Paul Rauch, R.I.P.

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

Paul Rauch, surely the greatest executive producer in daytime soap history, died today in Manhattan at 79 following an illness.  

Paul Rauch
Nobody did soaps better

Marlena had the honor of covering and knowing Paul from 1980 onward, during which he was executive producer of Another World, Texas, One Life to Live, Santa Barbara. Guiding Light and The Young and the Restless. He generously taught me so much about soaps during our many interviews.  In the industry, Rauch was known as intimidating, but I found him to be a tremendously charismatic and complicated man who was great creative leader and a premier innovator in the art of soaps. No one knew soap production better than Paul.  He was always moving with the soap times. I always maintained he was a genius — which he loved.  Rest in peace, Mr. Rauch.

He is survived by his wife, concert pianist/playwright Israela Margalit, two children, two stepchildren and three granddaughters.

When Paul became executive producer of his last soap, Y&R, in 2008 (the job lasted until 2011). Marlena wrote this column about having known him over the years:

                                                                                                    

PAUL RAUCH FOR REAL!

September 19, 2008

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

Paul Rauch. That name may send you screaming from the room if you ever worked for him unsuccessfully, if you judge a man in totality by his bad soaps (Santa Barbara, Guiding Light) or if you are a typical internet poster who relies on rumors, innuendo and chapters of tell-all memoirs.

But now that Rauch is back as co-executive producer of The Young and the Restless (at the age of 74, after recovering from a heart attack) I’d like to offer some first person testimony. And I can do it freely and ethically because I am a journalist, and don’t have to work for him.  I knew and interviewed Rauch regularly from 1980-2001.

I’ve always maintained that, despite his stormy temperament and the people he is said to have hurt, Paul is a genius.

I knew him when he was in New York executive-producing Another World, Texas, One Life to Live and Guiding Light.  Like everyone, I had terrible, terrible times with him (I have stories — let’s just say no one could intimidate a young girl reporter better than Paul) but then again I had incredibly engaging and enlightening conversations with him over the years, too.

Ironically, it is the same young students of soap opera out there cursing at him on the net who would probably die to have to chance to have an audience with him.  Every time I interviewed Paul, I learned more in 20 minutes about the fine art of making soap opera than I ever could any other way. A serious art collector (it always cracked me up that Paul had a print of Edward  Hopper’s classic painting “The Lighthouse at Two Lights” in his office at Guiding Light), he has an incredible eye for the visual composition and texture of the image on screen.  Between that and his up-to-the-second technical knowledge, his explanations of such things as his lighting ideas, why he photographed scenes in radical new ways, and his innovative location shooting techniques, made you appreciate what he was after in a fresh way. Or he could make you understand why soaps are now casting models with perfectly beautiful faces by explaining why the technicalities of cable competition (which was new in the late 90s) called for such a (to me, awful) thing.

And he has amazing taste in actors.  Before you scream “Kim Zimmer” at me, this is the man who gave great actors like Ray Liotta (he grew up on Another World) their show-biz starts.  I used to see him all the time at the New York theater in the 80s scouting talent.  He recognized and relished using superb leading actors like Vicky Wyndham (AW), Beverlee McKinsey (AW and Texas) and Erika Slezak (One Life To Live).

He’s produced soaps for 40 years (two Emmys), moving with the times from style to style.  There were the classic, almost Shakespearean quality of AW (which was soap opera nirvana for the Thinking Fan); the campy, high budget days of OLTL, and even the very early days of GL (before he and those boobs Brown and Esensten poisoned us with the clone story).

Because he moves with the times and is a genuine Thinking Producer, Paul is a great choice for Y&R.  Among other things, the show needs a definitive post-Bill Bell style, since it’s been drifting all over the place since Bill’s death. Y&R is his kind of show: it is rich in dramatic texture and has many sophisticated characters (the Abbots, the Newmans) that are tastefully wealthy.  Although I haven’t seen Paul in years, I’m sure he still approaches his work with all the intensity and meticulous attention a show like Y&R badly needs to stay on top in these troubled, troubled soap times.

Welcome back, Paul!

Why Today’s One Life To Live Reminds Me of the Glory Days of Guiding Light

One Life to Live

By Patrick Erwin

I’ve been writing about soaps for a while, but  I am a relatively new daily fan of One Life To Live. Yes, as Marlena has observed, some of us soap viewers are boarding the OLTL lifeboat, and I, for one, have bought my ticket!

Guiding Light logoI watched OLTL a bit here and there (especially during the first Malone years), but I  am really drawn to the quality of the show now. What could I possibly say about OLTL that has not been said before — about the writing, the characters, the pacing? Nothing, that’s what. So instead of trying to recap OLTL, I decided I’d try to tell you why I’m loving OLTL so much … by talking about Guiding Light.

Huh, you say? Work with me here.

With apologies to The Golden Girls‘ Sophia Petrillo, I say: picture it — Springfield, 1990. The show was slated for some major changes. Pam Long was running into network interference, and she and GL parted ways. At the same time, several of GL‘s biggest stars were [Read more...]

Why Guiding Light is Self-Destructing

Guiding Light logo

By Patrick Erwin

The other day I got so fed up, I turned off Guiding Light and swore I’d never turn it back on.  That might have been an overreaction — of course I’ve been watching it so long that  I’ll inevitably  tune in again sometime. But in my up-and-down relationship with GL, it’s time to give it some tough love. My old friend has changed drastically over the last few years, but these days, it seems to be self-destructing.

Lest you think I’m fickle and have made the judgment lightly, let me tell you a few things. I’ve been watching GL since 1980 or so, and I’ve seen a lot of wonderful actors playing fantastic stories.  Despite the clunker stories of the 80s and 90s (Ghost Reva, Amish Reva, walking through paintings, etc.)  I have stayed tuned. Why? Well, [Read more...]

Beverlee McKinsey: Singularly Magnificent

Beverly McKinseyBy Marlena De Lacroix

I feel sorry for younger soap fans who never got to see Beverlee McKinsey on soaps prior to her retirement from major roles in daytime in 1992. McKinsey, who died last week in California at 72 of complications from a kidney transplant, was singularly  magnificent!

When she came to Another World in 1972 as rich, rich Iris Cory Carrington, she was all icy blond upper class matronly bitchiness.  But in frequent vicious argument scenes with Iris’ remarried father Mac Cory (the volcanic Douglas Watson), we could see that what Iris was really doing was begging for love when Mckinsey said  just one  word:  “Daddy!”  Shattering!

The exquisite vulnerability of McKinsey’s soap characters — Iris Cory on Another World and Texas; Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding Light — was always [Read more...]