Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Flashback: 1982 Douglas Marland Leaves GL

From the Syracuse Post-Standard, November 2, 1982:

Writer's Love Affair with 'Light" is Over
by Gary Deeb

Eight years ago, Douglas Marland gave up a moderately successful career as a television and stage actor and decided to write soap operas.

Having performed on a few soaps, he was generally unimpressed with the quality of the scripts he had seen. He was pretty sure that he could do better.

And so, after attending a soap-writing seminar sponsored by Procter & Gamble, which owns many daytime dramas, Marland got hired as a writer on ANOTHER WORLD.

He became head writer of THE DOCTORS, and GENERAL HOSPITAL (where he created the fabled Luke and Laura characters) and 2 1/2 years ago, of the GUIDING LIGHT.

Marland achieved his greatest success on the GUIDING LIGHT helping transform the video fossil into one of the liveliest, most imaginatively-written programs ever to hit daytime TV.

During his reign as head writer, the GUIDING LIGHT captured many awards - including two Emmys to Marland for his outstanding stories - and jumped back near the top rank of the daytime audience ratings.

An admittedly hopeless romantic, Marland often compared his work on the GUIDING LIGHT to a passionate love affair. He brought to the program his sense of style, charm and grace, while reinforcing the presence of discarded mainstays.

But in the classic soap opera tradition that he knows so well, Marland's love affair is over.

The last GUIDING LIGHT installment supervised by him was aired a month ago, and a new head writer, Pat Falken Smith, is at the helm.

"Sometimes something happens and you just fall out of love with a show," Marland told this column at his Connecticut home.

"That sounds corny and melodramatic - maybe like what someone would expect from a soap opera writer - but it's the truth. Because in daytime TV, you're working seven days a week, and if you really don't love what you're doing, you can't do it' it isn't fair to the show."

Surprisingly, Marland's falling-out with the producers of the GUIDING LIGHT and with sponsor, Procter & Gamble, had nothing to do with the usual writers' complaints about interference with the creative aspects of the program.

Beginning in January 1980, when he started as head writer, Marland says he was given a free hand to mold plots and characters as he saw fit.

The only problem was the "creative lethargy" of executive producer Allen Potter and his lieutenants.

As far as Marland was concerned, the last straw came with the firing of actress Jane Elliot, who played the Marland-created character of Carrie Marler.

Marland bitterly opposed the elimination of the Carrie role, for which he had just completed another year's worth of storyline.

What troubled Marland most deeply about the dumping of Elliot was that Potter had told him (and Elliot) that the decision had been dictated by Procter & Gamble for "budgetary reasons," and that the money problem was the sole reason that her contract wasn't renewed.

Weeks later, however, Marland said he learned the truth - that Potter pulled the plus on Elliot "because he said he found her to be a 'difficult actress' in the studio."

Once Marland reached his decision to quit the GUIDING LIGHT, he recommended Falken Smith as his replacement.

Although he isn't that well acquainted with her, Marland was familiar with her work as a writer for GENERAL HOSPITAL and more recently, for DAYS OF OUR LIVES.

Falken Smith's public feud with GENERAL HOSPITAL producer Gloria Monty was even more bitter than Marland's 1979 dismissal from "GH" by Monty.

"I knew Pat had suffered through many of the same things I did at the hands of Gloria Monty - and I wish you'd quote me on that," Marland said.

Marland's created a soap opera, NEW DAY IN EDEN, that'll premiere this month on cable and pay-TV systems across the country.

His agent is entertaining offers from several network soaps, and Marland expects to announce his next writing post very soon.

1 comment:

  1. As a big fan of Marland's reign at both GL and ATWT, I thank you for posting this article!