It has come to be known as simply "the kiss." And it was all any of the press corps here wanted to talk about.
The producers and several stars of "L.A. Law" had other things to tell television critics about yesterday: plans to downscale the law firm of McKenzie and Brackman (in keeping with the '90s); plans to make Jill Eikenberry's and Michael Tucker's characters less downbeat; an attempt to cut back on all the fighting and power plays within the firm; and the introduction of even more new characters.
But most of the questions and all the excitement at the press conference were about the lesbian kiss last spring between C. J. Lamb (Amanda Donohoe) and Abby Perkins (Michele Green). It was the first lesbian kiss in network series television, and it is still being debated.
"Sure, there's been adverse reaction to the kiss,"Donohoe said. "You can't explore that story line without some kind of adverse reaction. But I'm very proud to be involved with it. I think it's landmark. And, if prime-time television can explore those issues, then I think it's a very healthy thing."
And there are going to be more such kisses this season, she added. "We're going to continue to explore that story line. C. J. is bisexual. She's a young woman still deciding what her sexuality is going to be. She hasn't made that decision yet. She's not confused. She just doesn't want to limit her choices. Why should she? It's labeled bisexuality. . . . It's wonderful."
C. J. won't be kissing Abby again, though. After the controversy, the series dropped the subplot of a relationship between the two characters. Then, last month, Michele Green quit the show. Yesterday, Donohoe and the show's producers denied tabloid newspaper reports that Greene left because she did not want to portray a character involved in a lesbian relationship.
"You'll have to ask Michelle herself, but I can tell you with 99 percent certainty that had nothing to do" with the departure, said Executive Producer Patricia Green. Producer Rick Wallace said Greene quit because she wanted to explore a singing career.
Donohoe added, "Can I just say once and for all, if you read the tabloids and believe them, then that's your problem. So let's just cut that out."
But the questions about the kiss kept coming.
"Look, there was nothing salacious about the kiss," Donohoe said, concluding the session. "It was just about two humans, two beings, interacting very humanly. And I admire the courage of
the producers for portraying that."