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Soap actor suing ABC

Editor's Note: CNN Access is a regular feature on providing interviews with newsmakers from around the world.

Nader played Count Dimitri Marick on ABC's "All My Children" for almost ten years.

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start quoteIf I don't win, will I ever work again? Why? Because I tried to stand up for my rights?end quote
-- Michael Nader

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Millions of daytime TV viewers know actor Michael Nader as Count Dimitri Marick -- the role he played on ABC's "All My Children" for nearly a decade.

Even before that, Nader was a famous face on the classic primetime soap "Dynasty."

But his career came crashing down nearly two years ago when he was busted for drug possession. Now Nader has cleaned up his act, and he is suing the network to get his job back.

Nader and his attorney, Joseph Ranni, appeared on "American Morning with Paula Zahn" on Tuesday to talk about the case.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Help us better understand how you're pursuing this. You are doing this through the Americans with Disabilities Act, and there are a lot of people sitting in the audience today that wouldn't understand how drug addiction might fall under the same category as, for example, someone who is afflicted with being a paraplegic.

MICHAEL NADER, ACTOR: Yes, I can understand that. I separate drug addiction. I do have an addictive personality, I have had that problem in my life. I don't know if the public knows, but for 17 years, I was drug and alcohol free from a 12-step program. So for this event to resurface later in my life was devastating, obviously, to me. The disability comes into the law in terms of how I was treated, not that it is a disability to have an addictive problem.

ZAHN: And what is that it you're the most angry about? The circumstances surrounding your arrest?

NADER: Oh, no, no, no.

ZAHN: Or how you were treated after that point?

NADER: I take full responsibility -- I take full responsibility. I was mortified by what took place to me. I was mortified by not having been able to stay in my recovery for all those years. But basically what happened is that I met all of the criteria that ABC asked me to meet in terms of getting my life back. I went away, I did my recovery, I came back, I enrolled in an outpatient program for another year at Hazelton, New York, so I was ready to go back to my craft and go back to work.

ZAHN: Now, was this a written agreement that you made that was like a side agreement to what your contract stipulated?

NADER: No, there wasn't a signed contract.

ZAHN: This was a verbal discussion you had with them? They told you to do all of the things that you said you did, and then, in the end, what did they do to you?

NADER: They said, "Rest in your recovery, we'll get back to you." And nine months later, I had a meeting with them with my lawyers, and they said, "We do not want you on the show, and we never want you back on the show."

ZAHN: Now do you understand that? ABC would not comment on this particular suit, but you certainly have to understand that they are very interested, particularly with this relationship forms with fans of the show in presenting someone, perhaps with a wholesome image, do you get that?

NADER: Absolutely, and I have that image and I still do. I would like to thank my fans for the kind support that they have given me through the Web site. They're very supportive. There was a big outcry to -- as a member of the ABC family, to take this time to treat him as a family member, not as somebody that was of such disservice. I was on the show for 10 years. So there was a big outcry to have me on. In fact, to my understanding, my character is not off the show. He's still talked about, he's on a business trip.

ZAHN: That is one heck of a business trip. Let's talk about what you're asking for specifically, because your contract stipulated how many millions of dollars?

JOSEPH RANNI, ATTORNEY: Four hundred and some odd per year.

ZAHN: Thousand, 400,000?


ZAHN: But you're suing for what amount?

RANNI: Well, when they misrepresented that they were going to let him back, when they said stay in your recovery, the contract is going to protect you, that we are going to follow the contract and bring you back, that's a misrepresentation. That is fraudulent activity in order to make sure that, No. 1, he didn't perform for them, and No. 2, he couldn't perform for others. It was that conduct in keeping him out of performing and removing him from the public eye that was their intention in dragging out the process before they finally fired him months later.

ZAHN: And that's why you say he deserves almost $30 million?

RANNI: I think the fraud and the misrepresentation, absolutely. People can't misrepresent to the disabled or people who are protected by law that they're going to follow the law, they are going to follow the contracts, and then go a different way and discriminate against that person because of the disability.

ZAHN: Michael, what happens to you if you don't win? Will anybody hire you now?

NADER: I would hope so... I did "SVU" last year, and I'm sure that they were aware of the situation at that time. And I think that if I work and people like my work -- again, there is another discriminatory thing, if I don't win, will I ever work again? Why? Because I tried to stand up for my rights?

ZAHN: The question is, I guess, more of a financial question...

NADER: While the litigation is going on, it has been hands off. There has been a sense of that. And you know, that's some of the flak I have to take.

ZAHN: We will continue to follow your story. Michael Nader, Joseph Ranni, thank you both for stopping by.

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