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!

Wrong is Right

By Marlena De Lacroix

I have to say I almost choked when I heard that Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati were re-signed to One Life to Live.  Isn’t this show dead last in the ratings and going even further south?  Aren’t they the duo that made Dorian a Valley of the Dolls shrew, had Todd sleep with Marty his prior rape victim, exiled the only gay couple given a major sex scene?  It just blows my mind that these two have been rewarded with another two years of the show.  At least someone thinks there are two years of the show left.

I guess we should all heave a sigh of relief that these guys, these sexist, misogynistic  executives haven’t pulled an anti-feminine stunt in the last six months.  Can the mysterious presence of ghost headwriter Jeanne Passanante have had some influence here?  Of course, sticking up for Passanante, who gave away [Read more...]

Marlena’s Summer In Review (Part 1)

beagleBy Marlena De Lacroix

What a summer, and it’s not over yet!

Moose and I deeply mourn the loss of my mother, who passed away in April.  This very week we adopted an exquisite beaglePeter Bartlett puppy I’ve named Nigel.  As in Mr. Bartholomew Smythe, the One Life to Live character, played so capably by Peter Bartlett, who has given me so much laughter and joy over the years.  I also watched a lot of soaps this summer, but uncharacteristically (the first time in 30 years) I didn’t feel like writing about them.

I watched the last remnants of my old favorite soap, All My Children, dissolve in front of my eyes. It was once the most idiosyncratic and indivudual of soaps because Agnes Nixon wrote with genuine wisdom, wit and heart that always brought me

Conditions on soaps have to get better when the summer is over! The Emmys, the end of GL, the big 20th anniversary of my old mag, Soap Opera Weekly, are coming up and I’m sure there will be lots of hype and hoopla.

joy. Charles Pratt is writing generically bad soap as if it were Love of Life, Somerset, Sunset Beach, or any other long-cancelled soap.  So how [Read more...]

Ask Marlena: Whatever Happened to the Marlena Awards?

cowardly lionBy Marlena De Lacroix

Hi everyone! I’m ecstatic to be snowed under with the many, many Ask Marlena questions submitted by all of you in the past week.  They are all intelligent and thoughtful and I am so flattered to hear from so many Thinking Fans I’ve gotten to know over the past year. I’m starting with just one great question today, and will try and answer many more in the days ahead. Plus, the letters have given me ideas for new features (see below). Feel free to submit more questions as soap events warrant.

Hey Marlena, I’ve been a fan of yours ever since the very first Critical Condition column in Soap Opera Weekly and I have a (hopefully) great question for the new column.  The month of March used to always mean two things to me:  the (blessed) return of warm weather, and the annual Marlena Awards.  Thankfully, the sun still shines, but questions like “Who was the best stand-alone actor of the year?” and “But who will win the always coveted Marlena Marlena?!” have sadly gone unanswered for years now.  So, my question for you is:  Whither the Marlenas?

Love always,
Brandon (your #1 fan!)

Thanks for remembering, Brandon, dearest darling.  I invented the Marlena Awards because I was so frustrated in the mid-late 90s by how out of the touch the Emmys were with the kind of soap opera [Read more...]

He’s Back: Paul Rauch for Real!

Y&R

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 20:  Christian in Boston loved Rauch’s OLTL except for the lighting (bring sunglasses!) … James expresses respect … but Cherry Ames lists Rauch’s soap sins, chapter and verse … and more. See Comments below. 

____________________ 

By Marlena De Lacroix

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.

when he was in New York executive-producing Another World, TexasOne Life to Live and Guiding Light.  Like everyone, I had terrible, terrible times with him (I have stories — let’s just say [Read more...]

Soap Shrink: Why Can’t Women Be Allowed to Age Naturally on Soaps?

Thinking Fans Comment Update August 5:  Ryan offers kudos to the bigger but still sexy Kim … esther wants to see more age appropriate attire … Aaron says the issue isn’t pounds, it’s Reva’s “white trash” look … and more. See Comments below.

________________ 

By Damon L. Jacobs

There has been a lot of discussion on the boards about Guiding Light these days.  The shrinking budget, the shrinking ratings, the shrinking cast list.  Yet there is one thing obviously not getting smaller in Springfield: Reva Shayne’s waistline. 

And for this the Soap Shrink couldn’t be happier!

Personally, I am exhausted by the pressure in daytime (and all media) for women to stay skinny and unhealthily thin.  It alarms me to know the lengths some of these great actresses will go to in order to [Read more...]

Guiding Light’s New Look: First Impressions

By Patrick Erwin

Three weeks ago, before it even debuted, I recommended giving Guiding Light‘s new production style a chance. After a week or so of shows, here are some first impressions: 

THE GOOD:  Some of the new sets read very nicely on screen. In particular, the outdoor sets and the larger sets look great. Many of the outdoor scenes do a good job of doing what this whole process should do: namely, open up the perspective on what you’re seeing without distracting you from what’s happening on screen.

For example, there was a scene last week with Josh and Reva at a bridge after Jonathan left town again, and it really worked well because it did seem so natural — absolutely true to life  [Read more...]