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John

OLTL: Michael Malone Interview

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Because he gave up on the genre.

I'm a bit lost because I'm not to familiar with the latter years of his run so can you clarify?

I dont think he gave up just that his 2003-04 stint and being micro managed which he didnt experince his first stint may have soured him.

From this interview he seems very supportive of soaps.

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His first stint with OLTL was spectacular. He had the same problem at AW with being micromanaged.

How much potential did his AW stint have and when did he write for it?

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Marlena De La Croix reviews Malone's AW work.

AW: MALONE ALONE
by Marlena DeLacroix


As I was finishing the first draft of this column about Michael Malone's rocky head writing tenure at Another World, word came that Malone is out. Now, I'm not clairvoyant. Any AW viewer could see that Malone (a Daytime Emmy winner at ABC's nicely budgeted One Life to Live) brought some magnificently insightful and dynamic ideas to AW when he arrived last spring. But I speculate that one reason Malone's work came off as so tragically half-baked is because the NBC show is so cheaply and unimaginatively produced.

Take last summer's trial of Nick for raping Toni. Here was a bold stroke meant to diversify the show's bland canvas of characters and designed to deepen AW's flat dramatic tone both intellectually and spiritually. And what kind of courtroom set does the notoriously low-budget AW build for this showpiece of a trial? One that's about as deep and as wide as a tuna fish can! Compare this to the vast Palladian trompe l'oiel of a courtroom set Guiding Light executive producer Paul Rauch had constructed for the Reva/Annie murder-of-the-fetus trial early last summer. I rest my case.

It's unfortunate, but maybe AW just couldn't supply the resources needed to meet Malone's dramatic vision. His current front-burner story, what he has called in interviews :The Fall of the House of Cory," is grand and sweeping in its' dramatic intent. By allying Carl's ancient enemy Alexander with Rachel's bitter children Amanda (a.k.a. Hadley) and Matt in a plot to break up Carl and Rachel's marriage, Malone has primed his characters for a classic Greek family tragedy. But who does AW cast to play opposite the classically-trained Vicky Wyndham and Charles Keating (Rachel and Carl), two of the most powerful thespians on daytime television? A girl fresh out of drama school (Laura Moss, who plays Amanda) and a callow young actor who starred in the film Return to the Blue Lagoon (Brian Krause, Matt). Duh!

What's most telling is that what worked best for Malone were stories in which the only resources needed were sets and good, proven actors. Malone gave Lisa Peluso the role of a lifetime in Lila. She has been so good, in fact, that we've barely noticed that she has been given neither a plot to play nor a love interest. In the tragic diet pill story, Malone wrote beautifully for Judi Evans Luciano and Joseph Barbara, the actors who play those rare, middle-class soap characters Paulina and Joe. And, of course, Malone produced the biggest daytime miracle of all-getting me to not only love but fully appreciate the diversified talents of an actor I had long thought of as a soap world cartoon: Tom Eplin. Remember the scenes last summer at the playground in Lassiter, in which Vicky reduced Jake to tears by proposing to him? I never knew that the oft-buffoonish Jake could be so tender, or that the oft-overblown Eplin could absolutely tear my heart out of my chest. Emmy! Emmy!

Malone later said in an interview that he knew if he could finally make Vicky see why she loves Jake, the audience would fall in love with him, too. The ability to analyze, the intellectual curiosity to ask why: That, darlings, is the mark-and the miracle-of a really good head writer.

Conversely, there are many things about the rest of Malone's Aw that I flat-out didn't understand. I turned on my TV last week, and there was the otherwise delicious Kim Rhodes (Cindy) dressed in a Spiderwoman costume grinning at the fertility statue, whose electric eyes were blinking. Huh? And what the hell is that statue anyway? A prop left over from the never-aired, New Orleans-based 13 Bourbon Street? The disembodied spirit of notorious NBC stuntster James E. Reilly (Days of Our Lives former head writer)?

Mark Pinter is so wonderful he can play anything, but why in the world has his Grant morphed into comic relief as Mayor Grant Harrison? In his previous incarnation, when Grant was a haunted Shakespearan villain, Pinter's performance was the most brilliant thing on daytime television! No one was happy to lose longtime cast members David Forsyth (ex-John Hudson) or Kale Browne (Michael). Ironically, Browne put in the best work of his soap career on the way from contract to recurring, as Michael counseled son Nick during his rape trial. I can't make heads or tails of the new comic characters of Cass and Donna (Stephen Schnetzer and Anna Stuart), both of whom seem lost at sea. And what's the deal with RKK (Robert Kelker-Kelly, who plays Shane)? Talk about lost! The actor (who may or may not still be in the cast when you read this) is drowning! I just don't get it.

It's easy for amateur soap analysts to speculate that Days-happy NBC was forcing Malone to do this, and P&G was forcing him to do that. But who realy knows what happened behind the scenes out at AW's studio in Brooklyn? Maybe Malone was in over his head from the start.

All I can see is that Malone's vision never fully made it to the screen. That's a waste, because he is a gem of a head writer. Literate and humanistic, he's a natural heir to the intelligent writing tradition of Agnes Nixon and Claire Labine. In an era of shallow, dum-dum (think Sunset Beach, The Bold and the Beautiful!) soap writing, he is sorely needed. Let's hope that by the time you read this, another show will have hired Malone-one with an imaginative producer. I never thought I'd live to see the day I'd miss (Malone's OLTL executive producer-and Marlena's old punching bag) the ever-grandstanding Linda Gottlieb.

(Soap Opera Weekly, November 18, 1997)

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How much potential did his AW stint have and when did he write for it?

mid-97-early 98. He mostly just lifted some of his old OLTL stories.

He's one of those writers who would have been at home with a strong producer and co-writer. When he didn't have those things, look out.

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His second run at OLTL was often hilariously bad. But it was also colorful and bursting with ideas - many of them poorly executed, some which worked and/or stuck (repositioning Marcie as a new lead, adding characters like Adriana, the Todd recast, McBain, etc). And for all his flaws he dearly loved the show, and his first, mostly excellent run is the one I grew up with.

When Ron Carlivati first took over, I often likened his run to being like Malone's with a lot more discipline, which it was, for a time. It also had a flickering social conscience. But in time, his work gave way to laziness and cynicism. Malone is many things but he was never a cynic. He was often embarrassingly earnest.

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His last year in his first OLTL run - his last year and a half, really - was also extremely unbalanced and full of ideas that were in the longterm huge mistakes. And if he'd had his way Todd and Marty would have been a power couple of Llanview.

He's one of those writers whose work is better if you read about it but don't actually watch it.

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His last year in his first OLTL run - his last year and a half, really - was also extremely unbalanced and full of ideas that were in the longterm huge mistakes. And if he'd had his way Todd and Marty would have been a power couple of Llanview.

He's one of those writers whose work is better if you read about it but don't actually watch it.

In an odd way, that's kind of what I like about his stuff. He approaches characters like he's writing a book. That's not always successful and he had some clunkers but in general his style appeals to me.

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He's always had great potential to me but gets held back by interference. Not saying he also doesn't have some out there ideas too that usually don't translate ... I think he's the type of writer who should have his own soap instead of taking on an already established one.

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