HIDDEN FACES to Debut on Monday
By Cynthia Lowry
Los Angeles Times
December 26, 1968
A new daytime serial will be born Monday on NBC, and its creator will be hurt and a little angry if HIDDEN FACES is kissed off as just another soap opera.
"It is an adventure-mystery serial in which we develop characters," insister author Irving Vendig. "We'll show the action - our characters won't sit around drinking coffee and talking about something that happened off-camera."
The serial has been planned deliberately for a long life. Vendig created EDGE OF NIGHT as an adventure-mystery serial and wrote its scripts for nine years before he moved along to other things, and the serial is still on the air. He turned out more than 2,200 scripts for PERRY MASON in its radio days and recalls it went on for 15 years, and was followed by the Raymond Burr TV series for another nine.
Vendig made a master plan for HIDDEN FACES that carefully puts his principal characters in positions surrounded by drama. His male lead, for example, is both a trial lawyer and a private investigator, a big economy-size package of suspense and drama inside and outside the courtroom. Then there's the hero's true love, a former lady surgeon who now is head nurse in a local hospital - another double barreled character.
Then, of course, there are their families and associates, full of stories of murder and crisis to be told over the years. Vendig has his story lines mapped out for two years now.
The series will start by plunging immediately into a spicy story about a state senator victimized by a blackmail plot.
Vendig does not expect the series will receive immediate acceptance.
"Getting these daytime things going takes time," he said. "It usually takes a year, and even longer, because daytime viewers are more creatures of habit than nighttime viewers, even if they are the same people. I do, however, think it is wrong to treat the daytime audience as if it consisted only of housewives. I believe that about one quarter of that potential audience is men - men who work at home, night workers, garage men, doctors and others."
Vendig started turning out broadcast material in Chicago during its golden radio days. While he has been associated with some big, long-running shows, he also has experienced disaster, most recently a shirt-lived daytime serial called PARADISE BAY a few seasons back.
"It was one of the worst concepts for a serial," he admitted frankly. "I knew it couldn't work the minute I saw the first show and I wanted to kill it then and there. But the network committed to 26 weeks, so we staggered on to the end."
It takes time and patience to get a new serial on the air. NBC received Vendig's original concept in March 1966 and four months later was given five sample scripts.
"The liked it, had no room, and let a year go by without anything happening," Vendig said.
At that point he found an interested sponsor and almost immediately the project suddenly came to life again.