Heather Tom

OLTL lands Emmy winner Heather Tom as new Kelly

by Dan J Kroll
Posted Friday, October 24, 2003 1:11:20 AM
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Heather Tom is OLTL's new Kelly

In a casting coup for One Life to Live, the show has landed Heather Tom (ex-Victoria Newman, The Young and the Restless) to play the contract role of Kelly Cramer.

Tom, a long-time cast member of CBS's Los Angeles-based The Young and the Restless, announced earlier this month that she'd be leaving her Emmy winning role due to "creative differences."

"The decision, mutually agreed upon by both the show and Ms. Tom, was for creative differences," a rep for Tom said in a statement. "Ms. Tom felt at this time it was best to move onto other challenges, both creatively and personally.

Shortly after the statement regarding Tom's impending departure was released, Y&R executive producer David Shaughnessy stated that he was unaware of the actress' desire to leave the show.

"As far as Jack [Smith, Co-Executive Producer and Co-Head Writer] and I know, we are still in contract negotiations with Heather," Shaughnessy said in a statement. "There have never been any creative differences. In fact, we think Heather is an extremely talented actress and a tremendous asset to the show. We both have great respect for her work."

However, show insiders tell Soap Central that another underlying factor may have been a factor in Tom's decision to leave The Young and the Restless - money. Nearly all soaps have had to cut their budgets due to shrinking revenue. One of the easiest ways to cut costs is for the shows to renegotiate the contracts of their higher paid stars. Tom was reportedly asked to take a sizeable cut in her salary, a cut that sources say she was unwilling to take.

With Tom's addition to the One Life to Live cast, actress Tracy Melchior has been dismissed after just three months with the show. Melchior joined One to Life to Live in July after having been bumped to recurring status on CBS's The Bold and the Beautiful. The role of Kelly was originally created by Gina Tognoni in 1995. According to published reports. Tognoni had been asked to reprise the role, but she and the show were unable to come to terms on the deal.

"Heather and I started on the show on the same month in 1991, and I'm devastated that she's leaving," Shaughnessy says of Tom's departure. "She is a wonderfully talented actress, and she'll be sorely missed."

Adds Y&R's co-executive producer/head writer Jack Smith: "Heather has always wanted to explore New York theater and this is giving her an opportunity to do that. We regret losing her."

As part of her welcome to the East Coast, Tom will co-host ABC's morning chatfest, The View. The show is currently seeking a full-time replacement for Lisa Ling, who left the show earlier this year. Tom's guest stint on the talk show is scheduled for October 30th and 31st.

Tracy Melchior's last airdate on OLTL is December 10th. Tom taped her final scenes on Y&R on October 7th and will last be seen on-air on December 17th. She taped her first One Life to Live scenes on November 3rd and will first air on December 11th.

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