How WATCH ABC Changes Will Affect Viewing of 'GH,' 'The View' and 'The Chew'; Shows Also on Hulu Plus

How WATCH ABC Changes Will Affect Viewing of ‘GH,’ ‘The View’ and ‘The Chew’; Shows Also on Hulu Plus


My View of Llanivew: April 15 Edition

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 2:07 AM EDT | By Scotty Gore

( — A critical look back at the successes and failures of recent Llanview returns.

Since becoming Head Writer of “One Life to Live” in 2007, Ron Carlivati has brought back for than his share of former cast members and characters. Ranging from Tina Roberts and the original Marty Saybrooke, to Jackie McNaughton and Madam Delphina, Carlivati has interwoven both major and minor past “OLTL” characters into various storylines. However, not all of those returns were met with widespread success.

Being able to lure an actor or actress back to their old Llanview home is one thing, but penning a sensible storyline for their character is another issue entirely. Long-time “One Life” fans were amazed and delighted a year ago when news broke that the show had forged a deal with Andrea Evans, to bring the actress back to the show she had fled from eighteen years earlier while being stalked by a crazed fan. We were promised a beautifully written storyline that would make it seem as if the character of Tina hadn’t gone MIA for nearly a dozen years. But that promise and hope, soon turned to bitter disappointment.

Relegated mainly to interacting with Tess, Natalie, and Jared, Tina was reduced to a bumbling idiot. While she was not always the most intelligent person in Llanview, the Tina of old did have more common sense than this latest incarnation. She was portrayed as overly dramatic, spoiled, and immature. Where was the conniving, hardheaded Tina that fans fell in love with? The one that tried to blackmail Niki Smith (who was pretending to be Viki) into divorcing Clint Buchanan, worked to gain control of the Buchanan fortune by marrying Cord, and passing off Gabrielle’s baby as her own son with Cord? At least, Carlivati did bring back Tina’s old flame and former partner in crime, Cain Rogan, for her to interact with. But still, more scenes with sister Viki and brother Todd would have been nice, as would have been scenes showing Tina going around town visiting with old friends and adversaries, and realizing just how much Llanview had changed while she was away. There was not even one scene with Tina and David Vickers, whom she slept with, while mistakenly believing that he was her half-brother. True, she did have a dog named after him, but still it was not the same as having David and Tina together having a confrontation or, at the very least, a civil conversation. Instead, however, most of Tina’s time was spent either in Llanfair, Cristian’s loft, or in Mendorra, as part of that over-the-top homage to the past during “OLTL’s” 40th anniversary episodes last summer. But on the positive side, at least Tina did interact somewhat with her daughter Sarah, even if another child, her son CJ, was not even referenced. And at least Tina got to share some brief screen time with ex-husband (and quite possibly true love) Cord Roberts. But after six months, Tina was gone almost as quickly as she had arrived, but hopefully it won’t be a dozen more years before she returns.

On the heels of Evans’ return as Tina, came one of lesser importance–Janet Zarish as Lee Halpern/Janet Ketring. No offense to fans of either the actress or the character, but her place in Llanview history is small compared to heavyweights like Evans, Thom Christopher (Carlo Hesser), Roscoe Born (Mitch Laurence), and James DePaiva (Max Holden). But still, bringing Lee Halpern back was a nice nod to the show’s history. At first, it appeared to be just a coincidence that “OLTL” had brought Zarish back to the canvas as a seemingly unrelated character nearly two decades after exiting Llanview. A few months later, however, it became clear that there was no coincidence, but that she was instead a miraculously returned from the dead Lee Halpern. But why? What purpose did that serve? The writers did have her interact with her old ‘boss’ Renee, who ‘employed’ Lee back in her Nevada brothel days. But the trip down memory lane stopped there. There were no scenes with other characters that she may have interacted with back in the ’80s (Viki, Clint, Dorian, Bo, etc…), nor was there any hint of Max Holden returning to settle the score with his old lover.

If there is one thing I hate, it is bringing back an old character just to kill them off or have them go insane. They did it with Lee Halpern…murdered by the KAD serial killer. And it looks like they are going to do it to Zach Rosen too. “OLTL” brings back Joshua Phillip Weinstein as Todd’s old frat buddy Zach, who was part of Marty’s gang rape back in the day I might add, only to have him stir up a little trouble and then send him back to jail? Hmmm… ok. That makes perfect sense. No trying to redeem himself (whether genuine or fake) or anything. Zach returns only to demand money from Todd and hold Starr hostage and then gets arrested and disappears into the night? I know, I know. The show is trying to throw viewers off by making them think that he is the serial killer that has been terrorizing Llanview recently, but even that is nothing more than a red herring. Just wait and see, in a few months, Zach Rosen will be nothing more than a footnote again. And that is disheartening, because I hoping that “OLTL” would tell Zach’s story, the way they did for Todd and, to a lesser extent, Powell Lord III (the third rapist). But they ruined that opportunity, in my opinion.

I also hate it when writers either make it seem as if recently returned characters are either still in Llanview or simply do not exist any longer. Case in point. Are we to believe that Madame Delphina is still in town, or has the physic moved elsewhere? The same for Jackie McNaughton. I suppose he still calls Llanview home, even though he is only seen one or twice every couple years. And whatever happened to Allison Perkins? Apparently she is still in a coma in a room somewhere at Llanview Hospital, even though no one in town speculates about her “secret” anymore, not even Jessica, who it was supposed to be about. We were told last year that Allison wasn’t expected to live much longer, but it appears that she is still with us. “OLTL” really dropped the ball on that one. I realize that it was largely due to the writer’s strike and Gary Tomlin taking over as head scribe during that time, but still. Even it wasn’t part of Carlivati’s vision, he should have at least came up with a logical ending for the storyline.

The same can be said for making Talia Sahid the biological daughter of Carlo Hesser. After some initial interaction following Thom Christopher’s brief returns last summer and fall, Talia’s paternity became little more than an interesting side note. Where were the repercussions? There weren’t any. It was more like, okay so we made Talia the daughter of popular villain Carlo Hesser, now what? Unfortunately, “OLTL” never really answered that question. The best we can hope for at this point is that Carlo will return to Llanview to avenge his daughter’s death, after she meets her maker at the hands of the KAD killer next week. Now that would be good. Anytime Thom Christopher is in Llanview, it’s good. Just the sound of his voice still sends shivers up my spine. Carlo Hesser is a classic example of a soap villain; despite the idiotic situation the writers placed him in last fall, making it look like he slept with co-hort Jonas Chamberlin. Carlo is pure evil, and that’s why fans love him. Spencer Truman, Margaret Cochran, and Stacy Morasco are nothing more than very poor imitations of Carlo.

Hank “The Cannon” Gannon. The name used to carry weight in Llanview. District Attorney, ex-wife of prominent lawyer Nora Hanen, best friend of Police Commissioner Bo Buchanan, brother or career criminal RJ Gannon. But then Hank, much like many other beloved characters over the years (Dr. Larry Wolek, Rev. Andrew Carpenter, Miles Laurence) just faded into the background, making it look as if the guy had never existed. But then, he finally returned. I was elated to hear that “OLTL” was bringing Nathan Purdee back to Llanview as the all-around good guy Hank. But now, not so much. While Hank’s return to town was mainly envisioned to escort daughter Rachel back to visit Nora (just when her mother needed her the most), Carlivati could have at least given Hank scenes with his old pal Bo. And I’m not referring to just “catching up on old times.” Not at all. If the writers were smart, they could have Hank help Bo get inside the head of the KAD killer that is terrorizing Llanview. After all, Hank was there when Marty was viciously gang raped, as well as when Nora defended the culprits in court. Hank is already tied to this storyline in that respect. So it would totally make sense for Hank to offer Bo a fresh perspective on the investigation. Then maybe Hank and Nora could butt heads again, and he could run against her to regain his old position as District Attorney. They would be great since his brother RJ is also returning to town this month. I think it could work, and would be much better than the alternative of portraying John McBain as Llanview’s savior. But then again, what do I know? I’m only a long-time loyal fan of “OLTL.”

Not to leave anyone out, those discussed above are not the only former characters Ron Carlivati has brought back since becoming head writer. Others who returned included Asa Buchanan (following his death from a heart attack), Pamela Stuart (Asa’s 2nd and 6th wife), Dallas Jones (Clint’s old flame from London), Colin McIver (as a game show host in Rex’s dream), Jen Rappaport (also in Rex’s dream), Mararet Cochran (to haunt Todd, even in his dreams), Alex Olanov (who needs to return permanently, in my opinion), Kevin and Joey Buchanan (Viki needs her sons around), Rev. Andrew Carpenter (should be seen more than just weddings and funerals), Max Holden (the two 40th anniversary episodes just weren’t enough), Niki Smith and Jean Randolph (the best of Viki’s six alternate personalities), Mel Hayes (whose body was never found, so he could always return from the dead), Ben Davidson (who needs to stay dead), and Megan Gordon Harrison (even it was just an old flashback). And we can’t forget luring back Susan Haskell as the original Marty Saybrooke after getting rid of the mediocre Christina Chambers, and the genius of casting Erin Torpey as a grown-up version of baby Megan Buchanan. What a treat that was for those of us who grew up watching Torpey grow up on “One Life to Live” as Jessica.

However, not all the recent returns on “OLTL” have been flops. In fact, at least one has been rather successful. Last December, Florenica Lozano brought Téa Delgado back to Llanview with all the spunk and spitfire that Téa is famous for. Téa has reminded us of her ferociousness in court, passion in matters of the heart, and tenderness when it comes to those she loves. It is the real Téa, and not some watered down version of the character. This is the same Téa who married Todd for $5 million and was pushed out of a window by Todd’s ex-wife Blair. For once, “OLTL” did justice to the character by bringing her back. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for most of the others Ron Carlivati has managed to lure back to Llanview for a visit.

While I’m feeling somewhat nostalgic, here is a list of other characters I would love to see return to Llanview in the near future (in no particular order). Dr. Larry Wolek, his son Dan, and ex-wife Karen; Herb Callison; Ed Hall; Carla Grey; Cassie Carpenter; Wanda Webb Wolek; Max Holden; Kevin and Joey Buchanan; Kelly Cramer; and Viki’s brother Tony Lord (who’s to say he isn’t still alive somewhere?).

For those of you unable to figure out the answers to the trivia questions from my last column, here they are (correct answers in bold): Question #1: What seasonally named soap actress was Megan Gordon’s main competitor for the fictional Daisy Award for Best Actress in 1989? Was it a) Autumn Days, b) Spring Skye, c) Summer Shade, or d) Silver Winters. Question #2: On Christmas Eve in 1993, Cassie Callison found a newborn baby, which she would later adopt and name River. But where did she first discover the little bundle of joy? Was it: a) at the mall, b) under her tree, c) in the church manger scene, or d) in the backseat of her car. Question #3: In 1978, what type of show did Pat Ashley host on WVLE? Was it: a) advice to the lovelorn, b) beauty makeovers, c) cooking, or d) talk show. And Question #4: In 1981, what was the ominous name of the Llanivew estate where Asa Buchanan had imprisoned his first wife, Olympia? Was it: a) Widow’s Peak, b) Timberdark, c) Ravenwood, or d) Moor Cliffe.

Hope you enjoyed those questions, and that they didn’t prove to difficult for you. Now, time for this week’s trivia challenge: Question #1: In 1982, Tony Lord and Bo Buchanan attempted to mine an alternate energy source. Was it a) gravitomite, b) buchanium, c) solarmite, or d) llanvium. Question #2: In 2002, “One Life to Live” aired a special Fourth of July episode featuring musical numbers in a women’s prison. What was the title of that particular episode? Was it a) “Jailhouse Pop,” b) “Babes Behind Bars,” c) “Cell Block Party,” or d) “Stars in Stripes.” Question #3: Al Holden became a radio disc jockey in 2003, and referred to himself on air as the Voice of What? a) Romance, b) Choice, c) the Night, or d) Reason. And Question #4: Back in 1970, Vince “Vinny” Wolek was arrested after trying to transport some illegal cargo over state lines. But just what was it that he was his precious cargo? Was it a) alcohol, b) babies, c) cigarettes, or d) drugs. I’ll have the answers in the April 30th edition of the column. But if you are stumped and can’t wait, you may want to consult a copy of The One Life to Live 40th Anniversary Trivia Book by Gerry Waggett. Just a suggestion…. but one you might find useful.

Well that wraps up another edition of “My View in Llanview.” Many thanks to those who regularly read and comment on my thoughts and ramblings concerning “OLTL.” I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter holiday, and that you have nice weather wherever you are today. Take care and I hope you’re join me again soon for the next installment of this column.

And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live”…

“One Life to Live” airs Weekdays on ABC. Weeknights on SOAPnet. Check local listings.

Discussion: My View of Llanview: April 15 Edition

My View of Llanview: March 30 Edition

Saturday, April 4, 2009 1:37 AM EDT | By Scotty Gore


( — The cancellation of “Guiding Light” has sent shockwaves throughout the soap world, and Llanview is no exception.

It has been said that time flies when you’re having fun. However, it also seems to fly (albeit not as fast) when you are busy as well. Every time I have set down to write my column this week, something has come up. Whether it was waiting out tornado warnings, working around power outages, babysitting my aunt’s dog (whom I love like a baby), taking grandma to the grocery store, mowing the lawn while dodging raindrops, writing casting reports for “OLTL” and somehow becoming a pseudo reporter for a soap I have never each watched, it was a very hectic week. It’s amazing. Some weeks, I have to dig like a dog with a bone to find “OLTL” related news to write about, while other weeks I barely have time to complete one article before another one needs to be written. This has been one of those weeks. I have had little time to actually set down and think out what to write about in this column. And when I did, I found myself glued to the television and Internet sports message boards, swept up in the drama surrounding Memphis basketball coach John Calipari becoming the next head coach of the Kentucky Wildcat basketball team. Being a true blue UK fan (and bleeding blue), I honestly could not be happier that top coach in the nation is now at the winningest program in college basketball. Pardon me for gushing, however, I haven’t found myself this excited about Kentucky basketball in several years. But I digress.

However, all the news was not good this week, at least not in soap land anyway. Unless you’ve been stranded on a remote deserted island or trapped under a rock or in a cave this week, you know what I am referring to. After more than 72 years on television and radio, “Guiding Light,” was cancelled earlier this week. While I never watched the soap (aside from twenty or thirty second intervals while channel surfing), I found the news sad and disturbing nonetheless. Even though I am not a regular viewer of “GL,” I feel for the show’s fans, cast, and crew. It is never easy when a soap gets cancelled, especially in an era when the daytime genre appears near extinction. Soaps are a dying breed, and once they’re gone, that’s it. Daytime television will become a vast wasteland of trashy talk shows and copycat game shows. Much like variety shows and weekday afternoon network cartoons, soaps will become an experiment only discussed in textbooks, museums, and people’s memories. It’s a rather grim picture, isn’t it? Now that I’ve brought everyone down, how about a little pick me up? Here goes…

In the midst of “OLTL” casting reports and everything else that has consumed my life this past week, I found myself in the unfamiliar situation of writing articles for something which I knew very little about. That something was “Guiding Light.” While not being a fan or regular viewer of a particular show does not automatically disqualify you from being able to adequately cover that show as a reporter, it does tend to make it rather difficult. So on Wednesday, when news broke of “Guiding Light’s” imminent demise, I immediately brought the news to the attention of my fellow staff members at Soap Opera Network, informing them that an article needed to be written ASAP. However, everyone was tied up with other projects. So, not wanting such a big story to develop without so much as a ounce of coverage by SON, I felt compelled to tackle the news myself. For hours that afternoon, I poured and scoured over countless press releases and “Guiding Light” related websites. While composing the first article (dealing with the cancellation of “GL”), I realized just what a rich legacy and history the show had doing its record breaking run. A few facts about “GL” I was aware of (such as that it was the brainchild of Irna Phillips, who once employed “OLTL” Agnes Nixon on Head Writer on “Another World,” another of Phillip’s creations), but mostly I was writing about a show I knew next to nothing about. “GL” has such an impressive history, one that I had never realized until working on that report. I find myself in awe of the show and amazed by its long run both on radio and television. It is disheartening that such a once mighty and powerful show, has fizzled out in recent years. It makes me regret that I didn’t grow up watching the show as did countless other fans.

It also made me realize how very easily that article could have been about “One Life to Live,” a show I have grown up watching since childhood. “OLTL” hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire lately. In fact, it regularly finishes only a few spots ahead of “GL” in the ratings each week. What if “OLTL” were the soap that had gotten cancelled? How would I react? How would I want the show remembered? What could I say to honor ‘my’ show? Those were just some of the questions I asked myself while writing the “GL” article. I wanted to pay homage to the long-running daytime drama, while at the same time showing to the show’s loyal viewers that, as a fellow soap fan, I could feel their pain and sorrow. We should all be in mourning over the loss of “GL.” No matter what soap(s) you root for, pledge allegiance to, or watch faithfully and religiously, you should still feel bad about the fate of “GL,” because if it could happen to daytime’s oldest soap, it could very easily be your favorite show next time. I like to compare “Guiding Light” to Kentucky Wildcat basketball. Those of you who may be at least somewhat familiar with UK b-ball, might get the comparison. UK is the winningest program in college basketball with 1,988 wins and seven NCAA Championships over 105 season, where as “Guiding Light” has earned 63 Daytime Emmy Awards during its 72 year run. UK has a long and distinguished history that is full of colorful characters and firgures. The same is true with “GL.” And both have struggled in the past few years to live up to that history and to the overwhelming expectations of their fans. Those are just a few of the many parallels that can be drawn between the two; but there are many others.

Speaking of ‘my’ show let me talk about “OLTL” for a moment. About time, I suppose, considering this is what this column is supposed to be about anyway (ha ha). Llanview has been anything but a happy place lately. With all the doom and gloom, the show needs a little comic relief (and no, I am not referring to the acting talents of Farah Fath). The show needs some levity, what with serial killers, dead babies, sick kids, and drugs becoming a part of the everyday life of nearly all Llanview residents. Where is the love, the romance, and the joy? When was the last time any character was actually happy on “OLTL?”

Furthermore, why does “OLTL” consistently showcase freshmen cast members in front burner storylines? Crystal Hunt wasn’t in Llanview a week before her character Stacy Morasco was scheming to break up Gigi and Rex by withholding needed bone marrow from her leukemia-stricken nephew. And how stupid is Gigi? Why not just tell Rex what her sister Stacy is up to, so that they could fake ending their relationship until Shane got the transplant, and then expose Stacy for the evil bitch that she is? Wouldn’t that have been the logical route to go with this story? But then again, why should we expect anything “OLTL” has done lately to seem sane and rational? That makes about as much sense as Shane’s highly visible skullcap (which looked as if it were about to fall off) and the shameless plug for Disney World recently. I half expected Shane to have one those cards that from the commercials that shoots out fireworks and Mickey Mouse eared balloons when you open it. Either that or Rex or Gigi asking Shane what he wanted to do after beating cancer, so he could reply, “I’m going to Disney World!” But at least the poor boy didn’t tell his parents how long a six-day, seven night (or was it the other way around?) Disney World vacation would cost. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the Mouse has ruined ABC. Since Disney bought the network, they have made one bad decision after another…. including hiring Brian Frons to head up ABC Daytime. Oy vey!

And what is up with all the casting changes on “One Life to Live” lately? Camila Banus, Justis Bolding, BethAnn Bonner, Kathy Brier, Kamae de los Reyes, Jacqueline Hendy, A. Martinez, and Chris Stack have all either left or will soon be leaving Llanview. It must be like a bloodbath behind-the-scenes over there. While most on the list needed to disappear anyway, I think the firings of Kathy Brier and Chris Stack will prove to be the biggest losses for the show. The characters of Marcie and Michael still have a lot of potential and there are plenty of storyline possibilities for the couple, no matter what “OLTL” says. I had always thought the show should have had Marcie miraculously get pregnant after losing baby Tommy (Sam), resulting in Marcie and Michael finding their way back to one another as they raise their child. I even thought they were headed in that direction a few times, when they would randomly show them becoming intimate with one another. But instead, the separated Marcie and Michael, and even had Marcie go looking for another baby related to Todd Manning. Talk about screwing over Marcie and Michael fans, and treading down the path of no return. It was already bad enough that they turned them both into wallpaper for the past two years.

Much the same can be said of the veteran “OLTL” cast members. Viki has been turned into the Frances Reid of Llanview. She is never seen unless someone needs advice or a shoulder to cry on. Otherwise, Viki has no life and is like a classic old car you keep in the garage that you only take out to drive a few times a months. Viki should be a driving force of this show right now. They should have back at The Banner dealing with running a newspaper in a struggling economy, and trying to compete with The Sun. This would be a great storyline and would tie in nicely with the recession-type storylines ABC is forcing each of their soap’s to do in the coming months. It would also be relevant since several large newspapers across the country have either ceased or scaled back production already this year. Along the same lines, they could have Clint, Bo, and the rest of the Buchanan clan struggle to keep BE afloat, while having Renee do the same with The Palace. Or Bo could have to deal with budget cuts concerning the police department. Heck, even Carlotta could be given a storyline where she has to consider selling her diner to a corporate restaurant chain or going out of business. The possibilities are endless. Lastly, “OLTL” fans continue to amaze me…even more so in the last few weeks. After sifting through posts on several message boards, it seems as if most people either love or hate “OLTL” right now. There appears to be relatively little middle ground at the moment. You either like the show or not. For some reason, I just find that amusing. Not sure why….maybe it’s just because it’s late and I’m tired. Or maybe it’s just because I’m crazy. Who knows?

Now for a few random thoughts…. ABC MediaNet seems to love to annoy “OLTL” fans by waiting until after scenes have already aired before uploading them to the website. In the past, they often posted spoiler pictures for upcoming episodes on a regular basis. However, now they mostly wait until it is too late…. although they did put up a few images of Chloe’s upcoming christening at St. James Church. Secondly, I just hate it when a character casually mentions another rarely seen character while in a conversation with someone else. This happened the other day when Jessica told Natalie that she had talked to Andrew about having Chloe baptized. But why didn’t we get to see her talking to the good Reverend? That would have been a treat for all us long time fans. But instead, we will have to watch as some dayplayer priest performs the ritual with Andrew no where in sight. Which reminds me. Where the hell is Dr. Larry Wolek? Llanview Hospital badly needs another doctor, especially with Michael about to leave town. Next, is “OLTL” cursed, or just its time slot? Breaking news always seems to happen during the 2:00 pm et hour, interrupting “OLTL.” Such was the case this past Thursday when ABC News pre-empted the first thirty-five minutes of “OLTL” with President Obama answering questions from foreign reporters while taking a break from the G-20 Summit in the United Kingdom. The President didn’t say anything earth shattering, and ABC was the only one, outside the cable news outlets, covering the Q & A session in London. Meanwhile, it was business as usual for CBS and NBC soap fans, who got to watch their soaps with no interruptions. Leave it up to ABC News…. which I think would break in for two or three hours for almost anything. Honestly, I think the President could just say hello to one of their reporters, and they would be on air discussing it for hours. And, as if that wasn’t a big enough slap in the fans to “OLTL” fans, after the special report the network squeezed in about four or five minutes of commercials before returning to the show. After all that, we only got to see about ten or twelve minutes of the episode, since ABC chose not to re-broadcast it on Friday. What a rip-off. While I’m on the subject….did anyone else notice the logo displayed on the screen following Thursday’s ABC News Special Report (and again on Friday, during the brief cut-in at the beginning of the episode)? Typically, the announcer guy says “We now return to (whatever show was interrupted),” while the show’s logo is on the screen. However, this time they showed an ABC network logo while the announcer guy was talking. They did it to “OLTL” both days, and the same was done to “GH” on Friday when the extended ABC News Brief ran about thirty seconds (ironically) into “GH’s” time slot. I thought that was interesting. And, last but most certainly not least, I would like to send a belated congratulations to veteran “OLTL” Director Larry Carpenter and his team, who picked up a third Director’s Guild of America award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Daytime Serial. Carpenter’s submitted episode, number 10,281 (which aired last October), and was entitled “So You Think You Can Be Shane Morasco’s Father?” Way to go!

For those of you unable to figure out the answers to the trivia questions from my last column, here they are (correct answers are bolded): Question #1: Llanview Police lieutenant Ed Hall was introduced in 1972 to investigate someone’s murder. But whose? Was it a) Marcy Wade, b) Dr. Mark Toland, c) Rachel Wilson, or d) Victor Lord. Question #2: During his many years at Llanview Hospital, Dr. Larry Wolek’s treated everything from the common cold to performing major surgery. But what was his field of medical specialty when the show began in 1968? a) pediatrics, b) proctology, c) plastic surgery, or d) psychiatry. Question #3: In 1992, Sloan Carpenter wrote a biography of Victor Lord’s life. What was its title? a) Dark Victor, b) Victorious, c) Citizen Lord, or d) Lord of The Banner. And Question #4: In 1999, Viki tried her hand at karaoke by performing this song in a contest at the Crosswords Bar. Was it a) “Ben,” b) “I Will Survive,” c) “Crazy,” or d) “It’s Raining Men.”

I hope those questions weren’t too difficult for you. Now, time for this week’s trivia challenge: Question #1: What seasonally named soap actress was Megan Gordon’s main competitor for the fictional Daisy Award for Best Actress in 1989? Was it a) Autumn Days, b) Spring Skye, c) Summer Shade, or d) Silver Winters. Question #2: On Christmas Eve in 1993, Cassie Callison found a newborn baby, which she would later adopt and name River. But where did she first discover the little bundle of joy? Was it: a) at the mall, b) under her tree, c) in the church manger scene, or d) in the backseat of her car. Question #3: In 1978, what type of show did Pat Ashley host on WVLE? Was it: a) advice to the lovelorn, b) beauty makeovers, c) cooking, or d) talk show. And Question #4: In 1981, what was the ominous name of the Llanivew estate where Asa Buchanan had imprisoned his first wife, Olympia? Was it: a) Widow’s Peak, b) Timberdark, c) Ravenwood, or d) Moor Cliffe. I’ll have the answers in the April 15th edition of the column. But if you are stumped and can’t wait, you may want to consult a copy of The One Life to Live 40th Anniversary Trivia Book by Gerry Waggett. Just a suggestion…. but one you might find useful.

Well that does it for yet another installment of “My View of Llanview.” I hope you have enjoyed reading this column as much as I did writing it. Celebrate the spring season and stay safe. Also, please do your part to help save our fellow soap “Guiding Light.” Sign a petition, write a letter, send an e-mail, or call CBS to voice your opinion on the matter. Your actions could make a difference, and also help save “OLTL” and other soaps in the process. After all, as Viki told Rae Cummings at the end of the 2001 special ‘Trading Places” episode, “There’s no place like Llanview.” So let’s try and keep it that way.

And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live”…

“One Life to Live airs weekdays on ABC. Weeknights on SOAPnet. Check local listings.

Discussion: My View of Llanview: March 30 Edition

My View of Llanview: March 15 Edition

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 12:29 AM EDT | By Scotty Gore

( — The top five reasons Llanview is struggling in 2009.

After becoming revitalized and on top last year, “One Life to Live” appears to be running out of gas only one year later. There are several reasons why this viewer believes “OLTL” is trying hard to stay afloat right now; the top five of will be discussed in the following paragraphs.

5. Too many characters, not enough airtime…not to mention overexposure of newbies. While the “One Life” cast has always been rather large, in the past year it has nearly doubled in size. The canvas is crowded with too many useless and seldom used actors and characters. Cristian, Layla, Marcie, Michael, Moe, Noelle, Charlie, tJared…. the list goes on and on. When was the last time viewers saw any of them taking the lead in a front burner storyline, or even playing a major supporting role in plots involving story lines with related characters? The soap currently has nearly three-dozen actors and actresses on contract, and almost two-dozen more on recurring status. And what ever happened to the days of slowly introducing a new character into the canvas? Remember when new characters were gradually introduced to the audience and into story lines, allowing them time to develop a personality and relationship with the viewer? Those were the types of characters that fans were able to root either for or against. Nowadays, a new character is introduced and within a month is placed in a front burner storyline with other recently introduced characters, causing fans to quickly lose interest. A prime example of this is Crystal Hunt as Stacy Morasco. Personally, I couldn’t care less about this character. We know little of her motivation for seducing Rex, other than apparently she secretly pined for him as a teenager. Well whoop de do…. like that means anything to me. Granted she is very easy on the eyes, and I am a man, but the character is totally one-dimensional. And she’s not the only one; there are others like her. Cristian Vega is another great example of what I’m talking about here.

4. Poor storyline execution. Many present and recent story lines on “One Life to Live” have left viewers scratching their heads and wondering, “is that it?” Plots that began with fire and zest often end with a whimper. Take Dorian’s original take over of Buchanan Enterprises for example. When the much-anticipated storyline began last year, it was full of promise and excitement. A major character died, several story lines were interwoven into one, and much of the cast was involved in the story line. But by the time it ended, viewers were left disappointed and angry as Nora offered Dorian a choice between handing BE back to the Buchanans or going to jail. And to make matters worse, Dorian’s decision was not even shown on camera. After coming back from a commercial, Nora informed Clint that they had the company back. That was it. No drama, no fireworks, no fanfare…nothing.

3. Predictable plots. It would be very surprising if there were any “OLTL” fans that were surprised when Stacy went after Rex? Anyone? Didn’t think so. She wasn’t in Llanview a week, and one could already get the sense that she would be causing trouble for her sister. There was no build up or anticipation about what she would do. And what’s worse, Rex appeared to be clueless to the fact that his girlfriend’s sister had the hots for him. It reminds me of another fairly recent, and equally ridiculous storyline where no one in Llanview (and I mean no one) realized that Tess had returned and had she been pretending to be Jessica for months. Even characters that are considered to be rather intelligent (Viki, Clint, etc…) did not even have enough brain cells to figure out that Jessica wasn’t really integrated after all. At least Todd finally figured it out…and we all know how well that turned out.

2. Reality…. what’s that? Soaps have long had a history of outlandish plots and situations in which viewers were expected to visit from reality into make believe, and “OLTL” is certainly no exception. Over the years we have seen numerous characters return from the dead, time travel to the Old West and the groovy 1960s, trips to heaven (Viki…twice) and hell (Dorian…once), mad scientists, underground cities, secret rooms, brainwashing experiments, and the like… which have been meant to entertain and provide us, the fans, with a nice break from reality for one hour a day, five days a week. But somehow, even while being presented with the seemingly impossible, many of those story lines were written well enough so as not to insult the very viewers they were trying to entertain. However, the show seems to have done just that lately…. insult us. For instance, is it too hard to believe that the Llanview School Board didn’t run a background check on Schulyer Joplin before they hired him? Or did he just not feel that being a druggie meant he couldn’t teach high school kids? Either way it seems like something that should have been checked into sooner, but I guess the explanation would be that his mother bought the silence of everyone involved, or something along those lines. Even more disturbing is the fact that Cole has popped a few pills and smoked one joint, and now suddenly he’s a drug addict? Those must have been some pretty powerful pills. And shouldn’t Nora excuse herself from cases where there is a conflict of interest? But then again, I suppose she would have no cases if she did that. And what about the forensics lab at the Llanview Police Department? Why should anyone believe a test they have conducted, given their blunders in recent years? Bribing technicians, regular citizens waltzing in and switching samples, computer glitches, inept employees…the list goes on and on. Maybe the LPD should investigate themselves. That being said, it still leaves doubt that David is really even a Buchanan after all given that it was the latest in a series on conflicting results…. David is Asa’s son, no wait he’s Rex’s, no wait, now he’s really Bo’s long lost son…. give me a break. Here’s another one–Marty as Wonder Woman? I realize that people can briefly develop superhuman strength when faced with overwhelmingly stressful situations, but her lifting the car off of Cole was rather amusing. Instead of sitting on the edge of my seat with crossed fingers and toes concerned that a mother may not be able to save her son from a serious car accident, I found myself laughing and waiting for Marty to rip her shirt off, develop green pigmentation on her skin, and turn into the Incredible Hulk…. repeating “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Switching gears, is Michael the only doctor at Llanview Hospital? I guess we can blame that one on the economy. And don’t even get me started on John McBain. How is it that he is always, the hero and able to solve every crime committed in Llanview when apparently no one else can even locate a suspect?

1. What ever happened to ‘Love in the Afternoon?’ Is anyone in Llanview happy these days? Not that I can think of? Between dead babies, paralysis, leukemia, drugs, serial killers, multiple personalities, and countless flawed DNA tests…is there anyone experiencing joy and love in 2009? Bo and Nora are concerned about Matthew. Rex and Gigi are heartbroken for Shane. Jessica mourns Nash. Natalie resents Jessica for Tess’ actions. Marty has amnesia and must be a mother to Cole. Starr mourns her baby and is worried about Cole. Marcie wants to know why Hope died. Roxy is keeping a huge secret from Rex. Stacy is an evil man-stealing, gold digger. Dorian is bent on revenge. Blair is fighting for her life. And Todd is, well Todd. None of them are happy. Perhaps Viki and Charlie are the only happy couple in Llanview…. but no one knows since they haven’t been seen together in over a month, and even then it was only a couple of scenes in one episode. Even worse, there are currently only two married couples on “One Life to Live.” Know who they are? Even I had to stop and think about that one for a moment. The two wed couples are Marcie and Michael, and Moe and Noelle. I suppose one could count Dorian and David as well, even though he is currently in Hollywood, looking for his big break. But that’s it. There are a few other couples either engaged or living together, or both, but only two are married at the moment. And furthermore, where is the romance? The last couple I remember being intimate with one another was Cristian and Vanessa…. and we all know how that one turned out. I suppose you could include Stacy and Fish as well, although technically they aren’t a couple. And John and Blair don’t count because they are not a couple, but instead part of a triangle.

Well there you have it. My top five reasons for being disappointed in “One Life to Live” at the moment. I could have expanded the list to include things like ‘Wasted Opportunities’ (David being a monk for months, and having only a couple of scenes with newfound father Bo), or ‘Miscalculations’ (Vanessa’s sudden demise due to little fan support), but I think that five is more than enough to make my point. I have watched “OLTL” long enough (most of my twenty-nine years) to know how great it can be, and just how low it can go. And while I don’t feel that the show has reached either extreme so far this year, it has become stagnant, or mediocre. “One Life to Live” is in no way, shape, or form as good as it was in 1977 (before my time) when Karen Wolek admitted on the witness stand that she was a hooker, or even as it was in 1995 when Viki learned that her father had sexually abused her as a child, splintered into six other personalities and wreaked havoc on an unsuspecting Llanview. However, it is miles above the ‘days’ (no pun intended) of former head writer Dena Higley when Llanview High broke out in song at the prom; former pro-baseball player Tate Harmon became an underwear model/white surpremist/Tom Cruise wannabe on “The View”; Margaret Cochran kidnapped, tortured, and raped Todd before giving birth to his baby following a twelve month pregnancy; Spencer Truman began God; and John had to rescue Evangeline and Natalie from being burned at the stake, with the ladies dressed in cheerleader outfits and carrying pom-poms. So, yes “One Life” has been better, but it has also been worse (much worse actually, as noted above). Agree? Disagree? Give me your feedback by posting your comments and opinions at the end of this article. I may include some of your responses in future columns.

Before going any further I must admit that writing these columns seems to have become an increasingly difficult chore for me in the last few months. It’s not that the present state of “One Life to Live” hasn’t given enough to write about, as so much as it there just hasn’t really been much of anything that has peaked my interest or aroused my curiosity lately. In other words, “OLTL” has been bored me for most of this year so far. There have been moments where I have enjoyed watching the show, and there have been other times that I have found myself looking at my watch just waiting for the hour to end. And that has made these columns tougher to write, and when I do actually set down at my computer to compose my thoughts, they tend to become all jumbled. But I continue to watch out of loyalty and because I know that someday “OLTL” will be better again.

Moving on… seems as if “One Life to Live” has been receiving some prime time exposure this past week. First, Steven Colbert opens the March 9th episode of his hit Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report” reading from Soap Opera Digest and stating his disbelief that Stacy drugged Rex’s drink. Then “OLTL” alum Nathon Fillion (ex-Joey Buchanan) mentions his alma mater in the March 16th episode of his new ABC drama series “Castle.” The scene features Fillion’s character, author Rick Castle, having a discussion about nannies with his mother and daughter. Castle informs his daughter that he had nannies growing up that were busy watching daytime television while his mother was out looking for acting jobs. Then he announces that “I got the plot of my first novel by watching ‘One Life to Live.’” I thought that it was a nice nod to his old stomping grounds. Also interesting is the fact that other characters in that same episode mentioned “The View,” another program on ABC’s daytime schedule.

Now for a few random thoughts…. has anyone else noticed how the words “One Life to Live” seem to change slightly from time to time in the blue justice scales logo? Depending on the week and the promo, the title is sometimes bolded, and sometimes not. Interesting. As is the updated “OLTL” opening earlier this month which appears to no longer features longtime cast member Hillary B. Smith (Nora Hanen). But this isn’t the first time a contract cast member was removed while still with the show. Nathaniel Marston suffered the same fate a few years ago for several months, until the soap finally returned his mug shot (again, no pun intended) to the opening. Hopefully Smith will be back where she belongs soon as well. Also, ABC Medianet has finally removed Andrea Evans’ bio. from the “OLTL” page nearly four months after her departure. Even many of those who have been in Llanview for a couple of years now, still have not had their biographies added to the page. Talk about slow. Even worse, instead of adding more spoiler pictures for upcoming weeks, they seem to have resorted to adding images of scenes from episodes in past weeks. And even those have the wrong dates. For example, the car crash scenes were from the week of March 9th, and not the 16th as listed on the website. And finally, the old images of the Phil Carey and Clint Ritchie have been removed from the “OLTL” gallery page, after they had been posted following news of their recent deaths…at least “One Life” put together short, but touching tributes to both Llanview Legends at the ends of two recent episodes.

Last but not least, pop quiz time. Please put away your textbook and notes. Eyes on your own computer screen. Ready…. begin. Question #1: Llanview Police Lieutenant Ed Hall was introduced in 1972 to investigate someone’s murder. But whose? Was it a) Marcy Wade, b) Dr. Mark Toland, c) Rachel Wilson, or d) Victor Lord. Question #2:
During his many years at Llanview Hospital, Dr. Larry Wolek has done everything from treating the common cold to performing major surgery. But what was his field of medical specialty when the show began in 1968? a) pediatrics, b) proctology, c) plastic surgery, or d) psychiatry? Question #3: In 1992, Sloan Carpenter wrote a biography of Victor Lord’s life. What was its title? a) Dark Victor, b) Victorious, c) Citizen Lord, or d) Lord of The Banner? And Question #4: In 1999, Viki tried her hand at karaoke by performing this song in a contest at the Crosswords Bar. Was it a) “Ben,” b) “I Will Survive,” c) “Crazy,” or d) “It’s Raining Men?” I’ll have the answers in the March 30th edition of the column. But if you are stumped and can’t wait, you may want to consult your copy of The One Life to Live 40th Anniversary Trivia Book by Gerry Waggett. Just a suggestion…. but one which you might find useful.

Well, that concludes this edition of the column. I can only hope that, despite my insentient ramblings, you have enjoyed reading it. Don’t forget to make your final predictions as March Madness is here and four basketball tournaments are about to get underway. May the best teams win. Also, I wish you a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day and hope that you enjoy upcoming spring season, which begins early this Friday morning. Perhaps the gentle spring breezes will not only usher in warmer temperatures, but more love, romance, happiness, and understanding to Llanview as well. Stay safe and take care.

And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live”…

My View of Llanview: February 28 Edition

Monday, March 2, 2009 11:48 PM ET | By Scotty Gore

( — Could Llanview survive without Viki, and “One Life to Live” without Erika Slezak?

Viki Davidon=Erika Slezak. Erika Slezak=”One Life to Live.” The words seem interchangeable. When one is thought of, the other often immediately comes to mind. Those words have become so associated with one another that it would be difficult to think of them as separate entities. For almost 38 years, “OLTL” fans have not had to concern themselves with such a terrible thought. But what if they were suddenly forced to admit the unthinkable? What if Viki suddenly faded out of existence or left Llanview in search of a new hometown? And what if Erika Slezak suddenly left “One Life to Live” and her signature role after nearly four decades? Fans of the long running daytime drama have found themselves forced to deal those very questions recently, thanks to a conspicuous rumor that refuses to die. While the rumor, which warns that a female veteran cast member will be let go because of budget cuts, has yet to be verified by “One Life to Live” or ABC Daytime, it has left many fans uneasy, fearing the worst for their beloved heroine, believing that Erika Slezak is the one facing the chopping block. Which leads us to the question of whether Llanview could survive without Viki, and “One Life to Live” without Erika Slezak.

Whether you like her or not, you have to admit that Erika Slezak has talent. No other daytime actress, past or present, can rival the six Daytime Emmy Awards Slezak has received over the years for her portrayal of Victoria Lord Davidson, and only two actors (Anthony Geary and Justin Deas) have earned as many awards. But even still, Slezak is not as readily acknowledged outside the daytime community as her “All My Children” counterpart Susan Lucci. But why is that exactly? The answer, I think is simple. Unlike Lucci, Slezak doesn’t flaunt her fame from one end of the television dial to the other. Over the years, Slezak has rarely ventured far from Llanview, having appeared in only a handful of interviews and made-for-television movies. Lucci, on the other hand, has appeared on everything from “That’s So Raven” to “Saturday Night Live,” and has even been seen hocking her wares on infomercials and the home shopping channel QVC. Those appearances have given Lucci exposure to a whole new generation of viewers outside of the traditional daytime drama fanbase.

Secondly, Erika Slezak does not ooze sex appeal the way Susan Lucci does. Although they are same age (sixty-two), Lucci comes across as more of a sexpot, and Slezak as more of a mature, distinguished motherly figure. And I think the same is true of their onscreen personas as well. Just try picturing in your mind for a moment Viki seducing a man in the same way that Erica Kane would. Freighting, isn’t it? As much as I love the character of Viki, and admire Slezak’s acting talents, even just the mere thought of it makes me nauseous. It has nothing to do with Erika Slezak’s physical appearance or age, but more so with how the character of Viki has developed over the years. Viki is just not the sexual animal that Susan Lucci, or even Slezak’s own co-star Robin Strasser, is. Instead she is more of a mother, friend, confidante, sister, and comforter.

But that’s what makes Viki, Viki. In the chaotic world of Llanview, we expect Viki to be the voice of reason-the calm, cool, level headed woman who dispenses advice and helps others see the error of their ways. In that sense she is the complete opposite of her long-time adversary Dorian Lord. It is a rivalry that spans nearly thirty-five years to before Robin Strasser was even considered for the role of Dorian, and when Nancy Pinkerton was firmly entrenched in the role. The origin of the feud can be traced back to the mid 1970s, when Dorian was fired by the Llanview Hospital board when a patient, Rachel Wilson, died while in her care (Dorian had made a mistake on the patient’s chart, due to her affair with Dr. Mark Toland). Dorian never forgave Viki for her firing from the hospital, unaware that Viki had actually cast the lone vote of dissent against firing Dorian. Bent on revenge, Dorian lured Viki’s millionaire father Victor Lord, into marrying her after becoming the old coot’s personal physician, making her Viki’s stepmother. She even went as far as hiding the truth from Victor that Tony, a young man he had been budding heads with, was really his illegitimate son. When Victor finally learned the truth about Tony and of Dorian’s betrayal, he suffered a major heart attack. Soon thereafter, Dorian kept Victor from his family and friends, where he soon died under mysterious circumstances. As a result, Dorian inherited (for a short time at least) the entire Lord estate, including Llanfair and the Banner newspaper. Thus began Viki’s hatred of Dorian. This set-up would fuel a fire of hatred, revenge, and jealousy that would last between the two women to this day, often earning them the honorary title of “OLTL’s” best couple.

Although the feud has been placed largely on the backburner in recent years, it would be hard to imagine a Llanview where Viki and Dorian didn’t trade jabs at one another, or rehash how much they despise each other. It is here where Viki shines. I like to use the following analogy to explain the Viki/Dorian feud. I’m sure everyone has seen one or two television programs over the years that have done this, so it isn’t anything new. Anyway, the character typically displays their subconscious conflicting thoughts on an issue by imaging a small angel dressed in white, playing a harp, and wearing a halo on one shoulder. On the other shoulder is the devil, dressed in red with a pitchfork, a tail, and little pointy horns. In my mind, that is Viki and Dorian. Viki is the calm voice of reason, and Dorian is the temptress. Basically, Viki represents good and Dorian represents evil. If Viki were to leave Llanview, then the balance would be upset, and Llanview would lose its rock of Gibralter.

It may seem hard to fathom someone else stepping into the role of Viki other than Erika Slezak. However, she was not the first, or even the second actress to play the character. Gillian Spencer, “All My Children’s” Daisy Cortlandt, originated the role in 1968. She left in 1970, and was replaced by Joanne Dorian (odd coincidence, don’t you think?). On March 17, 1971, Slezak became the third actress to become Viki. However, she wasn’t the last. In the years that would follow a handful of other actresses would briefly take over the role for flashbacks, body doubles, and Slezak’s two maternity leaves. Even Roger Howarth, stepped into Viki’s shoes in a hilariously funny ‘Trading Places ‘ episode in 2001. But none of the other actresses who have portrayed Viki during the last forty years have left a mark on “OLTL” the way Erika Slezak obliviously has.

Through multiple personalities, breast cancer, widowhood, discovering lost children, a heart transplant, and a stroke (just to name a few), viewers have watched Viki’s life intimately for four decades. It seems as if there is nothing that the town matriarch has not endured or been a part of over the years. Publisher of the Banner, Mayor of Llanview, Co-Chair of the Go Red Ball, Dean of Llanview University, spokeswoman for heart disease…. Viki has long been involved in many community and charitable organizations. In many ways, she is a part of Llanview. There is no one in the fictitious Philadelphia suburb that has not been touched in one way or another by Victoria Lord Davidson.

Whether it be by blood or friendship, all of Llanview is connected to Viki in one way or another. From her children Jessica, Natalie, Kevin, and Joey, to her adversary Dorian and best friend David, to her former in-laws the Buchanans and her siblings Todd and Tina, it truly is Viki’s “Life to Live”–with everyone else seemingly revolving around her. Even though the soap’s focus has largely shifted away from Viki in recent years, she still remains an integral part of the show. As recently as 2007, she was involved in a major storyline where Viki left Llanview for Paris, Texas to “find herself.” However, while it could be claimed that show simply used Viki to introduce several new characters to the canvas (which is somewhat true), it also significantly increased Slezak’s airtime, and gave Viki her first serious love interest since the death of her most recent husband Ben Davidson. Granted both Viki and boyfriend Charlie Banks have faded somewhat from public view following their sweet, down-to-earth romantic rendezvous in the Lone Star State; however, Viki is always there to care for and help her children whenever needed. They need Viki and she needs them. Could imagine what Llanview would be like if Jessica, Natalie, and Todd didn’t have Viki’s sound advice and words of reassurance to guide them? I know I can’t.

For those who still don’t believe that Viki and Erika Slezak are essential to Llanview and “One Life to Live,” here is some food for thought. In 2008, ABC paraded Slezak around the media circuit promoting “One Life to Live’s” 40th anniversary…. from a panel discussion at the Pauley Center, to stopping by “The View,” to attending the final Super Soap Weekend, the alphabet network made full use of the star power of one of their long-running daytime actors. Furthermore, one of the soap’s most memorable storylines involving Viki was re-recreated for “OLTL’s” 40th anniversary tribute, taking Viki back to heaven for a second time. The sudser even broke the fourth wall at the end of the episode with Slezak (appearing as herself) and “OLTL” creator Agnes Nixon personally thanking viewers for their loyalty to “One Life to Live” for the past forty years. And who could forget Slezak’s comments concerning then “OLTL” Head Writer Dena Higley in a 2006 edition of her official fan club newsletter? Her vocal disdain for Higley’s inept writing capabilities ultimately led to her firing, and Ron Carlivati’s promotion as the show’s top scribe. How many other soap stars do you think have that kind of power? None that I’m aware of. Unlike some of her fellow daytime actors, when Slezak speaks people listen. It’s not everyday that Erika Slezak voices her thoughts and opinions on how the show she has helped to carry all these years, which makes her words even more powerful when she does choose to speak. And I admire her for that.

But let’s face facts…soaps are not what they used to be. The daytime genre, as a whole, is dying. The popularity of the soap opera has been steadily declining for decades. And the push these days is toward an increasingly younger audience. Gone are the days when storylines revolved solely around mature, veteran cast members with teenagers and young adults as merely supporting characters. Even so, characters such as Viki have still managed to carve out a niche in Llanview. While not featured prominently so far in 2009, Viki has still been seen regularly, appearing in nearly half of the episodes so far this year.

We’ll probably never again see Slezak in involved in another major storyline like the one she was a part of in 1995, but that’s not to say Viki won’t have any stories to call her own in the future. I use the 1995 example because, in my mind, it is a classic example of Erika Slezak’s superb acting skills and of Viki’s importance to the canvas. It was that particular storyline that amazed my then fourteen year old mind the most. In a time before the widespread availability of the Internet and message boards, and at a time when I had no job and couldn’t afford the newsstand soap magazines, I had no idea of what was coming next. I literally sat on the edge of my seat each and every day filled with both horror and astonishment as Viki’s mind snapped, and developed into six separate and distinct alternate personalities. Normally, I am not a fan of a show re-writing its own history (i.e., Victor Lord’s 2003 return from the dead). However, in this one instance I can make an exception. Turning Victor Lord into a creepy old sex pervert was pure gold. Now, if I had been born ten years earlier, and grew up watching Victor Lord back in the early days of “OLTL,” I may have a different opinion of the character. But growing up on the “OLTL” of the late ’80s and ’90s, I think the writers made a smart move by making Victor a dirty old man. My reasoning is the fact that it helped explain Viki’s DID (which, by the way, first appeared in 1968), and that it really helped define the character of Viki. In addition it has provided storyline possibilities that continue to exist nearly fifteen years later.

To say that Viki’s 1995 DID storyline, in which her altars kidnapped Dorian, threatened her family, and confessed to killing her father, wowed me is an understatement. Often times I find myself watching clips of those now infamous episodes on Youtube, and think of what “One Life to Live” can and could be. It also makes me think of just how dismal Llanview would be without Viki. She is so much a part of everyone and everything. She is our last direct connection to the past and a time when characters like Carla Gray, Meredith Lord, Joe Riley, and Steve Burke called Llanview home. And she is our last link to Agnes Nixon and her original vision for a soap she at first titled “Between Heaven and Hell.” Perhaps that is why we are so endeared to Viki and to Erika Slezak. There is a reason why her picture has closed all versions of “OLTL’s” opening sequences for the past fifteen years. It’s no accident that the character of Viki has endured for more than forty years.

So, to answer the question, I think that Llanview could survive without Viki (and “One Life to Live” without Erika Slezak), but her departure would leave a huge hole on the canvas that could never be filled. Think of it as a family which has lost beloved grandparent, or as a person who has lost a limb…. life still goes on, but it is never the same. They find a way to survive, but their lives are forever changed. But what has been lost is never forgotten; but lives on in memories. Such would be the future of “One Life to Live” without its matriarch. It would be fine for a while, but would eventually be like grapes withering on the vine. It just would never be the same again.

Fortunately however, I honestly doubt that we will have to concern ourselves with a Viki-less Llanview anytime soon. In my personal opinion, I think the rumor is just that-a rumor. I have yet to see a grain of truth in it. Of course, I could be wrong, but I just don’t see Erika Sleazk retiring from “One Life to Live” anytime soon. Instead, I see her having plenty of ‘Life’ left to live in Llanview.

Well, that concludes this edition of the column. I hope that somewhere in all my ramblings and jumbled thoughts, I have made my point. No matter how well mapped out my thoughts and ideas seem to be in my mind, it always seems difficult to properly express them in written form; but hopefully you got the jest of what I was talking about. As always, I welcome your feedback on this and other “One Life to Live” related issues. I invite you to join me again on March 15th for another installment of ‘My View of Llanview.’

And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live”…

My View of Llanview: February 15 Edition

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 2:12 AM EST | By Scotty Gore

( — Life outside Llanview.

Sometimes if it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. That statement perfectly fits my life so far in 2009. When the clock struck midnight on January 1st, I was eagerly looking forward to resuming this column. The holidays were over and things seemed to be finally getting back to normal in my household. I published the January 1st edition of ‘My View of Llanview” on time and was already tossing around topics in my head for the next installment of the column. Yep, everything appeared to be going according to plan.

Then it happened. The cycle of life-altering events began. According to the old saying, a little rain falls in everyone’s life at some point or another. But the rain doesn’t always fall as a drizzle or even a light shower…no sometimes it pours. I spent the first few days of 2009 following the New Year’s holiday at the local funeral home. My father’s only surviving sister passed away between Christmas and New Year’s, following a prolonged illness. While the family had long anticipated her death, it still came as a surprise nonetheless.

Only days had passed since my aunt’s passing, when death would again visit my family. This go around, the victim would be my great uncle, the brother of mother’s father. His death was even more shocking. I always saw him as the picture of health. Unlike my late grandfather who had numerous aliments in last years of his life, my great uncle seemed to be rather spry for someone in the seventies. He had a wonderful sense of humor, was very loving and kind, and was a hard-worker. Then he suffered a stroke. It was just before Christmas, and soon he was admitted to the hospital. For the first several days, his prognosis appeared to be stable, if not improving. However, his condition gradually began to take a turn for the worse. At this point, I feel I must warn you. I am not, or have I ever claimed to have a medical professional. What I am about to say may be incorrect, and if so I apologize. It is only my interpretation of what the doctors told my great aunt and the rest of the family. Apparently, most people have two carotid arteries in the back of their neck. Doctors had hoped to go in and remove on those arteries in my great uncle’s neck to help alleviate the effects of the stroke. But after taking x-rays and running several tests, it was determined that my great uncle had only one carotid artery in his neck. Therefore, surgery would be out of the question. As the days progressed, his condition gradually worsened. After hearing from my parents and other family members and friends that he ‘didn’t look like himself,’ I was determined to visit him in the hospital in the neighboring county.

My plan was to catch my mom and dad or my aunt at the hospital that evening; I didn’t want to go alone. However, when I arrived at the hospital, I made several phone calls and quickly discovered that they had already left the hospital. Not wanting to disturb his rest and see the shell of the man I once knew, I returned home without visiting him. A couple of days later, my great uncle passed away. I soon realized that my not visiting him in the hospital was a blessing in disguise. By not seeing what the stroke had done to him, I was able to remember him as he was before the incident. My mind flashed back to the last time I had saw him. It was only days before the stroke when he and my great aunt paid a visit to my aunt and uncle, who live just down the road from my home. I spent nearly a half hour that day talking to him and laughing with him. He was in his usual jolly mood and looked so full of life. And that’s how I’ll always remember him. I often think of how God works in our lives. I almost didn’t go to my aunt and uncle’s house that day. I had been helping my mom straighten the house before the big Christmas holiday and came across a tool that dad had borrowed a few weeks earlier when we repaired a water leak at my grandma’s house. The tool was cluttering up our sunroom, so I decided to make the quarter of a mile drive to return it to my uncle. If I had decided to sit the tool aside and go about my cleaning, I would not have gotten to see my great uncle one last time.
God really does work miracles.

After two visits to the funeral home and a reunion with all my extended family, in which we celebrated my great uncle’s life, things finally seemed to be getting back to normal. The following weekend, we even had a party. Well it was actually two parties in one. The first was a baby shower for my second cousin; the second was a 60th birthday party for one of my aunt’s. After the cake had been cut and we had all sung ‘Happy Birthday,’ I noticed my dad seemed to be a bit under the weather. Soon thereafter he left the party and returned home. Three days later, I was driving my mom and dad to the emergency room of the local hospital. Suffering from a severe stomach ache, my dad was in tremendous pain. After nearly five hours in the ER (most of which was spent waiting), the three of us returned home with more questions then answers. One doctor believed he saw some sort of blockage, while another believed it to be a virus. Fortunately, the latter diagnosis proved to be correct and a few days, my dad was starting to make a speedy recovery. Once again, I thought things were finally returning to normal.

Periodically throughout the weekend of the January 24th and 25th, I checked the local weather forecast, cautiously optimistic of the coming week’s predicted winter storm. At first it appeared that my hometown of Clarkson, Kentucky would be receiving several inches of snow. “Not so bad,” I thought to myself. I have always loved snow and was looking forward to seeing more of the white stuff in a winter season where the previous biggest snow measured in at only two inches. I was looking forward to taking a few pictures of the snow with my new digital camera, throwing a few snowballs, and shoveling off the driveway once more. However, by Monday the news became more ominous. Snow was no longer being forecast for my area….it had been replaced with ice. Late that evening the freezing rain and sleet began to fall. I awoke on Tuesday, January 27th to the sounds of tree limbs crashing down around my home. Luckily, our property suffered only minor damage and our home was not touched. But it was a close one, with at least one large limb only inches away from our glass back door and sunroom windows.

Thinking the worst was over, I went about business as usual on that Tuesday, cleaning and e-mailing ice pictures to local television stations (being the dedicated weather watcher that I am). Afterward, I sat down at the computer and contemplated the “One Life to Live” articles and previews I would need to work on that evening for SON. I was looking forward to writing, typing, and posting several articles that evening dealing with the latest Llanview happenings–including another installment of the “My View of Llanview” column. But Mother Nature had other plans. Just after 5:00 pm, as I was on my front porch turning on the accent lighting for the night, I heard several popping sounds. Immediately, I looked down the road to discover that an electrical transformer had exploded. After the lights flickered a couple of times, everything went dark. With sunset only minutes away, I knew it was going to be a long night in Clarkson.

Needless to say, I was unable to perform my SON duties that night. It was an eerie sight…everything was so dark, and tree limbs were crashing to the ground throughout the night, never knowing where the next one would fall. Without hours of losing electricity at my home, the rest of town, and nearly the entire county was without power as well. Huddled around a battery operated radio, we ate ham sandwiches under the light of a small kerosene lantern. Candles flickered throughout the remainder of the house, and flashlights lit the way down dark hallways and corridors. Fully expecting the power to come back on the following day, I turned in early for the night after throwing a few extra blankets on the bed. I prayed that things would be better come morning, only to discover that they had gotten worse. And adding to the gloom was the falling temperatures inside the house. I awoke that Wednesday morning with a chill. By this time, the temperature had fallen into the low 40s on the digital thermostat on the central heating unit in my home. The nip in the air resulted in my parading around the house wearing a coat and gloves. Still believing that we had already seen the worst of this situation, I remained somewhat calm as the winds howled and the ice turned to snow outside my doorstep. However, by the afternoon I could see my breath inside, and when the temperature dropped to 35, the severity of the situation finally hit me.

After packing a few essential items, my family and I, along with the cat, packed up and made the trek next door, across the driveway, to grandma’s gas stove heated home. After settling in at grandma’s house, we had already made comfortable sleeping arrangements. Then it happened yet again. One of my aunt’s had no heat in her home, so she and her dog arrived to bunk with us at grandma’s. Not long thereafter, her son (my cousin) and daughter-in-law also arrived with their six dogs (four of them puppies!), resulting in rather cramped quarters. How we all survived that ice storm I’ll never know. We spent the rest of the week there, and somehow didn’t kill one another. It is amazing how creative a person can get when they have no electricity. We cooked our breakfast (eggs, bacon, and sausage) on the outdoor propane grill; we heated up cans of food atop the gas cook stove inside, and stored canned drinks, milk, and lunchmeat on the back porch in the cold January air.

By Sunday morning, February 1st–nearly five days without power, electricity finally returned to Clarkson and we packed up, headed back across the driveway, and returned home. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it was to finally have electricity again. After spending the afternoon washing dishes and sorting laundry, I took my first hot shower in nearly a week. Even though I had been able to wash up a couple days during the previous week thanks to water heated on the stove in a pan, it felt great to be able to stand in the shower again. That night I was able to sleep in my own bed again as well after a week alternating between a couch and a blow-up mattress. Things were slowly, but surely beginning to return to normal. I was looking forward to trying to catch-up with “OLTL,” which I had been unable to watch for almost a week, and work on typing up articles covering all the “OLTL” news I had missed during that time. But duty called, and I was forced to answer to a higher authority….the Mayor of Clarkson. Being Mayor Pro-Tem, as well as a City Commissioner, I am the second in command of my hometown with a population of around 900. So when the Mayor called and asked me I could relieve her and be my town’s representative at the county’s Emergency Management Center for awhile, I obliged. The center is manned 24-hours a day during emergency situations, such as the ice storm, and requires that representatives from all county and city agencies be there. I would spend much of the next couple of days at the center, and attending Clarkson City Commission meetings with the Mayor and the three other city commissioners. I also visited an area shelter which had been set up for people who had no heat or power, and met Kentucky’s Lt. Governor. The next day, back at the center, I talked with our U.S. Representative, State Senator, and several other local and state dignitaries. Once things finally began to calm down, the clean-up began. With four yards to be concerned with, I have spend several days cutting up and dragging tree limbs out of the yard. Once finished, it was on to the lawns of my both grandmas, and my great aunt on my father’s side of the family. Fortunately, the clean-up, as far as I am concerned anyway, is nearly complete.

The VCR and Youtubehave become my best friends in the weeks since the lights came back on following the devastating ice storm. Only this week did I finally get caught up on all the episodes of “OLTL” that I missed due to the ice storm, meetings, and clean-up. Finally having time last week to sit down at the computer and search the Internet, I was shocked by just how much “OLTL” news occurred during my unexpected hiatus from SON. Everything from the deaths of Clint Ritchie and Phil Carey, to Hank and Rachel Gannon retuning to Llanview, to rumors of Roscoe Born possibly making a “OLTL” comeback this spring, to everything in between. Ten articles in all, many of which I completed and posted in only a few days time. What are the odds that all hell would break lose in my life during the busiest news week in years for “OLTL?” I’d be willing to take bets on that one, ha ha.

With things finally working their way back toward normalcy last week, the other shoe dropped. An aunt, one of my mom’s sisters, suffered a heart attack and was transported to a hospital in Louisville. She had three blocked arteries, one at 90% and two others at 30% each. Rather than perform triple bypass surgery, the doctors instead inserted a balloon to open up worst blockage, and are treating the other two with medication. Thankfully, she will be fine and is resting comfortably at home. And in a final hurdle, I had to take more time away from my SON duties last Friday night to assist in the tech booth during the annual Valentine Banquet at my church and help with microphones and playing a DVD of old wedding photos. But on the plus on the plus side, there is a new addition to my family….my second cousin and her fiancé are the proud parents of a healthy baby girl. At least some good came out of all of this.

So, as you can see, 2009 has gotten off to a very busy start for me. Also, I just wanted to let everyone know the real reason why the “OLTL” previews, news articles, and columns have been late for the past few weeks. I didn’t want everyone thinking I was getting lazy or bored with the soap or with my duties here. And I wanted everyone to realize that the delays were due to forces beyond my control. That being said, hopefully things calm down for awhile. I despise being so very far behind on everything, and hate trying to work overtime just to get things back to normal. I much prefer to be ahead, if at all possible. Perhaps I will be able to do just that now, since things are beginning to quiet down; however you never know exactly when the next storm will be brewing just below the horizon. But with any luck it won’t be anytime soon.

Well, that’s all for this edition of the column. My apologies for devoting the entire column to a discussion of my personal life, but I felt that it was necessary to clear the air on the reasons behind my spotty coverage of “OLTL” in the last three weeks. We can complain about the weather from here to eternity, but we can’t do anything about it. I learned that the hard way. So again my apologizes for my recent sub par “OLTL” reporting, and thank you for your patience as I work to get my life back to normal following weeks of chaos. I hope you will join me again on February 28th for another installment of this column when, barring a meteor blowing up my computer, I will return to discussing the latest Llanview happenings.

And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live” …..

My View of Llanview: January 1 Edition

Thursday, January 1, 2009 11:08 PM EST | By Scotty Gore

( — A soap legend responds to previous column.

With the holidays over and 2009 beginning, I have made a New Year’s resolution to be more faithful to this column, my readers, the fans of “One Life to Live,” and the show itself.
I intend to devote more time and attention to this column, which truly lost its focus throughout much of 2008. So let’s celebrate by proposing a toast. Here’s to “My View of Llanview.”
I hope you will enjoy the revamped column and my thoughts and comments on “OLTL.”

During my hiatus from this column, I periodically received comments from “One Life to Live” fans that voiced their opinions on the latest Llanview happenings. Among the individuals leaving comments in my SON mailbox was former soap star Mariann Aalda. Now upon first glance, I’m ashamed to say that I did not recognize the name. I grew up watching “All My Children,” “One Life to Live,” “General Hospital,” and “Ryan’s Hope” and was unfamiliar with the name since it did not fit even my earliest of soap memories from the past 29 years; even though Ms. Aalda did make an appearance on “One Life to Live” in the early ’80s as Ed Hall’s first date following his divorce from Carla Gray.

My curiosity getting the better of me, I ran a Google search of Ms. Aalda and learned of her connection to now defunct soaps “Edge of Night” and “Sunset Beach.” For those still unfamiliar with Ms.Aalda’s work, she portrayed DiDi Bannister on “Edge of Night” and Lena Hart on “Sunset Beach;” she also portrayed Grace Battles on “Guiding Light” from 1990-1991. In addition, she had starring roles on “The Royal Family,” where she co-starred with Della Reese and the late Redd Foxx, and the HBO series “1st & Ten,” where she played the wife of O.J. Simpson’s character. Ms. Aalda also guest starred in episodes of such popular sitcoms as “Family Matters,” “Designing Women,” and “Grace Under Fire.”

However, Mariann Aalda’s career is not limited to acting. She co-hosted the talk show “Design for Living” on the USA Network and was a correspondent for the “Now!” entertainment show on WNBC TV. Aalda also helped write, produce, and perform in the in stage production “Herotique-Aahh.” Lastly, she currently writes a humorous “ethnic etiquette” advice column for the website

Before we move ahead we must take a couple of steps back in time. Flash back to July 30th, 2008. In recognition of “One Life to Live’s” 40th anniversary, I dedicated an edition of this column to reviewing those four decades and discussing Agnes Nixon’s view for the soap she originally titled “Between Heaven and Hell.” That vision involved a highly diverse cast, characters, and storylines. Among them was the light skinned African-American Carla Gray trying to pass herself off a white woman and how viewers, not yet realizing she wasn’t white, jammed the ABC studios with phone calls, protesting her budding relationship with an African-American doctor. But that was 1968. The Llanview of 2008 was very different. Those two years are like night and day, which I also referenced in that July 30th column. I noted the lack of diversity in the current cast of “OLTL,” with only African-American actress on contract, and only a small handful more on recurring status. My last line in that particular column was a bit of personal commentary on how the sea of diversity in Llanview had all but dried up over the course of 40 years. I believe my exact words were “Forty years ago “OLTL” had a rather diverse cast, and many an African-American youth only dreamed of someday running for President. Today we have an African-American running for President for the first time on a major party ticket. However, at the same time, African-Americans on “OLTL” (as well as other soaps) have become nearly non-existent. The more things change, the more they stay the same I suppose. At least programs like “One Life to Live,” which helped pushed the envelope of what was acceptable in society during a turbulent time in American history, helped get us to where we are today. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud of his nation today. And that is something that even this white boy from a small Kentucky town that is over 98% Caucasian can appreciate.”

It appears those very words, grabbed the attention of Ms. Alda, who responded with a rather touching, reflective, and intuitive comment. Here are the Ms. Aalda’s thoughts in her own words:

“As “…a white boy from a small Kentucky town that is over 98% Caucasian…” (your words) I was deeply moved by the bigness of your heart and astuteness of your observations. In the contract role of DiDi Bannister, I helped “integrate” the town of Monticello on “Edge of Night.”. As a bit of daytime trivia, my first day player day player role on a soap opera was as Ed Hall’s (Al Freeman, Jr.) first date after his divorce from Carla (Ellen Holly). Hmmmm….sounds like it’s time for me to make a return visit to Llanview! LOL”

Furthermore, Ms. Aalda went on to say that “FYI – Just wanted to let you know that I left the post, below, at “My View of Llanview.” Having been deeply saddened when I got my AFTRA newsletter with an article celebrating “OLTL’s” 40th anniversary — congratulating itself on having Al Freeman, Jr. as the first African-American to win a daytime Emmy…and then accompanying the article with a current cast picture that had not one person ‘of color’ in it. Yikes! Was I the only person struck by the irony? So I did a Google search and stumbled across your column…and felt much better, because you ‘got it’ — and took the time to write about it. Bless you! Btw, I also wrote a letter the producers of “OLTL” of my interest in “integrating” Llanview. We’ll see what happens! :-) -Mariann”

One can only imagine my shocked expression upon the realization that a soap star had actually read and appreciated something I wrote. I was practically speechless. It made me proud, excited, and left me feeling more confident about my writing abilities. It also made me wonder how many other soap stars, crewmembers, production members, and network executives have read some of my columns and articles over the years. And believe me, that is a scary thought.

I sincerely thank Ms. Aalda for her comments on both my column and on “OLTL,” and welcome her thoughts and opinions anytime. It was an honor to have such a talented actress read my column. I am also thankful for the opportunity to write a regular “OLTL” column for SON, and cover the daytime drama I grew up watching. Llanview has been like a second home to me over the years, so much so that growing up I would often imagine myself as a character on the soap interacting with the likes of Erika Slezak, Robin Strasser, Andrea Evans, Phil Carey, Robert S. Woods, and the rest of the very talented cast. Although I no longer picture myself as a character on the show, I would still welcome the opportunity to make an appearance in Llanview, even if it is a non-speaking role. So Ron Carlivati and Frank Valentini, if you’re reading this, please keep that in mind. I’m available.

Well, that’s all for this edition of the column. My thanks again to Ms. Mariann Aalda and to you, the fans of “OLTL” for muddling through my jumbled and, at times, incoherent ramblings about our favorite daytime drama. My wish for all of you is that 2009 brings you love and prosperity, and that it makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise. Take care, and I hope you will join me for the next installment of “My View of Llanview” on January 15th. Hope your Christmas holiday was wonderful and that you have a safe and happy New Year!

For more information on Mariann Aalda, visit her official website by clicking here.

And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live” …..

My View of Llanview: October 1 Edition

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 11:01 PM | By Scotty Gore

( — An old interview with Michael Storm.

After a nearly two month absence, I am back with my column, and hope to soon return to my in-depth discussions on the current state of “One Life to Live.” Unfortunately, sometimes in life when it rains, it pours. Such has been the case for me lately, with my schedule being extremely full and hectic. Anyhow, here is an old newspaper article about “OLTL.” Enjoy!

The following article is entitled “Michael Storm’s Wife is Expecting: Baby is 1st week of April…but please, not on April 1st!” It originally appeared in the April 1970 edition of “Daytime TV.”

“We expect our baby the first week in April,” says Michael Storm’s wife, Sally. “And I it’s not an April 1st baby. I don’t want the poor child getting joke presents the rest of his life!”

Sally says people snicker when she signs her name, Mrs. Sally Storm. They think it’s funny like Gale Storm or Tempest Storm.

“If our baby is a girl, we promise not to name her April Storm …”

“Especially if it’s a boy,” wisecracks Michael.

Michael (Dr. Larry Wolek on “One Life to Live”) and Sally are Californians and they’ve been living in a New York apartment since Michael succeeded his brother James in the Wolek role a year ago.

When James decided to go to Europe, he suggested his brother for the role. Michael had been singing with The Good Time Singers on the Andy Williams Show, but he had some drama training. So he auditioned for the part. “I was afraid,” he admits.

The writers of “One Life to Live” then eased Michael into the role by letting James become seriously injured in a fire. Then he was shown with his face swathed with bandages, and when the bandages came off, Michael emerged as the new Dr. Wolek. Simple.

Michael has calmed down. He finds playing Dr. Wolek “no problem” and the “job is fabulous!” He asks “Where else could I make so much money and still have time for Sally?”

Michael and Sally were raised as neighbors, and knew each other’s family, but hadn’t really me until about a year before they married. Michael (born in Chicago Aug. 9) moved to Pacific Palisades when he was six years old. Sally, born in Cleveland Aug. 2, moved to the same community when she was two.

They attended the same Episcopalian Church, went to the same grammar school, but didn’t really know each other. Sally recalls she was a skinny kid with braces on her teeth, and at 11, she was enduring her first big crush on an idol – who happened to be the happily-married actor Peter Graves, whom she met in a community theatre.

Sally and Michael finally met in Burbank at the NBC studios, when a mutual friend brought Sally backstage after the Andy Williams Show. As Sally recalls the event, “When I finally met Michael on purpose, he was such a nice person!” And as Michael recalls it, “It was probably raining when we met. I was impressed by her because she was so bright, and because she digs rain, and I like rain.”

“I think we got into my Jaguar and it wouldn’t start. In fact, that Jag would never start. I had bought it for $100, adding $800 in repairs, and sold it for $50.”

The Jag wouldn’t start, but Michael Storm and Sally Beall’s romance started. A year later, when Sally was on her two-week vacation from a video tape company in Hollywood, she visited Michael at Harold’s Club in Reno, Nev., where he was singing – and they decided to marry.

He didn’t actually propose, but a few weeks after they had met, they knew they were meant for each other.

“On our wedding night,” recalls Michael, “we played gin … and she won! She hasn’t beaten me in gin again – because I won’t play gin with her anymore! I play scrabble and dominoes with her, and I beat her … ”

Sally protests, “He’s the worst looser! … He cries! …”

Michael cut in, “No I don’t … I sulk!”

Every couple of weeks now, Michael joins Alan Miler (Dave Siegel), Joe Gallison (Tom Edwards) and Doris Belack (Anna Wolek) for a game of poker, and everybody has fun. But he won’t play gin with anybody, especially you-know-who.

Although both Michael and Sally are Leos, they get along fine. “If anyone says that two Leos can’t make a good marriage … well, it’s not true!” says Michael.

Sally says she’s happy being a homemaker. “I’m not a career girl. I got it out of my system. I had a responsible job, and after we married, I continued to work; but when we moved to New York, I stayed home. I’m satisfied staying home. Michael is home more than most five days a week working husbands, and we have a lot of fun staying home.”

When they were living in California, they stumbled into a business. Michael thought he’d revive a childhood hobby and collect salt-water tropical fish. He started with a 10-gallon fish tank, and then brought in more tanks for the young fish, and eventually they had 15 tanks. They thought it would be smart to buy a tropical fish store. But it turned out to be nerve wracking and not worth it, financially. So they just turned it over to an employee and headed for New York and One Life to Live.

Now they don’t bother with tropical fish, but prefer “to paint, make mobiles and plastic and electronic things.”

They have adjusted to life in New York. “The now is thrilling, “they admit. “The first time I saw snow, I just couldn’t believe it,” says Sally, who’s a beautiful brunet (five-foot-six, 120 pounds, with dark brown hair and hazel eyes.)

“The nice thing about the cold New York weather,” says Michael, “is that you’re freezing, and you rush into the nearest coffee shop and get a cup of steaming coffee, and then it revives you! Then you go out and freeze again, and warm up again. It’s great!”

They enjoy browsing among the city’s gourmet shops, but they deplore the high cost of good beef. “We miss California beef,” says Michael. “Here in New York, there are so many first-rate restaurants that they probably get the fine beef first, and let he poorer beef go into the supermarkets.”

When Michael finishes on “One Life to Live,” they probably will return to California. “I like to garden,” says Sally, “but Michael only likes to watch flowers. Both of us are accustomed to living in private houses, with space around us. I wouldn’t want to raise a child in a big city.”

Michael said, wistfully, “Maybe we’ll be rich enough some day to have a New York apartment and a Los Angeles house, and commute.”

On Feb. 21, they will celebrate their fourth anniversary.

They remember going to the Justice of the Peace in Reno, and noticing that there was a replica of a bomb right in front of the radiator. It looked like a real bomb and when it began to hiss, Michael and Sally were frozen with fright. But it was only the radiator hissing. It did provide their marriage with an “explosive” start, though!

Sally’s 2-week vacation from her job turned into a honeymoon, but they didn’t get a real honeymoon until they went to Bermuda last September for a week. They went swimming, sunning, and snorkel diving.

On the show, Michael, as Dr. Wolek, is involved with Karen Martin (played by Niki Flacks) and Meredith Lord (Lynn Benish). He has romantic scenes, and Sally admits, “I had to get used to watching him romance other girls on TV. But now it doesn’t bother me.”

Michael, a handsome six-foot-two, 170 pounds with blonde hair and hazel eyes, gets a lot of passionate mail from his fans. But it doesn’t bother Sally, she insists.

They have a real good relationship. “We know each other,” Sally explains. “We’re friends as well as husband and wife. In the old days, people married each other, and then learned to become friends. But nowadays, the courtship enables you to get to know a lot about each other before marriage. Marriage follows naturally out of a wonderful friendship.”

“Married people play games with each other. And I’ve tried to take the games out of our marriage. It’s better to confront your mate on a problem than to let it fester. It’s better to straighten out a misunderstanding right away, and get it over with!”

Michael and Sally’s marriage brings together two old families. Michael’s people are mostly German and French, and his great great grandfather was Edward Adolph Joseph Kashmir Mortier, Napoleon’s chief aide and also the first president of France. “He was supposed to blow up the Kremlin, but he failed,” Michael explains. “His statue stands in Paris and in the palace of the Versailles. He looked just like my father.

Sally’s ancestors are of English, Scotch and German stock and they came over on the Mayflower.

Michael’s folks were involved in show business. His father, John Storm, was an actor who quit that work when he married his Margaret, a former child actress. Father became a writer, poet, and playwright. He and Margaret co-authored the cookbook, A Treasure of Fine Desserts. Michael’s grandfather was an actor in silent movies, and his grandmother was a Flora Dora girl.

Michael’s father died in 1960, When Michael was studying at Berkeley University. His mother now lives in La Jolla Calif.; his sister Martha, a former actress, is now married and living in Cleveland; and his brother James is back in New York and living in a Greenwich Village apartment.

Sally has two sisters, both married, and one of them has babies.

Michael and Sally’s baby will be the first grandchild for Michael’s mother, and probably not the last.

Who knows? Their baby could turn out to be twins. “There are twins on my side of the family,” says Sally, mischievously.

“I’m ready for whatever comes,” he says and he means it.

Well, that’s all for this edition of the column. I hope you enjoyed this edition of the column. See you again on October 15th..

And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live” …..

My View of Llanview: August 15 Edition

Thursday, August 28, 2008 9:49 PM | By Scotty Gore

( — Erika Slezak talks family love–’70s style.

Wow…this may be a new record for me…I’m nearly two weeks late with this column. However, there is a valid reason for that; the past few weeks have been very hectic for me. Being a City Commissioner, I am responsible for helping my small hometown prepare for our annual Honeyfest. It is a big deal here, especially since it became the “Kentucky’s Official State Honey Festival” in 2006. Now in its 14th year, the Clarkson Honeyfest has grown by leaps and bounds. More information is available at

In addition, the past two weeks have also taken a somber tone for my loved ones and me. Three recent deaths have hit too close to home for me. First there was the husband of my second cousin and good friend/co-worker who fell asleep at the wheel after working a twelve-hour night shift to support their families and died in a car accident. His friend left behind a wife and kids, as did my second cousin’s husband. In fact, the loving son he left behind will be thirteen next month. My heart and prayers go out to him and his mom. And then my great aunt died in neighboring Indiana. While I wasn’t particularly close to her, the death hit my grandmother rather hard, and my mom, my aunts, and my uncle worried and concerned about her.

So I apologize again for the lateness of this column, and for the fact it will only consist of a representing of an old “OLTL” related article. I hope and pray that the August 30th column will be posted on time but, as I found out in the past few weeks, one can never be sure.

The following article appeared in the May 1972 edition of Daytime TV. Written by R. Marian Rose, it is entitled “Erika Slezak’s Fond Memories of Family Love.” The article sheds light on Erika Slezak, her family, and her home life. Enjoy.

Erika Slezak (Victoria Lord) lets you know every chance she gets, that she adores her family. Right now the family is a little scattered. Her dad, Walter Slezak, and mom, Joanna, live in Switzerland; her sister Ingrid, is married to a doctor and lives in Canada with her two sons; brother Leo is now in college but spent time with Erika last summer. However, Switzerland is not too far away for any of the Slezak offspring and, whenever they decide to go home, off they go to Mom and Dad.

Born in California on an August 5, Erika spent most of her young life attending boarding schools. They were not the kind that kept you from your family, though. She went to the Convent of Scared Heart in Greenwich, Conn., but didn’t like it there too well so she transferred to the Convent of Scared Heart in Philadelphia.

“I like the Pennsylvania school better because the girls were much nicer and the school had a pleasant atmosphere. I was always worried about being accepted by the other girls because I was younger than most. The school was a five days boarding school and the family was together on weekends.”

When did Erika first decide she wanted to act?

“I can’t recall a time when I didn’t want to act. As a child, I knew I’d act, but of course, I didn’t realize that it was difficult. When I was in my sophomore year in high school, Dad talked to me about training for a career in acting. At that time, Mom stayed out of the discussion, but today I’m more nervous when my mother in the audience because she’s very objective. “Dad goes to pieces when he sees me on stage. One thing he did for me at that time was let me have no illusions about the acting profession. He explained that it was going to be harder for me because I had a famous father. I would have to prove myself more than others and, as usual, he was right.

“All the fame did for me was get me in to audition, but once inside, I was on my own. I knew most of the producers because I had met them when I was a child, and I had to go through the charade of being introduced all over again. One thing Dad did ask of me was: ‘If you discover you have no talent, get out of the business. They’ll be twice as hard on you.’ He also added: ‘If I feel that you have no talent, I’ll tell you.’”

So for that hasn’t happened. And, it probably never will, because Erika is talented and has worked hard over the years preparing for her career. She attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England, and was a member of the Milwaukee Repertory Company for three seasons. During those three years, she was a leading lady in everything from Chekov to Noel Coward.

“It was a marvelous experience; also rewarding. Theatre for me is most fascinating because it’s before an audience but I find daytime television wonderful, too. I’m glad I did repertory work first, though, because if you’re thrown into daytime television too quickly, it’s extremely hard. In repertory work, you’re given time to polish a performance. With time and experience, you find the easy way to do things. Everything I learned in repertory work can be applied to my daytime work and I find that it makes the load easier to carry.”

How does she feel about being on a daytime serial?

“I love it! I get a little peeved too because too many people think daytime actors are secondary people, but that’s not true. Some of your finest actors are on daytime shows. I’m enjoying everything about the show. I love my colleagues and the professional atmosphere in which I work.”

Erika, as beautiful as she is talented, is tall, slim, blonde-haired and blue eyed, so it was only natural the next question be about her social life. Is there anyone special on the scene?

“I have many friends but no one special. Actually, I don’t want to marry yet. I prefer to wait until I’m settled down. I enjoy being on my own and because of my work; my schedule keeps me from a more active social life. When I know I’m performing, I get to bed by 11 p.m. the latest because I have to be up early and in top notch shape.

“I guess I can also say that I’m waiting to find a man with whom I can have the same relationship that my parents have. Daddy never went anywhere that he didn’t take my mother along. Many times, the children also went. But he never was away from any of us for more than a week. Marriage is not easy and whatever my parents have together, they’ve worked hard for. I want the same kind of family life that I grew up in. uses that’s the European upbringing in me. One thing I still enjoy is watching my father and brother, Leo who’s 23 now kiss when they meet. Why shouldn’t they? They’re father and son, and showing love and affection for each other doesn’t make them less masculine. I rather like it myself.

How does Erika feels about the Women Liberation Movement?

“A great deal of it is legitimate but, in some instances, they’ve gone too far. The arts such as acting, singing and ballet really don’t require Women’s Lib to help them. These are fields that equal pay is a standard practice and almost every play has love somewhere in its theme, so male and female, both, are required. The publishing field, secretaries and nurses need Women’s Lib to help them establish themselves on an equal basis with the men. I think one thing that the movement has done is call attention to the fact that women are very capable in the business world. Too many people have been led to believe that a woman leaves he mind at home with her family when she reports for work. That is definitely not true. The movement also called the public’s attention to the valuable role women are playing and can play in politics.”

What about the world situation?

“What can I say except to elaborate on the fact that the whole world seems to have been governed, since time began, by men fighting. War is a single, predominant, force in history. I don’t feel the Vietnam War will stop in communism. The original policy was not to interfere, but it turned into just that – interference – because of politics. When we leave the country, the people will do just as they please, anyway. When our young people grow up, the world will have to change. And, if the youth of today maintain their ideals, the world will be a better place by far. They are more alert at a younger age and that’s good.”

It was on this note that the interview indeed – a most enjoyable two hours spent with a lovely, talented young woman. It was also very heartening to hear a young woman speak about her family with such love and devotion. Her eyes lit up every time she spoke of home (and that is wherever her parents happened to be living).

Well, that’s all for this edition of the column. I hope you enjoyed this edition of the column. Have a safe and wonderful Labor Day holiday weekend. See you again on August 30th.

And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live” …..

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 5:00 AM EST | By Errol Lewis

Dear Readers,

When we came up with the Bringing.Drama.Closer campaign on Soap Opera Network many years ago, we never thought that 2008 would bring some of the biggest controversies in the daytime world, nor did we think it would be happening off screen and behind-the-scenes.

So far we have had the “Days of our Lives” online scandal a few weeks back as reported by TV Guide Canada’s Nelson Branco and now we have reports that Carolyn Hinsey of Soap Opera Weekly and Soap Opera Digest fame has been fired by both magazines’ owner Source Interlink, Inc. due to supposed “budget cuts.” Jossip, the website that broke the news, has found a record number of responses to its article with over 1,000 replies and has subsequently published a few of the well thought out discussions in a second article posted a day later. Even our very own message board has discussed this topic through tooth and nail, albeit with much of the discussion centered on the scandals being “outed” at the Jossip site. The ruckus reminds me of the days of a website known as the DataLounge, where such topics as whose dating who, who slept with whom, who rose to the top with their legs in a twist and much more tenacious acts were the talk of the town with thousands of replies in near daily threads. The outlandish discussion, however, forced the website itself to shut down such threads and discussions due to the enormity that some posters would stoop to in order to make their “news” something to remember.

Hinsey’s firing will possibly go down as one of the biggest soap stories in recent memory, not because of the drama it seems to be causing, but because a woman who has been in this industry for decades and has had a stronghold on the daytime community as a whole, has been taken out by a publisher who holds the key to two important assets this industry has left – Soap Opera Digest and Soap Opera Weekly. These two magazines are the longest running soap centered publications still in existence that cover the entire daytime industry. If it weren’t for these magazines, Soap Opera Network itself wouldn’t be where it is today. My hope is that this isn’t signaling the beginning of the end for either magazine despite their falling readership.

Guiding Light Fan Club Luncheon

The Guiding Light Fan Club luncheon, autograph and photo session will be held on Saturday, September 27, 2008 at the Marriott Marquis, located at 1535 Broadway (Between 45th & 46th St.) in New York City. The event will last from 12:00 Noon until 4:00 PM with doors opening at 10:30 AM. A $20.00 Non-Refundable Deposit Per Person will Reserve your Seat in the order it is received. Final Payment due No later than August 1, 2008. The price for current Fan Club Members is $120.00 Per Ticket and $130.00 for non-Fan Club members. Tickets Purchased after August 1, 2008, must be paid in Full by Money Order Only! Children Under 5 years of age are not permitted. If you wish to sit together Money must be Mailed in together – No exceptions! 10 People per table and additional people cannot be added to your party or table at a later date! Please make check or money order payable to:


    (Canada – We only accept Postal Money Orders in US Funds)

    (All other Countries – We only accept International Money Orders in US Funds)

    GUIDING LIGHT FAN CLUB / Luncheon Tickets

    P.O. Box 455

    Lynbrook, NY 11563-0455


    There are a limited number of rooms available at the Marriott Marquis at a special rate for Fan Club Members. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, single or double for $359.00. For HOTEL reservations please call 800-843-4898 and mention Guiding Light Fan Club. Note: Normal rates are $459.00 per night for this weekend.

    Until next time…this is myNote and I’m out!



My View of Llanview: July 30 Edition

Thursday, July 31, 2008 3:04 PM | By Scotty Gore

( — In 1968, “One Life to Live” created controversy with a storyline in which viewers outraged when they saw what they perceived to be a white woman kissing a black doctor. Forty years later, African-Americans in Llanview appear to be nonexistent.

The year 1968 was a rather turbulent time in American history. The Vietnam was well underway, nearly 200 hundred women protest the Miss America pageant calling it an exploitation of women, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 into law, Senator Robert Kennedy is assassinated while campaigning for President in Las Angeles, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is shot to death by James Earl Ray in Memphis, and Richard Nixon captured the White House by defeating Democrat Hubert Humphrey and American Independent Party candidate George Wallace. It had only been five years since the former Klan leader Wallace gave his infamous speech after being sworn in as the governor of Alabama: “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

It was turning this tumulus time in America, during a decade stained with political, gender, ethnic, and racial strife and unrest that Agnes Nixon created what would become “One Life to Live.” Following her success as a writer on NBC’s “Another World,” ABC approached Nixon about creating a new soap for their network. What she would create would be unlike anything on television at the time. Reportedly tired of the “WASPy non-controversial daytime drama format,” Nixon created a unique that would center around four distinct core families.
There were the upper class Lords, the upper middle class Siegels, and the blue collar Woleks and Rileys. And to compound matters even further Nixon developed the Siegels as the television’s first Jewish family.

Nixon presented her concept to network executives, which she had tentatively titled “Between Heaven and Hell.” Concerned that the title of the soap combined with the storyline ideas were too controversial, Nixon and ABC compromised by changing the title to “One Life to Live.” Even so, the original opening sequence of the daytime drama (which lasted until 1975) featured a roaring a fireplace behind the words “One Life to Live.”

Not long after the then-thirty minute “One Life to Live” premiered at 3:30 pm et on July 15, 1968, controversy began to erupt. At first everything appeared normal for a 1960s soap. An African-American character named Sadie Gray was introduced. At first Sadie was portrayed simply as a close neighbor of the Wolek family, and as the Assistant Head of Housekeeping at Llanview Hospital. However, all was not as it seemed. Privately, Sadie longed to find her daughter Clara had run away from home in 1959 at the age of fifteen. Since that time, Sadie had been unable to contact her daughter. By October, another new character made her way to Llanview. Her name was Carla Benari, a struggling white actress.

Not long after arriving in Llanview, Carla was admitted to Llanview Hospital seeking treatment for appeared to be cirrhosis of the liver. Carla’s attention soon caught the attention of Dr. Jim Craig, a widower with a teenage daughter named Cathy. After studying her case, Dr. Craig concluded that an emotional problem could be the cause of her medical condition. Soon, the doctor began to fall in love with his patient, and a short time later Dr. Craig asked Carla to marry him. Although she responded favorably to his proposal, deep down Carla knew something wasn’t right. Although Dr. Craig would be able to offer her companionship, warmth, and financial security, she realized she was not in love with him.

Conflicted, Carla struggled with her emotions. Meanwhile, Dr. Craig, citing a conflict of interest, assigned Carla’s case to a young African-American intern named Dr. Price Trainor. After months of arguing and butting heads, Carla’s defenses eventually began to wear down, and she began to develop feelings for the young, black intern. Eventually, Carla confessed to Dr. Trainor “It’s a chemistry that makes us fight every time we encounter each other!”

Soon the young intern began to fall in love with his patient, while at the same time feeling guilty for being a black man in love with a white woman. Carla meanwhile, had recovered and was released from the hospital. Shortly thereafter, she took a job as Dr. Craig’s secretary. It was around this time that the romance between Carla and Price Trainor began to heat up. Their growing feelings for one another eventually resulted in a kiss. It was the kiss heard around the country as hundreds of angry viewers called into ABC to protest what they perceived to be a white woman kissing a black man. The uproar became so great that, for a time, one ABC affiliate in Texas dropped “One Life to Live” from their program schedule.

As the months went by, the storyline would soon take yet another shocking twist. One day after work, Carla decided to pay a surprise visit to Anna Wolek, whom she had become acquitted with at Llanview Hospital. But after knocking on her door a few times, she received no answer. As she was about to leave, Sadie Gray, the Wolek’s neighbor from across the hall, opened her door to announce that: “I’m sorry miss. The Woleks aren’t home. Can I take a message for you?” As she turned around to thank Sadie, Carla was frozen stiff. After several minutes of looking intently at one another, Sadie finally whispered “Clara!” Carla responded by calling her “Mama!” At last the truth was revealed, Carla Benari was really Sadie’s long missing daughter Clara Gray. This forced the audience into the realization that the character they had become invested in over the preceding months was not a white woman, but instead a light skinned black woman.

The revelation also changed those involved in the much-publicized recent controversial kiss, making it Carla and Dr. Craig who were part of the scandalous relationship, and not Carla and the black intern Dr. Price Trainor. Even so, the point was proven that America wasn’t quite ready for the racial lines between black and white to become colorblind in the name of love. In this regard, Agnes Nixon had created a storyline that was socially relevant at the time, and one that caught people’s attention and had them turning in each day to see what would happen next.

But what did happen in the weeks and months following that sensational kiss and the revelation that Carla was Sadie Gray’s long-lost African American daughter? Well, for starters, viewers were treated to rather emotional scenes between Carla and Sadie as daughter confessed to mother why she ran away from her life. Sadie blamed Carla for turning her back on her family, friends, and her heritage, especially in regards to being in love with a black doctor while being engaged to a white one. Carla responded by declaring that she didn’t ask to be born with lighter skin than most other black people, and that throughout her life she had suffered for “not being black enough.” As her emotions continued to poor out, Carla would also blast her mother for her lonely childhood. She reminded Sadie how she had always cared for other children as a maid and nanny, while Carla would be left home alone after school. And when she did come home she was too exhausted to pain much attention to Carla. And to rub salt into the wound, Carla declared “You had used up everything that you had to give on strangers that I didn’t even know.”

Fortunately, as the weeks went by, Carla and Sadie eventually reached an understanding. Carla faced the reality that she was who she was, and she couldn’t pretend to be someone that she wasn’t. She terminated her engagement to Dr. Craig (who would eventually find love in the arms of Anna Wolek), and confessed her secret to an angry Price Trainor. Carla’s newfound happiness was shortlived as Price denounced Carla for rejecting her race, something he himself was quite proud of. Even so, eventually they toyed with the idea of marriage, much to the dismay of Price’s disapproving, snotty mother Grace. Thinking that a housekeeper’s daughter was no where near good enough for her precious, wonderful son, Grace Trainor reminded her son that “There’s so much more to being ‘right’ for each other than love.” Although she cared for Price deeply, Carla was unable to accept the fact that he allowed his mother to make his decisions for him.
When that failed to result in the desired response, Grace pulled some strings to get Price a fellowship at Edinburgh University in Scotland in the United Kingdom. Now Price was forced to choose between his career and the woman he loved.

Although he trusted her advice, Carla reminded Price that she could not make the decision for him. She wrote him a note in which she stated “I just won’t decide for you. Since it’s your life… it has to be up to you.” Afterward, Carla who had left Llanview for a week, returned to discover that Price had left for Scotland. He did so with great remorse, however, after mistakenly believing that Carla’s passive attitude in her letter was a hint for him to leave). Price’s departure left Carla brokenhearted. However, she would soon find comfort in the arms of the prominent Bert Skelly, Llanview’s new black district attorney.

Bert Skelly was a shrewd politician who promised Carla that he could her everything her heart desired. Despite this, Carla began to have eyes for Police Lt. Ed Hall. Ed was everything that Bert was not, a blue collar working man who considered Carla to be stuck up and snobby. Eventually, however, Ed and Carla fell in love and were joined in matrimony in 1973. Also, around this time they finalized the adoption of a troubled young black boy named Joshua West (who took the name Hall following the adoption). At last, Carla appeared to have the life she had dreamed of. Also in the mix was Ed’s brother Gus, who became a recurring character in Llanview, and served as Ed’s best man in his wedding to Carla.

But all good things must come to an end. As the 1970s began to wind down, Ed, Carla, Josh, and Sadie gradually found their way to the back burner. By 1979, Carla had divorced Ed to wed Dr. Jack Scott, the surgeon who had operated on Ed’s recent heart condition. The following year, in 1981, Dr. Scott was killed off and Carla decided to leave Llanview. She would return over two years later and explained that she had attended law school during her hiatus from Llanview. After becoming the Assistant District Attorney, she was forced to prosecute Ed following a police sting gone bad. In 1985, Carla left Llanview for good after accepting a job as a judge in Arizona, never to return or be mentioned again. Shortly thereafter, the characters of Sadie, Josh, and Gus also faded from view.

Ed, meanwhile, would continue to call Llanview home for a few more years to come. He would become a Captain in the Llanview Police Department, however his scenes increasing more infrequent. Following Carla’s (Ellen Holly) departure from Llanview, Ed Hall (Al Freeman Jr.) was downgraded to a recurring character in Llanview before fading into oblivion in 1988.
Not much was heard from the Ed during the next dozen years until the year 2000, when his and Carla’s grandson Jared (supposedly from Josh) arrived in Llanview. Jared, following in the footsteps of his grandmother, became Llanview’s Assistant District Attorney. Jared (Herve Clermont) was introduced as having attended law school with established character Sam
Rappaport, had a checkered past. As he faced review from the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Sam defended his friend in court. During the trial, Ed Hall was called to the stand to testify in his grandson’s defense. Following the conclusion of the trial, Ed Hall quickly and quietly disappeared once more. Grandson Jared would soon follow suit in 2001, following a brief relationship with Rachel Gannon, the bi-racial daughter of Nora Buchanan and Hank Gannon. Since that time the Hall’s have become an afterthought to the citizens of Llanview.

In 1998, Ellen Holly wrote a tell all memoir about the back stage prejudice she faced while working on “One Life to Live.” The book, entitled One Life: An Autobiography of an African American Actress, centers around how the African-American cast members of “OLTL” were pushed out in favor of their white counterparts. She specifically mentions then “OLTL” Executive Producer Paul Rauch (1984-1991), who systematically eradicated Llanview of diversity in 1986. Holly tells of how actress Lillian Hayman, who portrayed Carla’s mother Sadie Gray, was unceremoniously fired from “OLTL.” According to Holly, Hayman was unaware of her dismissal until an assistant to Rauch caught up with her in the parking garage one day at the studio, and informed her that “Mr. Rauch wants you to know that you just worked your last day.”

It would be several more years until African-Americans would be prominently featured again in Llanview. Following the departure of the show’s core African-American cast members; black people in Llanview were mainly reduced to background shots and bit parts. Meanwhile, the soap’s white cast members were given major storylines. Despite this disappointing reality, other minorities began to command airtime on “OLTL.” During the late 1980s as “OLTL” became a camp fest and larger than life thanks to Rauch, several actors of Mexican, Spanish, and South American decent began to appear on “OLTL.” Among them were Gabrielle Medina (Fiona Hutchison), Maria Vasquez Roberts (Barbara Luna), and Cord Roberts (John Loprieno). While these characters, and others like them, became intricate parts of the “OLTL” storylines of the late 1980s and early 1990s, it would be several more years until African-Americans would again take center stage in Llanview and on “OLTL.”

That year would turn out to be 1992, when Llanview’s next prominent African-American family would arrive. This go around it would be the Gannon family, which included football player turned District Attorney Hank, his white attorney ex-wife Nora, their bi-racial drug addicted daughter Rachel, and Hank’s seedy brother R.J. Time and space constraints prevent me from delving too deep into their stay in Llanview, but here are a few highlights. While married to Hank, Nora had an affair with his brother RJ. Daughter Rachel briefly dated Victoria Lord’s son Kevin Buchanan. RJ discovered a daughter he never knew he had in Keri Reynolds.
And Antonio Vega and Keri married only to break-up, but not before having a daughter named Jamie. The divorce would drive Keri to kill herself and RJ to fight Antonio for custody (with the aide of Lindsay Rappaport). I realize that I’m not doing this storyline justice, but that is the jest of it.

While the Gannons were heavily featured in storylines throughout the 1990s, by the year 2000, they were placed on the back burner. Hank was written off “OLTL” in 2003, while R.J., who was bumped to recurring in 2007, is rarely seen in Llanview these days. Rachel moved back to Chicago, and only Nora has remained. Following her divorce from Bo Buchanan, she has been involved with several men, the most recent of which is Bo’s brother Clint. Nora is also the Llanview District Attorney. One of the few Jewish characters on television, Nora’s religion is rarely mentioned in recent years.

Adding to the diversity in Llanview in the mid-1990s, the Latino Vega family was introduced. Headed by matriarch Carlotta Vega, the clan was portrayed as a blue collar working family. Although Carlotta ran the diner she and her late husband had successfully built and managed, her sons Antonio and Cristian constantly gave their mother trouble. Antonio was a gang leader in the Angel Square section of Llanview. He was released from prison after proving that he killed a man in self-defense, and soon became a lawyer and then a cop. It was there we married his white partner, Andy Harrison and the husband and wife settled in California. After returning to town, he married R.J. Gannon’s daughter, discovered his real father was Manuel Santi, head of a crime syndicate and that Carlotta was really his aunt and Cristian his cousin. He married Jessica Buchanan, only to divorce her when she had an affair with Nash Brennan. Most recently, he has the hots for Syrian Talia Sahid. Much to Antonio’s dismay, Talia broke the news to Antonio that his longtime adversary Carlo Hesser is her biological father. Carlotta’s other son Cristian, a talented artist, was once involved with Jessica Buchanan when were teenagers, and nearly married her after learning she was pregnant with Will Rappaport’s baby. His love for Jessica caused him to think he could raise the baby as his own. A few years later, he marries Jessica’s sister Natalie and shortly thereafter disappears. He returns and is programmed to kill Antonio by Carlo Hesser. Fortunately, Cristian ends up killing Antonio’s other brother Tico Santi and is sent to prison, where his memories come flooding back. Eventually he is released from prison by Llanview’s newest attorney, African-American Evangeline Williamson in late 2005. Eventually, they fall in love and he helps her after she is blinded for a time. Evangeline also helps clear Cristian of charges of fixing boxing matches when shady African-American businessman confesses to the crime. Cristian is angry when Todd Manning pays a high priced doctor to help Evangeline regain her sight. But they get back together just as she is injured during a hate crime attack with leaves her in a coma. After sleeping with Blair Cramer, he falls in love with Sarah Roberts (daughter of Tina Lord and Cord Roberts), and ends up attempting to save her when Carlo sends her sailing down a river and over a waterfall in Mendorra. In his earlier days Cristian sculpted the Angel statue in Angel Square. As for Carlotta, she moved from being Dorian’s maid to diner owner to the occasional shoulder for Antonio and Cristian to lean on when they are in need of advice. But beyond that, Carlotta has been reduced to nothing more than a background character at the present time. Before I move on, I don’t want to forget to mention Adriana Cramer. Introduced as Adriana Colon, a family friend of the Vegas, it is soon revealed that she is the result of an affair between Dorian Cramer Lord and the late Manauel Santi. As a result, this makes her a niece to Carlotta, cousin to Cristian, and half-sister to Antonio. Recently, Adriana paid off Brody Lovett, ex-boyfriend to her husband’s former girlfriend Gigi Morasco to keep her away from Rex, with the help of her good friend, Evangeline’s sister Layla Williamson. Rex found out and Adriana left Llanview for Europe. Once again, it’s hard to fit all the storylines of the Vega family into one paragraph, so my apologizes for omitting so many details.

Other minority characters worth mentioning over the past two decades include homosexual teen Billy Douglas (whose outing revealed just how homophobic Llanview was in the early 1990s), Tea Delgado (whom Todd Manning paid to marry him to help him keep custody of his daughter, was pushed out a window by Blair Cramer, and who Todd eventually fell in love with), the original Blair Cramer Manning (who was portrayed by Japanese-American actress Mia Korf from 1991-1993), and Irish poet and Marty Saybrooke’s love interest Patrick Thornhart (portrayed by German-American actor Thorsten Kaye). In addition in the early years of this decade, “OLTL” attempted diversity again by introducing the “Love Center Crew,” featuring Marcie Walsh, Jen Rappaport, and several new minority characters forced to live and work together in order to graduate from Llanview University. The group, which had Viki Davidson as their den mother, featured African-American, Asian, and homosexual characters. However, nearly all them would soon be killed off by the Killing Club Murderer. And who could forget how “OLTL” treated a storyline involving bi-sexual District Attorney Daniel Colson. In case you forgotten, in 2005, after the reveal that Daniel Colson had killed Paul Cramer, he then framed his son Riley’s girlfriend Jen Rappaport for the murder in an attempt to find his sexual orientation. When Jen finally learned the truth, Daniel suffocated her in a parking garage on Mother’s Day, as her mother Lindsay waited for Jen to take her out to dinner. The shock and media frenzy, which resulted when the truth was finally revealed, caused his wife Nora Hannen to suffer a stroke and slip into a coma.

Which brings us to 2007, and then “OLTL” Head Writer Dena Higley’s poison penned attempt to craft a hate crimes storyline for the soap. In theory, the idea may have sounded plausible, but in reality it was a severly-misguided attempt to return “OLTL” to its former glory. The storyline involved the arrival of baseball player turned underwear model Tate Harmon to Llanview. On the surface, Tate seemed nice, but he harbored a deep secret; one which Rex Balsom was desperate to uncover. While Rex thought Tate was gay, in reality he was white supremacist and head of the group “One Pure People.” His targets were many: Nora Hannen and her son Matthew (who were Jewish), Cristian and Antonio Vega and Andriana Cramer (Latino), Talia Sahid (Syrian), Evangeline and Layla Williamson and Vincent Jones (African-American), as well as others. His daring plan went so far as to bomb Llanview Hospital, place poison gas in Cristian Vega’s loft, set fire to Capricorn, and torch Nora’s house with her and Matthew still inside. Fortunately, Talia Sahid shot him while holding Adirana Cramer, Layla Williamson, Rex Balsom, and Vincent Jones hostage on a rooftop. Also, no one was seriously harmed except Evangeline Williamson, who was knocked into a coma. When Tate’s father Kirk discovered what his son was involved with, he took the rap and went to prison to protect him. However, he later had a change of heart, but was killed before he could confess his son’s activities to police. Eventually, Tate was found guilty and sent to prison, where he was given a black cellmate.

Had the arsonist in this storyline been an established character, or a returning character to Llanview, viewers might have invested their time in the storyline. But, by having the arsonist be a new character that no one really cared about, the storyline quickly fell flat. However, you have to at least give “OLTL” credit for attempting to recapture their original vision of telling socially relevant storylines, however mismanaged this attempt may have been.

Before I forget, I feel the need to comment on the soap’s recent list of special musical talents that have stopped by Llanview. It is important to note that while African-Americans have largely disappeared from the “OLTL” canvas, the show has been successful in landing several prominent African-American musicians over the years. The list ranges from Little Richard and Sammy David Jr. to Nelly Furtado, Mary J. Blige, Timabland, and Snoop Dogg.

It is now 2008, forty years since “One Life to Live” first aired on ABC. While certain aspects of the show have survived over the years, others such as the diversity of the cast, have not. In 1968, Agnes Nixon made headlines by introducing a light skinned black woman named Carla Benari tried to pass herself off as a white woman, who eventually created controversy by kissing a white doctor. In 2008, trying to find an African-American in Llanview is like trying to find Waldo in an Independence Day parade. Currently there is only one African-American cast member on contract with the soap (Tika Sumpter as Layla Williamson), however she hasn’t been seen in nearly three months. For others remain on recurring status with the show: Tobias Truvillion, who portrays Vincent Jones and is on his way out; Sean Reinggold who plays a bodyguard named Shaun, Mario D’Leon who plays another bodyguard named Keyshawn “Keys” Reddick, and Timothy D. Stickney as R.J. Gannon. However, all four of the African-American recurring cast members receive rather limited airtime, and are primarily used only to support other characters in their storylines. Otherwise, their importance in limited to mostly ‘filler’ scenes. The only other African-American characters seen in today’s Llanview are extras and dayplayer roles such as waiters, business patrons, and police officers. Other minority characters currently in Llanview include Markko Riveria (who busts tables at the diner), Langston Wilde (whose deceased parents were of Columbian decent), the aforementioned Vega family and Talia Sahid, Noelle Ortiz (waitress at the Bon Jour Cafe in Paris, Texas), and the rarely heard, but often scene background character of Carmen the diner waitress.

Even though “OLTL” can claim to have five African-American cast members as part of their cast, how many of their characters rise above common black stereotypes. Only one out of the five in my opinion, Miss Layla Williamson. The one contract African-American cast member on “OLTL” is half-owner of a lingerie company called Exposed, and appears to be making a decent living. The four recurring African-American cast members are not so lucky. Vincent Jones is a former mobster, who once tried to rig boxing matches by drugging Cristian Vega so that he would lose matches, and he would make money by betting against his own client. Eventually however, he confessed to his crime and promptly faded into the background. He will be leaving Llanview once Layla dumps him after discovering that he has been cheating on her. Saun and Keys are both portrayed as body guards who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty if it means making a few extra bucks. Shaun once earned a living doing Vincent’s dirty work. And, as mentioned earlier in this article, R.J. Gannon has a long history of run-ins with the law. Although he has somewhat managed to reform himself in recent years, he has found out that the past is hard to run away from.

So my question is this, “What has happened to all the diversity in Llanview?” In a sense, where have all the black people gone? How realistic is it to believe that in a major city such as Llanview that nearly everyone is white and rich? Seriously? Even the poor white people in Llanview seem to have an time surviving. Gigi and Brody, neither of which have a job, are living comfortably with Shane in Viki’s cottage house, Cristian Vega is able to keep his loft despite the fact that he is no longer able to paint thanks to a hand injury, Charlie Banks is able to stay at the Angel Square Hotel even though he can’t land a job, and even Rex Balsom manages to hang on to his apartment, despite the fact the so-called PI hasn’t had a case in ages. What happened to all the blue-collar characters who are forced to work for a living? What happened to the Woleks and Siegels? In essence, what happened to the diversity that “OLTL” became known for 40 years ago?

In the first edition of his 1985 book, The Soap Opera Encyclopedia , Christopher Schemering describes “OLTL” as “the most peculiarly American of soap operas: the first serial to present a vast array of ethnic types, broad comic situations, a constant emphasis on social issues, and strong male characters.”While that statement accurately depicts the early years of the soap’s history, it has become increasing more difficult to relate it today’s vision of “OLTL.”

Never was “OLTL’s” present lack of diversity more glaring than in Head Writer Ron Carlivati’s recent tribute to the daytime drama’s 40th anniversary. While the tribute was nicely done and touching, it in no way, shape, or fashion resembled the Llanview of 1968 (or 1978 for that matter). All the storylines revisited for those two special episodes were from 1987 and 1988…but nearly the first twenty years of “OLTL” were strangely omitted from the tribute. The only thing even remotely connected to the 1968-1987 time frame on “OLTL” showcased in the 40th anniversary salute was the rebroadcast of the original opening sequence (which lasted from 1968-1975), which was shown on the first day of the two-day salute, and the all to brief recreated scene we treated to in which Victor Lord told Viki how that someday all would be hers, including The Banner newspaper. Beyond the brief reminder of show’s original diversity and title “Between Heaven and Hell” from that original symbolic hellfire opening, no mention whatsoever was made concerning the dynamic African-American storyline which captured viewers attention in 1968. The tribute more resembled a 20th, rather then a 40th, anniversary.

Oh sure, characters Bo and Rex were transported back in time to 1968 after being struck by lightning. But they went back to the Buchanan Ranch in Texas, and not to Llanview. While I get the special nod to the year of the show’s creation, the Buchanan family was not a part of “OLTL” in 1968. In fact, the Buchanan’s didn’t arrive in town until 1979 and 1980. And, while it is interesting to see just what the Buchanan clan was like more than twenty years before they came to town, I would much rather see what Llanview looked like 40 years ago. Just imagine seeing younger versions of Vicki, Meredith, Larry, Vince, and Anna Wolek, and of course Carla and Sadie Gray. I get the fact that society has changed over the past 40 years, and that interracial marriage and relationships are more commonplace here in 2008, but the storyline could still have been revisited. Much the way the Bo/Rex 1968 storyline is dealing with the war in Vietnam (which both Robert S. Woods and his character Bo fought in), the Carla Gray storyline could have been revisited in historical context to show how African-Americans were treated in 1968 America, and how those attitudes have changed in the past 40 years. But instead, we saw nothing but rich white characters, with an occasional Latino character thrown into the mix. And there was not a single black person to be found in either one of “OLTL’s” 40th anniversary tribute episodes, even though they are at least partly responsible for the early success of the daytime drama. At least a picture from Carla and Ed’s wedding was among the dozen or so special promotional images from the past 40 years that ABC released to commemorate “OLTL’s” 40th anniversary.

Recently, following the airing of the 40th anniversary episodes, “OLTL” held a party for cast and crew in honor of the event. It was there that “OLTL” creator Agnes Nixon recalled how the story of Carla Gray, a black woman passing herself off as white, prompted viewer protests in 1968. She remembered one letter in particular from a viewer which read ”I want to protest her kissing that black doctor. But I’m confused. If it turns out that she’s black, I want to protest her kissing that white doctor.” Quite a change from the viewer response “OLTL” gets today, which likely includes things like wanting more airtime for a certain character or asking for an autographed picture of their favorite cast member. Gone is the controversy and viewer unrest over socially relevant storylines. Gone are the days when “OLTL” mirrored real life. Those days have been replaced with time travel, trips to heaven, and people being kidnapped and set plunging to their doom over a waterfall in a small fictitious European principality. Not that it isn’t a nice escape from reality, but it certainly isn’t groundbreaking television. But to quote the legendary Walter Cronkite “that’s the way it is.” It likely won’t change, and will probably stay just the way it is. Don’t get me wrong, I still love “OLTL,” but would give anything to see more of exactly what “OLTL” was like before my birth in December 1979. But I’m afraid that since many of the old tapes of the show were either reused or destroyed those days may be gone forever.

It was at that same party that long-time “OLTL” cast member Erika Slezak made the statement ”It’s amazing that that was only 40 years ago and the world is so different that now we have a black man running for president.” So true Erika, so very true. Forty years ago “OLTL” had a rather diverse cast, and many an African-American youth only dreamed of someday running for President. Today we have an African-American running for President for the first time on a major party ticket. However, at the same time, African-Americans on “OLTL” (as well as other soaps) have become nearly non-existent. The more things change, the more they stay the same I suppose. At least programs like “One Life to Live,” which helped pushed the envelope of what was acceptable in society during a turbulent time in American history, helped get us to where we are today. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud of his nation today. And that is something that even this white boy from a small Kentucky town that is over 98% Caucasian can appreciate.

But at least I can take solace in the fact that still have “One Life to Live.” That’s all for now, please join me again on August 15th for another installment of “My View of Llanview.” Until then, take care and enjoy your “One Life.” Good day.

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