Episode #106 – 7/18/12 – Interview with Alice Barrett – AW’s Frankie Frame-Winthrop

There isn’t a better way to start out a day than with some positive thinking. Alice Barrett answered some questions for AWFF and I think she says it all…

(Alice’s interview was received on June 27, 2012)

Alice Barrett Mitchell

What inspires you today? Do you have anything special you’re working on?

Everything inspires me! I’m feeling very much like a kid in that there’s so much I want to accomplish and only so many hours in the day. But in terms of my profession, I’m getting my inspiration in classes. I’ve returned to scene study class because it’s giving me the opportunity to work on roles I’m not going to get cast in out in the field: “Virginia Wolf”, “Long Day’s Journey”, “Glass Menagerie,” etc. It’s a great luxury to have the time to really dig in, because in film and television you rarely get the opportunity to do that. I’m hoping to seque back into theatre, as well as book more gigs on screen.

How has your life changed since your days in Bay City? What are you most proud outside of AW?

It’s so weird to be answering these questions now because AW was over 15 years ago for me. I was of course back in ’99 but that stint never really got off the ground because the show’s cancellation was announced pretty much right after I came back so the story line was back-burnered.

But to answer your question, of course everything changed! I went from steady employment back to the free-lancers life of having to always be looking for the next gig. I moved to LA for seven years and have already been back in NYC for seven. I raised my girls, created and re-created homes, have been inventing and re-inventing myself for the business as much as possible. As you know, the business isn’t necessarily kind to middle-aged women, but I’m determined to stick this out and have this be my life-long career.

What do you think it was about your portrayal of Frankie Frame on AW that endeared her to the fans so much?

I think what made Frankie so appealing is that she was a woman of strong conviction. She was unwaveringly devoted to her family and friends, she fully embraced her beliefs, she had a joie de vivre. She was honest to a fault, although on a few occassions she withheld the truth, such as when she miscarried and didn’t tell Cass. That was a response to the enormous hurt she felt when he left her for Kathleen. Frankie had a strong sense of right and wrong, justice and injustice, and she acted from that place all the time.

Frankie was a psychic and had special gifts. What was it like playing a character so different from any other on the show?

It’s always fun when you get the opportunity to play the comic relief. It’s hard to remember after playing miscarriages, near-death experiences, betrayals, etc., that Frankie’s first year on the show was a big hoot. She was into crystals and “health food”, which feels almost silly to say now, she had an eclectic wardrobe with all the bracelets and earrings, she was just a breath of fresh air. I didn’t necessarily think of myself as doing something different from the other actors. Everyone was doing their jobs of playing fully-drawn characters, and what was so great about AW was that they were all so well played.

What did you learn as a person or actress during your run on AW?

Mostly I learned gratitude. Acting is a really tough field and if you’re lucky enough to have a steady gig, you’re truly blessed. Other than prime time, day time is as close as any actor can get to having a 9-5 job, a place where you go every day, your co-workers become your family, you’re financially secure in a notoriously insecure business.

I also learned the discipline of being ready, being prepared, bringing your A-game at a moments notice. Film and television sets are fickle environments. You’re either rushing around like a maniac, or having to kill hours at a time. The trick is to be ready when they need you, even if you don’t know exactly when that is.

It was difficult for fans to watch Frankie being killed (that storyline is up on Youtube for people to watch today). It was even more difficult when you returned because it became apparent that Frankie was really dead and that you were playing another character, Anne O’Donnell. How did you feel about returning, but not as Frankie?

That phase of my AW experience was challenging because, as I said before, the announcement of cancellation was made before the story line was up and running, so it was never fully-realized. It was being written as a slow build, getting the audience and the citizens of Bay City used to the idea that there was a short-haired Frankie doppelganger around, when all of a sudden, boom!, the show’s cancelled, all the other story lines have to be wrapped up, they have to make sense of this person’s arrival on the scene, and finish it up as quickly as it began.

But I do remember how weird it was working with Stephen and not having that sense of play, banter, familiarity, of having to accept that the audience was fully invested in Cass and Lila now, that I was going to have to bring something else to the table. There was a duplicitous side to Anne, of course, but it was coming more from a place of tremendous guilt, not mean-spiritedness. It probably would have been more fun for her to just have been an out-and-out bitch, maybe more fun to play. But again, we never had the time to find out.

You and Stephen Schnetzer had a very emotional scene at the end of the show when Cass finds out that Anne was the lawyer of the man who killed Frankie. It was very intense for viewers and hard for Cass and Frankie fans to watch. How difficult was it playing that scene?

I’ve got to tell you, everything was happening so quickly by that point, they were just cranking out episodes to get us out of there. I remember on one of the last days, I had so many costume changes that I’m in a changing booth on the studio floor, changing for the fourth or fifth time that day, stark naked in the booth, and they’re counting down, “Three, two, one.” I’m like, “Excuse me, I’m naked. I just can’t go any faster than I’m going.” So in all honesty, I can’t really tell you what it was like. It was just fast.

I do remember a scene where young Charlie, Frankie’s baby girl who grew up remarkable quickly, had run away from home to be with Anne because Anne had insinuated herself into Charlie’s life. By that point, Cass had completely annihilated Anne’s dreams of taking Frankie’s place, had blown her out of the water in disgust, so Anne knew it was over. So she had to reject this beautiful young girl who was beginning to look to her as a mother figure. And it was pretty brutal. When I burst into tears at the end of that scene, that was for real, that was genuine pain, because Alice, not Anne, was so invested in the fictional Winthrop family and at that moment, it was truly over.

I also loved the one scene where Cass has a “dream” of Frankie coming to him and giving her blessing on his upcoming marriage to Lila. That was a gift the writers gave me, to play Frankie with Cass one last time. My heart swells even now as I write this; I loved working with Stephen so much and I believe Cass and Frankie are right up there with all-time great soap couples, even though I don’t think they’re ever written up that way.

In Another World Fan Fiction, Frankie has a second chance on life. What do you think would be most important to her now that she’s returned?

I have to say that I’m not familiar with how you guys made that happen. Frankie was lying around dead for so many days we were making rigor mortis jokes on set so I don’t know how you pulled that off.

That being said, I guess she’d want to re-connect with Charlie, first and foremost. I don’t know if you’ve got Cass still with Lila or what, so I won’t address that relationship other than to say, as far as Frankie’s concerned, Cass is always and forever the love of her life. But if for reasons beyond her control he’s moved on, she still has rights to have a place in her daughter’s life. She’d want to make up for lost time, be a mother, which I think was her reason for living.

What would you like to say to your fans that still adore you and have great memories of Frankie?

Playing Frankie was the greatest time of my life. I will always treasure that time, not only for where I was professionally, but where I was in my personal life. I was young, pretty, employed, had two beautiful baby girls, a husband I adored, a new home, life was really, really good. And I think that’s what came through in Frankie. She was just thrilled to be fully taking part in life. And I learned from her to always look to what’s good, to have an attitude of gratitude, that in spite of the down times, life is a magnificent gift. So I’d ask my fans to do themselves a favor and take a moment once a day to reflect on that.

I’d also want to express to them my sincerest appreciation for their affection. There is no greater joy for an actor than to know they’ve touched someone’s lives and AW fans are the best! So generous and loving and loyal.

So please keep me in your thoughts and best wishes. My goal is to land a series regular gig in prime time, even at this late phase of my career. So please think well of me, as I, like Frankie, am a true believer in the power of positive thinking and hard work, and know that all things are possible with positive energy.

My love to all…

Alice Barrett Mitchell

—–Thank you Alice for the great words and we wish you the best!—–

Now the continuing Fan Fiction Story –

At the Frame farm house in Charlie’s bedroom, Frankie sat on the bed with Charlie and brushed back her hair.

“Mom, why did you leave us?” Charlie asked.

“It’s complicated honey,” Frankie said.

“Why can’t you explain it?”

“I could, but it would only confuse you more. Let me just tell you that my love is so strong that it brought me back to you.”

Charlie hugged her mother. “I don’t want you to leave again. I don’t want to let you go, ever!”

Frankie pulled back. “Is something else wrong?”

“I want to get out of here. I love Aunt Sharlene and Uncle John enough, but I can’t stand Greg sometimes. There’s something wrong with him.”

Frankie tilted her head. “What do you mean?”

“He’s fine one moment and then he gets so angry the next and—”

Frankie smiled and rubbed Charlie’s arms. “Sounds like a teenage boy to me. It doesn’t matter any way. We’re taking you home tonight.”

They smiled at one another and then Frankie glanced over at the night stand. There as a purple book sitting there titled, Developing Your Psychic Abilities.

Frankie looked at her daughter. “What’s this for?”

“I thought I could help Greg.”

“With this book?”

Charlie shrugged.

“I have so much to teach you.”

“Sometimes I think he’s possessed. At least that’s what my feelings tell me.”

She put her hand on Charlie’s cheek. “You’re a lot like me. Aren’t you?”

“I think so,” Charlie said, and then looked around the room. “Where’s Dad?”

“He’s outside in the car waiting. Why don’t you get your clothes and then we’ll go.”

“I want to learn everything you know,” Charlie said, getting out of bed. “I have a feeling I’m going to need it.”

—–

At Paulina’s place, Sofia stood by the phone with her arms crossed. She grabbed her coat and headed for the door, but Nick stopped her. “Where the hell are you going?”

She turned to him. “To find Paulina. Something’s wrong. And we have to find Dante, Nick. We can’t wait here until Paulina decides to come back. We may never see Dante again.”

Nick studied the look in her eyes and grabbed her arm. “What aren’t you telling me, Sofia?”

She turned her back to him and was about to answer him when the phone rang. She ran to the phone and picked it up. “Paulina?”

Nick saw her shoulders slump. “Who is it?”

She turned to him and covered the receiver with her hand. “It’s Tomas.”

Nick raised an eyebrow, and stood there for a minute as she talked to Tomas. Once she was off the phone, he approached her. “Where’s Tomas?”

“He’s coming to Bay City,” Sofia said, glancing down at her watch. “Where could Paulina be? This doesn’t make sense.”

Nick went to the phone. “I’ll call the Cory’s.”

He went to the phone. Dialed. The line was busy. He went to the couch and grabbed his coat, and then turned to her. “Listen, I’ll go over to the Cory’s and find out what’s going on with Paulina.”

Nick was about to turn to leave when he saw Sofia look away. He dropped his coat on the couch. “Will you tell me what’s going on with you?”

“I’m just worried about Dante. You don’t know these people, Nick. Phil Higley and his followers. They’ll take Dante and we’ll never see him again.”

Nick narrowed his eyes and stared at her. “How do you know all this?”

Sofia sat on the couch and ran her hands through her hair. Nick sat next to her. He put his hand on his shoulder. After a moment, she looked up at Nick. Her eyes were moist as she recollected what had happened to her before she had returned to Bay City.

“I was so confused,” Sofia said. “I almost married you before I left. Then I was falling in love with Matt. When I was gone, my whole life changed.”

“Yeah, you decided to become a nun.”

Sofia shook her head. “There’s more.”

He tilted his head. “More?”

She shook her head. “I’m being protected.”

He sat back. “By whom? From what?”

“The Church. Father Brian…from Phil Higley and Serenity.”

Nick shook his head. “I don’t understand Sofia.”

“When I was involved with Serenity, I was pregnant. I had the baby and they almost took him away from me. Father Brian and Tomas and Louisa have helped me.”

Nick stared at her, his mouth wide open. “You had a baby?”

Sofia nodded, unable to speak anymore. She looked away.

Nick stood up, rubbed his temple. He turned to her suddenly. “What are you saying, Sofia?” He straightened his back and inhaled. “Did you have my child? Tell me Sofia!”

Sofia stared at him and swallowed, still unable to speak a word.

—–

When Felicia reached her apartment, she was shocked to find the sign from Madame Vadoma hanging from her door and yanked it off. “What the hell?” She inhaled deeply and rolled her eyes. “What’s this?”

She entered the apartment and gasped when she saw what had been done to it. She saw Sukie standing there at a table in the center of the living room with Vadoma sitting in front of her crystal ball.

Felicia put her hands on her hips. “Sukie, if this is your idea of a joke, I’m not amused.”

Sukie ran up to her. “I didn’t think you’d be back so soon, Ms. Gallant.”

Felicia scoffed. “Well I’m sorry to disappoint you. This is my house in case you’ve forgotten.”

Madame Vadoma got up from her chair slowly and approached Felicia. “You have a lot of tension running through you. I can see from colors of your third eye Chakra.”

Felicia balled up her fists and clenched her teeth. “I’ll give you five minutes to get out of here, or I’ll color your eye.”

“Fine, fine,” Madame Vadoma said, holding her wrinkled hand up, “but if you ever need a reading—”

Felicia stared her up and down. “I won’t be calling you. You look as authentic as those 900 number women on late night TV.” She turned to Sukie. “And as for you. I don’t care if you are Wallingford’s daughter. I want you out of here.”

Felicia heard the door close when Vadoma left and faced Sukie again.

Sukie put her hands on her hips. “I didn’t mean any harm Ms. Gallant. I’m homeless and penniless and Madame Vadoma said she’d give me a cut. All I wanted to do was pay my way.”

“Your father was one of my best friends. I loved him dearly, and that’s why you’re here. But I’ll be damned if I’ll let you take advantage of me in my own house.”

“The circus is all I know, okay? How do you expect me to make a living?”

“Can you say ‘do you want fries with that?’ At least that’s an honest living.”

“You have to be able to see over the counter, Ms. Gallant.”

She groaned. “Oh brother.”

Sukie sighed. “So you’re going to throw your best friend’s daughter out on the streets?”

Felicia looked into Sukie’s big-brown eyes, and calmed down. “I’ll give you two weeks to get another place.”

“Two weeks isn’t a long time to find a job.”

“Three weeks. That’s it and then you’re out on your own. Got it?”

Sukie nodded and Felicia stormed into her bedroom.

“Wait!” Sukie pointed to the bedroom. “Don’t go in–”

It was too late. Sukie heard several guttural noises and then Felicia screaming. After a moment, the bedroom door burst open and out came a piglet, goat, some chickens and a small monkey that jumped up into Sukie’s arms.

Felicia came out with a grimace on her face and chicken feathers in her hair. She put her hands on her face, screamed and jumped up when a skunk wiggled between her feet.

“What is that?” Felicia pointed down to it.

“My albino skunk…Frosty,” Sukie said.

“Do I look like Old McDonald? My home isn’t a zoo.”

“He had a farm, not a zoo,” Sukie said, with a chuckle.

“Don’t try to be cute,” Felicia said, “I’m not in the mood. Get these animals out of here.”

“But they have no place to go, Ms. Gallant.” Sukie had a frown on her face. “The circus has left them homeless too.”

“Ugh!” Felicia whipped back around and stormed into her bedroom again. She plopped down on the bed and folded her arms.

At first Felicia was angry. There had been so much going on and now her apartment had been taken over by a traveling circus or petting zoo for that matter. Then as she cooled off, she glanced over at one of her dressers and saw a picture of she and Wally. She started to giggle and almost howled out loud, but covered her mouth so Sukie couldn’t hear that she had become amused.

It was just like the old days, Felicia thought. She put her pillow over her mouth to stifle her laughter. She hadn’t laughed this hard since Wallingford had been alive. Life was certainly full of surprises lately.

—–

“Cass?” Sharlene asked, passing his car outside the farm house. “What are you doing here and what are doing in those clothes?”

Cass got out of the car. “I’m waiting on Frankie and Charlie. I’m taking them home.”

“Are you going to tell me what’s going on here?”

“It’s all a jumbled mess that we’ll explain later. But the gist of it is that Frankie and I need to be with our daughter. Especially Frankie.”

“I agree, but how are you going to deal with the authorities who believe Frankie’s Anne?”

“I don’t know yet,” he said. “We’ll have to deal with that later.”

Sharlene ran her hands through her hair. She looked exhausted. Cass noticed.

“What are doing home so late?”

“I’m working at the Casino.”

Cass’s eyebrows rose an inch. “Are things that tough?”

She shrugged. “John’s not working yet and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to be working at the hospital again with the new regime that’s moved in.”

Cass raised an eyebrow, confused.

“Rita Madison’s back and she and John don’t see eye to eye.”

“Sorry, I wish I could help.”

“We’re surviving.” She motioned towards the house. “I gotta get inside. Gregory said he hasn’t been feeling well, I need to check on him.”

“Sure,” Cass said, but touched her arm before she left him. “Thanks Sharlene, for putting up with all of this and watching Charlie for us.”

She kissed him on the cheek and then walked into the house.

—–

In the Cory living room, Amanda slapped Jamie in the face after he explained to her that Rachel could be alive. “How could you lie to us, Jamie?”

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” he said, putting his hand on his cheek. “There was nothing I could do. I was working with Adam and the FBI.”

Amanda shook her head, as if not listening to his words. “How could you, especially after it’s happened to you with your father?” Tears began to well in her eyes. “How could you play with our emotions like that?”

Matt who was standing behind Amanda, stepped in front of Jamie. “Amanda, let Jamie explain.”

Amanda turned to Matt, her face now reddened with anger. “You knew too?”

Matt put his head down and then met his sister’s eyes. “I just found out recently.”

Amanda inhaled. “How could you not tell me?! There’s a little girl up there in her room who thinks her Mommy is dead and who hasn’t seen her Daddy for months. How could the two of you do this to her? You both have children. This could affect Elizabeth for the rest of her life. How will we explain it to her?”

Matt tried to put his hand on Amanda’s shoulder, but she stepped back and glare at him directly. “What if Jasmine lost you like that, Matt? Would you want this to happen to your daughter?”

“No, but–”

“You’d do anything to protect your child.”

“You’re right. I wouldn’t do this to a child of mine.” Matt looked away.

“I didn’t think so!”

The three of them heard a voice in the doorway. It was Lila. “What’s going on here?”

Matt glanced over at Jamie.

Jamie ran his hands through his hair. “My hands were tied. There was nothing I could do.”

Amanda huffed, turned around and swept past Lila who was left there shaking her head. Jamie and Matt sighed, and then heard the phone ring. Jamie went to the phone, answered it.

Lila walked up to Matt. “What’s wrong?”

“I’ll tell you shortly,” Matt said, looking over at Jamie who had hung up the phone.

Jamie turned to them with a wide smile on his face. “They’ve found her.”

Lila looked between the two men. Matt turned to her and brought her into a huge hug.

Lila separated herself. “Matthew Cory, tell me what’s going on here!”

“My mother’s alive,” he said.

“And you won’t believe who found her,” Jamie said.

Matt and Lila turned to him tilting their heads.

“Cecile De Poulignac.”

—–

In a car on its way to Bay City, Tomas sat in the driver’s seat. He was chewing on his fingernails. His daughter, Louisa, sat in the back seat with a toddler in the car seat next to her.

Tomas glanced into the rear view mirror at Louisa. “How is he?”

“He’s sleeping. When are we going to be at the church, Papa? It’s so late and so dark and I’m hungry.”

Tomas gave her a stern eye. “Louisa…please. Esté paciente.”

Louisa rolled her eyes. “Speak English.”

Tomas shook his head. He drove a bit longer in silence and soon pulled into the back driveway of St. Mary’s Church where he would be meeting Father Brian Bancroft. He put the car in park and turned to face his daughter.

“I didn’t mean to speak to you in that tone. This hasn’t been easy for you, and I don’t know what I would do without you.”

Louisa looked down at the little boy. “All I care about is him.”

“We’ll have to give him away soon.”

Louisa’s voice quivered. “But can’t he stay with us, Papa? We could take care of him longer.”

“No, Louisa! We have to leave him with Father Bancroft. It wasn’t fair what Sofia asked us to do. This is too dangerous for you.”

Louisa folded her arms, leaned back and looked out the window.

“I’m sorry,” he said. He smiled when he saw the look of defiance on his daughter’s face and shook his head. “Mi niña.”

Lousia turned her head to him. “I’m not a little girl anymore!”

Tomas closed his smile and his eyes moistened. He turned, sat back in his seat and faced the old church in front of him. “No you’re not,” he said softly, and with the deepest regret.

—– The End —–

NEXT WEEK: Diego Serrano tells us about his current work and what it’s like looking back at being a soap star.

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