Halloween isn’t for a few more weeks, but I swear we’ve been living in some parallel soap universe overrun by zombies.
We’ve all become accustomed to very shocking news – with the industry shrinking and budgets disappearing, we’ve experienced our share of “oh no they didn’t!” moments in the comings and goings department.
But the last few weeks have been truly astonishing.
Let’s take a look at these bombshells, one by one.
JAMES FRANCO COMES TO GENERAL HOSPITAL
Sure, GH had a number of high-profile celebrities on back in its 80s heyday (Elizabeth Taylor and Sammy Davis Jr to name just two) and it’s never been afraid to stunt cast (hello, Roseanne!).
But to have Franco – a quote, “serious actor,” unquote – play a character on GH is truly mind-melting.
Franco does have a TV background, coming to prominence in the short-lived Judd Apatow series “Freaks and Geeks.” One wonders if a Bob Guza script will pack as much of a punch for Franco.
Based on this photo of Franco, I think he’d be a shoo-in for a recast Decker Moss, don’t you?
ERIC BRAEDEN WRITTEN OUT OF Y&R
It’s been a summer of blockbusters. First, there was part one: Jess Walton Walks. Then there was the sequel, Melody Thomas Scott Bolts. Of course, those two had a happy ending. It remains to be seen if the latest masterpiece from Paul Rauch Productions will have the staying power of the first two – or if Braeden will keep walking.
I know that this is a minority opinion, but I am so over Victor Newman as a character. I am all for featuring vets and putting them into front-burner stories, but Victor is the Ridge Forrester of Y&R – an indecisive playboy who happens to be pushing seventy.
Victor, like Ridge, has bounced between women for decades now. He’s damaged Ashley and given Nikki nothing but grief (though apparently Nikki is a masochist).
Victor worked as a ruthless businessman (it can be said that Victor’s most combustible chemistry is with Jack) but business stories on soaps are unpopular and widely unsuccessful these days. And that makes Victor’s vendetta against Jack seem less about business or competition and more about some creepy, criminal urge on Victor’s part.
Yet the show continues to position him as The Great Victor Newman. (I prefer another Internet nickname for Victor: Father Time.)
I realize he’s got a lot of history, but I think a Victor-less Y&R would be a positive. I’d much rather see something new than have them repeat the same cycle of Victor-is-God-and-a-total-stud stories that have been running for thirty years. How they’d ever bring him back from the unforgivable place he is now (re: Patty and Colleen) is a mystery.
Personally, I’d like to see the show focus on Newmans: The Next Generation. Nick vs. Adam is a rivalry that should get more focus and that could go on for years. And a more viable Victoria than the one in place now could be a real boost to the show.
JONATHAN JACKSON BACK TO GH
Another big splash by GH. On paper, this looks fantastic. Jackson was the original Lucky, and a fan favorite. But his return begs a few questions.
Two actors have played Lucky in the interim – will he be able to pick up where they left off? When Jackson was on GH in the 90s, he was blessed with words and scripts by Claire Labine. Will his Lucky shine in a Guza-led GH?
And, when the hell is Genie Francis coming back? Make no mistake, GH – putting Geary, Francis and Jackson together again on screen is your Triple Crown. Just do it, already.
ALL MY CHILDREN ANNOUNCES L.A. CAST LIST
This one wasn’t too surprising. The biggest shock is that AMC appears to be losing its biggest supercouple, Zach and Kendall. Thorsten Kaye is definitely staying in New York, and although nothing has been confirmed, it appears that new mom Alicia Minshew is as well.
Ray McDonnell is retiring, which means we’ve likely seen the last of Joe and Ruth Martin. And Jill Larson is apparently not part of the list, so we may also have seen the last of Opal and Palmer (since James Mitchell is apparently ill). That’s a huge chunk of AMC history that’s being left behind.
I’ve only been an occasional AMC viewer for the last decade or so, and only a handful of stories (Leo and Greenlee, early Bianca) have really captured my attention.
A big chunk of “classic” AMC walked out the door with Julia Barr, and most of the original, quirky Agnes Nixon touches have long since been replaced by hair models and baby-swapping narcissists.
The saddest part for me to read was that Beth Ehlers was let go. This was big news, but fell under the radar with all of the other cataclysmic changes this week.
It wasn’t completely unexpected – Taylor simply hasn’t caught fire – but it’s sad that Ehlers wasn’t around for Guiding Light’s end. I don’t blame Ehlers or co-star Ricky Paull Goldin for jumping ship when said ship looked like it was about to sink. But we didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to Harley, and now Ehlers will be out of work.
A recent promotional photo had Ehlers wearing a T-shirt reading “Harley Davidson.” That makes me think Ehlers was feeling a bit melancholy about her old role. Here’s hoping we’ll see Ehlers again soon. I know Y&R was interested in her last year (I suspect it was for Patty/Mary Jane); perhaps there’s a place for her there under Paul Rauch, who was her GL boss for many years?
HEATHER LOCKLEAR RETURNS TO NEW “MELROSE PLACE”
Watch your back, bitches!
SARAH BROWN SOAP HOPS
Sarah Brown’s dissatisfaction with her role as GH’s Claudia led to GH agreeing to let her go and to release her from the rest of her contract, which originally ran until January.
Brown quickly landed a role at Bold and the Beautiful. The role kinda sounds like Morgan and/or Sheila, take 2. But congrats to Brown for landing the new gig!
SOAP VETS ON THE WEB
That sneaky Crystal Chappell is quite the trendsetter. The deafening buzz around her upcoming Web soap Venice has opened the market for other Web soaps.
Martha Byrne announced Gotham, her upcoming Web soap. As The World Turns fans will be happy to know that the actress who played Rose’s best friend Mitzi (Anne Sayre) will have a leading role on Gotham, as well as current ATWT star Michael Park (Jack).
And GH star Tristan Rogers is also launching a soap, Reality Bytes. The show’s lead, Trevor Rains, seems to be tailor-made for Rogers to play.