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Is the life of moderately successful daytime soap opera actor, a good one?

I'm watching this reality doc' called Dirty Soap, here in England and I'm wondering if it would be a good life being a daytime soap actor in the USA.

In the past all I ever heard about it, was that soap actors mostly wanted to get the hell out of there and into something better, usually, movies.

But surely the life's OK.

If you were an actor, would you want to be a soap actor?

by Anonymousreply 7001/29/2013

No; you are from the U.K. correct?; I don't have the exact stats on this, but actors in soap, even in the leading roles of really successful soaps, don't get paid much for each episode; I don't remember the thread; but awhile back a guy who posted a thread claiming that he lived in the same apartment as a leading HBO actress.

And often times, the career of a soap actor/actress is highly volatile; one day you may be successful; the next day, you could just fade into obscurity and be unemployed.

A movie actor/actress's career is [bold]much more stable than that of a soap actors. Like Leonardo Di Caprio and Brad Pitt; the more movies you appear in, the higher the probability of you being in another movie; and I can't remember this actress's name; but she was starring in a movie with Brad Pitt; and she had a salary of 2 000 000 odd dollars; and Pitt even remarked that wasn't alot.

by Anonymousreply 111/20/2011

Maybe 15 or 20 years ago. There were 11 or 12 soaps, divided between LA and NYC, and many characters were long-lived. So an actor who landed a job on one of them had a good chance of steady indefinite employment, with a chance especially for NYC-based actors (many of whom took advantage of it) of stage work, with a lesser chance for LA-based actors of night time "moonlighting." (Because of the stigma against daytime, in primetime.)

You hear about the actors who made it big when they left daytime but you rarely hear about the actors who had been successful in prime time or movies when they joined daytime. They do exist though - David Canary, James Mitchell - even DL favorite Tony Geary had guested on several prime shows before joining GH. Obviously, once they landed on a soap, they stayed, so the implication is they knew a good thing when they saw it.

by Anonymousreply 211/20/2011

What's a daytime soap opera?

by Anonymousreply 311/20/2011

james scott

by Anonymousreply 411/20/2011

James Scott is currently the best actor on "Days" and will probably effortlessly move into nighttime or film once "Days" bites the big one. I wonder if the older, talent-deficient stars on the show ("Jon Black" ugh) are ashamed when they see a real actor in front of them.

by Anonymousreply 511/20/2011

What's with the bold print?

by Anonymousreply 611/20/2011

In tribute to "The Bold and the Beautiful" r6?

by Anonymousreply 711/20/2011

I have to disagree, r1. You're not going to get rich working on a soap, but I do think the daily shows provide the audience to grow attached to an actor or actress who they would follow to any show they appear on.

by Anonymousreply 811/20/2011


by Anonymousreply 912/20/2011

I can only imagine that if the people you worked with were fun it wouldn't be a terrible job. A bit boring but one would have the opportunity to pursue other acting projects. And most jobs are a bit boring.

by Anonymousreply 1012/20/2011

Why is this thread continuing to come out in bold print? It's freaky and it's putting people off from posting. Does anyone know how to turn it off?

by Anonymousreply 1112/20/2011

[bold] . [/bold]

See if this works.

by Anonymousreply 1212/20/2011

Trying again. [/bold]

There are four shows left when at their heydey there were over twenty. Ironically, since those roles become harder to get, daytime performers might gain some respect.

by Anonymousreply 1312/20/2011

I think it's worked R13, thanks. Can't imagine what you did.

I hadn't realised the soaps were so in decline in America. We've just had the reality show 'Dirty Soap' about the soap stars so it got me interested in the subject. There's no 'Dirty Soap' thread on DL. I wonder why.

by Anonymousreply 1412/20/2011

In the soaps' heyday, many of the actors, especially the better ones who probably could've made to the move to prime time or film, stayed with their shows because the structured work hours allowed them to spend time with their families.

by Anonymousreply 1512/20/2011

This was started in 2011. I'm wondering what it's like now. I'm happily surprised that General Hospital can afford to re-hire so many favorites from the past while holding onto the core characters.

How can they afford it? Especially with Genie Francis and Denise Alexander coming back? Does anyone know? Those are big names, then add in Laura Wright, Nancy Lee Grahn, Maurice Bernard, Jane Elliot, Rebecca Herbst and Tony Geary. It's a wonder there's any money left over for sets, wardrobe and a crew?

How much are they paid? Does anyone know?

by Anonymousreply 1601/27/2013

I think Eric Braeden (Victor Newman Y&R) gets 1 million a year.

by Anonymousreply 1701/27/2013

r16, maybe because the other two soaps were cancelled ABC Daytime has more money to put into GH's budget.

Also I'm sure dropping Steve Burton freed up a lot of money that would have otherwise gone to his salary.

by Anonymousreply 1801/27/2013

They are paying most of these returnees slightly above scale. From Steve Burton's salary alone, they can pay for about 7 or 8 returnees. Most of the returnees only care about SAG health insurance anyway. Genie Francis is probably making more than scale, but not much more. I would estimate about $2500 an episode. Same with Finola. The only people making serious money on GH are Mo, Tony, Laura, and Roger.

by Anonymousreply 1901/27/2013

I saw a Tweet from my favorite GH actress that the women were paid significantly less than the men. A really unfair, sexist policy that I hope GH ends now that there's a vastly better Exec. Prod. and HW in charge and Brian Frons is gone.

The actress I am referring to is worth her weight in gold and always gives a compelling, realistic and entertaining performance. It's great to see her being treated with the respect she deserves onscreen-I hope the same is true off screen.

by Anonymousreply 2001/27/2013

Nancy Lee Grahn is the only actor on that show is a "movie quality" talent. Everyone else's acting ability is soap level, even Tony and Genie. Maurice's idea of acting is to either brood or shout. There is no middle ground with that man. I know Sonny/Maurice is bipolar but, I mean, come on...

by Anonymousreply 2101/27/2013

Nancy's ok. She was much better on SB. She's developed so many soap tics over the years, that she's become your typically lazy soap actress. Same with Geary. The putrid story and script writing under Carlivati doesn't help. Say what you want about Guza, but at least the show had focus and the day to day scripts were some of the best written in daytime.

by Anonymousreply 2201/27/2013

Few actors were ever getting rich from these shows, OP.

Most of them were more like the actors at Corrie or Eastenders.

There have been a handful making a million a year or more, or close to it: Susan Lucci, Deidre Hall and Kim Zimmer, Eric Braeden at Y&R, probably Erika Slezak (aka La Sleestak) at One Life to Live. There are more but not so many more.

When the audiences really started shrinking about 10 years ago the paycuts came. Lucci took almost 50% and Braeden probably 30%-ish (but only after some convincing).

Most of the actors on the New York based shows were raising kids and wanted a steady gig. Some of the women, like Lucci, Slezak and Zimmer, were able to do that for years.

by Anonymousreply 2301/27/2013

Someone posted here that Drake Holgenstyn (sp?) did quite well financially and owns a nice place in Malibu. I can't confirm, but it was discussed here once upon a time.

by Anonymousreply 2401/27/2013

I read once that Lucci, at her peak, was around 3 million a year, and the highest paid actor in daytime. I also remember reading an interview with Nathan Fillion back in his OLTL days that he made about 70k, and he was pretty front burner.

Big pay days are over, and it's not as comfortable or safe as it used to be. I think that PP's goal is to get AMC and OLTL going, and use them to launch a third soap. There are SO many former soap actors in NYC that they could pick up on the cheap.

by Anonymousreply 2501/27/2013

Interesting info. I would have guessed the salaries to be much, much higer given all the salary info you hear about for primetime shows. It sounds like Eric Braeden made in a year what the Friends actors made per episode.

I guess Thom Bierdz is not sitting on millions out in his Big Bear cabin!

by Anonymousreply 2601/27/2013

Out with it, R20. Who tweeted that? If they tweeted it in public, then there's no shame in saying who they are.

by Anonymousreply 2701/27/2013

I think a lot of the younger ones used to supplement their income with personal appearances. When soaps were bigger you used to see advertisements about one soap star or another appearing at the local mall. Bigger stars like Lucci have cashed in on name recognition by selling products on the shopping network.

by Anonymousreply 2801/28/2013

Steve Burton was making $40,000 per week. Maurice Bernard a little bit more. Don't cry for these guys, it's not a bad living, even after you remove the manager and agent fees and taxes. They are on the high end though. Susan Lucci was cut from 3 million to 1 million. Dee Hall left her show making about 2 million, now she barely pulls in $750,000, while Ali Sweeney and Eileen Davidson are making in the 1.5 range.

by Anonymousreply 2901/28/2013

Michael E. Knight went to Hollywood to be a star. Came back to AMC.

by Anonymousreply 3001/28/2013

I LOATHE Alison Sweeney, the Republican, Jesus-ey bitch. So many of those soap stars from the old days are VERY fundamentalist, and she's one of them. She's friends with that really hot guy that gets so much play on here, the one who's also a Republican Christian fundamentalist, Jansen somebody.

This is Sweeny's husband's facebook page. See the Mitt Romney tag under "Favorites"?

by Anonymousreply 3101/28/2013

This is all relative. For any normal working actor, a soap gig was a dream job, especially during the primes of these shows. No one remained on soaps hoping to become a multi-millionaire, but in comparison to the majority of actors, they were making good money.

by Anonymousreply 3201/28/2013

[quote]I think Eric Braeden (Victor Newman Y&R) gets 1 million a year.

And he's worth every goddamned penny of it.

by Anonymousreply 3301/28/2013

Eric's under a mil now but they originally wanted to cut him to 500K and he walked a year or two ago when they did. The compromise is somewhere in the middle.

It's not prime time money but it is very steady.

Most people forget that the kind of people making "movie star" or "TV star" money is like 1 or 2% of the actors out there. Many daytime actors make something not so far from what you and I make. A starting actor is probably making 40K to 50K on a show now.

The changes to nighttime TV audiences (moving from a few networks to many) and the reality TV trend has made nighttime pay a little less than what it was.

[quote] Michael E. Knight went to Hollywood to be a star. Came back to AMC.

A long list of people who did that and came back to their shows. Kim Zimmer comes immediately to mind.

It's rare to make that leap but it does happen. Julianne Moore was fantastic on As The World Turns and was in movies within two years after she left.

by Anonymousreply 3401/28/2013

The main attraction of soaps for actors has always been the steadiness of the work.

This isn't/wasn't true for everyone on soaps. You could be on a show for a few years and then when the writers and or regime changes find yourself out of a job.

The out of work soap actors best hope is booking another soap but now that there are only a few, those prospects are very limited.

In NYC, many theater actors did soaps during the day and theater at night, this was in the 60s and 70's mostly but not all the actors on soaps had that option.

There was a distinct and almost universal stigma against soap actors from the television/film part of the business and to some extent the theater business. If you were a certain kind of "NY Actor" you could do soaps to pay the bills and theatre at night but just being on a soap with no other credits wasn't never meant shit to Broadway or Off Broadway casting directors. Maybe if you were the soap star of the moment, you could replace someone on Broadway if you had reasonable chops, but it wasn't a given.

Until the mid 80s even, soap actors were in a ghetto as far as the business is concerned. Being on a soap for too long was death to a career.

The big money for soaps came in the late 70s and early to mid 80s when the news and prime time divisions of the networks were being funded by daytime television. Actors started making better money and demanding more and more.

Beginning in the early 90s and then particularly after the OJ Simpson trial [when many people got out of the habit of watching soaps] ratings went down and actors were told they had to start taking cuts. This goes on to this day, everyone is working on the relative cheap.

Soaps were never as lucrative for actors as primetime but it was steadier work for the most part and Lucci broke the million dollar a year mark followed by a few others who were making that or a ltitle more. Many long timers were making half a million a year in the 80s. But those days were well over by the mid 90s.

I can tell you this: Being a soap star in no way means you will be guarenteed a career in films/tv or theater beyond soaps.

by Anonymousreply 3501/28/2013

Kim Zimmer said things might have been different if she went to LA right after The Doctors.

Instead she went to two other soaps (OLTL & GL) before heading to LA at age 35.

She said at 35 (for a woman) she was over the hill. And parts are very slim for women to begin with. non-existent if you are in the mid-30 range.

Her advice is to do only 2 or 3 years on a soap, and then leave. Don't look back

by Anonymousreply 3601/28/2013

Good points, R35.

[quote] If you were a certain kind of "NY Actor" you could do soaps to pay the bills and theatre at night

I think ATWT's Larry Bryggman is the best example of this, and he's very well regarded by the theater community.

by Anonymousreply 3701/28/2013

Yep, she admitted she went too late. And she could have had a nighttime show, no doubt.

by Anonymousreply 3801/28/2013

thanks r37, this is r35

Yes, Larry is a wonderful actor and man. ATWT always had the best actors. Many of the old timers on ATWT had theater careers, Rosemary Prinz, Eileen Fulton, Larry and Collen Zenk to name a few. I think Liz Hubbard did theater from time to time.

Rosmeary Prinz once said that when ATWT started the actresses had to come to the set with their hair already done. She would get up at 5 am and go to some place in midtown that was open then that catered to hookeres because nobody else was looking to get their hair done at that hour.

I think Judith Light made a really good career for herself using soaps as a starting point. Movie stars like Meg Ryan, Alec Baldwin, Kathleen Turner all did soaps for a much shorter stint. I had a client on ATWT who was on when Meg Ryan was doing it and he said the actors all thought she was crazy to leave the soap because they all thought she couldn't act.

LOL, she showed them, or at least she showed them it doesn't matter.

by Anonymousreply 3901/28/2013

I am still in mourning over the loss of As The World Turns.

by Anonymousreply 4001/28/2013

People like Helen Gallagher of Ryan't Hope or Eileen Herlie on AMC were/are VERY revered in the Broadway community. Gallagher is a two time Tony winner and Herlie was nominated for Take Me Along. It wasn't as difficult for NY theater actors to also work in daytime; film and theater were much more like oil and water.

by Anonymousreply 4101/28/2013

Eileen Davidson makes more that "Victor" Braedon? Bet that puckers his little roided sphincter.

by Anonymousreply 4201/28/2013

I am still in mourning over the loss of As The World Turns.

I am as well. I miss Lucinda and her darlings at the beginning or end of every line she had. She could turn garbage scenes into gold.

In regards to the work, I would say that soap actors really work for the money that they do get. Compared to a primetime show that has 20 episodes to as few as 12 per season, their workload in terms of learning lines is a lot heavier. If you are a Dee Halls or James Scott you are appearing on air 4 out of every 5 days a week in at least 2-3 scenes a day. That is a lot of dialog to remember. On the flip side there are times especially during the summer months when it is obvious that the actors are phoning in their performances. The shear number of scenes they do in a year and the speed at which they are done at(2 takes for a scene at most)minimizes the impact of an actor's good or bad performances. Also, the writing on soaps tends to be very uneven. One week you may get award worthy material the next drek. You can't get away with 'off' episodes on a show like American Horror Story or an HBO show where every scene in every episode counts.

by Anonymousreply 4301/28/2013


by Anonymousreply 4401/28/2013

I remember in the late 90s, one of the soap magazines did an article about how some actors were struggling financially. They wrote about an Another World actress who was struggling, but the writer kept the actress's identity a secret.

by Anonymousreply 4501/28/2013

Let's not forget Larry Haines of SFT. He stayed on that show for over 30 years, and copped two Tony nominations at the same time.

He did both Broadway (using the name E. Larry Haines) in addition to two Emmys he won.

Plus Henderson Forsythe (David Stewart ATWT) who won a Tony Award for Best Little Whorehouse in Texas while appearing on ATWT

by Anonymousreply 4601/28/2013

btw Kathryn Hays has been fired (during out of town try-outs) from more flop musicals than anyone in history!

The list is astounding!

by Anonymousreply 4701/28/2013

Larry Bryggman constantly bad-mouthed soaps, even as far back as the '70s. He thought they were garbage, and ATWT was never more than a means to pay his bills so that he could do theater.

by Anonymousreply 4801/28/2013

I would guess Jess Walton and Jeanne Cooper make a fine wage. How about the little pocket gay, Kevin? What would his salary be?

by Anonymousreply 4901/28/2013

R48 link please

He never gave interviews, so how could he 'bad mouth' them?

by Anonymousreply 5001/28/2013

The money makers at Y&R are Braeden, Bergman, and Cooper. Guessing Chrissy Juless as well.

by Anonymousreply 5101/28/2013

R39 Judith Light is actually returning to soaps, well kinda anyway, she'll be a regular on the new season of primetimes Dallas.

by Anonymousreply 5201/28/2013

Soaps are like minor league baseball, with some on the way up, some on the way down, and others who make a career out of it. These people are super-hot and visible so the access to patrons is large, plus many do fan events, or start businesses to milk their fan base.

Many own houses and most seem not to be hurting for cash. The newbies and day players of course are exempt.

I think the main allure of soaps is that you never really know what you're gonig to get, talentwise.

by Anonymousreply 5301/28/2013

Alexandra Isles did pretty well if I recall correctly.

by Anonymousreply 5401/28/2013

I wonder if TH and ME are going to PP.

by Anonymousreply 5501/28/2013

[quote] The money makers at Y&R are Braeden, Bergman, and Cooper. Guessing Chrissy Juless as well.

Not untrue, but Melody Thomas Scott is up there too, and likely the biggest salary after Braeden and Bergman. She was said at one point to be at $10,000 an episode.

by Anonymousreply 5601/28/2013

Scott left and came and was fired and rehired so many times that I can't even keep track. I can't believe her salary wasn't negotiated seriously downward at some point through all of that.

by Anonymousreply 5701/28/2013

R57 Well, and she was blowing the executive producer for some of that time.

The thing is, like many other businesses, soaps are leaner and pay less these days. Digital cameras require a smaller crew. They're scrimping on hair, makeup and sets.

There aren't multiple lines of producers.

For Guiding Light, its outdoor scenes were filmed by interns and very inexpensive college graduates. The shows couldn't afford a 30 year veteran camera guy who was at top union pay and costs 100K a year.

It sucks, but this mirrors every other corporation, and the mindset of the business world these days.

by Anonymousreply 5801/28/2013

R27 Even though it was public (and Twitter is about as public as you can get) I'm fortunate enough to have her Follow me back, and I just don't feel comfortable giving her name. She's someone I tremendously admire as an actress and as a courageously outspoken individual-and always on the right side of issues-I hate the idea of her (and all the tremendously talented actresses in daytime) facing sexism.

R40 and R43 I feel the same way. Miss "As the World Turns" everyday. Such a short-sighted unnecessary loss. But, of course Julie Chen being married to the President of CBS surely had a lot to do with the decision. She must have wanted to be CBS's version of Barbara Walters with "The Talk." What a sad joke. What a horribly sad decision.

by Anonymousreply 5901/28/2013

There is rumor that FV is going to PP.

by Anonymousreply 6001/28/2013

Looks like yesterday's "Spoon Island" thread has been deleted along with the latest "Coe Coe Cosmetics" and "Monticello" threads. DataLounge's censorship policies really suck.

by Anonymousreply 6101/28/2013

Yep, R61.

by Anonymousreply 6201/28/2013

"Larry Bryggman constantly bad-mouthed soaps, even as far back as the '70s. He thought they were garbage, and ATWT was never more than a means to pay his bills so that he could do theater."

Bryggman is a perfectionist, no matter which part of the business he's working in. Of course he wasn't too happy when soap writing devolved into evil twins and demon possessions. But unlike some others who complained about the nonsense writing, Larry gave 110% in every storyline, every scene, every moment (Mary!). He was entitled to complain a little.

by Anonymousreply 6301/28/2013

I worked in dpdaytime for 15 years behind the scenes so this I can speak about - We are talking about contract roles here. A new person starting out on a show can probably look to be making 100 to 200 K a year before agent/manager fees. If you are enterprising you get a good manager or publicist who gets you personal appearances in middle america that pay anywhere from 1000 to 50,000 depending on who they are and what they are doing. If you work hard at it you can make about 350 to 500k a year.

Long term people usually sit at about 250K to the million dollar range, again depending on who they are. A lot of daytime vets are career daytime people because it allows them to what they love and have families and lives. Mothers can bring their kids to the set (or fathers), they rarely have to travel, you know everyone you work with, it is a real family atmosphere..most of the time. You can get divas who are huge pains in the asses to work with. Long term people also have greater opportunity to make money for appearances, commercial work, prime time gigs (like Allison Sweeney) and the occasional music career.

Their life is pretty sweet actually. They work 2-3 days a week at most. Depending on how a show shoots you can be in and out before noon - or stuck on a late shoot but sitting in your nice dressing room just waiting to do your scene. Do personal appearances on the weekend and get to travel. If you are a long term person, you can raise a family and still be on TV an act.

by Anonymousreply 6401/28/2013

Tell me about it.

What the fuck did I ever do to the DL?

by Anonymousreply 6501/28/2013

The guy that plays Lucas on Days once talked about how when he was laid off from Days, he worked construction to pay the bills. One day, he had to do construction work at the LOT where all the Days actors were and he said everyone saw him and it was awkward. Something like that. He's very sexy though so he should get more screen time.

by Anonymousreply 6601/28/2013

R64 I don't at all doubt you or your numbers, I just wonder when you worked there.

I think those numbers would be a bit high for, say, the last 5-7 years. The budgets changed a lot around 2005 and after.

by Anonymousreply 6701/29/2013

R64, Your assessment is about as accurate as they come. AND we may actually know one another. I, too, worked on a soap behind the scenes. From the early 90s to 2005 I was employed as a set designer for NBC daytime in Burbank. Although I worked briefly on the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and "In the House" with LL Cool J, my main responsibilities were DOOL, Passions and Santa Barbara. Lord, all those Fundys, Fundy Lites and Uber Fundys . . . that's what we called the various gradations of Evangelical Christians actors and actresses that overwhelmingly populate daytime. Set work was was hard work, certainly not as glamorous as people seem to think, but I actually enjoyed it. I own my own antique store in Montreal now, and I'm a super happy guy; however, those days at Burbank were some of the best in my life. I was young, halfway decent looking, and single! I still keep in touch with a lot of the cast members from the old days. In fact, just last week I had an Krista Allen who was the second Billie Reed. Some of those soap start were HORRIBLE and just unpleasant and nasty. It was a great 10+ years though.

by Anonymousreply 6801/29/2013

r68--Krista was beyond gorgeous. I remember her saying that on her very first appearance on "Days" she was so nervous that she was trembling the entire time she was on air. I'm glad she achieved some film success afterwards as well.

by Anonymousreply 6901/29/2013

R22 - The reason Guza's GH seemed to have more focus was because there was only one storyline and three actors featured prominently day in and day out. Also usually the same dialogue you could cut and paste. The show now has a feel of having people around with everyone interacting with each other. May not be the greatest writing but it is certainly a much more entertaining show.

by Anonymousreply 7001/29/2013
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