Sedrick

ANOTHER LIFE

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Is this the show where the main villainess became born again? That idea also interests me, because on most soaps, a villainess becomes good through love, or through rape, or some type aof horrible trauma.

Yes, the villainess was Miriam Carpenter. Miriam was a real piece of work and beautifully played by a gorgeous actress named Ginger Burgett. I have no idea why Ginger did not go on to other soaps or films, because she carried Another Life in its dreadful early months. Miriam was mistakenly kidnapped by Hugo Lancelot and Blue Nobles, two goons who were after hooker Babs Farley. They held Miriam captive in a gardener's shed on a deserted farm. Miriam was held hostage for what seemed like six months of storyline. Probably it was closer to three or four. I would have to check my tapes to see, but the point is that the story was not a short one, and it was well produced.

For example, Ginger Burgett stopped wearing makeup. Her clothes were dingy and dirty. Her lovely blond hair looked as if it had not been washed in weeks. Miriam truly suffered at the hands of her captors. Kelly Gwinn, who played Hugo, personified evil. He was slimy and sadistic with one of the creepiest grins I have ever seen on soaps. Gwinn played the part so well. He is another one who should have done more. Chandler Hill Harben, who had been the second Ben Harper on Love of Life, played Blue Nobles. Blue was also unnerving. He was always dressed in denim and wore a baseball cap. He had a stutter. Harben played Blue as slightly mentally retarded. It was Blue who attempted to rape Lori Martin. He was imposing and unsettling presence. The episode in which Blue attacks Lori is on Youtube. You should watch it, because it's very, very well done and is a perfect example of how good a non-network soap can be.

Back to Miriam. Miriam began to lose her mind during the months of imprisonment. She had a Bible in the shed and started to read it. Over the months of captivity, the Bible, and her developing faith of being rescued, motivated her to keep going. This is what precipitated the change in her character. I felt this story was one they got right and fell in line with what the series attempted to convey about faith.

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I saw every Another Life episode during it's original run. It ran here in NYC on WPIX channel 11, but then they took it off and I caught it on CBN, which was great because they repeated the days episode at 11 PM. I have old VCR tapes with episodes on them and I keep saying I'm going to go through them because that opening on YouTube is not original opening from when the series first started. It was much shorter and it didn't have the actors in it.

Right, Monty. The original opening had shots of seagulls soaring over the ocean and the sunrise on the horizon of the water, like the final shot of the opening and closing credits. The music was the same as the end theme, slow instead of the jazzy version of the later opening credits. One thing that should be mentioned regarding the title sequence is that Another Life changed its opening every time the storyline changed. For example, when Lori and boyfriend Russ Weaver crashed their car, leaving Lori paralyzed, shots of the car flipping down the highway embankment were put in the opening credits, along with a shot of Lori paralyzed, and another one where she meets Dr. Ben Martin, who eventually cured her. I thought this was very clever because viewers new to the series could quickly catch up on the plot just by watching the opening credits, and this was nearly 30 years ago.

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That's all fascinating, and so well told. Miriam is the one who left town eventually, and her father was still a schemer?

I love the way you tell the story. I wish I could see all that. And the way they do the titles is very groundbreaking.

Do you think if the show had been great from the start it might have had a longer run or do you think considering that it was a Christian soap which might have alienated believers and non-believers, and also syndicated/on CBN instead of on a network, it ran probably as long as it could have?

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Interesting stuff. Was/is Roy Windsor a particularly religious man, or was he simply writing to the producers' desires for the show?

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It really is something, how much times have changed. I very much enjoyed my childhood as is, but it would have been nice to have been a bit older and more conscious of these syndicated soaps at the time. AL, Rituals, The Catlins, to think that there was even a demand for at least three syndicated soaps really says something about the popularity of the medium at the time. -_-

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And several of those soaps lasted several years. It's a shame that there was never any more movement in this area. I honestly think today a syndicated soap could be a hit. Not like some huge phenom but a solid moneymaker.

Edited by CarlD2

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Yup. Look at Degrassi. Even if the show was anchored with kids to gain the much sought after demo, kids take well to s/ls about the adults as well. But of course WE all know that as soap fans. :rolleyes:

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Was just watching a few more clips on the 'Tube. That slow jazzy title card opening music ironically sounds a little "late night cable" for a religious-themed show. :P

I think it's really cool that the show was taped down in Virginia Beach. I wish we saw more of that. Tyler Perry has his studio in Atlanta, Tim and Daphne Maxwell-Reid have a studio in VA as well. It would be awesome if a city like Baltimore had its own syndicated soap, they have an excellent history of filming local-themed movies and shows there. Of course now they have absolutely no support by means of tax incentives and the local industry has suffered because of that. It seems like AL relied on a lot of local hires as most of the names and faces aren't all that familiar (I think I know the older black lady from stuff though). I don't know how many other people they cast were out of New York or L.A., if any. That's really interesting as the level of acting seems to be on par with most soap acting of the era.

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That's all fascinating, and so well told. Miriam is the one who left town eventually, and her father was still a schemer?

I love the way you tell the story. I wish I could see all that. And the way they do the titles is very groundbreaking.

Do you think if the show had been great from the start it might have had a longer run or do you think considering that it was a Christian soap which might have alienated believers and non-believers, and also syndicated/on CBN instead of on a network, it ran probably as long as it could have?

Good question, and I do not have an answer! When the announcement came that Another Life was going off the air, I was shocked. In those days we did not have the internet or even a weekly soap magazine, and CBN waited until the last minute to inform viewers. It was the Friday episode immediately preceding the last week of the soap. At the end of Friday's episode instead of going into the closing credits from the last scene, they faded into a shot of the opening titles with the theme music and cut quickly to scenes of Monday's episode. Another Life's announcer said something like, "On Monday..." and proceeded to give a brief blurb about the plot. At the end he said, "Be sure to join us next week for the exciting conclusion to Another Life...the final chapter."

I called CBN immediately and spoke to the program director. She stated that Another Life's ratings increased significantly during Miriam's kidnapping and remained high through the Kate Carothers murder mystery. But, in the second half of 1984, the ratings began to fall back to levels of the show's first year. According to the program director, Another Life had become more expensive to produce, and the ratings were not generating enough audience to make the production viable.

You are probably right about the viewers. Another Life was a tricky soap to pull off because there is such a fine line in not offending viewers of different faiths. Part of the problem also arose in the loss of actors. After the mystery of Kate's murder was resolved, the series seemed to lose momentum. Miriam and her father Charles were written out, and Charles' brother and niece were written in to replace them. Those characters took time to develop, which slowed down the pace. Courtney Carpenter, the bitchy niece, was paired with matriarch Terry Davidson's son Peter, and in the middle of a love triangle, Peter was dropped. Terry romanced Dr. Dave Phillips. The writers had created a rivalry between his daughters Amber and Stacey over Gil Prescott. At the end of Kate's murder story, Amber was written out, and the Stacey/Gil romance was truncated, leaving neither with much to do. There were so many original/important characters written out and too many new ones written in. The writers devised a weird plot about a small African nation called Dar Salaam. Princess Yolanda Dar Salaam arrived in Kingsley looking for an ancient, mystical bible that held the key to a vast fortune. Somehow the Davidsons ended up with the bible, resulting in kidnappings and attempted murders. Princess Yolanda ran around in African garb with a funny accent. The bible was accidentally lost at church bazaar, several episodes which took place in a revival tent. The story ended in a location shoot on a private airfield with Yolanda and her henchmen trying to escape Kingsley in a plane with the bible. Silliness to nth degree.

In the summer of 1984, Another Life initiated its last two plotlines. One never really got off the ground. The younger characters all attended Kingsley College. Courtney Carpenter became friends with Tina Brubaker, the sister of AL's resident cop Sgt. John Brubaker. At the time there was a real life game on university campuses where students pretended to be assassins and stalked victims. It was called The Assassination Game. Tina got mixed up with a punk rocker named Scolie, who was obsessed with the assassination game. He was presented as an inconsequential geek at first, but later there were hints that he had begun to take the game seriously. This story was never developed or resolved, because AL was cancelled. The other story was about a self-help organization called DOMI(Dominion of Man's Intellect). It was led by the beautiful, charismatic guru Vanessa Fazan. Vanessa was played to perfection by Diane Seely, another potential talent uncovered by the soap but never seen again. The actress had amazing eyes, which came into play later in the story. Terry's nasty sister Nancy was ensnared by Vanessa's magnetism, while Lori's husband Ben found himself being seduced by Vanessa, too. It transpired that Vanessa was a literal demon, who thrived on turning souls away from God. The story was as silly as the Dar Salaam bible, but it was well acted and played totally straight. Vanessa's glowing, hypnotic eyes were saved for the conclusion to the story, so the thrust of the plot was not in special effects or creepy music, but in how Vanessa tempted characters to do things they ordinarily would not have done.

I think the series could have continued longer if they had not made mistakes in changing too many elements in such a short period and if the budget had not become so inflated. Someone else remarked that Another Life looked as good as a network soap, and it did. In fact, it looked better than some.

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The hypnotism clips are where I first got interested in Another Life. You're right, that woman is fantastic.

The Assassination Game story I'd never heard of. It sounds odd. I know that type of thing does happen though. I think in a California high school recently some students were playing a game where some pretended to be Nazis and others were supposed to be Jews. There was a big controversy over this.

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I think I know the older black lady from stuff though). I don't know how many other people they cast were out of New York or L.A., if any. That's really interesting as the level of acting seems to be on par with most soap acting of the era.

The older black lady playing Ione Redlon was Edye Byrde. She is recognizable from a popular series of telephone company ads ("reach out and touch someone")that ran in the late 70's/early 80's. You are right, though. Another Life had a nice mix of local and coastal actors. Most of the actors in the first year were more local or lesser known. A number of P&G/network soap actors began to appear in 1982, including the aforementioned Chandler Hill Harben, Michael M. Ryan (John Randolph, AW), Dorothy Stinnette (Somerset/EON), Nicholas Benedict (AMC), Paul Gleason (AMC), Lori March (Secret Storm), Paul Tinder (AW & EON).

Mary Jean Feton, who played the lead matriarch Terry Davidson, was wonderful. She exhibited so much warmth and grace. She easily could have carried a similar role on a major network soap. Her second husband on the show, Dr. Dave Phillips, was played by Tom Urich. Tom is the brother of actor Robert Urich, and Tom also contributed greatly to the success of the series. He had a small part on The Edge of Night in December 1984 before vanishing from the screen.

Susan Scannell, a pretty redhead, went on to play Kristin Carter on Search for Tomorrow and then had a brief stint on Dynasty before retiring from acting. She married Chris Roland, the actor played Dr. Russ Weaver (who was shot, died, and went to hell). They later divorced. Chris lives in South Africa, and Susan lives and works in Boston.

The actor who played wealthy playboy Gil Prescott was Jerry Timm. Jerry was one of the most gorgeous men I have ever seen in my life. Well, he had been one of the Marlboro Men models, so that tells you how hot he was. He retired from acting, too, to open a furniture design business and sadly died in a car crash at far too young an age.

Terry's sister on the show, Nancy Lawson, was played by Nancy Mulvey. I believe Nancy was a local actress, and she was particularly good at being nasty. When Charles Carpenter wailed about daughter Miriam's problems with drugs, Nancy snarled, "Well what do you expect, Charles, hanging out with a black woman and a prostitute in the ghetto."

Another poster mentioned hooker with a heart of gold Babs Farley. Julie Jenny played that part with so much humor. Babs was all made up with a big wig on her head, tons of jewelry and makeup, and she had the hots for the square Harold Webster, a short, balding, chubby lawyer. Julie and actor Alan Sader were so funny together.

One of the things the series did well was create a diverse community. Ione's home was similar to Ina Hopkins' on One Life. Ione took in the prostitutes, drug addicts, anyone who needed help turned to her. Another Life was similar in that respect to All My Children, too. The black characters were fully integrated into the drama. They weren't just token characters.

I definitely think that more locally-produced soaps would work if the financing was right.

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Thanks for telling us more about these actors. Lori March was pretty important on Secret Storm wasn't she? How long was she on Another Life?

She married Chris Roland, the actor played Dr. Russ Weaver (who was shot, died, and went to hell).

I didn't know they ever had any stories on this show where characters went to hell. I guess they took it more seriously than Passions did...

Was Nancy Lawson also "saved" later on?

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The more you share sayno, the more endearing this show sounds. I get exactly what you mean about the black characters and the AMC vibe. Yeah, I was pretty taken by Babs in those clips, I was wondering why she was wearing that Beverlee McKinsey wig in some scenes. She doesn't seem like your typical actress, she really reminds me of my second grade teacher, or gals who would have worked in my mom's office in the '80s.

You mentioned a rich playboy, I could be wrong, but it seems like AL resisted the temptation to go full-'80s and have Reaganomic, Dynastyesque characters. True? I'd also like to mention that many of your faithful CBN viewers are a lot like Ione, no coincidence that she was the show's voice of reason matriarchal figure.

Edited by SFK

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Thanks for telling us more about these actors. Lori March was pretty important on Secret Storm wasn't she? How long was she on Another Life?

I didn't know they ever had any stories on this show where characters went to hell. I guess they took it more seriously than Passions did...

Was Nancy Lawson also "saved" later on?

Yes, Lori March was Valerie aka Mrs. Peter Ames on Secret Storm, the matriarch of the series from the mid-60's to the end in 1974. On Another Life she played Phyllis Carpenter. When Miriam and Charles were written out, Charles' brother Preston and Preston's bitchy daughter Courtney came to Kingsley and moved into the Carpenter home. Courtney was paired with Peter Davidson until her dreary old preppie boyfriend Vaughn Sumner also arrived from Lake Forest, the wealthy suburb where they had previously lived. Vaughn wormed his way back into Courtney's life even though she ostensibly did not want him. Eventually it was revealed that Courtney's mother Phyllis had Alzheimer's and was in a very expensive sanatorium. Vaughn's family was filthy rich and had invested in Preston's failing company. Vaughn made it clear that he would pull his family's investment out of Preston's business if Courtney failed to marry him, and without the business, they could not pay Phyllis' exorbitant medical fees. Lori was on for about six months, from late 1983 until mid-1984, but she was a recurring character.

Nancy did not actually get saved. She ended up bankrupt and homeless. She had always referred to Ione disparagingly as "that old black woman", and naturally, when Nancy had no where else to turn, Ione took her in. By the end of the series any time Nancy became upset she ran to hug Ione and cry, "Oh, it's so awful, Ione. Please help me." I loved that. Nancy would not listen to Ione's warnings to stay away from Vanessa Fazan. Vanessa gave Nancy the Evil Eye, causing her to be paralyzed. Nancy was there for Ben Martin's final confrontation with Vanessa who revealed her demon self. Nancy ran crying to Ione when it was all over. She was on her way to believing, but not quite there.

Vaughn on the other hand realized what a nasty person he had become and decided he no longer needed Courtney's recommendation to prove he was a man (he had a little problem with Mr. Stiffy for a while). This lead to a final speech in the last show about he now believed in "something greater than the two of them", and Courtney did an about face, decided she really did love him, and was well on her way to preaching the gospel, too.

Edited by saynotoursoap

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I think I remember a clip where Nancy tried to hypnotize Ione and Ione brushed her off like a gnat. And then Nancy was giving all her money to a pyramid scheme and not paying Ione more money for upkeep.

I wonder if this was the first soap to mention Alzheimers.

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