Ask Clint: Winter 1998-99

Q. We’re all so sorry to hear that you have left the show. Was the decision to leave sudden or had you been thinking about it for a while?

A. It’s been in the back of my mind. That’s because of the way they were writing the character and the show. It’s a totally different show than it used to be and “Clint Buchanan” is a totally different character. All in all, when it came right down to it, it turned out to be sudden because the negotiations were almost non-existent. I think that, from what I’ve seen of the recent mail and the postings on the Internet, the fans are beginning to see what the problem is for themselves.

Q. Why do you think that the writers have seemingly forgotten that both “Clint” and “Viki” became parents when they were teenagers?

A. I don’t know if they have forgotten about it or just chosen not to write about it. I don’t know why. In my opinion, in my last three or four weeks on the show, the writing was the best I’ve seen in years, whether you liked what the character was saying or not.

Q. Why do you think that the writers scripted “Clint” as “over the top” when he and “Viki” found out that “Will,” rather than “Cristian,” was the father of “Jessica’s” baby, instead on portraying “Clint” as the level-headed character he was prior to being written as homophobic during the AIDS storyline?

A. I had to play it as I played it. I didn’t get any direction to play it differently. I can see any guy put in his position — a man still in love with his ex-wife, aware his current wife is screwing him — becoming overwhelmed and angry. Lindsay said, “Do you want me to choose between you or Will?” and I don’t think I told her to make a choice. I know she loves her son. I feel totally justified in that position — they all lied to me. Clint Buchanan was never a great mediator, he never sat on the fence. And, given the dialogue, you have to say what’s on the printed page and make it work. Also, given the fact that, basically, all I’ve been doing for so long is “packing water,” now that I was finally given something “meaty” to do, I’m glad to have been given the opportunity to act in something with some meat to it and to have done a good job.

Q. In your opinion, what will it take to turn “One Life to Live” around?

A. I’ve got some definite ideas on that. For one thing, to go back to the way the show was produced and put together in 1988 or 1989. Three things that I think are very important and effective are the use of flashbacks, slow motion, and music. I’ve heard that the executive producer [Jill Farren Phelps] hates flashbacks and hates slow motion. I think that they can be most effective in motivating people’s emotions, including me, when watching something like this. Something needs to be done to get the cast feeling like family again. It’s been years since I’ve heard the crew applaud at the end of a scene, and it used to happen all the time. That means something.

Q. What three scenes you were involved in on the show stand out as your all-time favorites? What were the three most difficult scenes you were involved in on the show?

A. One of them would have to be Ginny’s first kiss in the 1888 storyline. There was the one when I told Viki I was dying. The third was a series of scenes I had with her that played well — the ones where I told her this past year that I had to make a change. I liked the tomato scene so much because the fans liked it so much. There were several scenes when the kids were young and I put them on my knee and told them stories. Some of the best scenes were when I walked in on Sloan and Viki, as well as the scenes I had with her afterward.

The most difficult scenes were the ones when I had nothing to do, nothing to say and there was no reason for me to be in the scene. There were a lot of those for a while. I consider them to be an embarrassment to me and to “Clint Buchanan,” and an insult to the viewers.

Q. Are you satisfied with the way “Clint Buchanan” was written off the show? If not, how would you have liked for him to be written off?

A. In 1993, when I had the accident, it would have made more sense if Clint Buchanan had been at his ranch and had an accident there, instead of being in a plane crash. Under the current circumstances, it would make more sense for me to return to my ranch. That’s where Clint Buchanan would feel most comfortable. It doesn’t make sense for him to go through a divorce long distance or to leave Jessica, for that matter. They just wrapped it up real fast.

Q. Now that you have unlimited time at your ranch, do you have any major projects planned?

A. So many of the Ranch projects depend upon the weather. One project I’m working on is with the horses, and that all depends upon the weather. You can’t work horses in mud. I want to take a night class on computers and become computer-literate. I also want to do the “health thing” and see if I can knock off the smoking.

With Robert s. Woods ("Bo") and Catherine Hickland ("Lindsay") at the 1999 "One Life to Live" Fan Club Luncheon in New York City.

Q. Will you attend the “One Life to Live” Fan Club luncheon on April 25, 1999?

A. I’m planning on it.

Q. We lost a very courageous and wonderful actor when Michael Zaslow died on December 6, 1998. What will you remember most about him?

A. It was so strange to see Mike that way, without the power of speech and in a wheelchair. Yet he always gave me a thumbs up and, when I went to hug him, he was always so warm and friendly. I always thought he was a good actor. Boy, he had guts. He hung in there.

Q. If you were to return to “One Life to Live” in the future, how would you like to see your character change?

A. About 30 pounds lighter (said with a grin). I’d like to see him go back to the way he was in the late ’80’s, with storylines, warmth and relationships like he had then. Everything that’s happened from 1991 to the present, with the exception of the last few days and weeks, has been only a shadow of the character’s former self.

Q. You have seen a lot of executive eroducers and head writers come and go during your tenure with the show. Who do you feel were the best producers and writers while you were there and why?

A. The best producers were Joe Stuart and Paul Rauch. The best writers were Peggy O’Shea, Sam Hall and, before them, Gordon Russell. I was also kind of impressed with Pam Long. She wasn’t there that long, but I liked some of what she did. I liked what Richard Backus did prior to my departure and, of course, I liked the work of the writers who wrote the 1888 storyline. At that time, the regular writers were on strike, so I don’t know who actually wrote those scripts, but they should all have gotten gold stars.

Q. The feedback all over the Internet indicates that all fan bases are very upset about the direction in which the show seems to be going. Why do you think the people in charge don’t seem to be paying attention to what the fans want?

A. Well, I don’t know. The obvious answer is that they don’t have any respect for the viewers. It doesn’t make any sense. For six years, the fans have wanted Viki and Clint reconciled, yet they haven’t done it. When people want apples, and they keep giving them oranges instead, it’s a problem. It’s a million dollar question.

"Clint" and "Lindsay" announcing their marriage at Llanfair.

Q. On the December 11, 1998, episode, “Clint” told “Bo” that the only reason he married “Lindsay” was because “Viki” turned down his proposal. “Clint” then went on to say — and this was the kicker — that “Viki” changed her mind! When did “Clint” learn the truth? (The audience saw “Joey” tell “Clint” that “Viki” was going to marry him, after which “Clint” immediately went to Llanfair and confronted “Viki.”  But the audience also saw “Viki” lead “Clint” to believe that “Joey” misunderstood her intentions. As far as fans knew, “Clint” left Llanfair that night still believing “Viki” didn’t want to marry him.)

A. I don’t know. Nobody has shared that information with me. I say what they give me to say. Nobody on the show does continuity anymore. “The powers that be” keep thinking that if an actor says it, the viewer will buy it. It’s an insult. The artistic people are being ignored. The story seems to be ignored. They’re killing the golden goose. The fact that our scripts used to be 105 pages long, but are now only 80 pages, says it all. They’ve cut about 18 minutes out of each show for commercials.

Q. What is your opinion of the “Jessica” pregnancy storyline?

A. Way back when we had good ratings, there was a couple on “One Life to Live” named Clint and Viki. They were the only couple on daytime who made a positive statement about marriage. They had children who were raised with morals and sensitivity. Now Viki has become less of what she once was, and their marriage was trashed. They also trashed Clint Buchanan and the whole family. I think it was a huge mistake — a mistake to do it to the family. No one now is standing up for the married couple or the family trying to earn a living and raise their family well.

Q. What were some of the reactions of your closest co-stars, for example, Bob Woods, Erika Slezak, Phil Carey and Catherine Hickland, to the news that you were leaving the show?

A. I didn’t broadcast it, so they didn’t find out until about a week before I was going. There was also some doubt because, at contract time, every actor goes around saying, “I’m leaving.” When they realized it was true, I think they were stunned and surprised. I only told Phil Carey, who mentioned it to Woodsy, and the news drifted around. Both Catherine Hickland and Erika Slezak expressed surprise. Once the decision was made, I wasn’t down in the mouth about it.

Q. Could you share some thoughts about your last day on the set?

A. It was just anther day until after the last scenes was taped. However, everyone — crew, makeup people, actors — were wearing cowboy hats all day long. I was flattered by it. Then Frank Valentini, our Supervising Producer, called everyone onto the set and they had a cake. I made a short speech — it got a little emotional.

Q. Do you think the fans would ever accept a re-cast “Clint Buchanan”? If so, why?

A. It would depend upon how well the new guy did the job.  I don’t think the fans would look forward to it. I wouldn’t have wanted to go on the show after Lee Patterson left and call myself Joe Riley. Its very difficult for an actor to be re-cast in the role of a long- term character.

With Kim Zimmer ("Echo").

Q. Which of the people you’ve met because of “One Live to Live” have had the greatest impact on your life over the past 19 years?

A. Joe Stuart, the late Jackie Smith, Josie Emmerich, Paul Rauch, Larry Auerbach, Stormin’ Norman Hall, Peter Minor, David Pressman. Also Bob Woods, Phil Carey, Erika Slezak, Kim Zimmer, and too many others to mention. Additionally, the whole cast and crew of “One Life to Live.” The crew had almost as much to do with it as anyone — the wardrobe people, the property department, the whole crew. I’ve never worked with a better crew than what we have on “One Life to Live.”

Q. We know you prefer to be in California, but is there anything you will miss about life in New York City?

A. It’s the people. It’s not one state over another, it’s a lifestyle. I’ve just never been a city person. The people here are wonderful to me. It’s the people I’ve met that I’m going to miss, and the cast and crew who have become like family. We spend so much time together that it really is like a family.

Q. Tell us about your eye surgery. How do you feel now?

A. It went beautifully. I feel great and, if anyone has trouble with their eyes, they should pray it is because of cataracts since what they can do today is a miracle.

Q. Any final reflections about your years on “One Life to Live?”

A. Those were some of the happiest times of my life — so far. There have been both peaks and valleys, but mostly peaks.