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HOW TO SURVIVE A MARRIAGE


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On 7/20/2021 at 4:16 PM, vetsoapfan said:

No, even with the expansion of other soaps, there still would have been room on the schedule for HTSAM. Lin Bolin and NBC clearly had high hopes for the show. Bolin boasted about how she had spent a fortune just on scenery for the show. They gave it a 90-minute premiere and lured daytime legend Rosemary Prinz to the show at a high salary, and then promoted the heck out of it with reams of publicity. The problem was...everyone involved forgot about CHARACTERS and STORIES that the audience could become invested in. Anne Howard Bailey relied heavily on didactic, preachy speeches about women's lib and the need for independence. Characters were not much more than caricatures with little depth or nuance. Originally, the show was both abrasive and BORING. 

I wonder if any episodes still exist anywhere. Barely any of it is even on YouTube. From what I've heard and read about the first few months of HTSAM, it seems like they were preaching rather than crafting likeable characters and engrossing stories.

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11 minutes ago, amybrickwallace said:

I wonder if any episodes still exist anywhere. Barely any of it is even on YouTube. From what I've heard and read about the first few months of HTSAM, it seems like they were preaching rather than crafting likeable characters and engrossing stories.

The 90-minute debut episode of HTSAM is rumored to exist among private collectors, who will not share it. I had the final episode on tape for decades, but it had deteriorated to dust before I figured out how to transfer it to disc. (Fortunately, the vast majority of my vintage treasures managed to get saved and transferred. They have all shown up on the internet at one time or another.)

It's true that during its first few months, the show was quite preachy, with some unlikeable male characters being pigs and women pontificating about equality, liberation, etc. (I agreed with the message about empowerment for women, but the lectures were so shrill, I had a feeling folks in the audience would be alienated.)

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Just now, vetsoapfan said:

the show was quite preachy, with some unlikeable male characters being pigs and women pontificating about equality, liberation, etc. (I agreed with the message about empowerment for women, but the lectures were so shrill, I had a feeling folks in the audience would be alienated.)

Yes - there's a difference between merely putting the jargon out there and beating the audience over the head with it. Yikes.

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1 minute ago, amybrickwallace said:

Yes - there's a difference between merely putting the jargon out there and beating the audience over the head with it. Yikes.

William J. Bell and Agnes Nixon (to name just two writers) knew how to weave socially-relevant material into naturalistic dialogue. Anne Howard Bailey did not. She was later given the headwriting duties of a primetime soap opera on CBS, called Beacon Hill, fashioned after Upstairs, Downstairs. The ratings for the premiere were stellar, but AHB's script was painfully bad and trite, and the ratings immediately plummeted. She was quickly replaced, and the new scribes were excellent, but...like with HTSAM, it was too late. Once burned, twice shy, as they say.

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1 minute ago, vetsoapfan said:

William J. Bell and Agnes Nixon (to name just two writers) knew how to weave socially-relevant material into naturalistic dialogue. Anne Howard Bailey did not. She was later given the headwriting duties of a primetime soap opera on CBS, called Beacon Hill, fashioned after Upstairs, Downstairs. The ratings for the premiere were stellar, but AHB's script was painfully bad and trite, and the ratings immediately plummeted. She was quickly replaced, and the new scribes were excellent, but...like with HTSAM, it was too late. Once burned, twice shy, as they say.

Anne Howard Bailey went on to do decent work on SB in the 1980s (and wrote for The Doctors around 1976, but her stint there was so short I don't know if it was any good). Maybe her style just didn't fit what the network wanted.

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6 minutes ago, amybrickwallace said:

Anne Howard Bailey went on to do decent work on SB in the 1980s (and wrote for The Doctors around 1976, but her stint there was so short I don't know if it was any good). Maybe her style just didn't fit what the network wanted.

I remember the divine scriptwriter Patrick Mulcahey acknowledging that during his time on SB, he and the other subwriters had to fight really hard to "hide things." I've always taken that comment to indicate AHB sucked on SB too, LOL. Certainly the Dobsons wanted her gone.

Anyway, it is true that some writers fail miserably on certain shows but fare better on others. I hated Ann Marcus' stint on DAYS, but her time on Search for Tomorrow was great. I loved Claire Labine on Where the Heart Is, Love of Life and Ryan's Hope, but I cringed at her material on The Guiding Light. (To be fair, I blame MADD for interfering.)

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On 7/22/2021 at 1:40 AM, vetsoapfan said:

William J. Bell and Agnes Nixon (to name just two writers) knew how to weave socially-relevant material into naturalistic dialogue. Anne Howard Bailey did not. She was later given the headwriting duties of a primetime soap opera on CBS, called Beacon Hill, fashioned after Upstairs, Downstairs. The ratings for the premiere were stellar, but AHB's script was painfully bad and trite, and the ratings immediately plummeted. She was quickly replaced, and the new scribes were excellent, but...like with HTSAM, it was too late. Once burned, twice shy, as they say.

Pity I'd love to see Beacon Hill sounded very good and a Period soap sounds like a nice change! Pity that the eponymous web soap from 2013 wasn't like that I could think of hundreds of possibilities 

On 7/22/2021 at 3:50 AM, Paul Raven said:

I wonder if the attitudes and dialogue were a bit too confronting for some of the women viewers in 1974?

Housewives in traditional marriages may not have liked their view of the world challenged...

Probably not even in the late 1970's the storyline of Nancy Hughes getting into work wasn't well received

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I saw How To Survive a Marriage. It wasn't especially good, but I liked some of the actors. Rosemary Prinz as a therapist was excellent, but she left after six months, as she did when ALL MY CHILDREN began. At one point they were going to give her a Tea & Sympathy story with Brad Davis as a teenage patient, son of a godfather obviously based on Don Corleone, but someone realized that a therapist having sex with her teenage patient was, ah, not exactly a good idea. Brad Davis was a good actor even then, even with stupid material.

Fran Brill and Allan Miller, both excellent, played the nice, funny, normal Jewish neighbors. Allan Miller's character had a heart attack and died, exactly as his character, also named Dave, had done on OLTL. Miller, by the way, was Streisand's acting teacher. Fran Brill went on to marry IRL a network executive, IIRC.

F. Murray Abraham arrived a bit later in the run, as the gangster owner of a nightclub called Noah's Ark. He was excellent, though I would never have guessed that he would go on to win an Oscar. Armand Assante played an Irish character who, like John Wayne in THE QUIET MAN, had killed a man in the ring. This was beyond hokey and stupid, and they quickly had Assante get rid of his phony and stupid Irish accent.

I loved George Welbes, originally Rosemary Prinz's love interest. He was a New Age type (in real life, too), extremely sexy with 70s hair and hairy chest. He was in the cast of OH,CALCUTTA! and you can find pictures of him naked. Leon Russom of LIAMST and AW was also in OH, CALCUTTA! and the same is true of him. Welbes had cancer, used natural remedies to treat it, and died. IRL Welbes was living with Tricia O'Neil, also on the show, also good. I used to get her mixed up with Laurie Heinemann of AW. They look very much alike.

The actor who played Tricia O'Neil's husband (Steve Elmore) had played the Paul Lynde-like role in DAMES AT SEA. Apparently the producers of the soap kept after him to play his character in a more macho way. Then they got rid of him. Note how the men are disappearing? So did Peter Brandon, who played the significantly younger husband of Joan Copeland. Brandon had played Don Hastings' brother on ATWT, a good actor. I have no idea why Brandon was written off the show. Copeland had very little airtime, especially given that after Prinz left she had top billing.

At times the talented actresses scarcely had any men to play against. BTW, I believe that at some time Rick Edelstein took over from Anne Howard Bailey as HW. He may have been the one who invented the ridiculous Armand Assante subplot.

 

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7 hours ago, Nicholas Blair said:

I saw How To Survive a Marriage. It wasn't especially good, but I liked some of the actors. Rosemary Prinz as a therapist was excellent, but she left after six months, as she did when ALL MY CHILDREN began. At one point they were going to give her a Tea & Sympathy story with Brad Davis as a teenage patient, son of a godfather obviously based on Don Corleone, but someone realized that a therapist having sex with her teenage patient was, ah, not exactly a good idea. Brad Davis was a good actor even then, even with stupid material.

Fran Brill and Allan Miller, both excellent, played the nice, funny, normal Jewish neighbors. Allan Miller's character had a heart attack and died, exactly as his character, also named Dave, had done on OLTL. Miller, by the way, was Streisand's acting teacher. Fran Brill went on to marry IRL a network executive, IIRC.

F. Murray Abraham arrived a bit later in the run, as the gangster owner of a nightclub called Noah's Ark. He was excellent, though I would never have guessed that he would go on to win an Oscar. Armand Assante played an Irish character who, like John Wayne in THE QUIET MAN, had killed a man in the ring. This was beyond hokey and stupid, and they quickly had Assante get rid of his phony and stupid Irish accent.

I loved George Welbes, originally Rosemary Prinz's love interest. He was a New Age type (in real life, too), extremely sexy with 70s hair and hairy chest. He was in the cast of OH,CALCUTTA! and you can find pictures of him naked. Leon Russom of LIAMST and AW was also in OH, CALCUTTA! and the same is true of him. Welbes had cancer, used natural remedies to treat it, and died. IRL Welbes was living with Tricia O'Neil, also on the show, also good. I used to get her mixed up with Laurie Heinemann of AW. They look very much alike.

The actor who played Tricia O'Neil's husband (Steve Elmore) had played the Paul Lynde-like role in DAMES AT SEA. Apparently the producers of the soap kept after him to play his character in a more macho way. Then they got rid of him. Note how the men are disappearing? So did Peter Brandon, who played the significantly younger husband of Joan Copeland. Brandon had played Don Hastings' brother on ATWT, a good actor. I have no idea why Brandon was written off the show. Copeland had very little airtime, especially given that after Prinz left she had top billing.

At times the talented actresses scarcely had any men to play against. BTW, I believe that at some time Rick Edelstein took over from Anne Howard Bailey as HW. He may have been the one who invented the ridiculous Armand Assante subplot.

 

And of course, Fran Brill went on to become the first female Muppeteer on Sesame Street. I knew Armand Assante had been on the show as a boxer, but not that he had to speak in an Irish accent.

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10 hours ago, amybrickwallace said:

And of course, Fran Brill went on to become the first female Muppeteer on Sesame Street. I knew Armand Assante had been on the show as a boxer, but not that he had to speak in an Irish accent.

Amy, I wish you'd heard Assante's Irish accent--for about ten seconds, that is. He also had a mother called "Mother McGee" who was as stage Irish as all get-out. After a bit, "Mother McGee" vanished and Assante no longer spoke with a (very bad) Irish accent. It was clear that Assante was a talented actor but miscast and with poor material. In fact, the first few times I saw Assante on TV or in movies, I kept thinking that here was an actor who would be good in some other kind of role. I can't think of any other actor like that. BTW, it seemed like Assante was going to be the love interest for Fran Brill had the show continued.

Some people blamed the failure of HTSAM on Jennifer Harmon, but I don't think that's fair. Granted, she did not have the charisma of say, a Jada Rowland or an Andrea Marcovicci, who would have brought more to the role, but Harmon was capable enough. Michael Landrum had the truly thankless task of playing the cheating husband who broke up the marriage. Like Harmon, he was a decent actor if maybe not an A-Lister.

Anne Howard Bailey made a huge mistake in making the other woman a Playboy-bunny type rather than a soap opera biotch. IIRC, Lynn Lowry may have eventually made a porno film. I think her character, Sandra, was supposed to be modern and sexually free, but she was a male fantasy rather than the female fantasy that works better for soaps. Sandra seemed like the kind of girl you'd hire for a Playboy Club, take home, have sex with, and never think of again. In other words, a network executive's fantasy rather than the fantasy of a typical soap viewer.

I also liked Jeff David, who played the original manager of Noah's Ark, IIRC. Jennifer Harmon had a fling with him after her marriage broke up and got an STD from him. Jeff David's character then left the show. I had liked him as club owner Ron who had an affair with Lahoma on AW before Sam and Lahoma reconciled and moved to Somerset.

Between substandard writing and getting rid of almost all the male characters, HTSAM was doomed, and deservedly so, despite some actors who deserved better.

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2 hours ago, amybrickwallace said:

Thanks for your insight. Of course, both Michael Landrum and Armand Assante went on to play Dr. Mike Powers on TD. What did you think of Lauren White as Armand's wife (who also later went on TD)?

I scarcely remember her. I had forgotten that Assante was a Dr. Mike Powers--again, strange casting for Assante. Michael Landrum at least was more the Mike Powers type.

But it's really weird that for a show on such a short time so many of the original men were gone in less than a year:

George Welbes--gone because of illness

Steve Elmore--gone because he wasn't masculine enough (per Elmore's comments to mags)

Allan Miller--killed off

Michael Landrum--eventually replaced by Ken Kercheval not long before cancellation, IIRC

Peter Brandon--written out for unknown reasons

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