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Paul Raven

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Millee's hubby, Barry Kurtz, is an insurance salesman, and Courtney's spouse is her husband on the show as well, handsome Peter Simon. Although both Millee and Courtney sometimes wonder how they manage their dual careers as homemakers and actresses, they both can't begin to imagine it any other way. Commented Millee: "I've been doing Search for five years now and I can honestly say I'd do it for free. Even when I don't have much of a storyline, I adore coming here. We giggle a lot here. It's just a terrific place to work. I can't see myself not working. I've often said that it's the quality of time you spend with your children, not the quantity. As it is, my middle name is car pool. My children have always accepted the fact that their mommy goes to work. When Matthew was three I heard him tell a friend that he has two mommies - the one at home, and the one in the television set. But I can't see myself doing more, for instance, theater. Doing a serial, with it's fairly regular hours, is the perfect setup for someone in my position."

Courtney was nodding in agreement. "Anybody who says it isn't hard combining the two is crazy. But doing just the one or the other wouldn't give me nearly as satisfying a life as I now have. I would hate to do one or the other. I have considered it because there's always that chance I could be out of work tomorrow. I don't think I'd feel absolutely hideous about it, but I sure wouldn't look forward to it. I agree with Millee that this is a lovely place to work. I've been on this show for five years, but it really feels more like two. I find it especially nice working on the same show with my husband. I'm able to do my best work with him because I'm so relaxed. Naturally, if we're not careful the program can become our life. That's why we don't run lines at home the night before. We try not to take our work home. Anyway, why should we? We enjoy being Courtney and Peter much more than being Scott and Kathy."

Marie Cheatham joined the cast three years ago as the villainous Stephanie Collins, but the character has noticeably mellowed lately. "Oh, yes, I'm a victim now," Marie lamented, while tidying up her dressing room. "My character is turning into this nice lady, which unfortunately is't as much fun to play as a mean lady." When I reminded Marie that the "meanies" invariably get killed off, she admitted it's nice to feel relatively secure about one's job. "My Lord, the time has gone by so fast. When I first came here from California I was so frightened about living in New York that I was sure I'd never last the year. I'd heard all those things on the Johnny Carson show and believed every one of them. But here I am, three years later. It has been a delight doing this show. Still, when I sign my contract, I never sign for more than a year. I always expect one day I'm going to get frightened enough and run back to California. Yet, I love New York and I would like to stay. But actors are like migratory farm workers - they go where the work is - so who knows." Look for Marie in the film The Faking of a President. Coming up - a vacation visit to the Grand Canyon, then a visit to Los Angeles to see old friends and investigate some possible film projects.

By the time you read this, Rick Lohman (Gary Walton) and his bride, singer-actress Lenore Ascione, will have welcomed their first child. Gary joined the cast a year ago, but he frankly confesses it took him a good six months before he could begin to relax and get into the friendly atmosphere at the studio, just like the old-timers. "I never felt I had enough rehearsal time," he explained to me while watching some of the other actors rehearse a scene. "Then when taping rolled around, the tension really got to me. Its's the kind of tension that experience in other mediums just doesn't prepare you for. I definitely think being able to do this kind of work has made me a better actor. All in all, this has been quite a year for me - between starting this show, getting married and settled in a new apartment, and my wife's pregnancy - it's no wonder it went unbelievably fast. And just when we got our place fixed up the way we wanted it to be, we realized that it was too small for three, so now we have to look for another apartment. I'd love to find a play to do once things settle down a bit."

I caught up with John Cunningham (Dr. Wade Collins) set-side, too, but in his case I picked up a very different attitude toward working on a soap. "This is the easiest work there is," he insisted, "it's a snap. And what could be nicer than spending time with such lovely people as these." That's why John has always managed to combine working on soaps, including stints on Another World and Secret Storm, with stage roles in such hit shows as 1776, Company, Cabaret and Zorba. When we spoke he was about to replace George Grizzard on Broadway in Neil Simon's hit, California Suite. "The only problem is when I have singing to do in a show, if I have many lines to say on the soap that day, I have to be very careful not to strain my voice. Fatigue shows up unmistakbly when you sing." On the homefront, John told me, "The kids are growing up much too fast." Son Chris, 16, is a guitar virtuoso, daughter Cathy, 13, wants to be an actress when she grows up, and Laura, 7, is having a good time and not thinking about such serious matters. John's wife has gone back to school to get a degree in environmental studies.

Michael Nouri (Steve Kaslo) seems to be the loner of the group around Search, but he's always quietly charming when approached. Did you know he eloped last September 18th with photographer Lynn Goldsmith, his next-door-neighbor? Feel different now that you're a married man, I inquired, as he whizzed past in the control room. "Yes, I do, in fact. More secure." And what have these past 16months doing Search been like for you, was my next question. "Lots of surprise, mostly happy ones. I really hadn't known what to expect. But basically this has been a very pleasant working experience."

Val Dufour (John Wyatt) was feeling very blue that day, I'm sorry to say. Ann Williams, the actress who has portrayed his wife, Eunice, the past four years is about to be killed off, and Val is inconsolable. "I understand that every three or four years a much-loved character has to be killed off on a soap for storyline advancement, but that doesn't make it any easier to bare," he said sadly. He had taken me gently by the arm and steered my to a quiet corner of the lobby, away from the hubbub of the studio and the dressing room area, so he could collect his thoughts. "And what makes things worse is that Ann is taking it very badly. Yesterday sh e had to say a line about us always being together, and the poor girl just broke into tears. She's been reassured that no one had any complaints about her work, but she's still blaming herself. I know how she feels. When I was written off Another World after playing Walter Curtin for eight years. I was sure I'd never work again. Of course, that was ridiculous, but that's the way actors think. I felt my family had kicked me out. After all, the camaraderie and closeness that develops among people doing a soap can be extraordinary. To know I would never work with those people again was devastating. It took at least two years to feel at home here, to get over the feeling that I was the new kid on the block. And now that I finally do, one of my favorite people is leaving..."

Rumor around Search is that Morgan Fairchild (Jennifer Phillips) can expect to be written out soon, since the script possibilities for someone who is insane and who has committed murder are very limited, to say the least. I'd even heard by way of the grapevine that Morgan was psychologically preparing herself for that turn of events. But if she is, and if she's upset about it, she gave no indication of it during our chat over lunch in the green room, that all-purpose room right off the set where the actors eat, and watch the show at 12:30, kid around, go over scripts together, etc. Looking her typically exquisite, perfect self, Morgan filled me in on what's new in her life. "I've become a fan of a young classical violinist named Eugene Fodor, and if he's performing within reasonable flying distance, I try to get there. I was recently in North Carolina and also in Indianapolis to hear him play. I've always enjoyed classical music." Anything romantic happening? "Oh, no. I've met him, but that's all. He doesn't really know me." About doing Search these last three years, Morgan had this to say, "It's hard to believe three years of my life have passed. It's amazing how quickly the years go by. But looking back on all the things Jennifer has been through, it seems even longer. I love playing an insane person. It's such a challenge. Of course anything is better than playing an ingenue."

I know I didn't catch up with all your favorites during my visit. They're never all there on any one particular day, I'm sorry to say. Needless to say, each and every one of these talented people deserves the spotlight. And speaking of deserving the spotlight, no article about Search for Tomorrow would be complete without some comments from the show's producer, Mary-Ellis Bunim, and the director, Ned Stark, who alternates weeks with Robert Nigro in the control room hot seat.

Put aside any preconceptions you might have about producers before you meet Mary-Ellis Bunim, it is quite a shock to discover just how young and pretty this powerful lady exec is, especially knowing she's one of the best producers in the business. With her at the helm, Search has climbed steadily in the ratings. Mary-Ellis' climb to the top took eight years - three years as production assistant on the show, four years as the assistant to the producer, and a year as associate producer before being named producer a year and a half ago - so she's certainly paid her dues. What exactly does a producer do, I asked? "A producer supervises all the aspects of production and contributes creatively to each and every area," Mary-Ellis explained. And what abut Mary-Ellis Bunim, specifically. What has she done to leave her mark? "I wanted to contemporize the show. I'm not saying we always have to deal with current issues, but I do feel we should represent a growth of thought. We want to be relevant, we want to be about real people in 1977. Mainly, however, we're here to entertain, I believe, If we can deal with social issues, great, but that has to take a back set. The show is about people, people with a 25-year history.

For Ned Stark, directing is all about "living for those moments when a scene comes alive and something very special happens on camera." Ned had been teaching high-school English and history for a few years when his love for the theater took hold and he decided to become an actor. He got his first taste of directing when he ran his own theater company for a number of years. Today, Ned admits he sometimes misses acting, and perhaps if the right role came along he might give it a whirl, but directing is his passion. Before being named director two years ago, he put in six years as the show's associate director. "The great thing about doing this show is getting the chance to work with such an exceptional cast," he told me. "They're all incredibly talented and professional, which makes my job so much easier."

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Search's earliest days are what websoaps should be - straight to the heart, honest, full of people you can care about in universal problems. No pointless cameos by someone Mary Stuart worked with in 1946. No half of the episode taken up by credits.

Edited by CarlD2
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I don't remember the first one.

I wonder how popular the McLearys were.

Those ads were a bit suggestive for the time (in soap ads) but nothing compared to some of the ads RKK did when he went back to AW.

That one of the top half of their faces being obscured cracks me up. Especially since Matt Ashford seems to be making a "Wow this is really stupid, pffft" expression.

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Those June 1986 McCleary ads (which I have seen before) are beyond insulting to the viewers' intelligence. A couple years ago, a similar television ad was done for OLTL, asking viewers to watch because the Ford brothers are so sexy.

In answer to Carl's question, the McClearys were quite unpopular, because they hogged up all the air time from the characters who were at the heart of SFT; in this respect, it was very similar to the way the Ford brothers hogged up screen time on OLTL. The interesting coincidence is that the head of NBC daytime (back when SFT became all about the McClearys) was none other than Brian Frons, so he should have known better than to have shoved the Fords down viewers throats. (Of course, blaming Frons for the Fords in no way should let RC & FV off the hook for pimping them; however, that topic was previously discussed in a thread I created.)

Really, the major difference between the McCleary and Ford brothers was that the portrayers of the former could actually act.

Edited by Max
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I don't mind the ads that much if there's some substance behind the actors (as there was here - not with the Fords) - but it does take more than this to get viewers to want to watch. I'm just sorry it didn't work. There's no reason why under better hands Search couldn't have run for 10-15 more years.

Edited by CarlD2
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There's no reason why under better hands Search couldn't have run for 10-15 more years.

Sadly, even with the most talented writers and producers, SFT would still have been doomed on NBC due to the fact that many of that network's affiliates either did not air the soap at all, or refused to air it in the proper timeslot (12:30 P.M. Eastern). Also, by the mid-80's, P&G seemed to lose all interest in this classic soap.

Even if SFT had never been cancelled by CBS in 1982, network executives would have gladly canned this soap (barring a major ratings boost from where it was in 1981) for the almighty Bill Bell's B&B (in 1987). (And if SFT had stayed, then GL or ATWT would have been axed to make room for B&B.) The only silver lining is that had SFT remained on CBS, the ratings (and perhaps the quality as well) would not have fallen nearly as much as they did on NBC.

Edited by Max
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Tina actually looks like Mary in that photo.

I wish we knew what plans they even had for Patti, aside from what's mentioned in synopses. I don't know if this was a time of transition for Search but to just drop Patti after years of being a main character seems a little odd. I remember Tina suggesting Patti might become more of a schemer, but I don't know if that was actually something in the script or not.

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