Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Fair is fair, we did a round up of memorable soap Christmases last week, how about the best of New Year's in Soap Land, today?

Guiding Light:

General Hospital:

As the World Turns:

The Young & the Restless:

Days of Our Lives:

One Life to Live:

Santa Barbara:

Another World:

Monday, December 30, 2013

Podcast: What's New in Soaps, Skating & Romance Novels for 2014 (Exclusive Sneak Peeks)!

Will 2014 be the year of:

* Interactive soap operas (what if, instead of just passively accepting the story, you could do something to affect where it's going?)

* Interactive Figure Skating Mysteries (don't just read about the skating, click a button and watch it while you read!)

* Interactive romance novels (how about some mood music to help set the scene? How about the same scene from multiple perspectives? How about being able to zip around in time and space? The choice is no longer the author's - it's yours!)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013


I chat with Neil Haley about my Figure Skating Mystery novels (originally published as paperback originals by Berkley Prime Crime), and how I turned them into enhanced ebooks with professional skating videos from The Ice Theatre of NY included as part of the story!

Listen below!

Listen To Education Internet Radio Stations with Total Tutor on BlogTalkRadio

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Earlier this week, in honor of Dick Button's new book, I featured an interview I'd done for my own book, Inside Figure Skating, about more or less all the behind-the-scenes dirt you wanted to know about professional skating - but didn't know whom to ask (read it, here).

Now comes more news from the skating and dance world.

Dick Button, along with with Dorothy Hamill, JoJo Starbuck and others will be part of a panel discussion on Saturday, February 1, 2014 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Dance on Ice program.

Last year, Dance on Ice introduced the innovative work of the Ice Theatre of New York through a historical perspective, focusing on the development of ice dancing. This year, Olympian and U.S. National Pairs Champion JoJo Starbuck will look at the modern day movement of artistic ice ensembles, in particular the John Curry Ice Dancers, with excerpts from his ground-breaking spectaculars and TV specials such as “The Snow Queen” and including his amazing Fred Astaire routine. ITNY’s founder and director Moira North and artistic director Douglas Webster will then explore the company’s more recent collaborations, culminating in rehearsal footage and a recorded performance of “Reveries,” choreographed by ballet maestro Edward Villella.

As regular readers of this blog know, The Ice Theatre of NY provided the video for my enhanced Figure Skating Mystery series of books. When you click a link to watch the characters perform, you are really watching the artists of ITNY!

And finally, even more stuff for skating and dance fans to fill their holiday stockings with - the 1958 Omnibus television special, Gene Kelly - Dancing: A Man's Game has finally become available on DVD.  Among the guest stars on this never-previously-released special are Mickey Mantle, Johnny Unitas, Edward Villella... and Dick Button!

Get a sneak preview of all the titles mentioned above at the following links:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


All My Children and As the World Turns actress Cady McClain had this to say on her Facebook page about the passing of the legendary Peter O'Toole:

So sad to hear the news of Peter O'Toole's passing. He was lovely to me when we worked together on My Favorite Year (I was Tess, his daughter). A gracious and lovely man. I am grateful I had the opportunity to pass through his life. He will be missed.

Watch Cady and Peter in a clip from My Favorite Year, below:

Monday, December 16, 2013


In honor of ABC-TV director's Doug Wilson's Book, The World Was Our Stage, I offered excerpts from an interview he graciously granted me for my own 1999 book, Inside Figure Skating, about how Television Changed Figure Skating:

Read Part #1, here.

Part #2, here.

Part #3, here.

Part #4, here.

Part #5, here.

And now there's even more exciting news for skating fans!

The man who created figure skating commentary as we know it, Dick Button, himself, has a new book out, too!  (Link to buy at the bottom of this post.)

Not only was Dick the first man to do a triple jump in competition, not only did he invent the flying camel, but he is also the founding father of professional skating competitions! While Doug was featured in Inside Figure Skating's chapter entitled Lights, Camera, Axel, I focused most of Chapter #3: Competition, on Dick's work.  Please enjoy an excerpt below, and keep checking back to this blog for more!

In 1952, when Dick Button won his second Olympic gold medal and turned professional, he wanted to keep competing.  But, there was no place for him to go to fulfill that ambition.  The only pro opportunity was the World Professional Competition in Jaca, Spain.  Established in 1931, it originated in England, then moved to Spain in the 1960s.  However, that event was mostly for ice-show skaters, an "open" contest that accepted all comers, regardless of ability.  The majority performed the same numbers they skated every night in shows like Ice Capades, only without show-lighting, and were judged by their peers.  Prize money was a paltry $2,500 for singles, and $3,000 to be split between both partners in a Pairs or Dance team.
After convincing ABC and CBS to televise amateur events, Dick Button, in the late 1960s, approached the ISU with a plan to start a similar, professional circuit.  But, interest was minimal.  The ISU thought a pro world championship was too radical an idea.
Working independently, in 1973, Button presented the initial World Professional Figure Skating Championship, in Tokyo.  His plan was to provide a place where skaters could develop their craft and their artistry, a sort of graduate school for the elite.  He wanted to give every skater the opportunity to keep growing as a performer and a technician, and, to this day, he grows disappointed when some fail to take advantage of their chance, or when he sees pro skaters who don't change or progress from who they were as amateurs.  1992 Olympic Bronze Medalist Petr Barna used to drive Button crazy.  He wanted to know why no one would take him in hand and do something with him, teach him to stand up, to stretch, to have a concept for a routine?  It broke his heart, because he saw potential wasted.     

Button also wanted to establish a pro competition as a setting for skaters to earn sufficient money.  In 1973, first prize at this World Professional Championship was $15,000 in each category.
The first competitors at the event included newly turned pro Janet Lynn beating Hungary's Zsuzsa Almassy.  As an indicator of the upsets that were soon to characterize professional competition, the last time Lynn and Almassy had gone head to head, at the 1969 Worlds, Janet finished 5th, while Almassy won the Bronze.  Over in the men's division, American spinning sensation and the 1955 & 1956 World Silver Medalist Ron Robertson defeated Canada's Don Jackson, the 1962 World Champion and first man to perform a Triple Lutz in competition.  In last place was John Misha Petkevitch, who won his only U.S. title in 1971, fifteen years after Robertson retired.

The Pairs division was won by Soviet, Olympic champions, the Protopopovs.  Determined that his World Professional Championship live up to the internationalism of its name, Button invited them through the USSR Federation.  The skaters were dying to come, but, until the moment they stepped off the plane in Japan, no one knew whether their government would let them.  (Because the USSR Federation refused to cooperate, the next Soviets to compete at World Pros were 1988 World Champions Vallova & Vassiliev, in 1989.  When  Candid tried to request Soviet skaters through official channels, they were always turned down.  It was only when they went straight to the skaters themselves that Russians became World Pro regulars).

As unwilling to give up control then as they would be in the 1990s, the ISU fought Button's "unauthorized" championship, making it necessary to wait seven years before another one could be held.  (In the meantime, Button put on events called The World Skate Challenge, to bypass ISU objections over the words World Championship.)

Following the 1980 Olympics, Button attempted to put together an event pitting established stars like Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill against "kids" fresh from the Olympics.  However, the older skaters were afraid that losing a professional event would tarnish the luster of their Olympic titles.  The only way Button could convince them to take part, was to make the 1980 World Pros a team competition, with no individual scores. 
That first contest proved so successful - despite the "Stars of the 1980 Olympics" team, including Games' Silver medalist Linda Fratianne, Gold Medalist Robin Cousins, Bronze Medalist Charlie Tickner, and Babilona & Gardner, soundly defeating the "World and Olympic Professional Stars" team of Fleming, Hamill, and Starbuk & Shelley -- that their team format stayed in place through 1981 and 1982.  In 1983, for the first time, individual results for all four divisions were tallied in addition to the team event, though prize money still went to the top team.  That year, Janet Lynn prevailed over Dorothy Hamill, who, in their last head-to-head finished 4th to Janet's 2nd at the 1973 Worlds, as well as Linda Fratianne who, in 1973, at age twelve, was only the U.S. Junior Silver Medalist.
In the men, however, youth prevailed, as 1980 Olympic Bronze Medalist Charlie Ticknor beat 1976 Olympic Bronze Medalist Toller Cranston, and 1960 Olympic Bronze Medalist Don Jackson.

According to ABC's Doug Wilson, "Dick Button was a pioneer in many respects, and he was a pioneer in giving skaters a venue where they could compete for money and earn a living outside of skating in shows.  He's now created, in a sense, his own league."

Candid Productions' Vice-President Jirina Ribbens credits the success of those first World Pros, as well as the subsequent ones to "a combination of sponsor, television, and public.  You can't have (professional competitions) just for the public.  It doesn't pay for itself.  The prize money is way out there."  (It also does not include the appearance fees given to select skaters, regardless of their final placement).

Television also demanded that the event not be broadcast to the viewers at home in the same order that it was viewed by fans attending the event.  Explains Ribbens, "It's very ironic that, for the public at large, skating is all about women.  For skating fans, skating is all about men.  When you do an event live, you always have to end with the men if you want the best evening.  When you do an event for television, you always want to end with the women, if you want people to stay tuned.  If we play the competition the way it runs live (with men as the final event), we lose viewers.  But, if you keep teasing the women, TV viewers stay tuned."

More behind the scenes from the professional skating world coming up soon.  In the meantime, click the link below to check out Dick's book, in his own words!

Alina Adams worked with Dick Button and Doug Wilson as a figure skating researcher for ABC Sports.  She is also the author of the Figure Skating Mystery series, including Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, Death Drop and Skate Crime.

Friday, December 13, 2013


This week, I wrote a post for Mommy Poppins about the difference between general Emergency Rooms, and Pediatric ones, which specialize in treating the unique needs of children.  I included a list of Manhattan hospitals who have pediatric ERs. (Read it, here.)

It's a topic I've been passionate about for a long time. Children are not merely miniature adults, and treatments effective for grown ups may be downright dangerous for kids.  For instance, a hemorrhaging adult may have his spleen removed to staunch the bleeding, and recover with no ill effects.  A child who undergoes the same procedure will also seemingly recover and be sent home.  Only to die a year later from a cold because their immune system has been critically compromised.

So how did I first learn about the importance of taking a child to a Pediatric Emergency Room - even if it isn't necessarily the nearest Emergency Room?

Why, from romance novels, of course!

The hero of my 2000 contemporary romance for DELL, When a Man Loves a Woman (#506 on RomanceNovels Top 1000 of all time!) was a pediatric trauma surgeon, and the heroine a pediatric neurosurgeon.  The research that I did to make the ER they work in feel as authentic as possible made me aware - even before I became a parent myself - just how key knowing where to take your child for initial treatment is for their ultimate survival.

How did I do? See for yourself in this excerpt from When a Man Loves a Woman:

Dr. James Elliot was waiting on the brilliantly sunny roof of Los Angeles Valley Hospital even before the chopper, carrying his eight-year-old Caucasian male victim of a fall from a seventh-floor window, landed on the helipad. When the doors opened, Elliot was the first to reach the gurney. He smiled reassuringly at the boy with the plastic collar clamped around his neck, before firing off a succession of questions at the paramedics who'd brought him in, all the while running alongside the gurney on its way to the Code Room.

Once inside the Code Room, Elliot allowed Jeff Greenwood, a Second-Year resident, to take over the initial examination. Valley was a teaching hospital, after all. They were big on the learn-by-doing method.  And all the residents rotating through the Pediatric Emergency Room were supposed to learn from Dr. Elliot. He may have been only forty-three years old, but in the eyes of the residents, he was the Grand Old Man of Pediatric Trauma Medicine.

Elliot hypothesized that was because, before he showed up, no one actually believed something so specific should be a specialty. The medical establishment figured that what worked in Adult Trauma should function just as well with kids. And then they wondered why the mortality rate was so much greater among children. Creating a trauma unit especially for the under-eighteen contingent opened a lot of eyes, triggered a mountain of journal articles, and earned E1liot a nationwide reputation as the specialist in his field.

Tongue firmly in cheek, Elliot told anyone who asked that his extensive experience was the reason for the 'Old' in 'Grand Old Man of Pediatric Trauma Medicine.' It wasn't the gray he periodically noticed streaking his otherwise raven-black, curly hair. Because, save that, Elliot was in the same shape he'd been in college, when playing semipro hockey helped foot the medical-school bills. These days, however, he stuck to a set exercise schedule - mostly because of the physical demands of his profession. In Emergency Medicine, every second counted. When Elliot wasn't sprinting toward a patient, he was slicing a human chest open practically with his bare hands, or standing for hours, plugging bullet holes gushing from a drive-by shooting victim. If Elliot wasn't in perfect shape, his patients risked suffering for it.

Just like the patients risked suffering when their attending physician was only a Second-Year resident, still wet behind the ears. That’s why, when Jeff Greenwood, in his haste to check out the ABC’s of elemental trauma - airway, breathing, circulation - overlooked the harsh scratchiness in the little boy’s voice as just the result of hoarse crying, rather than a potential lung problem, Elliot stepped in. He called for an X-ray, followed by blood gas. The numbers he got moments later from the lab confirmed his fears: a collapsed lung. With a twitch of his finger, Elliot signaled for the thoracotomy tray. He stretched on his surgical gloves, reached for the syringe of anesthetizing lidocaine, and inserted the needle between his patient’s fourth and fifth ribs. Their boy had stopped crying. The collapsed lung was making it painfully impossible. He squirmed and struggled inside his restraints, but had yet to utter a word. That disturbed Elliot. Most kids would have been cursing him out quite colorfully by now. He liked it that way, Screaming kids were kids with the will to live. It was the quiet ones that made a Pediatric Trauma Surgeon’s heart beat faster.

Still, his immediate priority was the collapsed lung. Elliot asked for a scalpel, and made an incision beside the pinprick left by his needle. He stuck his finger into the hole to keep it open and prevent it from bleeding, then asked for the chest tube. Mouth slit in concentration, Elliot threaded the clear, plastic tube past his finger, into the surgical wound. He kept pushing until large, pink bubbles began burping into the tube. Pink bubbles. Not red. Not bloody. Thank God. The lung was working again.

Score one for the good guys.

Elliot turned to his patient. "Say something for me, kiddo."

The child just stared back, blankly. Not a good thing. But at the moment, not a primary thing.

With the lung crisis out of the way, Elliot and Jeff completed the rest of their exam, patching up each critical injury as they went along, in order of severity, and double-checking that the boy was stabilized. Finally, at the end of a very long morning, they turned their attention to his baffling muteness. Unfortunately, as far as they could see, there was no physical cause for it.

Which, under no circumstances, meant that there was actually no physical cause for it. It just meant they couldn't see it.

Greenwood suggested to Elliot, "Maybe we should ask Dr. Brody in for a consult."

Deborah Brody was their Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and an expert in juvenile neurological injuries. Shed been with the hospital for eight years, ever since Elliot, after half a decade of phone calls, had convinced her to leave her boring post in San Francisco for a place that really saw some action.

Elliot told Jeff, "Good idea. Brody’s in today. Go ahead and page her."

"Actually, Dr. Elliot" - Jeff massaged an X ray between two of his fingers, leaving a smudge on the file - "I was hoping you could do it. See, I... Frankly, sir, she scares the hell out of me."

Elliot didn't try to disguise his smile. In all seriousness, he observed, "She'll be happy to hear that."

"I know," Greenwood said.

Elliot dialed Brody’s pager number and recorded a message. While they waited for her to arrive, Jeff asked, "You and Dr. Brody, you two go back a really long way, right?"

"Twenty years," Elliot said. Then, because there was nothing else to do for the time being, and because the account came with a moral to young doctors about making snap judgments, he told Jeff about how, when they met on the first day of medical school, Elliot thought Brody was the biggest idiot he'd ever encountered.

In retrospect, Elliot still asserted he couldn't be blamed for jumping to such a conclusion. After all, what was he supposed to think, when the woman sitting beside him at the second best medical school in the country couldn't remember her own name?

The professor had roll-called, "Brody?"

Deborah continued sitting there, hands primly clasped in front of her, blank as could be. It was only after the second "Brody?" that she jumped to self-conscious attention, awkwardly raising one hand in the air to announce, "Oh, that would be me, I guess."

A first-class idiot, Elliot decided on the spot. She just had to be sleeping with someone important on the admissions board. And all Elliot had to say about that was, she better be damn incredible in bed, because, on the surface, the chick wasn't much to look at. Oh, sure, she had that all-American thing going for her. Blushing cheeks, peaches-and-cream complexion, big hazel eyes, and gushing chestnut hair that she rolled up in a bun, probably hoping to look more professional. If you liked that sort of thing.

Elliot, personally, preferred the more sophisticated type.

It wasn't until he and Brody ended up, against his wishes, in the same study group, that Elliot learned the reason for her ditziness on that first day. Deb had gotten married to Max Brody two weeks before the fall quarter started, and medical school was the first time she heard herself called by her new last name. Elliot also learned, a touch to his chagrin, that the young woman sitting beside him was about as far from a first- class idiot as... as... Well, as Elliot himself was.

And Elliot was not a man prone to low self-esteem.

As a result, he and Brody spent their four years of med school constantly trying to one-up each other in the classroom. One day he'd be top of the stack, the next day she'd be. When it came time for them to graduate, for the first time in UCSF academic history, two students were named number one in their class.

And the precocious, straight-A twentysomething she'd been then was still visible in the forty-one-year old woman who bustled into the Trauma Room in response to Elliot’s page. Having heard Jeff’s opinion of her, Elliot watched with amusement as a pair of First-Years actually seemed to flinch when Deborah walked by. He didn't blame them. While Dr. Brody wasn't condescending or cruel, like some of the other senior staff, she did have a very, very low tolerance for incompetence, unpreparedness, or plain, old-fashioned stupidity. She expected things done right the first time, and if the resident in front of her couldn't hack it, she would find someone who could. There were no second chances in brain surgery.

Which was precisely why Deborah had chosen her specialty. That, and one more, rather personal reason.

Years ago, Deb confessed to Elliot, "My mother was an amazing woman. She ran a household, raised four kids, chaired all the PTA meetings, sat on the board of five local charities, and put up with my father. But, still, no matter what she achieved, my dad would get this condescending smile on his face, and he would remind her, ‘Well, it isn't exactly brain surgery, is it, Elaine?’ That’s all I ever heard growing up. And that’s what made me decide, if brain surgery is considered the pinnacle of what a woman could achieve, then, by God, I was going to be a brain surgeon."

She'd just begun reviewing the compiled test results that slid before her, when Deborah’s beeper sang its five-tone concerto. She excused herself, picked up the nearest telephone, and dialed her assistant while exchanging bemused smiles with Elliot behind Jeff’s back about the resident’s anxiety in going toe-to-toe with her.

"Yes, Francie," she said. "What’s the crisis?" Deb listened closely. "I see." Then, "I'll be there as soon as I can." Brody hung up the phone and returned to the test results.

"Do you think maybe the - " Jeff began.

Deborah cut him off. "These look fine. Whatever the reason for your boy’s silence, it isn't neurological." She turned toward the exit. "I've got to go."

"But." Jeff’s mouth opened and closed like a fish. He looked from Elliot to Deb, confused. "Dr. Brody. Wait."

"What?" She pivoted, visibly in no mood to be second-guessed, especially by a Second-Year.

Concerned, Elliot took a step forward. Deborah Brody may not have suffered fools gladly, but it also wasn't like her to be this brusque with a resident. They were, after all, a teaching hospital. They were there to make better doctors, and Senior staff mentoring the Junior ones was a huge part of the process.

Jeff shifted his weight from foot to foot, and managed to look everywhere in the room but actually at Deb as he asked, "Are you sure - I mean, how long did you take to look at the test results?"

"Sixty seconds." The brutal honesty took Jeff by surprise. But it also gave him the courage to pursue his initial objection. "Well, I've been looking at them for the last hour. How can you just come in and, after sixty seconds, decide there’s nothing wrong?"

The younger doctor had a point, and Elliot expected Deborah to acknowledge it. She was tough, but she was also terribly fair, and Greenwood was voicing an opinion she herself often gave. In fact, of all the doctors Elliot knew, Brody spent the most time checking and rechecking and rechecking test results. He'd lost count of the many nights he'd swung by her office on his way home only to catch her, coat halfway on and dangling off her shoulders, eyes glued to a particularly bothersome CAT scan.

Deborah said, "Actual1y, it took me thirty-five seconds to see there was nothing wrong. The remaining twenty-five I spent musing why a Second-Year resident at one of the best teaching hospitals in the country cou1dn’t figure that out for himself."

Stung, Jeff dug in his heels. "I was being careful."

"You were wasting time. Time that could have been better put to use figuring out what is actually wrong with this patient. You kids just don't get it, do you?" Deborah’s eyes drifted to Elliot, as if seeking his support. But he was so stunned by her uncharacteristic behavior, that he could do nothing but look back at her, confused, and worried. He was hoping she might give him a clue as to what in the world was wrong with her. But when Brody realized he wasn't about to back her up, she simply shifted the bulk of her attention back to Jeff, telling him, "We've got the best equipment, we've got the best doctors, the best research space. We should be able to work miracles here for every single patient. But you know why we don't? Time. Time, Dr. Greenwood. It’s the only thing none of us can control."

And, with a swish of the swinging doors, she was gone.


To read more, click on the link below!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


From the Independent Book Publisher's Association:

While physical bookstores may be in decline there is an ever-expanding list of niche websites and many of those are ideal for promoting digital products. Alina Adams Media has partnered with the figure skating product retailer Triple Toe Skatewear to add a section promoting books like On Thin Ice and Skate Crime. (No, I’m not trying to say crime is a holiday tradition but skating is!)

Read more at: http://www.ibpa-online.org/holidays-sales-and-marketing-tiz-the-season-for-creative-book-promotion-ideas/

Thursday, December 05, 2013


My blog post for Kveller, 7 Tidbits That Will Make You See "The Sound of Music" in a New Light, featured the following fun fact: The nun who “interferes” with the Nazi’s carburetor is Anna Lee, later matriarch Lila Quartermaine on "General Hospital." (Read the entire article, including who tried to seduce who, which moppet almost drowned - and starved - and why the character we really should be worried about is Uncle Max, here.)

Now, in advance of NBC airing "The Sound of Music - Live" tonight at 8, are seven more tidbits - this time exclusively for soap fans, about the original Broadway musical, the movie, the stage revivals, and the TV remake:

1) You know Rolf, the evil teen Nazi who betrays the Von Trapps? In the original Broadway production he was played by Brian Davies, husband of the one and only, record Emmy winner Erika Slezak (Viki; OLTL). Read all about their marriage and family life, here.

2) Nicholas Hammond who played Friedrich in the movie (he's 14 and he's impossible!) also appeared as one of Holly's con-artist cousins, Algernon Durban, on "General Hospital" in 1985.

3) Laura Bell Bundy, "Guiding Light's" first teen Marah, toured the country with Marie Osmond as Maria, while Laura Bell moved up from role to role as she grew.

4) Ron Raines (Alan; GL) also toured with "The Sound of Music," but he stuck to one part, Captain Von Trapp for the duration of the run.

5) John Bolger (Phillip; GL, Gabe; AW, Malcolm; LOV, John; OLTL, Floyd; GH) will be on hand tonight as an Admiral.

6) The role of Kurt (he's incorrigible!) in the same production will be played by Joe West, son of Maura West (Carly; ATWT, Diane; Y&R and Ava; GH) and Scott DeFreitas (Andy; ATWT).

7) Maura's longtime co-star, Michael Park (Jack; ATWT) will appear as an Austrian Baron - so it's kind of a Carkjack reunion (almost)!

Monday, December 02, 2013


It's the Cyber Monday prior to a Winter Olympics! That means every skating fan's virtual basket should be filling up with books dedicated to their favorite sport, including veteran ABC Sports director Doug Wilson's The World Was Our Stage (see the Buy link at the bottom of this post).

In the meantime, in honor of the upcoming Sochi Games, I have been posting free excerpts from my 1999 book, Inside Figure Skating, specifically the chapter, Lights, Camera, Axel: How Television Changed Figure Skating.

Read Part #1, here.

Part #2, here.

Part #3, here.

Part #4, here.

And enjoy Part #5 - The Scandal Edition, below:

Wilson reveals, "There's a no-man's land between center ice and the corner, where we have no camera.  Very often, great skaters -- because when they skate in arenas they want to cover the whole audience -- will stand in that position, making eye-contact with the audience.  And all I see is an ear.  They're looking away.  What they want to do to the audience of 1,000 people in front of them, they're not doing to the TV audience that's ten million people watching center-ice.  If they're about to present themselves to the world, it's better if we see their faces."

However, sometimes the face television presents to the world is not necessarily the one the skater wants.

Wilson asks, "How long, especially if you're live, are skaters sitting in kiss and cry and you're looking at their eyes and you're looking at their tears and you're looking at their emotions and you get to see what kind of people they are?  You can see if they have grace under pressure, or if they're not as admirable."

Those less-admirable attributes brought up by the media and grumbled about by the skaters include 1994 Olympic Silver Medalist Nancy Kerrigan's less-than-kind remarks about rival Oksana Bauil -- and about Micky Mouse.  Bauil's 1997 drunk-driving charges.  1995 U.S. Champion Nicole Bobek's arrest for felony burglary.  French Champion Surya Bonalay's romantic claims of being born on Reunion Island, despite the fact that she'd been born in France.  U.S. Dance Champions Punsalan & Swallow signing a petition to keep their main opponent, Russian-born Gorsha Sur, of Roca & Sur, from getting his U.S. citizenship in time to challenge Punsalan & Swallow for the one 1994 Olympic berth.  Punsalan & Swallow freely admitted their act on television, then, stunned by the backlash their confession triggered, blamed ABC for airing the segment, and refused to grant them anymore interviews for over a year.

On the other hand, when, in 1997, Russian, World, and Olympic ice-dance champions Grishuk & Platov split with their coach, 1980 Olympic champion Natalia Linichuk, they chose to fight all of their battles exclusively in the press.  In December of 1996, Grishuk & Platov, having been off-ice for most of the season due to Platov's knee injury, reportedly travel led to Moscow, for a secret meeting with the Russian Federation.  There, they sought a guarantee that they would win all the competitions they entered, leading up to the 1998 Olympics.  The Federation told them they could provide no such guarantee.  Grishuk & Platov then returned to their home-base in Newark, DE, to ask their coach, also coach of the 1996 World Silver Medallists, Krylova & Ovsianikov, to insure another year of victory for them, by deliberately weakening the second team.  When Linichuk also refused, Grishuk & Platov split for Marlboro, MA, and Tatiana Tarasova, trainer of 1996 World Silver Medalist Ilia Kulik.  At the 1997 European championship, after Grishuk & Platov's new dances not only won them the gold, but also an almost record-breaking twelve perfect 6.0's (England's Torvill & Dean still hold the record, 17 6.0's at the 1984 Europeans), Linichuk tried to take credit for the stunning victory, by claiming she'd participated in choreographing their new numbers.  Grishuk categorically denied the contention, adding "Let God be her judge."

God, or at least, the Russian media, who sided squarely with the skaters over their ex-coach, asserting in "6.0," the official publication of the Russian Skating Federation, "Linichuk did every-thing in her power to push Grishuk & Platov into the professional realm.  This duo had already done their thing for her (won Olympic gold) and she was convinced it was time for them to leave."  At Europeans and the subsequent Worlds, even the Ukrainian media got into the act, ruminating about their national champions, Romanova & Yaroshenko, who also trained under Linichuk, "One can only feel sorry for the athletes.  Their mentor will never make champions of them.  Linichuk is a trainer first and foremost of Russian skaters, and she always places her bets on the Russian athletes.  As long as (Romanova & Yaroshenko) keep training with Linichuk, they will see medals hanging only on the necks of their opponents."

Within months of the media declaring Natalia Linuchuk persona non gratta of skating, the coach who, at the 1996 Europeans, saw a podium filled with only her skaters (Grishuk & Platov Gold, Krylova & Ovsianikov Silver, Romanova & Yaroshenko Bronze) was down to one winning team.  Heeding the advice of the Ukrainian press, Romanova & Yaroshenko also defected to Tarasova.

But, the ice-dancing controversies didn't stop there.  At the 1997 Champions Series Final, where Grishuk & Platov won gold over defending champions, Canadians Shae-Lynn Bourne and Viktor Kraatz, a reporter stood up at the subsequent press-conference, and, under the guise of asking a question, proceeded to deride the abilities of Bourne & Kraatz.  The woman was later revealed to be Grishuk's aunt.  Grishuk claimed ignorance.
Of course, there are those who claim that controversy is good for skating.  After all, didn't the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan saga trigger the 1990s-era boom of interest in the sport?

The experts weigh in on that controversial topic in upcoming installments.

Meanwhile, check out Doug Wilson's book at the link:

Alina Adams is the author of the Figure Skating Mystery series, including Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, Death Drop and Skate Crime.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Chanukah is not Christmas.

I realize that, on the surface, that distinction should seem rather self-evident (what with the whole Jewish/Christian being entire different religions thing).

But sadly, the difference has not been honored on television.

My Jewish heritage is wildly misrepresented at holiday time, lumped together with Christmas. According to television, Chanukah and Christmas might periodically manifest different external trappings - you say, "jelly donuts," I say "belly full of jelly," - but deep down, behind the screen, they're exactly the same, which means a one-size Holiday Special fits all!

This misguided sentiment was flat out articulated in an episode of the early 1990s sitcom, Love & War, where WASPy Wally assured her Jewish boyfriend, Jack, that religion was no obstacle to their relationship since, "Chanukah and Christmas aren't all that different. They both celebrate Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men... and Women!"

Actually, Christmas celebrates Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men (she threw in that part about the women).

Chanukah celebrates a hard-won victory over an occupying army.

And what did that occupying army do, exactly, that so pissed off the People of Israel that they were willing to hole up in the hills and launch repeated, arguably suicidal raids against a foe with more men and superior weapons?  Turns out that Syrian Greek King Antiochous had passed an edict ordering Jews to give up their trappings, traditions and texts, and to become like everyone else around them.

Chanukah celebrates a triumph over forced assimilation.  (And as for those Jews who wanted to assimilate... let's just say the zealots known as the Maccabees weren't too fond of them, either.)

But, somehow, that part of our important story doesn't come up much on TV...

Read all about it, here, with examples from soapy shows like Friends, Brothers & Sisters, The OC and more! (Plus, you will never, ever believe which show actually got it right!)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


General Hospital:

Guiding Light:

One Life to Live:

Ryan's Hope:

The Young & the Restless

Monday, November 25, 2013


All My Children:

Another World:

As the World Turns:

Days of Our Lives:

More tomorrow - Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I've written before about coming to America as a child (including the traumatic tale of when it looked like my teddy bear might not be making the journey with me - click here for the horror!).

I wrote about how weird it felt for me to write about wholesome, Christian, Midwestern soap opera characters in my As the World Turns and Guiding Light tie-in novels when I'd never been Christian.  Or Midwestern.  Or wholesome. (Click here for an unconventional tale of faking it.)

But now, in honor of Thanksgiving, I've written about how television presents the immigrant experience. The good, the bad, and the are you kidding me?

There’s no pretty way to say this: TV made me an American.

When I first moved to the United States at the age of seven, I believed that everything I saw on screen was a documentary demonstrating how “real” Americans actually lived. (The fact that we didn’t have a gargantuan staircase like on The Brady Bunch proved that my family weren’t yet real Americans.)

However, while I was perfectly willing to accept at face value everything that the miraculous, marvelous machine (and it was in color, too!) that sat in my living room told me about my new neighbors, I was a bit puzzled by the manner in which they represented my fellow immigrants.

Take, for instance, the TGIF hit, Perfect Strangers, and the less well-known, syndicated series, What a Country.  Bronson Pinchot’s character, Balki, was from some vaguely Eastern European/Mediterranean country that couldn’t have been too far from where I was born in Odessa, (then-)USSR. And stand-up comedian Yakov Smirnoff, who played Nikolai, was actually from the same city as my family.  So, in theory, I should have known dozens of people just like them.

Why then, did both these shows appear to be under the impression that because you spoke English like a child – simple syntax, limited vocabulary, taking idioms literally – that meant your thought processes and reactions were that of a child, too?  On both shows, the new immigrant was basically a toddler in an adult’s body. Nothing like the engineers, doctors, and professors all around me who, yes, may have been watching Sesame Street to pick up the language, but managed to remain adults, nonetheless.

Read more, here.

Monday, November 18, 2013


We Love Soaps has a wonderful tribute to actor George Reinholt, who died last week at the age of 73 after creating several memorable soap roles, including Steve on Another World and Tony on One Life to Live.

When putting together my book, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, the incomparable Connie Passalacqua a.k.a. Marlena De Lacroix (Editor, Afternoon TV Magazine, 1980-1983; Columnist, Soap Opera Weekly Magazine, 1989-2001) had the following to say about what she believes to be soaps at the top of their game:

Alice and Steve’s break-up after she learns Rachel is pregnant with Steve's baby.  (This scene) is the high point of a wonderfully-written love triangle. 

Alice was the quintessential, young, innocent heroine. 

Rachel, the young villainess from the wrong side of the tracks, was Alice's sister-in-law, but had set

her cap for Steve Frame, a square-jawed young industrialist, Alice's love. 

They had a back-street affair.  At Alice and Steve's engagement party, Rachel harrowingly told Alice her baby was Steve's, not (Alice’s) brother Russ'.

Read more from Connie, as well as daytime's best actors, writers, directors, producers and experts about the soap opera moments they'll never forget - and go behind the scenes to find out how they happened by clicking the image below!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Back in June of 2012, I wrote for Mommy Poppins a blog post about the most important issue of our or any other time: Where to find free and clean public bathrooms in New York City.

(If you think I'm kidding about this being the most important issue of our or any other time, please be advised that I stopped writing historical romances and switched to contemporaries when I came to the decision that nothing romantic ever happened prior to the invention of indoor plumbing.)

Now, I am happy to report that other intellectuals have picked up the banner of my cause, as the aforementioned piece has, just this past week, been quoted on GoodReads, and on Improbable Research in conjunction with a "landmark session at the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics."

Finally, organized science is catching up to my brilliance.

You're welcome, world.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


ABC's veteran figure skating director, Doug Wilson, has a new book out, The World Was Our Stage (click the link at the bottom of the post to buy). 

Almost fifteen years ago, I interviewed Doug for my own book, Inside Figure Skating.  Now, in honor of his autobiography, I am excerpting his insights from the chapter Lights, Camera, Axel: How Television Changed Figure Skating.

Read Part #1, here.

Part #2, here.

Part #3, here.

And enjoy Part #4, below:

At the 1988 Olympics, the plan was to make Russian Pair skater Ekaterina Gordeeva, the Olga Korbut, media-darling of the show.  It was a fine plan, hampered by the fact that Pairs was, and typically is, the first discipline to finish competition.  Meaning an immense build-up was impossible.  Undaunted, television refused to abstain from their scheme, so that, even though she'd already won the gold, Katya stayed on the air for the duration of the Games, whether she was walking around the village, or simply sitting in the stands.

Another plan that didn't come off quite as it was supposed to was Doug Wilson's coverage of Brian Boitano's Long Program.  Wilson was determined to catch the definite head-turn at the start of the routine, in all its "Napoleon" glory.  But, as it turned out, "I'd planned an opening shot, a first shot of his face, before the head-turn, but, because something happened prior to his going out on the ice, the camera I'd planned to use was not available.  I had to use another one, in the left corner.  It turned out to be a better shot than what I planned.  Which, again, proves that if you really work hard and do your homework, it's amazing how lucky you can get."

At eligible competitions, television producers try their best to be unobtrusive and not disturb the natural rhythm of the sport.  Yet, at a live event, a production assistant is often stationed by the judges' desk to insure that marks are revealed at television's convenience.  A nervous skater may be sitting in the kiss-and-cry area, waiting to see results that will inevitably affect the rest of their life.  But, if television happens to be in a commercial at the moment, the skater will just have to wait a tad longer.

For professional competitions, on the other hand, television doesn't mind getting involved, operating on the philosophy that the skaters and producers are working together to present the best show possible.  For instance, at the 1995 Challenge of Champions, Wilson evokes, "(1994 World Champion from Japan) Yuka Sato had a moment of presentation which was on one side of the arena, between what would be the blue (hockey) line and the red line.  I presumptuously asked if she thought she might be able to re-choreograph that a little, so when she stopped to make that presentation, she was at the red line position, directly in front of my camera.  There's a no-man's land between center ice and the corner, where we have no camera.  Very often, great skaters -- because when they skate in arenas they want to cover the whole audience -- will stand in that position, making eye-contact with the audience.  And all I see is an ear.  They're looking away.  What they want to do to the audience of 1,000 people in front of them, they're not doing to the TV audience that's ten million people watching center-ice.  If they're about to present themselves to the world, it's better if we see their faces."

However, sometimes the face television presents to the world is not necessarily the one the skater wants...

More from Doug Wilson on this blog, shortly...

Meanwhile, check out his book at the link:

Alina Adams is the author of the Figure Skating Mystery series, including Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, Death Drop and Skate Crime.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I am excited to announced that enhanced ebook versions of my Figure Skating Mystery series, including "Murder on Ice," "On Thin Ice," "Axel of Evil," "Death Drop" and "Skate Crime" are now available for purchase at: Triple Toe Skatewear.  Stopping by to pick up boots, blades, dresses, tights or custom jewelery? Pop a few Figure Skating Mystery novels into the virtual shopping basket, as well!

In addition to all the text of the original Berkley Prime Crime paperback releases, the enhanced ebook version also offers professional skating videos by The Ice Theatre of NY as part of the story! Now you don't just need to read about skating - you can actually watch it!

And the only thing better than watching the Ice Theatre of NY bring the story to life is seeing them in person. 

They will be performing ICE:DANCE October 24-26, 2013 at 7PM on the gleaming surface of Sky Rink in NYC's Chelsea Piers.

Featuring US Men’s Champion Ryan Bradley, 7-time British Dance Champion John Kerr, World Team Members Eve Chalom, Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre, they will be skating a program dedicated to elevating the art of Ensemble Ice Dance.

Gen Adm: $25 (Oct. 24 & 26)
Students/Seniors: $15 (Oct. 24 & 26)
Gala Show featuring Kurt Browning - Gen Adm: $45 (Oct. 25)

For more information visit: http://www.icetheatre.org/

Friday, October 18, 2013


News that two-time Olympic silver medalist and three-time world champion Elvis Stojko will be stepping into Billy Flynn's soft-shoe(s) for a Broadway and North American tour run of Chicago, made me think about other figure skaters who've taken a stab at treading the boards instead of the ice, as well as appearing in film and television.

Check out some highlights below:

Dorothy Hamill:

Katarina Witt:

Robin Cousins:

Sasha Cohen:

Ilia Kulik:

Carol Heiss:

Alina Adams is the author of the Figure Skating Mystery series, including Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, Death Drop and Skate Crime, now available as enhanced e-books with video footage included along with the story. Check out a sneak preview here for Nook and here for Kindle.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Originally published on 10/19/11


Spirit Day got me thinking... When I asked fans to contribute which scenes demonstrated soaps at the very top of their game for Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, the final tally included All My Children's Bianca coming out to Erica, As The World Turns' Holden filling in Emma about Luke being gay, and Guiding Light's romance of Olivia and Natalia.

As it turned out, these three very different stories ended up with three very different write-ups in the enhanced e-book, as actress Eden Riegel, writer Jill Lorie Hurst, and soap scholar Sam Ford approached their respective entries from three unique perspectives which, together, formed an interesting overview regarding how LGBT issues have been handled on daytime in the 21st Century, and what they meant both to their creators and their viewers.

Eden Riegel: The story was told so beautifully and with such sensitivity and respect. Audiences already loved and were invested in Erica and her daughter, and went on the journey with Erica as their surrogate. Over time, they began to embrace Bianca along with Erica. And soon Bianca was one of the most popular characters on All My Children, even among housewives in middle America who never even met a gay person before. This story is proof positive that soaps have great power not only to tell dramatic, engaging stories, but also to help change hearts and minds.

Jill Lorie Hurst: The writing team, the producing staff and the actors fell in love with the story the moment it was pitched. The network and P&G were a little more cautious, but they never told us NOT to tell it. Their hesitation didn’t really hurt the story because we played the emotional beats full out from day one until the last episode. Committing to and telling a slow building love story was a joy. Not rushing them into a romance allowed us to have a wonderful time with every moment. Everyone working on the show became invested in the couple! We had a great time figuring out who would support their love and who would oppose them.

Sam Ford: Just as soap operas at their height drive discussion amongst characters throughout the canvas about "what's happening," the actions of characters drive soap opera fan discussion as well. As this story played out, fan communities that often did not talk about politically and morally charged issues found their discussion of Luke's story soon spilling over to conversations about larger issues surrounding homosexuality and the struggles of coming out in the U.S. While occasionally conversations grew a little contentious, many fan discussions presented a wide range of opinions, stories, lived experiences, and debates among fans with a wide spectrum of opinions.

Read more from Riegel, Hurst, Ford, and dozens of other daytime actors, writers, producers, and experts at: http://tinyurl.com/SoapMomentsEBook

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I wrote this about GH's Jake, but it pertains just as much to Y&R's doomed little Delia and others....


By Alina Adams

How's that for a cheery title first thing in the morning?

With little Jake poised to shuffle off his mortal coil on General Hospital, it got me thinking about other soap children who have been killed off in the name of "entertainment."

There was poor Zach on Days of Our Lives (and after all the trouble Bo and Hope went through to un-switch him and change the tyke's name, to boot), the victim of a hit and run, like All My Children's Laura.

One Life to Live's Jessica lost two children at birth (and, for a while there, Starr believed she'd lost hers). Bold & Beautiful's Amber's son was stillborn. Young & Restless' Lauren mourned Dylan, who she thought was her biological child. There was Gwen's Billy on As The World Turns (though, initially, Jennifer believed it to be Johnny; two grieving mothers for the price of one!). And little Johnny was named after the baby Jen's mother, Barbara, lost with John Dixon years earlier. John held the preemie in his arms as he died, same way All My Children's Gloria held Anna Claire, while singing You Are My Sunshine.

(Obviously, there are many more examples, but even cyberspace is finite.)

This is entertainment?

Mary Stuart (Jo), Search for Tomorrow star from the first to last episode, didn't think so.

When Jo gave birth to her second child in 1956, it was due to Mary's real-life pregnancy. SFT filmed on location with Mary in the hospital, and her newborn son, Jeffrey, played little Duncan Erik.

When the storyline called for the toddler to run out into the street and get hit by a car, Mary balked, threatening to quit.

She told Afternoon TV Magazine, "It was my own child. It had been a complicated pregnancy for me, and playing the death of the child was just too horrible to even consider. The show's ratings had been dropping, and I knew they were killing the child just to have something dramatic to boost the ratings. I played those scenes all right, but I made them so horrifying that nobody could watch. Not even the make-up girl. She wouldn't even look at the monitor to see whether my make-up was right, it was too awful to watch. And nobody out in television-land watched either. In my own mind, I was remembering the morning my own father died. My mother just could never accept it. She'd walk around with a hopeful smile, in a daze, saying, "He's going to get better..." That's the way I played it. I destroyed them. It didn't help the ratings."

And that is the key issue.

Dead baby stories win Emmys. They do not help ratings.

Arguably, the best tale of its kind was GH's BJ/Maxie heart-transplant tale (obviously, ABC thinks so too, or else why go back to that well yet again?). It was heart-wrenching and dramatic, gorgeously acted and phenomenally written.

But, it did not raise the ratings.

I loved the GH story. Because it aired in 1994. I didn't have any kids in 1994.

In 2003, when my husband told me I should watch All My Children's David and Anna deal with the loss of their daughter, Leora, because, "It's really, really good," I had a four year old son and another on the way. I couldn't even think about the story, much less turn on the TV.

My husband said, "Okay, I'll save it, and you can see it later."

I still haven't been able to.

Granted, soaps are no longer the exclusive domain of stay-at-home moms grabbing an hour or two of Me Time before the kids get home from school.

But, surely, they must still make up some fraction of the audience.

And if they tune out every time there's a dead baby story, you've got to wonder why the soaps keep on playing them. Don't you?

For behind the scenes from writer Claire Labine on BJ's heart transplant story, click here.  To read what Julia Barr thought about AMC killing off Laura, click here.

Monday, October 07, 2013


Director Doug Wilson's book, The World Was Our Stage, Spanning the Globe With ABC Sports, is out now, and covers a great deal of Doug's career filming every conceivable kind of figure skating event.

Earlier, I'd interviewed Doug for my own book, Inside Figure Skating, about television's influence on the sport.

Read part #1 of that interview, here, part #2 here, and enjoy part #3, below:

Skating and television broke another precedent, when, in 1980, a group of amatuer and pro skaters, including Peggy Fleming, Lisa-Marie Allen, Linda Fratiane, Jo Jo Starbuck & Kenneth Shelley, Tai Babilonia & Randy Gardner, Judy Blumberg & Michael Seibert, David Santee, and Elaine Zayak, together became the first U.S. skaters to perform an exhibition in China.  Apparantly, one of Peggy Fleming's early television specials had aired there, raising interest in her performing, and opening the door to the historic trip.  The United States Ambassador later told the athletes, what they did was worth a thousand political speeches. 

The 1980 show aired live in China, and was seen by two hundred million people.  Among them may have been a three year old Chen Lu, who, after winning the 1995 World Championship, admitted her childhood idol was Peggy Fleming.

As skaters grew more accustomed to having television cameras recording their every step, they also grew accustomed to making the concessions necessary to insure television getting everything they needed to, in turn, make the skater look good.  At the 1980 Olympic Games, when a production assistant overslept and missed a mandatory shot of Linda Fratianne arriving for practice, the four-time U.S. Champion graciously agreed to reenact the moment for the cameras.

By 1984, Scott Hamilton was so television-savvy, he called up ABC and said, 'I don't know if you're going to do an Up-Close-and-Personal profile on me, but, I suspect it's possible.  I thought of this piece of music sung by Gary Morris, "Wind Beneath My Wings," and it's everything I believe about my relationship with my coach, Don Laws.  So, if you were going to do a piece on me, I just want to throw that in."  Laughs Doug Wilson, "He was already producing!"

For more from Doug Wilson, check out his book at the link:

Alina Adams is the author of the Figure Skating Mystery series, including Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, Death Drop and Skate Crime.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


The folks at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis contacted the Soap Opera 451 blog to ask for help in getting the word out about their upcoming play, Tribes, co-starring none other than Stephen Schnetzer (Cass; AW & ATWT).

We are happy to oblige!

(EDITED ON 10/16/13 TO ADD: We've got video! Scroll down below!)

The Guthrie Theater today announced casting for its production of Nina Raine’s Tribes. Winner of the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play and a 2010 Olivier Award nominee for Best Play, Tribes is a provocative, poignant family drama that illuminates the fascinating interplay of sound and communication, perception and true understanding. Wendy C. Goldberg (Guthrie: Dollhouse) directs this regional premiere that begins performances on the McGuire Proscenium Stage on Friday, October 5.

Billy is a young man born deaf and raised in an opinionated and intellectually raucous family that talks constantly. Not only have his parents and siblings never learned sign language, neither has Billy, who has had to adapt to the hearing world. Then he meets Sylvia, a young woman from a Deaf family who introduces him to sign language. Billy feels a confidence and sense of belonging he’s not known before and finally understands what it means to be understood.

On writing the play Nina Raine offers, “I first had the idea of writing Tribes when I watched a documentary about a deaf couple. The woman was pregnant. They wanted their baby to be deaf. I was struck by the thought that this was actually what many people feel, deaf or otherwise. Parents take great pleasure in witnessing the qualities they have managed to pass on to their children. Not only a set of genes. A set of values, beliefs. Even a particular language. The family is a tribe: an infighting tribe but intensely loyal.”

Tribes features the Guthrie debuts of John McGinty and Stephen Schnetzer. McGinty, who is himself deaf, will appear in the role of the central character Billy. His previous work includes roles in theater (Pippin at the Mark Taper Forum/DeafWest, Handicapped People In Their Formal Attire at Premiere Stages, Robin Hood: Thieves of Hearts at Cleveland Sign Stage), in film (Closed Caption, Conned, Love Signs) and on television (“I Killed My BFF” and “Law and Order: Criminal Intent”).

Schnetzer, known best for his roles on the daytime television series “Days of Our Lives,” “One Life to Live” and “Another World,” will play Christopher—the family patriarch. Schnetzer’s theater credits include The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? on Broadway and The Quality of Life, Legacy of Light and Noises Off at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

Tribes begins preview performances on October 5, opens October 11 and continues through November 10 in the McGuire Proscenium at the Guthrie Theater. Single tickets start at $29 and are now on sale through the Guthrie Box Office at 612.377.2224, toll-free 877.44.STAGE, 612.225.6244 (Group Sales) and online at www.guthrietheater.org.


To read our exclusive interviews with the actors who appeared on the last episode of Another World, click here.

Watch scenes from Tribes, below:

Monday, September 30, 2013


Last week, in honor of director Doug Wilson's new book, The World Was Our Stage: Spanning the Globe With ABC Sports, I featured an excerpt from my book, Inside FigureSkating, where I interviewed Doug.

To find out who Doug considers to be a skater's best friend (hint: It is neither man not dog), click here for Part #1 of the interview.

And read on for Part #2, where Doug explains the secret for getting on TV, how broadcasting fundamentally changed the sport, which skater got her first - and only - standing ovation thanks to television... and more....

For Wilson, the process to becoming the conduit through which television viewers feel like they're on the ice with the skater, is one of "doing your homework."  He first came up with a strategy for plotting a skater's program out on paper, when, in 1979, he watched Peggy Fleming drawing a diagram of her Olympic program, planning to send it out as a Christmas card.  Realizing he could use analogous diagrams to plan his camera shots in advance, Wilson began inviting top skaters to draw their routines while their music played, and he made notes on the timing of their elements.  Unfortunately, Wilson found that what he often ended up with at the end of the day, was a stack of scribbles.  When directing "Pro Skates" in 1983, a lack of time to sit with the skaters and review their programs compelled him to ask his assistant to monitor the clock and take notes while Wilson watched the skaters rehearse, and called out camera-cues on the fly.  This improvisation developed into the two-person system Wilson, and practically every other skating director, uses today.

For him, it's a labor of love.  His motto is,  "The moment a director is about to display to the person in their living room a Triple Axel that Todd Eldredge has rehearsed 40,000 times for that moment -- then, by God, that's worth attention, it's worth caring, and the value of that better be respected."

And the skaters genuinely appreciate his efforts.  In 1986, three-time U.S. Dance Champion Jim Millns, practicing for a multi-generational commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Memorial Fund, indicated his colleagues along the ice, and asked Wilson, "Do you know who these people are?  They all grew up with you."

One promising newcomer Wilson had pegged as a star from the start, was Janet Lynn.  And, together, Lynn and television would pave the way for one of figure-skating's greatest revolutions.

In 1972, when Janet Lynn competed at the Olympics, compulsory figures counted sixty percent of a skater's score, the free skating forty percent.  Janet Lynn was a brilliant jumper and spinner, and a mediocre tracer of figures.  Her closest competitor, 1972 Olympic Champion Beatrix "Trixie" Schuba of Austria, was a lethargic free-styler.  And arguably the greatest figure skater the world had ever seen.  By the time the televised portion of the event, the free-skating, rolled around, Trixie was usually so far ahead, that all she had to do was remain alive to capture the title.  Viewers at home, however, could not understand why Trixie was the winner, when Janet Lynn had skated so enchantingly only moments earlier.  As a result, following the 1972 Olympics, a Short Program, worth twenty percent of the score, was added to all skating contests, while the value of the figures was reduced, making the final tally: Figures 30%, Freestyle (combined Short and Long Programs) 70%.

By 1990, the figures would be tossed all together.  As skating grew in popularity, feedback from television viewers vocalized that figures were dull.  So figures were out.  But, before evicting them from competition, television would give Trixie Schuba the memory of a lifetime.  At the 1972 Worlds, the champion finished skating her exhibition -- a freestyle program that received lukewarm applause from the crowd -- when Wilson instructed Dick Button to ask Trixie to perform a figure.  Button passed on the message, but a confused Trixie went out to do another free-skating encore.  The crowd was definitely getting restless, when Wilson sent Trixie out on the ice for a third time, urging her to skate that figure.

Trixie Schuba took her spot at center-ice, put out her hands, and pushed off to perform the figure.  The crowd fell into a hushed silence.  Then, when the audience realized what she was doing, the arena erupted into applause, building and building until it turned into a standing ovation, into Trixie's first standing ovation ever.

For years, whenever producers of ABC's "Wide World of Sports were asked by eager athletes, 'how do I get on TV?' their standard response was always, 'Either win or be spectacular.'  At long last, Trixie Shuba got to be both. 

At those same Worlds, another skater, one who didn't win, fulfilled the second half of the command.  Doug Wilson remembers being so smitten by a little girl with a big pink bow, that he broke precedent and, in the middle of the dance event, "flashed back" to show a ladies' competitor who hadn't won a medal.  Because she was the future.  "The horizon."  Thus giving the world their first glimpse of a teen-age Dorothy Hamill.


Read all of Doug's stories by clicking on the link below:


I first got to know Doug when I worked at ABC as a figure-skating researcher. I turned that experience into a series of figure skating mystery novels, where any resemblance to real people living or dead is completely coincidental (that's my story and I'm sticking with it):