‘All My Children,’ ‘OLTL’ are back … without Lucci, but with Slezak

Erika Slezak (seated center) returns to the show in the role she created during 'One Life to Live's' first season in 1968.Ever since ABC shit-canned the daytime soaps All My Children in 2011 and One Life to Live in 2012, there have been rumors the long-running, popular series would be back in some form or fashion. Well, that has finally come to pass. New 30-minutes episodes of both soaps will begin streaming daily later this month via Hulu.

Of course, the big question was always, “Will Erica Kane be back?” The answer to that appears to be “No.” Susan Lucci is not among the returning castmembers, although there are some holdovers, most notably another Erika — six-time Emmy Award winner Erika Slezak returns as Victoria Buchanan.

Producers promise “first-run, broadcast quality” episodes of each, starting at 10:30 a.m. each weekday from April 29 on Hulu and Hulu Plus.

All My Children was the first soap to perform a lesbian wedding, has had trans characters and was the first daytime serial to have a recurring gay storyline … way back in 1982. One Life to Live featured a “groundbreaking” gay love triangle while still on ABC, as well as airing the first-ever gay sex scene to be broadcast on daytime.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

It’s not easy being ‘Green’

First-time filmmaker Steve Williford teams with the Verizon Guy (seriously!) for ‘The Green,’ a movie about homophobia and suspicion

Jason_Butler_Harner_and_Cheyenne_Jackson
IDYLLS OF THE QUEENS | A quiet couple (Dallas theater veteran Jason Butler Harner and ‘30 Rock’s’ Cheyenne Jackson) becomes immersed in controversy when one is accused of an affair with a teen in the USA Film Festival entry ‘The Green.’

MARK LOWRY  | Special Contributor
marklowry@theaterjones.com

Although Steve Williford never felt any homophobia directed at him when he lived in southwestern Indiana, his perception of what others thought of him as a gay man was something that stuck with him for many years. At dinner parties and social events, his sexuality was a subject that came up often, usually as a result of others’ curiosity.

“Months went by and I started to wonder if I was the poster boy for gay,” he says. “I always wondered what would happen if something in my life happened that brought my sexuality to the forefront, like if I was at a party and kissed my partner.”

That question would eventually lead him to his first feature film as a director, The Green, currently on the festival circuit and screening at USA Film Festival Saturday. The screenplay is written by Paul Marcarelli, best known as Verizon’s “can you hear me now?” guy, who recently came out publicly.

The story they ended up with concerns a high school teacher, played by Jason Butler Harner, who is accused of an inappropriate relationship with a male student. It causes tension with the teacher’s partner, played by out Broadway hunk Cheyenne Jackson (also known for his recurring roles on 30 Rock and Glee), and in the community.

Williford directed nearly 150 episodes of the recently axed soap opera All My Children from 2004 to 2011, but his background is in theater (he directed a production of Driving Miss Daisy in the early 1990s at Dallas’ Park Cities Playhouse, back when it was called the Plaza Theatre). So it’s not surprising that his cast is filled with actors who come from the theater world, too — not just Jackson, but Harner, who played Hamlet at the Dallas Theater Center in 2003. That may explain why Williford’s film has something in common with several plays, notably Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt.

Screen shot 2011-04-28 at 5.27.05 PM“We’re a proud cousin of all of those works,” Williford says. “We are trying to examine a situation that can illustrate to us how slippery truth and clarity really is and how quickly it can slip away from us.”

“Paul and I are both big lovers of ambiguity to a certain degree,” he adds. “I had always modeled this story in my heart and mind on what I love about the Chekhov short stories: We leave certain things open and free to be interpreted. For the bulk of the story, you’re really not sure if he has done what he’s being accused of, but there are some significant issues that do get resolved, quite clearly I think.”

And of course, he knows the audience won’t trust if they don’t believe in the relationship as portrayed by Harner and Jackson, and takes a dramatic turn from the comic roles he has done on TV.

“I completely believe in Jason and Cheyenne as a couple. That’s one of my complaints when I see LGBT couples represented in film: I feel like there’s a link missing a little bit. I don’t feel that way about them, in the work environment or what has come together for the film.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 29, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

‘All My Children’ no longer have ‘One Life to Live’

In a bodyblow to the Daytime Emmy Awards, ABC has canceled its two remaining soap operas, All My Children and One Life to Live. AMC will end in September, OLTL in January. They will both be replaced by “lifestyle” shows. That leaves only General Hospital, Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless on daytime.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones