IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Experiencing an ‘All My Children’ wedding

Susan Lucci’s Erica Kane ties the knot for the 10th time
/ Source: The Associated Press

One day last month, I abandoned my normal life and became a soap star.

Leaving Manhattan’s claustrophobic Pine Valley set behind, ABC’s “All My Children” packed up all its drama and headed to Florida to film the tenth wedding of Erica Kane. And in a well-crafted publicity stunt, ABC offered the chance for this mild-mannered entertainment reporter to take on the role I was born to play: myself.

Full disclosure: I’m no soap fan. I’ve never seen an entire episode of “AMC,” but I do know Erica Kane, the glamourpuss matriarch played with extreme sassiness by Susan Lucci. After that unprecedented Emmy losing streak, who doesn’t know her?

Kane has been married nine times, a mighty feat even in a soap. This special trip to the Sunshine State is in honor of Kane’s much-anticipated, double-digit nuptials to Travis Montgomery, the hunky lawyer with a heart o’ gold, played by Walt Willey.

“This is the way it should be,” Lucci tells me. “This is how all the storytelling has been going. The fans have been clamoring for this for about four years. We had a near-marriage a couple of years ago that was stopped by Greenlee (Montgomery’s daughter played by Rebecca Budig) and the fans were so disappointed. This is a really a gift to the viewers.”

‘AMC’ and a pool!At first, details of my scene were sketchy. It entailed a group of reporters crashing the ceremony. I’d have lines. The wedding party would be comprised only of Kane and Montgomery’s children — including Kane’s recently departed daughter and granddaughter — not the entire “AMC” company. Everything would be filmed at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. And there would be a pool!

Before leaving for Florida, the wardrobe department phoned me twice to insist I wear a light-blue top and khaki pants for my scene. I splurge on an enchanting turquoise shirt. Upon arriving, the staff fashionistas nix the threads — too bright. I’m ushered into the makeshift wardrobe area, a conference room lined with racks of clothes for each character. They toss me a cream-colored striped shirt to slip on under my blazer.

After becoming one with the “AMC” color palette, I saunter down to the set, where the ceremony is in full swing. The beauty of the seaside resort is coyly enhanced with more sod, more plants, more lights and more makeup. The wedding party, wearing a color I later learn is buttercup, stands under a picturesque banyan tree. Visually, the ceremony is stunning, a perfect wedding that little girls dream of and grown women are rarely granted.

But this is a soap opera. I keep waiting for an amnesiac to show up or a fistfight to break out. After much starting and stopping and starting, the only drama comes when two cages of doves are released after the “I do’s.”

“It’s very unusual for Erica to have a wedding like this,” Lucci says. “It’s going to be very refreshing for the audience to see something this romantic, this beautiful, this glamorous. They have not seen that for a very long time. It’s going to be a feast for the eyes as well as for the emotions.”

A star is bornJust as I’m bordering on boredom, I finally receive my script. I plow through the handful of pages to find my lines, and I’m shocked. My character is referred to as “Paparazzo No. 2.”

Paparazzo?! I am a journalist!

No time for a temper tantrum, though, as I’m quickly introduced to Paparazzo No. 1, the beautiful and bouncy “Good Morning America” correspondent Marysol Castro. We’re then both introduced to Michael B. Jordan, who plays Jackson’s adoptive son, Reggie.

“Any advice?” I ask him.

“Don’t mess up,” the tux-clad Jordan proclaims.

The stage manager places Castro and me behind gold velvet ropes in a crowd of local Florida media, who will provide atmosphere by waving microphones and cameras and screaming “Erica! Erica! Erica!” behind us. I offer up the actual tape recorder I use to record actual celebrity interviews as a prop, but the stage manager informs Castro and I we’ll be given hand-held mikes bearing the call letters WRCW — Pine Valley’s local TV station.

“But I’m an AP writer,” I declare. “I would never hold a WRCW microphone.”

Nobody cares. This means, unless I’m edited out, I will become a small part of the Pine Valley mythos. I begin to wonder about my backstory: Where do I live in Pine Valley? How long have I worked for WRCW? Do I have an evil twin?

I quickly pocket my delusions. It’s time for my big moment. We run through the scene once with wedding party stand-ins. Then we do it a few times with Lucci and company.

“Were the Pine Valley wedding plans just a decoy?” Castro, a.k.a. Paparazzo No. 1, screams from afar as the wedding party departs the ceremony. “Was Oprah supposed to be maid of honor?”

“What do you say, Erica?” I snark. “Is the tenth time the charm?”

Damn, I’m good. Kane doesn’t answer us. She merely smiles, then — BLAM! — a cannon blasts a storm of white rose petals in the air, blanketing the sea of paparazzi and the wedding party. I haven’t seen this much excitement since those doves were released.

And he blows it...Kane and Montgomery share a long kiss. The actors are sent away and the director sends in a camera operator to capture close-ups of the paparazzi. Castro and I run through our scene again — and it happens.

I forget my line.

It’s a combination of not being able to hear Castro because of all the “Erica!” howls, and nerves from the camera lens being right in front of my face. I eventually get it right and we’re wrapped.

I kiss Castro — on the cheek, natch — goodbye and tell her I hope to work with her again soon. My blunder weighs heavy on my mind for the rest of the afternoon. This is no way to start my soap career. So I do what any self-respecting soap star would do. I go to the resort’s spa for a stone massage.

When I arrive back in New York, I call up LaLucci as quick as I can because, you know, we’re co-stars.

“How did I do?” I query.

“I thought you were very effective as Paparazzo No. 2,” she coos.

“But Susan,” I reply. “I’m a journalist.”