Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Claire Labine Answers YOUR Questions, Part Three

In Parts One and Two of the We Love Soaps follow up interview with Claire Labine, the Emmy winning writer answered our reader's questions and comments about her illustrious career, her reflections on the state of daytime, and her non-developed projects.  In Part Three, she answers your questions specifically about RYAN'S HOPE.  Enjoy!

James asks: Of the several times that you left RYAN'S HOPE, which writer do you think did the best job of following in your footsteps and remaining true to your vision of the show? Why?
Claire Labine: Mary Ryan Munisteri. 

Gwynnega asks:  I was curious about what your original story plans had been following the death of Frank early in RYAN'S HOPE--for example, Delia's path would have been?
Claire Labine: We would have focused immediately on Pat.  There was a story with Faith and Pat and Delia, and Roger interfering in that.  Mary and Jack were much more intense.  Jack was convinced that Frank was being paid off by someone and he was determined to find out about it.  So the initial conflict between Mary and Jack was even more fierce.  There was broken hearted Jill and Seneca, but she couldn’t commit to him because she was still in love with poor dead Frank.  We brought someone in for her but I can’t remember who it was.  It was more out of the Ryans and into the Coleridges.  It had the two sisters [Jill and Faith], with one involved with a Ryan, and the other having been involved with a Ryan.  That was roughly the structure. 

Gwynnega asks: What was your original idea for Mary's exit story? (As I understand it, you wanted to kill off Mary when Kate Mulgrew left.)
Claire Labine: We never really worked it out because the network flatly refused to even to consider it.  They said, “Absolutely not, you cannot kill her.”  And we said, “Well, it’ll be death by 1000 cuts.” We never had a thoroughly worked out deal because there was never any point.  You don’t go around really sweating long story when you know you’re not going to get anywhere with it. 

Ryan asks: Any scoop on the revolving parade of Marys?
Claire Labine: We couldn’t find one that suited the audience or us or the network.  There were three entities to get past in that role.  The network was quite surprised that the audience was having so much difficulty relating to the new Marys.  We did the best we could in casting in every case.  But it was not to the audience’s liking, or the network’s, or in some cases, ours.
Ryan added: I personally thought Mary Carney (#2) wasn't too bad
Claire Labine: I thought she was wonderful.
Ryan asks: Why on earth did they let Carney go in favor of Tolan?
Claire Labine: That was a network choice.  They thought she wasn’t glamorous enough, or whatever.  Whatever was their whim of the week.

Ryan asks: More details as to why the network let Sarah Felder go? I also thought she was amazing
Claire Labine: She was so wonderful.  You know what that was about? Sarah really did fulfill the character as we saw it.  We had beautiful Siobhans and good acting Siobhans.   I think they thought she wasn’t glamorous enough, that she wasn’t pretty enough, that she had gained weight.  They thought all this dumb stuff.  I remember saying to them one time, “Just stop! Will you look at the child act?” Our casting always shook them up a bit until they decided it was all their idea in the first place. 

Ryan asks:
Did the network decide to send Julia Barr to ALL MY CHILDREN straight from RH? The Reenie storyline just seemed to end so abruptly.
Claire Labine: Yes.  Agnes [Nixon] wanted her.  I think that’s alright to say, she did want her.  Fred Silverman [President of ABC Entertainment] was not particularly interested in Nick Szabo and the criminal element.  But the criminal element was right for the neighborhood and right for the time.  I don’t know if it that’s how Fred was justifying it for us because Agnes wanted Julia, or what.  But that was the heavy influence there.

Jennifer asks: Rosie O'Donnell hinted once in her blog she was trying to bring back Ryan's Hope. Is that still a go?
Claire Labine: No it isn’t.  There was a discussion, but there wasn’t a great deal we could do.  I love Rosie.  She has been so generous to RYAN’S HOPE over the years.  She has been a champion, a pal, and a friend.   She was extremely supportive.

Sandy asks:  Curious about Ms. Labine's comments that Karen Morris Gowdy left for personal reasons. Back then, every magazine said she was let go after new writers took over. Any ideas why the differing reasons?
Claire Labine: No! I think it was much more personal, I think it was Karen’s choice.  Was it Millie [Taggert] and Tom [King] then?  I don’t think they had anything against her.  It might have just been that Faith wasn’t going to be used a lot.  It may have been they didn’t have front and center story for her.  But I can’t imagine anyone in their right minds wanting to let Karen go. 

John asks: In your mind, where are the characters of Ryan's Hope today?
Claire Labine: They’re up there in Riverside.  They’re just perkin’ along.  Maeve is running the bar.  Johnny has died.  Frank has gotten out of politics and is teaching.  They’ve been very active in politics, everyone was campaigning for Obama.  Paul [Avila Mayer] and I would occasionally brush up on the fantasy just for fun.  Roger and Delia were married and having a ball.  Finally, she was relaxing and having a good time.  In spite of the problems with Little John and Owen.  They’re fine.  Everyone is alive and well and living in Riverside. 
We Love Soaps: What about Rae Woodard?
Claire Labine: She’s circling.  I don’t think Rae is the kind of character who gives up.  Frank and Jill are married, but that does not mean that she has given up ambitions for Frank.  And she’s certainly still in the newspaper business. 

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon, author of Scandalous Women, said: “How did you know that RYAN'S HOPE is one of the soaps I miss most? Every time I pass Coogan's up near Columbia Presbyterian I think of the show.”
Claire Labine: [Laughs] That’s nice! That was so nice. 

Politicaljunkie asks: What would Maeve think of Sarah Palin?
Claire Labine: She’d fall over laughing.  Maeve, with her usual tact, would not want to offend whoever asked this question.  But she would have a beer while she gathered herself and tried not to get hysterical.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Press here for Part Four in which Claire Labine answers YOUR questions about GENERAL HOSPITAL.

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.


  1. Her response to the Karen Gowdy question didn't help clear up the confusion since Ms. Labine couldn't even correctly recall who was writing the show at the time.

    It was Pat Falken Smith. Check the upper right hand portion of the newspaper, under Channel Chatter.


    Oh well, thanks for trying, Damon.

  2. Faith's exit is also on YouTube, and yes, it was the end of 1983 and Pat Falken Smith had just started writing. I don't expect that Claire Labine would have been watching regularly at the time, or studying the credits, but I'm a little surprised she didn't remember that it happened so soon after she left the writing team, since she later revisited Faith's exit in the last weeks of the show. Faith returned with a daughter in tow and because of the timeline of her last breakup with Pat, who had just gotten married, there was a cliffhanger and it appeared that he was most likely the father. Then again, Faith's exit was so ignominious (I didn't even like the character except when Catherine Hicks played her in the 70s, and I cringed seeing how she ended up) that I'm sure she'd just as soon forget the details. I guess there's a lesson in there - it was over 25 years ago, and it seems like she has on some level decided not to dwell on who did what to her show. As more and more of these shows fall that I have certainly loved but have not been nearly that invested in, I'm going to try to do the same.

    But, damn, that reminds me of the one thing I forgot to ask, about that same period of time when Labine and Mayer left RH in 1983. I wonder what long-term plans, if any, they had for the Charlotte Greer character, had they continued writing the show. I was so happy to finally see that story on YouTube, in its entirety (almost), after having read so much about it. They did such a good job of building up a complex character and she really brought an element of suspense to the show and shook up the whole Ryan family, but then she just vanished... It seemed like a waste.

    Well, anyway, this is all just fascinating to read, as were the previous installments. Thanks again, Damon (and Ms. Labine).

  3. John, thank you for the additional information; I really appreciate it. Of all the Faith's, I liked Catherine Hicks very much, too.

  4. Thanks Damon for asking my question. Thanks to Hmplc for the newspaper link (that't what I recall reading over and over back then)and thanks to John for his input - I'm another one who liked Catherine Hicks.

  5. Karen was the best...by far. Always believed her to be a very under-rated actress, noticed more for her looks than for her equally impressive acting talent.

  6. Did Catherine Hicks leave to play Marilyn Monroe?

  7. Laura, Catherine Hicks left to do a Broadway play called Tribute. The play also starred Jack Lemmon, and soap actors Rosemary Prinz and Larry Haines. It wasn't until 1980 that she played Marilyn. I wish they'd put that movie on DVD, I'd LOVE to see it again.

  8. My two cents – Karen Morris Gowdy is my favorite Faith. Like Roller, I think she’s a wonderful actress and has always been underrated. I watched "Faith's" exit scenes on YT as well... KMG, Nancy Addison and Ron Hale gave it their all, but boy the writing for those scenes was awful.

    I guess one of the great mysteries of Ryan’s Hope is whether that was Pat’s daughter on the last ep, but I doubt it. While I love the idea of Faith and Pat having a kid together, I really can’t believe Faith would keep that kind of a secret from Pat and the rest of the Ryans. No way.