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News for the week of 08-Apr-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

HLN will again air the Daytime Emmy Awards this year. The 40th annual awards ceremony takes place June 16 from an L.A. hot spot.

When Finola Hughes (Anna) got to direct a film for the first time, she entered a brand new world of grassroots film-making. The Bet was truly a labor of love for both the director and producer, Community Film Studio Santa Barbara (CFSSB). Calling itself the world’s first non-profit, all-volunteer, community movie studio, CFSSB, Hughes and her team had to make this film happen without any budget, working every contact to the bone, and leaning on the kindness of experts. In the meantime, they probably revolutionized the film-making process for everyone else. The April 4th premiere was held at Santa Barbara’s Bacara Resort in the form of a star-studded (co-hosts Michelle Stafford [Phyllis, Y&R] and Kenny Loggins) benefit screening. Pulling off a movie with newcomers without the blockbuster studio backing wasn’t easy, but the results were worth the effort. “It’s amazing what you can beg and borrow. We went out to the community and said, ‘Can you help us? Who knows a carpenter to help us build sets?’ And suddenly five carpenters came out of the woodwork! And it just went on and on like that. It was pretty magical, really. Even in the planning stages, people were so helpful. My friend Susan Flannery [Stephanie, The Bold and the Beautiful], who has done a lot of directing, is very knowledgeable about cameras, so she helped me out a lot. And Kimberly McCullough [Robin, General Hospital] is directing now, too. [Laughs] My daughter! She showed me how to set up shots and how to storyboard my ideas so I could explain exactly what I wanted to my first-time cinematographer.” With The Bet under her belt, Hughes wouldn’t mind directing a few episodes of GH. Hear that, Valentini? More importantly, she’d like other filmmakers to take on the same It takes a village methodology. “We'd like to take this model of a community film studio out to the rest of America, so everybody can make movies. That's the big dream. The plan is to help other cities establish this same kind of a studio plan, where you can take classes, refine your art and learn from professionals in your community. Nowadays everybody can make their own little shorts on their iPhone and put them up on YouTube. But there's still a craft to be learned. Add some real education to all that exuberance and creativity and it can be very exciting! We’ve come up with a beautiful thing with CFSSB, something organic and interesting and rough and really earthy. I love the idea of owning your own creativity and not having to answer to anyone or depend on anyone's permission. Just get out there and make it happen!” –TV Guide interview, April 2, 2013, Michael Logan

The GH 50th anniversary shows this month serve several purposes, according to executive producer Frank Valentini (OLTL). Namely, Valentini hopes the stories will showcase the veterans, the glorious past, reward the fans’ devotion, while celebrating the soap’s progress, its rise in ratings and its forward movement. Tony Geary (Luke) and Kelly Monaco (Sam) have been treated very, very well on GH as its two lead stars. They’ve appreciated that forward movement and past tributes, especially in the form of the returns of many fan faves. The fan faves are all just thrilled to be back in whatever capacity. Affirmed Valentini, “They're all so excited and really thankful to be included. They have such deep respect and appreciation for the show, because this is what launched all of their careers. And it's not just stunt casting; many of them are going to be back for a while, so it's not as if we're tossing them out there just to tease the audience. They're going to be involved in stories for the next several months and beyond.” Zap2it, Jay Bobbin, April 1, 2013 interview

There’s no fair and equitable way to summarize — for me at least — the April 1st, TV Guide interview Michael Logan does with three GH vets. Jane Elliot (Tracy), Tony Geary (Luke), and Kin Shriner (Scotty) reveal themselves, tell tales out of school, and glimpse the glamor, the scandal, and the sheer fun of working on a popular soap opera back in their heyday. Elliot reveals why she quit that first time, so abruptly and finally, and why she returned much, much later only when Gloria Monty stepped down. Shriner has a thing for fish tacos at this place they met up for the interview and literally had me choking with laughter when he kept spitting out food onto Elliot’s smock (worn just for the occasion; the guy has a habit of not only talking too much on the phone but spraying while he eats). Astonishing but true that he used to have a revolving door of a bevy of hot, young beauties into and out of his dressing room, Elliot — she was next door — said so. Geary wished Elliot would submit herself for a Daytime Emmy and is forever on her about it, but she won’t, awards aren’t her bag.

More importantly, the three vets nailed the past and present situation on ABC Daytime with regards to the soaps the network continually seems to mismanage. They all agree that when TPTB fully utilize the vets in new stories, the ratings will show — as evidenced by what Cartini’s doing now. But writers tend to come in wanting to bring their own, new characters (for the residuals) and put an egotistical stamp on their own stories with complete disregard for the show’s legacy and what always works. Here’s their brilliant sample:

>> Elliot: I'll tell you why! It's a writing issue. Writers dry up. They can't think of a place to go with the older characters. It's easier for them to do an old story with a new character than do a new story with an old character.
Geary: And let us not forget that writers get residuals for every new character they create as long as that character is on the air.
Elliot: It's my belief that The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful are the highest-rated shows because they use the same people decade after decade. That's what this audience wants to see — their old characters in new situations. And that's what our current executive producer and head writer, Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati, are delivering.
Geary: Usually, new producers and writers want to put their stamp on a show. They don't want to continue what's working. They want to reinvent the wheel. It's an ego thing. And once they've gotten rid of characters that were well known and deeply loved, they think they can create that same magic with new characters. Frank and Ron did the exact opposite and it saved our ass. Things were pretty rough there for a while, but they got better as soon as [ABC Daytime chief] Brian Frons left. He hated the soap medium. He hated it from the beginning. He wanted reality TV.
Shriner: It's weird how it all changed overnight. Everybody was firing everybody. Brian fired [head writer] Bob Guza. Then [exec producer] Jill Phelps got fired. Then ABC fired Brian. "You're fired!" "No, you're fired!" It was crazy. But, then, out of the ashes came Frank and Ron.
Geary: The timing was so right. <<

Playing the same characters on a soap for years can prove trying. Geary admitted as much. But what ends up happening, which Elliot knows, is the characters are so ingrained in them that they naturally take over even when the portrayers aren’t feeling the scenes. During the Nurses’ Ball red carpet, Elliot was amazed to find herself uncharacteristically preening in front of the mock cameras like a Kardashian; the character of Tracy simply took over. It was a moment she couldn’t recreate for her hair stylist, Deirdre Hall (Marlena, DOOL), to save her life. When Geary couldn’t bear the boredom any longer once, right before a scene, Elliot wisely chimed in that he needn’t worry because Luke would take over. Sure enough… “It doesn't matter if I'm bored or sick or tired. Luke is never bored. He is ready to kick ass at any moment.”

Emme Rylan (new Lulu; ex-Abby, Y&R) will inhabit the recast role of Luke and Laura’s daughter starting April 11.

Gossip for the week of 08-Apr-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

Vanessa Marcil returns as Brenda to do GH a favor and probably earn a hefty sum, only to suffer massive character assassination. Brenda is now portrayed as a pathological liar, a raging Narcissist, a Sonny-obsessed psychotic, and the ultimate bitch to both Jax and Carly, and hey, anyone else who doesn’t kiss ass. Worst of all, TPTB saw fit to have Brenda sex up Sonny and Carly’s precious, innocent son Michael. Marcil told the soap press recently that it seems TPTB want fan reaction, whether it’s favorable or angry, and that she’s ready for the fallout.

Jax is the dumbest man in the history of soaps, returning to his own vomit in the form of trying to wife up Brenda even though she’s still hung up on Sonny. All of this smacks of stunt casting gimmickry, designed to shoot GH’s 50th anniversary wad and nothing more.

More evidence of this is in the debacle on the Haunted Star. The actors are phoning it in. Genie Francis (Laura) looks dazed, tired, and confused, and not at all focused on acting with Nathan Parsons (Ethan). Tony Geary and Luke haven’t been present since the over-indulged actor returned from his millionth vacation. The scenes where they confront then escape then confront and shoot Helena and her goons were choppy, illogical, dumb, and ill-conceived.

The reason Sabrina gets the bulk of the spotlight on GH is because the fan feedback is astoundingly in her favor. Too bad her much-heralded makeover fell flat. Sabrina looked better without the make-over. The make-up aged her 20 years, adding wrinkles to the eyes. And Patrick looked like he’d rather kiss a frog than Sabrina. Way to phone it in, Jason Thompson. Must’ve picked up a few tips from Geary.

These were designer gowns on Lucy Coe for the Nurses’ Ball? They looked like cheap Woolworth’s knock-offs — for an ‘80s prom.

The current regime badly botched the crucial cameos of Alan, Emily, and Rick in a throwaway scene with Tracy and Monica. These spirits returned just to inexplicably force Monica to make nice with the treacherous Tracy, for what? Like Tracy quipped, of all the spirits in the afterlife, they bring these three back JUST for a truce hug that will last all of one night?! Ridiculous. How in the world did head writer Ron Carlivati right the wrong of the previous regime with the bastardization of murderer Rick Webber? I’ll tell you how, he didn’t.

Most of the scenes leading up to the Nurses’ Ball, related or not, were throwaways to be honest. Most of the veteran returns, despite executive producer Frank Valentini’s assertion in a recent Zap2it interview, are just appalling cameo gimmicks, given short shrift. Y&R handled its 40th anniversary episodes far better, by featuring the vets talking about their time on the #1 show with flashbacks before the show went on as written.

There’s nothing wrong with the actual Nurses’ Ball, however. It’s such a treat to see the cast out of character, revealing untold talents and just plain enjoying themselves. My two Nurses’ Ball highlights from last week had to be Sam and Anton’s dance (talk about pure chemistry!) and Jack Wagner (Frisco) singing his 1984 hit, “All I Need,” to his ex-wife Kristina (Felicia). Poor Mac.

Ryan Chamberlain Kevin Collins winds up caught in the crossfire at the ill-fated Nurses’ Ball 2013. Bye, bye, doc.

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