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Susan Lucci & Co – The Hollywood Christmas Parade Interviews

Susan Lucci

© JPI Studios

It’s that annual tradition in Hollywood where Santa is the real star of the show, and celebrities from film, music, and primetime and daytime television ride in cars and floats to ring in the official start to the holiday season at the Hollywood Christmas Parade. And this year, All My Children’s Susan Lucci was selected as the Parade’s Grand Marshal. The actress attended with her husband Helmut Huber and many notable daytime stars also took part including: Y&R’s Jeanne Cooper, Judith Chapman, Vanessa Marano, Hayley Erin, and Sean Kanan. From B&B: Heather Tom, Jennifer Gareis, John McCook and Lesley Anne-Down. GH brought us Dominic Zamprogna, Julie Berman and John Ingle. In addition, Brothers & Sisters and Dancing with the Stars, Gilles Marini stopped by to speak with On-Air On-Soaps as did Antonio Sabato Jr. A good time was had by all. Associated Television International produced the telecast that will air nationally for the first time on December 10th and again on Christmas Eve on MyNetworkTV!

Listen to the audio:

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SUSAN LUCCI

Susan Lucci

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

Susan, Jim Romanovich at ATI asked me what I thought of Susan Lucci being the Grand Marshal for the Hollywood Christmas Parade because AMC is heading west. I said, “I thought it was a terrific idea.” How does it feel to be the star attraction along with Santa Claus tonight? Will you be hanging with Mr. Claus?

SUSAN:

I will be with Santa Claus tonight, and I tell you I am so very flattered to the City of Los Angeles for asking me, a New York girl to be the Grand Marshal. It was a big gesture and a big welcome to All My Children who is coming out here January 4th.

MICHAEL:

The cast who is heading to Los Angeles to continue with the soap is going to have to say goodbye to cast members & long-time crew members in the coming days before it heads to its new digs. Is it going to be sad for you to say goodbye? You have been with the soap since the beginning, so you have forged many friendships.

SUSAN:

It’s very hard. There is sadness in the studio that has been there. We all said this to each other coming back from Thanksgiving, which is tomorrow, “We are going to feel it more so. It is drawing to a close and the reality does set in.” I love this crew and it really is an ensemble from top to bottom at All My Children. Not to sound corny or cliché, but we are a family and part of us can’t come out here and that is sad. The goodbyes are sad.

MICHAEL:

Your decision to continue with the show meant you were going to be bi-coastal and fly back and forth to tape.

SUSAN:

Yes, I am going to go back and forth, Dancing with the Stars prepared me for that.

MICHAEL:

You worked your butt of on that show!

SUSAN:

Thank you, I did, but I am glad I did. I had the best time and I know now I can do this and handle going back and forth.

MICHAEL:

Ryan, Greenlee and Erica will possibly have a triangle in the New Year. Are you looking forward to that story?

SUSAN:

I have no doubts about that. The Ryan/Erica thing is very new and we have had some fun stuff to play just before Thanksgiving, and certainly Greenlee coming back into the picture will complicate things. I think it might also mean that Jackson may be back, so we can have a lot of complications all the way around

MICHAEL

So, have you seen where you new dressing room might be?

SUSAN:

We have not moved into the studio. I just know where they are. I know it’s under construction and it will be brand new when we get there. I mean, I drove by it and took a glance.

MICHAEL:

We have heard so much about the 40th anniversary show of AMC that is airing in early January. Was it fun having Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos back (Hayley and Mateo)?

SUSAN:

It was so good to have Kelly and Mark back, and Julia Barr (Brooke) came back and Taylor Miller (Nina) came back, and so we had our own little reunion. But the show itself is a very fun format and really good show, and it was lot of fun with us.

JULIE BERMAN AND DOMINIC ZAMPROGNA

© JPI Studios

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

I have not spoken to you since your win at the Daytime Emmys. Where did you put the Emmy?

JULIE:

My Emmy is on a table next to my couch because I don’t have a mantle. I look at it and go, “Wow”. I am still insanely proud and surprised and thrilled.

MICHAEL:

So Dominic, what is going on with Dante and Franco? There is some connection.

DOMINIC:

Yes, it has not aired yet. It is something from my past when he was a rookie cop. I stared at all that “Franco” artwork at the gallery opening a lot. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

How was having James Franco on the show? Did you get to work with him?

DOMINIC:

I was in a scene with him, but not with him, we are in the same area at the same time.

JULIE:

Dominic borrowed his clothes after James was done with them. (Laughs) No. No. I did work with him and it was good. He was pretty normal and he was overworked to an extent, but he was a nice guy.

MICHAEL:

But you have been overworked, too!

JULIE:

No, not like that…not five episodes in a day where I am literally holding the entire day’s worth of material. It was above and beyond what he did.

MICHAEL:

Love is blossoming between Dante and Lulu. Lulu gets a man by her side and inevitably screws it up!

JULIE:

Yeah, I know, but sometimes relationships don’t last in the soap world and sometimes it’s not her fault. Maybe the guy is bad, and maybe she won’t screw it up, but he will.

MICHAEL:

When will we see the reveal to Sonny that Dante is his biological son?

DOMINIC:

I have not filmed that yet, and I know nothing. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

What did you think when you found out you would be playing Maurice Benard’s (Sonny) son on GH?

DOMINIC:

It was a really cool thing. I met him and he was a great guy. He is obviously a legend on this show. He is great to work with.

HAYLEY ERIN AND VANESSA MARANO

Hayley Erin

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MICHAEL:

Are the two of you looking forward to doing the parade wave with your hands?

HAYLEY:

We are super excited. I think our hands are going to hurt pretty badly!

VANESSA:

Actually, it was requested by my sister on her birthday that I due the pageant wave. I was perfecting it a little while ago.

MICHAEL:

Hayley, you are playing the daughter of one of soaps most iconic characters, Victor Newman. Did you know anything about Y&R before you started?

HAYLEY:

Vanessa Marano

© JPI Studios

I started watching the show since I started the audition process for it. Since then, it’s been crazy seeing the giant community that it is. All the actors are incredible, and it’s an honor to be playing Victor Newman’s daughter, but meeting Eric Braeden at first can be intimidating, but he is such a nice guy. You would never know with that stern look on his face. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Was soap veteran Eileen Davidson, who plays your mom Ashley, helpful to you?

HAYLEY:

She was so helpful, and she introduced me to everyone and was my little mentor.

VANESSA:

I have the best group. I am just going to say it, Christian, Greg, Judith. Tracey and Ted, all of them are amazing. It’s a loving group of people who are hysterical. I never expected this to be such a remarkable experience.

MICHAEL:

And you, Vanessa, kiss Kevin Schmidt (Noah) all day long on the show, and poor Abby has no love interest!

HAYLEY:

I have a horse. (Laughs)

VANESSA:

I have kissed Kevin a lot. Whenever I have a scene with Kevin, I don’t have to worry about memorizing lines because we are not doing anything but kissing each other.

CAROLYN HENNESY

Carolyn Hennesy, Asher Book

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

Carolyn, are you going to do the pageant wave from your car/float in the parade?

CAROLYN:

I have my gloves on and am going to do my Queen Elizabeth the second wave, absolutely.

MICHAEL:

I watched GH on Thanksgiving and I almost fell off my chair! That was funny, and I am talking about the scenes with Max and Diane.

CAROLYN:

I was going to say, that might be my Emmy episode.

MICHAEL:

Your hair was messed at the end after having sex on the floor with Max. Do you add all those little nuances to Diane?

CAROLYN:

Yes. I messed my hair and I said, “Can I bring the glove and the plunger in with me? Can I scream off camera and go, “Bring it”… these type of things. I think so wacky and they will reign me in, but if the producers and the directors think it’s a funny bit, they will be the first to jump on board.

ANTONIO SABATO JR.

Antonio Sabato Jr, Family

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MICHAEL:

So your reality show My Antonio ended, and then what happened next for Antonio?

ANTONIO:

My Antonio was over last April and it was good and I had a great time doing it. But after it was over I was single again, and then I met Cheryl and we have been an amazing couple. We have been working through some stuff, but it’s working out.

MICHAEL:

Is he a good guy?

CHERYL:

He is amazing. Good person and good father.

MICHAEL:

Would you back to the soaps?

ANTONIO:

Yes, if they would call me! Put in a good word for me at GH and tell them to call me. They are probably the only ones. I am ready to come back.

JUDITH CHAPMAN

Judith Chapman

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

We have not seen a lot of Gloria lately on Y&R. Where the hell is she?

JUDITH:

Gloria has been so on the back burner, but I think the New Year will bring good things for Gloria, because she always wants her money in the pie, and so I am planning and thinking and hoping and praying. That is what I want for Christmas, not my two front teeth. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Do you ever go to the writing team or the producing team and make suggestions for Gloria in terms of story?

JUDITH:

Once in awhile I do, but I pretty much leave it to the powers-that-be. But I enjoy the time off when I can.

MICHAEL:

You just did another theatre presentation with your all-star soap actor group, The Troubadours of Daytime?

JUDITH:

We just did Night of the Iguana. It was quite the slugfest, and I am actually thinking of doing another show in the spring with a much larger cast in Palm Springs. This one we had Orson Bean, Alley Mills and John McCook, so we are getting more and more names and actors participating.

GILLES MARINI

Gilles Marini, Daughter, Son

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

How was dancing with Daytime Emmy host, Vanessa Williams, during the Emmy broadcast?

GILLES:

You know I worked with Vanessa Williams on Ugly Betty and that was the chance of my life to work with her. The next thing you know, I get this call from Dancing with the Stars and I am telling you my life got so much better. I wish everyone understands that Vanessa is like 23 years old. You dance with her and you feel her body…I mean this is unreal. I dance with 20 year olds and they are nowhere near the shape she is in. Vanessa is professional and she sings, dances and acts. She has got it all. If you ask me who in the entertainment is a complete performer? Vanessa Williams is complete.

MICHAEL:

You have had so much success before and now so much more after Dancing with the Stars? How are you managing it all?

GILLES:

The truth is I never really think about what comes next. In this business, it’s come and go. I want to keep my family and friends. Next to me is my photographer who I met when I was 18 years old. I keep the people with me I trust together with my family. The business is the business, and I work to do my best and I like to make people dream. If they like what I do, then I will be in this business for a long time.

MICHAEL:

What project are you looking most forward to?

GILLES:

I so cannot wait to go back on the set of Brothers & Sisters. I mean Sally Field…I mean who else on TV has this powerful a cast? They have a gay relationship on the show that people did not go, “Ooh”. They made it happen in a way that it is accepted.

HEATHER TOM

Heather Tom

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

What do you feel thankful for and how do you feel going into the New Year about our country, and the state of the soap genre? I know I am throwing a lot into this question. (Laughs)

HEATHER:

There is still a lot to be thankful for. I wake up everyday and am thankful I have a job to go to and that this genre still exists. I am grateful to our fans and the people that support us. I think our country is slowly turning around and hopefully we can get some health care legislation passed and hopefully that will be something to be grateful for, or at least 35 million people will be thankful for.

MICHAEL:

On B&B into the New Year, will we continue to see Bill and Katie as a couple? Or will that be short term, as many B&B couplings tend to be?

HEATHER:

I hope so, and I think Don is on the same page with me. I want to keep them going regardless of whatever wrenches get thrown into the mix. I always think it’s more interesting to see a couple work through their bad times. I want to see them work things out as a couple.

MICHAEL:

But, Bill was hiding the truth of this kiss planted on him by Steffy. How is Katie going to react when the truth comes out and she confronts Steffy? Is she going to throw things?

HEATHER:

Those were fun scenes, and I did not throw things at all. I think she believes Bill when he tells her nothing happened between them, but I think the way she deals with Steffy is a completely different issue.

MICHAEL:

Last week’s Malibu remote, where Ann Douglas played by Betty White dies, were some very special B&B episodes! What did you think of those?

HEATHER:

I thought they were so pretty and everything worked really well, and it shows what you can really do on daytime, if you want to. I think even though they were remotes, we did 60 pages that day. I think you can still do great work.

xmas-3

© JPI Studios

Days Of Our Lives

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

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

Photo: TOLN

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

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

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Interviews

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

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

 

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

Photo: Gilles Toucas

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

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

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

 

 

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Interviews

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

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

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

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

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

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

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

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

Wait, what?

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

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

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

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

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

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

Photo: Broadway World

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

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

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

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

Photo: Broadway World

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

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

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

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

Courtesy/ENelsen

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

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

How long was it open on Broadway?

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

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

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

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

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

Photo: Prospect Park

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

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

Photo: LANYEntertainment

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

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

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

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

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

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

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

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

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

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

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

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

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

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

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