The Daytime Emmys: Happy At Last

newFor another view of the Daytime Emmys, read the post following this one by Marlena’s longtime friend and colleague Ed Martin.  A veteran TV industry journalist and analyst, Ed is a columnist for JackMyers.com.

By Marlena De Lacroix

From out of a dying soap industry, from out of a cable network I never watch, last night arrived the most unexpected shock of my decades-long soap watching/journalism life: a Daytime Emmys that was pretty good.  Who know that after most of us gave up the fight and moved on to other lives that daytime would finally get what we (the actors, the press, and hopefully the fans) had fought for forever: a Daytime Emmys that wasn’t condescending to daytime soaps!

Hooray!  No soaps-are-stupid jokes!  It’s taken the always awkward Daytime Emmys since 1974 — the year they were first broadcast by themselves – not to make fun of what they’re celebrating.  Even though this year’s ceremony was on 

Best of all, without the traditional sneering and disrespect for soaps, many moments of actual warmth emerged.  It’s called professional showmanship with heart, and the producers of the Emmys this year have it! Yes, yes — emotion — that’s what daytime soaps are all about.  And used to be about. 

such a small scale, it grew large because it finally treated soaps with dignity. They are not, as most people in the world think, and we soap fans know in our hearts – a punch line!

Unlike in past years, the host wasn’t sleazy or smarmy (like Bob Barker) or totally miscast (as Eric Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott unintentionally were [Read more...]

Daytime Emmys 2009: The Beginning of the End?

By Ed Martin 

Watching the 36th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on The CW during the dog days of August confirmed what I already knew: These are dark days indeed for the daypart overall and for soap operas in particular.

It’s not that the telecast was all bad: I actually prefer smaller venues for the Daytime Emmy celebration (the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles for last night’s show, ballrooms at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan during the ceremony’s glory years) and I always enjoy an entertaining opening number at any awards event. (Vanessa Williams‘ reworked-for-daytime rendition of Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You was almost as much fun as Neil Patrick Harris‘ surprise closing song at this year’s Tony Awards.) Best of all, in the soap categories the awards were spread over a number of different shows. Only As the World Turns went totally unrewarded during the telecast. (On Saturday it picked up a couple of Creative Arts Emmys, so no soap went home empty handed.)

In fact, I was pleased with most of the winners in the daytime drama categories, from the tie for Outstanding Supporting Actor between the long overdue Vincent Irizarry of All My Children and the very deserving Jeff Branson of Guiding Light to

The biggest disgrace was the rushed tribute to the soon-to-be-terminated Guiding Light, which has already completed production and will have its last telecast in two weeks … The other big bad of the night was the brush-off to The Bold and the Beautiful at night’s end.

the surprise Outstanding Lead Actress win for Susan Haskell of One Life to Live. (Her portrayal of repeat rape victim Marty Saybrooke in the year’s most controversial soap story was consistently riveting.) Even though it would have been [Read more...]

Ten More Marlena Summer Questions

Thinking Fans’ summer thoughts on this, that and the other: Esther is happy Holly is making an appearance on Guiding Light, and wishes Monti Sharp would come back, too … Steve finds, “The acting from the new younger set on General Hospital is good, but I’m horrified by the misogyny and thug worship in their stories” … while Roger Newcomb is “actually excited about the Daytime Emmys. The producer this year is a lifelong fan of soaps and has produced some pretty classy award shows in the past” … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix

1.  Isn’t it interesting that both Gigi and Stacy on One Life to Live wore as low as you can go cleavage during their catfight this week?  I mean, those puppies were popping out!  Isn’t it interesting that Brian FronsBrian Frons dogcurrent photo on his Facebook page is that of a big dog sitting in the driver’s seat of a car? (I’m not kidding. Check it out!)

2.  Now that Mary Jane‘s stuffed cat (a.k.a. Kitty) has turned out to be the surprise star of the summer on The Young and the Restless, why hasn’t CBS begun marketing souvenir versions yet? Let me tell ya, city gal Marlena just loves taxidermy …

3.  Hey Bradley Bell, headwriter of The Bold and the Beautiful! Marlena knows what you are doing!  Aren’t you copying your father’s two most successful stories of the 80s at the same time?  That’s the (then wonderful, now nauseating) Brooke-Ridge-Taylor love story and the establishment of a “comic” second family (Jackie M and [Read more...]

Marlena’s Midsummer Night’s Questions

Thinking Fans’ summer thoughts on Destiny et al.:  JTG says Shenell Edmonds’ Destiny is no stereotype. “It’s obvious OLTL’s writers are positioning Destiny as Matthew’s first girlfriend. Most of the time, the stereotypical ’mammy’ character is either sexless or oversexed. That is not the case with Destiny” … while Mike Goldberg confides Destiny has made him a believer again. “I haven’t been interested in teen romance in years” … and more, on many topics. See Comments below.

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sunBy Marlena De Lacroix

Bonjour everyone!  I’ve been taking it easy this summer, staying cool in the pool with my new pooch (see above).  Yet I’m still watching soaps and have a bunch of questions I’d like to ask.  As always, I welcome your comments!

1.  Why hasn’t anyone in the soap press asked major actor John Rubinstein — a Best Actor Tony winner for Children of a Lesser God in 1980 and a million other TV roles, plus being the son of the late piano genius Artur Rubinstein — why he’s playing a minor little part on The Young and the Restless?  His Dr. Taylor is the crooked [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...]

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...]

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.”

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: Newly Bereaved Father Buzz Cooper on Guiding Light

By Damon L. Jacobs

Losing someone you love is one of the hardest experiences you will ever have to go through.  If you have ever cared about someone who has died, then you know the palpable heartache that brings pain throughout your entire body.  But if you have ever lost a child, then you will understand the overwhelming anguish and paralyzing rage that has overtaken Buzz Cooper these days on Guiding Light.  

Sadly enough, Buzz (played by Justin Deas) is no stranger to death’s cruel grip.  As a Vietnam Veteran he survived countless acts of gore and violence.  Upon returning home, he married his high school sweetheart Nadine who was brutally murdered by Brent Lawrence.  Only three years later, his second wife Jenna died [Read more...]