Monday, May 23, 2011


News that Eileen Fulton (Lisa) will be appearing in a theatrical production of My Fair Lady alongside her one-time As The World Turns co-star Terrence Mann, reminded me of an interview that I did with Mann when he appeared on ATWT (for the second time) in 2003 as Newman, Marshall's lawyer. (There is an archive of it, here.)

And now that I've outed myself as a soap geek (duh), a figure skating geek, and a sci-fi geek, it's time to add another one to the list: Musical theater geek.

I love musical theater. (Hence my watching of Glee, 'cause it certainly ain't for the character development.)

I am also excited about NBC's announced midseason replacement show, Smash.

Not just because I expect it to feed my musical theater geekiness jones, but because of what it says about the future of soap operas.

Let me explain:

Everything, entertainment trends included, goes in cycles. One upon a time, Bonanza ruled the airwaves and Gunsmoke was the longest running TV show in prime-time. Not too many cowboys saddling up these days. Once, sitcoms were king, then they were pronounced dead, then Bill Cosby brought them back again in the 1980s and kicked off a new Golden Age. The same was true of game shows until Who Wants to Be a Millionaire struck it big. The same was true of variety shows, and then came American Idol.

After Cop Rock (which, I still assert, was not that bad) crashed and burned spectacularly, no one thought you could do a weekly primetime musical. And then came Glee. Which began Smash. (Not to mention it's own reality show on Oxygen.)

These days, everyone is ringing soaps' death knell. Just like they once did for sitcoms and game shows and musicals.

Herb Kaplan, my Broadcast Law professor, was also a national authority on The Fairness Doctrine. Whenever reporters would call to ask him if it was dead, Herb's answer was, "No. It's just sleeping."

I am utterly confident the same can be said for soap operas. They will be back.

Or, to paraphrase my favorite musical of all time, All That Jazz, "Everything old is new again."

You can count on it.

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