Crystal Chappell leads all-star cast in web series, Venice

Posted Tuesday, September 22, 2009 7:16:22 PM
Updated Tuesday, September 29, 2009 1:12:21 PM
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Crystal Chappell leads all-star cast in web series, Venice

As soap operas struggle in the ratings, some stars have turned to creating their own soaps -- online. Emmy winner Crystal Chappell is entering the fray with Venice: The Series. Chappell says the series was inspired by her work on the now-cancelled CBS soap, Guiding Light.

The credits for the upcoming web drama, Venice: The Series, reads like a who's who of daytime television.

The show is headed by Emmy-winning daytime diva Crystal Chappell (Carly Manning; ex-Olivia Spencer, Guiding Light), who serves as a writer, producer, and star of the project.

"The whole inspiration for the series came from my experience on Guiding Light and the story that I played with Jessica Leccia [Natalia]," Chappell told "The day that [Guiding Light was] canceled, I called Kim [Turrisi] — Kim is my writing and producing partner. We were working on another project and I said let's just table that for now and let's create a web series and have the lead character be an out lesbian, and very comfortable with who she is."

Some may be quick to label Venice as a lesbian series, but Chappell says that is not the case. Sexual identity is a secondary character in the online series.

"It's a show about families... and life. The simplicity of it, the turmoil of it. We're going to be following a character named Gina, who is a designer, and she is a gay woman. I don't want the series to be about her sexuality. I want it to be about who she is as a person, and what her struggles in life are."

"The lovely Jessica Leccia will be playing the role of Ani, a photographer," Chappell announced in a Twitter post. "Jess is very excited about doing the series, and we're so thrilled to have her! Who could resist those beautiful brown eyes?"

Also on board for Venice are Chappell's former Guiding Light co-stars, Jordan Clarke (ex-Billy Lewis), Jeff Branson (ex-Shayne Lewis) and Gina Tognoni (ex-Dinah Marler). Tognoni will appear as Sami, Owen's love interest. Clarke will tackle the role of "The Colonel," otherwise known as Gina's dad. Branson's role is unknown at this time.

Participation isn't just limited to former Guiding Light stars. One Life to Live's Hillary B. Smith (Nora Buchanan) will appear as Guya and The L Word's Elizabeth Keener will play Lara. As the World Turns and The Bold and the Beautiful star Lesli Kay will play Tracy, a love interest for Chappell's Gia.

Venice will also be a real-life family affair. Chappell's husband, soap opera vet Michael Sabatino, will portray Alan. Of Sabatino's role, Chappell says, Alan is "a businessman who Gina will be dealing with. He has an unusual... um, fetish."

Meanwhile, Daniel Cosgrove (ex-Bill Lewis) was to have played Owen, Gina's brother. Unfortunately, Cosgrove's work schedule will prevent him for appearing in the web series.

Episodes of Venice: The Series will air on the series' official web site, and on YouTube.

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