MARIA ARENA BELL... A LETTER FROM WILLIAM J. BELL, SR.
I found this beautiful written letter by a fan named "Margery" online dating back to a published post 04/27/99 about Felicia Minei Behr as EP of ATWT for a two and half year period of disastrous lead-ship, going through many head-writers for a short period until her last few months and Lorraine Broadrick stabilized stories and refocus on more vets front and center.
If we would take this letter and insert this about Y&R of today everything "Margery" states about ATWT at the time is happening today on Y&R. This shows how networks, the soap executives in charge, the company owners haven't listened to fans. This letter is almost thirteen years old. This is why soaps are failing today because recycled EPs, HWs, Executives have neglected to change with the times and kept producing the same rehash and fans have left. Note Margery uses Y&R as the gold standard and is dead on at this period time for one simple reason ....his name is William Bell. This could be framed from the man himself and thoughts and pleading with his daughter-in-law. Please enjoy.
Ms. Felicia Minei-Behr (Maria Arena Bell)
Executive Producer, ATWT (Y&R)
Dear Ms. Minei-Barr, (Ms. Bell)
Mr. Jonathan Reiner said that you read your mail. Although letters to you do not seem to affect anything I am making one final attempt.
I am a long-time ATWT (Y&R) fan. I have watched this show for 35 (years 38). I know its history well. I simply do not understand WHY you have made the choices for the direction of the show that you have. It makes no sense to me. I become more uninvolved in it every day.
I understand from reading the online message boards and soap mags that you are trying to reach a different audience from the "old fogey" one of which I am a member. But even this does not make sense. Let me tell you why.
Y&R wants to reach the same audience that you do. They are succeeding better than any other soap at the moment. They have never, never sacrificed their core characters to newbies. The characters in current story lines are of all ages from approximately 70 to 10. Why is ATWT (Y&R) doing just the opposite? If preserving the show's integrity works for Y&R why wouldn't it work for ATWT (Y&R)?
The present focus on new characters creates lack of audience involvement. The story lines spin around and around with no apparent purpose and no resolution. The integrity of the characters is sacrificed to the story. Everything seems adrift and not anchored to ATWT (Y&R) history. The past two weeks have been among the most boring in years, comparable to the faux Paul, (Billy) Sarah(Sharon), Zoe (Phyllis) and Kasnoff (Newmans) takeover era. How can I care about a show that most frequently features characters hired within the past year? It takes much longer than that to create viewer involvement with a character. Not to mention loyalty!
I do not understand why you cannot maintain a balance by integrating the former stars of ATWT (Y&R) into the story lines. All we see of them is a brief scene here and there and the story is always about some newbie! Hal (Nick) and Barbara (Avery) became engaged (have sex) in less than three minutes! There were no build-up scenes, no dealing with the past, nothing. One day just they just pop in for three minutes and they are engaged(having sex)! This is quite simply outrageous. Barbara (Nikki) is the most beautiful woman on ATWT (Y&R). She has always been one of my favorites. She has a history with Hal(Victor). Their story deserves much, much more or else just scrap it. Do you really think that these gratuitous little snippets fulfill your promise to preserve ATWT's (Y&R"S) history and to create stories for the veteran characters?
You must be aware that ATWT (Y&R) has no focus at the moment. There is nothing compelling going on. The stories are so bad that even the acting is beginning to suffer (Genevieve). And you had the finest cast of actors on daytime! Losing Liz Hubbard (Melody Thomas Scott) was, I think, indicative of what you value and what you do not.
Although I think that I have written you what I am going to say before, I am going to repeat it for a final time. You must be a bright woman. Analyze what makes Y&R so popular. The show always maintains its focus. The primary focus is Victor Newman and his family (Newman family drama not crime). There is always a story going on that involves either Victor, Nikki, Victoria or Nick (about business, love not spoiled brats, make redeemable again). Most often there is more than one. The secondary focus is the Abbott family for whom the same thing is true. The rest of the stories involve Katherine, Christine and Paul and his family, Nina and Ryan or the Winters family. The Dennison family is rather new and the daughters are featured but as always they were introduced very, very slowly through an existing core character, Jill. Eventually the Dennisons will be phased out. Even an important character such as Drucilla was introduced very slowly and integrated into the story of John Abbott's household before being launched out on her own.
This kind of integrity keeps a loyal audience. I may not like all the stories going on but there is always at least one that I get involved with - so I watch. As do the majority of soap fans! I cannot imagine a new character coming on Y&R and dominating every story line. Yet that is exactly what ATWT (Y&R) is doing with Reid (Adam). You may want the audience to believe he is David (Patti). He is Reid, (Adam) believe me.)
One further remark about Y&R: notice that the pacing of the stories is quite remarkable. There is always a story coming to a conclusion, one in the middle, and one beginning. Y&R very rarely resorts to disasters during sweeps, they simply time a good story to reach the boiling point. ATWT Y&R) is either feast or famine.
I urge you to return to a family focus, integrate the generations, and preserve the history of ATWT (Y&R). And for goodness sake, please return Liz Hubbard! (MTS) Letting her get away was even worse than replacing Connor! (Malcolm)
I mean no disrespect Ms. Minei-Barr (Ms. Bell). I just am trying one last time to get someone to see what is happening here. I do not recognize this show any longer. I do not know what it is. But I do know that it is not ATWT (Y&R). You seem to go out of your way to alienate the loyal fans that have stuck with this show for years. It makes no sense to me.
Sincerely, (and loving)
(letter mailed 4/17/99, IMO article posted 4/27/99)