Since Mr. Snyder dragged me here to Oakhay, Illinois — which is, by the way, the most self-satisfied white-bread community I have ever seen and home of the world’s most unappealing grilled-cheese sandwich. — Reid (to Luke and Noah), January 22, 2010

The (End) of the (Airtime) Drought? | Mostly Pure Unadulterated Speculation

Hi, Everyone,

Sorry for the lack of new posts these last few days – RL is interfering and this post took WAY longer than expected.  Hope it helps spread some optimism during this long dreary, LuReless week!

DISCLAIMER: I am not privy to any insider information. What you see below is everything I know plus where I heard it. I am trying very hard not to create any spumors, so I am blatantly acknowledging that all the "analysis" below is largely pure speculation. It’s how I am choosing to interpret the information I am aware of. Only time will tell if I’m a pretty good guesser or completely full of it! So, without further ado…

Yeah, things have been pretty dry for the two prettiest boys in Oakdale, but things have been comparably grim for LuRe fans as well. Luke and Reid are once again entirely MIA from the SOC spoilers for the week of July 19th. So, I’ve tried to put together a few thoughts to dampen the growing panic that we’re only going to get dribs and drabs from now until the end.

What we "know" (or at least strongly suspect) about Van Hansis and Eric Sheffer Stevens’s shooting schedule:

  • As of April 22nd, Van was in pre-production on Occupant. At that time, when interviewed by WeLoveSoaps.com he was asked "how things will end up" for Luke, and responded, "I don’t know.  I honestly have no idea.  We get the scripts about a week in advance of the shoot.  So I only know about two months into it.  We shoot two months in advance.  Luke has some decisions he  has to make."
  • A few LRO member reported hearing that "[Van] started filming after the weekend of the Luncheon." This year’s luncheon took place on Saturday, April 17 followed by Nukeapalooza; both Van and Jake were in attendance at the New York events. The weekend after would have been April 24. It is widely reported that Van missed somewhere between four weeks and a month of ATWT filming due to his film commitments.
  • As of May 16, according to folks who have been Friended by Van Hansis’s official FaceBook page posted on LRO that "Van said on his Facebook last night that his movie is now finished and that this week he’ll be filming scenes for seven episodes of ATWT."
  • Colleen, from the ESS Crew, took a studio tour on Friday May 21st and confirmed that "Van and Eric filmed 7 eps this week. Jake back on Monday.
  • On July 15th, and LRO member quoted from Van’s Facebook page, his response to a question about the gross inconcsistencies between the June 30th ("I quit the board"/Bob wants Reid back) and July 14th ("I quit the board" again/"Bob won’t give me my job back") episodes: "i have no idea. those two episodes were shot over a month apart due to the film. i didnt ask that question cause i had no idea what was going on when i got back to ATWT."
  • In Van’s May 28th interview with Michael Fairman, he says, "This plays out till the end, and especially, this is the story that is not going to wrap-up till the last couple of episodes.  This is the big story, from what I have heard.  We still have a month left to tape, but I am working a lot now, which is good!"
  • The last day of filming for ATWT was June 24, 2010. We know Van taped through the last day and Eric through roughly the second to last day.
  • Episodes for soap operas are routinely taped out of sequence. Scenes airing over days or even weeks that take place on the same set may be filmed on a single day because of the cost efficiencies gained.
  • When Guiding Light was shuttered last year, two-time Supporting Actress Emmy-winner Gina Tognoni’s contract ran out and she elected not to stay on as recurring. To accommodate her departure (she had signed on with OLTL), she finished taping her scenes roughly 6-8 weeks before the series’ final taping date. Her character, Dinah Marler, daughter of Ross Marler and Vanessa Chamberlain, like Luke Snyder, was a legacy character on the show, so she was given an off-site storyline (involving only her final pairing, so her absence from the final home-based episodes was explained) and she appeared in the series finale.

What does this mean?

Well, if the boys continue at their current rate of zero to one episode per week, it means that the seven episodes Van and Eric taped during Van’s first week back (week of May 16-22) would easily cover the eight-and-a-half weeks remaining in the life of As the World Turns.  As depressing as that thought is, I don’t even remotely think it will play out that way.  Here’s why…

Where we’ve been…

First, to figure out what’s ahead, it’s useful to take a look at where we’ve been.  Luke and Reid were really put into play on March 11th when Reid reveals to Henry that he’s gay. At that point, things move rapidly for the next few weeks with Katie convincing Henry to donate the money for the wing (and thereby convincing Reid to stay in Oakdale) which ultimately leads to Nuke’s final break-up on March 16th (since Noah continues to push Luke away even though he is having his treatement in Oakdale, Luke finally says "uncle").

But the Luke/Reid trajectory really took off in the first week of April with the serious eyeflirting episode, and Katie calling out Reid for "having a think" for Luke…just in time for a "caring" Luke to accompany him to Dallas, trap him in the hotel room to prepare, drop his towel, and get him to open up!  Plus there was that little kiss thrown in and the subsequent almost-kisses back at Katie’s.  A good month storyline-wise for LuRe fans everywhere – but largely told in one episode a week. I’m guessing that since there was a kiss thrown in there (the first one, with little warning), and the single-episode weeks were sandwiched by 3-episode weeks, it didn’t feel nearly so bad as it does now.

  • Week of Monday April 5 (3 episodes – eyeflirting, I’m going to Dallas with you, Katie figures it out)
  • April 12 (1 episode – Annie smiled, what does that make us?)
  • April 19 (1 episode – Dallas kiss)
  • April 26 (1 episode – near kisses)

May was a wild roller coaster ride for LuRe fans – not only because of the advancement of the storyline, but also because the boys were finally frontburner (unfortunately, as frontburner as I think they’re ever likely to be), and also due to what I would consider to be likely reshoots and rewrites. I covered my speculation on the reshoots and rewrites previously in a LRO message board post which I’ll bring over to here as soon as I can find and update it.

Beginning with the April 26th Near kisses episode, May was a HUGE month for LuRe because it clearly marked the turning point for Luke. It marked the end of the enormous "Luke drags Reid to Oakdale to save Noah’s eyesight" storyarc which had been playing out since January, and saw the clear introduction of Rooftop Luke, and a Luke taking babysteps towards admitting his feelings for Reid (albeit, he seemed to have forgotten to let Reid in on that little bit of 411).

  • May 3 (3 episodes – Noah’s surgery, the "I Can’t" kiss, ’nuff said)
  • May 10 (2 episodes – rooftop Luke)
  • May 17 (2 episodes – outside at the pond, pillow hugger)
  • May 24 (1 episode – the "Babbling" kiss)
  • May 31 (2 episodes – Black Monday, Gabriel’s party)

Compared to May’s 10 episodes and two knock-your-socks-off kisses, June felt like a desert, and July (so far) has felt even worse). But I think the boys have been in a holding pattern waiting for Van’s return, and for storylines like Peg/Pem and Vienna to conclude.

  • June 7 (1 episode – Noah socks Reid)
  • June 14 (1 episode – Mona tours Memorial, I can’t be anyone’s convenience)
  • June 21 (2 episodes – he’s clinical, I’m personal, welcome to the human race, Reid quits, bear facepalm)
  • June 28 (1 episode – he did it for me, figure it out together)
  • July 5 (0 episodes)
  • July 12 (1 episode – relationship)
  • July 19 (0 episodes)

The Timing of Van’s Movie

I picked up all these bits of info along the way, and reread/refound it for this post. One of the most telling bits, that didn’t really  mean much to me at the time, though, was a throwaway comment in the April 22nd WeLoveSoaps.com Van Hansis interview. In it, the article’s author, Damon L Jacobs begins, "I ran into Van Hansis a few weeks ago and he revealed that he had just landed a movie role, but couldn’t share any details at the time."

In hindsight, this speaks volumes.  If Van had been cast a few weeks before April 22nd, then he would have been auditioning (and getting permission from TPTB to take a hiatus) in mid- to late March AT THE LATEST. At that time, Reid’s sexuality was just being revealed (or still unconfirmed), and Luke was still Noah’s whipping boy. At first glance, Reid Oliver was just the latest Mason Jarvis – a glorified day player intended to create a little bit of tension before an inevitable Nuke endgame.

But somewhere along the way, the Nuke train derailed. By early March, the soap press had taken notice of both the character of Reid Oliver and Eric Sheffer Stevens’s brilliant work in bringing the snarky and sexy doc to life. Gay media-watchers were abuzz with widespread speculation that Reid would come out and fans of all ages and sexual orientations were starting to pay attention. The Luke and Reid Online (LRO) messageboard was launched on March 7th – a notable four days before Reid’s epic revelation to Henry Coleman : "I am (perfect). I also happen to be gay." HappyInChintz72 launched her YouTube Reid Oliver Story channel on March 23rd (right around the "tense moment"). By the end of March, LRO had about 200 members.

So while Van Hansis was auditioning for/in discussions with The Occupant, a flurry of game-changing LuRe episodes were airing including the tense moment/shove at the LilyPad, "nothing happened between us", the elevator scene, serious eyeflirting, and "I’m not letting you do this alone." Many (myself at the top of the list) suspect that TPTB were already starting to be clued in on LuRe’s incredible chemistry by this point because the second half of the "I Can’t" kiss (May 5/6) shows all the hallmarks of a reshoot/added scene – between episodes,Reid’s hair dries off, Luke changes haircuts and the lighting completely changes. My personal hypothesis is that they (like most everyone else) realized how fantastic Luke and Reid are together, but Team LuRe, were skeptical about LuRe’s ability to take on the sacred cow that was Nuke.

By the time Van started filming Occupant in late April, the Dallas kiss had aired and the LRO membership was up to 582 members (that would be me). TPTB were stuck with whatever they had filmed prior to Van’s departure, for better or worse. This included the "Babbling" kiss, Black Monday, and some "jealous Reid" episodes in the hospital that gave me whiplash.  To me, it seemed like was evidence of a change in storyline direction (e.g., a spoiler where Reid overhears Luke telling Noah he’s the only one for him never even remotely materialized ), but I would guess TPTB were limited by a) their ability to change direction after scenes that were already shot, and b) Van’s departure further handicapped their ability to reshoot, were that their intention.

Around this time, Jake Silbermann also took a roughly four-week hiatus to work on his film, Stuffer. I personally remain suspicious that the Black Monday episode bore no continuity to the prior episodes because it was filmed earlier and could not be tweaked due to Jake and Van’s schedules (in particular, Rooftop Luke, who’d been a constant for weeks didn’t just fade or waffle, he disappeared entirely).

During this time, LuRe fans campaigned loudly and visibly via postcards, emails, phone calls, brains, and polls so that by mid-May (just before Van’s return), there were chinks appearing in the Nuke-as-endgame armor. In a May 17th interview with the Advocate, ATWT head writer and creator of the Nuke storyline, Jean Passanante said, "We are getting positive feedback for Luke and Reid. And who would’ve imagined we could bring anyone between Luke and Noah? You never know. I thought people would yell, ‘You can’t do that.’ But it’s been great!"

By mid-June, LuRe were actively staking their claim as the hottest couple in daytime, claiming their first of three consecutive weeks as #1 Couple in SoapOperaCentral.com’s weekly Pulse (results for this week not yet available as of time of writing). LRO welcomed its 1000th member on June 4th, and HappyInChintz72’s channel followed days later with 1000 subscribers as of June 10th. In the meantime, through June 30th, pre-hiatus episodes continued to air.

With any luck (and a lot of prayers and campaigning), TPTB will have taken advantage of Van’s absence to make the final storyline changes, which we saw reflected in his first post-Occupant episode on July 14th. Although the lack of PDAs was disappointing, it would be hard for Team LuRe to find fault with the overall storyline direction suggested by this episode (though the ultimate trajectory still is clearly up in the air).

Van’s return and what’s next for LuRe? *MILD AIRTIME SPOILERS BELOW*

According to the reports on Van’s Facebook postings, the June 30th episode ("I quit"/"figure it out together") episode taped before his hiatus, and the July 14th ("I quit" – again/"relationship") episode taped afterwards. That would make it likely to be one of the seven episodes Van and Eric taped together during his first week back. That means six more episodes without Noah!

However, it’s not clear of those six episodes will all air before Noah makes his first post-Stuffer appearance:

  • On May 3rd, ATWT writer Susan Dansby tweeted that the  8/2 ep is Holden, Molly, Jack, Carly, Lily, Craig, Lucinda, Parker, Faith, Luke – and I’m not mentioning if he’s with Reid or Noah since I’ll get in trouble either way. ;) 8:45 AM May 3rd via web
  • And then on 5/14 tweeted: Writing ep that airs 8/17. This one’s got Barb, Emily, Paul, Will, Gwen, Chris, Henry, Katie, Luke, Reid AND Noah. 6:23 PM May 14th via web

If so, that would be two episodes a week starting next week (with 8/2 being a likely Luke and Reid episode, given what we now know about the actors’ shooting schedules) – and that would be progress!

And IF indeed 8/17 is Noah’s first episode back, that REALLY does not give Nuke much chance to reconcile (at 1-2 episodes a week, with Reid still in the way and a final airdate of 9/17)!  If Noah’s first episode back is earlier, then that would mean either MORE weekly LuRe before he returns, or more Noah-free episodes after his return – both of which sound pretty good to this Rukie.

In the meantime, going back to Van’s May 28th Michael Fairman interview, he says, "This plays out till the end, and especially, this is the story that is not going to wrap-up till the last couple of episodes.  This is the big story, from what I have heard.  We still have a month left to tape, but I am working a lot now, which is good!"

Ergo, we KNOW that Luke will have a lot of scenes through the end. Some will clearly be with Noah, although the Noah spoilers have changed pretty drastically in the last few weeks (don’t even get me started on the endgame spoilers, as starting that post this week will surely get me fired from my day job). It is also likely some will be with Damian (I haven’t seen a casting report, but the "Damian isn’t finished" spoiler is still out there; given that even James Stenbeck is confirmed to be returning for an episode, it’s hard to imagine that Damian won’t make an appearance).

But, the way Van described it, "THIS (the triangle) is the big story." Not any complications that arise having to do with Damian’s return or machinations. I think that anything with Damian will be a hiccup or an enabler in the triangle story, driving Luke closer to whomever he’s destined to ride off with into the sunset. Moreover, Michael Fairman, who was also author of the May 17th Advocate interview, notes at the end of the article, "I have it on good authority that this story (again, the triangle) will have a major impact on the culmination of the series."

7/22 UPDATE: In an interview with Greg Hernandez on 7/21, Van said, “There have been other people who have tried to come between Luke and Noah and people didn’t seem to care,” Hansis said of the Luke-Reid romance. “Now people care. I think it’s because it’s a real viable option. It’s a great story and will continue to be until the middle of September. … One of the sad things about the show being canceled is that the story would have kept going and going and going and it would have been a really cool thing to see what Eric does with all that stuff and what we would have done with it.”

This doesn’t sound like Reid moping on the sidelines while Nuke ride off into the sunset.

Between Van working a lot, the triangle being THE big story, and Reid’s chief of staff storyline (also likely to move further to the frontburner next week given published spoilers for June 26th), I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of Reid as well (though the bar is currently pretty low!).

So, this was a VERY long-winded way of saying that I think there are good things to come, regardless of the endgame. And as for those other droughts, I have some thoughts on those as well, but they, too, will have to wait for a later post.

KEEP THE FAITH!

-LL

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