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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

Photo: MFTV Inc

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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Barbara from AtlantaJimhKayPatrick RoseAdam Recent comment authors
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Soaphound
Soaphound

I still miss this show. Those cliffhangers! Remember when Abby spent an entire episode trying to find a place to bury Peter Hollister’s corpse…finally dumping it in a hole destined for concrete? Then later the slab cracked and Karen said, “The whole area has to be dug up and repoured. What do you think, Abby?” That look on Donna Mills’ face was priceless. And the episode when Abby locked daughter Olivia in the house to force her to detox! Classic TV that we just don’t have anymore. And why, oh why, is this show not available on DVD? Some of the dumbest shows have every stupid season available…why not KNOTS?

DMRR
DMRR

I remember the concrete burial! Lotus Point, right?
Olivia’s storyline was SO well-done!

DMRR
DMRR

I loved “Knot’s” I LOVED Abby! Donna Mills, always so beautiful & talented. I remember her in “Play Misty for Me.” Just fabulous.

shelly
shelly

Thank you Michael for this interview!!! Beautiful, timeless ladies; very gracious. Sometimes my Dallas obsession makes me forget that Knot’s Landing was a favorite as well. Watching Knot’s on Thursday nights was a welcome to the weekend during my college years. I was still a kid at home and remember the very early scenes when Sid was killed and Ginger’s baby shower was interrupted by violence. Reunion please!! (I could’ve done without the political stuff but that’s ok).

DMRR
DMRR

I remember Sid’s death; and I thought Ginger was so gorgeous

Jimh
Jimh

Joan Van Ark played on Days,,,Donna played o LIAMST and GH

Kay
Kay

Joan van ark was on y&r she was the original Gloria !

Jimh
Jimh

thanks…i forgot that one!!!

Patrick Rose
Patrick Rose

MARQUEE : ^^^^ ” A must-see for all die-hard and longtime “Knots” ”

what an enviable position, you are… not that I’d know what to do… gush over

KNOT”S forever my fave prime time… yeah, even before Dallas! AND I was Sue Ellen #1

when I even think about what daytime never failed… that would go to As the World Turns, I was so caught… yet I have to add in “Another World” it was sophisticated…

Just wow on seeing how these three FRIENDS for all time , remain

just kudos…

thanks MF for keeping us alive; continue to imagine

Patrick Rose
Patrick Rose

congrats… “pat” on the back.. which is really hug

what a bucket “drop” WHAT

“snap”

you had a time, @

Joan Van Ark, Michelle Lee, Donna Mills !?!?!? mind blow up

Steve Ward
Steve Ward

Loved the interview. It’s hard to believe that Donna, who I watched on ‘Love is a Many Splendored Thing’ back in the late 60s is on the doorstep of turning 80. She is always gorgeous.

Adam
Adam

Great interview! Knots is my all time favorite show. Loved that Michael got almost an hour interview with the three leading ladies.

Patrick Rose
Patrick Rose

“Michael” you look elated; like a kid in a candy store ; one for the books; man

knot’s women

^^^pic – that’s a framer

Barbara from Atlanta
Barbara from Atlanta

I liked Knots Landing. However, I’ve disliked the interviews that I have seen with its stars in the past decade (including this one) for two reasons. One, Michele Lee and Joan Van Ark talk WAY too much, constantly interrupting the interviewer and (worse) cutting off the remarks being made by the former co-star who appeared with them. In this interview, I’m not even sure Donna Mills managed to finish a sentence without Lee or Van Ark interrupting her. Two, the interviews (including this one) significantly ignore the importance Laura (Constance McCashin) played to the show. There are passing references to Laura but they overlook that, in the first 6-7 years, Laura was just as pivotal to the show as their characters. McCashin drove the show as much as Lee or Van Ark; however, due to a likely budgetary decision, McCashin exited the show. A strong argument can be made that, instead of nixing Laura for financial reasons, the producers just as easily could have sent Val or Karen packing.

Mr. Fairman, thanks for conducting this interview and posting it. I, however, am not sure that I would welcome a reboot of Knots Landing UNLESS those in charge were able to reign in Van Ark and Lee from “hogging” the reboot they way they seem hellbent on doing in these reunion interviews.

Let’s face, Donna Mills and the character of Abby are vastly more interesting than Van Ark/Val or Lee/Karen. (Mills’ addition to the show in season 2 likely save the series from an early cancellation. This is a fact never even hinted at these interviews). I would prefer to see an interview where Mills is given the space and time to speak without Van Ark or Lee trying to undercut her or to “steal” her spotlight.

Interviews

B&B’s Annika Noelle Chats On Her First Daytime Emmy Nomination For Hope’s Emotional Journey Back to Beth

The Supporting Actor and Actress in a Drama Series are often the highly-competitive categories in the annual Daytime Emmys, because they usually contain the most entrance vying for the final 5 or 6 coveted spots.

This year, after all of her soap alter-egos sturm and drang, Annika Noelle found herself with a nomination for her riveting work as Hope Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful.

As fans of the CBS Daytime drama know, Hope went through hell and back and hell again as she was led to believe that her baby girl had died, only to later find out that the little bundle of joy was adopted by Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) in a heinous scheme put in motion by Dr. Buckingham (Wayne Brady). As the story unraveled, more and more people found out about the switch and kept it from Hope, chief among them Thomas (Matthew Atkinson), but all’s well that ends well when Liam (Scott Clifton) with a big assist from Douglas (Henry Joseph Samiri) figured out that Beth was Phoebe … and that set the stage for even more emotional drama.

Following the news of her nomination, Michael Fairman TV chatted with Annika Noelle, to get all the feels of this defining moment in her daytime career – cracking the glass ceiling and getting into a select group of actresses for the first time whose work has been deemed “Outstanding”. Here’s what Annika shared on her reaction to that great Emmy news!

Photo: JPI

Were you shocked and surprised when you learned of your Supporting Actress in a Drama Series nomination?

ANNIKA:  Yes!  I’m over the moon and so eternally grateful for it.  It means a lot to have the work I’ve done this last year get recognized by everyone.  It’s my first Daytime Emmy nomination, and now I get to say that.  It’s just a cool thing.

I can’t think of anyone who cried more in last year’s TV season than you as Hope.  That whole year was so heavy with the baby switch storyline and Hope’s journey back to her biological daughter.

ANNIKA:  It was.  Honestly, it took a lot out of me, and it was a lot to go through, and it really was a marathon.  I’ve never had to go through something like that as an actor, but I’m just glad that I made it out to the other side to get to experience this.

Photo: JPI

I was worried someone was going to have to pick you up off the floor from all the weeping! It must have been draining.

ANNIKA:  I can’t tell you how many times I was just like, “Do I have to cry? Do I have to though?”  I’m just really grateful that Hope finally got her baby back.  It was so funny when the fans would be like, “When is she getting her baby back?” and I’m like, “Trust me, no one wants it more than me.”

Were you watching the nominations unfold on The Talk?  How did you find out you were officially a nominee?

ANNIKA:  I went for a walk around the LaBrea Tar Pits because I didn’t want to be focusing on that, but I have family in Boston who were going to watch The Talk and let me know.  However, I guess the Mayor of Boston interrupted right before they started reading the nominations.  They were so pissed.  So, I was like, “Okay, I guess I’m not going to find out for a while,” and then the phone started ringing, and it was Brad Bell (executive producer and head writer, B&B).  Your heart kind of goes up in your throat when you see his name on the caller ID! I picked up and he said, “Congratulations,” and I proceeded to probably make him deaf because I was so excited. (Laughs)

Scott Clifton was your scene partner in so much of the arc of this storyline.  Did he say anything to you once you got nominated?

ANNIKA:  Oh yeah! We exchanged quite a few text messages with each other.  I thought he should have submitted himself this year.

Photo: JPI

I was so surprised when I found out that he didn’t enter the competition, because he did some incredible work.

ANNIKA:  It’s amazing the work that he did, and he was right by my side every step of the way during this incredibly difficult storyline, and honestly, I could not have done it without him … or Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, because they honestly were such great support systems for me as an actor and also as friends.  Honestly, I feel like this nomination is everyone’s.  It was such an ensemble effort.

Photo: JPI

What scenes did you submit that landed you the nomination?

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ANNIKA:  I submitted as the initial scene when Hope finds out about Beth (where Liam tells her that Beth didn’t make it) and she starts out thinking that Beth is still alive and then gradually the denial fades away and the reality sets in.  Then, the second scene I submitted was where she is kind of emotionally checked out, and then, Sally (Courtney Hope) comes in with that poor puppy dog to try to cheer her up, and obviously that backfires on Sally.  That was actually a very difficult scene to shoot because here was this little puppy dog looking up at me, and I had to just freak out.  The third scene was on the rooftop where Hope finally finds out that Beth is indeed alive, and that Thomas has been lying to her.  Then, the fourth scene was the hardest one to pick, but I’m really glad that I went with it.  It’s just this really quiet, intimate moment between Liam and Hope when they’re alone with Beth again for the first time as a family.  Then, Liam and Hope share their first kiss as a family again.  The final scene was where Hope gets to slap Flo (Katrina Bowden) and you get to see the momma bear come out.  I really tried to tell a story.  I really tried to show an arc of that 8-9-month saga, and luckily, I had the material to choose from to do so.

You played the Emmy game very smartly, because the reels that work, in my experience, have been the ones that tell the arc of the story, so that anyone who doesn’t know the show can follow beat to beat to beat.  I think those are always the reels that ultimately grab the voters.

ANNIKA:  I think that’s something that I had to learn too from other actors, and the advice that I had gotten, and getting to actually watch and vote last year.  I thought of it more as an actor’s reel.  I tried to do show versatility as an actor.  So, hopefully we will see what happens.

Photo: JPI

Are you familiar with the work of any of the other actresses nominated in your category …Tamara Braun (Ex-Kim, GH), Rebecca Budig (Ex-Hayden GH), Christel Khalil (Lily, Y&R), and Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie, DAYS)?

ANNIKA:  Oh, yes, and I am nothing but honored to be in a category with such amazing performers.  It takes so much in general to be a daytime actor, and to even be in this category with these other performers, it’s huge.  .

Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke), your on-screen mom is nominated for Lead Actress this year too!

ANNIKA:  I know!  I’m praying it’s her year, and Heather Tom (Katie) also did such beautiful work with the kidney storyline, and Thorsten Kaye (Ridge) just broke my heart with the divorce and the Thomas storylines.  It’s kind of all in the family in a way with our characters, but everyone did such beautiful work, and I’m rooting everyone on.  It’s nice that Katherine and I as an on-screen momma/daughter got to celebrate that together.

Photo: JPI

Did Katherine give you a call, or did you communicate, after the nominations were announced?

ANNIKA:  Yes, we talked, and then, ironically for about a year and a half, I had saved a bottle of Dom Perignon that I had received as a gift from her boyfriend, Dom Zoida.  I was always just saving it for a special occasion.  When I told her that, she was like, “I can’t believe you’ve been saving it this long!  We are going to have a toast tonight and celebrate!”  I was like, “Are you sure we don’t want to save it in case there’s other good news … maybe?”  and she was just like, “No!  We’ll get you another bottle.  We are toasting tonight.”  So, that was just a really beautiful moment because she really brought me in and showed me the ropes as a veteran on the show, and as someone who knows B&B and the dynamics so well.  I’ve learned a lot from Katherine, and I have nothing but respect for her.  She is one of the hardest workers I know; she does not stop, and I have such admiration.  I wish I were in half as good shape as she is!  It’s a special feeling to be able to share this with her.

You followed in Kim Matula’s (Ex-Hope) footsteps on the show.  That was no easy feat, and to make the role your own was beautifully done.  That has to feel good.  It’s not easy to play a role that someone else made ‘soap-famous’.

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ANNIKA:  It’s funny, because Mark Grossman (Adam, Y&R) and I started around the same time – him on Y&R and me on The Bold and the Beautiful, and even Matthew Atkinson as Thomas – everyone has kind of left their own mark on these characters as recasts, and it’s a challenging thing to do, stepping into someone’s role, especially with someone who originated the character. It’s a nice validation that you’re doing something right.

You and I will remember your humble beginnings on Venice the Series.

ANNIKA:  It’s such a crazy full circle too, because Hillary B. Smith (Ex-Nora, OLTL and Guya, Venice the Series) was my mentor in high school.  I would look up to her and be like. “She’s been nominated and won Daytime Emmys! Well, maybe one day I could …” Hillary was someone who I called and talked to for a long time before submitting.  I also have to give thanks to Crystal Chappell (Ex-GL, Days and Venice the Series), for seeing something in me and taking a chance on me when I was green as an actress.

I remember us talking on the set of Venice, and I remember you shooting your scenes as a recast in that show too at an apartment!  They threw you right into the fire.

ANNIKA:  Yep, and Susan Flannery (Ex-Stephanie, B&B) was directing a few of those episodes!  So, it was like… who would have thought that years later…?

Photo: JPI

I would ask you, what you are going to wear, but there is no red carpet that I know of, for a virtual Emmys this year!

ANNIKA:  I am so conflicted.  I’m like, “Do I wear PJs, or do I get glammed up and wear a beautiful gown?” (Laughs) I am the most comfortable in flannel and no makeup, so I’m like, “Okay, if I have to get glammed up, how on earth am I going to do my own hair because I don’t even know where to begin with that.” So, we’ll see, I guess, we’ll see!

It will be interesting to see what the virtual ceremony will look like.

ANNIKA:  I have a feeling that my cat might be a part of the awards ceremony.  He is going to try to steal the spotlight, a little.  Like an All About Eve moment happening here with Henry who I call “Burrito Man”.  He has his own Instagram.  It’s @theburritomankitty, and if there is a camera, let me tell you, he will try to interrupt.  That’s Burrito Man for you.  He’s a little diva.

Photo: IG

How have you and ‘Burrito Man’ been doing during the coronavirus pandemic?  How are your spirits? 

ANNIKA:  Well, this nomination has certainly been a silver lining.  It certainly has brightened the mood a little bit. It’s been pretty difficult feeling a little isolated, but The Bold and the Beautiful has been having Zoom happy hour every Friday where we will all get on in the late afternoon and catch up with everyone and have a little drink.  So, it’s been nice because I miss everyone.  We really do become like family.  That’s helped a lot, and then just… puzzles.  I’m doing a lot of puzzles, Michael.

Photo: JPI

In closing, many times you see a lot of the same names nominated in the acting categories at the Daytime Emmys, so it’s nice to see when someone new breaks through.  Kudos to you!

ANNIKA:  Honestly, that means a lot.  It was a lot, especially as a newcomer to daytime.  It really was sink or swim, but luckily, I have an amazing cast there supporting me and holding me up on those days where it was stressful, or where I would break down just because it was so demanding.  I can’t tell you how many people were there for me like: John McCook (Eric, B&B), Katherine Kelly Lang, Heather Tom, Jacqui, and Scott, these people championed me, urged me on, and believed in me.  I also have realized that I am a bit more of a method actor than I thought I was. (Laughs)  I might have taken some of the work home with me.  Queer Eye and RuPaul were cheering me up because it was a lot. (Laughs)  I just want to express my utmost gratitude for this honor and wish all the best of luck to the other nominees.  I have so much respect for everyone in this industry from the directors and our crews, all the way down to us actors. It’s a lot to do what we do in daytime with the budget and the time constraints that we have.  It really is a team effort.

So, were you happy to see that Annika scored a Daytime Emmy nomination for her hard work and being at the epicenter of the baby switch storyline on B&B? Comment below.

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Interviews

OLTL Icon, Erika Slezak Talks On Her 42-Year Run As Viki, Her Llanview Co-Stars & Husbands, and Life Now

As a precursor to, and now post-script to last night’s The Story of Soaps special on ABC, One Life to Live’s leading lady and six-time Daytime Emmy winner, Erika Slezak, chatted with Michael Fairman in a very special virtual conversation on You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel  prior to the airing of the two-hour event that look into the history and the world of daytime and primetime soaps.

Erika appeared within the primetime special along with many other notables from the world of daytime.

Photo: JPI

Chatting from her home in Connecticut, Erika talked candidly about her beginnings on the ABC soap when she was first cast as Viki, and how her early castmates helped her through that challenging time. She also discussed the importance and challenges of playing Viki’s DID storyline where she played multiple alters, and, of course, her longstanding on-screen rivalry with frenemy Dorian Cramer Lord played by Robin Strasser.

As fans of One Life know, Viki certainly had her share of husbands over the years, and you will learn Erika’s thoughts on working with several of them from: Mark Derwin (Ex-Ben), to Brian Kerwin (Ex-Charlie), to Roy Thinnes (Ex-Sloan) and more.

Photo: JPI

But what was life like for Erika, playing the moral center of One Life day in and day out for over 42 years and the responsibility that comes with that? She weighs-in on that as well.  Later, the discussion turns to her emotional final day of taping at ABC’s OLTL following its cancellation, the move to Prospect Park, and if she would ever consider working on another one of the four remaining daytime soaps.

Photo: JPI

Slezak has won the most Daytime Emmys of any actress, and she recalls the time she was nominated with 7 other actresses in the Lead Actress category and the start of the annual “Ladies Lunch” with the nominees via Susan Flannery.

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For a deep-dive conversation into the genre with this soap legend, check it out below.

Then let us know if you were thrilled to see Erika, and hear what she had to say via the comment section.

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Breaking News

Y&R’s Eileen Davidson, Knots’ Donna Mills & GH’s Laura Wright Talk On Life in the Soaps

Three of the most recognizable names in the soap opera genre, Eileen Davidson (Y&R, Ex-Days, Ex-B&B, Ex-Santa Barbara). Donna Mills (Knots Landing, Ex-Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Ex-Secret Storm) and Laura Wright (General Hospital, Ex-Guiding Light, Ex-Loving, Ex-The City), chat with Michael Fairman in this virtual conversation about their careers working in front of the camera on daytime and primetime soaps.

Each of the actresses appear on ABC’s “The Story of Soaps” two-hour special airing on Tuesday night May 19th (9 p.m. EST). to which this interview is a prelude.

From her role as Abby Cunningham Ewing on Knots Landing to her role as GH’s Madeline Reeves, Donna Mills shares memorable stories from her career, and from her role as Y&R’s Ashley Abbott to playing five roles on Days of our Lives from Kristen DiMera to Susan Banks, Eileen Davidson recalls her start and the time she played five roles at one time, while bringing to life Carly Corinthos on General Hospital every day is a joy shares Laura Wright from her early start on ABC’s Loving which changed the trajectory of her life.

We hope you enjoy this exclusive on The Michael Fairman Channel.

Watch Eileen, Donna and Laura below!  Then let us know what was your favorite moment or tidbit from the conversation via the comment section

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