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Eight Years in Another World
Considering Another World is my all time favorite soap opera, it's hard to be believe that is has taken me this long to get around to reading Harding Lemay's Eight Years in Another World. I am about half way through and have a hard time putting it down. It's fascinating. I'm loving all the tidbits about Iris, Rachel, Steve, Alice, Pat, etc. (Pat Randolph is a favorite soap heroine for me--although most of what I know about her is from reading about the character or from things my mom told me about her. Another World was the only soap my mom watched and Pat was a favorite of hers. Susan Sullivan's Lenore was another favorite of my mom's. Both are characters that Lemay liked and liked to write for.) All the behind the scenes stuff is really fun to read about. Lemay's opinions of soap legends like Irna Phillips, Paul Rauch, Susan Sullivan, George Reinholt and many others are really interesting.
The worst thing about reading this book, is that it is making me really long to watch that era and also the early to mid-80's era when I started watching. In short, it's making me really nostalgic for Another World.
The only way I was able to read Eight Years was to put in an inter-library loan request when I was in college. It was very hard to find! Unfortunately in that period you had to send it back within two weeks, so I actually requested it again about a year later because it was so good and I wanted to make sure I didn't forget some of the better stuff. I should have taken notes!
Aaaanyway, I especially enjoyed reading the casting anecdotes, since that stuff is never discussed in public even now. It is a shame that more soap writers and producers don't do these sorts of tell-alls. Damn them and their sense of decorum!!
Now that you've jogged my memory, I ought to go online and see if I can find a copy somewhere. It's been about fifteen years!
Am very curious to read this, as even though I've only seen late 80s/early 90s Another World, it is meant to be a brilliant insight into the pressures of soap writing. It costs a fortune to get hold off though!
Reading about the casting process has been really interesting. Just as interesting to me has been all the information about what goes into writing a soap, with the sub-writers and the conferences meetings with the sponsor representative, etc. Also, some of the more gossipy parts, such as Lemay's dealings with Jacquie Courtney, George Reinholt and Virginia Dwyer have been fun to read.
I wasn't even looking for this book when I purchased it. I was looking for the Carolyn Hinsey book "Why Soaps Still Matter" (which I found and purchased) and Eight Years in Another World came up as a suggestion for other books I might like. I bought Eight Years for $9.99 on my Kindle.
I'm close to finishing it. I've had this inner struggle all along as I've been reading it--part of me wants to devour it as quickly as possible and part of me wants to prolong this connection to Bay City for as long as possible.
Yeah, I remember the Virginia Dwyer passage. I think she was the "victim" of the expansion to an hour-long format. Since she couldn't even memorize her lines for the scenes in a half-hour soap, it would be even worse once they started writing the much longer scenes for an hour-long show--so she got the ax!
Apparently she wasn't as good at "cheating" like Jackie Courtney (RIP), who would write lines on shirt-cuffs, tape them to the back of the sofa, etc.
I'm not sure if my favorite anecdote is in that book or if it's from a trivia book I bought a while back:
They had recast Rachel in the early 1970s with a woman named Margie Impert (after Robin Strasser left). Impert apparently was not working out, and Lemay, Paul Rauch, and some network guy went to dinner at an Italian restaurant near the studio to discuss the problem. They were seriously considering killing Rachel off....so seriously that as they put their heads together coming up with plot scenarios where they could kill Rachel, someone in the restaurant overheard and thought they were gangsters plotting to kill a real person. The restaurant patron caused a stink and asked the manager to call the police, but luckily the manager knew Lemay and Rauch and "vouched for them". Luckily they didn't kill Rachel off, either.
Kinda on topic--today is the anniversary of the premiere of Another World on NBC. It premiered May 4, 1964 at 3pm (eastern time).
I love that story. It is in the book.
Originally Posted by Daniel Avery
Very random, very tenuous connection here: But I googled Margie Impert this morning and learned that she is not only connected to my favorite daytime soap, but my favorite nighttime soap as well. According to IMDb, she played Lt. Larkin in "The Lie" episode of Knots Landing--so Rachel Davis met Laura Avery. Kind of cool (to a soap geek like me) that two of AW's Rachels appeared on Knots Landing.
Originally Posted by Jason73
Eight Years in Another World is one of my favorite books. I have an original first-edition copy of it, in fact. It's in storage right now, though. This post makes me want to go dig through all my boxes of books in order to read it again. It might be less hassle to just buy a Kindle copy! I love Lemay's accounts of the nuts and bolts of writing a soap.
I still do not understand why more soap writers, producers, etc. don't write about their careers in soaps. I can rattle off a lot of names of people whose careers would make for fascinating reading. Once upon a time I figured they were keeping it all to themselves rather than trash people they may have to work with (or for) in the future. But with so many of them officially retired and the people needing to be trashed no longer around, I don't see why someone else can't break the silence. Kim Zimmer's memoir was a decent read (she spoke of the problems at Guiding Light during its final years, but did not do quite the hatchet job that Pete Lemay did on co-workers and colleagues). I never seeked out Susan Lucci's book, since I didn't hear a lot of buzz about it being especially "juicy" (or at least not as juicy as I would expect a book about her life and times to be). I expect Jeanne Cooper's memoir to be a page-turner, since it's a good marriage of outspoken actress and outrageous situations (sort of like Zimmer). I'm much more interested in the memoirs of folks who toiled behind the scenes, the ones who were surrounded by egos and trying just to get a job done.
i will have to check this book out-thanks for the great tip.
Sounds like a good read, I wish all the soaps had one like it.
I know there's a new biography out on Bill Bell, but I'm waiting until I finish a couple other books I'm reading. I'd actually be more interested in an Irna Phillips book.
I would love to see a Paul Rauch book. I know he may not be the nicest or greatest guy as a person but I think he is brilliant as a tv producer and he knows soap opera. Anyone wanting to make something fun and entertaining in the television medium could probably learn a lot from listening to what he had to say from a creative standpoint.