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Erika Slezak Library

Soap Opera Weekly
August 27, 2002
Volume 13, Issue 35


by KW

The moment you've been waiting for has finally arrived: Ben and Viki reunite. But it takes a tragedy (and a heroic act by Lindsay) to get them there.

OLTL - Together At Last - Ben and Viki Reunited! Viki's tenure as the personality-plus Niki comes to a dramatic conclusion this week on One Life To Live when a police raid of Viki's cabin results in a heroic act by Lindsay, a major character being shot, Viki's re-emergence and - at long last - Ben and Viki's reunion. "This is the end of Niki Smith," affirms executive producer Gary Tomlin.

The action picks up in Rae's basement, where Niki is strangling a pistol-packing Allison. "Somehow the gun gets turned around, points between us, and goes off," sets up Erika Slezak (Viki/Niki) in character. "There's a bullet hole in my shirt, because I have this loose shirt on."

Lindsay, who still has no clue that Allison is holding hostages in the basement, hears the shot and calls out to her former cellmate. "She has started to hear things and has realized two plus two isn't equaling four anymore," offers Catherine Hickland (Lindsay). "It's creepy."

Allison regains control of the guns and shouts out to Lindsay that she's packing heat and will shoot her too, if she dares to come downstairs. Lindsay stays put while Allison gags Niki, drags her outside and tosses her into the car trunk. Ms. Perkins then summons Lindsay and orders her to drive. The women end up at Viki's cabin on Llantano Mountain, where Allison announces that she has one bullet left and she is going to use it on the unlucky blonde.

"Viki tries to convince Allison to spare her, saying she is much more useful than Lindsay. Lindsay is shocked by "Viki's" behavior. Finally "Viki" tells Lindsay she is Niki Smith.

"It's one of the most hair-raising things," shudders Hickland, "because you don't meet multiple-personality people every day. You think you're in the company of someone who's sane and wears sensible shoes, and then all of a sudden it's like ." (Hickland makes a creepy horror movie noise.)

Just when Allison decides who will live and who will die, there's a knock on the door. The unfortunate visitor (hint: it's a Llanview University student) becomes yet another hostage - and target. However, as Allison takes aim, Bo, Ben and Antonio who tracked down Allison thanks to Roxy, burst in. During the showdown, Lindsay puts her life on the line trying to stop Allison. Meanwhile, Niki uses the diversion to try to escape, but a gun goes off (Allison's? Antonio's? Bo's?) and someone is shot.

The tragedy "brings Viki out in a heartbeat," previews Slezak. "It's a short thing: She puts her head down, gets the head pain, and then is gone and Viki is back."

For good, this time. But will she and Ben live happily ever after? Let's just say the show has figured out a clever way to keep them together for a while. Ben and Viki will leave Llanview together to accommodate Mark Derwin's (Ben) absence (he's co-starring in the new prime-time series Life With Bonnie) and Erika Slezak's (Viki) summer vacation.

Attention: If you are a Ben and Blondie fan, do not miss the Aug. 30 episode.

Mark Derwin and Erika Slezak tell us what they really think about the Niki storyline.

Erika Slezak on turning back into Viki: "Niki lives only on the surface. There is no emotional life whatsoever, except that she gets angry. But she has no warm feelings. She has no love, she has no care, she has no concerns, so it's a lot of energy but not tiring in an emotional way. I was so wiped out (after taping the episodes when Viki returns). All I did was emotional scenes."

Erika Slezak on the Niki storyline: "Niki is just out to have a good time and the hell with everything else, please do not get in my way. So to be able to play these very serious scenes, and then to turn around and make faces at the camera has just been a joy, a joy."

Mark Derwin on the Niki storyline: "I really was looking forward to working with Niki and it was great. We did for a while, but then after a while you're like, Ok, let's figure this out and move on."

Could Niki have stayed on, discovered:
Erika Slezak: "Well, if she had been discovered, she would have been incarcerated, put in an institution and she has a horror of that. I mean she has no access to anything, her wonderful clothes, or to her music or to her booze, and she can't come and go as she likes. She couldn't stand being cooped up in a house with just a husband and kids and be nice to them.

Ben and Blondie say buh-bye to Niki

The Soap Opera Weekly Interview of Mark and Erika:

Have OLTL viewers really seen the last of Niki Smith? "she'll probably have to return at some point because she's got to spill the beans," theorizes Erika Slezak (Viki/Niki), pointing out that viewers still don't know Niki's big secret. "But she'll have to come back under controlled circumstances with somebody who knows what he or she is doing." (Translation: not Rae.)

For the time being, though Niki is history -- much to Mark Derwin's delight and Erika Slezak's dismay.

Soap Opera Weekly: Ben had never met Niki before. What did he think of her?

Mark: She's a tiger in the sack (laughs). I miss [Erika as] Viki. We have so much fun. Viki and Ben are total love; at any moment you can [improvise]. We'd reach out, hold hands or kiss. With Niki, If I'd go near her, she'd flinch and pull away. I'm definitely over Niki. I can't wait to see the Vikster.

Weekly: Erika, are you sorry to see Niki go?

Erika:Oh yes,Oh God, yes! I mean, please how much fun can an actress have? There's a book called The Art Of Coarse Acting, which is a very funny book. It's all about serious overacting. And I have literally spent the last six months doing everything that this book advises and waiting for the acting police to come and arrest me and put me away.

SOW: Was a happy Ben/Viki a boring Ben/Viki?

Mark: First of all, we weren't always happy. We always had conflict, but you don't need conflict in a marriage to make good story. I could work with Erika Slezak the rest of my life. This past year it's been a little frustrating because of the lack of story or the lack of depth. But I never get bored working with Erika. We had a certain rhythm, and all of a sudden it was taken from us, so that upset me.

SOW: How did Niki change with this incarnation?

ES: She got a little over the top with this killing business, She's never done that before. Tori did, but Tori doesn't have the humor that Niki has. Niki is out to have a good time, and the hell with everything else. But that's part of the progression. Each writer is going to take the characters in a slightly different direction. But none of this was unrealistic, because Niki could be anything you wanted her to be; she's not real. I mean, she's another personality, but she's crazy and you can go anywhere you want with it. Anything can be justified-Eterna was a little hard to justify (laughs). If Niki suddenly became caring and nice, that would be different. But she didn't. She only got desperate when she got close to being found out.

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