Kim Zimmer says story, not cast, will save Santa Barbara

 By Janet Di Lauro, Soap Opera Weekly, 1992

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Daytime legend Kim Zimmer, best known for her six years as Reva Shayne Lewis on Guiding Light, returned to daytime on March 27 as Jodie Walker, linchpin of a major new Santa Barbara family. The show is clearly hoping Zimmer can pack the same kind of wallop with Jodie that she did during her three-Emmy stint on Guiding Light. Looking tan, rested and admittedly eager to jump back into the suds, Zimmer met the West Coast daytime press for the first time in her career.

Would you have signed with Santa Barbara had it not been for head writer Pam Long ?

No. I can't lie. When Pam joined Santa Barbara she called me up and I hung up on her. I said, "Don't do this to me. Don't entice me like this." Then she explained what she was hoping to do with (the Walker) family, and she had me hooked. She was a big reason why I decided to join the show. The other reason being the obvious - its incredible cast of actors.

Did you miss the soap world ?

I was starting to miss daytime television, I have to admit. It's a little hard in today's economy to be unknown out here in California and try to get work. (Hollywood's) not making as many films, so you've got film actors now available and dying to do nighttime. My competition for a lot of nighttime shows was Christine Lahti, JoBeth Williams and Kathy Baker. I've worked (in California) but it's not enough for me. I'm a workaholic. The only place you can be a workaholic is in daytime television. I missed the routine. I missed having a second family, a surrogate family. And I missed the paycheck.

Do you feel under pressure to help Santa Barbara's Nielsen ratings rise ?

See the zits on my face ! (She laughs). Each one of them has a name - responsibility, ratings pressure... You know what I say to that ? I don't think any one actor or character can be responsible for the ratings of the show. You can pad your actors. You can bring in a Kim Zimmer, but it's not going to work unless you've got the story to back it up. So I think it's all Pam's responsibility.

Obviously the show is hoping to attract some Reva fans...

It would be nice to think that the fans who were so loyal to me at Guiding Light will switch over and check out the show, and hopefully they'll stay. And I don't mean that as a dig to Guiding Light. I certainly didn't join Santa Barbara as a... I mean, on the East coast the show plays opposite it in most of the markets. Guiding Light is a good show. They don't need me anymore.

Is there any truth to the rumors that Robert Newman (ex-Josh Lewis in Guiding Light) was interested in the role of Reese ?

I don't think Pam would have done that to the audience. That would have been a little too much. I would love to think there might be something for Robert down the road. He's a wonderful actor and a very dear friend of mine, but I think he would probably go back to Guiding Light. I think (he and his wife) like the East Coast better than here.

Will you be replacing Marcy Walker (ex-Eden Castillo) in A Martinez's (Cruz) love life ?

I'd like to hope so. I'm thrilled (to be working with A), although the gentleman they've cast to play my husband is not bad. His name is Forry Smith. He's a dynamite guy. But there can't help but be sparks between Cruz and Jodie because of their past. There will be some kind of triangle or quadrangle thing with Kelly, Cruz, Jodie and Reese.

Have you ever worked with any of the Santa Barbara cast before ?

Nancy Grahn (Julia) and I worked together years ago in Chicago doing what we refer to as live industrial shows, which were Broadway scale productions about toilets, lawn mowers and gasoline. Eric Close (Sawyer), who's playing my son now, played my younger brother in a Suzanne Somers TV movie (Keeping Secrets). He's a cutie pie. I remember when we were on location for that film : there were a lot of very experienced people working on that film - Michael Learned, Suzanne Somers, Ken Kercheval... It was Eric's first project out here. He was scared to death. He kind of held on to my coattails. We wandered through the movie together. He's like a young Henry Fonda. He's going to be wonderful on this show.

Did you receive offers from any other soaps since you moved to California ?

When I came out there, I had an offer from Generations. I was not interested in daytime at that point. I think there may have been some other offers. My agent would not have told me about them. In fact, they were not thrilled about this whole concept. I finally explained to them, "I have to work, and you should be sick of me and want to get rid of me by now."

How does your family feel about your returning to work ?

My daughter was kind of, "Oh, so you're not going to be home anymore." This show is great because I don't have to be here until 9.45 a.m.. I can still get my kids off to school in the morning and be home in time to put them in bed at night.

It doesn't sound like you miss New York...

I miss the obvious things - the people at Guiding Light. But I don't miss living in New York... We didn't even live in New York. We lived in New Jersey. It's so easy with the children out here. I open my back doors and they're gone. It would be hard for us to move back (East). We'd have to live way out in Connecticut somewhere to match the freedom we have here.