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Gay Year in Soaps: Chappell Soap Newsmaker of the Year!

Thom Bierdz

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

With its high drama, convoluted plots, and beauty and brawn, gay men and women have followed daytime soap operas for years, but it was 2009 that truly changed the soap landscape for the LGBT community.   Five network soaps featured same-sex storylines, and each in its own way (some more successful than others) brought the issues of equality, coming out, same-sex marriage, and tolerance to the forefront: As the World Turns continued telling the relationship of Luke and Noah.  One Life to Live told us the coming out story of Officer Oliver Fish, with openly gay actor Scott Evans in the role. They also gave Fish a love interest, Kyle, and the duo became known as Kish. The Young and the Restless brought back Thom Bierdz 20 years later as Phillip Chancellor.  Bierdz, also openly gay, returned to the series for the chance to play a gay version of Phillip, who returns home to confront family and friends with the truth of who he is after living in self-exile. The number one soap also introduced us to gay legal eagle Rafe Torres, who gets seduced by the machinations of “straight” man.

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Courtesy/ABC

But what’s ahead for the boys in 2010?  One Life’s head writer, Ron Carlivati, spoke to us exclusively about Kish. “2009 was all about introducing this couple and getting them together. It will culminate by New Year’s Eve, when they have sex!  As we go into 2010 with the couple solid and committed to each other, it’s about integrating them into one of our bigger mainstreams stories, which is Stacy’s baby, and the audience knows that Fish is the biological father!  Anything can happen once that baby is born and they are an important part of that.”  Carlivati feels the Kish storyline exceeded his expectations. “I always say without a Luke and Noah, I could not have done a Kyle and Fish.  We did a coming out story, and got to touch on the issue of gay marriage and do it with sort of a fun twist with Dorian.  I am glad the audience seemed to respond to it.”  Speaking of Luke and Noah, brace yourself… because the end is near for this beloved duo. It was announced a few weeks ago that As the World Turns has been cancelled as of September of 2010.  But until then, we are told there is plenty on the horizon as we move into the New Year.  Luke and Noah’s relationship continues to be tested.  Noah is still blind, and Luke is pulling out all the stops to get him the help he needs, at all costs.  So, enter Dr. Reid Oliver.  Could the new doc be gay and a spoiler for the boys?  Watch, starting January 19th.

Crystal Chappell

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

On the ladies side, All My Children wrapped up the misfired Bianca and Reese storyline, which at its center had featured soap’s first same-sex wedding ceremony, and Guiding Light gave us Otalia, who became the most popular soap couple of the decade.  The plot: two women previously heterosexual fall in love… with each other.  It was this journey that captivated gay and straight fans around the world.  And even though they never were allowed to kiss, up until Guiding Light went off the air this past September, the duo played by Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia had become a cult phenomenon.

Chappell, knowing that the legions of gay fans she had cultivated were ripe for something more than one could show through daytime network television, created Venice, a web-soap which as its core features a same-sex love story. Venice premiered earlier this month, and can be seen via subscription on the series website www.venicetheseries.com, with a new episode posted every Friday.  Venice had over 24 million hits since September.  It is so popular that the series needed four additional servers to handle the web traffic!  It is because of her unwavering commitment to tell people our story, and her tremendous mainstream media profile that has brought awareness to same-sex issues, that Frontiers-IN LA has named Crystal, Soap Newsmaker of the Year. In this special year-end Q&A, Crystal previews Venice in 2010 and discusses her return to Days of our Lives, where she has stepped back into the part that made her soap-famous in the first place, Dr. Carly Manning!

To download the print version of this Frontiers-In LA feature click here.

Going into the New Year for Gina on Venice, what can web fans look forward to?

Crystal Chappell:

Gina will meet somebody new… Kit Tracy played by Lesli Kay.  She is from London and it’s somebody Gina had met before and she takes a shine to her.  Then there is Ani, who has met somebody, Lara.  But the two of them are still connected, and still coming together and trying to figure out what their relationship is.  They have not completely broken things off.  Also, you will meet Gina’s father.  In the New Year that is what you will be seeing; the reason why Gina has the enormous intimacy issues that she has, and the reason she can’t be with Ani.  The part is played brilliantly by Jordan Clarke. Season one should play out through mid- February, and hopefully, when we shoot season two, we can get it out sometime in mid- March.

Do you hope that, we the audience, root for Gina and Ani to get together, as the LGBT audience rooted for Otalia on GL?

Crystal Chappell, Jessica Leccia

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Ani and Gina have that connection that only happens once in awhile.  It’s easy and they get each other flaws and all.  It’s very accepting and very loving.   It’s other things that are keeping them apart.  In some ways, it’s bittersweet that something broken in one person can stop something beautiful from growing.  Obviously, Ani gets tired of waiting around so she moves forward, too, and it’s the journey of it. I think people will have to watch and see the different dynamics between these couples and see what strikes them.

We are celebrating your achievements as a heterosexual woman who has done so much for the gay community in the past year, and the awareness you have made of our issues.  You have really been one of the celebrity newsmakers of the year for us. What do you feel about that, as the year is coming to an end?

I have always considered this as a privilege.   I believe in love.  I believe in equality, and to me it was a wonderful opportunity to show the world that we are all the same, and to be able to do it in a creative way that is fulfilling.  It’s been amazing!  I am happy to represent their voices, and it continues to be important to do that.

When you returned to DAYS and decided to revisit the character of Carly, has it been all you had hoped for?

I try not to create too many expectations.  I like to be present and open to the experience and certainly this is very different, because I am much more comfortable as an actress than I was 16 years ago.  They brought Carly back with flaws, which is so much more fun to play, and I am not afraid to play them anymore.   As a younger actress, for fear of being disliked, I would not just go for it.  Now, after ten years of playing Olivia on Guiding Light, I was like, “Well, what else could they throw it at me?”

So, all the times back in the 90’s as Carly, when you were emoting all over the place, that was tough for you?

It was very hard for me!  I did not feel comfortable in my own skin, as a person and as an actress.  So it became very technical for me.  My experience over the years as an actor (now that I have gotten older and wiser, hopefully) is to find a more authentic kind of performance. You have to live with these characters you play, and be comfortable with them… the good and the bad.  So on GL, when Olivia was trying to run down Ava with her car, I had to justify her reasons to do that, and you have to go to those dark places.  Olivia taught me a lot about being open to all choices.  Coming back to DAYS, I felt very excited and free to take on this new Carly.

Crystal Chappell, Peter Reckell

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

What can we look forward to from Carly in 2010?

There is so much that happens in 2010.  And that is one of the things I love about this show. You have to watch or you are going to miss it.  Eventually, she does get reconnected to a few people… the father of her daughter, and she gets closer to Bo and that takes an interesting turn, and Vivian is still trying to kill her!

I hear there is a horrible thing that Vivian is going to do.  Last time she did something dreadful.  She buried Carly alive!

It will happen at the beginning of February sweeps. The bottom line is, Lawrence wanted the child dead and Vivian is in Salem to carry out his wishes to make Carly suffer!

Did you know when you signed on to play Carly you would have an older daughter?

Yes, I knew.  Gary Tomlin (DAYS Co-EP) told me that back in June or July.  So they had this pretty well thought out.  I don’t mind being a soap mom, I really don’t.

Well, ATWT’s Eileen Fulton (Lisa) had a clause in her contract that she could never become a soap grandmother!

I get that to a point; you know how it is in soap land.   People are 8 years old one day and 25 the next.  So what difference does it make?  (Laughs)

Crystal Chappell

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

How is flip-flopping in the romance department; making out with a girl on Venice and being hot and heavy with a guy on DAYS?  Any difficulty with that?

I can kiss just about anything! (Laughs).

What would you say is one of the top ten reasons to watch DAYS and Venice?

DAYS –It’s action packed drama, and it moves and it’s exciting.  Venice– It’s sexy and romantic.

What is husband Michael Sabatino, saying about your double duty on DAYS and Venice?

“Where the hell is my wife?” God love him.  He has been so patient.  He knows how much Venice means to me and he is a supportive person, but on occasion he has looked at me and gone, “I am lonely.”   He knows it’s important for everyone involved, and the fans that have been waiting for it.  This has all been the preparation for it, and I am really thinking season two of Venice can go much smoother and we will have a little more time for our family.  God willing!

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Sabrina
Sabrina

awesome post. love Crystal and hope Michael will be less lonely but we still get what we luv to see on Venice going strong!

OtaliaRocks
OtaliaRocks

Crystal has been fantastic this year, and she is a great person to have on our side. One thing though.. Days.. Hmmm.. I’m watching to support her (although being from Team International I am not having any effect on the viewing figures) but, I have to say the quality of writing, acting etc is nothing compared to Guiding Light. I am glad she is having a good time being back there though, and lets face it, in this day and age, employment is good!!

kelltwomyn
kelltwomyn

Thank you, Michael, for the wonderful interview! Crystal deserves many honors for all of her hard work and dedication..and that’s just the fan aspect! She works hard in all areas of her life and we really appreciate that. Bless Michael S. and their boys for being patient.

Valluv1
Valluv1

Crystal always gives a good interview and i love that she’s not afraid to speak up for equality for all. She has worked really hard this year and with episode 3 of venice out her hard work is showing. I thank her husband and children for lending her to us for a while and if i was him i’d miss her to.

Gail Hemenway
Gail Hemenway

Michael, could you please refer to acceptance rather than tolerance? Really, who wants to tolerated? To tolerate essentially means “to put up with”. I think most people would rather be accepted for who they are. To merely be tolerated still leaves one on the outside, on the fringe of humanity. Loved your interview with Crystal. I agree she has done so much. As have you.

maksam3
maksam3

I hope 2010 is an even better year for Crystal Chappell. She’s amazing to all her fans. Politicians could learn a thing or two from her.

Greetings from a Hot South Africa. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

PJ
PJ

Crystal Chappell is the best straight ally the lesbian community world-wide has ever had, and we are so grateful. She is smart, talented, articulate, and hilarious. Venice is a gift from her great big heart to ours. I am also enjoying CC playing Dr. Carly Manning on Days. She is among our most talented actresses. I’d love to see her perform with Meryl Streep! I think CC is certainly the same caliber of actress as Streep and others. I am a grateful and loyal fan.

tvcat
tvcat

Thanks for the interview with the always entertaining Crystal Chappell. She is such a wonderful actress and loves the soap world and the people that love soaps. So refreshing she reached out to her fans this year through the on line media. It was a lot of fun getting to know her at least a bit that way.

buggy
buggy

I think Crystal is a dynamic performer and extremely smart woman! However, her commitment to her fans is one of things that I personally find the most heartening about her. I wish her luck and hope she finds the right balance between her work and family.

irishgirl27
irishgirl27

Thank You Michael for sharing your Goddess with us!

Leslie
Leslie

Gotta love Crystal Chappell!!! She can kiss just about anything…lol Were is the line or do I have to take a number?? Muuaah!!

willie robinson
willie robinson

i hear about crystal chappell all time, when can i hear something about how wonderful jessicia leccia is and is is young beautiful and very talented!!!!

Amber
Amber

I certainly hope that Crystal and Michael are blessed with more time for family and each other. They deserve that. CC has been, in my opinion, the best and hardest working ally for the LGBT community this year. A wonderful and blessed New Year to Crystal and all of Team Venice.

Btw, Crystal kissing anything?…I’m with Leslie….where’s the line for that?

Ashley
Ashley

I believe this will be a big year for Crystal and her fans! Always excited to hear about what she’s doing next. All of her nominations and awards for 2009 are well deserved. ….btw CBS is the scum of the earth.

Happy New Year!

Breaking News

Peter Reckell On The Passing Of DAYS Peggy McCay: “Looking in Peggy’s Eyes, All I Could See Was A Mom Who Loved Me, And Wanted The Best For Me.”

Over the last week, actors, colleagues, and fans have paid tribute and shared their remembrances of Days of our Lives’ Peggy McCay (Caroline Brady) who passed away at the age of 90.

One of Peggy’s most cherished and longtime scene partners was none other than Peter Reckell, who played the iconic Bo Brady, and was Caroline’s son.  This on-screen mother/son duo shared a bond like no other in Salem.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

This weekend, Peter shared his thoughts on working with the Emmy-winning actress, who was also nominated four times for a Daytime Emmy, by taking to social media on the loss of the matriarch of the Brady clan.

Peter expressed via his tweet:  “I was so fortunate to have worked with some amazing actors that shaped the actor and person I am .Looking in Peggy’s eyes, all I could see was a Mom who loved me, and wanted the best for me. She was always so committed to the story.Those sparkling eyes RIP”

After a fan put together a tribute of Bo and Caroline scenes through the years on You Tube and shared it with Reckell, he responded back with: “This is beautiful! Brought back so many wonderful memories. She truly was a powerful, loving presence, I miss her so much. Thanks for putting this together for all of us who love her. Lots of love.”

Watch the tribute made by Angie Evangelia below, then let us know your favorite Bo and Caroline through the years on DAYS via the comment section below.

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Breaking News

DAYS Stars Pay Tribute & Share Remembrances Of Peggy McCay

Over the last 24 hours, cast members and colleagues past and present of Peggy McCay (Caroline Brady) have taken to social media to share their sorrow and their memories of this great and beloved actress who passed away a few days ago at the age of 90.

Here is just a sampling of the heartfelt tributes from many longtime castmates and more who cherished their time with Peggy below.

Eric Martsolf (Brady) : RIP Peggy McCay. Feisty, witty, and not an unkind bone throughout her body. She was warm to me when I first entered the hallways of DOOL, and made every word she was given poetry. I will miss this true lady of daytime.

Alison Sweeney (Sami): Every day working with Peggy was a win. She had such an incredibly colorful & often hilarious history in tv. I was so lucky to hear her stories. She was feisty, funny & ever so talented. She was very much a grandmother to me and will miss her so much. #rip

Deidre Hall (Marlena) : “Our dearest Peggy McCay has left us. She was a friend, an activist and a real scrapper!!  I remember meeting her at the bedside of a dear, very ill friend. I backed her up as she ferociously took on doctors and nurses to make sure he had the very best care. She fought that hard for all her causes. Passionate and tireless.  And how she loved being “Caroline”!! Days of our Lives

Billy Flynn (Chad): “Just heard Peggy took her Final bow. RIP love…you’re a star forever!”

Galen Gering (Rafe): “So sad to hear about the passing of . She was fierce & firey with the heart of a lion yet could be as soft as a petal. I always looked forward to our scenes together, eager to see what kind of spontaneous thing she’d do. She was loved & adored & will be missed.”

Kristian Alfonso (Hope): “Peggy #thankyou for all of your #kindness , #love & encouragement through the years . #loveu Rest In Peace”

Greg Meng (Co-EP, DAYS): “I feel so blessed to have known her, and worked with her… she was an animal lover… a superb actor… had an interest in fashion… fascinated in anything creative… inquisitive, supportive… and she was ageless. Not just an inspiration but a FIRECRACKER! Lucky me, lucky us… thank you, Peggy.”

Ryan Quan: RIP Peggy McCay. She was as warm, friendly, and spunky in person as she was on screen. One of my favorite recent Caroline scenes was her speech at Will and Sonny’s wedding… Peggy’s performance was amazing. She will be missed!

Mary Beth Evans: (Kayla): Oh how I loved this woman! Her strength & professionalism was like no other! She set such an amazing standard for all of us….as actors & people. She will always be the  & soul of the Brady family & she lives on in Salem and in our hearts.

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Breaking News

Days of our Lives Peggy McCay Passes Away

One of the greatest actresses, and one of Days of our Lives most beloved cast member, Peggy McCay (Caroline Brady) has passed away.

According to reports, Peggy passed away in her sleep on October 7 at the age of 90 of natural causes.  Peggy’s close friend, Denise Kiel Smith broke the news on social media on Twitter relating: “To all of Peggy McCay’s dear friend and family I have some sad news…  Peggy passed peacefully in her sleep of natural causes Sunday morning at 1:00 am. She always appreciated you, her loyal fans, for all of the love and support that you gave her throughout the years. Peggy enjoyed a lifelong career of acting in television and movies. She loved working at Days of Our Lives nearly to the end. Acting and animal rescue were her passions in life. If you would like to show your support please visit the Kitty Bungalow, Peggy’s favorite charity, at Kitty Bungalow.”

One of the greats in her field; Peggy was nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress  category at the Daytime Emmy Awards for her performances as Caroline Brady 4 times. However, Peggy won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a drama series for her work in the The Trials of Rosie O’Neill.

DAYS fans have missed Peggy on-screen for the last few years.  The last time she appeared on-screen was in late August of 2016.  McCay originated the role of the Brady matriarch in 1983.

Throughout the last 24 hours, fans, cast members, and co-workers of the beloved Peggy have taken to social media to share their remembrances and grief and love for this talented powerhouse performer.  We will share many of those with you in a post to come.

Share your condolences and remembrances of Peggy as Caroline on DAYS in the comment section below.

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Video du Jour

This weekend we mourn the loss of General Hospital’s beloved Susan Brown who played Gail Baldwin. Here is her final scene from 2004 when Gail and her husband Lee (the late Peter Hansen) showed up at Lila’s funeral and had an exchange with Alan and Monica. Share your thoughts on Susan’s passing via the link below. Leave A Comment

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