Mary Alice Dwyer-Dobbin
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Mary Alice Dwyer had the nickname "Mickey" since childhood. Online she is commonly referred to by her initials, "MADD". She is married to Leon Dobbin, who is a retired NBC executive.
Dwyer-Dobbin worked for the ABC network in several production capacities; she was part of the production team for several game shows. She initially became involved with daytime drama when she was selected to be a part of the production team for Ryan's Hope, which debuted on the network in 1975 and ran until 1989. Dwyer-Dobbin was also involved with the ABC Afterschool Special program.
She briefly left ABC to become involved in Daytime, a women's television network that was a precursor to Lifetime Television. After she returned to ABC, she was eventually named head of the network's East Coast daytime shows and then, eventually, all of the network's programming.
Dwyer-Dobbin was hired in 1996 by daytime production company Procter and Gamble Productions to be their head of production for their three daytime dramas, replacing veteran production head Kenneth Fitts in that capacity. (Unlike most daytime shows, which are owned either partly or wholly by their creators or the network, Procter and Gamble acted as a supplier of the show to the networks, and had a substantial say in how they were produced.)
Dwyer-Dobbin remained head of the P&G soaps for several years, and even served briefly as executive producer of Guiding Light while it sought a new executive producer. On September 6, 2005, Dwyer-Dobbin announced plans to vacate her position the following month at the end of her contract. Procter & Gamble decided not to name a successor, saying that they would leave creative decisions to their programs' executive producers, Christopher Goutman and Ellen Wheeler.
When she joined P&G, Dwyer-Dobbin inherited three veteran soaps (Another World on NBC and As the World Turns, and Guiding Light on CBS) and was put in charge of revitalizing the aging franchises. Dwyer-Dobbin initially stated that no soap opera would be canceled under her watch; however, that promise was broken when, in 1999, Another World was cancelled after 35 years on television. This decision appears to have ultimately been made because NBC and Procter & Gamble could not agree on the fee NBC would pay for the show; nonetheless, viewers blamed Dwyer-Dobbin.
Several personnel issues made her unpopular with fans, who began to mockingly refer to her as "MADD", especially in the Internet communities that were dedicated to the P&G shows. The first misstep was to bring talent from ABC onto her shows; she attempted to swiftly put her stamp on a revised As the World Turns by bringing in former ABC scriptwriter Lorraine Broderick and firing longtime ATWT actor Allyson Rice-Taylor, replacing her with former One Life to Live star Susan Batten. Though there is some information the decision to switch to Batten was made by executive producer Felicia Minei Behr as a result of Taylor's vocal unhappiness with changes Behr made in the show's taping schedule. These moves were wildly unpopular, though Broderick's writing did eventually solidify and stabilize the show. In general, under Dwyer-Dobbin's oversight, all of the P&G shows experienced turnover in terms of the acting crews and production crews. In the last year of Dwyer-Dobbin's reign alone, Guiding Light lost nearly a third of its veteran cast from the ranks of contract players, and several backstage vets, most notably longtime producer Robert D. Kochman and director Bruce S. Barry.
Detractors of Dwyer-Dobbin are most vocal and negative about the sequence of events surrounding Guiding Light and the dismissal of veteran actor Michael Zaslow. Zaslow, a member of the cast from 1971 to 1980 and who had returned to the show in 1989, learned shortly after Dwyer-Dobbin came on board that he had Lou Gehrig's Disease. Procter & Gamble unceremoniously dropped him when he developed speech difficulties, choosing to recast his character. Dwyer-Dobbin defended this decision to the press with what could best be defined as an unfortunate choice of words, stating that viewers wouldn't want to see Zaslow's character, villain Roger Thorpe, portrayed as a "wizened old man." Fans were furious, and in the ultimate insult, Dwyer-Dobbin's former employee, ABC Daytime, snatched up Zaslow to reprise his role of David Renaldi on One Life to Live. Although Dwyer-Dobbin apologized for the comment numerous times, many fans refuse to forgive her for not allowing Zaslow the chance to finish the role of Roger Thorpe before his death in 1998.
Kenneth L. Fitts
|Executive in Charge of Production for PGP soap operas
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