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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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To view video clips…click here
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General Hospital

Bryan Craig Talks Javi In ‘Grand Hotel’, Recasting GH’s Morgan, And His Post-Daytime Career

When Grand Hotel finally makes its highly-anticipated debut this summer (Monday night, June 17th) on ABC, soap opera fans will see some very familiar faces in primo roles as this sudsy drama, based on the Spanish series Gran Hotel, tells the story of a family-owned hotel in Miami, the people who run it, and all of the secrets they keep from one another.

Brought to you by executive producers Eva Longoria and Ben Spector, the show explores the family dynamic of the Mendoza family. Longoria herself will play a mother in four episodes of the show, as well.

General Hospital fans will take note that Daytime Emmy-winner, Bryan Craig (Ex-Morgan Corinthos) is front and center in the cast as Javi Mendoza, the troubled son of the family who has some major obstacles in front of him.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Craig during the recent ABC TCA’s Press Tour for the network to get some insight into his new role, how he would feel if GH would recast the role of Morgan (he recently propped up former DAYS star Billy Flynn as a potential viable candidate) and what it has been like post-daytime in his burgeoning career in film and TV.  Here’s what he had to say about his TV life past and present.

What has this experience been like for you taping the episodes of Grand Hotel and working with such a stellar cast?

BRYAN:  It’s been incredible   It feels like it went by so fast.  It’s an awesome group of people.  We’ve got a fun show.

How would you say your character of Javi Mendoza stacks up against GH’s Morgan Corinthos?

BRYAN:  I think it’s one of the most layered characters that I’ve ever played.  There’s a lot going on with Javi.  He has a big disability, kind of like Morgan did.  It’s a physical disability, and there are a lot of challenges that come along with that.  He also has a substance problem.  So, some of the same issues and in the same world that Morgan was in.  Javi is a very troubled character, but he is also a lot of fun, and a ladies’ man … and sleeps with a lot of women! (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you think the audience will care for Javi, though?  

BRYAN:  Oh yeah, one hundred percent.  He was written in a very kind-hearted manner.  He’s a great guy, who has had a tough life.

Did they put you through a audition process to nab the role in Grand Hotel?

BRYAN:  They had read hundreds and hundreds of people for this role.  I came in at the tail end of it, and then the process went pretty quickly.  I read once, and the next think I knew, I was in a room with Eva Longoria and director, Ken Olin.  Then two days later, I was testing with Eva, and then I got the call that I had the part.

You’re a part of the core family, the Mendozas, on Grand Hotel, and on GH, you were part of the Corinthos clan.  How do the family dynamics stack-up?

BRYAN:  It’s pretty special.  There are a lot of similarities.  It feels like we have kind of shifted GH into prime-time.  In Grand Hotel, we have Demián Bichir, who plays Santiago Mendoza, and he is my Sonny Corinthos now.   They gave us a very heavy, heavy storyline … just like they gave Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH) and me.   So, I think the fans are really going to buy into it.   ABC, (I think) wanted to marry that bond a little bit, and I feel it was very apparent in the writing.  This network has been very good to me.

Courresy/ABC

Did you know that your co-star Denyse Tontz was in Prospect Park’s All My Children reboot as Miranda Montgomery and had a soap past, as well?

BRYAN:  Yes! I did know that.  Denyse plays my sister on Grand Hotel and we work together a lot on the show.  There were quite a few people on the show who came from soaps.  Even some guest stars who came in were big in soap at points.

So, this kind of all  worked out for you!  You left General Hospital, and landed a major primetime series, plus your other movie roles!

BRYAN:  It was a scary move, but it worked out.  I did a few things; a couple of movies, and I did a show for CW for a while, and then this.  So, it’s been back-to-back.  I’ve been fortunate.

Courtesy/ABC

How would you feel if General Hospital, ultimately, recast the role of Morgan?

BRYAN:  You know, if it was to behoove the show, then so be it.   I feel like it was a pretty nice end for me there, but I can’t sit here and be selfish and be like, “I’m the last person who could play that role!”  Would that be awesome?  I mean, yeah!  But, who knows?  They’ve got to do what’s best for the show.

GH’s Maurice Benard had great story in 2018 with the Alzheimer’s storyline involving Sonny’s dad, Mike Corbin (Max Gail).  Had you been checking it out at all?

BRYAN:  I know!   I do keep up with Maurice a lot.   We are good friends.

To remind those who have not seen the trailer to Grand Hotel check it out below.  Will you be watching Bryan in his exciting new role on Grand Hotel? Will you be OK with a Morgan recast on GH, or hope the show will wait for Bryan to return one day? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Melody Thomas Scott Chats On 40 Years As The Young and the Restless’ Incomparable Nikki: The Men, The Booze, The Drama

Today marks Y&R icon Melody Thomas Scott’s 40th anniversary with the top-rated daytime drama series.  While CBS plans to air a special standalone episode (Nikki is in the slammer for confessing to J.T.’s murder, and she will reflect on her life in an emotional look-back), Michael Fairman sat down with the popular and beloved star for a deep dive into four decades in the life of stripper-turned-socialite, Nikki Newman for The Michael Fairman Channel.

During the interview, Melody first addresses her sadness at the loss of her longtime friend and co-star Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters): “I adored him.  I love him to bits.  I loved working with him; such a wonderful actor.  I don’t even know if he knew how good he was.”

When discussing Nikki’s colorful past, and when Y&R planned to have Nikki strip again decades later, Melody revealed she did refuse to play it: “That’s right, and I very rarely put the kibosh on anything on this show,  I was 48-years-old.  The head writer called me and I was up in hair and make-up.  They heard me say, ‘I’m 48-years-old .. that’s just not happening.”‘

Photo: TheMichaelFairmanChannel

Over the years, Nikki has faced many battles, perils ,and demons including her addiction to alcohol which has provided many a juicy story for Thomas Scott.  As to the fans always loving to see a ‘boozy’ Nikki, Melody remarked;  “Yes!  They love it!  I have great fun with it and I think it’s wonderful.”

During a segment of the conversation, Michael shows Melody some photos of Nikki’s past loves, and gets her thoughts on why Nikki fell for those men, and what it was like working with her co-stars through the years: John Enos (Bobby), Doug Davidson (Paul), Heath Kizzier (Joshua), Wings Hauser (Greg), Don Diamont (Brad), Vincent Irizarry (David), Peter Bergman (Jack), Sean Kanan (Deacon, and of course, her longtime on-screen partner Eric Braeden (Victor).

Later, Melody reminisces about her time working with the late great Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) and when asked by Fairman what she thinks Jeanne would say about her 40th anniversary milestone, Melody replied: “She would say, ‘I’m (bleeping) proud of you Mel!”‘

Photo: CBS

Check out the entire interview with Melody below (make sure to also subscribe to the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube for more feature interviews), and following that the special CBS promo honoring Melody’s 40th anniversary with Y&R.  Then let us know, what has been your favorite Nikki Newman moment over the last 40 years? Share your thoughts via the comment section below,

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Interviews

Executive Producer Michael Levitt Previews The Adorable 2019 ‘American Rescue Dog Show’

Dog lovers everywhere get ready! Coming your way on Sunday, February 17th and Monday, February 18th, the good folks at the Hallmark Channel will air a two-night special event (8pmET/7pmCT) that puts a spin on the traditional competitive elite dog shows, while at the same time championing an important cause for man’s best friend.

The 2019 American Rescue Dog Show honors some of the cutest rescue dogs from around the country going paw-to-paw in categories that will tickle-your-funny-bone, bring a smile to your face, or, potentially shed a tear.  This marks the second year for this oh-so-heartwarming show, where in its first year, it beat the Westminster Dog Show in the ratings; much to the delight of rescue dogs and their families, who take these wonderful animals into their homes.

The brainchild behind the concept is the executive producer of the event. Michael Levitt (Skin Wars, Daytime Emmys, TV Land Awards), who spoke with Michael Fairman TV to give us all the inside dish and insight into why this dog show is so personally important to him, and how its goal is to create awareness about the plight of millions of abandoned dogs in shelters each year, and to inspire viewers to think about rescuing one of these loveable pups.

Levitt has a collection of notable hosts and judges along for the ride who bring this one-of-a-kind doggy competition to life from the world of TV, film, and animal advocacy.  So, for the lowdown on the competition and more, here’s what Michael shared.

Photo: Crown Media

For those who want to check out the two-night event, is the American Rescue Dog Show in the same vein as the Westminster Dog Show, where the dogs are competing? 

MICHAEL: The format of the show is similar to a fancy dog show, such as Westminster, however, on the American Rescue Dog Show, we aren’t “judging” the dog.  In our show, they all have to be rescue dogs that are spayed or neutered in order to compete, and we are not judging them based on their bloodlines, we are celebrating their cuteness in such categories as, “Best in Wiggle Butt,” “Best in Couch Potato,” “Best in Snoring,” “Best in Special Needs,” and  “Best in Senior Dog” – those are obviously some of the most important.   We have the fancy arena floor with the judges and the tuxedos.  We filmed it at the Pomona Fairplex, which is the same place that they film the Beverly Hills Dog Show.

And you have a bevy of dog-loving celebrity judges along for the ride, too!

MICHAEL: Yes, and this year we are lucky to have the support of celebrity animal advocates that include: Lisa Vanderpump, Debbie Gibson, Brandon McMillan, host of CBS’s Lucky Dog, Bill Berloni, who is the dog trainer to a lot of the dogs on Broadway, and Dirty Job’s Mike Rowe.  Our prerequisites for them to be a judge were: they all needed to be rescue-friendly.  So, they either needed to have a rescue dog of their own or support rescue in some way.  Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell are the hosts this year, along with Ross Matthews and Home & Family’s Larissa Wall, who served as co-hosts and cover all of the action ringside.

Photo: Crown Media

So, did the judges get along?  Did they differ on their top picks?

MICHAEL: The judges absolutely got along famously, but as a producer of the show, I was a fly on the wall listening to them when they were deliberating as they were picking a winner.  That was quite entertaining, because each of them had a strong point of view on the dog, or dogs that they thought should win the competition. We found ourselves throughout the filming just turning to each other and saying, “I don’t know how the judges are going to pick just one, because they are all just so incredibly special.”

How was Lisa Vanderpump? 

MICHAEL:  Lisa was wonderful!  When she was being interviewed by Rebecca and Jerry O’Connell, they asked her what she would say to a potential family that is about to buy a dog from a breeder, and it was such a profound moment, because as someone who comes from her socioeconomic level, from her privilege, to see that she has embraced rescue might be incredibly meaningful to someone who might think that rescue dogs are second-hand animals.  Lisa Vanderpump disproves that just by being there, and being a part of it.

Photo: Crown Media

How did you decide on Rebecca and Jerry as your hosts with the most?

MICHAE:  I have a long history with Rebecca from producing my show, Skin Wars, which she hosts.  I knew that she and Jerry had four rescue dogs of their own, and that she is incredibly passionate about rescue and shedding light and creating awareness about the plight of animals that are sheltered.  They were not only organic and authentic to the cause, but they were a lot of fun and clearly had a lot of natural chemistry.  They also brought their own rescue dogs to the show, as did Lisa Vanderpump.  So that was fun.

You have two wonderful dogs of your own.  So, this is your passion project!

MICHAEL: This is a true labor of love for me, because in 2011 when my sister, Jennifer was dying of cancer, my partner and I decided to rescue a dog, and we rescued a pit bull named Trooper, and Trooper rocked our world.  My sister met him four days before she died, and it’s that old adage of “Who rescued who.”  Trooper really was there for me during a really difficult time of my life. I learned first-hand how special not only rescue dogs are, but pit bulls, and that really was the beginning of my animal advocacy.  I ended up taking a year off from producing just to rescue dogs.  I realized at the end of that year, that as a rescuer, I am saving one dog at a time, but as a producer, I could do so much more to bring awareness to the plight of animals in our shelters by creating rescue-themed programming.

Pit bulls seem to always get a bad rap.  Do you feel that way?

MICHAEL:  They absolutely get a bad rap, and after we rescued Trooper, we rescued another pit bull named Nelson, and it was really the two of them who inspired me to get heavily involved in rescue and to be an advocate for pit bulls.  With pit bulls it is such a unique human-animal bond that you don’t find with any other breed.  All they really want to do is please their humans, and it is absolutely true that when you hear these horrific stories about pit bulls on the news, these are rare incidents of pit bulls who have fallen into the hands of bad people who have treated them badly.  It’s really unfair to profile and entire breed of dog, because all dog breeds have some dogs that have behavioral problems.  I have come in contact with thousands of pit bulls, and I have only met one that was human-aggressive, and that dog was severely, severely abused.  Every other pit bull I have come in contact with has been nothing but incredibly sweet.

Photo: Crown Media

So, last year’s American Rescue Dog Show is currently in the running to earn a Daytime Emmy nomination in the ‘Special Class Special’ programming category!

MICHAEL:  Yes, “Special Class Special”. (Laughs)

You obviously know who wins this weekend’s American Rescue Dog Show competition.  Were you happy with the winner? 

MICHAEL:  Yes, but you can imagine how difficult it is for the judges to pick a winner because every single dog in the competition is beyond adorable. It is really the dogs who deliver on the show, and that’s what makes the show so heartwarming.  The real purpose of the show is to inspire the viewers to rescue their next dog from their local shelter, or rescue organization, so that people who are watching turn to the person they are with and say, “Honey, I didn’t know you could get a pure-bred dog at a shelter!  Let’s rescue our next dog!”  We have really powerful segments in the show about the joy of adopting a senior dog, or a special-needs dog.  We do a segment on debunking the myths about pit bulls, and we have messaging on why it is important to spay and neuter your dog.  So, through this wonderfully entertaining program, we are also educating people and hopefully touching their heart and their soul and inspiring them to be a part of the solution by rescuing their next dog; instead of being a part of the problem by purchasing a dog from a pet store or breeder.

Photo: Crown Media

When you look at what you have to take on as a producer when you do this type of show; as opposed to any other type of production you have helmed, what are the major differences?

MICHAEL: The biggest distinction is that on this show we are dealing with living animals, so I take that responsibility very seriously.  First and foremost: is the safety and well-being of the dogs that are participating on the show.  We have to consider everything from making sure that the animals are up-to-date with their vaccinations to having veterinarians on hand, having production personal on-hand standing by with treats and pooper-scoopers. This also means that the dogs are being treated like VIPs.  So, we have a VIP room, but that stands for “Very Important Pooch”, and all of the dogs that are participating have their own dressing rooms with a star on it and their name.  There were over 130 dogs that actually participated from all over the country.  In addition, we had a gifting suite like they do on the Oscars and Golden Globes, but on this show, they didn’t get swag bags, they got “Wag Bags”.

Knowing you as I do, it seems a lot this creative from the categories in the competition, to the backstage VIP room, are very YOU!

MICHAEL:  I have an incredible team of producers who I collaborate with.  None of this would be possible without the good people at Hallmark being such incredible animal advocates.  Specifically, Bill Abbott, who is one of the few network executives in the industry who is really walking the walk and doing so much to be supportive of dogs and cats who need homes.  So, this is right up my alley, because creatively I am so passionate about it that it is so easy to come up with fun ideas that hopefully resonate with the viewers.

Photo: Crown Media

Are there any other fun moments that you can tease?

MICHAEL:  We are celebrating the perfectly imperfect.  So, we love when a dog decides to roll on his back in the middle of the arena and decide he wants to get a belly rub in the middle of the competition.  We had a dog decide that he had to go potty on the middle of a flower arrangement on the arena floor.  Those are the moments that give the show its heart and feel-good sensibility.  We had a couple of dogs in the “Best Wiggle Butt” category where one of their forever parent brings them out initially, and their other forever parent was on the other side of the area, and we removed their leash so that they can run from one parent to the other so that we can really see their butts moving, but … we had a few dogs get so excited that they ran right out of the arena! (Laughs)  They ran right through the tunnel off stage and come running back in, and the whole audience erupted into laughter.  It’s just magical.

How did you find these dogs to compete? 

MICHAEL:  We put out a call-to-action on social media, and we got thousands of responses. People submitted their rescue dogs in as many categories as they qualified for, and they submitted photos and videos. Then, we have a team of producers and rescue experts who go through all of the submissions, ultimately picking the top semi-finalists in each category who come to Los Angeles to compete.  We had a wonderful partnership with Pedigree Foundation in which they provided $100,000 in grant money for the dogs that win for the rescue that saved him or her.  So, in the ten semi-final categories, each winning dog received a $5,000 grant for the rescue that saved him or her, and then the ultimate winner of the competition, which is crowned the title, “Best in Rescue,” received an additional $30,000 for the rescue that saved him or her, again, courtesy of Pedigree Foundation.  We also had a partnership with adoptapet.com, which is the largest online resource for people to find rescue dogs in their own communities. Throughout the show, we have a call-to-action for people to go to hallmark.com/bestinrescue and look for the adopt a pet icon … they click it… then enter their zip code … and they are instantly linked to thousands of available dogs in their own community who are patiently waiting for a loving home.

Photo: Crown Media

The dog handlers are the owners of these pets?

MICHAEL:  Yes.  We call it a member of their “forever family”.  Several of the dogs on the show are service dogs now, or companion animals, working in senior homes or working with military service people suffering from PTSD.  We celebrate each and every one of them.

Is your hope to do a third annual show, and keep the dog rescue competition going?

MICHAEL:  Yes!  My hope is that this show continues to be on for many years to come and be a platform for the 8 million animals that enter our shelters each year and are patiently waiting for their forever home, and that we can continue to be a voice for these dogs that don’t have voices of their own.  Of all of the shows that I have produced over the years, this one is going to be the most meaningful to me, and is going to be my legacy, because it is such a beautiful thing that I can bring my work and my passion together to hopefully make a difference in the lives of all of these animals.  As a result of this show, we heard from numerous shelters across the country that there was a definite uptick in adoptions.  That warms my heart beyond compare.

In closing, you know what they say:  it’s easier to work with animals than humans! Thoughts? (Laughs)

MICHAEL:  Every show has its challenges, but I would much rather deal with a diva Chihuahua than a diva celebrity.  So, on that level, this show is pure joy to make.

So, will you be watching this heartwarming, creative two-night rescue dog event?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below, but first, check out this behind-the-scenes video of how the American Rescue Dog Show is put together with co-host, Ross Matthews.

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