20170427

HOWARD DUFF

During World War II, Howard Duff received theater training at the Seattle Repertory Playhouse and also worked in radio. Speaking to 'Copley News Service' and 'The Los Angeles Times', Howard Duff remarked, "As we get more mature, we play more heavies … The Seattle Repertory Company was my college education. I was very lucky to have been a part of it, because wherever our director led, we followed, and he led us into some pretty serious drama. I really haven't done anything like that since.

"I used to have a desire to play 'Richard III', but now (in 1978) I guess I'm ready for 'Lear'. Or maybe I'm not too old for 'MacBeth' … Doing 'East of Eden' near Salinas in that Steinbeck country was a joy. I'm the original Steinbeck fan. I've read every word he ever wrote – 'In Dubious Battle', 'To a God Unknown', 'Cup of Gold'. I started working early (in Seattle) so I didn't go to college, but I learned how to read and that's one of the things that makes the rat race worthwhile." 

In 1941, Howard Duff joined the army. After he had received infantry basic training, Howard was transferred to the Armed Forces Radio Service as a correspondent. On duty in Saipan (west of Hawaii), Howard wrote and produced a weekly radio show with Tyrone Power. "I was a Hollywood commando. We were supposed to be correspondents. I just tried to stay out of trouble.

"About 1944 they sent us out and I was on Saipan, Iwo Jima and Guam. I was the lowest-ranked man in the outfit so I had to carry all the heavy equipment. On Saipan I produced and wrote 'Leatherneck of the Air' for Tyrone Power." In 1947, Howard Duff made his Hollywood acting debut. Between 1946 and 1951, he played Sam Spade on radio.

Howard recounted, "My name turned up in Red Channels on a list of people who supposedly were subversives. I was not a Communist, but I had signed a document supporting the Hollywood 10. They cancelled ‘Sam Spade’, and I couldn’t get work on radio for two years afterward. I continued working in pictures, and of course the stage was less influenced by all that business than the other media. Finally I asked what I had to do to end this blacklisting. They told me: 'Just say you're not a Communist.' I said it. I didn’t do it on moral grounds or anything. It was just so.

"The bad thing about it was you were also supposed to name names, and that’s a large part of the reason people remained so bitter afterwards. I went to a Henry Wallace dinner at Ciro's! I wasn't a Communist! That made me a Communist? They said I was a 'commsymp' (Communist sympathizer). We didn't take it very seriously when it came out. That shows you how silly we were. The networks took it very seriously. It destroyed – really destroyed – a lot of people."

Between 1980 and 1982, Howard Duff co-starred in the TV series, 'Flamingo Road'. "The only good thing about getting old (62 at the time) is that you get all the interesting parts you couldn't get as a kid," Howard told the press. "I was doing 'East of Eden', a mini-series, when I was offered two scripts. One was 'Dynasty' and the other was 'Flamingo Road'. The role for me in 'Dynasty' was more important, but I liked the 'Flamingo Road' story better. I don’t know how much fun J.R. has being a villain on 'Dallas' but I have a great time." In 1988, Howard Duff guest starred on 'Dallas' playing senator Henry Harrison O’Dell, a role he had described as a combination of John Connally, Strom Thurmond and Tip O’Neill.

Howard Duff continued, "They offered me the role (in 'Flamingo Road') and I took it. It's the easiest thing I've ever done. Whether it’s good or not is another matter. I just thought he was an unregenerate S.O.B and I’d play him that way. If people turn on the show mostly to watch Morgan (Fairchild), it’s all right with me. I don’t blame 'em. I've been kind of lucky lately (or at the time). Lucky enough to get some good roles, and one thing leads to another.

"I'm getting all kinds of different roles. I was a sleazy city councilman on a pilot. I was a farmer. A priest. I’ve done a lot of ruthless tycoons. Playing all those roles is the only good thing about growing old. I can't play those 'Tennis, anyone?' roles any more. Now that I'm older I'm getting the more interesting parts. That's the only virtue I can see in getting a little older. I love those roles."

In 'Kramer vs. Kramer', "I play a New York City divorce lawyer who's helping (Dustin) Hoffman retain custody of a child. I have two or three nice courtroom scenes. In one scene with Mery Streep in this custody battle, I really strip the lady, I cut her to the bone …  I used to play character parts when I was a kid in Seattle. That was what I did mostly. I didn't play young leading roles. Even though I was young I had a more authoritative voice than most of the people in the theater. So, I ended up playing mostly character parts, I was putting on moustaches, a lot of makeup."

On reflection, Bob Wisehart of 'Newhouse News Service' acknowledged, "Howard Duff's career has evolved in strange ways. Who would have thought years ago that Duff, who entire career is dismissed in one reference book as an actor who plays 'good-looking but shifty types' would be getting Sidney Greenstreet's old parts? That's what he has in 'Flamingo Road'. Duff plays Sheriff Titus Semple the same way Greenstreet did in the 1949 movie based on the novel by John Wilder that also starred Joan Crawford."

Set in the fictional town of Truro in Florida, Howard Duff maintained, "The Sheriff should be perceived as evil. Except that I have to add that no one who's evil ever thinks of himself as evil. He thinks he's doing it for the good of the town. For the best people. That's where the money is, that's where the power is, and he has something on everyone. He doesn't wants to be a big political figure, he wants to be in the background, manipulating and controlling.

"If he's got a single redeemable quality, I don't know what it is. He’s a pleasure to play because you always know exactly where he stands. If there's a right way to do anything and a wrong way, Titus will take the wrong way every time." Morgan Fairchild added, "People seem to remember you best when you play the bad guy … although it's fighting an uphill battle to win the audiences over. Everybody calls my character a villainess, but I haven't done anything bad. You have to take her viewpoint. It's not like a guest role where you go from A to B. You have a lot of range."

In 'East of Eden', Howard Duff played a New England whoremaster. It was noted John Steinbeck in the book always called him "Mister". Howard offered, "He was just a businessman. The whoremaster – it's an archaic term now – was a recognized profession. Not like a pimp. He was a respectable enough man, lived in Boston, had a good wife, three children, two dogs.

"His counterpart today would have a home in Encino or somewhere in the Valley. It was a regular business practice of his that when one of his stable got out of hand to put on his leather gloves and take his whip and beat her into line. But he wasn't a bad fellow, according to his way of thinking. He never really tried to disfigure and maul his girls, the way he did Cathy. But Cathy was a real monster, you know. He trafficked in women, which is a pretty dirty job, but she was much dirtier than he was."

Raoul Walsh "directed my first screen test. Kirk Douglas, who was also newly come to Hollywood, and I did it together. James Wong Howe was the cameraman, so you can see that I was surrounded by pretty formidable talent. Anyway, Walsh's entire direction consisted of, 'Let me hear the words,' and then 'Make it natural.' After that, he walked off to a corner and sort of turned his back on us."

Robert Altman, "he's really remarkable. He was always a bit of a maverick. He had us all wearing small mikes, recording each actor's voice separately so he could 'mix' them later. It's an amazing technical achievement. We were like walking radio stations. When (Mark Hellinger) died, my contract wound up at Universal, where I did a lot of mostly forgettable films.

"They were rather undistinguished, I'm afraid. The early Westerns I made in Utah were pretty rough just because of the difficulties of the location. But one of the hardest location's I've ever been on was 'Ski Lift to Death.' We worked at Baniff, where the scenery was spectacular, absolutely beautiful. But temperatures fell to 40 below zero. Working in weather like that is hard."

Morgan Fairchild made the comment, "There are a lot of fine actors in daytime, just as there are in prime time. There are also terrible performances in daytime and prime time as well. Prime time pays a lot more. The (daytime) soaps are more hurried. You put together a half-hour each day (such as 'Search For Tomorrow') and if you can cope with that over the long haul, you can survive anything. I realize it's ('Flamingo Road') not Ibsen, but we're trying to do the classiest trash we can come up with. It's entertainment. It's fantasy and provides escape. I believe that people realize this."

20170424

STEFANIE POWERS

Born in Hollywood during World War II (in 1942) of Polish parents, Stefania Zofja Federkiewicz had visited almost every country in the world, "But don't misunderstand. It's not just aimless wandering I do. I go everywhere for a reason; to see animals, people, art." Known around the world as Stefanie Powers (her father being Morrison Bloomfield Paul with Paul said to mean power in Polish), Stefanie told 'The Los Angeles Times' in 1980, "Well, you know, I think curiosity is the greatest gift anyone can be given. And I was given it. 

"I've suffered from wanderlust ever since I can remember. In fact the first book I ever really enjoyed was about digs and archaeology. Just thinking about traveling starts my juices flowing. Last year (in 1979), in the middle of shooting 'Hart To Hart', when I hadn't been out of the country for some time, we had a scene to do at Los Angeles Airport. And just standing there, inhaling those jet fumes, I thought: 'Oh, God, how I need to get on one of those planes.'" 

By 1985, 'Hart To Hart' the series created by Sidney Sheldon could be seen in some 62 countries. Stefanie continued, "I could never be happy with someone who was content just to sit here in Beverly Hills. Particularly as my horizons are expanding all the time." Stefanie insisted, "The elixir of life is the search, not the discovery." Speaking to Fred Robbins in 1985, Stefanie stressed, "Some people have a great misconception of me, that I'm somehow unique. But I am not in any way exceptional. 

"I am not an extraordinary person. What I do have is an extraordinary curiosity. I was born with it. From the first, I have wanted to know the world. I want to live in it, be of it, see and experience it, and grow. I once spent an evening with this great man and was startled to have him assure me that he was just an ordinary person. I protested, citing his accomplishments, and asked, 'How could you possibly say you're ordinary?' And he said, 'But I am. I just had extraordinary curiosity.' 

"That serves to remind me that we must never, at any time, harbor an exalted opinion of ourselves. In the totality of the universe, after all, we are only a little speck on the face of history. But, while we're here on this planet, life can be a great adventure if we do not become too self-involved and if we make the effort to expand our horizons." Stefanie made the point to Roderick Mann, "Somewhere in the house I've got an article from the 'South China Morning Post' stashed away. 

"It's about some loony Englishwoman of 92 who was interviewed stepping off a burro in Nepal after a 24-day trek in the Himalayas. When I read it I thought, 'If I can die from a heart attack at 92 after riding through Tibet on a burro, I'll be a happy woman." Besides Arabic, German and Japanese, Stefanie said, "What I do is convince myself that the moment I land at a foreign airport something will happen and I'll be able to communicate. The odd thing is I always can. I have a facility for languages. 

"I can get by in Spanish, Italian and French, and I'm studying Chinese. And, of course, my first language is Polish." Stefanie had visited Europe, Africa (in particular Nairobi, Kenya), Asia (Bangkok, Hong Kong, Borneo, remote areas of China, India), Mexico, the Middle East, and reportedly had lived among the most primitive natives of Papua New Guinea. Stefanie told Isobel Silden in 1980, "When the 20th century arrives in these remote villages, the residents won't suffer culture shock. 

"I'm involved in ecology, safeguarding our cultural heritages. I want to help preserve wild life in East Africa and I'm vitally concerned with safeguarding the world's ocean life." Stefanie also stated in 1980, "I'm buying a condominium in Hong Kong – on Lantao Island where they're opening up a development. It will make a wonderful base for operations in that part of the world. That's the area that inrigues me now (in 1980)." 

Stefanie would like to film a documentary in China but at the time, "It's going to be really difficult filming there. For a start it's hardly been done. And you can't rely on a single piece of equipment there. Everything they have is from the dark ages. So you have to take in everything and that's a problem. In the '60s and early '70s I spent most of my time in Europe. It was wonderful then, and England was fabulous – I even had a place there. But things are changing and now when I go back to Europe it's usually to Italy to see my foster son, Silvano." 

In 1960, Stefanie was in Italy making a film. It was there she met Silvano Rampucci who was half her age and as reported was living in a home for abandoned children on the outskirts of Rome. "It was really strange, Silvano and I looked at each other and something happened between us. Years before I'd been told by a clairvoyant that I'd meet such a child. And long after we'd met Silvano told me that in his earliest dreams he'd seen someone like me, who wasn't his mother but was important to him. So we just stood staring at each other and then he took hold of my hand." 

Stefanie made known, "Years ago, I suppose, I did try to conform a little. I mean, when it was fashionable to have straight hair in the '60s, I actually put my head on the ironing board and pressed my hair flat. Can you imagine? I wanted so much to look like all those other teenager surfer girls. But I soon got over that. These days (in 1980) I try not to be influenced by propaganda about what we should or shouldn’t be."

Speaking to Bill Hayden of 'Gannett News Service' in 1985, Stefanie made the point, "You have to talk about television, the impact of television on the public and of a public that heretofore used to go to the movies and follow somebody's career based on a certain image or a certain portrayal they clearly identified with … Television has now (in 1985) obviously taken the place of the sort of loyalties by virtue of the identification that people have from something that comes into their house. 

"I can't but feel a certain responsibility to the sort of framework character that has allowed me to function in my work by virtue of a certain acceptance that the perception of that character has to the audience. It is a very complicated issue, and I think that for an actor there is really only one place where an actor really lives. That is in the theater, and that is for the actor personally. 

"When we deal with the medium of television and films, we are dealing with another sort of market, something that is more commercial, something that costs a lot of money to do and needs a lot of money to make it successful. I would like to keep intact a certain sense, maybe broaden the spectrum of what I'm marketing in that medium, but still keep it sort of within the realm of where it is perceived."

Like 'The Fall Guy', 'Hart To Hart' was a dependable ratings performer for the network. In explaining the TV ratings, David Bianculli explained in 1981, "Ratings and shares can be explained in terms of a 100-home city block. Suppose 30 of the TV sets in those 100 homes are turned on at a particular time – that's a 30 'rating', showing that 30% of the total TV sets are in use. Of those 30 TVs, half of them, 15, are tuned to 'Dallas'. That gives 'Dallas' a 50% share of the audience watching TV at that time.

"A show’s success is not determined by its weekly ranking. A hit is a program that attracts people to it – not necessarily one that attracts the most people. Prime time TV is like a relay race: the guy in the lead (for example 'The Fall Guy') transfers a tremendous advantage to the guy awaiting the handoff (for example 'Dynasty'). In television's case, it is a block of viewers, not a baton, that is being handed over. When a show holds that (lead-in) audience or increases it, the show is doing its job. If not, it deserves either a new time slot or cancellation." However it was understood some viewers tuned to a particular network at a particular time solely to watch that particular program.  

In the 1984-85 season, 'Happy Days' (premiered in 1974), 'Hart To Hart' and Fantasy Island' (started in 1979) were some of the programs which did not make that season fall schedule. Stefanie told Barry Koltnow of the 'Orange County Register' in 1988, "I was in Paris filming the mini-series 'Mistral's Daughter' when a new man at the network decided to flex his muscles and cancel us. I cried when I got the news because it was the happiest working experience of my life."

Between 1993 and 1996, eight 'Hart To Hart' TV movies were made. "Coming back to do this has been for all of us a feeling of completion. 'Hart To Hart' is showing everywhere, all the time. It's on in France again. It's on periodically in England. It's all over South America … The show was very well received in Hong Kong and in the Philippines. Certainly (the most enjoyable aspect of the project 'Harts In High Season') was going to Australia. It was fabulous. Sydney is a wonderful place to go to."

Also in the 1984-85 season, Donna Reed replaced Barbara Bel Geddes as Miss Ellie on 'Dallas'. Ian Harmer of 'Wordsmiths Ltd' informed viewers when Barbara left, "The 'Dallas' producers opted to search for a substitute with acting credentials at least equal to Barbara Bel Geddes's but with a TV 'Q' – a quirkly measure of small screen star status – low enough to protect the character of Miss Ellie from being overpowered. Donna Reed was the perfect candidate. A popular mother figure who would rekindle happy TV memories for older viewers but who was virtually unknown to the younger generation."

Donna Reed did not take over the role of Miss Ellie until 7 episodes into the 1984-85 season (around the second month) told Ian Harmer when she was on location in Dallas filming her 'Dallas' debut scenes, "It was a classy decision to have me simply walk into the role where Barbara left off, with no explanation for Miss Ellie's new face. And I was told to play the part the way I wanted to play it." 

20170422

SOAP OPERAS

"We're very topical on 'Dynasty'. I think it's very important that 'Dynasty' brings up social issues people have to face. Let's put it this way – we don't make it a point to stay away from issues that would indeed happen to a family," Elaine Rich remarked. In 1985, 'Soap Opera Digest' credited 'Dynasty' for stepping out on the proverbial limb when it confronted the taboo subject of interracial relationships. Considered daring for its time, Diahann Carroll was casted as John Forsythe's on-screen half-sister. 

Leonard Katzman told Nerissa Radell, "From what I've heard, daytime touches things nighttime could never come near. At least on CBS, we're very careful about certain subjects, like religion. We've always avoided like the plague anything remotely resembling an incestuous relationship. In controversial areas such as these, it's very difficult in the time we have, to take a particular point of view." 

Ted Shackelford observed, "The nature of daytime is very expository. You spend most of the scene imparting all this information, and then by the time you get to the meat of the scene, it's over with! It's very difficult to act and bring any kind of truth and believability to daytime … The fact that anything comes across amazes me." Leonard Katzman added, "I think part of the problem with daytime is they have so much time to fill (5 days a week). 

"There's just not that much happening all the time in any of our lives, so daytime has to rely on somewhat repetitious conversation occasionally. Our 'time pressure' (once a week, between 22 and 30 weeks a year) helps us a great deal, because we don't have to fill all that emptiness. But on nighttime, our pacing is such that we can't linger on any one story for too long. So on 'Dallas', we try to have one long range story – like the battle for Ewing Oil – and along with that, we have sub-stories which run 6 to 8 episodes (about 2 months)." 

Wayne Northrop noted, "On crucial scenes, nighttime will go on forever. Daytime has its own problems. Sometimes you're in 5 shows a week, and if that goes on for 3 or 4 weeks, you can become a zombie! Or, if you're up at the last part of the day's schedule and they're running late, the director will say, 'Thank you very much, that was very good,' after your first take." 

Susan Sullivan acknowledged, "When you have to cover a scene 10-15 times, it's very difficult to get the emotional value you may have had the first time but when you're doing off-camera lines for someone else, it's not fair to give them the same kind of value you gave in the master shot of the scene. Playing the same character over and over has certain pitfalls. It's easy to get into bad habits, into tricks, into going for the easy choices as opposed to finding more unique choices for your character to play." 

Douglas Sheehan argued, "On daytime shows, you're taping 2 weeks away from air date and if your character does a buildup of popularity, they can improve the scripts as they go along … that's power. On 'Knots Landing', we tape halfway through the season before the show even airs, so prime time dramas don't have the power to orchestrate the audience and the actors." 

Leonard Katzman maintained, "There's no way to really determine who the audience is going to respond to so far in advance. Since we don't have the luxury of viewer response on nighttime, we have to go on our instincts. There are other variables, too." Elaine Rich expressed, "I think in nighttime shows, people are looking for entertainment and to get out of their problems and into a world of fantasy and excitement. There's something exciting about looking at beautiful, wealthy people. And if there's one thing that contributes to 'Dynasty's' success it's that 'Dynasty' is larger than life – the stories, the characters, and the actors. Characters like Alexis are a bit of everyone's fantasies, so you can more or less predict their appeal."

Leonard Katzman reasoned, "Because of our budget, we have a certain luxury daytime doesn't. We go down to Dallas to shoot for 48-50 days (close to 2-month long), which gives us a terrific look!" Elaine  Rich believed, "Our budget affects our show in a very real way. There's a direct correlation between what we can do on the production end of our budget. Our sets, our costuming, our writers and the caliber of acting we have are directly tied into it." 

Characters such as J.R. Ewing and Abby Fairgate were interesting characters because as John Kelly Genovese reported, "A catalyst is something or someone that makes things happen, a force which kicks off the action. Of all the types of catalysts in soaps, none have been as prevalent, as fascinating, or as much fun as the bitch goddess and the ambivalent villain. 

"It must be stressed that these types are much different from the straight villain or villainess who are more one-dimensional, less vulnerable and less prone to living a long life. Real villains usually do something so bad, so irredeemable, that they must eventually be disposed of. The bitch or the ambivalent villain, on the other hand, is too valuable to be written into a corner. These folks are as much a part of the overall, continuing story thread as the major family, and often part of that family. 

"They must constantly straddle the fence between good and bad, or otherwise maintain a certain level of rottenness without actually becoming evil. They can lie, cheat, manipulate, instigate conflict, and spread nasty rumors. They can even rape, if they sufficiently repent for this animalistic action. But they cannot intentionally kill – that is the province of the straight 'heavy'. And above all else, they must have a dramatic enough background to motivate their questionable actions, and to justify these actions in their own minds. 

"The most common motivation of an ambivalent villain was a financially deprived childhood. This element easily explains why 'Another World's' Rachel clawed her way into the financially secure Matthews house as a teenager through her marriage to successful doctor Russ Matthews; why Jill on 'The Young and the Restless' stepped on her family and friends to nab filthy rich Phillip Chancellor and leading publisher Stuart Brooks and why 'General Hospital's' Bobbie Spencer fought Laura tooth and nail for Scotty. 

"Of course, as with many such ambivalent types, most of these characters have since redeemed themselves and become downright heroic in their actions. While these folks carved out their dubious paths when they were young, other lower-class characters didn't shoot for the top until discovering that marrying within their station (same age) was a losing proposition. 

"The self-made man is sometimes depicted as a negative force, due to his overwhelming preoccupation (and underlying discomfort) with his new social station. In time, however, circumstances generally mellow him, make him more comfortable with his wealth, and less abusive of his power. But too much money can just as easily produce a bad apple as not enough of it. 

"Some people are just plain spoiled rotten by riches, and grow up expecting human relations to be as instantly rewarding to them as the acquisition of a Renoir at an art auction. 'General Hospital's' Tracey Quartermaine and 'Another World's' Iris were all born with shiny silver spoons in their bassinets. Yet in the above case, other more complex reasons produced the indecencies these people committed. 

"Tracey idolized her father, Edward, but was torn apart by his refusal to see she could match his savvy in the business world and become more than an aging brat drifting from husband to husband. Incestuous leanings have darkened many a personage in serial land. Much as Iris set up a plethora of roadblocks to Mac's happiness with a loving, reformed Rachel. 

"Most bitches and ambivalent villains act out of a sense of being robbed of something or someone. Erica on 'All My Children' was deserted by her movie-mogul father as a tot, and has always sought a strong, loving male figure in her life. The bitches and the ambivalent villains act, therefore, out of a crying want. Some achieve their goals nobly and honestly after comeuppance teaches them a few basic truths. But if they don't attain that which they want, need or even crave – if they are halted, diverted or crossed in any way – watch out!"

20170417

TELEVISION

Māori singer Tina Cross from Otara had been a part of the New Zealand music scene since 1978. In 1982, Tina came to Australia to begin a singing career on the cabaret circuit. In 1984 Tina formed the techno pop band, Koo De Tah with composer and pianist Leon Berger which scored a hit in 1985 with the single 'Too Young For Promises'. The song reached No. 6 on the Australian charts. 'Too Young For Promises' was featured in the 1984 film 'Streets of Fire' starring Michael Paré and Diane Lane.

Tina Cross described as "a blend of Maori, Croatian and English genes" told the New Zealand press in 2016, "I was only 16 (in 1975) when Ray (Columbus) first heard me sing. At the time the industry was lacking in young female Maori performers. Ray saw that talent in me and I think that's why he encouraged me to pursue my career." Tina told Sarah Lang in 2009, "With musicals, I originally thought: 'Why would you want to do the same thing every night for months?' It never made sense to me, but once you immerse yourself in a character and a role it's actually quite hard to shake it. And I love that licence to be somebody else and the fact that every time I step into a new pair of shoes, or an old pair, it just fits."

On Australian television in 1985, two of the Reg Grundy series, 'Sons and Daughters' and 'Possession' went head to head. Up against both local dramas was the U.S. import 'V' - the series. 'V' sought to explore the very survival of the human race after reptilians in human skin came to Earth with the intention of colonising the planet in order to take control of Earth's water supply and to use people as human resources and for food. 

Against 'Sons and Daughters', 'Possession' mostly scored ratings points peaking around 8 and 9. TV commentator Jacqueline Lee Lewes explained, "A second glance at the program schedules shows that if (channel) Nine wanted the program to go at 7:30pm, it had very little choice of nights. It was either 'Sons and Daughters' or the higher rating 'A Country Practice' which would have been kamikaze programming. 

"The only other alternative was Thursday and Friday, both of which are nights when sets in use are down. So Monday night and Thursday night it is." However less than 2 months in the time slot against 'Sons and Daughters', channel Nine moved 'Possession' to Thursday and Friday nights and then to the late night time slot usually reserved for news program such as 'Nightline', where the show scored between 2 and 5 ratings points. 

Reg Watson came up with the idea of 'Possession' which Bevan Lee developed for television. Director Julian McSwiney stayed with 'Possession' for 3 months before returning to 'Sons and Daughters'. He recounted, "'Possession' is the hardest soap I’ve ever worked on because we were trying to make it look like a flash show, a 'Dallas', 'Dynasty' type image, in the same time we have for a fairly pedestrian soap. In America they spend megabucks on that sort of market. 

"The Mitchell Street studios (in North Sydney) weren’t properly equipped. I was working from a fairly cramped outside broadcast van. The place we were working in was so small, with 3 sets in it, that we had to take down half a set to get the lights in. The 7:30 time slot restricts you like you wouldn’t believe. There was a guy in 'Possession' who used to inject people with a zombie drug. But you can’t feature the syringe at that time, so when the cops burst in to get him I wasn’t able to finish off with a shot of the syringe in front of his face. And people have all these horrific accidents but you can’t show any blood." 

It was reported at one stage production was behind schedule because channel Nine requested the political intrigue angle be dropped from around episode 34, hence 10 episodes had to be rewritten, 6 completely and 4 minor alterations were made. Bevan Lee clarified, "When a show is not successful all the elements are juggled to get it right.

"I'll sometimes just wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning with an idea. I think it’s just innate ability … All our scriptwriters write from the heart, not from the head. You write one of our plots from the head and you end up with melodrama, not the true feelings we are after. God perish the thought of getting all those problems from life experience. If I had, I’d have committed suicide years ago." 

Script editor Lyn Ogilvy recalled, "The writers were included in the story conference. They were of great benefit in giving suggestions and it was more their story. I don’t think a writer ever writes as well that way (when the story editor wrote scene breakdowns inhouse then assigned those scenes to freelance story liners). The less totally it is theirs, the less well they write." 

In an interview with 'Fairfax Media', David Reyne disclosed, "The two major considerations in a thing like 'Possession' have to be time and money. When you have 25 scenes and you come out of one where you are happy and jovial and laughing, and into the next scene where it is disaster and angst, and they give you 10 minutes to do it, boy, I find it really difficult. I understand that is the way they have to do it in TV. I see people in a soapie and I realize that if you are good in a soapie, then you must be very, very good, because your back is against the wall from the start."

'Sons and Daughters' reportedly filmed roughly 5 months ahead of its broadcast time. For example Rowena Wallace filmed her last scene in November 1984 but viewers could still see her on television until at least May 1985. Bevan Lee made the comment, "Striving to write interesting, popular and valid commercial television is a thankless task at many times." 

He also made the point, "Serialization has been with us for centuries. It has always been, and will continue to be without a shadow of a doubt, a viable form of popularise entertainment … I think older viewers like to live vicariously through the younger characters in the program. The important thing is not who we aim at (viewers demographics), but whether the story is interesting or not. That's what the viewers tune into." 

After watching the premiere episode, Janise Beaumont remarked, "'Sons and Daughters' is different and great. It's been made with a new set of rules and, it would appear, a huge amount of money. It's 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."

Rowena Wallace spoke to John Miller in June 1984, "It seems to me as if this project ('Sons and Daughters'), which started 2 and half years ago (in 1982) and gathered its own momentum, has become like a living organism: it is a thing that works us, we don’t really work it." Of playing Patricia the Terrible, "It's an interesting character. There's a spirit there, a tremendous urge to survive and spirit to get on: people identify with that. 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 5 minutes. I think there is an area of catharsis there. 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." 

"A soapie is a strange thing," Rowena made the observation. "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." Tina Cross confessed, "I don't like to be disorganised, I like to know what's happening in my life." Rowena continued, "You don't know where it's (the story) going to end, so you don't really know what you're working with. I'd like to be involved in something that has a beginning, middle and an end, that is a fully rounded thing I can get a perspective on, where I can do a complete performance.

"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 … There's not much time (for artistic expression). You don't get much help, you just do 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."

"We were born in Africa, but brought up in a place called Mount Eliza, which is 50km (or 30 miles) out of Melbourne. It was a middle-class upbringing," David Reyne made known. "My future (in 1985 and beyond) might lie in a bit of TV. Music: 50% and acting/TV/films: 50%. I would love to set the precedent of doing both TV and rock and roll because I really don't think people accept that someone can do both. They don't want to think you can be in a band and be a TV person. They only want to see you as one or the other. You run a risk saying, 'Hey I do both. Watch.'

"When I was a kid Mum would be singing opera at one end of the house and at the other Dad would be cleaning shoes to jazz on the radio. Meanwhile I'd be playing a makeshift drum kit of cardboard boxes, with biscuit tin lids as cymbals. My mother was a soprano and she used to sing opera and stuff. My father was very much into jazz … so my mother would be singing opera and my father would be listening to jazz. It was coming from both sides. They always had the radio tuned in so we would hear programs like 'My Word' and 'My Music' and Frank Muir. It was always in the house."

James Reyne of 'Return To Eden' and David Reyne were born in Nigeria, Africa, where their father worked as an oil company executive. However, it was reported David was only there for 6 months before political turmoil forced the family's return to Australia. In October 1983, James Reyne and his band Australian Crawl topped the Australian music charts with the song 'Reckless'.

The subtext of the song 'Reckless' according to one music follower in Fullerton California referred to "Robert Falcon Scott, known as 'Scott of the Antarctic,' and his tragic expedition, actually reaching the South Pole only to discover that Roald Amundsen had just beaten him and then dying on the return. In a similar vein, Irish/English explorers Burke and Wills were the first to cross Australia from south to north only to starve, too weak to move, a few miles from salvation.

"They were actually camped by a tree that had buried provisions, but misunderstood the markings on the base camp tree. Thus, the underlying meaning of this song could be: He has spent an unspecified time alone ( 'So long she's been away...') and is now waiting to meet his girlfriend who is arriving on the Manly ferry. The references to Scott/Antarctic, Burke & Wills, and a Russian sub beneath the Arctic are telling us how alone he felt, presumably during previous nights; dramatizing the feeling of utter isolation.

"While waiting, he is also warning himself, soliloquizing, not to be reckless or unnecessarily boisterous in front of her when she arrives, because she hates that behavior and may leave him again. The line, 'Throw down your guns' means don't show traits such as recklessness, aggressiveness, or extreme independence popularly associated with cowboys. For many a jilted lover, the song contains a hint of cosmic irony." 

20170413

TENNIS

Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray combined won 45 of the 52 Grand Slam events between 2004 and 2016 (total 13 years). "It was always going to be hard to get rid of all 4 guys at the same time, let's just be honest," Roger Federer replied when he was asked by the press about the possibility of a "changing of the guard" in men's tennis at the 2014 Wimbledon championships.

Roger Federer (2009), Rafael Nadal (2010) and Novak Djokovic (2016) were 3 of only 8 male tennis players in history to win all 4 major titles. The others were Fred Perry (1935), Don Budge (1938), Rod Laver (1962), Roy Emerson (1964) and Andre Agassi (1999). Roger Rasheed told the press at the 2016 Australian Open, "To win a major you need to be obsessed with both the game and the process of becoming the very best.

"My opinion is that there is a big group of younger, very talented players on the men's tour that are frankly comfortable. But they are not going to the lengths required to become the best they can be, which will allow them to challenge for a major. There could be more legitimate contenders if some of this group lived each day to become the best player they can. Who trains now like Novak, Andy, (David) Ferrer, Rafa did on their way up? Not many, I will tell you."

Novak Djokovic said mental strength was key to winning, "It’s mental in the end of the day. You have to be able to be in the top of your game, mentally fresh and motivated, calm and composed." After Novak won 4 major championships in a row in 2016 and amassing 16,950 points in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings which at the time, almost double the amount of closest challenger Andy Murray (8,915 points) - both born a week apart of each other in 1987 – Novak told the press at the 2016 U.S. Open, "I am mentally and emotionally exhausted since Roland Garros."

When he was 6 years old (back in 1993), Novak Djokovic was said told his parents he was determined to become the No. 1 male tennis player in the world, which he did in 2011 at 24 years of age. Former mentor, the late Jelena Gencic believed Novak Djokovic had "the biggest talent I have seen since Monica (Seles)" after watching him played in 1992.

Nick Bollettieri had described Novak Djokovic as "perhaps the best put-together player that I've seen in over 60 years." Andre Agassi noted, "When he's on defense, he can actually win the point with one shot; that's an evolution of the game." Tim Mayotte added, "I think his defense is just astonishing. To be able to take points that feel like they're yours, stay in the match, and turn them around — that would just drive me loco."

Speaking to Peter Aspden in October 2015, Novak explained his 'mental edge', "The first thing is to make sure you are in the moment. That is much easier to say than to do. You have to exclude all distractions and focus only on what you are about to do. In order to get to that state of concentration, you need to have a lot of experience, and a lot of mental strength.

"You are not born with that. It is something you have to build by yourself. I believe that half of any victory in a tennis match is in place before you step on to the court. If you don't have that self-belief, then fear takes over. And then it will get too much for you to handle. It’s a fine line. The energy of those moments is so high: how are you going to use it? Are you going to let it consume you, or are you going to accept its presence and say, 'OK, let's work together.'"

After winning his 7th grand slam title against Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2014, Novak Djokovic told the press, "I overcame a lot of challenges, in my life and tennis career in the last 2 years and that's why I had tears of joy. That's why it was very emotional for me to rewind the memories of what we have been through in the last 3 years and what we’ve been through as a team.

"There are some private things I went through, that I won’t talk about now, but it wasn’t easy. Everyone has issues so you have to understand how to deal with them, grow as a person, strengthen your character and manage to win grand slams. You can't separate yourself as a person and professional tennis player. It's the same person who walks on the court, so if your mind is not clear you won't be able to compete on a high level."

20170411

TELEVISION

In June 1986, Oriana Panozzo's father died in a car crash in Italy. Speaking to Southdown Press Oriana made known, "He was only 61, had just retired and had gone to Italy to sell some property and bring the money back. Then he and Mum were going to tour around the world and have a good time together. Thank God Mum wasn't with him. She decided at the last minute not to go. She would have been in the car as well. We could have lost both of them. 

"And Mum's been just remarkable. It must be much harder to lose a husband than a father and she married Dad at 17. She's 52 now (in 1986). Any experience in life has that period where it influences your personality, for sure. After losing Dad I became very vulnerable and, in crowds of people in particular, that can be quite frightening. But I feel that each thing that happened had its own lesson. I cope with people and situations better now because I’ve built up my tolerance. 

"Generally people who’ve been through the ropes have a much tougher skin and cope better with life. A lot of people allow this to become cynicism and that's a real shame. I don't. I’m still not over that. I'm dreading Christmas when my family is together because that's when we all come back from wherever we are, and he won’t be there. The experiences have aged me in a big way, mentally and a bit physically – I have a few more 'happy' lines here and there. Yeah, I’ve aged. 

"I have a traumatic life this past year (back in 1986). Everyone needs time for a bit of self-pity, and to grieve, but if you let it grow inside you it can be very destructive. For me to have to get up there and say: 'Well, I just have to go to work' and have lines to learn and things to distract me.' It obviously pulled me together. At the same time, I was being so brave. I realized I was shutting off a lot and, as Susan (on 'Sons and Daughters'), I was having to do all these emotional scenes and I couldn’t cry. 

"I knew that if I let go the flood gate: bang! And so I had a weekend with a really good friend, talked about Dad’s death, had a really good cry and had a chance to say all those things like: 'I'm going to miss him' and got angry at God. Grief is one of the strangest emotions. It's really weird. One day I'd be hysterically funny and everything was just hilarious and the next day I'd be so depressed – everything was so black. 

"And then I'd be really quiet, then really cynical and then I went through a 'don't touch me' stage. You realize you need to come to terms with that and say: 'Okay I'm going through a period of grief and now and then, when it's stimulated, it's going to crop up.' As I've tried to explain to my youngest sister, it's okay to be silly for a while." In November 1985, Oriana and Scott McGregor decided to end their 8-year relationship, "We finally had to decide that we were really great friends but were just not meant to be partners and, luckily again, I had work to distract me because I found I went through a great loneliness. But that bond Scotty and I have really helped because it’s very hard to go from lovers back to friends." 

Jared Robinson was 17 when he joined the cast of 'Sons and Daughters' in 1986 playing Craig Maxwell. Jared told Garry Shelley, "In this business, where you're constantly on display, the best way to avoid trouble is to be everybody's friend." Through acting, Jared said he had gained more self-control and sensitivity, "It’s certainly helped me a lot in my home life. 

"My values have changed inasmuch as I think I've become more sentimental. I hold little things dear to me – and I hold them a bit longer. I'm sort of glad I'm going in that direction." Of the fan mails, Jared observed, "And surprising not all of it is from 15-year-old girls as you'd probably expect, but a lot is from people many years older; both men and women. I've had abusive letters too – but you take no notice of it. I look at it this way: while I'm here I'm going to get what I can out of it – jump in with two feet and see what happens. I wouldn't jump into another part." 

Rowena Wallace played Patricia the Terrible on 'Sons and Daughters'. After filming her last scene on the show back in November 1984, Rowena spoke to Garry Shelley, "I'd be mad if I wasn't happy. I think part of the reason for that is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It will be really nice not to have that constant pressure all the time; the monster on my back. 

"I'd defy anyone to do one of those shows (such as 'Sons and Daughters') 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 love to laugh and I love people who can make me laugh, especially a good belly-laugh. I enjoy anecdotes and people who are really funny. But as a teller of jokes I'm hopeless. I can never remember the tags, I get them all screwed up. 

"A funny thing happened to me on location when Pat had to come tearing out of the bush after escaping from a kidnapper and lurch on to a road to hail a car. The traffic had been blocked off for the shoot, but all of a sudden this huge semi-trailer came bearing down on me, and you could feel the driver's foot going for the brake as he slowed. Then he must have thought: 'What on earth is this woman doing running on to the road looking quite mad?' The next thing he accelerated. It was so funny."

20170408

SONS AND DAUGHTERS

In February 1982, the song 'What About Me?' topped the Australian music chart. Written by Garry Frost and Frances Swan, 'What About Me?' reached 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1983. The single was re-released in the U.S. again in 1987. 

Born in 1987, Novak Djokovic became the first male tennis player in the 21st century - the 3rd in history after Don Budge in 1938 and Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969 - to have won the Grand Slam of tennis. By winning the 2016 French Open men's singles final against Andy Murray, Novak in the process won all 4 major championships in a row. "This is something that is so rare in tennis. It's going to take a long time for it to happen again," Andy acknowledged. 

In March 2017, Novak's former mentor, 77-year-old Niki Pilic spoke to 'Nezavisne'. He made the comment, "Djokovic reached the Mount Everest of tennis last year (in 2016) after winning the French Open. He had 16,950 points and that's a tally that will never be repeated again, but loss of form and missing tournaments made his advantage melt away. 

"Novak had a physical and mental edge second to none, he was in 6th gear. That tenacity is no longer the same. It remains to be seen whether he can rediscover it and get back to the top level. The hard work of the last 5 or 6 years (Novak won his first Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2008) has taken its toll. Tennis was the priority every morning and afternoon and evening and all I can tell him is to be the person he was." 

'What About Me?' was performed by the rock band Moving Pictures. The group was formed in Sydney in 1978. Musician Alex Smith told Bryget Chrisfield in 2015, "I can't stop writing songs. The analogy I always use is: it's not a tap you can turn off, it's a stream and the stream of consciousness runs and you write what falls out. My songs have always — to me they've always been little mirrors of my life or reflections of the lives of people around me and what they've been through.

"You know, it's like that thing you see at the end of television programs, '(Puts on stern voice) Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.' Um, I mean it's almost where the name of the band came from 'cause when we were first starting out someone said to me, 'These songs, they're like little film scripts.' And so I sort of thought, 'Ooh, Moving Pictures - there's a good name." 

On Australian television, the home-grown drama, 'Sons and Daughters', was one of the success stories of 1982. Shown over 4 nights (from Monday to Thursday) in the 7:00pm time slot, the 30-minute soap opera consistently scored ratings points peaking in the mid-20s against game show '$ale of the Century' and the American import 'M*A*S*H'. McNair Anderson merged in 1973 conducted 8 four-week ratings surveys every year. In its maiden year on the air (1982), 'Sons and Daughters' averaged 33 ratings points.

An hour of 'Sons and Daughters' was said to have costed around $A80,000 to produce. The television ratings surveys were conducted using census information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. From the 504 households selected at the time that spanned 168 suburbs in clusters of 3 houses in each suburb, the households were chosen based on ethnic composition, whether there were stay-at-home married women, the occupations of members of the household and their combined income. In those days, the households were required to complete a diary daily to show what channel, which program and who was watching what on TV over quarter-hourly intervals between 6:00pm and midnight each night.

In its second year, 1983, 'Sons and Daughters' was ranked behind only 'A Country Practice' in popularity. In 1984, the network decided to show 'Sons and Daughters' in 2 one-hour episodes a week (at the time on Sunday and Monday nights). Glen Kinging who was the program manager at channel Seven at the time told 'Fairfax Media', "We are particularly thrilled with our new shows, 'Sons and Daughters' and 'A Country Practice', these shows have had a marked effect on our other programs such as our news and 'The Price Is Right', both of which have shown a healthier improvement. Even our imported series have risen along with the overall momentum."

Glen Kinging maintained a hit program remained "one of the great mysteries" of television. "You can say individual things, but as soon as you draw a conclusion something will come up that will shoot that theory down. Obviously, it's what competition the shows are up against which has the biggest bearing. It's most probably true to say that, with Australian productions, a show usually rates quite a bit better in the city in which it's produced.

"In the case of a show produced in Melbourne it can often rate much better. Melbourne shows always rate better in Melbourne … There are less things to do in Melbourne, less things to pull people away from television, particularly in winter. In most cases, Melbourne will rate slightly better on movies than Sydney will. Melbourne is the best, biggest, most prolific sporting city – in the world, almost. All sport does better in Melbourne. Comedy does very well in Brisbane. Adelaide is probably the most British-oriented city in Australia. In Melbourne it's very hard to bring in a new show against an old favorite and have any chance at all."

'Sons and Daughters' opened with the story of Patricia's twins, separated at birth for 21 years before they were finally reunited in 1982 when the series began. In 1961, 17-year-old Patricia who was pregnant with a married man Martin's children, gave birth to John and Angela at Fiona's place. Martin who was in the army at the time also had an affair with Patricia's sister, Margaret, who viewers learnt 22 years later was instrumental in pressuring Patricia to have an abortion.

After Martin and Patricia separated, she met David who thought the babies were his. Patricia stayed at Fiona's for a week after giving birth to the twins before she decided to take off with Angela and found work as Gordon's housemaid. "At least this way Angela has a chance," Patricia explained of her decision to split up the twins. John was left with Fiona to raise for 5 years before he went to live with David, who according to Patricia 21 years later, "couldn't keep a job (at the time). We were saddled with 2 children. Nowhere to live and not a cent in the world. What would you have done?"

Patricia was, as Bevan Lee observed, "one of the most popular (characters) in the history of Australian television." Of Patricia's relationship with her daughter Angela, Rowena Wallace offered, "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. It's a mixture of both. I think she (Patricia) 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." 

Alexandra Fowler argued, "I feel she (Patricia) is trying to make Angela into a mini-version of herself. She wants her daughter married into the right sort of family, with loads of money, who wear the right sort of clothes and go to the right schools. So, really, it is for her (Patricia's) own benefit." Rowena conceded, "I can't imagine what she (Patricia) 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.'"

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