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« Faster Than A Speeding Bullet | Main | Back To A Grim Reality »

January 10, 2010

Sunday In The Park With AMC

More All My Children 40th anniversary goodness went on today, as the New York TimesArts & Leisure Weekend featured an All My Children At 40 panel featuring Agnes Nixon, Susan Lucci, Debbi Morgan, Cameron Mathison, Rebecca Budig and Julie Hannan Carruthers, moderated by Jacques Steinberg and attended by yours truly.

9th Annual New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend - Day 3

Picture courtesy of BlogHer! See, they are all adorable and, aside from Cameron Mathison, munchkins. Munchkins!

Fantastic is a good descriptor for the event overall, actually! It was lovely--all of the participants had really interesting things to say and the questions the audience asked were great. But more on that in a bit.

What was especially heart-warming was how many people, while we all waited in line to be let in, bonded over a shared horror at what Charles Pratt did with the show (yes, watching people bond over a shared hatred warms my heart. I have...different priorities). Seriously, I overheard passionate fans and anti-fans of every character and couple discussing the show and almost all of their conversations included some variation of the phrase, "But everything went so far downhill this year". It was amazing. Even La Lucci herself pointedly said at one point, when asked if she ever thought to herself that Erica wouldn't do that, that for the past year, Erica hasn't been Erica, but she assured us that the real Erica is back now. So while Madonna claimed that music makes the people come together, a more accurate assessment is that hatred of Charles Pratt makes the people come together! Although that makes for a far less catchy tune.

Assorted observations:

  • Susan Lucci is absolutely beautiful, unbelievably thin and has a massive amount of hair. Just like you expected, she was wearing a short, tight black dress (although this one had long, albeit lace, sleeves) and a ton of bling.
  • Rebecca Budig is also unbelievably thin and beyond gorgeous. Seriously, she's one of the prettiest people I've ever seen, and she looked adorable. You can't really see her tights in that photo, but they were lace and amazing.
  • Whenever I see Cameron Mathison as Cameron Mathison, I get frustrated with AMC all over again for making Ryan the way that he is, because CM is wonderful. He's funny, personable, and so, so likable.
  • Perhaps out of concern for the audience, who'd surely projectile vomit if Lucci and Mathison were seated next to each other, due to flashbacks to The Thing, the NYT very graciously put Debbi Morgan between the two of them.
  • Speaking of Debbi Morgan: beautiful. Seriously, everybody at the panel was just lovely.And her husband was there, which was sweet.
  • She mentioned that she has never felt comfortable with the medical jargon she has to spout. Stars, they're just like us, with their insecurities.
  • Going back to The Thing: CM and SL tried their best to make it seem like something other than a horific freakshow, but they both acknowledged how squicky the situation is, what with his relationship with her daughter and her relationship with his step-father.
  • The show is shooting their Valentine's Day episodes this week, and Rebecca Budig and Cameron Mathison are both filming six episodes this week...in two days. RB said that, when she messes up a take, she'll obsess over it at night and remember the way the scene was supposed to go. CM, on the other hand, said he forgets scenes as soon as they're filmed.
  • The event started with a package of clips that out-did the 40th Anniversary show, because you could actually hear the dialogue, and it featured veteran characters for more than three seconds apiece! Stuart actually had lines!
  • Then Jacques Steinberg asked a few questions: he asked Agnes Nixon about the social issues stories the show has done. She talked about the show's depiction of Vietnam, and said that ABC was always very supportive of her stories, as opposed to her time at Guiding Light, when she told a story about uterine cancer, but couldn't use the words uterine, hysterectomy or cancer.
  • Agnes Nixon (who is adorable, BTW. And wee! Cameron Mathison very sweetly helped her get around the stage) also got in some hilarious lines about Erica's stabbing of Dimitri ("Dimitri deserved it") and Jesse being alive after flatlining in front of Angie and the audience ("Some of that equipment is lousy").
  • Susan Lucci is especially proud of the story where Erica was addicted to painkillers, and she said she worked with counselors at the Betty Ford Center to make her performance as realistic as possible.
  • Julie Hanan Carruthers sees the move to Los Angeles as a huge sign of good faith, since the network is investing millions of dollars to move them and shoot in HD. She made a lot of interesting comments about redefining the show and moving forward and fixing what the fans have been complaining about.
  • I don't know, maybe I am being overly harsh on her to balance out the warm fuzzies I felt for the rest of the panel (perhaps because no one else on the panel ever accused me of writing mental fanfiction! She didn't single me out personally, but I took it personally, damn it!) but I feel like the past few years of AMC have been pretty terrible with a wide variety of writers. The one common denominator? JHC. So, yeah, I'm not completely optimistic.
  • Awesome: Susan Lucci reading the part of 16-year-old Erica while Agnes Nixon played Mona, as they performed a scene talking about Erica's relationships with Chuck Tyler and Phil Brent.
  • Audience members were given the chance to ask questions. I did not take advantage of this, because all of the questions I had would have been bitter and foul-mouthed (and I was also far from the microphones).
  • Someone asked what the eff the deal was with Brot's reunion with his mother being introduced and then dropped. The answer? Awkward silence.
  • One of the questions was about Susan Lucci's streak of losing a million Emmys in a public and embarrassing manner. She was very cute when she talked about how there came a point in time when she became numb and didn't even hear the winner being announced, and how people all over the country mailed her their own trophies and awards to make up for this. Someone even sent her his Academy Award and insisted she keep it until she won her Emmy. And when she finally did win, she had no idea what was going on and had to ask her husband for confirmation.
  • Debbi Morgan cried when she watched Jesse and Angie's reunion.
  • Rebecca Budig and Cameron Mathison were asked about their chemistry, and they both giggled and joked around during their explanation. It was quite cute and hilariously, CM explained that their chemistry is due to getting along so well because "if we didn't get along...I'm just not that good of an actor". Funny and charming! The man is the antithesis of Ryan Lavery.
  • Some of Susan Lucci's favorite scenes are: Erica modeling in New York (I did not see that story. I am assuming that her modeling career was especially noteworthy because she was 2'8"), a scene with Erica in a hotel room expecting Jack but finding Adam instead, leading to a highly choreographed food fight that they filmed in one take, and the scenes with Bianca's anorexia and coming out.
  • Angie had a story where she was being sexually harassed, and the harasser was played by David Canary's brother! The exclamation point is to denote excitement about David Canary's brother, not Angie being sexually harassed. The only thing that would have made this panel better would have been David Canary's presence, but I guess we can't have everything.
  • Agnes Nixon and Susan Lucci both told stories about Ruth Warrick, who was...I think the word "something else" sums it up the best.
  • Everyone in the audience and on the panel is thrilled to have Julia Barr back. Seriously, EVERYONE.
  • Um, I think I am forgetting a lot, I'm sure! Overall, I just have to stress again how much all of the cast members there were so very gracious to their fans and happy to discuss their roles and tell stories. It made me smile. Also, I had the pleasure of meeting Roger and Damon from We Love Soaps, and Serial Drama commenter Elizabeth Kerri Mahon, who are all fantastic.
  • I feel like I said the words "cute", "adorable" and "sweet" more times in this post than I ever have in my entire life! I am sure by tomorrow when I watch the show, I will have decidedly different adjectives in mind...


I was there! And I was charmed by Agnes Nixon and everyone on the panel. What an enjoyable experience.

I was pretty shocked by how many people were there. I don't know, whenever I mention soap operas to people I get these looks of bemusement and confusion, I was worried the audience would be me and 5 other people, lol. And it was lovely to see the reactions of the panel to so many of the people who's questions began with "I've been watching for 35 years," etc. They seemed genuinely appreciative.

Oh! And la Lucci specifying repeatedly that when the characters are in Agnes Nixon's hands they are so well-defined. In my mind, I took that as a direct hit against the dreck that's been created and aired over the last few years. Perhaps I was observing through Pratt-stained glasses though, haha.

That montage was AWESOME. I really wish someone would dig through the archive, now that AMC has embraced Hulu, and clip some of these old, classic moments to share them online.

Ok, I just gotta ask. Did anyone say anything at all about Thorsten Kaye and Alisha Minshew?

Thanks for letting us know that everyone on earth hated the last year of AMC. The last two years have been miserable, but the last year especially was mind-numbingly awful. I don't think I will ever trust a show again.

They should play tapes of this instead of the actual show...I'm sure noone would complain.

It was fun meeting you to Mallory and putting a face to the great blog. I noticed that Susan Lucci said that alot too, which I thought was hysterical since she was sitting right next to JHC. I thought the event was fun and I was so happy to see that it was well attended. It made me feel all gooey inside although I know that feeling might go away when I watch AMC later today on my DVR.

You're a lucky, lucky person! How exciting!

Maria, I am so glad you enjoyed it, too! It was such a delight. And I totally share your desire for classic old school clips!

Oooh, Parvati, that would have been a good question to ask the panel, since AM and TK didn't come up in conversation. But I sincerely doubt that I'd be able to talk about the treatment of Zach and Kendall diplomatically, so perhaps it is for the best.

Thanks Mallory. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Thanks so much for sharing this great info and your perspective of the event. What a great experience.....I hope it will be come available to watch (along with the 40th anniversary promo).
AMC is the only soap I watch and is quite special.

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Congratulations Kael & team.

*standing applause*

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Bonjour à tous
aprés une semaine de vacances, vive le bord de mer

C’est une excellente initiative, séparer le prénom du pseudo comme sur le blog à Sylvain

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cela permet de pas mal séparer le bon grain de l’ivraie

Me hizo sentir todo el interior pegajosa aunque sé que ese sentimiento podría desaparecer cuando veo AMC tarde de hoy en mi DVR. Muchas gracias por compartir esta gran información y su punto de vista del evento. ¡Qué gran experiencia ..... espero que se procederá a disposición de ver (junto con el 40 aniversario de promoción).

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