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Home Features Top of the Week Killing off Popular Characters, Pro or Con?

Killing off Popular Characters, Pro or Con?

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Why beloved characters should die, The lure of the Spanish & more

Dear Suds Buds:

"TV Guide" for the week of July 7-13, 2001 has "Passions" on the cover!  Not only on ONE cover, but on TWO!  There are two collector's covers available, and both feature "Passions" stars Juliet Mills (Tabitha), McKenzie Westmore (Sheridan) and Galen Gering (Luis). In the issue we get yet another chapter from Tabitha's tome, "Hidden Passions," with a cliffhanger ending so that we have to stay tuned to "TV Guide" next week, July 14, 2001, for the rest of the lost chapter info.  As you know, "Hidden Passions" was written by Harmony's own Tabitha Lenox, a 300-year old witch.  However, the lost chapter is written by her living doll, Timmy!  One word of warning.  Buy the issues and read the lost chapter at your own risk! Lot's of summer plot scoops are revealed!  :o)

Also in this week's "TV Guide," soap critic, Michael Logan, shares some interesting insight into one of the reasons why, in his opinion, soap ratings might be on the decline, and points fingers at ABC for being the worst offender.  Soaps are not killing off enough popular characters.  Logan remembers that in the old days of soaps, popular characters were always killed off.  It was one of the things that had viewers gripped to their seats, just to see who was going to be killed off next.  Logan applauds prime time for its recent killing off of popular characters (Alex on "Roswell," Buffy on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," etc.) saying that "most of these deaths not only triggered truly grand drama, but also served as a reminder of the reality and fragility of life.  Soaps were known for all of this in the olden, golden days of the genre," Logan continues.  "When the mother of all suds scribes, Irna Phillips, was writing 'Guiding Light' and 'As the World Turns,' hugely popular characters would die at the drop of a hat (often by car crash), and this ever-present possibility of loss kept viewers magnetized by their TV sets." 

Logan goes on to say that in the past sorrow was sacred on soaps. As were buckets of tears "especially over some heroine hospitalized with a malignant disease."  He states that those kind of stories were a "divine pleasure of the soap-watching experience."  

Logan could be on to something.  I remember way back when my mom would say how soap actors went to work in fear of their jobs most of the time. They never knew when they were going to be killed off. They weren't even told until the last possible minute, so that their performance would not be affected by the imminent loss of work.

After citing a few examples of soaps that recently did kill off characters, {like B&B who last year dispatched with two major females, and how ATWT almost killed off Barbara (Colleen Zenk Pinter) but then got cold feet}, Logan concludes by saying that today's soaps resemble bloated barges, bogged down by too many contract players who no longer excite the writers or the audience. "ABC is especially guilty of retaining characters long past their prime," says Logan. "Remember how AMC's Janet, the once-mesmerizing psycho played by Robin Mattson, eventually just withered on the vine?  Remember when the Quartermaines on GH were witty and exhilarating, not the pointless bores they are now?"   Logan feels that even when a character is killed off on today's soaps, the fans don't cry, they don't really even care, because they figure the character will be back once the actor tests the waters in other genre's and returns to soaps when they can't succeed in anything else.

I have just rehashed Logan's entire column for one reason.  A very popular character WAS just killed off an ABC soap -- Gillian on "All My Children." But has the audience reaction been one of being magnetized to the TV set?  Far from it as fans of the super couple, Ryan and Gillian, are now boycotting the show refusing to tune in, even though the actress, Esta Terblanche, has extended her contract and is still airing.  Since Gillian is now dead, and another character has her heart, fans feel there is no hope for their favorite couple to reunite. 

They also knew of the impending death by bullet wound to the head then being taken off life-support so that her heart could go to another character -- not anywhere near as popular -- and that character could live -- months before the story unfolded on the show.  Some plot twist.  Fans were emailing Turtle Run asking us to confirm the dreaded story months ago. As it is not our policy to confirm or deny that type of storyline hearsay, we declined comment. 

How is this information leaking out?  A plot twist is meant to surprise, shock, rivet viewers to the screen. How can that happen when rumors begin flying many moons before the story even begins to develop or unfold?  Armed with snippets of future story details, fans manifest preconceived notions, hating the story even before they see it. 

IMHO, the work on AMC in regard to the killing off of this popular character has been exemplary.  The heavenly scenes have been beautifully surreal, and the acting of the loved ones left behind has been amazing.  That being said, I agree with Michael Logan.  Killing off a popular character does make room for compelling material for those left behind.  It opens the doors for countless new possibilities.  It has the potential to excite and incite the audience.  In more ways than one.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the pros and cons of killing off popular characters. Please post them in the "Criticize the Critic" folder on the TRO Message Boards.  If you had your way, which popular characters would you kill off and why? How would or could their deaths impact the storytelling on the show? 

I also want to know how you feel about major storyline scoops being leaked months before they air.   Does knowing what's really going to happen make you more apt to tune in, or does it make you tune out?  Share your thoughts in the "Criticize the Critic" folder.

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Soaps Go Latino

Some time ago, "All My Children's" Mateo (Mark Consuelos) opened Sounds of Salsa, a Latin dance club.  Last January, "Port Charles" inaugurated its 12-week story formula, attempting to cash in on the very popular telenovela style of Spanish language soap operas.  This month, both CBS and NBC step into the Spanish-language market.  On "Bold & the Beautiful," Paulo Benedeti and Sandra Vidal star as regular characters.  Christina Saralegui and Emiliano Diez begin airing on NBC's "Passions" this week.  Beginning today (July 9, 2001), "Passions" and "Days of our Lives" will broadcast with a Spanish closed-captioned translation. The closed-captioning feature will continue indefinitely on both shows.  Viewers will see a message appear on-screen twice during each show, indicating that closed-captioning is available "en Espanol."  The option to view both NBC daytime dramas with close-captioning in Spanish will allow viewers with television sets manufactured in the last 10 years to see a translated scrolled text of the actor's English dialogue appear in Spanish at the bottom of their screens.  In order to use "close captioning," you must look for the letters "CC" on your remote controls, or find the TV's "set up menu" and press the audio function. Once accessed, you can choose text in either English or Spanish.

Q&A with Passions' Christina Saralegui -- Part 1

Originally scheduled for a three-episode appearance, Christina Saralegui signed on for nine episodes of "Passions" as part of the strategy in the soap industry to woo Latino viewers in hopes of boosting the audience for the genre.  Saralegui, who plays Tia Christina Lopez, the sister-in-law of Pilar Lopez-Fitzgerald, arrives in Harmony to attend the action-packed double wedding of her niece, Theresa.   As Saralegui taped her last episode, NBC arranged for a press teleconference with their guest star. Turtle-Run was invited to participate, along with members of the press from all around the country including "TV Guide," "Soap Opera Update," the "San Diego Tribune" and other major print outlets like the "Dallas Morning News" "Gannet News Services" and others.  We enjoyed talking with and listening to Saralegui, who is a mega powerhouse in the Spanish market. For those of you who are familiar with the hugely successful "Christina" talk show, sit back and get to know Saralequi a little better. For those of you who don't know her yet, we think you'll enjoy getting to know her, too!

Q: What did you know about "Passions" before they asked you to join (the show)?

CS:  "When they asked me to do three episodes originally, I cleared my schedule, I was excited.  I said sure, because my brother and his roommate are part of the cult, they actually tape the episodes.  I told them to please help me out.  Then I had to clear two weeks on my schedule. I do two-hundred and twenty shows a year.  So what I did was I started watching ('Passions') as I was doing my treadmill.  I (thought) it was very funny because I love the characters."

Q: "Passions" has some of the stranger plot twists on the (soaps).  Being trapped in a closet is the best of the examples.  With all these strange twists, what did you think of the show?

CS:  Well, I don't think of it as strange.  I think of it as very creative and refreshing and it's focusing on never knowing what to expect.  And believe me, I've been here for two weeks and that whole wedding -- I would never (have) guessed the stuff that goes on there because it's very original.  I never get bored because it's very original, but I like that. Nothing is predictable in Harmony.

Q: (What are) your views on the Spanish soap operas as related to American/ English speaking soap operas?  And the cross over now with Spanish closed-captioning?

CS:  It's very interesting phenomenon because our shows last from three to sixth months. It's very (different). American soaps last for like 30 years. Our soaps are seen at night, at primetime and they are the highest rated shows on the network.  Also, they are the highest rated shows in Latin America.  Our soaps here (in America) are mostly (on) in the daytime.  Also our soaps are really global.  In other words, they get translated and go all over the world and our stars (become) like goddesses in places like Japan... and our hunks get the same career in an Asian country with all these Asian girls screaming and carrying on all over the country because of the soaps.  That's another difference I think.

Q: Do you think the Latin market will welcome the daytime soaps with Spanish captioning?

CS:  I think it's the beginning of a process.  It's an experiment.  Last year, I think it was ABC News that started with (the Spanish closed-captioning). This year it's two soaps.  I think some people are going to do it with a translation like with subtitles.  I think everybody's trying to work with it and the winners will be the ones who won't give up and will keep at it.  I think it's the wave of the future.  The storylines are very interesting.  This is not -- I don't see programming going to be Latino teens.  I think the Latino storylines are just going to get in a little bit with the other storylines, you know what I mean? Just like if you go to any urban countries.  I mean my daughter is a little Cuban girl from Miami marrying an Italian American boy from New Jersey, so it's all -- we're in this together.  That's the wave of the future.  Just reflecting the reality the way America has really become.

Q: Why do you think it is the soap opera that is the form to create Latinization on the English language networks, and why do you think its taken so long to get more Latin actors and producers on network television?

CS:  Basically the demographics.  I think they have opened up a lot of eyes.  We are talking about people who use toothpaste, go to the bathroom, buy toilet paper, use financial services...  We are a whole bunch of people here and I think that the reason that the soap people in general got smart really quick is that they saw the numbers in Telemundo, the Spanish soaps. I remember when I was young many moons ago, we had "Dallas" and "Dynasty" and the nighttime soap-like things that were not made series, and did very well. I think that might come back.  That's the reason why soaps started with this. This is that is what's getting the big numbers with Spanish language TV.

Q: Why do you think it's been harder with the regular prime time schedule at the big networks?

CS:  I don't think a lot of people get it.  Whenever I go, and I've been on the air twelve years in August with my talk show, and say let's do a show in English and would really like to do a show in English, and they just don't get it.  It's not that they don't get what I do.  They understand that, it's that they just don't get the market.  They don't understand that you drive down to Oxnard, California where the fruits and veggies are grown, with how that's grown . . . the last time I was there was in '87 and they even got a university--it's huge. They just don't get it.  The television executives don't get it.  The ones that I'm working with now, they get it. And I'm curious now how that race is going to turn out.

Q: The ratings in the American soap operas have been declining in recent years because of fewer women staying home to watch them.  Do you think this is a move by NBC to appeal to Spanish-speaking women who might be staying home and bring them into the audience?

CS:  Heck, yes. I think that one of the reasons I came here is that it is fantastic cross-promotion for my show because they are getting incredible ratings on "Passions" for young demographics.  That's a lot of networking for a lot of soaps.  And they watch soaps like this because it has teenagers in it and the storylines are outrageous.  They got a witch, a talking doll.  It's very cool and you've got a lot of young people watching.  I came because in the summer we do special teenage-oriented shows. I do a lot of AIDS work and I'm here in the summer and thought it would be fantastic cross-promotion for both sites.

Q: Are there more Spanish speaking women staying home during the day than Anglo women do you think?

CS:  I couldn't tell you that.  I don't know enough about that to tell you.  What I can tell you is that most of the young Latino women are going to college, are getting educated and are working and marrying later, so the trick--I'm talking about Latino women who live in the United States, not from our countries aboard--that direction is moving towards just modern couples. Like feminism has hit the Latino population the same as American girls.

Q:  NBC has said that they are going to be doing closed captioning on Days of our Lives and Passions both in Spanish during the summer.  Would you like to see them expand that and just make it permanent?

CS:  I think that it is.  But you know what, basically I don't think that that is going to attract people to the soaps.  I think what is going to attract people to the soaps is that you have more Latino, Spanish/American people as part of the storylines on the soaps.  For example, Enrique Iglesias, the Menudo boys, all the girls on the soaps. People that they know and put people like myself into the storylines--that's going to attract a lot more Latino viewers than any captioning.  Because a minority is not a language minority.  A lot of us are English dominant.  Most of us are bilingual.  I think it's a mistake to think that the people that are new arrivals, for example, don't speak English.  A lot of people from Mexico come and go and come and go and they have family here and I've been signing a lot of pictures and autographs even here on the lot for the service personnel and they all speak English.  So, only about five percent of the population speak only Spanish.

Q: Could you tell us something about your character (on Passions), or as much as you know up until this point?

CS:  She's inseparable just like I am.  She is basically me, but I'm just not playing Christina Saralegui, I'm playing the part of the family that's Christina Lopez, but she does do a talk show and when she leaves here it's to get home to that because she has to make a living.  She's a working woman and she's gotta go home and work.  She's opinionated and she's middle-aged, very loving.  She has a cute husband -- who ironically works for the competing rival language Spanish network and his name is Emiliano Diez.  He plays my husband.  I've been seeing him in a tux since I got here and yesterday I saw him in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and the guy has a hot body and I told him, "Emiliano, I have never seen this side of you on TV," so we've become good friends and I've had a lot of fun here.

Q: Is there much acting in your background?

CS: I've done this like three times.

Q: How would you compare the differences in the styles of American soaps vs. Latino soaps?

CS:  The people on the Spanish ones are very sexily dressed.  And here the girls could be wearing pajamas, but they're very demur.  In the Spanish soaps, they speak very loud and are very dramatic. And here they sort of whisper, so that's a big difference.  The other day I was like, 'are you sure they can hear?'  And they said 'yes, just whisper.' That's a big difference.

Q: You said you started watching the show and were instantly drawn into it.  Which storyline did you really get into and which actors were you looking forward to meeting?

CS:  Well my favorite obviously is the witch and Timmy.  I just love Juliet Mills (Tabitha).  She married a younger man many years ago and she's been married 26 years. She's a role model, because I married someone 11 years younger than me and as I saw her marriage progressed, I grew hopeful that mine would too, and now I've been married for 18 years.  So, I've been an admirer of hers for many, many years.  And Timmy, I love Timmy. Josh (Ryan Evans)!  He's like an angel.  He's got a cute little face and very funny, because he wanted to take a picture with me and he speaks a little Spanish.  He was talking to my publicist, George, and he has a little accent mixed in with his English.  So cute, so I (took) a picture with him.  I have it right here, I love him.  I'm sorry I didn't have more scenes with him.

Stay tuned to next week's Top of the Week for part 2 of the Q&A with Christina Saralegui, and tune into "Passions" this week to see what happens when Theresa's Tia Christina barges in on her and Ethan in a compromising situation. 

On "Sex in the City..."

Airing this week is episode #55 titled, "Time and Punishment," where everyone wonders:  Can you ever really forgive, if you can't forget?  It seems that while attempting to redefine their relationship, Carrie and Aidan realize they might have to deal with the past first.  Meanwhile, Samantha forgives her lover's ways, but teaches him a lesson that he will never forget.  In the meantime, Charlotte faces a tough decision between work and family, while Miranda gets sidelined by a neck injury and learns the value of taking a break.

Premiering on Sunday, July 15, 2001 is episode #56 titled, "My Motherboard, My Self," where we get to find out what is so scary about support.  When Carrie's computer crashes, she learns that her independent ways may not be working so well.  In the meantime, Samantha loses a most valued possession.  While elsewhere, Charlotte revels in her newfound ability to take care of every little detail.  Later, Miranda suffers a personal crisis.  Her experience then leads everyone else to see things in a new light.

Premiering On Soap Center Friday, July 6, 2001

Spotlight: Port Charles' Brian Presley  AsBrian Presley (Jack) is embarking on a daring new storyline, the actor returns to his small hometown of Jenks, OK for a visit to his old high school.  Then, you'll get to see him hard at work on the set of "Port Charles" as he shares his thoughts on the soap's latest book, "Tainted Love."

Feature Report: Bold & the Beautiful's Latin Beat  Go on the set of B&B with stars Darlene Conley (Sally) and Paulo Benedeti (Tony) as the show introduces new characters of Latin heritage and becomes the first American soap to be simulcast in Spanish.  Plus, you'll get the real scoop on B&B's new Latin direction directly from EP/Headwriter Bradley Bell.

Behind the Scenes: Laura & Scotty Reminisce    Before there was Luke and Laura, there was Scotty and Laura.  On General Hospital, history is about to come full circle as Scotty and Laura begin to rekindle feelings shared between them over two decades ago.  Go behind the scenes as stars Genie Francis and Kin Shriner recreate a memorable part of soap opera history.

Spotlight: Days of our Lives Valerie Wildman Days fans know that Wildman's character, Fay, is keeping one big secret from former lover Abe.  And they know what the secret is.  That Abe is Brandon's father.   But, with the terrifying arrival of her ex-husband, Fay becomes involved in a desperate battle common to many women.  Find out all about it this week.

Spotlight: Kelley Menighan-Hensley of As the World Turns  For nine years, Hensley has played the somewhat neurotic, unlucky in love, Emily Stewart, the town pariah who can never catch a break.  Despite her character's constant problems, Menighan-Hensley tells us why she is so enthusiastic about her career and her soap role.  Not only that, and she, and husband co-star, John Hensley (Holden), recall their very first date!


All My Children: Amelia Heinle has been cast in the contract role of Mia.  Her first airdate is Thursday, July 19, 2001.  BBMak appears as themselves the week of July 13, 2001.  Louise Sorel returns to daytime in the recurring role of Judge Campobello. Her first airdate is Wednesday, July 25, 2001. 

Days of our Lives:  Rolanda Watts returns as attorney Cameron Reese on Thursday and Friday, July 12, 13, 2001.  On the same days, Pasean Wilson portrays DA Shayna Larson.  Jad Mager plays public defender Scott Burford on Thursday, July 12, 2001.

General Hospital: Ingo Rademacher begins airing the week of July 30-August 3, 2001.

One Life to Live:  Melissa Archer joins the cast in the contract role of Natalie.  Her first airdate is Monday, July 16, 2001.

Passions  Cristina Saralegui has been cast in the recurring role of Tia Cristina, and Emiliano Diez has been cast in the recurring role of Tio Francisco Lopez. Their first scheduled airdate is Wednesday, July 11, 2001.

Port Charles: Secrecy surrounds the return of Kimberlin Brown who reprises her role as Dr. Rachel Locke on a recurring basis beginning Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Seeing Stars

AMC:Anthony Addabbo (Dimitri) appears with Kathleen Chalfant, BillyCrudup and Alice Ripley and other stars from Guiding Light (see below) in Supertalk, a short film by Guiding Light stage manager Adam Reist and Andy Lawler.  The film will premiere on Saturday, August 11 at the First Guerrilla Film & Video Festival at the Tribeca Film Center.  For information on the festival, call 718-833-1768; for further information on Supertalk, visit the website at www.supertalkthemovie.com

As the World Turns:Eileen Fulton will be performing her cabaret act at Odette's on South River Road in New Hope, PA on Friday, July 20 at 8pm, Saturday, July 21 at 8pm, and Sunday, July 22 at 7:30pm.  For reservations, call 215/862-3000. Chad Tucker joins Phylicia Rashad in the Roundabout Theatre production of the musical, BLUE.  Performances are at New York City's Gramercy Theatre, 127 East 23rd Street.  For ticket information, call the theater at (212) 777-4900 or Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100.

Days of Our Lives: Julianne Morris presides over the first annual Stars and Stripes Ball at the Gettysburg Hotel in Gettysburg,  PA on July 14, 2001 from 7-midnight.  Tickets are $50 each and proceeds benefit the Adams County Housing Authority/Turning Poing Interfaith Mission's traditional housing programs for the homeless.  Price includes dinner and dancing.  Call 717 334-1518. Peter Reckell and MattCedeno are appearing at Canada's Wonderland Amusement Park on Sunday,July 15, 2001 as part of Joyce Becker's Soap Opera Festivals.  Canada's Wonderland is located at 9580 Jane Street in Maple, Ontario (just outside of Toronto.)  Show times are 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM and admission is free with the purchase of amusement park tickets.  For more information, please call 905/832-7000. On July 21, 2001, Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe) and Kyle Lowder (Brady) host lunch at the Sheraton at Bush River Road in Columbia, South Carolina.  Tickets are $40.00.  For info email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  The same day, Nadia and Kyle also appear at Dutch Square Center in Columbia, South Carolina.  For info call 803 407-1093.

General Hospital: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, July 27, 28, & 29, 2001, it's GH/PC Fan Weekend!!  On Saturday, July 28, 2001 it's the Kurth & Taylor Concert at Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel, Studio City, CA Tickets are $50 - no refunds - limited seating. Concert begins at 8 PM. To order tickets, and for further information call Elana Boneventura at 661-395-1193 or visit members.aol.com/usoapboutique

Guiding Light: George Alvarez, along with 3,000 other bicyclists, is participating in the Tanqueray Northeast AIDS Ride from Bear Mountain, NY to Boston, MA. The four-day, 325-mile ride, which raises funds for AIDS research, takes place July 19-22.  For more information or to make an on-line donation, go to www.aidsride.org.  (For a donation, you will need to refer to George's rider number, 4578.) Justin Deas, Beth Ehlers, Kurt McKinney, and Anthony Addabbo appear with Kathleen Chalfant, BillyCrudup and Alice Ripley in Supertalk, a short film by Guiding Light stage manager Adam Reist and Andy Lawler.  The film will premiere on Saturday, August 11 at the First Guerrilla Film & Video Festival at the Tribeca Film Center.  For information on the festival, call 718-833-1768; for further information on Supertalk, visit the website at www.supertalkthemovie.com

Passions: The Second Annual Passions Fan Club event will be held on Saturday, July 14, 2001 from 9 AM to 12 Noon at Universal Studios, Hollywood. Confirmed cast members include Andrea Evans (Rebecca), JoshRyan Evans (Timmy), Galen Gering (Luis), Bruce Michael Hall (Reese), Jade Harlow (Jessica), James Hyde (Sam), Brook Kerr (Whitney), Lindsay Korman (Theresa), Eva Tamargo Lemus (Pilar), Ben Masters (Julian), Jesse Metcalfe (Miguel), Juliet Mills (Tabitha), Tracey Ross (Eve), Travis Schuldt (Ethan), Dana Sparks (Grace), Molly Stanton (Charity), Donn Swaby (Chad), Kim JohnstonUlrich (Ivy), Rodney Van Johnson (TC), McKenzie Westmore (Sheridan), Deanna Wright (Kay), Natalie Zea (Gwen) and newcomers, Justin Carroll (David), Chrystee Pharris (Simone) and Ryan McPartland (Hank). Your paid ticket gets you full admission to Universal Studios Hollywood Themepark for the Day!  For ticket info and instructions on how to purchase tickets, call:  818 655-5135.

Port Charles: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, July 27, 28, & 29, 2001, it's GH/PC Fan Weekend!!  See General Hospital Seeing Stars above for details on this year's events!

Bubbles Busted?  Snail Mail TPTB! 

All My Children: Audience Information, ABC TV, 77 W. 66th St, NY, NY 10023
As the World Turns: CBS TV, 51 W. 52nd St, NY, NY 10019
Bold & the Beautiful: CBS TV, 7800 Beverly Blvd, LA, CA 90036
Days of Our Lives: NBC TV, 3000 W. Alameda Ave, Burbank, CA 91523
General Hospital: ABC TV, 4151 Prospect Ave, Hollywood, CA  90027
Guiding Light: CBS TV, 51 W 52nd St, NY, NY 10019
One Life to Live: ABC TV, Audience Information, 77 W. 66th St, NY, NY 10023
Passions: CBS Radford Studios, 4024 Radford Ave, Studio City, CA 91604
Port Charles: ABC TV, 4151 Prospect Ave, Hollywood, CA  90027
Young & the Restless: CBS TV, 7800 Beverly Blvd, LA, CA 90036

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