Monday, April 9, 2007

Soappipe’s 13 Questions with…SoapZone's Carol Banks Weber

Carol Banks Weber is the prolific (and insightful) writer on Jeff Jungblut's ABC soaps site Soapzone. On a weekly basis, Carol pulls together previews for the upcoming week, aggregates press coverage from the prior week, and notes spoilers and other items in the rumor mill, with the occasional observation of her own tossed in.

For those and many more reasons, Soappipe is pleased to have soap jounalist Carol Banks Weber as the first industry insider showcased in our new regular feature, Soappipe.com's 13 Questions With... Hello, Carol!

What’s the name of the site? SoapZone.com (it's Jeff Jungblut's site and I write for it)

If I had to describe the site in one sentence it would be… SoapZone.com is a virtual meeting place where everybody goes for the latest soap scoops and the real focus groups, including those in front of and behind the cameras, their friends and family, and the soap press.

What appeals to you most about daytime soaps? I can tune into my favorite soaps and see old, familiar faces, characters who’ve gone through hardships and struggles that I’ve gone through or those I know personally have gone through, characters who have become like second family to me. There’s a reassuring continuity, a foundation of history there that’s missing with these three-to-five-year sitcoms and dramas, as generations upon generations continue in this microcosm of a community, dealing with everyday issues we all have had to deal with… racism, injustice, infidelity, death, diseases, abuse. I like that soap operas elevate the everyday, ordinary – housewives, mothers, cops, doctors – into the extraordinary, the special five days a week.

Do you have an all-time favorite storyline? On GENERAL HOSPITAL, when "Lucy (Coe," portrayed by Lynn Herring) discovered "Dominique (Stanton," Shell Danielson) was dying, she ended their feud over "Scott (Baldwin," Kin Shriner) immediately, kept Dominique's secret and was there in every way to help her. She helped her get ready for her wedding to Scott, and when Dominique did die, she was right there, promising to take care of her daughter with Scott. I cried for days afterward.

Do you have least favorite story? Anything "Sam (McCall," Kelly Monaco) is in on GH. Her current one’s pretty rank. It seems she’s only on to be some titillating victim. I couldn’t much stand the HIV/AIDS story with "Robin Scorpio" and "Stone Cates," either, to tell you the truth. It felt too preachy, and at the time, I absolutely loathed Robin (Kimberly McCullough).

Of the younger stars out there, who do you see as the future of soaps? Unfortunately, I don’t see anybody in the youth demographic staying in soaps long enough to BE a future. But if I were to dream big, I’d say Kristen Alderson ("Starr Manning," ONE LIFE TO LIVE) stands a better chance than any of standing the test of time. It’s been said that Jessica’s the young Viki on that show. But I think it’s gonna be Starr. Ilene Kristen ("Roxy Balsom," OLTL) recently told SOAP OPERA DIGEST she thinks Starr’s poised to drive story for years and years, and I happen to agree. It helps that Alderson practically grew up on OLTL and can deliver the goods when called upon, with some high-caliber actors like Trevor St. John ("Todd Manning," OLTL) and Kassie DePaiva ("Blair Cramer," OLTL). She can do drama and comedy effortlessly, and you can really see her give every scene considerable thought.

Of today’s crop of actors, executives, writers, etc. who do you predict will be remembered as a great in soap history? This is purely subjective, and I can’t count myself as any expert or soothsayer, but … the Labines—they have been maligned as too sappy, but what they did for GH was nothing short of humanizing an action-adventure, soft porn [soap] with [the sorylines of] "B.J.’s Heart," "Monica’s breast cancer," and yes, even trying to shed light on the AIDS crisis through Robin and Stone’s love affair...Rick Hearst
("Ric Lansing," GH), Michael E. Knight ("Tad Martin," ALL MY CHILDREN), Bobbie Eakes ("Krystal Carey Chandler," AMC), Renee Elise Goldsberry ("Evangeline Williamson," OLTL), St. John, Roger Howarth ("Paul Ryan," AS THE WORLD TURNS, ex-"Todd Manning, OLTL"), Julie Marie Berman ("Lulu Spencer," GH), Jacob Young ("JR Chandler," AMC; ex-"Lucky Spencer," GH), Steve Burton ("Jason (Quartermaine) Morgan," GH), Rebecca Herbst ("Elizabeth Weber Spencer," GH), Jason Thompson ("Patrick Drake," GH), Hillary B. Smith ("Nora Hanen Buchanan," OLTL), Phil Carey ("Asa Buchanan," OLTL), Nancy Lee Grahn ("Alexis Davis," GH) and of course Maurice Benard ("Sonny Corinthos," GH).

Do you watch any of the nighttime serials? Do you have a favorite? Gosh, I don’t think I know what the nighttime serials are. GREY'S ANATOMY and LOST? Whatever. Too popular. (I do love FOX’s HOUSE when I have the time to watch.) I spend so much of my free time watching daytime soaps, I don’t have any to spare at night!

My readers get most riled up when… I criticize one of their favorite couples, or GH’s Sam McCall. I receive the most hate mail from Sam and Jolie fans, btw.

My readers love it when… I criticize extremist fan bases, fans bashing fans or going overboard in taking a fictional character so seriously they’ll think nothing of going on the boards to imagine some evil perpetrated by the character’s portrayer, practically inventing backstage drama where there is none [and] people hate it when some [message board] regulars lord it over everybody like they’re the inside track on who to love and hate.

If I could bring one soap (day or night) back from the dead, it would be…
PORT CHARLES, so Kelly Monaco can go back as "Livvie" and "Tess" there, and leave GH alone.

If you had to give soaps one piece of advice to stem the ratings fall-off, what would it be? Go back to basics. Read any of the Tristan Rogers ("Robert Scorpio," GH), Tony Geary ("Luke Spencer," GH), Genie Francis ("Laura Weber Spencer," GH) interviews. Remember that the veterans made the soaps what they are; without them, soaps are nothing but a shell of their former selves. More inter-generational, community interaction about things that matter to viewers. Less violence and misogyny, more heart and soul…show characters CARING for one another, giving a damn, instead of reacting to big explosive events. TELL A STORY we can relate to.

Finally, if Soappipe.com readers want to visit the site, what’s the URL? Start here, at
SoapZone’s News & Gossip page for GENERAL HOSPITAL.

54 comments:

Dessa said...

Thanks for writing this.

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