Don’t snicker. This is as hard for me as it is for you. I’ve decided to come out-risking the reputation of this magazine’s otherwise ultracool staff — and admit to being a fan of ABC’s daytime soap opera All My Children. Not just any fan. A fan of nearly 25 years standing. Just the person, in short, to herald the arrival of All My Children: The Complete Family Scrapbook, part of the show’s 25th-anniversary celebration. It’s more than some of you may want to know about Pine Valley, U.S.A., but take it from me: It’s a feast of illustrated trivia about the most videotaped program on TV for those of us who probably need to get out more.
Written by Gary Warner, an associate producer of last year’s Daytime Emmys, the book contains chapters like ”The Families,” ”The Lovers,” and ”Villains, Rogues & Vixens.” We learn that Julia Roberts and Shannen Doherty both failed their auditions for the show but Ed ”Al Bundy” O’Neill once played a private eye hired by Palmer Cortlandt. We get snippets of nostalgic dialogue. ”I am Erica Kane,” her alter ego, Susan Lucci, once announced. ”Men flock to me like moths to a flame!”
As literature, this ranks somewhere between Tiger Beat and Family Circle but arrives at a time when it’s not easy for daytime soap fans to be out and proud. There is no noble support group for people inexplicably hooked on wildly implausible stories of evil twins and amnesia victims. ABC says 20 million people watch AMC every day, but good luck finding many trendsetters who cop to being one of them. Unless of course, you count legendary hipster Carol Burnett, a rabid fan who played Verla Grubbs briefly in 1983 and reprises the role for the show’s anniversary week this month.
Even though my two trips to Pine Valley (actually a studio on West 66th Street in Manhattan) to interview two of the show’s stars were far more of a thrill than my visits to any major-movie set, my passport there was effectively revoked last year when AMC brass took umbrage at a story I wrote about Lucci and her alleged feud with a younger costar, Sarah Michelle Gellar. Pine Valley — a town without pity. My loyalty, however, is unswerving. A