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Susan Lucci on move to LA and 40 years of All My Children

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BY GREG HERNANDEZ

It’s impossible to think of ABC’s “All My Children” without its resident diva, Erica Kane.

But when the network decided to move the show from New York City to a larger studio in Los Angeles, it meant uprooting the show’s biggest star, Susan Lucci, who has played Erica on the show since its launch 40 years ago this month.

“I came kicking an screaming,” Lucci said recently. “I love New York and I was very happy working in New York. And coming here, I was not prepared for how wonderful it is. The studio is three times the size of the studio we worked in in New York.”

Lucci, 63, saw her fame grow to a fever pitch during a stretch in the 80s and 90s when she was nominated for, and lost, the Emmy Award 18 times. She parodied the string of losses on “Saturday Night Live” and on commercials. But when she finally did win in 1999, victory was awfully sweet.

Still, it didn’t tempt her to walk away from the iconic role she’s so closely identified with – a part that has called for her to be married at least nine times but also had her as a successful career woman who has worked as a high fashion model, a cosmetics tycoon, and a magazine publisher. Erica is also the mother of a lesbian daughter who took part in daytime’s first same-sex marriage last year.

“Playing a character over a long period of time, I love the fact that every day it’s at least one new, fresh script,” says the actress who has also starred on Broadway and in more than a dozen well-received television movies. She also finished sixth on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” a few seasons back.

“Each medium has it’s challenges,” she said. “Film, I think, it’s the slowness of the pace. That would drive me, frankly, kind of crazy.. In theatre, you have to make it fresh every single performance, eight shows a week, but it’s the same script. My medium of preference is this [daytime] medium. It is fresh material every day, new actors to work with and jump up against and have a good time with, and I think the audience enjoys it too. … It’s the closest thing to theater in that we play the scenes from beginning to end. And that’s the closest thing to reality too.”

But four decades at the same job? Seems unheard of these days.

“Forty years is a big number and a very scary number and an amazing number,” Lucci said. “It’s gone quickly and I think that’s because I’ve been having such a good time playing this amazing character. I feel so lucky to have been the actress who got to play this incredible role.”

Not that she hasn’t tried to ponder a life without the soap: “The truth is, every time there is a time to renegotiate, to say, ‘Am I going to stay?’ I do try to step back and say, ‘Am I still having a good time and do I enjoy it?’ And the truth is, for me, yes. I love it very much. I love this character and it’s been good to me and for me.”

After 40 years, Susan Lucci and Erica Kane remain a perfect fit.

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