BY Michael Fairman
September 24 2009 5:35 AM ET
If anyone is cherished and beloved on All My Children, it’s the wacky and outlandish Opal Gardner. With two decades of wonderful performances under her belt, actress Jill Larson really made Opal her own, scoring two Daytime Emmy nominations. Not an easy feat considering she followed two-time Daytime Emmy award winner Dorothy Lyman in the role.
Now, with All My Children heading west in the next few months, Jill’s future with the show is uncertain. Recent reports have her leaving the show, which would be a shame to longtime gay fans of the soap.
Advocate.com caught up with Jill for this exclusive interview to ask her status with the show, to talk about her many projects that have helped and inspired the gay community, and, of course, to talk Pine Valley trash with the one and only Opal!
Advocate.com: There is so much to talk about!
Jill Larson: Oh, my goodness there is, but let’s stick to the happy stuff if we can.
Opal has been such an iconic character. She recently has had some heart problems and now AMC is moving west!
And that is giving me problems! [Laughs] Regarding the move to L.A., I can’t say anything because I don’t have anything to say. I am no longer on contract, and I am not being offered a package at this point. So, I don’t know what the status of the recurring characters will be. It seems to me there has been a trend toward trying to put more of us on recurring in recent years. My main concern is that everything that can possibly be done is being done to save the integrity of the show through a transition like this.
What was your reaction when you found out AMC was picking up and taking the show to Los Angeles?
I was really stunned! I knew there was some gossip going on around the stage before it happened. Everyone was saying, “Oh, they could never do that,” because all these people would never move to L.A. and disrupt their lives. We were all called in and within a minute of it happening, we all gathered in the studio for The View. ABC Daytime president Brian Frons said, “We are not canceling the show,” and everyone cheered. “But, we are moving it to L.A.,” and there was this stunned silence! I think people were in shock and trying to sort out what it means to them personally. I can understand that Brian said we have this great studio out there that is all set up for HD, and so forth, and twice as much space in terms of square feet than we have now, and will cost considerably less than what we pay now. It’s hard to argue that in times like these, when these shows are in such peril anyway. Brian went on to say he felt that there is a real indicator that Disney was committed to the show. They would not be making a move like this if they were not still investing in the show.
I felt like it was a sign that while they were saved and moved to L.A., the wonderful One Life to Live became the more vulnerable soap, because it got left in New York. That is what scares me.
Well, the frightening thing is we just don’t know. I guess our show was chosen to go out there for better or worse, because it’s a bigger show, and what I know about all of that is nothing.
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