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All Soaps: The Budget


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I've just finished watching a clip from my now-fallen show (ATWT) from years ago. I was amazed at the difference in the production of the show then and now. There was a scene from Barbara and Hal's engagement party (from one of their three marriages!), and it was gorgeous. The sets were beautiful, and many, many characters intermingled, just like in real life. In recent years, any type of gathering on the show was embarrasing. When long-time character Holden Snyder "died" about a year ago, SIX people showed up for his funeral. Weddings were another joke. I often wondered why extras couldn't be brought in for such occasions (fans would probably do it for free). However, ATWT looked like Gone With The Wind compared to Guiding Light, which , at the end, seems to have had a budget of about a dollar and a half.

My question: Are other soaps going through the same thing? I know Y&R is the No. 1 soap, and B&B is a big international hit. Are other soaps starting to look cheesy as well? Or was it just a Proctor and Gamble thing?

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I've just finished watching a clip from my now-fallen show (ATWT) from years ago. I was amazed at the difference in the production of the show then and now. There was a scene from Barbara and Hal's engagement party (from one of their three marriages!), and it was gorgeous. The sets were beautiful, and many, many characters intermingled, just like in real life. In recent years, any type of gathering on the show was embarrasing. When long-time character Holden Snyder "died" about a year ago, SIX people showed up for his funeral. Weddings were another joke. I often wondered why extras couldn't be brought in for such occasions (fans would probably do it for free). However, ATWT looked like Gone With The Wind compared to Guiding Light, which , at the end, seems to have had a budget of about a dollar and a half.

My question: Are other soaps going through the same thing? I know Y&R is the No. 1 soap, and B&B is a big international hit. Are other soaps starting to look cheesy as well? Or was it just a Proctor and Gamble thing?

The couple of times I watched Days I noticed how cheesy it looked. Everything seemed pink.

I actually don't think that ATWT looked that bad at the very end. Sure they had only a few sets, but the sets they did have looked nice, like Memorial and the Lakeview and Tom and Margo's house. My one complaint is that years ago they got rid of Bob and Kim's house set and Kim's kitchen became part of WOAK, which was stupid, keep the kitchen and just have the actors in the "real," studio acting like it was WOAK. GL looked like [[email protected]#$%^&*] at the end, but have to say that interior Company, the Spaulding set, and the Towers looked great. Once again, the dummies in charge put the Bauer kitchen in mothballs which was stupid as hell (what, east coast TV execs never use a kitchen because at our house and every house we go to, that is where everyone ends up, but maybe its a midwestern thing.)

What I did notice about the P & G shows, is as you say, the town looked deserted. No one would be walikng around the hospital but the actors in the scenes, and also, there would be no taped background noise like they use to have, like elevators opening and people chattering, and an intercom speaker going off. How expensive could that have been?

I know its probably a union rule, but why can't soaps just pay their actors for say, as set time, like a year, instead of per episode. So that way they could tape the actors and the edit them in on other days so say, Bob works on Monday, but they get three days of scenes from him?

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Y&R looks cheap and trashy, although part of that is the Rauch "production values." Y&R loves to talk about budget woes when it's time to make veteran actors take cuts. But when they need to hire their latest favorites from other soaps or bring in the primetime/film has been of the week, suddenly money is no object.

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My question: Are other soaps going through the same thing? I know Y&R is the No. 1 soap, and B&B is a big international hit. Are other soaps starting to look cheesy as well? Or was it just a Proctor and Gamble thing?
Extras aren't really a problem on B&B, but one of the many things I noticed about the show was how often boom mics and cameras creeped into shots. Completely embarrassing and very Dark Shadows-esque. I don't know why they feel the need to rush though every shot on that show instead of at least taking a more observant eye to what is going on. I think alot of those mistakes in soaps fall on the Supervising Producer.

I actually don't think that ATWT looked that bad at the very end. Sure they had only a few sets, but the sets they did have looked nice, like Memorial and the Lakeview and Tom and Margo's house. My one complaint is that years ago they got rid of Bob and Kim's house set and Kim's kitchen became part of WOAK, which was stupid, keep the kitchen and just have the actors in the "real," studio acting like it was WOAK.

Co-sign!

GL looked like [[email protected]#$%^&*] at the end, but have to say that interior Company, the Spaulding set, and the Towers looked great. Once again, the dummies in charge put the Bauer kitchen in mothballs which was stupid as hell (what, east coast TV execs never use a kitchen because at our house and every house we go to, that is where everyone ends up, but maybe its a midwestern thing.)
I assume you mean between mid 2005-2008, before the Public Access era? I actually liked GL's look because they at least tried to make sense of the lack of sets and other challenges the budget posed. Ellen Wheeler was dumb for not at least attempting to make the sets smaller and then doing extensive Peapack locations mixed with the studio stuff(similar to ATWT towards the end). Maybe they really didn't have the budget to do that, but I think mixing traditional studio stuff(with, albeit, smaller sets) and the handheld stuff was something GL could have very easily done.

What I did notice about the P & G shows, is as you say, the town looked deserted. No one would be walikng around the hospital but the actors in the scenes, and also, there would be no taped background noise like they use to have, like elevators opening and people chattering, and an intercom speaker going off. How expensive could that have been?

Next to nothing, I would presume. Even if they had to record their own background noise and add it in when they do post-production.

I know its probably a union rule, but why can't soaps just pay their actors for say, as set time, like a year, instead of per episode. So that way they could tape the actors and the edit them in on other days so say, Bob works on Monday, but they get three days of scenes from him?

I think MyNetworkTV's telenovelas paid per scene instead of by episode, but I could be wrong. I'm surprised soaps can't do that, considering AFTRA is so good at allowing studios and network execs to lowball them anyway.

Y&R looks cheap and trashy, although part of that is the Rauch "production values." Y&R loves to talk about budget woes when it's time to make veteran actors take cuts. But when they need to hire their latest favorites from other soaps or bring in the primetime/film has been of the week, suddenly money is no object.

The lighting is way too bright/harsh on Y&R. I don't think it fits with the show or the show's sets. Notice the newer set, like Billy and Victoria's house: typical Rauch. Bright yellow walls, white molding and staircases, etc.

Despite the lack of extras in some scenes, I still think GH and AMC are the best looking shows in daytime. The lighting on AMC is ultrabright, but their sets are really large and look nice. GH just has the whole package.

And as much crap as I give Valentini, I do think he's a solid technical producer and I look forward to seeing his OLTL in HD.

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Thank you Bellcurve for mentioning Victoria's new house on Y&R. This is the most cheap ass ABC looking set I have ever seen on Y&R. I caught Y&R this week and could not believe that set. The cheap WalMart photos on the staircase really took the cake. Y&R has lost every aspect of its identity it maintained for 30 years.

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the lack of budget cuts the legs out of GH constantly. They have just spent a month in Rome and 25 years ago this might have been a romantic location shoot, instead it was a typical GH set. Then they just had a gala event in Rome for Vanessa Marcil and Steve Burton's characters and had to actually cut away the moment they opened the door to enter the party in question. Simultaneously, Jonathan Jackson's character is in Ireland (and he is about to be joined by a couple of others) and while Duke and Anna got a location shoot in Scotland I believe it was in the 1980s, Lucky has to make do with a bar set.

At home, GH is perpetually a desolate show. The local bar, Jakes, barely has any customers even at their busiest hour. The hospital has no patients even in the lobby. The waterfront, where all the stars meet, never has anyone else walking by. You don't even get fog anymore or the ambient sound of water or anything like that. There is a bustling fashion magazine empire, and yet you are hard pressed to find even an intern. The local hotel has no people staying ever, no busboys, and often not even anyone at the desk. Forget a doorman.

A couple of years back Kelly Monaco and Greg Vaughan's characters took a trip to Mexico. We knew it was mexico by the internationally accepted shorthand props that tell you it is mexico: a ceiling fan, a wicker chair maybe, and a plant.

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Y&R is loosing it's iconic look, that sexy better than prime time feel. I've always figured that this look is what kept the show on top of the ratings pack. ATWT had no extras and few sets; however, the show started looking better last fall (CBS was about to drop the ax) when they made sets bigger and altered the lighting to a more Y&R style.Goutman sucks but was able to cope with PGP budget cuts rather well. From what I understand, there was NO money and he really had to extract every cent out of each dollar. Also, there was a rumor the PGP wanted ATWT to shoot outside just like GL but that Goutman founds a way to cut costs and keep the studio. I will give goutman praise for his outside shots--they were the best on daytime and far better than the efforts on OLTL that look cheap. Chris Goutman made a lot of bad choices but from a tech standpoint kept ATWT looking good on a shoe string budget.

As for ABC, all the shows look cheap. I used to love the AMC style, it was unique and seemed to be shot from above. It almost reminded me of a stage production. Since the move to LA, it looks bland. I've never much cared for GH style or sets. Poor days, they are the oldest sets on TV. They are perfect for a campy show

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Y&R is loosing it's iconic look, that sexy better than prime time feel. I've always figured that this look is what kept the show on top of the ratings pack. ATWT had no extras and few sets; however, the show started looking better last fall (CBS was about to drop the ax) when they made sets bigger and altered the lighting to a more Y&R style.Goutman sucks but was able to cope with PGP budget cuts rather well. From what I understand, there was NO money and he really had to extract every cent out of each dollar. Also, there was a rumor the PGP wanted ATWT to shoot outside just like GL but that Goutman founds a way to cut costs and keep the studio. I will give goutman praise for his outside shots--they were the best on daytime and far better than the efforts on OLTL that look cheap. Chris Goutman made a lot of bad choices but from a tech standpoint kept ATWT looking good on a shoe string budget.

As for ABC, all the shows look cheap. I used to love the AMC style, it was unique and seemed to be shot from above. It almost reminded me of a stage production. Since the move to LA, it looks bland. I've never much cared for GH style or sets. Poor days, they are the oldest sets on TV. They are perfect for a campy show

I understand you're not a fan of ABC shows, but come on already. ATWT was awful the last few years and the sets and outdoor scenes were hardly better than any other show EXCEPT GL.

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Thank you Bellcurve for mentioning Victoria's new house on Y&R. This is the most cheap ass ABC looking set I have ever seen on Y&R. I caught Y&R this week and could not believe that set. The cheap WalMart photos on the staircase really took the cake. Y&R has lost every aspect of its identity it maintained for 30 years.

Thank you! Victoria's new house is the ugliest set in daytime.

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the lack of budget cuts the legs out of GH constantly. They have just spent a month in Rome and 25 years ago this might have been a romantic location shoot, instead it was a typical GH set. Then they just had a gala event in Rome for Vanessa Marcil and Steve Burton's characters and had to actually cut away the moment they opened the door to enter the party in question. Simultaneously, Jonathan Jackson's character is in Ireland (and he is about to be joined by a couple of others) and while Duke and Anna got a location shoot in Scotland I believe it was in the 1980s, Lucky has to make do with a bar set.

At home, GH is perpetually a desolate show. The local bar, Jakes, barely has any customers even at their busiest hour. The hospital has no patients even in the lobby. The waterfront, where all the stars meet, never has anyone else walking by. You don't even get fog anymore or the ambient sound of water or anything like that. There is a bustling fashion magazine empire, and yet you are hard pressed to find even an intern. The local hotel has no people staying ever, no busboys, and often not even anyone at the desk. Forget a doorman.

A couple of years back Kelly Monaco and Greg Vaughan's characters took a trip to Mexico. We knew it was mexico by the internationally accepted shorthand props that tell you it is mexico: a ceiling fan, a wicker chair maybe, and a plant.

Ummm...the lack of location shoots I MIGHT be able to see your point.

But GH has extras in the background and they also have ambient sounds of boats on the docks and sometimes the water too. They have extras and dayplayers at the hospital, they have people at the Metrocourt, there are people in the background at Kelly's, the bar/restaurant at the Metrocourt, etc.

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I understand you're not a fan of ABC shows, but come on already. ATWT was awful the last few years and the sets and outdoor scenes were hardly better than any other show EXCEPT GL.

I was once a huge fan of the AMC production values and considered them the very best on daytime. Now, AMC, as well as the rest of the ABC shows are to bright with sets that look like tacky discount furnature showrooms. ATWT looked really bad till last summer when TPTB made that one last final effort and enlarged each set, tried to make similiar sets look more unique, and witched to darker Y&R style lighting. The show wasn't perfect but looked better. I will say it was tacky, yet from a cost angle smart, to make WOAK, the Hospital and the Police Station one interlocked set. Out doors scenes are Goutman's only talent. They were usinging those new Panasonic DigCams which provide high quality images. It was nothing like the pain of GL. I was watching OLTL on Monday and thought the outside work was poor. I'm not being a biased brat, it did look like a student film and they should have done a wider shot. I am not a fan of outside shots anyway and think soaps should be filmed on real sets.

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Ummm...the lack of location shoots I MIGHT be able to see your point.

But GH has extras in the background and they also have ambient sounds of boats on the docks and sometimes the water too. They have extras and dayplayers at the hospital, they have people at the Metrocourt, there are people in the background at Kelly's, the bar/restaurant at the Metrocourt, etc.

Really?

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Maybe soaps should use these budget cuts in a productive way and go back to basics. In the 1960's and 70's, there were no romantic location shots in Rome. Maybe the genre would be better served by using lets sets and letting the characters develop as well as move story. The soap in 1955 was much like a stage play and that was a good thing. I'd love to see one show try to use no more than three sets and let characters be the focus.

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