Jump to content

Daisy With a Nazi?


Recommended Posts

  • Members

By Toby Goldstein

Remember when the brave, beautiful former spy-turned-co-police chief of an unnamed, disaster-prone upstate New York town was swept away in a passionate romance with an earnest doctor? Of course, you don't. Know why? Though familiar, the characters are just friends, not lovers, despite many indications that when the medic first arrived, love would find a way. That was before it became painfully obvious that the sparks were simply not flying between this hopefully dynamic duo, and the story line was shelved.

On the other hand, the unexpected arrival in an unnamed, gossip-plagued midwestern town of a bad twin (intent on cheating her sweet, innocent, good twin out of a tidy inheritance) turned out to be more than a visit. Instead of grabbing the family fortune and doing a quick disappearing act, twin number two joined her clan and became a full-fledged member of the community. To this day, she continues to commit evil deeds, and viewers remain fascinated by both sides of this Love-ly coin. To everyone's surprise - including the producer's - the actress did not burn out and her doubly demanding story line went on for a long time.

Although these story ideas had been approved in numerous conferences and revised often, they still had to pass a "road test" - a term executive producers Jacqueline Babbin of ALL MY CHILDREN, John Conboy of CAPITOL, and Stephen Schenkel, most recently of ANOTHER WORLD, use to describe the on-air final exam each story must take. One flopped; the other triumphed.

Story lines must pass through a long chain of approval during the approximately six months it takes between first brainstorm and final airing. Left out of the voting are the actors. They have had, traditionally, the least to say about where their story lines go. For example, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS's Beth Maitland was deeply upset by Traci Abbott's suicide attempt. Since Traci is an important role model for troubled young people, Maitland explained that she hated to see her in such a dead-end situation. She reluctantly acted the part, but apparently executive producer Bill Bell and staff realized their lapse in judgment because within a year, Traci was given some much-needed inner strength.

Occasionally, an actor has refused to play a story line and gotten away with it. Gillian Spencer, ALL MY CHILDREN's Daisy Cortlandt for many years, took umbrage at the proposed story line in which Daisy - to save her life - had to sleep with former Nazi Lars Bogard, then kill him. Imagine Daisy Cortlandt having sexual fantasies about Nazis! According to Spencer, the original scripts she received had "Fantasy scenes of soldiers, of Lars in his early Nazi days, and Daisy dreaming, and those things I refused to do. A lot of that stuff was changed because I wouldn't do it."

No matter how many conferences are held or how many scene revisions are written, a story line will not play at all if the soap's network or sponsor doesn't like it. Procter and Gamble owns four daytime series: AS THE WORLD TURNS, SEARCH FOR TOMORROW, ANOTHER WORLD, GUIDING LIGHT. Its clout is phenomenal.

For the most part, Stephen Schenkel points out, P&G and NBC have accepted his plans for ANOTHER WORLD with few changes. When AW's 18-year old Thomasina Harding became pregnant by her boyfriend Carter Todd, the usual way out of their predicament would have been a forced marriage, followed within a year by a divorce. In a diminished story line, the Todds remain married and are raising their son while trying to establish their own careers.

That scenario, explains Schenkel, was one of several new story ideas he presented to Procter & Gamble and NBC. "And I think it was comfortably received by both the client and the network: "We had an opportunity to do a strong story that touched upon a variety of things: 1) a young couple who really loved one another, 2 ) the idea of children having children, and 3 ) that given the pressures these two kids were under, it would be very interesting to have this couple undertaking the stresses, (dealing with) parental expectations and their own dreams. And we also felt that because they're members of the minority group (the Todds are black), we shouldn't be doing the old cliches, and we decided that single parenthood or abortion were smaller options."

On the other hand, John Conboy maintains that the relationship between Zed Diamond and Charity Blake was not intended to develop beyond friendship, although he acknowledges that viewers may have sensed some chemistry between the pair. He says he was not deterred from developing this story line because Zed and Charity would have been an interracial couple.

"It had never been planned for them to be romantically involved, though it does not preclude the possibility that they will eventually. I think if a (black/white) story line was told well by a writer whom we all trusted enormously and it was right for the particular characters and right for the show, I don't think that they (CBS) would object. But there are so many variables to that: the time has to be right, the show has to be positioned perfectly to tell any kind of story. I think a lot of stuff is done gratuitously to try something, or to get ratings, when people really don't have a master plan and know where they're going, and I think that's why they make mistakes."

Cautious in the face of controversy, Conboy has assiduously avoided developing political story lines, despite CAPITOL's setting: the headline-making heart of the nation, Washington, D.C. "I think the network would object," he says, "if I were to take a political point of view on a subject of public record. You don't know the party of choice of our two leading families. We stay away from smoke-filled rooms and caucuses and votes on the Senate floor. We're much more interested in what's going on behind the marble curtain," where, presumably, hot romances are steaming up the screen.

Though romance is equally important to AMC's Jacqueline Babbin, she and her staff scrupulously check the New York Times, Daily News, Time and Newsweek for potential story ideas. As a result, ALL MY CHILDREN has been at the forefront of exploring many controversial, issue-oriented and often sexually challenging story lines. The serial itself made news when it introduced a lesbian story in 1984 between Devon Shepherd and psychologist Lynn Dorsey, and this year, made Angie Hubbard the victim of sexual harassment by one of her professors.

ABC granted permission for these stories to air under one condition - that there be no scenes of actual lovemaking. "When we did our lesbian story," says Jacqueline Babbin, "we discussed it with ABC's (Broadcast) Standards & Practices, and as long as there was no overt demonstration of physical sexual advances, it was fine. Even the sexual harassment story, with the exception of Dr. Voight trying to steal a kiss, it was a psychological and mental harassment with sexual overtones, rather than a bondage story, so to speak.

"Actually," Babbin continues, "the lesbian story happened because Jackie Smith, who is ABC's head of daytime programming, came back from California and said that when she was there, she realized that this was an area which had never been explored in daytime, and AMC was the best place to explore it. She suggested a story about a couple of guys and at that point I said now that was corny and it had been done on nighttime (DYNASTY). I had just seen the movie LIANNA (which deals with a lesbian relationship) and I felt that this would be a more interesting approach, so we agreed to go ahead with it in that way. We looked for a character, and there was Devon..."

No matter how tantalizing a story may be, neither ALL MY CHILDREN nor any other show that wants ratings will put it on the air unless it suits the show's cast of characters. AMC was able to examine cocaine addiction because Mark Dalton was there; similarly, gambling was the ideal vice for Benny Sago. When Babbin's attention focused on sexual harassment as a possible topic, "there was Angie, perfectly poised for the story, from the fact that being a doctor is important to her." Most recently, Brooke's job as a broadcast journalist made her the natural focus of a story line dealing with the homeless and her search for her mother.

Although most executive producers are loath to discuss story lines they were not allowed to develop, some admit that they have changed a tale or lobbied to get a story aired. John Conboy remembers "when Paula Denning was in the midst of her illness and shooting people, we decided that she would put her housekeeper's dead body in the freezer. There was an objection from the network. We wound up driving her into the Potomac! They probably felt it was too grisly."

Jacqueline Babbin recalls one romantic story line which was abandoned only after the two actors worked together on camera and everyone realized there was no chemistry between them. And Steve Schenkel points to a pair of story lines which drew skepticism at first, but have gone on to prosper. "There was reluctance, born of experience, to go ahead with the twin's (Marley and Victoria Love) story. It's difficult to tell these things well. They can get very complicated and stumble. But the writers and I felt strongly that we had an extraordinary actress in Ellen Wheeler, and indeed, that the story would work quite well. And once those cautions had been sounded by the people at the client and network level who properly should concern themselves, they were very supportive."

More recently, AW's pairing of earthy boatman Zane Lindquist and extravagant novelist Felicia Gallant, initially drew doubts, which are vanishing. "The truth of it," says Schenkel, "is the more time that goes by, the more appealing they are together. His steadiness provides a rock off which her flamboyance can be even more expensive."

When an executive producer is hired to steer the course of a serial, he or she is expected to be sufficiently experienced to approach the job with tact and good taste. An obviously sex or violence-laden plot is immediately canned, and even the most innocuous romance will not take shape until it has been analyzed, dissected, and given a full vote of confidence. John Conboy is candid on the nature of the exec producer's job: "The network hires you and one of those reasons is trust. They aren't going to hire somebody who's going to continually give them stories that they cannot produce, they cannot air, that there's continual flak about. That just doesn't happen as much as people like to think it does."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members
Occasionally, an actor has refused to play a story line and gotten away with it. Gillian Spencer, ALL MY CHILDREN's Daisy Cortlandt for many years, took umbrage at the proposed story line in which Daisy - to save her life - had to sleep with former Nazi Lars Bogard, then kill him. Imagine Daisy Cortlandt having sexual fantasies about Nazis! According to Spencer, the original scripts she received had "Fantasy scenes of soldiers, of Lars in his early Nazi days, and Daisy dreaming, and those things I refused to do. A lot of that stuff was changed because I wouldn't do it."

well, this is just downright bizarre, something out of fetish porn. I remember Lars and it did come out of left field that he was a nazi, but I believe the original Lars left in protest to be replaced by OLTL's Dr Ivan Kipling. Coincidentally, the climactic showdown with Lars, Palmer, Daisy and Erica is on youtube somewhere. You can do a lot of things, but romanticizing nazis is a bit of a no no. I don't know what Agnes Nixon was thinking here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Maybe Agnes was busy with LOVING at this time?

I guess these could have been nightmares, not any type of sexual dreams, but I can see why she refused. It's in poor taste and not any kind of fun campy soapy poor taste either.

Those types of stories where the woman gives herself and so on are so degrading.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Yeah, I watched the climax to this story on YouTube. It happened on a yacht (Jenny & Tony's engagement party). Erica is sporting one FIERCE sparkly/metallic headpiece!

the fight is pretty shlocky. James Mitchell fought like it was a dance..a fight out of West Side Story. Anyway, Lars was a good character. He came on as Kent's father and zeroed in on Daisy, he turned out to be the brother of Erica's best pal, the modeling agent Olga Swenson, and then suddenly he was a nazi! :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

<object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UregD_o_7A8?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param'>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UregD_o_7A8?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UregD_o_7A8?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

<object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_hcjAzRQZ4?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param'>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_hcjAzRQZ4?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_hcjAzRQZ4?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

By Toby Goldstein

Remember when the brave, beautiful former spy-turned-co-police chief of an unnamed, disaster-prone upstate New York town was swept away in a passionate romance with an earnest doctor? Of course, you don't. Know why? Though familiar, the characters are just friends, not lovers, despite many indications that when the medic first arrived, love would find a way. That was before it became painfully obvious that the sparks were simply not flying between this hopefully dynamic duo, and the story line was shelved.

Definitely refers to Anna Devane and Dr. Buzz Stryker. I remember his interest in her and his jealousy when Duke came on the scene. I would've thought it would have been obvious from the getgo not to even consider romantically pairing the two. Don Galloway was more than 20 years older than Finola Hughes and playing a rather mundane, dull doctor. At any rate, I think the show wanted to mimic Three Men and a Baby or whatever because he was one of Robin's 3 godfathers, along with Sean and Frisco.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

"Actually," Babbin continues, "the lesbian story happened because Jackie Smith, who is ABC's head of daytime programming, came back from California and said that when she was there, she realized that this was an area which had never been explored in daytime, and AMC was the best place to explore it. She suggested a story about a couple of guys and at that point I said now that was corny and it had been done on nighttime (DYNASTY). I had just seen the movie LIANNA (which deals with a lesbian relationship) and I felt that this would be a more interesting approach, so we agreed to go ahead with it in that way. We looked for a character, and there was Devon..."

Interesting after Wisner Washam made it sound like it was all Babbin's idea cuz she was a lesbian, and we get more to the story (though I guess she did push for lesbianism--dunno why two men would be any more "corny")

Nazis on soaps, particularly when there's any elements of romanticising them at all, is a very tricky area--though I know it's been tried a number of times. That said I get the feeling this planned AMC story wouldn't have had Daisy lusting after Lars, and the dreams were more nightmares. But I can still see why she was against it.

It is true that Agnes was more involved with Loving at that time (she was a bit less hands on throughout the Babbin era anyway I get the feeling), but still knowing the random strange ideas my beloved Aggie has had, I wouldn't put it past her.

"No matter how tantalizing a story may be, neither ALL MY CHILDREN nor any other show that wants ratings will put it on the air unless it suits the show's cast of characters. AMC was able to examine cocaine addiction because Mark Dalton was there; similarly, gambling was the ideal vice for Benny Sago. When Babbin's attention focused on sexual harassment as a possible topic, "there was Angie, perfectly poised for the story, from the fact that being a doctor is important to her." Most recently, Brooke's job as a broadcast journalist made her the natural focus of a story line dealing with the homeless and her search for her mother. "

THIS is a great point, and one that's often forgotten it seems--not just with issue storylines but with plotting soaps in general. They look for the story before they look for the character who could warrant such a story.

(Interesting they interview Conboy so much--didn't he know by then that Capitol was goners?)

"John Conboy remembers "when Paula Denning was in the midst of her illness and shooting people, we decided that she would put her housekeeper's dead body in the freezer. There was an objection from the network. We wound up driving her into the Potomac! They probably felt it was too grisly.""

Was Megan McTavish secretly at Capitol back then? :D I can think of two or three dead bodies in freezers from her--two on AMC's third run with her alone. (of course, unlike sex, what's acceptable violence wise on network tv, daytime and primetime has come a long ways from the mid 80s). I know Steve Schenkel joined AMC as a producer (not an EP) in 1987...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Santa Barbara also had a story with a dead body in the freezer, a few years after this.

It's definitely true what you mention, that AMC at this time knew how to let characters drive story. I guess this era is on Youtube. I've heard some very mixed/negative comments about some of the stories mentioned -- I think that some said the story about Brooke's mother being homeless was pointless and that her mother was dull. And one of the letters in Digest criticized the story about Angie's sexual harassment, especially the culmination where the doctor kidnapped Hunter Tylo's character for little apparent reason.

I think Conboy was holding out hope for Capitol to the day of cancellation wasn't he? That's one of the reasons he was so ticked off. I read that around this time there were rumors Capitol would go to an hour, which CBS denied.

Do you think Agnes might have not been all that close to Babbin? Babbin seems like she had very strong ideas for what made AMC.

"Corny" is a bad word choice. I guess she either meant that the image of a man thinking he's gay might seem like a joke if it's done with too much sincerity, or the sexual confusion story had already been done on quite a few shows by that time.

Definitely refers to Anna Devane and Dr. Buzz Stryker. I remember his interest in her and his jealousy when Duke came on the scene. I would've thought it would have been obvious from the getgo not to even consider romantically pairing the two. Don Galloway was more than 20 years older than Finola Hughes and playing a rather mundane, dull doctor. At any rate, I think the show wanted to mimic Three Men and a Baby or whatever because he was one of Robin's 3 godfathers, along with Sean and Frisco.

Another Digest I have from around this time talks more about this pairing and how it was very hyped up by the powers that be, but they realized it was not going to work and instead had them as adversaries, and that this flopping was why Anna was alone for so long. They also talk about other hyped but failed pairings, like ATWT's Brian McColl and a girl who was sister to Steve Andropolus, and Dottie Thornton and Andrew Cordlandt on AMC. I'll try to type that up in a few days.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

<object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UregD_o_7A8?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param'>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UregD_o_7A8?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UregD_o_7A8?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

<object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_hcjAzRQZ4?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param'>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_hcjAzRQZ4?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_hcjAzRQZ4?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

:o Who's on Jesse's arm!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Santa Barbara also had a story with a dead body in the freezer, a few years after this.

It's definitely true what you mention, that AMC at this time knew how to let characters drive story. I guess this era is on Youtube. I've heard some very mixed/negative comments about some of the stories mentioned -- I think that some said the story about Brooke's mother being homeless was pointless and that her mother was dull. And one of the letters in Digest criticized the story about Angie's sexual harassment, especially the culmination where the doctor kidnapped Hunter Tylo's character for little apparent reason.

Though that was more SB's style wasn't it? To shock and camp, preferably at once? (I know several soap books, if they complain about it, complain that it had moments lacking in taste, LOL).

You're right about AMC--and about mixed reactions to those two stories anyway (Brooke already got flack for that COBRA story with her mom who turned out to not be her mom or whatever--I guess she's always had story issues lol--it's a testament to Julia Barr she lasted so long and was so popular--and I suppose at least through the early 90s her connection with Phoebe).

I think Conboy was holding out hope for Capitol to the day of cancellation wasn't he? That's one of the reasons he was so ticked off. I read that around this time there were rumors Capitol would go to an hour, which CBS denied.

I'd forgotten--but you're right. I've read that as well.

Do you think Agnes might have not been all that close to Babbin? Babbin seems like she had very strong ideas for what made AMC.

"Corny" is a bad word choice. I guess she either meant that the image of a man thinking he's gay might seem like a joke if it's done with too much sincerity, or the sexual confusion story had already been done on quite a few shows by that time.

That's a good point I didn't think of--it already was becoming a bit of a cliche the guy questioning his sexuality--I mean ever since, at least, the 1950s and the plya and film Tea and Sympathy--and since that was the direction they were going in (that someone questions their sexuality but is actually straight just confused), maybe it was wise to go this way. I'd also heard somewhere (maybe Babbin didn't wanna say this to the soap press) that it was ABC who said they already had a confused gay guy on their Dynasty, so why not make it a woman... The way ABC worked at that time, I wouldn't be surprised (like how apparently they canned the Loving incest story so they could advertise their tv nightime movie as the first to deal with it--talk about shooting yourself in the foot).

I think Agnes more or less trusted Babbi. I've never heard any gossip or rumours of her not. It does seem like Babbin was the first really dominant EP AMC had, but the fact that Agnes was starting to not be quite as hands on with her show (giving more power to Wisner and his co writers like Lorraine, focusing to different degrees on Loving, etc), I suspect she welcomed this. When you see those Paley lectures from the mid 80s to 1987 she obviously still knows everything that's going on at AMC.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

You're right about AMC--and about mixed reactions to those two stories anyway (Brooke already got flack for that COBRA story with her mom who turned out to not be her mom or whatever--I guess she's always had story issues lol--it's a testament to Julia Barr she lasted so long and was so popular--and I suppose at least through the early 90s her connection with Phoebe).

Yeah, I remember when I first started watching AMC, several people told me the Gilles St. Clair story was the worst EVER on AMC. I'm sure they wouldn't say that now, but at the time they felt it adamantly. Poor Julia Barr indeed -- but I guess the late 80s turned out to be a real high point for her at least.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy