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« Adults Behaving Badly and Failed Identity Switches | Main | The Day's Dumbest Dialogue »

July 21, 2010

The Mixed-Up Mind of Robert Guza

A recurring Serial Drama features over the years has been When Soap Writers Talk To The Press: Shocking, Stupid, Seriously How Are They Still Employed?; previous segments include Charles Pratt blaming Eden Riegel for his stunning failure at his job, Maria Arena Bell claiming that Tracey E. Bregman deserved an Oscar for her dual roles, Bob Guza blaming Michael for getting shot in the head and then going on to coin the phrase "the penultimate, the cosmic guffaw". I post their musings, provide commentary and then we all have a hearty laugh at their expense and/or weep bitter tears that these people write for a living.

Today's entry: Bob Guza talks to Nelson Branco in a conversation that reads as though delusion, arrogance and simple-mindedness combined to form a mutant offspring with zero redeeming qualities. My commentary at first consisted solely of the phrase "Bitch be crazy" in response to everything he said because...well, see for yourself.

Guza on Claire Labine: She’s a classic example. Stone’s death was a great story — but that’s all she had. As a result, not only did the show dip in the numbers, there was nothing to pick the story up.

He's right, you know? Claire Labine only had iconic stories like Stone's (and BJ's) death, which can hardly compare to Bob Guza's legacy which includes--gosh, I hardly know what awful story to throw in his face as an example because there are so many to choose from. Mr. Craig being Jerry Jacks? Blog wars? Sonny and Emily's affair? The Text Message Killer? I could keep going, because there are so many other ludicrous stories I could use to prove my point, but that would just depress me even more and, really, why exert any more effort when the following words so clearly convey the deepness of this man's wrongness?--Nikolas having sex with a hallucination of his tumor-addled mind.

TVG: Your storytelling is more balanced now, too.

Who who in the what now?

G: It’s because of the stories. I fixated on the idea of the Dante story that became the umbrella story for what you’re seeing now. The trick was not to make it Sonny’s story but Jason’s, Carly’s and so forth. I think that’s what our turning point was and what you’re seeing. Dante’s story has allowed us to tell these umbrella stories that we have to tell with this cast.

1. "I fixated on the idea of the Dante story"--no fucking way, seriously? I never would have known, because it's not like Dante has forsaken Italian food in favor of EATING ALL OF PORT FUCKING CHARLES.

2. The man thinks that an umbrella story is defined as "A Sonny/Jason/Carly" story. It says so much and so little about him at the same time.

TVG: Obviously David Chase is one of your favourite writers and/or idols?
RG: Yes. He’s extraordinary. I watched every single episode of The Sopranos.

As Becca so astutely said to me in an email, "I think he did something else to every single episode of that show.  "

Guza on the ratings: You look at them in the sense that you’re trying to reach as many people as possible. We’re not just writing for ourselves — or the 15 people in a loft in Greenwich Village. To that extent, yes, I look at them, but I’m not worried about GH going off the air or losing my job or anything.

Oh, for the love of.

[...]And that’s the tricky part because sometimes you can’t explain the ratings. Like you said, sometimes the show is doing really well creatively but the numbers are down. If we can’t explain it, well, it’s very frustrating. That’s happening more and more lately where we can’t quite figure out why the numbers are just OK and not great. Especially when the focus groups are saying the show is great.

I'm no super genius, but I think I have an explanation for your ratings woes, Bob: the numbers are "just okay" because a large percentage of your ever-dwindling audience are saps who, despite the myriad crimes against humanity perpetrated by your writing staff, continue to watch GH out of misplaced loyalty to a show that we once loved. If we weren't stupidly sticking it out, the numbers would become "threat level midnight" because I have a feeling that there just aren't many people tuning in because this show is something they unironically want to watch. The numbers are "not great" because, despite what these alleged focus groups allegedly say, your show sucks and blows at the same time and no, I didn't think it was possible either, but it is and your work is living proof of that fact!

TVG: In a few sentences, what’s the identity of GH today?
RG: [long pause] Wow. It’s almost like love amongst the ruins. Love against the backdrop of violence, despair, and death. The one thing we’ve always had, and let’s not forget the mob has been a part of the show’s history since Luke was a runner for Frank Smith’s mob, what it gives us is high-stakes drama. You and I could have dinner at some little Italian restaurant in New York but it’s just not dinner because at any moment someone could run in and kill us because our families hate each other. Once you find the romance in that backdrop, the story is automatically amplified given the circumstances these people are living in. I’ve always found that fascinating.

All of the words he used are, in fact, real words and not gibberish, but the way he combined them into these sentences makes such little sense--it makes the opposite of sense, really, and I read this a handful of times to see if I could understand it and I still couldn't, and then I had the heartbreaking image of my brain holding up a tiny white flag of surrender, sadly saying, "Congratulations, Mr. Guza. You did what a diet of obsessive US Weekly reading, 90s pop-music-listening and years of ABC TGIF sitcom watching couldn't do--you broke me. Hear that? You're worse than Step By Step. Well slash evilly played, sir."

The gist I am getting is that he sees his show as a pit of destruction and violence and that if one looks hard enough, they could find a love affair that will get little to no screen time in favor of the mafia and then one or both of the participants will inevitably be felled by a stray bullet in the most depressing of ways.   

TVG: Lost really made that technique popular, first with their flashbacks and then later with their flash-forwards. Later, Desperate Housewives and Mad Men really utilized that technique to their advantage. Do you think soaps would be wise to employ the flash-forward device to keep their narratives relevant and fresh?
RG: We’ve messed with time before, that whole thing with Metro Court. But you have to be careful because there is such strong, strong identification with these shows. When James Franco shows up in public, fans say, “Hey, James you were great in fill-in-the-blank movie.” When Steve Burton is out in public, fans go, “Jason, why are you with Sam?” Soap fans don’t separate [fact from fiction], which is why you can’t mess with time too much or the audience gets turned off.

Okay, the fact that my immediate reaction to this was "FUCK OFF, you horrible, horrible little man" maybe proves his point that soap fans aren't always completely rational people, but HOLY EFFING ESS if one more soap writer or producer says that their audience is stupid and incapable of separating fact from fiction I will not be held responsible for my actions. Granted, my actions will consist of typing feverish, borderline hysterical blog posts, but they will be typed angrily! I don't like having my intelligence insulted by anyone, but when the person doing the insulting is dangerously incompetent at best, it turns my stomach.

RG: No question that Steve Burton is one of the most underrated and most extraordinary actors working today. I’m surprised, year after year, when he doesn’t get Emmy nomination [even though he’s already won an Emmy as Outstanding Supporting Actor in 1998]. What Steve does so well, much of the time, is play so much with so little words. You don’t see that in daytime so much.

Presented without comment because no comment of mine could speak louder than the practically audible panting that accompanies that answer.

TVG: How far do you write ahead? Some writers, like B&B's Brad Bell, literally write week to week.
RG: Yes, Brad is fond of that. Listen, sometimes I can literally tell you what will happen a year from now. In six months, I can tell you what will happen in detail. In three months, I can tell you scene by scene.

That is such a lie.

[...] We work from a perfectly precise template. If you ever get down here, you’ll see that we have all these dry-erase boards where we put long-term story on one board, a week on another board, and individual days on one board. I’m not talking about Bradley because he’s very good at what he does, but personally I need to know where I’m going to know where we are. That’s they way I have to work.

As someone who has made perfectly precise into an art form--my planner is fastidious and detailed. I am obsessed with straight lines. People think I use a ruler to write, for heaven's sake--I am good at spotting one of my kind and let me tell you, all Bob Guza and I have in common is that we are both human beings. His sloppy storytelling and appalling lack of continuity prove that all too well.

I'm not saying that he's lying about the existence of these dry-erase boards; I'm just saying it's much more likely that all they are used for is playing hangman. Dirty hangman.

TVG: Do you dream of these characters?
RG: [Sighs] Yes, I do.

I think we all know what character he dreams about and what kind of dreams those are, and on that horrifying, NSFW note, I am out. There is SO much more of that interview for you to read, if you dare, and I seriously hope that you don't want to dare, because it is dangerous and I will worry about you.

Comments

If, after all the feedback fans have given in every possible medium about why they aren't watching this show, he still can't figure out why the ratings suck.... well, I guess that answers pretty much all of my questions. He's so fucking delusional that I can't even give credence to his ramblings, but I get completely enraged when he bashes people who ran the show when it was really entertaining and compelling. I wish they really would show him how "awesome" he is by canning his ass and ban him from ever picking picking up a pen (or opening his mouth) again. What a dick.

Can you imagine Valentine's Day with Guzy and his idea of romance?

"Hey, honey, I heard there's going to be a gang shootout tonight. Let's go check that out, and if we both come back alive, I'll let you suck me off in front of my life-size painting of Steve Burton."

His wife is a lucky, lucky woman....

Ugh, fuck him. Seriously. Why is he writing for daytime if he thinks we're all such idiots? Oh right... Because primetime takes too long to break into...? I think it's just impossible for HIM to break into because he's an asshole and he SUCKS.

What I find most disturbing is Nelson Branco's apparent love for him. He's really stroking Guza's ego in this thing. I'm pretty sure I know who HE dreams about at night.

Guza is a douche canoe. That is all.

Dear Guza,

The thing is, when Frank Smith and his mob were on GH, they were the bad guys. Luke (and later Duke with the Jeromes) were trying to get out from under their thumbs. But that was also when the show had humor and actual romance with mob threats serving as a backdrop to actual character driven drama.

And in the years that Luke was gone, the show centered around a police commissioner/spy and his team of former spies who stood for all things good and honest. They too had fun and romance with these annoying bad guys causing conflict, it wasn't romance between clink-booms.

How can we get David Chase & Alan Ball to rally the union members of the WGA to denounce Guza as the most twisted pathetic talentless hack of all time?

Anybody here work @HBO or something so we can bombard them with some examples of Guzachosis to view and loathe?

I think if his real life Sonny & Jason called him out as the evil "cop" or "worst excuse for a writer ever" he might just run away forever never to plague GH again.

The English language is under assault, between Sarah Palin and Bob Guza by this time next year we'll all be seeking other languages ;-)

"Lost really made that technique popular, first with their flashbacks and then later with their flash-forwards."

Anybody ever seen Funny Farm? Chevy Chase's wife has just finished reading the book he's been writing for the whole movie - and bursts into tears. She says she's confused by all the flashbacks and flash-forwards..."I think there was even a flash sideways!"

Chevy Chase asks her what she wants him to do - a rewrite? Different characters? What? Her response?

"BURN IT!"

That entire scene sums up my feelings as well as I can put into words while filled with seething hatred.

ughhhhhhhh!

When Guza was wondering why the focus groups say everything is great and yet the ratings aren't and he can't figure out why, that is totally laughable. The ratings are the actual barometer of whether people like the show or not, you dumbass. And not even, because so many of us watch out of loyalty, and in my cause faint and dying hope that Guza will get fired and the show will somehow get better. His self-delusion is hilarious.

To say soap fans can't separate fiction from reality is so insulting. The posts and comments that I've read on this web site are so literate and intelligent, there are many people here who could write better than the hacks that are actually getting paid to write the show. The writing is so clumsy, with contrived situations just to get people all in the same place so disaster can strike, or so people can overhear secrets. Why is Olivia at the hospital when it gets locked down? They have to insinuate people into situations where they don't belong just to create some sort of drama, and it's really lazy writing. Lucky & Maxie able to stand right outside the room and look in a WINDOW while Liz is giving birth and they can see right up her hoo-ha, just so they can have a conversation about the baby? LAZY LAZY writing!

How dare Guza bad mouth Claire Labine? I met her a few times and she is lovely, gracious and humble.

It's not soap fans who can't seperate reality from fiction; it's the actors who often ask, "Why am I (i.e., Jason, Todd, Antonio, Luke, etc.) angry at so and so? I don't want to look like an asshole." Uh, too late.

Wow - the Claire Labine quote made my mouth drop in shock. I wasn't a fan of a number of her stories, but she contributed so much more to the show than Stone's story. She took GH, which was fun but not really considered on par with the 'quality soaps' and made the stories rich and full and textured and diverse. His comment is prime example of an ego run amok.

And yes Guza, I know the mob has always been a part of the show, but you know the difference? Prior to your involvement, they were the VILLAINS of the story. They were the bad guys! They weren't the centerpiece by which all stories revolved. The good guys were fighting against them AND winning. The stars of the show were the good guys - not the mobsters themselves!

And what you have done, Mr. Guza, is driven away the majority of viewers. People who are still watching the show fall in two categories - watching out of habit, or fans of Sonny / Carly / Jason because anyone interested in stories apart from this trio have long since moved on. THAT is why your ratings are so low. You've slugged off all the other viewers and are down to your very hard core Sonny fans and those with more hope for change than the majority. And numbers don't lie - those Sonny fan numbers AREN'T impressive are they? Just think what the show numbers might be like if you had actually taken time to cultivate other characters outside the mob or actually spent equal time building up a cop as a hero all these years as you did your silent hitman (whose silence is apparently worthy of some acting award).

How this man can pat himself on the back and has kept his job while numbers have decreased year after year is beyond me. Anywhere else, in any industry, a couple of years of this is enough for higher ups to find a replacement. On GH, it's worthy of congratulations, an extended contract and a quizzical scratch of the head "I don't know why the ratings are dropping, but it certainly isn't the quality writing".

How did Nelson get those questions out of his mouth? Clearly it was full of... well... yuck.

Mike that comment of yours was a thing of beauty and I kinda want to have it's babies.

I'll have Amiejayne's vision of Valentine's Day in my head for the rest of time. I think I'm still laughing. I have been watching GH since before kindergarten & definitely fall into the habitual watching/FF the DVR past Sonny & Carly scenes. You nailed it, Mike - I wish this group was driving the GH stories.

2 comments:

First of all, who are in these "focus groups" that think the show is great?? Because, I don't think creating a group out of extended members of the Guza clan really constitutes focus groups. But that's just me.

Secondly, Brad Bell writes week to week for B&B but Guza knows months in advance about what is going to happen on GH?? So, that means for months, MONTHS, he knew that baby Emma would be put in a tree and for MONTHS, he was ok with that scenario?!? For MONTHS, he was ok with the term "toxic balls"?!?

Dear. Lord.

No.

Actually, not just "No." I'm with Mel, who the hell are in these "focus groups?" Five minutes with them. That's all I need....

Suck it, Guza.

Please please tell me that fans are writing and calling in mass numbers!!! This man must be fired!!!

Cao- I'm sure we would...if weren't all too stupid to work a phone, what with us not being able to tell the difference between reality and fiction and all.

Guza's interview goes to show WHY GH is where it is in the ratings.

What I find even more unreal is he isn't afraid of losing his job. Goes to show GH is HIS personal playground , he can tinker and toy with it, no fear of anything happening to him.

As for listening to the fans. LOL
Fans don't matter. All that matter is GH is created in HIS vision and the fans be damned. They will watch or they won't.

Think Guza is a figment of his own mind and he is cutting edge.

Fire Guza. Save GH

Fire Brian Frons. Save ABC Daytime.

PLEASE send this to Nelson, to ABC, Guza, Frons and every soap magazine. Your words are the words of many of us! Kudos to you.

Beth R. I really think that is what Guza is counting on-fans not doing anything!!

I really hope he is wrong! I am calling and writing!

If random people are coming up to Steve and asking him "Why are you with Sam?" so often that it gets mentioned in an interview with the head writer my only question is: Why the fuck is he with Sam???

Nelson has a Facebook page where comments are being posted now! PLEASE post a comment about this article!!

Just search on Facebook for the Suds Report

Wait, I just clicked on the link to the article and the first thing I see is Luza in a leather jacket a la Jason!! I know, the caption says "GH head writer Robert Guza is 2010’s Soap King, or as he’d probably like to be known as, The Soapfather" so it's supposed to be a parody, but that says it all! HE is Jason! He's getting his pathetic little kicks out of writing some kind of alternate reality for himself where he is the big bad hero! I think I am going to throw up and I haven't even read the article yet. I'm not sure I can stomach it! I just scrolled to the bottom and the interviewer refers to Guza as an "artist" !

The reporter just removed all the comments from the FB page!! Guess he couldn't handle the feedback! Hopefully, they will go back up!

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