After 1,000 weeks of ongoing drama, sizzling sex scenarios, and bizarre plot twists, the ever-popular daytime soap - "Young and the Restless" - celebrated its 35th Anniversary this year online.
Because the daily serials broadcast a new episode each day, performers don't generally anticipate much in the way of additional pay-outs, since the sequential story lines are rarely aired a second time.
Life is not a dress rehearsal; likewise, on a soap you get one shot at it, too.
Of course, there are a couple of exceptions.
If a segment is used in a flashback or an episode is aired overseas months after the chapter broadcasts stateside (some serials are trailing behind the U.S. airwaves because they were picked up a year or two after production began in the U.S.) there will be extra compensation for use in that market.
The sums are paltry, though; a few cents here, a few dollars there.
Basically, lunch money!
Now, you know why AFTRA and SAG (the two entertainment unions) have been kicking up such a fuss about residuals in recent days and have been hagglin' over 'em in the new contract negotiations.
When most of the soaps were originated, no one fathomed the idea of podcasting, or streaming video.
In fact, rich media was beyond the Union's realm of imagination.
And, who knows what's ahead.
But now, actors may have hit the bull's eye.
You see, the powers-that-be at Y & R, elected to celebrate the show's popularity and success by streaming segments online for nostalgic fans who want to take a trip down memory lane and reminisce about the early machinations of their favorite divas and rogues.
Now, soap opera die-hards can either tune in to CBS.com to catch 'em or surf to cable's SoapNet for a gander.
In addition, classic clips and episode recaps will be posted on The Minisode Network, which can viewed on YouTube, Crackle.com, Verizon, AOL Video, Gaia Online and Joost.
Soap teasers will be flirting, floating, and flitting all around the world- wide-web, to the joy of those who pine to bathe in the glow of their must-see soap on a daily basis.
Robert Oswaks, Exec VP of marketing at Sony Pictures Television, notes that blogs are of paramount importance in the scheme of things, too.
"Blogs are a tool for reaching fans," he notes, "The show's makers work closely with top soap news sites, which have become evangelists for us."
And, Christine Fix, editor-in-chief and Senior Producer of Soaps.com notes that fans are always looking for a consistent source of reliable information regarding their favorite sudsy dramas. Soaps.com draws a staggering 1 million visitors a month, while MovieWeb.com snags about 900,000.
That's a lot of bubbles!
Actually, I was cast to work on Young and the Restless back in the nineties.
Although I played a lowly waiter, my scene was important (yeah, I know, every actor claims that there are no small parts, only small actors!) because I delivered a message which bore all-important news about the arrival of a child.
A pivotal twist in the plot line!
I recall the booking well.
Although I didn't have my own dressing room, I shared the cozy little cubby-hole with just one other thespian. That's a fancy term for actor, by the way.
In case you weren't aware of it, when an actor has only been bestowed with one line, he wrestles with endless possibilities in his mind.
Should I say it this way or that?
When fate hands you a golden opportunity to show your stuff, you've got to get it right, after all!
A method actor might ask, "What is my motivation?"
Or, try to fathom the subtext.
Maybe the waiter in the scene got ticked off with a previous guest, so now's he annoyed, and in a huff?
Then again, maybe he's one of those snooty waiters bent on spoiling someone's romantic dinner date, just for the heck of it.
A handful of servers are "gay", so why not play it that way?
'Ya know, affect a little lisp, let the wrists flap around a bit.
Boy, it's terribly frustrating trying to get a handle on a walk-on part, believe me.
"They just want the line," the other actor whined at me pointedly.
"This is not your shot at stardom, you know," he hissed at me.
Then, just as I was about to go on stage and deliver my gem, he revealed his true colors.
"If you screw it up, they'll give the line to me."
Oh, how - "All About Eve" - of him.
My first taste of competition and jealousy in the industry.
I had one lousy little line to sputter, and this clown was trying to throw me off, so I would trip up and ruin my moment in the sun.
But, when that time arrived - about twelve hours after arriving at the CBS studios - I swaggered in on cue and uttered the words like a pro.
With little more ado, the second A.D. barked:
"Ok, let's move on."
Not even a second take? Oh well, that's show business.
Bottom line, the soaps are a "factory", just turning out product each day.
You have only to review the stats on the "Young and Restless" to figure that out.
The number of scripted pages written over the years by a team of professional writers?
An amazing 620,175.
And, some of those storylines included blessed nuptials; in fact, there were 77 walks down the aisle in total.
But, did all the loving couples make it to the altar to swear - "I do"?
Of course, the makeup folks had to pretty everyone up each day; in order to carry out that tall order, 133,000 powder puffs were used over the years.
Me? I don't recall being swiped by one.
And, after the stars and day-players were primped and preened up proper, they were squeezed into an astounding 128,625 custom-made costumes.
No wonder wardrobe staff breathe a sigh of relief when an actor can contribute his own clothes to a fitting.
In my instant case, I provided my own black dress slacks and snappy designer shoes for the waiter gig; which they paired up with a tasteful jacket cinched in at the waist - with a wide padded shoulder.
Veery flattering for my physique, I must say!
Of course, when folks stand around on stage, they gulp down coffee.
On the Y & R sets, they swilled down 166,250 gallons of it on the sidelines as dramas unfolded.
And, just imagine what it took to capture all the scintillating images and ongoing daily fluff.
2,210 video tapes were gobbled up annually to facilitate that task.
Over the years I've worked with a number of props - some novel - others not.
On this popular soap, the most obscure one was a freeze-dried tarantula.
Wonder if they've ever used a whoopee cushion or a cod-piece?
Well, someone in production would know.