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Irna Phillips Article from March 1965


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#1 allmc2008

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 10:27 PM

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#2 Darn

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 10:39 PM

What magazine is this?


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#3 allmc2008

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 11:01 PM

What magazine is this?

McCalls Magazine. I was watching a YT video with Eileen Fulton reading the first line "I am a writer of Daytime Serial's which have become known to the irreverent as 'soap operas', 'dishpan dramas', and 'washboard weepers'." She said were that was written before saying the lines so I looked up the magazine and bought it on Ebay.

 

 

 

Can you read it OK??


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#4 jfung79

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 11:06 PM

What a great article.  If you look closely, you see it's from McCall's, March 1965. 

 

I find her comments about Pat Randolph's abortion showing the dangers of premarital sex, and how Nancy was a less political reaction to the then-becoming-politicized feminism, fascinating.  I don't think she would look kindly on how soaps became more about sex in the 80s, instead of being about the issues that arise from sex.  She seems to have an ambivalent reaction to the women's movement.

 

Also her comment about segregation and nuclear warfare not being able to be mentioned because of sponsors, and how she hopes that will change soon, very much reflects her era.

 

I love her proudly flying the flag of soaps reflecting life.

 

Also how she is self-aware that she could be too domineering.

 

I think she champions storytelling that would be too miserable for me if I were to watch it now though.  In a way, GL held too true to Irna's philosophy.  It really was not wrong for them to point to Irna's words when they killed off Tammy in the 70th anniversary episode, but I think that was a mistake for the show to do if it hoped to hold on to its fans.

 

If she was "consultant to all other ABC serials," does that mean she consulted for GH too?  It had just started at that time.  Also I love how they are like "her forthcoming new serial is Days of Our Lives."  I'm proud to have become a fan of watching Irna's last soap, DAYS, and glad there is still a direct brainchild of hers (and Ted Corday) still on.

 

What a great snapshot in time.


Edited by jfung79, 06 April 2013 - 11:06 PM.

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#5 P.J.

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 11:33 PM

My first thought was "amazing".

 

My second was "it sure ain't  Hogan Sheffer's infamous "dickless, dickless, dickless" interview in the New Yorker."


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#6 Paul Raven

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 12:05 AM

The only ABC soaps I have ever read about Irna having a hand in were "Flame In The Wind", which on her suggestion became 'A Time For Us' and made changes in cast and story (including changing the main family's name from Skerba to Driscoll) and Peyton Place.

 

At PP she wanted to do an 'incest' story where Allison unwittingly fell for her half brother,but that was rejected.

 

Thanks for the great article.


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#7 Paul Raven

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 12:26 AM

I originally posted this in the Cancelled Soaps section. It's from 72,the year Irna returned to ATWT.after a 3 year break.

 

Writing on : Irna Phillips mends with tradition

It's safe to say that among soap-opera script writers, 71-year-old Ima Phillips is the grandmother of them all. Her careergoes back to a 1930 radio serial out of WGN Chicago entitled Painted Dreams,and it comes up to today. She is the headwriter on CBS-TV's long-running As the World Turns.

Today's soap operas, however, turn Irna Philips off. "The daytime serial is destroying itself, eating itself up with rape,abortion, illegitimacy, men falling in love with other men's wives --all of which is often topped by a murder, followed by a long, drawn-out murder trial," she says.

She's very critical of what she calls "this trend toward sheer escapism," although she acknowledges that the public seems to be buying it. "Nevertheless," she says, "I feel my obligation to the viewing audience is tó write constructively.
The essence of the drama is still conflict, of course—conflict within each person,conflict in the relationships between two
people. But these relationships don't have to be sordid to be interesting. I'm trying to get back to the fundamentals: for example, the way in which a death in the family, or a serious illness, brings the members of that family closer together, gives them a real sense of how much they need each other, how much they're dependent on one another."

This sidestepping of sensationalism represents something of a change of heart for Miss Phillips, a change at least partially brought on, she says, by the experience of helping her adopted daughter (Miss Phillips has remained unmarried) through a broken marriage and of lending a hand while her adopted son and her daughter-in-law went through the birth of their first child.
"She's very much concerned with getting back to the older values," says Tom Donovan, a producer at CBS and a longtime friend and former working associate of Miss Phillips. "She's avoiding the more theatrical characters to get back to real people, to family roots—to moral problems, if you will. In other words, to things that have been sidetracked in this terrible malaise that's abroad in the land."

Another friend who goes back with Miss Phillips to the days when The Guiding Light was a radio serial, the actress Charita Bauer, would agree with Mr. Donovan. "Her storylines are believable because, despite the rigid format they're put into, they truly reflect life," she says. "And this commitment of hers to the traditional family values and to strong family ties is present in all of her writing
because she really believes in it—it's not just a gimmick."

Miss Phillips was teaching speech, drama and play production at a college .in Dayton, Ohio, in 1930 when she took
a trip to Chicago to try out as an actress (her main ambition at the time) with WGN. "The station manager told me my voice was not pleasant, that it was too low for a woman, but he signed me up anyway to do a program called Thought for the Day," she recalls. "I got a release from my teaching contract, took the job with the station and was promptly fired a couple of weeks later. But soon after that, the station asked me if I'd be interested in writing and performing in a family drama that would in effect be a continuing story, to run for ten minutes every day. The serial, called Painted Dreams, became the first of its kind on the air,
with all the voices and even sound effects done by Miss Phillips and another woman who worked with her on the show.
"There were six characters on Painted Dreams," Miss Phillips says. "I took two of them and she took the other four, plus an Irish setter named Mikey. She was an expert at imitating barking dogs. But we never had to do male voices—the men
were all offstage. Male characters weren't introduced on the air until two years later, on another serial I wrote called Today's Children, which was on W M AQ in Chicago."

Miss Phillips both acted and wrote during her first seven years on the radio, "but I finally had to give up acting to devote full time to my work as a writer. You might say I never stopped acting, though, because I dictate all my scripts. That allows me to play the parts of all my characters and give them dialogue that sounds like real, colloquial speech. And I avoid tape recorders—I dictate to
another person, to get that essential human contact, that other person's reaction to my dialogue, that raised eyebrow that tells me a word or a phrase doesn't sound right. Dialogue that's typed or written out often sounds stilted when it's spoken by actors. That's why writers wedded to the typewriter find working on television serials so incredibly difficult."

The latest Nielsen nationals put As the World Turns at the top of daytime with a 10.6 rating and a 35 share, and Miss Phillips thinks one of the big reasons for this success is that the show is still done live. (As the World Turns and Edge of Night are the only two live serials left on the air.) "I'm out of patience with pre-taping way in advance because that locks you in," she says. "Daytime dramas should be flexible so that you can rewrite an outline if it doesn't seem to be working out in the performance. I'm usually about three weeks ahead on my outlines, but I have no objection to changing horses in midstream on a moment's notice. And of course another advantage of a live show is that it gives you a 'firstnight' charge of excitement that you just don't get with tape or film."

If Miss Phillips is something of a sociologist in her approach to the content of her scripts, she's also a technician of form. As a veteran script carpenter, she disdains voice-over-narration and flashbacks as "lazy devices." She also tries to keep away from plots that so overwhelm the characters that they become mere cardboard weathervanes, spun this way and that by the whims of melodramatic exigency. "Characters have to be multidimensional," she says. "The story has to come from the characters, to the point where your viewers will get to know a character so well they can predict this or her behavior in a given dramatic situation."
Miss Phillips also steers clear of the unrelieved depression that characterizes some soap operas on the air by creating characters whose sole function on the show is to provide comic relief. But those quarts of numberless tears that are jerked out of soap-opera addicts hour after hour, day after day, still constitute the main appeal of the genre. "Women often get together later on to talk about that day's shows," Miss Phillips says.

"But they watch the shows in solitude. When there's a lot of crying to be done, they want to do it alone."

Irna Phillips—head writer, CBS-TV daytime serial As the World Turns; b. July 1, 1901, Chicago; BS in eduation, University of
Illinois, 1922; MA in speech. University of Wisconsin, 1924; taught school in Missouriand Ohio, 1924-30; has written radio and
television serials since 1930, among which are: Painted Dreams, The Guiding Light, Today's Children, Young Doctor Malone,
The Road of Lile, Woman in White, The Road to Happiness and Love Is a Many Splendored Thing; unmarried; adopted children: Thomas Dirk, 30, and Katherine Louise, 27Writing on : Irna Phillips mends with tradition


I


Edited by Paul Raven, 07 April 2013 - 12:29 AM.

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#8 DRW50

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 01:38 AM

Thank you, amc and Paul Raven.

 

This article truly puts a big red circle around Irna's complex view of women. On the one hand, she brags about Nancy saying "I don't go to rallies" (I would pay money to see this sequence). On the other, she says that a woman who makes a mistake deserves to be forgiven, and that women who don't forgive other women are hypocrites. This is very ahead of its time - even now, sadly. You can see in here the inner turmoil that probably led her to create Kim and have the "good" affair with Bob.

 

So she gave ATWT fans the same sympathy-type letter she gave GL fans when Kathy died. Not sure how appreciative they were. 

 

This is a wonderful article. I'm happy to be able to read it. 


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#9 Vee

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 02:36 AM

The Irna Phillips story I will never forget is from Harding Lemay's book. He reluctantly took meetings with her as a creative consultant for six months as he began work on AW, having never done soaps before, and one day, after weeks of arguing with her, she came in, took his arm, and sweetly asked him if they would always remain friends despite the troubles of their daughters. It took him a few minutes to realize she was roleplaying as Mary Matthews, and expected him to respond as Ada Hobson. He later came to respect her talent to a point, but she was clearly something else.


Edited by Vee, 07 April 2013 - 02:36 AM.

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#10 DRW50

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 02:49 AM

I remember that. I think he also said his wife wrote something about her in the NYT (was it her obituary?). Or I might be making that up in my head.


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#11 DRW50

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 03:44 AM

sorry, misread a name


Edited by CarlD2, 08 April 2013 - 03:45 AM.

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#12 EricMontreal22

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:17 AM

The only ABC soaps I have ever read about Irna having a hand in were "Flame In The Wind", which on her suggestion became 'A Time For Us' and made changes in cast and story (including changing the main family's name from Skerba to Driscoll) and Peyton Place.

 

At PP she wanted to do an 'incest' story where Allison unwittingly fell for her half brother,but that was rejected.

 

Thanks for the great article.

Right--of course the original novel had a (father daughter I think) incest story, so in a way she reflected that but I heard she was let go pretty quickly there.

 

Terrific articles! 


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#13 EricMontreal22

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:21 AM

McCalls Magazine. I was watching a YT video with Eileen Fulton reading the first line "I am a writer of Daytime Serial's which have become known to the irreverent as 'soap operas', 'dishpan dramas', and 'washboard weepers'." She said were that was written before saying the lines so I looked up the magazine and bought it on Ebay.

 

 

 

Can you read it OK??

 

And of course McCall's magazine became Rosie, and then folded in a year due to Rosie O'Donnell not knowing how to run it :P 


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