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AMC: Jamie Lunar Interview

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Luner Landing

Prime-time bad girl Jamie Luner has played vixens in soaps like Savannah and Melrose Place. Now she's stirring up trouble during daytime as hell-raiser Liza Colby on All My Children.

By Michael Fairman

Last Friday, former Melrose Place and Savannah star Jamie Luner made her first appearance on All My Children as the updated and saucy new version of one of Pine Valley’s favorite vixens -- Liza Colby. And quite an entrance it was: having sex on a casino gaming table with Zach Slater (Thorsten Kaye) -- and that’s just the start of the revitalized Liza. Seems the gal will be back to her man-eating tricks, so the Martin boys and any other eligible -- or ineligible -- gents better watch out. With the stunning male cast of AMC to play with, Luner knows she is in for one hell of a ride.

The show's head writer Chuck Pratt, who wrote for the siren during her two seasons on Melrose Place, brought Luner to AMC. In a recent TV Guide interview he touted her arrival to the soap: “Back then, Jamie’s nickname on the set was ‘Turbo’ because she’s such a ball of energy and you can throw anything at her.”

With high expectations and a huge promotional campaign, the ABC sudser is hoping to regain some viewers by returning the character to her scheming ways. For many years, the wonderful Marcy Walker played the role of Liza. Walker is now a children’s ministry director in a North Carolina church, a far cry from the role that made her a star. Luner is taking a fresh approach to the role with a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners outlook.

In this new interview with Advocate.com, Luner gives us a sneak peek at Liza’s hot new story and her new adventures in daytime!

Advocate.com: When we first saw Liza on Friday’s episode, you had a "quickie" with a very well-known Pine Valley citizen, Zach Slater!

Jamie Luner: I do sleep with Zach, and lucky me!

And if you’re going to start at AMC, you might as well go for the top.

Right! [Laughs]

AMC head writer Chuck Pratt and you worked together before on Melrose Place. He wrote the prime-time soap, and you starred as Lexi. So, how did that figure into the equation of you getting the role of Liza Colby?

They say it’s cliché, but timing is everything. I had put a phone call into Chuck and he actually answered his phone at that moment, which was bizarre. I said, “It’s Jamie.” And he goes, “Oh, my God! How did you get my number and what do you want?” I said, “I was reaching out and wanted to see you and grab a cup of coffee.” He said he would call me back. So a couple of hours later he called and said to me, “You don’t know how weird your timing is. I was just on a pitch meeting phone call, and they were trying to figure out how to recast the role of Liza and you called!” It’s really weird. And then the people in the pitch meeting were like, “Oh, my God! She would be perfect.” So they asked me to lunch. I met with Brian Frons (president of ABC Daytime and SOAPnet) and Chuck. They told me the backstory, and it was certainly a character that was right up my alley. It certainly was a good fit as far as the timing in my life. I was certainly ready for a change and move. The timing was perfect all around and it was meant to be.

Being that you are coming back as the recast version of Liza, how are you infusing the character?

She is a really strong woman who goes after what she wants and the men she wants. Honey, it’s something I have been playing for awhile. [Laughs] It’s so great to play these power women. You just love to see them go after what they want. I am certainly comfortable in my sexuality and that’s obvious, it gets me into doing those scenes right from the get-go.

What’s Liza’s agenda for returning to Pine Valley?

Liza is coming back to regain her power in this town, and to rekindle her relationship with her daughter. She will do whatever it takes to do that. You never know what she is going to do because she has such a long history with everyone on the show. There have been so many bridges crossed, burned, and twisted, and Liza is always a woman who is full of surprises. You never know with her, and I love that element of surprise.

And now Liza is a legal eagle! When did she become an attorney?

In the four years she was gone. Honey, things move quickly around here.

Have you had the chance to play scenes with David Canary (Adam and Stuart Chandler) or Michael E. Knight (Tad Martin), who were instrumental in Liza’s past?

Not yet, but I have some great scenes coming up with Michael, and they include some wonderful playful banter with him. As far as David Canary is concerned, I had one moment where I was sneaking out of the house and he was walking in. I look forward to more scenes with him.

Liza has reached out to her daughter, Colby, since she arrived back in town, but Colby clearly does not want to see her.

That is why I came back to Pine Valley, because she was not answering any of my letters, so I figured I would go see her in person. I tried calling her, and she wanted nothing to do with me. It was a hard hit as a mother. That’s how I wind up at a casino trying to make myself feel better by winning lots of money and henceforth meeting Zach, and making myself feel better in other ways too. So, sex and money is always a good pick-me-up.

Absolutely! So how does she feel about Zach after her romp in the casino?

It’s just what the doctor ordered, and they have an attraction to one another because they both have a similar spirit. And when she finds out who Zach really is it’s interesting, because he does not know who Liza really is. And he is the only man in town I seemingly don’t have a history with. I also have a history with Jake [Martin], played by Ricky Paull Goldin. We had some scenes where I am plotting with him. So we get a plan to help facilitate an adoption for Amanda’s baby. But, I have another plan in mind for it!

Is it odd having an on-screen daughter the age of Colby, played by Brianne Moncrief?

Yeah, it’s odd! But you play it as if it’s a member of your family. It’s always that love/hate relationship. I am very close with my family, but they know how to push your buttons.

Stepping in as a recast is often hard to do. Did you watch Marcy Walker’s performances as preparation for the role?

No. I did not want to emulate her. I certainly don’t look like her. I am not trying to be her. I am just taking the history of what she had with this character and making it my own. Hopefully, Chuck Pratt and I are on the same page about bringing the fire back in her, and that feisty, powerful Liza we knew and loved, with an updated version.

As Lexi Sterling on Melrose Place, the audience loved to hate you! How was your time there?

I always have fond memories of Melrose Place. It was such an incredible show to be on. It’s pop culture history, and one of those iconic shows. I was on it the last two years. Then, to come on a show that is so big and popular, and to come in as such a powerful character and be in a rivalry with Heather Locklear (Amanda, MP), was so much fun! Again, my character was written to always be up to something. It was a blast to work on!

When you play the vixen, why do you think the audience responds?

Everyone loves the bad girl, c’mon. It’s probably their alter ego in there that they love and they are seeing it projected outward.

You had also tackled a different kind of role a few years back for here! Films -- playing gay in a disaster flick.

I was in Meltdown. I played a scientist, and there was this heat wave going on in this city, and I was trying to figure out the cause of it before too many people died. It was a good role.

How is nighttime vs. daytime for you? Daytime is a much tougher daily grind!

I am just getting my footing with that. Once I get the pace down and figure out a routine for myself, I will be good. When I get new scripts in, they should be a week ahead of the game. Fortunately, we are all used to memorizing quickly and that is one of our skill sets. I have been quite good at that in the past. But on this soap, it’s more than I have ever experienced, and it has been an exciting challenge.

You’ve got some good-looking men on All My Children to work with.

I certainly do! I am really surrounded by beautiful men. They are all vivacious and full of energy. I literally had a moment in my dressing room going, “Are you kidding me with this? These guys are beautiful!”

Which guy do you think has the best sense of humor, thus far?

Thorsten Kaye is pretty frickin’ funny, and he has a dry sense of humor. And he has been the one I have been around the most right now. I think Ricky has a wonderful sense of humor too.

Why do you think the gay audience has responded to you in your various roles?

I think nobody wants to see someone get run over. They want to see people take their power back and strive to be the best they can be, and not let people walk all over them, but I think that’s true for all people.

How much of Jamie is Liza?

The similarities are: I am certainly coming into my own sense of self and power and knowing how to get what I want. It’s about being a woman who takes charge of her life and figuring out what she wants and how to get it. I have more morals than Liza does, but in real life, I certainly am going after things that I want. I love being in my 30s going into my 40s, because you get so much more of a sense of your real self and being less influenced by other people and what they think. There is a freedom in that.

In closing, what can we tease is coming up for Liza?

She is scheming. She really wants to get her family back. She is doing it for the right reason, but the way she is going about it is wrong. We don’t know what her story line is really going to be with getting payback on Adam yet, but I think there is a revenge element to that.

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Maybe I am nitpicking but...

:rolleyes: You would only be so lucky to look as beautiful as Marcy Walker did in her prime.

I love Jamie Luner, but that's kind of arrogant. What the hell did she mean by that?

I don't think she understands why Fairman and everyone else asks that question: No one is asking her to emulate Marcy Walker. But it's not enough to just read up on a character and think you know everything about her. It may help to watch tapes of her predecessor just to have some sort of knowledge about the character's backstory when a historical reference comes up, just so she can have a clearer understanding of the subtext. Even if ABC Daytime is too cheap to pull the tapes out of storage, there's stuff on YouTube she could watch.

But I guess it doesn't matter since they're completely reinventing Liza anyway.

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I'm not sure Liza was quite the take-no-prisoners vixen Luner describes here. MW played her more as a misguided and misunderstood woman who reacted vengefully whenever men used her.

Having said that, I loved it when JL said "She is a really strong woman who goes after what she wants and the men she wants. Honey, it’s something I have been playing for awhile." :lol:

I'm choosing to treat her as a completely new character and enjoy her as such. But I know people are attached to certain characters and I can understand if they don't like the Melrosification of Liza. Like if Pratt were on Y&R and decided to recast Ashley and Nikki with Josie Bissett and Lisa Rinna, I'd be pissed.

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We can also look at it this way: The misguided woman who'd become vengeful when men screwed her could eventually evolve into a take-no-prisoners type. I would actually agree with the notion that Liza was more "vixen" in her prime, than she was later on. So I accept her take on Liza.

And I'm glad she's Liza as opposed to a literally new character like Taylor McBoring (no offense to Beth Ehlers - she got a raw deal... She could have been someone like, say, Dixie's sister, Melanie - because THEN we would all invest in her).

In making her Liza, it evokes her history (and we anticipate her interaction) with other characters. I' know a few people commented that she should have been Skye... I'm thinking that's almost solely based on hair-color. I feel like Luner's vibe and energy fits Liza as a character than it would have for Skye.

Just two episodes, so far, I know. But it's going pretty well, in spite of Pratt's big mouth. On a side note, I'm even liking the new Babe - oops! - I mean Marissa, already! :-)

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I think you are nitpicking. 99% of the comments against Jamie Lunar taking over the role is bc she does NOT look like Marcy Walker. Bright red hair and several years younger. Jamie knows this and she was just poking fun at what the audience has already critcized and prejudged her on

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I could feel bitter toward JL for accepting what I, and many others, see as "Marcy's role" and only "Marcy's role". However, the truth is, she's an actor, and she needs to make a living. I'm sure if she had her druthers (b/c, short of Shakespeare's characters, or any other classic characters from theatrical plays, I can't imagine any actor looking forward to stepping into another actor's shoes), she'd rather come on as a brand-new character; but this is the role Frons and Pratt offered her. Do her comments regarding Marcy and her take on the role suggest she (JL) thinks she will be better as Liza? Frankly, no. I'm reading what JL has to say, and all I'm getting is, "This is a great part to play (which it is), Chuck is giving me fantastic material to work with (which I hope), and I'm gonna give it all I've got (which I'll look forward to)."

If anyone deserves our bitterness, I think it should be Pratt and/or Frons, b/c they know who and what Liza was, but chose to go in another direction nonetheless.

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When Liza first came back to Pine Valley, she was pure bitch through and through. That is the Liza I kind of miss: the bitch on wheels running WRCW. She started to soften once Laurel was killed at WRCW, though, (during Lorraine Broderick's reign) and then 'the writer' came along and completely watered her down.

SO...Liza does have it in her. And it's understandable, after essentially going on the run, and then losing her daughter, that she'd regain some of her bitchiness. But I think they shouldn't make her TOO bitchy, without some level ground.

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You're right, she was a bitch and she lost that edge. I just don't think that Liza was a sexpot. But whatever. I guess she did sleep with a married man (Tad). So maybe she is? :huh: I guess the problem has been the inconsistent writing for Liza. We just don't know who she is anymore.

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