Happy 24th Anniversary, Marlena!

By  Connie Passalacqua Hayman

This week marks the 24th anniversary of the debut of my alter ego, Marlena De Lacroix. My first column with that byline under the standing headline Critical Condition debuted in the second issue of Soap Opera Weekly the last week of November 1989.  Weekly was an immediate success and Marlena became very popular very quickly.

A lot of people have asked me why I used the named Marlena De Lacroix.  Marlena is a play on my middle name and Lacroix phonetically comes from the last part of my last name.  At the time I was freelancing for an ABC magazine called Episodes and the editor there thought there would be less of a conflict of interest if I used a nom de plume at Weekly. Marlena’s real identity was never a secret –everyone knew it was me.

Although I have used the name continuously, the column has appeared at different times.  It appeared from 1989-2001  in Soap Opera Weekly, and debuted on the web in 2006 at Jack Myers Media Village. Here at marlenadelacroix.com, it has been running since 2007.

Marlena’s mission from the get-go was and is to report on and criticize soaps with intelligence and respect.  The readers – you, my cherished Thinking Fans – always have been veteran soap viewers with a vast knowledge both of soap history and how soaps are put together.  You  know the role of the writers, the producers and the actors.  You know what has worked well in the past and are expert at analyzing why soaps are working or if they are not.

Which brings me to my favorite part of being Marlena:  I love doing critical analysis; but what really pleases me is receiving your reaction to my opinions.  I love reading your analyses of all of the soaps.  Keep on sending your thoughts on what I write and your reactions to what you see on your daytime soaps  every day.

Thanks for your loyalty and support. Here’s to another 24 years!

When All Soaps Are In Lockstep, Is Improvement Possible?

By Marlena De Lacroix

What’s a soap critic to do?  There are only six soaps.  I have a long memory and remember the very early 90s, when Bill Bell originated the homeless storyline with Stephanie, which way proceeded the current one.  Ken Corday is an enemy of free speech; he sought to destroy the critical arm of Soap Opera Weekly years ago. But alas.  The great and ultra creative Jim Reilly is dead and cursed now by Ken and followers.   All that is long ago and distant — to some and those who were not in the daytime world long ago in the first place.

The root of criticism in daytime is executive change.  You call for an executive change when you see a bad soap, a soap that is marked by cronyism, a soap that doesn’t  move, or centers too long on one character or is marked by favoritism or sexism or inside politics.  Yet, all the current headwriters and producers at daytime, as if in a time warp, seem locked into place.  We have Ken, enemy of the First Amendment at Days of Our Lives.  Fronsie eternal at ABC.  All the Bells and the bravura Rauch at Y&RJill and Bob at General Hospital.  They all seem to be [Read more...]

The Sadness of the Long Running Soap Fan

By Marlena De Lacroix

When most longtime watchers get disenchanted or downright  disgusted with their old  soaps, they are usually angry.  We’ve all invested years of our lives and our deep feelings in this genre.

Now, it’s gotten to the point where I’m not angry anymore.  As we watch the final act of daytime soap opera, I just find myself very very sad to see them all so swiftly decline, and that sadness seems to make an appearance nearly every day when I

The real world could care less.  For years non-soap friends have been interested and asked me about soaps.  Well, not anymore!

watch shows or check in on news and happenings in our own little soap world.  Here’s a rundown on what gets me right in the heart:

Sadness 1 –  Of course the worst pain is seeing our shows implode in front of our eyes.  How bizarre and tragic it is that top classic shows, still so beautifully produced by solid old pros like JFP and Rauch, put all their resources into [Read more...]

A Letter to Marlena De Lacroix (a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman)

Dear Ms. Passalacqua Hayman: 

I wanted to write to tell you how much I enjoy reading your columns and your insights into the soaps.  You are the reason I started buying Soap Opera Weekly so many years ago and I was sad when you left.  I bought that magazine every week, at first for your columns, but then cause I just loved it.  I would not get a subscription

I hope something comes along and saves our shows from themselves, but that alarm has been ringing for a long time.  Why can’t those in charge hear it?

because I wanted to buy it every week so the cover would not be damaged with those damn postal stickers.  Their covers used to be so good — those were the days!  I was pleasantly surprised to find your web site recently and am excited to read what you have to say about the state of soaps today. 

I, too, am just saddened by the state of the soap business these days.  I, of course, do not pretend to know all it takes to make soaps or [Read more...]

Celebrating the Glorious Life of Guiding Light: From 1992, Marlena’s Analysis of GL at its Peak

blogtalkradioDon’t miss Marlena’s farewell to Guiding Light on blogtalkradio’s Brandon’s Buzz at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 or later on the network’s archive.

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 By Marlena De Lacroix

In March 1992, Guiding Light reached the apex of soap quality, that perfect blend of excellence in writing, acting and production.   I thought it had everything going for it to  reach #1 in the ratings.  Here’s my column from Soap Opera Weekly, March 2, 1992,   Volume 3, Issue 9, in which I analyzed this blueprint for building a perfect soap.  A framed copy of this column hung over the desk of GL’s then executive producer Jill Farren Phelps for the duration of her stay there.

Intelligence, integrity, heart — GL had all three. It was a soap that not only deserved to rise to the top of the ratings, but should have stayed there forever. What a tragedy we are losing America’s oldest and historically beloved soap on Friday.   Farewell, Guiding Light.  You were glorious!

Here’s my column as it appeared originally. If you can [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...]

The Killing Fields of Soap Journalism

Thinking Fans Comment Update Aug. 17: Young Jay spent his snack money on Soap Opera Weekly … Professor Cindy calls for higher soap writing standards … Liz V is saddened by the decline of soap journalism … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix

This is a short note to Marlena readers in another terrible week in a year that has become Marlena’s personal “horribus annee.”  My elderly mother is hospitalized again and I had a terrible toothache, necessitating getting a wisdom tooth pulled.  Who could pay attention to soap operas? Yet Hinsey-gate — the firing of the editor of Soap Opera Weekly — loomed large, casting a shadow that still hasn’t gone away.

Many readers have written to me, asking for a comment on the Hinsey story.  Here it is. But first some background:

After 10 years as a soap magazine editor, writer and newspaper  journalist, I originated the Critical Condition column in Soap Opera Weekly.  It was a pioneering critical column in the field and I wrote more than 570 columns, from the magazine’s inception in 1989 until 2001.  Early that year, Soap Opera Digest took over [Read more...]