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allmc2008

Soap WRITERS that should have broken out of Soapdom and what could have they done once they broke out?

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Jerome and Bridget Dobson wrote for the short lived prime time soap Emerald Point N.A.S.

Henry Slesar wrote for Executive Suite.

Richard and Esther Shapiro (Love of Life) wrote Dynasty

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Robert and Eileen Mason Pollock (Doctors and GH) also wrote Dynasty.

Rick Edelstein (How to Survive a Marriage) wrote for several nighttime dramas in the 70's and 80's

Of course James Harmon Brown and Barbara Esensten wrote for Dynasty before writing trying to destroy for daytime.

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Jessica Klein started on ATWT in the 80s and then wrote for Beverly Hills, 90210.

Tom Casiello wrote for soaps for over 10 years but now writes for the WWE.

James Lipton was a soap writer (he says Irna tried to train three people in her final days - Agnes Nixon, Bill Bell, and him, and he was the runt as well as the one who ended up leaving soaps) for a number of years, and he has done a variety of things since then.

David Kreizman wrote for a series for MTV in the early 2000s.

In general, it does seem people who wrote for both daytime and primetime started with primetime and then went to daytime though.

I think soap writers with an imagination could do well writing for science fiction series or movies, particularly those that have heavy emotional or character components or an epic feel to them. In the UK, some of the biggest names in Doctor Who writing, including Russell T Davies, Gareth Roberts, and Paul Cornell currently, as well as Terrance Dicks, Don Houghton, and Malcolm Hulke back in the day, come from a soap writing background.

For all that science fiction is not real, the characters have to be particularly rooted in real emotion for the fantastical story to have credibility with the audience and the situation to be credibly explored, which takes writers who understand character, how characters relate, and dialogue. Those are soap writing strengths. An audience can forgive clunky stereotypes with no depth to their characterization in a police procedural or medical drama more than it can in a show that is already asking you to take the leap to believe in another world. There needs to be something real for the viewer to relate to, and a lot of that has to come from how characters are written. This is particularly true on an ongoing sci-fi TV show. (A movie can get by on special effects, and an anthology series like The Twilight Zone might just be able to get by on nifty concepts.)

Edited by jfung79

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[/Jerome and Bridget Dobson wrote for the short lived prime time soap Emerald Point N.A.S.

This shocks me considering how bad this show is. I have the complete series on DVD and it is painfully dull despite having a fantastic cast. It doesn't feel like a soap writer wrote it. That really blows me away!

Of course James Harmon Brown and Barbara Esensten wrote for Dynasty before writing trying to destroy for daytime.

They were part of David Paulsen's brilliant final season so I must give them some credit for being on his writing team.

I do wonder why soap writers don't seem to make it in primetime, surely many of them are good enough. I wonder who the next primetime writer to come to daytime will be. If Cynthia Cidre does ever join a daytime soap (which is likely since her primetime work is so poor), I pity that soap and their fans.

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Has anyone seen Agnes Nixon's miniseries, The Mannions of America, from 1981 with Pierce Brosnan and Kate Mulgrew about Irish immigrants to the USA? There are a few interviews at the time where she talks proudly of it, as she felt it was the story of her ancestors, and I believe it was even on VHS for a bit--but it seemed to get a lukewarm reaction. I think it's even mentioned as a project she wanted to do way back in 1976 in the book AllHer Children. Agnes Nixon was also priased for writing some 1950s primetime one off TV movies (back when they ahd so many live ones), but I've never been able to find which and where.

From Wiki:

Manions of America is a 6 hour mini-series for American television made in 1981. The subject of the series were Irish immigrants to the United States during the Great Famine of the mid-19th century. It was the first American role for actor Pierce Brosnan, co-starring Kate Mulgrew, David Soul and Linda Purl, and was directed by Joseph Sargent. Manions was written/created by Agnes Nixon creator of the now defunct "All My Children" a hit daytime soap for 40 years. Manions also starred Steve Forrest American actor and brother of Dana Andrews popular movie star in the 1940s, as Kate Mulgrew's character Rachel Manion's Uncle and owner of the powder mill in Philadelphia parts 2&3 of the three part mini series who begrudgingly hires Rachel's lover and future husband played by Pierce Brosnon.

I saw Manions of America years ago, when I was a teenager. It was available at my local Blockbuster. I don't remember too much about it.

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IIRC, the Dobsons only wrote the first (maybe first two or three) episodes of Emerald Point: NAS. And I totally agree that the show had a great cast but was dull as dirt. I can hardly believe it lasted a full season, it had none of the pop of the other '80s primetime soaps.



The highlight of the whole series was Sela Ward dancing to the Eurythmics.

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Pam Long tried to build a career outside of soaps, but "Christy" and "Second Noah" were hokier than hokey.

She didn't create Christy did she? But she did Second Noah (which was partly based on her life and all her pets or something...) Hoaky is right. In her Brandon's Buzz interview it sounds like she's had a LOT of pilots sold, and primetime development deals (and still does--though that was a few years back.)

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Henry Slesar did a lot of episodic TV work including Alfred Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, Batman and McMillian and Wife. I could see how that fits into his EON tenure where the stories were sort of episodic stories that just happened to be told over months.

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"James Lipton was a soap writer (he says Irna tried to train three people in her final days - Agnes Nixon, Bill Bell, and him, and he was the runt as well as the one who ended up leaving soaps) for a number of years, and he has done a variety of things since then."

He's an arrogant, idiot, who is now considered some authority on acting simply because he lucked into that show... (I guess maybe he's a decent acting teacher or something... He was an actor on GL and did a Broadway show back int he 50s...)

I had no idea Irna trained him but no wonder he was the runt... He was the original soap killer. When he took over a failing Another World from Irna and Bill Bell it crashed and burned and Agnes Nixon came on and killed off all his characters. He went to Guiding Light shortly after Agnes left in 66 or 67 and according to Schemering's GL anniversary book flopped there, he created the daytime Best of Everything adaptation and it sucked, and he did Capitol's final year which sucked (and according to that Bill Bell book he was so angry that Bold and Beautiful took over his brilliant show he threw a hissy fit at the Daytime Emmys party). He also was a writer on Edge of Night after Guiding Light for all of a few months, AND he was the last headwrier who killed Return to Peyton Place (and people are shocked now when bad headwriters get constantly rehired).

Let's see what else he's written. Oh, the brilliant TV movie of Copacabana (it IS a camp classic I suppose). He wrote two INFAMOUS flop Broadway musicals, Nowhere to Go but Up which lasted *one* week, and Sherry! which lastedd a littleover a month (the title song is pretty great ina cheezy Hello Dolly way. And the hysterically soapy, crap, ballet TV movie from the 80s called Mirrors (involving drugs, etc--apparently based on his novel) which is notable only for having an early role for Tim Daly. Oh and a bunch of Bob Hope TV specials which were undoubtedly masterpieces.

Irna really made a mistake if she saw him as a protoge.

I admit I dislike him terribly, especially as I've heard a number of personal stories from people who have met him.

Edited by EricMontreal22

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This is from the Kirkus 1981 book review for his novel of Mirrors (I do kinda wish I could see the tv movie again now, it sounds so awful) and shows his talent to a T:

From Kirkus: Those who revere A Chorus Line will want to settle down with this mostly readable, essentially good-hearted saga of Broadway-musical dancers ("gypsies"), which boasts only the thinnest, most cliched plot and characters but does have more convincing showbiz/lifestyle atmosphere than most such workups. Lipton merely follows one B'way-bound musical from auditions through its try-out week in Philadelphia--concentrating on heroine Carin Bradley, a ballet student who gets dragged to the audition by chum Diane (the tough, aging, crying-behind-the-wisecracks stereotype to the hilt). Carin's secret, however, is that she's diabetic--like dancers Joan McCracken and Carol Haney, who died young--and this medical-crisis material adds just enough extra grab to maintain a modicum of tension. The rest is strictly by the numbers: Carin has a journalist boyfriend who's jealous of her career, angry about her on-the-road affair with the company stud; Carin and Diane have an aging, campy-homosexual, unemployed dancer-roommate who'll commit suicide while the girls are in Philly (his funeral is the novel's tacky-maudlin low point); Carin is chosen to be a featured dancer and must rehearse all night to prepare for her big moment; there's a Gypsy-style stage-mother-monster who pimps for her daughter; etc. But Lipton is too dull to make this even campy, or lurid fun recycling and updating all the backstage familiars: sex but nothing too kinky, vulgarity but nothing too gross. And his details are impressively authentic, from the dancers' muscles to the varied reactions when there's a pathetic closing in Philly (the neophyte book-writer weeps while veteran gypsies instantly call their agents). Don't look for depth, originality, or grownup characters: the cutesy, narrow, puerile, soppy showfolk sensibility is projected all too well.

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I would love to read some of Harding Lemay's plays which apparently helped get him the job. Wiki claims he was successful on Broadway and Off-Broadway but I don't buy it. The Broadway database (which is exhaustive) has nothing by ANY writer called Lemay (I tried using his other name, Pete) and the Off Broadway database lists one play: Look At Any Man which ran for *1* performance in the early 1960s, but did have a 25 year old Billy Dee Williams. However, a number of his other plays are still in print--I'm curious to check them out. Amazon has about 12 (2 plays per volume, in those cheaply made editions actors use)--I believe one, Little Birds Fly was the one that impressed P&G or Paul rauch and is about his family. So it must have been performed somewhere by NY.

BTW Amazon now offers his great book, 8 Years in Another World as a kindle edition for ten dollars (considering it sells used for 50+ that's not bad).

*edit* his play volumes are from Xlibris which is an author controlled, self publishing print on demand system, so it's less impressive I guess that they're available tongue.png He'd be around 90 now, I wish someone would do another interview with him

I saw Manions of America years ago, when I was a teenager. It was available at my local Blockbuster. I don't remember too much about it.

Speaking of Agnes Nixon I would love to see her apparently highly regarded live television drama work. She did 7 original scripts or adaptations for the antholody show Robert Montgomery Presents--but the only one I've seen, a James Dean one wasn't by her. She also wrote episodes of Somerset Maugham TV Theatre, Armstrong Circle Theatre, Cameo Theatre, The Philco Television Playhouse and the top respected Studio One. Studio One has a best of DVD but it only includes episodes by famous playwrights or film makers.

Back to The Manions of America, apparently it's on DVD. There's a review here http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/53590/manions-of-america/?___rd=1

I knew that the story was Agnes Nixon but due to time, or something, she only collaborated on the scripts--which were by Rosemary Anne Sisson who is a fairly respected UK TV writer (mainly mystery series but she did script 15 or so episodes of the original Upstairs Downstairs but also did the terrifying Disney film Watcher in the Woods lol as well as one of the scripters of the hysterically awful Judith Krantz miniseries Mistral's Daughter with a way too old Stephanie Powers as well as the UK/Masterpiece Theatre 80s "classy soapy" theatre family saga, The Bretts, which I personally love and is kinda like Upstairs/Downstairs for a 1920s UK theatre family, as well as, oddly, dialogue for the Disney animated flop Black Cauldron).

The review calls it a middling attempt at those popular late 70s/early 80s historical miniseries like Thorn Birds--apparently the DVD has a brief chat with Agnes though (I wonder from when):

The Manions of America was co-scripted by Agnes Nixon, creator of daytime icon All My Children, and Rosemary Anne Sisson, who penned several episodes of the addictive British production Upstairs, Downstairs. With that background, anyone might come to the conclusion that Manions is a soapy delight full of twists and turns. Mostly, however, the series serves as an ultra-earnest historical drama with nary an outlandish character in sight. It actually reminded me a lot of the plodding first season of Dynasty, with the escalating tensions between the rich and poor families against a booming industrial backdrop serving as the driving theme. What hobbles the series the worst is the ill-advised casting. Normally Kate Mulgrew (who had already appeared in Mrs. Columbo and daytime's Ryan's Hope at this point) can be counted on to bring a steely intelligence to whatever she does, but her Rachel is a cliché-ridden, mawkish drag. Although Brosnan does a decent job being contentious/magnetic as Rory, he has a strange lack of chemistry with Mulgrew. For a project like this that depends of the romantic sparks flying, the effect is deadly.

The DVD just came out a year ago, and Nixon freak that I am, I'm tempted to buy it... Sometime... http://www.amazon.com/Manions-America-Pierce-Brosnan/dp/B0069NPEV2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361261428&sr=8-1&keywords=manions+of+america

The extra may just be from her long youtube TV legends interview--as the exceprt from the director is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MC-z2trnO-s

Edited by EricMontreal22

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