A Hollywood star screaming my name in bed is why I love Twitter

Michelle Stafford, who played Phyllis on Y&R before leaving to create The Stafford Project, was doing a Spreecast web chat live from her bed this morning. When host Arthur Kade started reading questions from fans, pretty much the greatest moment of my life happened. You can see the video here, scrub ahead to 13:30.

Here’s a transcript:

Michelle Stafford: “KEVIN! YOU’RE SO! I LOVE KEVIN! I LOVE HIM!”

Me: [faints]

To recap, that’s Hollywood actress Michelle Stafford screaming my name in bed.

I’ll let you pick your jaw up off the floor.

[pauses for effect]

Okay.

Why is a Hollywood actress screaming my name? Let’s go back to yesterday when I ranted against an article from some lifehacker who wants everyone to stop watching television because, among other silly assertions, he thinks it robs us of social interaction. I rightly obliterated his argument with examples of how watching television actually increases social interactions thru social media. This is an example of one type of interaction I left out.

On her Twitter account, @therealstafford has a running joke about guys who do random things being “bad in the sack.”

So yesterday when she tweeted her misgivings about hairless cats:

I could only respond:

Which got a nice response that will surely boost my Klout score:

LOLs were had, retweets were made, good fun all around. Since this happened only a day ago, presumably she remembered or recognized my avatar in the chat stream today and could only think to exclaim gleefully upon seeing it, as many women tend to do.  Either way it was very cool for me as a viewer that a celebrity from a show I watch would make a note of me. And that’s why I love Twitter.

Thanks to Twitter, stars and fans can interact in a way they never could. While some celebrities have purely promotional accounts, many television stars use theirs exactly the way Twitter is meant to be used: to interact. Stafford is one example, many of her former colleagues on Y&R are, too. As a Y&R fan for almost two decades, I was over the moon the first time Joshua Morrow replied to one of my tweets. Nick Newman the person talked to me!

That was so cool that I decided to embark on a mission to get every Y&R star who is on Twitter to respond to one of my tweets without pathetically begging for a retweet like so many losers do. I hate crap like that. Instead, I decided I would show you can get celebrities to respond to you by simply tweeting good stuff. Instead of treating them like OMG CELEBRITIES! I responded to their tweets the way I would respond to anyone else in my feed.

The results have been a blast. To date, at least 8 Y&R actors have responded to one of my tweets.

Most of the time it’s a simple “Ha!” or “LOL” and there’s nothing wrong with that. The goal is a response. The result is an even stronger bond with the show, or in Stafford’s case, a bond strengthened enough to follow her career to her next project. Had there been no Twitter and Phyllis got shipped to an island medical clinic off the coast of Georgia for coma patients I likely would not have bothered to figure out where the actress went.

When I decided to embark on getting a response from my favorite Y&R stars, I certainly didn’t anticipate it would result in one of them screaming my name in bed. That’s what Twitter can do, that’s what television can do. It is what makes it a great tool for social interaction and a powerful tool for marketers. What happens with TV stars happens countless times every day with brands helping customers solve a problem or right a wrong. It means sales, good will, and word-of-mouth advertising that no television commercial can buy. In politics we motivated candidates and volunteers by telling them the most trusted endorsement of a candidate comes from a voter’s friend, neighbor or relative. Twitter gives brands the opportunity for that endorsement. Delta lost my luggage but their Twitter assist team tracked it down and got it back for me. 

So back to our lifehacker who is busy practicing kung fu or hanging out with his “girlfriend.” Watching television isn’t a bad thing. It’s not a sin. It’s entertainment and there is social interaction.

Keep watching, keep tweeting.

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Considering an amendment to the spoiler policy

I’m considering an amendment to the official spoiler policy I established a few weeks ago. It is based on primetime dramas and may be faulty when considering the unique viewing traditions for daytime soap operas.

Time-shifting is so ingrained in soap culture that it seems like there should be a different set of rules. Being a daily show airing during the work day is very different than a drama that airs once a week at night. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to watch it live, so shouldn’t there be a short grace period?

This consideration is prompted by the Y&R Twitter account live-tweeting episodes during the day.

Developing…

The Duchess

Jeanne Cooper died Wednesday morning in Los Angeles. Her age is irrelevant, for she was timeless.

The IMDB credits her for appearing as Katherine Chancellor in 1006 episodes of The Young and the Restless, a tally that must surely fall short considering that she first appeared in 1973, the same year the show premiered on CBS. A single Daytime Emmy award is an indictment on the Emmys more than a statement of her acting abilities. Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame sits at 6801 Hollywood Blvd, a location I will surely visit when I am in California later this year.

Cooper was a legend in her own time if there ever was one, the dame of an era of television that the world left behind. America once loved its morning show anchors, evening newscasters and late night hosts who came into our lives on a daily basis. All of those daily institutions went into decline as entertainment options fragmented, including soap operas. Once-standard shows like All My Children and One Life To Live are gone and only four remain.  My grandpa surely went apeshit in his grave at the cancelation of his beloved Asa Buchanan. OLTL recently returned as a 30-minute series on Hulu, but Grandpa Julius ain’t got time for that. Asa belongs on television with the Cubs and Crossfire, dammit.

The Young and The Restless has not been immune from the decline even though its ratings improved after last year’s housecleaning of on- and off-screen talent. It still leads the other four remaining sudsers in all categories. Y&R is making a clear move towards youth in its talent and fresher, more modern sets, indicating that it probably knows it needs to keep and attract younger viewers. As it does, though, they will be coming into the show in a different way than past generations.

Soaps used to be passed down like a family heirloom. My mom’s dad passed Asa on to her, she passed Y&R on to my sister and me. If either of us ever has children, they may take it from us. That connection to their closest relationships is part of why soap fans are so incredibly tied to their shows. As more viewers come to the show without that connection they will be more difficult to retain.

Soap operas will then rely more on another connection unique to the genre. I obviously only knew Cooper in the way that all viewers did, but she and her co-stars have been a part of my life every weekday for half the time I’ve been alive. That might sound a little odd, to say that television stars we never meet can be a part of our lives, but think about it: Five days a week, for years on end. What other parts of your life are that frequent, that consistent? I’ve watched stars like Joshua Morrow and Sharon Case go from their 20s to near their 40s. Christel Khalil began her role as Lily Winters when she was 14 years old. We literally watched her grow up. A viewer cannot help but feel a connection when it devotes 39 minutes to them day after day, year after year. Soaps will need new viewers to stick with the show often enough and long enough for that connection to take root in them the way it has for so many of us for generations.

And through it all, there was Jeanne Cooper. Not young, still restless, forever the dame of daytime television.

Rest in peace, Duchess.