We Love Soaps was invited to attend a press lunch today with the Cramer Women of ONE LIFE TO LIVE. Robin Strasser (Dorian), Kassie DePaiva (Blair), Gina Tognoni (Kelly), Kristen Alderson (Starr), Laura Bonarrigo (Cassie), Melissa Fumero (Arianna) and Brittany Underwood (Langston) were in attendance. We'll have more from the event coming up including a special episode of WE LOVE SOAPS TV, but for now here's an excerpt from the media roundtable.
Roger Newcomb (We Love Soaps): What do you see as the biggest strength of the show? If people aren’t watching, why should they watch?
Gina Tognoni: Because Snoop Dogg is on! Seriously, we have great entertainment.
Robin Strasser: It’s very edgy. It’s unpredictable. There is an electric unpredictability and surprise factor on a daily basis. I think that’s cool. The cast is not vanilla or homogenzied. You distinctly know when you’ve landed in Llanview. You’re not confused is it that show or that show? I think our people do look atypically fabulous.
Kassie DePaiva: I think it’s because we are entertaining. We have a strong writer who has been with our show. We have an Executive Producer who has been there since he was in a diaper. We have people that have been on this journey a long time that aren’t just trying to throw stuff up and say, “Let’s do this...” They are being extremely creative but they also are honoring history. That’s what we’re doing here today with the Cramer women, we are honoring history. If you don’t know where you’ve been, you’re certainly not going to know where you’re going. And this is where we have been. We have a great journey to go with these women who will hopefully arrive at a special place and you’ll be entertained along the way.
Melissa Fumero: It’s not overly dramatic a lot of the time, it’s funny a lot of the time. Even with Snoop Dog and music artists, the music we do, and when characters sing. I think that’s what is so great about ONE LIFE TO LIVE, they switch it up a lot. It’s not just death and drama.
Kassie DePaiva: We do crazy fantasy stuff. We do things outside of what is typically soap opera.
Melissa Fumero: There is a little bit of everything.
Gina Tognoni: Yet it sticks to that good formula. It knows what it is.
Kassie DePaiva: But it’s also not afraid to make fun of itself to a certain extent. Like doing “Grey Gardens.” I love it. It’s cutting edge.
Damon L. Jacobs (We Love Soaps): Can you comment on how your character has coped with the legacy of mental illness in the Cramer family? Would you like that to be addressed on the show?
Robin Strasser: I hope so, in the sense that Cramer women as a family tree, if I’m the trunk, it’s those roots and the mystery...
Kassie DePaiva: You're the whole tree, we're the branches!
Robin Strasser: Then there's the water and the other elements, and I'm lost in my meatphor! [Laughs] They are disparate, they are different. Yes, to go into it respectfully, not as a joke. Mental illness is a disease that affects many. Even chronic depression, the stats are enormous in this country. So I think it could be interesting, or not, if it’s not handled well. But it certainly informs all our work. Even my adopted daughter Langston, isolated in a house for like fourteen months pretending to everybody in the world that her parents weren’t dead. Every time I say, “Hi Langston...”, I always think, “Are we ever going to talk about the fact that this child was living alone pretending her parents were still alive for 14 months?” It could be mined. And I love my mentally ill sisters who had terrible trouble coping. They gave birth to daughters with whom I have an easier time relating open-heartedly to than I do with my own daughters. Her relationships are complicated to the point of toxicity. And yet unconditional [makes explosive sound] for Blair. I’m sure you’ll see it with Kelly again.
Laura Bonarrigo: Yeah we’re still jealous about that. It’s an issue
Kassie DePaiva: A couple of years ago, unbeknownest to you guys, they were going to kill Addie off. This is when Addie was "Simple Addie," not after she took her pill and she was obviously healed as we have of late. But Robin and I were like, “WHAT? You can’t kill...” It was probably the biggest Cramer moment. Because she provided in that mental illness so many opportunities to expose the truth behind Blair’s love for Max to Todd, or Dorian’s secrets. So we actually saved the death of a Cramer woman and they didn’t kill her.
Robin Strasser: We suited up. We were ready to go to the mat with “Don’t kill Addie!” Then it turned out that people all over the studio when they heard were like, “You can’t kill Addie!”
Kassie DePaiva: They had pictures that Addie had drawn stuck up in the sound booth, that Pamela had painted when she was Crazy Addie. Gina Tognoni: Thank God.
Laura Bonarrigo: Also, when they address mental illness on the show, it’s the best storyline. It’s intense, it’s deep, it’s fun.
Kassie DePaiva: You don’t get to wear make-up, which is really special.
Laura Bonarrigo: : You don’t get to wear make-up, you can look messy, and for daytime that is a special treat. I had the best work when I was crazy, insane, sick. Besides nowadays they have better drugs.
Kassie DePaiva: When Blair saw Crazy Margaret I said, “You really have to be very careful with this.” You can’t just Blair have hallucinations and not think, “Is she going crazy?” So they had to change a couple of things in the script. Because based on the family history you have to be very careful of how your write any type of fantasy or hallucination. It might read to the avid fan like, “My God, she’s going crazy the like the rest.”
Damon L. Jacobs: Is Cassie in therapy?
Laura Bonarrigo: I think she’s on good medication, probably therapy. Why do you think she stayed away from Llanview for so long?
Damon L. Jacobs (We Love Soaps): What have you learned from your character over the years?
Robin Strasser: What not do do. What has Robin learned from Dorian? Gratitude for a nice long career run. I don’t think it’s a good idea for actors to dissect the recipe. It’s like looking behind the curtain at The Wizard Of Oz. If you overanalyze in the wrong way then you take away some of the magic from it. I’ve learned what not to do and profound gratitude for a nice long run and a good life on ONE LIFE TO LIVE.
Kassie DePaiva: I’ve learned a hell of a lot. I’ve learned what bra not to put on in the morning [laughs]. I truly believe Blair has given Kassie Depaiva strength. Because I’ve looked in the script and [said], “I can’t do that, my mother is going to die!” I’m sure she fell off the sofa yesterday with that love scene [between Blair and Eli]. Blair has taught me just to be right out there, and to own it. Because I have to own this stuff. It’s not something a normal woman puts on every day. I have to own that she’s not normal. And I have to go for it, and know it’s okay to be strong.