As Published in Soap Opera Weekly, November 16, 1999
Michael Nader (ex-Dimitri Marick, AMC), got a phone call from executive producer Jean Dadario Burke immediately following the September 18, 1999 AMC fan-club luncheon. "After the luncheon, Jeannie called saying she took a lot of heat over the whole situation," Nader tells SOAP OPERA WEEKLY, referring to his firing. "It was not a fun day for her. She asked if I'd consider coming back and do a few days here, a week there. But after being a major character for so long, that did not make any sense to me. So I declined. But if the network was interested in seriously discussing Dimitri's return on a contract basis, I would love to go back. After eight years on the show, I really miss it." To date, Nader says he has not heard from the network.
At the luncheon, a well-organized group of Nader supporters -- calling themselves the Loyalists -- handed Burke a petition of more than 1,500 signatures asking for his return. They also orchestrated a tune-out of AMC set for Nov. 5. "The powers that be are convinced they can ignore us, displease us, insult the actor we cherish by removing his photo from the opening credits, push the Edmund/Alex pairing in our faces, mumble something about an 'open door,' and we will keep watching," says Carole Cornett, a campaign organizer. "No. We will tune them out."
Loyalists feel Dimitri's two deaths were misleading. "Trusting, loyal fans kept watching, convinced he'd live," Cornett said in an email to Nader supporters. "Their reward? Dimitri died a second death, his horse was shot by Edmund, and there is a forced pairing of his brother and his new wife."
"I heard about finding Dimitri's robe by the sea," Nader says with a laugh, of Dimitri's second death. "What a way to go."
Last spring, the "out clause" in Nader's contract came up for discussion. "It was my idea to include that clause," he notes, "giving myself and/or the network the option to exercise it after two years. Things were going along nicely, and I placed a call to them about eight weeks before the out clause would go into effect, saying that I was happy on the show and hoped to continue playing out the rest of my contract. They said they felt the same. Things were fine for a few weeks, and then I got a call saying they decided to exercise the out clause."
Nevertheless, Nader loved how the show handled Dimitri's exit. "Working with Finola (Hughes; Alex) was great fun. She is wonderful, and we hit it off right away," he says.
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AMC Fans Call for Tune-Out During Sweeps Week!
"We're mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore!" declared Carole Cornett in the mass email that reached thousands of Michael Nader (Dimitri, AMC) fans and made its way into my emailbox. As part of an underlying disillusionment with AMC for wasting veteran actors in favor of new characters, fans became enraged at AMC's producers for canceling Nader's contract and writing Dimitri off the show. Nader's supporters took to the internet, mounting a major campaign that includes snail mail, email, boycotting sponsors, sending representatives to the fan club luncheon to protest the firing, meeting at Super Soap Weekend wearing black arm bands and ribbons in solidarity, and creating a website dedicated to the Nader Campaign, all in the hopes of persuading AMC to bring back the Count! Aside from the network's standard "Great Escape" reply card, they have heard nothing, and are now calling for a "tune-out" of All My Children on Friday, November 5, 1999, sweeps week.
Nader was surprised when the network called saying they decided to exercise the out clause when they had originally told him everything was fine and they were happy to continue to play out his full contract. Disappointed they did not give him more time to make other career plans, he continued with the show for several weeks, acting his heart out in some wonderful scenes, romancing Dimitri's new wife, Alex (Finola Hughes). "I credit the writers with giving me such rich material as my exit off the show, " Nader says. "Working with Finola was great fun. She is wonderful and we hit it off right away," a chemistry obvious to the fans. Producers then asked him to return to tape the "hospital" sequence, and Dimitri "lived" for a few more scenes.
Nader's supporters have not heard from the show's producers but the campaign is making an impact. "Loyalist" Darlene Draper cornered AMC Executive Producer Jean Dadario Burke at the AMC Fan Club Luncheon and personally handed her a copy of the petition. When Nader spoke to Burke after the luncheon she asked if he'd consider doing a day here or a week there, but that is of no interest to the veteran actor. Dimitri was such a major character, doing a few days here or there did not make any sense, but Nader is open to talking seriously with the network regarding a more long-term, and mutually acceptable deal on a contract basis. To date, he has not heard anything from them in that regard, nor have they called to thank him for his years of service on the show.
Along with the November 5th "tune-out," Laurie Ferring, another Nader champion, is organizing a protest outside the ABC studios in New York. "We've written AMC fans Star Jones of the View and Rosie O'Donnell," said Ferring. "We've not heard back from them yet. But as soon as we get our permit from NYC, we will be picketing the network! People are coming in from all over the country for that!"
Since leaving AMC Nader has relocated to Los Angeles and is pursuing other acting ventures. He continues to be overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of his fans, personally writing or calling to thank them.
"It amazes me that they have come together and have been so vocal on my behalf," says Nader. "Carole Cornett sent me a copy of a petition with over 1500 signatures of fans wanting me back. I was very moved. It has let me know that the work I did on the show meant something. My thanks to Carol and all the Loyalists for their support."
Nader is likewise grateful to the power of the internet. "It is a new and more intelligent tool for people who really love these shows," he says, "giving them a say. The campaign for Mike to come back is exemplary of that."
To join the fight to bring back Dimitri write to:
Jean Dadario Burke
AMC Executive Producer
320 West 66th Street
New York, NY 10023
**Authors note: Michael Nader does not often give interviews. For the most part, he is a private man who shies away from publicity. I appreciate his sharing his thoughts with me. Thank you, Michael. All the best to you. God bless! LMS 10/27/99.
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