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Are soap operas exempt from Hollywood strikes?


Q: My wife is a devoted “General Hospital” fan. With the writers and actors on strike, we assumed ABC would have to start reruns at some point, but they haven’t. Did soap operas get some sort of waiver from the striking unions so they could stay in production? And, when not affected by strikes, what is the normal length of time between a soap’s taping of an episode and when it airs?

A: Issues like this are not simple, so I will turn to Deadline.com, which offered an explanation as the actors strike loomed: “Soap actors are employed under the SAG-AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting (aka Network Code). It is different than the film and TV collective bargaining agreement that SAG-AFTRA is currently negotiating with the AMPTP. Negotiated between SAG-AFTRA and the Big 4 broadcast networks as well as other producers, the National Code covers soaps as well as morning news shows, talk shows, variety, reality, game shows, sports and promotional announcements. The current Code agreement, reached a year ago, goes through July 2024.

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“Daytime soaps tape well in advance. … For instance, ‘Days of Our Lives’ is six months ahead. In addition to the episode stockpile, the series remain in production and continue to generate new scripts. They are penned largely by financial core (fi-core) writers, who have resigned their WGA membership while benefiting from the guild’s contracts with the studios. Others, such as producers, assistants and executives, also are involved in writing in some cases,” Deadline.com said.

Q: There was a television show in 2005 or 2007 about a married couple who were doctors working in a hospital. I think it was based in Canada. The husband is in a car accident and is in a coma, and his spirit walks around the hospital. I would like to know the name of the show and if there are reruns of it anywhere.

A: That was the Canadian drama “Saving Hope,” which originally aired in 2012-17 and starred Erica Durance and Michael Shanks. One place you can find it is on Hulu.

Q: In 1959 Frank Sinatra starred in a movie called “A Hole in the Head.” In the film Sinatra had an older brother played by Edward G. Robinson, who had a not-too-bright son named Julian. Would the actor playing Julian be James Toback, who 15 years later wrote and directed the movie “The Gambler” with James Caan?

A: No, but there’s a reason for your confusion. James Toback wrote “The Gambler” and the movie “Bugsy,” and he wrote and directed other movies including “Fingers” and “The Pick-up Artist.” (He has also been repeatedly accused of sexual harassment, accusations he has denied.)

But the actor playing Julius was James Komack, who later became more famous as a producer on shows including “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” “Chico and the Man” and “Welcome Back, Kotter.” He passed away in 1997.

Do you have a question or comment about entertainment past, present and future? Write to Rich Heldenfels, P.O. Box 417, Mogadore, OH 44260, or brenfels@gmail.com.



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