Huffington Post Charts Kay Alden’s Bell Soap Opera Career



 

We’ve all heard the very familiar story of how viewers started to watch soap operas. Fans would be at home with their mom or grandmother during the summer break, with no other option of television programming. Has anyone ever wondered how soap writers got their start?

 A profile piece in The Huffington Post revealed legendary scribe Kay Alden  got her start by writing a dissertation for her PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Where did the late William J. Bell come into play?
 
According to the article:

As part of her research for her dissertation, the brainy blonde found Chicagoan William J. Bell's number in the phone book and called the creator of the CBS soap, The Young and the Restless for an interview. She went to his home on Lake Shore Drive and a requested 45 minute interview turned into 2 1/2 hours.

After submitting sample scripts over a period of months, Kay ended up as a writer for The Young and the Restless, starting on May 13, 1974 (my nephew Jack's birthday) through 2006 when she left for a short stint as a consultant for ABC'sAll My Children.

 


To read Alden's advice on how to break into the business, click here.
 

31 Responses

  1. Profile photo of Ryan-Scott
    Ryan-Scott

    I met her at the B&B lunch in 2009. One of the biggest thrills of my life.

    She should still be on the Y&R writing staff. Damn LML for letting her go and damn Bloom for giving her the power to do so. Such bullshit.

  2. Profile photo of soapjunkie88
    soapjunkie88

    She should join another soap because her talent on B&B is being wasted. Brad Bell makes all the major decisions over there, basically writing the soap by himself. You can tell by the writing and stories.

    It would be great to have her back at Y&R but then Phelps would be need to be replaced by Edward Scott. Don’t think Alden could work well under Phelps.

  3. Profile photo of Restless Fan
    Restless Fan

    She is so needed back on Y&R. It’s telling that Brad Bell hired all three of the top people that came after Bill Bell. Kay, Jack and Ed Scott. They should never have been fired and Angelica McDaniel and Steve Kent should be doing everything they can to reinstate them. F’ck Phelps and JG is over rated. His writes good dialogue but that’s it. Y&R is snooze city under him.

  4. Profile photo of Llanview76
    Llanview76

    Ms. Alden is interviewed for the archive of American television and I watched her full interview last year. I was just, in awe. I never really been a fan of the Bell soaps, but I can appreciate them. But I definitely appreciate her. I live in Madison, go to school like Kay once…I am no Kay Alden, I am Erik Andrus, but I know she inspires me to make my own contribution to the soap world whether it be for a network or my own creation ala the preceding soaps I watch like “Empire” and “DeVanity”.
    Here is the interview…as for me, I hope I will be able to tell you all stories in the near future. My script for the first season of “Madtown” was graded with an A, enough validation for me to make it come alive…
    http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/kay-alden

  5. Profile photo of Llanview76
    Llanview76

    PS Can somebody please tell me why Ms. Alden is not writing Y&R? What is the politics behind that since she was practically the “Bill” to his “Irna”.

  6. Profile photo of yrghdays214
    yrghdays214

    When it comes to JG, I agree that although he does write great dialogue – Y&R has been pretty boring since he and Phelps took over. I still think it is better then the mess it was under MAB though. B.t.w. thanks Llanview76 for posting the interview.

    The article was interesting, but I’m not really familiar with Alden’s work. Can someone give me the highlights?

  7. Profile photo of Smitty
    Smitty

    Gosh What I wouldn’t do to get Kay Alden’s Y&R back!!!!!

    I definitely will check out the article and the clip from her Emmy Legends interview.

    Daytime Confidential should try and snag her for an interview. It would be interesting to hear her thoughts on Y&R now.

  8. Profile photo of Coffee_Junkie
    Coffee_Junkie

    I got to meet her and talk to her for several minutes at one of those Y&R fan events back in 2003. I remember debating for several minutes *should I go up to her?* And I’m glad I did. I would have regretted it later if I didn’t.

  9. Profile photo of david46208
    david46208

    @pferrando: Actually not. Kay Alden quit Y&R on her own she. And at the time fans were largely upset about her Sperm storyline debacle. You can though blame Latham for firing Jack Smith. And all the other writers that were let go were due to Sony’s own wanting them gone. The scriptwriters who had been on the show close to 20 years cost too much money and Sony needing to cut spending ushered out much the writing staff for budgetary reasoning’s. I remember reading about that as the reason for changes and loss of long term staff at Y&R. So she cannot be blamed for what she did not have any control over.

  10. Profile photo of david46208
    david46208

    @everyone: On the other hand this spelled out LML and MAB to the T “Watch out and don’t be one of those many writers who are unfortunately too ego-involved, she cautions. They often don’t last long.”

    I say I was one of those people who loved Kay Alden when others threw up the Sperm debacle as if at the time it was the worst thing to ever happened. My now we all know as I knew then that it was never as bad and was one dent on her record verses what would come with the subseqent two EP’s/HW’s. And you will notice that both LML and MAB’s ego’s were such that believed they could do both jobs!

  11. Profile photo of pferrando
    pferrando

    If the sperm story indeed had people riled up, consider that her “black” mark…I liked it. Lots of story (character driven) came from it.

    But she wrote for the show from ’74 until she left. I can bet that if Latham were never hired, we may still have Alden on the show. They obviously had different visions for the show. Alden was trying to continue with the Bell vision…Lynn was all about Lynn.

    I get Sony’s influence, but it still was the start of the downfall of this show.

    Consider pretty much every story LML wrote as a black mark. I hate her for what she did to the show.

  12. Profile photo of david46208
    david46208

    @pferrando: I the don’t think she would have been there. Bill Bell was the only writer who didn’t have to listen to the higher-up’s aka Sony. When he had nothing to do with show Sony started to messing with it. And there was not much rejection you can give unless you are Bill Bell or an ED Scott.

    Also, if you really want to start singling the downfall of Y&R it goes back to 2001 when Ed Scott (former EP) exited in 2001. ED had a 25-year producing partnership and creative collaboration with William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell. When Bell was out of the show and Lee had little to do with it, that was ceremoniously the beginning of an end of an era. So LML got the ball rolling in the writer’s room. But it was MAB who in her 5 year tenure who brought the ratings significantly for Y&R. While I hated so much of LML’s writing, the ratings were still strong and they let her go before things turned out the way they under her successor.

  13. Profile photo of pferrando
    pferrando

    I also love Ed…a lot.

    It’s too bad that those that worked, learned, mentored under Bell mostly are now no longer on the set…save for the many characters we still love.

    And the ratings will erode further if that ever changes.

    I really can’t believe that Sony is THAT stupid not to notice. And all they need to do is check out the ratings that were brought in for Jeanne’s tribute show.

  14. Profile photo of Ryan-Scott
    Ryan-Scott

    LML:

    Daniel hooked on porn
    Jack and Nikki running for office (WHAT?!)
    Sheila running around with Phyllis’ face when they’d never met
    Brad having a history that came out of nowhere
    Crystal Springs

    Do we all remember that slop?

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: LML’s genius is in primetime. Knots Landing and Homefront were fabulous.
    I can’t comment on LML’s stint as HW on Port Charles because I didn’t see it.

  15. Profile photo of david46208
    david46208

    @Ryan-Scott: You can check her Wikipeida page as well as the original article this posting was written around. If she had been fired it would have been written and mentioned that she was fired or let-go. It is well known that Jack Smith was fired. That is the difference.

  16. Profile photo of david46208
    david46208

    @pferrando & everyone: You know I say this a lot. But it is time to get on that phone and bury the hatchet with Victoria Rowell. With them losing Michelle Stafford (not that I personally care, but has meant something to the show over the years), this would be the return that would set heads spinning and tongues wagging. She is really the ace they won’t play.

    But this just adds to the fact that Sony really has allowed in the last decade to let things slip through the cracks and nearly burst open.

    This often thinking that everyone is replaceable or that the show must go on. But it can’t go if you don’t have the talented team in place of actors, writers and producers to do so (GH take note of this issue in the writers room). And so far only Agnes, Bill and Douglas have been able to repeat their success on most of what they have done.

    I listened to the whole Kay Alden interview while here at work (working on a financial report). And it was a good interview about this genre and the social relevance that once made it great. No where did she mention campiness and out-there tales as a paragon of virtue of this industry. I want to just put that on record!

    She spoke as a true daytime gem up there with Sally Sussman Morina, Claire Labine and Lorriane Brodrick. Who cared about the quality of the content not just the numbers.

  17. Profile photo of Ryan-Scott
    Ryan-Scott

    I too would love VR to return but as I’ve said before most Human Resource Departments frown on former employees writing “fictionalized” books about their employment there.

    I wouldn’t expect to be rehired somewhere if I did that.
    Would you?

    There was a great article in SOD a few months ago with VR.
    She said she’d had a meeting with Tyler Perry and had other irons in the fire. I look forward to her next project. She did an episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories I am going to watch this weekend.

  18. Profile photo of david46208
    david46208

    @ryan-scott: If Y&R even makes it to the point where GL and ATWT were toward their ends they will bite the bullet. But yes people in this industry do all kinds of think like how Robin Strasser use to take her phone line and read ABC the riot act while on the show. And gave them a public tongue lashing when she left and ended up on Passions. And she still returned.

    And also the former Assistant to Anna Wintour wrote a book turned film The Devil Wears Prada. I’m sure she would be offered a job in a heartbeat. So don’t act like it can’t happen.

    And of you read the book Secrets of A Soap Opera Diva Victoria writes her own character as someone who ends up private mental institution. So she wrote her fictionalized character, just as troubled as the rest.

  19. Profile photo of Ryan-Scott
    Ryan-Scott

    Robin’s issues were with Jill Farren Phelps. Once Frank took over, he had her back.

    If Y&R gets to that point in the ratings like GL and ATWT and if someone else is in charge of the network then maybe we will see Dru come out of that ravine.

  20. Profile photo of Ryan-Scott
    Ryan-Scott

    You’re telling me David nothing that happened during VR’s time at Y&R didn’t end up in either book and that the plots all sprang out of her mind?

  21. Profile photo of david46208
    david46208

    @ryan-scott: Jackie Collins has famously took parts of real life and infused them in her books. But the reality it is not the book that has been of contention or the most. It has been her efforts off the screen to call out discrimination and champion diversity in front of and behind the scenes which you could have made an argument about. Her book ain’t what did it for them. It was the fact that she got the Nation Urban League on their asses and calling things as she saw them. That is what the case was.

  22. Profile photo of Ryan-Scott
    Ryan-Scott

    But Jackie Collins isn’t trying to get rehired at a place she dished about in one of her books.

    Her books may not be the main reason she isn’t being asked back but I’m sure it didn’t help.

    I ask again: would you expect to be rehired at a place if you did that?
    I wouldn’t.

  23. Profile photo of
    1titanman

    I love Kay Alden one of Bill Bell’s people from the start! I agree Smitty DC should interview her, because I love her story how she met Bill Bell and next became a writer on his staff.

    Also you should listen to this interview she did with these college students back in in 2007 about the whole scope of writing for daytime it a good listen.

    http://cms.mit.edu/news/2007/05/love_may_not_be_in_the_afterno.php

    http://cms.mit.edu/podcasts/colloquia/cms-colloquium-2007-05-02-alden.mp3

  24. Profile photo of ryder
    ryder

    God, KA and Ed Scott at the helm together would be great but I think they hate each other too much. We might actually see Nikki and Victor again….

    can Dylan be made into some sort of sex slave a la Brad Carlton in the 80s, complete with cage. Anything else is snooze-ville. He and Chelsea are too boring to hang out with.

Leave a Reply