"The Exit Interview"
It could be it's own movie title!! What an insight to so many things when it comes to our favorite genre. Especially given the Sean Kanan interview which preceded it (and made many of the same points).
First of all, props to Michael Logan for asking just about every question I would have asked. I can imagine him hearing the answers and saying 'holy shit' in his mind over and over again. Then saying it again a million times as he was typing it up. You don't find that kind of candor anymore. (if at all!)
There are so many parts to the interview that I'm not sure where to begin. First of all, I want to say that these are Tony's impressions/feelings and it is what it is. Meaning I can't argue with most of them. What I can do is try to explain how I see things in light of being a 35 year viewer of the show.
Parts of the interview does read like a old, bitter actor leaving a show that has apparently made his life a bitch as of late. The entire segway into the 'taking the shirt off' and 'twitter followers' smacks of someone not really in touch with the modern audience of soap fans. Social media has become a big part of the PR for soaps and one must adapt. I don't think you need these things to be a good actor however, and he's right about that.
The more I read the piece however, the more I can appreciate what is being said by him. Maybe it's not so much that he's 'old and bitter' but rather frustrated by the current writing style and disconnect between the writers and the actors. He does praise Frank for being on set all the time and interacting with everyone. We know Ron is in NYC--and since Tony apparently Skypes with Jane all the time, you'd think the two of them might have done so as well. Interesting how he says they've never talked. I know some people are saying for 'sure' they have because of a phone call mention at one point. Either way, TG's impression is that Ron and he didn't have any kind of a relationship what so ever.
This brings us to the whole script-writing and giving direction to actors. We know Tony has improvised in the past. I personally love it when actors inject themselves into the story. Some people out there are purists and also say that the writers words are sacred and should be delivered as written. Since I don't see soaps as Shakespeare, it doesn't bother me. I think yes, it would be annoying to read so many stage directions on my script. Especially if I wasn't used to that. I'm not a writer so I can't speak about the actor-script-writer trinity.
Getting more specific about the actual exit story for Geary, things get a bit dicey. We all know he's taken his vacations over the years and the writers have had to accommodate that at every turn. I'm sure it's not fun to come up with the 44th reason that Luke is leaving town. I think somewhere in the 90s I would have made him some kind of international businessman running things out of his Dubai office.
It does appear TG would love to have it both ways--or rather his way when it comes to how the show revolves around his schedule. He also appears to have liked the original Jake story line and the whole aftermath of that. (more on Guza later) He is correct in saying this last piece of story is a mess. Ron however, did deliver a great performance piece for him with the whole childhood saga. No praise for that I see.
The part I'm most angry with was Tony's outward disdain for the writing/story and just having to be there to finish out his tenure. He was so obviously NOT into this. Actors are supposed to not let that show. Well, he sure did. We did get 2 good scenes; with JJ and NP but other than that? Nope. Yes, the story was idiotic and I can't imagine having to play that Jennifer Smith mess but he could have injected some life into the scenes. I also have to say that for someone that changes the scripts he sure didn't put anything joyful into the performance at all. When he and Emma Samms can't even remember the Bill Eckert story (which was pretty big at the time) I know it's time for someone to retire. He bitches about not being able to change lines, but changes them anyway and in this case, for the worse.
The latter Guza years were good to Tony and a couple of other actors on the show. Jim Warren even has pics of them all together so you know some input was welcomed. I think when he left and the new guard came in that whole "Boys Town" fizzled and it was back to 'real work'. Or at least work that didn't meet the exact he may have had. Let's face it, the entire virus/Kong story was ridiculous as well but he at least tried to have fun with it and made it entertaining. Not so much now. It's like watching a flat cut out of a former character.
This interview stands out for a lot of reasons. First, it's basically one of the most honest points of view we've ever had and secondly, it's also like explaining the death of soaps as the old genre existed. They just aren't the same. I don't for one second think they can be the same given reality TV and the fact many kids just don't get into them anymore. The audience is growing older and we're not always in those golden demos they so covet.
So, it is what it is. I have great memories of TG and the early Luke I fell for-- as an actor/character. Wish these last months could have been as enjoyable. I think everyone on soaps works damn hard. I think respect can go a long way. I actually wish I hadn't had read the piece. I like the illusion that people all work together to make a great show. Wish there were was more respect to go around--in all directions.
Read the entire interview on TV Guide Online
But there you have it. I have almost, but not quite, come to grips with the fact that my obituary is going to read: “Anthony Geary, Luke of Luke-and-Laura, died today.”