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News Round-up: Ron Sproat, Mark Hapka, Jessica Stroup

Soap writer Ron Sproat dies at 77
Ron Sproat, a television and stage writer who created the character of Barnabas Collins, the reluctant vampire, on ABC's DARK SHADOWS, died of a heart attack in his Manhattan apartment on Nov. 6.

Sproat also wrote for LOVE OF LIFE, THE DOCTORS, WHERE THE HEART IS, FLAME IN THE WIND, NEVER TOO YOUNG, CAPITOL, STRANGE PARADISE and THE SECRET STORM during his career.

Mark Hapka lives the actor’s life, one ‘Day’ at a time
“I was hesitant at first because it was a (three-to four-year) contract and I didn’t want to be stuck in something very long,” said Hapka in an interview in Burbank, Calif. “This came right when nothing was going on and people were heading home, packing up, giving up because they can’t survive the economy the way it is.”

Hapka has to memorize up to 30 pages of dialogue a day without rehearsals.

“I’m going to leave this show the strongest actor ever, because it is like Actor’s Boot Camp,” said Hapka. “Soap actors are the hardest working actors in Los Angeles, hands down. . . We’re learning so much dialogue every day, we’re coming in and shooting and the scene is done in one take from multi-different cameras.”

TV Execs Agree On Urgent Need For Online Model
In a breakfast panel discussion moderated by B&C Editor-in-Chief Ben Grossman and entitled "Free Streaming: Killing or Saving the Television Business," Marc Graboff, chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios; Bruce Rosenblum, president of Warner Bros. Television Group; Nancy Tellem, president of CBS Network Television Entertainment Group; and John Wells, president of the Writers Guild of America, agreed that the TV business is in a time of flux and that the trick is to distribute content in a way that serves consumers and allows content providers to extract value.

Four original MELROSE PLACE cast members to film a scene together
A rep for the CW confirms to Usmagazine.com that Heather Locklear (Amanda) Daphne Zuniga (Jo), Josie Bissett (Jane) and Thomas Calabro (Michael) will reunite in the fabled courtyard of the apartment complex in an episode set to air early next year.

90210's Jessica Stroup on Silver's mom, men, and being more than Naomi's minion
Stroup says that even though she and her mother are close, that relationship helped her to understand what her character may be going through. “I used my friendship with my own mother,” says Stroup, who was raised in North Carolina. “And kind of put it in Silver’s mind of wanting some sort of a great relationship [with Jackie].”

90210 Snags Ford Tie-In for Breast-Cancer Effort
When Ford decided to promote its breast-cancer awareness program among hip high-schoolers, it arranged a tie-in with 90210, a CW series. In the past, the Ford program, called Warriors in Pink, has been primarily aimed at middle-aged women. In contrast, the CW tie-in "speaks to how [younger] people who haven't necessarily had the disease, but have been affected by it, can make a difference," says Alison Tarrant, senior VP at the CW network.

GOSSIP GIRL recap: a cautionary tale of having a threesome in a twin bed
Bianca Siegal writes: "Although we were all promised a hot and heavy threesome last week not much was delivered, this week we got a little more of a view of the action, through flashbacks of a very cocky (pun intended) Dan, and we learned one very important lesson: don’t ever have a threesome on a twin bed — you can never fit all three people!"

Becki Newton mistaken for Kelly Ripa
UGLY BETTY star Becki Newton wasn't thrown off her game the other night at the opening of the Gap's new concept store in SoHo, where a paparazzo repeatedly referred to her as Kelly Ripa. Rather than correct him, Newton riffed for the camera and did a dead-on impersonation of the perky LIVE WITH REGIS & KELLY host. Newton kept in character till the very end. When thanked by a clerk for stopping by, she quipped, "Don't thank me. Thank Kelly."

Rosemary Prinz is "Lost in Yonkers"
Veteran soap actress and Broadway star Rosemary Prinz leads the cast in the Maltz Jupiter Theatre's production of Neil Simon's "Lost in Yonkers," which runs Dec. 1-13.

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