I knew Sonia Blangiardo for about a year before we figured out we both worked in Daytime TV – she at All My Children and me at Soap Opera Digest. (What were we talking about? I’m going to guess our neighborhood, sports, and probably men.) After a few years, Sonia left AMC for One Life to Live, and then went on to produce and direct As the World Turns.
Over the years, we would compare stories of the goings-on behind the scenes at one soap or another, laughing about the wackiness that people outside the industry would probably find hard to believe.
When Sonia approached me last year about getting involved with a soap opera she was developing, I jumped at the chance. Sonia is very professional, and has always surrounded herself with Grade A people. What a fun opportunity! As the project took shape, we would meet for drinks and revisit some of the crazy tales from those days. She would make notes on napkins, or I would text her buzz words while sitting right next to her to make sure we remembered the details properly – all while laughing hysterically.
Today, Sonia’s soap has become a reality, and it will amuse soap fans to know that many of those stories have made it into Tainted Dreams. Since TD tells the story of a soap within a soap, it made perfect sense to incorporate the real-life nuttiness we have both observed into the scripts. It also gives fans some insight into an industry that routinely tapes a full hour of television a day, necessitating that people work around the clock to perfect the sets, lighting, costumes, make-up, music and editing while actors learn 40 pages of dialogue, block their scenes, act their little hearts out, and then do it all again the next day. On top of that, the New York soaps were always short on space, so filming was done in underground studios where employees rarely saw the light of day once they reported for work.
“Soap Operas,” Hunt Block once cracked to me, “are like working in an insane asylum on a submarine.”
Tainted Dreams has captured the quirky passion of that soapy submarine perfectly, and I am honored to be a part of it. In the weeks to come, I will share some of those behind-the-scenes stories here, give details about the cast, and explain how the show got its name. Hint: Irna Phillips would be proud.
I know I am.