Tatum O'Neal stars in MyNetworkTV's new telenovela "Wicked Wicked Games," and it will likely be her last.
"I don't think I would do a novela again," O'Neal says, noting the heavy work load involved in a five-nights-a-week drama. "To be honest, you have to be in your 20s. I'm in my 40s."
MyNetworkTV, the Fox-owned network that was created after the demise of UPN, exclusively airs telenovelas Monday through Friday, with weekend recap shows.
"Wicked Wicked Games" stars O'Neal as a sophisticated beauty who was left broken-hearted after a lover dumped her for another woman, played by Joan Severance. Twenty-five years later, O'Neal's character is trying to destroy the guy who ditched her.
The show will launch Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST along with "Watch Over Me," a new telenovela starring Dayanara Torres as a grad student engaged to a ruthless multimillionaire businessman. "Watch Over Me" airs at 9.
Producers shot 65 episodes of each show over a period of four months, meaning the cast worked six long days every week, and on multiple episodes daily.
"I did not audition for this one," O'Neal jokes. "They probably wouldn't have gotten me. It's just so much work."
Torres says the difficulty with the telenovela work schedule is that so much of it is shot out of sequence, leaving the actors with little emotional guidance for their characters.
O'Neal is no stranger to hard work. Last season, she was in the cast of FX's "Rescue Me," and negotiations are under way to have her back next season. It's just the large volume of work in such a short period of time that made "Games" so demanding, she says.
And it's not that she didn't have some idea. Her father, Ryan O'Neal, who starred in the primetime soap "Peyton Place," once warned her about the work load on that type of show.
"We shot so fast, your energy is never down, you've got to move on, move on, move on."
O'Neal plays an over-the-top character who is very angry at her former lover. She's almost a cartoon, O'Neal says.
"I think it's fun to be big and have permission to take your acting ability and be as big as possible with it," she says. "There was no bar set for me. ... I just went off the deep end."
The production pace and lower-than-average budget for an hour-long primetime series do have an impact, though.
"Sometimes the rush and trying to fit in so many scenes in a day," Torres says, "it cuts maybe a bit of the performance."
O'Neal says she expects the shows to do well with viewers, but adds she told producers they need to be careful with the schedule.
"It makes it difficult for the show to be as great," O'Neal says. "It's very difficult when they're cutting corners and whatever. If they start putting a little more money into them, I think you will have a huge success."