JD Lobue and ‘Soap’s’ New Direction

Cheers to JD Lobue for indulging my seemingly endless questions yesterday afternoon, and for answering them with warmth and humor. It was Lobue who took over the reins from director Jay Sandrich on Season 2, Episode 18, though he had served as associate director alongside Sandrich since 1.2 or 1.3.

Lobue came to directing after a successful early career in the band The Gordian Knot alongside singer guitarist John Weatherly. (Check out the clip above from the movie The Young Runaways featuring The Gordian Knot. I might be mistaken, but I believe the fellow on the left playing keyboard is Lobue. It’s so hard to tell without the facial hair.)

It has to be said that Lobue was faced with both the best and the worst circumstances possible when he inherited Soap. He’ll be the first to tell you that he learned a great deal under legendary television director Jay Sandrich, and it also helped that the cast and crew knew him from the years he put in as associate director. Still, he also was faced with a show that was lurching toward its end, with a production schedule that only became more brutal as the series went on.

That said, in this fan’s opinion, he also oversaw the episodes that were the absolute pinnacle of the series (early to mid-Season 3). Of course, as Lobue told me yesterday, anybody who claims they made a successful TV program with little help is an idiot. This was all a perfect storm of talent in front of and behind the camera, and a network that was willing to give them all just enough rope.


2 comments on “JD Lobue and ‘Soap’s’ New Direction

  1. So glad you talked to Lobue! He was there for a big part of the show. I saw Paul Junger Witt say that when there were deadlocks among the creative team, they frequently made Jay Sandrich the deciding vote. Did you get the sense that Lobue took over that role?

  2. You know, Lee, I think one of the most interesting things I’ve learned during this project is that the creative process on Soap was much more nuanced than we might initially think. Everybody from the producers and directors to the wardrobe department and the individual actors influenced what happened on that show, and not always in the ways that you would think. Here’s one of the my favorite examples:

    Even though the show worked on a very grueling schedule — each episode was put together in about a week — it was still enough time for the writers and producers to get bored with the scenes that they had created. What Susan, Paul and Tony thought was hysterical on Monday naturally became dull to them by Thursday. The result: They would rewrite the scenes and the actors would have to relearn them very close to filming.
    However, if an actor really liked one of their original scenes and wanted to keep things as is, they might feign an inability to get the scene right. Then the producers would spend all of that week trying to give them direction to improve their performance of that original scene. By Friday, the actor would “suddenly” get it right. So the writer and producers would be happy to see that scene finally done right, the director, camera people and the rest of the crew wouldn’t have to make any adjustments, the rest of the actors all knew what to expect, and the show would go on as originally written.

    Now apply this kind of psychology to every department and you can see the process was more complex than things coming down to tie-breaker votes. It’s hard not to appreciate the level of commitment everybody had to the show that they were willing to go to these lengths to ensure it was the best that it could be.

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