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Diary of a Mad Soap Fan: One viewer shares her thoughts on coping with life post-AMC!

Courtesy/ABC

Courtesy/ABC

Many longtime soap viewers of All My Children are probably going through a bit of withdrawal now that the series has been off the air for ten days on the ABC Television Network! So we asked, longtime and ardent AMC fan, Karen Aegerter, to keep a personal diary from the day of the network finale and the the first week that AMC was no longer on our TV screens.  What follows is this viewer’s story and connection to the citizens of Pine Valley, and how she honestly tried to handle the disappearance of her beloved show!

Diary of a Mad Soap Fan by Karen Aegerter

Like most people, I have endured a multitude of changes in four decades. My family moved at least 18 times during my 12 years of school. My brother, mother, and father have since passed away, I’ve married and divorced, raised a child alone, put him through college, and have had at least 3 major career changes, relocated from the West to the East Coast and back again and endured multiple surgeries and health issues. The one constant in my life has always been All My Children. From the very first time I stayed home from school sick and watched Erica Kane in black and white, with her dreams of Hollywood and Fame, I was hooked.  In high school my two closest friends also watched the ABC soaps, and since this was pre-VCR days, we used to take turns every week feigning illness to stay home and watch the soaps.  We’d update each other the next day, so between the 3 of us, we only missed 2 episodes a week.

Although there were long periods of time where I was too busy with life and drifted away from Pine Valley, I always knew that it was there whenever I needed to come back for a visit, which I inevitably did.  Once the VCR came along, I taped it over and over until it was so worn out that the picture was warped.  The best thing to ever come along since Pine Valley was the DVR, and once I had one, I wondered how I ever lived without it!  There was no longer any reason to miss my daily escape to Pine Valley.  Fast-forward to April 12, 2011.

I caught Susan Lucci at a book signing where I waited in line for over an hour to meet her.  She was warm and kind and she assured every fan that AMC was on solid ground because ABC executives assured her they were committed to the show’s success.  Just 2 days later came the breaking news of the AMC/OLTL cancellations! The next 5 months I spent wishing that September 23rd wouldn’t come so fast, but watching the calendar push forward at warp speed. Fast-forward to AMC fans’ “Black Friday” or as I like to call it, THE AMC APOCALYPSE.

Friday, September 23

DAY OF THE APOCALYPSE

Dear Diary: I can’t believe it’s the last day of AMC.  I am in complete denial.  As I head over to my cousin’s to watch the last episode with the only other person who understands what this day means, I feel disconnected and numb. She has Kleenex boxes strategically placed around the living room in anticipation of a flood of tears. We chat nervously for a few minutes until it starts.  We fall completely silent and are captivated by the opening clips.

Courtesy/ABC

We break out into chatter at each commercial break.  I become disgruntled because ABC has actually had the nerve to include their promos for that nasty new cooking show with the ridiculous name not worthy of repeating. How could they disrespect all the loyal and heartbroken AMC fans like that?  No shame, whatsoever!  I watch the clock tick away so quickly and I don’t want it to end. And then it does. Just like any other cliffhanger Friday…a shot rings out, screen fades to black. No fanfare. What just happened? No tears have been shed. I wept uncontrollably at each of the last 10 episodes, yet now I have none.  My cousin is equally dry-eyed.  Is it just denial, or were we left high and dry (pun intended)? I drive home and contemplate…how will I adjust next week?  There is no Monday episode to come back to after my busy weekend plans.  There is NO MONDAY EPISODE…I repeat the words in my head like a mantra. Whatever happens in the subsequent week days, there is no escaping to Pine Valley.  How will it change life as I know it after all these years, knowing my one constant is gone?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekday 1, Post-AMC Apocalypse

Courtesy/ABC

Dear Diary:  Well, I had a really fun weekend with friends and there were so many distractions, I was too busy to think about the reality of today. I had a dream last night about meeting a few of the cast members of AMC. I was in discussions with Jacob Young, hoping to do some writing for him. I was going to a dinner at an upscale restaurant in Beverly Hills with him, and other cast members, and it was somehow related to the local morning news show I watch every day. 5am I open my eyes; I have the thought that it is Monday, followed by the thought of when I will watch AMC.  Will I have time to watch it in real time, or should I DVR it for later? Oh. It’s gone. There is no AMC today… tomorrow…or ever? At that thought, I decide to close my eyes and go back to sleep and pretend it isn’t so.  For two more hours I manage to avoid reality by sleeping.

7am: I can no longer put it off, it’s time to get up and start my day.  Once again, I think about Pine Valley and where it will fit into my day.  Again, it is squashed and I quickly go on to focus on all the other tasks of the day and everything that doesn’t remind me of what’s missing. Throughout the morning my mind continues this recurring dance, looking at the clock and thinking of noon in Pine Valley, remembering it is gone.

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That lovely little suburb of Philly where the police never catch the bad guys, the townsfolk go all vigilante and nobody ever stays in jail even when they are caught, convicted, or have confessed.  Where the beach is inexplicably close, despite the fact that the only shore is that of the Delaware River and the closest beach is actually a whole state over, at least a 3 hour drive for anyone else in Philly, with the possible exception of the neighbors in Llanview, but they tend to head to the mountains anyway.  My beloved “Team Slater,” the Chandler Mansion, those Kane women, Janet from another Planet, Dr. Death… those goofy Martin brothers…all of which comprised my daily 1 hour escape (40 min. if I DVR) conspicuously absent from this Monday.

Courtesy/ABC

I’m still in denial, as if it is just a holiday.  I’m not even angry, as I always was when I’d fight  LA traffic to get home only to find that some “breaking news” like storm watch, or a car chase have pre-empted my soap just as something really exciting was about to happen. Oh, the countless times I have screamed obscenities at my TV before frantically calculating in my head if the East Coast would have been affected by the breaking news or not.  Then I could catch SoapNet at 8pm and be forced to watch in real time.  I’d be inconvenienced, but I could live with it.

Can I live with this?  I suppose I don’t have much choice. I can’t spend every day shouting obscenities at my TV for not delivering my show.  The neighbors might tell the local authorities.  I’d be hauled off to the jail, and then who would feed my cats?  They don’t care how many obscenities I shout at the television, as long as they get fed.  The youngest was fond of snuggling on the couch and watching the soaps after he’d eaten.  How this will affect HIS life!!  He may eventually be driven to watching Snookie or some other equally horrendous!

I have today’s episode of OLTL sitting in my DVR, but somehow I can’t bring myself to watch it without having it follow an AMC episode.  I contemplate watching Friday’s finale of AMC again, and then OLTL, but I don’t think I’m ready for that just yet. While I certainly don’t compare the magnitude of losing a soap to the loss of a real life family member, I am certainly recognizing the parallels to the sense of loss in my life, and the phases of the grief process itself. Four decades with my faux family of Pine Valley…how long with the healing process take?  Is there a formula to calculate like when a relationship ends?  Is it one-quarter of the total duration?  I hope not.

Tuesday, September 27

Day 2: Post-AMC Apocalypse

Courtesy/ABC

Dear Diary: Again, I woke up earlier than planned, opened my eyes, shooed the kitten away from the blinds, rolled over and dozed back off.  This time, however, I didn’t think about AMC. The first time I realized my loss was not until I heard on TV a mention of their regular scheduled program, an hour after getting up.  The local TV station is showing the Michael Jackson murder trial, and I, of course am sucked into the drama from the D.A.’s opening statements.  I am surprised that so much time passed before my awareness of loss, on this, only the second day.  I attribute this to the ongoing sense of denial, where I continue to reside.  Eventually the numbness will wear off and reality will slap me in the face repeatedly until it hurts. How long before the onset of the anger phase?  I was unnecessarily irritated by everyone and everything around me today.  Nothing especially bad happened; I just felt my tolerance level for normal everyday life stress completely evaporate.  I attribute this to typical physical ailments, but will later re-think that assessment.

It is said when you experience a loss of great magnitude (IE: the death of a loved one) coping with the usual traditions that included them is too painful and it is important to make new traditions and revise the existing ones by changing the venue and some of the specific tasks that go along with them.

I suppose rather than avoiding OLTL, I should adapt my viewing habits. I usually would change into my pajamas, make dinner and curl up with a kitty in front of the TV.  I think tomorrow I will try something different.  The problem is, my life has already been completely uprooted in the last few months and everything’s already changed.  I lost my job 3 months ago, moved out of my apt in the city and into a family-owned house in the suburbs.  How can I change my habits when they are already unrecognizable?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 3: Post AMC-Apocalypse

Courtesy/ABC

Dear Diary: Working around the house today, feeling painfully aware of 12pm, but keeping busy with all the things I need to be doing instead of focusing on the big, gaping, crater-sized hole in my day. Having the TV on as a back drop is a staple of my multi-tasking when I’m at home.  I need multiple sources of stimuli to function at my highest level. Singularly, I lose interest, focus and ultimately, consciousness. As a complete contradiction to myself, I must have singular task focus to function in any external environment, like at work.  I’m unable to shut out any kind of noise from crows squawking outside my office window, or co-workers’ conversations.  I suppose there’s some sort of survival skill in this, but I couldn’t really say what.

I still keep contemplating watching the AMC, finale show, or any of the nine shows stored in my DVR. When I visualize it, I smile and like the idea in theory, but I can’t seem to do it. There’s no good excuse, I just keep coming to the conclusion I’m not ready. Like the death of a loved one, you want to go in and go through their closet, pack up the stuff you don’t want to keep, call Salvation Army, but it’s still too raw to deal with yet. Perhaps I should go schedule a root canal and do my taxes first.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 4: Post AMC Apocalypse

Dear Diary: Another busy day where I managed to keep myself distracted for a good portion of it.  I woke up in a good mood, dug into the day’s plans, made it at least 3 hours into my day before I realized that AMC is still gone. I strategically scheduled a late morning coffee meeting for 11:30 so the noon witching hour was filled with conversation at Starbuck’s and not even a taste of AMC withdrawals. Instead, I found myself completely hopped up on caffeine and sugar, bouncing off to my next appt with no time to stop and stare at the clock, television or DVR.

Courtesy/ABC

After a holiday dinner with family, I get home way past feeding time at the zoo (aka dinner time for the 3 cats) so first things first.  I’m running around the house doing things that I have been putting off, like half-finished craft projects and all the stuff from my daily to-do list that usually doesn’t make the cut—heck–I even clean the litter boxes 12 hour early. Do you think I am in avoidance mode?  I haven’t even sat down in front of my television, which is unheard of for me on any given night.  I did have it on tonight while I was painting, but much like avoiding eye contact with someone you do not want to confront, it’s been nothing more than a background noise in the next room. It’s past midnight and I’ve barely even contemplated watching today’s episode of OLTL.  It’s recorded, I want to watch it in theory, but…fingers have yet to even graze the button on my remote that with those 3 letters…D.V.R.

To watch OLTL would require coming to terms with what I can’t watch, as convoluted as that sounds.  Anyone whose daily routines have included both shows understands what it means to not be able to watch both.  To the rest of the world, I am beginning to sound like a stark, raving lunatic!

Tomorrow marks the completion of an entire week of living in denial, which I know is not a river in Egypt.  If the process continues to parallel that of the death of a loved one, I would expect my numbness to soon give way to some serious anger.  As the flood gates are opened, de-“Nile” will soon over flow with rage!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 5 Post-AMC Apocalypse

Courtesy/ABC

Dear Diary:  It’s officially Friday, and I should be shouting it from the roof tops.  So why am I completely zapped of energy and motivation instead?  Ok, I stayed up a little late last night, but I didn’t wake up super early.  I’m so tired, in fact, I’m downtrodden. Don’t think I’ve ever used that word before, but that is what my mind evokes right now. I did actually watch OLTL today, and paid attention to almost all of it. I thought again about watching an AMC episode from the archives, and as usual, I didn’t do it. Today, moreso than any day this week, I am extraordinarily aware of the deep chasm that sits smack dab in the middle of my life.  It’s like a vortex that sucks in all surrounding energy and life, and pulls it down to the bottom of the earth.

It’s just a TV show.  Really, what does it matter in the bigger picture?    I need perspective.  Things could be a whole lot worse, and for many people in the world, they already are. Ok, I don’t have the right to feel sorry for myself, fair enough. So what do I do with these feelings?  Maybe I channel them into something else.

Maybe instead of writing to you, dear diary, I will spend an hour every day writing imaginary story lines for the characters in Pine Valley.  I’ll pretend that their story goes on and I will make it up myself. Now, if I could just get the actors to come over and play out the scenes for me.  That shouldn’t be too hard, right?

I’ve hit the bargaining phase.  I’m making deals that have no basis in reality, in hopes that they’ll keep me occupied.  I need to get anew life.  It’s a time of tremendous change.  Everything in my life, and the lives of those around me, is changing. We’re all evolving and our lives are morphing into the next chapter.  But, we do still have only One Life to Live!

Courtesy/ABC

Looking forward, I’m anticipating Prospect Park’s re-launch of AMC online early next year.  I’m not sure what will be left of Pine Valley’s residents and how the storylines will work, but I will hold out hope for the best. I think JR will shoot everyone at the party except for Ryan and Cara, and then he’ll turn the gun on himself on his way out the door to CBS.  Ryan will turn to Cara for comfort with the loss of Greens in the Chandler Mansion massacre.  I am going to miss Pine Valley’s characters and story lines because they’ve given me a great amount of stress-relief in all forms of the seven deadly sins, adding up to one big, giant GUILTY PLEASURE!! Maybe the Michael Jackson murder trial will last until the re-launch of AMC and keep me happy.  Then again, there’s not anyone beautiful and/or shirtless in the court room, so that’s not likely.

As I wander aimlessly through the Autumn months in search of an adequate substitute addiction, one burning question lingers on…”WHY ON EARTH DIDN’T STUART GET TO GO TO HIS OWN WELCOME HOME PARTY???!

Now, that you have read Karen’s diary of her first week of life post-AMC on network television, let us know how you are coping with the loss until it gets back on its feet with Prospect Park in 2012?

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vik
vik

I also went through these feelings, of sadness and loss, when my cbs soaps were canceled. ATWT and GL. so I SWITCHED TO AMC. and OLTL. wow, my sadness is not as deep for these two new shows of mine, [you see I call them mine?!] as I didnt watch them for 40 yrs. like my cbs soaps. But in just the two yrs I have watched, Ive become addicted. Is it just my persoanlity that does that? Am I just a soap addict? I think it is steeped in tradition. One, that I ,like many others started at my mothers knee [and sewing machine] weekdays when I was just 5, some 47 yrs ago. No matter what you go through, they were always there, coming home from school or work. And I always told every one who didnt watch. HEY MY SOAP PEOPLE ARE THE ONLY ONES I KNOW THAT HAVE MORE PROBLEMS THAN I DO! LOL I so hope that they will continue on line, I just dont believe anything until I see it. And Im hoping I do!

Annika
Annika

Can so identify, thank you for writing this. I share your loss and sorrow. What I have been doing is till writing to ABC, telling them how I feel, what a big mistake this has been and how I just and
not willing to invest in anything else they put on their network. I have written to sponsors, and to the director of ABC daily. I feel we need to keep on the pressure, so they can understand they made a poor choice for their network and all of their viewing audience.

Mary Lou
Mary Lou

I can so relate to all of this. I am missing Pine Valley so much! I still watch OLTL, and have added Days & B&B. They provide some distraction, but there is nothing like AMC. There is just a big hole in my life. I am pinning my hopes on Prospect Park, and I hope they come through!

Nancy Wizner
Nancy Wizner

After watching AMC for almost 42 years, it’s like losing part of your family. This may sound crazy to many people, but to a true soap fan, it hits hard. There is a void in our lives now. I was 17 years old when I started watching this show. I watched it with my mother who has since passed. I grew up with it and to have it end for such a ridiculous reason is unacceptable. I have since turned off ABC and look forward for AMC to begin online.

Kelly
Kelly

I absolutely understand what you are saying. I, too, watched since the very beginning. As a teenager I would write comments in my diary about what was happening on AMC. I feel such a loss. The second week has been much more difficult to deal with for some reason. And I, too, was having a very hard time watching OLTL without the lead in of AMC. I just don’t understand why this happened.

Marianne Patyk
Marianne Patyk

I been watching AMC and OLTL since 1980. I am also going Thur withdrawn. I am not watching that cooking show. Want my AMC back…… heart broken………
.

judy
judy

I wondered the same thing about staurt not going to his own party

JoAnn
JoAnn

Well this is how I’m coping…. I have at least another month of un-viewed [AMC] shows left on my DVR, and I am spacing them out until the online version comes along. I did watch the final show so I’d know how it ended, but hopefully I can watch it again just before the next phase starts up. YES, I TRULY AM IN DENIAL!!! At least I’m not going through complete withdrawal from a show I’ve invested 41 years of my life to! Pathetic maybe, loyal definitely!!!

All My Children

Eva LaRue Talks On Her Daytime Emmy Nomination, And Opens Up About The Loss Of John Callahan

For Eva LaRue, the past two months have been some of the most emotionally gut-wrenching and challenging of her life, following the passing of her ex-husband, father of her child, and dearest friend, John Callahan (Ex-Edmund, All My Children). The outpouring of support she has received not only from her former AMC cast mates, but the soap world in general illustrates just how dear Eva is to all of us, and how many people had special memories of their time with John.

While mourning the loss of Callahan along with their daughter, Kaya, there was some heartwarming and re-affirming news that any actress would love to hear. Eva was nominated for a Daytime Emmy in the Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series for her work as Celeste Rosales on CBS’ The Young and the Restless, and she is great company as her former AMC co-star Michael E. Knight (Ex-Tad) is also nominated along with her for his work on General Hospital.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit our country and world hard, but through it All My Children virtual reunions emerged as fans were engaged by the content, transported to happier times that brought them back to familiar faces in Pine Valley in which Eva participated along with her good friends, Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos and so many more, thanks to the EW. com weeklong event which concluded on Friday.

Michael Fairman TV talked with Eva in this very candid, at times heartbreaking, and open conversation where she shares details into the final days of her beloved John, her last moments with him, and how she tried to plan a memorial in his honor during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For so many of us, 2020 has certainly seen more lows then highs, but in the end for Eva, to receive a nomination now (an award she was last nominated for back in 1997 as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work as Dr Maria Santos on All My Children) couldn’t have come at a better time. Here now is our conversation with Eva.

Photo: JPI

I’ve been thinking so much about you.  I’m glad we could do this, and in the midst of the tragedy of losing John Callahan, and then receiving a Daytime Emmy nomination.  What was your reaction when you learned you were nominated in a category with none other than your former AMC castmate and good friend, Michael E. Knight (Ex-Tad, AMC, now Martin, GH)?

EVA:  Oh, I know!  He’s the first person I texted!  I was like, “Congratulations, Michael!  Did you ever in a million years think that you and I would be in the same category of anything?”  Then I said, “And when you win this, can I just borrow it for the weekend just to dress it up and take pictures with it… just want to borrow it, just babysit the trophy for a weekend, please?” (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

What did you end up submitting that landed you the nomination for your role as Celeste on Y&R?

EVA: I submitted a scene with Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R), who I have been friends for 30 years, if not more, and in all that time we had never worked together.  I met him when I was married to John O’Hurley (Ex- Dr. James Grainger) because John was over at The Young and the Restless at the time.  I went to a Christmas party with John to Peter and Mariellen’s house, and do you know who else was there?  Lisa Rinna (Ex-Billie, Days), and it was before she had gotten Days of Our Lives. She was dating Peter Barton (Ex-Scott Grainger, Y&R) at the time. We both ended up on soaps at the same time.  So, I submitted a scene with Peter, who is amazing, warm and open and such a great actor. Then I submitted a scene with my on-screen daughter Sasha Calle (Lola, Y&R) – I love that girl, and another one with Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, Y&R) who has also been my great friend for a couple of decades. The other scene I put on my reel was with me and Jordi Vilasuso (Rey, Y&R) who I also adore.  He is awesome and such a sweetheart.  I only had two months worth of material to draw upon.  So, I just submitted the scenes that I liked the best, and they all were within story, and all made sense.

Photo: Getty Images

Where is Celeste supposed to be now?

EVA:  She went back to Florida, and that was that. I would never say never to anything, but it was always supposed to be a short stint, and it was great.

So not only is it you and Michael E. Knight, but Jeffery Vincent Parise, Chrishell Stause, and Elissa Kapneck. This Guest Performer category is loaded!

EVA:  I know! I know and love, Chrishell (Ex-Amanda) because we worked together on All My Children, too, right before I left, and she is a doll.  She just might be the sweetest, kindest, girl on the planet.  She literally might be the sweetest person who ever lived!  I don’t know the other two nominees personally.  So, I’m excited for them too.  It’s such a diverse category.  It’s just really fun to be nominated with all of them.

Photo: Hallmark Channel

You were nominated before, though, for your work as Maria on All My Chldren during the emotional baby switch storyline; working opposite Susan Lucci (Ex-Erica) for a lot in it.

EVA:  Yes.  I was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for All My Children, and I was nominated for Best Original Song.  I wrote a song when Maria came ‘back from the dead’ to All My Children, with a producer friend of mine from Miami Sound Machine.

Photo: Live with Kelly Ryan

So, you’ve been doing all of these All My Children virtual reunions, which is so interesting that in this pandemic, people are looking for content, and they dip back into these beloved shows.  Was it fun doing the EW.com Santos Family reunion with everybody?

EVA:  Oh yeah, it was really, really fun.  I only saw in the big picture everybody else’s photo who was a part of it, and the people who I actually do hang out with the most, and see the most, and talk to the most, are Kelly Ripa (Ex-Hayley), Mark Consuelos (Ex-Mateo), and Sydney Penny (Ex-Julia).  I don’t see Sydney as much, but I do see her probably once every two years at least, but Sarah Michelle Geller (ExKendall) I see all the time and talk to all the time.  Kelly, Mark, and Sarah are the ones who walked me through that first week when John Callahan passed.  They literally were on the phone with me, the three of them, almost every day, but I got beautiful outreach, from what seemed like everyone.  This is when no matter how many years have passed since you have been in daytime, that the daytime family as a group – there used to be fifteen shows, now there are four – and people have bounced around and they are on other shows- – but the entire soap opera community reached out,   I cannot even tell you how much that meant to me.  It was overwhelming, and it was really, spectacularly beautiful.

Photo: JPI

I hope it was some solace to you knowing how much people loved John, and also that they love and care so deeply for you.

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EVA:  I mean, people who did not even work with John reached out.  Every soap was represented by getting a hold of me, sending a text or a phone call, or if they didn’t have my personal information, they tweeted, or whatever it was… literally from every reach of soapdom.  It was amazing.

And your relationship with John was amazing with all of the ups and downs you went through; that you remained such dear friends.

EVA:  We remained really great friends all the way.

Photo: JPI

I so remember when the two of you first got together and it was this storybook real life soap couple romance.  John was always so sweet to me.  I was so, so sad, and you know, my heart just broke for you.

EVA:  I think it was just such a shock.  I don’t think anybody, and even Kaya were talking about it, because she graduated this week, and her dad is not here.  We’re not having a graduation, because of COVID-19, which sucks on top of it, but we were just kind of talking through the feelings of it.  She said, “You know what’s weird?  I guess I never pictured dad getting old, and I always wondered why, and now I know.”  When I would get on John about his heart or his health, he used to always say, ‘Oh, don’t worry Evala, (he always called me “Evala”).  I’m going to be here.  I’m going to be here a long time.  I’m fine.  I’m going to be here to walk Kaya down the aisle and see her kids and all that.  Stop worrying,” Every time he said it to me, something in my gut said, “I don’t think he is.  I don’t think he is,” but I always just dismissed that.  But never in my wildest dreams did I think John wouldn’t make it to her high school graduation.  He was only 66.

Photo: JPI

I had heard you ended up running to Palm Springs to be near John.  I can’t even imagine what that must have been like.

EVA:  The only good thing about this pandemic is that we had been shut down for only two weeks at that point.  Kaya and I got in the car.  John had some heart procedures the day before, on a Thursday.  I called him in the morning before he went in for the procedure.  I said, “Call me as soon as you get out of there.  Call me as soon as you come-to again, and you’re good,” and he said, “Okay, I will.”  I said, “I’m going to send Kaya out to you on Friday for the weekend, just so you have somebody to hang out and watch you, and I might come out too,” And then, I said, “Maybe, I’ll come down too in case you are feeling weak, just to watch out for you for the weekend.”   So, he called me after the procedure.   I said, “I cannot believe they sent you home! You just had some major heart stuff done.”  He said, “Oh no, they said I’m fine.  It was just run-of-the-mill heart stuff, angiogram…”  I was like, “Are you sure?”  He said, “Yeah, I’m fine.  I’m just tired.  I’m going to go to sleep.”  I said, “Do you want me to send Kaya out tonight?” and he was like, “No, no, no.  Send her tomorrow.”  So, in the morning, I called him at 9:00am.  No answer.  I texted him.  He always texted me like Johnny on the spot, and then texts me immediately back.  So, I call him again at 10.  Nothing.  His best friend calls me about a half-hour later, “Hey, I talked to John at about 8:00 this morning.  He said he was feeling really, really shitty and was going to go back to the hospital, and then, I texted him again at like 8:30 to just tell him something, and he hasn’t texted me back, and he always texts me immediately back.”  I said, “Oh my, God, I’ve been trying to get a hold of him for two hours; he hasn’t texted me back,”   I said, “You know what, I’ll call you back.”  So, I called his friend who lives down the street from John, and I said, “Go to his house, please right this second, knock on the door, jump the fence, knock on his bedroom, he might be asleep, I don’t know.”  So, he gets there, nobody is answering.  I said, “Break into the house please.  So, he did, and John was collapsed in the bathroom.  They called the paramedics, and as soon as they called me back and said, “John is unresponsive in the bathroom,” Kaya and I threw everything in the car, and what usually takes us two and a half hours without traffic, we made it down there from Los Angeles in an hour and forty-five minutes.

Photo: JPI

I don’t know how you made it down there in one piece. Thank, God!

EVA:  I drove so fast, like literally broke all land speed records and thank God because we got there just in time.  He was in emergency.  He hadn’t been put up in ICU yet, where we wouldn’t have been able to see him.  They weren’t going to let us in the hospital.  Thank God the person answering the door was an All My Children fan.  She was the one saying, “Sorry, no one is allowed in the hospital, no one can come in,” and I was like, “No, no, no, my ex-husband just came in.”  She said, “Was it Edmund?” and I said, “Yes, it was Edmund!”  She said, “Okay, follow me.”  Thank God for All My Children.  Thank God.  So, we followed this woman secretly, and we get to spend a half-hour with him in Emergency.  He was already on life-support, totally unresponsive, but we got to play John his favorite music, we got to just sit there and hold his hand and talk to him, and tell him how much we loved him.  Sarah Michelle Gellar called right when we were in the hospital in Emergency, and she said, “Put the phone by his ear,” so I put the phone by his ear, and she talked to John too, and she told him how much she loved him.  She used to always call him “GP”, which was short of grandpa, because she came on the show when she was 15, and she didn’t have a dad, and John acted like a dad to her – but she used to always call him “grandpa”, and he hated “grandpa”, so he was like, “You can call me “GP”, but not grandpa,” so she always called him GP.  I just put the phone by John’s ear, and what was crazy is that when she talked to him, his feet started twitching.  He started moving his feet.  Then, when Kaya was talking to him about Yankee season, he started moving his feet.  We were kind of hopeful that something was changing for the better.  We had about a half-hour with him, and then, they took him up to ICU, and then, we knew we couldn’t see him again.  They called us later that night that he had passed.

Photo: JPI

I am just so thankful that you got to see John one last time.

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EVA:  I thank God every day that we got to say goodbye, because if we hadn’t gotten there in time to say goodbye, I just don’t know.

It’s very rare that a couple after a divorce, who have a child, and went from romance to dear friends, end up maintaining that relationship so many years later in their lives.  I know so many people who were together at one point in their lives, for years, and they don’t even talk to each other now.

EVA:  Well, you know, like any divorce, the first four years afterwards were super contentious but then, by year five, we kind of had this major breakthrough, and from then on, he was one of my closest friends, and one of the things we always kept alive for each other was we loved to  dance together. We fell in love, I think, dancing because originally our characters on AMC met at this country-western bar, and we had to take country line dancing lessons on the show.  They hired a choreographer for us so that during those scenes where we were falling in love, we would actually be able to do a two-step! So, we went out and practiced at Denim and Diamonds, which was a big country-western place in New York City at the time.  We used to go out with a whole group of us.  It was me, and Teresa Blake (Ex-Gloria) and Kelly Ripa, and her boyfriend at the time, Winsor Harmon (Ex-Del), sometimes Walt Willey (Ex-Jack); we just had a whole crew of us who would go out country dancing.  John and I also loved singing together.  He had the most amazing gravely kind of rockstar voice, but his real talent was harmonizing.  He could harmonize to anything.  So, when he would come over, we would sit in the kitchen and sing, and sing, and sing until the late hours because that’s what we loved to do, and that’s what he loved to do.  That’s one of my favorite last memories of us.  He was just over the month before, and Kaya’s bedroom is near the kitchen, so she came out and was like, “Can you two shut up?”  It was like two in the morning and we were still singing in the kitchen. (Laughs)  John was my dear friend and my confidant.

Photo: ABC

Were you able to have some kind of service during this stay-at-home pandemic we are all dealing with, in order to mourn the loss of John?

EVA:  It’s been so crazy.  We couldn’t even have a funeral.  That’s what made it all the more heartbreaking.  There were less than twenty of us, and we just got on a Zoom call and memorialized John.   I thought we were going to do a big Zoom memorial, but it seemed so overwhelming and so impersonal, it just was rubbing us wrong in every way.  Every way we were looking at it, we were like, “Oh my, God, we just can’t.”  We wanted to invite everybody he had ever worked with, and we were like, “No, we want to do that when everything can open back up again, and invite every person, and have a party” because John was always the life of every party.  Maybe we can do that in the fall or next year.  I kept trying to write something for the small memorial we did do for three days.  I kept coming back to this one song, because John was always the consummate bartender, too.  I sang a song that Bette Midler sang on the very last episode of Johnny Carson.  It was “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” and it’s about a bartender who has got a big personality and a lot to say.   I changed some of the words around a bit just to reflect who John was, and so, I ended up singing for it instead of speaking.  We always talked about that last episode of Carson; how stunningly emotional it was when Bette sang that song to kind of sing Johnny off for of all of his years on the air.  So, that’s what I did and because we loved to sing together, it just made sense.

Photo: HutchinsPhoto

I do think you touched upon something, earlier, too.  I don’t think any other genre would have that kind of unbridled camaraderie.  It’s such a family, like you said.  I don’t think you would find that quite like this; certainly in show business. 

EVA:  I really don’t think you can. Even though there is always a good amount of competition in the soaps as well; between the soaps it’s like they are any sports team, but there is always a level of respect, love, and familial connection within the community.  I think that is why they have stood the test of time.  I really do think that is what hooks our audience, that is what keeps them there after all of these years, even though unfortunately the genre is antiquated looking, there is something about it that is nostalgic, familial, and comfortable for people.

Photo: JPI

Every time I talk about All My Children, why do you think everybody go ga-ga for it, when it’s been off the air for several years now?

EVA:  It speaks to people’s childhoods.  It speaks to how we grew up.  You can’t undo nostalgia.  You can’t.  It’s in the way we grew up, the things we loved, the things that we scheduled our lives around, the people we fell in love with on the shows that we watched, who we cared about and loved their storylines. I grew up watching All My Children, General Hospital, and Days of Our Lives.

It must have been a spectacular moment for you when you realized you were actually in Pine Valley and a member of the cast of All My Children then?

EVA:  It was amazing.  I was a fan when I got the show.  I was a straight up fan.  I fangirled walking through that dressing room hallway for the first time! I was trying to keep it in check, but you know … (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

So, in closing, you would say, “Thrilled to be nominated”?

EVA:  Yes.  So fun.  It has really been a rollercoaster of a couple of months here.  That nomination was literally the bright, shining spot in all of this.

So, happy to hear Eva is in the running for a Daytime Emmy? Were you moved by Eva’s sentiments she shared on her relationship with the late John Callahan? Do you miss Pine Valley’s Dr. Maria Santos? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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All My Children

All My Children Reunion with Josh Duhamel, Ricky Paull Goldin, Cameron Mathison and More; Later Debbi Morgan Live

It’s a big finale of the weeklong virtual celebration of the iconic All My Children.  On tap today in EW’s series to benefit Feeding America during the COVID-19, some major names from the history of Pine Valley and who had story with each other participating in the chat, premiering at 10 a. m. EST.

Taking part in the walk down memory lane are none other than Josh Duhamel (Ex-Leo), Ricky Paull Goldin (Ex-Jake), Chrishell Stause (Ex-Amanda), Cameron Mathison (Ex-Ryan), Rebecca Budig (Ex-Greenelee) and Melissa Claire Egan (Ex-Annie).

But that’s not all folks! Daytime Emmy winner, Debbi Morgan will participate in a live virtual chat with EW.com today beginning at 3 p.m. EST/12 p. m. PST.  Now will be your chance to hear from the one and only Angie Hubbard from the beloved ABC daytime drama series.

Over the week, EW.com has posted other virtual conversations with notables from Pine Valley, you can check them out here.

So, will you be checking out today’s one-two punch of AMC favorites? Comment below.

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All My Children

All My Children Weeklong Virtual Reunions Kick-Off With Ripa, Consuelos, LaRue and Penny

Beginning this morning, Tuesday, May 26th, a weeklong virtual celebration with the cast of All My Children is on tap for fans of the beloved ABC daytime drama series, featuring a “Who’s Who of Pine Valley”.

The weeklong event is brought to you by EW.com and PEOPLETV.com and starts at 10 am EST/PST.   You can watch it right here.

Featured in the first installments are  the Santos family which includes: real-life marrieds, who met on All My Children, Kelly Ripa (Ex-Hayley) and Mark Consuelos (Ex-Mateo), as well as Eva LaRue (Maria) and Sydney Penny (Julia).

Episode 2 coming up on Wednesday will feature: Michael E. Knight (Tad Martin), Cady McClain (Dixie Cooney Martin), Jennifer Bassey (Marian Colby Chandler), Jill Larson (Opal Cortlandt), and Darnell Williams (Jesse Hubbard).

The weeklong event is in support of Feeding America helping those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information and how you can make a donation visit ew.com/allmychildrenreunion

So, let us know what you think of the first installment featuring the Santos clan from Pine Valley as they reunite for a good cause via the comment section below.

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