Soapside: Advocate's Guide to Daytime

By Michael Fairman

Originally published on Advocate.com June 17 2009 11:00 PM ET

Soap Switch: Crystal Chappell Speaks on Otalia's End and Days ' Beginning

Shockwaves went out throughout the soap industry last week when, in an interview with TV Guide magazine, Crystal Chappell announced she has signed a contract with Days of our Lives to return to the role that made her "soap famous"… that of Dr. Carly Manning (a.k.a. Katrina Von Leuschner). What's so earth-shattering about the news? Fans of Chappell's from her current role as Olivia on Guiding Light -- one half of the über-popular same-sex couple Otalia -- realized that once the 72-year-old soap ends its run on September 18th, Otalia won't be moving elsewhere.

In an exclusive interview with Advocate.com, Chappell addressed her LGBT fans to let them know that as heartbroken as they are, so is she. "I told our executive producer Ellen Wheeler, 'If she can get the show moved I will be there,' and the people at Procter and Gamble. I spoke to Jessica Leccia [Natalia] and we said, 'We would be willing to move, and we want to be Web stars. Is there any way we can move the show there?' I tried to think of everything I could, not just for the Otalia story line, but for the show. The day the news came out last Friday, I told my cast mates and they were unbelievably supportive and lovely. I think the thing that dawned on me at that moment was this was going to be the end of the character of Olivia. I kind of went through this little wallow over the weekend and went, 'Oh my God. This is so sad for me!' We all have known since April 1st that our show was canceled, and we have all known there was an end date. We all had hopes that the show would continue. But as far as I know, as of right now, we all finish taping August 7th. I would love for the show to continue, but unfortunately or fortunately I have to work. It became a practical decision."

Of the few same-sex story lines in daytime history, it has been the romance of Otalia that has struck a chord with gay and straight viewers, and with that, has made an impact on this soap season. Chappell wanted to express to the gay audience how much this story and role has meant to her.

"I wish I could adequately put into words how honored I have felt to be a part of the story. Even during my trip to LA [where she landed the Days role] and my phone call with Procter and Gamble, I was grateful to them that they approved the story. I went back to the very beginning of it, because it was important to thank everyone who said 'Yes' along the way. I thought it was very brave. To have this opportunity to represent a group of people I have come to love and appreciate was amazing. The character may be finished as far as I know, and the coupling, but I am still a big advocate and a big supporter. I will continue to represent the gay community in a positive light. It's important to me and its something dear to my heart, and it's because of the journey I have taken with this character."

Crystal's soap switch has been all the rage on the Internet. Make sure to check out Daytime Confidential's podcast "CBS and Days Buried Alive," where the boys from DC take a look at: What does Chappell's return to Days of Our Lives mean for Guiding Light ? Is it bittersweet for Guiding Light fans? Plus, numerous fan reactions to the news of Chappell's return to Salem.

And speaking of fans, Big Purple Dreams , the message board for Otalia, has reached yet another milestone. This week they have reached more than 5,000 members! That is an incredible show of support and love by a fan base. It's made even more incredible by the fact that ever since CBS canceled Guiding Light , message board membership has gone through the roof. So, what does that say? Missed opportunity?

Finally, read my exclusive interview with Crystal about her return to Days , the end of Otalia, her omission from the Daytime Emmy nominees and more. I think it's a must-read for gay soap fans.

Otalia Watch

Next Week's Preview:

Olivia thinks Natalia's new job as Blake's assistant will help prove that they're together because they choose to be. Olivia and Natalia decide they're going to show up at the Bauer barbeque together and will tell Emma about their relationship just before it.

Next Page: Chris Evans's openly gay brother plays gay on One Life to Live.

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Something's Fish-y in Llanview

Today is a red-letter day on One Life to Live, when the gay story line between Officer Fish (Scott Evans, at left) and troublemaker Kyle Lewis (Brett Claywell) gets under way, after an uncomfortable and unusual encounter is witnessed by Fish's roommate Layla (whom he later asks out on a date) while taking a stroll with her dog. Hmm. The powers that be at One Life tell me that we can expect to see Fish and Kyle's romantic situation develop in the weeks to come. The show's head writer Ron Carlivati previews for Advocate.com, "Oliver Fish (affectionately known as Fish) is a young police officer and self-described computer geek looking for a second chance to date his female roommate, Layla Williamson. But what is the secret behind his strained relationship with his former best friend and fraternity brother, medical student Kyle Lewis? As the truth about their past begins to come to light, we will go on the journey with Fish as he struggles to come to terms with who he really is."

For more insight, don't miss my Advocate.com interview with Scott Evans this coming Monday. In it, we chat about his brother, actor Chris Evans's comments to The Advocate last February, and about Scott's life as an openly gay actor. If you want to find out what's in store for Officer Fish, and for LGBT fans of One Life to Live , check it out. It's going to be a hot summer in Llanview folks!

Geneva Swift gets a Mom

If you have been catching recent episodes of As the World Turns , you have seen Henry Coleman play dress-up as Oakdale's town "Tootsie" Geneva Swift on the popular talk show, Oakdale Now. Seems Henry is enjoying Geneva's popularity a little too much. Actor Trent Dawson is doing an incredible job playing Henry's alter-ego. However, I could not help but laugh at this programming note from As the World Turns -- "Next up: Vienna is scheduled to do a segment on pole-dancing, but hurts her back during rehearsal. Henry, as Geneva, fills in for Vienna." And that's not all…. The incorporable Lynn Herring (who played Lucy Coe for all she was worth both on General Hospital and its spin-off Port Charles ) is heading back to daytime this July to play Henry's wayward mom Audrey. In a recent interview with TV Guide she revealed, "Audrey is kind of a grifter, a con woman who has been through a lot. She's like Lucy Coe in a way, but older and wiser. So far I've only shot a few episodes, but Trent and I are already chewing scenery together."

Herring is slated thus far for an eight-week run.

Rafe and Adam on TheYoung & the Restless

On June 25, fans of Y&R will see the new Adam Newman, played by Michael Muhney. As previously reported, the actor was an emergency recast when Chris Engen walked out on the coveted role. Now, it seems all systems are a go and we will start to see more of Adam's twisted plot to keep his 'gas-lighting of Ashley' a secret. Seems Rafe is determined to prove his Aunt Estella's innocence (poor lady, everyone is pinning this on the trusted maid) and demands to search Adam's room for incriminating evidence. But just how far will Adam go to stop him? Is this the 'kiss' that sent ripples throughout the industry and sent Engen out the front door at CBS? Don't miss it.

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Susan Lucci and Cameron Mathison in Ultimate Cougar Championship!

Last week it was announced through the Associated Press and confirmed on The View that All My Children 's Erica Kane is getting her own "cougar" story line with the much younger Ryan Lavery! ABC Daytime is banking on the huge mainstream success of its two most recognizable names (Susan Lucci and Cameron Mathison, pictured) to garner big ratings and bring in some non-soap viewers by hopping on the "cougar" bandwagon. On-screen, Ryan and Erica have been friends for years, but in an upcoming episode on June 22, things start to shift. As we go through summer, the show promises a burgeoning love story. When asked on The View if Lucci has any hesitation playing out the older woman/younger man romance, Susan stated, "I hate labels. I think it limits people and the way we perceive each other. For me, 'cougar' has a connotation of a Mrs. Robinson." Hopefully this intriguing and popular duo can pull off the romance and make it plausible. It's a bit hard to swallow though. Ryan was just in love with Erica's daughter, Kendall, and Erica is a real man-eater! But it is probably one of the most fascinating ideas AMC has had in a long time, discounting the Eden/Reese same-sex story line. Enough said.

Top 12 Need Your Vote to Survive in Adonis 2009 Competition

Wow, this is getting to be just like American Idol . I hope there's not a shirtless singing competition in various musical genre's for these soap stars. Yeah, I know some of you would like to see that. However…we are down to the 12 finalists for SoapHunks.net 's Adonis 2009 competition. Vote today through June 23. And here are your finalists.

The Bold & the Beautiful 's Brandon Beemer and Don Diamont; General Hospital 's Steve Burton; Days ' James Scott and Shawn Christian; Guiding Light 's Daniel Cosgrove; Y&R 's Daniel Goddard; As the World Turns 's Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann; One Life to Live 's John-Paul Lavoisier and Mark Lawson; and AMC 's Cameron Mathison. Make sure to check out the hilarious yet true analyses of each hunk's chances of capturing the title. Check out Beemer's , for example. Positive: "He is the most frequently shirtless finalist in the category." Negatives: "Has history on this site of barely missing the top prizes!"

So hurry up and vote. The hunk with the lowest number of votes each week will be voted out of the competition. You can only cast one vote a day, so make sure your favorite pecs and abs are not sent packing!

Bid and Win Lunch with Reva Shayne, the Amazing Kim Zimmer of Guiding Light !

Pop music superstar Cyndi Lauper launched a few weeks back the True Colors Fund's Summer Online Auction, which includes celebrity experiences and autographed memorabilia in support of the LGBT and straight ally community. But for soap fans and those who may not be aware, you can also bid on and win a lunch with Guiding Light 's Kim Zimmer! I mean, c'mon -- with Guiding Light about to ends its run in September, this may be your last chance to hang with four-time Daytime Emmy winner La Zimmer! So ante up, peeps! The auction runs until Thursday, June 25. Lauper, who is the cofounder of the True Colors Fund, stated, "There literally is something for everyone. All of the proceeds will go to directly support the True Colors Fund's work to get everyone, especially my fellow straight allies, to do what they can to help make equality a reality for the LGBT community." To view all of the lots and bid on items click here , and to bid directly on Kim Zimmer's item click here !

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Scene Stealer of the Week

There's something about Mary Jane Benson! The unsettling, disturbing, and brilliant acting choices of Y&R 's Stacy Haiduk (pictured) have made Mary Jane Benson one of Genoa City's all-time whack jobs. That's hard to do considering the long list of contenders, such as Kimberlin Brown's nutty nurse Sheila. But try this one for size: Mary Jane talks to her dead stuffed cat in her hotel room, which she killed. Obviously, she paid a visit to her taxidermist along the way. While she talks to kitty, she opens scrapbooks of pictures of Jack Abbott and hatches plot after plot. One night, she catches Jack making out with his ex-wife Phyllis and gets so upset she kills a bird! As an unhinged woman with an ax to grind (not to mention a new face -- she had plastic surgery to change her identity, thanks to Victor Newman), Stacy is winning us over. Stay tuned in the next two weeks as we find out that the mystery woman could indeed be Patty Williams, the woman Jack drove insane… and who shot him below the belt three times over!

Catfight of the Week

It's so refreshing not to give this week's title to the tough broads. Yup, two gents get my vote this time. All My Children 's dueling physicians, Dr. David Hayward and Dr. Jake Martin, let the fists fly in a medical clinic in Barbados. Amanda and Jake's plot to make David think his baby died during a complicated birth almost backfired. When David found out that his baby seemingly died during a botched delivery job by Jake, Hayward lunged at Martin. I gasped for a minute, as it looked like poor Ricky Paull Goldin (Jake) got his faced smooshed as Vince Irizarry (David) tried to choke the life out of him. If you ask me, Dr David should pick on someone his own size!

Eden Riegel's Imaginary Red Carpet Ride

Finally, from my last column, I asked you to go vote for the five choices for Eden Riegel's acceptance speech for the Webby Awards. As you may recall, our Eden was only allowed five words. When Eden hit the stage to accept the award, she uttered the winning entry, "I'm sleeping with the director." That is of course in reference to the fact that her husband, Andrew Miller, was indeed the director of her performance in Imaginary Bitches .

But for a real laugh, check out Eden's video when she hit the red carpet before the ceremonies. What we learned: It's always important to bring friends with you to award shows for backup, even if they are imaginary! Click here!