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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.

General Hospital

Kelly Thiebaud Opens Up on Her Exit from General Hospital, Taping Britt’s Tragic Death Scenes, and Parting Thoughts on Co-Stars

Just a few weeks ago on the January 4th episode of General Hospital, viewers were left devastated when Dr. Britt Westbourne succumbed to a fatal poisoning after a confrontation with ‘The Hook’.

While it was revealed that Daytime Emmy winner, Kelly Thiebaud, was exiting the ABC soap opera at the end of 2022, many thought the story would see Britt leaving Port Charles to deal with her declining health due to Huntington’s Disease in private, in order to keep the door open for a possible return down the line.  However, that was not meant to be.  When a report from Deadline surfaced back in August of 2022, it indicated that Kelly was returning to her primetime role on ABC’s Station 19, which caused some confusion and rumors of just what would Thiebaud’s ultimate status be with the daytime drama series.

Photo: ABC

Now, in a very special exit interview for You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Kelly chats with Michael Fairman and clarifies what led to her decision to leave her role as Dr. Britt Westbourne.

Talking with Fairman direct from London, Kelly, who won a Daytime Emmy in 2022 for the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, reveals how it came to pass that GH would kill-off the character of Britt by becoming another victim of ‘The Hook’, and more.

Photo: KThiebaudIG

During the conversation, Thiebaud shares her thoughts on working with her former GH co-stars including: Steve Burton (ex-Jason), Parry Shen (Brad), Kirsten Storms (Maxie), Kathleen Gati (Liesl), Cassandra James (Terry), Roger Howarth (Austin) and Josh Kelly (Cody), as well as some of her favorite memories throughout her run on the series which began in 2012.

Photo: ABC

Kelly took the character from being the manipulative ‘Britch’ as an interloper in the romance of Patrick (Jason Thompson) and Sabrina (Teresa Castillo), all the way to becoming a well-loved character to root for.

Courtesy/ABC

While, GH viewers witnessed Britt’s shocking death scenes, Kelly weighs-in on taping those moments, as well as Britt’s emotional goodbye birthday party, and having the opportunity to portray a character who was trying to navigate her life, while suffering from the effects of Huntington’s Disease.

In addition, Thiebaud gives a very special ‘thank you’ and shout out to the fans for their enduring support as she looks forward to new roles and new adventures ahead.

Photo: NATAS

Check out our heartfelt farewell interview with Kelly below, and for upcoming celebrity features, interviews, event coverage, music videos, and more, make sure to ‘subscribe‘ to the Michael Fairman Channel.

So, what did you think about Kelly’s decision to depart GH? Will you miss her as Britt? Share your thoughts on our conversation in the comment section below.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Michael Graziadei Talks Daniel’s Past and Present, Reuniting with His Co-Stars, and Life as Dad to Twins

Longtime viewers of CBS’ The Young and the Restless are excited that Michael Graziadei has returned to the top-rated daytime drama during its 50th anniversary season as Daniel Romalotti.

Graziadei made his on-screen re-emergence right around Thanksgiving, as in story, Daniel came home to surprise his mother, Phyllis (Michelle Stafford), but also for a business idea he wanted to present to good friend, Devon (Bryton James) and Daniel’s former girlfriend, Lily Winters (Christel Khalil).  Seems Daniel has a mega-universe gaming platform he’s created that he wants Chancellor-Winters to potentially be a part of.  But there must be more to the story than meets the eye, right? Will Daniel find himself drawn back to Lily, especially since her relationship with Billy (Jason Thompson) has hit a major rough spot/road block named Chelsea (Melissa Claire Egan)?

Courtesy/CBS

In a new virtual interview exclusively for You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Graziadei sits-down to talk about coming home to Genoa City with a look at Daniel’s past, present and future.  Michael first appeared as Y&R’s Daniel from 2004-2013, made a guest stop back to the show in 2016, and now at the end of 2022, he is back full-time with the soap opera.

During the conversation, Graziadei shares what it’s been like working with beloved cast mates including: Michelle Stafford, Christel Khalil, Camryn Grimes (Mariah) and more.

Courtesy/CBS

Michael also shared his enthusiasm at getting a chance to reconnect not only with Michelle Stafford, but Daniel’s adoptive father, Michael Damian (Danny) as well, when they all appear in scenes together for the upcoming holiday episodes.

Courtesy/CBS

Just what have been Michael’s favorite Daniel storylines of all-time? Was it Daniel’s part in Cassie’s death (Camryn Grimes) and its aftermath? When they gave Daniel a porn addiction storyline? Graziadei weighs-in.

Courtesy/CBS

In addition, Michael reveals the wonders of being a new dad to twins boys in real-life, Oliver Bear and Arlo.  He opens up about how he and his lady love, Lauren found out they were having twins, the naming process they went through, and what life is like now at-home.

Photo: GoodGriefCharlieBrownIG

During Graziadei’s time away from Y&R, he appeared in numerous TV and film projects.  Most recently, Michael was seen in Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer, where he shares what it was like to take on a legal role for the first time in his career, plus what it was like to act and kiss Oscar-winner, Jessica Lange in American Horror Story (a role he played while still at Y&R during his first go-round).

Courtesy/Netflix

You can watch the full interview with Graziadei below.

For more celebrity interviews and features make sure to ‘subscribe’ to the Michael Fairman Channel.

Now let us know, are you glad Daniel is back in GC? Do you hope Lily and Daniel get back together all of these years later? What has been your favorite Daniel storyline of all time … and your favorite part of our conversation with him?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Camryn Grimes and Fiancé Brock Powell Talk On Their Roles as Mrs. Claus and Santa in ‘Mickey Saves Christmas’

Two-time Daytime Emmy winner, Camryn Grimes (Mariah, The Young and the Restless) has been involved in a very special passion project in more ways than one!  Now, everyone will be able can see it, and hear it, when Grimes voices the role of Mrs. Claus opposite her real-life fiancé and voiceover star, Brock Powell as Santa in Mickey Saves Christmas.

The new stop-motion holiday special premieres Sunday, November 27th (7:00-7:30 p.m. EST) on ABC, Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD, and Monday, November 28 on Disney+ and Hulu.  It features Disney icons: Mickey, Minnie and the gang, who are sent to the North Pole on a quest to save Christmas and find the true meaning of the holiday.

Camryn and Brock Powell became engaged earlier this year on January 7th, which also happened to be Camryn’s 32nd birthday. How the two met all comes back to the world of voiceover and Disney, as you will learn.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with the real-life lovebirds to preview Mickey Saves Christmas, how they wound up voicing the important voices of Christmas, Santa and Mrs. Claus, and just what Brock thinks of Camryn’s Genoa City alter-ego Mariah being married to Tessa (Cait Fairbanks), and more.  Is Brock #TeamTeriah? Check out what they shared with us below.

Photo: Disney+

The two of you were actually introduced by Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy! How did that happen?

BROCK:  So, Bill Farmer is my mentor, and through him, that was the first time I actually met Camryn.

CAMRYN: I knew Bill growing up, and in 2020 when I wanted to get into voiceovers, I reached out to him and that’s how this all started and I guess, the rest is history.

Now you are voicing Santa and Mrs. Claus in Mickey Save Christmas. How did it come about that you both landed parts on the project?

BROCK: I got to play the role of Santa in Mickey and Minnie Wish Upon a Christmas, which was the first time I got to voice Santa for Disney, and now I’m returning to the role this time. Camryn received the audition randomly for Ms. Claus on the day we were getting engaged, and it was perfect timing because I had to get her out of the house so I could set up the proposal here.  So, it really was a Christmas miracle because I was sweating!

CAMRYN:  We were cast separately. The production team had no idea that Brock and I were a couple. When I went in to record, they were like, “Here’s the voice of Santa for you to record to, and I was like, “Yeah, I know… that’s my fiancé!”  They were like, “What??” (Laughs)

Photo: Sarah Irene Decristoforo

Did the engagement go off without a hitch?

BROCK:  Yes, so after the audition process, Camryn returned home. I proposed, and there was a whole Disney/Pixar theme going on in the backyard. It was a really special day. To have her say, “Yes”, and also to have this crazy opportunity for her to audition for the role of Mrs. Claus happening at the same time … and then weeks later finding out she booked the role, it was all amazing.  We were now going to be working on this Christmas special together.  I think anytime you get to voice an iconic character, it’s special.  However, if you’d told me that I would get to return to the role I love, with the person I love playing opposite me … I think I’m done.  I just don’t know how you can ever top it!

Camryn, what did it mean to you to be in this film as Mrs. Claus, because fans saw this post of yours with a photo of you outside the Anaheim Convention Center where Disney’s D23 convention was happening.  It made everyone speculate  just what you were working on, which you shared was a lifelong dream.

CAMRYN:  Yes!  Y&R and CBS is my home, but I’ve always wanted to do something with Disney.  My family raised me on all things Disney and all things Christmas.  They were huge into the holiday, and so this kind of just checks every box.  It’s not only Disney, it’s Christmas, it’s stop-motion animation, and it’s Mrs. Claus.  I think my family was more excited for me to book this then anything I’ve ever done. I think there were tears! So sentimentally, this project really meant a lot to me.

Photo: BrockPowellIG

Camryn, did Brock coach you on doing voiceover work, or give you any tips?

CAMRYN:  I mean, I live with my voiceover coach. (Laughs) It’s amazing!

BROCK:  You know, I do coach for voiceovers and Camryn is my star pupil now.  She’s a talented actress, obviously. The biggest misconception is that, while it starts with the voice, Camryn, as well as most of the amazing voice actors I know, they have access to this childhood imagination which I think makes their performances possible. So, while you’re watching Mickey Saves Christmas, even though we recorded everything separately, what you’re looking for is that energy and every character connecting. You’re inventing the circumstances, you’re inventing your scene partner, where we have to close our eyes and embody a character we may, or may not, have a reference for. I think watching Camryn and hearing Camryn’s work on this, and a couple of other projects she’s worked on, I’m just so impressed at how coming from daytime television where there is a very stringent set routine and at the level that she excels at there, to then come into my world and then just kill it behind the microphone. She was able to let all of that go and have the bravery to try something new. I think a lot of people are going to love what Camryn has done here.  I’m most proud of her to be willing to look silly which is what is required in voiceover.

CAMRYN:  That’s true, and that’s probably the most fun thing about it.

Now, what can you tease us that happens in the story of Mickey Saves Christmas?

CAMRYN: It’s kind of built into the title a little bit, but I think what you’re going to get out of this is a deep sense of community and coming together to fix a problem and being able to lend a helping hand.  I feel, it’s just a really lovely film about chosen family.

BROCK:  It’s about family, it’s about friends, it’s about putting a lot of pressure on the holidays be perfect.  I think everyone involved in this special from the animators to the music team, everything in it helped make this a love letter to the holidays. The film really just talks about that Christmas is who you spend it with, and not necessarily how it turns out. I think it’s a really positive reminder that the most important part about Christmas is being with the ones we love. These are characters that Camryn and I love, not just the ones we voiced. To be with these actors, to be with these characters. it is just is going to be so special with everyone watching on November 27. It’s going to be the first tine for all us watching it together,

Photo: CBS

Now Brock, do you watch Camryn on The Young and the Restless?

BROCK: Yes, and I will say sometimes when Camryn is at work, our puppy does sit and watch mommy on TV, too!

Is Brock, #TeamTeriah on Y&R, as well?

CAMRYN: Yes, Brock is all about #TeamTeriah. It was actually really beautiful kind of getting engaged around the same time, Mariah and Tessa did on the show.

In another post of yours on social media, I saw that you had picked a spot for your wedding to Brock.   

CAMRYN: Yes. We don’t actually have a set date (we have three options), but we did pick a location.  So, we will be figuring that all out very soon.

Check out a clip from ‘Mickey Saves Christmas’ featuring Camryn as Mrs. Clause and Brock as Santa below.  Then let us know, will you be watching the special? What did you think of Camryn getting to work on this project and opposite the love-of-her-life, Brock Powell? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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