BY Michael Fairman

March 05 2010 1:00 AM ET

SUSAN LUCCI XLRG (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

“I was first told about the story line by our executive producer at
the time, Jean Burke. They told me they were thinking of Erica having a
teenage daughter come out to her, and they wanted to explore that. She
told me at the time that there were many teenagers in particular who
committed suicide rather than risk coming out to their parents, because
they were afraid they would not love them anymore. I sat there in her
office and I cried and cried. I thought if I could be part of a
story line that in any way could empower a person to be themselves and
come out and feel lovable and strong enough, I wanted to do it. I
mean, I couldn’t believe there were parents that would reject their
children like that. I thought if I could be of service in any way to
something like this, I would be proud, and I said that to Jean. And
then I said to her, 'I just hope whoever we are going to cast "gets
it,"' and boy, did she. They cast Eden Riegel as the teenage Bianca.
Eden is a smart, deeply lovely, deeply talented gal, who’s got it in
spades. The two of us had an opportunity to play what I think is some
of the most important material ever to play on daytime television and All
My Children
.” Who doesn’t love Susan Lucci after this?

Eden Riegel Shocks the Soap World

That collective “thud” you heard yesterday was gay soap fans around the globe passing out on their hardwood floors. It was announced that Eden Riegel, best known as AMC's Bianca, is joining the cast of The Young and the Restless as tough D.A. Heather Stevens. (No, that character is not gay, although Heather’s ex -boyfriend Adam did sleep with a gay man ... once. Remember Rafe?). Riegel will replace Vail Bloom in the role and is expected to begin taping March 15.

This could not have been an easy decision for Eden to make, given the fact that AMC is now shooting in Los Angeles, where she resides. But perhaps the dreadful writing of her character’s last round/visit in Pine Valley could have something to do with the talented actress’s decision? Just a thought. However, the actress is known for also loving to spread her wings, and Heather Stevens is a huge departure from Bianca’s “moral center” virtue. Good news for BAM fans ... this does reunite Eden with her dear friend and former AMC love interest, Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe, Y&R), even though they will both play very “straight” women ... unless Y&R has a big surprise coming? Don’t count on it.

I met up with Eden a few days before this big casting announcement to share with her what Susan Lucci had told me about Bianca’s coming-out story and Lucci’s comments on Riegel. What follows is her response, which she also told me with tears in her eyes.

“Susan Lucci 'gets' it. She was incredible in that story line. I think we both knew we were involved in something really important. We wanted to give the story all the respect it deserved, and we were working with a group at that time of incredible writers who also 'got' it. I was extremely honored to be a part of it. I think, based on comments from what people have said who have followed All My Children, it was an important moment in TV history in the lives of many people. They could now see someone like themselves, who in turn is the daughter of their favorite, Susan Lucci/Erica Kane, who everyone loves so much. For the audience to see Erica going through that made a difference. I had people come up to me and literally say, 'My mother could not accept me until she saw how Erica accepted her daughter who was gay.' Someone who worked with my in-laws said to me that when he came out of the closet to his mother, he truly did not expect his mother’s reaction. This was a woman who had not seen the world, and he did not think she even knew what being gay was. And he said, 'I’m gay.' And his mother said, 'Oh, Erica Kane’s daughter is too, and she is fine with it.' He was like, 'Where is this coming from?' It was astonishing to him that she knew exactly what is was and understood it. So, in our own small way, we did accomplish what we set out to do, and I am so proud of that story and the work we did. I am so grateful that I got to share that with Susan Lucci. It was so special because of her, and we worked so well together, because we knew what it was all really about.”

Then Eden and I perked up when we chatted about her hilarious performances in the Web series Imaginary Bitches. I had to ask (because gay fans worldwide want to know) if there will still be more Bitches in the future? Eden responded, “We are really always hoping to produce more episodes of Imaginary Bitches. It’s really hard to find funding and sponsorship for a Web show. We have great support from our fans, and they have gotten the word out. We have gotten so many hits, and now we created something we had so much fun with ... even if nothing happened with it. We would have been thrilled no matter what. All of these accolades, including the nomination for the Soap Opera Spirit Award ... which I am nominated for on your podcast on Tuesday night ... I am keeping my fingers crossed ... has been so amazing and appreciated. We are hoping to develop Imaginary Bitches into a feature film sometime in the next year or so. The Imaginary Bitches movie would be a dream come true.”



Till
next time, Michael

Tags: Television

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