story by Gail Matsunaga
image by Jeanine Hill
Surprisingly, until producer/director Cynthia Popp '85 (communications) guest-directed the television comedy "Frasier" last fall, she had never called "action" on a set-which may seem unusual for someone who directs a minimum of 52 episodes a year of the daytime drama "The Bold and the Beautiful."
"In daytime television, we had a countdown that goes back to the days of live television," Popp explains.
Her years working on a show that annually produces 260 episodes was good preparation for Popp's first prime-time directing gig. "My training in daytime television absolutely helped me. Daytime TV moves much faster than prime time. On 'Bold and Beautiful' we shoot a whole show in one day. Everybody's got to be prepared and on their game."
In contrast, sitcom productions typically spend a week on each episode, from the read-through on Day One to filming the show on the fifth day in front of an audience, "letting us know what worked and what didn't."
This came into play with the "Frasier" episode she directed, "Proxy Prexy." "We got a new ending from the writers half an hour before filming. It kind of fell flat with the audience. So, we went back to the original ending and the audience laughed, and we said, 'That's the keeper.'"
Looking ahead, Popp feels "it would be nice to really sink my teeth into the sitcom world." She recently renewed her contract for another three years on "The Bold and the Beautiful"-where she's worked since the soap's creation in 1986 and was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in 2001, but points out that her contract allows her to pursue other opportunities.
Away from the "drama" of daytime television, Popp "love(s) spending time with my 11-year-old daughter, Nicole." Mother and daughter spent a month backpacking through Europe for their summer vacation, "starting off the trip tracking the locations of the Harry Potter movie in England. It swas quite an adventure!" she said.
And, what about that word everyone associates with directing? "We've decided to change policy on our set," she says.
"Now we call 'action.'"