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Diary of a Mad Soap Fan: One viewer shares her thoughts on coping with life post-AMC!

Courtesy/ABC

Courtesy/ABC

Many longtime soap viewers of All My Children are probably going through a bit of withdrawal now that the series has been off the air for ten days on the ABC Television Network! So we asked, longtime and ardent AMC fan, Karen Aegerter, to keep a personal diary from the day of the network finale and the the first week that AMC was no longer on our TV screens.  What follows is this viewer’s story and connection to the citizens of Pine Valley, and how she honestly tried to handle the disappearance of her beloved show!

Diary of a Mad Soap Fan by Karen Aegerter

Like most people, I have endured a multitude of changes in four decades. My family moved at least 18 times during my 12 years of school. My brother, mother, and father have since passed away, I’ve married and divorced, raised a child alone, put him through college, and have had at least 3 major career changes, relocated from the West to the East Coast and back again and endured multiple surgeries and health issues. The one constant in my life has always been All My Children. From the very first time I stayed home from school sick and watched Erica Kane in black and white, with her dreams of Hollywood and Fame, I was hooked.  In high school my two closest friends also watched the ABC soaps, and since this was pre-VCR days, we used to take turns every week feigning illness to stay home and watch the soaps.  We’d update each other the next day, so between the 3 of us, we only missed 2 episodes a week.

Although there were long periods of time where I was too busy with life and drifted away from Pine Valley, I always knew that it was there whenever I needed to come back for a visit, which I inevitably did.  Once the VCR came along, I taped it over and over until it was so worn out that the picture was warped.  The best thing to ever come along since Pine Valley was the DVR, and once I had one, I wondered how I ever lived without it!  There was no longer any reason to miss my daily escape to Pine Valley.  Fast-forward to April 12, 2011.

I caught Susan Lucci at a book signing where I waited in line for over an hour to meet her.  She was warm and kind and she assured every fan that AMC was on solid ground because ABC executives assured her they were committed to the show’s success.  Just 2 days later came the breaking news of the AMC/OLTL cancellations! The next 5 months I spent wishing that September 23rd wouldn’t come so fast, but watching the calendar push forward at warp speed. Fast-forward to AMC fans’ “Black Friday” or as I like to call it, THE AMC APOCALYPSE.

Friday, September 23

DAY OF THE APOCALYPSE

Dear Diary: I can’t believe it’s the last day of AMC.  I am in complete denial.  As I head over to my cousin’s to watch the last episode with the only other person who understands what this day means, I feel disconnected and numb. She has Kleenex boxes strategically placed around the living room in anticipation of a flood of tears. We chat nervously for a few minutes until it starts.  We fall completely silent and are captivated by the opening clips.

Courtesy/ABC

We break out into chatter at each commercial break.  I become disgruntled because ABC has actually had the nerve to include their promos for that nasty new cooking show with the ridiculous name not worthy of repeating. How could they disrespect all the loyal and heartbroken AMC fans like that?  No shame, whatsoever!  I watch the clock tick away so quickly and I don’t want it to end. And then it does. Just like any other cliffhanger Friday…a shot rings out, screen fades to black. No fanfare. What just happened? No tears have been shed. I wept uncontrollably at each of the last 10 episodes, yet now I have none.  My cousin is equally dry-eyed.  Is it just denial, or were we left high and dry (pun intended)? I drive home and contemplate…how will I adjust next week?  There is no Monday episode to come back to after my busy weekend plans.  There is NO MONDAY EPISODE…I repeat the words in my head like a mantra. Whatever happens in the subsequent week days, there is no escaping to Pine Valley.  How will it change life as I know it after all these years, knowing my one constant is gone?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekday 1, Post-AMC Apocalypse

Courtesy/ABC

Dear Diary:  Well, I had a really fun weekend with friends and there were so many distractions, I was too busy to think about the reality of today. I had a dream last night about meeting a few of the cast members of AMC. I was in discussions with Jacob Young, hoping to do some writing for him. I was going to a dinner at an upscale restaurant in Beverly Hills with him, and other cast members, and it was somehow related to the local morning news show I watch every day. 5am I open my eyes; I have the thought that it is Monday, followed by the thought of when I will watch AMC.  Will I have time to watch it in real time, or should I DVR it for later? Oh. It’s gone. There is no AMC today… tomorrow…or ever? At that thought, I decide to close my eyes and go back to sleep and pretend it isn’t so.  For two more hours I manage to avoid reality by sleeping.

7am: I can no longer put it off, it’s time to get up and start my day.  Once again, I think about Pine Valley and where it will fit into my day.  Again, it is squashed and I quickly go on to focus on all the other tasks of the day and everything that doesn’t remind me of what’s missing. Throughout the morning my mind continues this recurring dance, looking at the clock and thinking of noon in Pine Valley, remembering it is gone.

That lovely little suburb of Philly where the police never catch the bad guys, the townsfolk go all vigilante and nobody ever stays in jail even when they are caught, convicted, or have confessed.  Where the beach is inexplicably close, despite the fact that the only shore is that of the Delaware River and the closest beach is actually a whole state over, at least a 3 hour drive for anyone else in Philly, with the possible exception of the neighbors in Llanview, but they tend to head to the mountains anyway.  My beloved “Team Slater,” the Chandler Mansion, those Kane women, Janet from another Planet, Dr. Death… those goofy Martin brothers…all of which comprised my daily 1 hour escape (40 min. if I DVR) conspicuously absent from this Monday.

Courtesy/ABC

I’m still in denial, as if it is just a holiday.  I’m not even angry, as I always was when I’d fight  LA traffic to get home only to find that some “breaking news” like storm watch, or a car chase have pre-empted my soap just as something really exciting was about to happen. Oh, the countless times I have screamed obscenities at my TV before frantically calculating in my head if the East Coast would have been affected by the breaking news or not.  Then I could catch SoapNet at 8pm and be forced to watch in real time.  I’d be inconvenienced, but I could live with it.

Can I live with this?  I suppose I don’t have much choice. I can’t spend every day shouting obscenities at my TV for not delivering my show.  The neighbors might tell the local authorities.  I’d be hauled off to the jail, and then who would feed my cats?  They don’t care how many obscenities I shout at the television, as long as they get fed.  The youngest was fond of snuggling on the couch and watching the soaps after he’d eaten.  How this will affect HIS life!!  He may eventually be driven to watching Snookie or some other equally horrendous!

I have today’s episode of OLTL sitting in my DVR, but somehow I can’t bring myself to watch it without having it follow an AMC episode.  I contemplate watching Friday’s finale of AMC again, and then OLTL, but I don’t think I’m ready for that just yet. While I certainly don’t compare the magnitude of losing a soap to the loss of a real life family member, I am certainly recognizing the parallels to the sense of loss in my life, and the phases of the grief process itself. Four decades with my faux family of Pine Valley…how long with the healing process take?  Is there a formula to calculate like when a relationship ends?  Is it one-quarter of the total duration?  I hope not.

Tuesday, September 27

Day 2: Post-AMC Apocalypse

Courtesy/ABC

Dear Diary: Again, I woke up earlier than planned, opened my eyes, shooed the kitten away from the blinds, rolled over and dozed back off.  This time, however, I didn’t think about AMC. The first time I realized my loss was not until I heard on TV a mention of their regular scheduled program, an hour after getting up.  The local TV station is showing the Michael Jackson murder trial, and I, of course am sucked into the drama from the D.A.’s opening statements.  I am surprised that so much time passed before my awareness of loss, on this, only the second day.  I attribute this to the ongoing sense of denial, where I continue to reside.  Eventually the numbness will wear off and reality will slap me in the face repeatedly until it hurts. How long before the onset of the anger phase?  I was unnecessarily irritated by everyone and everything around me today.  Nothing especially bad happened; I just felt my tolerance level for normal everyday life stress completely evaporate.  I attribute this to typical physical ailments, but will later re-think that assessment.

It is said when you experience a loss of great magnitude (IE: the death of a loved one) coping with the usual traditions that included them is too painful and it is important to make new traditions and revise the existing ones by changing the venue and some of the specific tasks that go along with them.

I suppose rather than avoiding OLTL, I should adapt my viewing habits. I usually would change into my pajamas, make dinner and curl up with a kitty in front of the TV.  I think tomorrow I will try something different.  The problem is, my life has already been completely uprooted in the last few months and everything’s already changed.  I lost my job 3 months ago, moved out of my apt in the city and into a family-owned house in the suburbs.  How can I change my habits when they are already unrecognizable?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 3: Post AMC-Apocalypse

Courtesy/ABC

Dear Diary: Working around the house today, feeling painfully aware of 12pm, but keeping busy with all the things I need to be doing instead of focusing on the big, gaping, crater-sized hole in my day. Having the TV on as a back drop is a staple of my multi-tasking when I’m at home.  I need multiple sources of stimuli to function at my highest level. Singularly, I lose interest, focus and ultimately, consciousness. As a complete contradiction to myself, I must have singular task focus to function in any external environment, like at work.  I’m unable to shut out any kind of noise from crows squawking outside my office window, or co-workers’ conversations.  I suppose there’s some sort of survival skill in this, but I couldn’t really say what.

I still keep contemplating watching the AMC, finale show, or any of the nine shows stored in my DVR. When I visualize it, I smile and like the idea in theory, but I can’t seem to do it. There’s no good excuse, I just keep coming to the conclusion I’m not ready. Like the death of a loved one, you want to go in and go through their closet, pack up the stuff you don’t want to keep, call Salvation Army, but it’s still too raw to deal with yet. Perhaps I should go schedule a root canal and do my taxes first.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 4: Post AMC Apocalypse

Dear Diary: Another busy day where I managed to keep myself distracted for a good portion of it.  I woke up in a good mood, dug into the day’s plans, made it at least 3 hours into my day before I realized that AMC is still gone. I strategically scheduled a late morning coffee meeting for 11:30 so the noon witching hour was filled with conversation at Starbuck’s and not even a taste of AMC withdrawals. Instead, I found myself completely hopped up on caffeine and sugar, bouncing off to my next appt with no time to stop and stare at the clock, television or DVR.

Courtesy/ABC

After a holiday dinner with family, I get home way past feeding time at the zoo (aka dinner time for the 3 cats) so first things first.  I’m running around the house doing things that I have been putting off, like half-finished craft projects and all the stuff from my daily to-do list that usually doesn’t make the cut—heck–I even clean the litter boxes 12 hour early. Do you think I am in avoidance mode?  I haven’t even sat down in front of my television, which is unheard of for me on any given night.  I did have it on tonight while I was painting, but much like avoiding eye contact with someone you do not want to confront, it’s been nothing more than a background noise in the next room. It’s past midnight and I’ve barely even contemplated watching today’s episode of OLTL.  It’s recorded, I want to watch it in theory, but…fingers have yet to even graze the button on my remote that with those 3 letters…D.V.R.

To watch OLTL would require coming to terms with what I can’t watch, as convoluted as that sounds.  Anyone whose daily routines have included both shows understands what it means to not be able to watch both.  To the rest of the world, I am beginning to sound like a stark, raving lunatic!

Tomorrow marks the completion of an entire week of living in denial, which I know is not a river in Egypt.  If the process continues to parallel that of the death of a loved one, I would expect my numbness to soon give way to some serious anger.  As the flood gates are opened, de-“Nile” will soon over flow with rage!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 5 Post-AMC Apocalypse

Courtesy/ABC

Dear Diary:  It’s officially Friday, and I should be shouting it from the roof tops.  So why am I completely zapped of energy and motivation instead?  Ok, I stayed up a little late last night, but I didn’t wake up super early.  I’m so tired, in fact, I’m downtrodden. Don’t think I’ve ever used that word before, but that is what my mind evokes right now. I did actually watch OLTL today, and paid attention to almost all of it. I thought again about watching an AMC episode from the archives, and as usual, I didn’t do it. Today, moreso than any day this week, I am extraordinarily aware of the deep chasm that sits smack dab in the middle of my life.  It’s like a vortex that sucks in all surrounding energy and life, and pulls it down to the bottom of the earth.

It’s just a TV show.  Really, what does it matter in the bigger picture?    I need perspective.  Things could be a whole lot worse, and for many people in the world, they already are. Ok, I don’t have the right to feel sorry for myself, fair enough. So what do I do with these feelings?  Maybe I channel them into something else.

Maybe instead of writing to you, dear diary, I will spend an hour every day writing imaginary story lines for the characters in Pine Valley.  I’ll pretend that their story goes on and I will make it up myself. Now, if I could just get the actors to come over and play out the scenes for me.  That shouldn’t be too hard, right?

I’ve hit the bargaining phase.  I’m making deals that have no basis in reality, in hopes that they’ll keep me occupied.  I need to get anew life.  It’s a time of tremendous change.  Everything in my life, and the lives of those around me, is changing. We’re all evolving and our lives are morphing into the next chapter.  But, we do still have only One Life to Live!

Courtesy/ABC

Looking forward, I’m anticipating Prospect Park’s re-launch of AMC online early next year.  I’m not sure what will be left of Pine Valley’s residents and how the storylines will work, but I will hold out hope for the best. I think JR will shoot everyone at the party except for Ryan and Cara, and then he’ll turn the gun on himself on his way out the door to CBS.  Ryan will turn to Cara for comfort with the loss of Greens in the Chandler Mansion massacre.  I am going to miss Pine Valley’s characters and story lines because they’ve given me a great amount of stress-relief in all forms of the seven deadly sins, adding up to one big, giant GUILTY PLEASURE!! Maybe the Michael Jackson murder trial will last until the re-launch of AMC and keep me happy.  Then again, there’s not anyone beautiful and/or shirtless in the court room, so that’s not likely.

As I wander aimlessly through the Autumn months in search of an adequate substitute addiction, one burning question lingers on…”WHY ON EARTH DIDN’T STUART GET TO GO TO HIS OWN WELCOME HOME PARTY???!

Now, that you have read Karen’s diary of her first week of life post-AMC on network television, let us know how you are coping with the loss until it gets back on its feet with Prospect Park in 2012?

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vik
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vik

I also went through these feelings, of sadness and loss, when my cbs soaps were canceled. ATWT and GL. so I SWITCHED TO AMC. and OLTL. wow, my sadness is not as deep for these two new shows of mine, [you see I call them mine?!] as I didnt watch them for 40 yrs. like my cbs soaps. But in just the two yrs I have watched, Ive become addicted. Is it just my persoanlity that does that? Am I just a soap addict? I think it is steeped in tradition. One, that I ,like many others started at my… Read more »

Annika
Guest
Annika

Can so identify, thank you for writing this. I share your loss and sorrow. What I have been doing is till writing to ABC, telling them how I feel, what a big mistake this has been and how I just and
not willing to invest in anything else they put on their network. I have written to sponsors, and to the director of ABC daily. I feel we need to keep on the pressure, so they can understand they made a poor choice for their network and all of their viewing audience.

Mary Lou
Guest
Mary Lou

I can so relate to all of this. I am missing Pine Valley so much! I still watch OLTL, and have added Days & B&B. They provide some distraction, but there is nothing like AMC. There is just a big hole in my life. I am pinning my hopes on Prospect Park, and I hope they come through!

Nancy Wizner
Guest
Nancy Wizner

After watching AMC for almost 42 years, it’s like losing part of your family. This may sound crazy to many people, but to a true soap fan, it hits hard. There is a void in our lives now. I was 17 years old when I started watching this show. I watched it with my mother who has since passed. I grew up with it and to have it end for such a ridiculous reason is unacceptable. I have since turned off ABC and look forward for AMC to begin online.

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

I absolutely understand what you are saying. I, too, watched since the very beginning. As a teenager I would write comments in my diary about what was happening on AMC. I feel such a loss. The second week has been much more difficult to deal with for some reason. And I, too, was having a very hard time watching OLTL without the lead in of AMC. I just don’t understand why this happened.

Marianne Patyk
Guest
Marianne Patyk

I been watching AMC and OLTL since 1980. I am also going Thur withdrawn. I am not watching that cooking show. Want my AMC back…… heart broken………
.

judy
Guest
judy

I wondered the same thing about staurt not going to his own party

JoAnn
Guest
JoAnn

Well this is how I’m coping…. I have at least another month of un-viewed [AMC] shows left on my DVR, and I am spacing them out until the online version comes along. I did watch the final show so I’d know how it ended, but hopefully I can watch it again just before the next phase starts up. YES, I TRULY AM IN DENIAL!!! At least I’m not going through complete withdrawal from a show I’ve invested 41 years of my life to! Pathetic maybe, loyal definitely!!!

All My Children

Kelly Ripa Talks On Her New Memoir ‘Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories’

Talk show host and All My Children alum, Kelly Ripa (ex-Hayley) is opening up about her life and times in her highly-anticipated memoir available now, Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories.

Ripa chatted exclusively with PEOPLE who got some of intel and dish on what’s included in the book.

Kelly told PEOPLE, when she landed the gig as the new co-host of Live with Regis and Kelly, with the late Regis Philbin back in 2001, she felt like she was “getting shot out of a cannon.”  Ripa was also appearing on All My Children at the same time.

She tells the story of when her agent called with the offer, Ripa was told: “They want you to know who your boss is. It was very ominous, and it did not feel good.”  Her agent also said the show didn’t want her, “bringing an entourage.” She brought two people. “I came with hair and makeup,” Kelly says. “It was not an unusual thing for people on a television show to show up with.”

She added that Regis greeted her with executive producer, Michael Gelman, saying: “Uh-oh, Gelman, it’s got an entourage.” It?!  Kelly expressed that she “felt horrible.  He was probably trying to be funny, but at the same time it felt like a pile-on.”

As for Philbin’s attitude at the time, Kelly shared, “I understand that probably he didn’t want a co-host, but the network wanted me to be the co-host and I didn’t think I should pass up that opportunity. I don’t think it was fair to him. But it was also not fair to me.”

Photo: JPI

The actress-talk show host-producer also talked on her marriage to Mark Consuelos (ex-Mateo), whom she met while both were on All My Children, sharing that they were, “too young to get married! On paper it should not have worked and when it didn’t work, we really worked at it. We fought for our marriage when it would have been easier to quit and throw in the towel.”

According to the book publisher, HarperCollins:  “In ‘Live Wire’, her first book, Kelly shows what really makes her tick. Whether recounting how she and Mark (Consuelos) really met, the level of chauvinism she experienced on set, how Jersey Pride follows her wherever she goes, and many, many moments of utter mortification (whence she proves that you cannot, in fact, die of embarrassment) Kelly always tells it like it is. Ms. Ripa takes no prisoners.”

So, will you be ordering your copy of Kelly’s memoir? Let us know in the comment section below.

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All My Children

Eva LaRue’s Stalker Sentenced to 40 Months in Prison

In a harrowing situation spanning 12 years, a man who threatened former All My Children, Santa Barbara, and Y&R favorite, Eva LaRue (ex-Maria, ex- Margot, ex-Celeste) and her daughter, Kaya was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

James David Rogers, 58, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt for over a decade of threatening letters and phone calls about torture, rape and death to LaRue and her daughter.

Rogers had pleaded guilty in April to two counts of mailing threatening communications, one count of threats by interstate communications and two counts of stalking.  According to court documents, all of this began in March 2007 until Rogers eventually was arrested in November 2019.  At the beginning of his stalking spree, LaRue’s daughter, Kaya was only five-years-old.

According to Deadline, Eva gave a “tearful victim impact statement, telling the judge in L.A. federal court that she has undergone therapy since the harassment began in order to deal with feelings of fear and paranoia.”  She added, “We didn’t know if he would show up on our doorstep. We will think about him for a lifetime. The fear is with me forever.”

Photo: JPI

The judge has ordered Rogers to self surrender on October 12th to begin his sentence at a federal prison in Ohio.

Eva won a Daytime Emmy back in 2020 for her guest star turn on The Young and the Restless, and is best-known to primetime viewers for her role in CSI: Miami.

Share your thoughts on Eva and Kaya’s heartbreaking real-life experience via the comment section below.

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All My Children

Soap Vet, Broadway Star and Artistic Director, Robert Lupone Passes Away at 76

Bob Lupone, the brother of Broadway Icon, Patti Lupone, and who is best-known to soap opera fans as con artist Zach Grayson on All My Children (1984-1985) has died at the age of 76.

The actor, and artistic director of Off-Broadway’s acclaimed MCC Theatre for over 40 years, passed away Saturday, due to complications from his three year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Photo: MCC Theatre

Ironically, Bob was best known on Broadway as Zach in A Chorus Line which landed him a Tony Award nomination in 1976, and he also received a Daytime Emmy nomination for his other role of Zach on All My Children in 1985.  The murder of Zach Grayson was quite the murder mystery and trial; bringing in many suspects to the story.

In addition to All My Children, throughout his soap career, Lupone held roles on: Search for Tomorrow as Tom Bergman, Ryan’s Hope as Chester Wallace, Another World as Neal Cory, Loving as Leonard Brill/Charley Nichols, and Guiding Light as Leo Flynn.  He also appeared in primetime TV roles including: The Sopranos, Sex and the City, and several roles in the Law and Order franchise.

Lupone made his feature film debut in the 1973 musical adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar playing the Apostle James, and two years later got the Broadway role of his lifetime playing Zach in A Chorus Line after convincing creator and director Michael Bennett to let him play the part after the original actor departed the show.

A decade later, LuPone would co-found the Off-Broadway theatre company, MCC Theater, with Bernard Telsey and William Cantler.  MCC was founded as an artists collective designed to offer peer based classes and playwright development and has launched several successful shows that went on to great success.

LuPone is survived by his wife, Virginia; his son, Orlando; sister, Patti; and brother, William.

Below, take a look at the suspects in the Zach Grayson murder case on All My Children, followed by the 1976 performance by Robert and the cast of A Chorus Line on The Tony Awards, and last, a scene as AMC’s Zach around the 6 minute mark in the video.

Now, share your condolences to the Lupone family on Bob’s passing, and your remembrances in the comment section.

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