ATWT’s Colleen Zenk’s 32 year run as Barbara Ryan ends this Friday. The actress caught up with TV Guide to share her thoughts on the shows final moments, her real life cancer battle and how it affected her both on and off the television screen, and how through it all she still brought joy to the role that has made her beloved to long time fans of As the World Turns. Here are a few excerpts!
Zenk on how she is feeling with just a few episodes left to air! “All I can think is why? The cancellation makes no sense. The last few episodes have been wrenching. Oh, my God! Those scenes with John and Lucinda! And Reid’s death! And the ashes! It’s all so emotional and poignant. I just can’t believe we only have a couple of episodes left because I still haven’t dealt with the loss of the show and the loss of Barbara. To continue shooting months and months after we got the cancellation notice created a grand illusion. It was easy to fall into a place of denial and say “We’re fine!” because we were still telling great stories. Someone told me it took Victoria Wyndham five years to accept the loss of Another World. [Laughs] I’m a different kind of human being than that, but the loss is still huge.”
Zenk on dealing with her cancer battle in such a public way: “I had a lot of resistance at home and elsewhere about taking it public. But I did it anyway. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but I had tremendous emotional support from everyone at work. Procter & Gamble didn’t have to keep me employed, and certainly not under contract, after I got sick. They could easily have said, “This is not going to work.” The show worked around all my surgeries and treatments and radiation. And I sounded like hell for a very long time, and I didn’t look so good, either. I’m told no one can hear my speech impediment anymore. I sure can hear it, and it doesn’t sound so good to me. But people have ignored it, and that’s extraordinary. Having that kind of love all around really changes you. Having that unrelenting, unquestioning, no-holds-barred kind of love was what kept me alive.”
John Wesley Shipp, best known to daytime fans for his roles on As the World Turns, Guiding Light, One Life to Live et al, and primetime fans for his role in The Flash, shared a heartfelt health update via his Instagram.
While Shipp did not go into specifics, he did say he underwent surgery earlier in September for an urgent medical issue.
In his post, accompanying by his photo, John expressed: “Hello out there! Friends and contacts have written recently, like, “where are you? are you ok?” Well, here’s the deal: I had surgery early this month for a health issue that had to be dealt with immediately. All went well, but I’ve had to postpone a theatre production and personal appearances as the recoup will take some weeks. I do read and appreciate what you share with me, that you entrust me with your thoughts and feelings. You are ever on my mind and in my heart, and I look forward to getting active and out there again as soon as possible. Until then, remember to play nice, be kind, and stay engaged! Our futures depend on it.”
John’s soap resume is quite impressive having portrayed: Dr. Kelly Nelson/Victor Laszlo on Guiding Light, Doug Cummings on As the World Turns, Martin Ellis on Santa Barbara, Carter Jones on All My Children and Eddie Ford on One Life to Live. Shipp won two Daytime Emmys along the way.
More recently, John has appeared in primetime’s, Arrow, The Flash, Stargirl and countless other TV appearances.
Share your well-wishes for a speedy recovering to John via the comment section below.
‘As the World Turns’ Alum Martha Byrne Speaks Out On Conviction Against Her Husband, Michael McMahon: “We are Fighting Till the End”
June 26, 2023
If you have been following two-time Daytime Emmy-winning actress, Martha Byrne’s (ex-Lily, As the World Turns) social media accounts or have been following news reports, Byrne is adamantly speaking out about charges and a conviction levied against her husband, former decorated NYPD sergeant-turned-licensed private investigator, Michael McMahon.
The couple share three children together and have been married for over 30 years. Last week, McMahon was preparing to go back to work. However, Michael was blindsided when a Brooklyn federal court convicted him and two others accused of stalking a New Jersey couple on behalf of China.
McMahon told the New York Post, that he felt betrayed by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Clarifying further, Michael felt he and his family with Martha Byrne where being made scapegoats in the DOJ’s first case against Operation Fox Hunt, which is the Chinese Communist Party’s anti-corruption campaign that targets Chinese nationals abroad. It also targets former government officials and others suspected of economic crimes against China.
In the case against McMahon, he was hired in fall of 2016 by what he believed was a translation company from New Jersey to do surveillance on a luxury New Jersey home occupied by a relative of Xu Jin and Liu Fang, and to use public records to find companies and other assets registered to the couple. He was then informed that Xu and Liu had had stolen money from a construction company, and the people who hired him wanted to find where the cash had gone. However, McMahon says what he was not told was that Xu was a former official in Wuhan, who had fled China amid allegations of corruption.
McMahon said that when he conducted surveillance as he had done on numerous other cases. However, what he did not know was that his work was used in a civil suit in New Jersey in 2018 against Xu and others by a Chinese construction group that alleged that they had embezzled millions from that company.
Things took a bad turn in October of 2020 when 12 federal agents surrounded McMahon and Byrne’s home. Michael was arrested, but it wasn’t your normal arrest, he detailed. McMahon didn’t think he needed a lawyer so he spoke to the FBI agents. He had wanted to help the government.
Byrne shared, “He was being as transparent as he possibly could. Instead, they turned everything against him and made him look like the devil in court. I’ve never seen such dark forces trying to portray him as an unlawful person.”
McMahon was charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act by working for the Chinese government without telling the State Department, and with conspiracy to commit interstate stalking.
Byrne answered one soap fan’s inquiry to clarify what exactly happened to her husband in a Facebook post. She expressed: “He was hired to find assets on a civil matter. never asked to do ANYTHING illegal. The FBI let the Chinese agents flee, who were operating some scheme separately and unbeknownst to my husband, so the FBI turned their attention to an innocent man to save face. They took legal work as a PI and deemed it criminal for their own purposes. This is VERY VERY scary for every US citizen.”
In the NY Post account, it details that the DOJ shifted its focus to Operation Fox Hunt, targeting private investigators across the country, including McMahon.
Currently Michael is not allowed to be a private detective until this case is overturned. He shared: “I didn’t harass or stalk anyone, and if I had been asked to do so, or if I had suspected that my clients worked for the Chinese Communist Party, I would have contacted the FBI right away and not proceeded with the job.”
Byrne expressed: “The DOJ knew this problem existed, that private investigators were being used, they knew the patterns well, but they communicated none of this until after Mike’s arrest … We are fighting to the end.”
McMahon’s lawyer will file a post-trial motion next month to overturn the conviction.
On her Twitter account, Martha shared their lawyer’s, Lawrence Lustberg’s statement: “We are obviously very disappointed with today’s verdict and feel strongly that it is not consistent with the evidence in the case but more importantly, is not consistent with the truth. That truth is that Michael McMahon never had any idea that he was working for the Chinese Government. If he had, he would not have taken the job or done the work he did. His work in this case was the normal every day work of a private investigator and Mike’s conviction on the stalking counts, as a practical matter, criminalizes the work of private investigators in every case. We will file post-trial motions and, if necessary appeal, until all possible appeals and lawful avenues to challenge this verdict have been exhausted. And I believe that we will ultimately prevail because this conviction is a terrible injustice, one that I do not believe our legal system will allow to stand.”
What do you think about the conviction of Martha Bryne’s husband, Michael McMahon and by all accounts how he has been wrongly convicted? Comment below.
Pride Month Celebrating LGBTQ+ Soap Supercouples: Nuke, Kish, Otalia & WilSon … Which Stands the Test of Time?
June 2, 2023
June is Pride Month, the time when across the U.S and the world there are celebrations and commemorations to recognize all who identify as LGBTQ and their allies.
Daytime soap operas have had a rocky road when it comes to the representation of same-sex couples. The soaps have been at one time leaders in portraying key social issues of our time, as well as treading lightly on other subjects, as to its concerns to ‘turn-off’ its core audiences.
When you look back at the groundbreaking first same-sex weddings, and the first gay kiss, the soaps have come far in some ways in their representations of gay characters, but there is always work to be done to serve and to shed light on the under-represented.
As we reflect back to the then and the now, which LGBTQ soap supercouple remains your favorite and had made a lasting impact? Let’s take a look at four duos who captivated many viewers.
Nuke – Luke Snyder and Noah Mayer – As the World Turns
Van Hansis (Luke) and Jake Silbermann (Noah) were a key part of the evolution of, and representation of LGBTQ character on the soaps. ‘Nuke’, as they were known as, became the first gay male soap couple to share an on-screen kiss back in 2007. ATWT also became known as the first soap to depict a fully realized romantic male couple as an integral part of the show. There was plenty of backlash along the way for the long-awaited kiss to happen, but when it did, the show moved forward to tell their love story.
When Crystal Chappell (Olivia) and Jessica Leccia (Natalia) began to play the love story of Otalia, they had to show their affection by a kiss on the head, or holding hands. It took quite some time for GL to move forward to have two women, two moms, no less, share a lip lock. The complicated love story featured Natalia being conflicted to face her true romantic feelings for Olivia, because of her value system and religions upbringing, and that made this all the more riveting and frustrating at the same time. In the end, the rabid fan base for this duo was so great that Chappell wound up creating her own series, Venice, to honor and serve them, remaining one of the LGBTQ communities greatest allies.
Kish – Kyle Lewis and Oliver Fish – One Life to Live
In 2009, One Life to Live’s Kyle Lewis (Brett Claywell) was an out lab tech in Llanview, who back in college had a relationship with Officer Oliver Fish (Scott Evans). It imploded when Oliver denied he was gay. For years, Oliver remained in the closet, before finally coming out to himself and Kyle.
Kish had been a big success with the media and One Life’s gay audience. LGBTQ-advocacy groups honored the couple and the story. However, Kish was cut short when the network felt that the data showed that the storyline was not resonating with the show’s core audience.
WilSon – Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis – Days of our Lives
Days of our Lives delivered daytime’s first-ever gay male wedding in 2014, between Will (then played by Guy Wilson) and Sonny (then played by Freddie Smith).
In an interview with EW, Days of our Lives executive producer, Ken Corday shared on the union, “Will and Sonny have been together for a while and it was the natural progression of their love story. We didn’t feel like there was anything we could or couldn’t do, we treated them like any other couple on the canvas and continued to grow their romance as such.”
In addition, the coming out story of Will Horton was critically praised and noteworthy for the performances of Chandler Massey, who won three Daytime Emmys for his work in the Outstanding Younger Actor category 2012, 2013 and 2014. Freddie Smith also won in the same category in 2015. Will has been played over the years by Chandler Massey and Guy Wilson, while Sonny has been portrayed by Freddie Smith and Zach Tinker.
There have been several other key LGBTQ couples throughout the course of daytime history including All My Children’s Bianca (Eden Riegel) and Reese (Tamara Braun). These two characters were involved in the first same-sex lesbian wedding on daytime. Problem was … Reese kissed Zach (Thorsten Kaye) before the wedding, making this infuriating for viewers at home.
Other notable LGBTQ couples through the years have included: Bianca and Maggie on All My Children, Mariah and Tessa of The Young and the Restless played bv Camryn Grimes and Cait Fairbanks, Maya and Rick on The Bold and the Beautiful, Lucas and Brad on General Hospital and others.
Which couple do you think has had the most lasting impact on the history of LGBTQ representation on daytime soap operas? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.