Soapside: Advocate's Guide to Daytime

Crystal Chappell returns to Days , signals the end of Otalia; One Life to Live launches gay storyline with Chris Evans's gay brother Scott; All My Children goes cougar with Susan Lucci and Cameron Mathison.

BY Michael Fairman

June 17 2009 11:00 PM ET

Soap Switch: Crystal Chappell Speaks on Otalia's End and Days ' Beginning

Shockwaves went out throughout the soap industry last week when, in an interview with TV Guide magazine, Crystal Chappell announced she has signed a contract with Days of our Lives to return to the role that made her "soap famous"… that of Dr. Carly Manning (a.k.a. Katrina Von Leuschner). What's so earth-shattering about the news? Fans of Chappell's from her current role as Olivia on Guiding Light -- one half of the über-popular same-sex couple Otalia -- realized that once the 72-year-old soap ends its run on September 18th, Otalia won't be moving elsewhere.

In an exclusive interview with Advocate.com, Chappell addressed her LGBT fans to let them know that as heartbroken as they are, so is she. "I told our executive producer Ellen Wheeler, 'If she can get the show moved I will be there,' and the people at Procter and Gamble. I spoke to Jessica Leccia [Natalia] and we said, 'We would be willing to move, and we want to be Web stars. Is there any way we can move the show there?' I tried to think of everything I could, not just for the Otalia story line, but for the show. The day the news came out last Friday, I told my cast mates and they were unbelievably supportive and lovely. I think the thing that dawned on me at that moment was this was going to be the end of the character of Olivia. I kind of went through this little wallow over the weekend and went, 'Oh my God. This is so sad for me!' We all have known since April 1st that our show was canceled, and we have all known there was an end date. We all had hopes that the show would continue. But as far as I know, as of right now, we all finish taping August 7th. I would love for the show to continue, but unfortunately or fortunately I have to work. It became a practical decision."

Of the few same-sex story lines in daytime history, it has been the romance of Otalia that has struck a chord with gay and straight viewers, and with that, has made an impact on this soap season. Chappell wanted to express to the gay audience how much this story and role has meant to her.

"I wish I could adequately put into words how honored I have felt to be a part of the story. Even during my trip to LA [where she landed the Days role] and my phone call with Procter and Gamble, I was grateful to them that they approved the story. I went back to the very beginning of it, because it was important to thank everyone who said 'Yes' along the way. I thought it was very brave. To have this opportunity to represent a group of people I have come to love and appreciate was amazing. The character may be finished as far as I know, and the coupling, but I am still a big advocate and a big supporter. I will continue to represent the gay community in a positive light. It's important to me and its something dear to my heart, and it's because of the journey I have taken with this character."

Crystal's soap switch has been all the rage on the Internet. Make sure to check out Daytime Confidential's podcast "CBS and Days Buried Alive," where the boys from DC take a look at: What does Chappell's return to Days of Our Lives mean for Guiding Light ? Is it bittersweet for Guiding Light fans? Plus, numerous fan reactions to the news of Chappell's return to Salem.

And speaking of fans, Big Purple Dreams , the message board for Otalia, has reached yet another milestone. This week they have reached more than 5,000 members! That is an incredible show of support and love by a fan base. It's made even more incredible by the fact that ever since CBS canceled Guiding Light , message board membership has gone through the roof. So, what does that say? Missed opportunity?

Finally, read my exclusive interview with Crystal about her return to Days , the end of Otalia, her omission from the Daytime Emmy nominees and more. I think it's a must-read for gay soap fans.

Otalia Watch

Next Week's Preview:

Olivia thinks Natalia's new job as Blake's assistant will help prove that they're together because they choose to be. Olivia and Natalia decide they're going to show up at the Bauer barbeque together and will tell Emma about their relationship just before it.

Next Page: Chris Evans's openly gay brother plays gay on One Life to Live.

Tags: television

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