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Is/Was There a Soap Industry A-List?


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Even though I've watched soaps on and off since I was a kid, I wasn't aware that that industry dealt with backstage politics as well. (Color me naive, but I figured that since it wasn't as prominent as the film/mainstream television industry, that everyone [actors, producers, writers, directors, journalists, etc.] made it a point to get along so that the genre could keep chugging along.) Yet, reading some of the gossip (thanks, folks :) ) has opened my eyes while reminding me a lot about Hollywood politics (a subject that I can't get enough of).

It also made me wonder whether the soap industry has/had a star system like Hollywood film/TV does. Yes, I know that the soap industry is imploding as I type this, but I am genuinely curious to know what soap stars/soap actors/soap media/soap writers are/were considered:

A-List (that includes + and - )

B-List (that includes + and - )

C-List (that includes + and - )

D-List (that includes + and - )

Z-List (that includes + and - )

If so, have they risen to that rank? Or have they fallen to that rank? Do they hold steady or is their position unclear?

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To me it would be A, B and then the rest. Example of A list would be like Susan Lucci, Eric Braedon, Tony Geary. They were leads of their shows for an extended period of time (more than a decade) and get tons of press in the soap mags and industry. These are true vets and very few soap stars an attain the status they had. B list would be longterm stars without as much presence or those who have been leads in stories but for less time, but were quite memorable A Cameron Mathison, Lisa Rinna, Bobbie Eakes type. Then theres the rest. I guess you could discriminate C from Z list as Z listers having only been on for a short time, and not long enough to make much of an impact. Highly forgettable and barely known outside of the show they worked on. That would be like the girl who played Claudia on OLTL during the Nash/Jessica story. She was on contract and I think in the opening but I dont even know her name. That would be Z list

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Where would the old standbys (folks who've been on the show for years but haven't had a big story for almost as long/folks who never became runaway successes - a la Reva Shayne) fall under? Would they be B-LIst like Bobbie Eakes or would they be C-Listers?

I think that determines whether someone is a C-lister or a Z-lister to me.

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A's Erika Slezak, Robin Strasser (for OL and AW), Susan Lucci, Susan Flannery (for B&B and Days), Deidre Hall, Genie Francis, Tony Geary, Eric Braeden.

I'd even consider Melody Thomas Scott, George Reinholdt and Jacquie Courtney from back in the day.

I think there are many, many B's from Kristian Alfonso and Peter Reckell, Eileen Davidson, Peter Bergman, Ronn Moss and Katherine Kelly Lang, Marcy Walker and A Martinez, for examples.

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I think it depends on what qualifies someone to be A-list. Does a reputation or work outside of soapdom mean anything? Is it popularity with fans? Earning power? Awards? I agree that people like Susan Flannery, Melody Thomas Scott and Eric Braeden are A-listers within soaps, but if you're looking at how well known they are to the general public, then I don't think they're in the same category as Susan Lucci, Tony Geary, Genie Francies or Deidre Hall. To quote Quartermainefan: there was the A-list and its name was Susan Lucci. There's a reason she has long been called the Queen of Daytime.

I'd say that Susan was at the top, and below her was a group of top stars like Genie Francis, Tony Geary, and Deidre Hall. Below them, I'd say you have a group that includes Eric Braeden, Melody Thomas Scott, Peter Bergman, Susan Flannery, Erika Sleazak, David Canary - stars that have a history of winning awards, earning top dollar, and garnering a lot of attention.

I think there's also a younger cohort of actors in soaps who've earned a lot of fan attention and big storylines but who don't have the gravitas of a David Canary or an Erika Sleazak.

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The Kerry Butler (Claudia on OLTL) analogy: in the theater world she is not a Z-lister and is quite well known, but in soaps her character didn't make much of an impact. Interesting how people can sometimes work in one medium and be less memorable in another.

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There is only one A-Lister and her name is Susan Lucci. Lucci went beyond soaps in a way that no other performer has. The highest salary in daytime (at one point $3 million) TV Movies, Dallas, HSN, all the major talk shows, People Magazine covers, invited to everything and the mother of all indicators: she hosted Saturday Night Live.

The B-List did some of what she did (Geary with People Magazine, Linda Dano at QVC etc) but not the full slate. It's also home to the hustlers, those soap stars who get themselves out there and get publicity, even with middling talent (Cameron Mathison) or a shortage of storyline, or those who shot to primetime for a few seasons, then came back to daytime or sort of disappeared. I'd also say the tent pole vets (like the Ray Macdonalds, Frances Reids, Katherine Hays etc) take this position too because they're never fired, always employed and always visible.

The C-List is reserved for performers who you'd recognise in a grocery store, they'd be friendly and nice, but they're not pulling major attention. That's most of the soap world. These are the jobbing actors

The D-List are those who were famous or were on a show and their careers went nowhere and they're no longer taken seriously (Brenda Dickson). They might still be relevant to their specific fans, but they're nobody's otherwise.

The Z-List is the day player who thinks it's their "big break"...

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To my mind there was the A List, it's name was Susan Lucci. Then came the B list, people like Tony Geary and Susan Flannery, a few others normally seen congregating at emmy time along with non emmy fave Deidre Hall. Then there was everyone else.

So in her 40 years as the Queen of Daytime, there was no man or woman to ever come close to Susan Lucci's level/unseating her? I'd like to know because I've only known her as the Queen and I doubt that she started out that way way back in 1970.

I think there are many, many B's from Kristian Alfonso and Peter Reckell, Eileen Davidson, Peter Bergman, Ronn Moss and Katherine Kelly Lang, Marcy Walker and A Martinez, for examples.

Are these folks B-listers because they have a proven track record for great acting/popularity/storylines or because they are OGs (been playing the same character for decades)? Furthermore, what's stopped them from reaching the A-List?

I think it depends on what qualifies someone to be A-list. Does a reputation or work outside of soapdom mean anything? Is it popularity with fans? Earning power? Awards? I agree that people like Susan Flannery, Melody Thomas Scott and Eric Braeden are A-listers within soaps, but if you're looking at how well known they are to the general public, then I don't think they're in the same category as Susan Lucci, Tony Geary, Genie Francies or Deidre Hall. To quote Quartermainefan: there was the A-list and its name was Susan Lucci. There's a reason she has long been called the Queen of Daytime.

I'd say that Susan was at the top, and below her was a group of top stars like Genie Francis, Tony Geary, and Deidre Hall. Below them, I'd say you have a group that includes Eric Braeden, Melody Thomas Scott, Peter Bergman, Susan Flannery, Erika Sleazak, David Canary - stars that have a history of winning awards, earning top dollar, and garnering a lot of attention.

I think there's also a younger cohort of actors in soaps who've earned a lot of fan attention and big storylines but who don't have the gravitas of a David Canary or an Erika Sleazak.

I'm no soap industry expert (anyone who is is welcome to step in and correct me), but I'll consider all those factors (awards, earning power, recognizability outside soaps, etc.) as what determines where they fall on the soap totem pole.

Are there any young actors (by young, I mean actors who are 35 and younger) that honestly stack up to the A and B list vets on the totem pole?

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There is only one A-Lister and her name is Susan Lucci. Lucci went beyond soaps in a way that no other performer has. The highest salary in daytime (at one point $3 million) TV Movies, Dallas, HSN, all the major talk shows, People Magazine covers, invited to everything and the mother of all indicators: she hosted Saturday Night Live.

It's been years and I could very well be wrong, but I remember Deidre Hall getting mainstream recognition back in the day when I was a kid for being on that show with Shannen Doherty, Chad Allen, and Wilford Brimley on NBC. I don't know how well that show did ratings-wise, but there was a time when she was also popular on the NBC Monday Night Movie circuit.

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It's been years and I could very well be wrong, but I remember Deidre Hall getting mainstream recognition back in the day when I was a kid for being on that show with Shannen Doherty, Chad Allen, and Wilford Brimley on NBC. I don't know how well that show did ratings-wise, but there was a time when she was also popular on the NBC Monday Night Movie circuit.

Never. Deidre Hall has never even come close to Susan Lucci's star power.

The point I'm making is that Susan Lucci has been ubiquitous. No other soap star can claim that. That's what separates her from the rest of the List.

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So in her 40 years as the Queen of Daytime, there was no man or woman to ever come close to Susan Lucci's level/unseating her? I'd like to know because I've only known her as the Queen and I doubt that she started out that way way back in 1970.

If there's been anyone I'd say it was Eileen Fulton at the height of her fame.

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