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B&B’s Jacqueline MacInnes Wood Talks Steffy’s Opioid Addiction Storyline, The Emotional Scenes & Adjustments Made Due To COVID-19

Photo: Gilles Toucas/Bell-Phillip Television

If you have been watching CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful over the last two weeks, you have witnessed the compelling and important storyline unfold with Steffy Forrester (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) at its epicenter.  In a harrowing tale of opioid addiction that can so easily happen to anyone given the circumstances, the daytime drama took on a social issue prevalent and rising in our society today.

This story gave Daytime Emmy-winner, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood another chance to shine in some of the most deeply affecting episodes and scenes in soaps of 2020.  In story, after Bill Spencer (Don Diamont) accidently hit Steffy with his car while she was on her motorcycle; she became hospitalized to treat her injuries. Once there, she met new love interest, Dr. Finnegan or as the show calls him “Finn” played by newcomer, Tanner Novlan. Finn prescribes pain medication for her. But before you know it, once Steffy is out of the hospital and back at home she struggles with the pain and the isolation of her life, and the losses she has experienced over the last many months, and before you know it, she is addicted, and no longer getting the pills from her doctor, but by any means possible.

Last week, we named Jacqui’s work the ‘Power Performance of the Week’, but we are also giving it to her again this week for her masterful performance on Tuesday’s episode, where Steffy breaks down after being confronted by Finn, Liam (Scott Clifton) and her father, Ridge (Thorsten Kaye) and finally coming to the stark realization that she is an addict.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Jacqueline MacInnes Wood after all the key scenes had aired to: get the inside Intel on what went down taping those moments, and how the show made some important decisions amid the coronavirus pandemic about the telling of this storyline. Here is what Jacqui had to say about: her co-stars, herself, and what she learned about those who struggle with addiction.

Courtesy/CBS

How did you feel about being handed the ball to tell this important story, and how much were you told ahead of time?

JACQUELINE: Originally, I was told that we were going to tell this story, and that was before Covid-19.  So, it was literally the week before we went into lockdown, and we were about to dive into this story. Obviously, I am so grateful to be able to tell this story because traditionally The Bold and the Beautiful has a long list of social stories that we are known for telling.  It is something that that we need to talk about because it is happening, and it is happening everywhere.  Someone knows somebody – it is in our family, or our friends are dealing with this, and I didn’t realize how close to home it was for so many people.  I think that with our show, the way we balance drama, and romance, and real social issues that really touch people, is special.  I noticed that throughout this week with so many people reaching out to me.  People who are police officers, to people who actually work with people who are addicted, people who were addicted have reached out to me.  There have been a lot, but I’m very honored, again, to dive into this story.

A lot of fans and viewers remarked along the lines of “Wow, Steffy got addicted very fast,” because it felt like the story kind of accelerated itself, and some people are like, “Well, they just told it too fast.”  I wondered how you felt about that, knowing what you know about soap operas and research you may have done on addictions.

JACQUELINE:  I did some research on YouTube on opioid addiction from first-hand accounts of addicts and the effect on just them, but also on the grief it had caused their families. I originally had mistakenly thought, “It must take years to become addicted,” and I was very surprised by how quickly and easily one can be trapped in pain management, and many cases are heartbreaking.  You always think, with opioids, “Oh, this can’t happen to a lot of people,” but it’s not just, “Oh, the ‘crackhead’ down the street…”  It could be a mom, or these people who have a surgery, or an accident, and then they just get on these pills, and it happens so quickly.  Yes, the storyline happened extremely fast, but there is truth to it because addiction does happen very quickly in this world.  The other thing I have to say, I think what Brad Bell (executive producer and head writer, B&B) did so elegantly, is that we were going to tell this story, and we were going to tell this story for a very long time.  I love that he was very perceptive to this – that we are in a dark time right now.  It’s a dark world, and I think that it is important, again, to shed some light on this, but we didn’t want to necessarily drag it on too long because it’s like, you watch every news outlet, and it’s depressing, and it’s depressing everywhere.  Before Covid-19, this story would have been a lot longer, and I think it was kind of realizing, “Let’s take it back.  But, let’s dive into this.” I think we were also being mindful of the viewers because we are shedding light on this, but also, opioid addiction had now skyrocketed through this pandemic, and this quarantine.  I think, again, it’s important to tell this story, but we didn’t want to be another show that is just so depressing right now during such a depressing time.

Photo: JPI

Right, so the story won’t be as elongated , but obviously, she will always have this addiction now, which is always great as a character, to delve back into, that Steffy will have in her physical and emotional make-up now.

JACQUELINE:  Absolutely.  She will always have that.  She will always have to be mindful of it.

What did you think about Dr. Finn in all of this?  Do you think that he should have caught on earlier that this was happening to Steffy?

JACQUELINE:  (Laughs) Yes, absolutely.  I think, Steffy was pretty good at hiding it from him, especially the last time when she invited him over, and she said she didn’t need the pills.  However, on Tuesday’s episode when there was that huge explosion, and he really got to see that visceral side of Steffy as defiant and angry, that was a lot for him to take in.  Tanner has been doing such an incredible job of diving into this and telling this story, but yeah, you wonder if Finn noticed, but again, I do think Steffy was pretty good at hiding it.

She was pretty slick, but when she got the pills from Vinny, I kept thinking, “What did he give her?”, because they seemed awfully strong, or laced obviously with another drug. 

JACQUELINE:  When Steffy got the pills from Vinny, that was the first thing I said, “Is this just opioids?” Now, she’s getting it off the street, and we just don’t know.  It’s laced with God-knows-what.  She has no idea because she’s not getting it from an actual doctor; she’s getting it from Vinny.

Courtesy/CBS

So, when Tanner came to the show, did you read screen-test with him?  What was your initial thought of him and Steffy finally having a potential new relationship?

JACQUELINE:  He is absolutely wonderful.  It’s funny because we have a lot of friends in common, and he is a fellow Canadian, and we bonded over that.  He originally screen-tested, I think, a few days before we went into lockdown.  So, who knew that we were not going to be able to work with each other for months and months and months, but he has been completely added to the group, and it is a different world that we are navigating, especially with how we are filming on set and the 8 feet apart rules, and you have these emotional scenes, and you feel like you just want to grab someone, and hold them, and cry.  I have so many fans going, “My God, I just wanted one of the characters to hold you!” and then you’re like, “COVID,” and nobody can really touch me, so…

Photo: JPI

Isn’t he kissing his wife though as your stand-in?  B&B alum, Kayla Ewell?

JACQUELINE: Yes, yes he is!  I just thought it was priceless that, how long have I been on the show, that Steffy has just been pining away for Liam for years, and years, and years, and finally gets the go-ahead, and she’s going to get a new love interest, and I’m like, “Woo-hoo!” and then, COVID happened, and I find out, “Your love interest is going to be a doll!”  So, he gets his wife, which is great.  My husband has been completely supportive, but my husband has not come in.  I don’t think it would work playing opposite him as Tanner, but his wife actually has a very similar look to me, which is great.  So, she’s been in a few times, which has been amazing!  I get the foam doll. (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

I was just thinking it’s so funny, too.  Steffy FINALLY gets a new man, but she is with a doll! 

JACQUELINE:  I know, I know.

Photo: JPI

What’s great about when you get to play these kinds of emotional levels in an addiction storyline … or anything that kind of flips the character’s mental state, is that you get to see the anguish.  You know, we’ve never seen Steffy discuss or really say anything about having Beth taken from her, whom she raised her as ‘Phoebe’, and then losing Liam to Hope, and this is kind of addressing her pain through this story arc, which I thought was really good, that it wasn’t just swept under the table.  The characters, the audience, and Steffy were realizing that she had emotional baggage and distress over those losses.  How did you feel when taping those scenes with the confrontation where she pulls out a switchblade on Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang), Ridge, Liam and Hope (Annika Noelle)? Those were great scenes. 

JACQUELINE:  Thank you, thank you.  We didn’t know how we were going to be able to do these scenes.

Because of the social distancing?

JACQUELINE:  Well, yeah, social distancing!  We did it in one take.  It was a long 10-12 page scene.

Photo: Gilles Toucas/Bell-Phillip Television

Well, the final 7 minutes of that episode were just a riveting; which included that knife scene, which in itself was gut-wrenching to watch, as I assume it must have been to play?

JACQUELINE:  It was a big scene, and it was a big, emotional week for all of us, obviously, and I couldn’t have done it without my cast.  They were so phenomenal as well.  We were trying to think, “How are we going to do this?”  Thorsten Kaye came up with this idea that Steffy should have a knife because Ridge would want to go to her and grab her, and the only thing that would maybe keep him away.  She is so angry, and she does have so much emotional baggage, and yes, she is in pain from her motorcycle accident, but I think that a lot of people saw in that phone call from Hope, where Hope said, “Oh, Kelly wants to spend another night,” that was that whole mental shift of, “Oh, my God, this is my worst fear.  It’s finally happening.  My daughter doesn’t want to stay here.  I am truly alone.  I don’t have anybody.”  Her life up to now has been about raising Kelly, and then that was that whole baggage unload – the pain of all of the years of what the Logans had done to the Forresters – it was just a domino effect. She obviously is not dealing with the pain in a pragmatic way.  I think Steffy was using the pills to mitigate her misery, physically and emotionally.

Courtesy/CBS

I think there were two turning points … after the switchblade incident, when she finally realized, “Oh, my God, what am I doing?  I’ve got this knife,” and she gets rid of it.  She does seem to have these moments (in that episode and the one that aired Tuesday) where she realizes, “Oh, my God, I’m messed up,” which were heartbreaking moments.  Do you remember playing that moment of, “Oh, my God, I’m an addict,” where Steffy admitted it out loud?

JACQUELINE:  Yeah!  It was extremely difficult.  I’m really good at being able to work on set and being able to leave it behind.  That’s the one thing that people will say to me, “What is it like off of set?  It must be so emotional for you!”  Once we say cut, I’m done.  I don’t mentally check out from the scenes, but I’m just able to let go because we just have so many episodes and so many emotional scenes, but I have to say this took a little while to shake.  I had to get into my car, and I was still emotional, and I had to put some good music on, and blare it, and drive home.  To know that these things are happening in the world and it is happening to so many people, it just breaks my heart, and I still get emotional about it.  It is gut-wrenching to know that this happens.  When I have those emotional scenes, (especially like that) I can’t fake it.  That’s just not who I am.  I can’t just fake cry to get through it.  Yeah, I’m an actor, but even though we film so quickly, even though it’s usually just one take, even though we are crying all day with all of these scenes, I really like to emotionally get there.  Obviously, over the years, I’ve learned to get there quicker, and I am really proud of myself for that, but what you see is what you get.  Those are real emotions.  I am just as present as I possibly can be in that scene and just listening to Ridge, and Liam, and Finn and just taking it all in – then Steffy realizes that she is addicted, just that moment of everything breaking down; her whole world was falling apart.  I think it was an important moment, but we were just really there for one another in that scene.

 

Scott Clifton, I just really want to say, throughout that week, had to play annoyingly holier-than-thou with you as Steffy.  People were annoyed with Liam.  He was the perfect annoyance to get her really pissed off!

JACQUELINE:  Yeah, I know!  It was actually funny at one point because so many fans were like, “Steffy was out of her mind!  She was clearly on drugs!”  I love the Steffy fans who were like, “Liam is so wrong!”  You could see how loyal the fans were.

Courtesy/CBS

They were!  It was great, but Liam was super annoying. That being said; did you watch back last Friday’s episode where after Steffy runs out, the camera pans to Scott, and Liam breaks down and cries?  So good. 

JACQUELINE:  Yep, yep.  I know, it was so good, and that was him!  That’s what I find so beautiful is that when you are in that scene, you don’t know what the reactions are going to be, and I know that was so true and authentic of Scott.  It was a genuine emotion that came out of him. I hadn’t seen him break down in a long time, but it was so unexpected, but I was glad to see it, really glad.

Photo: JPI

We haven’t seen Bill Spencer come to Steffy yet.  How does she feel about that?

JACQUELINE:  That’s a good question.  I don’t know how Steffy is going to feel about that.  I think, obviously before the addiction happened, she would blame him for hitting her on her motorcycle, but you never know, things could change coming up with Bill and Steffy.

Well, he will probably blame himself now for the addiction, I would think, because he hit her.

JACQUELINE:  I think so, too.  That’s one of the things he may be playing in those scenes.  So, we shall see.

Courtesy./CBS

Talk to me about Thorsten Kaye in those scene with you as the dad, because in the episode we saw Tuesday, there was a powerful moment when he just sat beside Steffy, but not holding her at the very end.  I thought that was a very nice touch given also Covid-19 protocols.  At that point they weren’t dragging Steffy out into a rehab facility.  We just watched him sitting there quietly while Steffy had this reckoning to herself. 

JACQUELINE:  I really liked it.  I liked that we had a lot of those chill moments of taking each other in. Thorsten and I get along so well.  We’ve just always had a bond, and I love working with him because in rehearsal, we do something one way, and then, again, when you’re filming, it’s always so unexpected, you don’t know what he is going to throw at you, which makes you be even more present.  It’s a tough scene.  I was feeding off of him and vice versa, and I’m sure he was putting himself in that situation of God-forbid if his daughters were in this situation, and you know, I’m looking at him in that father-daughter moment and seeing him become emotional for his daughter.  It just kills you, it really does, but it was a heartbreaking moment, but I like how we ended the scene: with something as very simple as sitting beside each other.

Courtesy/CBS

Your fans and the soap pundits are saying that obviously you have your Emmy reel for next year, it’s done.  It’s right there.  This may just make you a two-time Lead Actress Daytime Emmy winner.

JACQUELINE:  Aw, that’s so sweet.

It is great for you because you have an arc of a story there to tell, and we’ve talked about this before – an arc of a story for a submission in Emmy competition seems what many of the judges like to see and can understand because they watch the performer in scenes from the progression of a story.   

JACQUELINE:  Definitely, and it was nice to know that I was going to do this story and that we were going to tell this story, but once we came back months later, I didn’t know that we were still going to dive into opioid addiction with Steffy, because again, with our show, and with a lot of soaps, storylines change all of the time. I am very grateful for it.

 

So, what can we tease?  Will Steffy get Kelly back, or will she be estranged from her for a little bit?  What do you think?

JACQUELINE: I think that Steffy is a strong woman, and I think she will come back stronger than ever, and I think she will get her daughter.

Courtesy/CBS

You should be very, very proud of this work, Jacqui!

JACQUELINE:  Thank you.  I am.  During the week, when we had all of the dialogue to do, and it’s a different world now when you’re taking care of a toddler, and then with the Covid-19 protocols, and then you get the story, (and again, so grateful for it), but it was so much dialogue, and going back and forth, and making sure you’re bringing it emotionally, and it was extremely challenging, to say the least,  But, I am really proud of myself that come that Friday I was like, “Oh, my God, we did it.  We did it!”

What have you thought of Jacqueline’s performances in the opioid addiction storyline? Were you glad to hear the show decided not to drag out the story due to the times we are all in? Do you feel this storyline was powerful and could help those in need of help? Share your thoughts on the interview with Jacqui and more via the comment section below.

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Shaneka Bond
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Shaneka Bond

loved JMW performance on BB. I want her in a triangle with Finn and Laim and let Hope get with Thomas. But JmW did excellent and had me in tears.I want to see more of her and her brother with Laim and Finn fighting to get her attention.

Lisa Kent
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Lisa Kent

It was so powerful. I cried and cried. Over it. Steffy is my favorite on bb. Anything with jacqui and Scott is awesome to me. They have this strong bond. I love it. I lived with migraines all my adult life. For a long time the doctors gave me pain pills and then all of a sudden they stopped giving it to me. It was brutal. So I understand about what steffy went through.

Patrice Johnson
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Patrice Johnson

I really enjoy JMW storyline. It was so moving and believable. She is such a wonderful actress. She put so much emotion into these scenes. I thought she was really hooked on opiads. I can see her receiving an Emmy next year. She deserves it. Hopefully I will be front row to see her receive it. Bravo!

Days Of Our Lives

Watch the Replay: GH, DAYS, Y&R, B&B & OLTL Stars at Michael Fairman’s Virtual Birthday Party for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 Relief Fund

Earlier this week on Monday night, several of the stars of General Hospital, Days of our Lives, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, and One Life to Live, took part in a virtual livestream “party” for Michael Fairman’s 60th birthday.

The event was held virtually to help performers in need who have been deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic by letting viewers know where to make a donation to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Covid-19 Relief Fund.

Photo: ABC, NBC, CBS

Participating throughout the 90 minute livestream were: The Young and the Restless, Jason Thompson, Sharon Case, and Christian LeBlanc, General Hospital’s Maurice Benard, Laura Wright, Wes Ramsey, and Chloe Lanier, The Bold and the Beautiful’s Katherine Kelly Lang, Days of our Lives’ Rob Scott Wilson, Eric Martsolf, Galen Gering, Arianne Zucker, Shawn Christian, Santa Barbara favorite, A Martinez, One Life to Live’s Kristen Alderson and Eddie Alderson, and Studio City’s Sean Kanan.

You can catch the replay of the birthday benefit event below or on The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

Throughout the evening, the actors shared stories of how they got their SAG card, played a game of Michael’s trivia, and revealed stories about themselves and other “party” guests in a wonderful display of community and camaraderie at all went down live!

Since March of 2o2o, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation has given out more than $6.2 million in emergency aid to over 6,500 SAG-AFTRA performers and their families facing hardship and uncertainty during this pandemic. Thousands of SAG-AFTRA artists have found themselves in dire need of assistance to help pay their rent, buy groceries, cover health care premiums and other bills.  You can still make a donation of any dollar amount to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 relief fund here. https://members.sagfoundation.org/donate 

Now, check it out below, and let us know if you enjoyed the virtual birthday party livestream via the comment section.

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General Hospital

GH Co-Head Writers Chris Van Etten and Dan O’ Connor Interview – “Soapmakers of the Year” Honors 2020

In a year which saw production of your favorite soaps shutdown for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic, everyone in daytime had to pivot.  As original episodes aired, they eventually ran out, giving way to rebroadcasts, while the audience eagerly awaited the return of the current stories.

At General Hospital, once production resumed over the summer, head writers, Chris Van Etten and Dan O’ Connor had teed-up: surprising homecomings (Dante, Britt) shocking twists and revelations, the conclusion of what will become an all-time soap classic, the Alzheimer’s storyline, dipping into the rich 57-year history of the iconic soap to tie story to the present (Laura, Cyrus, Martin), and crafting stories for its A-list cast which gave 2020 some of its finest on-screen moments.  GH became can’t-miss television again, coming back even stronger than its pre-pandemic self; which also kicked the year off in high-style with the reveal of Nikolas to his family, alive and well, and the long-awaited truth about baby Wiley.

Chris and Dan’s depiction of Mike’s heartbreaking battle with Alzheimer’s gave viewers many tears through its unrelenting and realistic storytelling, plus their commitment to air the standalone episode to honor the passing of the 19th amendment of the women’s right to vote in November.  Both were noteworthy, and illustrated what daytime can do best.

 

Each year, Michael Fairman TV gives our highest honor to a creative or creatives who most delivered to its audience and whose quality of work continues to keep us engaged, on the edge of our seats, or reaching for the hankies. That is why this year’s Soapmkers of the Year honor goes to GH scribes: Chris Van Etten and Dan O’Connor.  Shortly after receiving their acknowledgement, the duo spoke to us about some of the 2020 highlights in Port Charles, and how they work so well together to bring their stories to life.  Here’s what they shared.

Courtesy/ABC

First, and foremost, I want to commend you for the Alzheimer’s storyline  As I’ve shared publicly, my mother died of Alzheimer’s, and I have seen the progression of this disease and the effects it has on a family and loved ones, and the person afflicted with it.  You did a beautiful job of telling every beat of the story within the context of what you could do within a soap opera.  What can you tell me about crafting that and seeing it through to the end?  You never abandoned the story, which at times, can happen on daytime.

CHRISNo, we didn’t abandon it.  Soap operas have a power that I am sure we have acknowledged before, to allow audiences to really get to know characters in a deeper and more profound way than I think most other mediums do.  We get to see characters’ lives day in and day out.  For us to tell a story about Alzheimer’s, which is a disease that is devastating in so many ways, not the least of which is the fact that it can take years to develop and years to finally claim a life, we felt that among our audience, there had to be many people who had experienced this in an up-close and personal way.  So that to tell the story too expeditiously would really deny their experience and would take away from their appreciation of the show as a reflection of reality.  Of course, soap operas don’t do that in every sense on every episode, but when you’re telling a story about a disease that people experience every day, you have an obligation to reflect the real-world experience.  So, by bringing it to a close too fast and by doing it in a way that didn’t honor what at times is the horror of the disease, felt like it would be a cop-out.  We wanted to do our best within the constrictions of the medium to depict that; while at the same time, of course, not wanting to leave people so depressed as to not want to tune back in.  It was a really delicate dance.  We are very grateful to have had the support of the network and Frank Valentini’s (executive producer, GH) ingenious production team as well as a great repertory of actors who were willing and able to give their all to this story.

Courtesy/ABC

Maurice Benard (Sonny) did some of his finest work of his career in this story, and you gave him the ball to do it, and Max Gail (Mike) was amazing.  Two standout episodes included: when Mike passed and was taken to heaven by Courtney (Alicia Leigh Willis) and Mike’s funeral episode.  Did you realize when you were writing it, the impact it would have on the audience?

DANAs for the funeral, I’d say that we knew as we were writing it that not only did we want to give the characters and the audience a chance to say goodbye to Mike, but we also wanted to give the performers a chance to say a goodbye to their relationship with the actor, Max Gail as well.  Max is a fantastic, phenomenal actor, and he formed close relationships with many of our performers.  So, when we wrote the episode, yes, we did want to give the audience a chance to say goodbye to the character, but we also knew that because of the close relationships that these performers have made with each other that the actors were going to bring their all, and it was going to provide the audience with some powerhouse performances.

Did you get emotional seeing it? 

CHRIS:  Oh, personally, I cried.

Courtesy/ABC

I know you both love and appreciate the soap genre and understand that the audience often wants a good cry and is invested in these characters.  So because of that; what’s it like for you when you see these emotional moments play out that start in your mind, go to the page, then to the stage, and now are out in the world for people to see and experience?

CHRIS:  I can’t speak for any of the other writers, but I’m not crying when I’m writing it, but I’m crying when I see it realized and how the actors, and the producers, and the directors realize it.  I personally am always surprised by the nuance and the beats that they find that we, in our first draft kind-of-lifestyle that we have as soap opera writers; where we are writing six or seven episodes per week, we don’t have the time or the luxury to really sit with an episode and mine it for every single beat and every emotion. That’s why we have great directors and great actors who take these scripts and find these extra moments.  So, it is really gratifying to watch – yes, to see something that we’ve imagined be produced and personified, but then to see how the production then takes it in other directions, that’s the best.  I think that’s the most gratifying part of writing for a show, not seeing what you’ve written produced, but seeing how it was parented into life.  When you have a baby, I think you have all sorts of ideas about what the baby will be, and then the baby becomes something else as the result of its environment and of the people who are influencing and guiding it along and that may be a bit of a stretched metaphor, but it kind of feels relative.

As co-head writers of General Hospital, how do you work together to come up with long-term story?  What is your process?

DAN:  Chris and I will meet regularly and discuss the long-term stories that we are telling, and plan to tell, and maybe some adjustments that we have to make along the way.  We get to meet with our writers several days every week as we figure out the best way to tell that story in the form of however many episodes we write a week.  Chris and I also write episodes along with our great breakdown script team, and every week we figure out the best way to either stay on the path of the story we are intending to tell, or find new opportunities or new twists and turns we can take along the way.

Photo: ABC

Do you get into friendly, creative disagreements? Is one of you more protective of a certain character than the other? 

DAN:  Chris and I have known each other for close to 15 years at this point, and we are not just colleagues, we are also friends.  There is a certain amount of shorthand that we have with each other which is just invaluable in telling story.  What’s great is that we sometimes come at the story from different angles or we have a different point of view, much like any two fans of the show wouldn’t agree on necessarily everything, but in our discussions about the show’s needs, wants, and haves, and the story trajectory, we ultimately get somewhere better than where either of us could have come up with on our own.  At the same time, there are those moments where we both come to the same idea at the same moment, and that’s definitely when we go, “Okay, we’re onto something good.”

CHRIS:  I can add as a partial translation that I can get really snippy, and Dan has the patience of a saint.  So, often times, I need 24 hours to go away, and sleep on something, and wake up, and say, “Oh Dan, you were totally right about that.  I’m so sorry I was snippy the other day,” and he doesn’t seem to hold it against me.

Do you ever get a writer’s block; as has to happen often with scribes in the unrelenting medium of daytime drama, and if so, I would think having a writing partner would be an asset during those times?

DAN:  I think it’s the nature of the beast.  At a certain point, you might hit a roadblock somewhere, but that’s why having a partner is so valuable that there is somebody else that you can bounce ideas along with, and just as, if not more importantly, our team of writers are always there to sometimes give us even better ideas than what we would have come up with on our own.

Courtesy/ABC

This year you utilized and delved back into a lot of GH history.  How did the idea come about to bring back the character of Jackie Templeton and have former All My Children and NYPD Blue favorite, Kim Delaney, take on the role?

DAN:  Jackie Templeton is a character who has been an Easter egg on the show for many years now.  Whenever we needed to namedrop a famous journalist, she was always our go-to.  It always felt like the character was in the ether of Port Charles for awhile, and we were excited to bring this take-no-prisoners character back and explore her history with Robert (Tristan Rogers), and at the same time, we were finally teed up to tell the story of Finn’s (Michael Easton) falling out with his father and step-mother, and we realized we had a great opportunity to have the character serve both stories and collide with not just Anna (Finola Hughes) and Finn, but Robert as well. Those three played wonderfully with each other. When we heard that Kim Delaney was interested in playing with us, we were just over the moon.  .

Courtesy/ABC

You have also been delving back into Laura’s childhood past and her history. I love that you brought up the death of David Hamilton and her teenage years, which hasn’t been discussed for a very long time on the show while tying it into the present.

DAN:  We were always aware of the story just because we love General Hospital and we love the character of Laura, and there is nothing else like daytime drama, and one of the great things about it is that you can reach decades into the past and expand on stories and themes that the audience actually witnessed. Long reaching history is a tool in our toolbox that not many other series have.  Chris and I love honoring and using our characters’ histories to propel the show into the future with some serious momentum.

Photo: ABC

You created and brought the character of  Cyrus Renault (Jeff Kober) on to the canvas. Was it originally a case of, “We need an uber-villain to come and shake things up,” and then you decided to connect him to Laura?  It’s been an intriguing shocker for viewers.  Jeff is playing the multi-levels of Cyrus with great finesse, and whenever you give Genie something, the fans go nuts, and she, in turn, delivers every time.

CHRIS:  The story of Cyrus has a couple of phases to it.  We wanted to bring on a villain who would not only be an adversary to Sonny, but someone who we could use to really test Jordan (Briana Nicole Henry) and Curtis (Donnell Turner), and we knew going in that the first phase of this story would really hit the Corinthos family and also the Ashfords, and as we developed it, we thought about what the act two would be, and we knew that we had an opportunity to really engage Genie Francis and to expand her sphere and expand her footprint on the show, and by connecting her to Cyrus, who is not your typical face or presence for a soap, but is also not your typical person who I think Laura would encounter in her daily life.  So, we knew, as we really developed Cyrus as a villain, that for Laura to find out that this man is her brother, would really allow us to play with Laura in a different context and in a different light and really give Genie a new kind of challenge.

Speaking of Genie, what did you think when you watched back her performance in the episode where you wrote that Laura has to say goodbye to her comatose daughter, Lulu (Emme Rylan), before she was sent off the canvas to a long-term care facility?

CHRIS:  I mean to me, that’s vintage Laura.  I came to General Hospital personally in the late 80s to early 90s, so my experience of Laura really only begins with her, and Luke (Tony Geary), and Lucky (Jonathan Jackson) at the Triple L Diner.  I think that what we’ve gotten to see with Genie is really reflective of the high emotion that she is capable of delivering.  At the same time as the high emotion, you’re also seeing really small human moments that she really breathes a lot of life into.  I can speak for Dan and myself when we say that we are just really thrilled with what she has been able to bring to the screen.  Thrilled, but I guess not surprised.

Coutesy/ABC

Nelle (Chloe Lanier) was such a great interloper and threat throughout the year in story; whether it’s hatching plots to gain custody of baby Wiley, or her “death” scene and confrontations with Carly (Laura Wright).  However, through all of this, when was it decided to make Nina (Cynthia Watros), Nelle’s biological mother?

DAN:  There are very few things that are as exciting on a soap as a character that makes you wonder what they are going to do next, and Chloe and Nelle provided that role with just gusto.  The truth is, the idea that Nelle was Nina’s daughter has been a part of the conception of that character, and over the last few years, the story evolved, and we ultimately got to reveal the truth to the audience.

Courtesy/ABC

As writers, there has to be characters that are just so delicious and treacherous to write for that you have to get a kick out of it! Chloe Lanier is so good that she makes the audience want to slap Nelle when she takes the dialog and then brings it to the screen.  

CHRIS:  It is tremendous fun.  Yes, yes, we love writing for these characters who are willing to do and say anything to get what they want.  We are constrained when writing for characters who have morality.  It takes a moral character a lot of really difficult circumstances for them to make a decision that might go against the grain, but when you have a character like Nelle, who is not shackled by certain societal norms, then you really get to live out the worst impulses that a person could have, and it’s really fun, especially when you take a really great performer like Chloe and see her as Nelle unleash all of the poison that she’s capable of.  At the same time, she can turn on a dime and rip your heart out a little bit when she turns on the water works.

Photo :ABC

Ava Jerome’s (Maura West) story this year had her moving into a relationship with Nikolas (Marcus Coloma).  We, the audience, didn’t know how that was going to go – if they were just going to use each other, or ultimately fall in love.  Was that the plan all along … that they would develop deep feelings for each other, or did you want to see how it progressed and played out on-screen, and then make that determination?

CHRIS:  I think that once we saw the chemistry between the two actors, we knew we had gold. So, we wanted to take our time, especially the way that it was constructed.  These were two people who had little use for each other emotionally, and in fact, probably wanted to see one another’s downfall, and that’s what makes it so great to write – that these are people who, in a similar vein as Nelle, don’t live by the same rules as most of the rest of us, and therefore, they might do things to each other that the rest of us would not do to anyone let alone whether we like them or not.  That’s what makes Ava and Nikolas so delicious is that from one moment to the next, you don’t know if they’re going to hatch a plot against each other or fall into bed and ravish each other. That’s what I think we hope to continue to play as we go forward because they certainly have very strong, passionate feelings for one another.  When you’re talking about Ava and Nikolas, these are two people who do not have a lot of fans necessarily in Port Charles, and there are a lot of people who don’t necessarily want to see them achieve happily ever after.  Knowing that there was so much initial mistrust and suspicion between the two of them could really provide the foundation for their own undoing or their undoing from someone who does not want to see them happy.

Photo: ABC

Back in November, GH made good use of a standalone episode spotlighting the history of the women’s right to vote and the suffrage movement; just as the presidential election was happening.  What made you decide to write this special show, and how do you feel it turned out as it also spotlighted the female cast?

CHRIS:  We had long intended to honor the one hundred years of American women’s suffrage with a special episode to air on the anniversary of the 19th amendment’s passage, but we missed the date due to the pause in production.  We realized we had a second chance as the election neared.  Going forward was a no-brainer. The biggest challenge was in distilling such an epic story into one episode. We think ABC would do well to consider a spinoff: “Port Charles, 1920”

Courtesy/ABC

You have such a powerhouse cast to write for.  It’s loaded.  It’s got to be a challenge for you to construct the story for GH when you’ve got to front burner people and back burner people, and then you’ve got these huge daytime stars all in one show.

DAN:  It’s an embarrassment of riches to have a cast as talented as we do quite frankly.  We are fortunate enough that we know that we have these amazing performers that we can trust with whatever stories that we throw their way.

CHRIS:  I will say that we do have a great cast.  They’re all wonderful, and when you have a show that is only approximately 35 minutes of airtime on any day, it’s a real balancing act to make sure that everybody gets a story that really is worthy of their talents, and we’ve got one for everybody.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of which story takes precedence in which moment, which is why occasionally some characters aren’t featured on a daily basis, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be.  If you were to ask me, “Who are the standouts?”  I would say all of them.  You saw this year: Maurice Benard, Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis), Maura West, Genie Francis, and Laura Wright (Carly) to name but just a few.  They’ve all done such fantastic work, and we can’t wait to give them more material to give them more moments to shine.

DAN:  A priority of ours is every week, we meet up and look (well, it’s virtual now during Covid-19) at the big board of our cast photos and we go through each character and always make sure that they have some story percolating even if it’s not on the air at the moment.

Photo: ABC

As we close out 2020, and look forward to 2021, any parting thoughts, and perhaps a tease of what GH fans can look forward to in the New Year?

CHRIS:  In general, I would just say that despite all of the challenges of the year, we are really grateful to our cast and the crew back in Los Angeles for realizing and improving the show that we imagined, and we are so excited for everything that is coming in 2021.  We hope to continue to throw a lot of surprises at the audience, and at the same time give them a lot of moments and stories of heart and love and excitement.

So, what did you think of the year in story on General Hospital in 2020? Share your thoughts on Chris and Dan’s comments and their year-end honors via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Stephen Nichols and Lucas Adams Talk Salem Longevity, Tripp’s Predicament and Their Co-Stars

Days of our Lives stars Stephen Nichols (Steve “Patch” Johnson) and his on-screen son, Lucas Adams (Tripp Dalton) are in the middle of plenty of drama on the long-running NBC daytime drama, which recently celebrated its 55th anniversary in November and its 14,000 episode milestone in December.

In a new chat with Michael Fairman on the Michael Fairman Channel, Stephen reveals his surprise at still being with the iconic show. while Lucas talks about how his first run on DAYS came to an abrupt end, but now he is deep in-story involving Allie (Lindsay Arnold) and the brother he is yet-to-know he has, Charlie (Mike Manning), who is Allie’s actual rapist.

Both Stephen and Lucas discuss having the opportunity to work with Daytime Emmy winner Tamara Braun (Ava) again, as well as James Lastovic (Joey) in recently aired scenes. In story, Ava has returned back-from-the-dead and realizes she has major trouble brewing with her two sons, Tripp and Charlie.  How will it all play itself out?

 

Check out what Stephen and Lucas shared below.  Then, be on the lookout beginning this week, as Steve and John (Drake Hogestyn) work together to figure out who is responsible for Allie’s rape and just who is the biological father to her child, when it is not Tripp!

Share your thoughts on the sentiments shared by Stephen and Lucas in the interview via the comment section.

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