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The Lauralee Bell Interview – Family Dinner

lauraleeMain.jpg
She is a member of daytime drama’s number one family…. the Bells. She is an actress, entrepreneur, wife, mother of a two, and now she can add “director” to her life credits. Lauralee Bell is one of soap opera’s most recognizable performers from her 18 years on The Young and the Restless playing “Cricket” as a young teen, to the more mature version of “Christine”. Reprising her role on occasion, the actress left the show full-time several years ago to pursue outside projects and interests. One, being her successful clothing store, “On Sunset”, which has a long list of celebrity clients who frequent its home on stylish Sunset Plaza, and the other, continuing to play different roles in prime time episodics and film.

However, today is a big day in the accomplishments of Lauralee. In a new project created and produced by her and her husband, Scott Martin, a new three-minute web series, “Family Dinner” launches online at www.familydinneronline.com. and www.funnyordie.com. In it, she plays an attention-starved mother, who along with whacked out family members and special guests, discusses anything but what to eat for dinner! Co-starring the legendary Phyllis Diller, the sexy and funny Dan Cortese, and the hilarious Aaron Lusting (Ex-Dr. Tim, “Y&R), you can expect one dysfunctional family gathering after another. The second episode will be posted the following week and premiere on June 17th at www.familydinneronline.com, with more hopefully on the way!

With the dramatic returns of Thom Bierdz (“Langley” or Phillip Chancellor III) and Tricia Cast (Nina) to the canvas in Genoa City, many soap fans are now clamoring for Lauralee’s return to “Y&R”. It’s something she tells me could not be so far out in the future. In this revealing interview, Lauralee discusses what it was like as a teen working romantically with Bierdz, who later would come out and admit he was gay. Having your father being the legendary Bill Bell, your brother being the Daytime Emmy-nominated Brad Bell, and your mother being Lee Bell, a legend in television herself, could be quite intimidating, but Lauralee excelled on her own. One of “Y&R’s” all-time most memorable heroines shares with me emotional moments and thoughts about her dad, and what she thinks of “Y&R” these days under the expert hands and guidance of sister-in-law, Maria Arena Bell.

So, what was dinner like at the Bell house? How does she feel about Bierdz, now? How funny is Phyllis Diller? And, when can we expect her back in Genoa City? Only the one woman who grew up living and breathing soaps, who searched and found an identify all her own apart from her family’s legacy, would know. Here’s Lauralee!

Listen to the audio:

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MICHAEL:

We are sitting at your store, “On Sunset” in Los Angeles conducting this interview. And your retail-clothing store still seems to be going strong. Did you ever think it would last this long?

LAURALEE:

It’s been almost nine years ago when I started this. I put too many things on my plate and I always thought I could handle that, but now I realized you have to prioritize. I am going to “ixnay” a few on the way. I can’t lose the husband and the kids! (She laughs) The store is managing through this difficult economic time, and it’s definitely another agenda in my life.

lauraleeSunglasses.jpgMICHAEL:

Your new web series, “Family Dinner”, premieres today online and I laughed
so hard at the trailer! How did this come
about? Is it your brainchild?

LAURALEE:

It is. I thought of it years ago and put in on the back burner. As time has gone by, I realized it was a one set feature with a low budget, which in this day is necessary. What my parents taught me is that a character-driven show will attract people, and you will get to know the characters and you don’t need all the hoopla. If you have great actors and sit them down at the table, and get them involved in their lives, you have something there. It is a three-minute episode, with time to get to know the characters, and we will talk about different things. Everyone needs a good laugh. At the end of the day with these hard times, everyone goes back to his or her families, because that’s all you got. And here is this crazy group. So, you can judge your family against this nutty family, and calculate how crazy your own family really is!

acting.jpgMICHAEL:

You had told me for years you strived to play the “bitch” after playing Miss Goody-Two-Shoes for so long on “Y&R”. This new character you play, strives to be on “Oprah”?

LAURALEE:

She does. She is just a burnt out, attention-needing mother, who is unfulfilled in her marriage. She loves her kids, but she just wants some “me” time, which any mother who has children, can relate to. You kind of get through the infant stage, and the time flies by and you lose a little bit of yourself. In “Family Dinner”, her kids are grown and now she thinks, “It should be about me. Everything should be about me.” She is nuts in the first episode and a little tamer in the second, and if we make a bunch more, she will only get more and more out of her mind. It’s very easy for me to play, as I lived this to a tinier degree, but I am in the same spot. OK, the kids are now in school and I am crazy to do so many other things. The Young and the Restless taught me it’s OK to make insane faces on camera and push it and scream. So I have incorporated that… and then to sit across from the amazing Phyllis Diller, you can’t help but be inspired by her level of great comic genius.

MICHAEL:

How did you get Phyllis involved in the project?

phylllisDiller.jpgLAURALEE:

My mother, Lee Bell (co- creator of “Y&R” and “B&B), has known Phyllis for years. I had seen Phyllis here and there, and only recently have they become inseparable, which is so cute. I told my mom that Scott and I were going to shoot this, and I said, “We are having a hard time casting grandma,” and she said, “Well, I am seeing Phyllis tonight.” I thought, “That is very sweet mom. But, she is Phyllis Diller and we are doing a three-minute web series. OK, you can try.” Then the next day, my mom did not mention anything about it. So I thought, that was that. Then the following day, my mom called and said, “Phyllis just called and she has to play grandma. She wants to play this woman,” and I said, “C’mon!” By later that afternoon, Phyllis and I were on the phone like two little girls giggling about how she should look and what she should wear. I was like, “You can wear and look however you want, if you really just come to this table.” And sure enough, three weeks later, she showed up and everyone on the set was blown away. She brought books and autographs and signed everything, and she steals the show!

MICHAEL:

Dan Cortese also makes an appearance as a reality show producer, who is considering doing a reality show on this dysfunctional family!

LAURALEE:

Dan and his wife, DeeDee…we have been best friends for years. My husband Scott and I, have dinner with them once a week. I have never asked him for a favor, so I said, “It’s a weekend. I know you are doing other things,” but he showed up. Aaron Lustig (Ex- Dr.Tim Reid), and I have been friends since his time on “Y&R”, and as soon as I knew we were going to do this I said to Scott, “There is no other husband to me than Aaron… Sorry”. (She laughs)

danCortese.jpgMICHAEL:

Who else is involved?

LAURALEE:

Phyllis is the middle of a line, and we hear this crazy voice, and its Jo Anne Worley from Laugh-In. Then, Cheri Oteri from “SNL” came over! She said, “I have been the biggest fan of yours since “Y&R”, and I am freaking out. I said, “You think you may want to come and join us for dinner?” I think we shouldn’t be surprised if we see her in the future.

MICHAEL:

So where can fans see all the hilarity?

LAURALEE:

On June 8th we would love for everyone to go to www.funnyordie.com, because it’s a great site, but our home site is www.familydinneronline.com.

MICHAEL:

Do you have more dinner-table scenarios, past the two episodes that will run online?

LAURALEE:

I have written episodes three and four. I would really like to incorporate fan ideas. Right now, it’s so hard to get anything published, and it’s very slow here in LA. So, if a “John Smith” from Tennessee comes up with a great idea, we will shoot his concept idea in LA, and put “Concept by John Smith” and we will give him a writing credit. We are going to do that, and we have recipe ideas, because who knows what we are going to have on the dinner table. We have a lot of little side goals that we hope to do in the future, but yes, I have many ideas.

lauraLeeScott.jpgMICHAEL:

You also directed “Family Dinner”. How was it to be in charge?

LAURALEE:

I have to be the actress first. But, I liked being in charge of this because everyone was so talented, that directing this was a piece of cake.

MICHAEL:

So, you and your husband Scott, started your own production company… Martin-Bell Productions.

LAURALEE

We started a production company. We have something in pre-production for possibly October, and it was great to work with Scott. He is so visual and an amazing photographer.
To be at that table, I needed someone’s eyes to watch all the monitors.

MICHAEL:

Switching gears, Lauralee, in my recent interview with openly gay actor, Thom Bierdz (“Langley” or Phillip Chancellor III “Y&R”), I asked him, “When you were the part of the “darling” couple on the show as Cricket and Phillip, did Lauralee know of your sexual orientation back then, and did you have any discussions with her about it?” He replied, “You know, I really have to have a talk with Lauralee and find out what she did know then. In my recollection, we had one discussion about it at a very awkward time. I don’t know her take on it. I know that Lauralee is an extremely open minded person today, but she was a teenage girl at that time and I was ten years older than she was. I would love to talk to her more.” Can you respond to that? At one point, did you have a crush on him?

LAURALEE:

Did I know with Thom? Sure, I had a crush on him. Probably, when I was working with Thom, I was fifteen or so. I am about as open as they come, and I think there are a lot of woman who are quite hot myself. In fact, our website guy and editor, left last weekend to go ride the San Francisco to Los Angeles AIDS/Lifecycle cross state challenge. I gave them huge checks and I made them “Family Dinner T-Shirts”. But back to Thom; what’s so crazy is when you work on a soap you learn so many lines and forget them so fast, and so my recollection is not so good, but I felt we did have the “talk”. I almost feel it was when we were off the show, though. And if it was, as I say at the end, then he knew it would be such a non-issue to me. So, I believe we talked about it when I was a bit older. We have stayed friends.

bierdz.jpgMICHAEL:

Are you happy the show brought him back, with a potential for him to be part of a gay storyline?

LAURALEE:

I am so glad Maria Arena Bell (co-executive producer and head writer, “Y&R”) is bringing him back, and hopefully, it should be a storyline where everyone learns from it. I wish Thom could get married to a man on the show. It would be so great. We need that.

MICHAEL:

Are you considering returning to “Y&R”? Now, seems like the perfect time!

LAURALEE:

Of course it’s possible, when you bring back Thom Bierdz and Tricia Cast (Nina)…

MICHAEL:

We are all waiting for you!

LAURALEE:

Well, that’s very kind, and if it’s the right thing, I would. I am so geared up into my own little projects right now, but there are a couple of things where it would make sense. For the funerals, and when Danny came back for our party, that kind of made sense. But, I knew it would be a couple of lines here and there, and wouldn’t have any meaning. And if I come back, I really want it to count. I wanted it to be a helpful discussion for Phillip, or Nina, or Paul. I don’t think I would come back for a long period of time. But, I certainly would be open to it.

MICHAEL:

Has Maria talked to you about returning yet? I am assuming that call to you happens quite often!

LAURALEE:

I get the call every two months. I think it’s understood with the right time and the right people. As I say, with Thom and Tricia back, my curiosity with each person piques more and more. It does make sense for me to come back into the fold now, and I would love to work with Thom. I saw a flashback the other day with Nina and Phillip. It was so weird, when you see all those scenes… and oh, the hair! Michael Damian (Ex-Danny) and I had bad big hair back in that day! (She laughs)

lauraLeeMaria.jpgMICHAEL:

“Y&R” has been on fire lately and it’s been an extraordinary show since Maria took over the reigns and Lynn Latham left. Why do you think it’s working?

LAURALEE:

I think it’s because Maria studied with my dad. (The late Bill Bell) I remember my brother, Brad Bell (executive producer and head writer, “B&B) and Maria sitting in conference call meetings. I would peek in and I knew they were on a couch for five hours, and then they weren’t even done. Maria has written tons of things, and as always, had great remarks whether it be for her magazine articles or scripts. She is extremely familiar with the show, which is important. You can’t come in and watch 20 episodes from the past of “Y&R” and think you get it. She knew my dad, and she knew his formula, which was again, characters and the people. I love how much Maria is using Jeanne Cooper (Katherine). I mean, how can you not?

MICHAEL:

When you turn on “Y&R” now, what stories are captivating you or tantalizing you?

LAURALEE:

Again, being so close with Tricia, I am just so glad to see her there. I am watching Paul and Nikki pretty closely. I start to itch a little bit when I see them kiss! Just because I have grown up with Jeanne Cooper, anything she is doing I am excited about. I have a special place for everybody, and I love seeing the show. I did not see it for the last few years, because I would be dropping off my daughter at school at that time. I would feel terrible when people would say, “Did you see it?” I am not a TIVO person. So by the time I get everyone situated and done, I am tired. I don’t want to have an accumulation of 6,000 shows to view. So, this is the first year I have been able to watch “Y&R”. With Maria at the helm, and so many of my friends back, it’s wonderful! I race back home with my salad and watch it. I am watching it on SOAPnet, too. What a gift that is. It’s so nice to have an option!

lauraAndLauraLee.jpgMICHAEL:

Did the Abbott dining room scenes from the past give you any inspiration for “Family Dinner”?

LAURALEE:

Yes, and what I used to love about the show was the Abbott dining room scenes. When I would watch Terry Lester (Ex-Jack) eat and talk at the same time, it was such brilliance that I could not wait for the next Abbott dining room scene. “Family Dinner” is a quirky, dysfunctional take on it and what people do as a family.

MICHAEL:

I had read in the TV Guide interview that your family dinners at the Bell house were not your presumed stodgy dinners. Tell me about dinner in the Bell house.

LAURALEE:

It was called a tray table. On Sunday we would have tomato soup and noodles. We would go from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin through Genoa City, and stop at the Cheesebox and get a hunk of salami, and a hunk of cheese. We would grab our trays, and walk by this kitchen counter that was never secure, and would catch on your clothing and snap back. No one ever fixed it! We would walk to a room and watch some sort of game show. As long as we were together, and yelling out answers, we would not talk. People would say, “You are a very close family, but you never talk!” and I would say, “My parents’ life was TV. It was a release to not think, and just eat. There was no formality at all.” It cracks me up that people think we had these traditional Bell family dinners.

billBell.jpgMICHAEL:

Do you miss your Dad?

LAURALEE:

I miss Dad more now then right when he passed away. It’s just different. I remember him not sick. I think about him all the time, and my kids love going to his gravesite, which is so cute, and so beautiful. I have gotten certain projects on his anniversary, or his birthday, or close to Fathers Day. This one is launching close to Father’s Day, so it’s weird! I know he would love the humor in “Family Dinner”. He was the most comedic guy around. I would say to him, “Can’t Cricket be funnier?” and he would say, “Well?” He was a serious writer, but to release it all, he was “Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky”. I kind of see it mirrored now with how actors approach my brother, Brad. My dad’s door was always open, and he would joke and pat people on the back, and be a bit sarcastic. He was a bit of a hound dog, too. He was funny and casual.

MICHAEL:

What do you think he would say about “Family Dinner”?

LAURALEE:

He would love that I am doing something with Phyllis Diller and he would probably say, “He loves that it is character-driven”, and he would say, “That it is a little goofy, and you should drag the story a different way,” but I am purposely doing this. But when you get kids at the dinner table things get thrown out constantly that are like, “What?” That’s real life. I don’t think people sit down and say, “Well, tell me about your day?” This is talk about peas and carrots, and dogs peeing, and just chaos. If you have young kids, really that’s your life!

michelleandLaura.jpgMICHAEL:

Brad got nominated for a Daytime Emmy for “B&B”, for Outstanding Drama Series.

LAURALEE:

He is amazing, and how he juggles four kids, a great wife and all of this, I have no idea. But I just hope this is his year that would be a dad’s dream come true. My dad could never believe we all were getting into the family business. He wanted it, if we were qualified. He was tough. I remember the first time he felt I really gave it to Phyllis on “Y&R”. He would come up to me and go; “You really gave it to her today. Michelle Stafford (Phyllis) did her thing, and you really gave it back!” That was such a great day for me. He was tough with Brad. He would be very proud and so would my mom. Brad in his own right, is a great boss, approachable, likeable, and fair. I don’t understand any other way to be, honestly.

MICHAEL:

What would you like to see happen with this project?

lauraLeeCute.jpgLAURALEE:

I just want the opportunity to have all that swells around in this brain to come out. When I was holding the slate for “Family Dinner” and it said “Director”,
I looked down and went, “How did this happen?”

MICHAEL:

In closing, if you were to tell people why they should watch “Family Dinner”, what would you say?

LAURALEE:

I would say, “Make sure you watch “Family Dinner” because there are great things to smile about in the world right now, but sometimes you need an extra boost. Hopefully, in these three minutes
it will put one on your face.”

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Alum Kevin Spirtas Chats On His Heart-Tugging Series ‘After Forever’ & Love and Life In Your 50s

Filling the void in the digital drama series arena, the eight episodes first season of After Forever (available on Amazon), tackles the journey of a two middle-aged gay men in their 50’s in a deep romantic relationship, and looks at it through its various stages of love, loss, and moving on with one’s life when suddenly your world is turned upside down, when one of them has died.

While the LGBT community has seen other love-centric and dramatic web series, none have really taken a deep dive into the difficulties of starting anew in your 50’s or even older.  Leave it to former Days of our Lives alum and Broadway producer, Kevin Spirtas (Ex-Craig Wesley), along with another DAYS alum, writer, Michael Slade, and the two put their shared experiences, and dramatic ideas into this emotional series, that is not limited to anyone who is gay, but touches on the universal themes that anyone may have, or will experience, at one time in their lives.

Spirtas, brought along with him none some notables for his passion project.  First, none other than former Prospect Park One Life to Live EP, Jennifer Pepperman, to bring his vision to life, and some amazing co-stars: Mitchell Anderson (Ex-Party Of Five), MIchael Urie (Ugly Betty), Cady Huffman (Ex-OLTL), Anita Gillette, Colleen Zenk (Ex-Barbara, ATWT) to  name just a few.

While the series bowed a little over a month ago, if you haven’t taken a look, check out our interview with Spirtas for some juicy insight into the making of and the construct of, After Forever.  Following that, check out the teaser for the series, and the video for the theme song, “My Forever” by Lio Nicol which becomes available tomorrow June 4th on Amazon and iTunes.

What was the genesis of the idea for the series?

Photo Credit/JPI Studios

KEVIN:  Patrika Darbo, came to New York close to 7 years ago. She had called me ahead of time, and said, “I was asked to present at the ISA Awards, and you’re coming with me.”  She was getting very involved in the world of the web series. I looked at this amazing presentation of content that was being shown at the ISA’s.  I was blown away. It was better than half the stuff on TV, theater, or film. At that point, I made a mad rush for a gentleman by the name of Sebastian La Cause.  Sebastian had won several awards that night and his material was so well presented, and beautifully shot, and his acting was very unique.

Sebastian La Cause was the star of the web series Hustling, right?

KEVIN:  Yes, it was Hustling, the first season.  I went up to him and I said, “I’m Kevin Spirtas. I’m an actor, I did a soap …”  He goes, “Kevin, I know who you are.” I was starstruck, and impressed, and inspired, because he is exactly the kind of person I want to work with.  He is talented, and creative and I want to work with those kind of people. I said to him, “If you do a second season, I’d love to be considered for anything you might be doing.”  Wouldn’t you know? He wrote me in. I fell in love with the story. I was very clear to me, that you have to start creating for yourself, because creating your own content in this industry now is king.  The third season of Hustling then crossed me over to appearing in Winterthorne.  That was also the first year that NATAS opened up the judging to the digital world.  I got nominated for an Emmy. It inspired me to start thinking about, ‘What do I know?  What do I have in my life that I feel is worth sharing and putting out there to help heal, or inspire?’  I had been producing in New York City for 3 years at this point.

Photo Credit/JPI Studios

It becomes every performer’s concern, as they get older, that they can still be considered for the roles they would like to play.  Sometimes, actors can grow into the types of roles, and sometimes they’ve expired past those types of roles. Was creating After Forever also a way to re-enter being part of the conversation?

KEVIN:  Well, I was hoping to write something for myself … because I just didn’t see the roles coming toward me anymore.  My name wasn’t on them as I imagined them or had seen them in the past. I was worried about that. I thought, “If I have a chance to keep working, I’ve got to keep current.”

And somehow, you and Michael Slade ran into each other, and thus, a collaboration began that would eventually turn into After Forever?

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  Then, I ran into Michael Slade at a gym… I had never met him before, he was a writer on Days as I was leaving the show.  And I remember saying to myself, “wouldn’t it be great to work with somebody, and see what kind of story we could come up with?”  Unbeknownst to me, Michael, at that particular time in his life, was working on the very same type of story and idea about what it’s like to be who he is, at his age, where he’s at, and what he knows.  I pitched him this idea: “I think there’s some really funny ideas I could express to the world about my experience as a single gay man at this point.” He said, “Call me.” In short, he was living life as a single gay man, and I was living life as a single gay man, and that’s how After Forever was born.  Michael had the experience of losing his long-time partner of 25 years.  There’s a part in the story where Brian and Jason are going along and they have everything in their life that they could possibly want, and then they don’t, because Jason is diagnosed with cancer and it takes him away.

Do we see Jason die in this?

KEVIN:  You just might! … It’s how we incorporated him in the story…

Courtesy/AfterForever

After Forever bounces back and forth in time, obviously, that was part of the unique structure of the storytelling?

KEVIN:  It does do that.  It tells the story through a lot of present, and a lot of flashbacks.  There is also the present with Brian, and his memory of Jason. As Brian is going through the next chapter of his life as a single man, he has to look at his life and learn how to continue to love even though the person’s not there.  When someone dies, the love doesn’t die, the relationship doesn’t die, it keeps growing on a certain level. So, if he turns around, and he sees him, is it real? Is it him working it out in his own mind? It’s a tool to tell more story …

Tell me about casting Mitchell Anderson?  He had retired and moved to Atlanta, and he ends up playing the love of Brian’s life.

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  When Michael and I were writing, we threw out, “Who do you think would play this part?”  One day, I just dropped the name “Mitchell Anderson” I said, “I just see him as Jason.” Michael said to me, “Kevin, he’s retired.”  I just knew Mitchell and I had great history in the business. We started off as actors together in class. He went one direction, I went another, then he left the business, but I just felt there was something about his persona – not to mention his talent – his unique humor, his sensibility, and style, so I said, “I think we should ask him.”  We did. Mitchell said, “Okay, Kevin. Let me read the script.” He called back immediately after receiving it, and said, “I would love to do this!” I have not stopped thanking him every day. He’s so good in it.

The main character of Brian goes on this journey: he meets other guys, some appear younger than others! (Laughs)

KEVIN:  It’s a year after Jason is gone, Brian is trying to settle into his new life, but he’s guilty that his partner has died.  He has sadness, grief, and so much love for Jason that he’s having trouble moving forward, and everyone is trying to push him forward.  Brian is not necessarily ready, but sometimes his body is ready, while emotionally, he’s not. It’s how we deal with all that navigation of seeing good-looking guys.  He meets a guy in the middle of the series, and it starts to open up the doors. That’s the beauty of what happens when he starts to let himself open up to the possibilities.  There are some great rollercoaster moments that you’ll see.

Would you do another season of After Forever?

KEVIN:  Oh, my God!  Michael and I have already started to script out seasons 2 and 3.

Courtesy/AfterForever

Middle-aged gay men do have it rough in the relationship department, if they’re not already partnered up by this point in their life.  Younger guys think they’re over the hill, older guys aren’t necessarily interested either, and unfortunately, the LGBTQ community is unforgiving to community if you’re not young and pretty, and not in your 20s or 30s. There aren’t a lot of LGBT-oriented shows out there like this.  On that level, I think the concept of the show is an important story to tell.

KEVIN:  We were absolutely committed to writing not just another gay story.  We’ve seen those. I think the beauty of After Forever is that it’s not just a gay story- even though it’s told through two gay men… but, it’s a story about love … it’s a story about loss.  Everyone is going to have to deal with this in their life.

Courtesy/AfterForever

Dealing with loss is part of the circle of life, whether it’s a parent, a child, a lover, a friend, or your longtime partner. Many in the LGBT community succumbed to AIDS in the ‘80s and ‘90s, which was a pivotal moment in the gay movement.

KEVIN:  We lost half of our community.  We lost half of our brothers. To jump back to that history with Mitchell, he and I had so many mutual friends who aren’t here anymore.  We would look at the scene that was at hand, take a breath, look at each other, and they’d say “action” and we’d step into these people. Yes, it’s gay themed, because it’s told by two leading male characters who are gay.  But, I have heard more people in the last two months since this has come out, who have not only stopped and said, “Thank you for writing such a wonderful story about love and loss, and new beginnings, but also, what it’s like to have to confront that loss.” They also went on to say, “For so many years, gay people have had to watch the heterosexual world. People are trying to fit themselves into our world now, into our story, and how they would feel navigating it.”

Michael Urie is in it too? And you have some pretty accomplished people in your cast.  

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  Yes, there’s Michael Urie, Cady Huffman who sings in one of the episodes.  Tere is a scene in episode 3 that it still floors me, I can’t watch it without losing it.  Then, there’s Anita Gillette, Lenny Wolpe, David Dean Bottrell. Everyone is perfect, and everyone was able to show up, and everyone delivered a million percent.

What’s the response you’ve been getting from people who have watched After Forever?  You mentioned it’s been very positive.  

KEVIN:  Everyone has been touched.  The majority who have seen this, are just moved to tears and full of excitement.

I saw that Jennifer Pepperman, ex-executive producer of One Life to Live, directed your series.  What was it like working with Jen?

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  We had a lot of people who we could have pulled from.  Jennifer came up in conversation, because she had sent Michael an invitation to go see her new short film that she had done with Austin Peck (Ex-Austin, Days) and his wife, Teri Conn (Ex-Katie, ATWT).  I said, “Maybe if I go see the show and I like it, I can introduced myself to Jennifer.”  I called him right after and I said, “If we don’t get her, we’re crazy!” She’s so good. What she did is perfection.  We shot the whole thing like a movie. It was shot in 12 days. She knew everything she wanted to do and it shows in the edit.  And, this extraordinarily, talented girl named Colleen Kwok, who was the director of photography. She’s the real thing. She got it.  She got the style we were going for immediately.

So, we want to tell people to binge watch the series on Amazon.

KEVIN:  Binge it, or make it last for 15 days…

How many hankies will I need for this? 10? 5?

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  I say Kleenex is not included … Anybody who has ever loved, anybody who has ever lost, must see this show, because it unifies all of us, it shows us that we are the same.  It shows us that we still have love in our lives, regardless of if that person is gone, the relationship never ends, it never dies. That’s what people are getting from this.  That’s what people are taking away from it. You and I were raised with the symbols of a straight world and how we had to fit into that certain way of life. That’s changed now.  We have Will & Grace … we have RuPaul … all these great things that are illustrating our diversity.  Now, people are going, “it’s just a story being told.”

What was Mitchell’s reaction when he saw the final product?

KEVIN:  We saw it together…We just sat there and cried.  It’s hard. Especially, the first two episodes and the last two episodes.  We served it up, Michael, we served it up!

Courtesy/AfterForever

I think you spoke to a greater issue, as you move through this career, you have to remain relevant as things change.  So, you’ve dipped yourself into this pool and now you can do more.

KEVIN:  I hope so.  You and I talked about this along time ago, when I first started on Days Of Our Lives, it was still a different world.

It was so different back then.  Actors couldn’t be out. There was still that stigma that if the audience at home knew they were gay, they wouldn’t buy into what they were portraying.

KEVIN:  That’s where I kind of worked it out, because I didn’t pretend not to be me, I just wasn’t very open about everything in my life.  Not that I still am. There’s certain things that I don’t talk about, because it’s not relevant, or it’s no one’s business.

So, do you get the obligatory question, “What’s a guy like you doing being single”? (Laughs)

KEVIN:  Michael said to me one day, “How come a guy like you is single?”  I made a joke out of it and said, “Have you seen me eat? Come on!”

So, intrigued to check out After Forever? What do you think about its central theme looking at what happens when one loses their partner at middle-age and more?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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General Hospital

GH’s Laura Wright and Wes Ramsey Talk Their Love Connection & The Demands Of Daytime

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

After presenting for the first time together, at the 45th Annual Daytime Emmys since they’ve been a couple, Laura Wright (Carly) and Wes Ramsey (Peter aka Henrik) of General Hospital have certainly been in the throes of a romantic, fun, and cherished relationship. The two former stars of Guiding Light reconnected last year at Emmy time. Now, sharing their over one year anniversary, Michael Fairman TV caught up with Laura and Wes to get some insight into what makes their relationship work amidst the hustle and bustle, and pace of both being on a network television daytime drama series, and with the pressures of Hollywood where often relationships between two actors seem to start hot and heavy but then fizzle out.

If you caught this week’s GH, you witnessed that the town of Port Charles has found out that Peter is the notorious Cesar Faison’s son, and the ramifications that will be felt for weeks and months and potentially years to come. Meanwhile, Carly is in all sorts of trouble, thanks to naughty Nelle (Chloe Lanier). Nelle is making Carly look awfully unstable and what happens next could change Carly’s life forever.

So, what do these two lovebirds have to say about their relationship and their passion for working on the soaps? Check out what they had to share below. 

Wes, you had met Laura originally years ago on Guiding Light.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: Yes, 15 years ago in New York.

And what did you think of her then?

Wes: Well, I was smitten, but I had to keep it to myself.

You had to keep it under wraps, huh?

Wes: Yep!

Laura: I was married then.

Wes: She was pregnant with her second child.

Laura: And he’s a good Kentucky boy.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: Uh-huh! But we would run lines in the green room and I would try very hard to make sure she didn’t catch me staring at her… too often. But we laughed, and had great conversation.

Laura: I would always say, “Wes, will you run lines with me?,” because I would want to run my lines.

Wes: We never had story together, but she always knew I was game to hang out with her for a moment.

It’s good when you’re in a relationship with someone and you can laugh with them. You seem to be able to do that a lot!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Laura: Oh, gosh. I think that’s all we do.

Wes: Yes, yes, yes, yes…

Laura: Like, we belly laugh. It gets to the point where people would think we were ridiculous. We’ll say things and just think it’s the funniest thing ever and people would be like, “You guys have a problem …” and we’re like, “Yeah.” (Laughs)

Laura, and then he comes back into your life years later…

Wes: That’s right, it was Emmy weekend 2017.

Laura: I totally was not expecting it at all. Even when I gave him my number I walked away going “huh…”

You mean you thought he wouldn’t call?

Laura: No, I didn’t feel that… because he hit on me hard. He’ll tell you that.

Wes: I still am hitting on her.

Laura: I remember I walked away quick after he got my number. I was like, “Oh, my God … I gotta go.”

Courtesy/Instagram

Wes: There was an assertiveness on my part that was for sure 15 years in the making. I did not expect to run into her. I also did not expect for her to tell me that she was recently single. In that split second, it was one of those, “stop the presses!” moments. Like, you need to give me your number, I’m taking you to dinner.

Laura: I go, “Oh, be quiet! Are you like, 32, because I can’t do that.” (Laughs)

Wes: And I said, “Far from it.”

Laura: He’s like, “I’m getting ready to be 40.” And I’m like, “I can do that!”

Then, on top of all of this, Wes, you land a primo role on General Hospital. That of Henrik aka Peter, Cesar Faison’s son.

Photo Credit: Courtesy/ABC

Wes: Yes, a dream come true.

Laura: I’m going to jump in and say it’s a role that he worked all on his own for. He had to screen test against 8 plus guys, 3 different auditions, 2 different days.

Wes: That’s true.

Laura: I can’t say strong enough that the best actor got the role. Meaning, Wesley is so talented and has the ability to give this character the depth, and emotion, and layers that it needs to tell the story that needs to be told. I just think he’s incredible.

So, did you know from the get-go who you were going to be playing?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: I did not.

Laura: I did! (Laughs)

Wes: I’m thrilled that the writers have been giving me such incredible material to dive into.   Each month that goes by, it becomes more and more complex, and more and more layered and intense. I love the depth… I love the conflicts… I love the humanity… I love the desperation… I love the psychology behind it. It’s a very interesting story and a great journey to tell.

Laura: I was getting ready to say, where you mentally have to go to be the son of Faison and Anna Devane (Finola Hughes)! To blend that together is amazing. It’s incredible to watch.

You used to run lines together on Guiding Light. Do you run lines together now on GH? It’s like a full circle moment.

Laura: We do, and we carpool.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: Something we were trying to manifest together. We thought it would be a lot of fun to work together one day.

Laura: The last week we worked, we didn’t. He worked all afternoon. I worked all morning. I was like, “Are they doing this on purpose?” I was so mad! I was like, “Why are you in the afternoon everyday?” (Laughs)

Wes: She lost her chauffeur. (Laughs)

Laura: I did! He always drives us to work. I also love when we both have afternoon calls, because we love having mornings together. So, I didn’t get my morning, nor did I have my chauffeur!

So, two actors can have a good relationship? You see so many Hollywood relationships with actors and they go bust. But that’s not always the case …

Wes: Oh, my God, yes.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Laura: I’m going to say this; I think I can see it being more difficult for daytime actors, because the work we do is so intense. I know the weeks he’s getting ready to go into, and I’m getting ready to go into. Where we go emotionally and psychologically to tell these stories, on the level that we tell them, as quick as we tell them, you kind of have to become really in a headspace. The fact that we can …

Wes: … the long hours …

Laura: Yes, and exhaustion! You really have to go, “Wow! It’s not about me right now. It’s about us individually as actors.” Thank God, we know the workload. I know what he’s getting ready to go through.

Wes: I have always had so much respect for Laura’s work. On Guiding Light, I’ve always been in awe of what she’s capable of doing. So, the level of respect is obviously there. But also, the understanding whatever it is that you need from a personal assistant in one moment… or a life partner in another moment … or a best friend in moment … or whatever it is in order to get through the day-to-day and the week-to-week, so we can do what we love to do. We know we’re very lucky to have the opportunity to do what we love.

Courtesy/welcometolaurasworld Instagram

Laura was such a great co-host on my Soap Nation Live! Daytime Emmy Nomination Specials, in particular when she talks about acting. It’s so rewarding to hear the other actors who are guests on the show listening to what Laura has to say about her craft and respecting the hell out of her.

Wes: Without a doubt. You can’t watch her work and not be in awe. It speaks for itself.

Laura: I just love the journey of going to the places that we go; to bleed for it.

Wes: Leave it all out on the floor.

Laura: I know that process. So, when I see another actor that’s bleeding, I just bow to them, because I know what it takes to go there. I know the work that Wesley does. When I see that he’s spent at the end of the day, I’m like, “Babe, I so get it.” So, I can see where it could be really difficult for people that haven’t been there, because it’s a lot of work and you’re spent. It’s hard! For us, that works.

What do you think of Laura and Wes’ love connection? What do you think of the latest developments for GH’s Carly and Henrik? Comment below.

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Interviews

EXCLUSIVE: 45th Annual Daytime Emmys Winners & Backstage Video Interviews!

Photo : MF Soaps Inc

The 45th Annual Daytime Emmys are in the record books.  And as previously reported, it was a big night for NBC’s Days of our Lives taking Outstanding Drama Series, Writing and Directing in a Drama Series Awards, plus top acting nods to James Reynolds (Abe) and Greg Vaughan (Eric).

Behind the scenes while the ceremony continued on-stage, and as the night’s big winners and several presenters were whisked away backstage following their victory, they took to the Winner’s Walk and chatted with Michael Fairman who got their reactions to winning the gold, or presenting important moments of the night during the live-stream broadcast.

From DAYS Deidre Hall (Marlena), Dr. Oz, The Ladies of The Talk, and GH’Chris Van Etten to DAYS head scribe Ron Carlivati, to Y&R’s actress winners: Eileen Davidson (Ashley) and Camryn Grimes (Mariah), and GH’s Chloe Lanier (Nelle, Vernee Watson (Stella) and more now you can watch the complete backstage series of conversations on The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.  Make sure to “subscribe” for these and more celebrity interviews.

After the jump, check out some of the winners and backstage interviews with Michael.  You can also go directly to the video you are looking to view, by clicking on the blue hyperlink on the interviewees name. (more…)

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Video du Jour

This week, Nick lost temporary custody of Christian leading to a defiant and emotional turn by Joshua Morrow (Nick) as he has to say farewell to the little boy he has come to love as his own son, and give him to his father, Victor, who wanted and was granted custody of the child. Watch the hankie-inducing moment! Leave A Comment

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Joshua Morrow as Nick

The Young and the Restless

Airdate: 6-14-2018

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