From Daytime to Online

Wed. October 1, 2008 12:00 AM
by Feature Column

Maeve Quinlan breaks soap-opera stigma by putting "3Way" on the Internet
By Jason P Freeman

After tending to the Los Angeles, fashion industry melodrama, as one of "The Bold and the Beautiful," for 11 years, during which she had an underage lover in Ken Park and later a lesbian daughter in "South of Nowhere," Maeve Quinlan had an interesting realization: "There are not enough lesbian comedies out there."

For the Illinois native, teenage tennis star-turned USC acting minor-turned model-turned daytime soap star, this epiphany was motivated, in part, by an online message board. According to Quinlan, some user comments correlated her religious, gay-opposed character on The N network's GLAAD-award-winning, teenage drama series "South of Nowhere" with that of her personal life, and deemed Quinlan a real-time "homophobe." Though the actress notes receiving a lot of supportive myspace.com comments for her work on "South...," the negative feedback was still hard for her to ignore.

"I was like, 'Oh my god!'" Quinlan gasps. "'Paula Carlin, my character, is [a homophobe]. I'm just an actor! Thank you for saying I'm doing a good job, but I'm the farthest thing from that'-—and I was actually really hurt." Quinlan continues, adding that if fans had a true understanding of her off-camera lifestyle, there could be no question as to her straight-—but in no way narrow—-status. "I was [formally] married to Tom Sizemore, first of all," she laughs, "and I'm living with two gay girls ... but then I thought, you know what? There's something in this."

That "something" would ultimately become Quinlan's "3Way," an original show concept by Quinlan involving a straight woman immersed in lesbian culture. However, before Quinlan's concept could reach the development stages, she'd have to find the time (filming for soap operas is daily and year-round, and doesn't leave room for much of anything else) and, for producers to take her seriously, she'd have to overcome a bias in the entertainment industry that views soap ensemble members as limited and less-than actors.

"Within the industry there's a definitely a snobbish-ness [toward soap actors]... It's really annoying..." Quinlan says. "[They] get [paid] a fraction of what primetime actors get, and yet they work all year round-—unless there's a holiday or something weird, there's never a rerun of a soap opera ... I think that [snobbishness] is changing now."

Nevertheless, for Quinlan to break the mold of the soap-opera stigma, she'd have to take some risks, much like the one that presented itself when Quinlan accepted a part in the 2002 indie film Ken Park. Quinlan's role in Writer/Director Larry Clark's follow-up to his controversial film Kids would mean touchy subject matter and racy sex scenes. However, Quinlan was intrigued. Despite the advisement of some of her colleagues, who felt the film could hurt her career, as an actor who prefers, "quirky, deep drama-—stuff that's really going to make a difference," Quinlan was eager to engage her Ken Park character.

"It's taken me a long time to [professionally] get out of the soap genre," Quilan explains. "You really have to prove yourself, and I thought, 'Ok, this is it.' I really want to show what I'm capable of."

Mold broken; doors opened.

When Quinlan's "B&B" contract was renewed to "reoccurring status" in 2005, she found herself free to do other things, and was able to accept a role in "South of Nowhere."

"I was so taken by the scenes," Quinlan says. "The writing on 'South of Nowhere' was really good ... It was authentic. This was a really amazing story that wasn't about getting ratings." "South's...' final season begins airing October 10, 2008.

Then, more recently, another door opened. Quinlan was offered a small part in The CW's new "90210," a show that Quinlan feels mixes the sensational with the serious.

"With big networks," Quinlan says, "people tune in for the great close and for the entertainment. So I think it's pretty cool that '90210' is still hitting some pretty serious subject matters and I commend them for that." The first "90210" episode featuring Quinlan's character, Constance Tate-Duncan, aired September 23, 2008.

And, inspired by the success and strong viewer response of "South...," Quinlan opened her own door. Her latent idea for a lesbian comedy evolved into "3Way." Self-described as a "Three's Company" for the new generation, the Internet show is seemingly scripted as a parody of Quinlan's personal life, featuring a recently divorced soap actress living with her lifelong lesbian friend and her friend's lover. Gay shenanigans ensue as Quinlan's lead character, Siobhan, adjusts to her new life while playing a rousing game of Ce-"les"-brity, or discussing the first time she got fingered with her new lesbian peers. Quinlan calls the show "goofy, stupid, lots of fun and pretty darn funny." The first webisode, titled "Let the Gaymes Begin, Part One," hit the web February 2008.

"We were going to bring it around as a pitch," Quinlan says, "but I thought, 'Let's just do this. Let's do it as a web show.' ... Build it, they will come."

Come they did. In short time, "3Way" developed a huge following. Also featured on AfterEllen.com, "3Way" was recently screened at L.A.'s OUTfest and will also be featured at Reeling: Chicago's International LGBT Film Festival in November 2008. Screening parties for the Chicago festival are currently being planned and Quinlan is also currently in talks with LOGO about possible broadcasting of "3Way" on the LGBT cable network. The show was named "Most Guilty Pleasure" by LOGO's New Now Next.

"I like acting, I like producing, and now I've enjoyed writing," Quinlan says of her "3Way" experience. "I can't thank the gay and lesbian community enough for their support of 'South of Nowhere' and I hope they enjoy '3Way.'"

"3Way" can be viewed on 3Waytv.tv as well as on AfterEllen.com.