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An Open Letter to Frank Valentini


Dear Mr. Valentini,

I love One Life to Live, I really do. I haven't written much recently about your show on Daytime Confidential because there is so much going on at any given time that it can be hard to get a handle on which areas to focus. This is not a bad thing. You and your head writer Ron Carlivati have fashioned a fast moving, entertaining, and thoroughly engaging hour of daytime television that has catapulted it to the top of ABC's afternoon lineup. Bravo! There is far more good than bad on OLTL and in this case, no news can usually be good news. There is, however, one little thing that bugs me and it occurs to me that you — and only you — can fix it:

For the love of Harding Lemay, please put a merciful end to the disastrously choreographed fights between Gigi & Stacy!

Mr. Valentini, when I watch a catfight on daytime I don't expect WWE or Ultimate Street Fighter. Yes, yes, yes, catfights are demeaning, sexist, and make women look emotionally out of control, especially when it comes to fighting over men; all of that is true. I would go so far as to say that only a few sick people would pay good money to see Kim Hughes (Kathryn Hayes) get into a cage match with Caroline Brady (Peggy McCay), me being one of them. In this modern age, most people are far more enlightened and they prefer their sexism and the prostration of women on shows like Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?, The Bachelor and Project Runway.

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I, though, am an old school purist who prefers catfights with meaning. I live for those truly brutal smackdowns like when Sidney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) and Faux-Francie (Merrin Dungey) ripped apart Sidney's apartment and each other in the season two finale of Alias; Maya (Vivica A. Fox) and Doreen's (Jonelle Allen) epic showdown on Generations; or the blow-by-blow recreation of the cabin fight between Montgomery Clift and John Wayne from 1948's Red River re-staged with Valerie Mahaffey and Terri Garr in the CBS comedy miniseries Fresno starring Carol Burnett which aired only one time in full in 1986....but I digress....

Mr. Valentini, I understand the limitations of daytime and the desire to not risk injury to your actors when staging these altercations, but twice now have I been subjected to watching physical confrontations between Gigi (Farah Fath) and Stacy (Crystal Hunt) that are not unlike two conjoined toddlers fighting over a dropped ice cream cone. I know what you're thinking: I'm being rather unfair to conjoined toddlers everywhere.

Now, don't get it twisted, watching Gigi throw/trip/sneeze Stacy down a flight of stairs was one of the highlights of the soap year, perhaps topping the debut of Miss Kitty Benson on The Young and the Restless, whose performances rival and often surpass those of Ms. Hunt. However, watching Ms. Fath and Ms. Hunt desperately and angrily trying to not smudge Ms. Fath's blinding shimmery Powerpuff Girl pink lipstick doesn't quite live up to Alexis & Krystal drowning each other in the Carrington mansion lily pond.

What makes this all so baffling is that it's not that you don't know how to stage a good catfight! Tea (Florencia Lozano) and Blair's (Kassie DePaiva) most recent round of slap-ticuffs was a good, classic, knock-down-drag-out affair that took a bizarre but highly entertaining turn. Stacy & Gigi? Not so much.

Mr. Valentini, should you allow Mr. Carlivati to stage another Stacy/Gigi fight you should consider hiring several of the stunt people who stood in for a pregnant Ms. Garner on Alias or Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy's final seasons. Though up in years by now, you might also contact the obvious Gold's Gym stuntmen who subbed for Linda Evans and Joan Collins in their later years on Dynasty. Hey, that might be an idea for stunt fight replacements, Mr. Valentini: throw a wig on All My Children'sChuck Pratt as Stacy & slap some of Gigi's Angelina Jolie lipstick on General Hospital'sBob Guza as Gigi.

Not only are they experts at stunts, my understanding is there are lot of fans want to throw them down a flight of stairs.