Warning this is a pretty long post. I initially posted this to AOL back in Dec. 1997, sans commentary, as sort of a warning as to what JFP is capable of. After one year of her tenure, I'm comparing what she did to AW to what she did to OLTL. Both AW and OLTL are/were my favorite soaps. I've watched them each for well over a decade. JFP's tenure at each of these shows were the worst I've ever experienced. Badly written, horribly produced and unbelievably contrived, she nearly drove me from AW with Frankie's murder, and she did drive me from OLTL with flat out crap on air.
(1) The Lack of Romance*Joe and Paulina were rushed into their first wedding five months after their first meeting. That Paulina would get married so soon after Jake's presumed death is bad enough, but to someone she hardly knows makes it worse. Their wedding in March was one of the most unromantic ones I've seen (that made pretensions of being romantic). During the most tender part of their vows, the camera's focus was on Jake and his reaction. OLTL connection: Dorian and Mel were rushed into a wedding that was, imo, unromantic and one of the worst ones I've ever seen. Dorian, marrying in Viki's newsroom? Uh, okay... *John and Felicia were never given the chance to fall slowly in love. Inside of a few weeks, they loved each other completely and totally. OLTL connection: NuDrew/Kelly, Will/Roseanne, Blair/Sam, NuJoey/Babs *Without showing any previous romantic interest in Donna, Michael one day decided he wanted sex from her (then decided he didn't want her after all). Shortly afterwards, they would both settle into de facto couplehood without any effort (or romance). OLTL connection: I'm reaching, but Joey/Babs kinda fit this. He loves Kelly one day, next day he's in love with Babs, sleeping with her and two days later she's decorating *their* apartment. Whatever... *Michael and Sharlene slept together without any romantic prelude whatsoever. Their relationship till then had been based purely on friendship. OLTL connection: NuJoey/Babs, NuKev/Babs, Will/Jess, Sam/Nora, Bo/Lindsay, Kelly/Max *That Matthew would truly fall in love with Blair is insulting to all soap couples everywhere and doesn't even deserve further mention here. OLTL connection: Quite a few people would say Todd/Téa belong here, but we can't pin the *initialization* of that on JFP. *Gary and Josie's early relationship was nothing more than endless boinking. (Ed-This had me LOL, it's so true! JFP just loves giving Tim Gibbs sex scenes.) OLTL connection:: Blair/Sam, Babs/NuJoey (sorta), Kelly/Max *Morgan asked Courtney to move in with him to help protect her from Andrew, even though there was only one bed in his apartment. After a couple of days they were sleeping together, despite the facts that Courtney was an abuse victim and that they hadn't even gone on a date yet. OLTL connection: Kevin, engaged to Cassie, jumps the recently raped Nurse Babs's bones *Nick and Sofia decided to get married, not out of love, but because they needed it to legitimize the sex they wanted to have. OLTL connection: Out on a limb, but I could see Cris and Jessica having gone this route
(2) The Increase in Violence*There were innumerable shootings (Joe, Ryan, Ari, Josie, Blair, Fax) as well as well other forms of violent death (Andrew, Justine, Courtney ) OLTL connection: Shootings-Dorian, Cassie, Ben Violent attacks: Rachel, via Georgie and her telephone Violent Deaths: Ian (sorta), Mrs. Stonecliffe, Sonya, Georgie Drew, Munk, Sen. Graham *There were two *consecutive* full-fledged serial killer storylines in 1996, each complete with multiple killings and a falsely accused suspect (Morgan/Donna). OLTL connection: We were spared serial killers (with the exception of JFP), but we were treated to consecutive psychos (Georgie, Babs)
(3) The New Sets*JFP spent a million dollars on her personal vision of what she wanted the show to be like, not what the show needed. While the Center Street sets might have been perfect for a brand new soap, AW was forced to completely redefine itself and its focus. No longer character-driven, the show became a vehicle for an endless string of crime and medical emergencies. The hospital and police station began to dictate overall plot as well as minor details. Every other week another character would occupy the revolving hospital bed or jail cell. OLTL connection: No new sets, but every story has a new Rappaport in it! *All the Hudsons except Vicky in jail and in the E.R.... Listing all the characters who spent time in hospital or incarcerated would be take up too much space. Suffice it to say that the overkill completely deadened the excitement such scenes might otherwise provoke. OLTL connection: Listing all the characters who spent time in the Buchanan wine cellar... <g> *Characters would find jobs at these sets despite their lack of qualifications. Michael became chairman of the board at BCGH without any previous hospital experience (except as a patient of course). Sharlene became Rita Madison's personal assistant despite no previous experience (and even though she turned down a job at the police station for similar reasons). OLTL connection: Kelly, dear psuedo-sophisticate Kelly, is running Todd's paper. HUH?! *Surgery scenes featured thousands of dollars worth of fancy equipment that presumably was meant to impress viewers. Each one should have a tag showing which actor had to be fired to be able to afford it. The Tucci gizmo must be quite impressive. OLTL connection: Kale Browne, Tim Gibbs, John Bolger and Mark Derwin are fancy equipment presumably meant to impress viewers. *The hospital has more than one floor even though they all look *exactly* the same. The police station has adjoining rooms and an entire first floor that are wasted space. How much better if the Cory mansion or Bay View Court, for example, had been treated to an expansion. OLTL connection: We have NuJoey and NuKevin, who almost look *exactly* the same, but they bore me to different degrees. *The hospital set is constantly used as a backdrop for run-ins, even between characters who have no ties to the hospital. OLTL connection: The Rappaports are constantly used in stories, even between characters they have no real ties to. *Though many do not remember, and some might disagree, the old hospital set was more attractive, with dark blue trim and wood paneling, as opposed to the stark white walls of the current set. The police station set doesn't work as the outside makes it look like something out of the 1950s, yet the inside is straight out of the 90s. The old police station had more character, and its small size prevented the show from focusing too much attention on police matters. OLTL connection: I liked *most* of the old cast that JFP did away with/recast/butchered. All these new characters prevent the show from focusing on old favorites. *JFP had this to offer as her rationale for the new sets: "When I first started watching the show about six months ago I had a hard time understanding who was related to whom and who was married to whom. It became obvious that to make the show more viewer-friendly, we needed to create an area where a lot of characters could interact. We have three prominent sets, and within each set there will be lots of little sets. One will be the hospital, one will be the police department, one will be Carlino's restaurant, and in the midst of that, there will be a neighborhood. I like to think of it as ER meets NYPD Blue and Cheers." OLTL connection: In order for JFP to understand who was related to who, she married them off or impregnated them by a Rappaport. To make the show more viewer friendly, she created the Rappaports, who would allow everyone to interact.
(4) The Rewriting of History and Characterization*Lorna would marvel that such a good man as Gabe McNamara would actually love her, when a host of good men (Matthew, Kevin, and Victor) had loved her and were devoted to her. OLTL connection: Blair never knew love until Sam. Uh, what about Max circa '91, Cord '94, Todd '95? *John transferred his feelings for Sharlene onto Felicia without sufficient reason. Felicia became desperate and man-hungry. OLTL connection: Todd/Téa/Blair anyone? **Joe went from a sweet caring guy to this manipulative, double-standard holding, overbearing bully. OLTL connection:: Hello, NuKevin Buchanan! *Carl began to be condescending to Rachel. He patronized her and trotted her out only when he wanted sex. OLTL connection: I'm reaching again, but NuKev and Cassie (back in April/May) kind of fit this *Rachel lost her drive and strength, gosh darn it. OLTL connection: Just about all of OLTL's women suffered this. *Paulina lost interest in Jake, the love of her life, because...??? (Ed.-That"s an answer I would like, himbo-loving JFP!!!) OLTL connection: Blair lost all memory of Todd, the love of her life, because... Sam's singing just totally blew her away???? *Vicky sold her house, in which she had lived with Ryan, and where both her kids grew up, without a second thought or a single tear. OLTL connection: Todd gave over his baby, THE SUN, to Max and Kelly WILLINGLY??? *Maggie went from being a sweet kid (mostly) to hell on wheels. OLTL connection: Will went from appearing to be hell on wheels, to a mostly sweet guy. Blech. *Michael and John became walking hard-ons. OLTL connection: Sam, NuKev *Donna regressed from sophisticated businesswoman to sex-starved ditz. OLTL connection: Nora regressed from savvy attorney to spineless, baby craving ditz. Viki regressed to massaging fuzzy dice and singing karaoke
(5) The Focus on Minor Characters*Established characters would receive new partners, but then third-party interference would originate from those new people, instead of drawing it from the established history of the established characters, making it hard to care about what was happening. Past ties to other characters were invented (e.g., Carl and Blair), and current ties were exaggerated (Matthew and Blair), all for the sake of establishing characters that would only be around for a few months. OLTL connection: Too numerous to mention, but I'll give you one name. SAM *Laurie Michaels sued the hospital when her son died. Were we supposed to care about Ben Michaels? Were we supposed to be interested in the legal battle, when Cass took on the case of a stranger against his own brother, and the real guilty party, Courtney (who had purposely neglected to stop Ben from misusing his inhaler), received no punishment? OLTL connection: Téa/Blair/Max perjury. They're not new characters, technically, but they've been so gutted it almost seems like they are. Are we actually supposed to be interested in this legal battle--especially considering there was no perjury? *Blair, a stranger, dominated the Gary/Josie story, often to the exclusion of Josie, when featuring familiar elements of Josie's past (Ian, Matthew, etc.) would have been more interesting to the viewer. OLTL connection: Some will argue Téa in Todd/Blair, I argue Sam, Will and Lindsey, virtual strangers, dominated every story, at the exclusion of characters like Dorian, Viki, Mel, Hank and RJ who would have been MUCH more interesting to the viewer. *Andrew Miller, a stranger, dominated the Morgan/Courtney story, often to the exclusion of Morgan, when featuring familiar elements of Morgan's past (Brett, Lorna, his mother) would have been more interesting to the viewer. Cindy, a stranger, dominated the Gabe/Lorna story, when featuring familiar elements of Lorna's past (Carl, Matthew, Kevin, Victor) would have been more interesting to the viewers. Does Gabe even know that Lorna used to be Carl's moll? OLTL connection: See above
(6) The Ageism
JFP eliminated multigenerational stories by firing all the actors over 55: Bridget (a beloved 11-year vet), Clara (shamelessly carted off to the old folks home), Spencer (even though he was an integral part of the Justine, then the Ryan/Grant story) and Eddie (thus reducing Joe to the role of heavy in the Nick/Sofia story).OLTL connection: No ageism here, just plain bad stories, casting, producing etc.
(7) The Sexism*Donna became the depraved older woman desperately pursuing Matthew, and took to uttering such inanities as "I always need a strong man to help me out." OLTL connection: Applies to most OLTL women *Felicia took to sitting in darkened rooms crying to herself because she felt that no one loved her (despite the fact that Marshall threw himself at her and told her how beautiful she was every single time he saw her). Then her whole life revolved around worshiping John. OLTL connection:: Applies to a bunch of OLTL women, particularly Blair. *Lorna and Felicia would devote their mother-daughter get-togethers to gushing about how wonderful their men were and how lucky they were to be loved by them. John received little or no flak for his treatment of Sharlene, while Felicia, the one who showed signs of remorse, became the town pariah. OLTL connection: Dorian/Cassie both would, at one point, gush about how wonderful Mel and Kevin were. Kevin received little flak for his treatment of Cassie or Babs for that matter, where Babs had to go psycho after losing that stud of a man, NuKevvie Buchanan. *Paulina completely lost her backbone as she settled down and became Joe's little woman.
(8) The Bad Writing*Dangling plotlines such as: Joe's gambling, and his vow to repay Nick the money Nick gave him to pay off the debt on Carlinos's. Grant's attempted murder of Carl in the hospital. Tomas receiving no punishment for cheating on his EMT exam. The first time that Maggie and Cass met after they both found out they were related was never shown. It was never discovered that Maggie planted Sofia's photo in The Herald or that she faked her death. Felicia's screenplay that was to be filmed at BCGH. The Grant/Morgan confrontation in prison. The Bayside Park rapist. Sharlene's 60's emblem. OLTL connection: Todd and Michelle, others, I'm sure, but I FF'd them *A string of very forgettable stories: Joe and Paulina; Laurie Michaels, Andrew Miller, Fax Newman OLTL connection: 1998 anyone? I think the entire year was pretty forgettable. *Stories recycled within the same period: Gary and Josie's leaving the force; John and Morgan's suspension from the hospital. Gary and Grace, and Gary and Blair. OLTL connection: Blair/Max, Blair Sam. Babs=Georgie wannabe, Jess is pregnant by the wrong guy, Nora thinks she's pregnant by the wrong guy (imo, it's gotta be Bo's--HBS wouldn't be in the press so much saying that it could be his otherwise.) *Overall stupidity, such as was apparent throughout the stalker storyline. Fibers found on all three victims matched, when Fax never touched Blair or Courtney? Hand-held cameras and constant E.R. scenes were used to create excitement, instead of conflict and drama. OLTL connection: Overall stupidity. Daily viewers can come up with millions of examples, I'm sure. I don't want to annoy myself further by typing them out. *Vampires yet! There's nothing inherently juvenile about vampire stories; Anne Rice has crafted very complex, character-driven, and philosophical stories. AW's foray into that field was incredibly hokey, from the dialogue right down to the wardrobe. The cops were all made out to be complete idiots. The only time Gary showed any brains was when he was on suspension. OLTL connection: Hmm... women are made out to be complete idiots, dialogue is generally hokey and repetitive... no vampires on OLTL, however. Poor us.
(9) Bad Hands-on Producing*JFP hired possibly the worst actor the show has ever had, Jodi O'Keefe, and subjected her to us for five full months. OLTL connection: JFP hired one of the worst actors this show has ever had, Sam Ball, and subjected us to FrankenDrew for a full 7 months. *Many recasts: Gregory, Courtney, Nick, Steven, Kirkland, Charlie, Nick, Maggie OLTL connection: Drew, Cris, Kevin, Starr (twice). Lindsay is essentially an Alex/Tina hybrid *Overusing her personal favorites and underusing the rest. Tom Eplin, one of the most popular players on the show, languished on the backburner from fall 1995 to summer 1996 (when Jensen Buchanan, one of JFP's faves, returned from maternity leave). Never in his ten-year history with the show has Eplin been so underused. Not to mention Charles Keating, ignored for the first nine months of 1996. He won the Emmy for Best Actor and he still wasn't given a story. OLTL connection: Jill, overusing her personal favorites? Shocker. Kale Browne, Catherine Hickland, Tim Gibbs, Sonia Satra, John Bolger (to an extent), Mark Derwin shall I go on? *The killing off of Ryan. While it was PMV's decision to leave, JFP made the mistake of making it impossible for him to return to the role (in a substantial manner). OLTL connection: Killing off Drew. A real actor could have made Drew a force to be reckoned with. Instead, Bo steals the corpse, Kelly whines, Nora jumps Sam's bones, and we are all miserable as viewers. *The firing of Barbara Berjer. Jensen Buchanan herself says that Bridget is the character she'd most like to have return to the show. OLTL connection: The firing of Stephen Markle. He's a fan favorite, he and Dorian could have a great story but he's no FOJ, so adios. I'm not using Clint Ritchie here because, imo, no great loss there. *The firing and/or gross misuse of popular talented actors such as Christine Tucci, Randy Brooks, and Nancy Frangione. OLTL connection: The gross misuse of talented actors like Erika Slezak, Robin Strasser, Timothy Stickney, Hillary B. Smith, Robert S. Woods, hell, the entire non-FOJ cast list.
(10) Putting on Airs*JFP was supposedly against NBC's plan to turn AW into a clone of DOOL. Yet she created a DOOLish atmosphere by upping the violence quota, producing DOOL-type stories such as Justine and the Nick/Sofia/Maggie triangle, hiring models who couldn't act, and experimenting with supernatural stories. *JFP took credit for increasing key demographics (women), which is apparently what she was hired by NBC to do. If you expect me to believe that she increased the violence and dumbed down the women characters *specifically* to increase viewership among women, well, I can't believe it. If the demographics did go up (and there is contradictory evidence whether they increased and whether the increase was sustained), then I can only believe that the increase is a coincidence.
JFP said that she loved the characters on the show. If so, why did she rewrite much of their history and personality?*Near the end of her tenure, JFP said that she "loved" Another World. Really? Did she hunt up old episodes? Does she eagerly tune in each day to watch the show, even though she's no longer EP? That's what it means to love the show. What JFP loved was being in control of a show and subjecting it to her latest fancy.
And did she ever listen to the advice Harding Lemay was hired to give her? From what the show became under her hands, it seems not.
OLTL connection: In the press, JFP acts like she loves OLTL and its characters. The proof is on screen. She loves her FOJs, and she has twisted OLTL's history, characters and stories to suit them. Ratings are falling, stories are dull,[Note: I wrote this out of frustration at reading posts praising the so-called romance and excitement that JFP brought to the show. Were 1994, 1993, 1992, and so on, all lousy years? I didn't start out hating JFP. I was made to, for all the reasons outlined above. The first six months of 1996 stand out among the worst periods of the show. By no means was everything she did bad. And certainly her successor has made her share of mistakes (including overplaying the Vicky story, the rapid and rabid housecleaning, and the complete descent into DOOLification] Like Eddie, I didn't start out hating JFP at AW. She made me hate her. I carried that hatred over to OLTL. I was extremely wary when she started here, because of what I knew about her. I gave her a chance--honestly, and undeservedly, I did-- and she blew it. JFP's still at OLTL, but I am not. Never thought it would come to that for me. Shannon