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Another fascinating filled with insight on Sheffer's madness and filled with eerie things to come--note his like of Amber on B&B....

HOGAN'S CONTROVERSY[PART 1]

written by Snark

In the course of a recent Soap Opera Digest interview, Sheffer comments on his writing for Simon/Katie, and his affection for the characters, which eventually leads to this passage:

Digest: It's harder once they're finally together, though.

HS: This is the dilemma of head writer. Carly, as a character, is fantastic. I love Maura West; all my writers love writing for her. I never want her to be with anyone. Because the whole thing with Carly is her being caught between two men. If you settle her in Milltown with Jack and they're holding hands and watching TV, I don't know what that is. I don't want to make her happy. Terri is great happy - that's the kind of story she generates. But Maura is a femme fatale (type). Carly's got a shady past, she's been a schemer, she's been put upon. You can play her in all kinds of stories of regret and redemption, but putting her in a happy marriage? God, I have nightmares. I wake up screaming about Carly being in a happy relationship.

Well, apparently Hogan decided to share the terror, because this passage gave a lot of CarJackers nightmares of their own. They were terrified that their couple was never going to be together, and happy. Worse, it seemed like Sheffer was doing a 180 from his first major interview conducted in November 2000, where he said: "I love Jack and Carly. We'll play out the (Carly/Jack/Julia) triangle one more time, then we'll put it to rest." Now, when Carly/Jack fans read that, they assumed that Sheffer loved Carly and Jack together , and married. Apparently, Sheffer loves them separately and miserable. Also, Sheffer certainly took his sweet time ending the triangle. In fact, it’s debatable he’s ended it at all, with the recent short-term stunt casting of Annie Parisse (Julia).

Next, Soap Opera Digest reported the Internet fans displeasure. (I don’t know why I’m surprised. SOD gets half their stories by trolling the Internet). Poor Michael Park (Jack) had to tell anyone who would listen that CarJack was a-okay, Jack still loves Carly, please don’t flip stations, don’t send hate mail, and for God‘s sake, put the gun down! (So, I paraphrased a bit). Now, in the most recent SOD, Sheffer, who reports he’s gotten his own e-mails on the situation, responds thusly:

"(Digest and I) actually had an interview about the writing, and the process and the prejudices and the passions that go with it. There are a lot of things I would like that don't have anything to do with what I actually might do. I didn't say I'll never make Carly happy--I said I don't like to see her happy. For me, personally, when she's miserable, I'm at my best as a writer. That's all I meant.

“You don't know what's coming. When it's finally here and you don't like it, then you can yell and scream. But don't read into things. Please, chill out and wait and see what happens."

Okay, where to begin? I like Sheffer. He comes across as interesting and honest, unlike other top industry execs that seem bland and muzzled. When someone promises a candid interview with Sheffer, that’s what you get, unlike other candid interviews which are usually more cookie-cutter tripe. (Really, is there any All My Children fan that doesn’t know the standard Jean Dadario Burke interview by heart?) I also continue to enjoy Sheffer’s writing, even if he’s stopped writing As the World Turns, and seems to be channeling The Edge of Night. (Sorry, but we are so far in outer space right now, it’s ridiculous.)

But, I can also see why CarJackers are upset. They have been through stupid plot device after stupid plot device. They have been promised many things by many writers and producers. Then came Hogan Sheffer. Not only was he a vast improvement over previous writers, but he seemed to get Carly, and especially, Jack. Then, he proclaims that he loves Jack and Carly, and that he’s going to wrap up the triangle. Now, you can debate what Sheffer intended to say, but I think many CarJackers interpreted the statement as this: “Look, you and I know that Jack and Carly are way overdue to be together. Let me wring a little drama from this Julia crap, and then I’ll put Jack and Carly together.” I don’t think anybody expect Jack and Carly to be completely happy, and never on the outs. But, bottom line, they want this couple to be together. Not the “You know my heart is always with you, and you’re the one I truly love, but I’m screwing 10, 000 other people, cause we just can’t get our act together” together, either. NEWSFLASH: The couple that’s “not together but always has this hold on each other” plays out real quick. The only show that’s made it work for an extended period of time is The Young and the Restless with Victor and Nikki, and even they’re finally being forced to let those characters mature.

I’m sincerely sorry that Sheffer, who's avoided so many soap pitfalls, has fallen into the marriage trap. You know. The one that says, “Marriage equals the end. Marriage is one step removed from death. Marriage is the end of the adventure. Marriage must be avoided. Marriage must be escaped from.” For some reason, soap bigwigs do not think of married couples as anything other than boring. One would think that a couple with the pasts, the chemistry, and the occupations that Jack and Carly have could generate something more exciting than the “happy couple“. We know Sheffer has a vivid imagination. What is it about reasonably happy, functional marriages that scares these people? Are they just unable to relate?

As for Sheffer’s follow-up comments, I will take them with a grain of salt. Fans of all soaps have been told various times by varying execs not to prejudge, and wait and see what happens. And while they’re waiting, they get hit with a 2X4. Granted, Sheffer is a cut above the current crop of writers. But, he’s also going to write stories and characters that he’s interested in. He may have Jack and Carly become happily married, despite his personal feelings. But, he’s also going to play to what he feels his strengths are as a writer. And, if he feels that married Carly doesn’t play to that, they’ll go the way of Tom and Margo. Hopefully, Sheffer will figure out that he’s a better writer than that.

HEY! SHEFFER SAID OTHER STUFF TOO![PART 2]

On rejected stories: “I can't really think of a story that I wanted to do. I mean Lucy Johnson (CBS's senior vice president, Daytime, Children's Programs and Special Projects) and Shari Scharfer (director, Daytime Programming, East Coast) have been unbelievably supportive, like scarily supportive. The only problem we've run into, like rejection of story ideas, was when we were trying to figure out what to do with out young people. It's something that we want to put front-and-center, and we kept going to stories that involved them all as a group.... Ultimately we came upon a resolution that was pretty shocking. It was actually (Co-Head Writer) Jean Passanante who (suggested we kill Bryant). And then the snowball started rolling. It gave us a chance to put Abigail and Adam in one story, take Jennifer off for a while and then bring her back in another tale. So, only in finding something for the young people have I had any problems getting stories approved by the network.”

Jean Passanante is also being ripped apart by Internet fans, thanks to this interview. She wasn’t well received in the first place, due to what went on during her tenure as Head Writer of AMC. I had no problem with killing off Bryant. His character was boring and useless, and most people didn’t care if he was on the show or not. Only when the writers decided to kill him off, was there some huge, largely inexplicable outcry. What I’m upset about is that Bryant’s death is startlingly similar to a JFP shameless Emmy Grab, like the death of Baby Megan at OLTL. There seems to be no thought to the story beyond giving actors a few really good emotional scenes for the Emmy reel. Worse, Bryant’s death could have ignited tons of story, if the writers let it. Instead, it’s been largely forgotten in favor of James Stenbeck’s Spa of Doom and other storylines that are entertaining, but nearly as satisfying as the extended fallout of Bryant’s death could have been. They dropped the ball.

On using veteran performers: “Sometimes you run into them and catch a little hell. I met Helen Wagner (Nancy) and her husband in the hall a few weeks ago, and she reminded me that I have used her very little in the last few months, and I apologized because she's right. She's the matriarch of the show, and I said I'd try to keep it in mind. But for the most part I don't get complaints, though I'm sure that there are actors who complain to other people. We're using some people more than others, and that's my call.”

I think Sheffer is using veteran characters better than recent predecessors. And I don’t think that viewers really want old characters in front-burner storylines. They just want to see them more than once a month in the party scene, or getting two lines at the wedding ceremony. There are often situations that cry out for certain characters to be present, to comfort someone, or chew out someone else--but they’re just absent. As for Nancy, they seemed to have a nice story going with her and Rose’s father, but that came to an end. While I believe that Sheffer has his favorites, I can’t help but think that this has more to do with budgetary concerns.

On the Ghost Story: “With the ghost story, the audience should have known what the ghost wanted at least halfway through that story and I just kept trying to milk it until the end. And it got very wearying, even for me, watching it. As good as it was. I love Tom Eplin (Jake) and Lesli (Kay, Molly), but I just said to myself, 'If I were watching this at home, I would want to know what the hell is going on here.'"

It’s very refreshing to hear a Head Writer admit he made a mistake. And not the nambsy-pambsy, “Ooh, we misread the audience”, or “The network made us do it!” Sheffer looks back and says, “My story was dumb and frustrating.” It’s even more interesting to compare this to the quotes Sheffer was giving a year ago when he insisted that viewers would eventually see why the story had to be told this way. Wrong!

On What Would Happen if Executive Producer Chris Goutman Left: “..."I wake up screaming in the dark thinking about it. I'm surrounded by great writers, I've been give a certain amount of leeway on the stories I want to tell. But it's the show. Forget the writing, look at the show, what's up on the television screen. Goutman almost never says no.”

Two things: 1)Either Sheffer needs to see a therapist about these screaming nightmares or he needs to drop this idiotic catchphrase. 2) It’s nice to hear about an Executive Producer who works with and stands up for his writers, instead of trying to write the show himself, or rolling over and playing dead for the networks.

On Cooley’s Island: "The island walked a thin line, but I just love Don Chastain (Cooley). I told Goutman I want to put somebody on that island every summer for at least once a month so we can have Don Chastain."

I wake up screaming about that quote. :0) Maybe as time progresses, Sheffer will move this to the mistake column, where it belongs.

On James Stenbeck: "Isn't he wonderful, Anthony (Herrera)? I never saw the old incarnations of Stenbeck. He' s so good. Every day you turn it on and go, 'I didn't know if this will work,' and there it is. We wrote that Molly/Jake wedding, and it was such a jumble of stories and you get through the breakdowns and read the scripts and go, 'Somehow it all sort of makes sense.' But then you look at the tapes and go, 'Holy s---, we wrote that.'"

Well, Sheffer seems to truly be on a learning curve. Remember the Sheffer that wasn’t going to use continuing villains, and thought David Stenbeck was so ridiculous, he had the corpse shot? Now, he’s working with James Stenbeck, the ultimate comeback villain. Perhaps James will join his son in “Really, Most Sincerely Dead” Land, at the end of this story. I’m up to here with villains that never die. Side Note: I like Jake and Molly, but that wedding was not a high point in Sheffer’s run. It did end Malta Madness, which is wisely not referred to at all in this interview.

On recasts: “We got lucky twice: Hunt Block walked into Craig like he'd owned it for years, and (Scott) Holroyd did the same (with Paul). We never got a negative reaction from the audience. They just accepted it. It was really strange."

If Sheffer never got a negative reaction about Block, I expect he’s got one now. (I’m sure CarJackers slipped in a few comments in their e-mails). I never saw the other guy, and I’ve got problems with Block’s performance, which is often just plain bad, by anyone’s standards.

On What He Watches: “First and foremost, THE SIMPSONS. There is only THE SIMPSONS. And they seem to get better every year. THE SIMPSONS and KING OF THE HILL, obviously. And THE PRACTICE. It hooks you. It's a great soap....I like PASSIONS. I like its tone. I get it. I watch GUIDING LIGHT, too. I've been watching that off and on for like the last two months. I was trying to tune in because I feel a certain devotion to Procter and Gamble and to Mickey (Dwyer-Dobbin, executive in charge of production) and Bill (Graham, director of creative affairs) and I'd like to see what else we're doing. And I guess I also n the back of my mind (it's in case) I'm ever asked to help (laughs)....Amber on BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL. I don't know what it is about her but I just love her. “

I still like you, Hogan, but The Simpsons peaked two years ago, King of the Hill is not funny, and The Practice is running out of steam. I get Passions, but it’s the most over praised piece of soap ever. I too watch Guiding Light more because I feel like I should than because I enjoy it. Funny that Sheffer thinks he may be called in to help--I wonder if GL’s head writer read this. Amber---ick.

Next Time: A double-sized Gutbuster Edition. In-depth analysis of The Young and the Restless, and the recent interview with new Executive Producer David Shaughnessy; the buzz on OLTL, including comments on Roger Howarth’s impending exit; a clear explanation of what Felicia Minei Behr meant about Port Charles influencing the lineup, why FMB thinks the young demo should be targeted, and who those comments ticked off; why Soapnet is fixing what isn’t broken; what, if anything, the closing of SOD Online means to the genre; and the new, and apparently, unimproved Soap Opera Weekly.

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Now I remember that comment claiming they had no complaints about Hunt Block. I have some major doubts about that -- the character was a huge departure from Scott Bryce's Craig and even if the soap press and some fans adored him, not everyone did. I thought Block was jarringly wrong for the part from the getgo, and they destroyed Craig, forever, with their sociopathic writing.

While I believe that Sheffer has his favorites, I can’t help but think that this has more to do with budgetary concerns.

This popped up at DAYS too. Oh, Hogan would love to write for the older characters, it's just the budget! Funny how Gary Tomlin has managed to put vets onscreen quite a bit, in far greater roles than Sheffer has done on any of his shows. I think he has contempt for older characters. I never felt that he liked Kim, and he turned Barbara into a sick joke.

All that love for Katie, and yet he wrote AWFUL story after AWFUL story for her and totally wasted any potential Simon/Katie ever had as a couple.

I'm glad that he doesn't do interviews now, although at least if he did we might get some insight into how many of his old flop stories he has recycled in Genoa City.

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Now I remember that comment claiming they had no complaints about Hunt Block. I have some major doubts about that -- the character was a huge departure from Scott Bryce's Craig and even if the soap press and some fans adored him, not everyone did. I thought Block was jarringly wrong for the part from the getgo, and they destroyed Craig, forever, with their sociopathic writing.

Hunt Block is an insufferable "actor." I'd rather watch Alison Sweeney cry like a retarded banshee. At least I can laugh at her horribleness.

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Now I remember that comment claiming they had no complaints about Hunt Block. I have some major doubts about that -- the character was a huge departure from Scott Bryce's Craig and even if the soap press and some fans adored him, not everyone did. I thought Block was jarringly wrong for the part from the getgo, and they destroyed Craig, forever, with their sociopathic writing.

This popped up at DAYS too. Oh, Hogan would love to write for the older characters, it's just the budget! Funny how Gary Tomlin has managed to put vets onscreen quite a bit, in far greater roles than Sheffer has done on any of his shows. I think he has contempt for older characters. I never felt that he liked Kim, and he turned Barbara into a sick joke.

All that love for Katie, and yet he wrote AWFUL story after AWFUL story for her and totally wasted any potential Simon/Katie ever had as a couple.

I'm glad that he doesn't do interviews now, although at least if he did we might get some insight into how many of his old flop stories he has recycled in Genoa City.

Some people don't like my tall hunk of burning love HB???I lurved him, even though he was playing Ben Warren on ATWT..(why did they kill him off GL, he was great being the pain in the ass to everyone.)

I too hate it when the blame the budget on not writing for the vets. Hey, it costs you as much to bring them in for a day to say two lines as it does to give them something of substance to do. That was really apparent on GL when they would trot poor Marj Dusay out to flutter over Alan, lick her lips, laugh and disappear into the Spaulding broom closet. This is the great Alexandra Spaulding???Thats all you can have her do...you still have to pay her, make her do something you idiots!!!

I lurved Katie and Simon and that hot scene when they were trying to get the key off of Katie. They were cute, fun, sexy...and then..nothing! They should have been on adventures, solving mysteries with Simon finding himself shirtless at every turn!

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If Hogan loves Amber so much, why did he have Deacon rape her?

He seems to like those types of stories. He wrote endlessly for Sami (although he ruined the character) and he gave her one of those rape stories. I think Amber was also supposed to get the is it/is it not rape story, like Sami did, but something curtailed it.

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Why do daytime writers 1 - admit their lack of imagination? 2 - need to tell us about their bathrooms. Didn't Brad Bell do some interview where he talked about a storyline he thought up for a character while in the shower? TMI, dudes. So all Sheffer can think about is Carly in conflict? If you're married, you can't be exciting? WEAK!

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That simpleton rat bastard's interview! Ugh....yes, I was a Carjacker offended by his dumbass comments, but not because I believed "Carly would never be happy" (shows what a friggin' idiot I was...) but because they show a complete ignorance of what makes soap viewers tick. So what if Todd Rotondi's Bryant was "boring" (IA on that)...write something interesting for him! He was "boring" based on a horrific teen romance with Jennifer. Instead of realizing that, and REMEMBERING he was Craig's son and Lucinda's "heir apparent", they killed off a legacy character without thinking, to drive TWO weeks' worth of story. And so much for "one last" go-round with Annie Parisse's Julia---Hogan wrote Jack's rape by that bitch, and refused to call it that or punish her for it.

Interesting how he's praising Scott Hoylrod's Paul...only to [[email protected]#$%^&*] can him in favor of Howarth. And I refuse to believe there was no dissatisfaction with Block's casting. I know a lot of posters who couldn't stand his version of Craig.

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I wish Sheffer would be neutered and banished from ever writing anything ever again.

When you fail at three soaps in a row with the same disastrous ways of telling stories, you know something isn't right there.

He had one good year at ATWT, and even then, there was nothing brilliant about the show. He's been coasting off that one decent year for far too long.

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This popped up at DAYS too. Oh, Hogan would love to write for the older characters, it's just the budget! Funny how Gary Tomlin has managed to put vets onscreen quite a bit, in far greater roles than Sheffer has done on any of his shows.

It helps when there's only (I think) three over fifty left, and then only two who are white. For older vets you have Bo, Hope, Stefano, Kate, Maggie, Abe and Lexie, and if you want to get Carly and Vivian, fine - who's left? Roman doesn't count. That's it.

I liked a lot of Sheffer's ATWT and hated other parts. Despite the negative effects on some characters I think he did wonders with Barbara, for example. That singlehandedly revitalized Colleen Zenk-Pinter on that show. Hogan's problem has always been excess and at ATWT there was also an exaggerated willingness to jettison the past for a new vision of a character.

ETA: Okay, I forgot Victor. And so does Days, most of the time.

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It helps when there's only (I think) three over fifty left, and then only two who are white. You have Bo, Hope, Stefano, Kate, Maggie, Abe and Lexie, and if you want to get Carly and Vivian, fine - who's left? Roman doesn't count. That's it.

I guess Anna might be a vet (I don't know whether they're still vets if they were gone for that many years), and there's also Victor and Caroline.

I don't remember Sheffer using any of the veterans that much, so it didn't seem like the budget so much as lack of interest. I remember evil Andre and a two second return for Anna, Hope having a few moments with Bo and then calling out Belle, and John being in a coma, and some stuff for Patch/Kayla, but otherwise it was just people sitting in the Brady pub reading letters. It wouldn't have bothered me as much if he actually knew how to write for younger characters, but instead he said stuff like Stefano and Victor were too old and it was time to build up EJ and Phillip, and he had EJ as a sadistic torturer/rapist and Phillip as a rageaholic who dangled a pregnant woman over a boat. So I thought it was the worst of both worlds.

It was the same at ATWT, generally -- he would use the vets to try to make the younger characters look better but couldn't write for the younger characters that well, so I thought it was all cancelled out.

Now he's at Y&R and Victor suffocates the show more than he ever has before, and we also see a lot of Katherine, in spite of budget cuts. So I think it's less about budget with Sheffer and more about just only wanting to write for a specific type of older person. Victor is the typical man Sheffer likes to write for on a soap, so we get to see him crush people and degrade women day in and day out.

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