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Jessica Steen Interview
(This transcript was typed in by Noreen Liska on PRODIGY(R) interactive personal service 11/20/92 6:28 PM)
The following is a transcript of an interview with Jessica Steen on Cleveland's ABC affiliate (WEWS-TV) morning show, "Morning Exchange". She was interviewed by Fred Griffith (FG) and Miss Lee Jordan (LJ). The interview was conducted on November 20, 1992.
First, a clip is shown from the show where Linda is asking Mr. Sloan for a promotion and all he does is comments on her new hair cut and his feelings why a women shouldn't be on the floor.
FG - Oh dear! The secretary is 3 to 4 years away from retirement. This is a woman a little ahead of her time.
JS - Yes, I have to say that Ken Jenkins who plays Mr. Sloan is a very liberated man and is only playing is character with expertise.
LJ - You liked your character right away, first encounter with her.
JS - Actually I only got to read the script once through before reading for the network and I signed contracts 10 to 15 pages long for about the next 5 to 6 years of my life. I thought that Linda, if I was to play one character for that long and if I should say things that were important, it would be time well spent. Definitely!
FG - Some people have said about that show that a character like Linda is really out of place in that era, but if you think back there have been a lot of strong women who have said things about the importance of women getting a better opportunity and break in life.
JS - Absolutely! As I was saying, before, the reviews we got after the opening of our first season mentioned that Linda had 90's sensibilities in 40's era and that she didn't quite fit in. I thought, is it me or is that the character or is is just the fact that she may represent a very small minority of people, which I think she does. These women have to be stood there for and I mean that there are enough characters on the show that represent enough segments of the population that Linda can represent that small minority of women who worked during the war in factories and got dirty and that got down to welding and working with heavy machinery, that they got a sense of themselves and sense of independence to want to carry on with that.
LJ - I was telling you how much my parents love the show, I enjoy it too, but my parents comment on how much the detail in the show reminds them of their youth and they're very impressed with the accuracy with everything from the hairstyles to the props....
JS - I can't tell you how the eye for detail that the public has...if a song is written after the year we are playing, they'll write in and let you know, down to the most infinite detail what's accurate and what is not. So the producers want to do it right and be accurate. They go over everything with a fine tooth comb and they'll let you know if the hair is an inch too long and if the hem is too short or whatever.
FG - There's a lot of library time.
JS - There's a lot of research done, constantly, constantly.
FG - ...like looking back to a "Billboard Magazine" from 1948.
JS - Yes!
FG - ...to see what songs were popular that summer.
JS - Yeah! Actually, we just did a segment on, a couple of shows on, polio and the doctor who was just here talked about polio, but the research done to get the facts was massive. Everything is accurate.
LJ - Why was the decision made to take a couple of the characters off the show? I think the guy who played your brother is not on the show any more.
JS - Yes, let's see, I think it was budgeting. There was so many characters that its hard to focus on all of them. They work with focus groups to see who the public really identifies with more. It's a great loss. I mean, they are both very close friends of mine, Alex Wilson and David Newsom, who played those two characters Hank and Sara and it was difficult to break up the family and the Metcalf home is definitely a lot emptier without them, but there decisions that are made that I don't know really in the end.
FG - It seems to be a show that everybody praises, the network says "Oh we got to keep this show" and yet (Jessica lets out a big sigh) they keep doing things with it because they don't know quite where to put it or how to focus it.
JS - We have a very strong, very strong bunch of people who watch the show. There was a "TV Guide" plug at one point last year when they were making decisions about next season. There was five shows that they really wanted to keep on and they made a big two page spread "If you want your show---write in or phone in" and "Homefront" got over 900,000 calls and even then we were still on the fence. I don't know what it takes, but they gave us an excellent time slot. I mean a real bold choice opposite "Cheers" and I think, I don't know if they have given us a lot of support. They pre-empt us a lot. Unfortunately, we also get thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's and we don't want to show first run episodes on those nights because a lot of people are busy and celebrating. So it's tough.
LJ - I hope they find a permanent spot.
JS - I do too.
FG - For the moment, at least, it is on Thursday nights at 9:00 pm, except when "Matlock" comes on....
JS - (Laughing) ABC, I guess "Matlock" gets its two bits, too.
FG - Last, we thank you for dropping by this morning.
JS - My pleasure.
FG - And dial in next week if you haven't sampled it. It is really one of the better shows on network TV.
JS - Absolutely!
LJ - Quick question. Are you going to get a boyfriend on the show?
JS - Actually, yes. The episode were a just about to shoot has a love interest for Linda.
LJ - Alright!
FG - Alright!
JS - We are working at the newspaper.
LJ - So it will take a smart man.
JS - Well, yes, he is well written I must say.
FG - We love your work and many, many thanks for being with us.
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