Happy New Year! As is the case every year, people often make resolutions. Most resolve to lose weight or to exercise more or to spend even more time with distant family, but I have a resolution of my own for 2006. I am resolved to do everything in my power to make sure that Hillary B. Smith be recognized for the sublime and talented actress she is and be reinstated as a full-force on OLTL.
As we all know by now, Smith's character Nora found herself in a precarious situation several months ago when she collapsed after suffering from a brain aneurism; subsequently, Nora lapsed into a coma, a state in which she still remains today. Of course, all of this coincided with Smith's contract negotiations. For quite some time, it appeared as though Nora's days were finished as Smith's negotiations were basically non-existent. But on her final day of taping, ABC President Brian Frons and Smith engaged in a discussion that would extend Smith's contract for one year to give the viewers some sort of "resolution" to the character of Nora. To me, this certainly doesn't sound like a reason to celebrate; rather, this sure sounds like the clock is ticking down towards Nora's final days in Llanview.
There are certain actors and actresses in the daytime television industry who are main-stays, venerable performers who epitomize the professionalism and the hard work that goes in to producing a year's worth of episodes. We can all probably rattle them off quickly: Susan Lucci, Anthony Geary, Erika Slezak, Eric Braedon, Susan Flannery, Robert S. Woods, Deidre Hall, Peter Reckell, Kristian Alfonso, Jackie Zeman, Stuart Damon, Leslie Charleson, Maurice Bernard, and the list would continue to go on as such. Hillary B. Smith is definitely among this elite list of performers who have proven their mettle through years of arduous work and storylines that test credibility (which happens often). Between them all, there are enough Emmy's to fit on a kitchen table, and to think that any of them deserves to be discarded or deemed "unimportant" to his/her respective shows is just ludicrous!
I can remember when Smith first set foot in Llanview in the early 1990's. I remember hearing of her from her days on ATWT as Margo but being blown away by the way she immediately commanded attention to each and every scene she was in. Her chemistry with Robert S. Woods was immediately there. It was so evident that Nora and Bo were destined to become one of the most memorable and unforgettable OLTL couples. And I was right. That indeed did occur. She not only became the wife of one of the staples of the show but she also became part of rich, complex stories.
Who can ever forget the Marty Saybrooke rape trial? With the likes of Roger Howarth, Smith, and Susan Haskell, this was an acting tour de force! Smith's character took charge of that courtroom as she set out to prove the innocence of Todd, Kevin, Zach, and Powell. We viewers knew that Kevin really was innocent even though the other three frat brothers did gang-rape a drunken Marty at the Kappa Alpha Delta fraternity's Spring Fling. The trial was filled with tension and suspense as viewers hoped the guilty ones would receive their comeuppance for brutally attacking Marty while wondering if Kevin would someone be implicated in the crime because of his bond with the three guys. Once Nora discovered that she was defending three guilty men, the story took a sudden turn. Would Nora's conscience allow her to continue representing these men for a crime she now knew they committed or would she somehow manage to implicate them? Ultimately, Smith managed to deliver a memorable and infamous closing argument that made it quite evident that three of her clients were guilty of the crime; ultimately, this resulted in a mistrial. But the powerful scenes and brilliant and captivating delivery of this summation earned Smith an Emmy for her portrayal of Nora.
To extend her acting beyond the courtroom, the show made Nora a heroine. When she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor that required surgery, she didn't tell anyone, especially Bo, and she went to a beach house to rest after her operation. Unfortunately for Nora, she lost her eyesight briefly during the same time that Todd Manning, who escaped from jail, tracked her down at the beach house to stalk her. He held a knife to her throat, told her SHE was on trial now, and even tried to rape her. Nora's fright, her desperation, and her vulnerability were brilliantly shown by Smith again, and she quickly became one of the great stars of this show.
I could certainly go on and on citing numerous storylines that showcased Smith's contributions to OLTL's history including: her marriage to Bo, her relationship with Hank and R.J., her acrimonious relationship with Lindsay, her bizarre experiences with the Macyver brothers, her one-night stand with Sam to father a child for Bo who she thought would commit suicide without some hope, or her marriage and betrayal by Daniel Colson. This is a character who is connected to all of Llanview. This is a character who has a deep rapport with the Buchanans, a family that seems to be becoming the focus of the show once again. Nora and Bo are destined to reunite and put behind their past differences. Bo's current girlfriend, Paige, is a weak copy of Nora, and she will never replace the spit-fire lawyer who has firmly cemented herself as part of Llanview.
Don't believe just me? I asked some OLTL viewers for their own thoughts regarding Smith and the ever-popular Nora, and this is just a sampling of what I received:
From Chuck: "I believe OLTL should support Hillary Smith and offer her a longer contract with show. She is a well known veteran actor and with a rich history on the show. She is a familiar face on the show which viewers can relate to, which in these days, shows just fire actors all the time with no regard to show history or the fans."
From Denise, an avid Smith supporter and creator of "Nora's Blog" (http://norahanen.blogspot.com), which shows support for the character and the actress: "I, at age 38, am a longtime viewer and first began watching OLTL back in the late 1970's. I've endured lost cities of Eterna, shootouts in Wild West towns, and more split personalities than most viewers can stomach. The only reason I have kept watching is because of Hillary. Nora is a viable character worth investing in, not just because of her history with the show, but because she connects everyone in Llanview. She has, in my eyes, become the nucleus of the show, connecting blue-blood and working-class families together. Nora's character stands at the very center between justice and evil. In Latin, the name "Nora" means "honor" and "light," and through Nora's vocation, she represents good and hope, and shines a beacon of light that pervades adversity and injustice. She is daytime television's only Jewish character. Through Nora, we have experienced interracial and inter-faith marriages. We have seen a mother ache for the daughter who went down a wrong path and succumbed to drug abuse. We have seen a wife who, despite her best efforts, lose and then long for the husband she once loved more than life itself. We have seen a Nora act as mentor to Hugh and shared in the very special and realistic friendship with her best friend Evangeline. And, with the love story of Bo & Nora, we have experienced one of the richest and most genuine pairings in the history of daytime tv. It seems that everyone in Llanview is desperately waiting for Nora to awaken from sleep and resume her "post" as the beacon of "honor" and "light." Nora is viable because, without her, the canvas is in complete disarray and disorder. Quite honestly, it feels like the earth has stopped revolving around the sun and instead is orbiting Pluto. Every character in Llanview suddenly seems without purpose or meaning to me. Finally, let's be honest. Hillary is one of the smartest, sexiest, most passionate and beautiful forty-somethings I've ever seen. She, through Nora, projects a positive image for women and serves as a positive role model for young women everywhere. Hillary sends the message that you can be beautiful and confident and still a huge fan fave after age 40."
And finally from Marie: "Here's why I think HBS/Nora must stay. First of all Nora is a great character with loads of history. On a show populated with pointless newbies, that is priceless. She has MANY ties to Llanview, ones that a competent writer should exploit. But the main reason I feel HBS/Nora must stay is the Bo/Nora relationship, or lack thereof at the moment. Anytime those two share a scene, one can actually feel the chemistry oozing from the screen. Why this terrific relationship has not been revisited yet I will NEVER understand. Why we must put up with Paige one, two, and now THREE is quite simply mind-boggling. But I digress...Bo/Nora fans as well as OLTL fans in general DESERVE a Bo/Nora reunion....PERIOD."
It is my hope that Nora will not only emerge from her coma, but that she will become transfixed in Llanview happenings once again. It is my year-long "mission" to help make this a reality.
Now, on to some other thoughts from this week's episodes...
THUMBS UP! 1. I am LOVING the potential of a Clint/Dorian hook-up! I didn't watch when the two dated decades ago, but the chemistry between Jerry Ver Dorn and Robin Strasser is amazing. I never thought I'd be able to give up on David and Dorian reuniting, but at least for the time being, I'm excited about the possibility of a real love-triangle between Clint/Viki/Dorian! Let the cat fight begin!
2. It was really nice to see Roxy, Rex, and Natalie reunite as a "family" to talk about their problems together. The scenes lasted just a day, but it was nice to recognize that these three did grow up together as a family for their entire childhood lives, and getting together to talk about their relationship woes added a nice touch. They each tell one another exactly how it is, and that honesty is exactly what many of us at home are yelling at our television screens.
3. Seeing Niki Smith try to pick up David was all the comedy I needed to bring in the New Year! Seeing her "bump and grind" with David as a horrified Renee looked on was priceless!
4. Spencer's vendetta against the Buchanans has definitely picked up! Why did we have to wait an entire year for this? I'm actually intrigued now by what Spencer has up his sleeve and why, exactly, he holds this grudge against them all. Drugging Kevin, making him think that Kelly and Duke have the hots for one another, is going to lead to an explosive storyline for Dan Gauthier and Heather Tom, and I can't wait for that!
1. Poor Adriana! She sees Rex in a scandalous situation with some work friend. Whoop-dee-do! I can't believe this wimp of a character actually has Cramer blood running through her body! She can't possibly be Dorian's daughter? I hear there's a virus epidemic soon hitting Port Charles...maybe Adriana needs to visit New York for a while to clear her head.
2. While I love Tess and Nash, I am somewhat annoyed that Tess can't remain "in control" for more than a day or two! I mean, as soon as Antonio kisses her or whispers sweet nothings in her year, Jessica comes out! Then she sees Nash badly beaten and out comes Tess! It's too much.
Enjoy your week,