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TV Squad Soap Report: All My Children's looking for a real Iraq vet

by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 19th 2008 2:43PM
TVS soap logoWhen All My Children snared veteran head writer Chuck Pratt Jr. to take the reins and "write" the S.S. Pine Valley, the scribe promised swift action. With a look toward kicking up the soap's ratings more than a notch or two. Pratt, whose credits include Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Melrose Place, Life Goes On and Santa Barbara, among others is certainly capable.

I liked ABC drafting Chuck for All My Children, but I'm thinking that the announcement yesterday, an open casting call for an Iraq war veteran to play an Iraq war veteran, is a publicity stunt. The executive producer, Julie Hanan Carruthers, said in a press release that casting a real life soldier will heighten the experience for viewers. Excuse me, but I think that's utter hogwash. All My Children doesn't need an actual veteran of the war in Iraq to create a great soap opera storyline. That's why they brought in Chuck Pratt, Jr.

The idea is that new cast member Beth Ehlers, whose character Taylor Thompson is an Army lieutenant who is currently in Pine Valley anxious to get back in the action, has a past love. Back in Iraq, she was involved with Brot, a fellow soldier who was her lover. He died in battle and Taylor is haunted by his death. Only the truth is that he survived and doesn't want to involve Taylor in his suffering. He's letting her believe that he's dead.

This sounds like a potential rich story and I look forward to see it unfold. However, why is it necessary to cast a soldier to play a soldier? What does that say about actors if you think that way? Is All My Children going to send Ricky Paull Goldin to medical school since he's now playing Dr. Jake Martin?

See, this is why the casting just wreaks of publicity stunt. Currently, on General Hospital, actor Graham Shiels is playing an Iraq war veteran named Cody Paul. He's suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. It turns out that Shiels is a veteran...of the Yale School of Drama. He convincingly played a soldier without having to actually been in the military.

I believe that All My Children's open casting call is legit. They've even provided contact information for the casting director -- Judy Blye Wilson, 320 W. 66th St., New York, NY. If there are Iraq veterans out there with acting ambitions, I'm sure they'll apply. But, listen, they're calling this a great opportunity for an unknown. Why not give the great opportunity to the best actor available?

There have been occasions when the right actor for a role has been a real war veteran. In 1946, when director William Wyler chose Harold Russell to play Homer, a World War II soldier trying to adjust to life back home in America after the war in The Best Years of Our Lives, there was a really good reason for it. Wyler wanted the character to have an ailment, and when he saw an Army training film explain how Russell had lost his hands and had been given two metal hooks as replacements, he chose him. He gave the character the same handicap as Harold, and Russell gave a wonderful performance in the Oscar-winning best picture. He was honored with an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor.

For AMC, the soldier doesn't have to have been wounded in the war, but they are looking to incorporate the "veteran's experience," said Carruthers. The show has sought help from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Walter Reed Army Medical Center and USA Cares, a nonprofit group that provides financial and other support to wounded soldiers and their families.

I will keep an open mind and I'll watch. However, if it were my choice, I'd put acting ability over military experience.

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I say bring back Dixie Martin and let her & Tad get back together, You can do it! Soaps can do anything. And I have to agree with JaRee, Frankie's over acting is killing his character, Plus the story of Taylor is.... well,,,,,,,,,,,
HO HUM & BORING, She needs to go..............

October 28 2008 at 12:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I respectfully disagree. Too many of the new actors on this show suck. I mean, what is with Frankie's over-acting all the time? Sometimes Frankie, it's NOT that serious. Why not have a regular person? At least if he sucks, he'll have a reason. To be blunt, they probably want someone who is missing a limb to play the role.

On the other hand, they may need an Emmy winner to act like he's attracted to Taylor. I mean really? Instead of playing it tough, she's coming across as a butch lesbian. Plus, she's an unattractive troll. Who told her she should be on soaps?

August 29 2008 at 2:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This isn't the first time AMC has used real people with real experience in the show. Last year, when Bianca was helping Zarf with being transgender, they invited real transgender individuals as part of a support group.

August 19 2008 at 8:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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