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News for the week of 28-Oct-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

As a soap opera fan, Popdose’s Jeff Giles sought out OLTL people, past and present, to prove a creative point — that soaps have been the vanguard way before today’s Breaking Bad ever hit the airwaves. But he discovered an entirely different lead in his labor of love—“Llanview In The Afternoon: An Oral History Of One Life To Live.” That of an arduous experiment in time consumption, the manufacture of an impossible dream-turned-machine. “The story was just that the idea of putting out five hours of television a week into perpetuity was just a crazy idea that should never have worked, and if anybody had thought about it for more than a couple of minutes, they wouldn’t have done it,” Giles told EW.com’s Shirley Li [October 17, 2013]. “Eventually all of these shows turned into machines that just were running, and anybody that got on or got off had to match that speed. It was not nearly as smooth as it seemed on the screen. The odds were always stacked against these shows from the very beginning. It’s just a tremendous amount of work for everybody, and I can understand why some of the actors who have gone on to bigger and better things are still a little ticked off about how soaps are disregarded. Nathan Fillion [ex-Joey] went out of his way to tell me that anytime anybody talks badly about soaps around him, he gets really upset because they don’t get it.” Giles initially found his OLTL sources on Google, then smartened up and “got an IMDbPro account [so I could find everybody's contact numbers], and that made it easier.” He used LinkedIn to get in touch with Erika Slezak (ex-Viki), and when he found himself at her home eating quiche as she talked about her days on the soap, it became a surreal, but fulfilling bit of serendipity. He didn’t set out to write a book, or one that would degenerate into a tabloid gossipfest. But he was aware that those who walked away from OLTL and who were retired tended to be more outspoken about their time on OLTL, which made for a must-read, different sort of enlightened book. In the end, Giles was able to write and publish an oral history of a working soap opera, with all its ups, downs, and in betweens, without going for the common denominator of spoilers and puff pieces of all the other soap rags. The result has been a rewarding give and take much appreciated by the grateful, surprised movers and shakers of OLTL: “A couple have called and said nice things. Bob Woods, who played Bo Buchanan, called and said, ‘I just want to tell you, I’m really proud of you and you did us all a really big favor.’ It was a great message to get.”

Next year, Prospect Park’s OLTL and AMC — however short-lived — can try legitimately to win a Daytime Emmy in the daytime drama category. Announced by NATAS last week, rules were changed to accommodate daytime drama programs producing at minimum 35 original episodes in the 2013 calendar year.

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