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Double Duty for Charles Jay Hammer

April 09, 1995|NANCY M. REICHARDT

Sometimes wishes do come true. Almost a year ago, Charles Jay Hammer, who plays Fletcher Reade on "Guiding Light," said: 'I'd love to see Fletcher get involved with Holly Lindsey (Maureen Garrett)." Although he never confided this to the powers that be, his character is now involved in a steamy liaison with Lindsey.

"It made perfect sense," says Hammer. "Holly and Fletcher are roughly the same age, in the same profession, with a lot of the same values and goals. They are basically moral people who at the time were both too good for their significant others--Alexandra Spaulding (Marj Dusay) for Fletcher and Roger Thorpe (Michael Zaslow) for Holly.

"It's the best story I've had on the show," he adds. "From the writing sense, it's fertile ground. Think of the revenge Alexandra and Roger will exact."

Hammer began at "Guiding Light" as a writer, although he had been acting for many years. When the opportunity came up to create the short-term role of Fletcher, he jumped at the chance to act again. That "short-term" role has lasted more than a decade.

He remained on the writing staff for a few months until opting out of his writing credit.

"It was like having two deadlines and two bosses," says Hammer. "In addition, the other actors treated me as if I were a spy. Conversations would stop dead when I entered a room."

The situation was made worse by the fact that Hammer's wife at the time was Pam Long, the show's head writer. Says Hammer: "I had hoped quitting the writing team would ease some of the tensions, and it did. I prefer to act. Both jobs provide creative jolts, but writing is work; acting is fun."

Hammer is one of those rare actors who has no fear of the role getting stagnant. He says, "If the writers aren't activating my character as well as I'd like, I take care of it myself. I always wake up before the alarm anxious to visit with Fletcher.

"No matter what Fletcher does," he continues, "I try to add the entertainment value to him. I 'Fletcherize' everything. For example, Fletcher is not the type of guy who looks in a mirror, so I make sure his bow tie is never straight."

Hammer's enthusiasm for "Guiding Light" extends well past his character. He admits, "I watch the show every day. I've missed maybe two dozen episodes in twelve years. I sample all the other shows too.

"I'm a fan," he continues, "but one with access and writing credentials. I don't do it often, but I will suggest ideas that I think will benefit the show. But I'd never presume to make suggestions for my character. It's too self-serving."

He did share another story line he would like to see for Fletcher: "I've always wanted to see a First Amendment story in which Fletcher goes to jail for Roger," says the actor. "Roger could inadvertently divulge something to Fletcher that would leave Fletcher unable to reveal his source. With the current triangle it would be a good opportunity for Roger--almost against his will--to grudgingly admire Fletcher and to ultimately redeem himself in Holly's eyes by helping Fletcher."

"Guiding Light" airs weekdays at 2 p.m. on CBS.

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