Hold on to your hats, One Life to Live fans -- there is a stunning development in the contract status of one of the shows most-loved actress. Emmy-winning actress Hillary B. Smith
) and show executives have come to terms on new contract that will keep the actress and her alter ego in Llanview for the foreseeable future.
Last year at this time
, One Life to Live fans were mourning the apparent exit Smith and the death of on-screen heroine Nora Hanen. But fans received a surprise Christmas present with news that Smith and show executives had reached a deal on a new-one year contract.
But the celebration was short-lived.
, Smith issued a statement on her official web site
hinting that the contract extension was merely a way to do right by her character and give Nora a proper send off. For fans, that conjured up images of a Terri Schiavo-like storyline in which a comatose Nora was taken off life support.
"This 'one year' [contract extension] was my idea," Smith clarified. "ABC did not short-change me. Brian [Frons, ABC Daytime President] and I are both pleased with this extension."
As the months drew on, Nora remained in a coma and fans wondered if a purported "major storyline" by head writer Dena Higley was merely a ruse to keep them tuned into the show. Eventually, however, Nora did regain consciousness, but fans' hopes of a major storyline were dashed when Smith was seldom seen on-screen afterwards.
Now, at the end of 2006, there is yet another holiday miracle for Smith's fans. Smith has signed a new four-year contract with One Life to Live. The contract apparently came out of nowhere -- and even stunned Smith.
"When I got the call from ABC I sputtered and spewed and said, 'Are you out of your minds? This doesn't make sense!' But I'm very excited," Smith told TV Guide
Indeed, after allowing Smith's on-screen persona to languish for over a year, it would appear to be a stunning change of direction for the show to offer the actress a new long-term deal. While there are several possible reasons for the network's sudden (re)interest in the award-winning actress, a great deal of credit has to be given to Smith's fans. For much of the past year, fans have waged a "Save Nora" campaign -- that would, at least on the surface -- appear to have gotten the network's attention.
What's more, is that fans will not just be given the false hope that Smith will see some on-screen time sometime during the next four years. ABC apparently already has in place a storyline that will catapult Smith and Nora back to the foreground of One Life to Live action -- and it involves one of Nora's old nemeses.
In addition to Smith's new contract, soap
has learned that Catherine Hickland
) will also be back on One Life to Live. In May 2005
first reported that long-time OLTL vet Hickland's contract with the show would not be renewed. Since that time, Hickland has appeared in a recurring role on the soap.
When the New Year rolls around, ABC promises that Nora and Lindsay's feud will be renewed -- and stuck in the middle of this feud will be Bo Buchanan. The show also promises a more screen time for Phil Carey (Asa Buchanan) as well.