Soapdish (1991)

PG-13 | 96 mins | Comedy | 31 May 1991

Director:

Michael Hoffman

Cinematographer:

Ueli Steiger

Editor:

Garth Craven

Production Designer:

Eugenio Zanetti

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures
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HISTORY

Various contemporary sources, including the 31 May 1991 HR, May 1991 Box, and 14 Jun 1991 EW, stated that Soapdish was the byproduct of two similar yet separate project ideas formed during the filming of Steel Magnolias (1989, see entry), between its executive producer, Herbert Ross, screenwriter Robert Harling, star Sally Field, and Field’s then-husband, Alan Greisman. According to HR, Harling wrote an initial draft of the screenplay for Tri-Star Pictures, but Field decided against doing the project with Ross, and Tri-Star eventually lost interest. In the spring of 1989, Paramount Pictures acquired the property and instructed Harling to write another draft, which he completed in the fall of that year. Ross then dropped out as the project’s director, and was replaced by Michael Hoffman in early 1990, who, according to Box, put the project on hold while Harling left to write the pilot for the television adaptation of Steel Magnolias. Greisman then hired his former Fletch (1985, see entry) screenwriter, Andrew Bergman, for revisions, which impressed him enough to bring the project back to Field and inspired Hoffman to move forward with production.
       A 14 Sep 1990 DV brief reported that Carl Reiner was hired to play “Edmund Edwards,” but EW claimed that Hoffman cast veteran producer-director Garry Marshall after meeting him in the Paramount studio commissary. Although “David Barnes” was originally written for an older actor, Hoffman had long been looking to collaborate with Robert Downey, Jr., and had the part rewritten for him. As an admirer of Hoffman’s previous work, actor Kevin Kline ... More Less

Various contemporary sources, including the 31 May 1991 HR, May 1991 Box, and 14 Jun 1991 EW, stated that Soapdish was the byproduct of two similar yet separate project ideas formed during the filming of Steel Magnolias (1989, see entry), between its executive producer, Herbert Ross, screenwriter Robert Harling, star Sally Field, and Field’s then-husband, Alan Greisman. According to HR, Harling wrote an initial draft of the screenplay for Tri-Star Pictures, but Field decided against doing the project with Ross, and Tri-Star eventually lost interest. In the spring of 1989, Paramount Pictures acquired the property and instructed Harling to write another draft, which he completed in the fall of that year. Ross then dropped out as the project’s director, and was replaced by Michael Hoffman in early 1990, who, according to Box, put the project on hold while Harling left to write the pilot for the television adaptation of Steel Magnolias. Greisman then hired his former Fletch (1985, see entry) screenwriter, Andrew Bergman, for revisions, which impressed him enough to bring the project back to Field and inspired Hoffman to move forward with production.
       A 14 Sep 1990 DV brief reported that Carl Reiner was hired to play “Edmund Edwards,” but EW claimed that Hoffman cast veteran producer-director Garry Marshall after meeting him in the Paramount studio commissary. Although “David Barnes” was originally written for an older actor, Hoffman had long been looking to collaborate with Robert Downey, Jr., and had the part rewritten for him. As an admirer of Hoffman’s previous work, actor Kevin Kline accepted the part of “Jeffrey Anderson,” while Whoopi Goldberg made time to appear in a supporting role between the filming of her concurrent television shows, Bagdad Cafe (CBS, 30 Mar 1980—23 Nov 1990) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (Syndication, 28 Sep 1987—23 May 1994). The 30 May—5 Jun 1991 issue of Drama-Logue stated that two weeks of rehearsals preceded production, during which time many of the actors’ improvisations were written into the script.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files indicated that principal photography began 23 Oct 1990, one day later than the 22 Oct 1990 start date listed in 23 Oct 1990 HR production charts. Initial filming took place outside New York City’s Plaza Hotel, which served as the entrance to the Daytime Television Awards, while the Cocoanut Grove nightclub at the former Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, CA, doubled as the Plaza’s interior. EW indicated that the shopping mall scene was shot in Jan 1991, at the Topanga Plaza Mall in Canoga Park, CA. The remainder of filming took place on Stage 15 at Paramount studios in Hollywood, CA. Principal photography wrapped in mid-Jan 1991. A 22 Oct 1990 DV article noted that after moving to Los Angeles, the production switched to “French hours,” consisting of ten-hour workdays with continuous food service. By reducing down-time and makeup retouching necessitated by allocated meal breaks, producers hoped to cut five days off the projected fifty to sixty-day shooting schedule. The budget was estimated at $25 million.
       According to the “Screen Style” column of the 14 Jun 1991 LAT, costume designer Nolan Miller created the principal cast's entire wardrobe specifically for the film, but dressed three hundred background actors in costumes he had previously made for various television series, including Dynasty (ABC, 12 Jan 1981—11 May 1989) and Hotel (ABC, 21 Sep 1983—6 Aug 1988). In Drama-Logue, Field stated that Hoffman intentionally clothed the actors in primary colors, which production notes claimed were intended to convey the characters’ feeling of “craziness” in the “hellish” settings of the scenes’ vibrant backdrops.
       Production notes indicated that General Hospital (ABC, 1 Apr 1963—present) actress Finola Hughes makes a cameo appearance in the picture, but she is not credited onscreen.
       The 23 Jun 1991 LA Daily News reported that Cathy Moriarty was ill on the day the principal actors posed for publicity photographs, thus leading to her replacement by supporting player Teri Hatcher in all of the film’s print advertising.
       A 6 May 1991 DV brief announced that the premiere of Soapdish was scheduled to take place 23 May 1991 at the Mann’s National theater in Westwood, CA, with $200,000 of the proceeds benefitting the Westside Children’s Center. The 31 May 1991 HR indicated that a “sneak preview” was held at 895 theaters on 26 May 1991. Following its nationwide opening on 31 May 1991, a 3 Jun 1991 Paramount press release reported a box-office gross of $6,736,380 in 1,275 theaters.
       On 23 Feb 2011, HR announced that Greisman, Paramount, and filmmaker Rob Reiner planned to remake Soapdish with a script by actor-writer Ben Schwartz. However, the project has not been produced as of the writing of this Note. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
May 1991
pp. 13-14.
Daily Variety
22 Oct 1990
p. 2, 8.
Daily Variety
14 Sep 1990.
---
Daily Variety
6 May 1991.
---
Drama-Logue
30 May--5 Jun 1991
p. 4.
Entertainment Weekly
14 Jun 1991
p. 34, 38.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 1991
p. 6, 72.
Hollywood Reporter
31 May 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 2011.
---
LA Daily News
23 Jun 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
31 May 1991
Section F, p. 1, 12.
Los Angeles Times
14 Jun 1991
Section E, p. 11.
New York Times
31 May 1991
Section C, p. 10.
Variety
3 Jun 1991
p. 50.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
an Aaron Spelling Alan Greisman production
a Michael Hoffman film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Co-prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst photog
2d asst photog
Film loader
Video coord
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Lamp op
Lamp op
Lamp op
1st company grip
2d company grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
24 frame video displays by
Video Image
Video Image
Video Image
Video Image
Video Image coord
Tech supv, Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Lead person
Gang boss
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Prod painter
Const coord
Model 200-2 prod switcher provided by
A Tektronix Company
Selected monitors provided by
Professional broadcast intercom equip provided by
A Telex Communications Company
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
Asst to Mr. Miller
Men's formalwear by
MUSIC
Supv mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
Addl orch by
Score rec at
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable person
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley mixer
ADR mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Asst spec eff
Title des
Titles and opticals by
DANCE
Choreog
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Body makeup
Key hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod office coord
Asst prod office coord
Asst to prods
Asst to Mr. Hoffman
Asst to Mr. Greisman
Asst to Mr. Spelling
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Unit pub
Prod auditor
Asst prod auditor
Accounting asst
Accounting asst
Craft service
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Casting asst
Extras casting by
Still from "The Wizard of Oz" provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord--NY
Utility stunt
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"El Sol También Se Pone," written by Ludar Felsenstein, performed by Ludar.
DETAILS
Release Date:
31 May 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 23 May 1991
Los Angeles opening: 31 May 1991
New York opening: week of 31 May 1991
Production Date:
23 October 1990--mid January 1991 in New York City
Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Canoga Park, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
3 June 1991
Copyright Number:
PA526223
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® Cameras & Lenses
Duration(in mins):
96
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30974
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the Daytime Television Awards in New York City, David Seton Barnes, producer of the soap opera The Sun Also Sets, walks the red carpet with two of the show’s stars, the menacing Montana Moorehead and buxom Ariel Maloney. As they speak with reporters, however, their fans are distracted by the arrival of beloved, twelve-time Best Actress nominee, Celeste Talbert. While the actors enter the venue, a young woman struggles to get a glimpse of Celeste from behind the crowd. Inside, Celeste wins her award and thanks her co-stars, who silently seethe at her success. Later, she returns to her lavish apartment and is distraught to discover that her lover has gone home to his wife and children. At the television studio, Montana promises to consummate an affair with David if he agrees to give her more screentime and write Celeste out of the show. Meanwhile, Celeste’s admirer sneaks into the office of casting director Betsy Faye Sharon and introduces herself as Lori Craven, an aspiring actress desperate to appear on the program. Having just heard of an opening, Betsy casts her as a homeless background actor. Self-conscious about her age, Celeste throws an on-set tantrum about her mature, “Gloria Swanson-esque” costumes. To lift her spirits, Celeste’s head writer and confidante, Rose Schwartz, takes her to a suburban New Jersey mall, where she draws attention to the actress’s presence by pretending to be a fan. As dozens ... +


At the Daytime Television Awards in New York City, David Seton Barnes, producer of the soap opera The Sun Also Sets, walks the red carpet with two of the show’s stars, the menacing Montana Moorehead and buxom Ariel Maloney. As they speak with reporters, however, their fans are distracted by the arrival of beloved, twelve-time Best Actress nominee, Celeste Talbert. While the actors enter the venue, a young woman struggles to get a glimpse of Celeste from behind the crowd. Inside, Celeste wins her award and thanks her co-stars, who silently seethe at her success. Later, she returns to her lavish apartment and is distraught to discover that her lover has gone home to his wife and children. At the television studio, Montana promises to consummate an affair with David if he agrees to give her more screentime and write Celeste out of the show. Meanwhile, Celeste’s admirer sneaks into the office of casting director Betsy Faye Sharon and introduces herself as Lori Craven, an aspiring actress desperate to appear on the program. Having just heard of an opening, Betsy casts her as a homeless background actor. Self-conscious about her age, Celeste throws an on-set tantrum about her mature, “Gloria Swanson-esque” costumes. To lift her spirits, Celeste’s head writer and confidante, Rose Schwartz, takes her to a suburban New Jersey mall, where she draws attention to the actress’s presence by pretending to be a fan. As dozens of doting housewives swarm around her, Celeste signs autographs and basks in the crowd’s admiration. Back at the studio, David and Montana determine that the only way to turn viewers against Celeste is if her character murders one of the homeless, hoping that the shocking twist will also boost the show’s declining ratings. David and his team decide to promote Lori to play Celeste’s victim, but, concerned that she may not be able to act, write her character as a deaf mute. When Celeste initially objects to the plot, David feigns an anxiety attack, claiming that network executives forced him to make the decision. During rehearsal, Celeste recognizes Lori as her niece from Iowa, and is deeply distressed to learn that she dropped out of college to pursue acting. Frustrated that nothing is going according to plan, David and Montana conspire to find Celeste’s former lover, Jeffrey Anderson, whom she had fired from The Sun Also Sets twenty years earlier. Now performing in a pitiful dinner theater production of Death of a Salesman at a kitschy Florida steakhouse, David tracks Jeffrey down and suggests he reprise his original character, who will come back from the dead to begin an affair with Celeste. After many drinks, Jeffrey agrees, planning to exact revenge. Although Celeste’s mood greatly improves with Lori’s presence, she quickly snaps again when she learns of Jeffrey’s return, and that the newest script reveals her to be Montana’s onscreen mother. As Celeste struggles to suppress her resurfacing attraction to Jeffrey, the two clash on set. Witnessing the fight, Lori requests that Jeffrey be congenial with her aunt, and accepts his flirtatious invitation to dinner that evening. Meanwhile, Celeste’s unbearable self-loathing compels her to step in front of a bus, but her suicide attempt fails when the driver recognizes her and slams the brakes. When Lori announces she is leaving for her date with Jeffrey, Celeste flies into a seemingly jealous rage and follows her niece to his apartment. Once the couple goes upstairs, Celeste asks the doorman for Jeffrey’s apartment number and creeps to the side of the building. Lori borrows a book and prepares to leave, and Jeffrey admits that he originally asked her out to make Celeste jealous, but has since developed feelings for her. As Lori leans in for a kiss, Jeffrey suddenly becomes uncomfortable and diverts his lips to her forehead. From the fire escape, Celeste watches through the window as Jeffrey undresses, and, assuming Lori is still inside, shimmies across a narrow ledge to get a better view. When the cement crumbles under her feet, she screams and hangs from a drainpipe until Jeffrey pulls her back inside. Celeste frantically searches the apartment for Lori as Jeffrey taunts her about her lingering affection for him. He kisses her, and she warns him to stay away from her niece before returning the kiss and stomping out. The next day, Montana and David write a new scene that includes a romantic embrace between Lori and Jeffrey’s characters. Distraught, Celeste attacks Jeffrey as the two co-conspirators watch in amusement. Unaware that the television cameras are still rolling, the actress admits that Lori is her illegitimate daughter conceived on her fourth date with Jeffrey. Prevented by her contract from making her pregnancy public, Celeste gave infant Lori to her mother in Iowa and vengefully had Jeffrey written off the show. Later, David attempts to explain Celeste's behavior to network executives, but head programmer Edmund Edwards encourages her to stay because the story will generate tremendous publicity. As Lori’s role on the show expands and her character regains her voice, Montana becomes enraged at the girl’s rising popularity. Celeste attempts to apologize, subconsciously reciting a speech from one of her former episodes. One day, while Celeste begs Jeffrey to speak to their daughter, the two begin to kiss, but are interrupted by Montana, who angers Celeste by pretending to have had a tryst with Jeffrey. Already nearing a nervous breakdown, Celeste later discovers that a tabloid newspaper published a story claiming Montana is pregnant with Jeffrey’s child. When Celeste, Jeffrey, and Lori all threaten to quit the show, Mr. Edwards decides to shoot a live episode where the actors will learn their fate while reciting their lines from a teleprompter. During a dramatic surgery scene, Jeffrey vainly refuses to wear his glasses and struggles to read his dialogue. As the actors begin to deviate from the script, Lori breaks character to plead with her mother not to leave. With the cameras still recording, she vows to accept Jeffrey and Celeste as her parents if they promise not to lie to her. Crewmembers and viewers alike burst into tears, until Ariel and Rose enter the scene to debunk the rumors of Montana’s pregnancy by exposing her as transgender. Montana runs screaming from the set as David nauseously leaves the stunned Mr. Edwards’ office. Lori, Jeffrey, and Celeste all win Daytime Emmy Awards for their performances, and Montana, now known as “Milton,” assumes the role of “Willy Loman” at Jeffrey’s former Florida dinner theater. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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