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Paul Raven

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In my opinion, the problem with the Suzi was not just the actress. Cynthia Gibb was my favorite, but she too could be whiny and shrill at times. It was the manner in which the character was written. Suzi was the long suffering ingenue, and she was so sugary sweet at times, one almost enjoyed seeing her get it. I felt that way during the Suzi/Warren/Wendy triangle. Wendy had more chemistry with Warren and was more fun that Suzi, so that I tended to side with Wendy. Terri Eoff was fine as Suzi so long as she was not required to whine. I thought Eoff had good chemistry with Matt Ashford, and I really cannot see Gibb playing opposite him.

The truly bad Suzi was the one in between Gibb and Eoff. Elizabeth Swackhammer. As I recall, she had the warmth of a rattlesnake and could not act to save her life.

I totally agree about Louann Gideon. Gideon was terribly miscast in that role. Sherry Mathis demonstrated a very natural warmth and grace, which seemed phony on Gideon. Sherry was a true talent and could have gone on for years in that role. I wish that she had remained until the end rather than leaving a year earlier. With all of the changes near the end, it would have been a comfort to have her there along side Mary Stuart and Larry Haines.

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I don't recall Sunny being with Quinn but may be forgetting something. I remember Avila Mayer and Braxton totally destroyed Sunny in 1985 when Hogan and Liza hooked up. I was very disappointed that the show abandoned Sunny and Hogan in favor of Hogan and Liza. Hogan and Liza totally fell apart when Gideon was cast. Quinn was linked with Wendy, Sarah, and then Evie before the show teamed him up with Kat at the end of the show.

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A March 1986 Digest interview with John Whitesell. The interview is by Robert Rorke.

RR: What kind of difference do you think you'll make when so many other producers have failed?

JW: I believe that the show's not dead. I think that what's happening in half hour shows across the board is that no one's having much success. LOVING's not doing that great. RYAN'S HOPE certainly isn't doing very well. CAPITOL's doing the best, but it's also in a nice position between AS THE WORLD TURNS and GUIDING LIGHT, which are two very old, strong shows that have their own audience. But I think what has been done in the half hour n the past that doesn't work is that we're competing with the hour. We're trying to give the viewer the same thing that the hour gives them, which is a lot of action. You don't have to do that in a half hour; you've got less time.

I intend to have fewer scenes. I'm hoping that by March we'll be doing eight scenes a day as opposed to 14 and 15. I'm looking forward to the possibility of doing a whole act, commercial to commercial, on one scene. I'm looking forward to telling stories with fewer people in one day, instead of twelve to thirteen actors on a day, which is what we have now.

Part of the new wave, I hope, will be to do a long arcing love story in March and also a series of short stories, 4 to 8 weeks long, and they will be finite, small stories that will have a beginning, middle, and end, and we'll get out of them and go on. If we find a character in one of those stories that we think is interesting, they'll move on to another story, as opposed to dragging that story out.

What we'll try to do is identify a core of characters that the audience can identify with, can grow to love. Also tell a story that's less action/adventure oriented and more character oriented.

RR: What do you think is the show's biggest problem?

JW: Right now I think we don't have any love couples. You know, we don't have anybody embarking on new love or anybody in the midst of a real strong love relationship. We have the Liza, Hogan, Lloyd story which is not enough about love but something that we're trying to refocus. That is a relationship we're trying to tie up. That relationship is so screwed up and twisted around that I don't think the audience really has invested in Liza and Hogan as a love couple.

Our emphasis is really on trying to create some new love couples and new relationships and that's where you're going to see us focusing our energy in the first part of this year.

RR: Do you plan to play a big role in casting?

JW: Absolutely. You know, I think there's so much that is determined by the way you cast a role. We just cast Jackie Schultz as Patty. We spent a month and a half looking for this role and saw a ton of people and Jackie is someone whose work I know and I think other actors will be able to play with and making sure the chemistry between those actors is there.

RR: Will you bring over some people from GL if you can?

JW: I would bring over some of the actors that I thought were good, people I thought were solid actors. I'm really not a big believer in taking a star from another show will help your audience. I was on TEXAS when we brought Kin Shriner over from GENERAL HOSPITAL. That was before Luke hit. Kin was the number one male star in daytime and he came over to TEXAS and all the fan letters said, "Come back, Scotty, come back to GH." Which is not the kind of mail you want, and it didn't bring an audience over at all to TEXAS. I think you hire good actors. But if Kim Zimmer were to become available, everybody would be a fool not to try to grab someone like that. If Robert Newman had decided he was really ready to come back to New York and do daytime, that's another guy out there that you go out and you try to get.

RR: What's the incentive for leaving a show with good ratings for a show with the worst ratings?

JW: I had a lot of responsibilities and felt a big part of GUIDING LIGHT. Gail Kobe was the executive producer and here, I'm the executive producer. Having total autonomy is really nice because you can do what you want. It really becomes the way you want to see it happen. I haven't been involved in daytime all that long - four years - but in those four years I developed a lot of ideas about what I think makes it work and what I don't think works. Now I'm going to find out if all those ideas that I've formulated really work or not.

RR: Besides the romantic couple, what else do you think makes daytime work?

JW: I think the audience wants to laugh. I really want to incorporate more humor into the show. I have Larry Haines on the show, who is very funny, an extraordinary comedian. I'm really looking forward to letting Stu be someone who is fun and interesting. We're going to do a major story with Stu in February and March. We're going to kick off this whole story with him because I think he's very likeable and giving and he could bring an element to the show that's sadly missing.

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There was a Leigh Lassen interview in a July 1974 Daytime TV Stars. They talked about how the show had fired Leigh in mid-1973, due to lack of story, but brought her back. The editor puts this down to the show's writer at the time, Ralph Ellis, not feeling Patti was strong enough compared to women like Kathy or Eunice, and they criticize Ellis for wanting to turn Search into a "Women's Lib mouthpiece." By this time Ellis was replaced by Ted Apstein. An earlier part of the magazine says Apstein was a West Coast writer and he and his family were doing the show.

Edited by CarlD2
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Many thanks for all these articles as they give info that is otherwise unknown(at least by me!) eg that Lassen was off 73-74. It seems hard to believe that they had no story for Patti,but I guess juggling a small cast meant it was hard to fit everything in.I assume Len was written off as well. I guess their return was the time that Len was recast with Jeff Pomerantz as Dino did not want to return.

Ralph Ellis I think was responsible for the return of Janet and bringing on Liza and Gary and Bruce (Jo's ward). Maybe also Kathy. He really revitalised and freshened up the show and layed the groundwork for years of story.I think he was headwriter from 71-73.

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Yes, Len was also written out.

I should say there is nothing but speculation from the magazine on why Patti was written out. The only official reason given was lack of story. For whatever reason the people at the magazine really disliked this era of Search (last year I posted a review they gave in 1976 where they again trashed the Ellis era, retroactively, although I don't think they named him).

I do wish we could see it as I would like to see Kathy and also see the abortion story, as it sounds different from most abortion stories on soaps (no "scheming" woman, no "punishment").

Thanks for reading and responding. When I saw this stuff I thought you'd be interested!

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The picture of Hazel/Sue is fascinating. She has such a distinct look. I believe her surname was Knowles. I recall reading the name in a newspaper article on soaps in prison from the 1950s, but I cannot locate the article at the moment.

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