Sunday, November 07, 2010

The soup on soaps

My wife Carol did a fair share of musical theater so we know a few people who ended up in soap operas. In fact one of our favorite stupid-silly movies is Soapdish in which Sally Fields is perfectly willing to make a total physical and emotional and hilarious ass of herself for the entirety of the goofy film. Kevin Kline is great as a Ham With Aspirations (his dream is to do a one-man Hamlet if that tells you anything) and a very young Elizabeth Shue who is both gorgeous and winning. Whoppi Goldberg, Robert Downey, Jr. and Cathy Moriarty provide strong back-up. Not to mention Garry Marshall's clueless network boss. This is one of those gag-a-minute stories that generally keeps the laugh rolling from start to finish.

I thought of this today as I read the piece in the Times about the latest soap opera to fold and what the actors will do for a living afterward. I never got into soaps. I tried when a few of the people we knew were on but I could never get past all the intensity. I just wanted somebody to sit in a chair, open a beer and say "I don't care if your grandmother is having a sex change operation and if your first husband (whom I know you are still in love with) was gored fighting a bull in Pamploma. I'm watching a fricking old movie with Bogart." And so we sit on the guy watching tv and drinking beer for three or four minutes. You know, a little real life among all the stormy passions.

But I'm always sorry to see actors lose jobs. We're having it tough as writers these days but these men and women are really up against it what with Hwood cutting back on the number of movies and tv doing all these fucking reality shows.

It's an interesting (if melancholy piece) and worth reading:

Stay Tuned for Soap Stars’ Next Acts

Published: November 4, 2010

IF people at the Knitting Factory recognized Jake Silbermann’s cornflower-blue eyes last month, they were too cool to let on. The handsome Mr. Silbermann, looking considerably more pulled together in a sport coat and sweater combo than most of the 20-somethings attending the Royal Flush film festival at this Brooklyn club, took questions from the small audience following a screening of his short film “Stuffer.”

At 27 and just three years after quitting his telesales job to join the cast of the soap opera “As the World Turns,” Mr. Silbermann is known to millions (maybe not you, but millions nonetheless) as Noah Mayer. Paired with the equally photogenic Van Hansis, who played Luke Snyder, he was half of daytime television’s first same-sex super couple and the last in a long line of the show’s duos honored with one of those conjoined nicknames favored by adoring fans. Noah. Luke. Nuke.

Now Mr. Silbermann is out of a job, or at least the steady soap opera work that only a few of his former cast mates can currently lay claim to. On Sept. 17, after 54 years of backstabbing, bitchery and tune-in-tomorrows, “As the World Turns” followed its sister soap “Guiding Light” into an ever-expanding universe of defunct daytime melodrama. In 1990 an average daily soap viewership of 6.5 million could choose among 12 network serials. Today, according to a recent report in Advertising Age, average viewership hovers well below 1.5 million, with six soaps left on the air. When production at the “As the World Turns” studio in Brooklyn halted in June, New York was left with only one soap — “One Life to Live,” on ABC — and hundreds of actors plotting their next real-life story lines.


“New York, he said, “will have a lot more actors waiting tables.”

for the rest go here:


Todd Mason said...

One thing the softcore porn soaps on Cinemax make clear is how similar they are to the daytime serials...except that the soundtracks on the Cinemax series are a bit better (full of college pop-rock), and, of course, the nudity. The telenovelas fall somewhere between, only with even more over-the-top acting, too often.

I've watched episodes of Henry Slesar's EDGE OF NIGHT and of the original DARK SHADOWS with reasonable entertainment, back when they were current (perhaps its relevant that these two were the only network daytime soaps to get syndicated repeats), but even EASTENDERS among the current productions doesn't do too much for me. And I've never been caught up by any of these or the nighttime soaps. Always have meant to see all of SOAPDISH.

The original adaptation of THE FORSYTE SAGA, however, was fascinating, when I saw the series in 1979.

Todd Mason said...

And, of course, MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN...I dug that when I could, albeit the jokes wore thin. ALL THAT GLITTERS wasn't too far from being a soap, as well. And, also of course, SOAP.

I liked FERNWOOD 2-NIGHT better than AMERICA 2-NIGHT, though they were both uneven.

Janis Gore said...

My mother, carpenter's wife, mother of seven, up at five, would lay down her tools and start watching the CBS soaps with the Guiding Light.

She'd stop after As the World Turns, (or was it the noon news?) and go back to work.

She did watch the news, wherever it fell in the lineup.

Eileen Fulton is as much of my pre-school life as alphabet flashcards.

Matt Paust said...

I could never watch them either, Ed, and you hit the nail with "too much intensity."

The only two shows I remember hearing any buzz about were "Young and the Restless" and "Dark Shadows."

I wonder if this is a symptom of something - economy, shifting tastes, more husbands out of work sitting home watching MASH reruns? I haven't read the whole article, which maybe addresses this.