She's known for her syndicated column and numerous television appearances. You can even find her work in the Smithsonian. Now, Lynda Hirsch brings her daytime experiences to the Internet -- exclusively on soapcentral.com. And look out because Lynda's got a lot to say when she's Lathered Up. In this installment, Lynda writes about the death of Paul Rauch.
I was stunned when I heard soap opera executive producer Paul Rauch died earlier this week at 78. I was certain that if anyone was going to live forever, it would be him. He was a force of nature.
Rauch was a man who was at times loved and loathed. As for Rauch, there were things he loved and things he loathed. He loved an exciting storyline, high ratings, a great cigar, opera, and his wife. On his loathe list: actors who whined, storylines that did not pan out, and overages.
The first time I met Paul Rauch was the first daytime Emmy Awards. They were held outside in the sweltering sun and aired in the daytime. He was resplendent in a suede suit and sporting a purple sash. He was busy with everything, from what photos he wanted to where the shrimp should be set. I kept my distance. I was very new to the field, and Rauch had an intimidating reputation.
A few years later, when he was executive producer of One Life to Live, I had my chance for an up-close-and-personal interview. Rauch knew how to set an interview stage. His chair was higher than mine. He kept asking his assistant for coffee, never offering any to me. During the interview, one of the actors came to the office. "What are you doing here?" Paul croaked, "You should be on the set."
"I do not like the pants I am wearing at the wedding. They are brown; I think they should be gray," the actor said.
Rauch replied, "You are the groom. No one cares what you are wearing. Go."
Rauch shuddered and told me, "It is always about them. I want the actors to stay in their playpen where they belong."
In my interview, I revealed everything he said and did. A week later, I get a call from Rauch's assistant.
I thought, This is not good. He is going to skewer me about the interview
. In fact, he wanted me to come to New York for a meeting. I thought, He wants to hire me as a writer. The job of my young dreams.
I arrived and was placed in a small room. Rauch entered, coffee in hand, but this time he offered me some. My new job was a lock. A team of writers came into the room. In my mind, I was seeing soap scripts with my name on them.
Everything was quiet for awhile Rauch jutted his chin with a slight nod. Go ahead ask them questions. He had me fly to New York at my expense to interview the writers.
Every time I asked a question, he would tell the writers, "Don't answer that."
Another World, One Life to Live, The Young and the Restless, and Guiding Light had his touch -- sometimes masterful, sometimes not.
When he was at GL, he told me he was doing a storyline that had never been done before. He would not reveal what it was. "This is so immense, it has to be a surprise," he said. I almost told Rauch maybe his never-done-before story should have stayed that way.
It was during the time that Dolly the cloned sheep was making headlines. Rauch decided to clone Reva.
He created the land Eterna on One Life to Live.
That was the wonder of Rauch; if one storyline didn't work, there was always another to tell.
Years ago, a brand new reporter at Soap Digest
had pulled her first interview assignment. It was following a daytime Emmy event. She was almost hyperventilating. I was slated to talk to the great man right before she was. I told her, "Come in with me. You will see how easy it is." Rauch took a look at the Bobbsie Twins and looked in my direction. "Oh, no, not Lynda. She pretends to be sweet. Then she will start asking brutal questions."
The same could be said of Rauch. He came off as brutal at times, but he was really quite sweet. The world of daytime has lost a great man.