by Nelson Aspen
I recently moved to a new neighborhood on Manhattan's Upper West Side and, in many ways, it's like coming home. On the corner where a STAPLES store stands, was the site of my first Daytime TV gig: SEARCH FOR TOMORROW, filmed in the old Reeves Teletape Facility. Even now, though, there are a plethora of familiar faces from TV, film and stage. Just going to the dry cleaners or Zabar's is an adventure in close encounters: Matt Damon, Howard Stern, Michael Moore, Richard Kind, Jerry Stiller, Ilene Kristen, Kevin Conroy, Rosemary Prinz...and I've even made friends with some former Daytime stars like Ryan Brown (we met on the street!) and Denise Pence (I "picked her up" in the Verizon store ha ha). Some of my best pals from my soap days are still local: Marcia McCabe & Chris Goutman, Christopher Durham, Louise Shaffer and Jon Lindstrom & Cady McClain (tho' they're heading out West by year's end).
Of course, the gym is always a great place to spot stars. Broadway's Brian d'Arcy James (ex-SMASH) is there with his trainer...and one fellow looked really familiar. I'll be darned if it wasn't Mark LaMura...well remembered as Erica Kane's half-brother, "Mark Dalton," on ALL MY CHILDREN. He's a friendly, funny fella...so we had the chance to chew the fat, while simultaneously burning some off.
NELSON ASPEN (WE LOVE SOAPS TV): You're best remembered from AMC, but you also popped up on OLTL and ATWT. Did you love your time on soaps?
MARK LAMURA: No. It took the work of thousands of actors, writer, producers, lighting men, camera people, an army of artists and workers, to get 1 hours’ worth of story every day. The problem with them is they cost too much compared to 4 hosts and a guest sitting on a couch. To act in them, however, was like being able to play all 88 keys on a piano and only being allowed to plunk out the same 8 every day. To be fair; the writers have to write an hours’ worth of story every day. The director has to shoot it, the actors have learn “all them words” the night before. Love – No. Thanks for the dough. It was a heavy like affair.
NELSON ASPEN: Why do you suppose all the NYC soaps fizzled out? Back in the day, they were on almost every corner!
MARK LAMURA: They fizzled out because of the executive refusals to keep up with the time. Talk shows and Reality TV replaced the soap opera. The medium is a dinosaur, much too expensive to operate. The internet continues to try to resurrect the soap opera, but the money to be made there has yet to be mined. I tried to reach the guy who bought the rights to AMC and OLTL. I have a great way to save them, but they never called me back. TV execs.
NELSON ASPEN: How did you land the role of "Mark Dalton?" Was having the same name a coincidence or did they change it for you?
MARK LAMURA: The day I auditioned for the role of Phil I had the flu. In a room with 10 other guys I sat in the corner. Sick. I was so focused with the fever that the magic actually worked that day. I didn’t get the role of Phil. But they thought I had maybe a little something and wrote me in. Little did they know it was the flu.
NELSON ASPEN: How was it work so closely with Susan Lucci?
MARK LAMURA: Susan is, what can I say, like my sister. We both are French/German and Italian. Both Catholic. Both come from large still together families. That woman has hit her mark and said her words everyday for 40 years. She has earned her great lauds, and deserves special praise for a lifetime of dedicated, professional performances.
NELSON ASPEN: "Mark" went back to Pine Valley for visits as I recall. Where do you suppose he is today and what would he be doing?
MARK LAMURA: Mark and Ellen are happily living in Japan. We went there to work for Palmer’s entertainment division. He is the Berry Gordy of Japan, producing live concerts. He stuck Ellen in a nursing home due to her Alzheimer’s onset. She’s improving.
NELSON ASPEN: Who were some of your other closest friends/colleagues from the Daytime world?
MARK LAMURA: Michael Tylo was and still is a buddy. He is the Head of the MFA Program at UNLV. Matthew Cowles, Billy Clyde, read at my wedding and just had his hernia repaired. He’s doing well. He’s married to Christine Baranski, they have 2 grown girls.
NELSON ASPEN: Would you be open to doing one of the new web soaps?
MARK LAMURA: Sure.
NELSON ASPEN: Do you still get recognized from AMC?
MARK LAMURA: All the time.
NELSON ASPEN: Do you think Daytime Dramas will make a comeback?
MARK LAMURA: (emphatically) NO.
NELSON ASPEN: You recently celebrated a birthday and I think you look better than ever. Since I see you at the gym, I'm assuming it's Fitness. To what do you credit your good looks and vigor?
MARK LAMURA: Nutella.
NELSON ASPEN: What are you working on these days?
MARK LAMURA: These days I act in NY mostly. We moved to FL last year. Don’t do that. We moved back. My daughter is a dancer at ABT, my wife teaches Movement for the Actor at Marymount Manhattan College. I write and produce demos for Reality TV: Touched by the Gods, American Warrior, Foxfire and others.
NELSON ASPEN: It's tough for actors in NYC these days...any advice to those out there looking for a break?
MARK LAMURA: Go into Medicine. The boomers are retiring and we need more doctors not actors. However, if you must act. Be very good.
NELSON ASPEN: You seem to get along with everybody at the gym. Do you have any health club pet peeves!?
MARK LAMURA: Cell phone chatting.
NELSON ASPEN: I am with you 100% on that! I'm not a big fan of naked conversation in the locker room, either. But...speaking of naked. A Google Image search surprised me. What's the origin of that risque nude shot of yours? http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/mark-la-mura
MARK LAMURA: I was in a play in the early '70s. Lotta hangover nudity in them post hippy days.
NELSON ASPEN: What would be your dream acting gig?
MARK LAMURA: Get on and off and they pay you a lot – in Hawaii.
- WHERE ARE THEY NOW: Ryan Brown Interview
- Nelson Aspen's Where Are They Now Tour: Michael Woods
- Nelson Aspen Catches Up With John Aprea-At The Gym
- NOSTALGIA SATURDAY: Mary Stuart
- FLASHBACK: ALL MY CHILDREN's Mark LaMura "Ask Him a Question, Get a STRAIGHT ANSWER" 1981
- FLASHBACK: Erica Kane Goes To The Disco 1979
International entertainment journalist NELSON ASPEN got his start in Daytime TV and still keeps tabs on all things soaps! The author of several books, including DINNER AT NELSON'S and HOLLYWOOD INSIDER: EXPOSED!, he broadcasts the latest showbiz news and celebrity interviews around the world daily. You may visit him at www.nelsonaspen.com