Oh, Shoot!

Twice a year, CBS organizes a huge publicity video/photo session (dubbed “The Mondo Shoot”) for several actors from AS THE WORLD TURNS, BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL, GUIDING LIGHT and YOUNG AND RESTLESS. The results are later used in print and for the promos that air during commercial time. Even though there are two soaps located on each coast, it’s still more cost-effective to bring everybody to one location instead of going to the expense of setting up two separate shoots. This time, The Mondo Shoot was held in L.A. on March 18, and a contingency of ATWT and GL stars were flown out from New York (see sidebar for a complete roster of all the actors). Since I’ve been a huge fan of the CBS lineup for many years, I was understandably thrilled to be the Digest journalist to cover this event.The shoot took place at a facility in Hollywood called The Lot, which is now owned by a private film company and rents out its many soundstages for independent productions. The Lot also has a famous history that would make any film buff giddy. Among the movies filmed there were Wuthering Heights, Some Like It Hot and West Side Story.

On the day of the shoot, L.A. was hit by another unrelenting rainstorm, making the temp unseasonably chilly. By the time I arrived that morning, The Mondo Shoot was in full swing, with soap stars everywhere. If it weren’t so network-specific, it was almost like being at the ceremony for the Daytime Emmy Awards.As you can imagine, there was a flurry of activity going on. In one cavernous soundstage, the video portion of the shoot was set up with cameras and a gigantic green screen for the backdrop. The pros at the hair and makeup stations worked feverishly once stars had donned their wardrobe for the day. The atmosphere was energetic as actors caught up with each other or met their peers from other shows for the first time. I spotted Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R) chatting with Robert Newman (Josh, GL), and Martha Byrne (Lily, ATWT) laughing it up with Ashley Jones (Bridget, B&B).
Later, a weary Colleen Zenk Pinter (Barbara, ATWT) admitted to jet lag. “I’m on three hours of sleep,” she sighed. “We got in at 4 o’clock in the morning because the plane was delayed. I’m wiped.”

CBS had a rigorous schedule in order to get maximum results in one day. Once its employees taped their upcoming promos, they were then directed to another soundstage for still photography. After that, they also filmed short affiliate IDs, which will run on individual stations around the country. In between those phases, the press (magazines, newspapers, dot coms) got in their interviews. Despite the hectic pace, most of the talent was congenial and charming (although a few cranky vets couldn’t wait to bolt after their duties and ignored the reporters completely).Real-life pals Michael Park and Jon Hensley (Jack and Holden, ATWT) extended their stay for a couple of days so they could play golf and hit some stores for their absent wives. “We shop like chicks,” Park chuckled.

Bradley Cole (Jeffrey, GL) was heading back to the Big Apple that night. “I’m currently working on my record, so I’ve got to get into the studio for that,” he explained. “I’m also preparing a gig for Pittsburgh next weekend.”

Around 1 o’ clock, lunch was served in the nearby commissary, where the buffet included yummy salads, chicken breasts, paella, salmon, prime rib and crab cakes. Actors filed in at different times and easily mingled.

At one table, Gina Tognoni (Dinah, GL) got co-star Ricky Paull Goldin (Gus) to sing a few bars of “Summer Nights” (like he used to on Broadway when he appeared as Danny Zuko in Grease). During lunch, I was also intrigued by the body language going on between three actors of an East Coast soap whose characters are currently involved in a hot triangle. It was obvious that one of the participants was the odd person out of the little group. Hmmm….

By 6:30 that evening, the action was winding down as the last of the actors were being processed. “I’ve made all sorts of new East Coast friends,” smiled Christian J. LeBlanc (Michael, Y&R). “I can’t wait to see them again for the Emmys.”

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