Friday, April 2, 2010

Jean Passanante Joins ONE LIFE TO LIVE Writing Team

Ever since AS THE WORLD TURNS was canceled I have speculated that head writer Jean Passanante would end up back at ONE LIFE TO LIVE. ABC now confirms the move is happening. Dartmouth grad Passanante will join the OLTL writing team as an associate head writer once ATWT ceases production. ATWT is celebrating 54 years on the air today. Ron Carlivati remains head writer.

Passanante was associate head writer for OLTL from 1993 to 1996 and co-head writer from 1996 to 1997. She later wrote for ANOTHER WORLD and ALL MY CHILDREN before moving on to ATWT.

Fans are already lamenting the fact that, once again, a daytime soap has rushed to snap up a writer from a canceled soap. With ratings holding steady or in decline in most daytime shows, the networks seem to be hiring people with many years experience in the industry (good or bad) versus seeking out new blood who might reinvorate the genre.

The indie soap world is filled with dozens of talented writers that don't seem to have a shot on these broadcast television soaps. Cheryl L. West, Martha Byrne & Lisa Brown, Greg Turner & Brian Hewson, Susan Miller & Tina Cesa Ward. Charles Van Eman & Mike Stiles, Anthony Anderson and others instantly come to mind when I think about writers that might have a chance to improve the daytime soaps. But in the end, staying in the indie world, a true writer's medium minus network interference and focus groups,may be the best thing for this talented bunch. There are constant rumors about the lack of power a daytime head writer has anyway.

When there is an opening on the writing staff of any daytime soap, I hope minority candidates are being considered. It's great to go with the familiar, and even understandable to a degree, but many voices are not being represented on our beloved soaps.

What do you think about Jean Passante's return to ONE LIFE TO LIVE? Will it help the show bringing back someone from the past? Were you hoping for some fresh blood on the writing team? Does a writer for a daytime soap even have a chance to tell his/her own stories?


  1. After what's she's done to AMC, Another World, and ATWT... it just baffles me that people keep hiring this woman. After watching what she's done with ATWT firsthand, I feel bad for OLTL fans.

  2. It's hard to believe OLTL wants to survive when it's making the same mistakes the other canceled shows have made. Will she make $1 million a year or more? What a tragic waste of money for a show threatened with cancellation.

  3. I cannot think of any other industry where a resume of failure guarantees one consistent employment. Fortunately, as Roger stated, the Indie Soaps are bubbling over with amazing writers who are telling creative, compelling, and innovative stories. That is where most of my viewing attention is going.

  4. Damon you are so right. It amazes me how imcompetence is consistently rewarded in this industry. Kreizmann, Passanante? If you insist on recycling how about a writer with actual talent like Jill Lorie Horst from Guiding Light. This industry just does not want new ideas or in my opinion to survive. It's almost like a parody movie now "how to kill the soaps without really trying." I've been watching for 32years now and can remember on the East Coast watching from 12:30 to 4:30 (Ryans Hope, AMC, OLTL, GH and Edge of Night). Now we're down to 7 soon to be 6 and I really only watch two of them consistently. I am also enjoying the web soaps. Thank goodness there is an alternative.


  5. As my good friend, Katherine Chancellor, would say, "DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN!"

    They might as well axe OLTL now, and spare the old warhouse the misery of being crippled and limping to an agonizing death.

  6. I can bet you Jean Passanante will bring back Roger Howarth as Todd Manning.

  7. Hmmmm.....she ain't no Agnes Nixon or Bill Bell for sure, but she is not the "devil incarnate" as made out here. Given ATWT has had a massively diminished budget, production and cast cuts, etc, I have seen worse dreck on TV. Saying that given we will soon have 6 soaps, maybe some new blood would not hurt.

    As for the Indie soaps being full of "amazing writers who are telling creative, compelling, and innovative stories", please they do what 10 episodes on the Internet? And lets face it, a show like Venice needs a lot of work to improve, it is a newbie and is garnering a lot of love merely because it s trying something new on a new format.

    Soap Opera writers are trying to pull off 250 hours of TV a year in the restrictions of Network TV. Please, there is no serious comparsion between them and the "Indie Soaps"!

  8. Tony, I can't agree about the "massively diminished budget". Yes, soaps have less money now, but working with something like a million bucks a week is HUGE. Give any of the writers I mentioned, most of whome are also the producers of their shows and wear many hats, that kind of money and see what they can do. They all understand that real human stories are what made this format take off, an experimental format created 80 years ago by Irna Phillips with 15 minute shows (ANACOSTIA, for example, already is producing 20 minute episodes).

    As for Jean Passanante, we don't know exactly what she has been responsible for but she has said in interviews she doesn't write scripts. She's more of the idea person. The writers I mentioned create the story, write the scripts, produce the shows, and in some cases, star in them, serve as the line producer, craft services, location scout, etc. In other words they work their asses off, produce quality work, and many times it is paid for out of their own pocket.

    I didn't mention VENICE in my commentary. As I said in my review of its first season, I thought the show had potential but the writing wasn't on par with the best indie soaps from the past year. I'm hopeful the show will show a huge leap with Season Two.

    Every indie soap is not going to be written or produced by the next Doug Marland. But there are many with great potential and my point was that daytime doesn't even consider this talent pool. They hire old pals or business associates without thought to fresh blood or new approaches. And obviously daytime soaps are not going to sustain past a couple of more years unless a radical reinvention occurs. Who better to help figure that out than people who produce quality shows on what is a "real massively diminished budget."

  9. I think the networks are out to destroy the soaps one by one; look how bizarre Y&R has gotten, won't get started on B&B mess. Read other soaps are doing bizarre thing just to survive. Doing things that characters don't normally do and the dialogue is horrible. Don't see how they can say some of what they say with a straight face. Think might start watching Days after ATWT is over. They all been so depressing lately. Soaps were meant to get away fantasy.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Hmmmm...Roger given I have read of "massive Budget cuts" several times on this and other websites, especially when one of the soap actors is taking a paycut/being written off their show, I can see their effect in all parts of the production process, including the writing process. Lets face it something like ATWT costs a lot more than CBS is playing, given salaries etc.

    As for Ms Passanate, yes her work is not exactly been Marland/Bell/Nixon standard, but she obviously is skilled in the writing process for soaps (I am now expecting to be shot down, but yes she can "write" for a one hour soap). However, surely the skills needed here aren't the same as writing up to 10 (lets say) 15 minute episodes.

    I will say though, I would happily watch Bob, Kim, Lisa and Nancy sitting in a diner talking over the "dramas" of Parker, Faith and Liberty on ATWT. I agree that the best thing about soaps is when they cherish the characters and write about real human emotions. That is what is missing today. I have yet to see "real human emotion" on a web soap. Lots of efforts, and lots of interesting developments but still lots of work to go. And yes Ms Phillips would be proud.

    However it one of great misfortunes of the afternoon soaps is that they now just rush through storylines about teenagers. That is more about the networks wanting the younger viewers than the storytellers

  12. Tony, Jean doesn't write actual scripts. She comes up with ideas in conjunction wtih Goutman. She has said in interview she's never written soap scripts. So in terms of script writing, I think the indie writers are more qualified.

    Have you watched the show we nominated for best indie soap? Try DIARY OF A SINGLE MOM. If you don't feel emotion from that, we probably are not going to ever agree.

  13. "Diary of A Single Mom" and "Anyone But Me" provoke more emotional responses in me than any daytime soap has been able to do for ten years. What these productions are capable of doing with very little budget is astounding.

    Now if one of these amazing writers Roger mentioned had a chance to write 36 minutes of dialogue per day, what would happen? Some of it would shine. Some of it might suck (even Claire Labine had her misfires). The unfortunate truth is that we will never find out, because television has chosen to shun creative and innovative story telling. THIS is the downfall of daytime, my friends, NOT women going to work!

  14. I am by the way not defending her appointment, I just don't like the bile being poured on her for her appointment as Associate Head Writer of OLTL.

    I am not sure someone like Martha Bryne for example given her genuine wealth of experience as a writer and actor is actually ready to be a Head Writer. It might be interesting of course, as Head Writer generally is an "Ideas person" now, obvious exceptions do exist of course.

    What should have happened more often is like Bill Bell's example, of training others in the art of Writing for a soap, as seen in his training of Brad Bell and Maria Arena Bell. (As Irna Phillips did with him and Agnes Nixon)

    Roger - I thought "Diary of Single Mom" was quite good, but again it is a short series of rather interesting stories, not 250 episodes a year. By all means get the new blood of talent in (that we all agree), but not immediately as Associate Head Writers.

    Damon - "The unfortunate truth is that we will never find out, because television has chosen to shun creative and innovative story telling. THIS is the downfall of daytime, my friends, NOT women going to work!". I disagree. I am constantly being told how great and innovative OLTL is yet it is near the bottom of the ratings and constantly being talked of as soon to be cancelled.

    Really the issue is that all soaps will eventually end, unfortuanately. The issue is we will not see new ones replace them on daytime television any more. Why?

    1) Soaps are high cost programming relative to court and infotainment programming
    2) Older soaps rarely sell well "mid-run" overseas. AMC started in Australia early 2010 and gets an audience of 5,000
    3) Individual channels make more from syndicated/local programming
    4) Cable/Other networks in the market place as with the internet
    5) The daytime audience is smaller than in previous times.

    PS I also thought Maggie on Days after Mickey died was truly one of the most emotional and touching moments I have seen on TV.