Play BallBy Marc Wilkofsky Posted: Apr 1, 2011
With the baseball season running onto television's field again, I've been thinking about yet another fine aspect of soaps: There's much less of a rivalry among soap fan "teams" than sports fan leagues. Someone can wear a BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL cap to a GENERAL HOSPITAL event without worrying that they'll get displeased stares, but can someone easily wear a Red Sox cap to a Yankees game? Really?
It's fun to remember the soap softball games I've attended as a Weekly staffer, and even before that. The Shorefront Friends for Hospice-benefitting games, held on a high school field in Brooklyn, were lively diversions that brought together the actors and loyal viewers of several shows, along with the actors' families and friends. Even though cast members from CBS, ABC and NBC "talked smack" against each other, it was all in fun. Along with the hitting, catching and cheering, there was singing — the National Anthem, performed by a talented soap actor each time — and even dancing: I recall Jonathan Sharp (ex-Sergei, ANOTHER WORLD) dancing on the field with GUIDING LIGHT's Victoria Platt (ex-Vicky). Years later (in 2009), by the same field, I was pleased to interview Platt and her husband, Terrell Tilford (ex-Greg, ONE LIFE TO LIVE); they had met on the GL set, when he played David.
While on the subject of GL, the show's annual fan club gathering events were always memorable, and I attended them in Manhattan before joining Weekly, as a GL Fan Club volunteer. One of my many (and I mean many) favorite stories happened in the mid-'90s, when I met Cynthia Watros (ex-Annie; Sam, HOUSE and ex-Libby, LOST) at the Hilton doors to take her to the green room, and she asked if Ron Raines, who portrayed Alan, was there yet. As we entered a darkened elevator, I mentioned that Raines (also a professional singer) might be bringing his CDs, when out of the elevator's shadows, Raines appeared and intoned that the CDs weren't sent in time. Watros and I laughed about that, and when the elevator doors opened, Kim Zimmer (ex-Reva) was there, and I joked, "Look, it's the whole storyline."
Cut to the show's last fan club luncheon in 2009, which I officially covered for Weekly. During the cast introductions, Tom Pelphrey (ex-Jonathan) had his own moment with Raines, who "Kanyed" Pelphrey by entering the packed Marriott Marquis ballroom when Pelphrey was introduced. After host Frank Dicopoulos (ex-Frank) said, "That was almost a moment," Pelphrey corrected him: "That was a moment, Frank."
Earlier, Pelphrey had told me that the last GL scene he taped had Reva give Cassie's house to Jonathan. "It was just a nice way to end it, to have my last scene be with Kim," he said. "[Casting director] Rob Decina was there, offcamera, to give me a hug." He added that the scene was in Peapack, N.J., "Where it all started," adding with a laugh, "No, it didn't!"
Speaking of endings, this is a difficult day for GL fans, as the show's cancellation was announced on April 1 two years ago. (That's one reason GL's on my mind, so thanks for bearing with my nostalgia.) Why in the world did the news have to be released on April Fool's Day, of all days? I, and many people, still have no idea, but I do have an idea of how millions of GL viewers still miss their soap. During our interview in that final GLFC gathering's green room, Raines himself told me that it felt like an entire town had been demolished. But Springfield's story lives on in GL's fans, and to focus on the present, I wish strength to the people who are concerned about their own soap's fate. Strength, faith and the knowledge that we're all on the same soap-supporting team. Game on!
|Cynthia Watros (center) and the GL cast in the 1996 gathering's green room. © Marc Wilkofsky|