I get a lot of questions from fans on Facebook and Twitter, so here are the top Q’s along with some A’s. I even consulted a few experts for you…
Do writers really get some sort of commission for creating new characters? How do they figure out how much extra they get paid?
“Absolutely not,” responds GH Executive Producer Frank Valentini. “I have no idea where that rumor started. Writers tend to write for the characters they know better, but it’s always within the context of what’s best for the show. For example, we’ve got a lot of story coming up for [new character] Ava, but it’s all about Sonny and his family.”
Why don’t soaps pick up from the day before with the exact scene?
“If a scene is replayed from a different episode, a segment fee is owed to the director of the original scene,” explains Tainted Dreams creator/director Sonia Blangiardo, who has also directed for ATWT, OLTL and GH.
In other words, it’s less expensive to just tape the scene again on the new episode.
Why don’t soaps use more flashbacks?
“You have to pay a full show fee to every actor in the flashback,” reveals Valentini. “We used a lot of flashbacks for the Nurses’ Ball, but you’ll notice that we cut out some of the people.”
Do actors wear their own wedding rings?
Some do. I remember being at a Digest cover shoot in the ’90s for Trisha and Trucker’s wedding on Loving with Robert Tyler and Noelle Beck. The show wanted Noelle to wear the wooden wedding band that Trucker gave Trisha (fashioned out of memorable tree or something) but Noelle had just gotten married in real life and didn’t want to take off her gorgeous new emerald and diamond band. She wound up moving her real rings to her right hand for the photo.
If an actor is no longer on a show but that show continues to use their picture (like Steve Burton as Jason on the Quartermaine mantel) does the actor get paid for the use of his image?
“Yes,” responds Valentini. “There is a nominal fee if the actor is no longer on the show.”
How come we don’t see pets on the shows anymore? I miss Harold the dog and Bonkers the cat on AMC, and Foster and Annabelle on GH.
“Pets are very expensive,” says Valentini. “In addition to paying for the pet, which is between $700 and $1000 a day, you have to have a dog trainer, sometimes two, or a pet handler. Wouldn’t you rather see a popular actor than an animal?”
Why does a day last forever? Is it because of financial reasons (less wardrobe/fewer set changes)?
“I don’t think our days last forever, but we do spread them out over more than one episode for storytelling purposes,” says Valentini. “Sometimes the days starts with one set of characters and ends with a different set of characters.”
If you want to talk “forever,” consider Passions. An exec once told me that Passions had 36 new days in eight years.
How come soap characters never change into comfy clothes when they get home?
None of us want to see our favorite soap characters walking around in sweat pants. But I do appreciate it when Nancy Grahn’s Alexis takes off her high heels on GH when she gets home.
Why do characters wear sleeveless shirts with no coats outside in January like at Horton Square?
The lights on a soap set are hot, and the last thing you want is sweat forming on an actor’s forehead because he/she is wearing a heavy coat. So let’s call that dramatic license, although you’re right – they should at least CARRY a coat.
Considering the success of international soaps on DVD, or even Dark Shadows, why don’t we see more DVD releases for soaps?
“I know Prospect Park explored international distribution for AMC and OLTL, hence the deal with Canada that was short-lived,” says Blangiardo, who worked on the AMC reboot.
My opinion is that the networks didn’t keep proper records, so the accounting for any kind of DVD series of past shows would be a nightmare. By the time they figured out who directed the episode, how to get the music cleared for more than one-time use, how to pay the extras and under-fives in the scenes, etc., they wouldn’t make any money.
How much influence do viewers have in changing storylines?
“In the past, not at all,” says Blangiardo. “Now I think the fans have more of a say than they think.”
What’s the youngest age a baby can be onscreen? How long can they work at a time? How much do baby actors make?
“A baby must be 15 days old,” responds GH Casting Director Mark Teschner. “From 15 days to 5 months they can be in the building, but they are only allowed on set a total of 20 minutes. It goes up a bit as the babies get older. That’s why we hire twins, we get more time by changing the baby out.” As for the money, “Babies are paid the AFTRA Under-Five rate of $413 per baby [per day].”
“We worked very hard to find a baby small enough to believe that Britt had just delivered it,” adds Valentini. “And did you see the baby wink at her? Perfect casting.”
Where do the shows get the clothes and jewelry? I love the fashions!
“They usually have deals with chain stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdales, but the costume designers shop everywhere,” says Blangiardo.
Indeed, Blangiardo shopped in her own closet for a stylish dress needed for Colleen Zenk’s character on Tainted Dreams. “She wanted to buy it from me,” laughs Blangiardo, “but I love that dress.”
What’s up with supersonic travel? How can people travel great distances in the time it takes other characters to finish a sentence?
“Sometimes our characters move around quickly because we don’t want to lose momentum on the episode,” smiles Valentini. “And let’s be honest – we don’t need to see Sonny or Luke standing at baggage claim waiting for their luggage.”