In the second part of my interview with AS THE WORLD TURNS star Lynn Herring, we discuss the beginning and ending of PORT CHARLES, Lucy’s cutoff from GENERAL HOSPITAL, and the short but glorious life of Liseanne Garner on DAYS OF OUR LIVES.
We Love Soaps: How did the decision to go to PORT CHARLES come about? Were you pleased with that, were you a part of that?
Lynn Herring: I was a part of the decision. I got a phone call from a friend who said, “I think they’re going to spin GENERAL HOSPITAL off,” and I thought it was a prank, like an April Fool’s. Because I thought it really wasn’t possible to separate core characters out of a show. And then Wendy Riche who was the producer at the time called pretty quickly after that, and said, “We have this great idea, and it’s your character, we’re bringing Kin back, and we’ll have GH people flopping back and forth. And Doc [Kevin] will be there and we’ll create this whole other world.” And part of me was so fearful because I know how hard it is to be successful in daytime, and also I fought hard to stay viable all those years before we did that. So it was really scary.
The pilot and the way we did the start of the show was very exciting. Of course you’re flattered and thrilled do a real pilot, like a night time pilot. But a half-hour time slot was tough, the competition against us, we didn’t have a lot going for us except for that the characters were pretty lovable. But you’re changing people’s whole viewing habits. For awhile I was thrilled because people did sample us to see what we were doing. But then that’s [watching] for an hour and a half and I don’t know in our modern time to give that much time to shows, it was hard. And I missed a lot of the core characters from GH that couldn’t come over or were in story lines from GH where it wouldn’t have been possible. So part of me loved it, but part of me wished we had stayed in a sense to keep that connection with the other characters. When Port Charles ended, they didn’t really have room for us to go back to General Hospital.
We Love Soaps: There was always a rumor that if PORT CHARLES failed you contractually had the option to return to GENERAL HOSPITAL.
Lynn Herring: I did. The last contract I had with them that was the case. And then in the fall before PORT CHARLES was canceled my contract had come up again. And we had begun talking. And then they canceled us before we figured out a contract. That was intentional on their part. Not maliciously in any way, just that they weren’t going to sign a bunch of people to stay that they had no show for. I called right after PORT CHARLES was done and said, “I feel extremely unfinished, can you give me a couple of shows as Lucy just to say goodbye to the audience and have me go away?" And I was told no, that there wasn’t that crossover feeling anymore. That was very painful to lose a whole show, but then also told be told that Lucy didn’t have a connection. I was really surprised because I didn’t think two or three shows would have been that much to do just to see Doc and Lucy riding off into the sunset.
We Love Soaps: How do you deal with that kind of disappointment and pain?
Lynn Herring: The good thing was I always wanted to raise my children at the ranch, so my personal life took over at that point. Where we lived in Topanga and Malibu (California) is a privileged society to me in a great way. My kids’ view of the real world was pretty distorted at that point. My personal life stepped up and said, “Wait a minute, this is a perfect time to move up to the Ranch and really see how much you enjoy that rural (life).” So the six years away has been a blessing in disguise. However, having said that, I missed daytime tremendously so it was a two edged sword.
We Love Soaps: And in these six years, we know many people in this economy have lost their jobs and lost their livelihood. Since you have been through this, what advice might you give to someone who is coping with losing a job, or coping with the loss of opportunity to do what they really love to do?
Lynn Herring: Find many other interests. That’s the main thing. I have found you’ve got to be well rounded. We’re all so passionate about what we do and you have to keep that. But you have to find another passion. For me, goals, even if they’re small, like running a 5 mile K, if they’re small goals while you’re going through unemployment, then at least you have something to get up in the morning for and look forward to. Anybody who has lost a job you’ve done for a long time: your self worth is so tied up in your paycheck and what you do and the admiration of your colleagues. You have to find something else that just sparks you or interests you. Or else you really will sink into a one note depression. Even it’s a simple hobby, that’s what really helped me. And giving back, that’s the other thing. My mom was always very big on, “If you make somebody else happy that day then you had a good day and you did a good job.” So taking yourself off yourself, lighting up someone else’s face, then you know you did a good job that day.
We Love Soaps: These are things that have helped you get through?
Lynn Herring: Oh big time. I started a museum up in Raymond [California]. We have a little town, and the original house was up for sale. It was such a disaster, I thought they were going to tear it down. And I thought, “Gosh this community took us in, and they really don’t judge us.” So we fixed up this little museum and it’s rallied this community. That’s been really gratifying. It took me out of, “Hey, no one’s calling, and I really miss that sense of teamwork on that set.” We had a great sense of teamwork putting this museum together.
We Love Soaps: What did Lynn learn from Lucy?
Lynn Herring: Oh gosh, that’s a book! One thing I learned was how much I love talking to people about their reactions. When you get to talk to people about stories and what they like and what they don’t like, I realized how much I like people and how gratifying it is to entertain them. I didn’t know I had that in me, I didn’t do a lot of that in high school. I moved a lot as an air force brat so I was kind of shy and not really a social person. Lucy gave me the glory of being a communicator and sharing with people, that I just didn’t know I had in me.
We Love Soaps: I also have to add that I loved your portrayal of Liseanne Garner on DAYS OF OUR LIVES [in 1992].
Lynn Herring: Oh that was fun!
We Love Soaps: What was your take on Liseanne?
Lynn Herring: It was tricky because they had written the part as a two week lawyer who came in. This was before any of the contract negotiations [like now] where daytime needs everyone to take a reduction to keep us on the air. The powers that be [at ABC], it was a sports guy, came into GH and started chopping people’s jobs. And when it came up to my contract I said, “You just can’t do that to people.” And they said, “Okay, goodbye.” So I let DAYS know. And they said, “Okay, come play this lawyer.” Like, that same day, I literally drove from the GH set to the DAYS set. I was so grateful, I thought, “Oh my gosh, I have another job.” Initially the part was written hastily because we didn’t know it could turn into something more. My take on it was, “Oh boy, Lucy has been so zany and fun, I’ve got to be an attorney. But this girl has a wicked bend, she’s off beat too.” I loved jumping in to a whole other show. And having Wayne [Northrop, Lynn’s husband] there, I already knew a lot of the people. So I felt a lot of pressure to be interesting and different from Lucy and to be good because Wayne and all his friends were watching!
We Love Soaps: One of the things I loved about Liseanne is that she was such a stark contrast to everyone else on the canvas at that time.
Lynn Herring: That was a great thing. I do remember people commenting, “Good, now we have different kind of professional woman who’s a little bit hard.” I really enjoyed being over there.
We Love Soaps: Yet you stayed only eight months. What happened?
Lynn Herring: Well, they kept making her stranger and stranger, and I enjoyed that part of it. But Wendy Riche [producer of GH] and my buddy Kin called and said, “I really think our story is at a point where Lucy could come back.” And the gentleman had been fired who had done our contracts in such a strange way. So he [Kin] had been bugging Wendy and saying, “I think Lynn would like to be Lucy.” I thought, “My heart’s there, I gotta do it.” And so I went to Ken Corday and Al Rabin [DAYS producers], and they were so nice. I said, “I’ve loved it, but it really would be lovely to go back [to GH],” and they generously let me out of my contract and let me jump ship. So they were very kind. And with Wayne there it was a lot of fun to compare from the two sets, and I admire couples that can do the same show. Because a lot of times with the scheduling, because you’re not in the same story line, can be a little tricky. It was better for our family to be on two shows, I think.
We Love Soaps: As you probably know, Louise Sorel and Crystal Chappell are returning to DAYS. I know Liseanne “died,” but on DAYS that doesn’t mean anything. Could you ever imagine Liseanne coming back?
Lynn Herring: Oh sure! You know, I love this AS THE WORLD TURNS stint. I have never had more fun in New York City, and this summer has been awesome. But I am a West Coast kid, and I would love to do DAYS. It’s a changed show, I know. I haven’t kept up as much with it. Wayne keeps in touch with James Reynolds, and Deidre [Hall] and Drake [Hogestyn], but it’s more on a personal basis, it’s not about the show. Of course you’d never say no, and that would be so much fun to revisit the attorney interesting kind of character. I would never say I wouldn’t want to do it because I would.
- The Lynn Herring Interview, Part One
Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." He blogs regularly at www.shouldless.com.