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News for the week of 22-Jul-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

Erika Slezak (Viki) and Kassie DePaiva (Blair) tried to pin down the secret to OLTL’s popularity with viewers in a special media interview celebrating the show’s 45th anniversary. Answering TV Source’s Omar Nobles’ question about OLTL’s lasting legacy, the actresses pointed to its honest portrayal of real people. “… I think that all the head writers put together have been very, very careful to present real people in real situations dealing with them in a real way. We’ve never been a cartoon. We’ve never been a joke. Yes we’ve had flights of fancy. You know, you go to heaven in your dreams and you go to Eterna for whatever and, you know, crazy things happen. But crazy things happen in life and I think that’s the thing. We’ve always tried to be real. And I think people appreciate that.” DePaiva noted that the choice of actors also kept the stories real. “We’re not the prettiest group of actors as some of the shows are about pretty people. These are about real people, real characters that are living in this community and it’s just – I mean we have the Dorians that are bigger than life but we have the Vicky that grounds it. And then we have the Bos that are the moral compasses and then you have the Todds that are out there raping and being bad. And you see all sides and it really works and it pulls together and you see the common thread of humanity. And I really just think it’s always been one of the best shows on daytime.”

When Erika Slezak (Viki) first came across Melissa Archer (Natalie) on the show, she wasn’t quite sure what to make of the bubbly soap newcomer. There was just so much energy from this young Texas woman. “And it took me a couple of weeks to absolutely adore her because in the beginning I thought whoa where is all this energy coming from. What? But I love her. I absolutely love her and I’m so proud of her and everything that she has done,” Slezak told David Martindale of Fort Worth Star Telegram. “I adore that girl. She is not only an extremely fine actress, she is a delightful human being. And she is able to create a reality about her character that very few people have. It’s so completely truthful. You never see her acting, which is wonderful. I love her. She is – I also say she lives on another planet but thank god she deigns to come and visit us on ours. She has an energy and a sweetness about her that is extraordinary which is more to her credit that she can play this character who in the beginning was certainly not very nice.”

For Kassie DePaiva (Blair), most challenging storyline meant a character miss. For Erika Slezak (Viki), it meant acting up to the standards of the living, breathing, ailing viewers. TV Source Magazine’s Omar White-Nobles was amongst the soap press for The OnLine Network’s conference call interview in light of OLTL’s 45th anniversary. He got to ask these actresses the question of the day.

DePaiva still hasn’t been able to get over her character abandoning Todd — played then by recast Trevor St. John — when he faced the electric chair, just on Spencer’s say-so. “She chose to believe Spencer over Todd which she would never do and I had to play that and it just really like oh it just really bothered me because it didn’t feel true to me.”

Slezak has had plenty of experience playing out various disorders and diseases from DID to a heart transplant. The responsibility of playing each and every ailment out as realistically as possible always weighs on her, especially when she knows there are similarly afflicted viewers out there who are watching closely. She’s met them, including one in particular who suffered from an aneurysm. Viki’s father did on the show, but his recovery took a speedy four months, as opposed to 10 years for this viewer. “And I thought that’s, you know, the hard part. You know, you obviously can’t play it for the 10 years but you have to give respect to the illness and to the toll it takes on people who really have it. So I think those are the most challenging things.”

Robin Strasser (Dorian) got very emotional remembering her first day on the set. She said she felt overwhelmed by all of the characters’ names she had to remember, as a recast no less. By the end of the day, Erika Slezak (Viki) came over and remarked that Strasser was going to do very well in this role. Slezak said she didn’t mean it in a condescending way — Strasser never thought of it that way but took it as a genuine compliment. They shot more takes for the show’s 45th anniversary, including Slezak’s reading of a special note from creator Agnes Nixon in the behind-the-scenes MORE Exclusive OLTL via Soap Opera Network.

There’s been a lot more press out there celebrating OLTL’s 45th anniversary, Michael Fairman covering a large chunk with his July 18th LlanviewPalooza. Start here, as he gets inside Jerry verDorn’s (Clint) head.

Reality star Jenni “JWoww” Farley (Nikki) had no idea she’d become a soap opera star and a soap opera fan when she had the privilege of joining the online version of OLTL. With very little knowledge about soaps, other than the stereotypes, Farley discovered she really enjoyed playing the role of a barkeep in the middle of all that drama. She hoped her character could soon have an evil twin and maybe kill some people. She will return for the September fall season for sure and in a drug/make-out scene. In the interim summer break, she intends on catching up with both OLTL and AMC, as research for her role and to just keep up ‘cause she’s hooked. “When I watched the first [AMC] episode [with] the couple whose daughter didn’t make the flight back… I was like ‘What is going on?!?!’ I was just bugging out. It had already sucked me in.” Soap Opera Network, July 17, 2013

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