Taking Soaps Back to their Roots and Soapdom’s Linda Marshall-Smith Back Home!
Roger Newcomb, the force behind Rockland County, a brand new internet soap opera starring Anne Sayre (ex Mitzie, ATWT), Gavin Houstin (Remy, GL) and Kurt McKinney (Matt, GL) has been watching soaps for as long as he can remember.
Rockland County creator Roger Newcomb
with star, Anne Sayre.
“My earliest memories are of Search for Tomorrow and As The World Turns around age five,” Newcomb shares with Soapdom. “Another World is my all-time favorite soap and seeing it canceled was a sad day. Today, I’m down to just watching As The World Turns. Despite some day-to-day inconsistencies that drive me crazy, I still feel like it includes the most traditional elements that I look for in a soap.”
Quite the soap aficionado, Newcomb decided to take the plunge and create his own radio-type soap operas to air over the internet. “Back in 2003, I was becoming more and more disgruntled with the current state of daytime television. Around the same time, I started listening to some old-time radio soaps (like The Guiding Light) which I really liked and I got the idea to do a new one. I’ve always written and was looking for a creative outlet and this was my chance.”
Newcomb’s first attempt was called Scripts & Scruples. It’s set in Manhattan and follows the lives of five families as they work and love and deal with a lot of real-life relationships. It airs weekdays. His new venture, Rockland County, is a spin-off and is set in the suburbs of New York. It focuses on the Ramos, Morgan and Givens families and all the secrets they share. It’s a weekly show.
Born and raised in Greenbrier, Tennessee, which is about twenty minutes north of Nashville, Newcomb always wanted to live in New York.
”A few years after college I moved to California and then in 2002 I finally moved to Manhattan,” Newcomb shared. His experience in the Big Apple gave him much fodder for story material for Scripts & Scruples. But soon the hectic pace of NYC gave way to Newcomb’s moving to the “burbs” and he found his new home in a quaint bedroom community about 25 miles north of the George Washington Bridge in none other than Rockland County, which is a real-life area of upstate New York.
Newcomb is the primary writer and producer for both shows. Gregori J. Martin and Rich Benson have also contributed some wonderful scripts. The casting is done by Gregori J. Martin and Newcomb.
“When Scripts & Scruples first started in 2003, the original characters were played by friends of mine,” said Newcomb. “It was a fun, bonding, creative activity for us soap lovers. As the show progressed, we started casting New York-based actors in roles. With Rockland County, we’ve focused mostly on casting actors with soap experience such as Anne Sayre, Nick Sullivan and Gavin Houston.”
Soapdom wants to know, how difficult it was to interest these working actors?
“Actors love to act and the idea of getting a voice over credit as well as working on an interesting creative project appeals to a lot of them,” shared Newcomb. “Our production process makes the recording of the lines easy and convenient for the actors.”
Which brings up the next question. How does the production process work? Newcomb’s response gives new meaning to the phrase “phoning in a performance!”
“Currently the actors ‘phone in’ their lines to the Radio Loger Productions voice mail line,” said Newcomb. “They record them individually 24/7 so it’s at their leisure. Those lines are spliced together with background music and sound effects in various editing programs like Sound Forge and Adobe Audition. Since the actors are recording solo, no one knows how the final product will sound until it airs.”
Sounds exciting, even for the actors. But why an internet radio soap and what’s Radio Loger?
“Old-time radio was a major influence as I love the OTR soaps. I’ve also been influenced by some of the great soaps of the past, especially from the 70’s and 80’s,” said Newcomb. “My partner and I launched our own internet radio station a few years ago – Radio Loger -- and as I got more into it, I decided that adding original programming would be a good idea. Many of my friends around the country listen to internet radio at the office.”
Newcomb is encouraged by the public reception of both internet radio soaps.
“I’m very happy with how the shows have been received,” he said. “Scripts & Scruples has received more hits with each passing month so the fan base is growing. Rockland County’s debut also generated a lot of buzz so I think the possibilities are endless.”
But for the most part, Newcomb is enjoying having this creative outlet and working with some of his closest friends, not to mention some of soaps most amazing actors. “They all inspire me,” he said. “I would like these shows to be appreciated for their stories and uniqueness. Would I love the shows to be noticed by the networks. Not in the sense that I would want them on TV, but in the sense of showing what can happen when a writer is given creative license. For the actors, it’s more experience and hopefully a positive one that helps add another interesting project to their resumes. I’m hoping to add some current soap actors to the mix as well.”
Why should Soapdom’s readers, as soap fans want to tune in to Rockland County and/or Scripts & Scruples?
“These shows are similar to TV soaps in that they are continuing stories that focus on families and romance,” said Newcomb. “I think they are both unique in that we don’t have any networks or sponsors to conform to. We have total creative freedom and are able plan long-term storylines and stick to them. We also have the freedom to tell more diverse stories. We have a front burner gay romance, a man recently dumped his girlfriend for another man, and race and religion can be addressed without fear of backlash. We also like to focus both shows on realistic human relationships. Love is grand, but everything in life doesn’t only focus on two people meeting and falling in love. Relationships between siblings, friends and co-workers can be just as interesting and complicated.”
Newcomb, who has been writing his own soaps for twenty years, debuted Scripts & Scruples in August 2003. Rockland County premiered March 23, 2005, and he invites us all to check out the shows. “I’d love to hear some feedback,” he admitted. “If you like them, why? Who are you favorites? If they don’t appeal to you, I’d love to hear that, too.”
Along with casting soap alums Anne Sayre, Gavin Houston, and Kurt McKinney who is scheduled to air in an upcoming episode (April 27, 2005), Newcomb also cast TV Guide Online’s very own Delania Dixon as a main character. Not only that, as yours truly is actually from Rockland County (yup, I kid you not); Newcomb has written a role just for me! It’s recurring, but I hear my first scripts are in the works.
Tune in to Rockland County by clicking the text link on the left side of any Soapdom page. I’ll be sure to let you know when my character debuts!
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