The day after: “The Talk”

I have nothing witty, clever or insightful to say – beyond my wish that the entire episode had been about GL and ATWT. I’m still just pondering it all, as I’ve always done in this space.

Is it wrong to say, even six and seven years later, how much I miss these shows and these characters?

I was so happy to see them all, particularly two performers from ATWT.

Colleen Zenk looks fantastic (as does everyone) and I doubt there was a dry eye when she talked about surviving, and triumphing, over oral cancer.

And then there was Elizabeth Hubbard, still owning it at 82. Hubbard has long been a favorite of mine, but after seeing her work on The Doctors, I have a deeper appreciation for her and for her body of work. It was a joy to see her on screen.

I said it in the last post and will say it again.

I get that economics preclude a full resurrection of these shows. But I know just from the comments I see here, and in other Internet communities, that the interest is still there.

CBS All Access should make a limited series. Or a movie. Or that could be done by any one of a dozen channels that want content. Hallmark Channel comes to mind.

The audience is there. Not everyone wants to watch 18 year olds with vocal fry and a soft spot for antiheroes make bad decisions for two hours, you know?

Will P&G stand in its own way? If history is any indication….

But I’ll leave it on this hopeful note.

Maybe someone will let us revisit these people, and spend at least a few more hours watching their triumphs, their mistakes, their lives.

Visiting old friends: P&G shows on “The Talk”

(Picture courtesy CBS)

(Picture courtesy CBS)

If you haven’t already heard, the big news is this: Both As The World Turns and Guiding Light will be showcased on The Talk on Wednesday, October 12.

A recent Entertainment Weekly article provides some details – we know that Grant Aleksander, Beth Chamberlin, Robert Newman and Kim Zimmer will be representing Springfield, while Martha Byrne, Ellen Dolan, Elizabeth Hubbard and Colleen Zenk will be on point for Oakdale.

I’m excited to see what everyone’s been up to – all of these performers are favorites of mine, and I was lucky enough to meet Aleksander, Chamberlin and Zimmer on that blogger’s trip back eons ago, so this will be awesome to see.

It’s my understanding that it’s a celebration of 30 years of CBS being Number One in daytime, so the Bell shows will also be on this episode. I wouldn’t hold my breath for more than five minutes with each of the P&G shows. But still, five minutes is better than zero.

I saw a reaction to this news online and while it was understandable in some ways, it still surprised me. Basically, the response was this: “I swore I’d never watch The Talk because it replaced ATWT, and I never will!”

I get it. I still make a point of not watching Let’s Make A Deal for the same reasons. Unless I’m stuck in the doctor’s office and have no choice! And it’s not like that show killed GL. It just happened to be its replacement.

My point is this: I hope everyone watches. And Tweets about it, or writes about it on Facebook. Or hey, pick up a pen and write Angelica McDaniel at CBS. (Or Tweet her – she’s all about Twitter!)

I get that the likelihood of us seeing  GL or ATWT – or both – back on our ad-supported screens for an hour a day, five days a week is somewhere between “not even” and “none.”

But a warm and positive response to the reunion could encourage them to think about more content like it.

For example, there’s CBS All Access. You know, that’s the streaming thing CBS is doing. It’s on Apple TV (and Amazon Fire, I think) among other places.

It’s some flat rate a month that gets you access to a set of CBS shows, including streaming of shows DVR style.

They’re beginning to create content specifically for this platform. Like the upcoming Star Trek show, and the spinoff of The Good Wife.

They have to offer some interesting content that’s exclusive to that platform. The fact that it’s subscriber based probably has them thinking of content with specific, focused and dedicated audiences.

Hmmm, sounds like soap fans to me.

So a great reaction to these reunions might make them think about, oh, a whole hour reunion for each show. Or maybe….just maybe…..a reunion movie. Or a limited series. Transparent is ten half hour episodes.  We could get caught up very well in five hours with our friends, couldn’t we?

Of course, we do have to remember that this loopy brainstorm of mine also involves Procter & Gamble/Telenext, and with all due respect, this is a team that in the past has, metaphorically speaking, driven a one car funeral into a ditch.

But it’s a possibility. And it starts with supporting these reunions, talking about them, and dropping CBS a note or a Tweet to say, “Hey, I enjoyed this content. I’d like to see more of it.”

And hey, if nothing else, we get a few glimpses of old favorites. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Remembering Larkin Malloy

Many soap fans were shocked to hear that actor Larkin Malloy died last week. The news of his death, at age 62, came a day after the news of Agnes Nixon’s passing.

I saw Malloy in all of his soap roles, including Sky Whitney on Edge of Night and Travis Montgomery on All My Children. Malloy turned in some delightfully chilling, gothic performances as Sky Whitney.

But my clearest memories of his work are of his run as Guiding Light’s Kyle Sampson.

I thought Malloy got to really show a wide range of emotions and sides to the character of Kyle. He could be sweet and romantic, but also chilling.

The character of Kyle Sampson never seemed to have a clear throughline. He was, at one point, revealed as Billy’s half-brother (Miss Sally was eventually revealed as both Billy and Kyle’s mother), but that felt in some ways as if it was made up on the spot.

Kyle didn’t seem to belong with the passionate, heart-on-their-sleeves Lewises. He was cut from the same cloth as the cool, analytical Alan Spaulding.

But nevertheless, Malloy had an impact on GL. His character was one of the few bright spots, despite the less-than-stellar “Sampson Girl” contest that bore Kyle’s name.

Two important things to note:

One, Malloy and Kim Zimmer had amazing chemistry. Those who think that there’s never been anyone for Reva but “Bud?” Sorry to burst your bubble, but Reva and Kyle definitely gave “Jeva” a serious run for its money.

And two: Malloy’s departure from the show seemed to be abrupt and unusual….as was the subsequent utter and complete dropkick into Siberia for the character.

His departure may have simply come to pass because Robert Newman and Chris Bernau both returned to the show – thereby filling GL’s need for a partner for Reva as well as a moody villain.

But it was really odd for fans. He was front burner every day for two years and then poof, he was never seen again.

Hell, even after his departure, Kyle was the cornerstone of a big plot (Reva believed Marah was Kyle’s daughter) that ran for the better part of two years, and still, he was seldom mentioned after that.

The show missed an opportunity to revisit the character, if not the actor, and the connections to Reva, to Marah, and to Ben Reade (Kyle’s biological son).

I wanted to include a clip of Malloy with Kim Zimmer, and I picked this particular clip – partly because of the fabulous (!) GL commercial at the clip’s beginning, and partly because this isn’t a collection of big moments. No one is splashing in any fountains here.

Even in the quiet moments, Malloy and Zimmer had great chemistry.

In recent years, I know Malloy worked at ATWT as an acting coach and as their announcer.  It’s very sad to hear of his passing.

Agnes Nixon: In tragedy and triumph

We learned Wednesday that Agnes Nixon died.

There’s not much I can tell you here that hasn’t been better said elsewhere. The New York Times published an excellent obituary.  Daytime Confidential and We Love Soaps have also paid tribute to Nixon. Many millions were impacted by the stories Nixon told, by the characters she created.

I had two thoughts when I heard about Agnes.

One was to really think about, and deeply appreciate, what she accomplished as a writer, as an artist. She rose from challenging beginnings and family tragedy and strife to become a successful working woman in the 1950s and 1960s, when such a thing was not common. Nixon was not just successful, but completely rocking it at a level that was unheard of at that time.

Even setting all the characters and creative achievements aside, she had few equals in ANY part of television. You had Lucille Ball, who owned Desilu for a time, and then you had people like Irna Phillips and Agnes Nixon. They may not have owned their shows per se, but their services, their creative abilities, became a company and an empire.

Agnes Nixon and her work became so popular because, like the best writers, she wrote what she knew. You can look at an uber-modern 2016 show like “Transparent,” with its core family, the dreams and hopes and disappointments of those people, created and written by someone spilling much of their own life onto that canvas, and you can see the DNA of a writer like Agnes Nixon in those strands. Erica Kane was long rumored to be based on Agnes herself.

Agnes got the balance right, the magic alchemy that gets people involved in a story. So many of her characters – Phoebe, Myrtle and Opal come to mind – were people we all knew, and also, at the same time, people who were just a little bit bigger, broader and brighter than our neighbors and friends.

The other thought, of course, is that it truly is the end of an era.

Her legendary work moves toward memory, the same memories so many of us have as children when we first saw these shows.

I heard the news on Wednesday and heard the first notes of this music, and I got goosebumps hearing this. It took me back to the opening of that book, to the telling of that story, and of so many others.

The words that Nixon wrote for the show, which appeared in the photo album in the show’s opening, hearkened back to the days of Preston Bradley, and the spark that Bradley ignited in Irna Phillps – to entertain people, to inspire them, to comfort them. Agnes Nixon did all that and more.

The great and the least, the rich and the poor

The weak and the strong, in sickness and in health

In joy and sorrow, in tragedy and triumph

You are all my children. 

Game, set, match: Head writer roulette

"We can't return we can only look // Behind from where we came" But where are these shows going next?

“We can’t return we can only look // Behind from where we came”  But where are these shows going next? Round and round, nobody knows for sure……

I meant to comment on the latest Plan to Save Days ™ sooner, but really, what is there to say?

For whatever reason, both NBC and Corday Productions thinks Dena Higley has the magic touch, that she’s the only one they can trust (or afford) to lead the show and crank out the very specific action-adventure hybrid stories that DAYS requires.

It doesn’t matter who her co-writer is or what else is happening. As long as Dena’s at DAYS, it will continue to be an unwatchable mess.

We also heard that Y&R will soon have a new headwriter.  This announcement is THE most curious announcement I’ve ever heard, because it was enveloped, like a rain-wrapped tornado, in the news that Chuck Pratt will be headed to another job with a primetime show.

Interesting that the spin machine worked so well for Pratt, as all of the media outlets covering him – save Daytime Confidential – framed it with the focus on his new job.

Of course, fans knew what time it was, and didn’t restrain themselves in the comments.

Pratt was utterly bad news for All My Children. I don’t know if he was an utter disaster at Y&R overall. I didn’t see a huge difference for some key characters during his regime. Aside from the Marco/Jack debacle, the repercussions from the various explosions and disasters never seemed to last.

But then again, there was the whole shady Avery story, where she was originally supposed to cry rape and falsely accuse her ex, Joe Clark. There was the murder of Sage, and the decimation and murder of Kelly. Perhaps Pratt has issues with blondes, a la Alfred Hitchcock?

The longer I sit in the peanut gallery, watching and thinking about shows past and present, the more I understand that as much as we love to reach for the “X has ruined the show!” narrative, fans seldom see the whole story. One person simply doesn’t have that kind of power, at least not these days.

What we see on the screen is the result of so many fingers in the pie: writers, the network, the advertisers, the production company, and so on.

Which makes you wonder: why do they think we want to see stories like this?

Why does Corday Productions still hire Dena Higley, a writer I’ve seen referenced in public several times as “Dena F*^&%ng Higley?” Why hire a writer who was universally loathed for her turn at One Life to Live?

It may just be a case of The Devil You Know. I saw a script from the 80s a few weeks back, and there was Dena’s name (her maiden name) right there on the script.

Perhaps there’s a side to all of this we’re just not seeing. Maybe she’s affordable. Maybe she speaks the big picture, splashy plot language that advertisers, Sony and NBC need to hear.

They may all be patting themselves on the back for a choice well made, a job well done. Everyone is happy – that is, except for the fans and the viewers, who watch as yet more characters are killed, either by violent means or metaphorically via character assassination. Who watch as yet another set of young women are raped, or physically attacked, with no real repercussions or remorse, with no resonance beyond the next sweeps period.

The Bell soaps have been moribund for years, with Y&R in a purgatory between its past and future, and B&B in a weird hamster wheel of triangles and quasi-incestuous relationships that never, ever seems to change (not for long, anyway) and is so predictable at this point as to render actual watching of the show unnecessary.

Of the remaining four shows, Y&R has taken the biggest risk in the last few months, hiring British soap vet Mal Young as executive producer. Will they take another risk with a writer? Will they reach back to their past, as is rumored? Will they bring on someone with new blood?

Or will the Head Writer Roulette just pick from the remains bin, as it so often does, and select another familiar face, praying that somehow, lightning with strike this time?

As they say, tune in tomorrow…….

Stop Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before…..

That’s the name of a Smiths song, and now also the name of this post.

(I was going to title this post You’ve Absolutely Got To Be F$%&*ng Kidding Me, but that seemed rather harsh, even if it is appropriate.)

And yes, I did say that very phrase when I saw this on the racks at Target today.


I can’t even pretend to pose the question “Is Ken Corday trolling us?” because it’s super clear that he IS, in fact, trolling us with this.

More on the actual article once I read it…….

Almost paradise, indeed

I can only tell you what I know: Grant Aleksander was on the DAYS set, and Vincent Irizarry (GL’s Lujack and Nick, now DAYS’ Deimos) posted the receipts on that visit on Twitter.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.52.15 AM

That warms the hearts of many Guiding Light fans, I’m sure. If we squint our eyes, we can pretend that Phillip, Beth and Lujack are enjoying a moment on the front porch of Company, right?

But then the question becomes – who, exactly, is Beth with? Phillip? Lujack? The plot thickens….

It appears that Grant may also be appearing on DAYS, though we haven’t heard official confirmation yet. Since DAYS films a hundred billion years in advance it’s unlikely to air until early 2017.