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Actors who successfully transitioned to behind-the-scenes roles

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Right, which is why I think, more often than not, they seem to make the transition into directing or writing for soaps better than producing... Even at AMC, while frankly I'd love to have Francesca James back instead of JHC, the show did start to suffer under her, even though she had proven herself as an actress and director, she knew the show, when she spoke about the show creative wise her vision statement was spot on...

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Harding Lemay and Paul Rauch might've been trained as actors, but they were hardly successful. Studying theatre at the present, however, I'm realizing more and more just how handy that sort of training is in communicating with actors. You can pull the best performances out of them, because you sort of understand the process they have to undergo to get there. That, more than anything else, makes Lemay and Rauch the legends that they are.

Anyone can hire the best crew available and then leave them to their respective jobs. To be a successful EP, however, you must also have a strong sense of story. (After all, who's the first one privy to the HW's ideas (aside from the network), and who has to be responsible for making sure his/her/their vision translates to the screen?) IMO, Francesca James lacked that. She might've been a doll to work with and for, but I don't think she had the capacity to look at her writers' work from a distance and tell them where it was coming together and where it wasn't.

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A July 1976 Soaps and Serials (Magazine Management Co) profile of Clarice Blackburn. By R. Marian Rose.

Claire Blackburn has fulfilled two of her dreams. When she was ten years old, she wanted to be a writer, and by the time she turned 14, she changed her mind and decided to become an actress. Well, both dreams have been realized because Clarice is an associate writer for Love of Life, and she's presently portraying Nurse Marian Connelly on As the World Turns. How did this gal, who taught reading to fourth and fifth graders in Silsbee, Texas make it all happen?

"In college, my teachers encouraged me to write. I did one-act plays. Then I came on to New York to study drama with Uta Hagen, and because I was always rewriting things that needed rewriting, Uta also wanted me to write. But, I wanted to act. I once adapted something from Faulkner when I was at the Berghof Studio. Then a few years ago, I had an idea for a television movie. I wrote it and my agent started handling it. Then I wrote a mystery and CBS looked at it. They asked me to work on a daytime project which they hoped would materialize. When Love of Life needed associate writers, I did a trial script and got the job."

Clarice is now writing two scripts a week for LOL. "I was doing three a week for a while but that's what is known as bumping-into-wall time. Some plots go like a breeze when I'm working on them but others are like pushing a tractor. I write in longhand and then have to retype it. then the script and then have to retype it. Then the script goes to the headwriters for approval. Our writers are in California now and that makes it difficult. They do the editing and then send it back. It gets edited some more in New York."

How far in advance does an associate writer do a script?

"The two I sent in on February 23 were taped on March 17th and 18th and aired the very end of March. The directors and scene people need time to prepare for things going into the show. During the attempted rape scene which took place a while back with Felicia, a knife was needed on the set. We had to make sure that the knife we used would look real enough yet not hurt anyone. Also, time is needed to build sets well in advance."

Does she think in terms of characters when working on a script?

"Oh, yes, that's one of the things that stood me in good stead for getting this job. I knew my characters. Relationships and how people talk to each other are important. You have to be able to write crackling dialogue from outlines. Many good writers can't spring off someone else's notions.

"The headwriter not only does the long-range story but also maps out what happens every day of every week. Associate writers are assigned days. The headwriter also works out the logistics because there are only a certain number of sets which can be used and some performers have to be written in and out of the show because of other commitments. Being a headwriter is a backbreaking, relentless job. It pays well, but it's too much for just one person. The breakdowns go to the producer and the program people and if, for some reason, they odn't like it, it has to be done over."

Does her acting career conflict in any way with her writing career?

"No, actually, it's been wonderful. The last few years have been rough on actors in New York. Many soaps went off the air. I think being an actress has helped me as a writer. I think that it's natural because I try things out. I have an ear for what's a playable line. I have a sense of staging. One actor commented on a fight scene I had written for him on the show. He said it was the best one he'd ever been asked to do.

"As it stands right now, I enjoy both professions. I'm enjoying my run on As the World Turns and I love my writing on Love of Life. I never thought I'd be a writer because I didn't have the discipline to sit down to a typewriter and a blank piece of paper. Acting sort of had a built-in discipline for me. But when I'm giving a writing assignment, I get it done. I've managed to work things out. During long waits on the set of ATWT, I pull out paper and writer. A day-long soap has a lot of waiting time so it works to my advantage.

"Last year, the writers of Love of Life were nominated for an award by the Writers' Guild of America. We didn't win, but I won the door prize and guess what it was? It was a portable Smith-Corona typewriter with the cartridge ribbon. Wasn't that just what I needed?"

It's pretty obvious that the lady who played Amy Snowden on Where the Heart Is and Hattie on One Life to Live is quite content with her double life - actress and writer all rolled into one. Clarice Blackburn had dreams, goals, call it what you will - and she worked hard and made them come true.

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