By Caelie M. Haines
Soap Opera Weekly
April 27, 1993
Despite success in Los Angeles, ATWT's Mary Kay Adams returned to her soap roots in New York.
The touch of a daytime legend is what brought Mary Kay Adams (ex-India von Halkein, GUIDING LIGHT) back to daytime to play AS THE WORLD TURNS' Neal Alcott. "I met Doug Marland (ATWT’s late head writer) for the first time last June at the GUIDING LIGHT anniversary party, and he said, 'I'm going to write for you,'" she explains. Adams politely declined his offer, but last September she got a call saying Marland had gone ahead with his plan. "I said, 'Oh, man, he really meant it!' But it turned out to be a nice situation. Being written a role is just a little bit flattering."
Any lingering doubts were erased when Adams discovered who she would be working with. "I highly respected Doug, and I knew [executive producer] Laurence Caso -- he was a CBS executive when I was on GUIDING LIGHT. Laurie sketched out the way the story was starting out and who I was related to. He said, 'Terry Lester' (Neal's brother, Royce), and I said, 'OK, where do I sign?' I was never a daily watcher of THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS (Lester played Jack, 1980-'89), but I knew Terry's work. With some actors, you only have to see one show to know they've really got it." She was equally familiar with Elizabeth Hubbard (Lucinda). "I met her briefly when we were doing CBS promos many years ago, and I was very impressed by her work. She's a strong woman. I didn't know Joe Breen (Neal's love interest, Scott), but we had mutual friends from GUIDING LIGHT."
After she left GL in 1987,Adams moved to Los Angeles to pursue new avenues in her career. In 1990 she agreed to another brief stint on GL. "I had done a pilot earlier in the year, so 1 was on hold to NBC until the end of 1990, and that's why the GUIDING LIGHT thing was short-term," she says. When her India revival ended, Adams headed back to L.A., where she starred In the short-lived NBC series THE HUNDRED LIVES OF BLACK JACK SAVAGE. She followed that with a seven-month run in the play Tamara and several prime-time guest spots, including one on JAKE AND THE FAT MAN. "I was in L.A. through April of '92, 16 months straight, and working almost all the time," she says proudly. While she was in LA, golf became a surprise passion, and she has become quite good at it.
Last April found Adams in New York for a private production of Leon Uris' "Trinity" that was seeking financial backers. She stayed until July, then returned to L.A. for pilot season, but when nothing panned out she headed back to the New York stage, this time in an off-Broadway production of "Program for Murder." "Then I took the six months on WORLD TURNS," she says. The show had hoped to sign Adams to a three-year contract, but "I just didn't want to commit to that because of whatever momentum I'd gotten in L.A." After she wraps up her role in June, Adams plans to spend the summer in Manhattan, but then it's back to L.A. Periodic returns to Oakdale wouldn't be out of the question, though. "I don't know how it would fit into their plans. But when I establish a relationship, especially in daytime, I like to keep it open. I like to know that I'm respected and that somebody would have me back for my work ethic and my product, which I take very, very seriously."
When she started on this soap Adams had to adjust to the size of the ATWT cast, which is much larger than the one she worked with at GL. "On GUIDING LIGHT, if you were doing 30 pages a day, it was usually with just one other person, and those pages were split so you had just one-on-one communication. On AS THE WORLD TURNS, you work with many more people, so you establish many more relationships. It's not a given each and every time that you'll be working with one of five people with whom you normally work. Lisa Brown (Iva) and I worked together at the same time on GUIDING LIGHT (where Brown played Nola Reardon Chamberlain), but we were in different storylines, so we never had a scene together. Here you get to really stretch and have more fun in some regards by working with more people.'"
Nevertheless, Adams does, of course, find herself dealing with some actors more than others -- Hubbard, Lester, Breen -- and she loves the challenge posed by performers of their caliber. "The stronger the person I'm working with, the better for me," she states. "Terry and I are very similar in a lot of ways . . . I love him. It's as if I've known him my whole life. Every time out we approach the scene like, 'Come on, buddy, I'm going to win this one.' There's this fabulous challenge we present to each other to grab this ball and run as far and jump as high as we can."
She and Breen also love to compete. "There's a contest to see who's going to be funnier. Who's going to throw somebody that little backhand they'll have to return? That's exciting. If you're working with someone who's not as comfortable as that, then you're doing all the work. Or at least you feel like you're doing most of the work, and you don't get to the level where you really want to be. Being around people who are as good as you, or better, makes you better. So working here is not difficult; it's a gift."