Thank you to all the We Love Soaps readers that posted questions for the Divine Claire Labine to answer. We did not have time to respond to all of them, but she did generously answer a great amount. Please enjoy this follow up series of questions which will hopefully entertain and educate us all about this brilliant woman, as well as the history of daytime television.
Michael asks: Do you know or ever talk with Harding Lemay?
Claire Labine: Oh, yes. Many times. I’m very fond of him. He is an old soldier, and he knows what it’s all about. He’s very good at handling the network, and he’s very generous to writers. I like Pete a lot.
Michael asks: Did you watch ANOTHER WORLD when he wrote for it in the 1970’s?
Claire Labine: No, I didn’t watch anything. The only soap I ever watched outside of the ones we were writing was LOVE OF LIFE. [I watched] in the 15 minute era, and then when in went to half an hour. That was ages ago, when my babies were little. When you’re writing the soaps, you don’t have time to watch the other shows. I never got in the habit. I also didn’t want to be influenced by story, I didn’t want to get somebody else’s story in my head unconsciously. I just stayed away from other shows.
Michael asks: What about Douglas Marland?
Claire Labine: You’ve picked two of my favorite people. I was fond of Doug. His death was a great loss to the serial community. He had an enormously wonderful sense of humor and I always enjoyed him. We didn’t see a lot of each other, but whenever we did it was extremely pleasant. And no, I didn’t watch his things either. I just didn’t watch soaps.
Jennifer asks: What writers have influenced your work?
Claire Labine: Besides Aeschylus? I’m very fond of the Greeks. Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus are my all time favorites. There isn’t much that we write about in daytime that the Greeks didn’t write about first. Their insights into human nature and Psychology are mind boggling. I love all that. And probably Tennessee Williams, in terms of loving his style, loving the people he wrote about, and loving his language. When he was on, his grasp of the dramatic form was mind boggling. Then Eugene O’ Neill. He wrote God awful dialogue but his plays were amazing. And Thornton Wilder in "Our Town" remains one of the most moving theater pieces ever written.
Jeleasure asks: What about writing novels based on the projects she would have written for television? She is a wonderful writer and would love to read her words if I can not see and hear them.
Claire Labine: Yes, I have. And I’ve been too lazy to do it. Tell her I said thank you very much. That may goad me to sit down and do it. I have two things that would be quite appropriate for a novel. Other people have urged me to do it. Maybe I should. I have a play I have to finish first. And I’m working on a book for a musical with a collaborator. After that, that would be a lovely thing to so. What else?
James asks: Is it true that writers get a bonus and residuals for creating new characters on the soaps? And do those residuals for character creation continue as long as the character remains on the canvas, even if the writer has left the show?
Claire Labine: Well, let’s put it this way. I created a number of characters on shows, but I have never gotten a residual based on that my whole life. It may be done. Maybe my agents were asleep at the switch. But I have never participated in that, and I created a number of characters. I don’t know. You’d have to go the Guild on that one.
Hunger asks: Were you ever offered the chance to write for ATWT instead of GL? If so, what would you have done?
Claire Labine: Yes. It was a very generous and lovely offer. Except Matt and I were trying to get HEART & SOUL [aka Union Place] on the air. I had to turn it down because we were in the middle of that development. I said to Proctor & Gamble, “I am gratified by this offer, but if I have any chance at all...” I didn’t think there was much chance but I thought it was worth a go to do our own show. And they were very lovely about it. That was several years before the GUIDING LIGHT gig.
We Love Soaps: What time frame was that?
Claire Labine: After GENERAL HOSPITAL, and before ONE LIFE TO LIVE.
Justin asks: With all the changes taking place at ALL MY CHILDREN, have you been approached to write for the show?
Claire Labine: No.
We Love Soaps: Would you consider it if you were approached?
Claire Labine: I don’t know. I think it’s a moot point. I don’t think I’d have the opportunity to consider it.
Antonio asks: Was their ever a character on any of the soaps you have written on that you couldn't stand but the network wouldn't let you write them out?
Claire Labine: Yes, but I’m not going to say who they are. [Laughs] That’s a good question, and I’m so tempted to answer it!
We Love Soaps: What prevents you from answering it?
Claire Labine: I don’t want to be mean to an actor. There’s no point. There’s enough negativity in this world without adding to it.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Press here to read Claire Labine Answers YOUR Questions Part Two. She will give answers about soaps leaving New York, the soap she wanted to develop after RYAN’S HOPE, and how she inadvertently played a significant role in the development of THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He is blogging about surviving the holidays at www.shouldless.com.