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As The World Turns

NPR: 'As the World' Stops Turning, Are Soaps Dead?' Segment

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

National Public Radio’s, All Things Considered this weekend had as it’s guest, former As the World Turns writer, Peter Brash, for a segment on:  if the end is near for soap operas, and what has caused it’s decline.  The audio interview was about 3 and half minutes, but on the NPR website, they also posted an accompanying story and excerpts from the interview including the following below!

“Hardly anyone these days admits to watching soap operas, but they once dominated the daytime TV schedules.  Forty years ago, there were 18 soaps airing on the major networks; today, there are only six. Next month there will be one fewer when As the World Turns signs off after more than five decades on the air.  Peter Brash, a staff writer for As the World Turns, tells NPR’s Audie Cornish that the soaps are really victims of their own success. “The serialized format has spread out just about everywhere you look,” he says. Four decades ago, most shows presented a self-contained story every week. But now, “it’s all branded to hook you in, to tune in tomorrow. “That means you can get your drama fix any time. You don’t have to sit at home all day and devote five hours a week to keeping up with all the illicit affairs, car wrecks, secret babies and evil twins with amnesia.  Brash says the soaps were all about women — but hardly any women are watching anymore.

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Reality television isn’t helping either, Brash says. “They’re soap operas in themselves They’re just — real. So the audience is savvy enough to know they’re watching one that’s real — ‘Oh, she’s really pulling her hair,’ and ‘Oh my god, she might hurt her” — and one that’s staged. So which one becomes more compelling?”

Brash has written some compelling story lines of his own in 30 years of writing for soaps. “Once, I was responsible for having two naked people fall from a meteor shower. They seemed to be from another planet, and they ran around naked one summer in Salem. I probably should have told the audience right away that the mad scientist in town had just put them up in a rocket ship and they really weren’t aliens. It’s always better if the audience is in on the joke in that way.”

Traditional soaps — naked mystery aliens and all — may be on the wane, but Brash says their influence is felt all over the television dial.  “Soap operas are kind of lending their DNA to the rest of the entertainment media world, and that includes dramatic and reality [shows].  So I don’t think it’s a dead medium; it’s just morphing into different things.”

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Emma
Emma

Sadly, I think daytime soaps are dead or at least will be completely in the next 3-5 years, because they have refused to evolve and change. The dialog is weak, the storylines are often confusing, repetitive, and sadly bad. But, most critically, daytime soaps have committed the ultimate sin. They’ve becoming boring.

Their storytelling has not really evolved since the 80’s. And with the current crop of continually recycled headwriters (I mean typically when a person gets fired from the top post at a job, they are lucky if they get another shot at a similar job, they don’t tend to get job after job after job), soaps will never evolve. There will never be another Gloria Monty/Douglas Marland, who can see daytime soaps for more than what they are now, to see what they can be. And as a result, they will die. It’s very sad.

Karen (limeybird2)
Karen (limeybird2)

The main problem with the decline of soap operas is that the writers can’t or won’t come up with new stories. They keep recycling the same old stories that were on 30 years ago.
Times have changed & the stories should change too. If the soaps that are still on the air after ATWT goes off on Sept. 17th want to stay on the air they need to take a good long look at what stories they are writing. People get tired of the ridiculous find out you have a twin 20 years later, or didn’t remember giving birth only to have your child show up, or sleep with every member of the same family.
They should also go all out on any story they write. If they’re going to write a gay or lesbian couple into the show, they should treat them the same way they treat a heterosexual couple, if they’re not, then don’t write them in. The same way with a minority couple, either go the whole way with a story or don’t write it at all.
That’s the main problem we had with ATWT. They wrote first Luke/Noah & threw stupid stories to break them up & get them back together with little sex, then when they finally brought on someone worthy of Luke, they did the same thing. They threw stupid plot devices to keep them from having sex or even have a long term relationship because they can’t have a gay couple happy.

Michael Bird
Michael Bird

This is my newspaper column in our hometown this week … I thought I would share it with you guys. Elegy for the End of the “World” “Good morning, dear.” Those were the first words spoken by actress Helen Wagner, who portrayed matriarch Nancy Hughes until her death earlier this summer, on the afternoon of April 2, 1956 as CBS-TV premiered the first 30-minute daytime drama live from New York City – AS THE WORLD TURNS. A production of Cincinnati soap and cleaning products giant Procter and Gamble – the company that gave this genre its nickname – ATWT was a creation of Irna Phillips, who had written and created the most successful soap operas of the radio era, such as THE GUIDING LIGHT. The residents of fictional Oakdale, Illinois, were live on November 22, 1963, when Walter Cronkite broke into a scene between Nancy and Grandpa Hughes to announce that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. And until the late 1970s, ATWT was still performing each episode live. It ends its life next week, with the final episode taped at Brooklyn’s JC Studios. ATWT was the number-one soap opera on television its first two decades, and was the first soap featured on TV GUIDE’s cover in 1971; original daytime vixen, Lisa, portrayed by Eileen Fulton, starred in her own prime-time spinoff series, OUR PRIVATE WORLD, in 1965; comedienne Carol Burnett even parodied the program on her variety show with “As the Stomach Turns”. The tragedies and triumphs of the Hughes and Stewart families carried the first quarter-century of ATWT, and if CBS wanted to be known as Tiffany network, then AS THE WORLD TURNS was among its crown jewels. The few crazy years of competition with rival ABC’s youth-oriented “run-and-gun” soaps are not the most notable in show history, although these years did produce memorable storylines that featured future megastars like Meg Ryan, Marisa Tomei, and Julianne Moore. For many viewers, however, the program’s golden age began in 1985 with the appointment of actor-turned-writer Douglas Marland to the post of Head Writer. Marland re-established the supremacy of the Hughes and Stewart families while adding the Snyder family as a representation of his own life growing up on a Midwestern farm. He refused to let plot devices drive storylines; rather, with actor and audience input, allowed stories to develop from character. Saying goodbye to an extended Oakdale family that I’ve been watching for virtually my entire life is proving difficult in these last days. I have been there for all the kidnappings, evil twins, back-from-the-dead spouses, and baby switches all these years. I also learned a lot about Alzheimer’s disease, rape, HIV/AIDS, discrimination, and alcoholism along the way. ATWT was an escape, but it was also an education. I have also witnessed some powerhouse acting – Larry Bryggman as John Dixon, Elizabeth Hubbard as Lucinda Walsh, Don Hastings as Bob Hughes, Colleen Zenk as Barbara Ryan, Maura West as Carly Tenney, Kathryn Hays as Kim Hughes, Michael… Read more »

Louise Stephens
Louise Stephens

OK, I’m being biased here. My favorite soaps are One Life to Live and General Hospital. Following the thrilling GH episode of “the Balkin” situation, GH seems to have temporarily gone downhill, but OLTL is still kicking high, in my opinion !! On All My Children, I admire Susan Lucci for her longtime commitment , but I eventually grew tired of her main character not holding on to at least ONE husband, plus many of the storylines just centered around her. I’m glad ABC at least decided to not cancel OLTL until January 2012. Better yet, I hope they will be pressured to change their mind. The replacement shows don’t seem exciting at all!

All My Children

ABC and PEOPLE’s ‘The Story of Soaps’: What Was Your Review Of It?

Tuesday’s night airing of ABC and PEOPLE’s two-hour special The Story of Soaps featured many notable daytime and primetime soap stars, past and present, clips from backstage to classic memorable moments, and some participants who were providing commentary on the erosion of the daytime soaps in our culture.  Still others, maintained and realized that everything today is serialized from the news we watch, to some of Netflix’s most binge-watchable series, and of course, the birth of reality-programming.

Throughout the airing of the special, The Story of Soaps was trending on Twitter and social media either at the #2, #3 or #4 spots for the entire duration of the broadcast presentation, and the cancelled and beloved All My Children was also at one point trending.

However, known soap writers, journalists, ardent fans, and actors of the genre, were all on Twitter last night live-tweeting their thoughts as the special went down, and there was definitely mixed reactions and reviews, when all was said and done.

What the special did not shy away from, but tackled, was Luke’s rape of Laura at the campus disco on General Hospital. and how that moment now, as Genie Francis (Laura), so eloquently put, would be considered as ‘date rape’ in our culture.  The series even included a pivotal moment where Laura addresses Luke (Tony Geary) about the rape years later, after helping Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst) through her rape ordeal.

John Stamos (Ex-Blackie Parrish, GH) got a bevy of “Right On’s!” for his comment that the soaps do not get the credit that they deserve and clearly came through as one of the soaps greatest supporters, as did former The Doctors and Knots Landing star, Alec Baldwin.

However, throughout the two-hours, Andy Cohen’s commentary was thread throughout; mostly citing soap’s demise and the creation of reality-programming and his “Real Housewives” franchise, that the special touted as the new soap operas.  It continued on the narrative that people preferred to see real-life drama then made-up drama on a fictional soap.  And while, that has been a trend in American culture for decades, the commentary came off as often out of place in a celebration of the soaps; and bringing in a lot of negativity to the special that soap fans were tired of hearing.

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In a lighting rod moment, Cohen stated: “I know Susan Lucci doesn’t agree with me, but I think that the Housewives have replaced soap operas because truth is stranger than fiction. Soaps became kind of unnecessary because you could do it with real people, and they’re writing the drama themselves.”

The special did also address the cancellations of All My Children and One Life to Live, (which many were not sure they were going to do – given this special was airing on ABC), where One Life’s leading lady and six-time Daytime Emmy winner, Erika Slezak (Ex-Viki) said what we all wanted to sa ywhen the ax fell on the towns of Llanview and Pine Valley, “People were horrified”.

Clearly, OJ Simpson and his murder trial and reality-programming were also given a chunk of time to show where the once mighty landscape of daytime soaps which once had 13 shows on the air, dwindled town to 4.  But, it would have been nice to see more time spent on how in this day and age, the people in this current landscape of the genre work so hard to get episodes done at an unbelievable pace, and how in that climate the performers still deliver gut-wrenching performances.

Photo: ABC

Former Loving, OLTL and Breaking Bad star, Bryan Cranston, did point out how the once powerful soaps, just don’t have the dollars they used to, and need to, to help with production costs and their taping schedule.

Viewers were reminded of soaps’ socially relevant storylines including hankie-inducing moments from: Robin (Kimberly McCullough) and Stone’s (Michael Sutton) HIV/AIDS storyline on General Hospital, to Billy Douglas being a gay teen coming out on One Life to Live, played by a young Ryan Phillippe.

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There also did not seem time spent on the contributions of William J. Bell; one of the most prominent writers of the soap genre of all-time.

For many commenting on social media last night, there seemed to be a feeling of some glaring omissions of participants who could speak on this genre, who have been in the trenches as soap producers, soap writers, pundits, actors, and more, who were not included in the special.

So, what was your review of The Story of Soaps? How would you grade it? Do you feel it accurately reflected the history of the genre?  Were you happily surprised,  or when it came to the end where you over it, or somewhere in between? Sound off in the comment section below.  Below are some tweets from notables who have worked as an actor, a writer, and a journalist in the soaps.  

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As The World Turns

Don Hastings and Kathryn Hays Together Again For Upcoming ATWT Virtual Chat

Got to love Oakdale’s enduring favorites Bob and Kim Hughes! And now, although As the World Turns has been off our screens for back on September 17th, 2010, the love for the soap is still as strong today to its ardent fans.

So with that said, on You Tube’s The Locher Room, former soap publicist and host Alan Locher is bringing together Don Hastings (Bob) and Kathryn Hays (Kim) for a very special virtual chat on Friday May 15th beginning at 2. p. m. EST/11 a, m.  PST.

Make sure to log on here to view the conversation.

Make sure to let us know in the comment section below your favorite Bob and Kim moments over the years!

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As The World Turns

Mark Collier Added To ATWT Reunion Line-Up For Friday

Everyone needs a little Mike Kasnoff in their lives, right?  Well, news today from The Locher Room has that for the scheduled As the World Turns virtual chat tomorrow, Mark Collier will be joining the funfest.

Now look for the updated line-up to include former As the World Turns cast members: Jennifer Ferrin (Jennifer Munson Donovan), Jennifer Landon (Gwen Munson), Colleen Zenk (Barbara Ryan) and Collier.

They will join former ATWT and GL show publicist, Alan Locher as he hosts the reunion on his You Tube Channel beginning on Friday May 8th starting at 2 p.m EST/11 a.m.PST.  You can watch the livestream here.

Collier played the role of Oakdale’s Mark Kasnoff from 2002-2007, and then returned for a time in 2009.   The role has originally been played by Shawn Christian from 1994-1997

Will you be watching this ATWT reunion? Remember Mark as Oakdale’s Mike? Comment beloe.

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