Anthony Herrera remembered

Anthony Herrera, the actor who played the villainous (and nearly impervious) James Stenbeck on AS THE WORLD TURNS off and on since 1980, passed away on June 21 in Buenos Aires, according to Soap Opera Digest. He was 67 years old, and had been fighting lymphoma since being diagnosed in 1997.

Herrera wrote a book about his fight against his particular cancer, a rare form called Mantle Cell Lymphoma, but his tome, The Cancer War, was not mere celebrity self-aggrandizement. He worked hard to promote research to help all cancer patients, and even testified on Capitol Hill in support of stem-cell research in 2005. Two operations employing stem cells helped extend his life.
Continue reading

Soap Opera Weekly: 12/16/10

I really enjoyed watching ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Charlie and Echo square off today over her drinking. Charlie decided to stage a one-man intervention near Rex’s sickbed, entreating her to give up the booze for the sake of her son. Or for Charlie, even!

Echo was determined to make up for not raising Rex by being a mother to him now. However, the flaw in her plan was that she believed an occasional sip of firewater would be just fine. But Charlie pointed out that if that pull comes from a flask you have to hide, then she has a problem.

This was the first time that I saw Kim Zimmer really cut loose and remind me of her GUIDING LIGHT powerhouse, Reva. She was commanding and persuasive — even if her argument was full of holes. And Brian Kerwin gave as good as he got, standing toe to toe with Zimmer. “You’re stronger than you know,” he counseled. I guess he should know…

Echo cleverly used Charlie’s pledge to stand by her as an excuse to get next to him and try to horn in on Rex. She vowed to dry out “for Rex’s sake.” Well, anyone will tell you that you cannot get sober (or make any serious change in your lifestyle) for someone else; it has to be for you. So clearly she has another agenda…

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

Soap Opera Weekly: 11/24/10

ALL MY CHILDREN fans might want to take a moment before their Thanksgiving feasts to be just a little thankful for Alicia Minshew‘s portrayal of an anguished Kendall this week. Such heavy subject matter may not be the stuff of holiday cheer, but her work certainly brightened my week.

What Minshew did best was mix confusion and shock and denial into one shuddering, stammering woman’s body. Kendall looked at familiar faces as if she had never seen them before; she walked around like a stranger in town. She stared at her empty condo like it was a stranger’s home. All this alienation from the people and places she knew had the cumulative effect of casting Kendall adrift, leaving her anchorless without her beloved Zach.

When Bianca arrived, no words needed to pass between the sisters, because all the emotion was conveyed with their eyes. “No, no, no,” Kendall chanted, as if the words were a spell that could fend off the grim truth. “He’s not gone; we have plans,” she bleated.

Everyone has plans, don’t they, Kendall? But some folks don’t get to act on them. I plan to watch a lot more AMC…

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

Soap Opera Weekly: 11/12/10

After all these years, GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Luke Spencer has not learned a very basic lesson: You should not drink and wed!

Getting Tracy trashed in Las Vegas a while back was what got Luke into his current nuptial mess, so I expected him to be smart enough to close the deal before breaking out the bubbly. Who celebrates a marriage before the vows are recited and the rings exchanged? That was just asking for trouble. But, then again, that’s Luke all over.

On the bright side, however, getting Luke, Tracy, Ethan and Maya blitzed did make for some entertaining scenes. (Just don’t try this at home, kids!) As soon as it became clear that no one remembered the night before, I figured Ethan and Maya would turn out to be the “happy” couple. Also, truth to tell, GH would never pass up the opportunity to showcase another epic (and potentially riotous) wedding for Luke. And hitching Ethan and Maya has its own appeal. The pair are charming together, and the bonds of matrimony will no doubt test their fun and easy-going relationship.

Only one question remains: How soon can Mr. and Mrs. Lovett share the big news with Kristina?

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

Soap Opera Weekly: 10/18/10

I understand that no self-respecting AS THE WORLD TURNS fan will ever watch its replacement, THE TALK, but just in case you felt any twinge of morbid curiosity, I watched it, so you don’t have to.

As the commercials hinted, THE TALK is a bald-faced, we’re-not-even-pretending-to-try-to-hide-it imitation of THE VIEW. If you’ve seen that, you’ve seen this. There’s a reason my colleague Mala dubbed this show THE RE-VIEW. Julie Chen, Holly Robinson Peete, Sara Gilbert, Leah Remini and Sharon Osbourne literally brought nothing new to the table as they strutted out, waving to the audience, and took their places at a…er, table.

The premiere THE TALK began like a reality show featuring the hosts and Julie narrating, as documentary-style footage replicated such BIG BROTHER tropes as seeing the set for the first time. Julie asserted that they all had instant chemistry, but that doesn’t translate on-air — hence, the need to inform the audience that they have chemistry.

Leah immediately put the audience on the spot by openly fretting that they would “hate” her. Throughout the show, she indulged in a lot of broad mugging. However, the most self-indulgent section consisted entirely of family members wishing the hosts good luck.

THE TALK is so mom-centric (constantly referring to each other as mothers, and Marissa Jaret Winokur as “mom on the street”) that it is in danger of shutting out women who have not given birth. As for any stray males who wander across the show: Just say no, dude… There’s nothing for you here. Heck, there’s barely anything of value for women. A segment addressing how to talk to your kids about sex was shockingly juvenile. The women giggled like 10-year-olds over the names of body parts, calling the clinical terms “disgusting” and favoring euphemisms like “cupcake.” (Seriously!) In all, the segment was an embarrassing disaster.

Julie wrapped with an imitation of THE VIEW’s entreaty to take time to enjoy the view by telling her viewers, “It’s always the right time to have The Talk.” (Say, isn’t “The Talk” a euphemism for telling your kids about sex? Talk about irony!) Sharon ended by promising, “Tomorrow, we’ll be different.” One can only hope.

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

Soap Opera Weekly: 9/16/10

AS THE WORLD TURNS’s Jack and Carly got married yesterday for, like, the 17th time and, thanks to cancellation, fans can be pretty sure that it will stick this time. But what caught my attention about their 42nd stroll down the aisle was that the vows Jack and Carly wrote for themselves focused quite a bit on the negative.

“I mostly have made the mistakes — terrible ones, some of them,” Carly admitted, adding that she is no longer “stupid enough” to promise that she won’t make more.

Jack related how, “You brought me back from a very, very dark place, the darkest place I think I’ve ever been.” And, instead of promising her a clean happily-ever-after, he mused how, “None of us know where we’re gonna be in a year.” I took that to be a meta remark about how the show is going off the air and lots of cast and crew will potentially be out of work 12 months from now.

But then again, this couple has probably said every lovey-dovey line there is over the course of their 50-odd weddings. What’s left to rhapsodize about? Sure, there were upbeat lines, (like when she called him, “my true north, my soul mate, my best friend”), but it was the dark spin overall that I found fascinating.

With cancellation looming at the end of the week and, let’s face it, the legitimately angsty storylines over the course of the last year (Jack shot his own brother to death!), what else should we expect? I’m holding out hope that CarJack can find their path to happily ever after — with or without a compass.

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

Soap Opera Weekly: 9/09/10

Allow me to interrupt the death spiral of AS THE WORLD TURNS in order to praise Van Hansis‘ turn as Luke in the demise of Dr. Reid Oliver.

This story is an example of what can happen when a soap focuses on a core family and tells a story about characters in whom viewers have invested a lot of time and love. Luke has been (pretty much) a front-burner character for months, and I am glad that ATWT took a break from crowding out veterans with throwaway newbies like Blackie and Gabriel in order to tie off Luke’s story. It may not have been the happy ending with Reid that so many fans wanted, but at least it was something.

Now, I concede that Reid (Eric Sheffer Stevens) was a relatively new character himself, but Reid benefited from an “old school” slow introduction; one that allowed audiences to get to know him in small doses over time. Hence, it felt like viewers were losing a friend as he lay gasping his last wishes on that gurney. Viewers were able to feel empathy for him, and suffer with his unjust death. (I choose to believe that Reid died because he was a healer trying to help a patient — not because an experienced brain surgeon panicked in a moment of stress and forgot how to work a seatbelt.)

And his doom afforded Hansis a chance to really swing for the fences. When Luke agonized over donating Reid’s ticker to Chris, it came across onscreen like Hansis was carving out his own heart. His performance was an epic and worthy swansong — and so far, clearly the best thing about the end of ATWT.

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com