Temporary Recast

Every Friday night I post another term of soap opera jargon. Find more on the Soap Opera Jargon page off the homepage.

Temporary Recast – Although you will sometimes see a recast on a primetime show, a temporary recast is almost exclusively a soap opera phenomenon. A soap opera is a continuing production. With enough warning an actor can pre- and post- tape and cover a short absence, but an unexpected sudden absence or a months long absence like a maternity leave, often leaves a hole too big to easily fill or write around. Such absences can also come up if contract negotiations hit a sticking point.  In cases where the absence can’t be written or shot around, TPTB bring in an actor or actress to fill in during the gap.

Usually a temporary recast lasts only a few days or in some cases weeks. The main difference between a temporary recast and a permanent one, is that everybody knows the current owner of the role will be back. In such cases a clever recast will merely try to replicate the role’s normal occupier on screen because they don’t get enough of a chance to develop the character in so short of time, especially when the audience is basically just pretending that they don’t notice a difference in the character so they don’t have to drop a story at a critical point on screen. A typical example of such a temporary recast was  Hayley Barr Sparks (who formerly played Courtney Baxter Dixon on As the World Turns – in Andy Dixon’s best relationship by far) covered for Beth Ehlers (Harley Davidson Cooper) both times she went on maternity leave while on the show. Here’s a clip of Amy Carlson with a nice explanatory voice over who earlier covered for Ehlers a couple of days.

There have been several extraordinary cases of temporary recasts. In 1968 the most famous and outrageous temporary recast happened, an over 60 year old Joan Crawford was a temporary recast on the soap opera The Secret Storm for daughter Christina Crawford (Joan Borman Kane), a character aged just 28.The episodes aired on October 25, 28, 29, and 30, 1968. (Find an article about it in the Oct 23, 1968 issue of The New York Times.) Another extraordinary recast happened on Days of Our Lives when to cover Alison Sweeney’s long term maternity leave, the character of Sami went into a long term uncover role as part of an elaborate revenge plot where she lived as a man named Stan and male actor Dan Wells (who did an extraordinary job by the way) played Sami from February 2005 to August 2005. In 2011, Michael Learned, famous for playing the mother on The Waltons, stepped into Katherine Chancellor’s diva togs when Jeanne Cooper was recovering from an illness to a great splash of publicity. It worked, my non-YR watching cousin tuned in, although I didn’t think Learned actually conveyed much of the diva spirit that is Kay. From September 2011 to August 2012 Jen Lilley covered for Kristen Storms as Maxie Jones on General Hospital. Storms had requested the leave due to ill health, but Lilley still met lots of hostility as her time on the show as stretched out well beyond initial estimates. Sometimes such roles lead to another permanent role on the soap as TPTB don’t want to lose a skilled or popular performer.

UPDATED May 6 2016: I fixed a few typos and clarified a few relative dates, plus added a sentence or two.

Robansuefarm is the handle of one of Manny and Guiding Light‘s biggest fans following in her family’s footsteps of Guiding Light fandom since 1939. This blog is an effort to make it easy to find Guiding Light and especially Manny online. Check back here for her blog, find fanfic previews and fake WSPR newscasts on her YouTube, find podcasts that look back to old shows and audios of her fanfics on Blog Talk Radio, and finally follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


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One Response to “Temporary Recast”

  1. glmanny Says:

    Reblogged this on Glmanny's Blog and commented:

    Check out the definition for temporary recast.

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