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Comas are Cuckoo!

It will soon be six months since I started writing my "Savoring Soaps" blog.

"And in that time you've gone from your original aim for this column, wanting to find the good in soaps, back to being Marlena, The Lady High Executioner," said my husband Moose after reading last week's column. In it, moi condemned in no uncertain words a head writer who has been quite crafty in backburnering One Life to Live's Viki Davidson, played by six time Emmy winner Erika Slezak. Okay, the specific word I used for the head writer Dena Higley was "untalented."

Ten or even fifteen years ago when I was writing my column for Soap Opera Weekly, the soap world was a very different place! Ratings and network profits in every pot! Jobs for everyone! I had the leisure of having complete weeks when there were no significant news events, like last week's shocking appearance of Erika's outspoken interview, to comment upon. I had time to do featurey theme columns on performers I thought had plastic surgery, or I'd name and rate ten best rookie actors, or I'd do full-blown career tributes to such industry greats as Flannery, Hubbard, and yes, Slezak.

But now, in 2007, the soap world has completely changed, due to far reaching complications from rapidly declining ratings. The industry is melting, melting! Every one's job is in potential jeopardy and every one is trying to stay alive, stay alive! Three or four times a month, I see infuriating news stories like the firing of a beloved veteran actor like Stuart Damon or Julia Barr, the usually prim Slezak issuing a very uncharacteristic interview about a head writer who hates her, or Young and Restless' Drucilla flying off a cliff after the always dynamic actress Victoria Rowell quit the show in some unexplained huff.

I can't help but want to react instantly, and in some cases scream. I have loved soap operas most of my life and feel deeply about them! When something awful or ridiculous happens, I must speak out!

For example, just this week I was planning to write about how heavenly it was to have the brilliant and adorable Scott Bryce back on As the World Turns after thirteen years. But then I heard OLTL put the character Evangeline, one of the last remaining intelligent and independent women characters on daytime, into a coma, just because they can't reach a contract agreement with actress Renee Elise Goldsberry? This woman is nominated for a Daytime Emmy, is a superb singer and has extensive Broadway credits! Plus, Goldsberry is the only real breakout star OLTL has had in years! Darlings, she has ten times the talent of Michael Easton!

And speaking of comas, OLTL similarly robbed us of the presence Emmy winner Hillary B. Smith all of last year when they put intelligent, independent Nora into a coma, too, when they couldn't agree on a contract. Using comas as plot devices to cover show contract quarrels is so insulting to us fans! We know that most vibrant middle-aged women rarely go into comas, especially two in a row on the same show!

And it gets worse: On Guiding Light, vibrant Blake has been in a coma for a while, and Alan just got out of one. These actors and their characters are beloved to the audience! Don't the networks realize the people they are really hurting by this cheap negotiation bargaining chip are the fans? We are fully capable of lapsing into our own comas during certain afternoon television viewing hours!

And another word about Ms. Goldsberry. It has been a pleasure to watch her character grow from minor to major status in Llanview over the years. Intelligent, beautiful, educated and self-aware, until the show's rather misogynist head writer (and Higley is a woman!) came along, Evangeline was a role model for all women, African-American and white. I always wondered why she was never given a boyfriend worthy of her polished and professional self. Cristian "The Body" Vega has been a bartender, a boxer and a starving artist. Todd "King of the Ick Factor and Rapist" Manning is just too nuts to successfully romance ultrasane Evangeline. Bouncing back and forth between these two losers, perhaps Evangeline deserves a vacation, maybe in Tahiti.

But as an educated woman and an OLTL fan, I'll miss Ms. Goldsberry, one of the soap industry's most valuable and multi-talented players. She will go far beyond daytime. ABC Daytime will soon kick themselves for sending Evangeline to claim Nora's bunk in Soap Coma Purgatory.


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Nice read. I also enjoy her articles. I am disappointed to hear about Evangaline, I really enjoy her character. Hopefully, they can come to an agreement soon. I would prefer a coma over them really killing her off.

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