For the past few days, One Life to Live fans have been waiting with bated breath for a "big announcement" from Emmy winner Robin Strasser (Dorian Lord) about her future with the ABC soap. In fact, so many fans were calling Strasser's fan hotline that the actress was unable to call in to give fans the news.
With The Young and the Restless coming to terms on a new contract with 30-year veteran Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman), Strasser is the highest-profile celebrity currently in a state of contract limbo. The matter has been somewhat complicated by reaction to the current stalement.
"With the best of intentions, someone who cares about me a lot, who's a major support wrote, 'Will Robin Strasser quit today?' Maybe he misunderstood," Strasser said in an update on Friday. "I most humbly, humbly apologize, but I feel that that trivializes what's going on."
Soap Central has identified the supporter as TVGuide Canada's Nelson Branco.
While fans may have wished for a definite statement on her future with One Life to Live, Strasser stopped short of making any such proclamation. Instead, the actress hinted that she will wait until ABC Daytime head honcho, Brian Frons, returns from vacation so that contract talks may resume.
"I have promised my fans friends, I have promised myself, I have promised the universe; when I wanted to come back to the show so badly between 2000 and 2003, when I was blacklisted from ABC Daytime," Strasser recalled. "I said that if I get back in, I'm staying. They can carry me out... measure the door for a gurney or my coffin because that's it. I'm staying. I'm not quitting. I am not refusing to negotiate. What I am able to say right now is that I have been asked to make no announcement and to say nothing."
Though Strasser honored the request to not decide her future with One Life to Live, that did not prevent the actress from firmly stating her position. Strasser had previously denounced the contract negotiations process, saying that there was no negotiation involved on the network's part. Strasser also confirmed that she's no stranger to taking a paycut and had professed her understanding that the current economic climate warrants cutbacks.
"I know that it is a bigger paycut than other actors have been asked to take, and anybody who was asked to take a larger paycut was making two or three times as much as I was," Strasser said of the networks final offer. "In 2003 when [executive producer] Frank Valentini broke the blacklist and got me back on the show, that necessitated my taking a 63% paycut. So I got 63% of what I had negotiated in the 1990s. So what I am seeing is something that feels disrespectful, something that feels inequitable [and] it makes me feel discriminated again by virtue of ... I'm an older woman."
"I was not the one who said this is my last and best," Strasser added firmly. "I'm open to any and all fair exchange. I have not stated a flat figure or said 'take it or leave it.' I do not want anybody saying that I am refusing to negotiate. I do not want anyone saying I am quitting. I remain a grateful participant in the daytime television community and I will do anything I can to see this genre survive this economic crisis -- except to be obviously discriminated against. If I sign my name to a contract that says I am lesser than that person, that I am not valuable, that I have diminished, then I am colluding with that perception. At this stage in my life... that will not stand."
The good news for fans is that Strasser's contract doesn't expire for about another five months. So why is the actress raising a fuss about her contract now? Strasser states that she wants the show to know how invested she is in remaining on board. Expressing her desire to stay, Strasser explains, will give the writers time to come up with a story that will keep her involved on the canvas. There is also plenty of time for the two sides to come together to reach a deal.
Strasser, however, feels that she needs to "step back" from the process for a little bit.
"In order to protect myself and therefore my job -- because I know that I am vulnerable to being reactive [and that] would jeopardize my career," Strasser sighs.
As it stands now, if no deal is reached, Strasser's last tape date is scheduled for December 18.
Photo: Dan J Kroll/Soap Central