So yes, the new news is the change in the head writing team of All My Children. Marlene McPherson and Elizabeth Snyder are no longer going to be with the show. You can read Agnes Nixon’s announcement here.
I really try not to comment on the choices of the powers that be, but now that we are in such a time of flux and change and co-creation, I think I should because the changes are coming swiftly and (as you know from my previous post) I think it’s rattling.
Some of you may know I wrote a blog for Parade Magazine praising the work of these two writers. I stand by my words. I think Marlene and Elizabeth and their team did an amazing job. Writing a soap is one of the most difficult jobs out there, and putting up a show like All My Children (a show with a vast and complex history) is not an easy task. They did a GREAT job and I think everyone behind the scenes knows that. It’s a FACT that we wouldn’t have got to this point without them.
However TPTB are really listening to the audience. The stories are wonderful, there is no criticizing them, but from what I hear out there online, there are a lot of complaints that there isn’t enough story balance between the younger characters and the vets. It’s not like Marlene and Elizabeth weren’t writing for them, or were not doing a great job, it’s just that writing for the long time characters is easier if you’ve known them for a long time. Insights that take a lot of time to develop come more quickly if (for example only) you already deeply know “Angie” over a long period of time and what she would or wouldn’t do. There is just a time and familiarity element at play, and when time is what we are short on, not having that familiarity can become an issue. That’s where the new head writer’s come in.
I know Lisa Connor has been around All My Children a long, long time. She has insight into the show both in it’s story and it’s production that very few people have. She trained with Agnes Nixon and therefore has a deep connection to how Agnes thinks, and her style. This is something that is essential to the long term success of the series, as Agnes’ vision is what made this show work for so long.
One thing that is also true is that AMC is a character driven, not plot driven show. It may be one of the only shows that features it’s character’s throughout the years as a defining element. That’s not to say other shows do not, but with AMC it is definitive. So part of this writing team change may be because this is one of Lisa’s strongest abilities – to tell story through character. That’s not to say Marlene and Elizabeth can’t or haven’t done this, it’s to say Lisa has a special insight based on her long experience with the show, and the leaning of her own abilities.
Chip Hayes has been working for AMC for a while, but his writing history also includes the shows Y&R, GH, and Melrose Place during their heydays. These shows have had a lot of success and if Chip was a part of that then you can bet he knows what he is doing.
Finally, I really trust in the instincts of Ginger Smith, and I hope you will too. She got AMC up and running in SIX WEEKS, pulling the best of the business together to work their asses off to bring the show back to life. And she did it. WE did it. So I hope you will give her all the support and love she deserves. Making the big decisions isn’t easy or always fun but her heart is 100% in the right place – on making All My Children the classic show you loved and keeping it up and running for the long term.
So yeah, it’s kind of a whirlwind right now, but welcome to the jungle of television production. These things have been going on behind the scenes for years, it’s just now we are having to talk about them more because we are in this new medium where every little decision is being put under a microscope!
Again, if I didn’t think that the show was headed in the right direction, with the right people at the helm, I wouldn’t be here going through all of this with you. But I do. Agnes and Ginger and Jeff are an amazing team (and Rich!) and they deserve our support and applause for everything they have done and everything they are doing to keep AMC true to it’s core and the best that it can be.
As for me, I am no PR agent or Ambassador. I just know the show and the people behind the scenes and have been in conversation with all of you online for years, since 2006 when I first wrote my blog for ABC “Confessions of a Mad Soap Star.” I’ve always liked letting you know that we are real people, just like you, with real families who just so happen to enjoy making fantasy worlds (because for some of us, real life can really suck.) So I promise to keep blogging more often, so we can keep in touch and talk about whatever is going on with the show and in life.
Conversation is the only thing that matters. It stops hate. It stops violence. It stops hurt. If it bother’s you, please talk about it and it will at least lead you towards a decision that is right for you. I hope you stay in conversation with me, or the show, or with the people in your life that matter to you. Some of us need to talk more than others and that is so okay. We are in process, working it out. Trust me, I know. I have had 16 years PLUS of therapy and I’m still talking about some of the same old crap. But I haven’t jumped off a bridge, hurt anybody else, or stopped living my life. And some days, for some of the stuff I deal with, I think that is really saying something. The sad thing is, shit happens to a LOT of people, so what can we do? We can stick together. That’s all we got!
So thanks again for joining me …. in conversation about life, love, and soap operas!