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Erika Slezak Library

Soap Opera Now, Jan 1990

Share and Share Alike

By: unknown

Share and Share Alike is okay if that's how Roger and Viki can be together for Eternity.

The mature love triangle currently heating things up on One Life to Live (and making lots of people very hot under the collar) could be settled with out much ado, according to Larry Pine. Viewers are of two distinct minds about businessman Roger Gordon, the character he plays - he's either Viki's salvation from a marriage gone sour, the best thing to happen to her and Llanview in years...or he's a rotten spoiler who's come between her and her husband, a clear and present danger to the once blissful Buchanan family, and he should be tarred and feathered and run out of town pronto. Larry thinks Roger most definitely falls into the first category, and that the whole matter could really be disposed of quite amicably (and civilly) if Viki were to decide that there's simply enough of her (so to speak) to go around.

“First of all, Roger has told Viki over and over again that he's going to leave town, that he doesn't want to make her unhappy, and he's genuine. And then all of a sudden one of his daughters gets in some kind of hassle, so he just can't run out on them. And, then, because they share a daughter there's a certain amount of communication between the two of them. And the love he feels for her is just overpowering. But Roger is willing to just be friends. He wants to be around her. I don't know what he does for sexual gratification. I have no idea and if they ever get into that storyline we might find out he goes to Show World,” Larry laughs. “I don't know what the guy does - he has various women who are attracted to him and he's a very eligible bachelor. But he's not interested in anyone - anyone - because of his deep and abiding love for Victoria.”

So...Larry has come up with what he believes to be the ideal solution. “This is what I'd love to see happen,” he laughs. “See, I think Victoria would stay with Clint out of habit, family and longevity, and I think she could still love Roger for romance and sort of an ideal love that was never fulfilled, as long as it wasn't silly, as long as it really was an ideal love. There is really a great deal of respect and love between them. I think she could actually stay married to Clint and have Roger be the one who physically loves her.”

Whoa! Hold it, there! Is Larry Pine, himself happily married (to a composer) and father of a teenage son (an accomplished violinist) actually endorsing adultery? And for blueblood Victoria Lord Buchanan, she of the genteel upbringing, refined, a regular Miss Manners? “It would be sort of a backstreet affair,” he concedes, “without Clint knowing about it, but Victoria would have a clear conscience about loving both of them because she is, indeed, legally married to both of them [her marriage to Roger having taken place 25 years ago in Eterna, the underground city built by her father]. Roger wouldn't see that as immoral because he's give anything to have part of her life, to be able to share part of her life.”

But what about viewers? Many are already at their wit's when Viki so much as has a conversation with Roger. How could they possibly abide by something so-so immoral? “There's a whole other morality that could be explored,” Larry says, “the rare case that something like that could work. In this case it couldn't be an open marriage, though. Certainly not open. That would never work with Clint. So there would have to be lies, but they would be doing it to save him from emotional hurt, to protect his feelings. And it could be very sexy to boot,” he laughs. “But I'm sure they won't do it.”

This, however, is the week when Roger and Viki do almost “do it.” “It's actually taken almost a year-and-a-half to go that far,” Larry marvels. “I finally get to crawl in the sack with her and say I love you, blah, blah, blah, all that stuff. But it's a dream - Viki's dream - and she says, “Clint, Clint, Clint', and I say 'It's me, Victoria.' And she says, 'What are you doing here?' And I say, 'Just do it - it's fine,' and she's 'I can't. I can't' [Larry intersperses his re-enactment of the dialogue with the perfunctory kissing sounds that accompany it]. And it goes as far as it can with her and she wakes up and goes, 'What am I doing? What's going on?” (Lisa and I will attest to these scenes being super hot!)

That's the question Viki's husband has been asking for months now, first with impatience and lately with raging anger. Larry offers that Clint is certainly an opponent of rather formidable stature and not a man to be easily discounted, but he says Roger is partly driven by the fact that “he thinks Clint is making Victoria unhappy. He's a very jealous man and he's also a male chauvinist pig. He's a whiner, a complainer, he's hard-headed. He's a cowboy, and old-fashioned kind of guy with old fashioned ideas and beliefs...and you have to give and take a little bit here. Clint loves and respects her deeply, too, but he's also incredibly possessive and in a very greedy ego kind of way. Roger would be the kind of guy who, if they got together, she's have all the support in the world in any venture she decided to take on, as long as it was something reasonable, I suppose.”

Larry says a perfect example is Viki's upcoming decision to run for Mayor of Llanview, where the lines are clearly drawn between her husband and her would-be-lover. “Of course Clint doesn't want her to, and of course Roger thinks it's a great idea. She's perfect for that kind of stuff. He gives her a lot of support and he believes her when she says things. Once in a while the writers will screw up and make Roger sound ridiculous, like 'you can't do this,' or 'I won't let you do that.' Well, I always try to soften those things because Roger believes she can do anything she wants to do and say anything she wants to say, and if she says something, I believe it.”

Although Larry points out that he and Clint Ritchie are probably more dissimilar than even their characters are (“I mean, Clint Ritchie really is Clint - he really is”), he says they get along very well on the set and often join forces to protect the integrity of their characters. “One of the nice things about working with him that I have found is that if he finds something that Clint Buchanan wouldn't do, he can't do it. He can't act it. It has to be rewritten. It has to be changed. One of the writers used to give us nasty kinds of cuts and digs at each other kinds of scenes. Well, if I said something like that to Clint he woulda slugged me. I couldn't sit there and say those things to him because Roger wouldn't talk that way to another human being and Clint wouldn't take it. He would kill me. I wouldn't say, 'Hey, cowboy, y'know.' Or some snide remark. So all that stuff had to be really softened.”

Larry says he had no idea he'd be stirring up such a hornet's nest when he returned to the show as Roger after a brief run as Randolph Lord during the Buchanan City 1888 story a few months earlier. Actually, he didn't know he was even going to be Roger until his agent called and told him OLTL has put out a casting call for an actress to play Larry Pine's daughter. They wanted to know if I was working on a soap without them knowing it,” he relates, laughing, “which I told them certainly wasn't possible without them. So they called the show to ask and they said, 'Oh, yeah, we're going to offer him a contract in September.' So that's when they were looking for Megan, and that's how I found out. They assumed - and, of course, correctly - that I would come back and do it.”

Though he'd been part of that time travel story in which Erika Slezak played the dual roles of Ginny and Viki (“She'd have reams of dialogue and I'd sit there going, 'How does she do it”), Larry says he didn't realize stepping into a full-blown storyline with her would be “such an incredible thing.” As Roger is in awe of Viki, so is the actor lavish with praise for his co-star. “A lot of actors, not just soap actors, if they come across something they feel either uncomfortable with, say a love scene or something that's bad writing, they'll make fun of it. Or if they're just generally insecure they'll make fun of it just to try and make a joke out of it. They'll do anything to put off actually having to do it. Once the red light goes on the seriousness begins, so you can't joke then. But no matter what she has to do, I've never seen Erika make fun of the material. What she does, which I find quite lovely, she's got a wonderful sense of humor and she will play - she does play around. It's not that when you work with her that she's so strict or one of these people you have to become so serious when you're around her. But you know that the end product with her is going to be good, and you'd better try to be up there with her. She gets reams - speeches that would boggle any mind. I'm just in awe. I've done theater and film, but I think every actor should spend a year on soaps and see what it is that we have to do.”

That's not to say Larry's about to automatically pin a medal on every performer on a soap-not by a long shot (“I see people who are appallingly inept. But then there are good ones, too. Larry Bryggman on ATWT is a hugely respected actor. Erika is, too”) “but the process is hard. The job of being a soap actor is very hard and not at all glamorous. When you're working down here it's like being in a commune-people padding about in their robes and slippers, hair up in curlers, all these supposedly handsome, beautiful people all look like shit early in the morning. On our show you're allowed to bring in guests only for camera blocking, and everyone is walking around without makeup and everything, and I think it's always more exciting to see people they watch all the time in a more real appearance.”

Although some critics have singled out the Eterna story that spawned the Roger/Viki relationship as one of the most “unreal” in the annals of daytime, Larry thinks it was no more difficult to swallow than lots of other soap fare. “People who are looking for realism shouldn't be watching these things anyway because people get shot and they recover in two days.” he laughs. “And GL and some of those shows do stick to realism don't get the ratings. I think the excitement of people being able to say, 'That bullshit Eterna,' or Whaddya mean she's going to Heaven?' - out of that you really get some gems. I thought the Eterna storyline was kinda fun. I think the Leo Cromwell character was very interesting. And the whole idea of Victor Lord and a bunch of people having built an underground city to stash their gold in case of a nuclear disaster - there are money mongers in the world. It may not have been absolutely real - a landslide on Mount Llantana in Pennsylvania - I mean, we all laugh at stuff like that. But so what? Andrea Evans and I were talking about all the things that have happened to Tina. She's been kidnaped 29 times. Twenty-nine times. And she broke her arm once when she fell out of a lighthouse window. That's the only time she's ever been hurt. How many people can get kidnaped that many times? If you follow Viki's history - I mean, I told her, 'I'd really love to see your body after all the things that have happened to you - gunshots, tracheotomies, brain surgery' - she'd be bald and toothless at age 43,” he chortles.

Although he doesn't go so far as to label it “realistic,” Larry thinks the key to the success of the Roger/Viki/Clint story is that there's really no villain in the piece. “Tad Channing [the character he played on ATWT] blew into town because he was pursuing Iva Snyder, who ditched him, and he was going to destroy the whole goddamned town because of her. That's a whole different kettle of fish. In this situation, no one's being evil or underhanded or spiteful or malicious. Nobody really wants to hurt anybody else. Clint doesn't really want to hurt Roger because Clint realizes what's happening. He hates Roger for just existing, but he's not a killer. Roger really doesn't want to hurt Clint - he respects him. Viki doesn't want to hurt either one of them. She loves them both, for different reasons. I think they've done a pretty good job of complicating it, weaving a web that's driving viewers nuts. Some of them are saying [getting very dramatic here] 'Oh God, I wish they would just resolve it!' And some people just love it. The more complicated it gets, the more they love it.”

Since it's indeed unlikely that the plan to share and share alike will be the answer, and since the triangle can't go on indefinitely, there's go to be some sort of resolution down the road. At this juncture, Larry's not about to bet on the outcome. However...he thinks it's entirely plausible that Viki will just bite the bullet and break it off completely with Roger, and Roger will hook up with someone else (like maybe the soon-to-return Dorian Lord?). “And Victoria not being able to stand it and coming back,” Larry continues. “There are a lot of things that could happen that would be sort of fun to drive both guys nuts without her doing anything except following her truthful emotions.”

Try telling Clint Buchanan it'd be “sort of fun” - and then duck!

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