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Ryan's Hope Discussion Thread

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Also in this issue is an article on soap sets. The photo is of the sarcophagus, which is Styrofoam painted gold. That's sculptor Frank Lincoln Viner and scenic artist Stuart Boughton. I will type up the sections which talk about RH.

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Sy Tomashoff, Emmy Award-winning set designer for "Ryan's Hope," adds: "If I don't believe set design is important, no one will. The producers, writers, and I believe it's important, and so do the actors. They want to think they're in a set that's them, not somebody else. I don't know how important set design is to the audience, because they're only aware of it if it's subliminal, or at least we used to assume that."

"Ryan's" on "Ryan's Hope" is authentic Irish and intentionally tacky. It's the only working bar on daytime. Sy Tomashoff, who's been with RH since its inception seven years ago, recalls designing the now famous bar: "That set was all built from scratch, and it was great fun! It took us about six to seven weeks. We wanted it to be a composite of the typical nostalgic New York bar. It was modeled after places like O'Neal's, The Gingerman, and the Landmark Bar (all well-known Manhattan bar/restaurants). We designed "Ryan's" so the director would have a lot of flexibility and could really utilize the set. When I look back, I realize that six or seven weeks was not a lot of time to do a set like that."

Sy Thomashoff says his job requires him to become familiar with the characters and where their storylines are going. Then he designs the sets that will match up with the characters. "What set designers try to do is reflect the character's personality in the sets. That helps tell the story. The sets also tell the audience where they are - they're a kind of geographical reference.

"My job is to design the set, select the style we're going to use - the color, the wallpaper, the materials - and show if the person is wealthy and what his or her profession is. Then I lay out the sets for each day in the studio. On one day there may be six sets; the following day maybe one or two of those will remain standing, or maybe none of them. It's a long day. Most of my time is spent at my desk designing new sets and handling the paperwork that's involved. The rest of the time is spent going out and getting the props or special materials, like wallpaper."

Because of the frantic pace of daytime, Mr. Tomashoff must always work exceptionally fast. "We just completed a set that looks like Roseland (a famous Manhattan dance hall), in which Maeve Ryan competes in a dance contest. We went to Roseland to get the 'feel' of the place and took some photographs. We originally wanted to create only a portion of Roseland, but we ended up creating our own version of it and called it 'Danceland.' We designed, built, and propped the set in just three weeks. Like our producer says, we have to be able to turn on a dime, and we do."

Although over the years Mr. Tomashoff has designed many noteworthy sets on "Ryan's Hope," his proudest accomplishment to date is the ancient Egyptian shrine he re-created for the Queen Meritkara storyline which aired early this year. The monumental project had its germination in the summer of 1981 when the storyline began to focus on an ancient Egyptian artifact that contained an image bearing a remarkable resemblance to one of the show's leading ladies - Dr. Faith Coleridge, played by Karen Morris-Gowdy. The likeness of the actress was created by making a "life mask" of her face - Ms. Morris-Gowdy's face was set in a plaster cast to make a mold.

The shrine Mr. Tomashoff created was a near duplicate of an authentic Egyptian tomb. Weeks of preparation and research preceded the project's initial construction. Consultations with curators at New York City's prestigious Metropolitan Museum were held so that as many aspects as possible could be re-created in detail. Artists painstakingly carved in minute detail actual Egyptian hieroglyphics "lifted" from museum artifacts. Although on television the shrine and the various artifacts appeared to be solid gold and encrusted with precious gems, it was actually Styrofoam, reinforced with gauze and plaster, painted gold. The actual work on the Egyptian project took a little over six weeks, but the tomb was seen on air for less than two hours!

The mansion in which the inner shrine was revealed was recycled after the storyline ended. The Egyptian murals and furniture were removed and the set was repainted and decorated with new furniture, although the walls and the architecture remained the same. The mansion was sold to a wealthy character on the show who needed a place to live in New York City.

Most sets on "Ryan's Hope," says Mr. Tomashoff, are kept and altered for other characters. If the whole set is not reused, some of the pieces will be worked into another set. But not all sets can be used over, because they are too readily identified with a particular character and/or storyline. "We designed an apartment in a loft in Sheepshead Bay (in Brooklyn) for Joe and Siobhan. We all went out there and conceived this wonderful set, which had nautical influences. It was a unique, good-looking set, but we had to stop using it because Joe had disappeared in the storyline and when he came back, he gave up all his associations with the fishing fleet and the Mafia. So he couldn't go back to live there. The set is up in our warehouse in the Bronx and it just kills me because I know I can't use it - the audience would recognize the units of the set."

"Ryan's Hope" rents or purchases most of its furniture and props from the Kenmore Furniture Collection, Inc. If elaborate period furniture or antiques are called for, they're rented from the Newel Art Gallery. Some items are purchased in department stores - from the local five-and-dime to some of New York's finest stores.

Has the art of set design changed much over the years? According to Sy Tomashoff, the answer is a resounding yes! "The soaps have come such a long way in the design area and in every other area that it's much more fun because there's more importance placed on production values. We are spending so much more money today than when I first began designing for soaps. (When the show recently featured a gambling casino, ABC spent $3,000 each for 10 slot machines.) Each set has to be completely different to reflect the character's personality.

"There is more awareness," he continues. "I think the soaps are now becoming tastemakers, just as movies used to be. ABC is number one and they want to stay number one, s othey are not going to cut back on the soaps. ABC is spending to keep their shows top-notch."

Sy Tomashoff's pet peeve is designing courtrooms. "A courtroom is used for a very short sequence on the show. It's very large, and it's something that no show can afford to design and keep, or build. You can design a marvelous courtroom, but it's not worth the money you would have to spend on it. It's a pain."

ABC gives "Ryan's Hope" a running budget for set design per week and keeps a separate billing for new, permanent sets, which can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $120,000. The average weekly prop bill is about $4,000 and the scenery bill is $3,000.

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Thanks for giving us a heads up. That's a shame. I wanted to see the extra episodes one last time, as I think I taped over mine. The last episode of that run was, I believe, EJ working as Barbara's assistant and being caught in her dressing room or something.

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The last episode of that run was, I believe, EJ working as Barbara's assistant and being caught in her dressing room or something.

Carl, that IS where Soapnet stopped in 2003.

In 2007, in the last scene, EJ was fired from The Proud and The Passionate - after Delia had sent Barbara an anonymous letter exposing EJ as a reporter.

Edited by safe

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Oh. Thanks.

I wonder if I kept any of those last 1981 episodes or not. I can't remember if I saw those.

So was that 10 episodes, or 5?

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Thanks. I guess those aren't online. I wonder why they made the change in 2007? I wish I could remember if I had them. I taped over some 1981 stuff as I was not fond of that year, to say the least.

I really appreciate you telling us about this. I hope I haven't posted any articles or anything you already did. I loved the stuff you posted earlier this year.

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time for a few years, and I invariably worked on St. Patrick's Day. Let me tell you, it was tough. It was the worst day to work in a bar, because it's always an excuse for so many people to get drunk. The day would always start off pleasantly, but then - pow! What a day to be a bartender!"

Michael Levin allowed as how he thought St. Patrick's Day was "a great holiday. I always try to wear green but I don't get to on the set today in my character of Fenelli. I'm the only person on the Ryan's Bar set who doesn't get to wear green. I've not ever marched in the parades here in New York, but I always watch them, and enjoy them. I don't believe that the Irish have more luck than other people do, but I do believe the Irish want to believe that they do - which is nice."

The Irish dance teacher Vivian Bergin - who founded a dance school in Dublin - was on the set teaching the cast their jigs and reels. BERNARD BARROW (Johnny Ryan) was dancing. MALCOLM GROOME (Dr. Pat Ryan) was dancing. And HELEN GALLAGHER (Maeve Ryan) was really kicking up her heels. "Though I've danced in Broadway shows that have had Irish dancing," she confessed. "I've never done a real jig in my life - and I'm Irish! This has been an exhausting day. We've been dancing since we arrived this morning, and will continue till three or four this afternoon - and on a concrete floor!

"I'm also in rehearsal for a new show - a musical revue called 'Pickles by Tucholsky.' Kust Tucholsky was a lyricist in Germany in the 1930s. His songs were anti-Nazi. So this is a protest revue. We open at New York's Theater Four on April 6 - for a long run - we hope!"

We've seen Helen on stage - and we hope so too. If you're in New York and can catch her - do. You'll be delighted. - Barbara Anson

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and lives, the life of a gentle women's libber.

Brought up in an intellectual family atmosphere, her family also believes in women marrying and having families. "I think most families are marriage-oriented," she says. "All my relatives are very surprised that I'm not married yet. They're not getting worried, yet. I think if in another ten years, if I'm still unmarried, they will be. My mother loves weddings..." she trails off.

But pressed on whether or not marriage is for her in the future, she isn't sure. "I think it would depend on the man. How I felt about the man. I feel certainly that, if I ever wanted to have children, I would get married."

But marriage, for the sake of marriage, is not her style. She realizes there are pitfalls for a working woman, especially one who loves her work and would hate to give it up. She also realizes the steady job of serial work can get you into a rut, as far as family life goes.

"A lot of people on the serials have families, make a lot of money, buy a house in the country and go out there on the weekends or their days off, and that's it. It is a nice life, but I want a lot more. I consider the serial just one step in my career. For the last four years I've existed on doing plays, and that's where I get joy. I never want to lose sight of that," Faith explains.

Faith likes challenge and finding out about life. She wants to live it to the fullest, and is always anxious to see what is over the next mountain.

Her interest in the women's movement came about in college. She was sort of the renegade of the family, since she decided to enter Boston University and study Theatre. This was unheard of in her family, but Faith decided acting was her life, and she pursued it. She became a member of NOW, The National Organization of Women.

"I knew about NOW in my college days, when it was just beginning. IT just made so much sense to me, just a fantastic feelings of women being able to help each other, rather than knock each other down," Faith enthused. "Not seeing each other as rivals or threats, and really seeing each other in a common plight, really struggling to realize ourselves. The best thing about consciousness-raising groups was giving support to each other.

"Every person needs an environment that is supportive," she continued. "And so few people have that. Especially today. People don't live with their families. People are moving. And the family unit, at least on the East Coast where I've lived, is not the same. You don't have your grandparents around. Everybody needs an environment where people care about them and give them support. I think that that is one of the things the women's movement is doing."

One book Faith has read this past year that made a big impression on her is Flying, by Kate Millett. "I really admire her because she is really struggling to live the way she believes."

But don't think Faith is anti-man. She is just the opposite. She does have a boyfriend, but prefers to keep quiet about him, since she would rather be known for herself, not as the girlfriend of...She believes the women's movement is good for both men and women.

"I'm resentful of a society that forces people into couples. There is a stigma on single women all the time, really. Like, 'Where's your boyfriend?,' 'What are you doing here alone?' They cannot accept a woman alone. People look at you strange, or as if there is something wrong with you."

City living has not always been easy for Faith. When she first arrived in New York, it took her time to meet people and make friends. "I find I'm in a different culture living in New York. Living the life of a single woman in New York is very different from the rest of my family and relatives. I feel like I'm a pioneer in many ways."

Faith's role on Ryan's Hope is one that she is enjoying. She hopes to project the authenticity of her character and her problems. Occasionally though, her "political consciousness" gets aroused, since she feels Faith Coleridge is not quite acting her age. "After all, we are supposed to be 25 and doctors. We are not in high school. Granted, my character does have a fear of sex, but I'm hoping I'll be allowed to have my character deal with that a little more thoughtfully."

She is also excited about the people she is working with and the type of story the show centers on. She believes the writers are trying for more realism than the other shows. It is ironic to Faith, that as a child, her father would say, "Don't make a spectacle of yourself," and today, that is exactly how Faith makes her living. She comes across to millions of viewers every day on TV.

It almost seems impossible when you first meet Faith Catlin that she would have such strong ideas. She has a warm smile, twinkling eyes and a deep throaty laugh, filled with feeling. Your initial impression of her is "the girl next door." But when you leave her, you know she is a woman of conviction. One who is not afraid to express her feelings, but one who would not impose them on you. And you know she's sure of her future. She is sure of what she wants, and she is a gentle woman who believes in liberation.

by Patricia Kearney

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