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Sponsor Magazine March 1963

`The Secret Storm' Profile of a daytime tv soap opera

Two disparate segments of American society -the hard headed businessman and the soft -boiled egghead -appear to see eye to eye on at least one subject, namely the daytime television serial. Both are reportedly viewing with considerable reverence the latter -day soapers. Probers seeking a motive for the enduring affection lavished on daytime serials by national advertisers, soon learn that the latter derive quantity plus  circulation and astounding viewer loyalty from sponsoring serials. Moreover, daytime serials on television today are garnering high Nielsens. Should the trend continue, the networks will before long, offer nighttime serials. Negotiations are presently under way. Says a top -ranking CBS TV sales executive, speaking of the enormous popularity of The Secret Storm, a Roy W'insor product seen Mon. -Fri. (4 to 4:30 p.m. EST) , "When the advertiser hitches on to a dramatic serial such as this he's buying the most homes for his advertising dollar and at the same time getting a story that is holding audiences with missionary fervor day in and day out, a story surprisingly well written." Anti -intellectuals as well as intellectuals seen to agree that throughout today's crop of television serials runs a sleep vein of professional and more meaningful writing, acting and production values.

 

In the case of The Secret Storm, there is sheen and polish akin to that of the Broadway theatre; in fact, all the performers in the ten -year -old skein from the Broadway stage. Notably principal players Haila Stoddard as Pauline Fuller. Marjorie Gateson as Grace Tyrell and James Vickery as Alan Dunbar. The Misses Gateson, Stoddard and Jada Rowland, who plays Amy, are members of the original cast. The Secret Storm made its television debut I February 1954 as a 15- minute serial. It was expanded to a half hour in the summer of 1962. Carl Bixby is the present head writer

The strength of the dramatic serial is in its form, Winsor contends. "It is a continued story about characters whose hopes, fears, confusions, and ambitions stimulate an identifying emotional response in the viewer," he observes. "Some  characters are basically good. The viewer sees such characters as an idealization of himself. In the  immoral or amoral character, the viewer sees personal enemies who should be chastised. 'This very fact -good versus evil- produces conflict. Conflict- physical and emotional -is the stuff of which drama is made." Winsor and his colleagues maintain that The Secret Storm, for one, reflects the world in which we live, "a world recognized, we believe, by everyone who can be attracted as viewers only if there is some growth in the characters we present for their entertainment. These characters reflect this world by their present and future behavior. They are not presented as stereotyped personifications of goodness -a woman exposed periodically to evil in the person of the wicked carpetbagger. Nor do they stagnate- a Pollyanna beset with one larger than life problem after another yet never growing into a richer. wiser, or more productive human being."

No tumors on the brain.

Gone, for the most part, from today's serials are the interminable maladies and sicknesses, the endless surgical operations, the use of crutches, canes, plaster casts and surgical dressings. "There are no crutches in The Secret Storm," emphasizes William Francisco, associate producer in the Winsor office. "There are no incurable diseases among the characters portrayed, he says triumphantly. Once in a while, a character will have a slight headache or come home exhausted. Always, there is a sense of reality about the characters." What influence, if any, do advertisers play in the story line of The Secret Storm? "None," Francisco declares, adding "they are marvelous about it." American Home Products has been a sponsor since its inception. The other- Cheseborough- Ponds, Colgate, French's Mustard, Johnson &Johnson, Lever Brothers, Nestle, General Mills -have been associated with the program front one to fine years. The Secret Storm has been a consistent, top -rated series. The latest National Nielsens make it No. 9 among the daytime programs. Both Winsor and CBS TV sales point out that as a group, daytime serials reach an audience of more than four million homes per minute year -round. The daytime serial group plays to an average of 99 adult women per 100 sets; the weekday 10 a.m. -5 p.m. program average in this respect is 85 adults per 100 sets. In addition to The Secret Storm, CBS TV's roster of daytime serials includes As the World Turns, The Edge of Night, The Guiding Light, Love of Life and Search for Tomorrow. On NBC TV, Young Dr. Malone, after a long life fades away April, to be replaced by two new serials, Ben .Jerrod and The Doctors. ABC TV will introduce a new daytime serial, General Hospital. starting in April.

Enormous preparation.

What goes into the making of a 30 -minute daytime serial such as The Secret Storm? As many as 12 hours of preparation and rehearsal, not counting the actual writing and editing of scripts. Each day's activities begin in the Winsor office. Gloria Monty, director since its inception, meets at 9:30 a.m. with associate producer Francisco and other staffers. Miss Monty', on this occasion, might learn the program schedule for two days hence has been preempted. Emergency measures must be taken immediately. Drastic cuts and revisions in the scripts must be made plus cast calls to alert performers to the new schedules. Major problem: six sets have been built for the two day's episodes but now only three can be used. Which best represent key scenes? Ten minutes later, with the aid of a floor plan in general manager Everett Bradley's office, script changes are made and transmitted into stage positions and movements for the actors involved. At 9:45 a.m. the changes are approved by Winsor. Thirty minutes later, Miss Monty and cast members are starting the clay's rehearsal in one of the rehearsal rooms at CBS TV"s Liederkranz Hall studios. The rehearsal continues until 12:30 when there is a 30- minute break usually a hasty sandwich and container of coffee. The intense business of the afternoon starts at 1 p.m. with "fax on camera" or "fax rehearsal" (rehearsal with facilities) in Liederkranz Hall's Studio 54. The set for the previous show has been broken and replaced with that of The Secret Storm. Miss Monty, with the aplomb and certainty of a general commanding a garrison at Kyber Pass, issues instructions (always accompanied with "please" and "thank you ") from the darkened control room. Her commands go into the headphones of cameramen, floor manager, boom man, etc. The important business of blocking on camera continues until 2:45 p.m. when there is a five- minute break followed by dress rehearsal.

Overall excellence. At 4 pm. a flashing red light in front of Studio 54 signals that The Secret Storm is on the air live. And again, the vast daytime audience, from coast to coast, sits entranced. A network executive steeped in the folklore of daytime serial asked this question: "What motivates such inordinate loyalty to a program like The Secret Storm? Larya Mantles, a discerning critic writing in The Reporter summed it up succinctly when she said: "I was held ... by the over -all excellence of the acting, the ingenuity of the plotting, and a casting little short of inspired: the performers had become the people." When 4:30 p.m. rolls around, Miss Monty sings out over the intercom, "hit the filet" and "lap the credits." Ordinarily, when a job is done, workers immediately pack their kits and make their way into subways and busses. Not so with the performers in The Secret Storm. After a 15- minute break, the cast of tomorrow's episode sits clown in a drafty rehearsal hall to read through the upcoming episode. It is indeed a "new day'' starting at 4:45 p.m., a day that ultimately ends at 6.45. In doing daytime television serials one should avoid condescension, Francisco told Sponsor. Remember, he said, "we have to take more care in keeping the people and situations real because they exist on a day -by -day basis." "In nighttime television, most of the heroes are people who travel and therefore can move from new adventure to new adventure," he continued. "Or, they are people whose occupations bring them a new situation and a new set of characters each week. Because in nighttime programs you are only seeing them once a week and because, in almost every' case, the story is more important than the characters, you don't have to deal with character background or motivation in the detail that the daily viewer expects and should be given." The consensus is that the daytime television serial is here to stay and that it has indeed "made a frontal assault on Mrs. America's imagination." Rut, above all, the daytime serial has proven one of the advertiser's most effective means of reaching his best customers, ac- cording to both Winsor and CBS TV executives. The next move they predict, will be the evening hour serial clone with the same rare adult skill. And sponsored, naturally. 

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Wow! Thank you so much so much for this.

 

Shows that there are still unseen episodes out there.

 

Just one episode but it gives a clear idea of the tone of the show at that time.

 

And a cast list!

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9 hours ago, Paul Raven said:

Wow! Thank you so much so much for this.

 

Shows that there are still unseen episodes out there.

 

Just one episode but it gives a clear idea of the tone of the show at that time.

 

And a cast list!


Yes, I really enjoyed it, and I hope we get to see more of the CBS soaps from around this time. The era really seems to be a time of transition for them, with the more stilted 50s style of acting and scripting loosening up and becoming more natural, no doubt in response to what was already going on at ABC and NBC.

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This seems to be from very early in the Brittons return. From the dialogue, it sounds like this is Susan and Amy's first meeting since Amy's return to Woodbridge and the house hunting would suggest that the couple hasn't been home long. BTW, it doesn't sound like Stephen Bolster's Jerry has been in town for very long either. Bolster isn't listed in the press release among those arriving / returning in April, 1968, but it seems like he did. The Brittons returned in April 18, 1968. My guess would be this episode would be from late April. 

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Just from watching the 1968 episode, Susan was more interesting than Amy... who was kind of a drip.  Why the show opted to write Susan in the early 70s and focus on drippy Amy I'll never understand

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1 hour ago, Soaplovers said:

Just from watching the 1968 episode, Susan was more interesting than Amy... who was kind of a drip.  Why the show opted to write Susan in the early 70s and focus on drippy Amy I'll never understand

 

I think it’s because they had Belle and wanted to play the heroine/villainess dynamic with the two of them while also moving away from the Ames family as much as they could.

 

I really like what seems to be the main premise of TSS through the 60s: three siblings struggle to find happiness while receiving guidance from their gentle father, strong stepmother, wicked aunt, and wise grandmother (assuming Grace was wise - seeing Marjorie Gateson’s name in the credits had me hoping she’d appear here, but she did not). The introduction of other families when the show expanded didn’t really screw with that formula until later.

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On 1/18/2019 at 12:20 PM, All My Shadows said:

Most of a 1968 episode

 

Thank you for finding this. What a treat! When I saw the thread had new posts I was hoping but never thought there'd be something like this. 

 

I don't think @amybrickwallace posts here now but I know she was a fan of Nic Coster's. Doesn't he have a Facebook? I wonder if he knows about this.  

 

I think when I watched one of the other episodes from this era I remember feeling the dialogue was very literate and the performances were crisp - that's still the case here. It was a good watch. I hated to see it end. I realize the show was going through bad changes at this time, but it still feels like they are treating viewers with respect. 

 

Lori March is such a fascinating actress, isn't she? I love watching her work.

 

Stephen Bolster looks so handsome here. I wonder why he didn't work out as Jerry. 

 

Laurence Luckinbill is one of those 'new breed' of soap leading men - there's something so tense and extremely sexual about him (especially in the scene with Susan). Yet he isn't quite a fit for soaps either. I can see why he left for greener pastures. I'll probably always just remember him for Boys in the Band (he and his boyfriend were probably one of my first gay OTPs, and a number of their issues are still very resonant today).

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I almost didn’t post because I figured you guys had already seen it. Glad to bring it to everyone’s attention.

 

Lori March has been one of my favorite soap matriarchs for a long time just by virtue of her style, so seeing more of her here solidifies her as one of the most memorable. Also love Judy and Jada in this - they just all feel so comfortable in their roles while still doing the show justice. It almost feels like a primetime show from the same era.

 

I would kill to see a Love of Life from the same time period.

 

It looks like the closing credits and mid-show bumpers were set against a sky visual, something I’ve never seen or read about in regards to Secret Storm.

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44 minutes ago, All My Shadows said:

It looks like the closing credits and mid-show bumpers were set against a sky visual, something I’ve never seen or read about in regards to Secret Storm.

 

The closing credits looked beautiful. I'd love to see them in color. The only color ones I've seen reminded me of Dark Shadows. 

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What a New Year present!

 

This is so memorable and fascinating to me. How well I remember Val's patio and Susan's living room with the backdrop of the house across the street. Susan's kitchen was sometimes featured and was foregrounded, (as in a side view of counters etc) contiguous to, but in front of the fireplace on the left.

 

Lori Mach had such intelligence and dignity. Stephen Bolster was also very effective I thought.

 

To the poster a thousand thanks!!! Let's hope more of these kines emerge. As someone else remarked, we know they're out there.

 

Brent C.

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He does a fabulous piece of acting in an episode of "Naked City" with Claude Rains, entitled: "To Walk in Silence" (1960). It's on DVD.

 

BC

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Who was/were the headwriter(s) at the time of the April 68 episode?

 

Edit - I went back through the thread and discovered John Hess was headwriter in 1968.

Edited by Paul Raven
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