In the 40 years since he made his daytime-TV debut, Vincent Irizzary had seen nothing like it — a non-Emmys red carpet event to kick off an evening celebrating soap operas, namely two that had been plucked from the ashes and given life anew.
Irizzary plays David Hayward, a highly duplicitous doctor on All My Children, which like fellow former ABC serial One Life to Live was reborn this week on Hulu and iTunes, via Prospect Park’s The Online Network. The actor calls the dramas’ return, in a new medium, none too small a miracle.
“When [new AMC showrunner] Ginger Smith called me, two months before we started production, they had nothing in place. No writers, no story, nothing,” he told TVLine at the shows’ aforementioned premiere party. “I was like, ‘Really? Are you serious?’ But I signed on because I know Ginger, and if anybody could pull it off, it’d be her.” And the end result, he raved, “is nothing short of miraculous.”
OLTL favorite Melissa Archer, as she made her way down the red carpet, cycled through all manner and iteration of adjectives trying to qualify her excitement at playing Natalie again, in this new format. For returning players such as her, was it like riding a bike (save for the new production base in Stamford, Conn.)? “It’s better,” she shared. “It’s like riding a bike that has jet packs on the back. We’ve just been having so much fun!”
Though the settings — Llanview for OLTL, Pine Valley for AMC — and many of the faces are the same, some elements are different. In addition to adding new cast members/characters, and the canvas-altering repercussions of AMC‘s five-year time jump from its ABC cliffhanger (in which J.R. Chandler let loose with a gun at Adam and Brooke’s engagement party), those who cue up Hulu or iTunes will observe cosmetic changes as well. Archer says her favorite “shiny new” set piece is Llanview hot spot Shelter, “because I can just dance every time I’m in there.” (Plus, Nat’s new apartment “is frickin’ gorgeous,” she boasted.)
Behind the scenes, meanwhile, things are also different — and also for the better, says Thorsten Kaye, who segued from his recurring run on NBC’s Smash to reprise his role as AMC’s Zach Slater. “I like the ‘open door’ policy that we now have” with the creative staff, he said, “where if something doesn’t work, it’s a team trying to work it out, instead of somebody [on high] saying, ‘No, this is what I want.’ I think that’s going to make for better story.”
Storyline-wise, Kaye said, “Things are good” for Zach, though, he quipped, “He’s now older, and slower, and he can’t remember his lines as much!” And with previous scene partner Alicia Minshew only back for one episode thus far, “Zendall” fans shouldnt expect much closure on that front. But as Kaye noted, “That’s part of the fun.”
Elsewhere on AMC, Irizarry said, “What happened at the engagement part has had a huge impact on all of the people of Pine Valley — and David is no exception.” But make no mistake, this doc is still bad medicine. “David always has an axe to grind,” his portrayer noted, “and that hasn’t changed.” (And what of the baby he and Cara were expecting when AMC’s ABC run ended? “You will find out very soon the truth about that,” Lindsay Hartley told us. “Drama’s good!”)
AMC vet Cady McClain — who is using the occasion of her soap’s return to try out a new acting technique — said her character “is more like the Dixie from the ’90s that everybody remembers — she’s very connected to her family, trying to keep them together.” Dixie also has a new job (one which McClain said she approves of), but nothing is happening on the romantic front. Yet. With Michael E. Knight reportedly interested yet not yet signed on for this reboot, “Tad is still very much a part of Dixie’s life, but he’s just not on screen at the moment,” the actress explained.
One Life, meanwhile, has no time jump to smooth over any casting wrinkles, and as such will need to address, among other things, the absence of John McBain (since Michael Easton will be staying on with General Hospital, as a new character). “Natalie has been going through so much turmoil ‘off camera,’ on ‘another show’ — and they address that,” Archer said of the breakup handled via GH. “John is a big part of Natalie’s life, the father of her child, so absolutely” he is talked about. But as he remains MIA, “It’s kind of nice to see where Natalie is going,” her portrayer offered. “She wants to be a good mom and a good worker, but she also wants to be something different, maybe what she didn’t get to explore for several years — an edgier side, maybe a more dangerous, Old Natalie side.”
That prospect, and the OLTL/AMC resurrection as a whole, has Archer again searching for new ways to express her enthusiasm for the new but familiar venture.
“It’s not just, ‘Oh yay’ but ‘Oh YAY!’ — with a capital Y, capital A, capital Y and an exclamation point,” she said. “I’m just ridiculously excited.”
Watch the new AMC and OLTL below:
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- David Hayward
- Melissa Archer