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ABC SUPER SOAP WEEKEND – STAR INTERVIEWS PART ONE

erika-super.jpgAs many in the industry, and many soap fans know, ABC Super Soap Weekend 13 held this past weekend at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida was the final version of this staple fan fest. “On-Air On-Soaps” participated in the finale and got the chance to catch up with the best from ABC Daytime’s star-studded line-up!

ERIKA SLEZAK
ONE LIFE TO LIVE

As Viki Davidson, Erika Slezak is the most acclaimed and heralded actresses of the soap genre. From critics, fans, and her peers, it is her name that is mentioned more often than any other working actress of the genre.

Listen to the audio:

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MICHAEL:

What has been your favorite storyline that you played as Viki?

ERIKA:

I used to say heaven, because I loved going to “heaven” and I loved the multiple personality story. But, I have to tell you, a big place in my heart is the Paris, Texas story, and I loved that. It was the whole idea of getting away from everything that bothers you, and everything you live with everyday, and the aggravation, and all the people bothering Viki all the time, family complaining, and problems. And, to go there and live a completely anonymous life, and the wonderful characters she got to meet, Mo, Noelle and Gigi, was magical for me. I adored that set, the “Bon Jour” café; it was the highlight of the last couple of decades for me. I enjoyed that story and I was so grateful and happy when they brought in Farah Fath, as Gigi.

MICHAEL:

When Viki had to say goodbye to everybody at the ‘Bon Jour” café, that was one scene I needed my hankies for! What a wonderful performance!

ERIKA:

It was not a performance. I was so sad that it was ending, because I did not know it was not ending at the time.

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MICHAEL:

As Vikis’ daughter, Jessica battles yet more issues with integration of her DID, what is the most fun of Viki’s “alters” to play? “Alters” Jean and Niki, appeared as hallucinations in recent episodes.

ERIKA:

I love playing the “alters”, and I went home one day from playing “Tommy” who is a thirteen-year-old boy, and an angry boy, and I said to my husband and my son, “I am so sorry. I had no idea how tiring it is being a boy.” Oh, my God! Niki takes an incredible amount of energy and is so fun. Well, they are all fun. Jean is so different, she is completely without emotion, which is fun to play, and she does not care what she says to anybody. It used to be our producers favorite for that reason, as well. She could say anything to anybody, and it doesn’t matter.

erika.jpgMICHAEL:

Mark Derwin returned during the 40th anniversary storyline as Viki’s dead husband, Ben. How was it working with him again?

ERIKA:

Mark is my favorite 14-year-old, and we had such fun. (She laughs) We played so much. He is delightful!

MICHAEL:

What about Viki’s new guy, Charlie Banks? How is working with Brian Kerwin?

ERIKA:

I adore Brian Kerwin. He is so nice. Charlie is completely different than anybody else that Viki has been involved with. With Charlie, even though he lied, what you see is what you get… so open, so vulnerable, and so real. Brian Kerwin is such a good actor.

MICHAEL:

What would you love to see happen to Viki, that the writers have not given you the opportunity to play, thus far?

ERIKA:

The only thing Viki has left is an appendix, (She laughs) and I would like to just keep living her life and see what happens. You know, my brain does not work that way. I am used to picking up a script and going “Oh, whoa… Hello, where am I?” I try not to out guess the writers, because if you get something stuck in your mind and get married to it, and they don’t write it, it’s disappointing. They have always written such wonderful stuff for me. I have never been disappointed.

MICHAEL:

Where are your record six Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series? What do you think when you see them?

ERIKA:

They are at home. I look at them everyday. We have a tiny library, they are in a bookcase in there, and every time I look at them my heart goes, “Wow, that’s amazing!” It is amazing, and I am just so proud of them

AIDEN TURNER
aidan-rebecca.jpgALL MY CHILDREN

As PI Aidan Devane, this guy has just showed another side to his character, and the audience of “AMC” gets to see some different shades of actor, Aiden Turner in the process.

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MICHAEL:

The storyline with ‘Whacko Annie’, where you see the heel turn in Aidan, and the reveal that you and Annie were plotting this revenge, using Emma against Ryan and Greenlee, was a stunner. Oh, it was sooo bad of Aidan!

AIDEN:

It was bad. I was really impressed the way it was written, and we shot it all in two days. It was really well put together. I knew a few weeks before about the twist, but I have a leak who works upstairs. (He laughs) I like to know what is going on so I can develop the character.

MICHAEL:

So do you like to know what lies ahead for your character? Some actors don’t.

AIDEN:

Most of the time it’s not important, but with this, it’s an important story. I needed to know what I am doing, and why I am doing this. I can play it wrong and I don’t want that to happen. I had my “source” who told me, and then I went to our executive producer. I wanted to find out exactly what was happening, so she filled me in. I just hope that I am doing the best job I can.

MICHAEL:

How is working with Melissa Claire Egan, as Annie?

AIDEN:

Melissa Egan is fun to play with. There will be more of us together, but I don’t know if it’s as a love interest. Not only is Melissa talented, but she is also doing a great job, as far as acting crazy.

MICHAEL:

How do you feel now that Rebecca Budig (Greenlee) is leaving the show once again?

AIDEN:

I knew she was coming back for only a year. I am glad I got to be the guy to work with her the time she was here. She is a solid actress, and a beautiful girl. I will miss her a lot. Now, the only time I am going to see her is when I am visiting LA.

MICHAEL:

What would you love to see happen to Aidan?

AIDEN:

I think now he is going to look out for number one, and not always do the right thing. I think you will see a lot more ‘out of character’ for him. I know I am going to help Annie out, so she will not to go to jail for killing Richie when she comes out of Oak Haven. However, at the same time I would love him to meet some new girl in Pine Valley, sweep her off her feet, and have her be a stable girlfriend!

melissa-claire.jpgMELISSA CLAIRE EGAN
ALL MY CHILDREN

As Annie becomes more nuts and whacked out, fans of “AMC” and soap critics are reveling in her tour de force performance.

MICHAEL:

I am so glad they made Annie a whack-job!

MELISSA:

It’s juicy and something to do everyday. I like Whacko Annie, too.

MICHAEL:

I loved the ‘switcheroo’ Annie in cahoots with Aidan, by using Emma to get back at Ryan and Greenlee.

MELISSA:

When I first heard about it I was a little concerned, because I heard it about it from our producer before I read it. My concern was how is Annie going to be redeemable? But the way they wrote it, you see her having an emotional breakdown. She thinks this is how she is going to save her marriage. So, once I started reading the scripts, I was excited about it, like, “What a neat twist!” It’s neat that she was behind it.

MICHAEL:

So, do you see redemption in Annie’s future?

MELISSA:

I don’t know if there will be redemption for her. How do you redeem the stuff she has been doing, and the stuff that comes up with Erica? But, she goes nuts, so later in time that can be redeemed. A lot of people in soaps go to Oak Haven and have inoperable brain tumors, or overdose on medicine and end up being totally fine. So, we will see.

MICHAEL:

How has it been to work with Aiden Turner (Aidan) and Cameron Mathison (Ryan)?

MELISSA:

It’s great! With ‘Camie’, when I heard we were going to be divorced on the show, I was sad, because we are buds. So, I thought it would stink that we would not work together as much. Now we are fighting in the storyline, and Ryan is trying to help Annie. We are not in love in the storyline, but we are still working together, which is great and still fun. Well, with Aidan, he is so much fun and that accent is just so sexy… isn’t it?

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MICHAEL:

What has been your favorite Whacko Annie moment?

MELISSA:

It’s the stuff coming up with Erica. Annie shows up at a party, and she stabs Erica, but you don’t see it. She is completely a mess, make-up smeared, and blood all over her wedding dress. That was hard to do, because I loved that wedding dress that I wore two years ago on the show. That was so sad. It’s just crazy!

tyler.jpgTYLER CHRISTOPHER
GENERAL HOSPITAL

As the dark prince of Port Charles, Tyler Christopher stunning portrayal the past soap season losing the love of his life Emily and battling his own health crisis were stunning. Now it looks like this charmer may get some lighter material and a new lady love.

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MICHAEL:

This is the final “Super Soap” weekend. What are your thoughts about it?

TYLER:

This is the very last “Super Soap” and its kind of bittersweet, being the very last one. I was at the first one in 1996, and it seems like eons ago. It’s exciting and time to close it out, I guess. I know we are doing and what has been dubbed and will be known as “The Soap Nation”. We will be moving in to the philanthropic area of soaps and try to spread the love a little bit, and tour different cities. We would like to get people in other cities who may not be fans of the shows, to take a look and see if it’s for them or not.

MICHAEL:

Your brief scene with Genie Francis (Laura) this November Sweeps was wonderful. Your relationship as mother/son on-screen has been amazing. Were you sad to see her go, yet again?

TYLER:

From a personal point of view, I always believe you are only as good as your partner, and I think Genie is one of the finest actresses out there. I think she brings out the best in me as a performer, and my character as well. It’s really easy to display emotion like that with her because she is so giving as an actress. That has been our relationship for 13 years, and it’s sad that was my only scene. Hopefully, I think she will be back. She has earned the right to come and go as she pleases. I would like to have her there everyday, but that’s not the reality.

MICHAEL:

It seems that Nikolas is getting interested in Nadine and we are starting to see a different side of him. What are your thoughts on this?

TYLER:

It’s great! The character of Nikolas had always been so heavy-hearted, and for him to show a lighter, funnier side is nice to play for a change.

MICHAEL:

I still like the tortured prince!

michael-easton.jpgMICHAEL EASTON
ONE LIFE TO LIVE

Author, actor and fan favorite, Michael Easton brings powerful and passionate performances to his Detective John McBain. Embroiled in front burner storyline, the actor discusses what’s next for his character, Todd and Marty.

MICHAEL:

On recent episodes you beat the crap out of Todd, while finally locating Marty. We got to see John packing pistols and ammunition and knives to go after Todd!

MICHAEL EASTON:

It was nice to see him being driven to that edge after being so patient for so long, and it really brought the storyline to a nice boil. It’s always great to work with Susan Haskell

(Marty), and Trevor St. John (Todd), who have done fantastic work. I have always loved their work, but to see them do this particular stuff was wonderful. The nice thing that comes out of this is even more wonderful… John quits the police department and goes into another part of his life. He has lost faith in the police department and the system, and he steps away. Marty has feelings for both Todd and John, so she is stepping away, and it just keeps snowballing.

MICHAEL:

You play John with so much inner emotion and very contained, yet with deep pain. Is it difficult to portray this kind of character in this medium?

MICHAEL EASTON:

It’s difficult on soap opera to play that. He is almost like an open wound, and to be that reserved, and that damaged a character, you have to find a balance. A woman at “Super Soap” came up to me last night and said, “I was married three times to a cop and you remind me so much of them.” They see a lot of life, and see a lot of damage, and they are sort of reserved. They do come out of their shells occasionally, and that’s how you fall in love with them. He is not going to give you a lot, but when he does give you something, you end up feeling something for him.

MICHAEL:

Tell us about your new book, “Soul Stealer”.

MICHAEL EASTON:

Yes, it’s a graphic novel called “Soul Stealer”. It is just beautiful and I wrote it with Christopher Shy. It’s a 150-page epic love story, sort of like we are doing on “OLTL”!

MICHAEL:

Is there a hardest emotion for you to play?

MICHAEL EASTON:

I think just finding and having the emotion, and hiding the emotion, is what we do to protect ourselves. Very rarely in life do you see other people crying, and very rarely, looking at them, do they want to withdraw and fight it off. I love watching people who are hurting on the inside, but trying to laugh it off on the outside.

thor-kaye.jpgTHORSTEN KAYE
ALL MY CHILDREN

Zach Slater has a big problem on his hands. His wife is in a coma, and his sister-in-law blew into town in the middle of tornado, and gave birth to his child via artificial insemination. What’s next for encore?

MICHAEL:

What’s going on in Zach’s storylines with all the women of Pine Valley? He can’t help himself when he sees a damsel in distress.

THORSTEN:

It was never romantic with these other ladies. I think young Zach has an issue helping women with problems, and to be there and help anybody. Ryan is the hero, but Zach is the anti-hero. Like all anti-heroes, they want to see the underdog get some help and that is what Zach brings to the show… or is supposed to, anyway.

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MICHAEL:

What are your thoughts on the new Bianca baby storyline, where Zach is the father of her newborn?

THORSTEN:

I don’t like the idea that Zach did not tell his wife, Kendall. But you know, it’s a story that plays everyday, and sometimes you have to push the envelope a little bit. I am glad that Eden Riegel (Bianca) is back, and Tamara Braun (Reese), who is such a good actress, is part of that. You can’t look too far in the future. I know Kendall is going to wake up and be pissed at Zach.

thorstein-alicia.jpgMICHAEL:

Susan Haskell and you are married in real life and both are now on east coast soaps. How has that been for your off-screen relationship?

THORSTEN:

We are both on the east coast now, and we were always together as husband and wife, but it makes for a much healthier relationship to live together with the kids.

MICHAEL:

Do you and Susan critique each others work?

THORSTEN:

No. We do not watch each other’s work, because we both know how much it takes for scenes to look real to people. Sometimes, it can be borderline hurtful to see your spouse make out with somebody else, and that is not fun to watch. Jealous as a monkey, that is what I am. But, Susan is doing a great job on “OLTL”

MICHAEL:

What are your thoughts as we come to the close of the final “Super Soap”?

THORSTEN:

It’s nice to see people, and it’s cool that during economic times they come out to see us. It’s much appreciated and they have a good time.

MICHAEL:

What is the hardest emotion for you to play, as Zach?

THORSTEN:

I don’t think it’s as simple as that. The tough part is to make a scene work for everybody and try to find out what they want. The toughest thing is to see what happens after, and how it affects somebody. I don’t want to give any specifics, but there are a few things coming up with Bianca and Kendall. How do you explain and justify that you did not tell your wife? So that’s angry, sad, and happy, all in one. Keep watching, it’s going to be good.

thompson.jpgJASON THOMPSON
GENERAL HOSPITAL

As Dr. Patrick Drake, Jason Thompson has proven his metal with difficult and emotional story opposite Kimberly McCullough’s (Robin). We chatted about new found fatherhood for Patrick and those tough scenes.

MICHAEL:

What an emotional roller coaster in recent weeks for Patrick! He and Robin had a new baby. Then, Robin was sick and going to die and Patrick cries his heart out at the thought of losing Robin and having to raise the baby on his own. It seems effortless that you are able to cry so well and so often. Is that easy for you?

JASON:

Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s hard. The great thing about working with Kimberly McCullough (Robin), is that we have become great friends. We do care about each other. When I am thinking about her, and the situation we are in, it’s not that hard to feel that, which is, “Who does not cry over a new born baby?” Sometimes, I feel like I needed to hold back more, and I was way too emotional. Not a lot of times, but sometimes, but there are definitely times I try and get there.

MICHAEL:

It seems now the great “switcheroo” that Kimberly told me she would like to see happen in a recent interview, is coming to fruition. Patrick takes the dad role to heart and is a good dad, while Robin is struggling with new found motherhood and her role in it.

JASON:

With everything that they have been through, it’s a great switcheroo. Patrick is actually taking to fatherhood pretty easily, and he is good with the baby. The baby stops crying when he picks her up. These babies that are playing our daughter, are such beautiful little babies. That’s the good part.

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MICHAEL:

Over the summer, on “GH: Night Shift”, there was a very memorable scene between Jagger Cates and Robin Scorpio, where she confesses to her friend that perhaps it might be better if she and Patrick were both HIV positive. I thought that was a very real feeling that happens in reality, with relationships where one is positive and one is HIV negative.

JASON:

Its just one of those things and it’s a heightened reality, where one person is one thing and one person is another thing. I think people have to talk about things, and for Patrick and Robin, it was a thing to be honest about it. I am living with this, and you are not. The feeling that, “I may not make it with this,” even though there is a dwindling number dying from it… Thank, God. But yeah, it was an honest way for them to talk about it, and about time that they did. It should be talked about.

laura-wright.jpgLAURA WRIGHT
GENERAL HOSPITAL

As Carly, Laura Wright brings her own unique stamp to the pivotal role of the women in Sonny and Jax’s life.

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MICHAEL:

This is the final “Super Soap”. What are your feelings reflecting on the event’s history?

LAURA:

I am really bummed about it. It’s such a great event. We get to bring our families down to Walt Disney World, and all the actors get to see each other and their fans. It’s a big bummer, and I hope that people will be so upset and write in.

MICHAEL:

Carly just saved Sonny again from drowning. Every time she is there for him. Carly justifies it so well, and yet she loves Jax!

LAURA:

I love that she has this struggle with Sonny, and I believe it. Carly has great scenes where she says, “I did not want to help him and I don’t know why I did,” and Jax says, “You can’t disappoint him.” That I love! She can’t disappoint that guy, who by the way, told her that, “We are not getting back together.” So, don’t expect anything, but she still goes back, just like a drug. And many people are like that.

MICHAEL:

You have been Carly for a while now. Is it odd still having the original Carly, Sarah Brown, back on “GH”, as Claudia?

LAURA:

I have been on “GH” for three years now, as Carly. When Sarah came back, I thought it was going to be weird, but it could not be more fun, and she is great! We have not had any weird situations. She is so great, and one of my favorite people to work with, so… it’s not weird at all.

MICHAEL:

How is it to still work with Maurice Benard (Sonny)?

LAURA:

I love working with Maurice. We enjoy our Sonny/Carly banter and relationship, and enjoy our work together. I also love the Carly/ Jax Relationship, and adore working with Ingo, as well.

herbst.jpgREBECCA HERBST
GENERAL HOSPITAL

As Elizabeth Webber, Becky Herbst tackles the role of a mother and loving woman desperately wanting to be with the man she loves, mobster Jason Morgan, but how long can she keep this balancing act up without getting much in return?

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MICHAEL:

What is Elizabeth going to do about Jason? I am getting fed up with her!

REBECCA:

What is she going to do about Jason? You’re fed up? I am super fed up! He shot someone the other day. Things are going to happen because Jake has been kidnapped now, and she has hit rock bottom. I think she is at the end of her rope with Jason…. for now.

MICHAEL:

Do you think Elizabeth should, perhaps, get a new love interest, and stop pining away over Jason?

REBECCA:

Oh, I am not sure there is a new interest right now. She just can’t fathom putting her kid’s life on the line, being with Jason

MICHAEL:

What is the hardest thing for you to play? I am assuming being the mother of a kidnapped child!

REBECCA:

Absolutely, because baby Jake has been kidnapped twice, and he is only 18 months old. That is hard when I have to play that my kids have been kidnapped. I don’t go home and think, “Oh, I feel so good today from work.” I am a mom in real life, and I can’t even think about it. It’s the worst thing in the world!

MICHAEL:

How is it to still work with Steve Burton (Jason)?

REBECCA:

You know, it’s really tough. (She mocks) I have to wake up in the morning and convince myself. I have Laura Wright (Carly) and Kelly Monaco (Sam) there, and Greg Vaughn (Lucky), and I go, “I have to work with Steve?” (She laughs) When I get to work with Steve, those are always good days, especially, when he is not telling me what to do. (She laughs)

MICHAEL:

What would you love to see happen to Elizabeth, if you were writing the show?

REBECCA:

I would love for Elizabeth to run away and go to some strange country where no one can find Jason, so she can have this life with him. She loves him and wants to be with him, and they have their kids, and they could have more babies. However, I don’t want Elizabeth Webber to go anywhere out of Port Charles, because that means I am not working. I am glad she is going to stay in Port Charles and remain loveless. (She laughs).

Want to read more SSW interviews? Check out Part Two
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Grand Hotel

Denyse Tontz and Lincoln Younes Preview Forbidden Romance & Intrigue As ‘Grand Hotel’ Premieres

When Grand Hotel opens its doors to its audience tonight on ABC (10PMET/PT), it will have a very familiar feel to soap fans for several of its series regulars and its executive producer all come from the world of daytime or serialized storytelling.

Executive Producer, Eva Longoria (Ex-Y&R, Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, Telenovela) brought to the screens a provocative drama with Miami Beach as its backdrop of the last family-owned hotel (by the Mendozas) with a contemporary take of an upstairs/downstairs story of 2019.

Former General Hospital’s Bryan Craig plays Javi, who is joined by two other soap notables; former All My Children reboot star, Denyse Tontz (Ex-Miranda Montgomery) and Australian-born actor, Lincoln Younes (Ex-Casey, Home and Away) who’s characters are interlocked in some very sexy and mysterious ways.

Tontz, plays Alicia Mendoza the strong-willed daughter of the Mendoza clan, who is fresh out of business school… and who will make a huge discovery about her dad, but is also set to embark on a romance with a new staff hire!  And that staff hire is Danny played by Younes, whose character Danny is not who he says he is at all … and he has one goal in my mind which brought him to the hotel … but things get complicated for him when he feels a massive attraction to the hotel owner’s daughter … Alicia!

Michael Fairman TV took part in a press roundtable discussion with Tontz and Younes to get some teasers of what’s to come when Grand Hotel premieres.  Here’s what they shared in some questions posed by us and others below.

Photo: ABC

Danny and Alicia definitely have an instant attraction in the season premiere. Where can you tease that it might go?

LINCOLN:  Well, it can go in a number of directions, but hopefully towards a positive one.  They each have their own motivations for why they’re at the hotel.

DENYSE:  Alicia’s main goal, or at least from the beginning, is to prove herself, just having graduated business school and sort of step into her mother’s shoes a little bit. She’s had a lot of pressure on her for most of her life to sort of fill that role and keep the family together.  I think it’s really tough to have to juggle that and the desire to explore this potential romance with this person who is so intriguing to her.

LINCOLN:  I think with Danny, his reasons are kind of unknown as to why he’s at the hotel.  He comes in as a new employee, but there is something off about him.  It is complicated by the arrival of Alicia and the chemistry the kind of ensues between them.  I think that’s kind of the interesting thing to watch is them navigating their priorities and their initial motivations with the inevitable chemistry and dynamic that has appeared.

Photo: ABC

The main family in Grand Hotel is Hispanic.  And what is intriguing about the premise is that their ethnicity is not the backdrop of the story, it’s just who they are.  Would you agree?

LINCOLN:  Eva is kind of a trailblazer in that way because this is about the story of a family, and a hotel, and the guests, and the employees, and the employers, and all of the different things these people go through.  It’s not so much the color of their skin and their background.  I think as soon as you take away the magnifying glass of how a person appears and really look at what is going on inside, that’s a step in the right direction.

DENYSE:  I think that even though we are really a diverse cast and crew, that really has nothing to do with the actual premise of the show, and I think that’s really cool even to just see that.  To just play a character who happens to be Hispanic, and that’s not the central theme of this character, I think there really are no stereotypes that are perpetuated in any way.

LINCOLN:  It’s the perfect melting pot of culture, and the fact that it is set in a hotel where anyone from any part of the world can come into, it creates this show that I don’t see anything like this on TV, and that’s very exciting.

Do you see Danny and Alicia as a duo to root for with their dysfunction and all throughout the series?

DENYSE:  I think there is this sort of allure to the forbidden romance aspect of it all.

LINCOLN:  They have these obstacles in front of them.

DENYSE:  But you want it to happen. (Laughs)

LINCOLN:  You want it to happen, and it’s just against all odds.  That complicates things.

Photo: ABC

You have such a great cast to work with; chief among them Demián Bichir, Roselyn Sanchez (Devious Maids)!

DENYSE:  Oh man, working with Demián and Roselyn and Eva Longoria was a dream.  They’re each so special in their own way.

LINCOLN:  Three powerhouses.

DENYSE:  Yeah, three powerhouses and very different.  They each have their own way of approaching a scene.  Demián is mostly a movie actor, and it really shows in the way he approaches scenes, and the way he is not glued to the lines, and it’s kind of cool to watch him and learn from him in that way.  He’s so funny too.  He makes it a really comfortable environment, and you feel safe to try stuff.   Eva … same thing.  She has a clear vision for what she wants.  She can direct in such a way that I think a lot of directors can’t, because she has been on the other side of the camera, and she has got a really good perspective.  I think she’s really great at articulating what she wants you to do.

LINCOLN:  Yeah, she’s very meticulous.  I think the thing about all of the people who you’ve just mentioned is that they all have levity.  They are all very specific, but they are all very authentic.  That carries through in both their acting and how they carry themselves off set.  That was really great to kind of learn from them.

Photo: ABC

Many in the cast are from daytime dramas, or soap operas previously, including both of you!  Was that a coincidence in the producers casting choices, you think?

LINCOLN: I think, just knowing Eva so well now, and Brian and Ben, the creators behind it, they searched long and hard for the people they wanted to play the roles.  So, it might just be a happy coincidence.

When the scripts came out, how did the cast handle the twists?

LINCOLN:  There was a lot of speculation going on.  There was a lot of gossiping on set and off set.

DENYSE:  Lots of gossiping, stealing scripts… a lot of bombshells though.  There really is no shortage of plot twists.  A lot of these characters you think are going to start out a certain way, and then you find yourself completely changing your opinion of them halfway through the season. Without giving too much away, nobody is really who they appear to be.

Photo: ABC

How do you both feel about the fact that the wait is over and Grand Hotel is finally premiering?

DENYSE:  It’s super exciting.

LINCOLN:  It’s very surreal.  This is my first American show, so I have no idea what to expect.  I just go to Denyse for advice.  I’m like, “What do I do?”  (Laughs).  It’s all very exciting.  I think when you love a project; there is another element when it is released to the public.  Everyone on the show loves it.  Everyone is so passionate about it.  So, I just hope that the audience feels the same and that we get to keep doing it.

So will you be checking out Denyse, Lincoln, Bryan, Eva and more on Grand Hotel?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below. But first check out this promo for the kick-off tonight!

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General Hospital

GH’s Cynthia Watros Talks On Taking Over The Role Of Nina & Ingo Rademacher Dishes Jax’s New Love Interest

Today on June 3rd, Daytime Emmy winner, Cynthia Watros is set to begin taping all-new episodes of General Hospital as she steps into the role of Nina Cassadine, last played by Michelle Stafford, who has left the ABC daytime drama series and headed back to The Young and the Restless to reprise her signature role of Phyllis Summers.

Watros, best-known for her delicious portrayal of Annie Dutton on Guiding Light, and who was last seen on daytime on Y&R, is back to the grind of the soaps taking on the complex Nina.  Add to that, it is clear that GH is setting up a potential love triangle, or new love interest for her, now that Jasper Jacks is back in Port Charles with GH fan favorite Ingo Rademacher returning to the show.

Last month on the recent GH Nurses’ Ball episodes, we saw Nina (then Stafford) lock eyes with Jax, and the two demonstrated an instant attraction to each other.  Add to that in story; Jax was revealed to be the new 50 percent owner of Aurora Media, which Nina’s Crimson Magazine falls under, putting them in each other’s path in more ways than one.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Cynthia and Ingo along with other members of the media at last week’s ABC Summer Press Roundtable junket, and here were some intriguing and insightful moments from the conversations below.

When we asked if Cynthia had a conversation with Michelle Stafford on taking over the role of Nina, Watros responded: “I did.  We had lunch together, and I have to say, Michelle is an amazing, lovely, giving woman.  Just to be able to sit across from her and talk about Nina and to talk about the show, I was just in awe of her generosity.  I will always be a fan of Michelle’s.  She actually reached out to me and said, ‘If you ever want to call or text…’ and I said, ‘Let’s have lunch!’  So, we found and afternoon and spent like three hours just talking about it.”

Photo Credit: ABC

Since Watros has brought the cray-cray to her best known role of Annie on GL and is so adept as an actress to go from that to playing grave reality, Cynthia weighed in on how she sees Nina and the challenges of being a recast in a soap role: “Nina has all of this stuff that I can’t wait to play.  She’s got stuff that she hasn’t explored for a long time because her life is going pretty well right now.  What happens though when your life doesn’t go really well?  You start exploring those things that you thought were sleeping a little bit, you know, that weren’t necessarily bubbling up to the surface.  So, I like it all: when a character’s life is going well and when a character’s life is not going well. Because I’m playing Nina now, it’s going to be different.  It’s going to be challenging.  It’s the first time I’ve ever taken over a role that someone else has played.  I don’t want to totally go off, so people go, “Wow.  Nina’s totally different,” but of course, I want to make it my own.  Again, I’m an actor who likes to use all of the tools.  I like it all … the funny, the not so funny, the playful, and the crazy.”

As to the timing of Watros returning to the soaps at this time in her life … and how it went down that she landed her new gig at GH, she revealed: “It sounds not very dramatic, but I got a phone call.  Just a phone call asking, ‘Would you be interested?’  Guiding Light will always be in my heart because I had such a good time doing Annie, and I was on Young and the Restless and Another World for half of a second.  So, daytime has always been in my life and in my world.  My last show was in Atlanta, and my daughters were in high school in LA, and it’s hard to go back and forth for them, for me, and for my life as a mom.  So, I kind of took my acting and said, ‘Well, I’m going to slow it all down until they graduate high school.’  They graduate high school June 2nd and I start GH June 3rd.  So, it just seemed like it just made sense.”

Photo: ABC

As to what the future holds for Nina as she takes over the role, Watros shared: “I can tease that I get to play with this guy (Ingo) a lot, and Nina is trying to find a stronger role in the magazine where she is really going to step up in making that a success and her love for the magazine , and trying to navigate her relationship with Jax.”

Cynthia will also get to work with Nina’s present love interest, James Patrick Stuart (Valentin), which the actress is also excited about:“I have to say, I have not met him, but I have been watching the show, and he is just phenomenal.  I love his character.  I love how he is this sort of like bad guy, but it seems like the women really dig him.”

Watros says she is excited to work with Maura West (Ava), Laura Wright (Carly), and Billy Miller (Drew) from the cast.  She has previously worked with Laura and Billy in her soap career. As to her nerves for her first week at the ABC studios where GH is taped, Cynthia shared that she is: “Less nervous, more excited. I feel like a 20-year-old back in soaps.  I remember Kim Zimmer (Ex-Reva, Guiding Light) back in the rehearsal room, and I was off script, and she was on the show for a long time before me, and I was new. I was yelling my lines, and she goes, ‘Excuse me! Can you tell this actress not to act so early in the morning?’ (Laughs) I feel like I’m going to do that again.  So, I’ve got to tone it all down.” (Laughs)

Photo: ABC

For Ingo, he certainly has a view as to how Jax fits into the canvas of Port Charles: “Jax is to me, and I’ve only just been able to put it into words now that Captain America came out, but he’s ‘Captain America’.  He’s all about fairness.  If he sees a bully, he will stand up for the person who is being bullied.  So, that’s who he is.  He’s the white knight.  He’s the person who will always do the right thing.”

Now that Jax has big time ownership in Aurora Media and thus Crimson, does he see the sparks flying with Nina? Ingo reveals: “Yeah, basically he walks in, and she goes, ‘What are you doing in my office?’ and he goes, ‘Actually, it’s my office.’  When I heard about him doing that magazine, I was a little surprised because that’s usually much too small for Jax.  He’s more of a Richard Gere in Pretty Woman character, corporate leader, takes corporations apart, sells pieces … this is, I think really for his daughter, Josslyn (Eden McCoy).  He’s thinking about the future.  Also, to keep him busy in an actual job that he might be good at.   I think it’s a big change in lifestyle for him where before it was about businesses which were much more global.”

Photo: CBS

As to what is behind Jax’s attraction to Nina, Ingo summed it up by sharing: I think Jax is attracted to Nina the first time he sees her.  I have a feeling he already knew who she was the first time he sees her at the Nurses’ Ball, because he’s been studying Aurora Media before purchasing it.  He’s done his background work, and to piss off a Cassadine is just a bonus.  Also, I think what is interesting for Nina’s character is the two different guys.  She’s engaged to this more mysterious character, and then, you’ve got this jolly, upfront one going, ‘Hey!  How’s it going?  Everybody having a good day?’ (Laughs)  He’s very confident as well, but in a different way.  I think it’s nice for the story for Nina to be tugged between two completely different men.”

So, excited to see the debut of Cynthia in the role of Nina? Are you up for a triangle between Jax/Nina/Valentin? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.  But first, watch Cynthia’s Emmy-winning moment as Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work on Guiding Light.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Arianne Zucker, Stacy Haiduk & Paul Telfer Talk On Masks, Villainy & Their Wildest Storyline Yet

Take three great actors, add a prosthetic mask into the equation, and let them have at it! That’s just what NBC’s Days of our Lives is in the midst of serving up to its fans with this latest plot device and twist.  Last week, it was revealed that the nefarious Kristen DiMera (Stacy Haiduk) is alive and well and pretending to be Nicole Walker (Arianne Zucker) donning a mask, a voice alternating device, and some other body tweaks!  The goal …  to be with Brady Black (Eric Martsolf) and she will do anything to accomplish that!

Enter Xander (Paul Telfer) who has been in the thick of the plot being the only one we know of, so far, who knows that Kristen is parading around as Nicole.  They hatch their next moves inside a room at the Salem Inn.  They even went so far as to set it up to appear that Nicole’s daughter, Holly was killed, so she could blame Eric (Greg Vaughan) and cause a break-up of the long-suffering lovebirds and play it off as she needs to be consoled by Brady!

Michael Fairman TV chatted in an entertaining and wickedly funny interview with Arianne Zucker, Stacy Haiduk, and Paul Telfer to get the lowdown on what happened when they learned they would be wearing or working with a mask, how they pulled off the emotions in the storyline twist, and what to look forward to from here.  Under the clever pen of head writer, Ron Carlivati looks for the hits and twists to keep coming as this storyline continues to rock the world of Salem for some time to come.  Here’s what Arianne, Stacy, and Paul had to say about their latest on-screen predicaments and schemes!

Ari, at what point did you know that you really weren’t Nicole … and that you were Kristen playing Nicole?

ARIANNE:  I actually didn’t find out until a little bit after the van went off the road in the storyline; thinking it was Holly who was killed.  Sometimes, the less I know makes it fresher, and I think if I had known before those scenes, and the scenes with Eric (Greg Vaughan), and when I first came back, I would have had a little too much Kristen on my mind, and I don’t know if I could have been as raw as I felt in those scenes.  So, anyway that’s my long explanation.  I found out after I started back on the show! (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Additionally, did you have a conversation with Stacy about certain mannerisms hat Kristen has if you’re “masquerading” as Nicole?

ARIANNE:  Our co-executive producer, Albert Alaar had talked to me about watching Stacy because everything was happening fast.  Stacy and I really hadn’t had a chance to even talk to each other even from the last round of me being thereI remember Stacy was inundated with dialogue up the wazoo when I came back for that twelve-episode arc.  So, because of all of that, Albert said, “Watch Stacy! Watch her mannerisms, watch what she does,” and then I’ll throw a little Ari in it.  I just hope that I do as good of a job as Stacy does.

Paul, you and I talked about this on the NBC ‘Inside Salem’ podcast, when we played back for you (for the first time) the clip of Kristen taking off her Nicole mask.  Xander had the perfect set-up line for the reveal: “The part of Nicole Walker is being played by Kristen DiMera!”  Did you not have a good laugh doing that scene?  How did you get through doing that moment?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

PAUL:  Oh, yeah, I was laughing my ass off the whole time.  This is an insane storyline with masks and doppelgängers.  But, it looks great on-screen, and that way it’s edited.  So, I was really happy.

STACY:  There was one moment when Nicole would hold steady to unfold the neck.   So, Ari started that to the point where I’m pulling it off completely.  I think it’s cool.  It’s “Mission Impossible”.  How nice!

PAUL:  That’s what I going to say.  If Tom Cruise can make a hundred million dollars doing this stuff …

STACY:  … then, we can do it!

ARIANNE:  Right?  We can make a quarter of a quarter of a quarter of a quarter of that.

STACY:  We’ll make it look good!

What is the real deal between Xander and Kristen?  They are conspiring and in cahoots, but there’s this underlying sexual tension between them.  I think Xander respects Kristen in a way, because she can one-up him!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

PAUL:  I think every character who Xander has interacted with who isn’t a member of his family, he’s trying to either get something from, or get into bed with, and he can’t really do either with Kristen, because she’s crazier and more dangerous that he is up until this point.  That’s certainly the way that it feels.  The way Stacy plays it, she is not to be messed around with. Honestly, I think that turns him on.

STACY:  Yeah, there you go.  That sounds good. (Laughs)

PAUL:  I mean, it makes sense.  Just like, “Wait a minute.  This is a bit spicier than I’m used to,” so, he’s excited, but at the same time he knows which side his bread is buttered on, and he doesn’t want her to murder him!  (Laughs)

STACY:  Well said.  I like that. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, what does Kristen think of Xander at this point?

PAUL:  That, he’s a useful idiot.

STACY:  She actually needs him to go out into the world because she can’t leave.  When she does, she has to leave as Nicole, and then it becomes a whole other storyline.

PAUL:  It’s fun because Kristen is actually the boss, and Xander is convinced that they’re actually partners and that becomes our whole dynamic where she’s treating him as her lackey, but he’s like, “No, we’re partners, because I know your secret.”  Then, it becomes kind of a bargaining chip between the mask and all of that.  It’s so crazy because certain evil characters when they come back, they have to come back in disguise; whereas Xander’s always quite happy to be just jogging through town square with his shirt off after holding someone ransom or kidnapping a baby like, “Ah, whatever.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Arianne, it’s been awhile since you got to play the villainess side of Nicole, and with this return to DAYS you get to play that side of her as well, even though it’s really Kristen. Do you enjoy playing the bad girl?

ARIANNE:  Stacy and I were just saying today that you have these conversations about the villain character, (and Paul, I’m sure you’ve felt a lot of this too) people hate you or they love to hate you, and you’re like, “Hey, it’s a good thing because I’m doing my job if you hate me,” but in order for the storyline to move, you’ve got to have a villain.  Nicole used to be kind of villain-ish but playing someone like Kristen who is such a valued villain on this show is just … oh, my God!

Stacy and Paul, what do you think is the most heinous thing your characters have done so far?

STACY:  The most heinous?  (Laughs). Wow.  You know what’s funny is that she’s done all of these things, and I don’t think she thinks what she does is bad.

PAUL:  It’s so funny because you totally would expect her to be like, “The other characters are evil.  We’re the good guys!”

STACY:  I mean honestly, so she kidnapped Nicole, and took her baby.  There’s Marlena and the window.  I mean, it’s hard when she’s done all of these crazy, horrible things.  I’ve just really enjoyed playing her because she’s smart, she’s sassy, she’s this brilliant, deviant person who just wants one thing, and there’s one thing on her mind, and everything else gets in her way.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Is the one thing Brady?

STACY:  Brady, Brady, Brady, and I think even Xander has to repeat it over and over again.  We were playing in rehearsal, and I think I had him do that.  I don’t remember the line, but I said something, and he goes, “Brady Black,” and I go, “Say it again,” just because I want to hear him say it again.  That’s her driving force.

What did Greg Vaughan and Eric Martsolf say when they found out about what the twist was?  Did you tell them?  How did they find out?

ARIANNE:  Well, Eric Martsolf always has a great chuckle.  He has a great laugh, and I think Greg Vaughan just stared at me for a minute.  Then, I told him about the mask process … about making the mask …. and how I thought I was going to pass out and die.  (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Is putting on the mask an extremely weird experience?  How long does it take to put on? 

STACY:  About an hour?  It’s quick, and I thought we were going to suffocate when we were under that because I’ve never done my whole face before, but I’ve done body things. Make-up department is like, “You’re going to be fine.”  It was heavy too, really heavy.

ARIANNE:  Yeah, and because it’s so heavy, after a while, it starts to pull your skin down a little bit, and you’re like, “No, no!” (Laughs)

Did anybody else go running around with the mask on?

PAUL:  Oh yeah.  Everybody!

I knew it!

ARIANNE:  How could you not?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, what is the relationship between the real Nicole and Xander, which we saw play out before her death?

PAUL:  She’s my wife!

So, Xander sees Nicole as his wife?

PAUL:  I’m happy to give Xander’s perspective on Nicole, and then Arianne can feel free to correct it.  (Laughs)

ARIANNE:  Alright, that sounds good.

Photo Credit JPI Studios

PAUL:  The way I’ve tried to handle it over the years in our ins and outs of this failed romance is that they’ve saddled poor Arianne with: this psycho chasing after her, and kidnapping her and her baby, and whisking her off to foreign lands – and also to Nashville.  When Xander first came into town, before they decided to make him a total psychopath, it was all working nicely, and Nicole wasn’t really on the up and up with Xander, and she wasn’t really honest about what her intentions were.  Meanwhile, Xander was involved in all of this chicanery with Serena, so once that metastasized into full-blown evil, and Nicole was aware of this, it shifted from, “I just really wanted to take this girl to the movies,” to, “Well, I guess I have to kill her now.”  (Laughs)  So, I think he’s just been playing that out ever since.  “Well, if I can’t date her, and if she won’t love me, then I guess I just have to torture her for the rest of her days.”  I think now on the other side of her supposed death, I think Xander has probably reconciled that his twisted romantic notions, or torture, or whatever he was doing with Nicole, is probably over, and he’s moving on to greener, more alive pastures like Sarah.  To be fair, I do think they’ve purposely made it confusing.  Not just for the audience, but for us.  There’s a real sense of, “Am I playing this to Nicole as Kristen, or do you want me to play this just to Nicole?”  Very often they just go, “No, just play it to Nicole,” because it’s funnier if for Xander it just occasionally slips his mind because she looks just like Nicole.  I’m kissing her… like he’s just enjoying the fact that he can.  “I never really got to kiss Nicole much, but this is Nicole’s face, so I’m going to.”  (Laughs)

ARIANNE:  That’s hilarious.

Ari, what would you say is their relationship?

ARIANNE:  Well, I’m certainly not as long-winded as that.  (Laughs)

PAUL:  He’s a creep!

ARIANNE:  He is a creep.  What cracks me up coming from Nicole is, “Ew, what a jerk.  He’s so gross.  Yuck, yuck!”  Like, really?  You’re not going to make that one work, huh Nicole?  When you reach that far back to the history of Xander and Nicole, it doesn’t have a lot of depth for the two characters because the next thing you know he’s trying to kill her and Eric.  It’s like that scary online dating when you go on one date and it didn’t work out because that guy is going to kill you.

PAUL:  Xander is like the ultimate bad Tinder date.

ARIANNE:  Totally. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

That is classic.  The bad Tinder date.  That’s basically it.  Xander also apparently feels bad for Maggie (Suzanne Rogers) as she is having her bout with alcoholism.  Is that correct?

PAUL:  Yeah, I’m actually excited to see some of that stuff.  It was great doing it because I love Suzanne to bits.  I was very afraid of ruining Xander by making him too nice, but at the same time when I was first brought on to Days, I wasn’t offered a villain role originally.  Xander morphed into a more severe villain than I’d been led to believe he would be, and it happened quite quickly.  So, I’m actually quite happy to right the ship a little bit back towards he’s bad but he has some occasional glimmers of goodness in him.  So, Maggie really represents that because she’s actually quite nice to him and nurturing in a way that no other character on the show is.  When she has her dalliance with alcohol, he’s one of the few people who doesn’t judge her for it, and we finally get a little bit of Xander’s back story.  I’m actually excited to see those scenes because they felt nice to do, so hopefully they come across well.

Stacy, how did you track this storyline, when Arianne would be playing Kristen as Nicole? 

STACY:  Well if I didn’t get the script, I didn’t know about it.  So, if I wasn’t in the script that time, then I would be looking at Paul going, “What are we talking about?” and then, Ari had obviously already shot those scenes, so they were written for me, so I’m like, “What did I do?  What did I do?” It’s just scenes between Xander and Kristen at the Salem Inn.  Occasionally, you’d get somebody knocking at the door, but then I’d have to quickly put on my mask. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, Ari did you ever have to go to Stacy to get tips about Kristen’s past or anything?

ARIANNE:  It was all about the future moving forward.  I think old, former Nicole had some crazy similarities with current Kristen because it felt kind the same as pulling some things from what she used to do … you know, just a couple of crazy chicks in one crazy character. (Laughs).

The other big part of this is Rolf’s diary that Xander has in his possession.  Is Kristen in cahoots with him on that?  Is she trying to get that from him?

STACY:  I think she is.

PAUL:  Yeah, that’s when she starts to get mad at him; when she realizes that he’s not just being her underling and he’s off scurrying around with his own agenda in the meantime.

ARIANNE:  He’s manipulating and doing his own thing.

PAUL:  I use it to start manipulating Eve (Kassie DePaiva).

So, what would you say to the fans to look forward to?  “You never know who you’re talking to on DAYS?” “Gird your masks?”

ARIANNE:  I definitely think fans know that’s not Nicole the way she is.  And, you never know who is going to give you a shot in the butt and turn you into somebody else.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Well, that’s true.  You never know.  One day they’re going to tell you that you’re playing Julie today! (Laughs)

ARIANNE: “Today the character of Julie will be played by…”

STACY: “… you will never guess by whom!”

PAUL:  This was fun.  This is a fun way to do it.  Let’s all do all of our interviews together moving forward!

So, what have you thought of the plot twist? What do you think of the Nicole mask and the performances and comments made here by Arianne, Stacy, and Paul? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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