New Column: 'Soap Watch'

Salem Gets Pumped
American Gladiators' Titan (Mike O'Hearn) is stopping by the set of Days of Our Lives on Wednesday (Feb. 27) to tape a few scenes as a helpful bartender trying to sober up Chelsea Brady (Rachel Melvin), who's drowning her sorrows about her family's misfortunes. The 6'3'', 260-pound bodybuilding legend also tells Shawn and Belle where to find Chelsea when they come looking for her. His episode will air on March 14.

Trading Places
Insiders confirm that Josh Griffith — who served as head writer on CBS' The Young and the Restless after executive producer Lynn Marie Latham went on strike with the Writers Guild of America — has earned the title of EP now that the strike is over. Meanwhile, Latham, whose contract expires soon, is expected to leave the show. "When the news broke, Y&R fans [on message boards] at Soap Opera Network started to celebrate because they've been very dissatisfied with the quality of the show for over a year now,'' says SON co-founder Xavier Toups. ''A lot of fans are hoping that Y&R will return to its traditional and classic ways.'' This appears to be the second of such big writer shakeup on daytime this month: the Internet has been flooded with rumors that most of the writers on NBC's Days Our Lives have also been fired, though NBC declined repeated requests for comment. — Lynette Rice

Night and Daytime
General Hospital is bringing something from its SOAPnet spinoff Night Shift back to daytime: CGI. The conclusion of the ''Text Message Killer'' storyline will incorporate a death-defying CGI'ed car scene that jeopardizes the lives of the two women important to both Lucky and Jason. ''The opportunity for us in daytime to break open the whole look of the show is very exciting,'' said exec producer Jill Pharren Phelps. Also on GH, an ''In Loving Memory of Shell Kepler'' graphic will air at the end of the episode that airs on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Kepler, who played nurse Amy Vining for 23 years, died of renal failure on Feb. 1.

Location, Location, Location
You may have also noticed something different about the look of Guiding Light lately. The longest running broadcast show has changed its whole production model, started using hand-held cameras, added 32 new sets, and is filming on location more. The changes can already be seen in some of the outdoor scenes currently airing, and the entire show will change format on Feb. 29.

Life in the Cast Lane
Emmy-nominated actress Patsy Pease will reprise her role as Kimberly Brady on Days of Our Lives for two days on Feb. 27-28, delivering a powerful eulogy at Grandpa Shawn's funeral.... Soap Central is reporting that Jeff Branson (Jonathan Lavery) will leave All My Children in the next few weeks. Reps for the show deny that the portrayer of his character's longtime love interest, Leven Ramblin (Lily Montgomery) is also leaving.... Tom Pelphrey is making it a short-lived return to Guiding Light, according to Soap Opera Digest. Pelphrey (Jonathan Randall) came back to GL just last month and will end his run in March.

Originally posted Feb 22, 2008
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