Monday, December 21, 2015


Tis the season to think about ice-skating... and murder!

Did you miss Ice Theatre of NY's free skating show and tree lighting at Riverbank State Park last weekend?

Don't worry, you can still see America's premiere ice dance company for free this Christmas by downloading a copy of the enhanced ebook, Murder on Ice.

Who killed the judge that awarded the gold medal to Russia's dour ice queen over America's perky princess? Was it one of the skaters? One of the coaches? A parent? A fan?

Murder on Ice: Enhanced Multimedia Edition features all the text of the original, Berkley Prime Crime paperback release, alongside professional skating videos by the Ice Theatre of NY to compliment the story. (Why only read about the characters skating, when you can see it?)

And it is absolutely free to download this Christmas, December 25 and 26, 2015. Make sure you get your copy and tell a friend!

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Last year, I wrote about Chasing Tomorrow, the sequel to Sidney Sheldon's If Tomorrow Comes, jumping 24 years forward in time without the characters aging a day.

Now there's a new book out, Reckless: A Tracy Whitney Novel by Tilly Bagshawe, the same woman who's been writing all the Sidney Sheldon titles since the author's death.

In 1980, the still alive Sheldon had a blockbuster hit with Rage of Angels. He later said, though, that one of the biggest regrets of his writing career was (35 year old spoiler ahead) killing off the heroine's son; readers were so upset. When the book became a mini-series, the little boy got to live. Though, in the sequel that wasn't based on a Sheldon book, he did spend some time in a coma from a head injury (the cause of his death in the book). Got that?

Bagshawe, however, decides to kill off Tracy's son (it's not really a spoiler, you figure it out reading the promotional flap copy) within the first few chapters, apparently not having heeded Sheldon's lesson. (Granted, it's not a great loss, as he's a thoroughly obnoxious teenager, no matter how many times Tracy thinks that he's as handsome and charming as his father, and she can't stay mad at him. I don't have that problem. The kid needs some discipline, not a mother who thinks everything he does is wonderful.)

And one other thing: Listen, I've worked in soap-opera for a long time. I get it. Happy Ever Afters are hard if you want to keep the story going. If Tomorrow Comes ended with Tracy and fellow criminal Jeff seemingly on their way to one, but Chasing Tomorrow broke them up for some pretty flimsy reasons. (Two of the world's best con-artists don't recognize a con when it's being played on them?) Reckless continues the will they or won't they, trumping up yet another false obstacle to reunion, even as the characters proclaim they're the loves of each others lives and always will be. It's pretty tedious.

"Tomorrow is the great adventure," Jeff tells Tracy. "And it's coming whether we want it or not."

The next Tracy Whitney adventure may be coming. But I don't think I'm going to read it.


Last Christmas-time, I asked soap fans for their favorite Christmas memories, and received responses ranging from All My Children’s Father Clarence visits to Days of Our Lives’ ritual hanging of the named ornaments to Guiding Light’s Phillip and Beth meeting St. Nick to the final episode of Texas and Ashley’s miraculous return home. (Read the entire list, as well as the fans’ reasons for their selections, here).

This year, once again, just as I did for my book, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama’s Greatest Moments, I returned to the internet and social media to crowd-source fan opinions on what gift (or lump of coal) they’d give various soap-opera characters, past and future.

See the results at Entertainment Weekly:

Friday, December 11, 2015


Joy director David O. Russell has been getting justifiable praise for his comment about soap-opera actors.

Vulture reports:

But rather than include clips from a pre-existing daytime soap, Russell shot original scenes with soap veterans Susan Lucci (Erica Kane on All My Children), Maurice Bernard (Sonny Corinthos on General Hospital), Laura Wright (Carly Corinthos on General Hospital), and Donna Mills (Abby Ewing on Knots Landing). After working with these actors, Russell praised them in this week's THR directors roundtable, calling them "professional athletes."

I'd go, "Donna Mills! Susan Lucci! Let's have a catfight." They don't go, "Oh wait, what's my motivation?" They just go, bang! I was blown away by the power of these women actors.

Compare the above to an excerpt from actor Cary Elwes' book, As You Wish: Inconcievable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride.

Elwes reports that director Rob Reiner described his future co-star, Robin Wright as "She's on this TV show, Santa Barbara - it's a daytime soap. But don't let that fool you, she's amazing."

For the record, Elwes goes on to say lovely things about Wright's talent and her work ethic, includuing working long hours and instantly taking direction, ascribing a big part of it to the rigor of doing a daily soap

Thursday, December 10, 2015


For my next Entertainment Weekly soap-opera post, I want to hear from you!

Last year, you shared your favorite soap-opera Christmas memories with me. (Read what those were, here.)

This year, I want to hear what gifts you'd give your favorite soap-opera characters, past and present.

Does DOOL's Abigail need fire-proof baby clothes?

Should GH's Jason find a lie-detector test under the tree?

Shock-absorbers for B&B's Ivy?

A lump of coal for Y&R's Victor? Billy? Phyllis?

Tell me in the Comments, below!

Thursday, December 03, 2015


Missed the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park Christmas Tree Lighting and Holiday Skating Show starring Brian Boitano, Johnny Weir, Nancy Kerrigan and Davis & White that I wrote about here? Fear not! We've got pictures (plus the inside scoop on NYC's next free tree lighting and skating show courtesy of Ice Theatre of NY)!

And if you're from out of town and want to get the Bryant Park skating experience (this time without Boitano, Weir, Kerrigan or Davis & White... though you never know who else might show up), check out the 70 Park Avenue Hotel's Skate at WinterVillage Package, which includes:

        Two (2) nights accommodations
        Four (4) tickets to skate at Winter Village
        Roundtrip car service from 70 Park Avenue to Bryant Park’s Winter Village
        $25 gift card for Silverleaf Tavern to warm up with Peet’s Coffee & Tea 

Learn more by emailing: 

And enjoy our photos below! 

All images by: Colin Miller Photography

Wednesday, December 02, 2015


Last month, in my post for about the new musical sitcom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I wrote:

Our first clue that Rebecca might be Jewish comes when we meet her teen self at drama camp in 2005. She confesses to her boyfriend, Josh, that her mother is “just pissed because I didn’t do the mock trial summer intensive.” Jewish mothers be crazy, am I right?

Read the entire post at:

Then, this past Monday, we finally had a nice long visit with Rebecca's mother (previously, she'd only been a voice on the phone or a badgering figure in flashbacks). At the end of the episode, she gives a long speech about why she's so tough on her daughter (spoiler: Cossacks are involved). For those who thought it was a bit extreme, especially for a family who's been in America for generations, here is another post I wrote for Kveller, back in 2013:

"The moral of Passover is when you’re told to get up and go, you get up and GO. You don’t start digging through your junk. You take what’s most important, and you leave everything else behind. That’s impossible to do if you live in this kind of mess. How are you ever going to find what you need? If the Israelites didn’t even have time to wait for their bread to rise, trust me, they did not have time to go searching for socks that matched or ponder which book series to pack, Harry Potter or Narnia!"

And that’s when it hit me that perhaps my tirade wasn’t only about a messy bedroom–though, trust, me, that was indeed a substantial part of it. That, just perhaps, it was also about my on-going, ridiculous, irrational, yet nonetheless persistent fear that, someday soon, it may be time to flee. And my kids won’t be prepared.

I know it’s totally absurd, but, every time we have to run for the subway, and I tell my sons and daughter, “Hurry,” and even the 5-year-old grabs my hand and hustles up the stairs double-time, not asking questions about why, not dawdling, not fussing, while the older two momentarily stop their sniping and one-upsmanship and do exactly as I say, I honestly feel a sense of relief that goes beyond being grateful we didn’t miss our train. I genuinely think, “Good. If this were a real emergency, they’d have made it through.”

And if the above doesn’t go off like clockwork, I sincerely panic and wonder, “What would have happened if this were a real emergency?”

Apparently…I have issues. Year-round ones. Which Passover happens to bring out in particular.
I realize that we live in America. Where, I fervently believe, even the most right-wing fundamentalist extremists and/or the most left-wing Communist sympathizers will never accumulate enough political or social power to rouse my family from our beds in the middle of the night and issue the historically familiar edict, “Gather up your things and get thee out.”

But, just in case it ever does happen, I’m ready to flee at a moment’s notice at the first sound of galloping Cossacks approaching.

Read more at:


It is very important for NYC parents to remember that they are not guaranteed a seat at their zoned school. The Kindergarten Connect application, which opens on Monday, December 7, 2015 and runs through January 15, 2016, is not first-come/first-served. For instance, The New York Times recently announced that Manhattan's District 3 (Upper West Side) will not be rezoning their very popular (and very overcrowded) elementary schools for the upcoming 2016 school year.

What this means is that schools like PS 199 and PS 87 will continue to turn away local families, and to choose the kids who do get to attend via lottery. These are not the only schools with more applications than there are seats. Several Brooklyn schools are in the same boat. It is entirely possible that you will be wait-listed at your local school and sent somewhere else.

What options do you have? Several.

Check out our podcasts below for the Secrets to Getting Into NYC Schools.

And make sure you RSVP for my free Getting Into NYC Kindergarten workshops (the last ones before applications are due):

* Tuesday, December 8 at 6 pm at the littleBits store in SoHo. Space is limited, register here.
* Wednesday, December 9 at 6:30 pm at Torly Kids in Tribeca. RSVP via EventBrite.
* Tuesday, December 15 at 6 pm at Crave It Bakery. RSVP to

Public Unzoned, Dual Language, Magnet Schools & More

Hunter College Elementary & Private Schools

Gifted & Talented Citywide & District Programs

Charter Schools

Monday, November 23, 2015


Last year, in honor of the holiday, we listed 5 Things SoapOpera Fans Have To Be Thankful For.

This year, we asked those same fans to list some of their favorite Thanksgiving moments from the past 70-plus years of daytime television.

One particularly high vote-getter was General Hospital’s Frisco and Felicia Thanksgiving of 1985, which included a celebration at the Brownstone with the same-initialed couple, as well as Frisco’s brother Tony, and his then-wife, Tanya, heading upstairs after dinner and presumably leaving Bobbie to clean up the mess. It also led to a morning-after Frisco and Felicia discussing how many children they’d like to have one day. Felicia offered six – or seven. Frisco didn’t look thrilled. Probably a major clue about the two daughters he would abandon down the road (not that Felicia stuck around much for Maxie and Georgie, either).

Kelly Applegate offered: My favorite was Guiding Light when they held hands while "We Gather Together" played and The Young & the Restless when Classic Billy and Victoria had their first Thanksgiving.

While Keith Alvarez recalled: There's All My Children when the combined Kane/Montgomery family had their Thanksgiving at the Valley Inn.

And another AMC fan reminded that Thanksgiving 1990 was Kelly Ripa’s debut as Hayley, all black goth wig and tough-girl attitude.

Meanwhile, few Days of Our Lives fans could forget 2004, when Cassie was stabbed to death and stuffed into a turkey piƱata the Salem kids were battering with sticks. (Of course, later it turned out that Cassie wasn’t really dead. She was merely another victim of a mind-controlled Marlena thinking she’d killed a bunch of people. How that explains all the folks who saw dead Cassie, I’m still not exactly certain.)

But the most interesting thing about calling out for favorite Thanksgiving memories was how many fans, instead of merely suggesting a scene or plot point, talked about year after year traditions.

In their honor, we count down the Top 5 Favorite Soap Opera Thanksgiving traditions at Entertainment Weekly.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


It was The Towering Inferno on The Young & the Restless last week, as Newman Tower caught fire in the middle of their Halloween party. (Fun-fact, Emmy-winner Susan Flannery, who appeared on both Y&R’s sister-soap, The Bold & the Beautiful, and on Days of Our Lives actually co-starred in The Towering Inferno movie.)

Among the highlights were Stitch and Ashley getting trapped together and an injured Stitch confessing that he was still in love with her (this despite Stitch being engaged to Ashley’s daughter, Abby). The pair were rescued by Adam, who was supposed to be handcuffed to a hospital bed, but had escaped to go after ex Chelsea and son Conner. A vending machine fell on Patty, so Jack and Phyllis assumed she was dead. Having never, ever in their soap-opera lives seen people survive much more deadly encounters. A very much alive Patty ended up rescuing evil cult leader Ian. Dylan landed a helicopter on the roof to whisk the rest off to safety and absolutely nobody perished. They did cough a few times to convey the seriousness of the situation.

But soap-opera fires don’t necessarily need to kill people in order to heat up story. Check out some of our favorite blazing action at Entertainment Weekly, here.

Monday, November 09, 2015


The Ice Theatre of NY, which provides the video for my enhanced ebook Figure Skating Mystery series (watch an example, here), turned 30 years old in October, and I covered their Gala celebration for International Figure Skating Magazine:

Former World ice dance bronze medalist Judy Blumberg praised ITNY’s invaluable contribution to the development of artistic skating. “It has given so many people a wonderful place to explore new directions,” Blumberg said. “I’ve been so happy to be a part of it. ITNY can move in any direction. It is open to exploring so much in skating, bringing in choreographers from dance as well as other art forms. I think that’s made us all grow as skaters and performers.”

Sarah Kawahara agreed. “ITNY brought great visibility to the whole arena of ice theater, and now there are ice theater companies all over the world. ITNY is very much responsible for that.”

JoJo Starbuck said that the company has brought an awareness of a beautiful art form to a lot of young people that would not have otherwise known about it. “ITNY has been a real pioneer and made a huge difference in the sport,” she said. “It has inspired other companies to spring up. I just wish there were more companies like them.”

Moira North, who started ITNY in her loft 30 years ago, said it takes a village. “It has evolved into a substantial, major dance company on ice. I look forward to what we can do together in the next 30 years.”

Read the entire article, including tributes to honorees Dick Button and Toller Cranston, here:

Thursday, November 05, 2015


Though she retired from American Ballet Theatre this past June, ballerina Julie Kent will be performing at a special, one-night-only benefit for DEBRA of America on Monday, November 16 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Get your tickets before they're sold out, here!

But that's not all! Julie also talked to the NY Gifted Education Examiner about how her parents went about raising a dance prodigy, and how their example is helping her nurture her own gifted and talented children in Part #1 of her interview.

And in Part #2, Julie explains her new role as Artistic Director of ABT's Summer Program, how your child can apply, and the way in which early dance training helps in every aspect of life moving forward.

Read both parts at the links!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


Days of Our Lives celebrates its 50th Anniversary in the real world this Sunday, November 8 while, on-screen, Hope is preparing to marry Aiden (she thought she’d figured out what his horrible secret was, but it turned out he was hiding something even more horrible). Meanwhile, Hope’s ex-husband (and love of her life forever and ever, amen) Bo is trying to make it back to Salem in time to stop the wedding (and he’d have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for that pesky airplane crash and a stingy farmer who doesn’t like strangers making long-distance phone-calls on his land-line.).

The scenario is reminiscent of 1984 (the year, not the George Orwell novel), when Bo swept in on his motorcycle to rescue Hope from marrying the hateful Larry in one of soaps’ most iconic Interrupted Weddings. It prompted a commentator named Sarcastic Bimbo to write (presumably in all non-sarcastic seriousness): Oh the Larry/Hope wedding and Bo riding in on his Harley was one of my favorite soap moments, EVER.

It also came up when I queried fans for my book, SoapOpera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama’s Greatest Moments. A reader wrote: Bo kidnapping Hope from her wedding to Larry Welch with Howie standing in for her was great. Back then (soaps) made you laugh, cry and get angry but you still kept coming back for more. 

Watch the beloved sequences, here, and go to Entertainment Weekly for more fan favorite scenes - don't forget to add your own!

Monday, November 02, 2015


Many of you know me as the author of "Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments." For that book, I solicited fan memories, then went to the actors, writers and producers who made them for the behind the scenes scoop.

Now, I am writing a post for "Entertainment Weekly's" Community, focusing on your favorite moments from the past 50 years of "Days of our Lives."

Please share them below, or email me at to make sure your thoughts are included.

Thanks in advance and I look forward to reading what you have to say!

Sunday, November 01, 2015


It took me a long time to learn to like editing. With my first book, “The Fictitious Marquis,” back in the dark ages of 1993, when editorial notes actually came scribbled in the sides of a printed out manuscript’s margins, the first time I got a revision letter, I actually left it on the kitchen counter and tip-toed around it for an entire week before I had the stomach to read it in detail. Revisions? What do you means, revisions? Isn’t the manuscript perfect? Isn’t that why you bought it?

Cut to (I also write for TV) twenty years and over a dozen books later and I’ve worked with editors who had suggestions for nearly every line, and also ones who would give vague feedback like, “This scene doesn’t work. Make it work.”

I haven’t gotten much better at dealing with those sorts of notes, but I have taught myself to enjoy editing my own work. I look at it as sifting through the garbage and finding the decent story that’s buried underneath.

Usually, writers are advised to let their work sit and “air out” for a bit before diving in for a 2nd go. But as you can see by the dates of my live-written manuscript, I started it over a year ago, so aspiring writers could see what a real 1st draft looks like. I figure, by the time I got to the end, the beginning has aired out enough.

Writers are also advised never to show anything other than their very best work. That ship has obviously sailed. Now that I’ve demonstrated what a real 1st draft looks like, I’m going to do an equally ill-advised thing and show what happens in a 2nd draft edit.

As a reader, I like a tight manuscript that gets right to the good stuff. No description, minimal introspection, just tell me what happens next! During the course of writing the 1st draft live, I found that plugging a sentence into Twitter and making it fit the 140 character limit is a great way to hunt down excess words and unneeded adjectives. I intend to edit my entire manuscript using that method.

As of today, the document runs 96,566 words. My goal is to get it down to around 80,000 without sacrificing story - well, actually making it better.

Your input is welcome - live - at:

Let’s go!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Last week on General Hospital, Alexis took it upon herself to run a DNA test proving that Olivia’s newly adopted son, Mateo, was actually Leo, the baby Olivia gave birth to and claimed died a dew months earlier. Olivia spun her lie because Leo’s father, Julian (currently Alexis’ boyfriend), is a well-known mobster, and after hiding her first-born son, Dante, from his mobster daddy, Sonny, Olivia knows only one way to parent (not getting pregnant by mobsters was apparently never considered as an option).

However, Alexis (who, once upon a time hid her own daughter, Kristina, from her father, the aforementioned Sonny, for the exact same reason that Olivia was now hiding Leo from Julian, and even used the same man, Ned, to pretend to be the dad) decided that since Julian swore he was out of the mob these days, it was perfectly safe for him to co-parent Leo. And it was her job to make that happen. This is the same Alexis who goes around incessantly reminding anyone who’ll listen (and many who won’t) that she is a strong, independent, infinitely admirable woman who needs a man the way a fish needs a bicycle, power to feminism, girl power, et. al…. But when it came to choosing between her fellow woman, Olivia, currently in the exact same predicament Alexis once found herself in and making the exact same choice, and Julian – who has really, really nice abs and is willing to give Alexis the time of day – guess who came out on top?

So there’s no question about it. Alexis is the worst.

But Olivia is also an idiot. Claim your infant is dead, then show up a few weeks later with a tot the exact same age he would have been whom you claim you adopted? Seriously? Odds are even baby Leo/Mateo didn’t fall for that bit of chicanery.

Then again, Olivia isn’t the first soap-opera heroine to come up with that brilliantly diabolical scheme. Check out five of her historical foremothers from Days of Our Lives, As the World Turns, All My Children, Guiding Light, and Another World at "Entertainment Weekly," here.

Monday, October 26, 2015


Episode #6 of my "Accepted! Secrets of NYC School Admissions" podcast is called "It's About Time."

In it, I talk about what parents need to do if they want to accelerate their child a grade, and if they want to hold them back a grade (especially relevant to those with fall birthday kids, which means they'd have to start public school Kindergarten before turning 5). I also give a month by month timeline of everything you should be doing starting now all the way through September 2016.

Of course, the NYC Department of Education being the NYC Department of Education, they've already changed one deadline since this podcast was recorded. Kindergarten Connect will now open December 7, 2015, close January 15, 2016, and placement offers are promised for March.

Don't know what Kindergarten Connect is or why those new dates are important? Then you can't miss this latest instalment. Just click on the image below to listen.

And to listen to previous podcasts on subjects like Gifted & Talented testing and prep, private school, Hunter College Elementary, dual language programs, unzoned schools, and more, click here:

Finally, excited to announce that my next, FREE, open to the public, "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten" workshop will be at Wyatt Lily on Wednesday, November 4 at 6 pm. Register by emailing me at:

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Baby rabies is running rabid all over The Bold & The Beautiful this month, as not only is Caroline, a young, healthy, 20something woman with presumably plenty of time to reproduce suddenly obsessed with getting pregnant the minute she and her much older husband tie the knot (be careful what you wish for Caroline; she is pregnant… with her stepson’s child), but now the newlywed Maya and Rick are chomping at the baby-making bit.

The fly in the ointment there is that transgender Maya can’t conceive a child. Rick is fine with adoption. “We might get a baby by Christmas!” he gushed, probably already planning to order one online, down to specifying gender, hair and eye color (he’s very rich; he’s used to excellent customer service). But Maya wants a baby that’s biologically related to them both. She suggests that her younger sister, Nicole, be their surrogate. Nicole’s boyfriend, Zende, isn’t feeling generous about sharing Nicole’s body for a year or more with some other couple, and, very reasonably, suggests Nicole merely donate her eggs, and Rick and Maya can hire a gestational surrogate to do the heavy lifting. Nope. Maya wants Nicole to carry the baby, too. For quality control, presumably. As of last week, Nicole is in.

How can this possibly go wrong?

Well, as it’s a soap, let us count the ways with Entertainment Weekly (and General Hospital, and Days of Our Lives, and All My Children, and Guiding Light, and more) here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Last week, Days of Our Lives hit a trifecta of Entertainment Weekly Community soap tropes:

Serial Killers: All soaps love their serial killers when it comes time to prune a bloated (and presumably overpaid) cast. But none more so than DOOL. To date, we’ve had the Salem Strangler, the Salem Slasher, the Riverfront Killer (narrowed down to one neighborhood), the Coronation Massacre (narrowed down to one room), the Salem Stalker (back to citywide killing!) and now, the Necktie Killer. He kills! With neckties! (Though, technically, won’t that also qualify him for Salem Strangler status? It’s like the show has come full, deadly circle just in time for its 50th anniversary in November!)

Killing Off Soap Opera Legacy Characters for Shock Value: The Necktie Killer’s first victim was Serena, a relative newcomer to Salem who added a nice splash of red hair and cleavage, but really wasn’t too important to the canvas. His next victim, though, was Paige, a legacy character. Daughter of Eve, granddaughter of Shane, stepdaughter of Kim, who was a member of the core, Brady family. Paige had also been involved in an on-again/off-again romance with JJ, a member of the core Horton family. It was a relationship that could have been salvaged – or at least provided angst for many more years to come – once Paige got over JJ’s teeny, weenie bad judgment of sleeping withPaige’s mother. But now, DOOL has killed off Will (or has it? It is a soap, after all, who wants to bet Stefano has whisked Will off for a dose of the same magic, reviving elixir he slipped EJ?). Will was a character viewers saw born on the air in 1995, the son of master schemer Sami and her sometime partner in crime, Lucas. Will was a Brady and a Horton. He played the show’s first major coming out story, was part of its first gay wedding (and first gay extramarital affair). He was the definition of a legacy character that the audience had invested 20 years into watching. And now he’s been (presumably) killed off for… what?

Soap Opera Murder Mysteries Where the Non-Contract PlayerDid It: OK. So, technically, Robert Scott Wilson, who plays the Necktie Killer, himself, has been on-contract since January of 2014, when he began taping (though he didn’t air until May). But his character, Ben, isn’t too firmly connected to the canvas beyond his engagement to Abigail and (current) fatherhood of her unborn baby (again, it’s a soap, anything could still happen). There’s also Ben’s shifty dad, Clyde, played by the Not Patrick Swayze half of 1980s mega-miniseries, North & South. But Clyde isn’t too important either.

Continue reading at Entertainment Weekly, here.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015


A lot happened last week on Days of Our Lives. Nicole and Kate exchanged bitchy remarks, Eve mourned Paige, and Ben was revealed to be the Necktie Killer (we’ll deal with that out-of-the-blue disclosure in another post). But perhaps the most powerful scene was also one of the simplest.

Bad girl Teresa is trying to mend her wicked, wicked ways, both for the sake of her infant son, Tate, and also possibly to attract Tate’s daddy, Brady. Up next on the 2016 Transform Teresa agenda? Dump Anne, the BFF who schemed with Teresa and always had her back… but who Teresa now thinks is a bad influence on her.

Teresa dumping Anne was as brutal of a scene as any romantic couple break-up, and it begs the question of why soaps, a medium initially created by women for women (how many genres can say that?) pay so little attention to the inherently dramatic subject of women’s friendships. (Read about my attempt to pitch exactly that story to TPTB, here.)

Male friendships, we have plenty of. Right now, on the very same DOOL, viewers are seeing the pay-off of an on-screen, on-and-off friendship of over 30 years. Viewers first met Steve “Patch” Johnson in 1985. They soon learned that he and Bo Brady had been best friends in the merchant marine, until a fight over a woman named Brita led to Bo putting Steve’s eye out (and this is why you shouldn’t play with knives, kids, even in the merchant marine). After much 80’s-era angst and location shoots, Bo and Steve patched (ha!) things up. Now, Bo is being held prisoner somewhere by somebody for some reason, and it’s Steve to the rescue!  Bromance powers, activate!

Meanwhile, the women of DOOL… eh. They’re friends, I guess. But nobody’s rescuing anybody from any prisons. And if women are involved in a front-burner friendship, it’s usually (sometimes platonically, sometimes not so much) with a man. (See: General Hospital’s Carly and Jason, Guiding Light’s Maureen and Roger, As the World Turns’ Katie and Henry, and Another World’s Felicia and Cass.)

Check out three of our favorite soap-opera friendships, here, and share yours in the comments!

Tuesday, October 06, 2015


From my NY Frugal Family Examiner review:

Fashion Academy: The Musical tells the story of Mickey, who wins a scholarship to attend The Fashion Academy of Brooklyn a.k.a. FAB (warning: Not a real thing). Once she arrives, though, Mickey learns that what may have been cutting-edge back in Philadelphia, just doesn't play on the dazzling and divine streets of NYC. She is mocked by the school's top fashionista, and by it's most divo teacher, Mr. Stichman. At which point Mickey declares that she doesn't care what other people think, she designs for herself. A rather odd mindset for someone determined to succeed in a field where others' opinions basically make or break a clothing line.

JC, a fellow student whose own goal is to design clothes "for small dogs with big personalities," offers to help Mickey change her look by presenting Madonna and her endless ability to re-brand as inspiration. (At one point, he performs a number while rolling about on the stage wrapped in white tulle, crawling and laying on his back, holding a pretend microphone. An obvious gag for the parents in the audience). The makeover is a hit and Mickey is suddenly popular (proving the point about the opinions of others being key for the fashion world). Yet Mickey still despairs that she was an outcast back home who thought she would find her people in New York City. Said people, though, also reject her unless she pretends to be someone else. What's a girl who thinks she's terrific and it's everyone else who is always wrong to do?

Want to know how this story ends? Then enter to win 4 FREE tickets to Fashion Academy: The Musical, playing through October 31 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (learn more at the link above).

Just email with the words Fashion Academy Tickets in the subject line. Winner will be drawn on Friday, October 9, 2015.

Monday, October 05, 2015


You can exceed expectations by providing a special touch customers don’t anticipate when making their initial purchase. Alina Adams, author of “Getting into NYC Kindergarten” (sold exclusively online), keeps a mailing list of her customers, “where, for no cost, I update my clients on any changes in the NYC kindergarten admissions process as they happen, remind them of deadlines, and let them know of any new school options.”

This approach, Adams says, “shows that I care and want them to succeed … and that I’m there to offer support for as long as they may need it.”

Read more tips at:

Thursday, October 01, 2015


In 1986, the return of Patrick Duffy as Bobby helped Dallas win its first head-to-head skirmish with hip, Technicolor rival, Miami Vice, and the prime-time soap continued to dominate for the duration of the season and beyond.

Now, almost 30 years later, Don Johnson, who once made America safe for neon blazers and shoes without socks, returns to TV with a primetime soap of his own, Blood & Oil, which debuted on ABC on Sunday, September 27.

The last time more than one sudser lorded over the Nielson ratings was from 1982 to 1986, when Dallas and Dynasty both made the top 10, and Knots Landing rounded out the Top 20 (the aforementioned Miami Vice relegated time-slot competitor Falcon Crest to #24).

From 1982 to 1986, the US unemployment rate ranged from 8.6% to 6.7%, with a high of 10.4% in 1983. In 1983, Dallas was #1, Dynasty was #3, and Falcon Crest #8.

In other words, the poorer Americans feel, the more they want to watch rich people.

In August, America’s unemployment rate was 5.1%. So how does that bode for Blood & Oil?

We would say not well. Except for one key factor: A little show called Empire.

Primetime soaps came roaring back with a vengeance last year, thanks to this music-world set melodrama. And lest you think Blood & Oil isn’t aware of that, can you think of another reason why their promos highlighted the word EMPIRE in block, gold letters?

But there are two, very significant differences between Blood & Oil, and Empire. Find out what they are at:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Last week on The Bold & the Beautiful, what everyone who has ever watched a soap before expected to happen… happened. Newlywed Ridge learned that the vasectomy he’d neglected to mention to his much younger, baby-rabies infected wife, Caroline, was irreversible. While Caroline learned that she was pregnant.

She flashed back to the night she accidentally spent with Ridge’s son, Thomas. (Hey, Ridge and Caroline were on a break! And Caroline had taken some anxiety medication. And drunk alcohol on top of it.)

“Oops,” Caroline thought.

B&B does deserve kudos for flipping the script here somewhat. While the pregnancy was a done deal from the moment Caroline suddenly developed an all-encompassing interest in procreation, Ridge confessed his vasectomy to Brooke, and the virile (and very tall) Thomas (Caroline’s ex) returned to town, the traditional, soap-opera narrative would have had Caroline passing the baby off as Ridge’s, while Ridge secretly fumed and plotted revenge against his son and wife (and/or clung to her by accepting the baby as his own and never letting Thomas or Caroline know the truth. Though, of course, on soaps, never is usually about a year.)

Instead, on Monday, Ridge confessed about the vasectomy to Caroline, telling her that he knew how important having a child was to her and, if she wanted, under the circumstances, they could pretend that their marriage had never happened. (But we all had such a good time at the reception!)

Now the ball – and the lies – are in Caroline’s court. What will she do, what will she do?

It’s a fresh twist on an old story.

On the other hand, Caroline shouldn’t despair quite yet. The show did buy itself some paternity wiggle room by having Caroline say she’d gotten her period in between sleeping with Thomas and marrying Ridge. (Fun fact: Ridge’s mother, Stephanie, convinced Eric to marry her because she was pregnant with the baby who grew up to be Ridge. Stephanie was convinced Eric was Ridge’s father, and not Massimo, whom Stephanie had also slept with, because she’d gotten her period in between. But that turned out to have only been implantation bleeding, and Ridge was Massimo’s, after all. And now don’t you feel like you know way too much about the menstrual cycles of imaginary people?)

But the most important fact Ridge and Caroline have going for them is that, on soap-operas, vasectomies… don’t exactly… take.

Read all about it at:

Friday, September 25, 2015


Believe it or not, I wrote this post the day before Yom Kippur, and didn't see the connection until the next day... duh....


Last week on General Hospital, Sonny got shot. A common occupational hazard with mobsters, even ones who’ve somehow become the town’s moral center and most-beloved citizen. Sonny was shot while trying to rescue TJ, who’d been kidnapped due to his association with Sonny. When TJ’s mom, the police commissioner, tried to point this out, TJ got huffy and reminded his mother that Sonny was the greatest person who ever lived – end of discussion.

Meanwhile, over at the hospital (before it was all about mobsters, General Hospital used to be about a… hospital), Carly, the woman Sonny was about to marry for the fifth time (see: Couples Who Can’t StayTogether… or Apart), was holding bedside vigil alongside Sonny’s three sons.

Said sons included:

  • Dante, whom Sonny once shot in the chest for the crime of being a cop carrying out his duties and trying to serve Sonny with an arrest warrant (but this was before Sonny knew Dante was his son, so the shooting was totally justified, just as long as the cop was somebody else’s child)
  • Michael, whom Sonny adopted after hanging Michael’s biological father, AJ, on a meat-hook and forcing him to sign the papers then, years later, killed AJ in cold blood
  • Morgan, whose girlfriend, Ava, Sonny slept with and fathered a child by, then accused Morgan of murdering the man who was about to reveal Morgan’s affair with Denise, whom Morgan thought was Ava’s twin sister but was, in fact, Ava herself.
Prior to Sonny’s latest shooting, Morgan was spitting mad at his dad about the whole, he thinks I’m a killer thing, while Michael had gone so far as to sue Sonny for custody of his and Ava’s daughter, Avery, because of the danger Sonny’s lifestyle posed to a little girl. (Michael should know, being Sonny’s child got him a bullet to the head and a coma that turned himfrom red-headed pre-teen to blond, broody young adult.)

But then, Sonny’s life was in danger, and, in the blink of an eye, it was time to let bygones be bygones! Both Michael and Morgan were, all of a sudden, pledging their devotion to Sonny, with Morgan swearing to avenge him. This is just like when Darth Vader, after a lifetime of killing Tusken Raiders and younglings and rebels, saves Luke’s life that one time, and now he’s got a free pass to shimmery, Ewok party afterlife alongside Obi-Wan and Yoda! It’s not like Sonny even did anything to redeem himself to his sons. He just stepped in front of a bullet! By accident! Even Darth Vader flung the Emperor into a bottomless pit!

Read the entire post, including examples from Y&R, B&B, DOOL and more at:

Sunday, September 20, 2015


First came the Getting Into NYC Kindergarten workshops. Sign up for upcoming dates and times at:

Next came the Getting Into NYC Kindergarten book. Check it out, here.

And now, we're proud to present Accepted! Secrets of NYC School Admissions podcast where, every week, we'll tackle topics ranging from Kindergarten admissions to high-school, the pros and cons of gifted, single-sex, co-ed, progressive and traditional education, the differences between public, private and charter schools, and everything else you've always wondered - but didn't know whom to ask (and the Department of Education deliberately won't tell you).

Listen to our first episode below now:

Or download it as an mp3 or an mp4 to listen later!

Got a question you'd like answered on an upcoming podcast? Drop me a line at: and stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


On Monday, September 14, The Bold & the Beautiful’s Ridge and Caroline exchanged wedding vows and rings in a private ceremony in Malibu (shot on location at the real-life home of B&B Executive Producer and Head Writer Bradley Bell’s brother, Bill Bell Jr., and his wife, former The Young & the Restless Executive Producer and Head Writer Maria Arena Bell. Here’s an aerial view of said humble abode.)

Of course, without witnesses, anyone to officiate or a marriage license, the ceremony was hardly legal. (Something to keep in mind when what we all suspect is about to happen, happens.) But that’s how Ridge and Caroline wanted it. Something totally private, just for themselves.

Then again, also on Monday, September 14, a the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City, B&B held a “wedding reception” for a few hundred of Ridge and Caroline’s closest friends, a.k.a. real-life fans of the fictional couple.

Get your exclusive behind the scenes pass with Entertainment Weekly at:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Can Neil Patrick Harris break through multiple decades of viewer habits and convince them to watch television live again by promising The Best Time Ever?

The celebrated Oscar, Tony, Emmy, TV Land, Spike Video Game and World Magic Awards host aims to parlay his performing without a safety net (and only a five second broadcasting delay) into a live variety show, The Best Time Ever (though the available preview clip suggests plenty of pre-taped segments, too), premiering Tuesday, September 15 on NBC.

Not only is Harris hoping to make Americans give up recording a show to watch later at their own convenience, he’s also determined to make us fall in love with primetime variety programs again.

It’s a pretty tall order on both counts.

Once upon a time, America couldn’t get enough of variety shows. Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater was credited with literally doubling the sales of television sets in 1949. A single appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show (1948-1971) could launch a performer’s career (Yitzhak Perlman first popped up at the age of 13 on his way to becoming the best-known classical violinist in the world), sell out a Broadway show (it made Camelot a hit when the newspaper critics dismissed it) or start a nationwide discussion of Elvis’ suggestively gyrating pelvis (despite popular belief, he wasn’t merely shot from the waist up). And then there were The Beatles....

To read more about the history of variety shows in America, including The Smothers Brothers, Sonny & Cher and The Brady Bunch, as well as Neil Patrick Harris' chances of leading their comeback, go to my post on BlogHer at:

Friday, September 11, 2015


Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA says, "It is important for parents today to talk with their children about wildlife conservation and animal welfare. It never needs to be graphic or scary, as you can see at the new website,! As a father of an 11-year-old, I know firsthand how open-minded and inquisitive young children are, and how much they innately love animals and want to do what’s right for them. Elephants today are suffering tremendously and populations are dwindling fast. Our kids and our grandkids can make a difference. But, we have to start the conversation early and not be afraid. Make it fascinating and upbeat, and use the proper language and tools. Our children are future conservationists and it is critical that we speak with them about wildlife and how these beautiful animals deserve to be free."

Not sure how to get started, especially with particularly sensitive kids? Get helpful tips at the NY Gifted Education Examiner website.

And for Soap Opera 451 readers, we've got an added bonus!

Win a FREE, paperback copy of the book, "What Elephants Like," as well as a cuddly plush toy to remind you of what you're fighting for.

Just send an email to with the headline "Win Elephant Book & Toy" and you will be entered in a raffle. Winner will be notified on Friday, September 25, 2015.

Good luck!

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Last week on The Bold & the Beautiful, just as Ridge was telling Brooke that he broke up with the much younger Caroline because she wanted to have a baby and Ridge had secretly undergone a vasectomy, Caroline was hitting the sheets with Ridge’s son, Thomas (she blamed it on having taken some pills to relax and deal with Ridge’s rejection, but, you know what? It still counts).

Anyone want to guess where this is going? Anyone?

One can only hope that, when the inevitable happens, Ridge and Brooke, prior to getting on their moral high horses, will remember a time when Brooke slept with both Ridge and his dad, Eric, and wasn’t sure which one fathered her daughter, Bridget. (At first, the baby was believed to be Ridge’s, which is how she ended up with her name. Brooke + Ridge = Bridget. He raised her for several years, but then she turned out to be Eric’s, after all. This made Ridge and Bridget half-siblings. Later, everyone learned that Eric wasn’t Ridge’s biological father. So Ridge and the now-grown Bridget flirted with a romantic relationship. Which was icky on multiple levels. Like I said, not a lot of room for high-horses in the family’s stable.)

The Forresters, however, are hardly daytime’s first family when it comes to fathers and sons sharing women.

Read Entertainment Weekly's round up of classic examples from General Hospital, Days of Our Lives, The Young & the Restless, Guiding Light, Santa Barbara and more, here!

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


A pair of philosophers have found a completely new way to make parents feel guilty about how they're raising kids. Instead of the usual guilt over what you might have failed to do for your own children, Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse say you should be feeling guilty for giving your kid a "loving family" when other kids don't have one.

According to Swift and Brighouse, parents who strive to provide the best for their children are creating an uneven playing field for those with less capable mothers and fathers. It’s fundamentally unfair. And you should feel guilty about that. According to Swift, “If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field."

The uneven playing field Swift and Brighouse ponder isn’t limited to issues like private school, which the pair would like to see banned (though how that would solve the bigger issue, the achievement gap between wealthy and poor school districts, isn’t addressed; won’t the influx of formerly private school families actually make the divide worse, not better?). They also point out that every night, when you read to your child, some other child somewhere is not being read to. Your child is on the path to a better future. They are unfairly pulling ahead in the Race of Life. Shouldn’t somebody be doing something about that?

Click here to read more about how you being a good parent is bad for society. And if you agree, then that's that.

On the other hand, if are not about to base your child-rearing on what other parents are not doing and are still determined to find the best school for your son or daughter, then make sure you sign up for one of my upcoming FREE "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten" workshops at a time, date and location convenient for you! (Space is limited so RSVP today!)

Sign up for September 16 (Kips Bay), here.

Sign up for September 24 (East Side), here.
Sign up for September 29 (Chelsea), here.
Sign up for October 16 (Brooklyn), here.
Sign up for October 21 (Upper West Side), here.

But first, check out the book, "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten," prior to the workshops. Reading it might prompt you to ask questions at the workshop you didn't even know you wanted to know!

Monday, September 07, 2015


The kindergarten admissions process can be a daunting one, but Alina Adams assuages city parents’ fears with her book, “Getting Into NYC Kindergarten.”
A mother of three, she found herself regularly fielding questions about her experience with getting her children into school. This led her to start a column in the Examiner and give talks at River Park Nursery School on the Upper West Side. “There’s just so much information and after each talk, people would say, ‘I wish I had this all in one unified place.’ So that’s when I decided to write a book,” she explained.
The complete resource, which is the only one of its kind, offers information and advice on everything from admission essays that require you to ‘list your child’s greatest achievements up to this point’ to how you should never refer to your child as ‘truly advanced.’ The book is electronic, which not only allows Adams to update it with any changes the Department of Education or private schools may make, but also enables parents to click on links to pertinent articles or sections on the DOE’s website.
At the start of the book, you outline questions parents must ask themselves before starting the process.
Whenever people ask me about the best school- besides the fact that I say the best school is the school that’s best for your child- it really has to do with what you consider is important about a school. For some parents I’ve worked with, it’s academics. They want a school that has the best test scores and prepares their child for a rigorous workload. For other parents, it’s completely different. They want a school where a child may discover their own particular passion, whatever that might be. Or a school that nurtures the joy of learning or a school that’s very much into social action. So the reason that I don’t give answers to those questions is because you need to provide those answers because you know what you want.

Read my entire interview at:

And if you'd like to learn more, then make sure you sign up for one of my upcoming FREE "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten" workshops at a time, date and location convenient for you! (Space is limited so RSVP today!)

Sign up for September 16 (Kips Bay), here.

Sign up for September 24 (East Side), here.
Sign up for September 29 (Chelsea), here.
Sign up for October 16 (Brooklyn), here.
Sign up for October 21 (Upper West Side), here.

And make sure you check out the book, "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten," prior to the workshops. Reading it might prompt you to ask questions at the workshop you didn't even know you wanted to know!

See you there!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015


“I wish I could say it was nice knowing you, but it wasn’t,” quipped General Hospital’s Madeline (played by 2015 Daytime Emmy winner and Knots Landing star Donna Mills), right after plunging a knife into the back of thorn-in-her side Silas (Michael Eston), bringing to an end the month-long murder mystery.

The suspects had been plentiful. There was Morgan, who wanted to keep Silas from spilling the beans about Morgan cheating on his girlfriend, Kiki, with Kiki’s presumed aunt (really her secretly back from the dead mother). There was Franco, the former serial killer who actually confessed to the crime in order to protect Nina, Silas’ equally unstable ex-wife, freshly out of a 20 year coma. There was Nina’s new husband, Ric, who’d only married Nina for her money. And then there was Nina’s mother, Madeline. She and Ric were in cahoots to steal Nina’s trust fund.

Madeline needed Silas’ signature on some documents to carry out her insidious plan, so killing him really wasn’t very smart on her part.

In spite of that, Madeline nevertheless had a darn good reason for being the one to knock off Silas. Every other suspect was a contract player. Donna Mills is recurring.

In soap-land, that’s the best reason of all.


Last summer, I wrote a post for Mommy Poppins called DIY Kid-Lit Camp: Summer Fun Inspired By Children's Books, focusing on classics like the Little House series, All of a Kind Family, Ramona, and new classics like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Ivy & Bean.

This year, also on Mommy Poppins, I've got a post on the best and brightest in new children's literature, from picture books to YA, with a special emphasis on diversity of characters.

Check it out at, here, and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


American soap-operas are crawling with doctors, lawyers, millionaires (hey, on soaps it's a profession!), cops and mobsters.

So where are the teachers?

They're pretty few and far between.

Of course, the ones we have gotten did teach us valuable lessons such as male professors sleeping with female students is tragic, while female teachers sleeping with (underage) male students is wacky.

Not to mention that a suicide attempt is a great way to get your crush to notice you, men who teach can't be sexy unless they're also secretly military commandos, and what a teacher has to do to get fired in a soap town (versus a real one).

It's back to school time across America! Are you ready to get educated?

Then check out Entertainment Weekly's post on soap-opera teachers at:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


With all the emphasis lately on standardized testing, to the point where even Universal Pre-Kindergarten is being described as academic and focused on skills-building, it's important to remember that some of the most important things your child needs to know for Kindergarten have nothing to do with the three R's.

For instance, my oldest could read chapter books in Kindergarten, but his teacher clued me in about a much more important skill he was missing.

Read all about it (and the mistakes I made with my next two kids, too!) in my latest post for Mommy Poppins at:

And if the first day of Kindergarten is currently worrying you less than just the thought of applying your child to one for 2016, make sure you send a question to my podcast, here, or sign up for one of my FREE upcoming workshops:

Sign up for September 24 (East Side), here.
Sign up for September 29 (Chelsea), here.

And if you can't wait for either, check out my book, Getting Into NYC Kindergarten, for inside tips on the entire process, and a timeline that starts NOW!

Monday, August 24, 2015


And the "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten" good news just keeps on coming!

In addition to two FREE, open to the public workshops I'll be giving in September (space is extremely limited so register here, ASAP), I'm happy to announce that I'll also be hosting a weekly pod-cast on the subject, where I'll be answering all your burning questions about applying to NYC public, private, charter, magnet, dual language, religious and gifted Kindergartens.

Afraid I might not answer your particular burning question in time? Have no fear! Just email it to me at: and you might just hear me discussing your issue on an upcoming broadcast!

Looking forward to hearing from you, and stay tuned for details about where to find and listen to our premiere episode!

To check out the book, click the link below:

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Days of Our Lives will be celebrating the show’s 50th anniversary this fall, with a serial-killer story set to knock off several contract players and perhaps even a few returning fan favorites. (Which sounds like the opposite of a historical celebration to me. Then again, General Hospital commemorated its 52nd anniversary this past April by totally rewriting several characters’ histories, so maybe spitting in long-term fans’ eyes is the new hip thing.)

Of course, serial killers are a big part of DOOL‘s history. There was the Salem Strangler in 1981 (triggering one of soaps’ earliest fan campaigns to bring back Marlena, whom fans thought had been killed); the Salem Slasher in 1983 (not to be confused with the Riverfront Slasher of 1988), when Marlena’s cousin and others were killed by Tony’s lookalike cousin, Andre; and the Salem Stalker of 2003, when that same Marlena was believed to have killed many of her friends and neighbors. Except it wasn’t really her. It was Andre (again). And they weren’t really dead. Andre only made Marlena think she’d done it. The victims were actually being kept on a mysterious island. Yeah, you had to be there.
All of the above stories were great for DOOL‘s ratings, meaning other soaps inevitably jumped on the bandwagon. Check out some of those most memorable daytime serial-killer stories at Entertainment Weekly!