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Kristoff St. John And Y&R Celebrate His 25 Year Milestone As Neil Winters!

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Courtesy/CBS

Last Friday, cast, crew, press, executives, and family (including Kristoff’s beloved dog Brando) gathered together on the set of the Genoa City Athletic Club at CBS Television City to celebrate the 25 year milestone of Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters) with The Young and the Restless.

Throughout the celebration honoring the powerhouse actor, several speeches were made all illustrating Kristoff’s unwavering commitment to the material, bringing Neil Winters to life day in and day out, and touching upon Kristoff’s inner-strength in facing the unimaginable for any parent, the tragic death of their child.

It was day of emotions, tears, and laughter for one of the finest actors working in our genre including; Kristoff reading a heartfelt congratulatory note from his father, acclaimed actor and director, Christopher St. John. On-Air On-Soaps was on hand to listen to the speeches and share in the festivities.  Immediately following, we were able to chat with the guest of honor, up close and personal, for some closing thoughts on this special day.  Here are some of the highlights below:

Photo Credit: MF Soaps Inc

Y&R’s executive producer Jill Farren Phelps kicked off the celebration with these words: “In the course of his 25 year journey as Neil Winters, Kristoff has won 2 Daytime Emmy Awards and 8 NAACP Image Awards.  In watching the material that you submitted this year for the Emmy’s, I was reminded of what we all know; you are an extraordinary actor. Neil Winters has been married 5 times, raised Devon and Lily (and Moses too!), and just in the 4 years since I’ve been here, he’s lost and regained his sight in a sensitive and gripping performance while giving us the haunting and heartbreaking portrayal of a man battling his darkest demons in the bottom of a bottle . . . Bravo Kristoff.  You’re a fierce actor.  You’re your own man.  You’ve shown remarkable courage and heart against all odds.  And you are a valuable member of our Y&R family.   AND you have the cutest dog!  Thanks Kristoff.  Congratulations and much love. ”

Courtesy/CBS

Next, Joshua Morrow (Nick Newman) took to the podium and offered up to his co-star: “You are an incredibly talented actor, and I have enjoyed watching your work.  You can tell the true measure of a man in how he handles adversity, and brother, I have seen you slay dragons and stare down demons.  I have seen you rise up and show everyone what you are made of.  It has to be some of the strongest stuff the world has ever seen.”

Bryton James (Devon) in an emotional, and off the cuff speech told Kristoff: “You set this standard of commitment and excellence of every scene I have seen you in, and every scene I have been in with you, and it’s taught me.  You have shown me and guided me every step of the way.  You showed me not only how to go about being an actor, but how you go about being yourself in life, too.”

Courtesy/CBS

Christel Khalil delivered a short speech which included: “It’s so easy to work with Kristoff.  If I have to cry in a scene all I have do is look at him, and I just start bawling.  We just have that connection. ”

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When it was finally Kristoff’s turn to address his Y&R family he noted, “This is very humbling to hear these words you have said, my family.”  He then told how his life in Genoa City began: “Bill Bell (co-creator and former head writer, Y&R) said, ‘How would you like to work on this show? I said, ‘Of course I would.’  I had come from the last place show.  I knew Y&R, because I had watched it while I was in my dressing room at Generations at NBC.  The biggest difference between Generations and Y&R was not the writing, but the look of the show.  It was the seasoned actors that are on this show.  It was unlike anything I had every watched before.  So when I got here I was in awe. The first person I met was Victoria Rowell (Ex-Drucilla), and the second person I met was Eric Braeden (Victor), and the other men on the show, such as Peter Bergman who is the ultimate professional.  The difference between he and I is Peter will come out to the stage on a two-scene stand by, while Kristoff is just getting in the shower!” (Laughs)

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Following the presentation, On-Air On-Soaps asked Kristoff some questions about his journey at Y&R,  beginning with the ups and downs of being on a soap for an amazing 25-year run: “Nothing is easy, but when you have a family near and far, it can be rather dysfunctional, and in that dysfunction, you have a happy balance of acceptance and dislike.  So when you do come together for a joyous occasion, it’s all about the joy, and on the set it’s all about the joy. Drama off the set is a whole other thing, even when people at times here haven’t brought the joy.  I was going to say one thing in my speech about one person who told me once; “You don’t have a story.  And you want to be careful, because you want them to make note of you.  You want to get out in front of them, and you need to remind them.  I have a lot of story and I guarantee you that I am the new breed, and you need to make sure you become that.”  I felt like knocking his block off, but what does that service?  That was a family moment between someone that was here, and someone who is no longer here, who thought he would be here forever. ”

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Kristoff on reflecting on his on-screen children; Bryton James and Christel Khalil, and the sentiments they shared: “Like they said about me, I value them like my real family, my personal family.  They have been surrogate children for me.  Everything I do on stage with them, and acting as their father is a piece of me that I have been able to learn from my children: Paris, Lola, and Julian, and how to be a better man and how to be a better father.  But those two have put me in my place a number of times, and stopped me from going off the deep end as a man. Christel and Bryton have been the glue here for me at the Y&R stages.”

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Kristoff on if being at Y&R helped pull him through the most heartbreaking of personal tragedy following the death of his son, Julian: “The show didn’t really factor in until I looked out over Julian’s funeral and I saw a sea of my peers and they were all there. That meant everything to me.  I don’t know if everyone realizes that.  I wanted to say things up there today about it, but I knew I would fall apart, and I couldn’t have gone on. I was able to come to work a couple of weeks after being off, and man, it was during that part of the storyline that deserved a personal experience that came from the depths, and unfortunately it was through that experience of the death of my son, that I was able to parlay good performances with people that I love and respect here.”

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Kristoff reflects on his 25 years of storylines; when Neil has languished on the back-burner, or has been front and center, and how he has kept that in perspective, as well as his thoughts on his current storyline:  “I had a lot of great stories.  I also had to mention Victoria Rowell in my speech.  I had to.  But when you have real meaty story it becomes the show for a period of time, it does.  It’s months on end, whereas I have always felt somewhere in the middle.  It’s not back-burner, and then we go to the front, and then we go in the back, and we are relegated to what I like to call, ‘Winters Wednesdays’. (Laughs)  But this past year has been fantastic!  For some reason, this storyline with Bryton and Hilary (Mishael Morgan) has been dragged on longer than any storyline I have been a part of.  I am not sure why other than I believe Bryton and Hilary’s characters became extremely popular, and so the fight has to be for Neil rescuing the relationship, and realizing he can’t, and then going off on a tangent to force it to happen, but I have been the villain. I like playing the villain, too.”

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Kristoff on after hearing the accolades that he is a ‘great actor’, and if he views himself that way: “When you are good at something you can tell people about it. When you are great at something than other people will tell you about that.  How do I dare accept when someone uses the word ‘great’, when there are so many beautiful actors out there in the real world? I am but one of many, many, many. Interpretation is everything. Acting is reacting, and I somehow am able to bring realism to the work that I do. I don’t know how great that is, but I know how natural it feels. I think part of that is because I started as a child, and by the time I reached my adult years I was able to draw on stuff.  Luckily, I have had a great character to play.”

Share you congratulations to Kristoff on his 25 years with Y&R in the comment section below! And let us know, what did you think of the thoughts he conveyed and the admiration and respect shown by his co-workers and friends? What has been your favorite moment in the life and times of Neil Winters?

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Penny
Penny

So happy for him! Congrats Kristoff!

Emily
Emily

I love Kristoff and am still praying for him as he now lives life with such a heartbreaking loss.

diane
diane

It’s ashame they can’t write something better for him to do then fall off the wagon for the hundred time.

Chrystie_Delancey
Chrystie_Delancey

Aw, he has a Shiba Inu. I love them. They look like foxes.

I was impressed by the speech from Joshua Morrow. It was very eloquent. Too bad his dialogue on Y&R is not as good as that.

Chrystie_Delancey
Chrystie_Delancey

I would really like to see Neil Winters moved away from this whole Hilary and Devon mess, Lily’s problems with Cane, and get a new romance. I bet Kristoff and Gina Tognoni could be smoking together. Jack is a bore and I KNOW that Gina has more passion than what she has had to stifle with Peter Bergman’s Jack. They are mismatched and each needs a new costar.

Tomas Torquemada
Tomas Torquemada

Class act. Sadly correct about Winters Wednesdays. I hope he gets a great storyline because he can bring the goods.

Patrick
Patrick

Kristof St. John : Neil Winters

“Bravo” and kudos to his person…for affecting; his, profession and character, being

“I had a lot of great stories. I also had to mention Victoria Rowell in my speech. I had to ”

Nice

I’m still going to mention… one thing came to mind… and it’s CBS / Sony / Y&R PROBLEM…

the Neil Winters Clan will always have an asterisk… what, coulda would SHOULDa been

rehire her

so much of the show would take care of itself… and this means diversity … and you’re welcome from the audience

i’ll say it again… Lily and Devon… are complete snore

Belle
Belle

Congratulations Kristoff!

Mo
Mo

Congratulations!

mark
mark

Love my baby Neil winters!!!!

Wendy
Wendy

The measure of a man is his compassion and kindness. Kristoff exudes both in his professional and personal life. In my very limited contact with him on Twitter, he has proven to have humility, strength beyond understanding with the loss of his son, appreciation for others caring about his profound loss. Will always wish him well both on YR and in life. His goodness shines.

Mary SF
Mary SF

Personally I always felt the love story between Neil and Dru was one of the shows best, in fact one of the best in daytime. Unfortunately when you are one half of an amazing couple and the other half leaves the show, most times the remaining half languishes in no man’s land.

The fact Neil has stayed relevant to the show even after VR left says a lot to his talent. Winter’s Wednesday may not get you the cover of the soap magazines too much, but he has been a stable of the show for years.

I am not a fan of the story line the character has right now. One minute he wants Hilary, then he doesn’t, then he does– and Hilary is no better hopping between Devon and Neil without breaking a sweat– for me the only way to redeem this story is have Hilary be the bitch she was when she first came to town– find out she is playing both of them–

but that is a different topic, congrats on the milestone, not many actors can get a gig that lasts that long.

Tani Sterling
Tani Sterling

Very well said!

jaybird369
jaybird369

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S K R I S T O F F!!!!!!!!!!

Michael
Michael

I remember Kristoff from when he was a kid doing ‘Bad News Bears’. I even told him that I remembered him from that show one time on twitter when I had a twitter account. He was so surprised that anyone would remember him from that period. He’s an exemplary actor and so professional too. He’s had his share of controversies over the years (including his getting suspended from the show for speaking out about the lack of diversity on the show). But in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter today. What matters is that he’s still a fantastic actor who continues to bring it day in and day out.

Congrats on 25 years Kristoff!

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According to her children, William James Bell, Brad Bell (EP and head writer, B&B) and Lauralee Bell Martin (Christine, Y&R), Lee passed away on February 25th at the age of 91.

Photo: JPI

They shared: “Our mother was a loving and supportive wife, mother and grandmother.  Gracious and kind, she enriched the lives of all who knew her. We will miss her tremendously.”

Born in Chicago, Illinois on June 9, 1928, Bell was co-creator, along with her late husband William J. Bell, of two of daytime television’s most successful dramas: The Young and the Restless (Y&R), and The Bold and the Beautiful (B&B).

Bell’s career as a broadcast journalist began in Chicago, where she hosted and produced her own show, The Lee Phillip Show, for CBS TV for over 30 years. A pioneer in the evolution of the afternoon talk show format, Bell was a trailblazer in the exploration of timely social issues and concerns.  Additionally she produced and narrated numerous award-winning specials and documentaries covering social concerns such as foster children, the subject of rape, children and divorce, and babies born to women in prison, to name a few.. Bell interviewed heads of state such as Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Regan; film actors Judy Garland, Clint Eastwood and Jerry Lewis; musicians such as The Rolling Stones and The Beatles; television and stage stars such as Lucille Ball, Jack Benny and Oprah Winfrey; and many other politicians, authors, journalists, fashion designers and rock stars.

Photo: JPI

She was awarded 16 regional (Chicago) Emmy awards and numerous Golden Mike awards. Bell is also the recipient of the Alfred I. Dupont/Columbia University Award for the special The Rape of Paulette, the first program in Chicago to explore the issue.  In 1977, she was the first woman to receive the coveted Governors Award from the Chicago chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.  In 1980, she was named “Person of the Year” by the Broadcast Advertising Club of Chicago and the “Outstanding Woman in Communications” by the Chicago YMCA.  She also received the Salvation Army’s William Booth Award for her distinguished career in communications and social service. Bell won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series as co-creator of The Young and the Restless in 1975 and was recipient of the Daytime Emmys’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

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In addition to her children, Lee Phillip Bell is survived by her daughters-in-law Maria Arena Bell and Ambassador Colleen Bell, her son-in-law Scott Martin and eight grandchildren.

Since the news of Lee’s death, many stars from daytime have been sharing their remembrances and condolences of this great woman and what she meant to them.  We will share more on this story later today.

For now, share your condolences for the Bell family and your thoughts on the passing of this icon, Lee Phillip Bell in the comment section below.

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Photo: JPI

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