CAUTION: My girl, Carol, speaks her mind in a strong, brassy and vibrant fashion. If you are offended by straight talking, adult oriented language (sometimes, there's a "very" in there), please be aware that you may well find it here. Carol shoots from the hip and tells it like it is, pulling no punches and taking no prisoners. That's why I love her & why I hired her. If it's not your bag, let's part still friends and salute our differences in tastes (I'm sort of a strong strawberry flavor...) ~*~Katrina~*~
YOUTH ISN’T ALWAYS OVERRATED
As fed up as
I’ve been with ABC Daytime’s fixation on the youth demographic, not every
actor under-30 is only about posing beauty. Some are actually quite good,
the next generation’s batch of leading soap stars.
I’m always bitching about the youth demographic and Frons’ boner for the under-30, like nobody in that teeny-bopper age bracket’s worth a fucking shit.
Quite the contrary, given the right material, enough time for some, and simply the spotlight for others, not every youngster making it big in soaps is overrated based solely on looks, or there solely for the steady paycheck, resume boost and next exit opportunity in primetime/film.
Their numbers are small, about an average of two good actors an ABC soap, but these special finds definitely rate a mention.
I’m as guilty as the next columnist for not singling out the best in performance, scene and story a lot more consistently. Pure praise – as opposed to fawning, blind worship and Hollywood ass-kissing – also doesn’t merit enough attention of the online fans.
But to hell with all that. Here goes, the actors and actresses who prove the adage – Young People Suck Ass – wrong:
AMC contains the most outstanding younger actors and actresses. In fact, the casting director Judy Blye Wilson (a recent Artios winner) and her team’s been on the money a lot lately, with every newcomer quickly or eventually coming into their own, from Justin Bruening’s Jamie to Alexa Havins’ Babe, leading characters in their own right.
With the casting of Michael B. Jordan (Reggie, circa 2003), Tanisha Lynn (Danielle, March) and Levin Rambin (Lily, June), AMC rises above the other soap operas in success stories.
In what was supposed to be a forgettable bit part, one that depicted the typical angry black boy from the ghetto, Jordan took over as the orphaned Reggie seamlessly, giving flesh to a stereotype, still the anger but justifiable hurt and sorrow deeper down. He managed to win me over in an instant with his instincts to let people in, to love and trust again, despite his hard-earned training to keep them at bay, keep on the outskirts of the law – a conflict that humanizes the token and forces the viewers (with eyes to see) to care about his circumstances and invest in his future.
Pairing Reggie up with Jackson as his adoptive father, putting him in the presence of the Kane women and Jackson’s other recently-discovered daughter Greenlee... nothing short of genius. But I hazard a guess that Jordan’s Reggie would’ve sparkled and crackled with anybody on the canvas, as he’s proven weekly with Jamie, Mary, JR, Ryan, Derek, Danielle.
An admitted student of acting, Jordan takes a lot of his cues from vets like Walt Willey (Jackson), who’s also taken the precocious teenager under his wing, and the show’s acting coach, the inimitable Darnell Williams (ex-Jesse) – and it shows, believe me. When the script calls for angst, Jordan can do it without sounding maudlin or redundant, like he’s trying to channel Ice Cube. When he has to be gentle, tough, and soft, he can do that with the best of ‘em, look at how he treats his autistic sister, Lily.
His is a unique ability to draw out the spirit of each character he interacts with, including those who seem beyond redemption, like a recently wrapped Ryan-obsessed Kendall and a self-involved, license-plate spouting Greenlee. He makes Erica seem more motherly, patient, wise, enobled. He transforms Danielle from a conceited, wise-assed fashion plate into a future woman of substance who, when given half the chance, could easily be a chip off the ole Livia. He gave substance to his friendship with flirty, genial dumb jock Jamie during their more serious attempt to exact a confession out of a drug dealer in prison.
He always manages to slip in the basics of real life, humor, pathos, the absurd, the sobering, without going too far or holding back.
Best of all, Jordan doesn’t force a scene. The truth is either there or it’s not.
While Jordan isn’t completely new at this acting thing, he’s done TV and movies (The Cosby Show, The Wire, Hardball), he is new to soaps, or was. I doubt the Santa, Anna, CA-raised Jersey boy will stay new for long.
Tanisha Lynn came aboard as Danielle with baggage, an as-yet undetermined baggage the writers have yet to pull out of their harried brains. But that didn’t stop this Houston native from commanding the stage, even when Reggie and I wanted to throttle her bragging, insensitive self.
It’s a testament to the actress and the actress alone that when the story she’s in tanks or paints her character as unlikable (Danielle bragging on herself as a model, pushing herself on Reggie, getting Reggie in trouble without so much as an I’m sorry, barging in on Reggie and Lily like they were a couple without paying attention to the sibling and autistic vibes), she still survives fairly intact.
I could tell by her quick thinking, fast talking and out-debating almost everyone in the room, including her police detective father Derek and savvy attorney aunt Livia, that Danielle had the potential to be a good, solid, respectable person, a leader and an individual, original in her own right. I wasn’t wrong. It took only a few months before another story came along not even involving her, but Jamie and his pursuit of the truth following a set-up of Babe by JR’s drug dealer, before Lynn came into her own. She ably joined forces with Jamie and Reggie, defended them to her father Derek, and used her formerly deceitful wiles to help them win.
Now, she’s using all her skills to take down a trio of superficial cruel popular girls trying to take advantage of autistic Lily. It’s vintage Danielle, full of attitude, pomp and circumstance, but with the steel and bite of that future leader I’d been talking about. The opportunity to prove herself as more than a clothes-obsessed girly-girl came as she witnessed the popular girls, Autumn, China and Chantal working over their victim Lily, while simultaneously mocking her for her disability... did my heart good and her proud. I loved that she cared about someone other than herself to do the right thing, notifying Reggie and Jackson, taking on the bitches herself.
Lynn is one of those rare young female actresses who is able to easily fit in in any situation on-screen and become a familiar, comfortable, welcome part, as if she’s been in Pine Valley for forever (an ability another young actress, Eden Riegel/Bianca would do well to emulate).
I enjoy how she gives as good as she gets with Reggie and doesn’t allow him to overshadow or out-cut her. She has quite a few clever insults of her own. I see Reggie and Danielle as the next Jesse and Angie, but more contemporary, more as equals. With Tanisha Lynn in the role of the independent young girl, equals is about all she’d stand for.
Lynn arrived at AMC a few months ago with a few more projects on her resume, commercials, indies, an off-Broadway, Shakespearean production of As You Like It and several primetime guest star appearances. And, it shows.
I honestly don’t know too much about another teenager in Pine Valley, the SORAS’d, recast Lily, as played by soap and acting newcomer Levin Rambin. She joined the cast in June, with a sneak-peek at the May Daytime Emmys, and had me wondering how good she’d be in a tough, enviable role as an autistic daughter of Jackson Montgomery. Would she do justice? With someone so young, so unproven, would she, instead, insult autistic people everywhere?
I needn’t have worried. From the moment she first shyly met Reggie’s acquaintance, avoiding his gaze and searching automatically for signs of order and an avoidance of the dreaded color red, while letting me glimpse the different but same human needs inside her confused, scared eyes, I knew AMC picked another winner.
Rambin said she hasn’t had previous acting experience, and that playing an autistic young teenager has been an honor. She’d rather play someone like Lily than a staid, typical, good, boring teen, and she does it well.
Her transformation as an autistic, and recently, as one trying to fit in with the popular crowd, by dressing like a Britney Spears reject, has been honest, straightforward, no-nonsense and painful to watch. To Rambin’s credit, she doesn’t go the Dustin Hoffman Rainman route, but is quieter during the calm times, and slowly frantic, as a helpless child without her schedules and routines would be, during the stressful times.
As one who knows very little but is much afraid of the unknown of the autistic, Levin Rambin’s careful and respectful portrayal of Lily has informed me of her need for order, predictability and acceptance, yet is unable to react or act outside those parameters, which doesn’t mean the yearning for human contact ceases to exist, but exists in other ways.
Many viewers have criticized the lack of authenticity in this choice and this depiction. Perhaps Lily could’ve been fashioned from a basis of more education and research (and consistency of plot, how’s about her trip to Llanview’s Diner and the red neon signs she barely blinked at? or Maggie’s touch she never flinched at?), but this is soaps and this is the best I’ve seen on the subject.
On OLTL, there exists two outstanding younger actors who consistently turn in compelling performances but from different vantage points, ages, lifestyles and technique.
Kristen Alderson (Starr) grew up on the show, appearing there in March of 1998 as a mere baby. As the baby, she had a lot to learn, which she tried to with all her might from the likes of Erin Torpey (ex-Jessica), Kassie DePaiva (Blair), Roger Howarth (ex-Todd), Erika Slezak (Viki), Phil Carey (Asa), and other co-stars she shared scenes with. She’s always learning, and that’s the mark of a true professional.
It’s all too easy to go the cute, cuddly kid route, relying on youth and looks to carry one through the tough scenes, but Alderson actually looks like she’s fighting through her youth to come to some grown-up understanding of the soul of the stories she’s involved in, in order to deliver a top-notch performance. Whether she, as Starr, is desperately trying to figure out why her parents are so violently opposed to reconnecting, after her mother thought her father raped her, or dealing with the shame of two scheming outsiders for parents, one a known murderess, the other a former gang rapist, nothing rings false ever with her.
I would’ve liked Starr exploring her feelings as a young lady with her first love, Travis; I also liked the kid playing him, Connor Paolo, he reminded me of a young Jonathan Jackson (ex-Lucky, GH), at turns strong and vulnerable. And I thought Starr getting over Travis staying away permanently in New York was a bit far-fetched, but again, whether I wanna hug the girl or send her to her room, the actress never misses a beat.
Alderson has been acting since five, back when I was still figuring out how to dig my nose. An accomplished singer too, the Pennsylvania native did a stint on Annie, the movie and Broadway production. But that’s not all. Alderson is also a normal pre-teen, having participated in her school’s cheerleading, learning dance, swimming and hanging out with her girlfriends. Her younger brother Eddie (Matthew, OLTL) is also fast becoming one of those young stars to watch. (Although I could’ve done without watching him harbor a crush on Starr... Ew!)
Another bratty kid hiding depth, Rex Balsom, was nearly written out several times after barely given a chance in May of 2002. But through the restrained, expertise of John-Paul Lavoisier, a study in dichotomy and a Tony Geary approach to anti-heroes, I believe nebulous, ill-conceived and impossibly handsome Rex was fleshed out and saved.
Rex could have gone either way, good or bad. Lavoisier – who studied the craft at the School for Film and Television, Michael Howards Studio, and with Deborah Mathieu-Byers, a private coach – however, chose to have him ride the bad out of necessity and want, with very few virtues available to the viewing public.
That he’s chosen to depict Rex as a reluctant nice guy to sister Natalie and a big softie when it comes to Shannon’s rejection at River’s hands, always willing to earn a buck illegally, but never play the romantic lead, shows a more mature approach than most actors his age.
Where he gets the complexity with which to manhandle Rex into the villain category, in spite of his bungling, his charm and his innate family loyalty, is anyone’s guess. The Phoenixville, PA native who once thought about being a magician and can bang out an impressive drum beat (a skill honed in college), took on his first major soap role (he’d done a small part on AMC prior) as if it were his last... knowing that at any moment, his shot could be taken away.
With very little to go on in the script or from the writers, who were known to forever change their minds or the characters’ directions (think Flash), Lavoisier was more than lucky to keep his job. He was savvy and skilled enough to milk each and every scene, big, small or non-descript, by enhancing the duplicity and puzzle of his own character while always doing the same for the others working with him.
It’s rare to see an actor actively working to put down his character as a nasty piece of work with a hidden, often unacknowledged tendency for what almost passes for decency (for those he knows and loves), using every asset and flaw, understated, dry wit, understated, almost invisible, warped standards and the forefront of criminal intent... especially in one so young.
I always come away from the experience wanting to like Rex, but unable to stop hating him. Which, I suspect, is exactly what Lavoisier wants out of me.
His former gigs feature a variety of jobs, which might explain his flexibility, Zen in a storm and original way of thinking as an actor: a Sexy and the City model, a commercial for Time Warner Cable, student films, something on Saturday Night Live, an indie, One Day in May (circa 2002), a feature, Wolves of Wall Street, playing a Christian in an oddball recruitment kind of film, and a lot of free time at Streetlight Productions in Manhattan, doing theater projects.
GH has always had trouble finding and keeping its young actors, much less gathering a bunch of them to perpetrate the fantasy of a teen community of friends, lovers and rivals. I never bought it when they tried to throw Brenda, Robin, Karen, Jagger, Jason, A.J. and later, Stone together as some high school group for the ‘90s. Robin was way younger then either Brenda and Karen and didn’t seem likely to be friends for real, just by default, since the producers didn’t have any other youngster handy.
Besides, these characters seemed old for their age, like they belonged at a nightclub trying to get laid or appear as guests on Melrose Place, not talking about the prom.
And when GH has a chance to use already-existing teens and 20-somethings, the producers flake out. Why hasn’t Robyn Richards (Maxie), who practically grew up on the show, been used more since her fall-out with Mac over Kyle and the Internet mishap? For that matter, why’d Kyle have to go? They were a great start.
Instead, TPTB went with GQ and now, the influx of Brook Lynn, Lucas and Diego. Maxie must’ve gone to college and Kyle in prison for drug trafficking. The parents, and assorted other grown-up influence must also be lost in translation.
Despite these drawbacks, Scott Clifton (Dillon) came on the scene and immediately captured my attention not because of his age-appropriate significance to the teen beat, but because of the essence of his timeless character, one that even the legendary Tony Geary (Luke) noticed held some resemblance from way back when.
Dillon is the kind of person that would thrive wherever he went, amongst teens, middle-aged adults and the elderly, the mob, doctors, Kelly’s wait staff. Sole credit to this every-young man goes to soap newcomer Clifton, who literally came out of nowhere to stun me with his accessible emotions, the vulnerability, intelligence, sensitivity and fragile strength that had yet to be tested until after his mother Tracy abandoned him to the rest of the Quartermaines.
I still remember their good-bye scene. Keep in mind that Clifton had just joined GH in 2003, he barely got started, virtually ignored by the Qs, off in their own self-important bickering. To be thrown in with that combustible lot, with most of the actors having worked together for YEARS, is intimidating enough. But then, he had to convince me that he really was Tracy’s quirky son—after I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him since he was a little baby in the mid-‘90s.
He convinced me of that and more, as his eyes fought the tears, as his voice nearly cracked in begging Tracy not to leave him alone, that he could tag along with her in Europe like they’d always done, that he would be no trouble. At that point, as Tracy herself fought to keep her composure, in her warped mind, leaving for his well-being, Clifton commanded the role.
Afterwards, the boy could do no wrong. He made me laugh so hard (and I daresay his co-stars too) I almost pissed myself on numerous occasions, including the time he tried to buy condoms in a drugstore and the clerk had to call for a price check, and the other time he had to pretend to be bonkers for butterflies while imprisoned in a foreign jail.
When he got serious, he did so in a way that never screamed, Look at me! I’m being serious, dude! Give me an Emmy for my tears! Even when he was justifiably pissed at Georgie for playing one too many games with his emotions – using Lucas to hit on Dillon as Astrid in the fake girl band – he expressed his anger, hurt and frustration without demeaning, belittling or tormenting the injuring party.
No wonder he earned a Daytime Emmy nomination in the “Best Younger Actor” category right off the bat. That’s quite an accomplishment. Had Chad Brannon (ex-Zander) not also been in the running, that award would’ve been Clifton’s to lose.
What’s even more remarkable about the young man is that despite TPTB often having little idea how to capitalize on his multi-talents, reducing him into a laughing stock with the “Limp Dick” and “Cross-Dressing Astrid” stories, and restraining his obvious chemistry with Georgie, and everybody else he meets, with lame-assed plot devices, Clifton comes through by sheer verve of personality, earnestness and being open to possibilities.
Finally, TPTB have woken up and paired Clifton with Geary in an unbeatable combination, the younger and older doppelgangers off on a wacky adventure, dressed in basic burglar black to pawn off some items from the Q mansion, hiding in a closet while Edward and Heather get it on, Dillon choking back his bile of disgust, Luke turning with a quizzical, disgusted look of his own, rushing out when it’s safe, Luke joking about Heather having Edward right where she wants him, gesturing a woman grabbing a man by his balls and squeezing tight, Dillon practically dry-heaving in response...
It can only get better from here on out.
He proved himself early on when his mother gave him the play by Shakespeare called Hamlet and encouraged him to read it. Not only did he read it cover to cover at age 9, but he memorized the lines, eventually capturing the interest of an acting coach, who provided him tutoring in the classics every weekend, gratis, for a year.
After a few false starts with the jerk-offs in this world telling him he couldn’t do drama, treating him like a social leper in school (before he went on to a better arty one), as well as the constant rejection of the GH audition process (to my understanding, casting director Mark Teschner took a chance on Clifton), he’s finally arrived. Not too shabby for about three years of hitting the acting pavement, doing Undressed on MTV, the films Arizona Summer and Terminal Error.
The above young actors and actresses give me hope that the future generations are capable of better than the common masses and the mediocre status quo, and that sometimes, even in soaps, a willingness to better oneself, with more than a modicum of pre-existing talent, will always win over the shallow aesthetics of a symbolic youth demographic.
Well, at least I’d like to think so.
I WANNA BE IN ALICIA’S PANTIES
The latest in the reality-TV craze debuted on October 16, involving wannabe actors on a GH set in front of talent manager Michael Bruno, former AMC/PC actress Debbi Morgan (ex-Angie) and GH casting director Mark Teschner as judges and likeable AMC actor Cameron Mathison (Ryan, AMC) as host/mentor. I Wanna Be A Soap Star, hosted by SoapNet, put 12 under-40, attractive, mostly thin men and women through a cold reading immediately, then – in a fake-out – “killed off” six who couldn’t convey warmth, magnetism, a beautiful soap look and acting potential.
The winner of I Wanna Be A... will receive a three-month contract on GH (and probably the same chance as Vanessa Marcil, Amber Tamblyn and Eva Longoria, for example, to move upward to primetime).
The 12 were picked out of a crowd of thousands waiting in long lines in L.A. to just try out, a crowd made up of wackos and what they refer to in the biz as colorful characters, including an emaciated mime-looking loser overacting in a scene that required him to be torn up about losing his dog in surgery (who writes this stuff?).
I could’ve used extra footage of the losers, as well as more of a sample of the cold readings by the 12 finalists. As one of ‘em said – I forget his name, he was so dime a dozen common, and so rejected – they, the people who run this reality-TV series could’ve given them more time to get acquainted before bringing out the hook.
Of the cold readings, I liked Kimberly’s the best; she moved me to tears, as I felt her growing futility fraught with almost defensively threatening pain about humanity, having to re-live lives all too frequently for nothing, having to remember her original life without much of a home. She was the only one of the 12 to openly, honestly weep from the material, and not refer to her two-page dialogue much, if at all. Not bad for only two minutes of preparation with the material before showtime. And yet, the judges, during deliberation, proclaimed her an ill-fit in the end, Morgan saying she lacked warmth, Teschner and Bruno agreeing that she could act but didn’t have the same look as diva-in-training Maya. Now, if we could put Maya and Kimberly together... said Bruno, who helps the careers of Billy Warlock (ex-A.J., GH), Julie Pinson (Billie, DOOL; ex-Eve, PC), Tracy Lindsey Melchior (ex-Kelly, OLTL; ex-Kristen, B&B).
That part kinda burned my ass a little. First off, I disagree with Morgan and question her ability as a judge that she couldn’t even see a replica of sorts of her as Angie Hubbard after husband Jesse was killed in the line of duty, a bitter, driven, deeply broken women... right in front of her face. And, warmth was the last thing Kimberly should’ve shown given the dark, bereft material and her unique handle on it.
Secondly, since when is a soap look the only criteria to get by on? Heard of Tony Geary (Luke, GH), Ilene Kristen (Roxy, OLTL), Timothy D. Stickney (R.J., OLTL)? Even Susan Lucci (Erica, AMC), in her day (the strait-laced, milquetoast ‘70s), wouldn’t have fit these judges’ idea of genre-accepted beauty because the lady herself once said she might’ve been “too ethnic” for producers.
The judges didn’t seem to believe fans would warm to Kimberly’s look (the woman’s face was a bit pock-marked from acne and she filled out more than your average Hollywood anorexic), and that the look wasn’t soapy-beautiful enough, but I would’ve LOVED her on any show. I could see her lighting OLTL’s R.J.’s fire, pissing off GH’s Justus as a long-lost sibling, romancing AMC’s Tad and Jackson while acting as a reluctant surrogate mother to Danielle and Reggie. Me being me, judging by my past experiences as a 30-plus soap viewer, Kimberly would’ve been the one I’d gravitate toward, look for in every scene, light up when she strutted on, awaiting any unpredictable fire she doused.
They gave up Kimberly for Maya and that spiky-haired Dillon Quartermaine fake, Michael, who provided me with nothing but another reason to put down soap newcomers. The only other actors I really want to make it are “different” Kent and foxy Mykel. I laughed right along with judge Debbi Morgan when Kent replied – to the question of his favorite kind of soap character to play – Jeffrey Dahmer, he thought he could do hunger justice. And Mykel, the man is fine, prepared, ambitious and seems to be the kind of actor who doesn’t fuck around when the cameras roll. He might need to lay off the stud imagery long enough to actually emote characterization of his own but still, I’d hire him.
I have a feeling though, that the eventual winner will be that Kelly or Robyn person. Is it Kelly? Anyway, the two brunettes without much of a rack.
All in all, the new SoapNet series shows promise. It’s as fast-paced and full of surprises like a typical soap opera and despite the axing of Kimberly way too early for my liking, it’s now co-starring six earnest, passionate actors and actresses who really seem ready to face whatever comes.
It even made me ache for the actress I might’ve been had I not chickened out in high school, because I thought I was too ethnic and I didn’t belong with this group of drama queen show-offs (I was more like Y&R’s Michelle Stafford/Phyllis when she sat in the back, trying to hide in her first acting class attempt). As the participants struggled to act from their cold readings, I joined in, sure as hell that I could’ve done better or as well as Kimberly, used my entire body, not just face and voice, to tell the story of my life, of being a recycled spirit left in the pollution of human waste.
In previews for the next episode, to air next Saturday, I spotted two GH actors coming to the set and giving their acting advice to the competitors, none other than NEm’s Tyler Christopher (Nikolas), surprisingly chatty in that one snippet about forgetting your aunt and uncle or whatever and just act, and Natalia Livingston (Emily), not surprisingly, sitting there looking pretty but saying little of substance. What Livingston has to impart of any value when she herself, IMHO, would’ve been “killed off” right alongside the underacting girl-woman Alicia... is part of the entertainment. It’s like, as my husband Eddie commented, wryly, “The blind leading the deaf.” I simply smirked, rolled my eyes and thought, “Nopper alert.”
If Livingston can be a part of the festivities designed to find a soap star (as opposed to real actor), then I know what to expect for this reality-TV show: NOT FUCKING MUCH.
The other week I watched, appalled, as JR and Babe inexplicably chased each other toward Bess’s nursery, then proceeded to traumatize the baby with their domestic (verbal) violence. I kept sensing a creepy, it could turn physical at any moment vibe. When Jamie suddenly showed up to manhandle his big brother JR, and right in front of Babe holding Bess, I about lost my cool. It’s bad enough the adults are insulting each other in high decibels right over the crib when a baby is trying to sleep, but that?!
Everybody’s in love with the idea of Kendall and Ethan together, Kethan, is it?, but not me. They seem like Greenlee and Ryan, the whole Let’s throw these two together to give ‘em a love life, since the real loves of their lives are already taken. By this, I mean Ethan and Bianca, Kendall and Ryan, Greenlee and her designer vibrator.
I see Maggie is about to discover Jonathan’s dark side in the flames of a fireplace and the charred remains of Bianca’s DNA-stained shirt. I also hear that Maggie will keep mum to Bianca about Jonathan’s unforgivable act of cowardice. Amazing what a little dick can do to an alleged friendship.
Speaking of stained shirts, I can’t wrap my mind around the subject without dwelling way too long on Monica Lewinsky’s stained blue dress after her blowjob on then-President Bill Clinton. I don’t know, maybe I’m normal, but I would never keep a stained anything, much less the dress I wore when some guy sprayed his chunks on me or when my insides sprayed out during childbirth. I did, however, keep the gallstones doctors removed in December of 1989 and my son’s first snot samples as an infant. (Of course, if British movie star Damian Lewis came all over me, I’d keep the clothes I wore forever, as well as never showering for the rest of my life. Quite possibly a sample of his DNA to sniff in ecstasy now and again...)
My Maggie distaste softened somewhat after reading an interview with portrayer Elizabeth Hendrickson. In a recent Soap Opera Digest issue, she admitted to feeling pretty pissed off about her nebulous characterization and her non-existent storyline about six months ago. It wasn’t easy being Bianca’s friend and maybe something more, while also trying to play the other side of interest in guys, as other actresses around her age started nabbing the plum frontburner stories, she said. After awhile of this painful limbo, feeling frustrated and let down, Hendrickson would often rush off the set following a scene to have a good cry, where often, one of her co-stars would find her. She credits her boyfriend Agim Kaba (Aaron, ATWT), her close co-star buddies Rebecca Budig (Greenlee), Cameron Mathison (Ryan) and Eden Riegel (Bianca) for cheering her up and supporting her through the dark times. After giving herself a proverbial slap and realizing that it’s nobody fault, she’s lucky to be working at all in any steady capacity and her time will come, Hendrickson’s better.
While horrified at Maggie lying to Bianca about a matter as important as the loss of her only firstborn baby, to cover for a guy she barely knows, I couldn’t help but finally feel for her predicament. I believe she is starting to fall in love with the real Jonathan, a victim of parental abuse, and the feeling may very well be mutual, after the sacrifice he just saw her make.
Their early love scenes were hardly smooth sailing either. Feeling shy and awkward, Hendrickson started giggling nervously when it came time for the two to bed down. Jeff Branson (Jonathan) wondered if it was him, but she quickly reassured him that it was just her own weirdness. Hey, it’s been awhile since the girl got some on-screen, cut her a break.
Think characters and good acting don’t matter? Look at the ratings. GH has tanked. AMC has risen up from the ranks to tie. Last Friday’s scenes with Zach, Bianca, Maggie, Maria, Edmund, and Erica have been some of their best.
Continuity editor, you’re fired! What is it with this show starting a scene, ending on a supposed cliffhanger one day and then re-starting the ending in an entirely different light until I’m forced to fill in the blanks with outrageous rationalizations for why Antonio is now suddenly breaking and entering into Dorian’s mansion from the front door instead of the back (he had to stop to retrieve his burglar gear and thought better of the back entrance?), and why Dorian didn’t retrieve David at Craze then back to her safe to retrieve the key and head over to a bank in New York City with the key in hopes of finding more Santi millions, but is instead, the next morning, off at work in the hospital, with David lounging around at Carlotta’s Diner (maybe David convinced Dorian there wasn’t a rush after all)?
Then, in the Thursday, October 14th episode, there’s Antonio sneaking back inside the safety deposit vault, ala Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible—from the top down, on velvet ropes, dangling with his ONE KEY to open and remove the contents of Manuel Santi’s stash. Two seconds later, Dorian enters with the bank employee, and she must stick her key in one slot while the non-descript white male drudge sticks his key in the other, side by side, turning the locks together in order to open the safety deposit box. WTF? Antonio only had one key!
Bo and Nora are like an old, shit-encrusted pair of pajamas nobody, not even the crackheads in Angel Square, wants. They can blush, stammer and do more tricks with coffee cups, I ain’t buyin’. In this particular case, former executive producer Jill Farren Phelps completely succeeded in breaking these two up, never to reunite (to my complete satisfaction) again. I kept withering at the sight of sad, confused, smitten puppy dog in love Daniel in there talking to non-committal Bo, wanting to run my fingers through the DA’s hair, part his full sexy lips with my fingers and...
...Some fans insist they still see the ole spark from Bo, but I’ve only seen apathy. This week, he’ll prove my point by rejecting all hope for a reunion with Nora, leaving Nora the only one in this equation pining away, like the fickle, duplicitous slut she really is. (On that score, Lindsay is rarely wrong.)
Weird. Spoilers two weeks ago indicated Bo would announce his intentions toward Nora with Daniel. Instead, Bo gave Daniel the greenlight to go for it with Nora. So obviously, what’s being fed to the fans is different than the actors’ interpretation. Then, Bo made lovey-dovey voices with the new girl in town, Dr. Paige. It’ll be nice to see Kimberlin Brown in a nice role for a change. She plays psycho well, but I get a feeling she can play good without goody-goody.
When will mad Antonio remember El Lion and give up El Tiburon? I’ve had it with his failed anger management issues and dark, dangerous posturing. Every other scene has him in this laughable pose, head down, eyes glowering, rectum clenching. Yes, I can see his rectum clenching, I have superpowers. Between funny ‘Tonio and fey Tico, with their exaggerated Spanish accents and floating Isabella urging one son to exact revenge upon another, you’d think I stumbled upon a very bad opera rip-off in Tijuana.
As I mentioned last week, or was it the week before? Anyway, I mentioned that one of the only existing stories that I enjoy on a consistent basis, perhaps because TPTB aren’t playing hide and seek with its progress (Love Center bones? Hello?), is the slow-burning love triangle involving John, Evangeline and Natalie. In a refreshing twist, both women refuse to play the catfighting game (yet) over the object of their affections and are actively trying to be noble about this tricky situation. It’s never more clear than when Natalie walks in on John and Evangeline in their going-steady moment. With Nat, there’s pure sexual tension; with Evangeline, the sexual magnetism is there, but there’s also an evolved level of commitment, best friendship.
Melissa Archer (Natalie) said something interesting about co-star Michael Easton (John) in a recent interview, that he—intentionally or not—always manages to make her feel sexy for a sexy-feeling scene by complimenting her right before shooting [er, no pun intended]. Putting her, Evangeline and the rest of the female population in the mood is right up John’s alley. He’s only rivaled by my precious Daniel, R.J. and David.
I also refuse to join in the Jolie vs. JoVan fan-based wars. As a survivor of GH’s S&Believers vs. J&B Angels, I know better. GH still suffers to this day because of the fallout, as TPTB over there continue to hunt down remakes, at the expense of the ensemble cast in ensemble productions. So, while I think OLTL has a winner in John, Evangeline and Natalie, I don’t want their triangle to set any standards until it’s nothing but the Jolie vs. JoVan show.
Put Tico and Paul in a seedy hotel room and let ‘em go at it, then trigger the bomb to explode. I’m done with these two. Paul’s really twisting my bile meter lately with his twisted blackmail games, namely using Jennifer as his personal slave and sex toy. Just the thought of this dirtbag putting his sweaty hands all over her is enough to make me put him out of his misery.
Somebody needs to tell Rex and Paul that R.J. would never kill them or have them killed. Eventually, the $100,000 IOU would be forgotten. Otherwise, duh, R.J. would be out of a show.
Interesting. People bring up race when John, a white man, is involved in a relationship with Evangeline, a black woman, with charges of anti-inter-racial relationships or flat-out racism, when other people balk, but not a word is spoken on behalf of R.J., a black man who has YET to see himself involved in any relationship that doesn’t safely constitute a few menacing or witty words, or worse yet, falling back on the bad guy. Sign here to help change that dismal status.
Nora provided the perfect description of Lindsay and why she ultimately fails as a complex vixen in the October 12th episode. Fed up with Lindsay once again getting in her face about her love life, Nora exploded, sarcastically, “What is it about you? Why do you have this incessant need to find me, to seek me out and have the exact same conversation with me over and over and over again?” It’s too bad daytime frowns on true-to-life lesbianism (meaning, anything past showing off for GLAAD), because Nora’s Hillary B. Smith once mentioned that she and Lindsay’s Catherine Hickland are so close off-screen that Hickland’s husband Michael E. Knight (Tad, AMC) often jokes that they’re having an affair behind his back.
I saw John blush for the first time in Llanview, when reassuring Evangeline that she is indeed explosively spontaneous, not just during their first date to a football game but when they first, “The first time... the first time...” Yes? Cut to the last few scenes and yeow! the posters on a SoapZone OLTL message board weren’t kidding when they said the upcoming love scene with JoVan would be graphic. There’s John slowly caressing all of Evangeline’s body, breasts to hips, Evangeline in nothing but a skimpy black tank and black panties, legs wrapped around each other, as if drowning. In their afterglow, Evangeline asked, knowing the answer, “Is it me or did things get way better when we attached some strings?” John: “It’s not just you.” That’s as close to a declaration of love as she’s gonna get from him.
However, and you knew this was coming... wouldn’t it have been nice if Nora and Daniel, Nora and Bo, were afforded equal opportunity courtship, such as John and Evangeline on the docks, talking race and passing the football? Maybe then, I wouldn’t see the rushed bullshit of Bo suddenly calling Dr. Paige Miller (the one taking care of his whacked-out dad, Asa) out of the blue to ask her out, with this being the first time I’m hearing of a Paige (not counting the spoilers).
It’s funny how everybody with half a brain and not even remotely invested in Tico Santi can plainly see that he’s a pandering ass-kisser at best and a sociopathic criminal at worst. Dorian and David had his number from the get-go. Viki can practically smell the shit. And yet Jessica remains clueless. So does Sonia, but she’s had years and years of family loyalty with the man.
went to Dorian in New York City, as she met Marcie’s brother Eric, gay
Eric. As Michael blurted out that gay part, Dorian didn’t even stumble,
she simply encouraged Eric to, gay or straight, rustle up a prenup before
marrying James. Then, before she left, elaborated on her lie about a
shopping spree, that she’d hit the racks by this fabulous designer, but
only to Eric, like Eric would care because he’s gay and only gay guys dig
fashions like straight women do. Here’s a case where much more is
expressed than said.
THE RACE THING
I couldn’t help but miss R.J. in the scenes where Evangeline gets verbally and physically attacked by a male bigot (who could stand a trip to the nearest hairdresser). This could easily have taken place in Angel Square and launched a major social issues-storyline involving R.J., Antonio, the Buchanans, Lords, Cramers, teens and post-teens. The Love Crew has two minorities and one gay guy in its midst; they might have something to say about racism and homophobia. Instead, this was merely another reason to heighten the romantic senses of Evangeline and John, and give me a renewed reason for loving feisty Marcie (just as she was irritating me with her hyperventilating freak show before her book meeting).
As often as I bitch about a decided lack of social issues-storylines on soaps, I’m greatly afraid of them when they do happen. I’m the viewer hiding her face in the popcorn every time an unpleasant scene peeks just around the corner, be it a rape, spousal abuse, bullying, or a proud black woman coming off a celebration of her achievements just as a redneck harasses her for dating a white man.
It’s triple times worse for me, because I’m a minority, who’s had to undergo such scenes IRL in my past (did I tell you about the time I walked downtown in Seattle only to be taunted in fake-Japanese by a young black girl and her white friend?). So, if TPTB are gonna do a social issues-storyline, they better be prepared to go for it, go all the way and not use it as a flimsy excuse to showcase a couple’s devotion only. Don’t put me through shit just to show off John’s tender loving concern.
On the other hand, watching John put down his cool on October 15 at just the mere sight of a shaken Evangeline with Michael, Evangeline herself struggling to regain her composure, her dignity, her strong sense of self... touched something deep inside I’d thought been cured with the years living amongst like-minded Asians in Hawaii.
Unless you’re a minority, you don’t know what it’s like. Overweight people have an idea, but they can almost always lose weight, and then they’re accepted. It was only the weight the assholes had a problem with. But if you’re overweight and a minority, even if you lost the weight, you can’t lose the ethnicity, not for all the plastic surgery in the world. Assholes like that drunken bigot have a problem with you as a minority, the very sight of you disgusts him, he doesn’t care if you’re slim and fit.
Evangeline just came from a high in her professional career, and not just as a successful attorney, but a role model for minorities, with hope that they, too, can achieve much, with hard work and determination, and be recognized by peers of all colors. Even though this bigot was obviously a lone wolf, and obviously had a problem with homosexuals too, as well as his own sorry lot in life, it doesn’t matter to a minority, not even one as accomplished, beautiful and confident as Evangeline. To her, he tainted her day, her life, and her self-respect, simply by reminding her that she was, in his eyes, nothing more than an ugly, dirty thing. There’s centuries of history behind that, moreso with African-Americans than with any other race. You hear Nigger! Chink! Jap! Spic! long enough, something nasty starts happening in your subconscious, it takes over until you believe it, even if only one loser asshole brings it up.
It doesn’t matter because in your mind, if he can see I’m a fraud, then maybe everybody else can, and they’re just being nice or PC, even friends. I’ve had the additional trauma of so-called friends turn on me during a minor argument about, say, a difference of opinion on a winning football team. They’d think nothing of screaming racial epithets at me in public as a part of their argument. They had no idea what that did to my psyche, the bruising it took.
In Friday’s episode, I saw the same look in Evangeline’s eyes, even as Michael smiled encouragingly and John ranted violently about finding that asshole and giving him “an attitude adjustment,” John insisting they go out to celebrate her triumph. She felt beaten down and ashamed, just as a rape victim might, even though none of this was her fault and in reality, TRULY TRULY in reality, assholes like him are rare, most people don’t give a fuck what you look like, just who you are on the inside.
So, while I hated that more characters – especially those who might have valuable experiences to inform the story like R.J. and Antonio – weren’t involved, I did appreciate the nugget of truth, however painful, conveyed in the memorable performances of Renee Elise Goldsberry (Evangeline), one who’d know, Michael Easton (John), Nathaniel Marston (Michael) and Kathy Brier (Marcie).
It was bound to happen. The number one female character I cannot stand to watch for even five seconds is Emily. So, naturally, my two-year-old son James loves her, finds her “cute,” and demands I replay any scenes with her in it. He caught me the night of October 11 catching up on that day’s episode on SoapNet and screamed for “Emily soap op-pap-rah!” until I gave in, covering my face with a pillow until the ordeal ended. “Emily crying?” he asked me later. “No, mommy’s crying.”
I did enjoy capturing the farce of Nikolas choking the life out of his grandmother at the police department (where else can one commit a crime?), Emily choking back at Wyndemere, Elizabeth waking Emily in a blood-curdling scream – purely for mockery value. Emily really is a beautiful young woman, almost facially perfect in symmetry, delicacy and feminine attributes, the long lashes, the curve and cream of her high cheekbones, full cherry lips... if Satan manifested himself...
Also in that episode, I noticed a startling resemblance between this new lady enforcer, Lana, and Faith. For a second there, as she sauntered up to Lorenzo on the docks, I thought Faith had escaped and was about to offer him another deal he couldn’t refuse to bring Sonny down. I’m always saying Hollywood blondes all look alike to me (during my on-the-rag periods), but this is ridiculous.
Something happened with a wedding band between Sonny and Carly at the end there, but I fell asleep. Seriously dude, what happened?
About two, three months ago, somewhere in one of my columns, I wondered aloud about the possibility of Sarah Brown coming back not as Carly, a role she originated to much Emmy acclaim, but as Carly’s presumed-dead cheerleader best friend, the one whose name Carly appropriated. That way, recast Tamara Braun could keep her day job, Braun’s fans wouldn’t have to barrage the studios with death threats (hee, just kiddin’ folks) and there’d finally be a real actress to contend with back in her element (despite Brown’s trauma at exiting GH in the first place). Well, the latest rumor, a fan who talked to a friend who knows an insider said on a message board somewhere in cyber-land that ABC Daytime president Brian Frons contacted Sarah Brown to ask her to return to GH but not as Carly again, but maybe someone else, maybe Jordan (who the fuck is Jordan? Brown’s RL daughter is Jordan, oh yeah, another attorney for Ric to spar with), which, it now turns out... another actress took the Jordan role..., maybe another brand new role. My feelings are mixed on the matter. On the one hand, Eeeee! it’s Sarah Brown, one of my fondest daydreams come true! On the other, shouldn’t TPTB fix what’s already missing and wrong with GH before they look to soap celebs as quick fixes?
The October 12th episode had me laughing at the forced drama and swooning at romantic potential. First the laffs. As Nikolas and Emily—aka, Nauseous—walked upon what appeared to be the Garden of Aphrodite, amidst canned smoke and Greek statues, I guffawed heartily at the Liberace re-do. Then as Chlamydia appeared in a fog to declare a curse draining Emily’s life force, I, along with many anti-NEmmers, wondered if Tyler Christopher (Nikolas) were bemoaning the day he agreed to take back his GH role, that maybe he wouldn’t be better off taking his chances in more indies. Of course, Luke and Laura would’ve made the scene work until I forgot the cheesy special effects (cheesy was GH’s middle name in the ‘80s), but we’re not talking about L&L, unfortunately.
Two young couples intrigued me, GQ and Brook Lynn with Diego. The Casablanca movie set worked over Georgie’s insecurities like a charm, nice touch, too, her serendipitous instinct to wear a 1940s-style dress-up to Dillon’s white tux. A self-assured Georgie to a fumbling Dillon will go a long way toward undoing the damage of the past six months of obtuse misunderstanding.
I had no use for new male character Diego. I didn’t understand why he had to be there, as a 17-year-old foster child everybody must babysit. It seemed ridiculous to me, and the LeTourneau reference didn’t help. But when Diego walked in on Brook Lynn singing a new love lost song, the enchanted look on his face charmed me. I think I see something there, the potential for a better Stone and Robin. He matures her, unlike frat boy Lucas.
The best part of Tuesday’s show: No S&C!
I’ve been trying to keep blasé about yet another attack on my sensibilities and women as the parental units. But this nonsense about a doctor informing Ric, a man and a man completely unconnected in any way to the patient in question, about Kristina’s possible physical problem, behind the mother’s – Alexis’s – own back, is too much. It’s bad enough that Dr. Steven Lars Webber is suddenly a pediatrician, surgeon, ob-gyn, podiatrist, dermatologist, proctologist, general practitioner (can he do veneers, too?) and a forensics expert for the cops. But now, he’s the psychological judge and jury over Alexis, determining what she can and cannot handle in terms of diagnosing her own daughter? Why don’t the writers dispense with formalities and simply nail Alexis naked to a cross and throw pig feces at her, while having Carly force her to eat her own vomit and bark like a dog? Oh yeah, that’s next month’s plot.
Notice the increased interaction and expanded ensemble of the past few episodes? I did. Not sure if it’s enough without proper lead in and follow through (suddenly, a brand new recast SORAS’d Lucas is buddy-buddies with his older sis Carly and talkin’ about his love life?), but when the actors match each other, chemistry for ad lib, and are as captivating as Tony Geary (Luke), Scott Clifton (Dillon), Robin Christopher (Skye) and Lindze Letherman (Georgie) – currently on fire as the more adventurous girlfriend – it works. I light up whenever these four or these two or these three are in a room together, covering the latest caper. Luke and Dillon, shades of each other from past to present, in the Quartermaine mansion casing the joint for goods to hawk... priceless. Locked in a closet while overhearing Edward and Heather going at it, looking at turns bewildered and repulsed, traumatized for life? Worth the price of admission.
Call me a turncoat, but I am eager to see the Kristina reveal come November Sweeps. I know, for all his faults and diva-like antics in the past, that Maurice Benard (Sonny) will hit it out of the ballpark with the right mix of outrage, vulnerability and angst, as only he can almost humiliatingly reveal upon himself. For once, I spy a little selfless compassion emanating out of Tamara Braun’s Carly. Rick Hearst (Ric) is almost flawless in his understated but slow-burning concern, a hesitant reluctance to distract himself from the Sonny vendetta at hand in the face of a helpless child and his helpless friend Alexis, clearly in trouble.
If the mobsters on this show would let the hit women do their jobs, maybe the jobs would get done. The second woman hired to off someone, this time John Durant, is blonde brick house Lana. She prefers her kills private, so as to understandably avoid detection. That’s how hit people make a living, they go in there, do a hit, go away, unnoticed. How’s a working girl gonna achieve success with Lorenzo butting in with his amateurish interference? Instead of offing Durant in the comfort of his own five-star resort, she now has to do it in broad nightlight of a public appearance, with half the town watching, while posing as a reporter with a gun in her pocketbook.
And even then, she couldn’t get it right. John lives.
you think soap actors don’t bother wasting their free time going online
and reading up on themselves, think again. I’ve said it before and I’ll
say it again, the virtual walls most definitely have ears. The latest to
experience the humbling effect of outspoken online fan feedback is
newcomer Shaun Benson (Dr. Steven Lars Weber). He read up on his character
history and ran into some severe criticism against his boring
characterization so far. Smarting somewhat, he received words of wisdom
from the master himself, Rick Hearst (Ric), on the pitfalls of celebrity
in the soap world, just one of the hazards of being in that public eye.
CORRECTION: Make that consulting producer
A regular reader of mine (can’t quite bring myself to refer to you guys as fans, shouldn’t I have an entourage of stylists around me and a limo at my disposal?) pointed out that while co-head writer Charles Pratt Jr. may be involved peripherally in the new ABC primetime hit, Desperate Housewives – which won Sunday’s ratings game last week – he did not create or write it. That honor belongs to Marc Cherry.
In previous columns here and on SoapZone, I’d been going on about Pratt’s brainchild Desperate Housewives, like it came from his typewriter single-handedly, and why couldn’t he throw some of that tight-knit success over GH’s way. Technically, it’s true that he didn’t come up with the arrangements and dialogue, ideas and movement. But he was a producer who helped with the concept and the pilot before backing out and settling for the title of consulting producer to focus more on GH. My point being, if Pratt could be a major contributor creatively, and he was – the pilot started the buzz – then why am I not seeing the fruits of his labor over on GH?