Saturday, April 18, 2015

Review: 'Queens of Drama' Is Must-Watch Soapy Goodness

Left to Right: Vanessa Marcil, Donna Mills, Hunter Tylo, Chrystee Pharris, Joan Collins, Lindsay Hartley and Crystal Hunt star in Queens of Drama. Photo Credit: Pop
Queens of Drama premieres Sunday, April 26, at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Pop, immediately following the network's exclusive live broadcast of the 42nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards. Queens of Drama is a 10 episode series that features six former daytime and primetime soap stars taking control of their careers to produce and star in a new serialized drama.

The all-star cast includes Lindsay Hartley (All My Children, Days Of Our Lives), Crystal Hunt (Guiding Light, One Life To Live), Vanessa Marcil (Las Vegas, General Hospital), Chrystee Pharris (Passions, General Hospital) and Hunter Tylo (The Bold and The Beautiful), with special appearances by Donna Mills (Knots Landing, Melrose Place). Joan Collins (Dynasty, Guiding Light) guest stars.

Based on the first three episodes, Queens of Drama is entertaining, absorbing, and offers plenty of drama to live up to the show's title. Each member of the cast is playing a version of themselves so perfectly drawn in this soft-scripted reality series that it's easy to follow the story, invest in the "characters" and instantly care about whether or not these women will be able to put together a show of their own. And who will lead them.

Donna Mills on Queens of Drama. Photo Credit: Pop
The true Queen is Donna Mills, appropriately, who seems to be playing an updated version of Abby Fairgate Ewing from Knots Landing mixed with a dose of her real personality.

In the April 26 premiere, Lindsay Hartley is reunited with Passions co-star Chrystee Pharris, and the two run into Vanessa Marcil and Crystal Hunt at an industry mixer and begin discussing creating a show of their own. Later, a nervous Marcil approaches Mills to join them to help develop the series. Mills instantly notices "Vanessa is not nearly experienced enough" to pull off the production, and agrees to come on board.

"I've been in this business a long time, and there's not enough women creating their own projects," Mills says. "I love this idea."

So do I!

What the other girls don't love, though, is how Mills instantly takes charges as the leader of the group, and the fact she brings her pal Hunter Tylo on board. By the end of the first episode, Marcil walks out in the middle of a meeting with the entire team, unhappy with how Mills rejected her ideas and talked down to her in a way that will remind Knots Landing fans of how Abby treated Valene on Knots Landing.

As the story continues in future episodes, Marcil returns and the group continues on their journey to create a new show. After Mills takes a meeting with The CW without consulting anyone, the girls get upset and Hunt hatches a plan to find a new "leader" for the team.  She contacts Joan Collins, the Dynasty legend and Hunt's former Guiding Light co-star. What the girls aren't expecting is Mills and Collins are pals, and Collins tells her fellow '80s primetime diva about the call. Mills later surprises the group by inviting Collins to meeting, letting them all know she's onto their scheming.

An interesting side conflict is the way Hunt treats Hartley, making negative comments about how Hartley met her boyfriend Jason-Shane Scott (former One Life to Live star) online. Hunt seems to have it in for Hartley, though she claims to only have good intentions.

In Queens of Drama, Hartley is the put-upon heroine of the group. Pharris plays her loyal sidekick with big dreams of her own. Hunt is a diva, who seems to be bitchy just because she's good at it. Tylo is Mill's loyal friend who doesn't understand why the younger actors have such a problem with listening to people who have more experience. Mills is the queen bee who knows what she wants and is always on top of her game. Marcil's "character" is a bit confusing, moving back and forth between confident woman with a plan to a bit of a ditz who is unsure of herself. Perhaps her role will become clear as the season moves along.

If you watched E!'s Dirty Soap and were disappointed at the lack of drama and interesting story development, don't let that keep you from tuning in for Pop's Queens of Drama. Is is "reality?" No, but who cares? This is a near-perfect "reality"/soft-scripted series that soap opera fans will absolutely love. If you're a fan of daytime drama, you won't be able to get enough of the Queens of Drama at night.

Watch a sneak peek below:



Queens of Drama will begin airing in its regularly scheduled time slot on Wednesdays, (8:00-8:30 p.m. ET/PT) starting April 29.

Queens of Drama is produced by ThinkFactory Media, with Adam Reed, Adam Freeman, Aaron Fishman, Tim Laurie, and Leslie Greif, serving as Executive Producers.

QUEENS OF DRAMA PREVIEW
Episode 1 "I Don’t Do Ugly" (Sunday, April 26 at 10 p.m. ET)
Vanessa Marcil, Lindsay Hartley, and Crystal Hunt ask Donna Mills help to create a new primetime drama. Donna Mills invites Hunter Tylo to join the project. Tensions rise when the women realize they may not share the same vision for a new show.

Episode 2 "People Should Keep Their Opinions to Themselves" (Sunday, April 26 at 10:30 p.m. ET)
Donna invites the women to her house for a wine and cheese party to announce the CW network is interested in their project. Hunter is thrilled, but Chrystee, Lindsay, Crystal and Vanessa are upset that Donna speaks to the network without them. Personal conflicts begin to arise when Crystal makes judgmental comments about Lindsay meeting her boyfriend, Jason Shane Scott, online.

Episode 3 "Those Little Devils" (Wednesday, April 29 at 8 p.m. ET)
Donna and her old friend Joan Collins teach the ladies a lesson when Crystal goes behind Donna’s back. Lindsay gets all the women invitations to the Sue Wong Fashion show, but Vanessa and Hunter have to keep tempers in check when Crystal steals the spotlight.

QUEENS OF DRAMA CAST BIOS
Lindsay Hartley is best known for portraying the hopeless romantic Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald on the NBC soap opera Passions, from 1999-2008. In 2009, Lindsay joined the cast of another NBC soap, Days of our Lives, as Arianna Hernandez. The following year, Lindsay signed on to play the new character of Cara Castillo on All My Children. In addition to her work in daytime drama, Lindsay has guest starred on CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (10th Season) and on Smallville (Final Season) as the DC Comics character Mad Harriet.

Emmy nominated actress, Crystal Hunt, first captured America’s attention at the age of 17, when she was cast as the troubled, misguided teenager Lizzie Spaulding on the iconic CBS daytime series Guiding Light. Crystal returned to her television roots in 2009, when she was cast as the devious stripper Stacy Morasco on the ABC daytime series One Life To Live.

Emmy Award winning actress Vanessa Marcil started her TV career playing high school student Brenda Barrett on General Hospital. Vanessa landed the role of Sam Marquez on the NBC drama Las Vegas in 2003, acting as a casino host opposite James Caan and Josh Duhamel. Her other primetime appearances include guest star and recurring roles on: Hawaii Five-0, Spin City, ABC/Steven Spielberg’s series High Incident, Without a Trace, Lipstick Jungle, Crossing Jordan, and NYPD Blue.

Donna Mills is best known from the '80s primetime soap Knots Landing as the conniving Abby Cunningham. Donna's first television roles were on the daytime soap operas The Secret Storm and Love Is a Many Splendored Thing. She made her film debut in 1967 in the hard-hitting drama The Incident. In 1971, she co-starred with Clint Eastwood in the popular thriller Play Misty for Me. Throughout her career, Donna has made frequent guest appearances on top-rated series such as Melrose Place and several made-for-TV films.

Chrystee Pharris blazed onto NBC-TV as Simone Russell on the hit daytime soap opera Passions and she returned to NBC at night with Golden Globe Nominee Zach Braff on the hit show Scrubs. Chrystee has also had recurring and guest star roles on Moesha, Castle and The Steve Harvey Show.

Hunter Tylo has been on CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful for the past 23 years, as Dr. Taylor Forrester. She has guest-starred on many primetime shows including Diagnosis Murder, The Nanny and Zorro, as well as movies for the Hallmark Channel. In 1994, she co-starred with Bruce Boxleitner and Ann Margaret in the mini-series The Maharajah’s Daughter. Hunter has twice been named People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” and has done more than 500 commercials, her most notable as the ‘Pantene Girl.’

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