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Jeff Ryder interview,SOD April 86


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An interview with the GL headwriter,Jeff Ryder.After his GL stint ,did he work elsewhere in daytime?

The whole interview seems to be a defense of the mistakes made at GL during their tenure.

The justification for not dealing with Bert's death for instance.And,the destruction of the Bauers.To say there were only 4 and not include Rick and Mike.Also,not writing for Nola,the saying they want her back.I'm sure by that time Lisa was ready to work on ATWT. same for Mike and Hope.Imagine if Mike had become involved with Alex.It would have been a new angle to the Bauer/Spaulding clash.

Jeff Ryder,GL's headwriter,takes you inside springfield.

They create them and they can destroy them. Head writers have that power and they use it. GL viewers found that out most recently when Jeff Ryder and Pamela Long Hammer,then that show's headwriters,decided that Lujack had to die.

'The actor's contract was up and at that time he made it known that there was absolutely no way he wanted to return',says Jeff Ryder,who is currently doing a solo act while Pam is on maternity leave(she may not return). The decision,which has been very unpopular with viewers,was made,Ryder explains,because he and Pam felt that "in terms of the character's future...there were a number of characters who were intimately involved in Lujack's life who were still on the show and dramatically,Lujack's death-rather than sending him off on a plane or on a world wide tour for the video-could catapult us into the next chapter for a number of these people".Despite the resulting outcry,Ryder has no regrets.

Formerly VP of Daytime Programming at NBC,Ryder's current position began with "a very loose association of sorts" with Pam,who was then GL's head writer. After he left the network,Pam,who had known Jeff from the the time she scripted the now defunct Texas,contacted him and they started bantering a number of ideas for long-term stories. When a pilot he had been working on for NBC fell through,Jeff and Pam talked and she said.'I really think that you and I can work together',and I decided,why not?"

Though Jeff remains cognizant of the network's viewpoint on stories,GL has had no profound impact on his perspective. It's no accident that soap opera audiences find themselves tuning into one story line running concurrently on several different shows. As a network VP,one of the things Jeff did was to monitor trends and analyze upward and downward movement on the shows,the theory being that what worked for one show could work for another. Now,jeff says,"I don't believe you can copy anymore. I don't believe what works on GH will necessarily work at the same time period on GL. The audiences are different,the shows are different. As a result,i am much more protective of Gl. If somebody says to me,'ATWT is doing this,you should be doing this,'I can't embrace that."

One thing GL's head writers mistakenly believed was in Springfield's best interest was keeping the character of Bert Bauer alive even though Charita Bauer,the actress who had played Bert for over 30 years,had died. "Pam and I felt strongly that Charita was the life of Guiding Light and that as long as the show was on the air we wanted to keep the Charita's presence alive. But as a result of the "overwhelming response" from the audience who needed a final resolution for that character,Jeff and Pam finally laid Bert Bauer's memory to rest by having the character pass away offscreen and then airing a funeral memorial service acknowledging her death.

Since Pam and Jeff took over head writing duties at GL,there have been a number of changes. The emphasis on the Bauer and Spaulding families has decreased and the very popular Nola reardon Chamberlain was written off after Lisa Brown,the actress who played her chose to leave. While Jeff admits that lack of storyline was partially responsible for Lisa's departure,he adds, "there were a number of different reasons. We asked her to come back",he notes. "Pam spoke to her and said that we would like her to come back and that we would write major stories for her.Her choice was not to come back."

As for the Bauers and the Spauldings,Jeff observes that while both families made a lasting impression on GL,they were actually few in number. "I appreciate that the Bauer family was atentpole on GL,but there were actually only 4 Bauers. There is Bert,Ed,Mo and Hope and that's it,"Ryder comments,temporarily forgetting Mike. "We are not going to continue the Bauers as THE family on the show,but we are seriously thinking of trying to bring back the character of Mike and there is a possibility of Hope returning." When Chris Bernau,the actor who played alan,left GL. "Alexandra came in to keep that dynasty alive",Jeff says. "Alexandra was created and brought in very much in the mold of Alan."

According to Jeff,one of the most popular plots of late was the 'dreaming death' story and one of the least the'video' storyline. "It got too convoluted",Jeff believes, "and our ratings suffered because of it".

After tampering with the past(and creating a furor in the process)by bringing back the character of Brandon Spaulding,who many viewers had watched die years ago,Jeff is looking forward to creating new dynasties. He and Pam successfully introduced the Lewises and Shaynes and Jeff says there is another Shayne,possibly two,in the offing. "Sarah Shayne is so clear in my head-who she is and always was. I mean Rusty,we know who the brother Rusty is". Well,if he's anything loke his volatile father and two sisters,GL viewers are in for a ride.

In the same issue,it was reported that Ryder had since departed as GL head writer.

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That's a very half-hearted interview. I can't believe he forgot about Hillary, not to mention Mike. And what a bizarre response. "There were only four." So why write any of them out?

It was direspectful to ever think about keeping Bert alive for good. She meant too much to the audience. At least this explains why her memorial episode seemed so rushed. They didn't want to do it in the first place.

IMDB credits him as writing GL up to 1989. They also have him as writing some 87-88 Dynasty episodes.

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I definitely sawa decrease in storyline quality when Pam went on maternity leave. I'm not surprised that he didn't last long after she left because his stories while he was solo were dull. I find it hard to believe the Dreaming Death was a popular story. I also remember writing to the show when they brought back Brandon Spaulding from the dead in Barbados. P&G sent some canned b.s. response back basically saying that they had to use dramatic license to enhance the story.

I don't think he ever wrote daytime again. I know he wrote a very unpopular season of Dynasty around 88 or 89.

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That's a very half-hearted interview. I can't believe he forgot about Hillary, not to mention Mike. And what a bizarre response. "There were only four." So why write any of them out?

It was direspectful to ever think about keeping Bert alive for good. She meant too much to the audience. At least this explains why her memorial episode seemed so rushed. They didn't want to do it in the first place.

IMDB credits him as writing GL up to 1989. They also have him as writing some 87-88 Dynasty episodes.

At the time he and Long were there, there was Bert, Mike, Ed, Mo, Rick, Hope, Hillary, Bill (offscreen) and Bill's other son, who I dont think was named, (also offscreen.) They chose to kill Bill and Hillary, wrote Hope off as an alchy, wrote Mike off and never brought in Bill'a adult son...so that is bullshit. Lisa Brown,who was a diva of the highest order at that time, left because there was no story for her for over a year, which at that time was like not writing for Reva for a year.

At the time off the interview, Marland was already on ATWT, and Brown had to have started. I think Ryder's little comment of "look at what ATWT is doing," is that Marland was going back to the core, while at the same time creating a new family. He was basically going back to the basics and increasing ratings and numbers while GL was loosing them with their stupid Infinity storyline, and by gutting the Bauers in favor of the Lewis and Shayne families.

Also, the show faltered at that fall as they had obscured the Bauers and focused on stupid characters like Jackson Freakin Freemont and Suzanne somebody. ( I just remember the day of some trial where Billy Lewis was hypnotized to kill Kyle Sampson and the actor flaring his nostrils and screaming "LOVE ME, LOVE Me," and everyone in the TV Lounge hysterically laughing at it all.)

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Also, the show faltered at that fall as they had obscured the Bauers and focused on stupid characters like Jackson Freakin Freemont and Suzanne somebody. ( I just remember the day of some trial where Billy Lewis was hypnotized to kill Kyle Sampson and the actor flaring his nostrils and screaming "LOVE ME, LOVE Me," and everyone in the TV Lounge hysterically laughing at it all.)

Suzette Saxton? I admire Frances Fisher (probably for some of her more thankless work, like that Lucille Ball TV-movie), but that role seems so drab, and she does seem superfluous. And this was after she'd been on Edge of Night in a popular role for 4-5 years, they couldn't make her a Reardon sister or something?

This era of GL always seems odd to me. Do you think Long and Ryder were ashamed of GL? Was that why they tried to reinvent it so drastically? I mean when I watch these episodes, some of the location work (like Mindy's and Kurt's wedding) is stunning, and I like some of the characters, but it's so far removed from what had been only a year or two before. They added a drastic facelift to Springfield, and for every success (Alex, India), there seemed to be twice as many flops.

Some of the stories just confuse me. In a year's time, did Kurt and Mindy get married, she won a beauty contest, she burnt down their dream house, he left town, and was killed in Alaska?

Wasn't this also when they had the story where Jerry Lanning saved Reva from drowning and went to live with her but he was a killer, or a crazy ex-carnival worker or something?

It was the writers after Long/Ryder who started the Dinah story, right? I don't ever see Ross doing anything, aside from Calla, in most of the clips of GL from about 83-late 86.

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Long's second stint seemed very different in terms of tone and did seem like more of an ensemble effort. I wonder if we have to thank Robert Calhoun and Nancy Curlee for that though.

But to be fair, it didn't seem like her second stint really took off until Roger and Holly returned.

I've heard that Long and Calhoun detested each other and fought a lot about the direction of the show.

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I was already familiar with Douglas Marland's Guiding Light (and a huge fan) through a German network and I was delighted when a Greek tv station bought newer episodes. As a viewer I "jumped" from 1982 to the Long-Ryder era and I was horrified. All the veterans where gone and nobody ever mentioned them, the tone of the show was different, many parts were recast and "taken to a different direction", there no Reardons, almost no Bauers, Alan Spaulding was gone, Dr Sarah McIntyre was gone, Jennifer Richards and her daughters weren't anywhere and it was all Reva, Lujack, Beth, Kyle Sampson and the Lewis clan. They had managed to ruin a classy show and turned it into something different. That era was really bad and if I were Jeff Ryder I would be avoiding interviews about my work.

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Say what you will about Long, but I adored the characters she introduced to GL such as Alexandra, India, and Lujack. True Carl, for every success there was a fail.

This era of GL always seems odd to me. Do you think Long and Ryder were ashamed of GL? Was that why they tried to reinvent it so drastically?

I don't think Ryder and Long were ashamed per se, but I do believe the network had a large part to play in their storyline decisions. Honestly I see them trying incredibly hard to reinvent the success they had with Reva and Phillip/Beth/Mindy/Rick/Lujack that they simply ended up failing miserably at trying to copy their own success. Just look at the Simon Hall mess, who I have a feeling was meant to take the void that Lujack left behind, the Kurt/Mindy mess of a romance which might have been copied from Reva/Josh, and then there is the Infinity storyline, a type of story that was obviously pushed by the networks at the time.

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Long also admitted that she had never watched an episode of GL prior to be being named HW. That might explain some of her decisions better and why she thought the Bauers in particular weren't worth the extra effort.

I also think part of the reason she clashed with Calhoun was because Calhoun knew and respected what the show was prior to her reinvention, while Long wanted to write for her characters and her characters only. But as I mentioned, her second stint didn't seem to take off until Roger and Holly were reintroduced, and that was more Nancy Curlee than Long, who admitted to never seeing Roger and Holly.

I'll never understand why PGP made GL a continuation of Texas, after that show was canceled. Even some of the music cues from teas were forced upon GL. Long did some good, but GL didn't really get back to basic and the core themes of hope and community (and by community, I mean a big ensemble effort) until Curlee and team.

I know Quint and Nola fans really detest Long, but then again, they believe no one knew how to write for that couple other than Marland. And to be fair, they're probably right.

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I know Quint and Nola fans really detest Long, but then again, they believe no one knew how to write for that couple other than Marland. And to be fair, they're probably right.

To write for Quint and Nola, you had to have a tremendous love for old-fashioned Gothic romance, which I don't think anyone but Doug Marland had. Plus, as I've said before, I actually think Quint and Nola should have left Springfield as soon as they were married. As much as I loved their story, I think theirs was "done" by that point.

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Long's second stint seemed very different in terms of tone and did seem like more of an ensemble effort. I wonder if we have to thank Robert Calhoun and Nancy Curlee for that though.

But to be fair, it didn't seem like her second stint really took off until Roger and Holly returned.

I've heard that Long and Calhoun detested each other and fought a lot about the direction of the show.

I can imagine, Calhoun resurrected ATWT by going to the core, and I can imagine him doing the same on GL...with Long wanting the show to revolve around the Lewis and the Shayne families.

A funny story, I think Zimmer told, that quite the contrary, that Long and Zimmer didn't always get along, and at the time she wanted to leave the show, she, Long and Calhour (I believe) went out to dinner and the two women ended up arguing and being so vile to each other that the producer, whomever he was, went out on the street and threw up on the curb!

Agree, that Holly and Roger really helped the show take off, because it put both the Bauers and the Spauldings back on the front burner and moved the Lewises off a bit (Roger really didnt have much to do with the Lewises, besides Billy.) However, I do think that she came back after the writers strike energized and used the Sonni/Solita storyline to create an ensemble feel (as most everyone was invovled one way or the other.) Of course I LOVED Sonni/Solita...dark, gothic, but ultimately everything turned out okay, with Sonni tentaviley back in Springfield society. I mean, who can't like a catfight in a convent!!!

I think a lot of the changes after Culliton left was because of the network and frankly, Long was over her head. Ryder wasnt worth a dime and GL was much different then Texas in that she started practically fresh on that show. GL's lenghty history was over her head and the net wanted to compete more with GH..which was odd, as I said, GL toppled GH as the top soap for three weeks the summer of 84, by relying on the tried and true Bauers, Spauldings, Reardons and Lewis all having equal time with traditional GL stories.

But again, Sonni/Solita was one of my favorite GL stories, but Roger/Holly reignited GL for the next, what 7 years.

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Suzette Saxton? I admire Frances Fisher (probably for some of her more thankless work, like that Lucille Ball TV-movie), but that role seems so drab, and she does seem superfluous. And this was after she'd been on Edge of Night in a popular role for 4-5 years, they couldn't make her a Reardon sister or something?

This era of GL always seems odd to me. Do you think Long and Ryder were ashamed of GL? Was that why they tried to reinvent it so drastically? I mean when I watch these episodes, some of the location work (like Mindy's and Kurt's wedding) is stunning, and I like some of the characters, but it's so far removed from what had been only a year or two before. They added a drastic facelift to Springfield, and for every success (Alex, India), there seemed to be twice as many flops.

Some of the stories just confuse me. In a year's time, did Kurt and Mindy get married, she won a beauty contest, she burnt down their dream house, he left town, and was killed in Alaska?

Wasn't this also when they had the story where Jerry Lanning saved Reva from drowning and went to live with her but he was a killer, or a crazy ex-carnival worker or something?

It was the writers after Long/Ryder who started the Dinah story, right? I don't ever see Ross doing anything, aside from Calla, in most of the clips of GL from about 83-late 86.

I think Long tried to turn GL into a clone of Texas, not just in terms of the Southern characters she introduced, but also in terms of tone. GL under Long and Ryder was a colorful mix of bizarre plot-driven melodrama, heavy family schmaltz, and electrifying female characters, which is exactly what made Texas so good its last year. I think she got too carried away with the bizarre plotty melodrama and just went totally over the top. She probably would've followed the same path on Texas if that show had hung around for a few more years.

Jerry Lanning as Cain, the guy who saved Reva, was brought in Pam near the end of her first run, I believe. I remember Pam in the mags discussing the attempted suicide and the psychology behind someone wanting to kill themself but at the last minute decides they want to live.

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If I recall Cain and Reva were meant to be the real deal, as he was meant to be a true competitor for Reva's heart like Kyle was. However when Pam departed the show, her sucessor decided to have Cain take the psycho route.

As well they should have...Cain was an idiotic creation, a kind of Tarzan she found under the bridge!!!

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Thanks for both your answers. I've never seen any of that story. I just remember reading about it and being slightly confused and disturbed, and if it's that way on paper I'm not sure what it was onscreen. Did this also involve a trunk, or a circus?

Who was it who came up with the exit for Claire, which I haven't heard a lot of great things about?

On the one hand I do love the female characters of this era, but it seems like something happened to a number of them in that 85-86 period where there was a lack of focus. Reva went from Josh to HB to Kyle to this Cain. Vanessa, did she have any story for several years after she ran Reva over? Mindy and Kurt and the beauty contest and then Rusty. Wasn't there something about Roxy having a split personality and being a former Alaskan prostitute?

I think GL's female characters were always their strongest asset, especially with such powerhouses like Maeve and Kim and Beverlee ruling the roost, but I wonder if someone at the show started running amok with what to do.

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