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Erika Slezak Shares Her Remembrances of Jerry verDorn, One Life to Live’s Viki and Clint, and the Times They Shared (EXCLUSIVE)

Photo: JPI

This week, the soap world has been deeply saddened by the passing of one of its most beloved veterans, Jerry verDorn. The two-time Daytime Emmy-winning star, died on Sunday, May 1st after a battle with cancer. He was 72-years old.  The talented actor leaves daytime TV audiences with two indelible roles and performances that will forever be remembered; that of Ross Marler on Guiding Light, and Clint Buchanan on One Life to Live.

Jerry took over the role of Clint on One Life to Live in 2005 (the part had been previously played by Clint Ritchie), and he would take it on for 8 years – from his time on the ABC television version and one season on Prospect Park’s online version.  Throughout his time in Llanview, Jerry worked with his leading lady, six-time Daytime Emmy-winning icon, Erika Slezak (Viki). Together, they made on-screen magic as the often embattled, but ultimately happy couple of Llanfair.

In a touching conversation, Michael Fairman TV spoke exclusively to Erika Slezak to pay tribute to her former co-star and friend, share her remembrances of their time working together, and to honor Jerry for all that he meant to those who worked with him. Here’s what Erika shared  below.

There has been an outpouring of tributes and remembrances for Jerry, since his passing.  He was just so beloved by all who knew him and worked with him.  Would you say that it was a ‘good day’ when you knew you got to work with Jerry during your time together at One Life to Live?

ERIKA:  I loved working with him.  I always said he was my reward for my many years at One Life to Live.  This was my gift at the end, for the last 8 years.  He was a pleasure.  He was a joy every single day, and if I woke up in the morning, and I knew I had scenes with Jerry, I thought, “Whoopee, I can go to work happy!” His humor was so delightful, and as I said in the statement I released to my fan club, the only image I am going to keep in my mind and in my heart is of Jerry with that lovely, little, impish smile on his face because there was always something going on behind it.  There was always a joke coming or something.  He was a darling man.

Photo: JPI

You are heralded, by many, as the best to ever act in the soap genre. What was your take on Jerry as an actor?  I think people may have originally underestimated him, even though he won two Daytime Emmys.  He was as solid as they come.

ERIKA:   Jerry was a very talented actor.  When he was Clint on ABC’s One Life to Live, he became very strong, and they really wanted him to become more like Asa, and he took that with stride. He said, “Yes, I love that.  I can do that.”  Then, when One Life to Live went to the internet, they really went full out with that and they made him almost a villain. Jerry played it brilliantly, which I was surprised at, because he’s such a nice man!

Photo: JPI

Do you remember when they said they were recasting the role of Clint, and Jerry getting the part?

ERIKA:  Oh yeah.  They were recasting, and they had three people in mind.  I know that Jerry came in to read, and they had put him in Bob Woods’ (Ex-Bo, OLTL) dressing room because I think Bobby wasn’t there, and Jerry was a very close friend of Mark Derwin’s (Ex-Ben, OLTL, Ex-A.C, GL). Mark had said to me, “You have to make them hire Jerry!” and I said, “Honey, I don’t have that kind of power,” and he said, “Yes, you do!  Go and do it!”  So, I went and knocked on the door, and I introduced myself to him, and I said, “Listen, good luck.  We really are rooting for you.  I should tell you this up front: there is one other actor who they’re waiting to audition, but it won’t be for another week, so you won’t hear anything for another week.”  Jerry said, “Thank you, I’m very grateful for you telling me that,” because you know, you leave an audition as an actor, and you don’t hear anything for a week. So, you think, “I blew it.”  I remember that Jerry and I had chatted just for a minute, and I said, “Good luck.  It was so nice to meet you.  I’ve heard so much about you from so many people!”  Then, when he got the job, I was delighted because I thought he was so not Clint Ritchie (Ex-Clint), but the kind of progression of Clint into a businessman and more like his father, like Asa.  On his first day at work, he said to me, “I can’t tell you what a day this is!” and I said, “Oh, I’m delighted you’re happy.”  He said, “Yeah, well it’s good and bad.”  I said, “Why?” and he said, “Beth (Jerry’s wife) and I sold our house, and we bought a new house.”  I said, “Oh, I didn’t know that.”  He said, “Yeah, we’re moving, and when I got the call that I got the job, I told my wife, ‘I’ve got good news and bad news,’ and she said, ‘What’s the good news?’”  He said, “I’ve got the job!  I’m going to be Clint!” and she said, “That’s fantastic!  What could possibly be the bad news?”  He said, “My first day is the day we’re moving.”  So, she had to handle the move all by herself.  I said to him, “You’d better put a sticky note on your dashboard.  Make sure you go to the right house tonight!” That’s because he lived all the way in Sparta, so it was a good distance, a good drive for him from the studio. But, from the day we started working together, I thought, “This is just sheer pleasure.”  It was just joy.  There was no work involved – even when we were fighting, or angry, or whatever the script called for, we would laugh and laugh and laugh.  His sense of humor was so fantastic and so funny, and he always had a twinkle in his eye.

Over the years, anytime I talked with Jerry, or interviewed him, I just came away saying, ‘That is a good man’.  Jerry was always present, and always there.  I know that Bree Williamson (Ex-Jessica, OLTL) and Melissa Archer (Ex-Natalie, OLTL), thought of him as almost like a second father to them.  They were all very close.

ERIKA:  Jerry was very close with them, and he treated them all like his family.  The girls really loved him, and you could see it in their relationships.  Jerry was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life.  Everything about him was good.  He was an awesome human being, and it’s hard to find people like that, who are that good, and that’s why it’s so sad that he died so young.  He was only 72, and he was so looking forward to spending a lot of time with his grandchildren, who he was so excited about and so proud of.

Photo: ABC

What I also remember is that you taped your final scenes at ABC’s version of One Life to Live with Jerry.

ERIKA:  Yes.  It was a bunch of us.  It was Bree and Melissa, and Jerry and I, where Clint had just opened the letter, and he wouldn’t read it, and Viki had to read it to him. It turned out that Jessica was indeed his daughter and not Mitch Laurence’s daughter, which was one of their crazy twists.  Then we had the last scene.  I don’t think there was anyone else involved.  It was very touching because it ended with Clint on his knees saying to Viki, “Will you marry me?” and I couldn’t answer.  I just had this kind of smile and cried, and the girls were happy and hugging, and that was the last scene. Normally, I like to be up first in the day, because I like to be in first and to get out first.  Frank Valentini (Ex-EP, OLTL, now EP, GH) asked me that day, “Would you mind?  I’d like to put you up last.”  I said, “I would be delighted to close out the show.”  It was so much a part of my life, and I really loved it.  I loved going to work.  I was happy, and when you go to work happy, it makes all of the difference in the world.

Photo: ABC

Being that you closed out One Life’s run on ABC with Jerry, did he in any way help you through the sadness of that moment?

ERIKA:  At that time, we thought that within a few weeks, we would be going on to Prospect Park, and when we all said goodbye, it was the day before Thanksgiving.  We shot the last episode in November of 2011, and we all said, “See you in December,” and then of course, the whole thing fell through. Less than a year later, I got a call from the production company in California saying, “We’d like to do this, and we’d really like you to be a part of it,” and I said, “Who else has joined in?”  They said, “We’re trying to nail you down, and then we’ll talk to others,” and I said, “Well, let me know what you come up with, and I’ll let you know,” because it depended so much on who they could get to continue the story.  Thank God, they got Jerry! Then, Melissa Archer came on board, and I think Hillary B. Smith (Ex-Nora, OLTL) and Tuc Watkins (Ex-David).

Photo: JPI

Do you have a favorite scene that you shared with Jerry?  You had so many that I’m wondering if there’s one that stands out?

ERIKA:  I remember a great scene where Viki and Clint were supposed to get married, and then they split up because Viki said, “I don’t want your help.  I don’t want you to buy out The Banner.” Then, he went behind her back and did it, and they had a terrible fight about it, and Viki said, “That’s it,” and gave him back the ring.  No, I don’t have a favorite scene.  I have so many favorite scenes though with Jerry, so it’s hard to pick just one.

Do you think in 2022, Viki would still be married to Clint?

ERIKA:  Oh yes, oh yes, because she always loved Clint.

Phot

Had you communicated with Mark Derwin since Jerry’s passing?

ERIKA:  Yes, I did email him, and he said, “I am just devastated.”  You know, everybody who knew Jerry, loved him, and it was a very hard pill to swallow.

Photo/Courtesy: MSU

Are there any final thoughts you would like to share on Jerry as we remember him?

ERIKA:  In terms of my feelings about Jerry, I can just go on and on and on.  There wasn’t a better person on earth.

Share your thoughts on Erika’s sentiments on Jerry verDorn, and their time as Llanview’s Viki and Clint, and more, in the comment section below.

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Thank you Michael for sharing this interview. Erika Slezak is always a class act. I loved watching Jerry working with her. You could feel the mutual confidence and respect they shared for each other. She is so right. Clint grew into a respected businessman, father and, ultimately, head of the Buchanan family. Jerry played all of it beautifully as well as Clint’s manipulative Asa like behavior.

Bravo Jerry verDorn!!!!!!!!! Rest in peace.

Interviews

The Young and the Restless Daytime Emmy Nominees Talk Reactions, Reels, and Their Co-Stars

All of the nominated performers from the cast of The Young and the Restless, who just recently received Daytime Emmy nominations for the upcoming 49th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, chatted with Michael Fairman collectively in an exclusive on You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel. 

Y&R received the most nominations of any daytime program in this year’s race leading the pack with 18.

Sharing their reactions to being Emmy-nominated, plus what scenes they submitted on their reels; that landed them in the position to be going for gold were: Outstanding Lead Actor nominees, Peter Bergman (Jack Abbott) and Jason Thompson (Billy Abbott), Outstanding Lead Actress nominee, Mishael Morgan (Amanda Sinclair), Outstanding Supporting Actor Nominees, Bryton James (Devon Hamilton) and Jordi Vilasuso (Ex-Rey Rosales), Outstanding Supporting Actress nominee, Melissa Ordway (Abby Newman), Outstanding Younger Performer nominee, Alyvia Alyn Lind (Ex-Faith Newman) and Outstanding Guest Performer Nominee, Ptosha Storey (Naya Benedict).

Throughout the virtual roundtable interview, several of the actors who have won previously including: three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Bergman and two-time winner, Bryon James as well as past winners, Jason Thompson and Jordi Vilasuso gave words to the wise if they should win a gold statuette. In addition, the Y&R Emmy nominee ensemble shared the secret to their collaborative process when working with one another in the fast pace of daytime dramas, and much more.

You can catch the 49th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on June 24th on CBS and streaming on Paramount+ to see if these Y&R nominees names will be called when the envelopes are opened.  In the meantime, you can watch our candid, informative, and heartfelt conversation below.

Now let us know, what did you think of the scenes the Y&R Emmy-nominated performers shared that they submitted? Happy to see them in the race this year? What was your favorite moment from the virtual roundtable? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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General Hospital

GH’s Michael E. Knight Chats On: Taking on the Role of Martin Grey, Friendship with James Patrick Stuart, and All My Children’s Tad

Last Thursday night during a livestream interview, General Hospital’s Michael E. Knight chatted with Michael Fairman on You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel about returning to daytime in the role of legal eagle Martin Grey, and mixing it up with some of the most famous notables and actors that currently and historically have graced the screens on the ABC daytime drama series.

In case you missed it, the replay of the conversation with three-time Daytime Emmy winner is now available.  During the chat, Knight reveals what is has been like to play the on-screen half-brother of Genie Francis (Laura), if he enjoys the courtroom scenes in which Martin had to defend some of the most notorious in town including Nelle Benson (Chloe Lanier), and more.

Courtesy/ABC

Fans of GH are also enjoying the romantic pairing of Lucy Coe and Martin, pairing Knight with another soap vet, Lynn Herring.  Michael shares that it’s nice to see, and appreciates, the writers creating a fun relationship for a couple that is middle-aged instead of always seeing the younger sets escapades all of the time on daytime TV.

All My Children fans, of course, recall Michael’s memorable performances through the years as Tad Martin, where he became synonymous with Pine Valley.  After AMC came to its conclusion in 2011 on ABC and 2013 with Prospect Park, Knight finally returned to soaps in 2015 in the recurring role of Dr. Simon Neville on The Young and the Restless before joining the cast of GH in 2019.

Photo: JPI

During the interview, Michael shares behind the scenes stories of working with his on-screen parents, Mary Fickett (Ruth) and Ray MacDonnell (Joe), his enduring on-screen love story with Dixie (Cady McClain), and the heyday of AMC in story, with his on-screen sister, Jenny played by Kim Delaney. When Michael came to GH, viewers recall he actually got to share an inside moment with Kim and the fans, when Martin met Jackie Templeton, then played by Delaney.

During the livestream, Michael recalled several of Tad’s wives, and when one fan asked if Cady McClain might come to GH as Dixie, and that maybe she could be a woman from Martin’s past, Knight shared that it could be interesting.

Photo: ABC

In a surprise appearance later in the livestream, James Patrick Stuart (Valentin, GH), who has an enduring friendship with Michael, and happened to be at Knight’s house, shared some memories of his time as Will Cortlandt on All My Children. Now decades later, things have come full-circle for the good friends as they share screen-time on General Hospital as Valentin and Martin.

Stuart is a Daytime Emmy nominee this year for the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category at the upcoming 49th annual Daytime Emmy Awards, and we took a moment to congratulate him on being acknowledged by his peers for the second year in a row.  Currently, James is pulling double duty shooting his Disney+ show, Villains of Valley View, while also taping GH.

Photo: JPI

Watch the replay of the livestream with Michael E. Knight below.

Then let us know, are you enjoying Martin and Lucy together? What do you think of the idea of Cady McClain coming to GH? Do you want to see more Valentin and Martin scenes? And, what are your favorite memories of Michael’s time as Tad on All My Children? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Daytime Emmy Nominees: Arianne Zucker, James Reynolds, Stacy Haiduk & Lindsay Arnold Chat On Their Reels, Reactions, and Co-Stars

Days of our Lives nominated performers, Arianne Zucker (Nicole), James Reynolds (Abe), Stacy Haiduk (Kristen) and Lindsay Arnold (Allie) chatted with Michael Fairman for the Michael Fairman Channel’s continuing coverage of the 49th Annual Daytime Emmy Nominations.

Each actor revealed which scenes they submitted that put them into position to potentially win the gold statuette when the Daytime Emmys are announced during ceremonies on June 24th on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

Outstanding Lead Actress nominee, Arianne Zucker, shared that her scenes contained moments between Nicole and Eric (Greg Vaughan), while Outstanding Lead Actor nominee, James Reynolds (Abe), went with Abe being shot and the standalone episode which followed in honor of Reynolds 40th anniversary with the show. Outstanding Supporting Actress nominee Stacy Haiduk (Kristen) went full Kristen (with no Susan Banks), in key scenes opposite Eric Martsolf (Brady) where Kristen and Brady have an emotional break-up, while Outstanding Younger Performer nominee, Lindsay Arnold (Allie), mentioned scenes where Allie recalls and deals with being the victim of sexual assault, and more.

In addition to their reels, the actors share their reaction to learning they were in the running for an Emmy, plus working with many of their co-stars at DAYS ,and the collaboration it takes to often get the performances viewers see on-air.

Photo: JPI

Later, as DAYS heats up during May Sweeps, the actors preview their current storyline and characters’s state of mind.  Lindsay teases what could be next for the possessed AllDevil in Salem who looks to become more unhinged.  James weighs-in on Abe’s plight after being clubbed over the head by TR,  Arianne gives us a glimpse of what could be on the horizon for Nicole, and Stacy tells us what she thinks Kristen is up to, and how Susan Banks, is always on point when the devil is in Salem perpetrating dirty deeds unsuspecting Salemites.

Photo: JPI

You can watch the full conversation below.

Keep checking back to The Michael Fairman Channel for more interviews and conversations with this year’s Daytime Emmy nominees, and make sure to ‘subscribe’.

Let us know in the comment section if you are happy to see Arianne, James, Stacy and Lindsay going for gold and being recognized by their peers.  

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Cameron Mathison talks with Michael Fairman on taking on the role of GH’s Drew Cain, the latest developments in Port Charles for Drew. his busy career outside of soaps and the loss of his mother and his public battle with cancer.Leave A Comment
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