Friday, April 11, 2014

MOVIE AND TV STARS WHO STARTED ON SOAPS

The break out star on this year's break out sitcom, Brooklyn 99, is Melissa Fumero. Along with the realization that Andre Braugher can be deadpan funny, is just how funny - and adorable - Amy Santiago's portrayer is.

Of course, soap fans remember Melissa from her role as Dorian's long-lost (yes, another one) daughter on One Life to Live.

To check out other actresses who started on soaps, including which show can boast the most big-time alumni, and which prime-time soap currently features a Daytime Emmy winner, and much, much more, go to: http://wowthatscool.com/15-movie-and-tv-actresses-who-got-their-start-on-soap-operas

And for a list of actors who also got their start on daytime (which soap star lied about his age to get a movie, role, which two future Star Wars actors shared a role?) go to: http://wowthatscool.com/10-actors-who-got-their-start-on-soap-operas

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

CATCH UP WITH LOUISE SOREL (SB/DOOL/OLTL) & WIN TICKETS TO HER NEW PLAY!

Whether you first met Louise Sorel as the pigeon-puff making Augusta on Santa Barbara, the nemesis-burying Vivian on Days of Our Lives or as the imperial Judith (who, alas, neither cooked nor buried) on One Life to Live, you know that she can play a character!

Well, now she's playing several of them in a new, stage revival of I Remember Mama, running through April 20 at The Gym at Judson in New York City, where ten actresses assume all twenty-five speaking roles.

Tickets to the show are regularly $59 dollars, but soap - and Louise Sorel - fans can click this link and enter code: IRMRRM to purchase the same seat for only $39.

Or, if you're really feeling lucky, enter the Soap Opera 451 giveaway! I've got two pairs of tickets to give away to two lucky winners. Just email AlinaAdams@gmail.com with the subject line "Win Tickets" to be entered in our drawing. Winners will be notified by email on Friday, April 11, 2014.

In the meantime, to get you in the mood, enjoy our interview with Louise Sorel about I Remember Mama... and soaps, too!

Soap Opera 451: In this production of "I Remember Mama," you are playing more than one character. Which ones are they, and how would you relate them to all the different characters you've played on soaps throughout the years?
Louise Sorel: I can't relate them to soaps - this is a play and the roles are from another time in life. Although the grandeur of Florence Dana Moorehead is close to Vivian Allemain - in a small way.


SO451: How is acting on stage different from acting for the camera?
LS: Stage work is larger and more complicated in that we are onstage for two hours and constantly involved.  It's never piecemeal on stage.

SO451: "I Remember Mama" explores a variety of family dynamics. So do soaps. How would you compare the way this show deals with family relationships to how soaps tackle them?
LS: I am hesitant to answer this - "Mama" is a tender, poetic familial piece and deals with historic beginnings for a family - who is poor and close - with some sibling rivalry and deep love among all of them. I don't really want to get into the difference because they are different mediums and are expressed for different reasons.

SO451: Why would soap fans in particular enjoy this production of "I Remember Mama?"
LS: This is filled with wonderful actresses and very moving - I don't know what more someone would want from the theater?  Plus it's got lovely humor.

Read more about the play at: http://transportgroup.org/i-remember-mama

Monday, March 31, 2014

DON'T BAN BOSSY - CELEBRATE IT (SOAP STYLE)!

I know, I know... Sheyl Samberg wants us to ban bossy because she thinks it keeps little girls from striving
to be leaders.

I'm sorry, Sheryl Sandberg, but those of us who grew up watching soaps know that bossy women rule (Y&R's Eric Braeden knows it, too; that's why he's always complaining about how women on daytime are so much stronger than the men - boo-hoo, Eric Braeden).

Last week, I wrote a piece for BlogHer about TV's Top 10 Female Bosses. You can read it, here.

If it were up to me, I'd have filled the entire list with women from prime-time soaps, everyone from Alexis on Dynasty to Angela on Falcon Crest to Abby on Knots Landing to Amanda on Melrose Place.

And then I would have moved on to daytime: Lucinda on ATWT, Brooke on AMC, Anna on GH, Alexandra on GL, Ashley on Y&R, Stephanie on B&B, Dorian on OLTL (and Viki, too), heck, even Maeve on Ryan's Hope ran a bar!

The list is nearly endless.

So let's show the world who's boss.

Who are your favorite TV bosses from Daytime and Nighttime soaps? Tell us in the comments below, and then drop by BlogHer and tell them Daytime Still Matters!

Don't be afraid to get bossy about it, either. ;)

Friday, March 28, 2014

WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIP 2014: SKATING... AND SEX

The 2014 World Figure Skating Championships continue through the weekend and, to celebrate, I've got another excerpt from "Skate Crime: A Figure Skating Mystery," and the story of a skater who got much too tense before a competition... and the coach who came up with a most unique solution to the problem....


Unlike 99 percent of the students who came under Lucian's — or, frankly, any skating coach's — elite tutelage, Gina Gregory possessed something the rest did not. Gina genuinely and completely and unabashedly loved to skate.
She loved it when she stepped onto the ice for the first time at the age of three. She loved it through group lessons and private lessons and reconstructive surgery on her elbow after she broke it trying a Double Axel when she could barely do a single. She was always the first girl at the rink when it opened in the morning and the last one off the ice, even as the Zamboni was rumbling out of the gate to signal an end of session for the night. She was always the one eager to try a trick once more to get it perfect, never complaining about injuries or not having enough time to do other, normal-kid things. Gina Gregory would have been the perfect student.  Except that, like 99 percent of the students who came under any skating coach's elite tutelage, she also had something the rest of them did — a mother keenly interested in her child's progress.
Tina Gregory was the reason Lucian Pryce initially refused to take on Gina. Yes, he saw how talented the girl was. Yes, he saw how teachable she was and how easy to deal with. But her mother was a horror. And Lucian was no fool.
It wasn't until Gina was twelve years old and picked one morning when Lucian was teaching another skater to circle him incessantly and keep doing Double Axel after Double Axel after Double Axel until Lucian was dizzy — even if she wasn't — that he threw up his hands, laughed, and gave in.
For the next decade, he had cause to regret it every day of his life.
Not because of Gina. Gina was exactly what he'd expected. But because of Tina. Because Tina was exactly what he'd expected, too. (When a woman tells you she named her only daughter after herself—G[regory] + [T]ina = Gina — you kind of know what you're in for.)
Tina Gregory wasn't just content to, like the other mothers, sit rinkside every day and coach her daughter from the sidelines — even though she was ostensibly paying Lucian good money to do the same thing. Serious money. Top dollar, as a matter of fact. (Lucian believed customers understood they were getting the best only if they were also paying the most.) No, Tina prided herself on cornering Lucian each and every time he stepped off the ice, so they could have a little confab about Gina's progress and potential. And when Lucian came home at the end of the day, more often than not, the phone would already be ringing, and it would be Tina on the other end, with yet another question or notion. They talked about Gina's programs. They talked about Gina's music. They talked about her costumes and her diet and her ballet lessons that Lucian insisted she take to lose some of the coltish qualities that judges tended to disdain in their international-level skaters. But, most of all, they talked about the fact that Gina thought too much.
The older she got, the more it became a problem.
By the time she turned sixteen, Gina was, even in the opinion of her fiercest (and cattiest) competitors, the World Ladies' champion of the practice ice. Fortunately for her competitors, however, about half the time now, her championship moves remained right there on the practice ice. All because, when it came time for competition, Gina started thinking.
She thought about which girls might be able to outskate her, and she thought about which moves she was most likely to miss. As a result, she missed the moves and the girls she most feared did, in fact, outskate her.
Lucian realized soon enough that Gina's best performances took place when she didn't have time to overthink them. Most girls hated to draw first to skate in the Short Program. Common wisdom held that judges "saved" their marks, meaning that the skater who went first could never hope to score as high as the one who went last, even if their actual performances were identical. Lucian believed "saving" marks to be an actual phenomenon. But he also knew that it was better for Gina, and so he rejoiced when she pulled her arm out of the sorting hat with a single-digit number. Unfortunately, Gina skating so well in the Short Program meant she was usually scheduled to skate in the final group for the Long. And that left more thinking time than anybody felt comfortable with.
Since Lucian couldn't very well (no matter what his own competitors believed) fix the draw to assure Gina going early in the Short, and since he couldn't change the rules to keep her from ending up in the final group for the Long, Lucian went with the factors he thought he still might be able to affect, and banned Tina from attending competitions alongside her child. He'd believed for years that Tina and her never-ending need to discuss every bit of minutia surrounding her daughter's career was what filled Gina's head with the stress and anxiety that then tripped her up. So Lucian gave Tina a choice: Either she stay away from Gina at competition (and that meant far away; not in another room, not in another hotel, but preferably in another state) or Lucian would walk away from coaching her. After several years of having paid top dollar for every lesson, Tina was adequately convinced that Lucian was the best coach available, and so knew enough to back away when faced with such an ultimatum.
Initially, Lucian's gamble worked. Without her mother constantly whispering in her ear, Gina did grow more relaxed about such issues as her program, her music, her costumes, her competition, and her chances. She trusted that she could skate as well when it counted as when it didn't. But, without her mother to take care of the associated details like she always had, Gina replaced her previous performance anxiety with a new list of worries: What if she didn't fill out her entry paperwork correctly, what if her plane wasn't on time, what if her luggage got lost, what if she misplaced her room key, what if she missed the practice bus, what if she misread her schedule, what if, what it, what if... The girl was a twitching bundle of nerves and Lucian was getting sick of it. So he went with yet another Plan B. Lucian always had a Plan B in case things didn't go according to plan. He'd learned it from coaching Toni.
To execute Gina's Plan B, Lucian sent in Chris Kelly.
Chris, at this point, was the undisputed king of the Pryce skating stable. Having won Olympic Gold two years earlier, then followed it up with a World Championship that year and the next, Chris was, at age twenty-two, the best-known name in Men's skating. In addition, having obviously gotten over the death of his wife from a year before, he was the acknowledged catch in the very small pool of male skaters who were successful, good-looking, and most important, straight. And Chris knew it.
He'd gone through at least a half dozen girlfriends since Lauren, including media personalities, heiresses, and fellow skaters. He'd never given eighteen-year-old Gina a second glance. Until he showed up at her hotel room at the World Championship under strict orders from Lucian to "For God's sake, son, get that girl to relax. I don't care how you do it."
Having placed first in the Short Program and then drawn to skate last for the Long in a record field of forty-seven girls, Gina had several hours with nothing to do but think about what could go wrong before she was finally allowed to leave the hotel, catch the appropriate shuttle, arrive at the arena, change into her competition outfit, and do the one thing in the entire process that she still loved to do — skate. Equally unfortunate was the fact that these particular championships were being held in Amsterdam. Which meant they were being shown on Eurosport. Which meant that, at any time, Gina could turn on the TV and watch, live, all the lucky girls who'd already gotten their programs over with.
           Gina, as it had already been established not only by Lucian but also by the U.S. figure skating press corps as well as the fans who liked to discuss such matters in grave detail each time they gathered at yet another championship, did not know how to relax.
          It was up to Chris to show her.
         At first, when he kissed her, Gina had no idea what he was doing. (Well, she had some idea. She wasn't a complete innocent; in fact, she had read a great deal on the subject and fully intended to explore it further once her busy schedule allowed.) When he peeled off her robe, she was, momentarily, utterly befuddled. But that didn't seem to bother Chris much. He apparently had no interest in her actively participating beyond not getting in his way. Which Gina had no intention of doing, in any case. To be honest, she wouldn't have known how. And to be really honest, she was too curious.

Read more by clicking the link below:



Or save over 30% by buying all five Figure Skating Mystery novels in one volume:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIP 2014 & SKATE CRIME!

Congratulations to Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy for winning their career fifth gold medal at the 2014 World Figure Skating Championships taking place right now in Japan.

A profile on the pair in 2010 stated:

Robin Szolkowy, born in the town of Greifswald to his mother (an East German nurse) and his father (a Tanzanian medical student), who returned to Africa before the birth of his son.

Although black athletes are extremely rare in the former East Germany, Szolkowy told the New York Times before the Games that he never experienced racism or discomfort.

Skating is hardly America's most colorful sport, either. (Well, at least not racially speaking.)

In my 5th Figure Skating Mystery novel, "Skate Crime: Enhanced Multimedia Edition," I told the story of African-American Toni Wright, and her white pairs partner, Lucian Pryce. I based Toni on the legendary Mabel Fairbanks.

Read about Mabel, here, and enjoy an exclusive excerpt from "Skate Crime," below:

"You got a lot of money?"
He was about twelve, maybe thirteen years old, with hair so blond he might have been a ghost and eyes so blue they looked like mirrors reflecting the summer sky. His chin had a point at the end, and with every word he spoke, it looked as though he was jabbing it right in Toni's direction.
"What's it to you?" Toni asked, knowing that she sounded common, and happy that Mama wasn't around to hear her.
"I heard you going around asking everybody for lessons. You got money to pay for them?"
"Not that it's any of your business, but yes. Yes, I do."
"Where'd you get it?"
"From my daddy, of course."
"Ha! Never heard of a rich colored man."
"That is likely because you are ignorant" Toni heard Mama's voice coming out of her mouth and decided that made up for sounding so cheap earlier.
"Where'd he get all his money? He a thief?"
"Of course not! For your information, my father runs the Wright Funeral Homes of New York City. Two in Harlem, one in Queens, two in the Bronx, and we're opening another in Brooklyn next month!"
"So he's a vampire!"
Toni knew she should be offended. But the image of her daddy with bat wings and sharp teeth just made her giggle.
"So you're really rich, then?"
Toni shrugged. Well-brought-up young ladies didn't discuss money in public. It was even more common than bad grammar.
"I have an idea," the boy said. "About how you can take skating lessons."
She knew she shouldn't be listening to him, but Toni couldn't help it. She said, "How?”
"Okay, well, see, here's the thing: I could teach you."
"You're just a boy!"
"I'm almost thirteen! And I've been skating, well, since I was a baby almost. See, my ma and dad, they run the Arthur Murray Dance Studio on West fifty-ninth — that's practically right down the street, in Hell's Kitchen. So I've been dancing since I was a baby, too. I'm good. Ma says I could be a ballroom champion, maybe. But dancing, that's nothing like skating. Skating is everything you do in dance, but harder and faster and... and... better. It's just better, you know?"
"I know," Toni said softly.
"Now, my folks, they can afford a lesson for me here and there, but if you want to be a champion, you need lessons every day. My folks don't have the money for that. So I thought, it's like this... I thought I could give you lessons on what I know and you don't, but since I can't take money or I wouldn't be an amateur skater anymore, your daddy can pay the money for my lessons to my coach for her to teach me. Then I take what I learn and teach it to you, you understand?"
Toni thought she did. But... "Your coach doesn't want to teach me."
"No, she doesn't. But I bet she wouldn't mind taking money from you for me, especially if she knows it's the only way I could afford it."
When Toni later told her daddy what the boy had proposed, he chuckled, but he didn't look particularly happy when he agreed, "No, I suspect she wouldn't mind, at that."
"So can we do it, Daddy? Can we do it this way?"
"Well, I would like to speak to this boy first. What did you say his name was?”
Toni had to sheepishly admit she had no idea.
The next day. Daddy came to the rink in person. Toni pointed out the boy with the pale hair and mirror eyes. He was on the ice, running backwards at top speed, then leaping into the air and splitting his legs so high, his toes were nearly up to his shoulders when he touched them with his fingers.
Daddy beckoned him over and the boy came instantly. He said his name was Lucian Pryce.
"Lucian, huh?" Daddy noted. "That's quite the mouthful."
"My ma is French, sir. Well, first Russian, then French. She's from a long line of ballerinas that ran away from Russia between the wars and ended up first in France, then America. Dad's just a regular mick, though. Nothing fancy there."
Toni wasn't sure if Daddy actually heard the gist of Lucian's explanation. He still seemed a bit dumbstruck that a white boy had called him "sir."
Daddy told Lucian he would speak to his coach, but if she agreed with Lucian's idea to pay for his lessons, then Daddy was for it. Lucian grinned and winked at Toni. She knew that winking was very common. But she couldn't help winking back.
Lucian's coach did Daddy the great favor of taking his money. She hesitated a bit before actually, physically accepting it but in the end, like Daddy always said, "The color green wins out over any other."
And Toni began taking lessons from Lucian.
Their first day, he taught her the backwards crossovers.
Their first year, she had mastered every single revolution jump, up through the Axel (which was actually one and a half turns in the air). By the second year, she could spin so ferociously, Daddy said it was like seeing a spool of movie film slip out of its projector. By the third, Lucian told Toni he thought she was ready for real U.S. Figure Skating Association competition. There was only one problem. In order to compete, she had to join the USFSA. And the USFSA did not — Lucian had actually called their headquarters and asked; he would apply for her father to cover the long-distance bill later — have any colored members.
Toni asked Lucian for a copy of the form to join the USFSA. She read it closely. She said, "It doesn't ask anywhere if you're colored or not. It just says what the dues are to join."
Lucian read the form, too. "You're right," he said.
At eleven years old, Toni was a dues-paying, official member of the U.S. Figure Skating Association. Now she could take the necessary figure and freestyle tests to qualify for competition at the Regional, Sectional, maybe even the National Championships. When she filled out her paperwork to take the test, it didn't ask whether or not she was colored, either. But when the three judges assigned to mark her test arrived at Wollman Rink, they could see for themselves. One refused to look at her figures at all. The other two simply marked her "Failed" before she was even through demonstrating.
"This is a problem," Lucian said.
"Is it a problem that can be solved with money?" Daddy asked him.
"Maybe..."
"Then I expect you to let me know how to solve it."
Lucian called the USFSA headquarters — this time, he simply used the Wrights' phone, to make the reimbursement easier — and asked for a list of every qualified judge in the country, plus their contact information. He then proceeded to call over two hundred of them, until he found three willing to judge a little colored girl's tests.
On a warm April morning a few weeks before Toni turned twelve, as the outdoor rink's ice was beginning to melt in the spring thaw, three USFSA judges — one from Maine, one from Vermont, one all the way from the aptly named Great Falls, Montana –
arrived in New York City — plane fare courtesy of Wright Funeral Homes — to judge one Antonia Wright's figure and freestyle tests.
Daddy told her, "I don't plan to do this regularly, so you best make sure you get this right the first time, you hear me, Antonia?"
"Yes, sir," she said.
"That goes for you, too, Lucian."
"Yes, sir," he said. And Lucian made sure that when Toni took her tests, they were loop and bracket and Choctaw perfect, so that, in the space of that one morning, she passed all of her tests up to the Junior level.
"That means you're qualified to compete at Nationals!" he told her excitedly.
"Don't I have to place at Regionals and Sectionals first?"
“Technicality," Lucian said. "I'm going to go to Nationals in Senior Men, and you're going to go in Junior Ladies. It's all over but the medal ceremony, really."
Toni was the fifth girl in her group of twelve at the Regionals. She skated in a purple velvet dress and white tights to music from Broadway's Showboat. Lucian had picked and edited the tunes himself on a special record. The first, fast part was to "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," the slow middle section was to "Ol' Man River," and then for the big, dramatic finish she skated to a Charleston. Toni landed all of her double jumps and wrapped up with a change-leg camel/sit/scratch spin. She placed twelfth out of twelve in the free skating, just as she had in the figures.
"This is a problem," Lucian said, looking at her scores.
"Is it a problem that can be solved with money?” Daddy asked.
"I don't know, sir," Lucian admitted.
"Then you'd best figure it out and tell me. Soon."
"Yes, sir."
To Toni, Daddy said, "Now, the only solution I personally can see to this problem is for you to get yourself twice as good, three times as good, whatever it takes, so that those judges can't keep on ignoring you like this. You think you can do that, Antonia?"
"I don't know, sir."
"Then you'd best figure it out and tell me. Soon."
After a few days of thinking about it, Lucian said, "I think I may have a solution."
"What is it?"
"You're going to skate Pairs." It wasn't a question. It was a pronouncement
"With who?"
"With me." Another pronouncement
"You know, Lucian, even in a Pair, I'll still be colored."
"Yes. But it will matter less. Trust me. Plus, the judges have already shown they like me. I won my group on all seven cards, and by a wide margin, too. If they like me by myself, they'll like me with you."
"Why would you want to give up skating Singles to skate Pairs with me?"
"Because I'm good by myself, but I can be great with you." Lucian smiled. "What do you say? Have I ever steered you wrong before?"

"Skate Crime: Enhanced Multimedia Edition" features all the text of the original, Berkley Prime Crime paperback release, as well as videos by the Ice Theatre of NY to compliment the story (I even managed to find video of an African-American woman skating with a white man to represent Toni and Lucian - no easy feat, let me tell you - read all about it, here). Get a free preview of "Skate Crime" by clicking the link below:


 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIP: DEATH DROP SCANDAL!

In honor of the 2014 World Figure Skating Championships going on right now, please enjoy an excerpt from my 4th Figure Skating Mystery novel, "Death Drop."

At the National Championships, television researcher Bex Levy is taking in the Ladies' practice, when she stumbled upon skating's biggest scandal yet (and no, it's not what you think... read all the way to the end for the final shock):

***

Lian, it seemed, had a new boyfriend.

Now, usually that wouldn't be such a big deal. In the real world, eighteen-year-old girls were known for getting new boyfriends. Some were known for getting a new boyfriend every week. But in this case, Bex was willing to bet the strapping young hunk in question was also Lian Reilly's first-ever boyfriend. Because this, after all, was skating. And it was Lian.

Lian was special. Or so her mother, Amanda, kept telling anybody who would listen. Lian was destined for greatness. And Lian had decided, at a painfully early age, that greatness meant becoming a skating legend. From age three, Lian had spent every afternoon, then every afternoon and morning, then every afternoon, morning, and whatever time could be squeezed in between, at the rink. She made her mother drive her to ballet lessons and costume fittings and stylists. She made her mother chaperone her to local and international competitions. And she allowed her mother to pick up the tab for the privilege. At first, Amanda endured the insane lifestyle because she loved her darling girl beyond reason (having adopted Lian from a Chinese orphanage as an infant, Amanda believed they were destined to be family). But even she eventually reached her limit and rebelled. Amanda made a deal with her daughter: Lian would have to win the upcoming Nationals, or they were quitting and going home. Lian agreed, because she saw that, this time, Mom meant what she said, and Lian had no choice. Which meant that, this season, Lian had put even more effort than anyone previously guessed possible into her training. Which made it extra surprising that along with the extra work, she'd also somehow managed to sneak a boyfriend onto the schedule.

And not just any boyfriend. Little Lian had gotten herself the pick of the litter: Cooper Devaney, U.S. National Men's Champion, or, as his fans liked to scream from the stands when he came out onto the ice, "Super Cooper!"

He was twenty-two years old, six feet tall, with wavy, sandy brown hair, hazel eyes, a dimple in his chin, biceps to make Popeye weep, and a butt so tight he didn't even incur a mandatory costume deduction for wearing tights. (The latter was two years ago for an ill-advised Romeo and Juliet routine. Since then, Coop had switched coaches and choreographers and now preferred simple, tight black pants, and red, tight T-shirts that showed off all his best assets simultaneously.) In the real world, Cooper Devaney would have been a heck of a catch. In skating, he was a god.

Which made it even odder that Lian had somehow landed him. Unlike her, Coop had a rep for being quite the player. According to notes a former researcher recorded in his file from a Nationals ten years earlier, "The standout in the Novice Men's event was Southern California's Cooper "Coop" Devaney. Solid jumps (three triples), nice spins, good footwork, but the charisma!!!! Twelve years old, and he had girls screaming for him in the audience at exhibition! Watch this kid. He's going to be a star!!!" According to gossip, he'd dated half the Junior World Team until he made his first Senior one, then promptly traded up — and never looked back. His previous girlfriend was Allison Adler, the ice-dance champion. But that ended, as far as Bex knew, almost a year ago, when she quit skating. Asked to make a bet on which girl he'd go for next, Bex would have put her money on Jordan Ares. While Coop had been working his way through the female side of the Senior World Team, Jordan had been doing the same with the male (to be fair, her options were much more limited, and she had been forced to go for a few coaches and officials just to keep things competitive). It was about time they hooked up, if only so both could check the other off their to-do (literally) lists.

Except that, surprise! it was Lian whom Coop went for, not Jordan. And the newly knighted girlfriend could not have looked more thrilled. Even half an arena away, Bex recognized the infatuation. Lian didn't land a single jump without glancing over her shoulder at Coop. She waved to him from the barrier while she was supposed to be catching her breath and listening to her coach. Twice, she skated over to another girl on the practice, casually struck up a conversation, then giggled, covered her mouth with one hand, and pretended to surreptitiously point Coop out in the stands. He smiled and gave her a thumbs-up both times, utterly unembarrassed by the attention, which, of course, made Lian giggle more.

Neither Lian's coach nor her mother appeared as amused by the performance art as Bex was; but, for probably the first time in her life, Lian did not really seem to care.

"They're not having sex yet."

The sweeping Anna Karenina coat, complete with gold, gilded buttons down the front and a fur collar to match the trimming on the sleeves, not to mention the "Seven Sisters Sorority" accent most certainly belonged to Mrs. Diana Howarth, skating's grand dame and half of 24/7's announcing team. But the sentiment expressed did not exactly gel with the persona she'd spent thirty years cultivating. Diana was often referred to as the Grace Kelly of skating. She was blond, refined, poised, and elegant. She wasn't someone you expected to observe, "That girl hasn't been popped, I'd put money on it."

Bex turned around in time to see Diana and her husband, Francis, grandly occupy the two seats directly behind Bex. Francis leaned over her shoulder for a peek at Bex's notes. He pulled a pen out from his inside black blazer pocket and proceeded to scribble Bex's observations into his own research binder so that, in several hours, Francis could sincerely believe he'd actually watched the entire practice and come to those conclusions on his own. Diana, meanwhile, whispered conspiratorially and, if Bex did say so herself, rather gleefully, into Bex's ear, "You can always tell a virgin by the way she skates."

"Hm," Bex replied, noncommittal, actually eager to hear the scoop, but afraid that Diana was just testing to see if Bex would take the bait — a sort of Princess and the Pea assessment of class-worthiness.

If it was a test, then Bex must have passed something, because Diana went on, "Look at Jordan Ares over there. Nothing virginal about that girl. Look how relaxed she is when she skates; it's like she's had a full-body massage. She is one fluid, languid bit of slowly dripping syrup, head to toe."

Bex nodded. And prayed very hard that Diana wouldn't decide to repeat her metaphor on the air during the Ladies' Short Program. Bex could already imagine Gil screaming at her through the headset in response, "What the fuck is she talking about? Are we selling Mrs. Butterworth here? Am I supposed to put Jordan Ares on my pancakes? Has Diana lost her mind? Bex! Do something!"

"Now, Lian Reilly, on the other hand," Diana said, "look at how she skates. Short, tight little steps. Jumps that barely get off the ground. Pinched face, darting eyes. She nods her head in time to the music, goodness — you can actually see her counting the beats instead of letting it wash over her and succumbing to the rhythm. She's ready to burst, but with no place to go. A bottle of champagne with the stopper jammed down its throat and glued for good measure."

"A bottle of champagne?" the imaginary Gil's voice in Bex's head shrieked, "Now it's 'Dick Clark's New
Year's Rockin' Eve'? Have you all lost your minds down there?"

Diana said, "Lucian Pryce, he's a coach out in Colorado, ever met him, Bex?"

Bex nodded. "He's Toni Wright's former pair partner and Rachel Rose and Robby Sharpton's old coach. I interviewed him for my piece on skaters who dropped out of sight right when it seemed they were at the top of their game."

That piece had been Bex's first attempt at field-producing, and it was supposed to be screened during this Nationals broadcast.

"Lucian," Diana said, "always encouraged his girl skaters to sleep around. Not have a steady boyfriend, mind you — that would distract them from training, and nobody wants that. But he encouraged them to cat around, no commitments, like a boy. Lucian believed it made them skate better. He liked to say: Nothing duller than a tightened-twat virgin on the ice. I must admit, I agree with him."

Bex immediately stopped praying that Diana would decide to call Jordan syrup or Lian champagne, and told God both were okay — as long as the expression tightened-twat never occupied the air between Diana's lips and a 24/7 microphone.

"But look at that lovely boy." Francis finished copying Bex's notes and surfaced into the conversation as if newly awake. He indicated Coop, sitting in the stands across from them. "Cooper Devaney practically erupts with an erotic charge from every pore. Surely you don't think an Adonis like that is allowing his vigor to go to waste?"

Bex thought it was bad enough when her parents gave her the obligatory birds and bees talk in the fourth grade. Hearing Francis and Diana Howarth, both sixty-plus years old, use the words "twat," "dripping," "erotic charge," and "vigor" was enough to make Bex want to cover her ears with both hands and loudly yodel.

Fortunately, she was saved from doing a Sound of Music medley or listening to any more of their disturbing discussion by the sandstorm of gossip that was washing over their section of the arena like a quickly creeping fog.

Gossip, Bex had learned after more than a year on the job, could be — and often was — a physical, tangible thing. It started with one person, then grew at a nuclear rate until it became a life force of its own, an audible hum picked up by dogs, seismographs, and people whose livelihoods depended on knowing everything that was going on in a ten-acre radius.

Bex first felt rather than heard the gossip, like a vibration. She felt the people around her, previously milling in a somnambulistic stupor as befitting the first practice of the day, suddenly perk up. Their heads tweaked into the air like a newborn bird's. They, too, could sense the gossip coming, and they wanted to be ready to pick up the first whisper. It came from the other arena. It came in loose words, in snatches of phrases:

"Baby boy..."

"Nobody knows ..."

"Has to be hers ..."

"No one suspected ..."

"Why here?"

'Tragedy..."

"Allison Adler, I hear.. ."

'Tragedy..."

"Who do you think the father was?"

"Well, with a girl like that..."

Bex didn't need to hear any more. She, along with Francis and Diana — whose radar, after all, was even better tuned than hers — were already out of their seats, heading for the source.

Read more by clicking the link below!


Monday, March 24, 2014

JAMES REBHORN: THE SOAP YEARS

RIP James Rebhorn (1948-2014)

Originally published 2/24/11

YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN' YET

Matt Bomer isn't the only Guiding Light alum on White Collar.

There is also James Rebhorn, who plays Peter's boss.

Every time I see him on-screen, I weep.

Not because his performance moves me, but because I know that he's capable of moving me - only he is never, ever given the chance.

On White Collar, Rebhorn mostly huffs, puffs and points. In the movie, Independence Day, he primarily cowered. In Far From Heaven he was Dennis Quaid's shrink, and in Baby Mama, Tina Fey's judge.

He is capable of so, so much more, and the only place he's ever been able to express it, IMHO, has been daytime. (To be fair, I've never seen his stage work, and can only hope he's been given material worthy of his abilities, there.)

On Guiding Light, Rebhorn played Bradley Raines', Beth's violent stepfather who beat Lillian, raped Beth, and taunted Phillip with the truth about his parentage. (And yet, every once in a while, Rebhorn allowed you to see the agonized man behind the monster, to the point where you actually, kinda, sorta, felt sorry for him.)

Watch a classic clip, below (yes, that is ER's Sherry Stringfield as Blake):



On As The World Turns, Rebhorn knocked his evil up a notch, raping not his stepdaughter, but his biological daughter, Angel (Holden's wife and ex-lover of his brother, Caleb). Here, he was less sympathetic. But, very, very creepy. He could make your flesh crawl right through the screen. (He also was particularly nasty to his son. Especially when said son attempted to stand up for his sister.)