Guiding Light Head Writer July 2018 – Soap Opera Magazine

Author’s Note: This is a little different type of fanfic. I can’t write every day for the soap so I have to kind of draw ellipses in between the Bauer BBQ stories. This one is mostly touching on things we’re really not going to see, but I want people to know are going on. Maybe we’ll get to see some of it, but not much.

Guiding Light Head Writer July 2018 – Soap Opera Magazine

Q: So you’ve been headwriter of Guiding Light for just over a year now. Do you feel about where Springfield is today?

A: I’m feeling that Springfield is in really good shape. I’ve been having viewers writing me, online, in person tell me that Springfield feels like home again and that’s been one of my major goals.

Q: Have you had any specific overall goals?

A: Probably the largest problem that I’ve been facing is that there has been a big gap in ages. Frankly it isn’t a problem just on Guiding Light, but soap operas have gotten into trouble. They have been pretending that generations don’t exist. All of them have been written like there are babies, kids for a short while, teenagers, MAYBE a one or two young 20s, and then everyone else except maybe 1 person is in the same generation. That’s no way to create a community. Doing that cuts out so many story possibilities. It also hurts family relationships and honestly one of the things viewers want from soaps (even those who have their own close families) is a close connected family and community and that means they want generations. Soaps used to excel at that, but they’ve lost their way. I’ve been working on clearing the decks, but I hope our upcoming stories this next year will bring in some characters, long and short term, that will fill in that age gap so we don’t have to pretend people who’ve been on the show for decades would be dating comparative children.

Q: You’ve also been bringing back classic characters from different eras. You had a couple of big returns at the BBQ.

A: Yes, probably from a NAME perspective our big get was James Earl Jones. Jim Frazier sadly wasn’t a long-term character, but he was played by BOTH James Earl Jones AND Billy Dee Williams. I think that he was played with that much talent says a lot about the power and influence of the character. Sadly I don’t think we’d get either one for much of a run, but Mr. Jones said he was very appreciate of the dealing with the Korean War trauma in the script. We just had him for the two episodes, but we’re hoping on having him come back for another couple of episodes later this year. I think if we can work with him on time and he likes the script he’ll be back. I mean someone of that authority you have to give them something with meat on it to tempt them to come.

Q: But I’d say from a character perspective you had a couple of returns that might have more everyday impact.

A: I’d agree. Mr. Jones is Christmas, but we’ve got a couple of people returning who will impact the show more day to day. The one I’m most excited about is Hope Bauer. I really don’t understand why they never brought Hope back before. I understand that it was a power play to get rid of her in the first place, but it’s a key role. How do you bring back Alan-Michael for years on multiple occasions and then never bring back Hope even for a short run? She’s got all these family connections that remain unexplored, decades worth of what was she doing, is she sober now, and all sorts of stuff to play with.

We’ve also brought back Eleni. I think that’s very important for Frank. Once Eleni left the canvas they just never really found another firm foothold for Frank other than basic cop, Buzz’s son, and Manny’s friend. The character was so much more multi-dimensional than that and Eleni was what brought that out the most, so if Frank’s going to be a very viable character we need to deal with Eleni since she was just sort of dropped. It never felt like their story got a real end. Is that what we’re going to see now or will this be the start of a new story? We’ll just have to wait and see. I also think Eleni’s return is timely because Eleni was an illegal alien. It wasn’t really on anybody’s radar back then other than an excuse for green card marriages and Eleni was the one who found the most connection in Springfield. She’s going to be an excellent person for helping us explore a topic that’s so front and center today.

Q: Will we be seeing more favorites return?

A: I really love how Days has been bringing back favorites for arcs rather than trying to keep as large a cast all the time. I’m trying that model so you can expect to see other people and new characters with a familial connection to people that once lived in town, but they might be brought in and out as needed. Let’s face it to keep a character you need a certain amount of money, air time, and storyline and even if you had endless money, the time and story limits how many people we can have on at once. But if there is a gap someone you know can fill as opposed to bringing on a complete stranger. I want it to be said that Springfield really felt like Springfield during my time here.

Q: We’ve been having some questions from readers about your Manny story. It seemed like you started the vasectomy story and just dropped it. What happened there?

A: Well, it started out I was going to do a quick little problem at the Bauer BBQ storyline for them. I like to do that because when you’re hosting a big event there’s always tension that brings up stuff. I figured Danny would last a day and then cave at the end of the day, but when I really started to write it there was more depth there. This touches on religion and of all the foundation stones Danny was raised with that’s the only one left so it’s a big deal to move against it. So there’s that and that there’s a lot of old think that this is a mark against his virility and that attacks how Danny thinks of himself as a person. There’s more there than I thought there’d be. But I already had lots of storyline lined up for this fall so we kind of hit pause on this story, but we’ll get back to it.

Q: It seems like something went off the rails with Ed and Holly, too, any hints, there?

A: Ed and Holly have been one of our most stable couples dropping in and out of the story for years, but they’ve just been traveling parallel. They’ve never remarried, but let’s face it our legal system is set up to work best for married people, legal rights, inheritance, power of attorney, etc. so as they are getting older that reality starts to come into clearer focus. There are legal reasons to get married and legal reasons to not get married as you get older. Ed is taking getting married as an obvious move and has taken it for granted that Holly will just marry him because he’s asked. So on one side we have the fact that Holly really only wants marriage if it’s a romance, she’s not interested in doing the sane, rational thing. She doesn’t want marriage like a business deal. However, if Ed gives her romance how will she react when she gets them? And if they do look at the cold business analysis is getting married where will the money/legal right of it land?

Q: You mentioned illegal immigration so far, are you doing any other storylines based on current events?

A: Yes, and this fits in very well with what I was saying about using people with a connection. The story of the sexual abuse scandal with the University of Michigan and the USA Gymnastics is one that really isn’t completely being told. You have to really dig to find out what Larry Nausar did and how he got away with it. It wasn’t just that he intimidated them into silence, his victims came forward and were not believed. How did that happen? We happen to have a top gymnast who was going for the Olympics in the Bauer family tree (cousin Lacey Bauer – look for her at the Bauer BBQ A-M parachuted into). Now Lacey really wasn’t an impactful character. She probably impacted Cameron the most and most fans responses to that are probably – Cameron who? So it isn’t that she had a big connection here, but she WAS established as a top gymnast. Since we’ve seen her she got close to her dream and failed. She saw her daughter as her second chance at gold so that impacted her experience with it. Things happened to her daughter. How did that happen? The culture that allowed it has been thrown into stark relief if people look, but the same attitudes can play out against other sports and even some arts. We’re going to really dig into that.

I’m also going to do a three part #MeToo story. There is a long tradition of it being hard for targets of this kind of behavior or even assault to be believed, BUT every story can’t be true just because of human nature so we’re going to do one story where it’s crystal clear something happened and it’s going to be very hard for the victim to be believed and prove it. There is also going to be a story where someone is going to make a false accusation for reasons of their own, but what I’m most excited about is the third story. One of the storylines that I’ve always been sorriest they dropped was when Ben Harris on As the World Turns was arrested for basically matching a description of someone wanted based on his race. From how it was originally presented we didn’t know if the cop was deliberately targeting him and assaulting him because Ben was black or if he was legitimately following a lead. However, instead of playing it out they blinked and instead turned Teague into an evil despicable person who eventually kidnapped and almost killed Jack and Carly. Real life is almost always grayer than that. In the last couple of years there was an article in Indian Country about a native student who got into a conflict with a Jewish professor who had family members lost in the Holocaust over what constituted a genocide. You could just hear both sides of the article reading about it and they both 100% believed they were right and had facts on their side. Each believed they were not only right, but righteous. That’s the kind of situation I want to set up where each side quite reasonably has their own interpretation that there isn’t malice in either one. Which one really has the right of it? Can they both be right? We’re going to really explore that too.

Q: So far your tenure has been very successful. Ratings are up in all demographics. Are you feeling confident about what comes next?

A: There are t-shirts fans designed you can get online that say “I want to live in Springfield.” I think people do. Soap operas, especially the former Proctor and Gamble soaps, create a home. These people are your family and when you get home you want to feel you’re home. I hope everyone feels like they’re home again.

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