James Harmon Brown and Barbara Esensten

  (Redirected from Barbara Esensten)

James Harmon Brown and Barbara Esensten are American television writers, primarily working on soap operas. The duo have worked together for over 20 years, starting on the prime-time serial Dynasty. Together, they created the soap opera The City, a spinoff of Loving. On November 14, 2012, Esensten died at the age of 75.[1]


Brown and Esensten are somewhat controversial; their writing has been criticized[by whom?] as often drifting into the absurd and sci-fi. When the two wrote for Guiding Light during the later part of the 1990s, the show's primary heroine, Reva Shayne, was cloned, and when the duo would later write for Port Charles, vampires were introduced, along with other supernatural creatures. When the two took over as head writers at All My Children, the show plummeted to record lows in the ratings.[2] The show reached a record low of 2,144,000 viewers on November 2, 2007.[citation needed]

Because of the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike, Brown and Esensten went financial core within the guild, allowing them to write for All My Children because of financial strains brought on by the strike. Megan McTavish, the writer they replaced at All My Children, was displeased. "These are not youngsters struggling to make mortgage payments or feed their children. Their sole intent now seems to be piling up more money for themselves," she said.[3]

Barbara EsenstenEdit

Barbara Esensten (née Sills) was born in Los Angeles, California to Rose Fischer and Max Edward Sills. She had an older sister, Phyllis, and a younger brother, Stanley. The family lived in a middle-class neighborhood (now part of Watts, California). Barbara and Stanley attended Woodcrest elementary school, Bret Hart Junior High School, and Washington High School, all of which in Southern Los Angeles. Barbara graduated with a bachelor's degree in Political Science from UCLA. Most of her adult life, Barbara and her husband Jack, lived in the affluent Palos Verdes, south of Los Angeles. Barbara was an accomplished pianist, an avid reader, and very much loved he family.

Positions heldEdit


  • Co-Writers: 1987-1988
  • Executive Story Editors: 1988-1989

All My Children

  • Co-Head Writers: July 26, 2007 - January 14, 2008; January 30 - August 26, 2008
  • Script Writers: July 20, 2010 – September 23, 2011

Days of Our Lives

  • Script Editors: November 2006 - May 2007

One Life to Live

  • Script Editors: October 2004 - October 2005

Port Charles

Guiding Light

  • Co-Head Writers: 1997 - 2000


  • Co-Head Writers: 1994 - November 1995

The City

  • Creators
  • Co-Head Writers: November 1995 - March 1997

The Young and the Restless

  • Script Writer: September 19, 2019 – present (Harmon Brown)

Awards and nominationsEdit

Daytime Emmy Awards


  • (1993; Best Writing; Guiding Light)
  • (2012; Best Writing; Days of Our Lives)


  • (1999; Best Writing; Guiding Light)
  • (2006, 2009 & 2012; Best Writing; One Life to Live)

Writers Guild of America Award


  • (1995, 1996, 1998 & 1999 seasons; Guiding Light)
  • (2006 season; One Life to Live)
  • (2008 season; All My Children)


  1. ^ "Barbara Esensten Dead at 75". We Love Soaps. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  2. ^ "AMC hits new record lows". Soap Opera Network. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. ^ Steinberg, Jacques (January 21, 2008). "Soap-Operas Are the Hidden Drama of the Strike". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-21.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Addie Walsh
Laurie McCarthy
Head Writer of Loving
Early 1995–November 10, 1995
Succeeded by
Show ended
Preceded by
Head Writer of The City
November 13, 1995 – March 28, 1997
Succeeded by
Show ended
Preceded by
Michael Conforti
Victor Miller
Nancy Williams Watt
Head Writer of Guiding Light
April 1997 – August 2000
Succeeded by
Claire Labine
Preceded by
Megan McTavish (no HW listed before they joined)
Head Writer of All My Children
July 25, 2007 – January 14, 2008
Succeeded by
Julie Hanan Carruthers
Brian Frons (WGA Strike)
Preceded by
Julie Hanan Carruthers
Brian Frons (WGA Strike)
Head Writer of All My Children
January 31 - August 26, 2008
Succeeded by
Charles Pratt Jr.