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Executive Producers David Michaels & David Parks Chat On The Moments That Made The 46th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards Ceremony

Photos: JPI Srudios?NATAS

The 46th annual Daytime Emmy Awards are in the record books, and with it came surprising victories, emotional tearjerker moments, and a show that ended up with more heart than the fluff we often see within many entertainment award shows.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Daytime Emmy show executive producers, David Michaels (who also serves as the SR. VP Daytime Emmy Awards for NATAS) and David Parks to gain some insight on how they pulled off some of the major moments of the evening including: a surprise appearance by Amy Poehler, Kathie Lee Gifford’s daytime TV send-off, Shemar Moore’s touching tribute to the late Kristoff St. John, and of course, that Emmy-winning acceptance speech from Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek, who is currently battling stage four pancreatic cancer.

On the soap opera side, there was the long overdue win by GH’s Maurice Benard (Sonny), former GH star Hayley Erin (Ex-Kiki) receiving her Younger Actress award from her idol, none other than Alex Trebek, and B&B’s Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Steffy) receiving the Lead Actress trophy in a tough category of industry heavyweights.

In a year that was tumultuous for the producers and for NATAS with a threatened boycott by the network soaps, requests for more rule regulations and transparency, and the ongoing situation where the Daytime Emmys have not returned to be televised on cable or network TV, but have found success on streaming and social media platforms, we checked-in with Michaels and Parks for a Daytime Emmy post-mortem, and to get the lowdown of their thoughts on daytime’s biggest night of the year. Here’s what they shared.

Photo: NATAS/Getty

Let’s talk about some of the big moments that happened throughout the Emmy ceremony and how you pulled them off.  One, of course, is the Amy Poehler surprise as the presenter of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Judge Judy that nobody knew about.  How did you find out that Amy was a Judge Judy fan, and how did you keep her appearance a secret?

DAVID MICHAELS:  I want to just say that what a great job our co-host, Sheryl Underwood did in announcing it, because she saw the name on the teleprompter for the first time during the live show.  I was going to tell her that morning, but as she said, “If I was a bucket, I couldn’t hold water.”   So, very, very, very few people knew.   All through the scripts in the rundown, Amy was listed as “Presenter X.”   What happened was, the day after the press release about Judge Judy came out, Harlan Boll (NATAS publicist) forwarded me an email from a publicist that I didn’t know saying that he wanted to talk about his client presenting on the Emmys.   I called him, and he claimed to be Amy Poehler’s publicist, and I didn’t know him.  He said, “Amy Poehler is Judge Judy’s biggest fan.  She wants to present the award.”  The only stipulation is that it has to be a surprise.  Then, I went on IMDB-Pro, and checked him out, and he was indeed Amy’s publicist and for a lot of other celebrities, as well.   I called Judy’s people, and I said, “You’re not going to believe this,” and they went to Judy, and she just loved it.  I don’t even know why Amy wanted it to be a surprise, but we had to honor it.  It obviously would have done us more good pre-publicity-wise if it wasn’t a surprise, but we honored it.   We actually kept a secret in Hollywood!  I mean, David Parks knew, and maybe four other people.  I think that maybe what I am proudest of … keeping the secret.

Photo: NATAS

David Parks, did you think it would really happen?

DAVID PARKS:  You know, I am often a naysayer about things, but I actually did.  There was something legitimate about it once David vetted the manager.  There was really never any scare or anything that was like, “Oh, all of the sudden she’s busy.  All of the sudden she’s been offered this other thing.”   It was kind of like, it got arranged, and we didn’t have to do anything until that week, and then, we had to figure out the best place to drop her off and how to get Amy inside the venue with as few people as possible seeing her.   She could not have been nicer about it all too.  I mean, we got her to the closest spot, and nobody on my team knew.  Like David said, it was “Presenter X.”  Everybody kept asking.   I was like, “Not going to tell you.  Then, you don’t have to worry about keeping the secret.”

DAVID MICHAELS:  I was just very taken with how gentle and kind Amy was.  She looked me in the eye and actually thanked me for letting her do this.  She was so gracious and sweet.  The whole thing was just a great experience.

Courtesy/NATAS/Getty

Another memorable moment occurred at the end of the night, when Shemar Moore (Ex-Malcolm, Y&R and now S.W.A.T.) honored his dear friend and former on-screen Y&R brother, the late Kristoff St. John (Ex-Neil Winters) before announcing the winner in the Outstanding Drama Series category. Were you aware that Shemar was going to go off-script and talk about his love and respect for St. John?

DAVID MICHAELS:  Obviously, to this daytime community, Kristoff was very special.   I made him last in the In-Memoriam segment, which obviously was the most I could do as a producer, because there were over 30 other people who passed as well. Before he took the stage, Shemar came to the producers table and he said, “Are you sure?”  This was in regard to him saying a few words about Kristoff.  I said, “Shemar, as long as you say that you’re going off the script,” because he was.  There was nothing in the script.  I just said, “If you go out there and speak from the heart, I will have no problem with it, and I think that everybody will have no problem with it.”  He went out there, and he just killed it.  He was brilliant. I was sitting there at the producer’s table crying.  He destroyed me.  I think everybody really appreciated it, and I thought it was the perfect way to go into the final award.

DAVID PARKS:  I thought it was very genuine.  You can still feel his pain.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Next, you were able to get Kathie Lee Gifford to attend the Daytime Emmys to honor her.  How did that come together?  I assume she did not have a speech written when she addressed the crowd.  Kathie Lee is all about being “authentic”.

DAVID MICHAELS:  Correct, she actually had no speech written.  I saw her right before she went on, and she said, “Well, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.”  I said, “You’re supposed to go out there and be Kathie Lee.  You’re supposed to tell the community what you think of them.”  I also added, “I doubt this is the first time you’ve improvised,” and she laughed.  The result is what you saw, because she had not seen the tribute video before we played it, and the ladies of The Talk had actually asked to introduce Kathie Lee, because they adore her.

DAVID PARKS:  It really did come off well, because there was this concern about it not being a Lifetime Achievement Award(Not that she doesn’t deserve one, but that just wasn’t what it was this year.)  We were figuring out, how do you make this moment that is special without overshadowing the Lifetime Achievement Awards?  Kathie managed to do that.  I think it was her then winning in the Outstanding Informative Talk Show host category along with Hoda Kotb that really made it one of the most talked about moments of the show.

That award was positioned after Kathie Lee’s tribute, correct?

DAVID PARKS:  Yes, and on purpose, because in the case that she doesn’t win, you don’t want her out there kind of bumming out about it.  In all of these moments you have mentioned, the serendipity of it worked out really nicely for us.  Judy got honored, and unfortunately for her she didn’t win, but it didn’t destroy the moment.  In Kathie Lee’s case, it elevated the moment.

Courtesy/NATAS

Talking about serendipity, with Amy, Kathie Lee, Shemar, and Alex, it was almost like an organic perfect storm, and the next day people were talking about the Daytime Emmys in the mainstream press more than they had in recent years.

DAVID PARKS:  You picked up on this inclination that you have to fight sometimes to entertain, entertain, and entertain.  I think this year kind of proved that you don’t have to throw out the dog and pony show. It kind of works that you honor people, and they come out and they give these heartfelt speeches, and those mean more than those extra segments – whether it’s song or dance, or jokes, and you can tell the things that we cut out this year.  I think what it’s all about is …  getting awards, giving awards, and honoring people for their achievements.

How do you feel your co-hosts, Sheryl Underwood (The Talk) and Mario Lopez (EXTRA) did this year?  You seem to like this pairing as you have had them back multiple times now.

DAVID MICHAELS:  I thought it was Sheryl’s best year.  We didn’t give Sheryl big comedy moments, but everything she did felt so heartfelt and right.  They were there throughout the show.  They got their moments.  They got their beginning, middle, and they got their end.

DAVID PARKS:  I think as producers there was a little bit of a gift in watching what happened with the Oscars this year because it actually showed, (I mean, I’m sure it’s not what they wanted initially) not having a host kind of stream-lined that show.  People were like, “Yeah, the Oscars were pretty good this year.”  We talked about that a lot.  We don’t need to over think this.  It’s already been proven what happens if we don’t give as much to our hosts.

Photo: NATAS

Let’s talk about Alex Trebek.  That was such a huge moment when he accepted his award; winning Outstanding Game Show Host, and when he took the stage to present the Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series award.  I heard he wasn’t not feeling well at all at the ceremonies, as we all knew he is battling stage four pancreatic cancer.

DAVID MICHAELS:  I know Alex pretty well.  So, I could tell he wasn’t feeling well; even though that wasn’t what he was putting forth.  It’s interesting though because Alex originally told us he wanted to stay backstage the whole time, but once he got to the ceremony that was not what he wanted to do.  So, Alex was in the audience, and he actually surprised me.  In a similar way to what I said to Shemar.  I said, “When Alex gets out there, he’s going to get a standing ovation,” which he did, and that was the moment when I said, “Alex, if you want to say something, go ahead,” and he didn’t.  I was shocked.  He just came out and presented the Younger Actress award.  So, if Alex had not won, he never would have said anything because that’s when he got the emotion in and all of that.  He definitely took a chance.

So, Alex presents ‘Younger Actress’ and made Hayley Erin’s (Ex-GH) life, because when I did my interview with her backstage, all she talked about is what this meant to have her idol, Alex Trebek hand her the award.  Talk about serendipity!  Now, when Alex accepted his award for Outstanding Game Show Host, did you have any idea what he was going to say, because coming out of the Emmys, people were buzzing about what he shared on-stage.

DAVID MICHAELS:  No, and quite honestly, I got scared when he started that speech when he was saying he didn’t want a sympathy vote, but that’s Alex.  He will totally bring it, and then turn it around.

Photo: NATAS

DAVID PARKS:  There was a side thing that you probably didn’t know about.  We got approached by a guy looking to buy fan tickets, but they had a group who needed ADA (Americans with Disabilities) seating.   It turned out be a group of cancer patients who were terminal.  The group was SayYEStoHOPE.org.  They weren’t asking for anything.  They just wanted to be able to sit together. So, we comped them all.  I’m at the red carpet, and this group is coming up the stairs, and one of the guys from the venue says to me, “This is the ‘Say Yes to Life’ group.”  So, I start talking to them, and one of the women just had chemo that day, and they were so excited to be at the Daytime Emmys, but what they were really excited about was to see Alex Trebek.  I wish there had been a way to either acknowledge them, or to let Alex know,  because they are big Daytime television fans,  but Alex meant so much to them in terms of being a cancer survivor, and a cancer patient, just like them.

Were you worried about Alex on Emmy night?

DAVID PARKS:  I thought he looked pretty good considering what I knew he had been going through.  It was actually this past week when I read about how on Jeopardy, he was doubled over in pain on the floor.

DAVID MICHAELS:  Yeah, if you saw that CBS Sunday Morning interview, it was pretty extreme, and they showed a clip from our show, by the way.  Similar to what David described with Judge Judy and Amy, Alex stood by the monitor to see if Jeopardy was going to win, which it didn’t, and Alex was just like, “Okay,” and off he went, and I got a big hug.  Just knowing him, I think he put out a lot of energy to be there, but I think he was glad to do it.

Courtesy/NATAS

Let’s move on to another amazing moment which was General Hospital’s Maurice Benard (Sonny) finally winning his second Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor.  The crowd went crazy!  What did you think about how that happened . … and the fact that Maurice didn’t have a speech prepared?

DAVID MICHAELS:  I honestly believe Maurice that he didn’t think he was going to win.  It’s been many years since he had, and I also didn’t think that any of the other nominees could complain about losing an award to Maurice, because he’s the king.  He kept saying he couldn’t cry up there, and then, he cried up on-stage.  It really was about doing the Alzheimer’s storyline with Max Gail (Mike, GH) who totally reminds Maurice of his real father, and then, to have Max win as well, I just think it was a very emotional moment for him, and it was beautiful.

DAVID PARKS:  What impressed me is that often times you think actors should be so good at giving speeches, and they’re horrible at it because it’s not scripted.  So, when somebody does give one, and it’s really heartfelt and all of that, it’s really refreshing.  It’s kind of nice, especially on such a big award.

Photo: NATAS

DAVID MICHAELS:  In addition, Kyler Pettis (Ex-Theo, Days) win for Younger Actor in a Drama Series, was one of the most emotional things I have ever seen.  For years, I have been impressed with his portrayal of the high-functioning autistic young man.  It was always very moving to me.  If you watched the show and the close-up on him when they called his name, Kyler immediately was crying.  It really moved me.  I spoke to him the next day at The Talk, and he was completely blown away.  I just don’t think he thought this was going to happen.

What went into the decision to make the opening number “Sing!”?  Obviously, a big part of that was you were celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street.  And, I hear Mario Lopez’s son got to see the Muppets backstage, up close and personal?

DAVID MICHAELS: They always say don’t work with children and animals – but we did it – children – a dog – and two Muppets!  The dog – of course was Q-Tip – the shelter dog who came on with Lucky Dog’s Brandon McMillan. The kids were mostly from a community theatre production of MATILDA – and Joely Fisher connected us.  They included one of Joely’s daughters, Rebecca Romijn’s twins and Gary Busey’s son!  It was my concept and our musical director’s arrangement.  I thought it would be a great, positive way to start the evening.  It is always a joy to work with the Muppets – and Ryan and Leslie who do Elmo and Abby are amazing.  When Mario’s son, Nico, came in, I wanted to be careful to not shatter any illusions – so I took him over to the Muppets and he stared at them and he whispered to me: “Are they real”?  I said “Of course they are – just like you see them on TV.”  Nico says, “Can they talk?” I  say, “Of course they can.”  Then, Nico says, “Does someone have to help them talk?”  Now I am nervous and I pause, “Well … what do you think?”  He says, “I think they have some help”  Then,  he walked around back and saw the puppeteers.  The most adorable sweet child on the planet!

Photo: NATAS

There was a lot of behind the scenes drama and difficulties in the months prior to the Emmys; including the independent investigation, requests for more transparency in the awards system, the four soaps potentially boycotting, etc.  When you look back at what it took to get here, how do you feel about the outcome?

DAVID PARKS:  I’ve used this analogy a couple of times already, and I’m not a woman, but I think this is kind of what childbirth must be like.  The pain of it is so great that you think, “We can’t get through this,” and “Never again,” and afterwards, you see the baby, and all of the pain goes away.  You’re like, “Hey, we did it, and it worked.  It was really good.  It was enjoyable.”  I think, as a producer, you don’t really want people to know the difficulties.  If people understand the difficulties of getting to that night, you’ve probably done something wrong.  At the same time, I’m the last guy to crave attention, but for the people who were aware of the challenges that we had this year to see what we’ve pulled off, and when they say, “Holy cow.  Your set, your show, the smoothness…”  that is gratifying. You know, the stuff people are experiencing in the audience or the stuff that they see on the screen is what ultimately matters.  You learn from the mistakes, but at the end of the day, as long as that experience is good for the nominees, the winners, and the fans, that is what really counts.

People always want to know how it goes backstage with the handling of the envelopes.  Do you have it plotted out so that nobody except the accountants knows the winners until the big moment on-stage?  How does that work?

DAVID PARKS:  So, this year we actually had two accountants backstage.  The envelope went from the hand of the accountant to the hand of the stage manager, who then gave it to our trophy people, who give it to the presenter.  We had our fancy, new envelopes which everybody seemed to like, but literally, nobody on the staff even touched the envelopes this year.

Photo: NATAS

It seems like you have built-in a failsafe to minimize any potential complaints.

DAVID PARKS:  People always can, I guess.  It’s always been completely above board, but this year it was just even another step.  It’s important because the integrity of the awards is important.  I laugh a little bit, when somebody thinks they know if they are going to win or not because they’re trying to read something into the position of a camera in the audience.  We even added steps with how we shot it.  We told our cameramen, “Hold your shot for like 5 seconds after the announcement has been made.  So, even though your person isn’t getting up, we don’t want you to relax.”  We don’t want the person to think they’re not going to win.  The worst thing that will happen is somebody thinks they’re not going to win like a half a second before the announcement, it’s not a life-altering thing, but we still want to make the experience perfect for all nominees.

DAVID MICHAELS:  Our director Greg Gelfand, I think is the best in the business.  This is all a big pain in the butt for him.  He’s just trying to direct a show, but he was totally with us.  Greg said, “Okay, you’ve got it.”  The cameramen were great, and Greg was great.   Again, I’ll say for the 8 millionth time, I don’t know who is going to win.  It was very exciting and it was very surprising.

DAVID PARKS:  I always tell people that if anybody wanted to have proof that we don’t know in advance, all they have to do is watch David’s reaction at the producer’s table.  We find out at the same time as everybody else, and he’s like, “Oh, my God!  They won!?  That is an upset.  You don’t understand, Dave.  That is like an upset.”

Courtesy/NATAS

DAVID MICHAELS:  I know the soaps more than David does, but I’m like a little boy back there when I see who is winning.  I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” (Laughs)  The accountants sometimes will look at me like, “Did I do something wrong? (Laughs)  Look, there’s not much more we can do.  I was very proud.  I was very proud of the presenters, and I thought it was a great mix of all of the genres and the whole industry, and everybody was great in their own unique way.  There was some new blood at the show presenting and with the winners.

DAVID PARKS:  I have to interject my half into the little bit of love fest for David, because if there is one thing I think I hammered on David more than anything else this year was that we have to shorten the show.  The difference between three hours and three and a half hours or three hours and twenty minutes, is a huge difference.  I kept pushing David to simplify, to come up with simpler ways, or less verbose ways to do presentations, and he rose to the occasion, and before the show, he was like, “I’ve got to tell you, I don’t think I could have made this any shorter,” and I went through the script and there really was so little that could have been trimmed.  David really did a great job of answering the call and writing something that got us through a lot faster than last year.  We got a lot of comments after that said it didn’t feel like three hours.  Part of that was that it wasn’t three hours and thirty minutes.  It was actually three hours.

DAVID MICHAELS:   David Parks is the perfect foil for me and me for him.  Because we are so different, we don’t fight, but we will have words sometimes, and one of us will win, but it’s always the right decision.  One of the reasons I love working with him so much is that if he is giving me a hard time about something, there is a reason for it, and I have to really consider what he is saying.  I think that is a really healthy way to work.

Photo: JPI Studios

What would you like to see happen for the next Daytime Emmy Awards presentation?

DAVID MICHAELS:  I’d love for somebody to give us a million dollars so that we can do the most lavish show in the world.  I’d love to keep the heart going.   The one bad thing about finishing a good show is that you always take a breath and say, “Now … what do we do next time?”

DAVID PARKS:  For me, it’s that you always want to keep shows like this fresh.  It doesn’t always mean completely reinventing the wheel, but sometimes, you step back, and you think, “What can we do to freshen this up so that it’s not just a repeat?”  That can have to do with the set.   You just have to look at everything and also recognize that the best moments, as we learned this year, you can’t manufacture those.  They’re just going to happen organically.  So, you just have to create a show that allows those moments to happen, and like David said, money solves problems.  We will certainly be looking for additional sponsorship, and to build on the great ratings that we’ve had this year, and the fact that we have continued to build this event up over the years.

Courtesy/NATAS

Would you ever consider, or continue to try to get the ceremony back on TV, perhaps even on daytime television, if some network would offer you a spot to do it in?

DAVID MICHAELS:  There is nothing we wouldn’t consider.   Although I will say; that if the numbers are what we think they were this year, there were probably more than three times as many viewers as the last time we were on television.

DAVID PARKS:  I’ve always said that if they were to be on TV again, if they were to be on during the day, which is when our fans are watching TV anyway, it would make sense,  However, I have to say that I think the Daytime Emmys being at sort of the forefront of digital television puts us way out in front.  Eventually, this is how everybody is going to be watching TV.  It’s not going to be like, “Oh, we’re not on basic, terrestrial TV.”  It doesn’t matter.

DAVID MICHAELS:  You’ve got to realize that this audience is worldwide.  Being on television is not.  So, when you see that people are watching all over the world, that’s pretty amazing.

So, what did you think about what David & David shared about decisions made for the Emmy ceremony and the backstage tidbits?  How would you score this year’s Daytime Emmys? What was your favorite moment within it? Comment below.

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davlestev1

And that’s why the daytime Emmys will NEVER be televised again. Two tone deaf people claiming that no fans want to see them there anymore and would rather watch on Facebook. TOO FUNNY. I remember just how important and popular the televised shows were. So popular the network that aired them each got to air a splashy nighttime episode of their most popular soap in the evening, one hour after or before. Watching Doug Marlands turn as head writer on the Doctors (retro tv) also shows the power of what our soaps used to be. Aside from those hideous scenes… Read more »

Cid Weinberg
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Cid Weinberg

Radio to TV to Internet…when we embrace it, it’s amazing. Nothing stays the same. I get it and always thought The Daytimes Emmy’s belong on during the day too. I do not watch live TV like before & watch Online. There are other avenues, not just Facebook. The rest of the world does, can reach a larger audience. Producers can do both – produce for live TV & Online. Fantastic to be able to view old soaps & The Sopa Art Form as it matured, correct? Lucky & makes one smile doesn’t? The soaps still have power, they just don’t… Read more »

Patrick
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Patrick

David Michaels : “you” are completely – OUT – of your mind. Maurice Benard is not an every day player any more. his role and character are continually in question by the fan mindset. by your wanting to showcase a humane streak in him with “ALTZHEIMERS” has not swayed the audience one bit. GOD he’s old and showing it. NOW that the “RULES” of submitting have changed… MAURICE BENARD , WAS ABLE TO GIVE A STORY ARC , 20 MINUTES LONG. lets cap off this submission with a song from Frank Sinatra with dear old dying daddy. WHICH if you… Read more »

Interviews

Y&R’s Peter Bergman Talks On Dina’s Death & How It Will Impact Jack, His Final Scenes With Marla Adams & Taping During COVID-19

The Abbott family is reeling from the death of their mother, Dina Mergeron, who passed away from complications from Alzheimer’s disease at the end of last Friday’s episode; signaling the end of an era for Dina’s portrayer, Marla Adams.  In a pivotal and heart-breaking scene, Dina shares one last goodbye with her children: Traci (Beth Maitland), Ashley (Eileen Davidson) and of course, Jack (Peter Bergman).

Today, the drama continues as the Abbott’s grieve Dina’s death and its aftermath while they remember the life of their flawed mother. This puts Jack at the epicenter of the family, and like it, or not, the new head of the clan.  What does the future hold for him now?

Michael Fairman TV chatted with three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Peter Bergman, who has embodied Jack for over 30 years on the top-rated CBS Daytime drama, to get his thoughts on: how Y&R needed to handle Dina’s death within the confines of the coronavirus pandemic and its safety protocols, what he felt about playing those final scenes with Marla Adams and the significance of the ‘teardrop of love’, and a preview of what fans can expect in the coming days as the impact of Dina’s death will be felt by the Abbott children and extended family.

 

An actor’s actor, you can always expect a conversation with Peter to be forthright, candid and enlightening, and this one was no different.  Here’s what one of the genre’s absolute best had to share about the significance of this story and more.

How has it been returning to Y&R during the pandemic?  I bet you never thought in all of your years in daytime, that you would be doing your scenes socially-distanced, sitting or standing, so far apart from your castmates.

Courtesy/CBD

PETER:  Just getting back to work felt great, loved that.  I wasn’t involved really in romantic scenes at this point, so that I didn’t have to do.  So, all in all, I was very happy to be back, and socially-distancing didn’t really bother me at all, and then Dina died.  Doing that from six feet away was just awful.  You saw the limits at a time where not any of us could be within six feet of each other; where you would usually hold a hand, stroke a brow, and talk softly.  So, I think the writers did what they needed to do to make it work for Dina’s exit.  We are in the middle of COVID, in case anybody forgot, and so you have to ask, ‘Does America really want to watch an elderly woman die in the middle of the Abbott living room or anywhere else?’  So, we had to have Dina’s exit without looking at a dead body, out of respect for the times we are living in.  We had to do a strong, powerful, pivotal scene with our hands tied behind our backs.

Courtesy/CBS

It’s so interesting that you say that because that’s how I felt watching it, knowing what it would have been like, if Jack, Ashley and Traci would have been with Dina at her bedside, up till the end, for instance.  But all of that said, Peter, I got so choked up in your last moments with Marla.  Jack is just sitting there and Dina is telling him how much she loved him and you’re doing the thing that only Peter Bergman can do as the tears well-up in your eyes.  As we have talked about previously, my mom died from complications from Alzheimer’s, so these are always tough types of scenes for me to watch.  I am sure it was also for those in the audience, who have lost a loved one to this disease, many of whom reached out to me on social media following its airing.

PETER:  It’s got to be tough for you to watch.  I get that.

Photo: Ed McGowan/Plain Joe Studios

Yes, so I felt for Jack and Dina in the moment as a son and his mother.  But what did you think about how the scene was written, and what Dina was saying to Jack and his sisters as her final goodbyes to her children and their reactions to it?

PETER:  As written, something in this necklace triggers something in Dina that brings her out of a stupor, brings her out of the murk, the fog for a brief instant to tell the people who she cares the most about that she loves them in slightly different ways.  I have, with everything in me, a struggle to always add in there, “I have a complicated relationship with my mother.”  I’ve added that line in there so many times over the years, you have no idea.  It was a complicated relationship because by the time she dies, there is no kind of straightening that out, there is no kind of Jack looking for answers. The depth of what Ashley is feeling, what Traci is feeling, what Jack is feeling, were kind of lost because of the way we had to do it. The writers had to do it, so I’m not blaming anyone, but because of the way we had to do it, there was no, “Wow, why isn’t Ashley crying?  Why is she just so stoic that this isn’t touching her at all?” because she can’t go there. Traci feeling like she found her place in the family simply by Dina saying, “You’re the beating heart of this family,” and Jack, who is doing the right thing, “She should leave peacefully, she should leave feeling loved, we should all be here, we should give her nothing but love,” damn, this is complicated.  You couldn’t have any of those things.  .  Hopefully, some of that slid in there and we wedged some of those complexities into it, but it was hard to write a complex scene with the situation as it was.  We needed to get it done it one day.  We did not need to drag this out.  Again, were it not COVID time, sure, let’s drag it out.  Let’s spend some time on this.  People die.  Let’s watch the family process a death.

Photo: CBS

I just think of what it all means for Jack moving forward.  Dina basically tells him, “You’re in charge of the family. Look after the family.” That’s kind of where it’s been going for Jack this whole time.  I don’t know if that’s what Jack wanted, but that’s where he is ending up.

PETER:  Right!  That’s where he ends up, and you know, this has been a long time coming.  Dad dies, and it is pretty clear that he’s got to step up, and his mom comes into town, and she’s not just his mother.  She’s Ashley’s mother; she’s Traci’s mother, we’ve got to look out for her and give her the dignity and things like that.  Now, there is just no getting around it.  Jack is the head of the family.  That’s the way it fell.  Twenty-five years ago, was Jack ready to be head of anything?  Absolutely not, but I think enough has happened to Jack now: enough heartache, enough growth, enough introspection, enough losing people, that Jack might just be ready for this job.

Courtesy/CBS

When Marla Adams came back to Y&R 2017, and they started telling the Alzheimer’s storyline, it brought up such abandonment issues for Jack and rightfully so, about how a mother could just leave her family and children,  Throughout all that,  you did such poignant work.

PETER:  I wanted that to be in there at the very end.  One of the powerful parts in this whole thing is that Jack wanted to scream at Dina every bit as much as he wanted to hug her.  That was there for quite a while, and Jack had to kind of come to terms with, “Hey, you’ve been leaning on this excuse for quite a time.  She’s here.  She can’t do you any harm.  She feels bad about what happened.  What do you want, Jack?”

Photo: CBS

One of the highlights of this storyline was when Y&R explored the history and relationship between the siblings, Jack, Ashley and Traci.  We saw their younger versions as the show flash-backed to when Dina left John and the Abbott family.

PETER:  Between the writers and Peter Bergman, we built this story that the night that Dina left, Dad was upstairs with the girls, they were weeping inconsolably, there was no fixing it, there was no telling them that everything was going to be all right.  He didn’t want to lie to them and say she will be right back, he told them, “She’s not coming back,” and he comes downstairs, and Jack is fourteen-years-old, and a little confused, but decided to say to his dad, “Hey, can I help?”  He looks across the room, and his dad is weeping, first time he had ever seen that.  His father is weeping, and he said, “Jack, you’re going to have to help me with the girls.  I can’t do all of this,” and it changed Jack’s life forever.  Jack was a parent to Ashley for a good part of their relationship.  So, all of this stuff with Jack’s identity, all of the fighting with Ashley, all of the Jabot madness is Ashley finally getting to say, “I don’t need a father!  You’re not my father.  Stop talking to me like you’re going to fix things for me!  I’m sick of it.”  All done by Dina … all truly caused by Dina.

Courtesy/CBD

In my interview with Marla, she told me that at the end of her last scene, you and many others came back to the set to pay tribute to her.

PETER:  We did.  The show had arranged it, and Tony Morina, the executive producer, stepped out on the soundstage with a microphone, and Marla sat on the sofa in the Abbott living room. Tony began telling a lovely, lovely story about how far back his relationship with her goes because Marla and Tony wife’s, Sally Sussman (Ex- head writer, Y&R), also had a long-standing relationship.  Tony was just so grand and gracious in saying that there are some people who, if they weren’t an actor, they’d be this or that or the other thing, but that Marla was born to be an actress.  That’s what she is, and it was so generous.  I think she got three and a half years that she didn’t expect to get out of this.  It was supposed to be a six-month storyline, and four years later, she was still there, and it was a good thing for her, and a unique story turn for the rest of us.  It really was.  It was a powerful thing, and now the Abbott family has a new shape.  There are three adults there: Ashley has established her independence, she is not around as much, she is back and forth between Paris, and Genoa City, Traci is trying to be as supportive and kind as she can be, but essentially, Jack is in the big house by himself.

Yep!  Well, now we’ve got to find Jack a good woman.

PETER:  Yes, or a bad woman.

… Or a bad woman!  I’ll take him in a relationship with someone to stir things up.  I also hear coming up, there will be the reading of Dina’s will.  Is there anything you can tease about that?

PETER:  There is a will read, yes.  No one knows what to expect, and Dina … in the end… comes through for almost everybody…

Courtesy/CBS

Well … that ought to be good.

PETER:  Yep… really comes through for almost everybody, and you know, the Abbott children are wealthier, and all three of them are alone, and in no small thanks to Dina for that.  These are three adults who have been very unlucky in love.  Of course, this is the next challenge.  I don’t mean to assume that I have any idea of what you went through in losing your mom, but there is a point at which you also have to let go and say, “Okay, now it is just me, and what do I want to do with this life?  I’ve used this as a reason not to move forward for a good while.  What am I going to do now?”  I think the next turn in the Jack Abbott story comes pretty organically.  Dina’s death frees Jack to be just as alone as he has ever been.

No matter what Jack does, including the bad things, you always see the inner-pain that is very palpable within him, as you have portrayed him.

PETER:  Yes, but he really has grown in the last 30 years.  Jack is hungry for more right now, and he couldn’t really be that way with Mom in the house.  He didn’t have time for that.  Now he has all of the time in the world.  So, we’ll see what he does with that.

Courtesy/CBD

I understand there is a funeral for Dina, but it will be off-camera?  I guess, because of COVID, it is better that way.

PETER:  That’s true and it’s off camera, that’s correct.  What’s important at most of these things isn’t what happens at the gravesite, it is what happens at the reception afterwards, and that is also a fun turn.  So, they all agree as a family they are going to do it at Society, and they kind of close the joint and make it their own little party, and someone shows up who isn’t expected, and it throws a really, really different vibe into the whole thing, and everybody has to adapt.  It’s actually fun, what it turns into.  It turns into a memory fest with crazy stories of Dina.

Courtesy/CBS

Do you have a favorite moment, or memory, of a scene you played with Marla?

PETER:  I think I had a day where Jack tried to get through to her and tell her, “Do you realize the damage you did?  Do you realize?” and she wasn’t able to take it in, and he went to Traci, and he said, “I want to shake her.  I want to yell at her… and I want to protect her.”  I thought there was something just so rich about that.  That was my favorite moment, my favorite part of it, when Jack finally said, “She’s going, man.  We’ve got to get this conversation done now.  We’ve got to talk this through,” and he was too late.   She was too far along with Alzheimer’s.  She wasn’t up to it.  She couldn’t do it.

Photo: JPI

And now here is Jack; and his parents are both gone.  There is no Jerry Douglas or Marla Adams on the show as both John and Dina have passed on within the history of The Young and the Restless.

PETER:  Again, you were generous enough to share your own personal experience, but isn’t it amazing?  Wow, you’re the grownup now.  Isn’t it amazing?  That’s what the Abbott’s are going through: just what you went through.  There is no older generation to turn to for anything.  We are the older generation.  It’s powerful stuff, and I’m really, really grateful for anytime that Ashley, Jack, and Traci are together talking about those things, talking about, “Wow, okay, that just happened… where do we go from here?”  It’s going to be really interesting.  If you asked me, “Over the last 30 years that you’ve played Jack Abbott, have there been many times where you’ve thought, ‘I’ve got no idea where this is going!’”  I would say, “Yeah, right now.”  I’ve got no idea where we are going with this.

Courtesy/CBS

There has been much speculation that the “teardrop of love” necklace will lead Jack to a new romance, or some new adventure in his life.  They spent a lot of time mentioning it in short order, that it would seem it’s not just to bring Dina some closure.  What are your thoughts on it?

PETER:  I think it has legs.  I think you’re going to hear about it again. There is something in there, and I don’t know if it’s the teardrop’s magic charm or that its history is not what it was, or it gets stolen.  I don’t know, but I think we have spent enough time saying ‘teardrop of love’, that there could be a story there.

In Dina’s final moments where Jack brings her the ‘teardrop of love’, wasn’t it symbolic to her because it was her acknowledgement of having her family back together and with her at all times? There is a back-story to that piece of jewelry as well.

PETER:  The point of the necklace is, “This was when I was truly happy, when I had this necklace, when it is all back together,” and maybe we are to know something more about the teardrop…?  I don’t know.  So, this was a gift to her before Jack was born.  She wore it home from the hospital when she brought him home, but we don’t know exactly what year she got it, and we don’t know exactly what year she lost it.  It was stolen, and it was on the black market for a while, and Victor (Eric Braeden) was looking into it.  It was clear that it was very important to Dina.  So, Jack, against his own wishes, said, “No, I’ve got to do the right thing.  I’ve got to try to trace this thing down.  It clearly means something to her.  Maybe she is trying to tell us something.  God only knows.”  So, he did the right thing, not because, “I want to make Mommy happy,” but because he forced himself to do the right thing, to find the damn necklace, and to see what this is about.  Then, we saw the affect it had when he gave it to her.

Photo: CBS

It’s always good to chat and check-in with you during these key and historical moments in the life of the character of Jack Abbott.  There have been many throughout your time on Y&R, and it will be interesting to see where this goes from here.

PETER:  It will be, and I’m telling you, this is a real moment.  Normally, we just go from one story into the next, into the next, and this one has been hanging for so long that, “Okay, now that it is over, wow, what is going to happen to Jack?”  I’m just as curious as everybody else.

So, what do you think will happen next for Jack?  Did you reach for the hankies in Peter’s final scenes with Marla Adams?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Marla Adams Talks Her Final Scenes As Dina Mergeron, The Alzheimer’s Storyline, and Her Touching Farewell

Today on The Young and the Restless marks the end of the enduring run of Marla Adams in the role of Dina Mergeron. In story, Dina passes away from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a storyline that started four years ago when the CBS Daytime drama brought back the character and Adams; and one that has deeply affected many in the viewing audience who have also had their own personal experience of losing a loved one to this dreadful disease.

If you have not seen today’s episode yet, you may not want to read any further, but needless to say, make sure you have the hankies ready for Dina’s final moments with her children and how she leaves this earth, which will be remembered for quite some time to come.

Marla originated the role of the rich and spoiled Abbott matriarch back in 1983 and portrayed the role on and off for what amounts to five decades. Her classic scenes with Jerry Douglas (Ex-John), Eileen Davidson (Ashley) and so many more from the iconic soap, always made for great and complex stories.

 

With this her final airdate on Y&R, it also puts an exclamation point for Marla on an incredible daytime career having also appeared on: The Bold and the Beautiful. Capitol, Days of our Lives, Generations and The Secret Storm

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Adams in this very special conversation where she shared with us how it was to play these heartbreaking last scenes, the importance of the ‘teardrop of love’ necklace to the story, how Y&R gave her the most overwhelming and beautiful send-off, and her ‘thank you’s’ to all of you, who have been her extended family and are sad to see her go. She is one-of-a-kind …and now, here’s Marla.

Photo: Getty

Marla, I am so glad we have the opportunity to chat in this full-circle moment as you have brought the character of Dina to a close.

MARLA:  It’s such a joy to talk to you.  It seems like yesterday and an eternity as well.   I thought of you so much, and I remember talking to you specifically with all of the different interviews over the years, when I was at the studio.  But I will always remember the interview you did with me and Beth Maitland (Traci), my darling soul sister, and you talked to me about your mother who has since passed on from Alzheimer’s.  I’ll never forget what you had to say all those months ago

Photo: HallmarkChannel

Yes, and when as audience members we watch these stories unfold with characters we have loved, or watched on our screens for years, and there is a death, we feel connected to them as well.  And in this case, as a child who has lost a parent to Alzheimer’s, like many in the audience, you ask yourself first, “Can I watch this?” It hits very close to home, but I’m sure when people watch today’s episode of Y&R and see Dina pass away, they will be extraordinarily moved.

MARLA:  Oh, my gosh.  Wait until you people see Friday’s show.  I know they will be moved.  They should be!  I’ve got friends who I’ve already said to, “Get your Kleenex box out.”  It’s so beautiful what happens at the end of the episode.

Courtesy/CBD

How did you feel about playing Dina’s final scenes?

MARLA:  It was wonderful because it showed her lifetime of sorrow and regret, and what was so wonderful was the fact that the hero of the whole thing is the kindness and respect that she really did have for her whole family.  They had the most beautiful sendoff for me.  They sent me a limo!  I went to the studio, and dear Patti Denney (Make-up artist, Y&R) was there, of course with all kinds of makeup and everything else, and she looked like she was entering the ER room for Covid-19, because of all the safety protocols we must have.  It was unbelievable, the kindness that was served to me.  After we finished taping my final scenes, I came back to the soundstage and they totally surprised me.  Dear Tony Morina (executive producer, Y&R) and Sally Sussman (Ex-head writer, Y&R) were there, and Tony spoke about me, and so did my Y&R extended family and on-screen children: Peter Bergman (Jack), and Beth Maitland, and Eileen Davidson, and much of it was put on tape (see excerpts in video below).  Afterwards, Tony gave me beautiful flowers.  I was driven back home after this, and I felt really special, and it was just amazing to me. I had written Josh Griffith (Current head-writer and co-executive producer, Y&R) a ‘thank you’ for writing the show with his wonderful people, but I never heard back, but when I walked in my apartment, the phone was ringing.  Guess who?  It’s Josh!  He said, “I waited until I knew you would be home to thank you,” and I felt so lovey-doved up, I couldn’t believe it.  I want to read something to you that I received in the wonderful flowers that came the next day from CBS Daytime executive Margot Wain and others.  The flowers were so big that they didn’t fit on the bar!  The card read: “Thank you for bringing the amazing force that is Abbott matriarch, Dina Mergeron to countless fans of The Young and the Restless.  Your vast contribution to Y&R and CBS for more than five decades is unparalleled.  We are forever grateful for all you’ve brought to Y&R as both a consummate professional and a cherished co-worker.  All our best wishes.”  I was just so touched by the sentiments.

Photo: CBS

I also want to share something with you.  When it was revealed in the promo that came out last week that this would be your last show, I received so many notifications on social media, saying, “Oh, my God!  We love Marla!  You have to interview her!”  You are loved by the Y&R fans.  I hope you know that!  They’re sad to see you go, because you’re a legacy character to them, and soap fans have deep connections to characters that have been on their favorite soaps for decades.

MARLA:  Five decades!  My God!  I’m eighty-freaking-two.  I can’t believe it.

Courtesy/CBS

In story, Jack was on a mission to get the ‘teardrop of love’ necklace back to Dina before she died, hoping that she would have one last moment of lucidity and would recall it and it would hopefully make her happy.   He moves heaven on earth to get it, and does, and brings it to her and viewers saw her reaction. 

MARLA:  The necklace had never been anywhere before in story except recently, but I said to myself that I would play it ‘quietly and graciously’, because it made for such a beautiful moment for Dina with her children.

Courtesy/CBS

For Dina, the necklace was a symbol of remaining connected to her family and her children, even when she was not with them all of those years.  In your final scenes, Dina had these moments to say goodbye to each of your children.  Do you remember looking at Eileen, Traci, and Peter taping those highly emotional beats?

MARLA:  Yes, they were so there for me.  They are an extended family that is so precious to me, and playing this iconic character has been, too.  I remember when Sally Sussman told me a few years ago, “ I’m going to bring you back on The Young and the Restless, but you’ve got Alzheimer’s,” and I said, ‘What!?  You’re bringing me back so you can kill me off?’ and she said, “Oh no, it’ll be about a year.”  That dissolved into four years, and now five decades had passed and I was still on Y&R.  I am beyond grateful.

Courtesy/CBD

As an actress, was it hard to play Dina’s final moments when she goes to the light to join her beloved, John?

MARLA:  It was heart-wrenching for me.  In the story, Dina died when she went outside and to the front door of the Abbott home.  They did not tell me before-hand, and that’s why it was so wonderful.  I hope they came in for a closeup of that because I had no makeup on, it was beautiful, and then, Dina said, “Oh, John.”  I’ve done everything from movies, to daytime, to nighttime, to Broadway, but that was the iconic moment for me, to do this gig with wonderful, wonderful actors and friends, and to do this particular storyline.

Photo: CBS

It was 1983 when you first appeared on Y&R.  And through the years, Dina did not do such great things! She had an affair with Brent Davis who was the biological father of Ashley that caused such a rift between mother and daughter for years.  She abandoned the Abbott children and walked out on them and her marriage to John, and that’s just for starters! Dina was a complicated character. Did you love the fact that she could be very selfish at times?

MARLA:  You think?  That’s why I loved her.  Of course!  I can be very selfish, too.  You have to be selfish if you’re an actor, good God. (Laughs).

Courtesy/CBS

It was great that The Young and the Restless brought you back four years ago so that through the telling of the Alzheimer’s storyline that Dina was able to somewhat repair her relationships with her children.  Obviously, over the last many months the audience could not witness the more day to day progression and toll the disease took on Dina and her family in its final stages, but unfortunately with the way COVID-19 has affected shooting daytime soap operas, and all of our lives, including safety protocols, I am sure plans had to be altered,

MARLA:  Of course.  As an actress, this was the most important role of my life, and to have her final moments spread out in one day really is because of all of the fans who have been writing in and wanting to see Dina again,

Photo: CBS

People were rooting for you to win the Daytime Emmy back in 2018 when you were nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. That must be a nice moment to carry with you from playing Dina’s final storyline.

MARLA:  Yes, and I should have won!  Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) was furious. (Laughs)  He said, “What do you mean, darling, you should have won!  Goddammit!” He’s a wonderful man and a good friend.  He came to pick me up several times to go to the studio for my last few shows, and that’s the kind of mensch he is. So, I feel just so blessed and I feel great love and loss.  I would like Dina to come back as a ghost, but I have no idea, if that will happen or not. But if the fans would be interested in seeing Dina as a ghost … make sure to write in to the show and tell them!

Courtesy/CBS

Speaking of the fans that have followed you for decades on Y&R, what would you want to say to them now that Dina has passed on?

MARLA:  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for all of the love, the support, and the chance to play Dina out… and I’m thankful that you cared, and loved her, up till the end.

So what did you think about Dina’s final moments on today’s Y&R? Will you miss Marla Adams?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.  But first check out the special behind the scenes tribute for Marla, followed by The Michael Fairman Channel’s interview with Marla and Beth Maitland from Y&R’s 45th anniversary celebration referred to during the above conversation.

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Interviews

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy/CBS

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

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

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy/CBS

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

JACQUELINE:  I know, I know.

Photo: JPI

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

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

Because of the social distancing?

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

Photo: Gilles Toucas/Bell-Phillip Television

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

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

Courtesy/CBS

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

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

 

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

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

Courtesy/CBS

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

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

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

Courtesy./CBS

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

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

Courtesy/CBS

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

JACQUELINE:  Aw, that’s so sweet.

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

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

 

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

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

Courtesy/CBS

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

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

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

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B&B’s Jacqueline MacInnes Wood deliver the Power Performance of the Week as Steffy’s drug addiction leads to a confrontation and intervention by her loved ones with dire consequences.  Here is the last seven minutes that featured Emmy-winner Wood at her best. Leave A Comment

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Power Performance

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General Hospital

Airdate: 10-08-2020

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