General-ly Speaking: Why Claire Labine and Wendy Riche Inspire Me

Writers, executive producers, directors.  Individuals whose skills, talents, and artistry are frequently overlooked by the general public, yet without them our favorite films and television programs would never exist for us to adore.  Actors and actresses graced my screen, big and small, mesmerizing me with their talent.  Most of the time, I didn’t care one bit about who directed the episode or what an executive producer did.  I was only concerned with what was on my screen.  Twenty years ago, I started caring about those who worked behind the scenes.  My mind opened and my creativity flourished thanks to two exceptionally gifted women who helped bring my favorite daytime drama series to excellence.

In the early 1990’s, General Hospital excelled in not only the daytime drama medium but throughout all of television.  The writing was superb, the acting brilliant and the storylines heart wrenching and uplifting at the same time.  During this time, the teenage me was intrigued to learn more about those who worked behind the scenes.  Who wrote the storylines and dialogue?  Who was making the decisions that created such excellent television programming?

As head writer, Claire Labine took GH and its characters to emotional levels that left the viewers exploring their own lives.  If we didn’t care about the characters, then why should we care about what happened to them?  With Claire and her writing team, GH viewers knew that we’d be in for a combination of beautiful everyday moments between friends (“Lois” and “Brenda” or “Brenda” and “Robin”) or in-depth serious issues (“Maxie” gets “B.J.’s” heart / “Stone’s” death and “Robin’s” H.I.V. diagnosis).  When these characters cried, I cried.  When they examined their own prejudices, I re-examined by perspective on important issues.

During my Media and Society class in college, I had to pick someone or something that made a substantial impact on media.  I chose Ms. Wendy Riche, the Executive Producer of General Hospital at the time.  “How many of you know who {insert well-known primetime series mogul} is?”  All hands went up.  “Now, how many of you have heard of Wendy Riche.”  The latter question prompted only a few raised hands.  I proceeded to discuss the impact that GH had at the time, the ground-breaking issues and critical praise it received.  An excellent television program is deemed so, in my opinion, only if each part blends to create an exquisite piece of entertainment.  Each and every aspect of General Hospital excelled, allowing none to supersede another.  Writing, acting, editing, music selection, cinematography, etc…all played a part to bring about a finished work that deserved the critical and viewer appreciation it received.  Without an Executive Producer who values the medium and seeks to help it flourish, General Hospital would not have been the brilliant drama series it came to be.  And I attribute its brilliance to Wendy Riche – a woman I still hold a great deal of admiration and respect for twenty years later.

Both of these women showed me through their craft that high quality and artistic passion are not mutually exclusive.  I respect them for not only the work they created but the evident love of industry.  As a fan of all things entertainment and a writer of various genres, my artistic career would be one step closer to fulfillment with an opportunity to work with either Claire Labine or Wendy Riche.  Perhaps once my novel is complete, Claire will write the screenplay and Wendy will produce the film.  A girl can dream!!

*SIDENOTE:  I wrote one of my first fan letters to Ms. Riche in the mid-90’s and was elated to receive a postcard back.  I kept that card tacked upon on my inspiration board and thankfully it was part of the collection of items that were spared in my apartment fire earlier this year.*

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