Remember that Married With Children knockoff on the WB called Unhappily Ever After? Andrea Archer Compton does, mainly because of the trashcan in the dude’s man cave. Or maybe it was a sign. Whatever it was, it had an Auburn logo on it.
“It wasn’t featured,” she says, “but you couldn’t miss it.”
The show aired in the late ’90s, right after Compton, a Mobile native, graduated from Auburn and got her start in soaps as a writer’s assistant on Days of Our Lives. It wasn’t great. But she watched it.
“I always thought that was just so crazy, that someone got an Auburn wastebasket on television.”
So maybe that’s what gave her the idea, even if just subconsciously. All she really remembers is seeing stuff for other schools on the wall and wondering why soaps fans shouldn’tsee stuff for hers.
It was 2009. Compton had climbed the ranks to production coordinator for General Hospital, ABC’s most-watched daytime drama. They were redecorating the set for Jake’s Bar.
“I noticed that there were other pennants, so I asked (the associate producer) ‘hey, can I do this?’ And they said, ‘OK,'” Compton says. “So when the art department rolled out that set and decorated, there it was.”
There it was — behind the karaoke stage Dr. Patrick Drake rocked that one time, then over the door to the back room, then right there in the booth, smack dab between Ava and Carlos, who was all paranoid about Julian and wondering why in the world Ava wanted to meet anyway: An Auburn pennant straight from J&M Bookstore.
It wasn’t featured. But you couldn’t miss it.
Compton says she hadn’t tried being true to her school on Days of Our Lives, or on Port Charles, where she also worked as a writer’s assistant after her Days gig.
“But they didn’t really have a bar set.”
The bar was key. The pennant had to appear natural. The ABC legal team said it couldn’t come across like she was advertising for Auburn. But since sports memorabilia looks natural in a bar setting, there it stayed in Jake’s bar setting for years, even after Jake’s became The Flying Rib.
In 2010, Compton won a Daytime Emmy and a Director’s Guild Award for her work on the show. The Auburn pennant probably had nothing to do with it. But it obviously didn’t hurt.
Compton left General Hospital last fall to help produce, for the first time in more than 20 years, something other than soap operas. She’s currently producer and co-host for the internet radio show Animal Magnetism with Carolyn Hennessy. Things are good. But with her absence, the fate of the Flying Rib’s Auburn pennant is uncertain.
Two die-hard fans both of Auburn and General Hospital told me the pennant hasn’t popped up in a couple of years.
But that doesn’t mean that “Auburn” hasn’t.
The name of the magazine that Elizabeth was showing to Sabrina in the hospital last fall after almost being killed off by the serial killer, who wound up being District Attorney Paul Hornsby (who later actually killed not Elizabeth but Sabrina by grabbing her by the neck from behind and injecting her with Derisifol)?
“Our props department created that,” Compton says “I didn’t know about it till it was taping.”
So was it just random? Or a tribute to a colleague moving on to other challenges?
“I’d like to think a little bit of both.”