BY Michael Fairman
November 06 2009 2:00 PM ET
Last week I took a trip to Venice. No, not Venice, Italy ... Venice Beach, Calif., to go on location and behind the scenes of Crystal Chappell’s new Web series, Venice. The highly online soap is slated to debut later this month. I caught up with the all-star daytime drama cast to get some insight, scoops, previews, and thoughts on this project that has captivated the LGBT audience, starting with Chappell, who says the series took on a life of its own, in part due to her time as Olivia, half of the same-sex pairing Otalia on Guiding Light.
“During my time at GL it was overwhelming getting letters from all over the world. It just touched me, and I thought we can create something new here, and create a story of our own and have control over it; to kiss and not to kiss, to take your top off or not take your top off,; whatever we want to do, we get to do. I find the Web intriguing, and so I hooked up with my writing partner and got this up and running.”
Crystal tells me how much it touched her to hear many lesbians’ true-life stories and the struggles of gays for equality.
“To me, it’s a gift that has been given to me. I am grateful for the information I learned. It is heartbreaking to hear people tell me that they are being judged because of their sexual preference or being chased down the street by pickup trucks because of who they are, and it just makes me want to cry. It’s the injustice of not being allowed to be who you are. I am proud to be able to do this with my friends.”
And those friends include some top soapers: Jessica Leccia, Gina Tognoni, Galen Gering, Nadia Bjorlin, and Venice writer-producer Kim Turrisi, who have helped Chappell’s online dream come to life.
“I generally respect all these people. I like them, and they know how to have fun and bring the work. You can count on them. When we explained the project and why it’s happening, we directed them to our fun splash page. That is all we originally had to show them. We had people in over 85 countries just viewing the splash page, and the more we did this, it became very interesting. It became more expanded, and we realized there is really a need for this. All the actors I contacted loved the script, and they did it as favor to me and then came with questions and ideas and everything to make it come together.”
In Venice, Crystal will play Gina, an out lesbian who has a set of problems that have nothing to do with her sexuality.
“She is hugely dysfunctional. She has turned out to be the most flawed but the most serious of all them. I like to give my characters a sense of humor, but the characters around her are fun and lovely. She is the one who is struggling the most. Gina is comfortable with who she is, but she is not comfortable in relationships and the other people in her life. She does not know how to live with disapproval.”