Monday, October 02, 2017


A year after her death, I review Agnes Nixon's autobiography, My Life To Live for SoahHub:

One Life to Live (OLTL) and All My Children (AMC) creator Agnes Nixon completed the manuscript of her autobiography, My Life To Live, only a few days before she died in her sleep on September 28, 2016.
A year later, her book is available for soap opera fans and television historians alike.
In the Beginning
The first half of Nixon’s book is devoted to her childhood, her admiration of her hard-working, single mother, also named Agnes, life with her beloved Grandma Kate (sound familiar?), and her difficult relationship with her distant, demanding, and controlling father.
She based Pine Valley’s Palmer Cortlandt on him (though without the Dobermans). That should tell you everything you need to know about him.
Read the entire review, here.
And for more from Agnes and about Agnes, keep reading....
Originally published January 7, 2017

It was a big weekend for All My Children and One Life to Live fans!

The shows' original creator, Agnes Nixon, released a statement on Facebook about her babies continuing on with Prospect Park, and Emmy-winner Debbi Morgan revealed on Twitter that she'd signed on to play Angie again... as had her leading man, Darnell Williams (Jesse).  (For those interested in this sort of thing, it is fascinating that public figures are choosing social, rather than traditional, media these days for their breaking news.  Presumably they prefer to control the story instead of leaving it in someone else's hands.)

In light of this great news, I thought I'd repost a blog from 2011, wherein onetime OLTL Headwriter Michael Malone shared what he learned from Agnes about writing a compelling soap opera.


Originally published 10/24/11


As the clock ticks down to One Life to Live's last airdate on ABC, and Prospect Park, the company scheduled to take both it and sister show, All My Children, on-line continues to be skimpy on the details: Will it be daily? Weekly? Will it be ad supported? Subscription-based? Will it be an hour? A half hour? Will it be all video? Will it be multimedia? Who is in the cast? Who is writing?

I thought now would be a good time to share the advice AMC and OLTL's creator, Agnes Nixon, gave to Michael Malone prior to his first daytime assignment.

Malone recalls, "When I first joined One Life as Headwriter, Agnes Nixon invited me to her home for dinner. That evening she graciously asked me about my novels. I didn’t want to talk about them. Here was one of the most gifted creators of a great American genre right across the table. I wanted advice on how best to write serial for television. Her metaphors were a master class in how narrative must move when story is open-ended, now in the case of her One Life to Live, for more than forty years. She said, “Keep turning the diamond to the light. There’s a lot to see.” She said, “It’s a big ship. If you want to change directions, start way ahead.” She said, “Don’t let all the waves break at once. One wave crests; there’s another behind it, then another.”

Read more from Michael Malone and dozens of other soap opera writers, actors and producers about what made - and still makes - the medium great in Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments. (Direct link at:

Friday, September 01, 2017


Hunter College Elementary School's Kindergarten 2018 application is finally open!

You only have one chance to do it right, so don't fill out any forms until you use this calculator to figure out the optimal test-date for your child.

Percentiles are based on your child's age, and choosing the wrong date can mean the difference between qualifying for Second Round, and being shut out. (Also read this interview about the pros and cons of sending a child to an Accelerated Kindergarten before they turn 5 years old.)

Next, watch the videos below.

Still have questions? Get them answered at our exclusive G&T Test Prep Tips and All Your Gifted School Options Explained Happy Hour on Tuesday, October 24. We'll explain how to raise your odds of getting in, offer test prep tips and free practice materials, and take you through the application timeline, step by step.

RSVP, here. Space is extremely limited. (The 9/9 event is already sold out.)

And if you're looking to get a head start on Hunter College High-School applications (there is no middle-school; to read more about Hunter's unique status, including why it's not, despite popular opinion, a public school, but actually closer to a charter school, click here), listen to the podcast below:

Lots more info, plus inside intel from parents who successfully got through the process, in my books, "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten" and "Getting Into NYC High-School!"

Good luck and feel free to reach out to me with questions!

Monday, August 14, 2017


Some call it STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Some call it STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math.

Some call it STEAM'D: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math & Design.

But one thing needs to be spelled out clearly: No school in NYC is doing a particularly stellar job teaching it.

While NYC public schools are forced to report their students' English and math state test scores, they stopped reporting science scores several years ago. And not because they were so wonderful.

These days, you need a Freedom of Information Act request to find out how NYC kids are doing in science, and, even when you get those results, how well each individual school is doing, is obscured. Find out why, here.

And despite NYC's moniker as Silicon Alley, the public school Computer Science curriculum isn't much better. (It doesn't help that those in charge use the terms Computer Science and Computer Programming as if they were the same thing; get the details, here.)

For more on the state of STEM in NYC schools, public and private, watch our video, below:

Sunday, July 30, 2017


NYC school waiting lists began moving right after public school General Ed Kindergarten placements were announced in March, and parents decided whether to accept or pass.

They really picked up speed in June once Gifted & Talented seats were assigned, and the musical chairs of G&T, General Ed, charter and private schools began in earnest.

August tends to be a slow month, though September brings a new, brief, final shift when people who'd registered for a given school simply don't show up.

But for parents who don't want to wait until the fall, there is another option: Religious schools.

Many offer rolling admissions and tend to have spaces even in late summer (for Kindergarten and higher grades, too). They also can be much cheaper than other private schools.

How do they manage to do that while still providing a quality education? Find out below;

Then learn how to apply to Catholic, Jewish, Christian and Muslim schools from Pre-K through High-School, as well as what they have to offer that secular schools don't, here:

Read more in Getting Into NYC Kindergarten and Getting Into NYC High-School at the links.

Monday, July 24, 2017


With two-thirds of NYC kids who qualify for Citywide Gifted & Talented programs not getting seats due to a lack of space, many parents opt for Dual Language to give their children more of a challenge.

NYC has changed the application process to Dual Language Kindergarten programs several times.

Find out how to maximize your odds of getting into the language option of your choice, here:

And hear from parents who got together to start a Dual Language program of their own - and how you can, too - below:

Monday, July 10, 2017


Getting Into NYC High-School: This Time It's Personal!

My ONLY High-School workshop before applications are due will be this coming Thursday, October 5 at BASIS Manhattan on the UWS. Please RSVP here; space is extremely limited.

When I wrote Getting Into NYC High-School last fall, my oldest son was already a HS junior, so the book was a combination of research, personal experience, and input from other students and parents who'd recently been through the process.

This year, as I've updated the book for 2018 admissions, my middle child is embarking on the process.

Yesterday, he took his first practice SHSAT test. And while he accepted the math questions he got wrong with grace, boy, did he fight me on every single reading comprehension question, insisting that his answer was just as valid as what the sample test said was right.

So, parents who buy my book for help with 2018 admissions, know that none of this is theoretical. This year, I'm right there with you!

And I want to help, because I know just how overwhelming this application season is.

To that end, please click on my video about all of your NYC high-school options, including Specialized, Screened, Arts, Limited Unscreened, P-Tech, Zoned and more, below:

Then listen to this podcast about SHSAT prep:

And check out my blog post about why I think attending a Specialized High-School was good for my son (and it's not the reason the Department of Education wants you to think)!

Friday, June 23, 2017


In NYC, a child applying for Kindergarten may be deemed gifted on one test - but not on another.

That's because different schools require different tests.

Click below for inside info on how to prep your kids for each one!

Thursday, May 25, 2017


Applications for NYC private schools open the Tuesday after Labor Day (and some only have a finite number of forms to send out).

That means parents need the summer to come up with a list of schools, an application strategy, and a timeline of interviews, tests, tours, etc... so they can hit the ground running in the fall. Don't risk losing your one window of opportunity!

Got questions? Come to a Getting Into NYC Kindergarten event this fall! Schedule, here.

And don't miss the only book that explains all your options, private, public, charter, gifted and more - Getting Into NYC Kindergarten, on Amazon or!

To help you navigate the process, check out our episodes on:

The Inside Secrets of Private School Testing:

Financial Aid:

Timelines, Tours, and Interviews:

Sunday, April 23, 2017


New York City Pre-K For All placements came out last week - and the city immediately announced that applications for Round 2 were now open. (Doesn't say a lot for their confidence that you'd be happy with your first choice, does it?)

For all the parents who've come to me asking for help picking the best preschool for their family, please check out the following resources:

5 Ways To Decide Which NYC Pre-K Is Right For You via Mommy Poppins

Bill de Blasio's Universal Pre-K Program: Neither Free, Nor Full Day, Nor High Quality via New York School Talk

Podcast interview with two veteran NYC preschool teachers, one private, one UPK, about how a good school prepares your child for Kindergarten admissions:

Raising Your NYC Bright Kids Webisode: What Parents Should Be Looking For on a Preschool Tour

Good luck and make sure to reach out to me at with follow up questions!

Monday, April 10, 2017


New York City Gifted & Talented scores came out last week. (For tips on how to get your child ready for testing next year, click here.)

Because so, so many more kids test gifted then there are G&T seats available for them, many parents, especially those of children who only qualified for District, rather than Citywide programs, are coming to me asking if a gifted program is worth it.

Here is an interview with a mom who opted for District G&T over General Ed: 

While this is a mom who turned down G&T in favor of a General Ed progressive option:

Finally, for those who either didn't qualify or didn't get into the G&T they wanted this year, this is how you reapply for next year:

And for every parent who asks me, "What's the best school?"

My standing answer is, "The best school is the school that's best for your child."

Have questions about your particular situation? Reach out to me at:

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


Is everyone in New York City getting their kids prepped for Gifted & Talented testing, state testing, or middle and high-school admissions?


Are lots of people in New York City getting their kids prepped for Gifted & Talented testing, state testing, or middle and high-school admissions?


This post explains why the tutoring epidemic is actually making it harder to judge the quality of a school, as outside test prep can obscure kids falling through the cracks. Read it at New York School Talk.

Meanwhile, the below video reveals the true cost of a good NYC education - if you factor in prep - for K-8:

And for High-School:

Monday, February 27, 2017


The recent posts I - and readers - liked best:

It's Time To Take Sides on 'The Bold & the Beautiful'

Who Will Help Anna In Her Hour of Need

Who Is Endgame for Ravi?

What's Next for the Kids of Port Charles

Should Soaps Be Interrupted for News?

And this one, where I was just supposed to be writing up a poll (albeit in my snarky, opinionated way), but ended up teaching a Y&R history lesson: Scott's Return to Genoa City!

Monday, February 06, 2017


Emmy-winner Hillary B. Smith is bringing Nora Hanon Gannon Buchanan to General Hospital!

To find out how fans feel about that, click here.

And those who never watched her on One Life to Live, read on for an exclusive interview about what made Nora and Bo so beloved:

This interview was initially posted on January 11, 2012


As One Life to Live approaches the end of its ABC Daytime run, Soap Opera 451 takes a look back at some of our favorite show memories.

When I interviewed Emmy-Award winning actress Hillary B. Smith for my book, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, she talked specifically about Nora and Bo's first wedding (with Little Richard!), and more generally about the couple's appeal as whole, telling me:

They were friends first. I think the key to a couple working is you’re just having a good time, and you’re not thinking about the results. We just were having a good time and having a lot of fun, and the writers were having a good time writing for us because there was no big agenda on the scene for these two. The writers were allowed to write whatever they wanted to. And the network kind of stayed out of it. It happened and it was perfect. The audience was rooting for them. The audience wanted them to be a couple before they were a couple, before Bo and Nora knew they were destined to be a couple. Hillary and Woodsy knew where we were going, but Bo and Nora didn’t....

It was an honest relationship. You saw them at their worst, and you still saw them as a team. It was an enviable relationship. Everyone wanted a relationship like that. Bob Woods tells the story of women going up to his wife, Loyita, and saying, “Oh, you’re so lucky, I wish I was married to Bo Buchanan.” And she says, “So do I.”...

People hang on to Bo and Nora because it was romantic. And it still is. We try to bring in as much romance as we can. We try to bring that aspect of marriage and that aspect of life back into play.

Click here for more OLTL memories and interviews with:

Headwriter Michael Malone

Judith Light (Karen)

Monday, January 30, 2017


I've shared how I'm back in the soap game, writing for and

One of my recent posts featured a poll asking viewers which Eileen Davidson character they preferred.

Find out the answer at this link.

And read my interview with Eileen talking about her multi-character Days Of Our Lives run, below!

This post originally ran on June 22, 2012

Monday: Julia Barr (Brooke; All My Children)

Tuesday: Linda Dano (Felicia; Another World)

Wednesday: Michael Malone (Headwriter; One Life to Live

Thursday: Susan Dansby (Scriptwriter, As the World Turns)

The rule of thumb in daytime - usually - is: Play a dual role, win an Emmy.

It worked for David Canary.  And Julianne Moore.  And Anne Heche.  And Ellen Wheeler.  And Martha Byrne.

Days of our Lives' Eileen Davidson did not win.  But, then again, she was not playing a dual role.

In 1998, Eileen played Kristin DiMera.  And Susan Banks.  And Sister Mary Moira.  And Penelope.  And Thomas.

For all of whom she received her first Daytime Emmy nomination.

Eileen Davidson: As a lead actress who’d always been known as a dramatic actress, it was just such a hoot for me, and so freeing to just let go and have fun.  I had a tape recorder and I would read the scene and turn it off when the character I was supposed to be talked.  I ran lines that way.  The major way that I knew it was working was because the crew was laughing, and I was laughing, we were cracking up all the time. 

They worked me to death.  I was at the end of my contract, I was going to leave after the first year I played Susan. And they asked me to stay an additional year to finish off the storyline, so I did.  James (Reilly; Headwriter) actually ended apologizing to me at the end of it.  He knew he’d worked me sixteen-hour days, Saturdays, I was really exhausted.  He apologized to me.  He said he couldn’t help it, he felt inspired by me.  He had no reason to apologize, it was a great, great, great thing for me.

Read more from Eileen, Susan, Michael, Linda, Julia, and dozens of other actors, writers, producers, experts and fans in Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments enhanced ebook, available on Amazon and B&N.

Plus, today is the last day to buy Alina Adams' Counterpoint: An Interactive Family Saga, When a Man Loves a Woman: Enhanced Multimedia Edition, and Skate Crime: Multimedia for only $.99 cents as part of the promotion.  Prices go back up this weekend!

Monday, January 09, 2017


As I mentioned last week, I am now writing The Young & the Restless and The Bold & the Beautiful spoilers for

They started out nice and straightforward, but, somewhere along the way, I began getting snarky.... and opinionated... and bringing up past character misdeeds that the show itself kind of wishes you'd forget.

So if you like your Y&R and B&B spoilers with a bit of an attitude (and a lot of respect for soap history), consider checking mine out at:

And make sure to let me now what you think!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017


Though it was my second Regency Romance novel for AVON, 'Thieves at Heart' proved to be the last one of my books to be turned into an ebook (don't ask why, the answer is long, complicated... and, in spite of that, ultimately uninteresting).

What's special about 'Thieves at Heart?' Well, to start, it was the book that finally killed off AVON's Regency line. Yes, I'm very proud.

Turns out that my involvement in it not only destroys soap-operas and primetime televised figure-skating, but also an entire literary genre for a major publishing house.

Check it out for yourselves, here.