Sunday, August 3, 2008

News Brief

INTERVIEW: Soap vet Marsha Clark (Pt. 2)
In what seemed like moments after completing her run on GUIDING LIGHT (in 1984), ONE LIFE TO LIVE came a-calling.

"I got the call early one morning," Marsha remembers. "I had moved to California and had gone back to New York (where OLTL is based) on vacation. They called me one morning and asked if I could come in to play Tina Lord. I asked, ‘When do you want me to come in?’ and they replied, ‘Right now.’"

OLTL needed an immediate replacement for Kelli Maroney, who played the second Tina, so they called Marsha to take her place.

"I went in with no rehearsals and not knowing much about the show. I worked with Erika Slezak, who was an absolute doll. They offered me the role on a permanent basis, but I had just moved my family out to California from New York. Had it been a little longer since GL I might have played Tina for a couple of years.

"I told them I would play Tina for as long as they needed me to find a replacement. That’s when they brought Andrea Evans in."

With soaps now earning lower ratings than in times past, how can the current soaps gain more viewers and compete in today’s market of cable, satellite television, the Internet and so many other entertainment options?

"Good storytelling is really what is going to get audiences back," Marsha explains. "I think that the powers-that-be need to give the audience more credit. The audience can follow complicated plots and storylines. I’m much more interested in how characters interact and behave – it’s about character development, not just plot-driven storylines. The audiences are interested in good writing and good acting.

"I do know that it’s a numbers game, and it costs a lot less money to produce a talk show than an hour-long drama. I know that many people are wondering, ‘Will we be dropped a year from now?’ or even ‘Will the genre still exist?’" With the advent of, however, fans can hearken back to “the good ole days” and watch some prime soap footage. You can even watch the GUIDING LIGHT parody that Marsha wrote and produced, called "The Guiding Plight."

GL's Newman returns to the Barn Theatre
California-born actor Robert Newman is related to West Michigan by marriage. On the daytime television drama GUIDING LIGHT, his character, Josh Lewis, is the on-again/off-again husband of Reva Shayne, portrayed by West Michigan native Kim Zimmer.

At the moment, it's off again. Josh is married to Reva's sister, Cassie, and that's on the outs, so -- who knows? -- maybe Reva and Josh will get together again.

Meanwhile, West Michigan fans have a chance to see Newman this week as the patriarch in "Shenandoah" at Augusta's Barn Theatre. Newman started his career as an acting intern for The Barn in 1981 and has returned several times.

"It keeps me sane to do live theater," Newman said by phone from his New York home. "When I started on GUIDING LIGHT in 1981, I didn't think I'd still be doing it 27 years later. Once a year, I take a month off to do stage work. It keeps me connected to theater. I look for characters that are complete opposites of Josh."

For "Shenandoah," Newman not only has changed characters, he has changed eras. He portrays Charlie Anderson, a widowed Virginia farmer with seven grown children, during the Civil War.

"Charlie is a man of extraordinary convictions," Newman said. "He's trying to protect his family from war by staying neutral, but the war comes in and wreaks havoc, because that's what war does."

Not your run-of-the-mill leading man
Robert Newman had to jet off for one day of GUIDING LIGHT rehearsals in New York amid the brief rehearsal run for "Shenandoah."

"Flying like that was fun when I was 25," he said. "It's not so much fun anymore."

What is fun is returning to his live-theater roots, which he tries to do both in staged readings in New York City and on his yearly sabbaticals, the most recent of which have taken him to the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera.

"I've always got my big toe into theater somewhere," he said. "It's where my roots are, and it's where I feel like I need to be connected. ... I need to get away and play a different character. To me it's like going to the gym, and they get that. The executive producer gets that, the writers get that."

With "Venus in Overdrive," Rick Springfield demonstrates the strengths that keep him in the game
The buzz isn't deafening but the new Rick Springfield CD could be his biggest hit in quite some time. He's back on GENERAL HOSPITAL in a dual role (Dr. Noah Drake, rocker Eli Love) and sings this disc's first single, "What's Victoria's Secret?" on the show. Plus, the song itself is such a blatant musical rewrite of his most famous hit, "Jessie's Girl," with its similar chunky guitars and catchy chorus hook, Springfield's bound to tap into fans' nostalgic groove.

EASTENDERS sad marry-go-round exposes weak plotlines
Same old cliches are trotted out at Albert Square's wedding of the year. Another variety- packed week as Albert Squares manic marry-go-round went into overdrive and weird kid Ben Mitchell earned a new nickname... Silly Elliot.

Naturally, sinister psycho Sean Slaters hilarious wedding to poxy Roxy was an unfunny comedy of nonsensical errors beset by all the traditional 11th-hour dramas.

Youll never guess. There was an attack of last-minute nerves. What a brilliantly original idea!

Ryan Mason writes at Serial Drama: "In the end, I think that’s what did PASSIONS in…it simply ceased to be fun. Either storylines went on well past their expiration date (why can’t Ethan make up his damned 'brilliant legal mind' once and for all between Theresa and Gwen and, more importantly, why do they put up with it?), or got too dark (watching Alistair and Vincent running around town committing multiple rapes and other crimes, and Sheridan degenerating into a heartless bitch, isn’t necessarily my idea of a good time. Come back, poisoned petits-fours! All is forgiven!)."

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