Luner Landing

By Michael Fairman

Originally published on Advocate.com April 20 2009 11:00 PM ET

Last Friday, former
Melrose Place

and
Savannah

star Jamie Luner made her first appearance on
All My Children

as the updated and saucy new version of one of Pine Valley's
favorite vixens -- Liza Colby. And quite an entrance
it was: having sex on a casino gaming table with Zach Slater
(Thorsten Kaye) -- and that's just the start of the
revitalized Liza. Seems the gal will be back to her man-eating
tricks, so the Martin boys and any other eligible -- or
ineligible -- gents better watch out. With the stunning male
cast of
AMC

to play with, Luner knows she is in for one hell of a ride.

The show's head
writer Chuck Pratt, who wrote for the siren during her two
seasons on
Melrose Place,

brought Luner to
AMC

. In a recent
TV Guide

interview he touted her arrival to the soap: "Back then,
Jamie's nickname on the set was 'Turbo' because she's such a
ball of energy and you can throw anything at her."

With high expectations
and a huge promotional campaign, the ABC sudser is hoping to
regain some viewers by returning the character to her scheming
ways. For many years, the wonderful Marcy Walker played the
role of Liza. Walker is now a children's ministry director in a
North Carolina church, a far cry from the role that made her a
star. Luner is taking a fresh approach to the role with a
no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners outlook.

In this new interview
with Advocate.com, Luner gives us a sneak peek at Liza's hot
new story and her new adventures in daytime!

Advocate.com:When we first saw Liza on Friday's episode, you had a
"quickie" with a very well-known Pine Valley citizen,
Zach Slater!
Jamie Luner:

I do sleep with Zach, and lucky me!

And if you're going to start at
AMC

, you might as well go for the top.

Right! [
Laughs

]

AMChead writer Chuck Pratt and you worked together before on
Melrose Place

. He wrote the prime-time soap, and you starred as Lexi. So,
how did that figure into the equation of you getting the role
of Liza Colby?

They say it's cliché, but timing is everything. I had
put a phone call into Chuck and he actually answered his phone
at that moment, which was bizarre. I said, "It's Jamie."
And he goes, "Oh, my God! How did you get my number and what
do you want?" I said, "I was reaching out and wanted to see
you and grab a cup of coffee." He said he would call me back.
So a couple of hours later he called and said to me, "You
don't know how weird your timing is. I was just on a pitch
meeting phone call, and they were trying to figure out how to
recast the role of Liza and you called!" It's really weird.
And then the people in the pitch meeting were like, "Oh, my
God! She would be perfect." So they asked me to lunch. I met
with Brian Frons (president of ABC Daytime and SOAPnet) and
Chuck. They told me the backstory, and it was certainly a
character that was right up my alley. It certainly was a good
fit as far as the timing in my life. I was certainly ready for
a change and move. The timing was perfect all around and it was
meant to be.

JAMIE LUNER LIZA COLBY PROFILE XLRG (ABC) | ADVOCATE.COM

Being that you are coming back as the recast version of
Liza, how are you infusing the character?

She is a really strong woman who goes after what she wants and
the men she wants. Honey, it's something I have been playing
for awhile. [
Laughs

] It's so great to play these power women. You just love to see
them go after what they want. I am certainly comfortable in my
sexuality and that's obvious, it gets me into doing those
scenes right from the get-go.

What's Liza's agenda for returning to Pine Valley?

Liza is coming back to regain her power in this town, and to
rekindle her relationship with her daughter. She will do
whatever it takes to do that. You never know what she is going
to do because she has such a long history with everyone on the
show. There have been so many bridges crossed, burned, and
twisted, and Liza is always a woman who is full of surprises.
You never know with her, and I love that element of
surprise.

And now Liza is a legal eagle! When did she become an
attorney?

In the four years she was gone. Honey, things move quickly
around here.

Have you had the chance to play scenes with David Canary
(Adam and Stuart Chandler) or Michael E. Knight (Tad Martin),
who were instrumental in Liza's past?

Not yet, but I have some great scenes coming up with Michael,
and they include some wonderful playful banter with him. As far
as David Canary is concerned, I had one moment where I was
sneaking out of the house and he was walking in. I look forward
to more scenes with him.

Liza has reached out to her daughter, Colby, since she
arrived back in town, but Colby clearly does not want to see
her.

That is why I came back to Pine Valley, because she was not
answering any of my letters, so I figured I would go see her in
person. I tried calling her, and she wanted nothing to do with
me. It was a hard hit as a mother. That's how I wind up at a
casino trying to make myself feel better by winning lots of
money and henceforth meeting Zach, and making myself feel
better in other ways too. So, sex and money is always a good
pick-me-up.

Absolutely! So how does she feel about Zach after her romp
in the casino?

It's just what the doctor ordered, and they have an attraction
to one another because they both have a similar spirit. And
when she finds out who Zach really is it's interesting, because
he does not know who Liza really is. And he is the only man in
town I seemingly don't have a history with. I also have a
history with Jake [Martin], played by Ricky Paull Goldin. We
had some scenes where I am plotting with him. So we get a plan
to help facilitate an adoption for Amanda's baby. But, I have
another plan in mind for it!

So, are you intimating that Liza wants Amanda's baby for her
own?

I actually want to adopt the baby. In her mind, Amanda and Jake
do not want the child and they are trying to put it up for
adoption, and I am already helping them facilitate the
adoption. In her perfect world, she feels if Colby sees her
with a new life and a law degree, and starting a new family,
then perhaps she might come around. In the meantime, Colby does
not want anything to do with her.

Is it odd having an on-screen daughter the age of Colby,
played by Brianne Moncrief?

Yeah, it's odd! But you play it as if it's a member of your
family. It's always that love/hate relationship. I am very
close with my family, but they know how to push your
buttons.

JAMIE LUNER LIZA COLBY ZACH X390 (ABC) | ADVOCATE.COM

Stepping in as a recast is often hard to do. Did you watch
Marcy Walker's performances as preparation for the role?

No. I did not want to emulate her. I certainly don't look like
her. I am not trying to be her. I am just taking the history of
what she had with this character and making it my own.
Hopefully, Chuck Pratt and I are on the same page about
bringing the fire back in her, and that feisty, powerful Liza
we knew and loved, with an updated version.

As Lexi Sterling on
Melrose Place

, the audience loved to hate you! How was your time there?

I always have fond memories of
Melrose Place

. It was such an incredible show to be on. It's pop culture
history, and one of those iconic shows. I was on it the last
two years. Then, to come on a show that is so big and popular,
and to come in as such a powerful character and be in a rivalry
with Heather Locklear (Amanda,
MP

), was so much fun! Again, my character was written to always
be up to something. It was a blast to work on!

When you play the vixen, why do you think the audience
responds?

Everyone loves the bad girl, c'mon. It's probably their alter
ego in there that they love and they are seeing it projected
outward.

You had also tackled a different kind of role a few years
back for here! Films -- playing gay in a disaster flick.

I was in
Meltdown

. I played a scientist, and there was this heat wave going on
in this city, and I was trying to figure out the cause of it
before too many people died. It was a good role.

How is nighttime vs. daytime for you? Daytime is a much
tougher daily grind!

I am just getting my footing with that. Once I get the pace
down and figure out a routine for myself, I will be good. When
I get new scripts in, they should be a week ahead of the game.
Fortunately, we are all used to memorizing quickly and that is
one of our skill sets. I have been quite good at that in the
past. But on this soap, it's more than I have ever experienced,
and it has been an exciting challenge.

You've got some good-looking men on
All My Children

to work with.

I certainly do! I am really surrounded by beautiful men. They
are all vivacious and full of energy. I literally had a moment
in my dressing room going, "Are you kidding me with this?
These guys are beautiful!"

JAMIE LUNER LIZA COLBY X100 (ABC) | ADVOCATE.COM

Which guy do you think has the best sense of humor, thus
far?

Thorsten Kaye is pretty frickin' funny, and he has a dry sense
of humor. And he has been the one I have been around the most
right now. I think Ricky has a wonderful sense of humor
too.

Why do you think the gay audience has responded to you in
your various roles?

I think nobody wants to see someone get run over. They want to
see people take their power back and strive to be the best they
can be, and not let people walk all over them, but I think
that's true for all people.

How much of Jamie is Liza?

The similarities are: I am certainly coming into my own sense
of self and power and knowing how to get what I want. It's
about being a woman who takes charge of her life and figuring
out what she wants and how to get it. I have more morals than
Liza does, but in real life, I certainly am going after things
that I want. I love being in my 30s going into my 40s, because
you get so much more of a sense of your real self and being
less influenced by other people and what they think. There is a
freedom in that.

In closing, what can we tease is coming up for Liza?

She is scheming. She really wants to get her family back. She
is doing it for the right reason, but the way she is going
about it is wrong. We don't know what her story line is really
going to be with getting payback on Adam yet, but I think there
is a revenge element to that.