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Home News Newsflash All My Children ~ A Personal Tribute

All My Children ~ A Personal Tribute

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All My Children

"The Great and the Least,
The Rich and the Poor,
The Weak and the Strong,
In Sickness and in Health,
In Joy and Sorrow,
In Tragedy and Triumph,
              Agnes Nixon, 1970

On Friday, September 23, 2011, the daytime airwaves will cease to exist as we’ve known them for the past 41 years.  All My Children, the brainchild of Agnes Nixon, will no longer air on broadcast.  The wonderful news is that the show will find a new home on the Internet and cable thanks to the brilliance of Prospect Park.  It’s the end of an era, but the beginning of Internet serialized drama.  It’s true

what they say.  When one door closes, another opens, and this one has global reach.

I’ve been covering soap operas on and off since about 1995.  It started as a research endeavor for a writing project I’d conceived.  I had an idea about creating a show that not only shared with fans the inner workings of the world of soap operas, but helped to raise the stature of the genre in the industry with a little humor and lots of heart thrown in.  My research took me behind the scenes of soaps like The Young and The Restless, General Hospital and All My Children.

Let me backtrack a moment.  As a high schooler, I’d watch ABC soaps after class.  The writing intrigued me. I used to say that I wanted to be a soap opera writer, as it appeared to be such fun, bringing people back from the dead, creating evil twins, etc.  In college, my roomies were all All My Children and General Hospital fans.  They’d book their class schedule around these favorite soaps.  I got hooked again by default, and have to admit, that All My Children became my favorite.  

That’s a major admission, mind you. Especially coming from someone who covers all the soaps and has for over 15 years.

After graduating from college and starting a career in marketing/advertising in NYC, I lost track of the soaps.  I was too cool to be a soap watcher at that time.  It was more about weekends in the Hamptons and meeting friends dashing around NYC as a young ingénue taking it all in and having my own soap opera of a life.

Michael E. Knight (Tad, All My Children); Linda Marshall-Smith (www.Soapdom.com)By 1994, I was living in Los Angeles pursuing a career in TV writing.  A screenplay of mine was optioned by a young producer who got it to a hot soap stud who was looking to do other projects.  Stud in question?  None other than All My Children’s Michael E. Knight (Tad).

That original project never did get made (although it did get rather far along, but close is no banana in Hollywood), but my association with Knight and his colleagues re-introduced me to the world of soaps, aka soapdom.  I began to tune in again to All My Children.  

Knight ultimately paved the way for me to get almost total access to the behind-the-scenes of All My Children for my project research. I flew to NY and spent three or four days on set, in the rehearsal room, in the production booth, the make-up room, the dressing rooms, wardrobe. You name it.  I had access.  

The only part of production that was off limits had to do with the writing of the show.  Then producer Felicia Mini Behr was very strict about that.   She protected the story material extremely well.  In fact, I was in the booth with her when word of a storyline “leak” was reported. Someone from the writing staff, an assistant or something, was posting AMC plot points on the new online service America Online.   The person was tracked down and immediately fired, at Behr’s hand.  No leaking of AMC storyline secrets online on her watch.

There were several stand out moments about being behind the scenes of All My Children that I will never forget.

At 7:30 AM the stars are called in for their “rehearsals.”  The rehearsal room was a large “classroom” like venue, where craft service had set up breakfast of sorts – bagels, cream cheese, coffee, fruit, Danish.  The director calls out stage directions as actors run lines with their scene partners while sipping hot coffee and chowing down on a cinnamon bun.  It was an organized chaos.  

Susan Lucci's Daytime Emmy Win 1999But the actors themselves were simply stunning.   Fresh-faced, just out of bed, into a cab and to the studio, no make-up, wearing jeans, tees and sneakers, I had never been in a room with 40 of the most handsome men and beautiful women in one place at the same time before.  

Additionally, the actors are so seasoned, that amid all the chaos, they are getting and remembering their stage directions, and when they get to set to tape the scene, they remember exactly everything the director told them to do.  

“Enter stage left. Look straight into B camera.  Cross to stage right and get the newspaper.  Skim it as you deliver the speech.  Cross to A camera smile, and exit.”  Mind you, they got these directions while they were simultaneously eating breakfast and running lines with scene partners.  

In my years running Soapdom, and the site that preceded it, Turtle-Run.com, there are a few All My Children moments that stand out.  

I was in the pressroom at the Daytime Emmys in 1999, the year that Susan Lucci won for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama. It was my first year as a website publisher and her 19th nomination.  To paraphrase the words of presenter, Shemar Moore (then Malcolm, Young and the Restless), the streak was broken.

When Lucci’s name was announced as the winner, the entire pressroom erupted in a standing ovation.  It was amazing.  When she arrived in the pressroom, she couldn’t have been more humble.  It was a wonderful day for Lucci and something I am so honored to have been there to witness.

In 2005, the Mayor’s Office of Film, Television and Broadcasting in NYC awarded All My Children it’s own street, All My Children Way, designating AMC the first show in NY to receive the “Made in NY” distinction.

Another amazing Susan Lucci moment occurred when she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Agnes Nixon was there to stand with her, as were cast mates, Walt Willey (Jackson), Michael E. Knight (Tad), Eden Reigel (ex Bianca, Heather, Young and the Restless), James Mitchell (Palmer), Ray MacDonnell (Joe), Peter Bergman (ex Cliff, Jack, Young and the Restless) and David Canary (Adam/Stuart).   I’ll never forget it, either, as it was a rainy, dreary day in typically sunny southern California, but Lucci’s smile couldn’t have been brighter

But the biggest stand out moment has to be when ABC Daytime uprooted the entire production and moved it from New York to Los Angeles in 2010.

Lucci gets star on Hollywood Walk of FameOver the years I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing many members of the cast, crew and production staff of All My Children. I’ve covered their storylines, and their other talented ventures.   I’ve seen first hand how hard they work everyday to produce their show. And now, on September 23, 2011, their work on broadcast is done.  

Soapdom wishes the actors, producers, directors, stage crew and assistants all the best as they continue on with their lives.  

For 41 years All My Children strove to entertain us, educate and inform us, and has touched our hearts.  We are excited about the prospects of Prospect Park and believe that we are on the precipice of a new era in serialized drama storytelling.  We hope that many of the All My Children talent will cross over to the internet/cable version of the show.  

For those who are moving on like Jacob Young (who is going to the Bold and the Beautiful returning to the role of Rick Forrester for which he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy in 1999) and Debbi Morgan who is on her way to the Young and the Restless, we wish only the best.

As we say good bye to All My Children on broadcast TV, I look forward to what awaits us at the hands of Prospect Park.  Stay tuned…

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Linda Marshall-Smith (QueenRuler, www.Soapdom.com)
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