Paul Raven

Search For Tomorrow Discussion Thread

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CBS had moved the show around to different timeslots and the show had gone through many different styles and regimes. Schmering said CBS felt the show was a "dinosaur." They replaced it with Capitol, which didn't last the decade. Then B&B, which has been more successful because of Y&R than because of itself.

I wonder if CBS ever regretted cancelling the show, given some of the erosion their lineup underwent later on. And Mary Stuart lived another 20 years, Larry Haines for another 25 years (using the time of the CBS cancellation), so with a proper overhaul, with Jo still in a good role, the show could have run for a long time.

I also believe that P&G was unhappy with the move to the 2:30 slot instead of the historic 12:30 slot they had enjoyed for 30 years.

I've heard two stories over the years over SFT's performance in that 2:30 slot--one that SFT failed miserably, the other than SFT saw its ratings rise but P&G was still miffed over losing out on the 12:30 slot.

Carl's right, too many style changes too. Look at 1978-1982. We go from the Corringtons who are credited with modernizing the show to Harding Lemay to Gary Tomlin. In four years with other writers in between! Perhaps if SFT had found a stabilizing writer over a long period of time in the 70s like the Dobsons on GL, Slesar on Edge, Lemay on AW etc. I mean by 1982 the characters which Peter Simon, Courtney Sherman and Morgan Fairchild had played had been long forgotten about, even though the Phillips had been pivotal in the mid-70s!

CBS had moved the show around to different timeslots and the show had gone through many different styles and regimes. Schmering said CBS felt the show was a "dinosaur." They replaced it with Capitol, which didn't last the decade. Then B&B, which has been more successful because of Y&R than because of itself.

I wonder if CBS ever regretted cancelling the show, given some of the erosion their lineup underwent later on. And Mary Stuart lived another 20 years, Larry Haines for another 25 years (using the time of the CBS cancellation), so with a proper overhaul, with Jo still in a good role, the show could have run for a long time.

I also believe that P&G was unhappy with the move to the 2:30 slot instead of the historic 12:30 slot they had enjoyed for 30 years.

I've heard two stories over the years over SFT's performance in that 2:30 slot--one that SFT failed miserably, the other than SFT saw its ratings rise but P&G was still miffed over losing out on the 12:30 slot.

Carl's right, too many style changes too. Look at 1978-1982. We go from the Corringtons who are credited with modernizing the show to Harding Lemay to Gary Tomlin. In four years with other writers in between! Perhaps if SFT had found a stabilizing writer over a long period of time in the 70s like the Dobsons on GL, Slesar on Edge, Lemay on AW etc. I mean by 1982 the characters which Peter Simon, Courtney Sherman and Morgan Fairchild had played had been long forgotten about, even though the Phillips had been pivotal in the mid-70s!

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"The Eerie Truth Behind Search’s Occult Phenomenon!"

by Diana Whitley

Rona Barrett’s Daytimers August 1979 Search For Tomorrow has introduced the world of the occult to daytime viewers. Dark Shadows came close but in a highly stylized, Gothic manner complete with vampires and

eerie effects. However, Search is treating it in a realistic manner, devoid of anything sensational or "gimmicky." The writers and producers painstakingly researched their

material, and have a psychic, Alexander Murray, to advise them.

"The intent is to realistically show the kinds of things that do happen, and to work them out in a story in a metaphysically correct way," Alex explained.

Alex is a gentle, cheerful young man with a good sense of humor. Nonetheless. He is one of New York’s foremost people in the field, and his credentials include over 30 trance sessions at the United Nations, an extensive international clientele, and a busy schedule as a lecturer, teacher, and seminar reader. He has also been the subject of research projects for the American Society for Psychical Research, successfully demonstrating clairvoyance, out-of-body experiences, psychokinesis, and the banishing of poltergeist phenomenon.

Finding Mr. Murray was production coordinator Bonnie Bogand’s job. She was to locate someone who was well versed in all aspects of the occult to be a consultant on the staff.

"I started at the occult bookstores. I went to the two biggest ones in New York, and spent a couple of hours at each. I was so intrigued by all the reading material there is on the subject I surrounded myself on the floor with books and read them until the manager finally came over and said I couldn’t read them there!

"The big problem was to find someone that was serious," she continued. "There are rip offs in every field, and the occult is certainly no exception. We wanted to treat this very seriously, and not as a gimmick to get more viewers, so we didn’t want any sensationalism," she explained.

"The second problem was to find someone articulate, possibly with a flair for drama, who could relate well to the writers, directors, and actors, because this person was going to be involved every step of the way. He would help with the specifics, such as the technique that a psychic would use in reading tarot cards or giving a séance—gestures, incantations, whether or not her eyes would be closed. He would be involved in anything to do with the physicality of what happens, such as lighting or costuming.

"He would also have a series of meetings with the writers, going over the story line, telling them whether or not they were being far-fetched, exploring the possibilities of voodoo. When we decided to have a fire caused by lightning, we did it in a way that the audience could decide for themselves whether or not Tante Helene started the fire, but we determined that there is a basis in occult truth for a power to do this."

…After Bonnie secured a directory listing everyone in the country who is involved in the occult, she called organizations like Foundation Faith, the Parapsychology Institute of America, and the American Society for Psychical Research. It is illegal for these institutions to recommend anyone, but if she gave them names, they would indicate their opinion. The only problem was that none of them seem to agree on any one person.

Like most other fields, the occult tends to have specialists, and Search needed someone who was well versed in all aspects from séances to tarot, so many people were

immediately eliminated. Finally, it was narrowed down to Alexander Murray, so Bonnie made an appointment for a séance, without telling him who she was or why she was interested.

"I didn’t want to go alone, so my boyfriend went with me. It wasn’t at all what I expected. I thought it would be pitch black, with special effects like a fan blowing the

curtains and a black cat. It was just a group of people sitting around the room in chairs-not even holding hands around a table. Alex conducted the session, opening it with some incantations and prayers. Then his mind left his body and he became about seven different people, with different accents and sometimes even different languages. He

basically spoke about love and a philosophy of life. There was nothing ugly or scary.

"One thing happened that was very exciting. He has a spirit guide, who allows the other spirits to some and go out of his body without becoming possessed by an evil spirit. She (his spirit guide is a woman) went around the room and told everyone something about their vibrations and auras. When she came to me she said she saw someone in my aura, and that it was an aunt named Helen. I told everyone at the office and they were all really excited."

After the séance, Mary Ellis Bunim, the producer, also went to see Alex, and she was unequivocably chosen as the show’s consultant.

One of the things Alex has done is to give Jane White, the actress who plays the central occult figure "Tante Helene," a shibboleth to protect herself and the rest of the staff from evil visitations.

"A shibboleth is a protection that you may do in the form of a mantra. Even when you play act, you are touching upon the real thing. There is a tradition that every time the play Macbeth is done there is a curse on it and something goes wrong. There are a lot of magical incantations in that play, and the actors may not know it, but every time they say them they can release a lot of energy.

"I explained to Jane that even though she is only acting, there is power in words, and she should make a clear distinction between herself and "Tante Helene," so I gave her something to protect herself and the cast, so that the spirit world would understand it was just a play. We didn’t want any weird happenings, like tapes being erased or flats falling over, and that kind of thing has been known to happen."

In a similar vein, Alex explained that the other characters in Henderson are going to be affected by their contact with the occult world, even though they may not believe in it or be aware of it.

"They come into contact with ‘Tante Helene’ on a casual basis, but once they make the contact it is like opening Pandora’s box. They’re involved whether they know it or not. Once exposed, it is like radiation, and the outcome will be worked out in the story."

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I wish I could see the show from the mid-70s as I'd heard that was a good period for them. It does seem odd to me that P&G never really made the effort to find a stabilizing writer. If they and the networks had taken better care of their soaps, what might daytime be like today?

Thanks for the article, Paul Raven. Interesting stuff.

Here's the last moments of the 1983 Christmas episode. They also have an episode from December 16 1986.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYZhN-ID2nM

That's Jennifer Gatti in the holiday party at the end right? I didn't know she was on SFT. I always thought she had such an exotic beauty.

Edited by CarlD2

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Jennifer Gatti played Angela Moreno,daughter of Barbara Moreno(Olympia Dukakis)

I think they were brought on in the Joanna Lee era.Lee wanted the show to be more reality based and to get away from the action/adventure stuff.

Unfortunately,the producers/writers never stayed around long enough to fully implement their vision.There were way too many story and cast changes.

The show should have focused on Jo,Patti and her two kids Chris and Tracey,along with Stu,his son Tom and grandkids Liza,Garry and Danny.

But all the writers in the 80's wanted to ignore the history for no good reason.

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The show always did seem like a dinosaur, totally old fashioned and anachronistic, next to the other P&G soaps, especially GL and ATWT. Unlike those two shows, it was never able to reinvent itself successfully with new signature characters and families (Reva, the Lewises, the Coopers; Lily, Lucinda, etc, the Snyders) or told daring, current, complex stories that kept up with the times. AW was essentially in the same boat as Search, never really able to find a successful footing in the 80s and 90s, and I think that show lasted way past its prime because it was able to coast on its amazing critical and ratings success of the 70s. Why didn't P&G ever decide to expand Search to an hour? I wonder if that might've made some difference and would've given it the chance to experiment with new characters and take certain risks in its storytelling that could've breathed new life into it.

Edited by LoyaltoAMC

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Did you think the move to supercouples (Liza/Steve and all that) and the trips to exotic locations modernized the show anyway? I haven't seen a lot of SFT but from what I'd read it seemed like people felt the show suffered from a loss of identity.

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Trouble was that writers following the Corringtons relied on Travis and Liza at the expense of everything else.

They were constantly put in jeopardy in plot driven stories,relying on action and locations for interest.The worst was the incomprehensible Operation Sunburst story.

There was talk of the show going to an hour around 78/79 when the Sentells and Tourneurs were introduced but CBS wanted Y&R to expand also and there simply wasn't room on the schedule.

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From The Soap Opera Book

(The scenes of Jennifer shooting eunice are on YouTube,courtesy of Ann William's children.)

Eunice and John Wyatt's marriage was going through some bad times as a result of Eunice's sexual problems. John turned to Jennifer Pace, a beautiful younger woman, for comfort. He and Jennifer had an affair, which Eunice eventually discovered. John was determined to save his marriage and broke off his relationship with Jennifer. But Jennifer, an extremely insecure and clinging young woman, wouldn't let go. She was constantly visiting John's office, begging him to come back. Eunice usually walked in when they were together and no amount of explaining could convince her that the affair had ended. Finally, Jennifer called John, told him that someone had tried to rape her in her apartment and begged him to come over and protect her. John consequently spent the night on her couch. Eunice found out about it and didn't believe his version of the story. John moved out. Eunice soon realized that she was wrong and was going to try for a reconciliation—until she found out that John had moved in with Jennifer.

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Eunice filed for divorce, even though she still loved John. John, meanwhile, found out that Jennifer had lied, and that no one had attacked her on that fateful night. Again he packed his bags. He and Eunice patched up their marriage and were back to being like newlyweds. Jennifer attempted suicide; she survived, but as a result went slightly crazy. She kept hearing John talking to her, telling her he loved her, and that he wanted her to kill Eunice so they could marry. All in Jennifer's head, of course. Still Jennifer stole a gun and shot and killed Eunice! Viewer sympathy lies with Eunice, in the grave.

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Thanks for posting this, and mentioning the Youtube account. Someone had mentioned that earlier this year but I'd forgotten. I was very impressed by how raw those clips seemed. Jennifer's madness and gunning Eunice down seems so stark. And the scene where she believes John has cheated on her is amazing, especially her work when she called the lodge.

Do you think it was a mistake to kill off Eunice?

I also read about a serial killer story in 1986, which killed off Stephanie. Who else was killed? Do you think that was a good idea? I guess that was just about the end of the show anyway wasn't it?

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Ann had played Eunice for 10 years,in which time she had been through 2 marriages and a lot of story,so I could understand the decision to get rid of the character as the show was only 30 mins and casts were kept quite small in those days.

Budget wise it was probably a good move also,as it allowed for newer,younger and cheaper characters to be introduced.

However,long term I question the wisdom of writing off the character as she was Jo's only sibling.Patti was dropped not long after and it made it harder to keep Jo in the story.

It might have been interesting had Jo and Eunice been involved in a triangle.Maybe she divorced John and he turned to Jo.Or one of Jo's later romances turned into a triangle with Eunice.

As for the serial killer story,I think Sarah,Jo's never before mentioned grandaughter was a victim also.Louise Shaffer had not been well received as Stephanie,and like Eunice before her had been around for a decade and an older vet character was probably seen as expendable.

Serial killer stories were done to death in the 80's.Who was the Henderson killer?

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Rivera was the serial killer. He killed Stephanie and Sarah in 1985 and may, or may not, have killed Wendy Wilkins. Wendy disappeared around the time of the serial killer and it was left unclear what happened to her. Realistically, Wendy was alive and well, but it was left up in the air.

I believe the show planned a rivalry between Estelle and Jo, so Stephanie would have been considered expendable. Estelle and Jo had shared a common past love interest, Jo's ex-husband Martin Tourneur had fathered Estelle's son Steve Kendall. Steve came back around this time and Martin was even mentioned. I believe Jo learned he had disappeared. Anyway, somewhere it all fell apart. Maybe Martin Tourneur was the original mystery backer behind the Liberty House deal?

I think it was a bigger mistake to kill off Sarah Whiting. Michelle Joyce wasn't that bad of an actress and the Quinn-Sarah-Wendy triangle featured a talented group of young players. I think the show could have kept them at the forefront and it might have been a winner over time.

I think the problem "Search" had was throwing away, or unable to keep, its strong younger set including Susan Scanell, Craig Augustine, Jay Avocone, and Cynthia Gibbs.

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re: Harding Lemay's short stint on Search.

I recall reading that Millee Taggart said that Lemay had some wonderful ideas for SEARCH. She said he wanted to bring back Mignon Sentell and she would cause problems for Liza and Travis. She said he had some great ideas for Janet, but unfortunately, it didn't pan out. I also read that Mary Ellis Bunim said Lemay was ineffective.

After leaving SFT I believe Lemay did a short stint on The Doctors and then mostly disappeared from daytime until 1988.

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From the regular NY Times TV/soapcritic at least in the 70s and 80s (who initially seems to hate thegenre but his later reviews seems to be slowly coming around, lol) found this--ironic that it was written just a few months before the last episode aired:

September 3, 1986

At 35, Soap Opera 'Search' Tries To Adjust To Changes

By JOHN J. O'CONNOR

THIRTY-FIVE years ago today, in a 15-minute live broadcast from New York's Liederkranz Hall, ''Search for Tomorrow'' set out to make soap-opera history. It is now television's longest-running daytime drama, hardly missing a beat when it switched from CBS to NBC in 1982. The show's pivotal character is Joanne Tourneur, played by Mary Stuart since that very first day. Her neighbor and best friend is Stu Bergman, still portrayed by Larry Haines, who joined the cast two months after the premiere. In today's half-hour episode, on NBC at 12:30 P.M., Jo and Stu will browse nostalgically through an old photo album, offering viewers a well-intentioned but skimpy retrospective of ''landmark'' moments.

Arriving at Jo's place, already decorated for a party, Stu announces that his new girlfriend Wilma (Anita Gillette) seems to have fallen for another man. ''We've been through a lot together,'' says Jo sympathetically. They sure have. Stu's last wife, for instance, ran off with a flaky cook. Worse, early on in the serial, a son named Jimmy excused himself to take a nap and was never heard from again. Meanwhile, Jo has gone through several marriages and the progression of her husbands' last names - Barron, Tate, Vincente, Tourneur - is seen by some as a reflection of ethnic awareness in soap-opera's land of nondescripts. Her last mate was disposed of through a divorce, something that would have been unthinkable back in 1951.

''Search for Tomorrow'' began life as, in the words of a press release, ''the story of an American family dominated by the 'old-fashioned' elders, successful and secure.'' Like all of its successors and imitators, the show offered viewers, predominantly women, an enduring image of a tightly knit community at a time when such communities were fast disappearing. The serial, produced by Procter & Gamble, focuses on personal relationships while studiously avoiding more of the unpleasant sociological and political realities of the ''real'' world.

While basic soap-opera formulas have remained remarkably steady -aberrant behavior is still punished, amnesia is still rampant as a device for getting out of dead-end plot situations - the surfaces have been changing dramatically. The younger characters have been taking over, and are regularly seen in various stages of undress that evidently help the ratings. The traditional soaps were jolted out of their endemic propriety in the early 1970's by ''The Young and the Restless,'' which offered the kind of plots and characters that ad executives now like to call ''juicy.''

Trying to adjust to the new ways, ''Search for Tomorrow'' has been floundering in the ratings and has undergone a succession of changes in the hands of several executive producers. The latest, David Lawrence, is clearly embarked on a make-or-break policy. Last February, the show's fictional town of Henderson was hit by a flood that served as an excuse to order up completely new sets, the main one being a high-rise building with a nightclub and a roof-garden exercise area where the camera can catch the actors toning up their assorted muscles. New clothes and hair arrangements were ordered to make the women softer and the men more stylish. Mr. Lawrence wants glamour, and today on television that means a designer wardrobe with plenty of jewelry.

More significantly, the serial's focus will now be dominated by the McCleary brothers, Hogan (David Forsyth), Quinn (Jeff Meek) and Cagney (Matthew Ashford). All three are what the trade calls ''TV hunks,'' capable of triggering endless romantic complications. Somehow, they also manage to represent different social classes. Hogan is a sophisticated and well-off bachelor. Cagney, the youngest, is a working-class policeman with a family to support. Later this month, the show will be filmed in Ireland to discover some unsettling secrets about the McCleary family. Taking a cue from other soaps going on location, Mr. Lawrence believes it is important to give his audience an ''exotic change of scenery.''

Meanwhile, this morning, Jo and Stu will chuckle warmly about the past even as their own futures on the program seem undecided. But no matter how many shenanigans are devised for the younger folk, Jo and Stu will be needed to put everything in a perspective that is unfailingly comforting. Today, Stu puts his arm around his old friend and says, ''Love is not like it is in the movies, is it?'' No, says Jo, sadly but gamely, ''not when it's happening to you.'' That is precisely the kind of sweet babble that could keep ''Search for Tomorrow'' going for another 35 years.

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I didn't know Anita Gillette was on SFT. I always remember her for her brief role as Mrs. Westphall on St. Elsewhere. She was also one of the very ill-fated Sheas on AW.

I haven't seen a lot of SFT. The last months of the show sound very different. I'd like to see what the exercise club looked like.

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