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Jonathan Jackson Talks Avery’s Love Quandary, Saying Goodbye To ‘Nashville’ & If He Would Return To General Hospital

Photo: JJacksonInstagram

With just three weeks before the series finale of CMT’s Nashville, Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) finds himself in a major conundrum.  The woman he has loved and had a child with, Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panetierre) has returned home after escaping a cult compound, just as Avery has opened himself up to the start of a new relationship with Alannah (Rainee Blake).  After not hearing from Juliette, added to the many times he felt she abandoned him and their child, will a betrayed and hurt Avery want to find a way to patch up their relationship … or try to keep Alannah by his side?

Michael Fairman TV chatted with five-time Daytime Emmy winner, Jonathan Jackson to get the lowdown on what transpired over the last few episodes and how it may end for Avery, as we inch closer and closer to having to say farewell to the Music City drama.

Since Nashville wrapped its sixth and final season a few months back, General Hospital fans have been wondering and hoping, if now is the time that Jackson would return to his role as the beloved Lucky Spencer, the son of Luke (Tony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis). Jackson originated the role in 1993 and stayed with the series till 1999.  He next returned in 2009 for a few years, then left again, and was cast on Nashville.  Jonathan made a special return in 2015 to appear in a storyline that reunited him on-screen with Geary one final time, before the soap icon retired from the show.  In this interview, Jackson addresses a return, some of his favorite moments of all-time on GH, what he learned from Tony and Genie, and more.

Those that follow Jackson are aware that his talent knows no bounds.  He is also focused on his music career, and his band Enation, which has been building on its success, playing recent sold out shows in Europe, while Jackson also had been on the final Nashville tour performing with the cast.  So, buckle up!  The next step in Jackson’s career will be one to watch.  Now, check out our insightful and heartfelt conversation below.

Avery is caught in a compromising position by Juliette, when she walks in while Avery is making out with Alannah, who has just has taken her top off.   What goes on in Avery’s mind at that point?  Is it, “Oh, no! I’m busted!” (Laughs)

JONATHAN:  It’s all sorts of things.  There is the visceral reaction, and then in his mind trying to figure what to do.  It’s sort of awkward, because they are in her house and her photos are everywhere (Laughs).  However clumsily and strange it is, he is trying to move on and get a life together with someone, and yet deep down he still has feeling for Juliette, which is mixed with anger and all of that.  He is having all different confusing conflicting emotions, all at the same time, and for Alannah as well.  It’s kind of a mess!

Courtesy/CMT

By the end of this week’s episode, viewers saw Avery and Juliette start to talk, with Avery letting her know just how he feels about her leaving him, and that he has decided to move out.  All Juliette is asking is that he keeps talking to her.  As Nashville moves toward its conclusion, the big question for the character of Avery will be … who is he going to end up with, if anyone?  I would assume many longtime fans would be rooting for Avery and Juliette, because they have gone through so much together.

JONATHAN:  Yes.  However, I have been receiving messages from fans, and talking to fans on tour, and they are slightly conflicted, too.  There is a lot of love for Avery and Juliette, but there is also frustration around the whole thing, and that they want Avery to move on and be happy. 

Courtesy/CMT

Where is Avery at with his relationship with Alannah?  He was getting close to her, and now she is attempting to put distance between them since Juliette resurfaced.

JONATHAN:  It’s difficult to pinpoint where Avery is at right at this moment.  There is a lot going on, and a lot of it is rooted in the fact that he went to Bolivia to try and bring Juliette home, and when she refused him that was so devastating for him.  The Alannah relationship snuck up on him. In some sense his heart is still attached to Juliette, but his mind is telling him it’s over, and that she is gone.  Avery and Alannah are connected to each other on a certain level.  It surprised both of them.  I think he has genuine feelings for her, but it’s also him pushing himself to move on from Juliette, which is something he has not been able to do.

Without Alannah, the band flounders with Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Avery, and then there is the health situation with Will (Chris Carmack).  Alannah’s presence really put a kink in Gunnar and Avery’s friendship.  She stared out with one guy, and was on her way to being with another.

JONATHAN:  Gunnar and Avery are really good friends and care about each other a lot, and it is certainly an awkward moment in their friendship.   In terms of the band, they lose Will who has been through this health crisis, and then Alannah.  The music components are kind of imploding and they are just trying to hold on to their friendship, and not have that implode along with the band.

Courtesy/CMT

Brad (Jeff Nordling) is making advances towards Alannah, and she originally tells Avery about it.  What does he think of the situation?  Now, she may do whatever Jeff wants her to do to get ahead in the music biz, since Juliette came back into Avery’s life.

JONATHAN:  I think Avery is trying to be supportive of Alannah.  It was a little bit of a blow for her to leave the band, but he generally wants to support her.  Avery has this instinct to be protective, as well.  He kind of has to hold himself back a little bit and not complain too much. He knows Alannah is an independent person, and may not want his help.  With the situation with Brad, Avery is aware of it, but she is walking into that in her own way.  It’s a moment for Avery to sort of step back and trust her that this is how she wants to go about her career.

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Did you know Rainee Blake was going to be your potential love interest this season? Did you screen-test with her?

JONATHAN:  We did not screen-test together.  I think relatively earlier on I heard that this might happen, but it is one of those things were you never really know.  Often times, the writers and the producers bide their time and see how things develop as a couple, and how the audience responds to the on-screen chemistry.  You never really know if it’s going to materialize.  I actually did like how Avery and Alannah started to connect on the tour bus several episodes ago. The audience got a tease of a different side of Alannah, and Avery kind of brought that out.  Rainee was great to work with.

Courtesy/CMT

You have gotten the opportunity as Avery to tug on the heartstrings, as a dad raising his little girl, Cadence, all by himself, with a the runaway mother who never shows up.  How was the journey working with Hayden Panetierre?  You two had to battle, bicker, fight, and had to play all these ups and downs together to make the story work over many seasons of Nashville.

JONATHAN:   It was really amazing, and for me that is one of the things I will miss most about working on the show, and that is working with Hayden.  It’s such an interesting thing when you work with people for so many years, and all of the emotional ups and downs that the characters go through.  Often times, we would be doing a lot of intense and emotional scenes, but for whatever reason, we would find a way to have a lot of fun and find the humor when we are doing those.  I have a lot of love and respect for Hayden.  I think she is incredibly talented. We both started off in soap operas (Hayden was Lizzie on Guiding Light) and thus had a certain approach to our work, and our work ethic.  For me, it’s always a highlight in my career when I get to work with somebody that the scene is already great, because of the person you are working with.  We would constantly share ideas back and forth between us.  The thing about working on Nashville was the friendships we developed in the cast, especially going on tour with the cast and to experience all of that with everybody else.

Courtesy/CMT

What happened when you found out that this sixth and final season of Nashville would be its last?  Did you have any idea that this was coming down the pike when you wrapped season 5? 

JONATHAN:  No.  I don’t think anybody knew when we wrapped season 5.  We did not know till right before everybody else that this was going to be the last season.  We were in production maybe halfway through season 6.  I think that it helped having that time to adjust, and it gave us some time for reflection.  It really did help in a sense, because you know other shows they might wrap a month, or two later, and it’s over.  You don’t get to say goodbye, but we really did.  We got to say our goodbyes.

Courtesy/CMT

I can imagine that was heartbreaking.  When you think of the rollercoaster ride you and the cast had been through together which included: the cancellation by ABC, then the show coming back on CMT, only for it to be cancelled again, it’s quite a lot to deal with and not knowing if there is job security.  Do you recall your last day on the set?

JONATHAN:  I do remember it very well.  There were a lot of beautiful moments with people, and having so much love for the crew and so many amazing people that worked on the show.  We wrapped on April 10th and then we flew to the U.K. on the 12th   It was two days later that the tour started.  Even though filming was over, we were on a plane and then on a bus together, which was really good for all of us.  I know it was for me to have another ending.  In some ways, the end of the tour was even more emotional, because that really felt it was the end.

Photo Credit: CMT

Do you think there were more stories to tell on Nashville … or, do you think the series is going off the air when it should, as the stories can tend to get repetitive on any long-running series? Do you think this was the right time for Nashville to say goodbye?

JONATHAN:  I don’t know how other people’s perspectives are about it, but I know from my perspective, I think we told the story that was there to be told for these characters.  That is sort of the bittersweet reality of it.  It’s painful to say goodbye to a lot of people that I had become very close to, but at the same time, there was a sense of peace about it.  It really did feel like the right time.

What can you say tease about how Nashville concludes? The series finale airs on July 26.

JONATHAN:  One of the hardest things about being in a long form series; whether it be in the primetime format, or the daytime format, is often times the lack of resolution that takes place. You are pertually in Act 2 and in all the drama.  So, knowing that the show was over, allowed the writers to approach everything from the perspective of the end, and Act 3.  Certain storylines have resolution, and others are left open-ended.  There is a good overall balance from the writers of what the audience is going to experience with the end of the show.

Courtesy/ABC

I produced the General Hospital 55th anniversary tribute package for this year’s Daytime Emmys.  I remember looking at some of your storylines and touching performances all over again that still hold up to this day.  One in particular was Lucky pulling tough love on Luke (Tony Geary) during his father’s intervention.  Lucky is such a valuable character on the canvas.  Would you consider going back to GH? 

JONATHAN:  My perspective on that is; I don’t really put that off the table.  I really don’t have plans to do that, because after coming off six years on a series, that is a lot.  I am definitely looking for other projects that have an Act 1, 2, and 3, that happen a little sooner than Nashville did.  I always have going back to GH on the table, because it’s like a family for me.  I have always said that that even when I left in the 90’s; that GH would be something I would come back to.  But, I am very committed and excited about what is happening with Enation, and excited about some other projects that are out there on the acting front. I don’t see going back to GH in the near future, but I never write it off.

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When you last returned you did come back to be part of Tony Geary’s exit.

JONATHAN: Yes, yes, which I was really happy to be a part of.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Still years later, when you think of all the stories you portrayed as Lucky, is there one, or two that stand out to you among the rest?

JONATHAN:   There are many.  There were a lot of stories, and the writers wrote so much material, and that is a double-edged sword.  It’s great to have, but it was so much that I really couldn’t continue. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: ABC

I remember saying to you years ago, “You cry so well on camera. They are going to keep expecting you to cry, and they will be throwing scripts like that to you every day!”

JONATHAN:  And that is exactly what happened!   But for me, it’s the moments with the co-stars that I will always carry with me.  There are endless ones in my memory with Tony Geary. “The intervention” was certainly one of those moments.  I had those moments as well with Tyler Christopher (Ex-Nikolas, now Stefan, DAYS), and Becky Herbst (Elizabeth).  I remember having these scenes with Maurice Benard (Sonny) when scenes on the soaps were much longer.  And of course, earlier on, with Genie Francis (Laura) as well.  I feel like as an artist, I was really formed by Tony and Genie’s presence and observing them and watching how they worked.  I asked so many questions to them as I really wanted to learn.  They really protected me in so many ways, and yet gave me the freedom to try to find my own way through a whole process as well.  Those are the things that really jump out at me, as well as working through the scenes prior to filming, especially with Tony.  He and I would go pretty deep with what we were trying to figure out; what the scenes were, and what they were about, and how to approach it.  That part of the process was really memorable to me.  The unique thing I think in this industry for me was that I started at 11-years-old and got to come back to the show in my mid-20’s, and got to have that connection with another actor, and explore this father and son relationship.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I don’t think, and I really mean this, that there has been a father/son relationship on television like Luke and Lucky’s.   It was so multi-faceted.   Have you stayed in touch with Tony?

JONATHAN:  We definitely stay in touch.  Again, when I left General Hospital, I did not know if anything like that would happen again in my career where I would form sort of long-lasting friendships with people.  Most of the time you do a film and you get to know some people, and you go your separate ways, and that’s just how it is.  So I was really grateful for Nashville, because I feel like we were able to have those long-lasting relationships. I can’t really put into words my relationship with Tony.  It’s just a lot of love and gratitude, and respect that I have for him.

Courtesy/JJacksonInstagram

Meanwhile, your music career is very exciting of late.  Last month, you played the Royal Albert Hall in London with your band, Enation.  How was that experience?

JONATHAN:  It was amazing.  I went overseas with the Nashville tour and then Enation did a couple of shows, and then we opened for Echo & the Bunnymen.  The last gig on that tour was at Royal Albert Hall.  I have loved Echo & the Bunnymen for such a long time, and so this was wonderful for us.

Will Enation be touring more coming up?  

JONATHAN:  We are looking to go back to Europe later this year, or the spring of next year, and are working out those details.  We are going to be touring in the United States later on this year.

Photo: JJacksonInstagram

Did your wife Lisa (Ex-Hannah, GH) meet up with you on this recent European tour?

JONATHAN: The Nashville tour ended in Ireland, and then my wife and kids came over for the last two shows there. Then, got to go around Ireland for a couple of weeks and drive around, and it was fun.

Did you notice a difference between the European music fans of Nashville as opposed to those in the U.S.?

JONATHAN:  Yes, and no.  One of the things I have noticed playing over there is that the distinction in musical genres isn’t quite as a sharp as it is in the U.S.  Over there, the radio seems to play a lot different kinds of music.  So, it was a pretty seamless transition for a lot of the people that came to the Nashville show.   We see a slight difference in the music fan base, and it mainly has to do with that they may go to a country show one week, and a couple of weeks later go to a rock concert, and not think twice about the genre.  It’s just they are looking for good music.

Courtesy/JJacksonInstagramm

Hard to believe we are turning the page on another great character played by Jonathan Jackson as Nashville heads towards its finale.  What would you like to say to the fans, the #Nashies, who have loved, and have stuck with show every step of the way?

JONATHAN:  Just a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for all the support, especially when the show was cancelled.  CMT saw the enthusiasm and support from the fans here and internationally, and that was a huge part for us to be able to get the last few seasons.  It has really meant a lot to us creatively to write that 3rd act, sort of speak, and have that sense of closure. I also would just say to the fans that have come out to the Nashville concerts as well, that it has meant so much.  We feel like we have had some beautiful moments with everybody, and so I am very grateful for that.

So, what do you think will happen to Avery at the end of Nashville?  Do you want him to end up with Juliette, Alannah, or by himself? Should GH try to lure Jonathan back to the his role as Lucky Spencer? Comment below!

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Jimh
Jimh

He is better off staying away from GH…doubt the would write for him anyway..GH is becoming a whole new soap…may as well write out the entire Spencer family…once Lulu is gone like her or not FV will have room for even more newbies-new character refresh the soaps and are needed but this soap goes overboard and alienates many of us long time fans…i get you got to attract younger viewers to keep the show going for many more years but you dont anger the viewers you got at the moment-plenty of room to tell stories for all ages…Prediction if FV and writers do not turn this soap around it will be cancelled in 2020!!!

James R. Poissant
James R. Poissant

I have the same thoughts you have, Jim.

Iindie
Iindie

I agree with you. I have been watching GH for 40 years. TBTB are not good to fans or vets. I LOVE JJ but the show would not do him justice with the writing. He is too talented. He won’t come back.

David
David

Bobby, Carly and Lucas are Spencer’s as well.

Jimh
Jimh

I actually meant Laura’s immediate family and not inlaws

rebecca1
rebecca1

Excellent post, Jimh! It’s true; they do need (and should) bring in younger characters but not at the expense (literally and figuratively) of losing our GH vets! They have gotten rid of so many…I think the “mature” actors should get together and publicly “question” why that is.

Jimh
Jimh

You know i watch Coronation Street-a very successful British soap…it features characters of different age groups…yound, middle-aged and older…something for everyone-our soaps should be more like that..well, Y&R does(and uses most of its vets while mixing in younger characters) and why it remains number one!!!!

rebecca1
rebecca1

Funny; that’s the one I don’t watch. Tuned in for a bit to see Justin Hartley and Jason Thompson but didn’t keep up with it. I got hooked on Days and B&B in the last, maybe, two years? Something like that. Like them both. Since I’ve only watched them a short time I don’t know if they weeded out older characters.

As for GH, it’s never going to be what it was; just too many characters and the actors that played them gone. When I see the old clips a tide of nostalgia washes over me. But, it is what it is. I’m still glad GH is on the air and get into what we do have left. It’ll be a sad day when the curtain comes down.

dmr
dmr

The show has been decimated. Jonathan is better off staying far away from Port Charles.

Gigi
Gigi

Thanks for the great interview with Jonathan!

Nancy Chandler
Nancy Chandler

COME BACK TO GH

Violet Lemm
Violet Lemm

I have loved him on both shows, playing such different parts, and would love to have him back on GH.’I wish him well, in whatever he decides to do.
I also remember watching Hayden as a little girl on GL, with her mass of curly blonde hair.

Violet Lemm
Violet Lemm

I have so enjoyed Nashville. Could not watch for a while after Rayna died, but am glad I started again,to see it to the end. I loved all the characters too numerous to mention, especially Deacon, Scarlett and the girls. A wonderful bonus having Ronny Cox towards the end. I’ve missed seeing him over the years, and this father, son relationship brought some tears. Wonderful cast, will miss the show.

Susan
Susan

Speaking of Nashville and GH…did anyone else think Deacon’s father reminded them of Mike, Sonny’s father?

Patti Christopherson
Patti Christopherson

I would Love to see Jonathan back on GH but that would be Selfish on my part. Only 1 Spencer left.I do have to say the one scene that Tony Geary ( Luke ) did. When he thought Lucky died. He said ” I thought I taught my Son everything, but I forgot to tell him to blow out candles. The Spencer’s will always have a place in my Heart.Which has been over 40+ Years. Looking for to hearing his band❤

Annalee
Annalee

JJ is a wonderful actor! My hope for “Avery” is he stays with Juliette 2.0 (lol…she does seem chill after the Columbia experience) especially now that she is pregnant…and they live happily ever after……. And Scene….

Tessa
Tessa

I had no idea Nashville kept going after ABC cancelled it. I would have been watching ! What station is CMT ? Is it on in Los Angeles I have Direct TV? I loved Jonathan Jackson as Avery and loved him as Lucky . Had no idea he had a band . Only time I listened to country music and enjoyed it was on Nashville and cross over country on pop stations . Would love to see finale . Last time I saw it the plane Juliette was on blew up I thought she had died . What happened how did she survive that ? Can I find the seasons I missed somewhere ?

Lee
Lee

You should be able to see the last 2 seasons on Hulu or buy them from iTunes. Nashville is on CMT on Thursday nights at 9 Pacific. You can find out more about the band at enationhq.com.

rebecca1
rebecca1

Try 327 or call your cable company. Not sure if they’ll still be showing it or if you’ll have to pay. Sometimes when series end they charge; depends on the company running it. At some point it’ll probably go to DVD and you can take it out of the library.

Denise A Daniel
Denise A Daniel

I agree with you Michael. The father son relationship between Luke & Lucky was daytime’s best. But sadly they burned everything we loved about Luke to the ground when he became a nihilistic ass. They even ruined Lucky for me too when he told Elizabeth he missed the battered girl he found crawling from the bushes & when he told her her children would grown up to hate her.
I have no desire to see either character again.

Karen McEachern
Karen McEachern

I don’t think Jonathan Jackson will ever come back to GH permanently , but may pop up now and then. He has done so much with his music and other gigs. Personally, I think “Avery” should be on his own for awhile before he figures out what direction his life should go ( Cadence will be with him or shared custody with Juliette).

Sassy Duck
Sassy Duck

I have always loved Jonathan Jackson’s character, Lucky. He played multi-levels of complexity with such ease, beginning in 1993 with making his way back to Port Charles, alone, after leaving Canada, and then reuniting with Luke and Laura. And, one early storyline had him and Emily selling composting worms to Lila Quartermaine. It was so sweet. And, then there was the amazing sensitivity that he showed Elizabeth when she was raped; sleeping on her bedroom floor so that she would feel safe. However, I have to agree with Jimh, unless the writers can really step up their game, I’m afraid that his character would be ‘dumbed’ down and we would not see his incredible acting chops being showcased. As much as I would love to see him return, I think he’s miles above the current capabilities of GH’s writing team.

Nanci Montesinos
Nanci Montesinos

I wish he would go back to GH. But he doesn’t I still think it’s time for Lucky to come home even if someone else plays the part. And bring back Ethan too. Lulu needs her brothers.

Tina Grams
Tina Grams

As a huge fan of Jonathan’s it would be crazy not to want him back as Lucky on GH because he is magic!! But I also just want him to find fulfilling work for himself. Broadway…. with that voice….enough said!!!

k/kay
k/kay

He was a great little actor his time has come and gone the Spencer family has been dissolved ! Now did George Hamilton really show up selling chicken ??! We have gone to the bottom of the barrel

Renee Quinalty
Renee Quinalty

I want Avery and Juliette to get back together and have the baby that she is pregnant with . And I want Avery and Juliette be inlove together with there daughter that they have together and the baby that Juliette has in her stomach . Avery can not leave Juliette . Jonathan Jackson aka Avery has to stay with Juliette with their daughter Cadence and the new baby and the 4 of them living together happy in love with each other asp a family forever and forever

Leslie Ballis
Leslie Ballis

I think an appearance by Jonathan Jackson on GH.and reacuring role like Diane would be a good compromise.He could be free to pursue his music and other intrests at the same time.

Timmm
Timmm

Never say never but he has his wings. Its like Justin Hartley, he is so much above and beyond daytime now, its probably going to be a no. If GH were to leave the air and all the Spencers reunited I could see JJ returning for that because of all the love and respect he has for Mr. Geary.

k/kay
k/kay

Mr Geary last appearance I thought it was Carol Channing let sleeping dogs lie! Remember the good times and let it go I think JJ was a outstanding actor on his youth I think he is a kind and gentle soul
But never come back never this show like all the others have wonderful moments but with the revolving door of writers I use that term reluctantly its time to close the door

suebhoney
suebhoney

I think that Netflix needs to pick up Nashville – such a good show, will miss all of the characters.

Misty Caldwell
Misty Caldwell

I think & hope Avery & Juliette can work things out & stay together.they are a cute & great couple together!

Vicki compton
Vicki compton

I hope jonathan and juliet get back together

CHERYL DeGirolamo
CHERYL DeGirolamo

In would like him to end up with Juliette and use their farm n music to help others n notnget back on the wheel of chaos they love each other .. Avery n deacon are truly gifted actors and I look forward to their music n acting careers wish them both and the whole cast all the best ☹️❤️

Interviews

Knots Landing’s Joan Van Ark, Michele Lee & Donna Mills Share Backstage Memories, Watch Back Classic Scenes & Remember the Cul-De-Sac On Its 40th Anniversary

The primetime soap that lasted longer than them all was not Dallas, Dynasty or Falcon Crest, but Knots Landing! The series about the lives of the people of the cul-de-sac at Seaview Circle in Southern California ran on CBS from December 27th, 1979 till May 13, 1993.

Throughout Knots’ run, the show centered on the lives of female characters; most notably Joan Van Ark as Valene Ewing, Michele Lee as Karen Fairgate MacKenzie and Donna Mills as Abby Cunningham Ewing (yes, there were several other married names too!).

What made Knots Landing so special was its more ‘grounded in reality’ storylines (than over-the-top on the other primetime soaps), while also delivering the soapy goodness and those riveting cliffhangers and those gut-wrenching performances that had millions of fans tuning in every week on Thursday nights.

Who can ever forger the 3-year story arc of Val having her twins taken from her at birth, or Sid’s death that left Karen a grieving widow, or the moment we saw Abby’s other side as mother lioness with her children, trying to deal with her daughter Olivia’s drug problem.  These were only some of the unforgettable moments and portrayals by these three women.

To commemorate Knots Landing’s 40th anniversary. Michael Fairman sat down with Joan, Michele and Donna at Donna Mills’ home for this very special deep-dive conversation for his You Tube channel, The Michael Fairman Channel. 

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During their conversation the ladies share: what they thought of it each other the first time they met … if there was any competition between them, their thoughts on the leading men on the show that included: Ted Shackelford, Don Murray, Kevin Dobson, William Devane and more.   In addition, they dish on the wealth of talent that came through the show including: Alec Baldwin, Julie Harris, Howard Duff, Halle Berry and so many more.  Plus, if there were a reboot of Knots’ just where would Val, Karen and Abby be now!

In some of the most heartfelt and touching moments contained within the interview. Michael had chosen several clips from ‘Knots’ to play back to the women to get their reactions and thoughts to those fan favorite moments.   A must-see for all die-hard and longtime  “Knots” fans.

We won’t spoil anymore, but suffice to say, we hope you check out the full interview below featuring Joan, Michele, and Donna.

Then, let us know what were your favorite moments contained within the interview … and share your favorite ‘Knots’ memories during its run via the comment section.

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General Hospital

Sean Kanan, Tristan Rogers & Timothy Woodward Jr. Talk On The Making Of New Digital Drama ‘Studio City’ & Respect For Soaps

Just as we closed out 2019, the world of digital dramas saw the debut of a riveting new show, Studio City.  The series initial season can be binged watched in its entirety on Amazon Prime, which follows the life of Hollywood actor Sam Stevens and the cast of “Hearts on Fire“, America’s number two daytime drama, as they navigate the chaotic world of soap operas and their own messy personal lives.

Studio City was co-created, executive produced, and stars longtime daytime favorite, Sean Kanan (Ex-AJ, General Hospital, Ex-Deacon, B&B).  In it, Kanan plays Sam, who plays a doctor on the soap-within-the show, and whose life off the set provides the back-drop for much of the drama and heart and soul of the series.

Kanan has surrounded himself with quite the acting company which includes: Carolyn Hennesy (Diane, GH), Sarah Brown (Ex-Carly and Claudia, GH, Julia, ATWT, Madison, DAYS and Agnes, B&B), Patrika Darbo (Ex-Nancy, DAYS and Ex-Shirley, B&B), Scott Turner Schofield (Ex-Nick, B&B) and the one and only, Tristan Rogers (Robert, GH, Colin, Y&R).   In addition, feature film director, Timothy Woodward Jr. (who turns out to be a soap fan and appreciates the genre), is the man behind the camera directing the story and the cast through the ups, downs, laughs and tears of the story in Studio City,

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Kanan, Tristan Rogers, and Woodward to find out: how Studio City all came together, what their hopes are for it in the future, and about the tears (those who have watched the series have shed in episode 6) and pivotal moments portrayed by Sean, Tristan, and Patrika Darbo that have helped create a buzz for the show.  Check out what these gents had to share below.

Photo: Studio City

Sean, in the stellar cast are many daytime notables including: Carolyn Hennesy, Sarah Brown, Patrika Darbo and Tristan. Did you reach out to them individually… and tell them what you had cooking with Studio City?

SEAN:  (Laughs) Did I reach out to them?  I had to beg them.  When you do a project like this, nobody is getting rich yet.  This really was a favor and a labor of love.  Patrika and I have really worked on more projects together than I can count.  Carolyn was on my radio show.  There was nobody else I wanted for their parts then Carolyn, Patrika, and Sarah. The idea of Tristan came a little bit later because I had written the character, but the character was actually very different.  He was actually a homeless guy.  He was a guy who had been a doctor and had been strung out on Vicodin, and had had a mishap in the operating room, and lost his license and then became homeless, but he was sort of this homeless sage poet who was giving Sam these bits of wisdom.  Ultimately, through meetings and compromises, it evolved into what it is now, and then, once that happened, I was like, “There’s no reason Tristan can’t play that,” and everyone signed on after a lot of coaxing, but they all did it for me.  I’m so grateful for that because it wouldn’t be what it is without those wonderful people in the series.

TRISTAN:  What happened was he said, “Will you do this part?”  I said, “Yeah.”  Sight unseen.  I figured Sean is an actor with relatively good taste (laughs) so he’s not going to give me a piece of s**t to do.  (Laughs)   Then, he sends me over some copy, and the copy is really good.   So, we set the week up, and that week turned out to be three weeks from hell for me because of my schedule!  I was doing General Hospital.  Then, I had Young and the Restless come in on top of that.  Then, I was doing The Bay, and somewhere in all of this I was doing Studio City.  So, I’m trying to figure out how I am going to do all of this.  In the meantime, Studio City said, “No, we’ve got to do it at a particular time because of the location.  We can’t get it at any other time, but these times…”  I said, “Okay,” and I’m thinking to myself, “God, how the hell am I going to make this work,” because I wanted to do everything, and I didn’t want to have to cancel anything.  I wanted to do it all because all of the projects were so good.  The Young and the Restless project was just an absolute joy to do working with Jess Walton (Jill).  We got Y&R all done in one day   So, I liked that.  After I finished that, was the day I started Studio City, and we were shooting  in a high rise where Sean and his wife Michele were living at the time.  They shot in a vacant apartment next door.  Right away, I was totally impressed with what was going on.  The level of production was really high.  I got the dialogue as I walked on set, and I had to sit down quietly because it was about a page and a half monologue, and I had to think, “Okay, what am I going to do with this guy?  How am I going to play him?”  Timothy Woodward is just fantastic.  He came along, we had a chat together, and he sort of said, “What are you going to do?” and I told him how I was going to play it, and he said, “Okay, go.”  We got it all in one take.  Bang.  I love that.

Photo: Studio City

SEAN:  There was a lot to do obviously, but we shot Studio City over five days.  We literally shot this at almost a soap opera pace.   I don’t think too many other actors; except for daytime actors could have pulled this off.  So, we were really blessed to have a bunch of pros.

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TIMOTHY: Every one of them were extremely talented in their roles.  Patrika blew my socks off.  Tristan did what he did, I mean, he’s amazing.  Sarah was great.  Carolyn Hennesy was great   I do a lot of feature stuff, and you know, we are shooting only 4 or 5 pages a day.  Sometimes 6.  So, it’s not often that I am handing someone a 7-page scene and saying, “Hey, go,” especially the day before, and they’re nailing it every single time and being able to deliver every single time, and hitting their marks, which makes the editing process so good.  They’re able to do it, especially when you keep the writing grounded on the side of it that’s about behind the show, but it still has dramatic moments.  You’re giving the actors a lot to chew on, but they all performed the material so well.

Tristan, in story, you play Sean and Sarah Brown’s step-father. There is a major scene in episode 6 between Patrika and Sean where Sam learns about his biological father, and then there is a scene with you and Sean in the aftermath of that.

TRISTAN:  Yes, they are my adopted kids.   Sam is going through a low part in his life, and my character has to kind of sit him down and go, “Listen, kid.  You’re a good guy.  Don’t ever be told that you’re not a good guy.  You’re my son, and I love you, and there’s not a day that goes past that I don’t love you.”  When you’re on the set at the time, it was an extremely emotional scene.  Very, very emotional, and the fact that we got it right the first time, made the intensity better.  If I had had to go back and do that again, it would have been slightly different. That’s the way I work.”

Photo: Studio City

Had you worked with Sarah Brown before; given you both have worked on General Hospital in your careers?

TRISTAN:  Never.  That was a great thing.  I had two scenes with her, and I loved them both, and I thought she was terrific,  What Sean and Timothy have done is  put together a really interesting bunch of people to totally dig and are part of the daytime scene, who are totally familiar with it, and know what it is all about, and make it different.  The only other show I can compare this to is GH: Night Shift.   We were never allowed to develop it, but that was where we were at.  I think we are making the same kind of broad steps here that we were doing back then.  Hopefully, we are given more of a chance to develop the concept of it. 

What can you say about working with Timothy? He obviously loves the soaps too!

TRISTAN:  He’s a good guy.  I mean, they couldn’t have gotten a better person to do the directing and put that side of it together.  He was the perfect choice: having an understanding of the background of daytime and basically liking it for what it is.  He was ideal!

Photo: Studio City

Timothy, you were a fan of The Bold and the Beautiful, correct? How did you come into Sean’s orbit?

TIMOTHY:  Yes … when Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) was with dad, Eric (John McCook), or something right before that. (Laughs)  That’s how long ago that was.  I started telling Sean all that stuff, and he sent this cookbook to my mom, and then, he called me.  We stayed in contact and started talking about a few things, and then he contacted me about being in the book he was doing, Success Factor X, and he wanted me to be in the book, so I said okay.  So, we just stayed in contact, and then, I called him about another project. Later, Sean said he had an idea for a show and he’s been working on it for a while, and said, “Here’s the idea.  What do you think?”  I said, “I think it’s something that I could be interested in,” (because I’d always watched soaps back in the day, and it’s something that my mom is a huge fan of) and you know, I could get down with doing it.”  So, we kind of met, shook hands, and said, “Let’s make it happen.”

Did you tell your mom you were working with Sean Kanan?

TIMOTHY:  I did!  She loved it.  Sean actually sent her a video to her phone wishing her a merry Christmas last year.

SEAN:  This guy is a feature-film director. Tim was like, “I think that would be a really interesting challenge.  I’d like to do a digital series,” and then it comes to pass that this sort of tough-guy film director from North Carolina, is a total closet soap freak! (Laughs)

Photo: Studio City

Timothy, in Studio City, when Patrika Darbo has this very emotional monologue about what happened to her and about Sam’s father.  Sean also delivered a powerful performance in the scenes, just through his reactions to her heartbreaking story. I just thought the way he played it was so moving.  You obviously did a great job directing that scene.

TIMOTHY: I said, “Sean, I’m seeing behind the camera.  I’m telling you man, you’re telling so much with your eyes.  You don’t have to say anything.  Don’t tell her it’s okay during the scene,” because his initial reaction was, “It’s my mom.  I want to tell her it’s alright.”  I was like, “No.  Don’t.  I don’t want you to do anything.  You need to absorb this; you need to be in that moment of where you just don’t even know what to say.   You feel for her, but you also have this self-inflicted pain yourself, and you just need to listen.  Just listen to her.  Zone out of everything else and listen to her.”  That’s what he did, and he did it really well.

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SEAN:  I remember that Patrika was incredibly generous because once we got her take; she was willing to go through all of that pain again so that my reactions would be as informed as it was.  Honestly I would like to tell you that it was me reaching into my big bag of actor tricks, but all I had to do was shut up and listen.  How can you not be moved by hearing that?  So, I just sort of shut up, didn’t have to hit my mark because I was sitting, and listened, and she did all of the driving on that, and she was just terrific and Timothy captured it beautifully.

Sean, when you envisioned the part of Sam for yourself; were you pleased about how it came across on screen?

SEAN:  Listen, the character is very close to who I am.  This guy is sort of a heightened version of me, but I am very much playing myself in this.  I’m playing myself in some situations that I have never had to deal with.  I was like, “If this is going to succeed or fail, it’s going to happen with me being my most authentic self, and it’s not someone else’s idea of who I am.  I’m going to show you who I am in this.”

Photo: Studio City

Trans actor, Scott Turner Schofield also appears in Studio City.  In part of his story, you are tackling a timely social issue of the plight of African-American trans individuals who are being murdered.  How did you come to the decision to include this arc in the series?

SEAN:  I felt it was important that we told a story that was LGBTQ and trans-centric.  I wanted Scott to be a character on the show that everybody knew was trans.  I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but maybe the character Scott plays is going to have a conflict with production and say, “Listen, I’ve got to be a trans character on the show because I need to sort of be a beacon to all of those people out there.  I’m living that life off-camera. ”  When you see him in his group and everything, and I think he is going to kind of stand up for himself, and that’s going to probably alter his story.  I thought it was important to be like, “My character knows he’s trans.  He’s my buddy who happens to be trans,” you know what I mean…. rather than it being this huge big thing.”

Was the goal to get Studio City released right at the end of 2019 to quality for Daytime Emmy consideration in the Digital Drama categories? 

TIMOTHY:  It was definitely something we think could get more eyeballs on the show, more attention to it if you will, in order to get it to the next level.  So, I think that’s important. Do this and get it even bigger … make more episodes and make them longer.  Sean keeps saying this series, is a love letter to soaps, and that’s what he told me he wanted to do.  You know what Sean is talking about.  There is somewhat of a disrespect level in our industry of, “Well, he’s on a soap,” and these people are so talented.  I mean, some of these daytime soaps have better ratings than a lot of the primetime shows.  You just read mainstream media or something about soaps, and you may think, “What?  There’s nobody watching it,” and then, you start looking at ratings and two and a half million viewers during an episode?  This is every day.  That’s a fan base.  There are dedicated people watching it.

SEAN:  It always bothers me when I see that; treating soaps like that because we work really hard, and there’s a lot of talented people involved with it.  It doesn’t always need to always be that whenever you see soap operas represented in “main series” projects, that they’re kind of the butt of a joke.  I was like, “That’s not going to happen because that’s not what they’re about.”

Photo: Studio City

Sean, you make things happen for yourself doing various projects whether it be: stand-up comedy, acting, books, etc and are one of the hardest working guys I know. Why do you think you have continually come back around, and in front of the daytime soap community all of these years?

SEAN:  I envy guys who have been on daytime consistently for 10, 15, 20 years, and there are times that I wish I were there and doing that, but I don’t necessarily know that if I were that guy that I would have had the wherewithal to write the books I have written.  I think I may have gotten comfortable, and you know, God bless.  I am in no way disparaging that because there is a lot to be said for that longevity on a series. I feel like on daytime I have always been kind of a hired guy.  I get brought in, I get let go, I get brought in, I get let go.  I never sort of maintained a sense of terra firma.  I always felt that it was probably going to be temporary, and I’d better figure out what else I’m going to do, which has given me opportunities that I have created to do projects that I am really passionate about like this one.

For more on Studio City, visit their website here.

Have you checked out Studio City on Amazon Prime yet?  If so, what do you think of it and the performances? Excited to see Sean and Tristan in different roles? Comment below.

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Interviews

‘The Bachelor’ Peter Weber Opens Up About Hannah Brown, Hannah Ann & Being Emotional In Front Of The Camera

While viewers watched how the emotional conversation that they “had to have” came to its conclusion (or did it, even?) on Monday’s episode of The Bachelor between Peter Weber and the women he fell for in her season of The Bachelorette, Hannah Brown, several other new “storylines”kicked off” such as”champagne-gate” between contestants Kelsey and Hannah Ann, and then the social media ‘Bachelor Natio’n frenzy over a shot included in the episode featuring a bottle of maple syrup popping up out of nowhere (later explained to be a supply that contestant Mykenna was going to use when having some alone time with Peter, presumably).

But while it looks for now that Peter is going to try to move past his lingering feelings for Hannah B. and be all-in to find love with one of the women in the running on his season of “The Bachelor”, Michael Fairman TV along with several members of the media spoke with Weber at the ABC Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour on some subjects we wall wanted to know his answers to.  Check them out below.

Photo: ABC

When asked if he watched back the premiere episode and what went down with his chat with Hannah Brown, Peter told us: “The Hannah stuff wasn’t easy for me to watch.  It wasn’t easy as a viewer.  You go on hiatus, like a lull, and then you relive it as it airs back.  So, that wasn’t easy, but you’ll see what that all means. I think you kind of see that there were true, genuine feelings that were still there in that episode, and it left me really confused.”

As to if he was prepared to be seen as so open and vulnerable in the process of finding love while having cameras on him all the time, Weber expressed: Yeah, that was one thing I took from Hannah.  I remember the beginning of her season, that first night, that first speech, it was all about being vulnerable, raw, and open with us, and I made that a big theme of mine, and I wanted to set that theme early on with the women.  You’re going to see me be that the entire time.”

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Knowing the intensity and spotlight it puts on him, Weber says he was all-in for being The Bachelor this season: “I was so excited.  What an amazing opportunity, and I knew it worked.  So, why would I say no.”

There is obviously a major stunning moment that the series is pushing that happens in the finale that appears to potentially change the course of Peter’s quest for love, or confuses it. Weber would only tease that:  “I tell everyone that is was the most beautiful experience (being on  “The Bachelor”) but the hardest of my entire life.  That last week, was the hardest week of my entire life.  It literally doesn’t stop until the last second … just a lot of unexpected stuff that I couldn’t predict, but I took it, and I feel like I’m stronger coming out at the end, but it was hard.  If I told you, then I’d give it away! I didn’t expect what happened to happen.”

Weber also weighed-in on if he feels his love life coming out of the series is set, sharing: “You guys will definitely enjoy this journey and feel it.  I can’t comment on that right now.”

Pilot Peter revealed that he has also apparently gone back to work at Delta: “I went back to work like a week after I finished filming (The Bachelor). I never actually took a leave.  It’s really nice being a pilot because the schedule is really flexible.  So, I just ended up dropping my trips and having friends pick up trips.  So, I’m really lucky that it all worked out.”

Photo: HutchinsPhoto.com

Over the course of filming, Peter was involved in a freak accident that will be shown that leaves him with a scar on his forehead: “I think it’s badass.  (Laughs) Listen, it was a freak accident, and it is what it is.  I wasn’t going to let it keep me down or bum me out too much.  I was in the middle of this whole journey, and you know, it’ll fade.  I didn’t lose my eye, so that’s like the biggest thing.”

Photo: ABC

Many are comparing Peter’s like of two women named Hannah! Both from the south and both had competed in beauty pageants, Hannah Brown and this season’s Hannah Ann, to which Weber played up the irony: ” I know!  Lots of Hannahs!   A lot of girls from Alabama.  That was a big theme, too.  I feel like I don’t have type now, but maybe I do.”

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So, what did you think of the conclusion of the chat between Hannah Brown and Peter on last night’s episode of The Bachelor? Do you think Hannah Ann is a frontrunner for that final rose of Peter’s “champagne-gate” and all?  What do you think will happen come the ending of the season as teased by Weber and what you have seen thus far in the first couple of episodes of the new season of the reality-competition series? Comment below.

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DAYS Eric Martsolf and Stacy Haiduk chat with Michael Fairman at Day of Days 2019; during their conversation the on-screen dup talk about the latest developments of Brady and Kristen within the series time-jump and more. Leave A Comment

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