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.)

‘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.

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‘Soap’ Book on ‘TV Confidential’

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UPDATE: You can grab this talk as a podcast in iTunes here.

You can catch a spirited discussion of Soap with yours truly on Ed Robertson’s wonderful TV Confidential radio show from May 7-12. Check here for times and stations.(Or keep an eye on iTunes for the podcast.)

Many thanks to Ed, Tony and Donna for a fun romp down memory lane re: the Tates and the Campbells. And for anyone who craves great discussions about television shows past, do yourself a favor and download some past episodes through iTunes or your favorite podcatcher (geez, does anyone even use that term anymore?).

And many thanks to Lee Spilberg for suggesting that I get in contact with the show – cheers for that one, Lee 🙂

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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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.

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

Thanks for Coming out Yesterday!

Just a brief note to say a big “Thank you” to those who made it out to Book Soup in West Hollywood yesterday, and to those who sent their best wishes but could not make it. And none of this would’ve been possible without the generosity of Amelia and Molly at Book Soup – you two rock!

I especially wanted to thank Jay Johnson, Robert Mandan, Jay Sandrich and Marsha Posner Williams for taking the time to come out as well, and for regaling us with stories about the making of Soap.

I’ll write more about this event once we return home. (And about Sal Viscuso’s opening night at the Odyssey Theatre in A Steady Rain!) In the meantime, we have one more day left in LA, so we’re off to go gape at it open-mouthed.