Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Last week, The Bold and the Beautiful pulled off that rarest of rare 21st-century feats: a surprise plot twist (that hadn’t been spoiled on blogs and social media months earlier). B&B killed off the character of Ally, who’d spent her past few weeks unspooling mentally, including seeing her dead mother floating above her in a bubble, urging Ally to scrub her family’s company of sinners (good luck with that, Ally).

Ally’s response was to try to run down her cousin, Steffy, in the same spot where Steffy’s mother, Taylor, once accidentally killed Ally’s mom, Darla.

Instead, Steffy defended herself by, rather reasonably, wielding a tire iron, and Ally was the one who ended up dead. (We think. It is a soap, after all.)

Ally’s response was to try to run down her cousin, Steffy, in the same spot where Steffy’s mother, Taylor, once accidentally killed Ally’s mom, Darla.

Instead, Steffy defended herself by, rather reasonably, wielding a tire iron, and Ally was the one who ended up dead. (We think. It is a soap, after all.)

Short-term shock: 1

Long-term storytelling potential: 0

But B&B isn’t the first (or likely last) soap opera to sacrifice years of possible story for a buzzworthy cliffhanger. Sometimes the move is triggered by a popular actor leaving the show, and producers believing they’re irreplaceable. But why default automatically to dead as a doornail? What’s wrong with just leaving town?

We talked last week about the folly of killing babies and young children. General Hospital apparently decided to rectify knocking off little Jake, who was related to practically everyone on the canvas, by bringing him back from the dead earlier this month. The same happened with Jake’s biological uncle, AJ, a character whose birth and paternity was one of GH‘s top stories when it first put daytime TV on the pop-cultural map in 1980. AJ was killed off as an adult, then brought back from the dead. Then killed off again. (I didn’t say GH learned its lesson.)

What other shows have killed off legacy characters only to change their minds later and turn handsprings to bring them back? And what happened to the shows that weren't able to pull it off? Find out in my latest for Entertainment Weekly at:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


You can’t tell from the promos, but Netflix’s new original series, “Grace and Frankie” features the most intriguing and multi-faceted Jewish family currently on television. (Granted, there isn’t a lot of competition for the title. “The Goldbergs” have the name, but that’s pretty much it.)

“Grace and Frankie” stars Jane Fonda (an actress I’ve never liked, not so much for her politics but because I find her fake and mannered, constantly drawing attention, “Look! I’m Acting with a capital A, here!”), and Lily Tomlin (whom I have adored in everything I’ve ever seen her in, from her one-woman shows to the farce “Big Business”).

Fonda plays Grace and Tomlin is Frankie, two very different women whose husbands, played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, respectively, announce that they’ve been having an affair for 20 years, and are now leaving their wives to marry each other.

Grace is the uptight, control-freak WASP, and Frankie is the Earth-mother, hippie Jew. Sheen is Robert, a cold, manipulative son-of-a-bitch, and Waterston is Sol, the overly emotional, soft touch. Grace and Robert have two daughters, one of whom is an all-work-and-no-play hard-ass, and the other a boring wife and mother hiding a secret past with Frankie and Sol’s ex-drug addict screw-up son. Frankie and Saul’s other son is Black (that qualifies as a character trait on TV).

So far, so cliché.

Even the basic premise, a pair of ditched exes forming an awkward friendship after their partners leave them, is textbook Sitcom 101, with the only difference being that the illicit lovers, in this case, are men. Nevertheless, the skeleton of the story is something viewers have seen dozens of time before. It’s “The Odd Couple” with a 21st century twist.

But then, something unexpected happens. As “Grace and Frankie” moves through its 13-episode run, everything slowly, subtly gets turned on its head.

Find out how (and why you should be watching "Grace & Frankie") at:

Monday, July 27, 2015


Anyone who knows me, knows that I can talk soaps - past, present, and future - endlessly.

Which is probably why my interview with "TV Source Magazine" had to be two parts. I talk a lot.

It was also the first time I ever shared the below, publicly:

I have this very controversial theory which I have no evidence for that I want to share with you. You’re getting an exclusive – well, except for everyone that I’ve just sort of expounded to. I have a theory that soap operas don’t want longtime viewers. Soap operas are designed to sell product. Commercial television is called commercial television; it’s not a negative thing. They’re designed to sell product. If you have been watching the show for 20 years and you have not started using Crest, it’s highly unlikely you’ll start using Crest. So you’re a useless audience member. Soaps want new viewers who will tune in and buy Crest. If you are not going to buy Crest, you mean nothing to them. So a longtime viewer who hasn’t switched to Crest is worthless. The only viewer that’s worth something is the new one that can come in and you can pitch product to.

More on that, here:

And here is some controversy from part #1:

TVSource Magazine: Speaking of Agnes Nixon, she was always very great at weaving current issues into soaps and even touching on a lot of topics that many people were scared to do. In your own blogs and a lot of your interviews, you do the same thing. You’ve spoken very openly on racial identity, your interfaith family, et cetera. Would you say soap operas these days are missing a beat by not touching on these issues?

Alina: Are they missing a beat? Yes. Would I say they’re doing the wrong thing? I don’t know. And I’ll tell you why! I was at As The World Turns during the Luke and Noah storyline. And Guiding Light at the same time was running the Olivia and Natalia. Which were very different and good in their own ways but here’s what happened! Because they were running gay storylines, they got a lot of flack from everyone who felt it should be A, B, C and D. The shows that were not running gay storylines got no flack! 

Nobody called The Bold and the Beautiful to say, “You’re in the fashion industry in Los Angeles!” I always describe Bold and Beautiful as the show set in the fashion industry with no Hispanics, Jews or homosexuals. 

And that’s the thing! No one was telling Bold and Beautiful they were doing something wrong. No one was giving them crap or threatening to boycott The Bold and the Beautiful. Where As The World Turns, which was telling the story of Luke and Noah, but maybe not the way some would like, got crap! So I don’t necessarily know that the soaps are doing the wrong thing. There’s no benefit to it. There’s nothing to gain and everything to lose.

When I wrote my book on soap operas greatest moments, there was a lot of feedback I got from fans about Natalia and Olivia. They would say that [Otalia] made coming out to my family easier. Some people would say they saw homosexuals in a different way. These are all wonderful things but they don’t move the ratings needle and they don’t put money in P&G’s coffers. I’m not saying these as negative things, they’re a business. So I don’t necessarily know that the soaps not tackling social issues is a bad thing for them. For society? Yes! For them? Not necessarily.

Read the entire interview at:

Friday, July 24, 2015


You think you have all the time in the world to start applying your child to Kindergarten. After all, he/she isn’t even 4 years old yet. It’s not even the first day of Pre-K. What’s the rush?

Here’s the rush:

You live in New York City.

In New York City, the Kindergarten admissions process starts 18 months before your little darling ever steps foot into their classroom.


And mark your calenders, I'll be giving a FREE talk on "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten" on Tuesday, September 29 at 6 pm at: Spire Group Real Estate on 20 West 23rd Street.

Space is limited, so click here to reserve your spot now! I'll be answering questions you didn't even know you had to ask about the whole application process, including public, private, charter, gifted, magnet, dual language and unzoned schools in NYC!

Check out my book below!

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Primetime Emmy nominations came out last week, and Empire creator Lee Daniels responded to his breakout, unabashedly soapy hit’s lack of laurels in the Outstanding Drama category with a profanity-laced tirade that he later clarified was just him “having fun.” 

I believe him. Any serious fan of soap-operas – primetime or daytime – has to know that the former should never expect any love come Emmy time.

Even when “Who Shot JR?” was the hottest question around the world, Dallas, the show that spawned it, only managed a single win in 1980, for Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie) as Outstanding Lead Actress. It was the show’s only trophy in a major category for the duration of its run.

Dynasty, which ultimately bested Dallas in the ratings, only ever won one Emmy – for Costume Design. The top 10 ranking Knots Landing and Falcon Crest scored one win each for Music Composition.

To reiterate: Emmys don’t like soap-operas.

Find out why, this year, they may just have to, anyway (hint: Taraji P. Henson's performance in Empire) at:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I am offended.

Watch this interview about me, my kids, and my parenting style at:

Monday, July 20, 2015


“Tonya & Nancy: The Rock Opera,” played six performances at the New York Musical Theater Festival in New York City this past week after a run of sold out performances in Boston, Portland and Los Angeles.

The 90-minute production endeavors to capture the media circus that played out following the backstage attack on Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

To its credit, the show is not just for cheap laughs. The production does not make fun of skating or the people who love it but rather has fun with it — and us. The creators of this production have taken the motivation and desires of the characters seriously.

“People tell me: ‘I was so obsessed with that story,’ like they want to tell a secret,” said Elizabeth Searle, the show’s concept creator and lyricist. “In terms of why, that’s something we ask at the end of the show. Tonya and Nancy have moved on. It’s us who haven’t. Even the recent Olympic coverage, closing night, they had an hour on Tonya and Nancy. Incredible! It was one of the most watched sporting events ever. People still remember. It really struck a chord.”

Were you one of the people obsessed with Tonya and Nancy back in 1994? (I was actually in Detroit when it happened, and I never dreamed it would become as big as it did). Then read the rest of my review at "International Figure Skating Magazine":

Friday, July 17, 2015


What are the odds that two new TV sitcoms would premiere in the same summer, both of which feature the micro-issue of applying children to NYC’s ultra-competitive private schools as their underlying premise?

Now, I know a lot about applying children to NYC schools. I did it three times. I even wrote the book about how you can do it, too.

But I never thought I’d see a sitcom about it. Much less two. (Though, for the record, there have been several documentaries on the subject, including Getting In… Kindergarten and Nursery University, as well as two independent feature films, The Kindergarten Shuffle and The Best & the Brightest, the latter starring Neil Patrick Harris, no less.)

Nevertheless, both Bravo’s Odd Mom Out, which premiered on June 8, and The Jim Gaffigan Show, debuting Wednesday, July 15 on TV Land, each put NYC private school Kindergarten admissions front and center during their pilot episodes – and beyond.

Besides the obvious mistakes (if writers put what kinds of hoops NYC parents really have to jump through in order to apply their kids to school – private or public, for that matter – no one watching at home would believe it), what struck me most was the different manner in which the parents’ efforts were judged.

How different were they? Find out in my BlogHer post:

Wednesday, July 08, 2015


“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Except, it seems, on a soap-opera.

Last week, on General Hospital, Luke (Anthony Geary) asked Holly (Emma Samms) if she’d ever met his late cousin, Bill (also played by Geary from 1991 to 1993).

Holly said, “No.”

The Twitter-verse went mental.

Not only did Holly know Bill, but they had a romantic relationship, complete with the mandatory wacky adventure including art theft. Bill cheated on Holly, and when she walked in on him and another woman, Holly smashed all the precious wine bottles in Bill’s cellar and vowed revenge.

In other words, they’d met.

Read more at:

Wednesday, July 01, 2015


Back in the day when summertime was soap-opera primetime for hooking new (younger) viewers, the Fourth of July was the perfect opportunity to detonate some storyline fireworks that would continue to pay off into the fall and keep fans tuning in tomorrow (and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow; hat-tip to William Shakespeare).

In honor of those days, we asked fans to tell us their favorite Fourth of July episodes. Now, here are the top five vote-getters:

Find out who made the cut at Entertainment Weekly!