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The Toronto Star
Sunday, December 6, 1992

Actress strives to keep Homefront fires burning

By Rita Zekas Toronto Star

On the series Homefront, a crusty editor grudgingly handed
Linda Metcalfe (played by Toronto's Jessica Steen) her
first newspaper assignment. Writing the obits.

The dreaded obits. The cliche desk job they are still writing
movies like Impolite about.

Obits are something about which we are well-versed. During
our initiation rites into the Entertainment Dept., it fell to us to
call up actors for quotes about the soon-to-be-deceased.

Wasn't long before we were labelled The Kiss Of Death.

"Oh, no," we recall Don Harron asking, "who's on the death
watch now?"

Steen's character has recently graduated to writing copy. It's
the second season for the ABC drama series, (also telecast
on Hamilton's CHCH), an ensemble piece set in the U.S.
Midwest in the post WW2 Eisenhower years.

Steen says it'll be white-knuckle time until May, when they
find out if they've been renewed.

"The publicity has been lame and our devoted fans lost track
of us. We moved to Thursday night opposite Cheers.
Imagine, Cheers! Our numbers pick up after Cheers is over
. Our demographics are women 18-49, the biggest shoppers
and advertisers' bread and butter."

Linda is a budding feminist, agitating for her beliefs. She
objected to the layoffs of women after the boys come
marching home.

"I love the fact that Linda is strong and independent,
particularly considering that during that era, she would be
challenged for being just that.

"I got a fan letter from a woman, 32, who said Linda was
the only woman on TV who was single and not looking for a
man. The rest of the show is involved in some shape or form
with a love triangle and Linda's determined to keep her
independence and career, but her character does suffer.

"I'm in tandem with the producers that she'll end up by
herself, not that she won't have interesting relationships - you
want to have flirtations. The letter said 'I hope she doesn't
worry about finding the right man.' I've written to her, I had
to tell her she made my day.

"It's hard to be in a large ensemble cast and play a role that's
not as sellable. I have to wait for my turn."

Steen is used to it. She's a showbiz brat, daughter of actress
mom Joanna Noyes and an actor/director father.

"I took drama in school, did skits and plays. My parents had
a lot of friends in the business and they said I should be in
the biz."

She landed her first professional job at 18 (she's 26 now).
Her credits include most Canadian episodics. She played
perky mechanic Pilot in Captain Power And The Soldiers
Of The Future, which sounds like a boy series to us.

"I did every series shot in Toronto - Street Legal, Night
Heat, Littlest Hobo, Edison Twins, The Campbells, Alfred
Hitchcock, the TV-movie Young Again with Robert Urich,
Lindsay Wagner and Keanu Reeves."

Reeves is an old high school (Jarvis Collegiate) buddy. They
co-starred in the 1986 teen gymnastic movie Flying.

"We also did Youngblood together. I was cut out, he

Her other movie credits include John And The Missus and
Sing, a musical shot in Metro about "sings," somewhat
antiquated musical competitions held in Brooklyn high
schools since the mid '40s. Anything goes, singing, dancing,
dramatics; live music in any form, from rap to rhapsody.

"There was a whole musical going on and my character
didn't sing or dance a note," Steen chuckles. "I organized the
singers and dancers."

Steen relocated to New York in late 1989 but found herself
working mostly in Canada and Los Angeles. In an effort to
stay put, she took an interim job subbing for pregnant Trisha
on the soap Loving.

"I ended up working everywhere but New York, there
weren't many shoots except for soaps. In four weeks I had
the soap - I filled in for Noelle Beck and they didn't even
bother explain the new Trisha - then I auditioned for
Homefront. I took the Red Eye overnight flight with faxed
'sides' (scripts with her dialogue). I read the script over once
and signed away my life. And there I was having my
eyebrows plucked and hair cut by 4 p.m."

She's adjusting to L.A., even the "brown sludge" that passes
for air. Unlike Linda, she's part of "a couple." Her man is not
an actor.

"That's one of his finer features. We went to school together.
He's not here fulltime; we do the back-and-forth thing."

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