Soap February: Blame Executive Malfeasance!

Thinking Fans Comment Update: BL avers, “I have to say the line (on AMC) about how lesbians don’t kiss men was perfect, because why would they?” … Carl posits, “GL has been so much about nasty thugs over the past few years, Phillip’s return is a way to bring a more heroic character back into the spotlight” … while Melanie warns that GH “is on Maxie Overload and needs to quit before there’s a serious Maxie backlash (hello Sonny!)”  … and more. See Comments below.


By Marlena De Lacroix

Fans usually blame headwriters when soaps are bad.  But ultimately, the real blame lies with daytime network executives who have the final power of approval over what we see on our screens.  Last month, judging by the very questionable, sometimes downright All My Childrenillogical and nonprofessional quality of the drama I saw on screen, I’d venture to say that these daytime execs (and their publicity and marketing minions) are very sloppy, asleep at the wheel, or just don’t care at all what they put on screen everyday.

She who gets smooched on All My Children

Why present a heavily publicized lesbian wedding if the whole plot leading up to it is going to greatly anger lesbian viewers?  In an earlier column on All My Children‘s headwriter Charles Pratt, I naively got excited over the acting possibilities of a Bianca-Reese-Zack love triangle. I received dozens of letters from female fans who said they didn’t want either gay character to get involved with a man.  D’Oh!  Of course they don’t!

So why did AMC, which knew this already (as proven by having Bianca angrily tell Reese when Bianca broke up the one day marriage that lesbians don’t like other lesbians who Thorsten Kayekiss men), persist in playing out a pre-wedding storyline for two months where Reese secretly flirted with and smooched Zack, which infuriated the primary audience for the story.

Falling back on that all-purpose justification for any story-telling faux pas, AMC executive producer Julie Carruthers declared “It’s a soap opera!” in a foot-in-her-mouth magazine interview, smugly adding that gay women weren’t the only viewers of AMC.  Honey, as a veteran daytime producer,  you know you can’t have it both ways!  Didn’t anyone upstairs at ABC Daytime catch this?  In the Nixonian/Broderick days of AMC, social issue stories were thoroughly thought through!

Guiding Light launches a publicity campaign for the wrong actor

The return of the always great Grant Aleksander as Phillip Spaulding was a big hit in a great month of improved drama that makes everyone hopeful about Guiding Light‘s chances of survival.  Telenext and CBS did a tremendously expensive advertising campaign trumpeting Phillip’s return. So why did the show write a storyline — the deathJustin Deas of young Coop — which entailed such an excess of superdramatic material for Coop’s dad, Buzz?  In his bravura, heart-wrenching, totally original reaction to the death, Justin Deas upstaged  Aleksander, not to mention the rest of the GL cast, plus all the other actors on daytime during February.

Get a clue, CBS daytime VP Barbara Bloom and the advertising folks at Telenext!  Don’t you know Deas has won six Emmys, more than any other actor in daytime history (my female fave, Erika Slezak, also won six.).  Buzz isn’t just a little, balding nerdy guy who holds every kid’s hand in Springfield and marries all the middle-aged women!  As we who loved Deas on Ryan’s Hope, As the World Turns and Santa Barbara and in the early days of GL could have told you, this man is a genius!  The 60-year-old Deas is the one who reached out from my TV to bring me back to Springfield after a year away, not the new production model, and certainly no amount of advertising or publicity.

General Hospital produces the Waterloo of all soap special episodes

What was ABC Daytime  thinking when they let General Hospital produce — and actually put on the  air– their What-If-B.J,-Didn’t-Die-and Maxie-Did episode?  Jill Farren Phelps once produced magical special episodes on GL and One Live To Live, but this one looked and felt  like it was done during a hangover of from one too many Beverly Hills lunches!   Produced as Maxie’s dream, it starred Kirsten Storms in a bad dark wig so phony  she reminded me of my Midge doll from back in my Barbie doll days!  This 100th soap retake on It’s a Wonderful Life wasn’t really about B.J, but all about what life in PC would have been like without Maxie.  Everyone — Robin as a lonely spinster, Mac as a drunk —  would have had a lousy life it weren’t for Maxie.

Who died and made her Queen? The whole episode was incoherent, lacked unity and worst of all contained no wit whatsoever.  Cruelest of all was the little bit of business, Jackie Zemanwhich my pal pj, a lifelong GH fan, caught and bitterly  pointed out:  “Marlena, did you see when (hospital administrator) Patrick handed Nurse Bobbi (the seldom seen and always beloved 30-year GH veteran character) a small piece of paper and she opened it up and it said, ‘You’re fired.’   As if GH hasn’t been trying to get rid of Jackie Zeman for years …” 


  1. Justin Deas was riveting this week on GL. Thanks for writing about his performance. GL has improved a great deal over the past two weeks. I look forward to watching the show everyday and not fast forwarding through the program. I just hope it can hang on.

  2. I thought Justin Deas was superb (especially in the scenes with Jenna, and when he sang “Downtown” and collapsed near Coop’s bed) and I think GL often takes him for granted, but I think the advertising for Phillip’s return was about trying to get back the fans who were horrified with the monster Phillip became. GL has been so much about nasty thugs over the past few years, some popular (Jonathan), some not (Grady). Phillip’s return is a way to bring a more heroic character back in the spotlight.

    That BJ episode made no sense to me. Mac and Robin weren’t even close to BJ, why would they be so devastated by her death?

    Marlena says: I didn’t see Phillip’s nasty years — I was in grad school then. So I guess I accept part of your reasoning for the lavish Phillip returns campaign. Lots and lots of people wanted to see Grant though–it had been four years. But as I said, Justin upstaged all the show’s other actors. That could have been promoted too.

  3. Great article Marlena! Justin Deas has always been fantastic. I am regretting not having watched the scenes you talked about.

  4. What happened with the Bianca, Zack, Reese thing bugged, but I sort of expected that. I have to say the line about how lesbians don’t kiss men was perfect, because why would they?

    Viewers left because of what happened with Phillip and how GL handled his “death”. What a great idea to have him shot in cold blood by Alan and really be alive after Phillip attempted to kidnap his kids plus Rick’s son Jude. To me the worst thing they had Phillip do happened while he was off camera, which was being responsible along with Rick for Ross’s plane crash.

    Since Justin Deas is so publicity shy, doing a promotional campaign about his character of Buzz would be difficult. Can we see him doing interviews and web chats? I really can’t.

    Maxie’s dream was not wish fulfillment to me. The one thing I did like about it was how Lulu and Spinelli were snarky. Otherwise it was blah.

    Marlena says: Blossie, Justin has always been publicity shy. I remember back in the 80s the only person who actually interviewed him was my friend Logan, and a wonderfully hilarious SOD story came out of that. I talked to Justin on the GL set the night in the mid-90s they were taping the 5th Street Fire and he was perfectly nice and cooperative. He doesn’t have to do interviews now to get publicity. The publicists should have been smart enough to give us some advance warning of his titanic performance when and after Coop died. You know, they call it a “spoiler.”

  5. I stopped watching GH the day I found out they had terminated Jackie Zeman’s contract. What ABC under Brian Frons has done to veteran cast members, particularly veteran women cast members, is appalling.

    Bobbie Spencer, RN is a beloved character for a reason: Jackie Zeman.

    No surprise that GH continues to belittle her, the only reason she even appears on recurring is because she loves the show. Luckily for her, she doesn’t need the money and has always had a few irons in the fire.

  6. Melanie says:

    Hear Hear Marlena!! As usual you’ve given voice to the frustrations so many of us feel.

    I had high hopes for the Reese/Bianca story. Sure it started off w/ some serious flaws (no way would Bianca and Zach have made this decision w/o talking to Kendall about it. And it was really hard to get invested in a relationship that happened offscreen, especially since the women didn’t seem to know each other all that well, lol). But I gave them the benefit of the doubt, hoping that the drama that resulted would be more than enough to make up for the rough start. Uhm, no. The story turned out to be absolutely ridiculous, months later Reese is still a one dimensional character, and worst of all this groundbreaking event (first gay marriage on daytime) came across as a cheap gimmick. TPTB wanted the press and applause for giving us a lesbian wedding, and turned it into a mockery.

    As for GH’s Maxie/BJ episode. What a disappointment! On paper it was a great idea – it could have been so touching and amusing and a real treat for longtime viewers, but what I saw was a silly throw away episode w/ no “heart” whatsoever. And I feel that they copped out. Instead of showing us what really would have happened if BJ lived, TPTB decided to write it as Maxie’s dream, essentially giving them license to create scenarios that made absolutely no sense whatsover. The only thing the episode managed to do was annoy me and confirm what I’ve been thinking for awhile, that the show is on Maxie Overload and needs to quit it before there’s a serious Maxie backlash (hello Sonny!)

    Marlena says: Thanks Melanie, and I wish my college students wrote as wonderfully as you do! Love that line “worst of all this groundbreaking event (first gay marriage on daytime) came across as a cheap gimmick.” And you are right, the Maxie dream had no heart whatsoever. I get Maxie overload every time I watch GH. I can’t stand her continous chattering. I know a lot of people think it’s adorable, though.

  7. bondsdad says:

    I was so appalled by the firing of one of our favorites, Bobbie Jones, what a slap in the face to her and us.

  8. Hi, Marlena. I did not like JHC excuses of having a lesbian kiss a man before her wedding as it just being a soap. Soap Operas before use to tell great stories with drama. But the difference is that it was not continually insulting groups of viewers. It is no wonder AMC is falling in ratings. There is just no excuse for JHC or AMC to use in the way they have treated the Bianca and Reese story. I feel awful for Tamara Braun and Eden Riegel who came on excited to play a genuine love story about a lesbian couple. To have AMC stomp all over it and keep playing around with Reese’s sexuality. Reese came on AMC as a lesbian character who had been in the closet for a long time but had the courage to come out when she met Bianca. AMC forgets that gays don’t live in the closet for no reason and when they have the courage to come out. It should be supported and not trashed by pushing the homophobic idea that a lesbian just did not meet the right man yet. It is hard to describe the accurate disgust at AMC. Now to have Reese go on some journey to herself again is ridiculous. Especially when Reese said that over and over that she had found herself when she met Bianca. Two top talent actresses of Eden Riegel and Tamara Braun were wasted by AMC and they deserved far better.

    Marlena says: Cher, I thought Tamara and Eden gave the best performances of the soap year despite the problems with the script. Imagine what could have been with a better written story …

  9. I agree Marlena that Tamara and Eden were amazing even with the other problems. That is what is so upsetting at the what could have been. I am grateful for Tamara and Eden for giving their all in the Bianca and Reese story. I want to say thank you Marlena for being one of the few Soap commentators that have supported the Bianca and Reese story.

    AMC just will never understand what it meant to so many people to have the Bianca and Reese come to life on daytime. Especially to me, who was excited to see finally Bianca in a comitted relationship and happy to watch a couple that I could relate to.

    Marlena says: Cher, I think all the soap critics wanted to see the Bianca and Reese story succeed. We all seem to be behind Otalia, a.k.a. the Olivia and Natalia story on Guiding Light, too.

  10. I thought Justin Deas had his best material in eons. Actually, it wasn’t good material. What he did was be transcendent with shoddy material. Much of what was said–even at the memorial–was just….poorly conceived. Deas’ rising above his mateiral is the mark of a truly exceptional actor, I think. I always knew Deas was exceptional–Santa Barbara, Lord knows, more than proved that. But it was very nice to see it again.

    Marlena says: Hear, hear, Carl! A wonderful point! The material was average. Incidentally, Justin was always a favorite of writers like Claire Labine and the Dobsons, because they knew he could make magnificent music out of the most mundane soap circumstances. The Dobsons wrote his Tom Hughes, for example, on As the World Turns, and you may remember that has always been a rather bland charater — except when Justin played him. Remember Tom and Margo (Deas’ real life wife Margaret Colin) going up against Mr. Big (the late great Brent Collins)? The Dobsons also brought him to Santa Barbara, where he played Keith Timmons, who was probably the most outrageous and colorful over the top D.A. in soap history. Oh, those were the days when soaps were crazily creative — and fun!

  11. Oh my gosh Marlena did you nail them to the cross on this. The last few weeks on soaps has been nothing but ‘How could you?’ and ‘WTF?’ I’m just upset I missed Justin’s performance. He is by far one of the best, as I commented in my Marlena awards.

    But honestly, I don’t think soaps are any different than what we see happening in society. For far too long we’ve grown accustomed to providing and accepting lower quality. The pride in doing the best no matter what the circumstances are is a foreign concept to too too many. I constantly remind my staff and those around me that integrity is a choice, and our choices define our character.

    Maybe that’s getting too deep for ‘a soap opera’ but I don’t think so. Julie Carruthers’ comment ‘it’s a soap opera’ continued to perpetuate the stigma that soaps are third class genres, unworthy of classy actors or any storylines based in factuality. Shame on her. If you don’t have respect for what you’re doing or the people you’re working for or with or your audience, GET OUT.

    All of you, GET OUT!!
    Turn it over or back to those who care so your audience may come back. I would, but all these insults. It explains why the best you’re getting is me reading recaps.

    Marlena says: Renee, you never fail to amaze me!!! This letter should be posted in the offices of every daytime soap division. You tell those execs!

  12. Chere Marlena,

    Votre mots sont tres vrai!

    What a surprsiing and disappointing February it was. So much potential that was so badly wasted. So much done wrong.

    1. Why in the world should we be celebrating the first lesbian wedding on TV when the thing fell apart the next day? This storyline started off strong but began splintereing apart with each progressive day. Very poorly planned and poorly executed.

    2. Grant’s return has gotten me back watching GL daily. And I appreciate all the hype — it shows the network is behind the show (something we haven’t seen in a long time). Justin’s bellisimo performances have just been icing on the cake. I might have missed them were it not for Grant’s return. Too bad GL got thrown off by a day because of the Presidential Inauguration pre-emption. Otherwise Justin’s powerhouse grieving episode would have aired on the President’s Day holiday when more viewers were home watching TV. But Justin’s performaces did deserve some advance publicity.

    3. The moment I saw that cheap wig on Kisten Storm’s head, I knew the entire episode was going to be cheap. And GH didn’t fail to disappoint me. Shoddy, lazy work all the way around. First off, to do the BJ wonderful life story properly, they should have at least brought backTony Jones and Felicia for a day since they figured so prominantly into her death storyline (plus to reward the fans). Secondly, Bobbie should have had some more interaction with her daughter BJ than pouring a cup of coffee at Kelly’s (GH’s horrid treatment of Jackie Zeman in the last 8 years outrages me). Thirdly, Lulu wasn’t even born when BJ died, so the references to Lulu knowing the dead Maxie were completley wrong. And I could go on and on.

    At least OLTL and Y&R had a strong month.

    Marlena says: Great analyses, James. I felt really ripped off that the Bianca and Reese marriage lasted a day. I wasn’t against all of the publicity for Grant — he’s fantastic. But Telenext never realized for a second what they had in Justin!

  13. Marilyn Henry says:

    Oh, Marlena, once more you have voiced what is in mine and so many other viewers’ minds!

    I don’t watch AMC, but I read enough about it’s lesbian story to wonder why they would toss Zack into the mix. Trying to jazz up a lesbian story by adding a male to it doesn’t do the male any good either! Thorston Kaye is their top leading man, but this story just makes Zack look stupid and a jerk. And isn’t the story of two lesbians marrying enough of a drama on daytime without having to add the unbelievable, anger-inducing complications?

    That GH episode about Maxie was a travesty! Who decided to do such an insanely stupid episode? Why, if Maxie died instead of BJ, would any of that happen? None of it made sense. They were two little girls whom the other adult characters barely saw, except for the ones directly connected to them, such as their parents. If Mac didn’t become a drunk when Georgie was murdered in the park, why would he turn to drink over Maxie? Maxie was just a little kid who hadn’t made much of a mark on the town of PC. There was no logic. If there had been, it would have been a story of how Felicia and Frisco delt with it, with maybe Frisco leaving the WSB and deciding to stay home with Felicia and thus leaving Mac on his own again. After all, Mac wasn’t raising Maxie back then, nor had he yet adopted her. He was in love with Felicia, but they weren’t living together. It was so lame from beginning to end (and from writing to acting) that it looked like amateur night at the local high school.

    What has happened to Bob Guza? I’ve never liked him that much as a headwriter (too little heart), but there was a time when he could tell a reasonably interesting story. Use the whole cast and not get stuck on one or two actors and destroy them with overkill. Create a new story from a current one, tie up a few loose ends. And there was a time when he wasn’t trying to rewrite the Godfather over and over. I mean, he was never in a league with a Claire Labine or a Pat Falken Smith, but he did at one time, write some stuff that was fairly involving.

    Sad, what Guza has come to. Frons’ fault, do you think? I can just hear him saying, ‘Hey Bob, when I was over at NBC, we did a show on Santa Barbara based on ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ , where Gina imagined how much better off everyone would be if she hadn’t been born–it was a real hoot! Let’s do one of those on Maxie, only how bad things would have been had she died. Yeah, that’s a terrific idea and you know the fans can’t get enough of Maxie!’
    (Actually, Santa Barbara did two Xmas shows of ‘Wonderful Life’ and they were, indeed hilarious! But that show had the best writers, the best actors, the best…well, that jewel is gone, never to even be rerun on Soapnet.)

    GH is SO bad right now I really do not think it can be saved. Such episodes as that Maxie’s dream thing have only shored up that reluctant conclusion.

    Marlena says: Marilyn, you never fail to read my mind. All through the Bianca and Reese story, I also had my mind on Zack (my adored Thorsten Kaye). Why would he donate sperm to his sister-in-law Bianca without telling his beloved wife Kendall? Was that question EVER answered on air? Zack would never do that! Why did Zack smooch Reese when he knew he would be huritng both Kendall and Bianca, whom he cares about? You can bet Throrsten had problems dealing with these unaswered questions when he was putting together his performances! Utter nonsense! Soap scripts always have holes, but the sloppiness with which this character was written in this story was really extraordinary. Thorsten has had such a rough ride on AMC. What a waste of his tremendous talent AMC has been. I don’t know who Zack is anymore, and I’m sure he doesn’t either. I read that Thorsten’s new AMC contract negotiations are currently stalled …

    Who knows what’s up with Guza and Ms. Phelps? As I said, it seemed they were out to lunch literally while the Maxie episode was written and produced. The Maxie episode was bad enough but the entire daily GH show seems going to hell now. It’s not enough that it’s bad –the production and writing of the daily episodes have become so incoherent, I’m surprised more fans haven’t revolted yet. And as with what is with Frons … who knows? All the terrible writing and production mistakes I saw on ABC in February are ultimately his responsibility. The Brian I knew here in New York in the 80s always paid strict attention to the production of his (then NBC) soaps … but what was he doing when the Febraury ABC soaps were produced … napping???? Attending OLTL auditions???

  14. Great column Marlena!

    ICAM, especially with Justin Deas. I’ve watched this man steal scenes on SB, RH, and GL, but NEVER have I witnessed him command a show as he has been doing these past few weeks. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such an authentic, unpredicatable, and dignified response to grief portrayed on daytime. Perhaps GL will send out a “signal” to other shows demonstrating the benefits of allowing your skilled actors to shine.

    Marlena says: Hi dear! You mean like a “smoke signal?” LOL. These shows know well enough what senior talent they have right under their eyes, because they are paying them a lot to do so little. Perhaps a little Justin adulation will help. All I want to know is, where is Erika Slezak these days? She’s sure not on OLTL much. And she has six Emmys, too!

  15. Deas is one of the actors you are either fanatical about, or that you can’t stomach. I know the soap press is crazy about the guy, and how wonderful he is, but here is a little secret, the guy chews up scenery more then even Zimmer (and god knows that GL can’t afford it if he devours the Tiki Cedars.)

    Deas much lauded hospital scenes were more of the same (though that the soap gods he retired the windmill arms and has kept a lid on yelling.)

    Buzz is a good supporting character, and Deas can be taken in small doses as such (he is actually quite effective in his silent, world weary scenes, but the critics don’t write about that) but to create a whole advertising campaign on him and the death of a character which was not that interesting to begin with would have been disaster. As it was, I took it as CBS and Televest’s way to apologize for “Wheeler’s Folly,” (i.e. firing GA and killing off Phillip to begin with.) The ads signaled the return of some semblence of “Classic,” GL while the promotion of Deas, Buzz and the Coopers would have signaled that there is more of the same that we have been seeing for the last four years.

    Marlena says: Mitch darling, I wasn’t trying to set up a contest. I’m glad GL has both Grant and Justin on the show at present! GL needs ALL the help it can get to stay on the air, as we all want the show to! As far as Justin goes, you have the right to your opinion.

    But, just curious, did you ever see him the first couple of years he was on GL in the mid-90s? As Buzz, the lost Vietnam vet who found his family again — Harley and Frank — he was amazing! Did you see the storyline in which Buzz gave back his Silver Star? Or fell in love with Jenna? Or did you see Justin on Santa Barbara, or on As the World Turns on Ryan’s Hope? He was fantastic on all of them, and in those days he always had lead roles.

  16. I gave up on soaps in the 1990s after Claire Labine left GH and I could no longer stomach the Guza transformation. A month ago I was lured back to GL on the strength of the exquisitely written and beautifully acted Olivia/Natalia storyline, which I caught up with on YouTube. Character-driven and rooted in domestic detail, Otalia is a welcome throwback to the old-school storytelling I grew up with in the 1970s and ’80s. In a recent interview, the wondrous Crystal Chappell revealed that the story has been in the works since January 2008. How long has it been since soap writers committed themselves to that kind of slow build?

    I’ve admired the work of both Justin Deas and Grant Aleksander over the years. I thought Justin shone in his quieter moments as the Coop death storyline played out. The writers are easing Grant back into the fabric of Springfield and he has been pitch perfect so far.

    I’m not sorry I missed out on the much-hyped Bianca/Reese fiasco. The infinitely superior Otalia storyline has not been hyped (to put it mildly), but the lack of media coverage wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Viewers became emotionally invested in the Olivia/Natalia friendship long before it dawned on them that the relationship was headed in a romantic direction.

    Bianca/Reese was a flash in the fan, but I have a feeling Otalia will endure (assume GL does).

  17. Marilyn Henry says:

    Mitch, have to barge right in and back up Marlena on this tete-a-tete about Justin Deas. I have only seen him on Santa Barbara, but OMG, he was simply amazing. He hit that show like, well, a rocket. His take on his lines was always fresh, original, alittle off-kilter, riveting and often a total surprise. When he threw away a line, it hit and splattered with an echo. Sometimes I was laughing too much to catch everything he was doing and yet it was right on target. Put him and Robin Mattson together and you got pure gold. He won Emmy after Emmy on that show and it wasn’t because he was always over the top (which he could be when he chose to be). He is an extraordinary actor in any medium and especially so in daytime. I don’t know how he is on GL because I have not watched that show, but that he has won more Emmys there does not surprise me in the least.

  18. I am sure he was good, even great on SB, but I never watched it so I can’t comment on that..however, GL isnt SB and he isnt playing the SB character. I do think much of Deas lauding is based on his time on SB and not what he has done on GL (JMO)

    I do remember his stint on ATWT, and I embarrased to say this now, I used to kinda have a cruch on his weirdo version of Tom Hughes (since when did Tom become a short, hyperactive hippie…) I actually loved him on that show, but then Tom is the type of character that you can’t go over the top with, so he had the hold the reigns in. His first three years on GL were intolerable when JFP handed the whole show over to him (will Buzz leave town, wont he) and burned down a whole neighborhood to score him an emmy reel (believe it or not Buzz, the fire isn’t all about you!!!) Those first three years are where he introduced his spinning arms, spit on your costar as you yell schtick!

    Ah, but let me get off of my former crush, now FF required actor(love is a bitch aint it, first you cant get enough and then too much….) and say, yes, we all want GL to survive…Justin Deas and all!! I grew up on the goofy show, and I don’t know what life would be like if I wasn’t alternately loving it and criticizing the latest dumb move of the GL PTB!

    Long live GL…though I wouldn’t mind it if they just had Buzz join Carmen in the Cedars “Lost Characters in a Coma,” ward!

  19. Justin Deas in his portrayal of the father of Coop, so blew me away, the way that he was holding Coop, after the plug was pulled, reminded me of something that happened to me, it was the way my mother held my father, as he lay in his hospital bed, never to awake again….and it sort of brought it all back….

    So the portrayal of what Justin did, was so perfect, in everyway.


  20. I still don’t want to watch AMC (Reese story) ……

    And then some…for me, the actors that I look out for are Taylor, Jake, Brot, and a few others…

    But most of them are on way too much for it, it’s overkill..

    And why on earth did pratt stop the Jake Taylor story….he didnt’ even give them a chance, then he pulled the plug on them…..

    They need to be showcased more..yet they’re being shoved to the wayside, like they’re yesterday’s news, for the whole Binks and Reese story..

    BE and RPG have amazing talent, and it’s about time that they realize it


  21. antmunoz says:

    Grant Aleksander is obviously the “draw” to try to get viewers to return to GUIDING LIGHT. Obviously, Justin Deas hasn’t gone anywhere…but no one’s necessarily been tuning in for him.

    So, when Grant is used to introduce viewers to the bravura acting that veterans like Deas, Tina Sloan (Lillian), Beth Chamberlin (Beth), and the others have done these past few weeks, it’s a win-win situation. I’m glad to have Grant back, and Phillip is a dynamic catalyst. But seeing these other three underused, underappreciated actors take the lion’s share of the acting burden and HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK…well, it restored my faith that the best acting on TV is in daytime drama.

    Not sure I understand Mitch’s reasoning above that Buzz should join Carmen Santos in the Coma Ward, but if anyone could make us interested in the arch, over-the-top Carmen, it’s Buzz! (I wouldn’t want to be Lillian if Carmen started jonesin’ for Buzz, though…)

  22. Justin Deas has had tremendous material. I am so glad to see him frontburner and not just sitting around company dishing out advice. I liked the Coop/Beth storyline—I didn’t see this as a snooze. Those two were great together and not boring at least to me.

    I haven’t heard a radio advertisement for daytime in years, but this morning I heard one for GL about Phillip trying to urge viewers to return to Springfield. This is a huge campaign more so than I realized. However, so far so good. Phillip has been level headed to this point. Grant plays the quiet sarcasm so well. His facial expressions with Alan is communication enough and he does it so well. He and Ron Raines have great chemistry together and always have,

    Phillip’s scene with Olivia at the jail was more comedy than expected and I am glad the writers wrote it that way. I thought (and so did I) he was going to jump her for her “alternative lifestyle.”

    GL is now a show that is good the whole hour and not just 20 min or sometimes less. Get rid of Grady and Cyrus and it will all be good. Those are really the only two characters I can’t stand (good eye candy) but too vile for me. A villian can only do so much. When Grady killed Tammy he was scum in my eyes.

    GL I think can survive now if the writers band together—I mean you got 4 head writers.

    P.S.—Let Reva live! I hope!

  23. I’m convinced that Zach’s terrible characterization these past few months is due to Pratt seeing him as the Sonny Corinthos of Pine Valley. I can’t stand this version of Zach.He has done a lot of terrible things but never seems to feel truly sorry or remorseful for any of it. I don’t think he even apologized to Bianca or Kendall for kissing Reese. He’s been very dismissive towards all the Kane women when he should be showing some remorse and humility.His attitude about the things he’s done has been as harmful , if not more so, to the character than his actions. Unfortunately Pratt seems to worship this version of Zach and I think his role in the Bianca/Reese story was Pratt’s offensive way of showing him as a desirable, irresistible man.

    That BJ episode sounds truly awful. I’m glad I missed it. Doesn’t it kinda cheapen the original BJ’s heart storyline to imply that things are better off with Maxie living?

    Marlena says: Cate! What an interesting interpretation of Zack! I love my Thorsty, but Zack to me right now is a jerk. But even given that, he’s not as clueless as that jackass Sonny Corinthos! No matter Thorsty hasn’t settled that contract yet!

    Is Pratt a deep enough writer to be making a statement about the sexes? I don’t think so — all he’s shown so far is that he’s a very formulaic soap writer with not much depth. He certainly doesn’t care enough to write well thought-through social statement stories. In the end, the whole Reese-Zack-Bianca story played a heck of a lot more like Pratt’s old crumby nighttime soap Melrose Place, than it did the All My Children we all used to love under more intellectual headwriters (Nixon, Broderick). They incidentally were … women!

    I think everyone who loves General Hospital has already agreed that Maxie’s dream was a big old slap in the face to one of daytime’s best headwriters ever, Claire Labine, who did the original B.J./Maxie heart transplant story to utter perfection. Shame!

  24. I stopped watching GL regularly over the horrible, horrible way Proctor and Gamble treated Michael Zaslow. Over the years I did watch with my grandmother, because she’s been a fan since its radio days. She even had stopped watching in recent years, though. When I saw an ad saying “Phillip Returns” I thought I’d check it out, and now I’m really happy I did. My grandmother also saw a “Phillip Happens Here” ad and started watching again.

    A Buzz ad wouldn’t have made me give GL another try. (Also, does Aleksander have a painting aging for him in the attic? He was my first grade school crush when he first came on GL and the man looks even better now.)

    Marlena says: Selby, I love your name!! Yes, Grant looks beyond great, almost what he looked more than 25 years ago when he debuted on the show. I remember it well. Glad your grandma tuned in GL again!

  25. Brava, Marlena, for your comments above regarding Mr. Pratt. I’ve been waiting for someone to say what I’ve been thinking for months now, which is that Mr. Pratt seems to think he’s still writing “Melrose Place” and “Models Inc.” My feeling is there is a serious and substantial dispensation that audiences give those kinds of programs, simply because they’re shown for an hour an week, and characters can (and, to up the what-the-hell fun factor, often do) make wholesale, breakneck personality and motivation changes, because they are television’s closest facsimile of a heart-pounding rollercoaster ride, replete with all the requisite twists and turns. These shows get by with it, because they’re an hour an week, and you have seven full days to catch your breath and gear up for the next ride.

    Because our afternoon fiction is built primarily on family and familiarity — funny how I never realized how closely those two words are related until just now! — and we return to those characters and situations five full days a week, grafting this sensibility onto daytime soaps is almost always folly unless you have a true master holding the pen. (I guess the only serial to really pull off that kind of breakneck material successfully was the Henry Slesar-guided “Edge of Night.”) And matter what brand of hijinks and hilarity the writers try to pile atop the aforementioned, the core of the story in daytime must ALWAYS be family love and support. (As noble as they were, “The City” and “Port Charles” learned that lesson the hard way, ne c’est pas?) Characters are allowed to grow and change, absolutely — the finest example I can remember off the top of my head is young Rachel Davis Cory on “Another World,” who evolved from horrendous teenage bitchlet to upstanding corporate magnate over a period of years (decades!) via the unqualified love of her mother and a dear, sweet, hotly emotional man — but certainly not overnight, and *definitely* not with little or no prompting.

    The current problem, as I see it, with “All My Children” is that the powers that be seem determined to boil that show down to easily processable thumbnails and sound bites (“Tornadoes! Lots of ’em! And heart transplants! And soldiers, we got soldiers! Hey, we even got a lesbian wedding over here! Come see the funhouse, folks!”) at the EXPENSE of the characters on the canvas rather than to their BENEFIT. It’s as though the writers don’t know (or care) who their characters even ARE anymore, Marlena!

    If it’s true (and, to a certain extent, I buy it) that “One Life to Live” treats its characters as chess pieces eternally heading toward checkmate, at least you can watch that show and more or less identify what each person WANTS: Gigi wants a good life for her kid, Marty wants her memories back, Nora wants justice, Jessica wants to be whole again, etc. “All My Children,” on the other hand, largely treats its characters like ciphers, like mindless entities who exist solely to be plugged into whatever outlandish, attention-getting situation the writers can dream up. (Zach loves Kendall! No, wait, Zach loves Reese! No, scratch that, Zach loves Kendall! Oops, Kendall’s screwing Ryan! Aw hell, is that Zach and Reese together again?!) What in the living hell does ANYbody in Pine Valley right now WANT? What truly drives ANY of those folks?

    As it stands now, “AMC” is soap opera as potato chips rather than as filet mignon: in the heat of the moment, it’s filling, yet in the end it leaves you oddly empty, and still — irrevocably — hungry. And if it’s true that Agnes Nixon’s status at ABC has been so diminished that she is powerless to stop this desecration of her indisputable crown jewel, then what choice do we have but to believe the death knell has been as good as sounded, Marlena? Who the hell knew we’d watch this show and long for the glory days of Ms. McTavish?!

    Marlena says: Brandon, this is most brilliant letter Marlena has received at this site. I will discuss some of it in a future review column of All my Children. Potato chips instead of filet mignon is a fantastic why to compare the new AMC to the old AMC. But then again, almost all soaps feel that way these days. As you know, AMC has always been my favorote of all soaps and I find it very boring to watch under Mr. Pratt. More on this another time darling!

  26. Marlena:

    I have been a diehard GH fan since I was young, young boy, watching with my Mom. I NEVER missed an episode. But lately (now in my late thirties), I catch it once, maybe twice, a week and just roll my eyes. This show is SO BAD.

    The biotoxin debacle and the slap-in-the-face “if BJ didn’t die” episode are examples of how low this show has sunk. Instead of “if BJ didn’t die,” how about a “if Wendy Riche and Clarie Labine didn’t leave” episode.

    Bob Guza’s gotta go. Brian Frons has to go. GH — to be so bold — sucks all around. Frons just better keep his hands off OLTL, the ONLY soap I look forward to watching…..and what a marvelous show that has become.

    Thanks, Jay

  27. David C says:

    I think the secret to the power of Justin Deas’ work as Buzz during the weeks surrounding Coop’s death is that he ACTED the hell out of the material. His sterling work wasn’t soap acting, it was the essence of pure true acting talent from a veteran performer. That performance is what has thousands lined up to watch on a stage because you only usually get that kind of theatrical skill and power on a stage. Deas knew that in what ever medium, his training and experience called for this kind of raw but controlled emotion and strength.
    He hit it out of the park at the very same time making it seem as if we were watching an intimate private scene between a father and his son. It was almost voyeuristic in it’s naked and real emotion, like something you might witness in an actual hospital but were ashamed to invade as an outsider who really shouldn’t be seeing this.
    That intimacy and emotion is the real not to so secret to both the soap opera genre but also fine acting.
    We got to see it played out for a few weeks in February and for that we would should all be very thankful. That type of scene and story is what captivated tens of millions for a few decades and as it began to disappear, so did the viewers.

    Marlena says: David, dear, go to the head of the class. What a beautifully written letter! You really captured exactly what Justin evoked in his performance.

    I was watching Justin on GL on Thursday, as Buzz got up and walked out of the hospital. That scruffy unshaven face, the receded hairline, the deep circles–I’ve never seen a daytime performer look worse—but still his great, great acting shown through. There’s a big lesson here, I’d say!

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