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There are so very many things that happen in a year in soaps. Actors come and go. Favorite characters bite the dust. There are fan events and fund raisers. Shows get cancelled. SOAPNet grows!
In looking back over the past year, there are a number of things that stood out among the rest for us at Soapdom.com. Here are our picks for the most memorable moments and occurrences in 2003. Do you agree with us? Do you have a memorable moment we missed? Read our selections and the reasons why they made our list, then let us know what is most memorable to you in 2003 by clicking here.
10. Linda Dano announcing she will not be signing again with ABC when her contract expires in early 2004.
When NBC cancelled Another World in 1999, Linda Dano’s iconic Felicia Gallant, her most favorite soap character, was gone forever, or so we all thought. Dano was immediately recruited by ABC to helm a dynamic storyline. She had originated the character of Gretel Rae Cummings on One Life to Live 19 years before -- prior to her joining Another World – and made a triumphant return to Llanview, now to be known simply as Rae Cummings.
But her storyline didn’t end in Llanview. She traveled to Pine Valley to learn that her real mother was none other than Myrtle Fargate (Eileen Herlie). She traveled to Port Charles following clues as to the identity of her long, lost daughter. The trail took her to General Hospital where she learned that the daughter she was seeking was none other than Skye Chandler (Robin Christopher) – who also soon learned that her real father was not AMC’s Adam Chandler, but none other than GH’s Alan Quartermaine!
Dano’s character soap hopping to all four soaps was groundbreaking for ABC Daytime and created story for all of the Mouse Network’s daytime drama lineup. But, when the story of the long lost, daughter was resolved, suddenly Rae had nothing to do. It is reported that Dano recommended to ABC that they make her a fraud – her psychology credentials, that is. ABC bought off on the story and Rae Cummings was soon exposed as being not who we all thought she was, but rather an imposter – career wise.
Since that storyline, Dano’s character has been waffling, with not much of anything to do. Suddenly, SOAPnet negotiates with Procter & Gamble to air Another World. There is a major reunion show on SOAPnet to launch the re-run schedule of this much beloved soap. Dano is once again re-introduced to her character Felicia Gallant, and you know what? There is no one in daytime she’d rather play, and if she can no longer be Felicia – what’s the point of continuing in daytime?
With her storyline on ABC soaps dwindled to nearly nothing, and her real love of the character of Felicia rekindled on SOAPnet, Dano has chosen not to renew her contract with ABC Daytime when it expires early in 2004. Instead, her plan is to pursue other outlets. She is already an established talk show host, author, journalist and entrepreneur. Will she pick up full speed ahead in one of those areas, or search out something completely different? A return to feature films, or a role on primetime perhaps?
Whatever the future holds for Dano, Soapdom wishes her the very best and much continued success. We only hope that ABC daytime will tie up the lose ends of Rae Cumming’s storyline with another visit to Pine Valley to bid adieu to Myrtle and to General Hospital to resolve things with Skye. So far, all ABC is saying is that “Linda Dano is an extraordinary actress whose contributions to the industry are unrivaled. Storyline dictates her departure from the ABC Daytime lineup in early 2004. We wish her the very best in all of her future endeavors."
9. Kimberlin Brown’s Brief Return to B&B
The character of Sheila Carter (Kimberlin Brown) did the unthinkable in 2002. She shot and mortally wounded Ridge’s (Ronn Moss) beloved wife Taylor (Hunter Tylo). Fans were outraged that Taylor was killed off the show. The killing off of Taylor made Soapdom’s Most Memorable Moments for 2002!
In a striking move, The Bold and the Beautiful’s EP, Bradley Bell, brought Brown back to B&B in 2003, along with sidekick Sugar (soap vet, Robin Matteson), in an attempt to finish what she started by also killing Ridge. No sooner were Ridge and Brooke married in an exotic island ceremony, he was kidnapped by Sheila’s thugs and held hostage. Even as Ridge fell into a burning caldron at Sheila’s hand, he survived the ordeal, and Sheila’s plot was foiled.
Or was it? Brooke, thinking that Ridge had died before her eyes in the fire and brimstone, sought solace in the arms -- and the bed -- of Ridge’s long, lost brother, Nick (Jack Wagner). The union has since proved Nick’s paternity to Brooke’s baby. Now fans of Brooke and Ridge are outraged. “Why did they have to make Nick the father?” “Can’t Brooke and Ridge finally live happily ever after?”
Any character and storyline that can get fans outraged twice is definitely memorable in our book!
8. OLTL’s Al and Marcie Love Story
The character of Marcie (Kathy Brier) on One Life to Live is not the typical soap opera character. Chubby and cherubic, she is a strong young woman who stands up for her beliefs. She befriended tall, dark and handsome Al Holden (Nathaniel Marston) and encouraged him to follow his dreams. In an unlikely pairing, the two fell in love and became one of Llanview’s hottest soap couples.
Until low and behold, the execs at ABC decide to kill off the character of Al! Well, the fans wouldn’t stand for it. But here’s the memorable part. When the cry among Al and Marcie devotees rang out, the network heard their pleas. ABC Daytime did an about face with the storyline. Yes, they still killed Al off, but they brought back his soul in a story akin to “Heaven Can Wait.” To facilitate the storytelling, they even brought back a much beloved character from the past – Luna. Now, it’s up to Al to convince Marcie that he really is Al so that they can live happily ever after. The couple is set to share a kiss very soon. Stay tuned!
7. AMC’s Michael Cambias Murder Mystery Tied with Brittany the Stripper on Y&R
The Michael Cambias (William deVry) Murder Mystery on All My Children is one of the most well-crafted AMC storylines in recent memory. From the moment Cambias hit the Pine Valley scene he engaged in despicable acts. When we caught up with deVry at the SOD Awards in April 2003, we asked him to share what was in store for his character.
“I think I am going to make a lot of people mad,” he said. “And hopefully, they won’t kill me!”
Well, they did. The character of Michael Cambias was found dead and frozen and hanging from a hook in an abandon meat locker. Right now, almost everyone in Pine Valley is a suspect. Many people have motives -- Kendall, Bianca, Erica, Adam, Palmer, Aidan, Jack, Reggie, Lena – it could be just about anyone. Which is why the story is of such interest to us. It points the finger quite effectively at any one of a number of suspects. With one arrest recently made in the case, the plot thickens as we wait to see if Kendall (Alicia Minshew), although arrested for the crime, is truly the murderer.
We can’t help but revisit deVry’s comments from last April. After bellowing with laughter he continued “Somebody might get so mad – Adam Chandler (David Canary) could get so mad – I don’t know what’s going to happen!”
Could deVry’s comment be a valuable clue to Cambias’ murderer? We will just have to stay tuned and see! For deVry’s SOD Awards red carpet interview, click here!
Tying for seventh place in Soapdom’s Most Memorable Moments for 2003 is Y&R with Brittany’s (Lauren Woodland) striptease. We all know that Brittany can be a bit of a hell raiser. She’s tried to break up happy couples when she got in between Mac and Billy, and she’s caused Raul any of a number of reasons for concern. But when she took to that microphone and belted out her tune while prancing and dancing around in pristine strip tease fashion, she just about blew us away. Not only did she look sexy and beautiful, we were treated to a surprise because Lauren Woodland proved to be an extremely talented singer!
In one interview after the singing strip tease scenes aired, Woodland commented that fans kept asking who did the singing for her. It’s me, she assured everyone. Very impressive. Kudos to Y&R producers for recognizing Woodland’s virtuosity and writing it into the storyline!
6. NBC’s Fan Fest at Hollywood and Highland Ties with ABC and CBS Reality Soaps
NBC Vice President for daytime programming, Sheraton Kalouria, was recruited away from ABC Daytime, where he worked in conjunction with then ABC Daytime head, Angela Shapiro, to create one of the most attended soap fan events of all time, Super Soap Weekend. Upon his arrival at NBC Daytime, he soon began the trend of the NBC Daytime Fan Fest. This year’s Fan Fest was memorable for two reasons. 1) It was held in conjunction with the Telemuendo network – also owned by NBC, and 2) Free admission.
Hosted at Hollywood and Highland, the new Hollywood mall and theater complex (it’s where the Kodak Theatre is located), fans could enter the main outdoor mall area, greet and meet with their favorite stars, participate in autograph sessions and question and answer stage shows without paying one cent. Of course, fans who traveled from around the country to attend incurred transportation and accommodations costs, but kudos to NBC for holding Fan Fest in a venue that didn’t force fans to pay just to enter.
NBC’s Fan Fest ties with CBS and ABC for Sixth place in Soapdom’s Most Memorable Moments of 2003. CBS held its College Campus Talent Search for GL and had finalists audition for the CBS Early Show audience with scene partners from Guiding Light. Audience members could then sign on to cbs.com to vote for their favorites. The acting hopefuls were selected and will appear on Guiding Light in the summer of 2004. ABC held its Sexiest Man Contest and invited guys from all over the country to submit tapes, or audition in various cities around the country, tying in a storyline on All My Children to the real-life auditioning. It was daytime’s first foray into reality TV, and again, a la American Idol, audience members voted in their favorite Sexiest Man via abc.com and wireless messaging.
5. The Drastic Cuts
2003 proved to be a year of so many firings all across the boards on soaps. Soap opera fantasy met real world budget constraints. The year 2003 proved disastrous as veteran actor after veteran actor felt the brunt of the budget cut ax. When Days of our Lives was given the green light for a five year pick up, one of the contingencies was to pear down its substantial cast of characters. With James Reilly back as head writer, he crafted a storyline that would prove too much for many fans to handle as beloved character after beloved character met their fate at the hand of a Salem serial killer.
On the Young and the Restless, two-time Daytime Emmy award winner Heather Tom was allowed to walk away after 13 years with the show, rather than give her a contract and a storyline worthy of her talent and experience.
At General Hospital, many newer characters like Cameron (Lane Davies) were let go, along with matriarch Anna Lee (Lila) being put on recurring status after 25 years on contract. Veteran characters like Scotty Baldwin (Kin Shriner) and Edward Quartermaine (John Ingle) will soon be off the canvas. Coincidentially, the character of Zander will also soon be history as his portrayer, Chad Brannon, is leaving of his own accord.
Almost every show is handing out pink slips. As Ken Corday, EP of Days of our Lives, noted a few months ago, eliminating some characters was one way to keep the show workable, budget wise. He admitted to doing what he had to do to keep the show alive.
4. The Actor Switches
With the networks adjusting their budgets, cutting cast and characters, many actors were left suddenly available! In a very soaplike turn of events, actors let go from one network were almost immediately picked up by another. Some of the most memorable actor switches include the following:
On the heels of Heather Tom’s leaving Y&R, One Life to Live immediately offered her the role of Kelly.
With Matt Ashford being killed off Days of our Lives as one of the serial stalker’s first victims, he too landed a new role in Llanview.
When Bobbie Eakes returned to the Bold and the Beautiful as Macy earlier this year, soapdom was abuzz at the story potential for her character. Instead, she was written into oblivion after a marriage and extremely brief singing career that ended in her being severely injured when a chandelier crashed down upon her during a performance. With the fate of her character unsure, Eakes auditioned for All My Children in New York and was hired as a new love interest for Michael E. Knight’s Tad.
OLTL’s Roger Howarth was wooed away by As the World Turns to take the character of Paul in a new direction, as was Real Andrews who played Taggert on GH, and is now Walker on ATWT.
When Passions placed Bruce Michael Hall on recurring status in the role of Reese, he was picked up by One Life to Live as Joey.
Which leads us to the tie for fourth place in Soapdom’s most memorable moments in 2003. When Passions placed Bruce Michael Hall (Reese) on recurring status and he left for Llanview, Passions recruited his identical twin brother Seth Hall in the recurring role of Reese. The soap cliché is when an actor leaves a show only to return years, maybe even months, later as their own evil twin. The Hall Twins casting situation is the first time in soap history where the real-life twin came on board to assume the role of the same character when his twin brother was recruited by another soap. Interesting that now, Bruce Michael Hall’s character of Joey has just been written off OLTL. When asked if he’d be returning to Passions, Bruce denied any rumors to that effect. He would not disrupt something his brother was good at and loved doing.
3. Cancellation of Port Charles and then, Port Charles and Days of our Lives to air on Soapnet
When ABC first launched the General Hospital spin off Port Charles, it was a basic soap about young doctors at General Hospital. Veteran GH characters Lucy (Lynn Herring), Scotty (Kin Shriner) and Kevin (Jon Lindstrom) headlined the half-hour sudser, making the transition to the new soap an easy one for fans.
However, network affiliates did not all jump on board to air the show. There was nothing unusual about it. It was just another soap. In an effort to stand out, Port Charles producers introduced the new, faster paced, 13-week story arc format. Shortly thereafter, otherworldly characters began to usurp the town. Hey. If audiences bought into vampires in high school and college on Fox’s prime time Buffy the Vampire Slayer, producers banked on daytime fans buying into vamps in Port Charles.
The strategy worked. Sort of. Port Charles was nominated for its first ever daytime Emmy in 2003 for Outstanding Daytime Drama. The show was even favored to win. But they were not to take home the Emmy. After fighting the affiliates since the show’s inception to air the program and still getting only a lukewarm response, the network pulled the plug on June 27th. After a 6-year run, the final episode aired October 3rd.
Then, on December 3rd, SOAPnet announced that it would begin airing Port Charles on Monday, December 29! And in a major coup, SOAPnet also secured through Sony’s SoapCity, the rights to air same day episodes of Days of our Lives!
2. ABC Daytime’s Fan February Episodes
At Super Soap Weekend at Disney/MGM Theme Park in the fall of 2002, ABC Daytime asked fans to submit their picks for scenes they would love to see on their favorite ABC soap. ABC then promised to review all the entries, and tape a stand-alone show that would include the scenes that the fans submitted for each of the three hour-long ABC soaps. In February 2003, ABC aired the fan submitted scenes in three very special episodes. What resulted was a true delight. Click here for more on the Fan February episodes 2003.
And the number one most memorable thing about 2003 for us at Soapdom.com is –
1. Days of our Lives Salem Stalker Storyline and Hollywood Premiere
Amid all the controversy – fans horrified that so many of their favorite characters are being killed off – the Days of our Lives Serial Killer Storyline and Hollywood Premiere is for us at Soapdom the most memorable moment in soaps in 2003. This daring story arc, where so many of Salem’s most prominent citizens are meeting their fate at the hand of the serial killer, is at once shocking, disheartening, utterly intriguing and must see daytime TV.
If that weren’t enough, NBC took a step further when they coordinated the very first ever soap opera Hollywood premiere, combining two episodes and screening them at the Arclight Cinerama Dome movie theater in Hollywood, red carpet, paparazzi, fans and all.
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