Set Designer PATRICK HOWE talks about ANOTHER WORLD's scenic wonders -- and

a new set

guaranteed to bowl you over!

DIGEST ONLINE: How long have you been with ANOTHER WORLD?

PATRICK HOWE: Well, I've actually worked here about 8 years or 9 years, but

I became head

designer at the very beginning of last year.

DIGEST ONLINE: Tell us a little bit about your background.

HOWE: I was somebody who studied theater in high school and all through

college, both in

undergraduate and graduate school. Specifically, I majored in theater

design. I did undergraduate at

Cal State Northridge in Los Angeles. Then, in 1980, I moved to NY and

started graduate work at



HOWE: I had done one other soap opera previously. I had worked on ONE LIFE

TO LIVE as an

assistant designer from about 1985-88. I worked on that first sort of

spaceship to Heaven thing,

where they had all those characters from the past come back to the show.

That was my beginning

in soap opera, and it was all by accident. My background was theater. I

wasn't pursuing television

at all, but it was the classic case of you drop your resume off at the

networks, just like you drop it

off anywhere else, and literally a couple of years later my resume was

pulled out of the file for

overhire. I was hired on part time at ONE LIFE TO LIVE and it just turned

into a full-time job.

DIGEST ONLINE: What exactly is "overhire"?

HOWE: If a show is extra busy, and needs additional help for a few days or a

week or a month,

they hire extra designers on a per diem basis. That's overhire.

DIGEST ONLINE: And from ONE LIFE TO LIVE, you made the transition directly

to AW?

HOWE: Yes, I did three years there. Then this job came up right away. I

started being as assistant

here, sort of started at the bottom, and worked my way up, so to speak.

DIGEST ONLINE: Let's talk about some of the sets you've designed recently --

like Vicky's trip to

Heaven. How did you come up with the concept?

HOWE: It was a challenge because Heaven is such a controversial thing. It's

so open to

interpretation; it could be anything. I felt that what Heaven is to one

person is the complete opposite

of what it means to someone else. So, in a way, I sort of felt justified in

doing like whatever I wanted

-- any interpretation was as valid as anything else. You know, Heaven could

be a field of yellow

daisies, or it could be some void, or it could be some architectural

structure. While incorporating

some traditional images about Heaven, I wanted to create a situation where

you had a sense of

being in some other space, high above earth, where you could look down on

earth. I started noticing

imagery that just seemed to symbolize Heaven emotion wise, things like those

Italianate frescoes

of angels from the Renaissance. I mean they're sort of an eternal symbol of

life, mythology wise. I

also added a little bit of fire and water. I don't know if the water was

ever obvious or not [to the

viewers], but there was water in that reflecting pond. I just wanted those

two images. Fire, water and

earth are eternal, symbolic ingredients of life.

DIGEST ONLINE: How long did it take to actually build Heaven?

HOWE: It was quite an ordeal. It was a couple of intensive weeks of

painting, doing all of that mural

work and fresco work, and a couple of weeks of construction. And we had that

big window with sky

and clouds going by. We were trying to get a sense of the universe and

planets below. I was hoping

it would be staged where you would see Vicky looking out there, and getting

a real sense of the

universe going by. It didn't ever quite work out, but that was sort of the idea.

DIGEST ONLINE: You've just built the "Bay City Bowl-o-rama." Not many soaps

have their own

bowling alleys. Designing it must be have been a challenge.

HOWE: It's an ongoing set, and it should be fun. Viewers saw the bowling

alley for the first time,

actually, in flashbacks of police officers bowling. It was part of Gabe's

funeral. The idea is that the

cops have a regular weekly bowling night, and they might play the newspaper

or the hospital. The

people who work at the Bay City Herald will have their own bowling team, and

probably the doctors

and nurses at the hospital will have a bowling team, too. Hopefully, it's

going to be a great crossover

set. On soaps, it's always a battle; characters tend to get stuck in one

place. You're always trying

to justify people running into each other at somebody's house. But a bowling

alley is a natural

meeting place. It's easy to bring your kids there, so you can have Vicky and

Bobby going there with

the kids. Anybody can slum and go bowling -- you can have Rachel Cory go

bowling if you want

DIGEST ONLINE: How much research did you do for the bowling alley set?

HOWE: Massive research. Bowling is something that I've always wanted to do

and just never have. I

bowled a couple of times as a kid; otherwise, it's just not been a sport

I've ever paid any attention

to. So we did lots of research. I had everyone in our office calling friends

in the towns they grew up

in , and asking them to go take pictures of their favorite old bowling

alley. It would be great to go fly

around the country yourself and take pictures, but there's not the time or

money for that. One of my

assistants is from a small town in Minnesota, so he called his mom and said,

"Please, go take

pictures of the bowling alley and fed ex them to me today." My other

assistant went around locally

in New York and took pictures of bowling alleys in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten

Island and Manhattan.

DIGEST ONLINE: Now that you've become an expert in bowling alley decor, are

there real


HOWE: It's funny; you see what they all have in common, and then you see the

slight differences.

They all sort of have the same amenities.

DIGEST ONLINE: It sounds like Diner America -- the sense that there's a

basic uniformity to

bowling alleys, whether they're in Honolulu or Hoboken.

HOWE: Yes, there are certain kinds of seating units and lockers and things

that seem to show up

everywhere. And then from our pictures, we discovered that the differences

between bowl-o-ramas

just depended on how old and vintagey they were. I tried to seek out the fun

ones from the 1950s

and 60s and not do anything new.

DIGEST ONLINE: So, the Bay City Bowl-o-rama has supposedly been around for

30 years -- we've

just never seen it before?

HOWE: Oh, definitely. It's a crossover between a vintage look and something

more retro. It definitely

has a 50s edge to it.

DIGEST ONLINE: How many actual bowling lanes will we see?

HOWE: You'll see a lane, and then you see all the surroundings. Eventually,

it will have a

bar/lounge area attached to it -- a raised platform area with some tables,

chairs and bar stools right

behind the main scene area. The lane is sort of enclosed by these small

little banquettes and raised

tables, and you've got all the other amenities: lockers to put your bowling

bag in, your shoe rental

area, and your racks of bowling balls. All that stuff will be there.

DIGEST ONLINE: Can the actors actually bowl on the set?

HOWE: If they do, they'll break a camera or something. There's a platform

for them to start their

bowling. But the camera is actually positioned at the end of the lane, where

the pins would normally

be. So you bowl into the camera -- right toward it. You might see the ball

leave the actor's hand, but

in reality it's going to be caught by a stagehand or hurled into a mattress

in the aisle [off-camera].

DIGEST ONLINE: One can only imagine the actors clowning around during

rehearsal when it's "Bay

City Bowling Night."

HOWE: We just did the bowling flashbacks for Gabe's funeral, and it was

pretty wild.

DIGEST ONLINE: Who are the championship bowlers going to be?

HOWE: I think the first time we see them in current time, it's still police

officers -- Josie, Gary and

Joe. The following week I know Bobby and Vicky are there -- Bobby's playing

a race car video game

at the bowling alley. The first few times we're not using the bar/lounge

area, we just don't need it

yet, but then you will see it later on.

DIGEST ONLINE: Recently, Jake McKinnon was in jail. Oscar Wilde once wrote,

"Stone walls and

iron bars do not a prison make." How much leeway are you allowed in

designing a jail?

HOWE: Well, jail is jail. When you really get down to it, the requirements

are pretty much the same

-- you've got to have bars for actors to grab on to and for cameramen to

shoot through. It's just a

matter of how much of a cage you do. You can have bars on one side or 2

sides or more. Jake's in

sort of a holding cell in the police squad room, and [soon we're going to

have another character]

hauled off to a county jail. For the set designer, it's often more about

logistics than anything else.

The directors want to see the bars, to show that the character is obviously

in jail, but then very often

they like the bars removed so they can shoot the scene without all those

bars in the way.

DIGEST ONLINE: What about some of the show's longrunning sets. Are there any

plans to refurbish

the Cory mansion?

HOWE: Oh, God. I think we need to do Internet donations maybe to pay for it.

If people send in $5

each or something, maybe there will be the money for it, because it's been

in the works for a few

months, and it's still honestly and truly just finances that's been

preventing it, because it's long

overdue. That set was done long before I ever came here, and the current

look is about 10 years old.

It looked very good 10 years ago, and now it's still holding its own, but

even if it were in perfect

shape, it's a design and a style that is definitely 10 years old. It looked

very current when it was

done, but at best it looks very 80s now. I would love to redo that, and our

executive producer

Charlotte Savitz is desperate to. We just have to get somebody to pay for it.

DIGEST ONLINE: What about recycling sets -- what happened to Wallingford's

after it drifted out of

the storyline?

HOWE: Wallingford's had some really neat stuff in it. I've saved pieces, and

a lot of it got converted

into the coffee house, which you only saw a few times but is coming back. If

things don't seem like

they'll be usable again, we just throw them away, because it's a constant

battle. We have only so

much warehouse storage space. So you store only the most key elements that

you think you can

recycle and use some other way.

DIGEST ONLINE: We understand Sofia is getting a new set -- tell us about that.

HOWE: Sofia is going to leave Joe's house and move into an apartment of her

own. She'll wind up

taking in two roommates. I'm hoping to use a little bit of the bookstore

and some pieces from other

sets to create her apartment. They've written how Sofia doesn't have two

nickels to rub together, so

it's going to be a cross between a tenement, walkuppy apartment and/or some

industrial loft

warehousey space converted to residential use. It's going to have a big

window that opens on a tar

beach rooftop, so Sofia and her friends can do scenes out there. They'll

step right out on the roof. If

[the producers and writers] can work that out, it will be nice, because in a

soap situation the

potential is unending for all those romantic, rooftoppy things; you know,

late night dinners on the

roof, or dancing out there, or even sleeping out there in good weather.

DIGEST ONLINE: What kind of set do you literally cringe at having to create?

HOWE: It's awful to have to create exteriors, particularly daytime

exteriors. When they write the

beach and they expect viewers to see ocean and sand and clear blue sky,

those kind of exteriors

are impossible to pull off, really because of how difficult it is to light

them. You can never get

convincing daylight, sunlight, so that's a real struggle. No matter how

realistic I can make foliage

and sand happen, which often costs a fortune, you just can't light it

believably enough, so that's

frustrating. It's also true that Caribbean type sets or European sets are

harder to pull off because

they're more costly. If you don't have any extra money to do it, then you

really have to compromise.

If you were doing a European hotel room for a high-budget film, you'd have

enough money to rent the

suitable antiques, but when you do it on a real shoestring, with all these

fake substitutes and

reproductions, by the time you add enough reproductions together, it doesn't

add up to the

believable collective end product that it should.

DIGEST ONLINE: Fires and disasters are a very popular story device. Does it

upset you that after

you've built a beautiful set, the crew comes in and drenches it with water?

HOWE: Kind of. It's fun when it works out like, "Oh, let's burn the set down

so we can make a new

one." For instance, if they decided to burn down the Cory living room

because they had a whole new

one built, designed and ready to go, then that would be fine. But fires are

a lot of trouble to produce;

they are very time consuming to tape, if you want to get the effects

anywhere near right. There's a

lot of hands-on time where you've all got to be on the floor, helping to

make all this fire and smoke

and lighting and water happen.

DIGEST ONLINE: How many sets are used during the course of a year?

HOWE: It feels like a million and a half. It's a lot of sets, a lot of

volume. There are people who find

out you design sets for a soap opera and they'll say, "Well, how much do

you design? Isn't it just

the same sets every day?" They obviously don't really watch the shows. Every

script has about 10

or 11 locations, and we have sets that come and go all the time.

DIGEST ONLINE: In total , about how many people does take to keep all the


sets up and running?

HOWE: On the technical side alone, you have all those carpenters, prop guys,

lighting guys and

stage hands who truck everything in and out. That's upwards of 50 people --

plus 3 designers.

That's the basic corps, but the number is much higher if you count

producers, directors and

cameramen. And there are crews that move the scenery at night, when the show

is dark. They're

fascinating people; they all have their own lives, but the good ones are

dedicated to the show. They

have continuity concerns that things are done the same way [so when they put

the couch back in

Rachel's living room, it's in the same place as last time]. In putting sets

back up, they try to do their

best with the information they have. They take lots of pictures and try to

restore everything exactly

as it was. Most people don't really grasp that these sets come up and down

every day. They all

break down into small pieces, and all the props go into hampers, and then

they go into trucks, and

then they get driven to a warehouse [if the sets aren't going to be used

next day]. People just

assume that all these sets are standing forever. But if they were, you'd

need several football fields --

you'd need an entire stadium to house all the sets if you put them up and

never took them down.

DIGEST ONLINE: If you could live in any ANOTHER WORLD set, which would it be?

HOWE: We just did a cabin for Daniel, who's a longtime friend of Bobby

Reno's. The cabin turned

out really beautiful; we wound up using real logs, real timbers, cut offs of

wood from a mill, and we

faced the whole side of this cabin with wood. It looked really great, and

everyone [in the cast]

wanted to move in there. It would make a perfect time share. And I'd

certainly like to eat at the

Harbor Club, or stay at Vicky's cottage. Also, we also had a really

incredible, romantic country inn

a while back that was just the epitome of quaint and cozy. It made you just

want to snuggle up on

the big feather bed and light a fire.