All My Children will cast deaf actors and actresses surrounding a storyline about a toddler who becomes deaf as a result of a car accident, it was announced by Brian Frons, president Daytime, Disney-ABC Television Group. As the parents cope with their son's condition, they will explore a variety of medical options, including Cochlear implants. In the episode to air on August 15, the show will introduce Walter Novak, its first deaf character for this story arc, who will be played by Bob Hiltermann, a deaf actor.
"This storyline gives us the opportunity to explore the emotional challenges and real-life decisions facing the parents of a child who has been permanently injured. We will go on a heart wrenching journey with our characters as they learn about the current medical options and obstacles facing their child who has become deaf. In the tradition of All My Children's hallmark storytelling, this is a story of strength, love and hope," says executive producer Julie Hanan Carruthers.
One Life to Live star Kassie DePaiva has been consulting with All My Children, sharing her real life experiences raising her son, James Quentin ("JQ"), who was born profoundly deaf. At the age of 18 months, JQ received his first Cochlear implant, and received a second implant at the age of eight.
JQ is now 10 years old and attends mainstream schooling. As a part of All My Children ongoing commitment to this topic, JQ will guest star in episodes featuring Erica Kane's (Susan Lucci) talk show, New Beginnings, which will be dedicated to the theme of deaf children.
These episodes are set to air on September 20, 21 and 24. The show will also produce episodes featuring support groups for parents with deaf children. Deaf actors and actors who have received Cochlear implants will be cast in all applicable roles. The show will be consulting with the League for the Hard of Hearing and will air PSAs is support of the organization.
All My Children has established itself as a leader in daytime dramas as one that educates through entertaining. Over the past three decades, viewers have watched the characters deal with both social and personal issues, including abortion, HIV and AIDS, substance abuse, eating disorders and many more. In 2000, television history was made when All My Children became the first daytime drama to incorporate a lesbian character as a contract role. In 2003 another historic moment was made when the show aired daytime television's first same-sex kiss between two women in a loving relationship. In 2007 the show became the first to chronicle the coming out story of a transgender character.
All My Children celebrated its 37th Anniversary on January 5, 2007. The program has successfully maintained its popularity and continues to be one of daytime's most compelling dramas. All My Children took home the 1998 Emmy Award for Outstanding Daytime Drama Series, the third time the show received this top honor, having also garnered the award in 1994 and 1992. In 2004 the show also received its third consecutive Emmy Award for Outstanding Daytime Drama Series Writing, its third Writers Guild Award and its fourth GLAAD Media Award in March 2007.
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