August 12, 2009By Marc Wilkofsky Posted: Aug 12, 2009
To switch off from discussing GUIDING LIGHT's dimming, here's a look at two up-and-coming guys in the entertainment world, both of whom have intriguing soap opera connections (and dreams).
You might remember Isaak James as a top 10 finalist on the second season of SOAPnet's reality series I WANNA BE A SOAP STAR, in which he tried out for an ALL MY CHILDREN role. Since then, the successful movie actor, writer, director and singer has been everything but a soap star...and has even worked with a well-known one.
After scribing, starring in and directing the critically acclaimed, and darkly funny, big-screen look at the wild world of reality television, Special Needs, his latest full-length independent movie, Hungry Years, features Michael E. Knight (AMC's Tad). The comedic film, which runs the controversial gamut from restricted-calorie groups to a new look at autism, has a soap operatic feel, in that the viewer learns about several complex people (headed up by nutrition-minded Ellen) in various plotlines, while how food affects and unites us is one of its prevalent themes, and not one often depicted in soaps. I was quite taken by Ellen's slightly misguided but well-meaning decision to give a senior citizen a different type of meal than her usual regimen; as James (who plays altruistic inventor Neil) notes, "It's a movie about people trying to do good. Sometimes, the reasons why you do good can become blurred; are you doing it for yourself or are you doing it for the greater good? Sometimes, you [should] stick to the motto of 'Think globally, give locally,' and do a little bit in your own world every day, and maybe that can be the best thing that you can do."
I'll review the film when it's closer to a public screening, but for now, I can say it's truly absorbing and has as much relevance as it does depth. Knight's character, an unorthodox laywer named Bernie, has a strikingly different persona from Tad and is a wonder to watch. James, who calls Knight "very professional and respectful," is busy shopping the movie around to festivals. For more information on Hungry Years, go to www.hungryyearsthemovie.com.
Another increasingly popular artist is energizing the country music world with some powerful (and fun) musical offerings. Last week's exciting country showcase at Joe's Pub in downtown Manhattan brought three captivating performers to the stage for one memorable night that proved country completely rocks (and New York City knows it, even though there is no major mainstream country station in the Big Apple...but that's another money-related story, one soap fans would understand). After Kendel Carson's wonderfully engaging set with Chip Taylor, I spoke with Cooper Boone, a multitalented but humble singer/songwriter, before he played to a venue-filling crowd.
Boone, born and raised in Minnesota, was a soap fan in college, having regularly watched both GENERAL HOSPITAL and AMC, and remembers characters including "Luke and Laura, and [on AMC], Jenny and Greg, and Dorothy Lyman played Opal Gardner. My dormitory was pretty committed; [watching the soaps] was a party thing. I remember a big murder scene, too [soon after Luke and Laura's 1981 wedding]." He also happens to be a psychologist, and notes with a smile, "Y'all show a lot of psychopathology in your characters; yes, indeed."
Boone describes how his genre's music is much like the daytime world. "Country songs are basically mini-soap operas. It's all about the story; it's all about conflict and resolution, the heartache and all that stuff. I've never articulated it like that until right now, but they're very much that way. Country music is one of the last genres where the story is up front, and you can hear it; it's not embedded into the mix."
Having heard hundreds of country songs, I am honestly impressed by many of Boone's tunes off his self-titled CD, from the lively, catchy "Cougar Dream" (which could be Owen's theme song on THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL) to the beautifully melodic "All Along." Interestingly, "What I Did Today" is about helping people, which Boone has done by penning the rousing "One Song" for DKMS, a bone-marrow matching program (www.dkmsamericas.org). Boone is familiar with the country music efforts of ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Kassie DePaiva (Blair) and AMC's Bobbie Eakes (Krystal), and saw them perform at a Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS event. He also has connections to country stardom, noting, "One of my co-writers, Angela Kaset, wrote 'Something in Red'" — Lorrie Morgan's powerhouse classic from 1991 that tells a woman's life story through the dresses she wears (the song would suit GL's Reva well).
Boone's performance was packed with energy, much heart and a few laughs, and afterward he told me that "Celia's Hands," the song I felt stood out the most, was his favorite; it's about his late grandmother. As he works on his online cooking show, Cowboy Kitchen, the musician also mentioned that he's friends with former BACHELOR Bob Guiney (former because he, of course, married daytime's Rebecca Budig, ex-Greenlee, AMC), and would like to be part of Guiney's Band From TV. Boone also has another soapier hope: "I'd love to be on AMC. I studied acting, so I'm the perfect guy to put on a soap. Come on, guys, give me my audition!" And if Pine Valley doesn't call, there's always (as a moving ballad on his CD is titled) "One Life." For more info on Boone, check out www.cooperboone.com.
I'll close this entry with another letter from a reader (you can reach me at GLeditor@soapoperaweekly.com or just post a comment below).
I have watched GUIDING LIGHT for many years; my grandmother used to feed me my lunch while we watched Papa Bauer together, so that gives you some idea. A few years ago, I could have understood this cancellation, but now, no way. What can one say about Ron Raines (Alan) and Grant Aleksander (Phillip)? And I would not want to forget to mention the tremendously talented Marcy Rylan (Lizzie), who for me carried the show through some of its not-so-good times, and the new Shayne. The show is better now than it has been for a long time. They have some good storylines, and we are all looking forward to the Bauers' return, which should have been a while ago.
Thanks for the letter, Judi; yes, Rick and Ed are getting a sizable amount of airtime these days. I'm personally thrilled about Jonathan's return and Holly hitting town later this month; we'll see who else comes back to Springfield as GL reaches its swan song.