Wednesday, February 3, 2010

INDIE SOAP BEAT: February 3, 2010

In this week's "Indie Soap Beat" feature, we take a look back at the Indie Soap Awards, have an interview with COVIES creator Len Collin, details on a Super Bowl contest from THE RULES, and reveal the latest happenings from around the world of independent soap opera and web series production. Click the show logos to visit the official websites.

The 1st Annual Indie Soap Awards were broadcast on Monday, February 1 at We Love Soaps, Outviews, Daytime Confidential and several other websites. DIARY OF A SINGLE MOM won the award for Best Indie Soap, while ANYONE BUT ME and COMPULSIONS tied with four wins each. VENICE won the Fan's Choice Award in which thousands of fans voted for their favorite indie soap.

In total, 13 shows were honored and they all sent representation at the ceremony. The passion and dedication from this talented bunch of producers, writers, actors, directors, etc. was inspirational.

Click here for a complete list of winners.

Irish soap COVIES has now been airing for a month. We Love Soaps spoke with creator Len Collin about the project.

We Love Soaps: For fans who may not have seen COVIES yet, how would you describe the show to them?
Len Collin: It's a drama that combines high comedy and fantasy with social issues, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Mayo countryside. Other than that it's been described as TWIN PEAKS meets FATHER TED.

We Love Soaps: How many episodes have you produced?
Len Collin: We've made eight episodes, each approximately 15 minutes long, so two hours worth of drama and comedy.

We Love Soaps: Have you watched any other web series?
Len Collin: When I came up with the idea for COVIES there wasn't really much to watch. At least not in Europe. It was only later that I discovered series such as PROM QUEEN - which looks sumptuous, but probably only got so many viewers because "Prom" is very similar to another four letter word beginning with "P". I've also seen WEB THERAPY and NOVEL ADVENTURES. I've also looked at the nominees for the Indie Soap Awards. I like BUPPIES and COMPULSIONS.

We Love Soaps: What do you think sets COVIES apart from the others?
Len Collin: What I think sets COVIES apart is its ambition. Most web series are small cast, often single-protagonist, constrained by theme or storyline. Traditionally soaps are multi-protagonist, multi-stranded, contain elements of comedy, drama and social realism. We have all that. Plus, we are the first and only Irish soap.

We Love Soaps: Were you a fan of any TV soaps? What inspired you to do an soap opera?
Len Collin: Who didn't watch DALLAS? I also have a soft spot for DAYS OF OUR LIVES and GUIDING LIGHT as I was once engaged to draw up a proposal for UK versions. I began my career writing on shows such as FAMILIES and EASTENDERS.

The inspiration came from both the challenge and the nature of soap storytelling itself. There is something quite visceral about soaps. It's all of human life, our frailties, our desires, our ambitions - it's secretly how we would all like to live and love. It also has an immediacy that other forms of drama sometimes lack. So the challenge was to take all of those things and somehow make something both familiar and different at the same time. The trick is in leaving your audience wanting more.

We Love Soaps: Will there be more episodes produced in the future?
Len Collin: There's more in my head, whether it makes it to the screen is another matter. We made COVIES for virtually nothing. That's how we got it looking so good. We also shot it in only three weeks, which is why on occasion the lack of budget shows. Everyone, including myself worked for free. Even our composer Joseph Conlan [best known for his work on NCIS] worked for nada. So for a series two we would be looking for sponsorship. We think there's a big enough audience out there to warrant such a move as the Diaspora is huge, but you don't have to be Irish to enjoy COVIES. I think the exposure we get from sites such as We Love Soaps are invaluable. Part of the story behind COVIES is how a group of people and a small town in the West of Ireland got together to achieve something - we made a drama out of a crisis. It's up to our audience to make it work.

DIARY OF A SINGLE MOM took home the top prize at the Indie Soap Awards on Monday night for Best Indie Soap. Producer and Director Robert Townsend accepted the award along with stars Janice Lynde (Peggy) and Valery Ortiz (Lupe). Billy Dee Williams (Uncle Bo) was unable to participate but co-star Monica Calhoun (Ocean) accepted on his behalf. Season Two of DIARY continues on February 11. Click here to watch a preview.

THE LIKE US SHOW is a new radio soap opera that debuted on Feb. 1 on the web and on college radio stations at Albany State, Alcorn State and Bethune Cookman. Set on the campus of the fictional Atlanta University, LIKE US tells the dramatic story of the lives of the students of this Historical Black University. The first three episodes are now up on the show's website.

ANYONE BUT ME won four big prizes at the Indie Soap Awards. Susan Miller and Tina Cesa Ward accepted the awards for Best Writing and Best Storyline. Miller thanked the fans of the show for their support saying, "That's why we're here. We do this for you and everything you say that encourages us to go forward is so important to us." Rachael Hip-Flores (Vivian) was for Lead Actress and Joshua Holland for Supporting Acting. The next new episode of ANYONE BUT ME will air February 23.

RULES OF THE LEAGUE is a new comedy web series that follows the ups and downs in the life of Joel Ballard - a recently unemployed 30-something - and his struggles to run a profitable sports blog of the same name. All 9 episodes can be seen on the show's website.

In celebration of their first season of the show, RULES is giving away a 52" Widescreen LCD TV, and delivering it to your house in time for the Super Bowl this Sunday. All you have to do is tweet out the following message:

"Win a 52" LCD and a spot on Rules of the League Season 2 - (RT and follow @therulesdottv to enter)"

A winner will be chosen at random from all the people that participate. The winner of the contest also gets to appear in Season 2 of RULES OF THE LEAGUE.

DOWNSIZED is an original satirical drama web series about people who are adjusting to life during the economic crisis. Written and directed by WGAE member Daryn Strauss with photography and editing by NYU Tisch graduate Chris Shimojima, the dramatic series follows the odd entanglements between several people of different backgrounds and features a cast of TV/Broadway/film vets including Chris Henry Coffey (GUIDING LIGHT), Conan McCarty, Meredith Zinner, Brian Keane (ALL MY CHILDREN), Shannon Conley, Kaipo Schwab, Sevrin Anne Mason, Duncan Murdoch, Gerard Urciuoli, as well as Daryn Strauss, Esra Gaffin, Michele Mavissakalian and Dawn Vicknair.

The first seven episodes launched to huge acclaim last year, and the series was featured in Variety in January as one of only 22 web series signed to the Writers Guild East. 2010 saw the release of Episode #8 on January 29 starring THE CLOSER's Conan McCarty and Meredith Zinner of Erin Brockovich with Episode #9 slated to release February 11.

STEAMBOAT is a new web comedy series written by longtime GUIDING LIGHT star Michael O'Leary. Back in August 2009, O'Leary teased the project when speaking with We Love Soaps' Damon L. Jacobs at a GUIDING LIGHT tribute event at the Paley Center: "I'm writing a sitcom [with] Scott Bryce, who was on AS THE WORLD TURNS for many years. He has been producing a lot of movies up in Connecticut and we're partnering up on something. I'm real excited about it. We're going to be shooting it in the next few weeks and we'll see what happens. My hope is that it will involve a lot of the familiar faces on GUIDING LIGHT and be a continuum a little bit of what people have got used to seeing."

Several GUIDING LIGHT actors are involved in the project including Beth Chamberlin, Orlagh Cassidy (who also stars on EMPIRE), Kim Zimmer and Justin Deas. GOTHAM stars Michael Park and Kurt McKinney are also part of the cast. The show is describe as "a behind-the-scenes look at the dying days of a soap opera."

Among the Indie Soap Award wins for VENICE was the Fan's Choice Award. Creator and writer Kim Turrisi thanked the fans for their support saying, "This is thrilling because it came from the fans. For the cast, especially Crystal [Chappell] and I who created the show for the fans, the entire Twitter universe, CCandFriends, Facebook, the love and support you guys have shown for VENICE has been astounding. Obviously it's a Fan's Choice Award, we couldn't do it without you. We love you and appreciate you. Thank you very much."

GOTHAM was awarded a special Editor's Award as a "Future Hit" in 2010. Martha Byrne, and her beautiful daughter, accepted the award. This week's all new episode of GOTHAM only reinforced the editor's choice. From the opening theme, sung by Michael Park (Richard) this week, to the back and forth storylines with Richard and Catherine, this show continues to improve with each episode.

COMPULSIONS won four times at the Indie Soap Awards - Lead Actor (Craig Frank), Supporting Actress (Taryn O'Neill) Best Editing (Michael Darrow) and Best Sound Design (Tom Boykin). To get a sample of the work of all four winners, check out Episode #4 of the compelling series.

THEN WE GOT HELP! was named Best Indie Web Series, Comedy at the Indie Soap Awards. The latest episode "You Are What You Eat" is now playing on the show's website. Dan (ONE LIVE TO LIVE's Nicholas Rodriguez) tries to put the group on a health kick. But Emily's new guests harbor a secret that turns this meeting upside down.

Indie Soap Award winner for Best Director, Kai Soremekun, from CHICK, is one of the most talented people in the world of indie soaps. Heck, let's just say the world. Her brilliant acceptance speech that kicked off the Awards telecast was one of the most buzzed moments of the entire event. If you have not watched this fantastic series, catch up on all 10 episodes now.

EMPIRE was given a special Editor's Award for Scene Transition at the Indie Soap Awards. Creator/Producer Greg Turner accepted the award on behalf of Steven Slate. Presenters from EMPIRE included Kathryn Neville Browne (Sandra), Annalisa Derr (Katherine), Afton Boggiano (who will be playing Lucy), Kate Forsatz (Marin) and nominee Ryan Clardy Cane). The show will be returning in the Spring with a much-anticipated Season Two.

The season finale of Julian Breece's Indie Soap Award winning BUPPIES, "Pretty Wings," aired last week on the show's website. Preston Davis (Elliot) and Chante Frierson were honored for their Breakthrough and Comedic performances at the awards ceremony on Monday night.

If you missed former GUIDING LIGHT star Robert Bogue on the seventh episode of indie comedy series ALL'S FAIRE, you can watch it here. He shows up at the end to save the Faire. You can check out the photos of the characters on the show's Facebook page. Mandy Bruno will also be appearing on the show.

The entire cast of ANACOSTIA accepted the Indie Soap Award for Best Ensemble. If you have not checked out this series, there are currently nine episodes available for viewing. You can watch them here. The show takes place in DC's Anacostia community neighborhood.

EDITOR'S NOTE: You can find all our indie soap coverage at


  1. Can't wait for Steamboat. Love those actors:)

  2. Me too! And now we're starting to see some of the daytime actors working on multiple indie shows which an interesting and viable option since the shooting schedules are less frequent.

  3. This column is great. You guys hook me up with the best web series.

  4. I am so excited for Steamboat. There are so many talented people invoived from Michael O'Leary, Scott Bryce and all the actors and crew. I think this is going to be hysterical. I can't wait!!!