Jordan Hudson wrote: I don't know if Claire will ever read my comment but honey, it's not you that is doing anything wrong it's the idiot executives of the shows and network that will not allow you to do what you were hired to do which is write. You have given me so much with your storytelling. As an artist myself you have made me grown but also as a human being with your incredible words. I have watched RH, GH OLTL and GL when you were working on them and you never disappointed me.
Claire Labine: Will you tell Jordan thank you very much? That delighted me and touched me.
John asks: As a longtime New Yorker - and a writer who has primarily written for shows taped in NY - what do you think about the exodus of NY-based soaps?
Claire Labine: I think it’s tragic. That’s the word for it, it’s truly tragic. I hate it. And I don’t think it’s going to do them any good.
To me the idea of taking anything out of New York is hideous! I personally find the atmosphere here, the energy, the people who are involved in the business, all make it unique. I think the real reason for going to California is that that is where the program departments are. They can keep closer control of the shows out there than they can here. And it’s probably more financially desirable to do it [there]. I don’t know about that, but I suspect so. They have a lot of studio space that is amortized. But I think it’s awful, I’m really sad about it.
Dee asks: What if anything do you think can be done to revitalize the soap opera genre?
Claire Labine: I think we have to wait awhile until the economy turns around. Because scripted drama undoubtedly is more expensive to produce. And the dollar signs currently control programming choices. I think the networks are really up against it. They have to redefine themselves if they’re going to survive as networks. I don’t think it will ever be the way we have known it to be. But I think it could be better. I mean serial drama has been around since Homer. It’s going to continue to be around. But just in the light of contemporary economics and the availability of other avenues of the delivery of the product, I think the serial will adapt to the available means of communicating it. Whether it’s the net, or what, who knows. But storytelling, as long as you’ve got something that will deliver it to an audience, is going to go right on. We just may have to wait awhile for the serial form to be revised.
John asks: Are there any other writers whom you have mentored in the past who you think might do particularly well in the head writer position, if given the chance?
Claire Labine: That’s funny. I’ve always learned things from the writers on the staff. I don’t really think of myself as a mentor. I think of myself as someone who is pretty good at putting together a group of people who think similarly. I can’t name some, because then I would leave out somebody and I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. But I have worked with such gifted and talented people. A lot of them are quite disillusioned at the moment. I might think they would be great headwriters, but they may not want to do it. Understandably.
John asks: I've read that you had developed and pitched a new soap to CBS during the years when you were away from RH. Was this an earlier version of what almost became your GH spinoff in the mid-90s, or was it something else? Can you tell us about it?
Claire Labine: Yes. There were two, actually. The first was one of the ones that could be a novel. It was set on a horse farm in Kentucky. It was called CELEBRATION. And it’s still around and it’s still alive. The other was HEART & SOUL (aka Union Place). HEART & SOUL was about two families, one black, one white, both show business families. The black family was three generations of jazz musicians. Next door was a theatrical family. The Brooklyn community was a big part of it, as well as a local radio station, some very colorful characters. Matt (Labine) and I really loved it. We had the first go around with it with ABC, then NBC, then ABC again.
Michael Brockman was head of daytime at CBS. He asked me to develop CELEBRATION. Bill Bell had been reluctant to do another show at the time. I was kind of used in a way, but it was alright because it was legitimate use. Michael was very upfront about it. He said, “I have to tell you, I’ve asked Bill to do a series and he has declined. He may accept if we get down to the wall and I have something from you that I’m going to put on the air. He may change his mind.” I said, "Michael, you have been totally forthcoming and I totally understand. I would love to work on this material and the fun of working on it makes it okay." And indeed, Bill Bell decided, “Yes, maybe I will do another one,” and went ahead and did THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Press here as Claire Labine answers YOUR questions about RYAN’S HOPE.
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.