Santa Barbara does its revolution !

 By Gérard Neves, Ciné Télé Revue, 1990

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Santa Barbara changes of skin. Engaged since a few months, in the United States, in a difficult battle for its survival (the American televiewers sulk the saga and threaten it seriously), the soap number one in France lives a real revolution : to rectify the bar and to fill the blanks of many departures (in particular those of Todd McKee and Lane Davies), a multitude of new characters have been created; the writers get busy to outline very strong intrigues and even the couple formed by Cruz (A Martinez) and Eden (Marcy Walker), whose marriage had delighted the public of the other side of Atlantic, is breaking. An unthinkable situation a few months ago. Other turnings are already profiling at the horizon. In visit on the stage of Santa Barbara at a decisive moment for the future of the show, here are all the overthrows.

In Burbank, a suburb of Los Angeles, in the wings of the studio 11, it is the atmosphere of the great days. A little of nervousness and a lot ofanxiety float in the air : Santa Barbara plays its future. A detail surprises at once : the many new heads. A Martinez does not hold in his arms the tender Marcy Walker, but Constance Marie, a pretty brunette with an exotic charm who plays the ingenuous Nikki Alvarez. When Mason is called, it is not Lane Davies any more who raises the head, but another charmer man : Terry Lester. Taking a little of recoil with television, Lane decided to give up his role and Terry took his place. "The succession had been difficult", recognizes the new comer, thirty nine years old, comfortably sitted on an actor chair while waiting for the three knocks of the shooting. "Mason is an extremely popular character. Moreover, I come from another daytime soap (The Young and the Restless) and it is not easy to immediately enter in a new family. One morning, I decided to look at me in my mirror and I said to myself : "My boy, it is too early to take your retirement !"." On September 1, Terry Lester left the role of Jack Abbott in The Young and the Restless and, on the 11, he became Mason. A record. Six months after, he is one the more important stars of the show.

However, more than ever, the producers granted their confidence to young people. A long time, they have fears that the departure of Robin Wright (who played the role of Kelly) creates a blank that nobody could fill. Today, the substitute Carrington Garland, as fair as Robin, dominates the new female distribution where are found other jewels like Christopher Norris. This actress has a first name of man, but well plays of all her power of female seduction and the new episodes she plays are a nice confirmation of it : she plays Laura Asher, the wife of the district attorney Ethan Asher (Leigh McCloskey). Laura is in the center of many intrigues, in particular the one opposing her to Gina (Robin Mattson), who had has designs on her husband. Having surprised the two lovers in an intimate scene, Laura lost the control of her car and had been victim of a serious car accident.

Another female character occupies a place of first importance : Sasha Schmidt, who plays Michelle Nicastro : she will become the mistress of Mason whereas he had just married Julia (Nancy Grahn). Carrington Garland, who already acts as a veteran at their sides, correctly translated the enthusiasm of these young actresses : "Thanks to Santa Barbara, we found a durable role and stability", she says. "It is essential for beginner actors. Because in this job, it is the one or the other : several roles arrive to you at the same time or months of despairing unemployment."

The offensive of the new ones is also clear in the male camp. On the stage, a dark actor, with a red pullover, captivates the assistance : Steve Bond. Endowed of a body of athlete, this transcoat of the soap-opera Ryan's Hope, found in Santa Barbara a machiavelic role : suspected of being the author of an important theft of jewels, he is, later, mingled to a dangerous traffic of plutonium moving towards Santa Barbara. Steve currently shoots a scene where he is arrested by a police officer. Finally, he will pay for his crimes... At a few meters from there, Paul Johansson appears completely different. The thin face, rather dressed in a romantic way, he could be the lamb fallen into the mantrap if the writers had not prepared a very strong role for him : Paul (who plays the role of the young Greg Hughes) creates the surprise among the members of the Capwell family while arriving in Santa Barbara and by revealing that his mother had maintained narrow and close relationships with C.C. Capwell (Jed Allan)...

But the looks of the American televiewers turn today to another actor : Roscoe Born. He plays Robert Barr, a magnate whom supreme purpose is the takeover of the Capwell Industries. And if he became so famous in a few weeks, it is because he is, neither more nor less, the man who breaks the happiness of Cruz and Eden ! Robert Barr, indeed, is the old love of Eden. "The day when she meets him, everything changes in her life", explains Roscoe Born between two shootings. Slender, with cleared brow and the hair dressed from behind, the actor releases a lot of charm. "Kept under silence for ten years, their mad passion takes abruptly the first place again. They formerly spent unforgettable moments on a Caribbee island. Eden remembers very well the day when Robert asked her to marry him. He acknowledges to her that, since that, he did not cease thinking of her." An boat accident will even cause an important shock to Eden : persuaded to be eighteen years old again, she lets herself be done by him... Does she really still love him ? "I believe yes", acknowledges Marcy Walker, "because a woman never forgets the first man she had fallen in love with..." The affair will take a definitely more dramatic turning because the accusations of Cruz, who affirms that Robert Barr is guilty to have coldly executed a man : Raoul Mondragon.

So that her love of youth does not finish his days in prison, Eden will affirm that it is her who had killed Raoul, then the two lovers will leave away. The last currently shot episodes however show all the treachery of this Robert Barr : he entrusted to Kelly that she was the woman of his life and she passionately fell in love with him. Both besides played a scene where they were kissing each other without any reserve... Robert thus plays on two tables : Eden and Kelly ! In a next episode, Kelly will be saw spying Eden and Robert, who had run away in Venice Beach, to avoid Cruz's revenge...

For this last one, the year will really be very hot : "I am kidnapped, a man (Tonell, played by Mitchell Ryan) orders to kill me and, finally, it is while wanting to find me that Eden falls into the trap held by her love of youth", he explains. While investigating about the past of Robert Barr, imprisoned in San Sebastien in 1979, Cruz will himself finish behind the bars ! With the risk to disturb the televiewers, who dedicate an unbounded admiration to the couple Cruz-Eden, the producers of Santa Barbara decided to use a great weapon in the development of these new episodes : the love triangle. "In the case of Eden, of Cruz and Robert, each one has a good reason to believe that he will be able to do his life with the other", explains a writer. "We simply transposed in the fiction a situation which often happens and which tears the hearts."

The producers had resolutely bet on the enivrants charms and the sins of adultery since the relations will also be very strained between Mason (Terry Lester) and Julia (Nancy Grahn) since the return of Sasha (Michelle Nicastro) who Mason briefly knew in Europe. "Obviously", smiles Terry Lester, "Mason and Sasha will pretend not to know each other... It is of good war !" How all that will finish ? "If Mason lies to me, I will divorce", announces Nancy Grahn. "On the other hand, if he tells me the truth, I will be able to accept his faults. It is not to show weakness when you really love somebody. If not, forgiveness would not exist. However, for me, that remains a beautiful proof of love when infidelity had get meddled in a couple."

For Cruz, on the other hand, forgiveness could still make itself be waited for since, rather than imagine that Eden would return towards him, the writers created the character of Nikki Alvarez (played by Constance Marie). This one is a dancer of formation : she appeared in the show Dirty Dancing drawn from the movie, accompanied David Bowie in his tour Glass Spider and she is even present with him in the clip of Time Will Crawl. Today, this brunette is announced as the best pretender to the tittle of the new promised in marriage of the beautiful Castillo. "A poisoned gift", glides in my ear an employee of the stage, "because she will initially have to be accepted by all the fans of Eden !"

This general bursting of the couples could, in any case, make the happiness of the televiewers who acknowledge to like the love scenes : in the new episodes of Santa Barbara, they do not miss and the entire show bathes in a delicate atmosphere of erotism. A height : a honeymoon is at the origin of this phenomenon. The very sexy and very successful scenes of the honeymoon of Mason and Julia, embraced on the beach, have, the first, given pepper to the intrigue. Nancy Grahn and Terry laugh at it a lot on the stage when Mason gives to Julia a red rose, witness of their passion.

To gain its survival on American television, Santa Barbara put all the trumps in its play. The word is now to televiewers.