Many Thanks, Fox 10 (Phoenix)

fox10_1A big thank you to Hans Pedersen over at our local Fox affiliate, Fox 10, for putting together this great little piece about Soap and the book. And special thanks to Jay Johnson and Bob, who navigated the choppy waters of Skype to share their thoughts on the series. Pamela and I are very touched by the efforts of all three of them, as well as those of Wayne Williams for allowing Fox 10 to use his photos from the Book Soup signing.

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Thanks, Everybody!

Hi gang, just a quick note to say thank you for all the great suggestions you’ve sent my way in response to my “Please don’t let this book die in obscurity” video freakout from last week. A lot of good ideas here, which I’m going to go through in more detail later this week.

Everyone has already been so kind to this book already, much more so than I should have had any right to expect. I just want you all to know it’s greatly appreciated.

An Appeal for Ideas

This is what happens when I get an idea and don’t discuss it with Pamela first. So it’s basically her fault for being at work. Yes, that sounds right.

Seriously, any suggestions you have will be greatly appreciated.

A ‘Soap’ Reunion

I promised myself that I wouldn’t post about a Soap reunion that took place last night, simply because I didn’t think I had any right to intrude on a personal, private event.

But then Jay Johnson did what he always does – he crafted an eloquent blog post about it that is at times funny, poignant and deeply touching. (Sample a few of his posts at random – you’ll see that he has a knack for this.) I’m also very honored by what Jay wrote about the book.

So enough of my ramblings, let’s get to the good stuff right here.

Mystery Solved: The ‘Second Mary’

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Those of you who’ve read Soap: The Inside Story… will know that, aside from the question “What would’ve happened in Season 5,” one of the greatest enduring mysteries was the identity of the “Second Mary.”

There were three actresses cast in the role of Mary Campbell: First Salome Jens, then another, before the choice of Cathryn Damon was made. And ironically, it was that second actress who was pictured in the infamous Newsweek article (see photo above) that “launched a thousand protests.”

That second actress was Sally Kemp. { personal site  { IMDB

Yesterday, Associate Producer Marsha Posner Williams compared notes with Ted Wass (Danny), who came up with the name.

It’s so nice to finally have that mystery solved. Now, about Season 5…

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LA Trip Wrapup

Sal Viscuso, some goon, and my darling Pamela in the reflection taking the picture.

Sal Viscuso, some goon, and my darling Pamela in the reflection taking the picture.

I’ve been neck-deep in backlogged day-job work, but I wanted to bring you up to speed on a couple of other Soap-related encounters we had during our few days in Los Angeles.

Sal Viscuso

We met Soap‘s Sal Viscuso at a favorite restaurant of his for an early lunch, along with Book Soup’s Amelia Cone, shortly before we left LA. We had all seen Sal a few days before in A Steady Rain at the Odyssey Theatre in West Hollywood (more on that performance later in the week).

When Sal is in his element, he is like a force of nature – when he’s talking to you he is talking to you, as if there isn’t another person on the planet he cares more about at that moment. This manner instantly strikes you as surprising not so much because you don’t expect it, but because you suddenly wonder why we all don’t make each other feel that way.

It is an intensity that he uses to amazing ends in A Steady Rain – a refocusing of all his personal passions, enthusiasms and sense of right and wrong that normally bubble just beneath the surface. I think Pamela and I both learned a great deal about the creative process just by watching him on stage and off.

Katherine Helmond & David Christian

Katherine Helmond and her husband, David Christian, had intended to be at the Book Soup signing, but they were detained out-of-town until the evening after. However, they graciously invited Pamela and I to their home, which we visited on Monday morning shortly before we met up with Sal and Amelia.

The couple were extremely kind and we seemed to discuss everything under the sun – Pamela and Katherine seemed to bond particularly over their love for their strong grandmothers, and their own shared love of animals. David, an amazing artist across a number of mediums (a small bronze work he made in his early 20s was particularly impressive), has a sharp intellect cushioned by an innate affability.

(Pamela and I both wanted to get a picture with the couple, but individually decided while we were there that it would feel like we were invading their privacy somehow since we were at their home.)

Those few days in LA were like a dream for both of us. We really want you all to know how much we appreciate the enthusiasm you’ve shown for the book, which convinced us to go out there in the first place. Thank you for that.

How’s this for Cool?

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We learned at lunch on Monday that Pamela and I had been staying in the same hotel they used for the establishing shot of Tim and Corinne’s honeymoon hotel (2.4). It’s the Hotel Angeleno now, but I think it was something else back then.

Book Soup Event Recap

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L to r: Robert Mandan (Chester), director Jay Sandrich, some goon, 
Jay Johnson (Chuck & Bob) 
©WayneWilliamsStudio.com 2014

As you can imagine, I’m still processing everything that went on during our all-too-brief trip to Los Angeles. And as you can tell from the photo above, some very special people turned up for the event.

We showed up at Book Soup just a few minutes before the 4 PM event time (bad form I know, but the LA traffic caught us completely off guard) in a pretty flustered state, so much so that we forgot to, well, turn the car off after we had unloaded the books inside the store. Not to worry, it was only running for about 5 minutes, but still.

Yet once inside we calmed down immediately thanks to Book Soup’s Amelia Cone and Molly (whose last name I did not catch, sorry Molly!), who put us at our ease.

To be honest, much of what happened next was kind of a blur. There was a pretty good turnout for the talk, which put to rest one fear I had – a big thank you to everyone who showed up, including Soap associate producer Marsha Posner Williams and her husband, Wayne (whom we have to thank for these photos, by the way. Thanks, Wayne) :-)

I began with an exploration of the controversy that surrounded the show, and read a short bit from the book about the cast and crew settling in at Bob Seagren’s house to watch the Soap premiere (pp. 61-63).

We then opened the floor to questions and personal recollections of Soap, which quickly turned into a great little discussion about this wonderful show. One of the highlights was from a fellow who grew up in Wisconsin and bonded with his father over Soap, much to his mother’s chagrin at the time.

During the talk, Marsha glanced out the window and broke into a great big smile, the reason for which I saw a moment later when in walked Jay Johnson, Jay Sandrich and Robert Mandan! We all proceeded to listen fascinated as the three new arrivals and Marsha reminisced over the making of the show – just a splendid back and forth between them all. During this, they also took questions from the audience.

After they left, the event moved to the back of the store where I signed a few books…and Pamela bought a few others (have to watch that Amelia, she’ll find just the right book for you). Meanwhile, Molly and I bonded over our love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (What, I can’t like other shows, too?)

Many thanks to Gary and Gregory, Derek and Ray, and so many others, including Soap font of wisdom Jeff Krueger. We really couldn’t have asked for a better evening.

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L to r: Robert Mandan, Jay Sandrich, some goon, Marsha Posner Williams
Jay Johnson ©WayneWilliamsStudio.com 2014

Sal Viscuso in ‘A Steady Rain’

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(Left to right: Thomas Vincent Kelly, Sal Viscuso (Soap’s Father Tim), assistant director Deidra Edwards, director Jeff Perry)

Still trying to catch up on backlogged work and fighting “drive lag,” but I wanted to share this photo with you, and to urge anyone in the LA area to check out the Odyssey Theatre’s production of A Steady Rain.

I’m sure I’ll go into the opening night performance in detail later this week but really, anybody with the slightest interest in good drama should see this. Two men, two chairs, 90 minutes, a tiny theater, and you won’t even blink as this drama plays itself out. Mesmerizing.

Photo courtesy of Sal Viscuso