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Posted (edited)

THE SUN-TELEGRAM Dec. 14, 1976

Soap opera's marital team he writes, she acts

By LYNDA HIRSCH Gannett News Service

It's three minutes before air time. The pale blond Tennessee Williams-type beauty is nervous. Not for herself, Judith (never Judy) Barcroft appears before millions of television viewers every week as the always-troubled Ann Tyler Martin on "All My Children." The nerves are for her husband "All My Children" script writer Wisner Washam. "It's his first time on a television talk show," she explained. But before he can reassure her a stage manager whisks them in front of a camera. Twenty-five minutes later the "ordeal" is over. "It wasn't bad at all," sighed Wisner in a soft Southern accent reminiscent of someone talking while eating cornmeal.

At first Judith seems a bit turned off by the idea of giving an interview. "We don't dislike interviews," said Wisner. "We Just don't need them to help bolster our egos." "And," interrupted Judith, "we had a pretty shabby experience with People magazine. They made us a lot richer and a lot older than we are. They kept asking us how much we made. That's a highly personal thing and we wouldn't answer. ABC also refused to divulge our salaries, so the interviewer made up the figures," she said, fingering a purple paisley dress. "What's really crazy," said Wisner, garbed in a dark suit with a silk handkerchief billowing from the breast pocket, "the week after our interview appeared I was reading People and saw someone's salary quoted. I went to Judith and said, 'My Lord, look what this guy pulls in a year.'" "We were accepting the word of a publication that made up things about us the week before," Judith said with a silver bell laugh.

The daughter of an Episcopalian minister, Judith met Wisner while she was appearing on Broadway in "Plaza Suite." He was the stage manager. Now they have two children, Amy and Ian, who played Little Philip on "All My Children." "I wanted to be an actor, then I became a stage manager," said Wisner. "I realized jobs in that field were tight, so I turned to writing. The only thing I miss about the theater is people. Writing can be pretty solitary at times."

"Sure, some people think Wisner got the job on "All My Children" because of me," said Judith. "But the fact Is he's good, and several shows were interested in him." Has being the wife of a serial writer made the actress, who began her soap career as Lenore Moore on "Another World," appreciate the craft? "Before I realized the work that went into writing a show I was always tearing scripts apart. 'Why did he do this?'" she mimicked in teenage nasality. "Not anymore. When someone on the set complains about the scripts, I think, tough!' I know how hard it is to turn these things out." According to Wisner one of the biggest problems in scripting is that "actors are guaranteed a number of lines within a certain period. Sometimes you forget a character and have to put him into the plot somehow. "One time we had a great idea for a murder. Unfortunately, the actor who played an integral part in the mayhem was going to be on vacation when he was needed most. That was the end of a terrific story line."

Certainly Judith can't claim, as most serial actors do, that she doesn't know what's in store for the citizens of Pine Valley. "I don't," she insisted. "I used to, but everyone would ask me what was going to happen. Once or twice I almost slipped and gave away a great plot. So I decided I just didn't want to know." The biggest problem Judith encounters from "All My Chidren" costars is they sometimes think she can pull plot strings with her husband. "Writers usually keep away from the performers. Oh, the actors see the writers at parties, and barrage them with plot ideas." "You steel yourself for that," said Wisner.

"When Eileen Letchworth was playing Margo Flax on the show, she kept telling me about the wonderful mastectomy story line on "Young and the Restless" and that Margo would be a fabulous character for that type of story line," said Judith, sipping a glass of wine left over from the talk show set. It's 11 a.m. and she and Wisner look as if they always drink bubbly at this hour. "We don't drink with lunch too often, let alone before," they said almost in unison.

By LYNDA HIRSCH Gannett News Service It's three minutes before air time. The pale blond Tennessee Williams-type beauty is nervous. Not for herself, Judith (never Judy) Barcroft appears before millions of television viewers every week as the always-troubled Ann Tyler Martin on "All My Children." The nerves are for her husband "All My Children" script writer Wisner Washam. "It's his first time on a television talk show," she explained. But before he can reassure her a stage manager whisks them in front of a camera. Twenty-five minutes later the "ordeal" is over. "It wasn't bad at all," sighed Wisner in a soft Southern accent reminiscent of someone talking while eating cornmeal.

At first Judith seems a bit turned off by the idea of giving an interview. "We don't dislike interviews," said Wisner. "We Just don't need them to help bolster our egos." "And," interrupted Judith, "we had a pretty shabby experience with People magazine. They made us a lot richer and a lot older than we are. They kept asking us how much we made. That's a highly personal thing and we wouldn't answer. ABC also refused to divulge our salaries, so the interviewer made up the figures," she said, fingering a purple paisley dress. "What's really crazy," said Wisner, garbed in a dark suit with a silk handkerchief billowing from the breast pocket, "the week after our interview appeared I was reading People and saw someone's salary quoted. I went to Judith and said, 'My Lord, look what this guy pulls in a year.'" "We were accepting the word of a publication that made up things about us the week before," Judith said with a silver bell laugh.

The daughter of an Episcopalian minister, Judith met Wisner while she was appearing on Broadway in "Plaza Suite." He was the stage manager. Now they have two children, Amy and Ian, who played Little Philip on "All My Children." "I wanted to be an actor, then I became a stage manager," said Wisner. "I realized jobs in that field were tight, so I turned to writing. The only thing I miss about the theater is people. Writing can be pretty solitary at times."

"Sure, some people think Wisner got the job on "All My Children" because of me," said Judith. "But the fact Is he's good, and several shows were interested in him." Has being the wife of a serial writer made the actress, who began her soap career as Lenore Moore on "Another World," appreciate the craft? "Before I realized the work that went into writing a show I was always tearing scripts apart. 'Why did he do this?'" she mimicked in teenage nasality. "Not anymore. When someone on the set complains about the scripts, I think, tough!' I know how hard it is to turn these things out." According to Wisner one of the biggest problems in scripting is that "actors are guaranteed a number of lines within a certain period. Sometimes you forget a character and have to put him into the plot somehow. "One time we had a great idea for a murder. Unfortunately, the actor who played an integral part in the mayhem was going to be on vacation when he was needed most. That was the end of a terrific story line."

Certainly Judith can't claim, as most serial actors do, that she doesn't know what's in store for the citizens of Pine Valley. "I don't," she insisted. "I used to, but everyone would ask me what was going to happen. Once or twice I almost slipped and gave away a great plot. So I decided I just didn't want to know." The biggest problem Judith encounters from "All My Chidren" costars is they sometimes think she can pull plot strings with her husband. "Writers usually keep away from the performers. Oh, the actors see the writers at parties, and barrage them with plot ideas." "You steel yourself for that," said Wisner. "When Eileen Letchworth was playing Margo Flax on the show, she kept telling me about the wonderful mastectomy story line on "Young and the Restless" and that Margo would be a fabulous character for that type of story line," said Judith, sipping a glass of wine left over from the talk show set. It's 11 a.m. and she and Wisner look as if they always drink bubbly at this hour. "We don't drink with lunch too often, let alone before," they said almost in unison.

On a rational level Judith knows it wouldn't be fair of her to try to get Wisner to make Ann the way she'd like her to be, but deep down she wouldn't mind a few changes. "First of all, Ann doesn't have any friends," said Judith glumly. "Yes she does," Wisner said, "she has Georgina." "Wisner, no one has ever seen Georgina. She lives in Europe," said Judith. "When the producers considered giving the pregnant Ann a baby shower, I was dumbfounded. I told Wis she'd only have two guests. "Another thing, Ann spends most of her time in the hospital. I think she has a daddy fixation." Now her negative feelings about Ann roll out. "I think Agnes Nixon, the show's creator, is super, but she has a thing about Irish guilt. Everyone on the show is always feeling guilty." For Judith, the topper came when Ann felt guilty for being happy because her nephew, Chuck, was ill. "I just don't think people walk around saying, 'I feel so guilty all the time.'" What causes the writer to kill off one of this creations? "Usually a character leaves when he's put into a dead-end plot line," said Wisner. "I've seen some of my favorite characters leave. I adore Margo, I could use her to say the most outrageous things. Now I've had to use other characters to portray her earthiness."

Few would disagree that "All My Children" is one of the blockbuster soaps on television. Wisner said it's because they have actors like Judith. Ever the adoring wife, Judith credits the writing. "One of the greatest things about the show is the short story lines we have. Wisner had a lot to do with that." "We'll bring in a story lines of short duration the child abuse story, cocaine dealing, prostitution. Not every problem lasts a lifetime," added Wisner. Is there anything they can't touch? "Not that I know of, but I'm sure one day Agnes, who plans out the story line six months in advance, will come up with a plot the producers are afraid of. So far "All My Children" has been the most avant-garde. I think Agnes knows the same old story line becomes boring." What can viewers of "All My Children" expect in the future? Judith said she doesn't know and Wisner swore he is bound to secrecy. But they did suggest viewers keep their eyes on Nick Davis. "We sort of lost sight of Nick, but we intend to make up for that," said Wisner.

 

Edited by Paul Raven
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this too much. Be right back!

18 hours ago, Paul Raven said:

It's 11 a.m. and she and Wisner look as if they always drink bubbly at this hour. "We don't drink with lunch too often, let alone before," they said almost in unison.

Ha! Thanks for Posting.

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I watched it! Imma be very honest, I didn’t care for it. The stories they seem to ALWAYS tell have become redundant to me.        The scope of memories are so small you wouldn’t think they were THEE focus of the show.


Kendall/Alicia is always an afterthought, I’m sure she’s saved lives too playing a character that was the product of rape and neglect from her mother! They never highlight how strong Kendall was/is imo. 

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5 hours ago, Jonathan said:

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It's happening! Tune in! 

 

 

 

OMG! I literally left work to watch it outside live earlier.   I was dying. Loved it. So much wonderful insight, memories & love in this. & they look AMAZING. Adore them forever.

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5 hours ago, DemetriKane said:

I watched it! Imma be very honest, I didn’t care for it. The stories they seem to ALWAYS tell have become redundant to me.        The scope of memories are so small you wouldn’t think they were THEE focus of the show.


Kendall/Alicia is always an afterthought, I’m sure she’s saved lives too playing a character that was the product of rape and neglect from her mother! They never highlight how strong Kendall was/is imo. 

 

True. None of the stories are new. But, when you get the same questions over and over again, you can't expect the answers to change, right? 

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18 hours ago, Jonathan said:

 

True. None of the stories are new. But, when you get the same questions over and over again, you can't expect the answers to change, right? 

I think they could switch it up sometimes. I would prefer to hear about a series of moments they enjoyed together. I was hoping they would speak on the gay undertones of Kendall/Binks relationship, Kendall is really Bianca soulmate.  As for Lucci, I would appreciate it if she for once spoke in depth about the Faux silver kane saga (which is fan favorite storyline).

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3 hours ago, DemetriKane said:

I think they could switch it up sometimes. I would prefer to hear about a series of moments they enjoyed together. I was hoping they would speak on the gay undertones of Kendall/Binks relationship, Kendall is really Bianca soulmate.  As for Lucci, I would appreciate it if she for once spoke in depth about the Faux silver kane saga (which is fan favorite storyline).

 

Alan isn't an ABC soaps fan, admittedly, so he would not be able to extract that type of conversation out of them.

I wanted La Lucci to talk about how she officiated her gay godson's wedding. She posted a pic on IG, but it would be great for her to share that story, especially given how she was a part of a historic and groundbreaking LGBTQ+ storyline.

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