Monday, June 21, 2010

Nelson Aspen Catches Up With Louise Shaffer, Part Two

In Part One of Nelson Aspen's "Where Are They Now" interview with Louise Shaffer, the multi-talented and Emmy-winning actress shared her reflections insights about her times on RYAN'S HOPE and SEARCH FOR TOMORROW.  In Part Two, she reveals more about her writing, her new book, and her choice not to get "knee surgery." Enjoy!

Nelson Aspen: You have a new book coming out [“Looking For A Love Story”]. Tell me about your writing.  What is your genre?
Louise Shaffer: Women’s commercial fiction.  That’s my genre. It is exactly what it says.  It’s a real extension of what I always did in the soaps. 

Nelson Aspen: We should also point out that Louise also wrote for daytime.
Louise Shaffer: Oh yes, I did that for a number of years.  But it’s basically storytelling. This one was a lot inspired by the dog. 

Nelson Aspen: You are an animal lover.
Louise Shaffer: Oh yeah, my beloved Roxanne.  She inspired a lot of this book.  Most of [my books] have  a show biz theme. 

Nelson Aspen: Will daytime fans find your books interesting. Do they have a soapy aspects?
Louise Shaffer: Oh, sure.  One of them really does.  The third book I wrote, “Family Acts,” one of the lead characters in that is a soap writer and her mother was a huge soap star.  And it’s all about a theater family from the South.  In “Serendipity” the theater element takes place to a huge extent in the 60s and the 70s in Manhattan. The backstory for this book is the vaudeville.  Which I love because not only because it was the “American Idol” of it’s day.  Any kid who thought he could sing or dance could to down to his local Vaudeville house on Friday night talent night and do your thing.  And very often an agent would pick you up and send out of on the circuits.   There was that element of it . But what I also love about vaudeville is that it was really hot during the turn of the last century when we had influxes of immigrants coming into this country.  Vaudeville was where the Italian kids, the Jewish kids, even the African-American kids who could not work in any other medium with Caucasians would be working all together on the same stage.   It was a kind of melting pot thing that was very unique.  Every little town had their own opera house, but it was really a big city kind of entertainment. It came out of the streets of the cities.   

Nelson Aspen: We’re down to six soaps after WORLD TURNS go off. What do you think about the state of soap operas?  What is going on with the genre?
Louise Shaffer: I have to say that I look at it from the perspective of an actor.  What I think about it is not only was it a stepping stone for an awful lot of people who came into the city and that’s how they got their start.  But what the soaps really did in my time was to support a whole cauldron of character actors.  People who you would never ever think about.  A lot of them have names you will never hear.  But these people would pick up six months on a soap, or a year here of there, and that was how they stayed in New York and did theater.  I’m talking about Rex Robbins [WHERE THE HEART IS], Bibi Osterwald [WHERE THE HEART IS], Doris Roberts [MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN]. Never in big parts, never in major roles.  But this was the fabric of the whole theater life in this city. 

And I really wonder, now that there is one soap shooting here in New York, what happens?  What happens to all those actors who used to be able to support their theater habit by doing daytime?  For myself...I’m going to go out on a limb here.  I hope someone finds a different model for the soaps, for the business end.  Because what I think is the real problem is that soaps have to deliver a certain demographic.  And I get that.  They really do have to do that to appeal to the marketing people, the advertising agencies, the corporations that currently sponsor soaps.  They have to appeal to those demographics for them.  I think that’s a disaster because it isn’t reactive to the real audience watching soaps.  I hope somebody can find a way for soaps to become a kind of pay-per-view thing. 

Nelson Aspen: What about the web soaps? Have you watched any?
Louise Shaffer: I have to tell you I’m still struggling to figure out how to use the web. 

Nelson Aspen: Would you be up for doing a web soap?
Louise Shaffer: Sure, I would.  At this point it would have to be a part that showcases something new for me to do that I haven’t done before because I’m looking to get myself back in the game.  So it would have to be something that is very appropriate to me at this age.

[Pause] Okay, I might as well say it.  I am one of the ones who said I will never have what is referred to as “knee surgery.”  “Knee surgery” is when an actress of a certain age announces through her publicist that she will be off the show for six weeks because she is getting that tricky knee taken care of.  And she comes back six weeks later looking [stretches her face back].  I think it’s fine if other people wish to have knee surgery.  I just think if you’re a woman of a certain age you oughta ‘fess up and say you’ve had it done and not make everyone think you did it through pilates and nutrition because that makes us all feel less about ourselves. I don’t think that’s fair.  I will never be doing that personally, which I hope puts me in the competitive position of being one of the very few actresses my age who look my age, and therefore could play twenty years older than I am.  If I were to do another show, I wouldn’t want to do what I have done before.  Why would I want to do that?  If someone came to me with something that wasn’t Rae Woodard and wasn’t any of the kind of classy bitches I have played all my life.  If someone came to me with something funny at this point...I’ve gotten to the point in my life when I want to hear people laugh.  I really love that.

EDITOR'S NOTE: To see Nelson Aspen's complete interview with Louise Shaffer, go Nelson Aspen's Where Are They Now Tour.   Then please enjoy Louise Shaffer's new book now available on Amazon

No comments:

Post a Comment