Season one of the highly anticipated web series Venice was shot in Los Angeles last week, and AfterEllen.com was invited to the set to catch up with the hardworking and attractive cast. They are shooting primarily in, you guessed it, Venice Beach, with headquarters in a hipster hotel where we met in one of the suites.
As we’ve previously reported, a great cast for the series has been assembled. Series creator Crystal Chappell (Guiding Light) will play the lead, Gina, a designer and lesbian who has been out since her teenage years. Jessica Leccia (Chappell’s former love interest on Guiding Light) will play Gina’s ex, and possibly future, girlfriend, Ani.
Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia
Leccia and Chappell in a production still from Venice
The details of their relationship have not been confirmed and everyone is very tight-lipped about plot specifics. We do know that Gina will hook up with attorney Tracy, played by Lesli Kay, and deal with her disapproving father in the first season.
Chappell and Kay in a production still from Venice
Venice will feature characters from all walks of life, showing how their lives converge in Venice Beach. They’ve all come here to find themselves and forge a community.
Theatrically trained and proud to be out actor Harrison White (Lion King) will play Jamie, a local restaurant manager and man about town. White is thrilled to be working on Venice, noting how refreshing it is that both gay and straight actors are involved. “Everyone thinks Hollywood is so accepting, but that’s not my experience,” Harrison stated. “You can lose a role if the casting director even gets an inkling that you might be gay.”
Michelle N. Carter told us that she’s very excited about working on the show as well. She plays Gina’s sassy assistant and confidante. Her character’s name is Michele (one L, so confusing!). By the time I talked with Carter, the suite had gotten crowded and we were forced to conduct the interview on a bed. Lucky me! Carter is super sweet and engaging and I’m looking forward to seeing her character develop.
Michelle N. Carter
Further suite over-crowding caused my interview with Gina Tognoni to take place in the bathroom. I’m happy to add “interview a soap star while locked in a tiny bathroom” to my list of life accomplishments. Tognoni was working on Guiding Light and Chappell approached her about the project during the Daytime Emmy Awards. (I love the idea of soap stars plotting a lesbian web series at the Emmys!)
Tognoni plays Sami, Gina’s brother Owen’s new girlfriend. Tognoni just flew in for the shoot from Pittsburgh, where she was attending a Guiding Light fan convention. In January she begins work on One Life to Live.
So Crystal plays Gina, Gina plays Sami, Michelle plays Michele. Got it? Their storyline will revolve around Gina’s reluctance to have Sami around. She feels threatened by Sami and protective of her brother.
Chappell explained that she’s always been web-savvy. In 1996 she created the CD Rom “Soap Saver.” Since then, she’s been inspired by web content created by Otalia fans. She’s more than happy to keep Venice on the web, at least for now, where there is no one to answer to except for the fan base. The fans seem thrilled as well, with online sales of Venice merchandise funding the entire shoot. The episodes will be about six minutes each, with twelve episodes in a season and four seasons per year.
Elizabeth Keener was scheduled to be in the cast in the role of Lara but was ill Wednesday morning. With no time to spare, actress Nadia Bjorlin was called in to take over her part. But don’t worry, Keener will be back for the second season.
Chappell, Bjorlin and Leccia on the set of Venice
Venice doesn’t have a set premiere date yet, but they are aiming for just after Thanksgiving. We’ll keep you posted as we get more information on the production. For more information on series, check out the official Venice website, and the Facebook page. (Thanks to AE reader Doreen for the photo links!)
Will you be tuning in to Venice?