One Life to Live: Still Surprising After All These Years

By Ed Martin

One Life to Live showed me something last week that I haven’t seen in 30 years of soap viewing: A mass wedding of two dozen gay couples. This show has pushed the envelope in a number of crazy ways since the ‘70s, sending its characters to heaven, to an underground city and careening through time. What a pleasure it was 

OLTL‘s comedic elements are greatly appreciated and should not be taken for granted. Daytime executives and show-runners seem to have forgotten that funny characters and comic set pieces were de rigueur during the glory years of General Hospital and Days of Our Lives, the two soaps that commanded the largest young audiences (while keeping veteran viewers engaged, as well) during the genre’s heyday.

to see the show execute a storyline that was out of the ordinary without being out of this world. It was a stunt, to be sure, but despite [Read more...]

Ten Happy Halloween Questions

By Marlena De Lacroix

1.  Isn’t it most curious that two of the most intelligent women characters in daytime — Dr. Marty Saybrooke on One Life to Live and fashion mogul Jackie M on The Bold and the Beautiful – have gone from brunette to blonde in the last few months?  Fashion, or just another attempt by the networks/shows to “dumb down” smart female characters?  Regardless, Susan Haskell and Lesley Ann-Downe continue to look gorgeous and act with integrity!

2.  The great, the one and only Eric Braeden; my revered and beloved Robin Strasser — am I the only one l who feels used and tired out by … Continued below

Halloween Marlena

MARLENA AND NIGEL’S HALLOWEEN POOCH PARADE

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Continued from above … being drawn into their public contract negotiations?  Sure, they don’t deserve pay cuts!  But can’t they keep the drama and tragedy private?  The press gets [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...]

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...]

One Life to Live: Defending Dorian

Thinking Fans defend Dorian, too:  Rebecca demands, ”Dorian has always been a great soap villainess. I have a big problem dorianthinking that she actually was in her cups at the party she hosted for Markko — as we all know, soap villains do not lose control. I want the indomitable, formidable woman that Dorian is back on screen, giving no quarter to her enemies and taking no prisoners!” … Marilyn Henry adds, “I have long thought Robin Strasser one of the finest talents in soaps, maybe in all TV” … while Jennifer rages, “I am outraged by the callous and heartless writing, not just for Ms. Strasser, but for this iconic character” … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

I have been a Robin Strasser fan since 1969 when she, George Reinholt and Jacquie Courtney drew me into the soap world with the pathos of the Rachel, Steve and Alice’s storyline on Another World.  Robin StrasserThe passion, the tears! It was the best love triangle ever!  Rachel was the neurotic spoiler, the villainess, and Robin made her grasping inner pain so harrowing (Rachel was deserted by her father as a child), I can still feel the hurt decades later.   And after 40 years (through Another World, All My Children and One Life To Live) Robin is still here, as OLTL‘s Dorian.  And so am I, having followed her through all of her long and distinguished soap career.

In all those years, Robin has never given a bad performance, never failed to be anything less than riveting, or at the very least  extremely interesting  in any soap scene.  We love her!  She is daytime soap opera!  And on a personal note, is there any other soap actress who has aged so well — naturally?   She doesn’t mind that we know she’s 64 (born on V.E. Day 1945, her middle name is literally ‘Victory in Europe.’)  She still looks youthful and  beautiful. 

It’s way too easy for soap writers to fall into cliché.  Robin is, after all, an older woman.  In our soap world of 20-year-old uneducated, unsophisticated heroines, it’s only too tempting to write an older woman who can be easily marginalized — and  laughed at.  It’s an ugly stereotype.

 And in public appearances she’s always dressed with stunning perfection. Like Dorian, Robin loves all things French. She is the rare [Read more...]

Marlena’s Summer Plans

sunflowerBy Marlena De Lacroix

Bonjour, everyone!  I’m sorry I haven’t posted in many weeks.  As you know, my mother passed away.  It happened amid the frenzy of the end of spring semester, at the end of a long academic year.  I need the summer to recharge, so I’m going on relaxed summer mode until the Daytime Emmys at the end of August.

However, there will be new material here.  I will post as often as I can, and there will be posts by other contributors.  I am thrilled to introduce a new regular, Matthew Weaver, who will debut soon. Matthew does something rarely done well:  soap satire.  His work is very sophisticated and entirely original, and it always makes me LOL.  You may have read his wonderful creative faux press releases and casting notices on Soap Zone, where [Read more...]

A Soap Shrink Interview: James DePaiva’s Ultra Candid Look Back at One Life to Live — and His Own Life

PART TWO OF TWO PARTS

In Part Two, James DePaiva talks about being Max, then not being Max; about the joys of family life; about being angry for a long time, and about dealing with those destructive “shoulds.” 

By Damon L. Jacobs

D:  Now, you mentioned being terribly shy.  But I remember when Max came back One Life in 1992, the promotional ads that ran during ABC’s prime-time.  It was close-up shots of every part of your body, your shoulders, your butt, all this for your big return.  As a shy person, what was that like for you?  
J:  That was somebody else’s body.  I was unavailable for that campaign.  I was off at a health spa getting in shape, I wanted to look good for when I came back, so I told them I couldn’t do it.  It wasn’t my body.  I came back and Jessica Tuck said, “That’s not James’s body, he doesn’t have hair there.”DePaivas

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James and Kassie at last year’s Hoboken International Film Festival

Photo by Kristina Scheetz Rible/NJ.com

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D:  Would you consider going on the next Rock the Soap Cruise with Kassie (Mrs. DePaiva) or does that just feel like it’s too much proximity to fans?
J:   Well, there’s a reason I’ve never done one.  But, I don’t think now it would be an issue.  I’m over 50 now, I’ve been off the show for at least five years.  Now there would be a couple of people that would remember me and it would be nice and casual.  I might do it. Kassie said next year I should go on the cruise.  

D:  You may enjoy it.
J:   Well, that’s because I’m out of it now, I’m not in it.  And also because my ego’s not in it anymore.  To be Max Holden my ego had to be as big as a truck.  The turning point for Max and whether I enjoyed doing him was when I was realized that Jim DePaiva and his life was bigger than Max’s.  Max’s life in the beginning was so big,

On his last days on One Life:  ”If it wasn’t said outright, it certainly was implied that I was too old and made too much money.  Would I say that it hurt? Absolutely.  But I mean they did absolutely everything they could to diminish the value of the character.  I had to sit there for a long time watching them drive him into the ground.”

there was no way I could ever compete with that.  But the character kept being brought down, brought down.  He was making money, losing fortunes, completely cocksure of himself with any woman in any given situation, then he was completely emasculated.  

D:  How so?  
J:   The girls weren’t picking him.  He was taking little jobs, his dream disappeared.  This is a guy who had seen himself as king of the world, then decided to bartend at Rodi’s.  There’s one point where they said, “We’ll just [Read more...]

A Soap Shrink Interview: James DePaiva’s Ultra Candid Look Back at One Life to Live — and His Own Life

 PART ONE OF TWO PARTS

By Damon L. Jacobs

If there is such a thing as a modern day cowboy in New York City, James DePaiva would be it. He is brutally honest, impossibly handsome, jarringly tough, yet surprisingly sensitive.  And although you are more likely to find him driving his motorcycle around town instead of a riding a horse, you absolutely James DePaivawon’t be able to resist his no-nonsense approach to reviewing the past, acknowledging mistakes, and looking forward to a brighter future.

Please read on, Thinking Fans, to learn how this shy boy from Livermore, California, became the audacious cowboy who rocked One Life To Live in the 80′s and 90′s. (and was perhaps the last quintisentially great soap romantic leading man.)   Then discover the lessons he learned from having to handle disappointment and defeat in the soap world.

I met James at a cafe on Manhattan’s West Side on a gorgeous New York spring day. He came riding up to the restaurant on his motorcycle.  I didn’t recognize him at first because his helmet covered his head, and I didn’t know he drove a motorcycle.  We sat outside on the patio facing the street, where such OLTL actors as Mark Lawson strolled past. James paused every 30 minutes during our lengthy talk to feed quarters into the greedy parking meter. 

D:  How did you get into acting?
J:   Acting started in seventh  grade.   They needed boys to be in the play, and the girl I had a crash on was in it, so I said sure.  I was very shy, but once I got on stage I loved it.  I was a small character actor at the time.  But over the summer I grew eight inches so I became leading man in eighth  grade.  I didn’t know there was any way you could do this for a living, and my father kind of established what I was going to

On the frustrating reality of the actor’s life: “What’s gonna happen is maybe one or two of us are going to fly to New York, we’re gonna go test against everybody else they found throughout the whole country, and then they’re gonna hire an actor that used to be on another show that just got out of rehab!”

be doing.  So I didn’t consider college, I didn’t consider acting.  When I was 15 my father said, “Would you like a car?” and I said, “Sure.”  So he said, “Great, I found you one, and I found the job you’re going to get to pay for it.”  I went to [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with One Life to Live’s Kassie DePaiva

Thinking Fans on KDP: Matthew J. Cormier observes, “Kassie has clearly thought a lot about what makes Blair tick and has put her own life into perspective” … OLTL no more scolds, ”When you have an actress dedicated to giving wonderful performances and staying true to her character, she shouldn’t be used as a prop in favor of ’romantic rapes’ and Johnny-come-latelies” … while “Brava!” is heard from a cheering section manned (actually, womaned) by Kathie, Farrah, Cammie, Melody, Janell and Laura … and more. See Comments below.  

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By Damon L. Jacobs

This is the last of the Soap Shrink at Sea series of interviews I enjoyed doing so much on SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise.”  I hope they were as fun for you to read as they were for me to write.  I learned so much about the passion, devotion, and resilience that goes into acting on a daytime soap.Kassie Depaiva

In this last interview, One Life to Live‘s Kassie DePaiva shares with us her insights into Blair’s behavior, her thoughts about Blair’s father, and the inner secret that goes through her mind in every scene with Todd.

Thank you so much for reading, and for all your support.

D:  I wrote a very popular column about Blair last year.
K:   Yes, It was great. 

D:  Thank you!  The focus of the column was how Blair is one of the few women on daytime who is truly sexually liberated. 
K:  (Laughs) I laugh because my husband would be goin’, “Believe me, she’s just pretending.”  I come from a southern Baptist background, where everything had to be real proper.  I think in my early 20s I could not have even attempted the part of

“Just remember, it’s a soap, y’all!  You’ve got to get through the things you hate to get to the things that  you love.  You’ve got to see the challenges, you’ve got to see the conflict.  If there were no Martys or Teas to put a thorn in Blair’s side, how boring would that be?”

Blair based on that.  I got the part of Blair when I was 32, and by then I had come into my own as a woman, and I felt that I didn’t have anything to apologize for.  I was struggling in a real life marriage that was crumbling.  Life experience had gotten me to say, “What the heck, I’m not going to get any younger.”  What’s great [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...]