20150919

DONNA MILLS, PAMELA SUE MARTIN

On reflection, Donna Mills told 'Intimate Portrait' in 1998, "I came, actually, from a rather bigoted home, I'm sorry to say. But that's the way it was. It was really bad. And my brother (Donald Miller) and I have talked about this a lot. Neither one of us are bigoted or have ever being like that. And we can't figure out how we kind of escape it because so much of it, usually, is generation after generation, it was taught to you." 

In show business, greenback (or money) was said to be the industry's "life blood" which would affect the show's budget. Donna made the comment in 1982, "There are producers and people in this town (in Hollywood) who have become very wealthy. I wouldn't mind becoming very wealthy." However "I would put the money that I get on the screen. So many producers nickel and dime. They just don't use the money wisely. I hope that I won’t do that. I hope that whatever I put up on the screen is going to look like a lot of care had been taken with it, and a lot of time and effort." 

In 1986, Donna formed Bonaparte Productions. She told Tribune Media Services Inc. in 1990, "When I left 'Knots (Landing)' I decided only to work on projects I felt strongly about. I didn't want to take roles just because they seemed commercial or whatever. I did a TV movie last year (in 1989), 'The Lady Forgets', which did real well – a 34% share – but other than that, I've had a terrible time trying to find material I really want to do." 

Gregory Harrison formed Catalina Productions in 1980 because he told Associated Press in 1992, "As an actor in this business you're at the mercy of agents, producers, directors. There are just too many people making too many whimsical decisions without your input that critically affect your career. I wanted to know that no matter how whimsical others may get about my career that I would at least be assuring myself of an occasional job that interested me and that satisfied me. I've never produced anything because I enjoy producing. It's only been as a means of enhancing my acting career. What I love is acting." 

Back in 1984, Donna told Wendy Keeler of 'Palm Beach Daily News', "TV is very influential and it's important that there are strong, independent women characters. As a producer I will be in on the ground floor, where I’ll have a hand in creating parts for women." Donna also mentioned to the 'Los Angeles Times' in 1997, "I'm not just a producer in title. I really get in there and work with the editors and costume and set designers. I like the satisfaction of having the final product be what I want it to be. As just an actress, you have no control over that. I've tried to develop scripts that have entertainment value, but that also have something to say. You get letters from people: 'I saw so-and-so movie, and it made a difference in my life.'" 

In October 1984, the movie 'Torchlight' was shown on the big screen. Pamela Sue Martin co-wrote, co-produced and starred in the film. It was understood Pamela wanted to make "an anti-drug statement" with the film. She told Alan Petrucelli, "I think 'Torchlight' is a very deep film; something that's different from everything else. I took 3 years (from about 1981) and $5 million to get it made, and until the day we began filming, I always felt I was on thin ice. I never felt the film would ever be made. But it was worth the gamble, because I don't think a studio would have made 'Torchlight' – the subject matter would have scared them." 

Of 'Torchlight', Pamela told Colin Dangaard of 'Promedia' in 1986, "The money being spent was real – and a lot of it was mine . . . Making 'Torchlight' was a devastating experience. I was shocked the movie didn't do better (at the box office). It took 3 years of my life. I don't want to discuss the money it cost me. On the East coast where I come from (Westport, Connecticut) you don't bring people into your home and show them the bathroom you're reconstructing. I made 'Torchlight' from the heart. I did something people never get to do. And it is there, for all to see. Often I get calls from anti-drug groups and I say, 'Look, I said it all already. Go see the movie'. I will not do something like that again. It was a great step back, a most painful process. I requires stamina I had at the time, but there are so many other things in life to do." 

'Torchlight' was rated R for Restricted (movie-goers under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian). One critic described the film as "a downer." Another added, "It's an old, sad story but it's told well in this film. However, it adds nothing new to the subject. The question is: Why would anyone bother to tell an old story again?" Pamela countered, "Coke is a rampant social problem all over the country and that's what I wanted to get across in this picture."

"It took me one year and 1000 rewrites to finish the script," Pamela recounted. "I spoke to people who freebase (heating cocaine with ether until it became liquid). But I couldn't write about something I didn't know, so I freebased twice. I grew up in the '60s, did everything under the sun and have been exposed to cocaine millions of times, but I always had a strong adversion to freebasing. It was a very short, fleeting high and I didn't like it. I remember walking into the room and thinking, 'This is bad'. And though, in my heart, I knew I had to get away, I was very curious." 

Pamela pointed out, "This is a tragic contemporary love story. I can't honestly say why I chose a drug theme 3 years ago (back in say 1981) except I knew a lot of people who had been hurt by cocaine. Freebasing is the darkest side of drug use, the most dangerous. Freebasing is a relatively new form of coke abuse that becomes even more addictive. As far as I know no one has made a picture about freebasing." 

It was reported co-producer Manuel Rojas had consulted organizations such as 800-Cocaine, Narconon, the National Parent Resource Institute for Drug Education and Cocaine Anonymous for guidance on the drug's effects on users. After 'Torchlight', Pamela lost interest in producing and decided to return to acting. 

"As an actress you get some feedback when your show is on," Donna told Lusine Lee of 'Scripps Howard News Service' in 1990. "People come and tell you – sometimes they tell you it's not so good – but at least you have some feedback. As a producer there are long, long periods of time when you're developing a project when there is no reward, and no monetary award. As a producer in television you don't get any money until the network orders it. Not a cent." 

Monetary-wise, Donna had said, "I've never been poor, but I've certainly had to watch my pennies on different occasions in my life. So I'm very conservative with money. I was brought up with that idea. No matter how much money I've ever made, I've always saved a lot of it. And my business managers are quite pleased with me because they don't have to worry about me. I don't go off spending more than I have or more than I should. Of course it's fun to have more to spend, to be able to splurge a little bit every now and then. But no one will ever be able to accuse me of being a spendthrift." 

Between 1980 and 1989 Donna "was known as a vamp primarily from 'Knots Landing'" and Pamela played the temptress on 'Dynasty' from 1981 to 1984. By the 1984-85 season, United Press International remarked, "TV soaps suggest we have entered an iron butterfly era." Louise Sorel believed, "Female heavies are becoming more popular all the time in movies, television and even novels. They are more interesting than male villains because their motivations are different. There are all sorts of reasons why a woman just doesn't feel comfortable with old style femininity and virtues. 

"The bitch in soaps is seemingly tough but for a good reason. Traditional female values are gone. Females have become more active and powerful . . . They are appearing more often in fiction and real life in antagonistic roles. Personally, I prefer the old values, but at least the changes in society are providing actresses with expanded and interesting roles. That's not to say there aren’t still a lot of stereotyped victim and wife parts floating around out there. Television, especially the prime time soaps, is opening up to women writers, producers and directors who are insisting that women should be portrayed as multi-dimensional characters."

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