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Lovers and Friends/For Richer For Poorer Discussion Thread

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As we go to press, NBC has announced that "Lovers and Friends" has gone on a "summer hiatus." Will it return in the fall?

The following was written by Kathleen Solmo, who has watched every episode from day one, and faithfully reported them for Soap Opera Digest. Her opinions, based on a solid professional background in TV, do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other members of our staff. What do you think about "Lovers and Friends"? Share your feelings with us.

LOVERS AND FRIENDS - SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT WHY IT DIDN'T "MAKE IT"

We will never know if Austin will marry Amy, if Jason will become head of the Stock Exchange, if Lester can truly keep on the wagon.

Who can really care about cardboard characters, in a false situation, going to ridiculous extremes to achieve an end which seems to fluctuate with each passing story conference?

The show was poorly premised, for one thing. The Saxtons, with their borrowed $20,000, could never afford the upkeep of that lovely house, let alone the taxes. The Cushings, if they had had any sense at all, would have fired Marlow: a good job of butling would have completely protected them from any encroachment on their sanctum santorum. The entanglement of the two families was forced. The young people might well have become so strongly attracted, but the setup was all wrong.

The show was further burdened by poor casting. With one or two exceptions, nobody looked the part. Bent little fingers holding a teacup were supposed to convince us we were seeing a world of style and grace.

Then there was the plot. What plot? Where? There was no plot. There was a great deal (dizzying, at times) of lateral movement, lots of busy goings to and fro. She telling him about her and what the others said about something else. Lacking a plot (known since ancient times to be very important in a story), it was impossible to move it.

Dialogue. The Head Writer must have had a chance to get at least one good dialogue writer. It is a shame he failed to take advantage of it.

Lacking not only substance, but consistency, the actors floundered with their "relationships." You would too, with an albatross like that around your neck. The occasional attempts to be "relevant" - such as Ellie's talk about abortion - was an indication that somebody connected with the show kept up with the news. Sadly lacking - and this may be the crux of the matter - there was never a moment when one could say, "Yes, I've felt that, or "That breaks my heart." There was no feeling. One wants to feel.

From stem to stern, LOVERS AND FRIENDS was shaky, with lots of leaks in the hull. There may have been a saving grace, but yours truly missed it.

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Interesting that SOD would print such a scathing critique of the show-in those days there was very little editorial comment. When they did do that sort of thing, it was usually to praise a particular performance or story.

Here's aSOD synopsis from July 78

Charges will not be filed against Bentley -- and it's all due to Lee. Lee backs up Bentley's story with the police. Lee tells Sgt. Damico that Bentley had no idea that the cars he was driving to the garage at night were stolen. He told Bentley they came from a used car dealer.

Though the prospects are greatly frightening him, Lee is still following through with Tessa's wishes and cooperating with the police. He learns from Sgt. Damico that the guys at the top of the stolen car ring are into more than stolen cars... and the Justice Department, as well as the police, are out to nail them. Sgt. Damico says that in return for turning state's evidence Lee will be spared from prosecution. He will also, under the Justice Department's Relocation Program, be given a new place to live and a new identity. When it comes time to testify, the Justice Department will bring him back to Pt. Claire. Lee's life will be fully protected.

Giving up everything and everyone in his past is a high price -- but not that high a price -- to pay for his life, but can he expect Tessa to do the same? Does he really have the right to ask? Tessa proves he has every right when she tells him once again how much she loves him and how her place is now with him. Where he now goes, she goes. It will deeply hurt her far more to live without him. These are by far the most beautiful words Lee has ever heard. She is the first person who has had such total faith and belief in him. Lee tells Tessa he's never going to let her down. He's going to make the most of this second chance which has now been given him.

Moving Right Along

Megan is glowing. Jason is wearing a self-satisfied smile. Why? It's very simple. Jason proposed and Megan accepted. She is now wearing his ring, and in a very short while will be his wife. It is Jason's dream come true. He's finally going to be a fully accepted member of high society. He may not love Megan, but he'll definitely love the accoutrements that will go along with being her husband. He knows he will no longer have anymore trouble achieving even greater power at Cushing and Sons. His success is guaranteed.

While Jason goes about his business, his ex-lover goes about hers. While she waits for Jason's signal -- which she's beginning to believe will never come -- Laurie is making sure her marriage to Desmond will be a comfortable one. She's going to make sure she has every material thing she ever wanted.

It will not be at all hard for Laurie to achieve these desires. Desmond will do anything for her. She easily manipulates him into buying a glorious new home. It's a mansion-like dwelling situated on a grand plot of land. She may not have great love, but she hopes and prays this grand and wealthy life will make up for it.

Laurie is steaming. She's now out for Jason's blood. He has taken her love and heart and pulverized them. She begged him to call off his upcoming marriage to Megan... but he wouldn't listen. Wealth and power are still of the primary importance to him. She can't make him see that without love these things along won't bring him happiness. Well, she's through pleading with him. As she warned Jason, she's going to make his life as miserable as he made hers. She no longer has any reason to hold back the blade.

True to her word, Laurie secures the name of the private investigator who trailed her and Jason (Viola slipped and gave her the name) and she heads immediately for Chester Higgins's office. She tells him she wants to purchase all the file material he has on her and Jason. Chester responds he no longer has anything on their case. He ran everything through the shredder shortly after the assignment was completed. Laurie then takes her copies of the incriminating photos of her and Jason from her purse, and tells Chester she wants him to deliver these photos to Megan Cushing. Chester declines the assignment. Laurie doesn't let that stop her. She says she'll deliver the photos herself.

...No Time to Waste

Jason hasn't taken Laurie's warning lightly -- and feeling thusly, has made some very quick plans of his own. Pleading the urgency of a great and undying love, Jason tells Megan he doesn't want to wait to the fall to get married... he wants to elope... now. At first reluctant, Megan finally gives in and agrees to an elopement. Jason is breathing easier. He feels that once he marries Megan, there'll be no way Laurie could wreck the relationship.

Tessa goes to her folks to say good-bye. She tells them about the Justice Department's program and how this means she and Lee will never be able to come home again. It will put the lives of all their friends and family in jeopardy if they do.

The knowledge that this is a final good-bye, forces Lester to forsake his pride and make up with his daughter. They have a tearful, but loving, parting.

Connie's neurologist, Dr. Roy White, has given Connie and Bill some hopeful news. He says he knows of an experimental drug which might help Connie with her memory block -- and once this block is removed her fainting spells should disappear.

Roy is glad to hear Bill and Connie agree to his request. Dr. Roy White has grown to look upon Connie as much more than his patient. He wants to do anything he can to help her.

Lee and Tessa return home one night to find the place ransacked and a straw dummy with a knife in its back, hanging from the ceiling. Lee knows what that means. His conversations with the police are no longer a secret. The mob now knows he has turned stoolie.

Lee runs to Sgt. Damico with the news and this detective says that means they can no longer put off Lee and Tessa's departure from Pt. Claire. They're to leave town tomorrow.

Lee and Tessa get ready to do just that... but these plans are put aside by a phone call Tessa receives from her mother. Josie tells her, Lester has taken a bottle of whiskey and disappeared to parts unknown. He just couldn't take the thought of losing Tessa for good, and he is doing what he has always done during times of stress... he is seeking solace in booze.

First telling her mother, she's not going to leave town until her daddy is found, Tessa then tells Lee to go on to Seattle without her. Lee refuses. He says he's not going to desert her during this critical time in her life.

Poor Lee. It looks like he has just made a very unwise decision. His love for Tessa may end up costing him his life. Little does he know, Guy Sparks, Big Tony's flunky, has just hired a hit man to do Lee in. If Guy has his way, Lee is going to be burning in hell very, very soon.

Too Late!

Laurie arrives at the Cushing home... but it's too late. She's there when Megan telephones her mother to tell her that she and Jason have eloped. They couldn't wait until the fall. They have just gotten married at the City Hall in Rockford.

Laurie is crushed. She can no longer delude herself into believing that Jason will someday be hers. His promises were nothing but lies. How is she going to find the strength to go on living knowing that she'll never be able to hold Jason in her arms again?

The drug has started to work, Connie has begun to remember -- but she didn't think the price she'd be paying for the return of her memory would be so high. She had no idea that any part of those missing eight years would contain so much agony. What her mind's eye has just seen has caused a searing, brutalizing pain to rip through her body. She has just remembered the night Bill broke their engagement. The night he told her he had fallen in love with Megan Cushing. It was one of the most agonizing nights in her life, and now she is reliving this horrible moment. It causes her to scream aloud. Her piercing wails send Dr. Roy White rushing back into his office. She collapses in tears in his arms. She is very thankful for his comforting embrace.

With Roger's resignation now official (he told Edith it's time her went back to managing his own firm), Edith now has a tough decision to make. Who is she going to select as the new president of Cushing and Sons: her son Austin or her new son-in-law Jason? It's not going to be an easy choice, both of these men are qualified, in different ways, for the position. She's indeed a tormented woman.

Edith speaks of her dilemma to Roger and he suggests she put both men to the test. She should tell each of them they're up for the job. They'll have two months to show her their stuff. She'll make her decision at that time.

Armed for Battle

It is definitely going to be a raging, blazing war at Cushing and Sons. Austin is not going to hand Jason the job on a silver platter. He's still one person who doesn't buy his reformed act. He still feels very strongly that Jason is only out for Jason. He'll destroy the firm if he's appointed president... and he, Austin, has to do all he can to prevent that from happening... and he, Austin, has to do all he can to prevent that from happening... and he means to do just that! He couldn't live with himself, if he didn't fight Jason for the job.

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Thanks for posting that. I hope I didn't post anything you were planning to post. That synopsis helps fill in some blanks. It sounds fairly interesting too -- although whenever I hear "mental block" I always think of Genie Francis saying the guy who played her psychiatrist on GH handing her a big block of wood as a joke. But the stuff with Lee and Tessa, and with Lester's drinking, I'd like to see that.

I wonder if SOD got to be so critical because NBC didn't have a lot of faith in the show anyway or because they had expected great things from Rauch and Lemay only to be hugely let down. I agree with you that I NEVER thought I'd see something that critical in SOD of that era, or most eras, frankly. That woman goes to town.

I wonder who they thought to be miscast. I think that Richard Backus was an odd choice for the role of a man who was supposed to be a lady killer and all that -- not that he wasn't attractive, but he usually played characters more like Barry Ryan, who only preyed on women who were very insecure.

Was Nancy Marchand fired or did she want to leave? She got Lou Grant not long after L&F ended right?

Edited by CarlD2

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I admit Lovers and Friends is the top soap I've never seen a moment of that I'd love to. That SOD editorial is very scathing (did she like ANYTHING about it?) but I've actually found the synopsises to have a lot of promise and interest--of course that doesn't always translate. It does seem like NBC shoulda given the show, maybe the original version at least a year--surely by then someone at the network knew Lemay's style and that his stories were slow builds? It does seem that maybe he focused on a bit too much backstory to really get people interested though. I've alwyas found it kinda funny the ways they retooled it into Richer for Poorer and sorta made it more soap opera by the numbers (even changing Rhett to Bill!)--though it sounds like FRFP tried to get more of a youth audience and then to put it up against AMC just when AMC was really on the rise to its peak positions is absolutely bewildering.

(I also wonder--wasn't AW an hour by then? So Lemay and Rauch both were doing a LOT of work... And the move to not have it on following, or even leading into AW where audiences used to that style of soap might take to it and see the crossovers is also bizarre--it reminds me a bit of how ABC didn't take Agnes advice to snadwich Loving between AMC and OLTL where it seems it coulda had a chance)

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Yes AW was an hour.

I'd like to see when Arrants and Christine Jones went on to AW for a brief run. I'm a bit surprised AW didn't snap Arrants up, as they did Christine Jones a few years later. Perhaps the P&G soaps made some type of deal.

I would like to see the show, especially Nancy Marchand and the alcoholic father, but I can also see how they might have miscast key roles. Backus sounds like an odd choice to me based on the character background.

The grandmother who never loved her husband and wants her granddaughter to only choose love also sounds interesting.

Edited by CarlD2

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House, and then it became Friends and Lovers, and later, Lovers and Friends.

Headwriter is Harding Lemay, headwriter of another World, the Emmy-winning hour show, and he's assembled a staff of writers.

To get to the right cast, Rauch even went to Hollywood and auditioned more than 60 actors and actresses, including Chris Marlowe, the son of KT Stevens (Vanessa Prentiss of Young & Restless) and Hugh Marlowe (Jim Matthews, Another World).

Several Hollywood actors were signed, including Ron Randell (as Peter Cushing), John Heffernan (Lester Saxton), Flora Plumb (Eleanor Saxton Kimball), Rob Arrants (Austin Cushing), David Knapp (Desmond Hamilton), Bob Purvey (Rhett Saxton), Karen Phillip (Barbara Manners), and Dianne Harper (Laurie Brewster).

Heffernan was playing the mental hospital supervisor when he signed for the new serial, and he was moving to New York to appear in a new Broadway play, Sly Fox.

The New York actors in the new serial include Richard Backus, as Jason Saxton; Patricia Englund (Josie Saxton), Patricia Estrin (Megan Cushing), Christine Jones, formerly Sheila Rafferty on One Life to Live (Amy Gifford), Vicky Dawson who's in the Lee Remick movie After He's Gone (Tessa Saxton), Margaret Dawson, a veteran of roles in Love of Life, Edge of Night and The Doctors (Sophia Slocum), Stephen Joyce, another daytime TV favorite who just finished a long run as star of the Broadway drama, The Runner Stumbles, and Nancy Marchand, who had been playing Teresa Lamonte on Another World and has been on many other serials, as Edith Cushing. Miss Marchand is married to Paul Sparer, another stage and daytime TV veteran.

The new serial is being taped daily at the huge NBC color studios in Brooklyn, NY, sharing studio space with Another World. The actors are picked up in midtown New York and brought by limousine to the studios.

The story is about the Kimballs and the Saxtons, basically, and their friends and loves and enemies. Tune in the new serial, and see for yourself!

Paul Denis

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Lovers and Friends, don't be discouraged, ratings, they ain't so hard to understand...♫

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From the September 1978 Digest.

The very unexpected has happened in Pt. Claire. Jason has resigned from Cushing & Sons. In his letter of resignation to Roger, Jason gives as his reason a feeling that he'll never be accepted enough to make big strides in the firm. It's a family business and they'll always treat him as an outsider and look upon him with suspicion and distrust. He also tells Roger, he's not going to weaken Cushing & Sons' financial standing. The accounts he gleaned for the firm will remain with them. He has already advised his clients he is giving their accounts to other brokers in the company.

When Roger confronts Jason and inquires whether he's leaving for another position or to start his own business, Jason responds in the negative to both these questions. He says the explanation in the letter is the only reason for his sudden departure. Roger is very confused. It's not like Jason to quit at anything. He can't help but feel that there's more to Jason's resignation than meets the eye.

Jason not only calls it quits with the firm, but also with its owner's daughter. He tells Megan it's best they don't see each other anymore. He'll never be accepted by her family and he doesn't want to be the cause of any conflict this would bring to her. She has already suffered enough. He doesn't want to be the cause of her receiving any more pain.

Jason's decision leaves Megan heartbroken. She's now been burned twice in a very short period of time. She doesn't know if she'll be able to love and trust anyone again...and that may mean hurting a very dear friend. Quickly sensing Stan's true emotions, she knows it's only right that she be completely honest with him. She tells Stan her feelings for him may never grow beyond the great friendship she has for him now. Stan then gazes tenderly upon her and says he isn't a quitter. She's worth his hanging in there...and for now he'll settle for any relationship she can give him. HE just wants to be with her.

...IT'S STILL A BLANK

Connie is released from the hospital...but even the familiar surroundings of the loft, where she and Bill live, do not stir her memory. She doesn't recall anything beyond their engagement eight years ago. She also has began to experience something else that is really frightening her. She has suffered two dizzy spells: one when she went to reach for something in the cupboard and the second when she was the old photo of Bill and Megan in the paper. Connie prays the neurologist Bill found for her will be able to help her.

While Connie has been suffering through this trauma, her infant son Billy has been staying with Bill's parents...but what's happening there may not be in the best interests of her son. While Lester and Josie are at work, Ellie has been babysitting for the boy...and she has become very possessive of her nephew. She's constantly hovering over him. She lost one child through a miscarriage and is now having trouble conceiving another, so Billy has become the child she can't have. What's going to become of Ellie when Connie returns to normal and reclaims her son? Poor Ellie. She's in for heartbreak.

There is definitely more to Jason's resignation than meets the eye. Roger and Edith should only know that it's all part of a plan to gain him a position of power at Cushing & Sons - and the way it looks now, this glorious moment will soon be upon him. He has moved on to step two of his plan. He tells Megan the real reason he resigned the firm. He says he did it because of her. He says he didn't want people thinking he was using his relationship with her to get ahead. What they have together is just too precious. He didn't want to be responsible for it turning to ash. He has discovered he's in love with her. She will believe him, but no one else will think he's sincere. Megan's family and friends will never be able to stop looking at him with such suspicion and mistrust.

Jason's words get the necessary reaction. Megan, seeing Jason through the rosy eyes of love, believes everything he says - and feeling thusly, runs immediately to her mother. Speaking from the heart and with great conviction, Megan manages to negate some of Edith's feelings about Jason. Edith now feels she may have been wrong about the man. She goes to see Jason and asks him to please rejoin the firm. She totally misjudged him. She wants what's best for the firm and Megan. Jason tells Edith he'll consider her request.

Paying an unexpected nocturnal visit to Lee's garage (she wanted to see Bentley), Amy has discovered that Lee is still involved with that stolen car ring. She saw three men working very diligently at removing a license plate from an automobile. She now fears for Bentley. He idolizes Lee. Has he allowed himself to become involved in his criminal activities? What sort of after hours has he been doing for Lee?

After having her fears confirmed by Austin (he spoke with Sgt. Damico who told him Lee is under investigation), Amy decides to warn her cousin.

...But her efforts are in vain. Bentley won't listen to a word she says. Shouting that she's not giving Lee a fair break, he slams out the door before Amy has a chance to tell him about the stolen car operation. Amy now fears Bentley's stubbornness will wind him up in jail.

Amy, still possessing some feelings for her ex-lover - and also wanting to protect Tessa and Bentley - warns Lee that the police are on to him. She then begs him to cut Tessa and Bentley from his life. HE can't let their lives be ruined by his criminal activities. She looks at Lee waiting for his reply and is totally unprepared for what she sees. His world has fallen down around him. She can't help but feel pity for the man, and feelings such, rushes to his side to provide comfort. It's a move she's going to regret for the rest of her life. Her comforting gestures does not go unobserved. Tessa witnesses it - and it leaves a very lasting impression. It makes it very easy for her to apply a whole different reason to Lee's sudden decision to break off with her. He listened to Amy, not his own heart. Amy finally got through to him - and she had very good reasons of her own for wanting to see this relationship end. She still must have very deep feelings for Lee - what other reason could there be for her being at his house while Austin was out-of-town on business. Tessa will never believe Lee came to this decision on his own. Never!

It took all the strength Lee could muster to break off with Tessa (he really loves this beautiful, sensitive young woman) and what he does next is equally as hard. He tells Bentley he no longer needs him at the garage. He knows he agreed to let him work part-time, once he started college again in the summer, but he has found this would not be economically feasible. He's sorry, but that's the way things are. Bentley also blames Amy. He tells Lee, she puts him up to this. Why couldn't she stay out of his life!

THE PAIN OF LOVE

Laurie gets wind of Jason's involvement with Megan and she sees red! She's very jealous of her old friend. Megan has always gotten everything she, Laurie, wanted - well, she isn't going to get Jason. Laurie calls Jason, tells him what she knows, and Jason assures her it's all part of his scheme. He doesn't love Megan. He's just using her to get ahead in the firm. Laurie will just have to go on playing the perfect little wife until he gets that position of power he craves and then they'll be able to be together. Laurie wants to go on believing Jason - but she's beginning to have her doubts. She makes a vow to use those very incriminating photos (the photos of her and Jason embracing) if Jason shafts her. She'll destroy his illustrious career!

Lester's great love and respect for his daughter is shattered when he learns about her involvement with Lee. He thought Tessa had more sense than to get herself entangled with a man who is ten years older than she is - and to make matters worse, of low character to boot! She's going to wreck her life. It's time he takes matters into his own hands. He confronts his daughter and tells her, he doesn't want her seeing Lee anymore. It's not a request, it's an order. Tessa's reaction: She screams at her father to stay out of her life. She's no longer his little baby girl. She'll see whom she pleases.

At the point in time that she made this statement, Tessa still thought she had a relationship with Lee...but now she knows differently...or does she? She has just learned something which has shed a great light on the situation. She has just learned from Bentley that Lee may be arrested by the police. She heads immediately for Lee's house.

Lee is powerless against Tessa's great love. She breaks him down, and he tells her about his involvement with the stolen car ring and how this involvement may soon get him arrested - and that's the reason he wanted to break off with Tessa. He didn't want to take her down with him. She deserves much better than that. Tessa tells Lee she'll choose her own destiny...and what she chooses is to stay with him. They'll spend the night together and the next day she'll go with him to the police and he'll turn himself in. He'll turn state's evidence. The police will protect him from the gang.

It was to be a romantic and comforting night, but Lester puts a damper on the moment. He arrives at Lee's house and tells Tessa either she comes home now or not at all. Her father's words force Tessa's hand. She makes her choice. Her place is now with Lee. She'll just have to learn to live without her father's love.

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From the May 1977 Digest. Have we seen any photos of the sets before? If you have, let me know, as they will probably be better (especially if they're in color).

02-19-2011090332PM.jpg

02-19-2011090332PM2.jpg

02-19-2011090332PM3.jpg

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I was noticing how regal Nancy Marchand looked, and then to see the writer's caption... I saw an interview of her once in her Sopranos days and she was saying how she'd made a career playing these to the manor born types and Livia was such a departure for her. When the show got revamped and Laurinda Barrett took over the role, I wonder if NM was let go or quit.

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I've wondered that too. I've always assumed that she left of her own choice but who knows.

I'm not tempting my luck with my scanner again right now but later/tomorrow I will post a fashion spread Nancy did for the Digest (I wish they'd kept those fashion spreads going, although when you have something like "Ariane Munker and mother bikini fashions" you might be running out of actors :unsure: ). There's a truly...unique gold lame overcoat Nancy wears that looks like a pseudo-rich flasher's. What would Mrs. Pinchon or Livia have said :lol:

Edited by CarlD2

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