Chandler Massey (ex-Will, Days) and Daniel Polo (Jamie, Y&R).

Best Show:  Incredibly, GH, which had a relatively good year, was not even nominated.  On the list are the cancelled One Life to Live; Days (which won the Emmy last year) and Y&R. But clearly the winner, à mon avis, should be the excellent B&B, which had a year with virtually no bad storylines.

The Daytime Emmys will be awarded on June 22nd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  So far, no network has signed up to televise them, which is quite a statement on the state of daytime. They have been televised since 1974—but apparently won’t be this year as of yet.

Is Bold and Beautiful Best Soap?

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Kimberly Matula: Her Hope stands on her own these days.

With only four daytime soaps left, it seems fruitless to name a Best Soap. It’s all a matter of personal preference anyway.  If you like your soaps slow and full of character, you like The Young and the Restless.  If you like your plots fast and full of surprises, General Hospital  is the soap for you.  Days of Our Lives is traditional soap, full of great twists and turns.

But there is one soap now that is undoubtedly the most consistently excellent — that’s The Bold and the Beautiful.  Ever since Rick settled down with Caroline, there hasn’t been a bum storyline.  Sure, the show is only a half hour and it features only two main storylines.  But both are quite good and full of suspense and interest.

B&B is very fortunate that their “young” storyline works.  Step-brothers Liam and Wyatt’s contest for the love of young Hope (Kimberly Matula) is one that seems to change every single day.  Liam is a bit full of himself and Wyatt is full of charm.  But Hope is remarkably mature, and is making a great show of the fact that she can stand on her own these days.  After all, she has a great career as head of the “Hope for the Future” line at Forrester Fashions.   All three characters in this triangle are strong and attractive.   Hope can most likely keep on bouncing between Liam and Wyatt in a storyline without end. And most likely she will!

The Brooke-Bill-Katie triangle has been a real winner for the show since it was established last year.  Forbidden (now ex) lovers Brooke and Bill are very sexy together and of course Katie (Brooke’s sister and Bill’s wife) suffers better than anyone on daytime television.  But it’s the latest addition to the triangle, Brooke’s long absentee husband Ridge, which promises great excitement in the new year.

We’ve already noted that Thorsten Kaye is terrific in the role of Ridge.  What was unexpected was how much potential his genuine acting ability has added to the show and the storyline he is in.  He’s brought out a new tenderness in Katherine Kelly Lang’s Brooke, and is just brilliant with multiple Emmy winner Heather Tom’s Katie.  It’s just been inferred in the storyline that Ridge may be interested in Katie.  What a complex, complicated, not to mention superbly-acted four-way (Brooke-Bill-Katie-Ridge) story that is going to make!

             So, what’s your pick for best of the four. Is it B&B or another? 

General Hospital: This Storyline Should End

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalaqua Hayman

When has a storyline go on too long?  This is a question normally leftonly to headwriters who must figure out if an audience is still interested in the outcome of a story. Right now on General Hospital, one storyline that has gone on too long is the secret biological parentage of Maxie’s baby girl, which she supposed bore as a surrogate baby for Dante and Lulu.  The baby has been born, yet Maxie still has not confessed the truth. (Although, at least, Spinelli  does finally know he is the baby’s biological father.)

Maxie (Kristen Storms) is still keeping her secret

This secrecy makes Maxie seem cruel and heartless. Dante and Lulu are being hurt. They now have full possession of “their” little girl (as yet unnamed).  How much longer can this go on?  Viewers don’t know who to root for.  And the situation doesn’t seem to have any resolution that will seem satisfactory. The story and the situation are just too painful for the audience and every character involved.  It’s been almost a year since this storyline kicked off. Get the truth of the baby’s parentage out already! 

Wyatt Who?

One of the notable additions to a soap opera this year has been Emmy winner Darin Brooks, who has joined The Bold and the Beautiful as Wyatt Spencer.  Brooks, who starred as Max Brady on Days of Our Lives, is a very good actor and very charismatic.  Yet, the character of Wyatt has remained very undefined.  Is he a good guy or a bad guy?  On the one hand, he has defended Katie and urged his father Bill not to desert her or their baby as Bill deserted his mother Quinn when Wyatt was a baby.  On the other hand, he has taken every opportunity to try and seduce his half-brother Liam’s fiancé Hope.    Although the character seems likable right now, it’s really hard for the audience to get a fix on who he is exactly. We hope it’s a problem the writers of B&B have the real Wyatt stand up soon..

A Less Than Grand Finale

Seldom has a soap character had a better send off than the late Katherine Chancellor. (Jeanne Cooper, who played her, died this spring).  The two day memorial service on The Young and the Restless last week had it all — a beautiful outdoor setting, and guest characters from the past cast like Danny, Nina and Amber.   Yet the capstone of the service —  the sudden wedding of Paul Williams and Christine — was in very bad taste and detracted from the solemn grandeur of the observance. Happily, both occasions were presided over by Father Todd Williams, nicely played by Cooper’s real life son Corbin Bernsen. Until now, we didn’t even know Paul had a brother.

A Proper Farewell for Connie?

Speaking of send-offs … Last week we stated that the unfortunately murdered Connie Falconeri had not even been given a funeral on GH.  This week, spoilers say she will get one, though a few very pertinent mourners will not be attending.  Stay tuned!

The Bold and the Beautiful: Three Into Two Won’t Go

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

The Bold and the Beautiful is just past its 25th birthday and carries on doing  what it does best:   love triangles.  The show’s  theme might as well be, Three Into Two Won’t Go, which was the title  of an English movie I remember from 1969. Apart from the nifty title, it was a fairly pretentious Swinging Sixties exercise about a middle-aged man (Rod Steiger) who falls for a young woman hitchhiker (Judy Geeson), who proceeds to become a boarder in his and his wife’s (Claire Bloom) home. Soaps really do some things better from time to time, even without such a heavyweight cast.

Darin Brooks

Consider first the triangle that has all but consumed the show — Steffy-Liam-Hope. It’s finally at an end, though perhaps only temporarily if Jacqueline MacInnes Wood hasn’t really left the show for good, and is instead just on a long hiatus.  Wood did spectacular work on her way out as Steffy learned she  could never have children and left for Paris without appraising Liam of that fact.  Before  exiting, she “gave” Liam to Hope. But the ever  besotted Hope has just  met a new man, Wyatt, played by cute Emmy winner  Darin Brooks, who used to play Max on Days of Our Lives. So one good triangle smoothly should replace another. And it’s about time Hope stopped being so hung up on Liam, who did her wrong with Steffy numerous times.

Karla Mosely

Another promising new triangle is now arising, to be known henceforth as Maya-Rick-Caroline. Caroline wants to marry Rick, but now he only has eyes for Maya, an ex-con.  Lindsay Godfrey is immeasurably better now that her character has turned into a bad girl. But the show has a made a major find in sparkling Karla Mosley as Maya.  She plays strength and independence well, something unusual for a B&B heroine. As Rick, Jacob Young, an old soap pro, has the chops to play a very effective leading man to both women who are vying for his embrace.

But the best triangle on the show is Brooke-Bill-Katie.  Don Diamont, who plays Bill, and Katherine Kelly Lang, who plays Brooke, are an electric pairing with great sexual magnetism. Their attraction is forbidden and lurid Bill, who  is married to Brooke’s sister Katie, played by Heather Tom, who just won her third Daytime Emmy in the role. Brooke just dodged  a bullet: turns out she was not pregnant after all following a one night stand with Bill.  But that doesn’t mean this love triangle is over.  Au contraire.  On B&B love triangles have a habit of going on forever and with such a worthy cast, here’s hoping this one will, too. too. 

A Negative Vote on This Year’s Daytime Emmys

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman 

Last year I praised HLN’s first production of the Daytime Emmys because it was straightforward and lean.  This year’s show was exactly the opposite — overlong (almost three hours) and full of things that just shouldn’t have been included.  Boring!

Doug Davidson and his well-deserved and long overdue Best Actor award (Photo by Richard ShotwellInvision/AP)

How about that couch?  I’m talking about the one on which winners were interviewed by such “journalists” as Giada Di Laurantiis and Sheryl Underwood.  At least some of the winners — Best Actor Doug Davidson and Best Supporting Actress Julie Marie Berman, for instance — handled themselves well and with grace in the awkward situation.  There was just too much stuff stuffed into the show — like two Lifetime Achievement awards (Monty Hall and Bob Stewart) and presentation of three generic Best Song performances by co-host Robin Meade (who is at least a pretty woman with a nice voice).  Nancy Lee Grahn’s brief comedy bits filmed outdoors were not very good..

The whole problem with the show is that in content it aimed to be a major network presentation, but missed because of poor and cheap production.  It makes us remember and appreciate what a good job Dick Clark Productions did with the show over the years.  The hosts — Sam Champion, A.J. Hammer and Meade — were just meh, and scattershot appearances by them did nothing to keep the whole production feeling cohesive.  All in all, the 40th annual Daytime Emmys was a production not befitting of its own lofty aims or of the hard work done on daytime television by so many creative people over the year.

The winners in most of the acting categories, on the other hand, were well chosen.  Finally, Davidson deservedly won his Best Actor statuette after 35 years in the show in a very emotional storyline on The Young and the Restless (Paul shot his would-be murderer son Ricky.)   The Bold and the Beautiful’s Heather Tom always excels, particularly in her storyline in which Katie suffered a near-psychotic breakdown after the birth of her son.  And General Hospital’s Julie Marie Berman’s win as Best Supporting Actress was a good parting gift from the show.

Speaking of GH, wasn’t the show shortchanged in a year when the big awards (Best Show, Best Writing, Best Direction) went to B&B. Not that B&B had a bad year (it was very good, especially with the scenes leading up to Stephanie’s death), but GH literally had its finest years in decades, an everyday must-see show which corrected the mistakes made by the horribly crime-centric longtime headwriter Bob Guza.  Except for an underserved award for Best Young Actress to Kristen Alderson (while she was still playing Starr Manning), GH deserved many more awards and  rewards this year.

On Days of Our Lives, Chandler Massey was rewarded for a very nice job with Best Younger Actor. Then the show went on to score the evening’s the real upset – Days won as Best Soap.  As bitterly noted by executive producer Ken Corday in his acceptance speech, this was the first time in 38 years the show had won the ultimate award.

So, Thinking Fans, did Days deserve it?

The 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Nominations: Some Killer Choices!

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

What do you think of the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy nominees?  The list is long and illustrative given the fact that there are only four soaps.  Several categories are full of names that are most deserving. It would be very hard to cast a decisive vote should one have the opportunity.

Katherine Kelly Lang

Consider the lead actor category:  You’ve got an actor who created a real splash in General Hospital this year, Jason Thompson, who was brilliant as his Patrick Drake mourned the death of his wife Robin.  Then you’ve got the always dependable actors in the category — Peter Bergman (Jack, The Young and the Restless), Doug Davidson (Paul, Y&R) and Michael Muhney (Adam, Y&R).  Although Muhney is a great personal favorite of mine, I don’t know who did the superior job of all these outstanding actors.

Then there’s lead actress:  Who can beat Susan Flannery, who played Stephanie’s march to death so memorably on The Bold and the Beautiful? Or Heather Tom, who played Katie’s post-partum depression, also on B&B? Also excellent as was Days of Our Lives’ Peggy McCay who played Caroline’s Alzheimer’s suffering so skillfully.  Formidable, too, is Y&R’s always dependable Michelle Stafford (Phyllis), who also shone in that category.  Again, who to vote for?

For Best Supporting Actress, I’d definitely cast my vote for first time nominee (it’s about time) Katherine Kelly Lang of B&B, who played Stephanie’s best friend Brooke so beautifully and soulfully through Stephanie’s fabulously written final story. Here is an actress who has grown incredibly since her debut on the show 25 years ago, and definitely deserves recognition, not just for this year but for her long body of work.

And what about Best Show?  Can anyone beat GH, which had one of the best years in its history?  On the other hand, it’s hard to top B&B, with its brilliantly produced stories of Katie’s post-partum depression and the death of Stephanie.

Talk about killer choices. With only four surviving soaps contributing nominees, the work the voters had to choose from is all exciting and memorable. No matter who wins, the quality of all the nominees argues persuasively for the future of network soaps. Here’s hoping TPTB are paying attention.

This year’s Emmy Award ceremonies will be broadcast June 16 on HLN.

General Hospital, The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless: 15 Questions

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

1.    Wasn’t Caleb tasting the dead correction officer’s blood at the end of General Hospital’s Friday episode one of the grossest soap moments ever?  So that’s Caleb?  What’s the big deal, anyway?

Return of the vampire
Michael Easton as Caleb Morley

2.    Am I the only one who thinks that Steve Burton has done fine so far on The Young and the Restless? I like the Nick/Avery/Mac triangle as long as they don’t overdo it.

3.   Have you noticed that the uniform for Nick’s new nightclub Underground is a black T-shirt? Bartender Mac has to wear one. Is that a wink at Jason’s black T-shirt that Burton perpetually wore on GH?

4.    So Nikki is really going to have an incurable disease on Y&R?  Like they’d ever kill off Melody Thomas Scott!

5.    Am I the only one who thinks Steffy’s face [Read more...]

Is General Hospital’s Vampire Story Too Much? Do The Bold and the Beautiful’s Taylor and Eric Deserve a Little Romance? Is Days of Our Lives Tops?

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

General Hospital:  So what do you think of GH’s vampire story that features characters from that soap canceled a decade ago, Port Charles?  Because it’s not over yet, I’m not going to conclusively  judge the storyline that already involves one murder (Allison Barrington’s)  and has “mad”  Lucy as seeing John McBain and Sam McCall Morgan really being vampires Caleb and Livvie, the characters Michael Easton and Kelly Monaco  played on Port Charles. I surmise the story is a means to an as yet unspecified end, providing suspenseful sweeps month mystery and excitement and introduction of a new character, Rafe (played by Jimmy Deshler), the teenage son of murdered Allison. He seems to be a future love interest for Molly. [Read more...]