Keep on Shining!

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As most of my friends know for years I have loved my “soap operas”, the real ones, not my life!

They are a training ground for many great talents, and flat out an extended family when I was traveling so much early in my career. I started traveling when I was 18 or 19 years old.

Heard some of my favorites translated into many languages. They helped me keep calm, and focused, and were really little operas somewhat like those I was singing.

Full of heartbreak and tragedy and birth and war, family feuds and all the million and one things that make up people’s every day patterns.

I was always an ABC soap fan, strictly General Hospital’s “Luke and Laura” in the amazing Tony Geary and the incandescent Genie Francis, and Erika Slezak of One Life to Live, the six time Emmy winner who actually deserved each and every one of them and more.

I have been afforded the great privilege of coming to know this grand lady and her family, steeped in legendary opera and movie history (her grandfather was the great tenor, Leo Slezak and her father the gifted actor, Walter Slezak) and she introduced me first hand to the incredible pace of the soap world.

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It is not for the timid or shy, with pages and pages to memorize, little rehearsal and no tolerance for delay.

I loved watching them do this. It is a magical world with cameras and lights and then they all join forces together and become the “other” world.

Meeting Tony and Genie was a cathartic moment. I was one of the 30 million viewers, the most watched program in the history of daytime programming over two days… who watched “them” marry in November. Less than one month later, at 22 years old, I left Los Angeles and my home for New York and the first days at the Metropolitan Opera. Thank God for GH and OLTL, I felt less frantic…. at least on TV my extended family came with me……

Getting to know later the beautiful, fabulous, amazing actress, Kassie Depaiva and her ultra handsome husband, James Depaiva, “Blair and Max” on One Life to Live, Robin Strasser, Phil Carey and the chiseled God with the face of an angel, David Fumero. Roger Howarth was absolutely breath taking and charismatic in person and everything odd and wonderful, as he should be, playing the anti-hero Todd. I was able to applaud the fabulously talented people behind the camera as well.

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the luminous Kassie DePaiva and Roger Howarth.
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Just recently I had the amazing thrill of meeting several of the legends on the powerhouse “Guiding Light” of CBS fame and 72 years on radio and television in one way or another.
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They have faced a horrible disappointment; blind sided, after having been encouraged to believe they would be renewed for one more year with amazing stories so well written it reminds of you of why you loved the soap opera medium in the first place to begin with. Procter and Gamble and CBS decided to pull the plug. There is a possibility now that someone smart will ship this great company of show people and craftsman to another channel…… everyone is hoping there is a future for this Iconic soap.

Here are some of their “eye candy”, as well as great actors, Ron Raines, Tom Pelphrey, Justin Deas, Robert Newman, delectable, he makes me shiver, and the oh so sexy Bradley Cole, shiver twice over. Look at those eyes.

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GUIDING LIGHT

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After all they survived the transitions from Radio to TV and lasted in that difficult medium for 50 years or more winning over one hundred Emmy’s. Something is wrong with this picture.

A nation at war, with so little continuity for anyone, things moving so fast, everything for the young, mindless game show after game show, or a new reality dud, what’s left for the older fans and what of their immense loyalty?

The rush to remake soaps is ongoing and having no effect really, more the pity, as some were showing signs of great life. An endless array of young actors with great looks and not much else are put up and discarded in characters badly founded and no one aware of how to make you care because they come and go so fast…..

and then there’s the mercurial, ultra talented Tom Pelphrey, Emmy award winner as well. He is a rare fellow himself, and should make the jump to prime time very soon. You cannot miss him.
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The creation of “Nightshift” for Soapnet, a cable exclusive for soap operas and off shoot of GH but using more of the old time stars and veterans, was genius and this year, written by GH fan and history buff Sri Rao, focused on most of the great families and stories from the 80’s and got a huge response and success from the viewers who returned in large numbers for their favorites.

The CBS channel had the first gay love story for two men. Highly controversial on ATWT……. ABC with All My Children’s “Bianca”, a groundbreaking story of Erica Kane’s daughter coming out allowed to fizzle in and out with no pay off for the long time viewers. Just recently she and her “lover” married (!) on screen, another first, only to have it pulled back by the betrayal of the lover having kissed a man!… organ plays.

On the “Guiding Light”, in New York carried at 10 am in the morning on CBS, they are currently unfolding a story of such incredible length, one year in the reveal and lead up, with little or no fanfare, about the attraction between two women.

No “Erica Kane’s daughter is gay!” headlines and publicity, no fanfare…. NO labels.

Two straight women exploring their growing attraction for and love of each other. Just a beautifully crafted story penned by former soap star and now GL writer and executive producer, Ellen Wheeler and one of the head writers, Jill Lori Hurst, told with such a naturalness and integrity to confirm it should be no big difference from any other story.

It has created the all important “buzz” in the media, with TV GUIDE voting Miss Chappell sexiest person of the year, and Entertainment Weekly and a host of other main stream media voting for the “couple” affectionately named for it’s two characters Olivia and Natalia, “Otalia” as “Must See!” TV.

Gay or straight, you would have to be made of stone not to understand their feelings.

Courageous, to say the least of the two actresses, the gorgeous, powerhouse actress and Emmy award winner, Crystal Chappell and the talented and young Audrey Hepburn-like Latin beauty, Jessica Leccia give an important voice to a large segment of society rarely heard from.

Think of the movie stars who have done such work, all oscar winners. Charlize Theron, Cher, Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman to name only a few. Of course Heath Ledger and Sean Penn just recently…… all searing and accurate, heartbreaking and triumphant in “Brokeback Mountain” and “Milk”……

I had the chance to meet just recently Crystal Chappell and you couldn’t find a more accomplished, gracious and lovely person who remains off the charts brilliant on screen. An earthy, sultry actress with hypnotic eyes, who can go from zero to heartbreak and back in seconds, she is a real find. A Streep-like luminous quality, a something-is-always-going-on-therefore-don’t-look-away-from-me kind of actress. And like Streep, down to earth, with an amazingly gifted and extremely handsome husband, actor Micheal Sabatino and two beautiful children, her look and philosophy of life; aware and blessed.

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God bless her, and all those who have worked so tirelessly over these many decades to give people a place to escape, and characters to hate and cheer for, and lose ourselves for a simple hour of make believe as we “solve” their “problems” and find our own less burdensome. To all my friends in this most imaginative and creative medium, thanks for all your commitment and talent.

For the “Guiding Light”, wake up some cable giant and realize they come with an built in, loyal audience, who will be forever grateful to whomever actually rewards them for years of faithful viewership.

~ by aprilemillo on April 17, 2009.

 
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