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‘All My Children’ to put spotlight on deafness

Erica Kane may not be so selfish after all. The “All My Children” diva, played by Susan Lucci, will focus attention on her grandson’s deafness in upcoming episodes.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Erica Kane may not be so selfish after all. The “All My Children” diva, played by Susan Lucci, will focus attention on her grandson’s deafness in upcoming episodes.

The ABC soap opera, known for tackling serious subjects as well as the usual murder and betrayal, is introducing a new story line Sept. 20 that has Erica’s daughter, Kendall Hart, dealing with the discovery that her toddler is deaf.

At issue is whether the child should have cochlear implants, which help the deaf to hear by turning sound into electrical impulses that activate the hearing nerve. Kendall is dubious.

“She’s a perfectionist, so she wants the perfect life for her child and she’s afraid that he won’t have it,” Alicia Minshew, who portrays Kendall, told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

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But Erica has tricks up her sleeve. She invites a young boy who had successful cochlear implants to be a guest on her talk show — and arranges for Kendall to watch the interview backstage.

“Erica being Erica, reacts with action,” Lucci told the AP.

Instead of using an actor to play the boy, “All My Children” asked JQ DePaiva to play the part. DePaiva, the 10-year-old son of “One Life To Live” stars James and Kassie DePaiva, was born completely deaf and attends a mainstream school after getting implants in both ears.

“This is going to sound very cliche and very silly,” Minshew said. “I honestly feel like I am telling a story that makes a difference in people’s lives.”