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"Secret Storm" memories.


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which she shares with two other actresses. The room is furnished with three lockers, three chairs, and a long counter with mirrors above it.

At 12:45 she goes to the Makeup Room on the third floor. She has until 1:15 p.m. to have her makeup applied, her hair rolled, dried and set...her wardrobe chosen, and put on...and her lunch eaten. Usually the lunch is an expendable item - like yogurt and iced tea consumed standing up, between scenes, on the set.

At 1:15 p.m., she walks down the stairs to the second floor and the stage.

During the next two hours and five minutes, she and all the personnel of the show concentrate full tilt. Outwardly, she is going through the motions...dialogue, movements, entrances and exits are being executed for the technicians. Inwardly, she is working to pace her energy so that it doesn't dissipate.

That couch that she has to sit on sinks down in the middle...and everything stops until another couch is brought in. That microphone shadow shows in the cameraman's picture...and everything stops while there's a brief conference between the lighting director and the camera director and the cameraman. The lighting director gives in and moves a light. And on and on...all being guided by the director who communicates only by voice.

His voice sometimes comes booming out from nowhere. ("Big Brother is watching!")

The first act is blocked, then the second, the third, fourth and fifth. The clock on the studio wall reads 3:20.

There's 5 minutes for the makeup man to do the final touch-up...for the hairdresser to come a few strands in place and spray...and then the stage manager calls places for Dress Rehearsal.

The entire show is then performed, with no stops, from 3:25 to 3:55. Both technical and acting performances are watched closely and notes are taken by the producer.

From 3:55 to 4:45, these notes are given to the actors and the technicians, who now must carry out the corrections. Then the performance is repeated, only this time for real, on tape, which will be shown on the air.

At 5:15, the video tape has been checked for any mistakes, and then the cast is released.

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I bet a lot of soap stars wish it was still like this! The pressure to get it right live on tape must have been ulcer-inducing, but a 10:15 call!? Heaven. And out by 5:15!? Best job in the world. (Except for all that pesky memorizing. :P )

Edited by SFK
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How long was Diane Ladd on Secret Storm? IMDB says 71-72 but that doesn't really mean anything. What stories did she have? Was she the last person to play Kitty Styles?

I didn't know she was on soaps. I have always seen her as someone who would have been great on soaps (imagine her as a Frame on AW), so I'm glad she had a little time on them.

January 1972 TV Dawn to Dusk (Ideal Publishing Corp).


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A follow-up to my Diane Ladd question, from June 1972 Afternoon TV.

Diane Ladd has been written out. We spoke with Diane and she was not too glum but would like to get on another show. Diane was recuperating from a very bad flu which forced her to bed for many days.

They also say that SS and LIAMST got "warning lights" on their ratings - pick up or be canceled.

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This is from the October 1971 TV Dawn to Dusk (Ideal Publishing). My scanner is a little iffy right now but I will type up the article. It's an interview with the producer at this time of Secret Storm and Where the Heart Is.

Please Don't Refer to Chuck Weiss, Executive Producer, As Scrooge

Many's the time you've seen those credits whirl by, and probably wondered to yourself, Executive Producer, hmmmmm, what does he do?

Chuck Weiss, whose name appears under that impressive title both for Secret Storm and Where the Heart Is, promptly points out, "I do not do as much in the studio as the producer does. My work is mostly with the writers."

Rangy, buoyant, quick-witted, at 32 Chuck easily could pass for a young leading man on one of his shows, but he has absolutely no inclination to be an actor. "I like," he says, "being a producer very much. To me, the producer's function is to get the right people together, the right combination of creative people, to give them the kind of stimuli they need to keep their brains working, and to get the best out of them. I get great joy out of watching it happen."

Although he does not personally supervise rehearsals or the actual televising of his two serials, he does ultimately make all the major decisions. These include casting, negotiating contracts, overseeing and approving all new sets, and above all, meeting endlessly with the writers to iron out script and story problems and to plan ahead for future developments in the plot.

What with Chuck's attending actors' auditions, each show's daily dress rehearsal, story conferences, business conferences, production meetings, and his reading and analyzing weekly story outlines, daily script breakdowns, plus ten scripts every week, he can justifiably say, "It's an impossible job. I haven't had a vacation in three years. I'm sailing to Europe in a few weeks, and I don't care if this building falls into the river."

The building, of course, is the enormous CBS production center on West 57th Street in New York City, from which both shows are televised, and where Chuck has a warmly panelled office.

One of the constant concerns of a man in his position - and of any TV program executive - must be with how large an audience his shows attract, as measured by the rating services. When the rating falls, he says, "I spent a lot of time figuring out why. If it rises, I'm very happy.

"If the rating drop is chronic, and there doesn't seem to be any way out, you get new writers. I don't like to do that if it can be avoided, because I think it's better to work with people who are familiar with the show. But if the writer doesn't know what to do with the story, or it isn't going well, you have a hard decision to make.

"Changing a writer means a period of adjustment, for the show, the actors, everywhere. The heart of the show is really the writer. No matter how you cut it, the writer is the person who keeps it going.

"I frankly think that if a writer and a producer have decided on a story and they think it's good, they should have some faith in it, and let it go for a while, not jump the minute it drops two rating points, and say, 'Oh God, we've got to change it.' Usually the stuff that you change hasn't yet been aired. So how do you know it's not going to work?

"If we find the audience in previous weeks was, say, more interested in Sean and Amy, then we realize they're less interested in another area of the story. So for the immediate future, we would try to concentrate more on the Sean-Amy story, while we fix the other stuff. Hopefully, we then can have two good things running at the same time."

Mr. Weiss' story planning also encompasses things like focusing more heavily on younger people during the summer to attract kids who are home from school, and avoiding peaks in the action during holiday times when audiences generally shrink.

For him personally, peaks of excitement come when there's a spectacular episode, as for example when Mary Hathaway got pushed down the stairs by Vicky on Where the Heart Is. "It was," he glows, "really super. We got a stunt girl in, did the actual fall, and shot it with cameras up on cranes, so we could follow her down the whole flight. It was beautifully done. I was very proud. Everybody worked hard to get it.

"We also turned it into a dream sequence that Vicki remembered afterward, using a slow motion disc and some strange color stuff. I think it was as good as anything that would be on at night, if not better. And the ratings went up."

He then went on to describe how the terrifying car crash was accomplished on Secret Storm. "You put Amy and Mickey in a car. You project chromakey filmed landscape onto a screen behind them. This is the same technique they use on the news, the images you see behind the newscaster. Anyway, we put that behind our actors, with lots of snow coming down, windshield wipers going, traffic noises, sounds of the car speeding, 'Oh my God!,' and screech of brakes. The camera moves in on the persons, their fear and horror, and you go to black.

"What we did with this particular crash, was toward the end we ran it into slow motion. Then we stopped on Amy's face, screaming behind the windshield, and went to black.

As much as he enjoys unusual scenes like these, Chuck also has reservations about them. He feels, "A good strong emotional scene where something is happening with the actors is really far better than a gimmick to end a show, wrap up a story, or create a high point. Besides, you can't do it too often, or the bloom would be off the rose."

Chuck's chief headache as a producer is illness among the actors. He shuddered, remembering when Diana Van der Vlis (Kate Hathaway) came down with chicken pox, shortly after Stephanie Braxton (Laurie Stevens) had contract the disease. He was terrified it might spread all through the studio.

Substitute performers have to be brought in to keep the show going, and the viewers complain bitterly about these substitutions. He recalls, "When Terry Kiser (Sean McGonigle) got sick, and we had to replace him for a few days, the phones started ringing from all over the country. Letters came in raging. 'How dare you do that to us!'"

Perhaps the most painful feature of Mr. Weiss' job is the necessity occasionally to fire people. "I hate it," he laments. "I just pray people do their work well. The actors, however, understand these things. They feel bad, and I feel bad, but sometimes you have to call one in and say, well listen, it looks like Hugh Claiborne and his wife, Jill, are going to go down in a plane crash, just around Christmas Eve. It was not expected, but we find out we've got to do it for story.

"I was at a wedding in Pennsylvania just after the segment featuring the crash occurred. Some women found out that I produced Storm, and I was practically attacked bodily for killing those two people. How could I be so mean? And just before Christmas! They called me 'Scrooge.'"

Chuck has also been on the wrong end of some wildly outraged phone calls. When he was with Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, Iris, he relates, "was going to be married. She'd run away from her first wedding, and coming up was her second or third time. A woman viewer called up and said that she was having all of her friends over for a wedding party for Iris and if Iris didn't show up at the altar, she would be so embarrassed, so furious with all of us, she would never watch the show again.

"And all I could say way, 'Madame, you'll have to watch the show.'

"Iris did not show up, and the phone rang off the hook from all these people. Then this woman from the Bronx called in, and she was furious. She said, 'I had all these people over for her wedding, and I have never been so embarrassed in my life!'"

Chuck began the climb to his present position as a production assistant with CBS News and public affairs about ten years ago. In addition to working on such CBS series as Accent And Chronicle, and such dramatic specials as The Life of Charles Dickens, has he co-produced a feature film directed by Mai Zetterling, an off-Broadway revival of Truman Capote's House of Flowers and has been associate producer on the now-defunct ABC soap A Time For Us.

He returned to CBS as associate producers of Love Is a Many Splendored Thing three years ago, subsequently was advanced to producer of both that show and Secret Storm. "Then," he relates, "they asked me to take over Where the Heart Is because it's in trouble."

To relax, Chuck retreats almost every weekend to a house near Woodstock, New York, about two hours from the city. "I'm a bachelor," he admits. "Doing these shows, I know what marriage is like. I mean, it's fraught with problems. Being a bachelor is much simpler."

Chuck's home is on a 56-acre property, with a blue stone quarry in the woods for swimming, and a living room with a wall of glass looking out on the Catskill Mountains. He's recently added a glass and stone hexagonal adjunct containing two bedrooms and a kind of wild bathroom - the tub surrounded by blue stone and Italian tile floors.

For the future, Chuck thinks television is going toward cassettes. "There are," he believes, "people who want better programming. And I think they're willing to pay for it. I know I would be. I don't know what the networks are going to do, but I don't think this kind of programming is going to last forever. It can't."

By Albert J. Zuckerman

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Yeah I was shocked to see an interview with a producer in here. That seems pretty rare for this time. I also wonder what happened to him. I didn't see him listed in IMDB.

The story about the car crash was interesting, and about the Claibornes. What do we know about their characters?

So was Weiss still producer when SS was canceled?

I hope Brent is still reading the thread.

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I watched this show a bit too. Jill Clayborn (played by Barbara Rodell when I was watching) was Amy's good friend. I remember there was a big fan uproar when the Clayburn's were killed. They left behind a daughter, who I think had been SORASed to a young teen in a short amount of time. I can't remember her name but I believe she lived with Valerie Ames & her husband, Dr. Ian Northcoate.

I vaguely remember Dianne Ladd on the show. I may be totally off on this, but for some reason I believe her character was somehow involved with Alan Dunbar when Liam Sullivan began playing the role. Alan had become quite psychotic because of his war experiences. I seem to recall that he was murdered and Susan went on trial for his murder.

I had started watching this show because Joel Crothers had joined it after leaving Dark Shadows, and he had been one of my favorites on there. I only remember that his character was named Ken but that's about it. He stayed only a couple of years.

Edited by jam6242
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Thanks for sharing your memories. I remember reading about Barbara Rodell being on SS. I didn't realize it was this role. How odd that they chose to kill the characters off.

I guess Diana Millay must have played Kitty sometime in the early 60s? Was it before DS?

I know Joel Crothers left DS for SS. I know that Somerset was the show that supposedly made him into a popular leading man but I'd like to see his work on SS.

Were you watching during the time that they had the priest or artificial insemination stories?

I don't know if you're interested but I have an interview with the guy who played Ian Northcaite. I will type it up later tonight or tomorrow. Apparently he had been out of acting for some time and had been a director, but some of the crew at the show thought he looked like the part.

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I don't remember Diana Millay on the SS, so she must have been on in the 60s. I think Joel left DS & went to SS around 1969 or 1970, not long before DS went off the air. It must not have been an important role because I can only vaguely remember him on it. Now that I think about it, I followed Joel to Somerset & Edge of Night too, so I guess he was one of my favorite soap actors!

I do remember the story with the priest, and I believe Gary Sandy played his brother. I seem to recall something about a scene in a barn, involving a pitchfork. I'm going to have to think about that one!

I remember when Kevin Kincaid was paralyzed but for some reason I don't remember the artificial insemination. Did you know that Dennis Cooney (Jay Stallings on ATWT) was the first Kevin Kincaid?

I would love to read the interview with the Ian Northcoate actor. Which one is it? They both were similar in appearance but I remember Alexander Scourby's (the last one) voice being so beautiful. If the interview is with him, I'm assuming you know he was married to Lori March (Valerie) in real life.

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