|The Santa Barbara lovers against star-system and kings of business|
By Chantal Van Tri, TÚlÚ Star, 1986
It is Sunday. It is sunny in California. Throughout Sunset, the longest boulevard of Los Angeles, without exceeding the limiting speed, Californians took the direction of the ocean in tight lines. Stranger in the Night, on 101.92, Radio California plays a retrospective of Frank Sinatra's songs. After the curve, the canyon, and, hundred meters lower, Sycamore Road. At number three hundred sixty eight, the house of Dane Witherspoon and Robin Wright, a.k.a. Joe Perkins and Kelly Capwell, the unhappy lovers of Santa Barbara, live here a very lovely love story which started with the show, now two years ago.
It is in the smart district of Santa Monica that they chose to live, but we do not find at their home a swimming pool in form of heart. The house in wood lathes, like a good number of the houses of Los Angeles neighbourhoods, is rather small. A veranda, a living-room with a little kitchen, an office and their bedroom, and the turn is done. Nothing that looks like the stars style. The hill of Hollywood is exactly in the other direction of Los Angeles. And it is not a hazard if Robin and Dane decided to live further from there. Not only they do not live like stars, but they acknowledge not to be in good terms with show-business which made their success since Santa Barbara. In reality, Santa Barbara, at two hours from Los Angeles, is a superb seaside city where Ronald Reagan has a another home. A paradise for billionaires, a magic place, favourable to make dream the televiewers especially when is placed there a pretty heiress, Kelly, alias Robin, and a very good-looking young man, Joe, alias Dane, who, nonglad to be beautiful, has also the misfortune to be wrongly accused of the murder of the brother of his beloved darling...
At the rhythm of thirteen hours per day, five days per week, and fifty two weeks per year, Robin plays Kelly for two years. "I work a lot but it is true that here the weather is always nice and that we live more in freedom than in a town like Paris. We have at the same time the countryside, the sea, the city, the mountain. It is superb, but that does not prevent me, every morning, to wake up at 6.30 a.m. and to come back home every evening at 9 p.m.." Seen from this point of view, the life of the pretty heiress of Santa Barbara less lends to dream. Behind the house, there is just the place for an orange tree, which gives superb fruits, and a solid mass of rhododendrons. Robin furnished the living-room with pieces of furniture from recovery. A white sofa she does not like, a large wardrobe in which Dane had installed a hi-fi system, a coffee table constitute the basis of the furnitures. On the table, a book of photographs on Paris. Paris where lives Dane's best friend. They want to create a restaurant in Hollywood. Precisely, the friend calls. After a long phone call, Dane summarizes their conversation. His friend is sorry because the French government did not let the Americans fly over our territory to go to Libya. No comment. Dane is not the first and will undoubtedly not be the last to talk to us about "the unpleasant attitude" of the French in the fight against Kadhafi.
We are far from Santa Barbara, but Robin returns to it while exclaiming : "I am fed up with Santa Barbara, I am tired with television. The show is directed by four directors. We change of team twice per week, i.e. each time we have a new producer, a new writer and a new director, who does not have the same idea of the role as the previous one, of course. The most annoying, it is that the writers do not read the scenarios of the previous shooting. Sometimes, they even make us say the opposite of what we said the day before. It is not easy. In fact, except the actors, any technician really knows the story. The characters appear and disappear from the show according to the imagination of the directors and the producers. At the beginning we were fifteen actors, today we are thirty five. In fact, continues Robin, everything depends on the reaction of the televiewers, the mail of the fans. If they want to see Joe more often, he will appear five times instead of three in the episode."
Despite Robin's despair, Dane has been replaced in the show after some disagreements with the producers, who had imagined to assassinate him. "During four weeks, adds Robin, I played with someone else, but the public did not appear to be satisfied. The televiewers claimed Dane, in vain. The producer found me a new love. He does not please a lot because the ratings dropped." For Dane the drama was especially to leave Robin with who he had fallen in love from the first day of shooting. He has been immediately hired in Capitol. "I play the role of a young lawyer, the hero's son. As in all the soaps, there are a good family and a bad family. This time, I am in the family of the nice ones. In fact, I suffer twice less than Robin in this show because it lasts twice less time on screen, half an hour instead of one hour !" You surprise yourself to feel sorry for them, especially because Robin still has other reasons of dissatisfaction about Santa Barbara. "The actor does not really have any possibility of playing. All that is asked to him is to learn his forty pages of dialogues, to then say sentences such as "Your lips looks like petals of roses", and to make these ineptitudes credible." Hard job indeed, but can't they the one and the other escape from this hell ? "I signed a three year contract, explains Robin, which ends in July 1987 and I promised myself that never again I will make this kind of show."
Dane will thus have to wait two more years to be released from Capitol. And after that ? After, our two sympathetic heros intend well to make cinema. Real cinema. With dialogues, feelings and, why not ? messages. Dane wrote a scenario. "It is the story of two young boys who make moto-cross. Everybody is against them, but they will end up wining the national finale and to represent the Honda firm. We sold the scenario and obtained a financial assistance from some sponsors. We thus reunited together one million dollars. It is a small budget, but even without using stars you can make good films", he adds optimistic. To live in margin of the show business while producing films, Dane and Robin are not afraid of paradoxes. Robin dreams to leave Los Angeles. "We would like to settle in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We like the desert, the architecture, the serenity of this state..." But how will they do to work over there ?
With the habit of working sixty five hours per week each one on his side, Dane and Robin constituted a very nice hoard. "We earn more than 90% of the population by doing television, Dane says, but, in show business, it is us who work the more and who earn the less !" Besides he acknowledges to want to stop the job of actor definitively. "I want to create, he explains, it is so much frustrating to be only an interpreter. I will move towards production, thanks to my incomes. I am part owner of a company which makes lots of gadgets, tee-shirts, tapes, badges. With my associate, we invent models and make them manufacture in our factory in Taiwan. Our last model are badges of cars of the Fifties. It has a good success in Los Angeles..."
"Not to depend on show business, adds Robin, we do big investments and we have parallel businesses. I personnaly have two oil rigs in Texas, because Dane's father has an oil company over there. And I recently still invested five thousand dollars to sink another rig. If the price of oil goes up, we will have enough money for the thirty years to come." Dane continues : "In fact, we do not need to work. If we do it it is because we like our job." "It is true, adds Robin, and, by watching us on television, people will be accustomed to us. We will make films and we will become stars. We want to work together and become enough famous so that the producers say to us : "Do all that you want." At this time, we will be able to show what we are able to..."
Here is how, during the conversation, it turns to be that the pretty Robin, who has just celebrated her twenty years, is a terrible businesswoman and that she does not have anything to envy to her smiling companion. To prove to us that they can despite everything remain very simple, Dane and Robin showed me their last acquisition : some simple bikes they forsake their superb BMW for. "Because, Robin specifies, for four months bikes are at the top in Los Angeles. In the hills it is very amusing to ride bikes. Unfortunately with our timetables we can do some only the weekend..."