BY Michael Fairman
November 06 2009 1:00 PM ET
Turrisi, who was a huge fan of Crystal and Jessica’s riveting performances on Guiding Light, discussed how Otalia’s hits and misses actually benefit Venice! “I thought it was really honest. I thought these were two straight women who found themselves attracted to one another. I think the chemistry was mad-crazy, and they did everything they were able to do. It’s my great fortune that they did not kiss on Guiding Light, and they will be kissing in Venice. There may be even be a bedroom scene, and I think there is a lot chemistry, whether it’s in or out of the bedroom with this group. And no, a man will not come between Gina and the woman she loves. We have written her to be well-defined and sure of her sexuality and most definitely a 100% gay!”
Sexy Nadia Bjorlin (Days of Our Lives, Chloe, pictured) was on hand for the taping and was cast in one role by Chappell and then thrown a curve ball when she got to the set. The L Word’s Elizabeth Keener, who was supposed to play the role of Lara, was taken ill, so at the last minute Nadia stepped into her character’s shoes.
“Yes, I play a lesbian in Venice, and my boyfriend, Brandon Beemer (Owen, The Bold & the Beautiful) is very excited about that. He wanted to come with me today, and I would not let him. [Laughs] The character I am doing now is a lesbian who is a writer and was different than what I was originally supposed to be, which is a bisexual model girl ... kind of a complete 180. I have been bumped up, and I am excited about it. [Laughs] Lara right now, as she is being introduced, is confident and sweet. She originally runs into Jessica’s character, who is frazzled, and immediately begins to talk to her and finds her enticing.”
Bjorlin says she became somewhat obsessed with Chappell when the actress made her re-emergence on Days of Our Lives as Carly, which may have led to her role in the new online soap. “It first started because I was stalking her. [Laughs] I thought it was an amazing move on the part of Days. Crystal is just obviously so talented and beautiful and a solid and kind person when you meet her. She has so much going on that she could be a diva, but she is not. So I sort of developed a girl-crush on her.”
Two-time Daytime Emmy winner Gina Tognoni (ex-Dinah, GL) was chosen by Chappell and Turrisi at this year’s Daytime Emmys to play Sami, Owen’s girlfriend. Chappell’s on-screen brother, played by the sexy and handsome Galen Gering, is currently heating up daytime screens as Rafe on Days. Tognoni tells me Sami is complex too.
“Sami is new to L.A. and was previously in Africa with the Peace Corps and working in Zambia. Sami is about healing and helping others, and she has a past, and the past is about being lost more than anything. She is here to start over. She feels something for Owen, and Owen feels something for her, and indirectly that will impact the character of Gina. In the pilot we are setting these seeds for future episodes.”
But what about the gay male side of Venice? That responsibility lands on the big shoulders of out actor Harrison White, who has been cast as Jamie, the owner of the local bar, the Loft. Harrison tells me how he landed the role: “I got lucky. My husband is a hairdresser on Days of Our Lives, and he was talking to Crystal. She mentioned she was doing this series and he mentioned that I was an actor, and we sent her to my website and she hired me from there. I am thrilled about being part of it.”
White told me he did know Chappell from Otalia’s plight on Guiding Light and the infamous “no-kiss” clause, and he said it did upset him. “I noticed on that show those girls did not touch and be honest there. As a gay man, the stories need to be told. Why do we only have two gay channels for that? We are in our own little world, and why are we still in a sense in the closet on those two channels? It feels like Jackie Robinson in baseball to me.”