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DYNASTY topples: Dynasty, once top of the heap of prime-time shows, saw its ratings plummet after its ludicrous Moldavian massacre story in 1985. Efforts to resuscitate the once-mighty soap met with lukewarm audience response. The 1988-89 season, its eighth, was DYNASTY's last. There was talk of a TV-movie to tie up the cliffhanger's loose ends, but the project never materialized. Did Blake survive his gunshot wound? Did Dex and Alexis survive their tumble from a balcony? Were Fallon and Krystina saved from evil Dennis Grimes? We'll probably never find out....

Trading Places: Lane Davies made news by leaving his pivotal SANTA BARBARA role of sexy, sardonic Mason Capwell. Terry Lester, Emmy-award nominee for his own major role as sexy, sardonic Jack Abbott on the #1-rated YOUNG & RESTLESS, made bigger news by taking over for Davies. Insiders weren't shocked -- Lester was a logical choice for the black sheep of the Capwell family. What did come as a surprise was the replacement for Lester: Peter Bergman, who had just been released from his long-running role as nice guy Cliff on ALL MY CHILDREN. Bergman's abrupt dismissal had stunned many in the industry, and followed the decision not to continue the interracial love story of Cliff and Angie (Debbi Morgan, who plays Angie, remained on AMC). Many were pleased to see the well-liked Bergman land a plum role so soon after his AMC termination.

Race for Ratings: GENERATIONS premiered in March, accompanied by much fanfare about being the first soap to make black families part of the fabric of the show. As promised, the show delivered a healthy mix of black and white characters. It has yet to deliver healthy ratings -- a problem with most new soaps -- but appears to be gaining a following.

Honeymoon's Over: Eileen Fulton, who plays AS THE WORLD TURNS's much-married Lisa, was wed for the third time on June 11 to Rick McMorrow. By mid-September, she had filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.

Meet the New Boss: All three networks hired new executives to command their daytime programming departments. Jackie Smith is now in charge at NBC, Michael Brockman has taken the reins at ABC, and Lucy Johnson is leading CBS daytime. NBC has the most to gain -- their four shows were often at the bottom of the soap ratings, keeping company with ABC's LOVING -- and Jackie Smith earned a reputation as a hit-maker during her time at ABC. While there will undoubtedly be tinkering at all the networks, DAYS OF OUR LIVES, ANOTHER WORLD, SANTA BARBARA, and GENERATIONS are the most likely to undergo overhauls.

Sad Sacks: The ax was swinging at DAYS OF OUR LIVES, when in the space of a few months eleven actors were either taken off contract and relegated to day-player status, or let go. Suzanne Rogers (Maggie), John Clarke (Mickey), Peggy McCay (Caroline), Frank Parker (Shawn), James Reynolds (Abe), Christie Clarke (Carrie), Michael Bays (Julio), Jay Robinson (Marty), Joy Garrett (Jo) and Patrice Chanel-Carter (Gail) were some who lost their contracts.

Cricket Bugged Viewers: This was the year many YOUNG & RESTLESS viewers overdosed on Lauralee Bell (Cricket). The actress had been popular in the past, as a teen with a crush on Danny and then as Phillip Chancellor's girlfriend. But thrust front and center on the show, Bell didn't fare as well. One departing Y&R actor, Terry Lester, expressed his frustration publicly, sparking an outcry from viewers protesting the elevation of Bell, the daughter of the show's creator and senior executive producer, at the expense of other characters. In this magazine, Bill Bell objected to the fuss, explaining that Lester's story had been reduced because the actor decided not to renew his contract, not to give Lauralee more air time. Meanwhile, throughout the controversy the show remained a strong number one in the ratings.
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SOD Best & Worst -- 1989 · Soap Opera History & Discussion