Saturday, July 11, 2009 1:06 AM ET | By Scotty Gore
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — After being asked to take a huge paycut, Robin Strasser delays making a “big announcement” on her hotline concerning her future with “One Life to Live,” in the role of Dr. Dorian Cramer Lord.
“Just in case my paranoia is correct and somebody might leak something […] before I tell you on the hotline, which is what I promised, I was assured, ‘Please wait 24 hours,’ [before making any announcement],” Strasser’s recorded message told fans who called the actress’s telephone hotline Thursday afternoon.
“Of course it has to do with offers from ABC to continue playing Dorian. It’s not a negotiation. The first figure they gave me was exactly the same six weeks later after I spent a fortune having a lawyer talk for me,” she added.
Strasser’s message comes weeks after her bosses at ABC, refusing to negotiate, reportedly offered the star a “take it or leave it” contract, complete with an unusually large paycut. The actress, insulted by the low offer, claims she cannot be a “partner to devaluing her own self.” After contemplating the offer for several days, Strasser promised fans a decision on her status with the show around 5:00 pm et Friday afternoon.
However, as the time for her “big announcement” drew near, Strasser recorded the following message for her hotline. “What I am able to say right now is I have been asked to make no announcement, to say nothing. I’ve been asked to take a time out, to wait until Brian Frons [head of ABC Daytime] gets back from his vacation. That would be another eight days. Already I waited while the warrior came back from her vacation. I waited six weeks to see if the first offer they made me would get negotiated to something better, only to find out six weeks later, and a lot of money spent on a lawyer, nothing has changed. It’s the same offer. I know that it is a bigger paycut than other actors have been asked to take. And anybody who has been asked to take a larger paycut was making two or three times as much as I was. In 2002, when Frank Valentini [“One Life to Live” Executive Producer] broke the blacklist and got me back on the show, that necessitated me taking a 63% paycut. What I am seeing is something that feels disrespectful, something that feels inequitable, I know it to be inequitable, and makes me feel discriminated against.” The actress turned 64 on May 7th.
The ‘blacklist’ to which Strasser is referring dates back to 2000, when contract negotiations between the actress and then ABC Daytime President Angela Shapiro came to a standstill. “I had a great contract all the way through when Jill Farren Phelps was the executive producer and the negotiations went toxic… and I was sent away. I heard from one West Coast producer and one East Coast producer that they wanted to cast me but they were told, ‘No,’ not while Angela Shapiro was the head of [ABC] Daytime. I know this for a fact.” The exile was lifted three years later, when Strasser made her triumph return to “OLTL.”
Going to bat for Strasser and defending her to the network brass is a “a very heroic [but unidentified] figure on the horizon whom I love and respect,” who asked her to not make a decision until he evaluated her situation to ‘see what he could do’ to help her out. Proving that she is a team player, Strasser goes on to say that she likes her job and is willing and ready to negotiate should the network choose to do so, and that she would likely only leave “One Life to Live” again if she felt she was being treated very unfairly.
Strasser became the third actress to step into the role of Dorian back in 1979. After leaving Llanview in 1987, she would reprise the role from 1983-2000. She began her latest stint on the soap in 2003. In addition, the soap vet portrayed Iris Ocasek on”The Secret Storm” from 1964-66, Rachel Davis Matthews on “Another World” from 1967-72 (and the spin-off “Somerset” in 1970), Dr. Christina Karras Martin on “All My Children” from 1976-79, and the 300-year-old witch Hecuba on “Passions” from 2001-2002. Strasser returned to Pine Valley for a handful of episodes between 2003 and 2005 bringing Dorian Lord to Llanview’s sister city during the convoluted baby switch storyline that played out between the two sudsers. Primetime credits include guest appearances on such shows as “Coach,” “China Beach,” “Muder, She Wrote,” “Dear John…,” “Murphy Brown,” “MacGyver,” and “Dharma & Greg.”
In 1982, she won a Daytime Emmy Award in the ‘Outstanding Actress’ category for the role of Dorian, and was nominated in the same category in 1981, 1983, and 1985. Strasser also picked up Soap Opera Digest Award nominations in various categories in each of the following years: 1986, 1988, 1994, 1995, and 2005, winning in 1996 (“Outstanding Lead Actress”) and 2001 (“Outstanding Female Scene Stealer”).
“I took a huge pay cut six years ago, so I don’t think anyone should whine,” Strasser told TVGuide Canada in an interview earlier this year. “I took a healthy pay cut, and I was happy to be taking one for the team. Listen, I get it -— times have changed. It’s survival time. Let’s not have a pity party. I would hate to see the cameramen, the teamsters, and our security guards out of work because the headliners didn’t want to do the right thing. We all need to display some judgment and think about the big picture.”
To listen to Robin Strasser’s hotline messages, fans may call (212)-414-5300.
SON will continue to follow this story and bring you additional developments as they happen.
“One Life to Live” airs Weekdays on ABC. Weeknights on SOAPnet. Check local listings.