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Erika Slezak Library

Soap Opera Update
May 27, 1997

Who says this isn't her year?

By: Bill Lieberman

Streisand. Madonna. Debbie Reynolds. They were all overlooked for 1996 Oscar nominations. Now that it's Emmy time, add ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Erika Slezak (Viki) to that list.

What's going on? Slezak's acting certainly hasn't taken a downturn. Did the fear that she might take a sixth trip to the podium keep voters from checking off her name on their ballots? Did they want to give a certain other actress -ALL MY CHIDREN's 17-time nominee Susan Lucci (Erica) -a chance at the gold?

We'll never know for sure, but Slezak has a few words on the subject.

"I don't want to make this a contest between Susan and myself," says the outspoken actress. The Emmys, she says, "are supposed to be a contest among all of us. But it's become more than that, because Susan's been nominated so many times and never won, and because I have won more than any woman. You know," she continues, "I'm not the only person who's won when she hasn't."

It apparently seems that way to some. Last year, after presenter Michael Zaslow (Roger on GUIDING LIGHT finally announced Slezak's name, fans' thunderous chants of "Lucci! Lucci!" echoed throughout the cavernous Radio City Music Hall. At the time, a thrilled Slezak was oblivious to the rude behavior.

"I didn't hear the boos," she admits. "My ears blocked out everything except Michael Zaslow saying, 'Here you go, kid.' However, a lot of other people heard it. What can I say? It's ungracious. But we don't expect those fans to have good manners, because they want Susan to win."

Slezak also takes offense at those who, during the voting process, implied that she should take her name off the ballot to allow others a chance as MURPHY BROWN's multiple winner Candice Bergen did last year for the primetime Emmys.

"I thought that was very pompous," Slezak explains. "I don't know Ms. Bergen, but to remove your name means that you assume you're going to win. I don't ever assume that. I'm always more surprised than anyone when I win! So it hurts me when I get hate mail from people saying, 'You bitch! You stole the Emmy from Susan Lucci!' Give me a break. I didn't award it to myself. My tape was just judged better than hers."

Good sport that she is, Slezak will be a presenter at this year's ceremony. But we bet she'd prefer watching at home with husband Brian Davies and children Michael, 17, and Amanda, 15. Her family is her number-one priority - a fact that has sometimes made Slezak pause to examine her career.

"I'm not sure why Viki and Clint got divorced in the first place,"
says Slezak. "But why would he take her back now?"

"There comes a time in everybody's life where you think, 'Maybe it's time for a change,"' explains Slezak, who, as the daughter of the late character actor Victor Slezak, grew up in showbiz. "Every morning when my alarm goes off at 5, I think, 'Oh God, I don't want to go to work.' But then I'm up and I go, 'Oh cool, I'm going to work, and it's just wonderful."

In other words, don't count on her leaving Llanview anytime soon. "I've never been so unhappy that I seriously wanted to leave. Besides, somehow my own common sense sort of comes forward, and I hear my father's voice in the back of my head saying, 'Don't give up a good job!"'

And despite what you may have read, working on OLTL is still a good job. There has been some talk that with all the behind-the-scenes changes of late, morale is not particularly high. Poppycock, says the actress.

"The morale on the show is the same as its always been," she insists. "There are always a couple of people who'll bitch about anything. If a pile of money fell on their heads, they'd still find a way to complain about it. It makes me furious. And then there are the rest of us who'd say this is a neat job. This has been a super place for years...and you need to come into it with the right attitude!"

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