The Elder Statesman

Soap Opera Digest: So you’re having fun over there?
Jerry verDorn: I love it. It’s very nice people. I mean, how can you not like working with Bob Woods [Bo], Erika [Slezak, Viki] and Robin [Strasser, Dorian]? And then the people who play my kids and even my grandchildren are all just terrific.

Digest: Was it confusing jumping into the middle of a storyline where characters have multiple personalities?
verDorn:Yeah, isn’t that amazing? I would have to get on a show where most people have two names [laughs]. Plus, you have to learn the real-life names. It was pretty amusing to watch me, I’m sure. But thanks to people who have terrific memories, like Erika, I’ve been brought up to speed on all the stories and all the people, so I feel like I know what I’m doing now.
Digest: We’ve heard other people say that Erika is the one to go to for history. Even producers ask her questions sometimes.
verDorn: It’s a gift! She’s encyclopedic about how she can remember everything and attach it to years and places.

Digest: How did you feel about leaving GUIDING LIGHT without tying up loose ends with Ross?
verDorn: That wasn’t my fault or their fault, really. It was just sort of the mechanics of the situation. I’ve said to people that it was frustrating, given the caveat that it was nobody’s fault, that after a quarter of a century I couldn’t have some sort of nifty resolution to it. I’ve seen other people do it over the years, have their final scene and there’s some sort of completion to it. It’s good, health-wise, not only for the real-life actor doing it, but I think for the audience, too. Now [Ross] just sort of disappeared and people sort of talk about him. I’ve seen it happen where characters go into their office to do some paperwork and they don’t come out for a decade. That happened to Roger Thorpe’s father, Adam Thorpe. He went into an office one day and just never came out.
Digest: GL is such a good show, but it seems like it’s just really hard to grab new audience for a daytime show nowadays.
verDorn: I think it’s now almost a mistake to try. I think what should happen — and I’ve been working with a lot of producers and executive producers over the years — is you should grab and maintain and keep and treasure your core audience and just make little inroads into other audiences. They seem to try and want to say, ‘Well, we don’t want you any more. We want 18 to 49-year-old females with disposable income.’ Then they take a hacksaw to the show and try to do things in a hurry and in daytime, the viewers don’t like revolution — they like evolution. They like to see things change, but they like to see it change in real-life sorts of ways. So I think slower is better, and for God’s sake, appreciate your core audience and quit dumping on them. I think it’s just the nature of the beast now, with 550 channels to choose from, that you have to be kind to the people who are there, and then in smaller increments get somebody else to join them. Because if you do a really good soap, it’s the old rule of everything old is new again, and we become different looking from everything else on TV. That could be the attraction. So quit trying to be reality TV or whatever else is hot.