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...]

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...]

Soaps March: When a House Is Not a Home

Thinking Fans Comment Update: Ann demands to know, “Why is Guza doing this to Robin? It kills me to see people on the GH boards calling wonderful brave Robin a slut and a cheat because this PPD is being used to destroy her character” … while Elvira rejoices, “Guiding Light’s creative resurgence (headed by the old-school Otalia story, which is every bit as good as the stories that riveted me during the golden age of soaps) is still going strong” … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix 

I had a really hard time watching soaps during March.  My old favorite,  All My Children, was a dead bore. My other old favorite, The Bold and Beautiful, went from the ridiculous to out of control, as warring, one-upping “brothers” Rick and Ridge seemed more like those old rival cartoon characters spy vs. spySpy vs. Spy in Mad Magazine than living, breathing human beings. On As the World Turns, 17-year-old Liberty married Parker, who is barely 16.   How desperate for story can a soap get?

Marlena is a hardcore soap watcher of countless decades, so my feelings of overall alienation from soaps this month may be part of a much larger  trend. Are you a loyalist who didn’t feel so loyal to soaps in March?  And how does that make you feel?  I feel … homeless.

But here are a few brief comments on soaps I could watch:     

One Life to Live: At least there were some wonderful, powerful  performances by almost  everyone in the Matthew is paralyzed/Shane has leukemia story.  But this new Stacy … yikes!  She is clearly intended to be [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with One Life to Live’s Susan Haskell

Thinking Marty/Susan Fans Comment Update: John enthuses, “As for Susan Haskell, she is incredible. It’s too bad it took such an ill-conceived story like the one Marty has had this year for me to realize what she can really do with powerful material” … while MissD concurs, “(Marty/Susan) has been a fave of mine and is the reason I recently came back to the show. I’m glad to hear that she understands why people are so unhappy with the recent Todd/Marty storyline and that she is not so happy about it herself”  … and more. See Comments below. 

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Dear Thinking Fans, 

Despite the recession, I took the plunge and booked passage on SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise” March 20 - 23. And am I glad I did!  It was a never-before-seen opportunity for fans to mix with more than a dozen stars in a relaxed, casual environment during the three-day sail from Long Beach, Calif. to Ensenada, Mexico and back.  Viewers and journalists alike had many opportunities to have thoughtful dialogues with the actors without the constraints of time pressure and huge crowds.

I was able to get eight amazing interviews with top actors on today’s shows.  I’ll post these interviews over the next few weeks. In them, you’ll read scoops, insights, and uncensored quips directly from the performers themselves.  I learned so much about the craft and talent that goes into our dramas every single day, and felt the sincere love and devotion the actors have for their respective shows.  I can’t wait to share all these interviews with all of you Thinking Fans, so please keep checking back to Marlena’s site for the answers and responses you won’t read anywhere else.
                                                                Damon
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By Damon L. Jacobs

During the “Rock the Soap Cruise,” I sat down for a long chat with the Emmy-winning Susan Haskell of One Life to Live.  I found her gracious, humble, and willing to speak to me even after signing autographs for three hours!   With a cloudless blue sky above and the  Pacific Ocean sliding by around us, we spoke of many things, including the phenomenal reaction to her first stint as Marty Saybrooke (1992-1997, with [Read more...]

One Life To Live Ups the Stakes, But Does It Dare Fire Superstar Slezak?

Erika Slezak

Thinking Fans Comment Update: Cherry Ames declares, “OLTL is so good in some ways, but in other ways it’s just sick and sordid and as bad as reality (global recession, wars, mass killings in Darfur and Sudan, Octo-mom).  I want something more uplifting and positive” … while Beth predicts, “Forcing Erika Slezak from OLTL, in my view, is something that the show would never be able to recover from. There is no heart in this show any more, and I do see the reason is becaue Viki Lord is missing in action” … and more. See Comments below.  

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Double jeopardy!  This week One Life to Live makes history by doubling the plot stakes as the lives of two children are seriously imperiled.  After a car crash, young Matthew Buchanan, the son of Bo and Nora,  will be paralyzed from the waist down.  And young Shane, the son of Rex and Gigi,  will be diagnosed with cancer!

The message boards will undoubtedly be full of hosannas from viewers who love the intensity of the drama.  There will be  calls for Emmy nominations all around to honor powerful performances. Dipsy Farah Fath (who plays Shane’s devoted mom) will be declared the new Jodie Foster.

Historical note: In the old days of traditional soap operas, writers like Irna and Agnes and Bill in the 50s and 60s would never do one story like this involving tragedy to a

These days, the only thing that can balance out the strippers, and the blow jobs, and the show’s general lack of class, is the one character who epitomizes class — namely Viki, as played by  Ms. Erika Slezak. 

young child, let alone two at the same time.  Why?  In those days, it was understood that the majority of the audience was young mothers, and one story like this would so upset and [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: One Life to Live’s Todd Manning

Thinking Fans on Todd: Marilyn Henry says, “I do not understand how some fans see him as sexy or hot. He is cruel. Sick. Unfeeling for others. As such, he is dangerous” … while Dale agrues, “Just because I and others find something of worth in watching Todd does not make our opinions any less valid than yours, or Marlena’s, or Joe Blow’s” … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Damon L. Jacobs

What do you call someone who is capable of committing abhorrent crimes against others? What do you call a man who can rape another person, attack a blind woman, lie to his own wife that their newborn is dead, kidnap a woman who is presumed dead by her friends and family, and then plot to fake his own grand child’s death?  If you live in One Life to Live‘s Llanview, you call that man Todd Manning . 

If you’re in the therapist’s chair, you call that person “Antisocial.”  When most of us hear the word “Antisocial” we think of someone who doesn’t like to socialize at parties.  But in clinical terms, the term refers to an individual who is capable of

Todd doesn’t truly want to atone for his crimes, he doesn’t authentically want to stand up and do the right thing. He just wants his “pizza,” i.e., Marty’s love.

committing horrendous violent crimes against others without any sense of guilt or remorse.  They can lie, cheat, rape, even kill, without batting an eyelash.  The only type of regret they express is when [Read more...]

On Soaps, Suicide Is Rarely Painless (Even for One Life To Live’s Todd)

Todd

Thinking Fans on the roof with Marty and Todd:  John isn’t convinced Todd jumped out of remorse … Steve cringes at soaps’ attempted suicide for pity stunt … while Damon L. Jacobs (our Soap Shrink), on the serious side of the subject, points out the greater risk of suicide among gay teens … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix

I was truly shocked and remain so by last Monday’s episode of One Life to Live in which Todd attempted suicide by voluntarily jumping into the Llantano River from the roof of the Palace Hotel.  His enraged two time rape victim/love object Marty had lured him there and dared him to jump. He was spared an icy demise, however, when John rescued him.

Suicide for Todd? Pretty radical!  In his decade and a half in Llanview, sociopath Todd has never shown any remorse over any of the awful things he’s done, including his crimes against Marty. What really puzzles me [Read more...]

Marlena’s “Only the Bests” List 2008

New Year'sEve clip art

Thinking Fans’ picks and pans for 2008: Cherry Ames pans Todd/Marty as “the foulest story ever” … DSO816 picks the Angie/Jesse reunion … while Marlene agrees GHNS2 set the bar higher for all soaps … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Last year I decided I will no longer do “Best” and “Worst” lists for soaps.  After all, there have been so many “worsts” this year (real life deaths, superstar firings, General Hospital limosex and other tasteless storylines, wasted returns of some soap veterans), why would I want to re-inflict the pain on you?

 So, darlings, here are my “bests.”

General Hospial Night Shift 2 — As I wrote last fall,”If they could bottle this show, they could save soap opera.”  This 2008 soap dared to remember that soap opera is supposed to be about love, compassion, close friendships and the importance [Read more...]