Lily: What exactly did Damian say to you?
Luke: He said that if you love somebody, the ends justify the means. Mom, what are you thinking?
Lily: I’m thinking I need to speak to your father.

— Lily and Luke

News and Updates | September 25, 2010

In this update…

  • Happy Birthday, Van Hansis! – update on Walnut Hill fundraiser and kudos for his final week’s performances (well, duh!).
  • Soap Opera Source and Other Polls News – in the final SOS Pulse including ATWT, Van ties the record for most weeks in the top 5 (28) and LuRe set the record for ATWT couples at 19 weeks in the top 5. Plus LuRe vs Kish at AE and a finale poll at GLAAD.
  • ATWT Post-Mortems – more on Michael Jensen’s controversial interview with Jean Passanante, and his equally controversial follow-up remarks; SOW’s Mala, Karen Riel, MF for the Advocate, Greg Hernandez, and Jennifer Worwick.
  • Venice Teaser and Other News – Nelson Branco’s non-news on Venice, and WeLoveSoaps soapy reality show casting call.

Van turns 29 today and fans have been active donating to his alma mater, the Walnut Hill School in his honor. Donations help fund a scholarship for a promising theatre student, and as of earlier this week, organizer Theresa Webber reported on Facebook that donations had reached $15,030. Michael Fairman posted an update on the Walnut Hills campaign this past Wednesday.

In the meantime, well-deserved kudos continue to roll in for Van’s fantastic performances the last two weeks of the show (yes, I’m biased!). In its October 11th issue, CBS Soaps In Depth gave Van its weekly Gold Star: Van Hansis is this week’s outstanding performer. Not to be outdone, the October 5th Soap Opera Weekly singles him out for Applause, Applause: Van Hansis.

We Love Soaps has posted a new old interview with Van Hansis. New, because I don’t think it’s previously been published. Old, because it dates back to Nukeapalooza earlier this summer.

Soap Opera Source and Other Poll News

Just for old times’ sake (and because the Pulse happens to be the page on the SOS site I have bookmarked), I stopped by today to look at the latest poll – the juxtaposition of All My Children and Bold and the Beautiful with nothing in between them is just another sad reminder that it’s really over. 🙁

In the final week for fans of As the World Turns to vote for their favorites in the weekly Soap Opera Source Pulse, nine cast members appeared in the top 10.

  • Van Hansis (Luke) ends his run with 28 weeks (many consecutive) in the top 5, the most for any ATWT actor. He ties with Steve Burton (Jason, GH) for the most appearances in the top 5.
  • Luke & Reid end their run with 19 weeks total in the top 5, the most for any couple on ATWT.
  • Terri Colombino (Katie) ends her run with 15 weeks in the top 5, the most for any ATWT actress.
  • Jon Hensley (Holden) & Noelle Beck (Lily) make their debuts, as well as Holden & Lily in the couples section.
  • Carly & Jax (GH) make their debut, tying with ATWT’s Holden & Lily for #5.

Hooray for Van and Eric, but also to the other ATWT actors who got a nice little going away present from their fans. I’ll put in a plug for my personal sentimental favorite, Jon Hensley, who has spent much of his career playing the good-guy, stoic dad/husband/father, really had a great chance to show his dramatic chops in his final scenes with Lily.

In the meantime, as unhappy as Luke, Noah, and Reid fans are, overall it seems like the show has done well by its core fan base. On WeLoveSoaps.net, it has been doing well in the weekly "Daytime Soap of the Week" poll. And for the week of September 13-17, 2010. AS THE WORLD TURNS remained in the top spot for its final week on the air.

In other polling news, AfterElton’s snicks posted a lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek poll matching up LuRe vs Kish. In an amusing wrap-up post, AE editor Michael Jensen wrote:

AND THE WINNER OF THE BEST DAYTIME COUPLE IS …
The vote was actually close, but a surprise write in candidate couple came on strong at the last minute and edged out both Kish and Lure.

Congrats to…

But seriously, folks, the final results were as follows:

Okay, okay. Here are the results. Kish won the categories for Best Kiss, Best Blond Friend, and Best Ending. Meanwhile, Lure took Best Career Juggling, Best Blocker, and Best Parents. And showing most of our readers have a pretty good sense of humor about the whole Snicks perhaps picking on Nuke a bit much issue, the winner of Whiniest Baby was Noah with 84% of the vote. 

And the overall champ? Taking 56% of the vote, the winner is… KISH!

Hard to argue with the best ending, and from what Kish fans have been posting, I would gather the Kish blond friend was much more of an enabler than Katie (although Katie had her moments). As for best kiss, I guess I have some YouTube videos to watch…you know, just to convince myself!

In addition to the more lighthearted polls, GLAAD has posted a poll and requested comment on the subject: Will Luke’s final storyline ruin As the World Turns for you? The choices:

  • Leaving Luke alone and grieving at the show’s end is a terrible way to go out, and undercuts any good the show might have done before. (79%)
  • Luke’s ending might be unfair, but the show should ultimately be appreciated for all the groundbreaking storylines it’s given us in the past. (18%)
  • The final storyline is a strong finish to Luke’s character arc, and demonstrates the show’s commitment to its LGBT characters. (4%)

ATWT Post-Mortems

As the first week post-ATWT continues, articles about the show’s finale and responses to the endgame are popping up all over the place. Some interesting reads:

  • AfterElton.com editor Michael Jensen has published an interview with ATWT Head Writer Jean Passanante. In it, Jensen asks whether Passanante is aware of the backlash from fans, and she replied: “I am aware of it. I was at the Paley Center doing a panel and a couple of people kind of accosted me – this is before it even aired. … The fact that it happened to be a gay guy that died is completely arbitrary and coincidental. I’m a little stunned that there’s this attitude that, you know, we can’t interrupt a gay romance, as if we haven’t done exactly that with straight romances.” (a shout-out to the LRO accosters for being the voice of the LuRe Fanbase). And when asked whether she was aware of the cliché of the dead queer character, she replied, “No. I mean, not really.”
  • Michael Jensen published a follow-up commentary in which he said:

…to say the reaction was vitriolic is like saying, Shannon from Survivor: Nicaragua is a moron…..I get why people are upset over how ATWT ended and the fact that Luke Snyder was the only character left without a happy ending. And I agree that Passanante failed as a writer by not knowing about the "dead gay character cliche"…

But I also think that ultimately Passanante is our ally and did a lot of good for GLBT visibility….And I think by attacking her and, yes, even the show (because at least they allowed gay characters) so furiously, hurling charges of homophobia left and right, we ultimately do ourselves more harm than good. After all, As the World Turns is the soap that gave us Luke Snyder, arguably the first well-done gay male soap character ever on U.S. television….

I know some folks will accuse me of settling for crumbs by not calling for Passanante’s head. I’d argue that it’s important to take a look at the bigger picture and to offer constructive criticism…and to keep in mind what our ultimate goal is: more gay characters…..And I think we get that by acknowledging when progress has been made, acknowledging those responsible for that progress and not scaring off others from adding a gay character lest they make a mistake and bring down our wrath upon them. 

Confession time: Now that I’ve seen it…? I think the end of the Reid/Luke arc might be one of ATWT’s better wrap-up stories. And to don my trusty flame-retardant suit and espouse an even more unpopular opinion, I don’t think the death of Reid is inherently homophobic…..That (Luke) is loved, that he has fallen in love, has never been in question; never been treated with derision or scorn. That ATWT has had to deal with behind-the-scenes network constraints and vocal opposition from bigots is a separate issue from their actual narrative.

If ATWT were really homophobic, they wouldn’t have gay characters at ALL. Or their gay characters would be cartoonish, predatory stereotypes who’d last about five minutes for some asinine storyline and then be summarily forgotten. The character certainly would not be the heart of the Snyder family, or a cantankerous doctor that viewers would grow to love.

Does Reid dying and Luke ending up alone suck for them and their fans? Of course. But that suckitude is hardly something unique to daytime. While gay characters in media frequently bite it in tragic ways (a fact I even pointed out in a recent issue of Weekly), the death-by-godawful-circumstance rate on a soap is high for everybody. Brad died last year on the same day that his son was born…and his brother, Jack, is the one who killed him. It was a soapy decision. Maybe not a wise decision, but one that was made without taking his sexuality into consideration. And the same goes for Reid. Was Reid being sacrificed so irresponsible moron Chris could have a heart a dopey twist? Yeah. But I seriously don’t think the-powers-that-be are so sinister that they’re going to create a character that viewers adore, that they clearly love themselves, and then wreck him just to teach gay viewers a lesson….

Their story might be the most tragic, but it’s also one of the most resonant. I know it hurts; I have seen all the message board posts and read all the angry e-mails…..As someone who has been watching the show for a while, I can’t tell you how significant it is that we got this much time devoted to Luke’s love life and a relative newbie like Reid in these final weeks. The death of matriarch Nancy Hughes garnered one episode to Reid’s three.

Was it perfectly done? Of course not. There were flaws, and there was a sense of rushing to the finish line (a flaw that ATWT has suffered with for years) that I found somewhat jarring…..

And so I can now safely say that, overall, I’m more than happy with this last loving look at Oakdale. And the reason why is simple: It was true to its best self, the show that was a ratings powerhouse once upon a time. It focused, for the most part, on the core characters and their interactions with each other that ATWT fans have always cared about the most….

Luke’s (Van Hansis) ending, on the other hand, wasn’t a happy one and not by a long shot. But in the final episode, I did find some comfort. The final scenes of him were almost without dialogue, yet still packed an enormous emotional punch….the look that passes between Luke and Chris said it all. It was a great piece of acting by Van Hansis and conveyed all the longing, loss and yes, hope, that no amount of words could. While still grieving, one could sense that someday Luke would find his way out of the grief and move forward.

LuRe/Venice Teaser (!) and Other News

On Friday evening, TV Guide Canada’s Nelson Branco tweeted, “Monday in Soapgeist, Chappell talks about casting Van Hansis, Jake Silbermann, Scott Evans and Eric Sheffer Stevens in season 3, Bo, & Viv.” It sounds like he has a Crystal Chappell interview lined up – presumably in conjunction with Venice’s upcoming second season premiere. This delicious tidbit is just WAY too titillating, though I do think it would be too much to expect that Van, Jake, AND Eric would somehow be cast as gay characters somehow involved with each other (though a threesome would certainly shatter some boundaries!)…..

As for the Eric Sheffer Stevens/Doctors without Borders campaign? It’s at $20,120 and continuing to grow, and as always, Michael Fairman is right on top of the situation with a current report. Go Team Lure!

Last, WeLoveSoaps.net has a reality show/competition going on, with a deadline of September 27th. They are looking for viewers to answer the following call:

Do you consider yourself a Devoted Soap Fan? Has a Daytime Drama story or character ever inspired you to radically change your life or to cope with a devastating situation?  We want YOU! A new web television pilot is calling ALL Soap Opera fans in the New York and surrounding areas to submit on‐camera auditions for consideration and a chance to win a televised makeover.

Normally, this wouldn’t attract my attention as I find reality shows to be overall worthless, but the “example” entry the provide is:

I was inspired by Luke’s coming out on AS THE WORLD TURNS to tell more people in my life that I am gay.  Although I was terrified of being rejected, Van Hansis’ performance as Luke offered me the bravery and determination to be more honest and open in my own life.

So, if a televised makeover and 15 minutes of fame appeals to anyone, go check out WeLoveSoaps.

That’s all for today, folks….

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