|To known everything about Santa Barbara|
By Laurent Triqueneaux et Michèle Delage, Télé K7, 1987
Santa Barbara does not exist only on the screens. Located at 180 kilometers in the north of Los Angeles, this small quite city is brood between the hills and a bay bordered of palm trees. One of the charms of the city is its peace, a wealth that try to save its 80 000 inhabitants. And they have a lot to do with the 5 million tourists who, every year, invest this corner of paradise. For Sheila Lodge, the mayor of the city, this popularity is also due to the fact that Robert Mitchun, Richard Widmark, Michael Douglas, John Travolta, Bo Derek, Gene Hackman, Fier Parker live there, and that the Reagans chose to live in a ranch at the immediate surroundings of the town. Santa Barbara has nothing to envy to Hollywood, this new city of the stars is proud to welcome other pensioners of the 7th Art like Jane Russell, Jane Fonda and many others. In addition to the ambient peace, Santa Barbara can make display of its exotic beauty and some architectural jewels, the brightest being the "Queen of the missions". Founded in 1786, it is the tenth and the more beautiful of the 21 Franciscan missions of the Californian coast. The tourism center of Santa Barbara underlines with happiness that the usual 4% of foreign tourists who visit Santa Barbara increase day after day. French and Italian are more and more spoken in Santa Barbara. According to you, whose fault is it ?
The soap was born about thirty years ago from the advertising war that the detergent manufacturers gave between themselves. To attract the female customers, one of them had the idea to produce a daily soap which would never end, interrupted with advertisement for marks of soaps. The cheap popular serial (five times less expensive than an ordinary TV show) had been born. The most famous of them, General Hospital, lasts since more than twenty-three years ! Its creators are the parents of Bridget Dobson, the author of Santa Barbara ! The soap, aired five days a week, follows the real life. The shooting has little advance on the airing. The organisation is thus irreproachable; any problem being likely to make bubbles... in the soap.
The world knows the passion of Santa Barbara. Since its first airing on the American network NBC (on July 30, 1984), the soap-opera Santa Barbara knew the success which becomes, today, international. After the American passion, France was one of the first countries touched by the phenomenon. Closely followed by England, Canada, Turkey and Luxembourg. The circle of the countries seized by the virus will get wider to Italy, for September, Scandinavia for October, Australia for December, and also Botswana and South Africa. There are currently agreements for the airing of Santa Barbara in Spain, in Portugal, in Argentina, in Germany, in Gabon, in Finland, in Switzerland, in Puerto Rico and Zimbabwe. What about Japan ?
In the United States after three years of show, the time is to the analyses. Launched by the network NBC, Santa Barbara won its bet gradually. Classified last year at the 9th rank of all soap-operas, it continues to gain places : its ratings increased by 20% per annum, more 23% over the second quarter of 1987. Santa Barbara is apparently the only soap to increase its public regularly. It succeeded where, at 2 p.m., two soaps launched previously by the same network had lamentably failed face to a competition in place for thirty years. In France, where the arrival of the soap-operas is more recent, the installation of Santa Barbara operated carefully. From 17% at its beginnings, due to a launching without any publicity (on October 14, 1985), the show arrives at the score record (at this schedule) of 21% of the televiewers. By airing it at 7.10 p.m., TF1 hopes to make it the strong moment of its programming of the end of afternoon.
France has two good years of delay compared to the American airing. The episodes aired on TF1 in August 1987 go up to May 1985 for the United States. As the first channel cuts them half an hour per half an hour, the Americans, who air one hour episodes (48 minutes of show and 12 minutes of advertisement), takes each time a little more of advance. At this speed, we have in front of us some long years of happiness...
According to American studies, the public of Santa Barbara is young : 900.000 televiewers are between 12 and 24 years old; 1.300.000 televiewers are between 18 and 34 years old. This indisputably represents a very big innovation : whereas traditionally soap-operas touch a public between 18 to 49 years old, Santa Barbara realizes, for the first time, the performance to sensitize the teenagers... Why this success ? Santa Barbara was written by soap-operas specialists : Jerome and Bridget Dobson. They thus put in the preparation of the intrigue all the necessary ingredients : many glamour with a little of smokings and a lot of exotism with a few palm trees. Santa Barbara is the only soap-operas to be geographically located in California, the country of success and sun. They added a good amount of youth : in Santa Barbara, the characters are Californian, so beautiful, young, sympathetic... Some American soaps are more than twenty years old and, even if their casts were renovated, you can not find anywhere else this Californian freshness. They integrated a little humour into it : you laugh more often in Santa Barbara than anywhere else.
Like any soap, the drama is always there because, as an irremovable principle, it is necessary to move people. The characters must be captivating and able to allow all the generations to find themselves in them. Lastly, the actors play well. They were all selected by Bridget Dobson. If Santa Barbara was born from the imagination of a couple, Jerome and Bridget Dobson who had a villa in this small city of South California boarding the Pacific, since January 1987, the creators left their place to a pool of eight writers supervised by two head writers. It is them who, from day to day and according to the surveys next to the televiewers, inflect the course of the story and give more importance to such or such character. All together, they write daily more than 80 pages of script. The actors thus have to learn something like 20 pages per show... An episode is shot every day, an actor plays from two to five days per week (what is the rhythm of A Martinez who appears in all the episodes, or almost all), it thus remains to him only a little time to learn the text. As they receive their script three days before the shooting, they acknowledge, for the majority of them, to learn their part only the evening of the day before the shooting.
Santa Barbara is not shot in Santa Barbara... Except some rare plans of the city or the house and especially of Los Angeles, most of the show is shot inside in Burbank, in the suburbs of Los Angeles, not far from the Walt Disney studios. Built especially by NBC, this huge video stage, the largest of the West coast, is mainly affected with the daily shooting of Santa Barbara. It is light there 24 hours a day. Work there permanently more than a hundred of people, without counting the twenties to twenty-five actors of each episode. For some of the actors, the appointment is fixed at 7.30 a.m.. Delays and diseases are not part of the scenario : it is necessary to be in good health to play in a daily soap-opera, if not the actor is replaced. The repetitions start. Towards 12 a.m., a short break for lunch, then an ultimate repetition (the third at least). At 4 p.m., the shooting really starts and until 7 p.m. in general, the takes succeed to the takes. The day is long in Santa Barbara.
To rest after the infernal rythms, the actors have the right to take two weeks of holidays at Christmas. In the others soap-operas, they generally have only one day. The team members often go together to do some winter sports. "That completely contributes to the amazing good environment of the stage, affirms Len Friedlander, one of the producers. It is certainly a "bonus" to make the show progressing."
With fourteen nominations at the last Emmy awards, the team of Santa Barbara hoped to celebrate its third anniversary with, at least, one reward. The jury did not desire it, but everyone is again more motivated to make of the show the number 1 of next year... During this birthday last July, everyone was there, except Todd McKee who was excused and Robin Wright whose absence would seem to confirm the rumours of dissensions with the producers and the desire to be less and less associated with the destiny of the soap.