ABC's LilaFest 2004
Written 7/16/04 by Suzanne originally for
Right up front I want to say that I did enjoy the last three days on GH.
It was great seeing all of my favorite actors, and they did great work. It
was very emotional. The clips were great, too, especially the ones at the
end. I'm glad they used clips from when other actors were on, like Amber
Tamblyn and the two previous Edwards.
ABC is kind of damned-if-they-do, damned-if-they-don't, in a way. If they
didn't do a big memorial then people would complain, and if they take away
too much from the regular show then I'm sure there are people who
complain, too. It was kind of depressing to have everyone so upset for
three days. But it was better than the usual violence, too.
I don't think the memorial does anything to make up for how badly they
treated Anna Lee. When I say "they" I mean, the writers, the producers,
and all of the "suits" above them. And not just Anna Lee but also John
Ingle, Rachel Ames, Leslie Charleson, Stuart Damon, Jackie Zeman, and
other "old folks" that the show seldom uses. I would include the hospital
in that list, too, since we barely see it unless one of the regulars gets
shot or loses their baby.
These writers only like characters that either they created (like Ric,
Faith, Alcazar) or ones that are "bad" (Sonny, Jason, Carly, Luke, Tracy,
Heather), or ones they can twist into being "bad" (Jax, Ned, Alexis,
aw--take your pick!). The sole exception being the teens. I'm convinced
that they wouldn't write characters like Georgie and Dillon, either, if
the networks didn't pressure them to.
So, Lila was sweet and good, as we were told incessantly for the past
three days, so I'm sure the writers think she is "boring" and that's why
they wrote her out. And the other "older folks" have so much history that
I'm sure it is hard to write for them, too...I'm not totally unsympathetic
in that regard. But good writers can write story that uses ALL of the
characters, not just the ones they like. They somehow manage to do it on
other shows like Y&R and ATWT. They even do it on OLTL and AMC, although
It isn't just the writers' fault. We all know the reputation that Brian
Frons has for not liking anyone who is old or not his physical ideal. And
he has some nerve, too, have you seen this guy? He is not exactly a slim
young Adonis, either. I believe he has pressured GH and other shows to
trim the older folks from the casts. Jill Farren Phelps, GH executive
producer, also has a bit of a reputation, too, that way. The advertisers
and other network folks always want to appeal to a younger demographic,
What they don't seem to get is that audiences don't just want to see
people under 40. That's not just older people, but everyone who watches
soaps and other TV shows. We like to see multi-generational casts. That
doesn't mean just trotting the old folks out for special occasions like
this memorial. That means integrating them into the day-to-day storylines,
and even giving them their own stories.
For those of you who may not know, Anna Lee (Lila) was fired in October
2003. Her contract was up and GH made it clear they didn't want her around
any more. She had been on the show since 1978, so it came as quite a blow
to her. The worst thing is the way ABC handled it. They didn't ever
contact her, they just let her contract expire. They never called or met
with her. That is just classless and rude. ABC told everyone that she was
on "recurring" status, meaning they would use her when they could, and
only pay her for those appearances. But they never did use her again, not
even during the holidays. Clearly they never planned to use her again.
They also put Ingle and Ames on recurring status and probably treated them
the same way. Ingle was not happy about it; luckily for him, he got a
better contract job on Days of Our Lives. ABC knows that actors are always
going to take whatever they can get because it's hard to find jobs,
especially if you are over 40. They ignore the rich history that these
characters and actors bring to the shows. Just because someone is over 40,
or the character is a "good guy", doesn't mean they are useless or that
the audience doesn't want to see them.
So, it was hard to watch the past three days because I know that I won't
be seeing so much of Alan, Monica, Lee, Gail, and others very much any
more. And where were Lesley and Audrey? Not to mention A.J. and other past
Quartermaines. They really should have tried to get more past characters.
They only showed Amanda for about two seconds (hope you didn't blink and
miss her!). It was great to see Kevin and Lucy, two other over-40 actors
I'd love to see return to GH. I liked Robin but what was up with that nose
It was also hard to watch actors who never worked with Anna Lee, like Jed
Allan, go on and on about how much they will miss Lila, but I know that
couldn't be helped. Luke was also missed, but the story, and his vacation,
kept him from being there. All of the actors did a fantastic job. I just
wish ABC appreciated them and appreciate what a great disservice they did
in firing Anna Lee. Lila was a "saint" on the show and the past few days
showed how much everyone loved her and how missed she is. That is more
true than they know because we miss all of the "good guys" on the show.
NOTE I also run Anna Lee Online at
http://annalee.net Please go there to see comments from Anna Lee fans
and lots of great pictures and info about her!
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