At the TCA (Television Critics Association) press tour this week in Los Angeles, ABC celebrated All My Children's 40th Anniversary with a panel that included Susan Lucci (Erica), Cameron Mathison (Ryan), Rebecca Budig (Greenlee), Bobbie Eakes (Krystal), Creator Agnes Nixon and Executive Producer Julie Hanan Carruthers.
The group talked about the new LA set, plans to name the new headwriter(s), Greenlee's return and even the health of daytime, which you can read in the story "AMC Scoop from the TCA" onMSN TV's Soap Superfan Blog.
In the spirit of looking back, Lucci also gushed about how lucky she was to have landed the amazing role of Erica Kane four decades ago and what's made the role so groundbreaking.
"Even though she was a 15-year-old high school girl when Agnes conceived her and I first walked onto the Pine Valley stage, I came along at a really good time," Lucci said. "Just to put this in context, Agnes was so groundbreaking in her writing to include humor, to include a major storyline around four high school kids at that time. This is before the Brat Pack."
This was also when actors and performers - including Y&R's Eric Braeden, born Hans Gudegast! - were still changing their names to sound more mainstream.
"The truth is I was told, personally, that I probably would never work in television, because I didn't have blue eyes," she recalled. "And if I didn't have blue eyes, I should at least have blonde hair or red hair or something colorful; and maybe I was too ethnic at the time to work on television, [but] Agnes Nixon envisioned Erica Kane as maybe a little different for those times.
"Well, look how far we've come," Lucci continued. "I mean, it almost sounds silly to talk about! But we've come very, very far. And I think it was Agnes who really broke that ground. And lucky me, I got to play this incredible character who helped to break that ground.
"Erica was willful and Erica is a reflection of women who are modern, who don't want to just sit at home and be told what to do. They have brains and they have capabilities and they get out there and do it. So I feel lucky."
Sitting with Lucci on the panel, Nixon was quick to point out she wasn't alone in creating this legendary character.
"I've said ad nauseam that Susan Lucci has created Erica quite as much as any writer or producer, because it is an ensemble effort," Nixon said. "One of the reasons she's been so popular, first of all, her talent, but [also] that women of the world wish they could be Erica.
"They know Erica was abandoned by her father. She and her mother were. And so she does things, and she wreaks havoc in the lives of others, but she suffers just as much herself, so the audience knows that. For 40 years they've known it and though they wish they could be Erica, they forgive her everything she does because it's understandable."
Lucci had much more to say about the unique humor and sense of reality Nixon brought to the show and the way the characters interacted, from the very beginning, which led to a recount of some of Erica's outrageous moments.
"I fought a grizzly bear and won!" Lucci laughed. "I staged a prison break by helicopter while dressed in a wedding gown and high heels. The modeling all over New York City on location - so much fun. A 13-page food fight. The pillow fight. Grapes crushed over David Canary's head. Those things are fun, but then there are the moments that are very important times."
Of course, the first on that list was Bianca coming out to Erica.
"When that was presented to me, I was told that there are a lot of gay kids in this country who commit suicide rather than tell their parents who they really are, because they feel like their parents won't love them anymore," Lucci recalled. "In this medium, in these hands, we could tell the story in real time from everybody's point of view with respect to the human beings out there who are actually going through this. And I felt very proud to be a part of that."
Luckily for us, she plans to continue to be a part of whatever comes next for AMC and Erica as Pine Valley embarks on another forty years in a new home in Los Angeles!
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