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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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Interviews

Executive Producers David Michaels & David Parks Chat On The Moments That Made The 46th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards Ceremony

The 46th annual Daytime Emmy Awards are in the record books, and with it came surprising victories, emotional tearjerker moments, and a show that ended up with more heart than the fluff we often see within many entertainment award shows.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Daytime Emmy show executive producers, David Michaels (who also serves as the SR. VP Daytime Emmy Awards for NATAS) and David Parks to gain some insight on how they pulled off some of the major moments of the evening including: a surprise appearance by Amy Poehler, Kathie Lee Gifford’s daytime TV send-off, Shemar Moore’s touching tribute to the late Kristoff St. John, and of course, that Emmy-winning acceptance speech from Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek, who is currently battling stage four pancreatic cancer.

On the soap opera side, there was the long overdue win by GH’s Maurice Benard (Sonny), former GH star Hayley Erin (Ex-Kiki) receiving her Younger Actress award from her idol, none other than Alex Trebek, and B&B’s Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Steffy) receiving the Lead Actress trophy in a tough category of industry heavyweights.

In a year that was tumultuous for the producers and for NATAS with a threatened boycott by the network soaps, requests for more rule regulations and transparency, and the ongoing situation where the Daytime Emmys have not returned to be televised on cable or network TV, but have found success on streaming and social media platforms, we checked-in with Michaels and Parks for a Daytime Emmy post-mortem, and to get the lowdown of their thoughts on daytime’s biggest night of the year. Here’s what they shared.

Photo: NATAS/Getty

Let’s talk about some of the big moments that happened throughout the Emmy ceremony and how you pulled them off.  One, of course, is the Amy Poehler surprise as the presenter of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Judge Judy that nobody knew about.  How did you find out that Amy was a Judge Judy fan, and how did you keep her appearance a secret?

DAVID MICHAELS:  I want to just say that what a great job our co-host, Sheryl Underwood did in announcing it, because she saw the name on the teleprompter for the first time during the live show.  I was going to tell her that morning, but as she said, “If I was a bucket, I couldn’t hold water.”   So, very, very, very few people knew.   All through the scripts in the rundown, Amy was listed as “Presenter X.”   What happened was, the day after the press release about Judge Judy came out, Harlan Boll (NATAS publicist) forwarded me an email from a publicist that I didn’t know saying that he wanted to talk about his client presenting on the Emmys.   I called him, and he claimed to be Amy Poehler’s publicist, and I didn’t know him.  He said, “Amy Poehler is Judge Judy’s biggest fan.  She wants to present the award.”  The only stipulation is that it has to be a surprise.  Then, I went on IMDB-Pro, and checked him out, and he was indeed Amy’s publicist and for a lot of other celebrities, as well.   I called Judy’s people, and I said, “You’re not going to believe this,” and they went to Judy, and she just loved it.  I don’t even know why Amy wanted it to be a surprise, but we had to honor it.  It obviously would have done us more good pre-publicity-wise if it wasn’t a surprise, but we honored it.   We actually kept a secret in Hollywood!  I mean, David Parks knew, and maybe four other people.  I think that maybe what I am proudest of … keeping the secret.

Photo: NATAS

David Parks, did you think it would really happen?

DAVID PARKS:  You know, I am often a naysayer about things, but I actually did.  There was something legitimate about it once David vetted the manager.  There was really never any scare or anything that was like, “Oh, all of the sudden she’s busy.  All of the sudden she’s been offered this other thing.”   It was kind of like, it got arranged, and we didn’t have to do anything until that week, and then, we had to figure out the best place to drop her off and how to get Amy inside the venue with as few people as possible seeing her.   She could not have been nicer about it all too.  I mean, we got her to the closest spot, and nobody on my team knew.  Like David said, it was “Presenter X.”  Everybody kept asking.   I was like, “Not going to tell you.  Then, you don’t have to worry about keeping the secret.”

DAVID MICHAELS:  I was just very taken with how gentle and kind Amy was.  She looked me in the eye and actually thanked me for letting her do this.  She was so gracious and sweet.  The whole thing was just a great experience.

Courtesy/NATAS/Getty

Another memorable moment occurred at the end of the night, when Shemar Moore (Ex-Malcolm, Y&R and now S.W.A.T.) honored his dear friend and former on-screen Y&R brother, the late Kristoff St. John (Ex-Neil Winters) before announcing the winner in the Outstanding Drama Series category. Were you aware that Shemar was going to go off-script and talk about his love and respect for St. John?

DAVID MICHAELS:  Obviously, to this daytime community, Kristoff was very special.   I made him last in the In-Memoriam segment, which obviously was the most I could do as a producer, because there were over 30 other people who passed as well. Before he took the stage, Shemar came to the producers table and he said, “Are you sure?”  This was in regard to him saying a few words about Kristoff.  I said, “Shemar, as long as you say that you’re going off the script,” because he was.  There was nothing in the script.  I just said, “If you go out there and speak from the heart, I will have no problem with it, and I think that everybody will have no problem with it.”  He went out there, and he just killed it.  He was brilliant. I was sitting there at the producer’s table crying.  He destroyed me.  I think everybody really appreciated it, and I thought it was the perfect way to go into the final award.

DAVID PARKS:  I thought it was very genuine.  You can still feel his pain.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Next, you were able to get Kathie Lee Gifford to attend the Daytime Emmys to honor her.  How did that come together?  I assume she did not have a speech written when she addressed the crowd.  Kathie Lee is all about being “authentic”.

DAVID MICHAELS:  Correct, she actually had no speech written.  I saw her right before she went on, and she said, “Well, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.”  I said, “You’re supposed to go out there and be Kathie Lee.  You’re supposed to tell the community what you think of them.”  I also added, “I doubt this is the first time you’ve improvised,” and she laughed.  The result is what you saw, because she had not seen the tribute video before we played it, and the ladies of The Talk had actually asked to introduce Kathie Lee, because they adore her.

DAVID PARKS:  It really did come off well, because there was this concern about it not being a Lifetime Achievement Award(Not that she doesn’t deserve one, but that just wasn’t what it was this year.)  We were figuring out, how do you make this moment that is special without overshadowing the Lifetime Achievement Awards?  Kathie managed to do that.  I think it was her then winning in the Outstanding Informative Talk Show host category along with Hoda Kotb that really made it one of the most talked about moments of the show.

That award was positioned after Kathie Lee’s tribute, correct?

DAVID PARKS:  Yes, and on purpose, because in the case that she doesn’t win, you don’t want her out there kind of bumming out about it.  In all of these moments you have mentioned, the serendipity of it worked out really nicely for us.  Judy got honored, and unfortunately for her she didn’t win, but it didn’t destroy the moment.  In Kathie Lee’s case, it elevated the moment.

Courtesy/NATAS

Talking about serendipity, with Amy, Kathie Lee, Shemar, and Alex, it was almost like an organic perfect storm, and the next day people were talking about the Daytime Emmys in the mainstream press more than they had in recent years.

DAVID PARKS:  You picked up on this inclination that you have to fight sometimes to entertain, entertain, and entertain.  I think this year kind of proved that you don’t have to throw out the dog and pony show. It kind of works that you honor people, and they come out and they give these heartfelt speeches, and those mean more than those extra segments – whether it’s song or dance, or jokes, and you can tell the things that we cut out this year.  I think what it’s all about is …  getting awards, giving awards, and honoring people for their achievements.

How do you feel your co-hosts, Sheryl Underwood (The Talk) and Mario Lopez (EXTRA) did this year?  You seem to like this pairing as you have had them back multiple times now.

DAVID MICHAELS:  I thought it was Sheryl’s best year.  We didn’t give Sheryl big comedy moments, but everything she did felt so heartfelt and right.  They were there throughout the show.  They got their moments.  They got their beginning, middle, and they got their end.

DAVID PARKS:  I think as producers there was a little bit of a gift in watching what happened with the Oscars this year because it actually showed, (I mean, I’m sure it’s not what they wanted initially) not having a host kind of stream-lined that show.  People were like, “Yeah, the Oscars were pretty good this year.”  We talked about that a lot.  We don’t need to over think this.  It’s already been proven what happens if we don’t give as much to our hosts.

Photo: NATAS

Let’s talk about Alex Trebek.  That was such a huge moment when he accepted his award; winning Outstanding Game Show Host, and when he took the stage to present the Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series award.  I heard he wasn’t not feeling well at all at the ceremonies, as we all knew he is battling stage four pancreatic cancer.

DAVID MICHAELS:  I know Alex pretty well.  So, I could tell he wasn’t feeling well; even though that wasn’t what he was putting forth.  It’s interesting though because Alex originally told us he wanted to stay backstage the whole time, but once he got to the ceremony that was not what he wanted to do.  So, Alex was in the audience, and he actually surprised me.  In a similar way to what I said to Shemar.  I said, “When Alex gets out there, he’s going to get a standing ovation,” which he did, and that was the moment when I said, “Alex, if you want to say something, go ahead,” and he didn’t.  I was shocked.  He just came out and presented the Younger Actress award.  So, if Alex had not won, he never would have said anything because that’s when he got the emotion in and all of that.  He definitely took a chance.

So, Alex presents ‘Younger Actress’ and made Hayley Erin’s (Ex-GH) life, because when I did my interview with her backstage, all she talked about is what this meant to have her idol, Alex Trebek hand her the award.  Talk about serendipity!  Now, when Alex accepted his award for Outstanding Game Show Host, did you have any idea what he was going to say, because coming out of the Emmys, people were buzzing about what he shared on-stage.

DAVID MICHAELS:  No, and quite honestly, I got scared when he started that speech when he was saying he didn’t want a sympathy vote, but that’s Alex.  He will totally bring it, and then turn it around.

Photo: NATAS

DAVID PARKS:  There was a side thing that you probably didn’t know about.  We got approached by a guy looking to buy fan tickets, but they had a group who needed ADA (Americans with Disabilities) seating.   It turned out be a group of cancer patients who were terminal.  The group was SayYEStoHOPE.org.  They weren’t asking for anything.  They just wanted to be able to sit together. So, we comped them all.  I’m at the red carpet, and this group is coming up the stairs, and one of the guys from the venue says to me, “This is the ‘Say Yes to Life’ group.”  So, I start talking to them, and one of the women just had chemo that day, and they were so excited to be at the Daytime Emmys, but what they were really excited about was to see Alex Trebek.  I wish there had been a way to either acknowledge them, or to let Alex know,  because they are big Daytime television fans,  but Alex meant so much to them in terms of being a cancer survivor, and a cancer patient, just like them.

Were you worried about Alex on Emmy night?

DAVID PARKS:  I thought he looked pretty good considering what I knew he had been going through.  It was actually this past week when I read about how on Jeopardy, he was doubled over in pain on the floor.

DAVID MICHAELS:  Yeah, if you saw that CBS Sunday Morning interview, it was pretty extreme, and they showed a clip from our show, by the way.  Similar to what David described with Judge Judy and Amy, Alex stood by the monitor to see if Jeopardy was going to win, which it didn’t, and Alex was just like, “Okay,” and off he went, and I got a big hug.  Just knowing him, I think he put out a lot of energy to be there, but I think he was glad to do it.

Courtesy/NATAS

Let’s move on to another amazing moment which was General Hospital’s Maurice Benard (Sonny) finally winning his second Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor.  The crowd went crazy!  What did you think about how that happened . … and the fact that Maurice didn’t have a speech prepared?

DAVID MICHAELS:  I honestly believe Maurice that he didn’t think he was going to win.  It’s been many years since he had, and I also didn’t think that any of the other nominees could complain about losing an award to Maurice, because he’s the king.  He kept saying he couldn’t cry up there, and then, he cried up on-stage.  It really was about doing the Alzheimer’s storyline with Max Gail (Mike, GH) who totally reminds Maurice of his real father, and then, to have Max win as well, I just think it was a very emotional moment for him, and it was beautiful.

DAVID PARKS:  What impressed me is that often times you think actors should be so good at giving speeches, and they’re horrible at it because it’s not scripted.  So, when somebody does give one, and it’s really heartfelt and all of that, it’s really refreshing.  It’s kind of nice, especially on such a big award.

Photo: NATAS

DAVID MICHAELS:  In addition, Kyler Pettis (Ex-Theo, Days) win for Younger Actor in a Drama Series, was one of the most emotional things I have ever seen.  For years, I have been impressed with his portrayal of the high-functioning autistic young man.  It was always very moving to me.  If you watched the show and the close-up on him when they called his name, Kyler immediately was crying.  It really moved me.  I spoke to him the next day at The Talk, and he was completely blown away.  I just don’t think he thought this was going to happen.

What went into the decision to make the opening number “Sing!”?  Obviously, a big part of that was you were celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street.  And, I hear Mario Lopez’s son got to see the Muppets backstage, up close and personal?

DAVID MICHAELS: They always say don’t work with children and animals – but we did it – children – a dog – and two Muppets!  The dog – of course was Q-Tip – the shelter dog who came on with Lucky Dog’s Brandon McMillan. The kids were mostly from a community theatre production of MATILDA – and Joely Fisher connected us.  They included one of Joely’s daughters, Rebecca Romijn’s twins and Gary Busey’s son!  It was my concept and our musical director’s arrangement.  I thought it would be a great, positive way to start the evening.  It is always a joy to work with the Muppets – and Ryan and Leslie who do Elmo and Abby are amazing.  When Mario’s son, Nico, came in, I wanted to be careful to not shatter any illusions – so I took him over to the Muppets and he stared at them and he whispered to me: “Are they real”?  I said “Of course they are – just like you see them on TV.”  Nico says, “Can they talk?” I  say, “Of course they can.”  Then, Nico says, “Does someone have to help them talk?”  Now I am nervous and I pause, “Well … what do you think?”  He says, “I think they have some help”  Then,  he walked around back and saw the puppeteers.  The most adorable sweet child on the planet!

Photo: NATAS

There was a lot of behind the scenes drama and difficulties in the months prior to the Emmys; including the independent investigation, requests for more transparency in the awards system, the four soaps potentially boycotting, etc.  When you look back at what it took to get here, how do you feel about the outcome?

DAVID PARKS:  I’ve used this analogy a couple of times already, and I’m not a woman, but I think this is kind of what childbirth must be like.  The pain of it is so great that you think, “We can’t get through this,” and “Never again,” and afterwards, you see the baby, and all of the pain goes away.  You’re like, “Hey, we did it, and it worked.  It was really good.  It was enjoyable.”  I think, as a producer, you don’t really want people to know the difficulties.  If people understand the difficulties of getting to that night, you’ve probably done something wrong.  At the same time, I’m the last guy to crave attention, but for the people who were aware of the challenges that we had this year to see what we’ve pulled off, and when they say, “Holy cow.  Your set, your show, the smoothness…”  that is gratifying. You know, the stuff people are experiencing in the audience or the stuff that they see on the screen is what ultimately matters.  You learn from the mistakes, but at the end of the day, as long as that experience is good for the nominees, the winners, and the fans, that is what really counts.

People always want to know how it goes backstage with the handling of the envelopes.  Do you have it plotted out so that nobody except the accountants knows the winners until the big moment on-stage?  How does that work?

DAVID PARKS:  So, this year we actually had two accountants backstage.  The envelope went from the hand of the accountant to the hand of the stage manager, who then gave it to our trophy people, who give it to the presenter.  We had our fancy, new envelopes which everybody seemed to like, but literally, nobody on the staff even touched the envelopes this year.

Photo: NATAS

It seems like you have built-in a failsafe to minimize any potential complaints.

DAVID PARKS:  People always can, I guess.  It’s always been completely above board, but this year it was just even another step.  It’s important because the integrity of the awards is important.  I laugh a little bit, when somebody thinks they know if they are going to win or not because they’re trying to read something into the position of a camera in the audience.  We even added steps with how we shot it.  We told our cameramen, “Hold your shot for like 5 seconds after the announcement has been made.  So, even though your person isn’t getting up, we don’t want you to relax.”  We don’t want the person to think they’re not going to win.  The worst thing that will happen is somebody thinks they’re not going to win like a half a second before the announcement, it’s not a life-altering thing, but we still want to make the experience perfect for all nominees.

DAVID MICHAELS:  Our director Greg Gelfand, I think is the best in the business.  This is all a big pain in the butt for him.  He’s just trying to direct a show, but he was totally with us.  Greg said, “Okay, you’ve got it.”  The cameramen were great, and Greg was great.   Again, I’ll say for the 8 millionth time, I don’t know who is going to win.  It was very exciting and it was very surprising.

DAVID PARKS:  I always tell people that if anybody wanted to have proof that we don’t know in advance, all they have to do is watch David’s reaction at the producer’s table.  We find out at the same time as everybody else, and he’s like, “Oh, my God!  They won!?  That is an upset.  You don’t understand, Dave.  That is like an upset.”

Courtesy/NATAS

DAVID MICHAELS:  I know the soaps more than David does, but I’m like a little boy back there when I see who is winning.  I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” (Laughs)  The accountants sometimes will look at me like, “Did I do something wrong? (Laughs)  Look, there’s not much more we can do.  I was very proud.  I was very proud of the presenters, and I thought it was a great mix of all of the genres and the whole industry, and everybody was great in their own unique way.  There was some new blood at the show presenting and with the winners.

DAVID PARKS:  I have to interject my half into the little bit of love fest for David, because if there is one thing I think I hammered on David more than anything else this year was that we have to shorten the show.  The difference between three hours and three and a half hours or three hours and twenty minutes, is a huge difference.  I kept pushing David to simplify, to come up with simpler ways, or less verbose ways to do presentations, and he rose to the occasion, and before the show, he was like, “I’ve got to tell you, I don’t think I could have made this any shorter,” and I went through the script and there really was so little that could have been trimmed.  David really did a great job of answering the call and writing something that got us through a lot faster than last year.  We got a lot of comments after that said it didn’t feel like three hours.  Part of that was that it wasn’t three hours and thirty minutes.  It was actually three hours.

DAVID MICHAELS:   David Parks is the perfect foil for me and me for him.  Because we are so different, we don’t fight, but we will have words sometimes, and one of us will win, but it’s always the right decision.  One of the reasons I love working with him so much is that if he is giving me a hard time about something, there is a reason for it, and I have to really consider what he is saying.  I think that is a really healthy way to work.

Photo: JPI Studios

What would you like to see happen for the next Daytime Emmy Awards presentation?

DAVID MICHAELS:  I’d love for somebody to give us a million dollars so that we can do the most lavish show in the world.  I’d love to keep the heart going.   The one bad thing about finishing a good show is that you always take a breath and say, “Now … what do we do next time?”

DAVID PARKS:  For me, it’s that you always want to keep shows like this fresh.  It doesn’t always mean completely reinventing the wheel, but sometimes, you step back, and you think, “What can we do to freshen this up so that it’s not just a repeat?”  That can have to do with the set.   You just have to look at everything and also recognize that the best moments, as we learned this year, you can’t manufacture those.  They’re just going to happen organically.  So, you just have to create a show that allows those moments to happen, and like David said, money solves problems.  We will certainly be looking for additional sponsorship, and to build on the great ratings that we’ve had this year, and the fact that we have continued to build this event up over the years.

Courtesy/NATAS

Would you ever consider, or continue to try to get the ceremony back on TV, perhaps even on daytime television, if some network would offer you a spot to do it in?

DAVID MICHAELS:  There is nothing we wouldn’t consider.   Although I will say; that if the numbers are what we think they were this year, there were probably more than three times as many viewers as the last time we were on television.

DAVID PARKS:  I’ve always said that if they were to be on TV again, if they were to be on during the day, which is when our fans are watching TV anyway, it would make sense,  However, I have to say that I think the Daytime Emmys being at sort of the forefront of digital television puts us way out in front.  Eventually, this is how everybody is going to be watching TV.  It’s not going to be like, “Oh, we’re not on basic, terrestrial TV.”  It doesn’t matter.

DAVID MICHAELS:  You’ve got to realize that this audience is worldwide.  Being on television is not.  So, when you see that people are watching all over the world, that’s pretty amazing.

So, what did you think about what David & David shared about decisions made for the Emmy ceremony and the backstage tidbits?  How would you score this year’s Daytime Emmys? What was your favorite moment within it? Comment below.

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General Hospital

Steve Burton Interview – General Hospital – 46th Annual Daytime Emmys Red Carpet

On the red carpet at the 46th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, General Hospital’s Steve Burton (Jason Morgan) chats with Michael Fairman.

During their conversation, Steve weighs-in on the nominated scenes of Laura Wright’s which also featured him, and the friendship of Jason and Carly, plus how he told Maurice Benard (Sonny) that he had to submit himself in the Lead Actor category; an award in which Maurice won that night.

Later, Burton laughs as Michael reveals that in his recent interview with Coby Ryan McLaughlin (Shiloh), the actor said that he can and wants to take down the character of Jason; to which Steve rebutted here that it ain’t going to happen.

Finally. Steve talks on the success of his road show and podcast with buddy and castmate, Bradford Anderson (Spinelli)

Watch the interview below. Then let us know, do you like the scenes between  Jason and Carly? Do you want Shiloh or Jason to have the upper hand in their rivalry? Comment below.

For more red carpet and backstage interviews from the 46th annual Daytime Emmy Awards visit the Michael Fairman Channel here.

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Days Of Our Lives

Ron Carlivati Interview – Days of our Lives – 46th Annual Daytime Emmys Red Carpet

Days of our Lives head writer, Ron Carlivati chats with Michael Fairman on the red carpet at the 46th annual Daytime Emmy Awards.  Carlivati and his writing team were nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series; an award they won last year.

Ron reveals to Michael that the reels submitted in the writing category were different than those submitted for Outstanding Drama Series; with the writing submissions centering around Marlena (Deidre Hall) and John’s (Drake Hogestyn) wedding and her shooting … and then the aftermath in the hospital where Marlena’s children and John have to say goodbye to her fearing she will not pull through her medical crisis.

Later, Carlivati discusses how he has become more firmly entrenched in the land of Salem after being an ABC Daytime guy for most of his life; following writing for One Life to Live and General Hospital.

Watch the interview below.  Then let us know, what did you think of Ron’s choice for the writing award? Should DAYS have toppled Y&R on the strength of those reels? Comment below.

For more 46th annual Daytime Emmy Red Carpet and backstage interviews visit the Michael Fairman Channel here.

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GH icon Genie Francis chats with Michael Fairman about her return to the soap as Laura after being taken off-contract earlier this year. Leave A Comment

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