Michael O’Leary (Ex-Rick, Guiding Light) the brainchild of the hilarious online soap spoof, Steamboat, chatted with We Love Soaps’ Damon L. Jacobs in a two part interview about the creation and the difficulties of getting a show onto the web. Below are a few great tidbits about his choice of former cast mate, Kim Zimmer to play the role of Rhonda, the Steamboat executive producer, and how much of his real life experience with budget cuts, green screens etc helped him shape the online series.
O’Leary on the choice of Kim Zimmer as the executive producer of the soap spoof: “Originally I wanted the Exec to be a man. But Kim lives three blocks from me, and I thought, “Okay, I’ll make him a her.” Kim does not at all resemble Ellen Wheeler in any shape or form. There was Gail Kobe, who was my first Exec. There was Jill Farren-Phelps, Paul Rauch, and Michael Laibson. I can’t say of all these Execs that she resembles anyone in particular. All I wanted was a real top female who, as she says, has bigger balls than anyone else on the show. The men are a bit afraid of her. And this is another underpinning of the show, where are men in this new model? You’ve got women who are the breadwinners, and I think many men are lost. So I wanted a female in a position of power, who is smart, who is trying to protect her own interest but at the same time keep the show on the air. You have these men underneath her thinking, “What do I have to do? Where do I go?” If you really look at soaps today, who are the stars? You can arguably say that Eric Braeden is the largest star on soaps, but really it’s the women who are the divas, it’s the women who women want to watch. The men are facilitators for the women’s story. The biggest stars in daytime I’d say are Kim Zimmer, Susan Lucci, Erika Slezak. So on Steamboat you have men trying to keep their jobs, working under women who are smarter than they are, and their employment and their life depends on it.
O’ Leary on if how much of the end of Guiding Lights perils were interjected into Steamboat, i.e. budget cuts: “The budget cut thing was definitely part of my Guiding Light experience. But budget cuts are applicable to everyone. I don’t know if there is anyone who hasn’t gone through budget cuts. I don’t care who you are, where you are. Unless you are an undertaker or an accountant, you have to deal with budget cuts. And the real part of it was that fear of asking, “What’s next?” My experience with Guiding Light and the entertainment industry is that everything is changing. We don’t know what’s going to happen with network television.”