‘Soap’ Reunion Turns 25

reunion_museumThanks to Soap super fan Jeff K. for pointing out that the insightful Soap reunion sponsored by the Museum of Broadcasting took place March 22, 1990 – 25 years ago yesterday.

It’s been a quarter of a century today (March 22nd) since the gang came together and filming it became one of my treasures. I’ve just watched it for the anniversary. Diana Canova’s “6 year old son” is in his 30’s, older than I was when I filmed it. R. I. P. Caroline McWilliams, Arthur Peterson & Richard Mulligan (I guess a pretty good average for 25 years).

This is also probably a good time to remind people that Jeff went to considerable trouble to transcribe the Soap reunion that he attended (and taped) back in 1990. You can find the complete transcript right here.

It occurs to me today that all I did was write one book about this influential series – it’s Jeff and people like him who did the really valuable work of preserving these bits and pieces over the years. Thanks to one and all who have done us all that great service.

A Year Ago…

Soap the Inside Story of the Sitcom that broke all the rules…well, a year ago yesterday was the day Soap: The [Unauthorized[ Inside Story of the Sitcom that Broke all the Rules had its official debut at Book Soup in Los Angeles.

Such a wonderful few days Pamela and I spent there meeting people I already felt I knew, both from Soap itself and from the fan community.

A year on I’m still very grateful to Book Soup’s Amelia Cone, super fan Jeff K. and everyone who came out to the launch, as well as Soap‘s Sal Viscuso, Marsha Posner Williams, Jay Johnson, Robert Mandan, Jay Sandrich and Katherine Helmond for their help, hospitality, and kind words and deeds. (More on the original event here.)

Happy Birthday, Robert Mandan

mandan_largeHead on over to Jay Johnson’s blog for his warm birthday tribute to the actor behind Chester Tate, and the man who’s been in “a gillion” films. As for Jay’s sign-off:

“Happy Birthday, Mr. Mandan. We shall celebrate with a bottle of “HOOP DE HAH”

Soap fans will recall that Hoop De Hah was the brand of booze Hobo Chester was drinking while suffering from amnesia following his suicide attempt. (Don’t you miss those great Soap storylines?)

If memory serves, Jay actually designed a label for the hootch and gave Bob Mandan a bottle that he still had the last time we spoke. They really were (and are) a wonderful family.

‘Soap’ Book Reviews

Hi gang. I know it’s been a while, but I wanted to thank a couple of folks for the kind words they’ve written about the Soap book. I really do appreciate all the love that’s been sent its way, and I’m chuffed to bits when I come across such reviews.

  • Rod Lott over at the aptly-named site Bookgasm is very kind indeed – had to smile at his description of another of my books: “the criminally under-read The New Horror Handbook.”If only that was a criminal offense, Rod 😉
  • Pavan’s writeup on SitcomsOnline.com was a great surprise as well, timed as it was to coincide with Soap’s (pause as Aaron tries to do the math) anniversary.

Thank you so much, guys – all greatly appreciated.

Hi

A Poignant Jay Johnson Story

In the age of social media there’s a new instinct that attends the passing of any great public figure, particularly those we’ve always looked upon fondly – a bracing for a tidal wave of the banal, empty-headed wittering of the masses. Many simply mourn the deceased with a few kind words and some nostalgic recollections; many others use the opportunity to badmouth the person and their works.

Which was why it was so lovely to read Jay Johnson’s story about his (near) encounter with Robin Williams; that it is also a tale about his audition for Soap is merely icing on the cake. If like many you’re looking for a little smile to temper the grief over the great man’s passing, spare a few minutes to read Jay’s story here.

More on ‘Jay Johnson: The Two & Only’

twoUPDATE: There’s now an app that will take you to the various places you can view Jay Johnson: The Two and Only. Download here.

It appears that different cable systems are offering Jay’s amazing Broadway show recording on different days via On Demand. Let it be said right here and now that if you’re a fan of Soap, theater, comedy, ventriloquism, history, performance, tearjerkers, or great storytelling, you’re really going to want to hunt this one down – it’s that good. And for those holding out for a DVD, Amazon is now listing it for a December 16th release.

Honestly if the budget will allow, I would strongly suggest doing both video on demand and the DVD – Johnson’s show is eminently rewatchable. It’s the kind of thing you can put on when family’s in town –those times when you don’t know how else you’re going to entertain them.

One of the best parts of the show is that it plays to a broad spectrum of people. Wee ones will enjoy the antics of Johnson’s many stage friends, the more erudite will enjoy his insights into history and the human condition – there’s really something for everybody.

Finally! ‘The Two and Only’!

indemandApologies for the lack of posts recently – the dayjob has completely overwhelmed me, I’m afraid. I did, however, want to let you all know that Jay Johnson’s Tony-winning Broadway show, The Two and Only, can finally be seen in the comfort of your own home! It’s being made available beginning Aug. 1st through iNDemand. (Not entirely clear on what this is or how it works, but my technical knowledge sort of peters out somewhere around the iPod days.)

Jay tells a few great stories about the making of Soap, but the real value of this performance is so much more than that. I’m really trying to avoid the ol’ “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry,” but hang it, you absolutely will. And perhaps rarer still, you’ll actually learn something about history, psychology, and when you get right down to it, what it is to be human.

This isn’t just for Soap fans. This is really a performance the likes of which you simply don’t see anymore, and one that cries out to be seen by the whole family, in the best possible sense of that idea.

For more info on getting an opportunity to see this performance for yourself, check out Jay’s recent blog post on the subject. I can’t wait to hear what you all think of it!

 

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.

fox_bob

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.