Another dose of Agnes

Thanks to Lynn Liccardo for mentioning this clip to me – it’s a recent post by Michael Fairman,  a well-known soap journalist.

This is, shall we say, the expanded remix of what Fairman produced as a memorial tribute for Agnes Nixon at this year’s Daytime Emmys.

It’s quite moving to see so many people get so emotional about Agnes and, really, about the passing of an era.

It’s a lovely clip. It gets a bit syrupy at the end – how very daytime! – but much of the clip has some very moving emotions and reactions, real and authentic words from many of the people who loved Agnes Nixon and owed her a debt of gratitude.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Fairman years ago, on that trip where Guiding Light invited a number of bloggers to see the new production model and somehow decided to invite me. Really nice work, Michael.

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A Daytime Mystery: Guess That Day Player

Here’s a fun question for my TENS of readers, especially my old P&G friends.

As one does, I was clicking around on We Love Soaps. This often leads to a rabbit hole, so to speak – one click takes me to another link, and so on.

In this case, one of the site’s features, Today in Soap Opera History, had a GL clip from 1984. Once that played in YouTube, I clicked on other clips that had been uploaded where the air dates were just a few days ahead.

Which brings me to this clip.

There’s a day player who shows up at around 6:10 and appears through the episode. The waitress with the red hair.

That voice….it’s familiar. The face is familiar.

Could it be recent Tony winner Cynthia Nixon?

I’m kinda convinced that it is. I asked a few folks, including We Love Soaps’ Roger Newcomb, what they thought.

But no one is sure. The credits that roll on the following day’s episode don’t mention the character or list Nixon’s name.

GL is not listed on Nixon’s IMDB page.

She was in New York at the time this would have been filmed. 1984 was the year Nixon was in two plays at the same time – Hurlyburly and The Real Thing. So that puts our, uh, suspect at, shall we say, the scene of the crime.

So daytime mystery lovers, here’s a mystery to solve! Let me know if you find any leads or have any theories or clues.

Let’s just make sure this mystery is shorter than that Carolyn Crawford one in Oakdale, amirite?

 

 

A glimmer of light

Wow. I really didn’t think I’d be posting about The Bold and the Beautiful two posts in a row.

But I also never expected Donald Trump to be president. Or for the Battle of the Network Stars to make a comeback. And yet, here we are.

I’m way overdue in making this post. 2016 has come and gone. The Emmys have come and gone.

But I remembered seeing this scene last year and thinking that it was so fantastic. It was a glimpse of what can be when a soap weaves in its history to inform character as well as plot.

This. This is the layered storytelling and acting I know and remember.

Heather Tom did Emmy-deserving work here, to be certain.  (And while I can’t be sure, the words sound like the work of dialogue master Patrick Mulcahey.)

The scene is from around 9:00 on. The last two minutes are the emotional punch in the gut.

Hello, Sheila

Sheila reports for duty – but not at Y&R – she’s in LA again.

I’m not a fan of stories that repeat themselves, especially when it comes to super villains.

Mostly because it makes for lazy storytelling. You can do just about anything and blame it on Helena Cassadine or Stefano DiMera. And they never die (well, almost never), which just makes the stories they touch less and less believable.

But B&B has my attention with the return of Sheila Carter.

Frankly, I never imagined that Kimberlin Brown would ever return to either of the Bell shows. It had been over a decade since her last appearance, and her story had gone relatively off the rails before she left.

There was also that whole business with Phyllis being Sheila or Sheila being Phyllis or Why Does My Head Hurt This Makes No Sense, whatever that was.

And oh yes, the Republican National Convention appearance.

It didn’t enter my mind that she’d be back on either show. But I’m interested in seeing where this goes.

I’ve never quite “gotten” B&B as a show, but there are periods where I’ve tuned it, and it looks like I’ll have to check in on the new Spectras, too.

And of course, my blog post title is an obvious call back to another surprise return. Still and always my favorite.

 

The Gospel of Saint Agnes

I’m just getting back to my desk here, so to speak, after some time away. There’s a lot of catching up to do!

Yesterday, Decades Network (a digital network that plays old sitcoms and shows) replayed an episode of Dick Cavett’s show that featured Agnes Nixon as his guest.

The time frame appears to be around 1977-78, when All My Children had been in the works and/or running for about eight years. Cavett, who has appeared on practically every network over the years, had a show on PBS at this time.

It’s an interesting interview, more relaxed in many ways than I think we ever saw Agnes in later interviews.

I did pick up Agnes’ autobiography in March, when it hit the streets.

I wish I could give it a rave, but I had mixed feelings about it.

The most fascinating part was the part we really didn’t know much about: young Agnes and her story prior to her rise to prominence.

Readers of the book will understand that in characters like Palmer Cortlandt, Agnes was in many ways writing about her own father.

The part that was truly her story is fascinating. But it is almost seventy percent of the book. When she gets to her soap-writing days, the momentum slows.

Like Bill Bell’s book, it feels sanitized when discussing other people, the networks, etc. There’s a bit of cordial professional conflict peppered in, but if you were looking for a really in-depth understanding of what it was like to be a woman heading productions like these in the 60s and 70s, that isn’t really the take here.

Aside from a pointed rant about the shows’ cancellations, she is relatively kind, and she gushes about many of the people who have worked with her and for her.

So if you want AMC dirt, you may be disappointed. But it’s worth a read to learn about the woman herself. She was fascinating, determined, and talented. It’s easy to see where Erica Kane got her strength.

There are precious few soap-themed books that have gone deep into authenticity. Eight Years In Another World remains the standard bearer. The recent Llanview book by Jeff Giles was very well done, allowing everyone to express their perspective.

Most other books have stayed in a relative safe zone. Some, like Kim Zimmer’s I’m Still Here, have been more revealing about personal things than about the ins and outs of the industry.  (Yeah, Zimmer had some pointed words about the end of Guiding Light, but nothing that hadn’t already been discussed in the soap press.)

Jeanne Cooper’s book was similar. Lots of personal revelations, few professional ones.

I’ve had a specific book project of my own in mind for a while. But it’s been a challenge to move forward.

Actors and production people are, in general, reluctant to speak in a frank, honest way about their work. It could be a number of reasons: a perception that the squeaky wheel might be a difficult one to work with, or a code of silence (speak out, and never get hired again), to name a few.

Who will be the one to write another Eight Years? Who will capture the industry, in all its wonder and all its dysfunction?

Who will give voice to the love we have for the genre, while acknowledging its mistakes, acknowledging how we got to here?

I’m going to have to watch this clip again. It may be from 40 years ago, but the storytelling wisdom Saint Agnes drops on all of us in this clip is ageless and timeless.

POSTSCRIPT: Cavett was, well, Cavett-y in this clip. But I liked his intro, and the joke about “Dutch elm disease.”

Cavett has a tie to soap opera: his first wife, Carrie Nye, appeared twice on Guiding Light: once in the 1980s as the evil real estate agent Susan Piper, and then again in 2003 as Carrie Carruthers, part of the hugely unpopular Maryanne Carruthers storyline. (She died a few years later, in 2006.)

Yet Again, STILL The Worst April Fools Joke Ever

I do love to repeat myself.

It’s now been eight years since Guiding Light’s ‘cancelversary.’

Here’s what I said last year.

I had the briefest of hopes this year, with The Talk’s celebration of GL and ATWT as part of the 30 Years of CBS Daytime event, that a reboot – even the tiniest of reunions – might happen, but so far, no dice.

I still hold a flicker of hope that the story will resume someday.

Call it a flicker in the window….a light, if you will.

Genoa City Neighborhood Watch

neighborhood-watch

The shocker of the year in soapland had to be the announcement that The Young and the Restless was welcoming back Sally Sussman Morina as head writer (as well as Kay Alden as a consulting writer).

It’s a big roll of the dice to go back to the future, especially in this era, where soaps are on shaky ground. Will the new-old-new team be able to strike the necessary balance between the show’s past and its future? Will we finally get a sense of where Mal Young is leading the show?

I did watch the first episode from the team, and thought it was fantastic – a great way to re-set the tone of the show.

I’m making a commitment now to watch every day in January – full episodes, no FF – to really immerse myself and see what’s happening.

And I’ll be doing a snapshot of all four shows – and why I “can’t even” with some of the others.

2017 is (almost) on! Let’s do this!