Thursday, January 24, 2008

Stunt casting and the writers' strike-era soaps

The soaps are all about the stunt casting right now--bringing back the old faves, welcoming non-daytime actors to daytime, generally doing whatever they can to keep viewers tuning in (or even to bring back some lapsers) during these generally rocky times for the genre. ABC Daytime president Brian Frons, a man whose "insights" usually hold little weight with me, and who is pretty widely reviled amongst soap fans, explains this development quite perfectly, however, in that he points out that many actors are hungry for work right now. Uncertain as to when the WGA strike will end and prime time production will pick back up, more and more actors seem happy to receive a daytime paycheck as the soaps continue to chug along.

ABC whacked viewers on the head with its casting news when All My Children re-upped three departed actors this month and it looks like the heavy sell is now on for GH. In this case, Sarah Brown returns to the show--but in a different role than the one she originated in the mid-'90s. That role is now on its 4th actress, but Brown is appearing this time around all dark-haired (as opposed to the blonde-y Carly she last played) and mobbed up.

I admit that I totally love this promo. A second one that shows the Claudia and Sonny characters hitting the sheets was fun, but this one camps it up like crazy. Brown's Carly was paired with Sonny in her last GH gig, so long-time (or longish time) fans will get a kick out of seeing them together again. But I'm most excited to see what the interim writers, who are still a significant improvement from the regular regime, do with a woman mobster. GH's track record on this is, well, horrifying, as the last great woman mobster, Faith, was the misogynistic target of any number of sexist slurs and denigrating treatment (while male mafiosos Sonny and Jason are crowned the show's heroes). But I think Sarah Brown has too much clout to get that kind of treatment--and the writers these days actually seem to like and respect the female characters in a way we haven't seen for a long time.

Just a quick note to end: while this stunt casting seems pretty industry-wide, there have also been some high-profile firings in the soap world of late. Hard to know exactly why, but there is no question that the writers' strike is shaking things up in every way across daytime.


tvfan said...

I've never been a feminist, and at this point I think the term is close to meaningless. But I do think it's clear that many of these soap women have breast implants. If I were a feminist, I would be appalled at the double standard which all but requires actresses to seriouly damage themselves to fit a busty stereotype. These artificial beauty standards can have particularly toxic effects on young female viwers.

Sam Ford said...

Thanks for the link, Elana. In the latest SOD article on the subject, Bryce wished ATWT well, and the show said his departure was not money-related. It seems they're indicating that it's storyline-dictated.