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Erika Slezak Interview – One Life to Live Farewell

In her final video interview with On-Air On-Soaps as a cast member of One Life to Live (taped at the series final press junket) six-time Daytime Emmy winner and the star of the series, Erika Slezak chats with Michael Fairman in a heart-tugging and emotional interview as Erika prepared to say goodbye to her 40 year run as Viki. In addition, Erika explains why she had decided to lend her name to the Prospect Park online project that ultimately fizzled, and what she will miss the most from her time in Llanview.

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Webbie
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Webbie

ES is a class act, all the way. I guess this interview was done before PP pulled the plug on their plans. I hope that she finds another place (soon!) that will appreciate and utilize her incredible talent. She’ll be missed.

jcs1956
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jcs1956

I saw the interview and got all excited when i heard ES say we will be going on the internet! I thought we all had our Christmas wish 🙁

Lori
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Lori

She also mentioned “cable”????? Ok.. so P.P fell through… could we be looking at the surprise from The View to be cable… PRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Barb
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Barb

Yes, we are still waiting for our Christmas Wish to come true! ES is a class act as well as all those who have entertained us on this Soap! OLTL is on fire and has been for a long time – I just can’t believe it is over! We can still fight for this genre! They just have to give it back to us. It can’t be over! 🙁

Susan M.
Guest
Susan M.

Erka Slezak is talking about going on the internet in your interview with her.. And that she agreed to do it.. I’m confused??????????? I read that wasn’t going to happen now…………. Am I WRONG????? Did something change????? Should I get my hopes up or not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Please let me know……I Love you Erika Slezak (Viki) & everyone else.. I am heart broken & so upset!!! Im recording the last five episodes nt. wk. Please answer my QUESTIONS!!! I need to know !!!! Also is Michael Easton going on GH & any others of OLTL???? I’m Curiou about what Ms. Slezak was talking… Read more »

Susan M.
Guest
Susan M.

Michael Fairman answer comments for SUSAN M. Shes waiting for the answers to all her questions….

Susan M.
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Susan M.

Can’t get past that special code to send you a message,,, To contact you on your site.. This is the only way I could do it… Question if Michael Easton (John) is going on GH…What about Melanie Archer (Natlie) & baby Liam, will they be joining him as well? They are a family now… Please answer my question.. Waiting for your reply.. This is very important to me!!!! Thank you so much Mr. Fairman

Jeanette Viti
Guest
Jeanette Viti

See, for a second I thought there was hope but now I see there isn’t. I just hope theres something, “We the fans” can do to help. I just can’t understand how there wasn’t enough ratings, ” as they claim.” I just don’t believe that. I have read somewhere that Brian Fronz yanked the show because he had a personal problem with soaps and he felt that the fans can be “retrained” to like new shows, such as The Chew and The Revolution. Now I read this online, around the time I first heard ABC was pulling All My Children… Read more »

teresaseckel
Guest
teresaseckel

im sorry that oltl is going off the air as long as it is on the internet then thats fine and i love erika she is such an awsome person i was just wondering if she is a religous person if i could get that information then that will be good please send me an email on that if it is possible thanks to u viki for the wonderful entertainment u hv given me ilv u and may god bless u

WOWZEM
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WOWZEM

I will not View, I will not Chew, my soaps are gone, what will I do? It’s unbelievable, inconceivable, ratings will be irretrievable. I hear Oprah wants to grow, easily done, just pick up our show!!

Jim
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Jim

ES is grace and class. She better be writing a book about her time on the show. If Lucci can do it, darn it, so can she.

david
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david

Fine interview, but so depressing the show is not continuing, which Erika didn’t know at the time. Hard to watch, at times, knowing her hopes for the future of OLTL didn’t materialize.

Cindy
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Cindy

yes, it was hard to watch, and wondering what she would have been saying had she known this was truly the end. So sad.

david
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david

She probably would have said what she said in a recent TV Guide interview: “This is pure fantasy and the audience loves it. They know it’s outrageous. They know it’s not real. It’s just fun. What really annoyed me about our cancellation was the reason we were given. We were told the daytime audience doesn’t want entertainment anymore and that they just want information. Well, that’s the biggest load of bulls–t. People always want entertainment! I’ve had so many emails from people who are really upset that soaps are being replaced with reality shows. They don’t want to watch food… Read more »

david
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david

Cindy – Or Erika would have said what she said in another recent interview with Smashing Interviews where she rightly criticizes ABC and The Chew: “I’m not too pleased with ABC. ABC has let so many people down by cancelling these two shows. It’s all about money. I understand that. But, how much money are they going to make with The Chew and The Revolution? I don’t know if anybody is watching The Chew. The problem is they’re all trying to be television personalities. They scream and laugh and they talk over each other, and it makes it impossible to… Read more »

Petra
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Petra

Erika is one Beautiful Graceful Lady .. God Bless

leanne
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leanne

very upset that i lost all my children but to loose oltl too is a shame.i have been watching this since i was a child with my mom .its a shame that abc is doing this to fans

natt t
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natt t

i was so sad today.i have been watching one life to live since i was eight.and you watch them for so long that they become part of your daily rutine.the show is great and so are the actors.i wish they would of changed there minds and at least let the show continue online.all i can say is so many people do not want to watch the shows that are going in place of one life to live.best of luck and and hope some day they bring the show back. sincerly one of your biggest fans.

Jessica
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Jessica

This is heartbreaking to watch. Seeing her excitement of Prospect Park and then knowing that it’s going to be shattered. I wish there was something to be done especially putting it on cable.

iluvssw
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iluvssw

I am with you Jessica, this really breaks my heart. I feel the absolute love in her words. Thank you Michael, wow!

Heather
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Heather

Thank you for all the memories Vicki. Hope to see you again in the future in your own primetime sitcom Erika “Vicki” Slezak .

RIP OLTL (1968-2012)

MEG
Guest
MEG

MY HEART IS BROKEN

Susan M.
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Susan M.

so is mine!!!!!!!!!!

Brian Greene
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Brian Greene

Thanks So Much Erika–We Love You!! 😀 😀

Susan M.
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Susan M.

Miss you ERIKA ALREADY!!!!!

patti j jackson
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patti j jackson

i love u (Vicki) and all the rest of OLTL TEAM. Im still in shock that after 43 wounderful yrs Abc is taking it off the air.if it wasnt 4 the soaps i wouldnt even have local channels. when i got dish network i told them i had to b able to watch my soaps or i didnt want satellite at the time i got dish charged me $5 extra.id be willin 2 pay extra now 2 watch them.If the soaps cost 2 much 2 air why in the world didnt abc ask us if we where willin 2 pay… Read more »

Jacob
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Jacob

I have been watching OLTL since summer 2010 (i am 15 yrs old) and i can really say i will miss it. There is not character on that i did not like (yes at some points i didnt like what they were doing but liked them). I love all the Buchanans, Balsoms, Cramers, and Lords love them all. Erika next to Jeanne Cooper you are my favorite show matriarch and you will be missed. I hope one day you will continue on the internet if they change their minds and do it or you get picked up by another station… Read more »

liz
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liz

Thank you Michael for the wonderful interviews. Words cannot express the sadness I feel. I have watched both OLTL & AMC since the beginning. It feels like a whole branch of my family got on a bus that is going to crash and kill them all. The worst part is that I know in advance that they are going to die and I’ve know for months but can’t do anything to stop it. I am very thankful for the great storylines that will take us to the end but sometimes the sadness is just too much to bear. I have… Read more »

gloria
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gloria

WOW-I could not have said it better although I have said practically the very same words in many other posts since Nov. 23. I DREAD this Friday-I just keep thinking this is a nightmare & I will wake up from it. You are so right about the shows being a constant in our lives-no matter what else-good or bad is going on. We could count on one thing in this life, if nothing else-our beloved shows. I almost wish I just turned on the tv Jan. 16 & it was not there instead of knowing since April 14, then the… Read more »

sandy e
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sandy e

Oh this is just GREAT.Another stupid food show or a bunch of Doctors telling us our liver is turning green. Leave alone and let the soaps begin.

anastasia
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anastasia

I don’t understand. I was under the impression that OLTL and AMC were not going to go on as an interent series, yet these interviews were just done this week, and they seem to imply that they are?

Heather
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Heather

They were done before November 23

Mariah
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Mariah

Im soooo upset my mom watched this growing up I have watched this growing up & it’s just sad 2 c such a great show b canceled 4 another food show…isn’t. That y they have food network?!?!?! I mean really…

Kathi Butler
Guest
Kathi Butler

This is the saddest cancellation of ANY show in the history of television! Erika and ALL the rest of the cast of OLTL are going to be missed EVERY day. I can’t even imagine my life without OLTL in it!! I have been watching OLTL for over 40 years…I used to pretend I was sick so I could stay home from school to watch it. I, to this day, have many VCR tapes with old episodes on them…and I will probably be watching those alot in the future. I can only HOPE & PRAY that a cable network will see… Read more »

DIANE AND CAROL IN DC
Guest
DIANE AND CAROL IN DC

WE ARE SO SAD ABOUT THE SHOW ENDING, IT IS LIKE WE ARE ABOUT TO LOSE FAMILY. WE HAVE WATCHED EVERY SHOW SINCE IT STARTED. WE TAPE THE SHOW EVERYDAY IN CASE WE ARE NOT HOME.

OUR PRAYERS WITH EVERYONE OF YOU.

I HOPE SOMEHOW YOU WILL BE ABLE TO RETURN.

Vicki
Guest
Vicki

I started watching OLTL in 1968 when I was 15 because the character’s name was Viki(spelled differently) and I had never seen a TV show with the star having my name. I got hooked immediately. While Gillian Spencer(orifginal actress) was very good, when Erika Slezak came on no one else could be Viki in my mind. Not only was she beautiful, but she had chemistry with everyone. She and Lee Paterson were amazing together, and when Joe died, I didn’t think Viki could capture that chemistry again, but Erika and Clint Richie were golden. Jerry ver Dorn also has chemistry… Read more »

1loveabcsoaps
Guest
1loveabcsoaps

Nicely stated. As for Jerry ver Dorn, one day (years ago) I had the show on, and wasn’t QUITE watching BUT was listening…. I heard a voice that sounded like Clint Richie’s. I thought, GEE…..has Clint come back, I thought he was retiring for good this time (I loved him dearly). Anyway, I look up and it’s Jerry ver Dorn. I though, this guy is going to FIT into this ROLE just fine with the viewer’s BC he sounds like Clint and he can act. He is believable. Strange bc he actually favors Asa in the face, and maks a… Read more »

Doe
Guest
Doe

Michael, how fortunate for you that you could interview Erica. There is no better actress on soaps and never will be. She has electrified us with her amazing performances, especially her many alters. She is always consistent and in control. She is the consummate actor. Just thinking of all the years that she has given us. I am sad that she as well as her fellow actors wil be gone . I do believe she will probably do Broadway. She is perfect for the stage. Also, maybe a mini-series. I will hope. Michael, you were so caring in your interview.… Read more »

1loveabcsoaps
Guest
1loveabcsoaps

Ok…… Susan, Michael Fairman, Tonja Walker OR anyone else with inquiry as I. After Prospect Park pulled out (somewhere around the 24th) after the Nov 18th, finale taping. it was a long…. fallout on the internet, and various soap sites, abc.com and the like. Everyday, I would seach all over the internet looking for an update from Prospect Park, THEN…………on December 7th , Prospect Park CAME BACK and annouced that they were still looking for investor’s…..(Keep in mind THIS was Dec 7, AFTER their announcement NOT to move forward). Also, I read the December 7th statement from PROSPECT PARK on… Read more »

Heather
Guest
Heather

Keep in mind that Prospect Park never confirmed this news coming from Variety Magazine. It may all be a rumor. And even if this is true, the actors will never accept to work in an non-union environment (the story suggests that PP is trying to bypass the unions). Finally, virtually all the actors from OLTL have moved on to other projects after the annoucement on November 23. So it’s fair to say that OLTL will not come back. To be honest with you, I got over the cancellation of OLTL (although Friday’s episode will be emotional). But I do encourage… Read more »

1loveabcsoaps
Guest
1loveabcsoaps

Thanks Heather.
Well, I dont know about that news coming from Variety Magazine BC I read it on this site under the title Buzz, or interviews, listed on Dec 7th. Read it here only.

Heather
Guest
Heather

It was from Variety Magazine on December 7, 2011. Michael Fairman only reported the story from Variety.

The story has never been mentionned in any mainstream media (other than Variety).

1loveabcsoaps
Guest
1loveabcsoaps

Hey Heather thanks again. Anyway, I just read from seeing it posted here, “NYC Soap Bubble Busted”, so I went on line and read it. Then I went to the store and read the NYC Post, to make sure I didn’t miss anything. which I didn’t other than the pictures posted with the article. Didn’t see the pictures on line published with the article. This has become a BIG DEAL, and very sad. I mean this site is NONE STOP ABOUT T HIS ORDEAL, along with abc.com. I can’t even clean my house and get myself ready for tomorrow. I… Read more »

barbara t
Guest
barbara t

I read this in variety to ,and have heard nothing since ,Ive searched everywhere for some glimmer of hope,but nothing.I think that prospect park should say something ,more than they did when they said the soaps were not going to the net.because it has kept me hoping that one life to live will go on ,but how can it ,everyone is leaving ,doing other projects .What hurts is we didnt loose the soaps once we lost them twice.and p.p. should, come out ,come out where ever you are ,and say it ,one life to live is over .I just wish… Read more »

Heather
Guest
Heather

Well, I wouldn’t said that OLTL was canceled twice because the show didn’t aired elsewhere than on ABC. Passions has been canceled twice, but not OLTL.

I don’t know if you guys read the interview Erika Slezak conducted on January 3, It’s worth reading. Do a google search by typing ” smashing interviews” and “Erika Slezak” and you’ll find the page. It’s a very interesting interview.

barbara t
Guest
barbara t

yes they did,we were told by prospect park there putting them on the net , they were saving the soaps. for a couple of months we kept hearing this cast member signed ,there moving or keeping the abc studio even signed for music rights,for months we were made to believe in january after one life to live ends it will continue the following week along with all my children .so we did loose them twice,Once by abc then by pp,I dont know about you but I cant in words tell you how happy I was that prospect park was going… Read more »

Heather
Guest
Heather

I agree with 1loveabcsoaps that most of the backlash comes from the cancellation of OLTL rather than AMC. For every AMC fan who is angry that their show is canceled, they are two OLTL fans that fell the same that their show is being canceled. But I will give AMC and Susan Lucci their due. All My Children is probably the most popular soap opera outside the soap opera community. If you ask someone who doesn’t watch soap operas if he knows about One Life to Live or The Young and the Restless, chances are the answer will be “no”.… Read more »

ethel
Guest
ethel

i ahve been an oltl viewer since viki was married to joe riley & yes eriika slezak is the heart & soul of oltl – she is an awesome actress & she has 6 emmy’s to prove it!

Colleen Kaleta
Guest
Colleen Kaleta

I realy hope something good happens and this great cast and show will be up and running again in good hands instead of the hand at ABC,,They have a good thing and dont even appreciate how good it is.. I will miss OLTL along with My mother who is 72 my son who is 27 we have watched it for years,,and now more family members have started to watch..it breaks our hearts..

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

I’m heartbroken that OLTL will not contiune. These final episodes have been fabulous. I have enjoyed every second and can’t wait to see what else they have for us. ABC why oh why… I would send in money today if I thought it could help!

Brian Del Piano
Guest
Brian Del Piano

I AM NOT LOSING HOPE. I have NO CLUE why a cable network will not PICK UP OLTL. The cost to run the show, and pay the actors…..CHARGE A SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE TO THE “SOAP OPERA NETWORK” and YOU WILL HAVE THE MONEY, THE SPONSORSHIP…..Apparently the AUDIENCE is ALIVE AND WELL. GIVE THE MILLIONS of OLTL FANS THEIR SHOW!! GIVE US OUR DAILY SLEZAK FIX!!

Susan M.
Guest
Susan M.

Dear Michael I watched the last episode of ONE LIFE TO LIVE today….. I was Not happy with the ending at all!!!!!!!!! It was an abrupt ending…Some stories in part were kind of resolved….What happen with Natlie & John??? They just got back together and what else? ABRUPT with this story line!! And Victor is ALIVE!!! and todd is going to jail for a crime he didn’t COMMIT!! Another ABRUPT ENDING!!! Clint just proposed to Viki…And Matthew & Destiny are parents to a baby boy!!!! ANOTHER ABRUPT ENDING!!!! The writers left you HANGING!!!! It’s not a ending , but a… Read more »

Susan M.
Guest
Susan M.

Michael PLEASE REPLY To above comments about OLTL last episode (1/13/12 )Please answer my e-mail above!!!!! I’m very upset!!!!! I will be waiting for your response about all the comments I made.. PLEASE REPLY!!!! OLTL FAN FOREVER!!!!!

Carol
Guest
Carol

I have been watching OLTL and AMC since the beginning…these people became part of my family…I love them so much I don’t know what I am going to do without them…ABC really screwed us big time….how can they replace such class acts with these two stupid shows and how could they say that the ratings went down…OLTL I will miss each and everyone of you terribly but I wish you all the best of luck as you continue your careers elsewhere…Your fan for 43 years…

Robin
Guest
Robin

I just finished reading everyones posts from above and agree with it all! My grandma watches ABC soaps and my mom watched all 3 when I was younger but as far as I know just watched OLTL and GH in recent years. I am 35 and grew up watching ABC soaps from childhood (grew up with “Robin Scorpio), though I really only ever watched OLTL and GH. I too, like someone mentioned above, would play sick throughout the school year to catch up with what was happening, since it was before VCRs and DVRs, then would watch to my heart’s… Read more »

linda otey
Guest
linda otey

It is 6:26am on Saturday 1-15-12 and I am just now listening to these interviews ,and it is so much sadder to me (and I have been sad enough all week) but, now to know the cast wanted so much to continue the story online. I hope something changes and they can still do this. I am sick about it. I have loved the show for so long but have never gotten to know the actors from any other venue, and now after these interviews I know I was right when I thought they were special. Thank you ,Michael for… Read more »

Deanna
Guest
Deanna

Thanks for the interviews with Viki Lord Riley Buchanan and her daughters. Man, if all the people who claim they will not watch ABC after this Sept., actually follow through as promised. We might make the powers that be wish they had never hired that jackass egomaniac, Fronz. But I think it is a little late to save anything at this point. GH, just like the two valient shows before it, will be toast and, if we are not careful, so will the genre. I was thinking, while watching, that it was a shame that all the soap mags, interview… Read more »

Judi
Guest
Judi

Viki, I still miss OLTL! I have to watch these taped interviews with Michael and it hurts ….. I tried so hard to keep OLTL on air so did millions of viewers! I tweeted, fb, emailed, sent letters, to ABC to please not cancel OLTL to no avail… Shame on the CEO”S OF ABC!!! becasue they didn’t and still don’t listen or seem to care about the viewers and fans. The people that make them money!!!!! One soap left!! GH!! hard to believe as I said to others here, I have watched OLTL for years and years.. I am in… Read more »

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Cady McClain & Rob Scott Wilson Talk Being Recasts, All My Children Reboot, Future of Cin & Jennifer’s Bitch-Slap

Current Days of our Lives and former All My Children reboot stars, Cady McClain (Jennifer, Days, Ex-Dixie, AMC) and Rob Scott Wilson (Ben, Days, Ex-Pete AMC) chat with Michael Fairman in an enlightening and exclusive conversation for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

McClain, who recently took over the role of Days of our Lives beloved heroine Jennifer Horton from mainstay Melissa Reeves (who chose to stay with her family in Nashville during Covid-19 thus forcing the series to recast the role for now) talks about stepping into the key part of the Salem canvas, plus the recent Jennifer/Kate fight over Jack (Matthew Ashford), and how the legacy series is coping with production during Covid-19.

Cady is no stranger to be a recast.  She was the second actress to play Dixie on ABC’s All My Children, as well as the second actress to play Rosanna on As the World Turns, and she had previously taken over the role of Kelly Andrews on The Young and the Restless.

Photo: JPI

Rob, talks about landing the role of Ben and being a recast, and in an emotional moment, reveals how he credits the opportunity to the late producer, Lisa de Cazotte. Wilson also shares his hopes for his Salem alter-ego who is struggling to move on with his life after the supposed death of his wife, Ciara.

The actor also opens up on if DAYS decided to recast the role of Ciara, since Victoria Konefal is not presently with the NBC soap full-time, how he would feel about it and thus the future of Cin.

Photo: JPI

Both Cady and Rob first appeared together in Prospect Park’s online revival of All My Children. In this interview, they discuss how they had high hopes for the continuation of the series, how it ultimately fizzled, and what it was like to be a part of the then, groundbreaking first, for a daytime drama series along with One Life to Live.

Photo: TOLN

In addition, Cady gives the viewer insight on how she runs lines for both DAYS and GH at home with her real-life husband, Jon Lindstrom (Kevin and Ryan, GH), while Rob talks about his recent storyline where Ben was kidnapped and tortured by a vengeful Eve (Kassie DePavia) and much more.

Check out the full chat with Cady and Rob below. Then weigh-in: How would you feel if there was a Ciara recast? What are your hopes for the holidays for Jennifer? What did you think of the stories shared by Cady and Rob in the interview? Comment below, and if you have not done so already make sure to “subscribe” to the Michael Fairman Channel for more celebrity interviews.

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Interviews

B&B’s Matthew Atkinson Weighs-In On Daytime’s Wildest Storyline, The Hope Mannequin & What’s Really Going On With Thomas

If you think you’ve seen it all on daytime soap operas, think again! Over the past several weeks viewers of CBS Daytime’s The Bold and the Beautiful have been witness to fashion designer Thomas Forrester’s (Matthew Atkinson) descent into madness, or is it?

In B&B’s thriller-esque storyline, complete with tight close-ups and tilted angles of Thomas and his co-star, the Hope Mannequin – yup, you read that right, the series is taking the audience on one wild ride, something we have not seen the likes of since back in the hey day of the late head writer, James Reilly, during his tenure on Days of our Lives or Passions.

Photo: JPI

Inspired by, believe it or not, true life events, B&B’s head writer and executive producer, Brad Bell and his creative team have served up a story generated off all of the buzz the show was receiving for using mannequins as scene partners for the actors in intimate moments to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.  B&B was the first American show back in production amid the pandemic.

 

Within this twisted tale, Thomas has the life-like version of Hope Logan Spencer (Annika Noelle) at home with him.  Those who have stumbled upon him with the mannequin, well, he has been able to explain that away by saying that having the doll with him is helping him create some of the best designs of his career.

The problem is the mannequin is talking to Thomas, it’s eyes have often turned devil-red, and on Friday’s episode it walked!  It’s objective is to get Thomas to kill Liam (Scott Clifton) and to get Hope back to be his one and only. Throughout many of the scenes in the storyline, Thomas suffers from what appears to be severe headaches.  All of this leading the audience to believe either … he has a brain tumor … he is being drugged … he is suffering from a severe mental break and disorder, or something else.

Photo: JPI

In a very candid and often humorous conversation with Michael Fairman for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Thomas’ portrayer, Matthew Atkinson, discusses some of the craziest scenes to shoot thus far including Thomas having dinner with the mannequin!  In addition, Atkinson reveals how he and Annika Noelle tape the scenes where she is the voice of the Hope mannequin while adhering to safety protocols,  and how Liam is the only one, apparently, thinking something is off with Thomas, and so much more.

Photo: Gilles Toucas

One thing is for certain, Matthew Atkinson is sinking his teeth into the material and making it must-see daytime drama through his performances while we all wait to see what the possessed mannequin does next.

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

Then let us know, what do you think is happening or wrong with Thomas? Are you getting a kick out of the Hope Mannequin storyline? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

 

 

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Interviews

Eric Nelsen Talks Latest Film, Becoming a Tony-Nominated Producer, ‘The Bay’, and His Elizabeth Gillies & Ariana Grande Connection

You can catch All My Children reboot alum, Eric Nelsen (Ex-AJ Chandler), just about everywhere this month, and that’s hard to do given that we are all living in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this Daytime Emmy-winning actor has his hands in a myriad of projects of late including: appearing on season six of The Bay (new episodes every Tuesday on Popstar! TV) where he continues to play Daniel’s journey after the character has come to terms with his sexuality and finds love, plus his comedic turn in the film, 1 Night in San Diego, and recently becoming a Tony-nominated producer along with his wife Sainty for the critically-acclaimed, and now 11 times nominated Broadway play, The Inheritance.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Eric to get the lowdown on his busy professional life, and we were in for some surprises along the way including: what the producers of AMC had in mind for the character of AJ that ultimately did not happen, and that Eric starred on Broadway with Elizabeth Gillies (Fallon, Dynasty) and Pop superstar, Ariana Grande – and there’s more to that story below.

 

What makes Nelsen so good at what he does on-screen is that he is a like a chameleon; adept at playing the quirky, to the troubled bad boys, to the emotional heart-tugging anti-hero. So here’s what Eric had to say in this fascinating conversation.

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

Your latest film appearance in 1 Night in San Diego is out this week on multiple streaming on-demand platforms from: Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and more. Tell me about the movie and when did you film this?

ERIC:  We filmed it near San Diego, not this past February, but last February, and it’s hilarious.  It’s a female-driven comedy.  The cast is incredible.  Alexandra Daddario, who is just epic, and Jenna Ushkowitz, and Laura Ashley Samuels, they truly bring it in this powerhouse comedy, and it’s just one of those make-you -laugh movies from beginning to end, just silly, stupid stuff happening the whole time.  General Hospital’s Mark Lawson (Dustin) is also in the film.  While we don’t work in scenes together, I did get a chance to meet him and he’s a really great guy.  I play this off-the-wall character, named Gordo, who is a real burn-out, think Matthew McConaughey meets space cadet, which was a lot of fun to play.  Gordo is a great role.  I had more fun with this part than I’ve had in a long time.  So, it was cool to throw a comedy into all of the drama I have been playing in my other projects.

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

ERIC:  One of the girls knew him back in the day, so they were in town looking to reconnect, and she’s like, “Oh, we want to party and let’s hit up Gordo,” and they do.  He has just gone completely off the rails, off the deep end with spirituality and kind of in his own world. They find themselves in quite a predicament when they come visit what they didn’t know was a commune, basically.  Gordo creates this hippie commune for a bunch of outcast musicians, (laughs) and I don’t want to give too much away, but a lot of interesting stuff happens there.

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

In addition, you are now a Tony-nominated producer for the play The Inheritance!

ERIC: That was crazy, because it’s always been a dream of mine to produce for Broadway.  That was how I got into the world of film and TV acting, which was through the theatre.  That’s where I started.  I was lucky enough to star on Broadway when I was 16 and 17, in a musical called, 13.  I started with Ariana Grande! It was so fun.

Wait, what?

ERIC:  Yeah, that was her first big show, and Elizabeth Gillies’.

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

ERIC:  Oh yeah, and you know she and I dated for two and a half years during the whole run of the show 13.  Elizabeth is very talented.   She is amazing.  The funny part of it is, we were dating forever, and kind of had a bad breakup, and then Sainty, my wife, gets cast in her show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, in the pilot to play Liz’s best friend on the series.  So, all of the sudden, I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, out of all the shows, all of the things, this is who you have to get cast as best friends with?” and so they actually became really, really, close friends.  So, I’d actually come home from work or filming, and Liz would be on my couch sitting there giggling with Sainty.  I’m like, “This is just becoming too much.  This is a full-circle moment here.  I can’t deal.” (Laughs)

Now, you and Elizabeth are broken up at this point?

ERIC:  Yes.  We had been broken up at this point.  Sainty and I were actually together.  I started dating Sainty in New York and the pilot she was shooting was in New York, and she gets cast as Liz’s best friend, and I was like, “Oh, of course.”

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

ERIC:  Yes, so dying.  Dying.   You know, it’s just one of those things that in a million years, you would never expect this to happen, and of course, Sainty and her had to become best friends in real life because they’re both great girls, and naturally, they would be friends, but now, I’m like this guy stuck in the middle who can’t believe what’s happening, and thought that was one chapter, and this is a different chapter, and now the chapters are combining.  It’s kind of a comedy act.

Photo: JPI

Since Ariana Grande was on Broadway with you and Liz, what was she like back then before her meteoric rise to fame?

ERIC:  Ariana was literally the sweetest, most innocent, and cutest – like my little sister.   To me, it was like, Liz and I were dating, and Ari was kind of like the little sister.  All of a sudden the show ended. Ariana got a Nickelodeon show, and after that, she became the most famous person in the world and was like this sex icon, and I couldn’t get over it.   She’s always had that talent with her voice and in 13 she was an ensemble member.  She wasn’t even one of the leads, but her voice was so incredible, even then as a young teenager.  I thought she was going to go on to have this great Broadway career as an actress and do musicals her whole life just because of her voice.  Then, all of the sudden, right after the musical, we all auditioned for the same Nickelodeon show.  I ended up going to the finals for the boyfriend role, Liz got the girlfriend role, and Ari got the funny friend on the show role.  That kind of catapulted them into the TV world, and Ari got a spinoff because of her character on that show for another Nickelodeon show, called Sam and Cat, and then after Sam and Cat, she went from this innocent, sweet, little Nickelodeon girl that I knew to being the biggest star.  It was unbelievable to me.

Photo: Broadway World

So, you started on Broadway as a teenager, and you found you always wanted to produce for the Great White Way? 

ERIC:  Yes, I did the Broadway thing, and then I got into film and TV, and then I got into film and TV producing.  As an actor, there are a lot of ups, a lot of downs.  So, in between the ups, I wanted to fill my time, so I got into producing, and I loved it.  I loved creating.  As an actor, we just show up, and everything is already done.  All we have to do is say our lines.  We get pampered, and we go home, but I wanted to know how it got to that point, like what happens before that.  So, I started producing film and found some success doing that, and it was so much fun for me.  Sainty’s and my first love, and what feels like home, is theatre.  So, I wanted to take it full circle and produce a Broadway show.  I just thought that would be such an incredible moment, and so that’s what I did.  I started emailing all of the Broadway producers who I had worked with as an actor, letting them know what I had been doing, kind of the success I had gotten from producing The Bay and some of these other things. Different shows came across my desk that I didn’t quite bite the bullet on, a couple of which I wish I would have, Dear Evan Hansen being one of them.  I would have been so rich by now!  (Laughs)

I just want to clarify for people who might not know, the word “producer” can mean different things.  There are “producers” who are putting money in … they’re backing projects or shows.  There are other people who are “producers” on the creative side of projects.  So, when you’re talking about producing a Broadway show, it is as an investor?

ERIC:  So for theatre, unless you’re the head producer who kind of gets creative control, every other producer listed in the credits is basically helping raise finances and is also very heavily involved in the process of everything else along the way, which is also what makes it special.  So finally, The Inheritance came across our desk, and it checked every single box.  It was just an epic play.  It’s a two-part play, and it’s just hours and hours and hours long.  You see it in multiple days or in multiple shows.  I remember reading the script and not stopping until I finished.  I was like, “This is amazing,” and it had just come off of a huge commercial successful run in London.  It won the Olivier Award for “Best New Play” and just about every other award you could win, and so I was like, “This is the one.  This is incredible.  I love the piece, love the message, and pulled the trigger,” and I would have done it all over again if we could.

Photo: Broadway World

The Inheritance is a generational piece centering on gay men during the AIDS crisis.  What can you say about it to those who don’t know about it, or have not seen it yet?

ERIC:  It takes place in the past, and then it fasts forward to the future.  You see two generations of gay men in New York City, and it’s all about the AIDS crisis, and so you’re bawling crying, and then you’re laughing throughout it.  It’s just one of those epic plays that pulls at every single emotion and you feel like you’re watching a movie.

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s definitely its own thing.  It’s actually an adaptation of Howard’s End, the novel by Forster, definitely different from Angels in America, but the two-part show is kind of what I was meaning by that.  People have said it is kind of our generation’s Angel’s in America in tone and subject matter.  It was just a dream come true, and like all other theatre that was open during our season, it had to close because of the pandemic, and it will have life after Broadway.  We are already slated for the Geffen Playhouse in LA, so I’m very excited for all of my LA friends and the public to get to see it.

Courtesy/ENelsen

And you get nominated in the year that the coronavirus pandemic shut down live theatre! But it is my understanding we still do not have a date for handing out this year’s Tony Awards.

ERIC:  No, we do not.  They finally announced that they were going to announce nominations, and for a while we didn’t even know that they were going to do that.  We received 11 nominations, which is incredible.  We were so excited.  I truly thought the American Theatre Wing and the Tony committee were not going to do the Tonys at all, and so we were just like, “I can’t believe the one year we pull the trigger on the show, this isn’t going to happen for us,” but then thank God, they came to their senses.  There were plenty of shows that opened and needed to be recognized.

How long was it open on Broadway?

ERIC:  We were open from September 2019 through February or March.  So, as long as your submission was open on Broadway before Covid-19 and had at least all of its previews and an opening night before Covid-19 hit, then you could qualify, and then in the play category, there were like 10 plays that had opened last year that were contenders.  So, that was definitely the hardest category.   It will be interesting to see what happens after all of this.  The only good thing I know that is going to come from this is the amount of creatives who have had so much time sitting at home to create and write, that there will be so many new scripts and plays and musicals that are going to come from this.  I think it’s’ going to be the biggest boom that we’ve probably ever seen in theatre, just because there’s been so much time to develop stuff.  At the same time, it’s piggybacking on the darkest time that theatre has ever seen.

Throughout the pandemic, I always stream all of the Broadway Actor’s Fund events.  It’s really sad.  It’s just a difficult time, those in the arts are struggling and especially in the live theatre and also musicians who can’t tour or play gigs in front of an audience. I know they said Broadway is closed through May 31, 2021.

ERIC:  It is really hard.  I’m happy that we are able to find other ways like streaming shows.  I’m actually producing a big benefit for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS that will be airing on World AIDS Day, December 1st.  It’s a show called Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.  The cast we have is everybody from Nathan Lane, to Academy Award winner J. K. Simmons.  It’s insane.  It will be streaming online on the Broadway HD network.  It is a huge list of Broadway stars and a lot of movie and TV stars as well that are participating.  We’ve got people from all over the map.

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

ERIC:  (Laughs)  Ari is not in it, actually!

Photo: Prospect Park

So, in this week’s latest episode of The Bay, your character of Daniel Garrett makes his final choice for love between Caleb (Mike Manning) and Matthew (Randy Wayne).  When you came to the show, did you know that this part was going to wind-up being a gay character?

ERIC:  No, I did not.  I think I dropped a bird in Gregori Martin’s (creator, The Bay) ear by telling him that before All My Children ended, they were going to have my character of AJ Chandler have a storyline where he is gay.  The producers sat me down and talked through an entire storyline arc with me.  Basically, Ginger Smith (ex-executive producer, All My Children) and Alison, our casting director, and one other person from the show, took me to lunch in New York. They pitched me what they wanted to do for my character, and asked me if I would be comfortable with it, and they wanted my opinion, everything.  It was really cool how they approached it, and I was like, “100% completely.”  I look at what Chandler Massey (Ex-Will Horton) did on Days and where that brought him and his storyline, and I thought, “Yes, there’s going to be so much more depth and stuff to play than just being this fun little rich kid.”  At the time, there really wasn’t much depth to AJ.  So, I was like, “Yes.  I will be all over it.  Absolutely.”  So, I told Gregori that, and I don’t know if he already had something in his mind or not, or if that influenced it at all, but maybe he just figured that was something that would work well, and up till that point, I guess they didn’t really have that on the show.  Regardless, no, I wasn’t aware that that was the direction it was going in, but I was really happy with my storyline and it’s grown a lot since then, and in this current season especially.  It’s really given me an arc to play, which I’ve enjoyed.

Photo: LANYEntertainment

So for those who may not know let’s do a re-set.  Where is the character of Daniel at? It seems like he is at crossroads, and is making some important decisions, or trying to.

ERIC:  So Daniel was a wild party boy in the beginning, just head in the clouds, lives life with thinking there’s no repercussions and just doing what you want to do all of the time, and that got him into a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol. Then, we realize why Daniel has been the way he is, and why he acts out, and why he has been so all over the place, and it’s because he hasn’t been able to come to terms with who he is.  Then, he admits it to himself and for the first time to somebody else – who happens to be his priest in a catholic church, ironically –  that he is gay and this is what he has been battling with.  For the first time (and I don’t know where on television it has depicted it this way), but the catholic priest looks at Daniel, and he’s like, “What’s your sin?  You haven’t sinned.  This is perfectly fine.”  So, I love that Gregori made that the outlet for which Daniel was able to basically come to terms with who he was, because he grew up in the church, and so he was always told that it was wrong.  Obviously, it’s not wrong, or obviously the church needs to change their mindset, but on The Bay, he chose that to be the outlet through which he came out, which I thought was really powerful.  Through that, Daniel experimented with other boys and such to figure out where he wanted to land, and then in this newest season, I can’t say much that gives anything away, but for the first time, we really see Daniel’s growth, and he’s making decisions, and the most mature we’ve ever seen him, and it’s been really cool to see that come full circle.  He’s making commitments to himself.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

ERIC:  Obviously, that’s who it works with,  Caleb is a teacher and a great guy.

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

ERIC:  He is… he’s just not the great guy for him.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

This season of The Bay is heavily steeped with social issues of our time.  Covid-19 has come to Bay City and the Black Lives Matter movement also plays prominently.

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s kind of the beginning of the pandemic in The Bay and within all of the intense drama that Daniel has been having, he is still, for all intent and purposes the comedic relief of the show, and so there is a funny scene where I’m carrying like 28,000 rolls of toilet paper like, “Come on, guys.  We’ve got to stock up!”  We all remember those days, don’t we?

Photo: JPI

How do you feel about this season of the show and your work in it? You’ve previously won a Daytime Emmy for your performances on The Bay.

ERIC:  This season is more cemented in a character that has truly grounded himself.  So, the first Emmy I won was for a storyline of coming out and uncertainty and struggle and pain, whereas this season Daniel knows what he wants and is going for it.  There is much more passion and love in this season for Daniel, as opposed to struggle and heartache.

The cast and crew of The Bay all went away and quarantined at this ranch this past summer to get the new season completed.  What was that like?

ERIC:  We were actually in Santa Barbara, and filmed on this epic ranch up there.  It’s like this 500-acre ranch that we all quarantined on.  We had to do the testing, and temperatures three times a day, and the whole thing.  So, it was really structured, tough to pull off, but we were all so grateful that we were able to do this.  Luckily, we had this incredible kind of bubble of a ranch to live and work on while we were shooting.  They were really good about block shooting it all, so we’d kind of shoot one person’s character, then the next, so we wouldn’t have to ever be leaving the ranch before we were done.

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

ERIC:  Oh, it’s amazing.  I just can’t believe how fast the time is flying by because of it.  We just had Molly’s first birthday on October 1st, and I feel like yesterday she was born.  I sound like my parents when I say this, but it’s like the time keeps getting faster, but it’s so true.  She’s awesome.  We play Broadway musical soundtracks to her all day, and she sings.  She sits at the piano with me when I play, and she kind of plunks notes out next to me.  She loves music, and we’ve introduced it to her from day one.  We always joke that she won’t be able to watch any of daddy’s stuff until she’s 18 probably, but Sainty is a voice-over actress.  She has done parts for animated films and TV shows such as Trolls, and Barbie, and Boss Baby, so everything from the first part of my daughter’s life is all going to be Mommy’s stuff, and then, in the later part of life she can start watching Daddy’s stuff.

Right, she can’t watch anything that you do!  (Laughs) So, basically forget that!

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

Check out the trailer for 1 Night in San Diego below.  Then share your thoughts on Eric’s current role on The Bay, if you hope he wins a Tony to go with his Daytime Emmy, the six degrees of separation between him, Elizabeth Gillies and his wife, and that the All My Children reboot considered making the character of AJ Chandler gay via the comment section below.

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