20190614

ART

In reviewing a Tim Robbins' movie in 1994, Hillel Italie made the point, "Art and politics, as we all know, don't mix. Art is too undisciplined; politics too rigid. The most charismatic performer becomes bore when trying to save the world." Of the "political" label, Tim Robbins had insisted, "It's not politics — it's advocacy. But you do a little advocacy and you are political." 

At the same time the British program, 'Spitting Image', went on air in 1984, Australian audiences were treated to the political satire TV show, 'Rubbery Figures', featuring political puppets making political comments on the week's news. Produced by Peter Nicholson, the hand puppets were created from Latex rubber. "A sculptor is not trying to make his subject look funny, but to bring out something of his character," Peter Nicholson explained. 

"You can look at a footballer 200 meters away and know who he is by the way he moves. If you can catch signs of that movement in a bust, you may also give him signs of energy." Paul Jennings was credited for his "astonishing voice mimic", "The gifted Melbourne voice mimic Paul Jennings did virtually all the voices for 'Rubbery Figures' in the studio's tiny recording booth. He would do the voices one after the other, changing voice (and facial expressions) at lightning speed."

In 1982, Marcia Hines spoke to 'TV Week' to promote the album, 'Take It From The Boys'. "I'd hate to be a jack of all trades and master of none. You have to know what you’re good at … Singing is acting, I guess. It requires emotional commitment. And I won't sing songs I don't like, because I couldn't project the right feeling through them. The ABC-TV variety series I did a couple of years back taught me a lot about this. It taught me to project warmth before a lens and that's helped me with other TV and photographic work. I try to do the best I can with my work, but I am not a gambler. I like to be professionally sure of things." 

Bruce Barry was best known as George Baxter on the Australian TV series, 'The Flying Doctors'. As an actor, Bruce believed "you can draw on real emotions" to play a role convincingly. "I try to put as much of myself into roles as I can. I want to reach the character's 'soul center' and not just be a great technician or an imitator of emotions." 

Marcia Hines also made the comment, "I don't know if I'm really a natural actress. I would have to have a good coach, one who was honest enough to tell me straight from the shoulder if I didn't have what it takes. I couldn't accept being lied to, because the most important thing is to be good at what you do. I know I am a clown. I just love clowning. I am a very sensitive person, but I try to hide it. I'm an idealist and a perfectionist. I expect the same qualities from others and when it doesn't happen I become a little disillusioned. But I'm also vain and egotistical – and anyone in this business who tells you he isn't, isn't telling you the truth, But I think my ego is still under control." 

Of the song 'What A Bitch Is Love', Marcia told Jill Fraser, "A lot of people have questioned the record because they've misunderstood what it's trying to say. They think I'm putting down love. But I'm not. I think love is great. I think it's euphoric and fulfilling. But love has two sides, and the songs are about the one we sweep under the carpet."

"Comedy is being terribly serious," Beatrice Arthur observed. Set in Miami, Florida, writer Stan Zimmerman recounted, "'Golden Girls' was an amazing experience. You don’t get your lines read by better comedy actresses. And it touched so many people, of all ages." It was, Bea added, "one of the funniest, most literate, most adult things" on television at the time. "I'd sometime wake in the middle of the night and think of a line and I'd start laughing and can't stop."

Speaking to the 'Archive of American Television', Rue McClanahan remembered, "My agent from ICM, Sylvia Gold, called and said, 'I'm having a script send out to your house, I want you to read. (It was) from NBC. So, messenger came, pulled up at the driveway, came to the door, delivered the script. I took it out of the vanila folder. I looked at it and I said 'Ooh!' I mean, I looked at it before I opened. It said, 'The Golden Girls' and there was something about the script - that is the handwriting, the kind of writing that they chose, not the script that you are reading. And I said, 'This is going to be a hit.' I felt this is the winner. I can't wait to read it so I read it and I love the role of Blanche."      

Of writing, Jackie Collins argued, "People may criticize 'Hollywood Wives' and say the characters are cliches, but these people exist. Writing about Hollywood has always fascinated me. Not just the rich and famous, but the kids who flock to Hollywood from all over America to find fame and fortune. Some people have labelled 'Hollywood Wives' a scandalous book, all about sex and sin in big bad Hollywood.

"Actually, although the book is based on truth, I have toned down most of the wilder goings-on to protect the not-so-innocent. One of the questions I am constantly asked is: 'How do you do your research?' And I usually reply: 'Very, very carefully!' I get invited to a lot of parties, and the fun for me is to arrive, grab a ringside seat, sit back and observe. People watching is a fascinating occupation, and a constant source of ideas.

"In 'Hollywood Wives', I wrote a long party scene that lasted for several chapters. It is very authentic because while attending real-life Hollywood parties, I would saunter off to the bathroom and jot down notes of actual dialogue – amusing, accurate, outrageous, and very, very Hollywood! I also like to lunch with the ladies occasionally, because the ladies come out with things even I don't believe.

"They make a men's locker-room conversation seem tame! I can remember being in an exclusive Beverly Hills restaurant one day and looking around at a sea of lifted, impeccably made-up faces. These women were groomed to the eyeballs in designer clothes and diamonds. Yet they had no individual style – they all looked the same. Ah, I thought, 'Hollywood Wives'. And a book was born."

Actress Leila Hayes, a redhead of Italian-Welsh descent, played Bez Keegan on 'Sons And Daughters'. Leila had described herself as a trinity of three sides. "There's the tearaway in me that would like to be more Bohemian, there’s the side that seeks stability and serenity, then there’s the foul-mouthed fishwife who loses her temper. What it adds up is that I'm totally neurotic. I find that having a daily dose of nana-doing is a good release – it gets the blood flowing. Also, the temper and occasional swearing help to distance me from Beryl – it’s hard to keep her out of the house sometimes."

After three years of playing Beryl, Leila Hayes told Garry Shelley, "Doing my own things around my own house is very good therapy for me because over the past few months (before December 1984) I've noticed more and more how physically tiring, and emotionally and mentally draining the role of Beryl has been. I have to keep shaking her off, because in her own quiet way she's starting to take over.

"She's a much-loved and respected character, which I'm very proud of, but I recently had to leave her for a while and take an island holiday in order to find me. Unfortunately, I'm still looking. It's almost like Leila and Beryl are becoming enemies at times, so I have to physically keep Beryl separate. I always call Beryl 'her'. She has her house, I have mine. She's like a relative, or better still, your other half. It's hard to describe, it's all rather weird to me.

"I'm enjoying 'Sons And Daughters' and I have a tremendous loyalty to it. Naturally you have your ups and downs, but on the whole it's a lot of fun. It's a very heavy workload – so much to do in so little time. You have to do things quickly, honestly and realistically. I get so annoyed when people put down soap opera. When you consider what we have to do in the space of so little time, I think we're damn clever."

20190604

BOB HAWKE

The idiom "know which side your bread is buttered on" was reportedly first recorded in John Heywood's 'Proverbs', published in 1546: 'I knowe on whiche syde my breade is buttered.' As was the case, at the May 2019 federal election, Australian voters (some 16.4 million reportedly enrolled to vote) went to the polls and decided to let the Coalition retained government than brought Labor to power. 

It was "an election that surprised the nation" because "Labor came into the election the favorite to win." 'ABC News' reported, "Labor went into the 2019 federal election favorites off the back of almost three years of opinion polls, but within hours it became clear that the polls had failed to capture the mood of the electorate." Of the total Lower House seats (some 151), the Coalition won 77 to form government. It could govern in its own right. Some 1056 candidates were said contested for seats in the House of Representatives.

Mike Cook of 'news.com.au' explained, "Deciding the timing of the federal election is fraught with complications. Three important factors come into play when discerning when the 2019 election will be held: guidelines in the constitution, timing of the 2019 Budget and the prevalence of holidays during the eligible period. The Australian Constitution dictates what can and cannot be done in parliament, including the timing of the House of Representatives and the Senate (Upper House) elections. While state senators have fixed six-year terms, the House of Representatives maxes out at three years."

Jacob Kagi of 'ABC News' informed, "Unlike the Senate, where each state gets 12 representatives, the number of Lower House seats in each state is determined by population. The Australian Electoral Commission uses a formula which determines each state's entitlement, based on its population." 

Political commentator George Megalogenis told readers of 'The Sydney Morning Herald' prior to the election, "This election will be decided along cultural lines, but with a twist … It is the realignment of Sydney and Melbourne, where more than 40% of the total population lives, that is transforming our politics … If Labor prevails, Bill Shorten will have overturned a century of political practice in Australia.

"Our habit as a people has been to swing to the centre left when we wanted to be inspired, and revert to the conservatives when we sought comfort and relaxation. Only five Labor opposition leaders have taken office at a general election: Andrew Fisher in 1910 and again in 1914, James Scullin in 1929, Gough Whitlam in 1972, Bob Hawke in 1983 and Kevin Rudd in 2007. All rode a wave of community enthusiasm, carrying ambitious reform programs."

The Parliament of Australia website (infosheet 20) informed, "Australia is a federation of six States which, together with two self-governing Territories, have their own constitutions, parliaments, governments and laws. The Constitution of Australia establishes the Federal Government by providing for the Parliament, the Executive Government and the Judicature (more usually called the Judiciary) - sometimes referred to as the 'three arms of government'.

"Political theory recognises three powers of government - the legislative power to make laws; the executive power to carry out and enforce the laws; and the judicial power to interpret laws and to judge whether they apply in individual cases. The principle of the separation of powers is that, in order to prevent oppressive government, the three powers of government should be held by separate bodies - the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary - which can act as checks and balances on each other."

Before May 18, Vivienne Pearson informed 'ABC News' readers, "The upcoming federal election will see a huge temporary workforce swing into action to ensure the wheels of democracy turn smoothly. I was one of 10,107 election officials who worked on the NSW polling day, 23 March. The work of an election official is not difficult but requires high levels of concentration.

"As with all work involving the public, there are moments of satisfaction (flipping the huge book of names to the exact page needed), periods of monotony (my polling station saw nearly 3000 people checked off by three or four people across the day) and the occasional stressful incident (it turns out not everyone enjoys exercising their right to vote)."

Jackson Gothe-Snape also informed, "Standing in the polling booth this Saturday, Australians will do more than vote. They will channel tens of millions of dollars to the country's political operatives — to fund advertising to those same voters. Whether an Australian backs the party of their parents, follows the first how-to-vote card they come across or votes like a donkey, the result is almost always the same: $2.76 will go to the party or candidate alongside the box marked '1' to meet their advertising costs.

"That means a vote for the same party in both houses returns about $5.50 per person. The only exceptions are votes going to a candidate with less than 4% of the vote, and informal votes." Joo-Cheong Tham, a professor in democracy from Melbourne Law School, told 'ABC News' most voters were oblivious to the scheme. The system of public funding was set up in the 1980s by the Hawke government to reduce the risk of corruption associated with donations.

"With eight years in office (1983-1991), Bob Hawke was Australia’s longest-serving Labor Prime Minister," the National Archives of Australia informed. "He became Prime Minister after only two years in parliament, and only one month as Leader of the Opposition. Building on his success as trade union president, Hawke established consensus with unions and business to stabilise wage growth, improve the ability of business to compete in global markets and to deregulate the Australian economy and promote growth."

At the 1983 federal election, Bob Hawke's supporters chanted, "We want Bob! We want Bob! We want Bob!". Speaking to the 'Australian Story' program in 2014, Bob Hawke recounted, "The night of the election I realised now I had an enormous responsibility, ah... the country was divided and the economy was in an absolute shambles and going backwards. So there was a mixture of excitement and elation and a sense of sombre responsibility. I had promised as part of my campaign that within a month of becoming Prime Minister I'd call a national economic summit."

Gareth Evans was a former Cabinet Minister told 'Australian Story', "He touched every leadership base you can think of. He had a very strong sense of policy direction. He was an excellent communicator to the public, world at large. He was charismatic to go with it and he was a terrific manager of people. The important thing about Hawke's cabinet was that it operated on the basis of argument, not authority. Sometimes that process could be pretty ugly, pretty rough.

"Any normally sensitive human being, any normally modest human being simply can't survive in politics. You have to have profound psychological defects of one kind or another to get to high places and Hawkie was absolutely no different from the rest of us in that respect. Bob was an outstanding foreign affairs Prime Minister. He understood the patterns, the shapes, the dynamics. He was personally familiar with a number of players on the world stage not least the Americans to whom he was very close." Bob Hawke made known, "Well I enjoyed a very close relationship with both Reagan and Bush, facilitated by my friendship with George Schultz."

In his review of the two-part 'Australian Story' - 'Just Call Me Bob', Greg Hassall told 'ABC News' readers, "Bob Hawke's rise to prominence coincided with the birth of television and he was quick to understand and harness its power. As a union advocate in the 1960s and 1970s, he used television as a platform to put his case, often outfoxing less media-savvy opponents.

"Television helped create the brash, charismatic Mr Hawke persona but it also revealed a quick temper and emotional fragility some found disconcerting. He courted journalists and could be charming when it suited, but he was never a patient interviewee. His default position, after years of advocacy, was to concede nothing. Television and radio interviews enabled Mr Hawke to reach the Australian people directly. The print media, however, didn't facilitate such unmediated access.

"Journalists could editorialise, interpret and distort, and this clearly rankled. Mr Hawke made this point explicitly in an interview with Jana Wendt in 1992. 'The level of journalism in this country is just so pathetically poor and I've, in a sense, gone over the top of them, which they don't like,' he said. 'They've been irrelevant to me, the print media, because my link does not depend upon the menial minds of the scribblers in Canberra or anywhere else. I prefer to deal directly with the Australian people.'"

Annette Sharp told readers of the 'Daily Telegraph' in 2013, "Jana Wendt was smart, beautiful and a ready-made star – unique to the nation’s TV news landscape. A perfectionist, the '60 Minutes' reporter was at her best on the set of 'A Current Affair' throwing curly questions. Her style is the most emulated of female news presenters with voice coaches instructing young news reporters on how to sound 'like Jana'."

In his article, 'U.S. Will Take 1,194 Days to Elect Its Next Leader. Australia Needs 38. Here’s Why," Russell Goldman informed readers of 'The New York Times' in April 2019, "If, at more than a year long, the race to elect the president of the United States is an ultramarathon, Australia’s campaign season is a sprint. Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia fired the proverbial starting pistol on Thursday, declaring a federal election for May 18 and kicking off a 38-day dash to the ballot box counting today and Election Day.

"It’s still not clear exactly how many days of campaigning will be allowed; the Labor Party leader, Bill Shorten, has called for a campaigning ban on at least two holidays between now and Election Day. But clearly, Australia’s race will be quick. By contrast, the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States lasted 596 days, counting from the date of the first major candidate’s official declaration to Election Day. The 2020 campaign, one of the longest in history, is set to last 1,194 days — the equivalent of more than 30 Australian election seasons.

"On the surface, a shorter campaign period would seem to prevent voter fatigue and limit the extent to which questionable financial contributions can muddy the process. But experts say campaigns of even a few weeks are marred by many of the same problems seen in longer elections. Ultimately, a shorter campaign has less to do with perfecting the process and more to do with simply speeding it up.

"The length of a campaign can be boiled down in most democracies to this question: Are you electing a president or a prime minister? Put another way: Are you voting for an individual who you need time to get to know, or are you voting for a legislating party that is headed by a leader with whom you’re already familiar? A 2015 study, analyzing more than 26,000 polls in 45 countries since 1942, found that voters’ preferences take much longer to form in a presidential election than a parliamentary one because presidential voters need more time to assess the candidates.

"Parliamentary systems also differ from presidential republics in the frequency with which elections can be called. In a presidential system, the term of office is fixed, and campaigning for the next election effectively starts when the last election ends. But in a parliamentary system, general elections can be called more regularly and with less notice. To avoid lengthy gaps without a government, many countries have laws limiting the duration of a campaign.

"Australian campaigns last between 33 and 68 days. That’s short by American standards but an eternity compared to Singapore, a country that has been governed by the same party for five decades, and which gives voters just nine days to choose a candidate. Campaigns in Japan run for 12 days. In France, campaigning before the first round of voting can last no more than two weeks. The campaign period in Canada lasts about 36 days, in Britain five to six weeks and in Israel 101 days. Like Australia, those counties all have legally fixed campaign periods."

Bob's daughter, Sue Pieters-Hawke told the 'Australian Story' program, "People ask why was Dad so popular? You knew where you stood with Dad. He was clear and unlike a lot of politics of today, conducted politics as a contest of ideas. I think the period that I call the Canberra years were really good years for our family. And the other very, very important element of the Canberra years is that, that was when we all started to have kids. It was the beginning of the grandchildren era."

20190520

SONS AND DAUGHTERS

Glamorous femmes fatales had made their mark throughout history including Marie Antoinette, Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Mata Hari and Delilah. On Australian television for over three years between 1982 and 1985, Rowena Wallace was credited for "brilliantly interpreted" the role of Patricia the Terrible in 'Sons and Daughters'. "Truth to tell, 'Sons and Daughters' would be nothing without Patricia. She gives the show whatever conflict and tension it has. She's the cat among the pigeons," critic Harry Robinson remarked. 

Also known as "S.A.D", 'Sons and Daughters' was "about the interwoven lives of two Australian families, a million light years apart in terms of attitudes, standing in the community, feelings of self-worth and money, but bound together by a strong cord: each has raised half of a set of 20-year-old twins, separated at birth." In writing the theme song to 'Sons and Daughters', Peter Pinne and Don Battye noted, "We will find out our sons and daughters; Are what, we too, were once about."

David Lyle observed, "All soaps demand easily identifiable characters. Unlike anyone you have ever met, soapie characters are completely transparent within five minutes. There are angry youths, tarts with hearts, pining lovers and cute kids. Oldies are a distinct character class: either lovable old codgers (male) or old maids (female). Rarely do the very poor get a run in soapies. Middleclass is the order of the day. Like the semi-virgin, soap operas present an altered version of reality."

Speaking to John Miner in 1984, Rowena Wallace described Patricia, "I think, in a way, that she became like a conglomeration of things that women are; attitudes that women have. It was like somebody decided to make a list of all the things – this is on a fairly superficial level – that women do in relationships, and they shoved them all into Patricia and she lived through everything. It's like she's a shining example of what can go wrong to everything.

"It's an interesting character. I think that she's, in a way, almost cathartic to some people. She gets away with saying and doing things that nobody ever could in our society. If there really was a person like that, she wouldn’t last five minutes. I think there is an area of catharsis there. Because they say they love the way she schemes and manipulates, and then they love it when she falls flat on her face, then they love it when she struggles back up and says, 'Bugger you lot, I'm a survivor. I'm going to get on with this.' There's a spirit there, a tremendous urge to survive and spirit to get on: people identify with that."

On 'S.A.D', the characters of Patricia and Fiona were the equivalent of Abby and Karen on 'Knots Landing'. In one scene, Patricia told Fiona, "I'll do anything necessary to make sure that the company survives but I must have your support … You and I are both in a very dangerous situation … All I'm asking for is your support on a business level. There are plenty of people in business who hated each other guts but are willing to stick together if they know that's the only way they are going to survive … You must be worried about the money. What are you going to do? Suddenly lower your living standard?"

In another scene, the Hamilton business interests were on the verge of collapse. Patricia told her friend, "Oh the joke is on me, isn't it? Married Gordon for money; went after James (Sheppard) for money. Now I'm back to square one. We’re broke - as in penniless. Oh Charlie you don't know what it's like to be poor. I'll never forget when David and I first arrive in Sydney (in her teens 20 plus years earlier).

"We had absolutely nothing. He couldn't even keep a job. We have to live in seedy boarding houses. We even had to run away from one in the middle of the night because we couldn't pay the rent. No, there's nothing romantic about being poor. I made up my mind I was going to be rich and I did it and Gordon can sit in there and talking about accepting it all. Well, I won't. If he want to give up, fine. But he's not going to drag me down with him. I'll do everything to make sure that doesn't happen."

At the reading of the will of James Sheppard, Patricia learnt, "You've just become a very wealthy woman (in her late thirties 20 plus years later)." As a major beneficiary, Patricia had inherited a fortune including large amount of shares in James Sheppard's company, Ramberg. Patricia was invited to sit on the Board, "You'll be in a very strong position to influence policy decisions." In one scene, Patricia said to Fiona, "I want your assurance that no matter of what we think of each other you'll make an effort to work with me. Ramberg is our bread and butter now. Won't do us much good if we continually at odd with each other."

Bevan Lee developed the original story line for 'Sons and Daughters' in 1981 and who was instrumental in developing the Patricia Dunne character. Of Patricia, Bevan believed, "It's one of the most popular in the history of Australian television." However, "the show has worked consistently on the strength of the story line … Because the storylines are riveting, fast-moving and strong. It's one of the fastest moving of all the series. We put the characters through the hoops, but always try to keep the balance, not go into once-upon-a-time-land. Otherwise, we'd lose our audience.

"Primarily, we are out to entertain in what we see as a recession mentality. 'Sons and Daughters', like Indiana Jones, survives because it is fantasy. It may be less expensive fantasy, but it's still fantasy. We've had a slagging in the press. Right across the board, they said 'We don't possibly see how this could last more that six weeks', but it's now (near the end of 1984) running into a very healthy fourth year. And it could run into a fifth.

"Very few of the press have ever stopped to ask 'How come the show is such a high rater after two-and-a-half years? What's the show got going for it that people flick the switch for two hours every week?' Well the answer is the show is a bit escapist. Not too much, just a little. People have an electricity bill which they can't pay. Well, it is almost preferable to have Pat there to slap your face, because in a way the problem is less threatening. Some kids would rather watch another sportsman go through a trauma in preference to the trauma which they themselves face. 'Sons and Daughters' isn't their own problem. I think if there is anyone out there with a problem like those suffered by 'Sons and Daughters' characters, they've really got problems."

Rowena Wallace told 'The Sydney Morning Herald', "There hasn't been a lot of communication between the writers and actors. It's very frustrating when you don't know where a character is heading. You play scenes in a block one week and you think 'Oh, I see, that's what she's up to' and you relate to a certain character that way. Next week you find that it wasn't that at all, that's not the reason you were doing that, and you think 'I've gone and blown it now completely'. So I decided right at the beginning that it was better to be enigmatic just about everything. A soapie's a strange thing. The writers don't know where it's going. I suppose it's like life really – we don't really know what's going to happen – except it's a speeded-up version."

John Miner: There must be some conflict between the actress as artist, wanting to do something new, and the actress as craftsman, trying to see the product through.

Rowena Wallace: I see what you're getting at. I don't think you can apply that to a soapie, because it's hard to make that kind of commitment to a show like this. You don't know where it's going to end, so you don't really know what you're working with. As far as craftsmanship is concerned, working on a soapie can be very detrimental to your craft or it can be a huge advantage.

"You work under enormous pressure, and you have to do all the things that an actor wants to do with something in the shortest possible time, which means you've got to work very quickly. You can learn an awful lot from it. On the other hand, because of the nature of the beast, many compromises have to be made with everybody involved: directors, technicians and actors.

"You can never really give rein to artistic expression. And I think if you're in that situation for too long, the continual frustration of not being able to give rein to that creative urge can make you ill. It can make you quite sick. There's not much time. You don't get much help, you just do it the best way you can. Fortunately, for an experienced actor, you've learned – not tricks, so much, but just ways of dealing with a situation."

Dr Warren White told 'The Age' in 1982, "All of us have a reality and a fantasy. The healthy individual has the right mix. Soap operas can be a trial solution for people. Many adopt experiences from soaps and use them in their own lives." In his review, Garry Shelley made the comment, "Television viewers have always been baffling creatures: extremely loyal when secrets and taboos are there to be uncovered, but somewhat fickle after all has been hauled out into the open. They do not like too much too soon. 

"They prefer to be tantalized. Many up until now (three months into the first season), 'Sons and Daughters' was, for a lot of us, a moderately tantalizing exercise. Many 'S.A.D' addicts hoped the answer would not come for a long, long time. They liked the tingle of suspense tipped with intrigue. Other viewers, perhaps not as devoted but curious, had the niggling impatience which pressed that 'they hurry up, get on with it and reveal all.' 

"I enjoy 'Sons and Daughters'. From an acting point of view, with one or two exceptions, it is at present (in March 1982) a happy experience. Rowena Wallace, coldly insensitive because of her tendency to social climb, is lovely to hate. Hers is a gloriously-bitchy character, with iceberg eyes and a match-striking face. Pat McDonald as Fiona is her antithesis; a no-nonsense type but bubbling with fun, a bit of a busybody with a heart of gold." In one scene, a jaw-dropping Fiona told Bez Keegan (or Beryl Palmer), "I've just inherited more money than I've ever thought I'd see in my life."  

20190510

ROWENA WALLACE

Patricia Dunne was, as 'Woman's Day' discovered, "without a doubt, the most talked-about character on Australian TV during 1982." Produced by Grundys for the Seven network, 'Sons and Daughters' was billed as Australia's answer to 'Dallas' and turned out to be a "runaway success". When one of Australia's most popular actresses, Rowena Wallace, was approached to play her most famous role in late 1981, Rowena told 'Woman's Day' she had a premonition Patricia would one day become the J.R. of Australian television.

Like 'Dallas', Rowena also believed that 'Sons and Daughters' was meant to be. 'TV Week' observed, "In the tradition of U.S. shows like 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty', bombshell after bombshell will be dropped on viewers - right from the start." Pat McDonald played a pivotal role as Aunt Fiona Thompson who held the family secrets. She also had quite a few of her own.

'Sons and Daughters' opened in the year 1962. Patricia, then 17, was a girl from an ordinary lower-middle-class family, who was pregnant with twins from a teenage romance with a 22-year-old married air force officer, Martin Healy. For 21 years, David Palmer, an interstate truck driver who knew Patricia from school, thought he was the father of her twins. When Patricia told David in the final episode of the first season he wasn't the father of John and Angela, the revelation was said to be one of the biggest shocks on Australian TV in 1982.

Patricia was noted for being "always in the right place at the wrong time for her victims." Speaking to 'TV Week' in 1988, Rowena, then 40, recounted, "I remember as a teenager not thinking the time was that unusual, but it must have been quite terrifying for my parents. I grew up in Queensland and later in Sydney. When you are a kid you don't think about the time you are living in. It's only as you grow older you begin to make comparisons - that's why it's been so interesting to look back on those events.

"I now (in 1988) have opinions about it all that were unformed then. I didn't think of the Beatles as an amazing group that was going to change the face of music. I didn't think I was participating in an era that was going to go down in history as one of the most extraordinary times." As a teenager, "I was such a good girl … I had a very sheltered childhood. I am an only child and I wasn't really mixing with a peer group.

"I spent most of my teenage years on my own until I joined a theater group and discovered there were people as weird as I was out there. My folks never interfered. Once I joined the theater group I think they knew they may as well give up. They always tried to allow me individual freedom - they realized attitudes were changing and always took that into account."

Centered around the wealthy Hamiltons of Sydney and the middle-class Palmers of Melbourne, Reg Watson, who created 'Sons and Daughters', made the point, "I suppose subconsciously we're trying to prove that deep down we're all the same no matter where we live." In 'Sons and Daughters', both families were extricably connected. A complex series of events eventually drawn them all together, "prising the lid from a Pandora's box of family secrets."

In creating one of television's legendary characters, TV Week Gold Logie winner Rowena Wallace acknowledged, "I’m often described as a strong lady but I never used to be. The last few years (before 1983) haven't been easy for me personally – I've gone through a lot of ups and downs. I think working through that and then having this character to play has brought out elements in me that were previously dormant.

"I have noticed the changes in myself. I was always rather shy and retiring but we don't know our own strengths until they're put to the test. I've taken courage from Patricia – she borrows from me and I think I've probably borrowed from her. What's happened I guess is that the success of the character has made me much more confident as an actor and as a person."

'TV Week' reported in 1984, "Through Patricia, Rowena Wallace has given a lift to any number of Australian housewives with her fear-of-no-man attitude and her iron-fisted roost-ruling." However Rowena rejected Patricia being a rich, domineering and arrogant social climber who married for money. In her softly-spoken voice, Rowena described her alter ego, "She's basically a very caring mother, although at times it doesn't seem like that. But she is a mother with a mission. She came from what she believes to be a fairly humble background and she wants to gain as much as she can for her daughter.

"All the things she's striven for she doesn't want to see go to waste. She has her daughter's interests at heart but of course, they're really her own interests. I think she thinks she is doing the right thing. But it's the old story, isn't it? We sort of react from the point of view of what we want for somebody, not what they want. (In playing matchmaker, Patricia set Angela up to marry the grandson of high-climbing businesswoman and socialite, Dee Morrell. In the end both called off the wedding because Angela was not really in love with Simon Armstrong.)

"It's a mixture of both. I think she thinks that the things that she does and the things that she wants are the best for Angela, but basically, they're the best things for Patricia. I can't imagine what she is going to do next. I get really upset when I think of the things I have to do as Patricia. I have to say to myself, 'You're an actress Rowena, and it's just entertainment.'"

Under that "stalactite, looks-that-could-kill veneer" which was Patricia the Terrible, Rowena Wallace confessed, "I'd be mad if I wasn't happy … I'd defy anyone to do one of those shows without a sense of humor. You've got to laugh. And the minute you start to take yourself so seriously that you can't laugh at yourself, it's time to have a really good think about it. I've tried to make her appear as a person who sees the humor of life, otherwise she would have been so depressing ... I couldn't cope with being a woman like her - it would be exhausting and very sad. It's like sometimes I get the feeling that she knows what she's doing, too, and is having a bit of a giggle about it."

In playing Patricia, Rowena remarked, "There are, however, certain elements in my personality which I use for the character. Patricia is a great character for an actor to play. She has me down at times when she's so bad and unpleasant to people. But it is up to me as the actress to justify those things - and I try to but she often wears me out because of her neurotic, emotional tangents. There was a lot of crying for a while. The tears were real; it positively drained me. I feel the tears are important in a crying scene but it takes a great deal of effort and concentration to conjure them up."

On reflection, Rowena told 'Woman's Day', "If one actually lived as Patricia does – constantly ranting, raving, screaming, conniving, crying or getting hysterical you'd just be an emotional wreck. I think there are opportunities to show that she's as vulnerable as the next person but she handles things in a different way. I don't think she's totally nasty. She's fairly neurotic in her behavior, misunderstood a lot of the time and she's a volatile human being.

"I get the feeling that viewers are very fond of this horrible character, even though she drives them to distraction. They really want her to get her comeuppance but I reckon they would be disappointed if she did because they'd have nothing to look forward to. She's certainly the most overtly unpleasant character I've ever played, the most largely drawn if you like and certainly for the convention of a continuing serial the character's working very well. The reason viewers like the show so much is that they identify with the characters. It's about people, their vulnerabilities, their weaknesses, whatever it is makes up a human being and these things are easily recognizable to the audience. There is no communication problem."

Rowena played Pat for over three years. She taped her last scenes for the show in 1984. After 'Sons and Daughters', Rowena reportedly received many work offers including playing a woman doing her best to raise her family during the turbulent early '60s era. On the Nine network series, 'All The Way' (1988), Rowena played a woman divided by her loyalties to her conservative politician husband and her love for a union boss.

"I play the wife of a politician - whom she leaves with a couple of children," Rowena explained at the time. "She married a solicitor who went into politics, provides her with a lovely life and lovely clothes and she doesn't really think much about anything of it until she falls in love with a leader of the transport union." In the Grundy's 1984 TV movie 'Relatives' Rowena told 'TV Soap' she played "just an ordinary housewife. There aren't any really nasty characters in it. Certainly I don't play one this time. I'm a housewife, struggling to keep the kids fed, pay the bills and doing the best I can to make something of myself. I'm really looking forward to that role."

20190429

JANA WENDT

"Jana Wendt has long been a feature of Australia's media landscape," Tim Elliott explained. In her introduction, Jana told 'Dateline' viewers in 2000, "Dr Henry Kissinger, US Secretary of State to both presidents Nixon and Ford, says we're now entering a new era where old foreign policy remises no longer hold. And Dr Kissinger should know."

The rise of Jana Wendt in 1982 was one of the Australian success stories of the year. Then 24, Jana Wendt was the first female reporter on '60 Minutes'. At the time Jana, the only daughter of refugees who fled political oppression in their native Czechoslovakia, stressed, "I am in no way a token woman." In his memoir, Gerald Stone revealed, "(George) Negus, (Ian) Leslie and (Ray) Martin were furious – there's no other word for it – coming to me one by one to condemn my decision as a slap in the face to them and a terrible blow to '60 Minutes' hard-won reputation.

"What did a 20-something newsreader have to contribute to a program recognised for its world-class journalism? The only thing I could do was ask them to trust me enough to wait and see, and to give Jana a fair chance to prove herself. Meanwhile, I encouraged them to check her out for themselves." During the show's golden era, '60 Minutes' was watched by a TV audience comprised over 2.5 million national viewers a week. 

In promoting the book, 'Nice Work', in 2010, Jana Wendt told 'The Advertiser', "Television is largely a collaborative process, so if you go around the place producing the sort of programs I was producing on a program like '60 Minutes' and you travel with almost literally a caravan of people, basically the finished product is very much reliant on each of those individuals doing a grand job, which they mostly do."

Susan Anthony interviewed Jana Wendt for 'Cleo' magazine in April 1982 noted, "It’s a rigorous, non-stop schedule. Early mornings, long days, late nights, and little respite. It requires stamina, patience, and a cheerful disposition. For Jana, who will appear on camera, it also requires looking consistently presentable. Jana scores top marks on all counts.

"It's clear from the moment you meet Jana Wendt that this woman is pretty special. As time wears on, it becomes clearer why. Firstly, she has it all – beauty, brains, a good sense of humor, an easy confidence, a quick wit, geniality, thoughtfulness, professionalism, and good old common sense. But secondly, she knows instinctively how to make the most of it all. In three long, wearing days she handled the most difficult situations with guts and grace, the most trivial with lively repartee, and the most exhausting with good humor."

Penelope Debelle of 'The Advertiser' continued, "Wendt is probably at her most interesting when the subject is herself. She writes in the foreword about the power of work over people, 'the fierce pull of a vocation' that draws them in almost without their consent. Yet for her, this was not the case. She stumbled into journalism by accident, a graduate doing research for the ABC who heard there were positions going in the newsroom at channel Ten in Melbourne. She wandered in, got a job, and a star was born."

Of working on '60 Minutes', Jana told the ABC, it was pure luck, "the sort of luck that doesn't happen these days … it was a wild shot. Today (in 2010) I don't think it would happen, the whole field is so terribly competitive and there's so much scrutiny of people doing media jobs like that, I don't think I would've gotten a foot in the door these days."

In his 2011 memoir, 'Say it with Feeling', Gerald Stone disclosed media mogul Kerry Packer initially wanted Kate Baillieu, a journalist on 'A Current Affair' in the mid-1970s to be first choice as the first female reporter on '60 Minutes'. Kate Baillieu told 'The Australian' in 2009 '60 Minutes' never really suited her, "It was never my bag of tricks and despite my brother (former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu) I was never a political journalist but more a human interest person." After turning down '60 Minutes', "I went on and did a bit of work when Kerry Packer was setting up World Series Cricket. He had me involved in that in Melbourne and that was an adventure."

In "the testosterone-charged world of commercial current affairs", news chief John Westacott described working with Jana, "I like her as a bloke. And she's an excellent journo." 'The Sydney Morning Herald' reported in 1987, "There are 40 people at '60 Minutes'. When '60 Minutes' was launched, in 1979, at least 70% of its content was made overseas. It was breaking ground.

"Now (in 1987), about 50% of the stories are made in Australia. Last year (1986), '60 Minutes' was regularly top of the heap, with the ratings averaged the mid-30s (soaring to 44 for one week). Ray Martin proclaimed that working for the show was like 'having a blank check and an open airline ticket. We go anywhere in the world to cover any sort of story.'

"The globetrotting image, conceived as 'a way to sell the program' has stuck and so has the awe reserved for the idea of blank checks and open airline tickets. Now (1987) in its ninth year, '60 Minutes' has been well and truly sold. Its reporters have a higher profile than most of their subjects, its budget is the envy of the industry. It is following the awesome success of the American program of which it is a copy."

In June 1994, Jana Wendt, 'Variety' described as "Oz's equivalent of Barbara Walters", interviewed Yasser Arafat on '60 Minutes'. Jana recalled ten years later, "I was very intimidated interviewing Yasser Arafat one time, when he was holed up in Tunis. Very intimidated. At the end of one interview I did with him he was rip-roaring furious.

"He ordered his guys, who had been standing around with guns, to rip the film out of our camera. And so they did. A couple of nights later, he called us back, but the guys were still standing there with guns. And so I was required to do a second interview but I was genuinely concerned about the safety of all of us. That was out and out physical intimidation in a way, and it worked."

'The Age' reported, "During her 13 years (1982-1995) at Nine, she managed to impress not just her fellow journalists and bosses with her deceptively tough interviewing style, but the editors of glossy magazines for whom she embodied the glamorous super-achiever in a man's world. Today (in 2003), Wendt is relieved that her megastar days are over because, she says, the focus can shift from the woman to the work (at the time on the 'Sunday' program)."

Writing for 'The Daily Telegraph' in 2011, Jana Wendt recounted the interview with Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli for '60 Minutes' in 1982, "I had come to speak with the man who was regarded as one of the world's most unstable and unpredictable autocrats. Images of Gaddafi were everywhere, in public offices, at street corners and in restaurants. We had waited for the interview for two long weeks.

"When I finally got my chance in the tent, I asked him why he was so often described as a terrorist, a butcher, a gangster and a madman. He spoke through an interpreter, although I suspect he understood some, perhaps all, of my questions. His voice was thin and subdued. There were long, long, pauses between words. I looked into his eyes and, disconcertingly, they rolled to the back of his head. He laughed at questions that were not a bit funny and his gaze frequently wandered."

Speaking to Steve Dow in 2005, Jana Wendt considered a good interview to be, "The optimum achievement is where you reveal something new, or something that the person has not publicly revealed about themselves. That’s not just words, either; there can be revelations in gesture or in look or expression that speak volumes … Curiosity is the base metal. I’ll also do a dissertation on being older: to have lived enough of life to appreciate the many colors of people’s personalities and to have some respect for people’s weaknesses and people’s softer sides."

Jana had stated, "I’m not going to tell you about my politics because it would undercut what I do." Speaking to Margot Kingston in 1995, Jana elaborated, "If you decide you're going to be a journalist, and I still have the old-fashioned view of a journalist in my mind, it means that you try awfully hard, where possible, to maintain some kind of impartiality.

"To me, it's the only respectable way to operate because, obviously, people very often ask me to lend my name to lots of things, but I just don't believe a journalist should neuter his or herself by clinging to a cause. Once you start doing that, you simply have to be honest with yourself and say, 'I'm giving journalism away and I'm going to be a publicist now.'"

At the 1997 Andrew Olle lecture, Jana argued, "Journalists are the people on whom we rely to tell us about the world. To tell us about how we are being governed - to give us the base materials - that is facts - without which we cannot make intelligent judgments about our own lives. Unlike 'Baywatch' or 'The Footy Show' or 'The Best of the World's Worst Drivers' which are there to distract us from reality, news needs to be real, that is, anchored in plain, solid fact."

It was reported in 1995, the American '60 Minutes' wanted Jana Wendt to go to New York as a full-time reporter. However at the time there were complications with Westinghouse in the process of taking over CBS from previous owner, Larry Tisch. As understood the takeover process would not complete until well into 1996. Toward the end of 1995, Jana Wendt decided to sign a three-year contract with channel Seven to host the big budget public affairs show, 'Witness'.

Producer Anthony McClellan made known, "The deal with Jana was discussed and signed within seven days, I think. She would have been told (she was) going to be a linchpin of the ('Witness') program, that's just logic. You don't hire a person like Jana to put her in the cupboard." At the time, Margot Kingston remarked, "The always tricky dynamic between the intellectual bent of Wendt and the commercial pay-offs of her popularity has become even trickier."

Of 'Witness' ratings in its first year, Peter Meakin told 'The Sydney Morning Herald', "Jana is not driven by commercial considerations in terms of story judgment. Jana gave us all a stiff lecture about how we'd all dropped the ball and she was going to show us the way to the promised land. The thing ('Witness') needs to do is more stories with mass appeal and to be a little less self-indulgent. It's not really a commercial program yet. I wouldn't have launched that sort of show anyway. But Seven would have to leave the show where it is for at least the rest of this year (1996) and probably next year (1997) as well. You don't hire a talent like Jana Wendt then pull the show after a couple of months."

In discussing '60 Minutes' in 1989, Peter Meakin made the point, "We've got to get people to watch, bums on seats, we have to grab the audience. The fact is we are a populist program, and that naturally provokes criticism from 'serious' journalists because they are far more comfortable with 'Four Corners' and 'Sunday'. I get the word 'sensationalist' thrown at me all the time. Sensationalist, in my book, means appealing to people's emotions, but when most journalists use it they mean 'beat up'. We ('60 Minutes') don't do beat-ups, but I happen to think that the best stories have an emotional factor."

Jana made the observation, "Just by the way, it is interesting to note that as Executive Producer of CBS' '60 Minutes', Don Hewitt has proved that it is possible to create a quality current affairs program for commercial television. A program that for nearly thirty years (or since 1968), has attracted a mass audience and as a byproduct, made buckets of money for the network. It is positioned in the middle of the most tabloid TV market in the world and yet it succeeds."

Of TV journalism, Jana told the ABC in 2010, "As journalists we are called upon to be jacks of all trade. We are asked to delve into wildly disparate subjects and become quickly expert. I don't know that we always achieve that, but we give it a red hot go." 

20190424

JOAN COLLINS

Adapted from the 1964-68 NBC series, Guy Ritchie's 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E' premiered at the box office in 2015. 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E' was TV's answer to the James Bond movies. Adam Chitwood reported in 2017, "Warner Bros. has yet to formally commission 'Man from U.N.C.L.E. II', and the film's $109.8 million worldwide gross against a reported budget of $75 million isn’t crazy encouraging from a studio standpoint.

"But the mere fact that producer and co-writer Lionel Wigram is keen on writing a sequel is exciting enough. The first film ended in such a way as to set up further adventures for the Armie Hammer/Henry Cavill/Alicia Vikander trifecta, with Hugh Grant serving as their handler, so one imagines dreaming up further adventures for these characters is a blast." 

The 1966-67 more "campy" spin-off series, 'The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.' starred Stefanie Powers as agent April Dancer with Noel Harrison playing her sidekick Mark Slate and Leo G. Carroll playing U.N.C.L.E. chief Alexander Waverly simultaneously in both shows. In one episode, Mark Slate crossed over to 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E'. In 'The Galatea Affair', Joan Collins guest starred in a dual role in spoof of 'My Fair Lady'.

Joan Collins played a crude Bronx barmaid, Rosy Shlagenheimer, who was recruited and taught to behave like a lady to impersonate Baroness Bibi de Chasseur. The plot thickened when THRUSH discovered the plan and switched the Baroness to take Rosy's place. Between 1981 and 1991, Joan Collins played Alexis on the prime time soap, 'Dynasty'. Alexis was best remembered for sashaying around Denver smoking Sterling cigarette, eating caviar, drinking the Dom Perignon, rode in the chauffeur-driven limousine and flew in her private jet. Joan once joked, "I am the highest-paid clothes horse in the business."

In an interview in Hollywood in 1985 to promote the TV mini-series, 'Sins', Joan Collins declared, "I'm no longer a taxi for hire." As producer of 'Sins', Joan explained what she enjoyed most in her new role, "Having the authority and the autonomy to be able to do things in the production the way that I always wished I could, and having more creative control over the aspects that interest me the most, which are the casting, the locations, and the script; and being able to be not just an actress who is a book in a lending library, but to be able to choose the roles that I want to do." Joan also recognized, "I didn't fully realize all the problems involved with producing and I still don't. I think I still have a great deal to learn."

At the time, Joan made the point, "Since I am contracted to 'Dynasty' for the next two years, I am just an actress in a particular role." It was noted in the 1986-87 season finale of 'Dynasty', Alexis was seeing accidentally driving a borrowed car off a bridge into a river. The fate of the character hanged in balance awaiting the outcome of Joan Collins' contract renegotiation. Joan continued, "The only constant thing in life is change. My goals today in 1985 are probably different from what my goals will be in 1986 or 1987. I live totally for the moment. I live in the present. I enjoy the quality of life and that's important."

In another separate interview at the time with 'Woman's Day', Joan stated, "For the first time in my career I have a truly creative input into what I'm doing. I'm not just a part of the Hollywood lending library." In 'Sins', then 52, Joan pointed out, "I play Helene Jumoit from the age of 29." In those days, Clinique was her favorite make-up, "I don't like other people doing it (her make-up) because they pull the skin."

Joan Collins shared, "I use good old Nivea to take off my make-up and I'll go for any moisturiser around – most of the major companies have a good range. I love Christian Dior mascara because you can wash it off with water. I don't like oil-based removers because they can leave the eyes looking puffy the next morning, which is not good in my job."

Part of her job required Joan to travel between the United States and Europe. Hence, "I wear extremely comfortable clothes, either a tent dress or trousers as loose as possible. This dress (a glitzy garb) is not my personal style but it's what people expect of my Alexis character and I always take a pair of boots one size larger than usual to put on when I arrive.

"As soon as we take off, I remove my make-up and shoes, slather my face with moisturiser and drink lots of water. I have a bit of food and a couple of glasses of wine, put on my eye mask – a must for long distance flights – and go to sleep. Then I wake up 15 minutes before we land and put my make-up on again – oh, and perfume (Revlon's Scroundrel), of course."

Question: Many Europeans who watch 'Dynasty' believe the characters unreal. Are there people like the Carringtons and the Colbys in the US? Have you met them.

Joan Collins: Yes, very much so. I've also met them in France and in Rio and Italy and other places. The richest, the most successful, the most high-flying people in the world are quite like the Carringtons. I don't consider 'Dynasty' other than a gothic fairy story for the masses and I find it infinitely better for the masses than the amount of gratuitous and horrific violence, muggings, attacks, rapes, gun-fighting we gave in our television screens. I would much rather be remembered – if I'm going to be remembered – as somebody who brought entertainment to people rather than somebody who sticks a gun in people's ribs every week.

Question: What are your views about contemporary (in 1985) women? Are we still the Second Sex?

Joan Collins: It's difficult to talk about women's condition in a few sentences. I was not brought up to be, nor have I brought up my daughters to be, a Second Sex. There's been a tremendous change because of the women's movement for the good of women but there are still far too many women who are still downtrodden, particulary in Third World countries. Women are going through a sort of crisis point in the history of woman-kind and it's a difficult situation for many women.

20190418

TELEVISION

In 2017, 'Paste' magazine selected the 75 best TV title sequences of all time. James Charisma observed, "The title sequence of a television show sets the tone for the entire series. Whether a few iconic seconds or a complicated two-minute scene, a show’s intro tells audiences what they’re in for." Based on the main title, viewers knew the prime-time soap, 'Falcon Crest', was about the wealth and power of a California wine-growing dynasty. 

Jane Wyman, in her first regular role since 1962, played the powerful baroness of her wine empire. In her world, Angela Gioberti, the mistress of the vineyard, sought to rule not only her winery but everyone in Napa Valley. "I read the pilot script for 'Falcon Crest' and all of a sudden, it just struck a bell. Angie Channing is a very heads-up lady … She's very much a 1981 kind of lady … She's an interesting, tough-as-nails businesswoman. I won't let Angie become the J.R. of the wine business. I feel I'm representing all women in business." 

'TV Times' magazine pointed out California had more acres of vineyards than Germany and that the vineyard estates could almost be transplanted to the south of France. The setting of 'Falcon Crest' was a little to the north of San Francisco, in the most famous of all California's wine-growing districts. The family feud started when Angie's nephew, Chase, moved from New York to the valley to take over his late father, Jason's 100-acre share of the estate. 

Angie was determined to fend off intrafamilial and outside efforts to gain control of the empire she had inherited. Lance Cumson, the son of Angie's older daughter, Julia Channing, had been groomed to take over eventually as head of the wine-making empire. In Napa Valley, 'TV Times' explained, the vines, first planted by missionaries in 1852, flourished because of the perfect climate. However those vines were destroyed during the Prohibition era (1920-1933), but the vineyards had since recovered so well that could rank with some of the best in the world. 

Asked if television had changed much since 1958, Jane Wyman replied, "Technically, it's a million years ahead. We sure have it better now (in 1982). In the old days we had to do everything ourselves, including sweeping out the studio." Of TV acting, Susan Sullivan as Maggie, told TV critic Jon Anderson, "You have 3-minute scenes. You don't stretch and expand yourself. You forget techniques. When you get a good scene, you play it for all it's worth." In a play, "each scene is given its proper value because you know you've got another one coming up in 2 minutes. Television works on a whole other group of disciplines. You must be able to repeat scenes seven or eight times if something goes wrong. Some stage actors can't jump in again and again like that." 

In the 1985-86 TV season, Gene Kraft designed the main title of 'Falcon Crest'. It was noted the use of Letraset Romic font from 1981-84 had been changed to ITC Benguiat Book font. The vineyards, instead of the Golden Gate Bridge opened the main title with Ana-Alicia christian names hyphenated for the first time. Like Cliff Robertson, Morgan Fairchild received billing at the end of Act 4 and before the preview of the next episode and the closing credits. For the first three episodes, names of some cast and crew members were in italic. 

By June 2015, 'The Los Angeles Times' reported, "The prime-time soap opera is experiencing a resurgence like no other, particularly on network TV. Unlike the '80s glory days of such ratings-grabbing series as CBS' 'Dallas' and ABC's 'Dynasty' and the '90s revivals from Fox, 'Beverly Hills, 90210' and 'Melrose Place', Emmy voters are taking notice of this new generation of guilty pleasures." 

Gareth Neame, the producer of 'Downton' made the point, "There is a huge appetite for soaps. Millions and millions of people were watching 'Dallas' in prime time back in the day. What we're able to do is to combine that basic love of serialized drama with ongoing characters and production value." 'Downton' writer Julian Fellowes credited American television for pushing TV further into serialized territory.

The serialized pace also allowed the audience to engage with characters as they grew and changed, which had always been the primary appeal of soaps. Remaining rooted in reality also helped kept 'Downton' from veering too far into soap territory. Even before ABC's 'Desperate Housewives' competed at the Emmys in the comedy category in 2005, the line started blurring.

From September to November 2016, at the Red Bull Studios New York in Chelsea, some 100 objects from the Gala Committee's work went on display in an exhibition called 'Total Proof: The Gala Committee 1995-1997.' William Grimes informed 'The New York Times' readers, "Twenty years ago (in 1996), the conceptual artist Mel Chin cold-called the offices of 'Melrose Place', Aaron Spelling’s wildly popular prime-time soap opera, with a proposition.

"What if a task force of artists supplied free artworks and props for the show’s apartment-complex set, with coded cultural messages on pressing topics like reproductive rights, American foreign policy, alcoholism and sexual politics? Deborah Siegel, the show’s set decorator, listened to this absurd offer and had an instant reaction, 'I thought it sounded really interesting so I met with him.'

"This was the beginning of a conceptual artist’s dream, an ongoing intervention into the very heart of American mass culture. In late 1995, Mr. Chin and a team of 100 mostly unknown artists, called the Gala Committee, began a two-year experiment, placing objects on the set of 'Melrose Place'. They took their cues from scripts provided in advance and in some instances worked with the writers to modify plot lines and develop characters."

As pointed out, "Viewers of 'Melrose Place' saw a version of 'Total Proof: The Gala Committee 1995-1997' in April 1997, in a television episode featuring an actual exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, 'Uncommon Sense', which included many of the works produced for the set. In it, Heather Locklear, as the hard-charging advertising executive Amanda Woodward, has just taken on the museum as a client and brings her love interest, Kyle McBride (Rob Estes), to the opening for a stimulating evening of art talk.

"Much of it takes place in front of a Ross Bleckner-like painting that alludes to the American bombing of Baghdad. That work was ordered by Carol Mendelsohn, the show’s head writer. This fictional opening, filmed two weeks before the museum’s opening, was one of the great meta moments in television history. Mr. Chin is by now a well-known figure, a skilled organizer of socially provocative works that can last for years.

"The 'Melrose Place' idea began when Mr. Chin was shuttling back and forth between the University of Georgia, where he held a temporary professorship, and the California Institute of the Arts, where he was conducting a workshop. Mr. Chin had never heard of 'Melrose Place', 'I was not watching much television at the time.' But if he was not watching, he was thinking, prompted by Julie Lazar, the director of experimental programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Tom Finkelpearl, a guest curator and now New York’s commissioner of cultural affairs, who approached him to take part in 'Uncommon Sense'.

"Mr. Chin recalled that while on a flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles, he looked out the window and thought 'Los Angeles is in the air.' The city existed in the trillions of electronic impulses its residents sent through the atmosphere and around the world, transmitting social content and cultural symbols. 'Our world is transformed by covert information, political messages,' Mr. Chin said. 'How would that work if it was art?'

"Back home, Mr. Chin watched as his wife, Helen Nagge, flipped the remote and stopped on an arresting image. 'I saw this large blond face filling the screen, with blue eyes,' he said. It was Ms. Locklear. 'When she moved, there was a painting behind her, and I said, 'That's the gallery'.' Mr. Chin began assembling his troops. The name GALA fused the abbreviations for Georgia and Los Angeles, but eventually the committee absorbed dozens of artists around the country.

"Mr. Flood wondered aloud whether the project amounted to a sellout. Mr. Chin told him, 'We're not selling anything, we're getting in.' Frank South, an executive producer for the show, and Ms. Mendelsohn decided not to mention the project to Mr. Spelling or the network brass. Eventually, word leaked out. In 1997, 'The New Yorker' ran a Talk of the Town article, 'Agitprop', timed to the opening of 'Uncommon Sense'. Mr. South said, 'I was busted.'

"Mr. Spelling, tickled at the idea of seeing 'Melrose Place' in the museum world, took the news well. 'Just don’t do anything to hurt the show,' he told his charges. In early 1996, with the series in its fourth season, the artwork began to arrive, first in a trickle, then in a flood. As a safe-sex message, committee members designed 'Safety Sheets' for the manipulative, womanizing Dr. Peter Burns: bedsheets in an all-over pattern of cylindrical shapes that, on close inspection, turned out to be unrolled condoms.

"When Alison Parker (Courtney Thorne-Smith) became pregnant, the GALA Committee made her a quilt appliquéd with the chemical symbol for the abortion pill RU-486. 'One of the things we wanted to do was to respond to the fact that in network TV, no matter how strong you are, you cannot have an abortion,' said media scholar, Constance Penley, of the University of California, Santa Barbara. 'You either have the baby, or you fall down the stairs. We wanted to put reproductive choice back on network TV.'

"One of the sneakier placements — the committee referred to them as 'product insertion manifestations' — came from the Cal Arts workshop. When Michael Mancini, a character played by Thomas Calabro, visits a hot-sheet motel, he sees the clerk reading 'Libidinal Economy', a work by the French poststructuralist Jean-François Lyotard.

"'Total Proof', organized by Max Wolf with Candice Strongwater, takes its title from an altered photograph of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995, with the damage reworked by the artists to mimic the shape of an Absolut vodka bottle. The work was initially deemed too disturbing to appear on the show, but somehow it ended up, in plain sight, on a wall at D&D Advertising, Amanda’s company.

"As the television project gathered steam, the producers turned to the committee to help invent the character of Samantha Reilly, an artist who, after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, heads out to Los Angeles and moves into the Melrose Place complex. Ms. Mendelsohn was flown out to Kansas City to brainstorm with 10 women on the committee who became known as the Sisters of Sam.

"'We thought, she could be a Cindy Sherman, or a Kiki Smith, or a Barbara Kruger,' said Ms. Penley, who envisioned a feminist conceptualist. But the producers demanded paintings in the David Hockney mode, with bright pastels. 'They said, 'Because the camera loves those colors',' Mr. Chin recalled. Hijacking the concept, the Gala Committee turned out a series of cheery-toned paintings on the theme of violence and death in Los Angeles.

"The Gala Committee called it a day after the museum episode, but the series continued until May 1999. In a half-serious statement for a sale of many of the artworks at Sotheby’s, Mr. Chin summed up the great intervention as the catalyst for 'a profoundly radical transformation of worldwide art, entertainment, communication and government.' The reality was somewhat less dramatic. 'We were exhausted, basically,' Mr. Chin said. 'It was very stressful, producing on deadline. The potentiality and the pictorial reality had been enlarged, so we decided to stop there. It was time to release it to the world. And think of the reruns.'"

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