More Gotham casting news over the weekend from We Love Soaps. Former As the World Turns star Melanie Smith, who played Emily Stewart in the late 80’s has been cast by Martha Byrne to play Bryne’s on-screen sister, Claire Ryan in the new soap web series. Here are a few excerpts from the WLS full interview below!
Smith on getting a call from Martha Byrne to appear in Gotham:” I was sitting on a set the day before with my girlfriend Mariska Hargitay and she kept saying to me, “Are you ever going to act again?” And I said, “You know, I just don’t see myself going back, but if it fell on my doorstep I might think about it. But it’s not really anything I see myself going after.” She said, “Oh gosh, you had so much fun doing it, you should think about it.”
And I said, “Ah, but I love my life!” And then Martha called the next day! [Laughs] It was so funny because I was finishing a meeting and the manager of my center walked up and said to me, “Martha Byrne.” And I thought, “Wow, Martha Byrne, I haven’t talk to her in a hundred years!” [Laughs] So I picked up the phone and she talked to me about the project and it was great to hear from her. I’m really, really proud and impressed for her and Lisa Brown for taking something like this on. Being an entrepreneur, I think it’s really great.”
Smith on her new role in Gotham: “Well, all I really know is I’ll be playing Martha’s sister [Claire]. Her old sister. And I’m a very nurturing and kind person.”
Smith on reuniting with her former ATWT co-stars: ” Oh my God, yeah. We (Margaret Reed and Melanie) had so much fun together! It’s a medium that has such a special place in so many people’s hearts. As the World Turns was my mother’s favorite show when I was growing up. I kind of feel like the paradigm of soap operas and television and film is changing. The whole industry is changing dramatically. This may be the future of it all. For Martha and Lisa to spearhead this and get people together who really love working together is a good start. Everybody is so talented.”
‘As the World Turns’ Alum Martha Byrne Speaks Out On Conviction Against Her Husband, Michael McMahon: “We are Fighting Till the End”
June 26, 2023
If you have been following two-time Daytime Emmy-winning actress, Martha Byrne’s (ex-Lily, As the World Turns) social media accounts or have been following news reports, Byrne is adamantly speaking out about charges and a conviction levied against her husband, former decorated NYPD sergeant-turned-licensed private investigator, Michael McMahon.
The couple share three children together and have been married for over 30 years. Last week, McMahon was preparing to go back to work. However, Michael was blindsided when a Brooklyn federal court convicted him and two others accused of stalking a New Jersey couple on behalf of China.
McMahon told the New York Post, that he felt betrayed by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Clarifying further, Michael felt he and his family with Martha Byrne where being made scapegoats in the DOJ’s first case against Operation Fox Hunt, which is the Chinese Communist Party’s anti-corruption campaign that targets Chinese nationals abroad. It also targets former government officials and others suspected of economic crimes against China.
In the case against McMahon, he was hired in fall of 2016 by what he believed was a translation company from New Jersey to do surveillance on a luxury New Jersey home occupied by a relative of Xu Jin and Liu Fang, and to use public records to find companies and other assets registered to the couple. He was then informed that Xu and Liu had had stolen money from a construction company, and the people who hired him wanted to find where the cash had gone. However, McMahon says what he was not told was that Xu was a former official in Wuhan, who had fled China amid allegations of corruption.
McMahon said that when he conducted surveillance as he had done on numerous other cases. However, what he did not know was that his work was used in a civil suit in New Jersey in 2018 against Xu and others by a Chinese construction group that alleged that they had embezzled millions from that company.
Things took a bad turn in October of 2020 when 12 federal agents surrounded McMahon and Byrne’s home. Michael was arrested, but it wasn’t your normal arrest, he detailed. McMahon didn’t think he needed a lawyer so he spoke to the FBI agents. He had wanted to help the government.
Byrne shared, “He was being as transparent as he possibly could. Instead, they turned everything against him and made him look like the devil in court. I’ve never seen such dark forces trying to portray him as an unlawful person.”
McMahon was charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act by working for the Chinese government without telling the State Department, and with conspiracy to commit interstate stalking.
Byrne answered one soap fan’s inquiry to clarify what exactly happened to her husband in a Facebook post. She expressed: “He was hired to find assets on a civil matter. never asked to do ANYTHING illegal. The FBI let the Chinese agents flee, who were operating some scheme separately and unbeknownst to my husband, so the FBI turned their attention to an innocent man to save face. They took legal work as a PI and deemed it criminal for their own purposes. This is VERY VERY scary for every US citizen.”
In the NY Post account, it details that the DOJ shifted its focus to Operation Fox Hunt, targeting private investigators across the country, including McMahon.
Currently Michael is not allowed to be a private detective until this case is overturned. He shared: “I didn’t harass or stalk anyone, and if I had been asked to do so, or if I had suspected that my clients worked for the Chinese Communist Party, I would have contacted the FBI right away and not proceeded with the job.”
Byrne expressed: “The DOJ knew this problem existed, that private investigators were being used, they knew the patterns well, but they communicated none of this until after Mike’s arrest … We are fighting to the end.”
McMahon’s lawyer will file a post-trial motion next month to overturn the conviction.
On her Twitter account, Martha shared their lawyer’s, Lawrence Lustberg’s statement: “We are obviously very disappointed with today’s verdict and feel strongly that it is not consistent with the evidence in the case but more importantly, is not consistent with the truth. That truth is that Michael McMahon never had any idea that he was working for the Chinese Government. If he had, he would not have taken the job or done the work he did. His work in this case was the normal every day work of a private investigator and Mike’s conviction on the stalking counts, as a practical matter, criminalizes the work of private investigators in every case. We will file post-trial motions and, if necessary appeal, until all possible appeals and lawful avenues to challenge this verdict have been exhausted. And I believe that we will ultimately prevail because this conviction is a terrible injustice, one that I do not believe our legal system will allow to stand.”
What do you think about the conviction of Martha Bryne’s husband, Michael McMahon and by all accounts how he has been wrongly convicted? Comment below.
Pride Month Celebrating LGBTQ+ Soap Supercouples: Nuke, Kish, Otalia & WilSon … Which Stands the Test of Time?
June 2, 2023
June is Pride Month, the time when across the U.S and the world there are celebrations and commemorations to recognize all who identify as LGBTQ and their allies.
Daytime soap operas have had a rocky road when it comes to the representation of same-sex couples. The soaps have been at one time leaders in portraying key social issues of our time, as well as treading lightly on other subjects, as to its concerns to ‘turn-off’ its core audiences.
When you look back at the groundbreaking first same-sex weddings, and the first gay kiss, the soaps have come far in some ways in their representations of gay characters, but there is always work to be done to serve and to shed light on the under-represented.
As we reflect back to the then and the now, which LGBTQ soap supercouple remains your favorite and had made a lasting impact? Let’s take a look at four duos who captivated many viewers.
Nuke – Luke Snyder and Noah Mayer – As the World Turns
Van Hansis (Luke) and Jake Silbermann (Noah) were a key part of the evolution of, and representation of LGBTQ character on the soaps. ‘Nuke’, as they were known as, became the first gay male soap couple to share an on-screen kiss back in 2007. ATWT also became known as the first soap to depict a fully realized romantic male couple as an integral part of the show. There was plenty of backlash along the way for the long-awaited kiss to happen, but when it did, the show moved forward to tell their love story.
When Crystal Chappell (Olivia) and Jessica Leccia (Natalia) began to play the love story of Otalia, they had to show their affection by a kiss on the head, or holding hands. It took quite some time for GL to move forward to have two women, two moms, no less, share a lip lock. The complicated love story featured Natalia being conflicted to face her true romantic feelings for Olivia, because of her value system and religions upbringing, and that made this all the more riveting and frustrating at the same time. In the end, the rabid fan base for this duo was so great that Chappell wound up creating her own series, Venice, to honor and serve them, remaining one of the LGBTQ communities greatest allies.
Kish – Kyle Lewis and Oliver Fish – One Life to Live
In 2009, One Life to Live’s Kyle Lewis (Brett Claywell) was an out lab tech in Llanview, who back in college had a relationship with Officer Oliver Fish (Scott Evans). It imploded when Oliver denied he was gay. For years, Oliver remained in the closet, before finally coming out to himself and Kyle.
Kish had been a big success with the media and One Life’s gay audience. LGBTQ-advocacy groups honored the couple and the story. However, Kish was cut short when the network felt that the data showed that the storyline was not resonating with the show’s core audience.
WilSon – Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis – Days of our Lives
Days of our Lives delivered daytime’s first-ever gay male wedding in 2014, between Will (then played by Guy Wilson) and Sonny (then played by Freddie Smith).
In an interview with EW, Days of our Lives executive producer, Ken Corday shared on the union, “Will and Sonny have been together for a while and it was the natural progression of their love story. We didn’t feel like there was anything we could or couldn’t do, we treated them like any other couple on the canvas and continued to grow their romance as such.”
In addition, the coming out story of Will Horton was critically praised and noteworthy for the performances of Chandler Massey, who won three Daytime Emmys for his work in the Outstanding Younger Actor category 2012, 2013 and 2014. Freddie Smith also won in the same category in 2015. Will has been played over the years by Chandler Massey and Guy Wilson, while Sonny has been portrayed by Freddie Smith and Zach Tinker.
There have been several other key LGBTQ couples throughout the course of daytime history including All My Children’s Bianca (Eden Riegel) and Reese (Tamara Braun). These two characters were involved in the first same-sex lesbian wedding on daytime. Problem was … Reese kissed Zach (Thorsten Kaye) before the wedding, making this infuriating for viewers at home.
Other notable LGBTQ couples through the years have included: Bianca and Maggie on All My Children, Mariah and Tessa of The Young and the Restless played bv Camryn Grimes and Cait Fairbanks, Maya and Rick on The Bold and the Beautiful, Lucas and Brad on General Hospital and others.
Which couple do you think has had the most lasting impact on the history of LGBTQ representation on daytime soap operas? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
As the World Turns Castmates Mourn the Loss of Elizabeth Hubbard
April 10, 2023
UPDATED: Monday, the soap world was saddened by the loss of one of the most respected actress ever in the genre, when the news broke of the death of Daytime Emmy-winner, Elizabeth Hubbard.
This powerhouse performer who was best known for her work as Dr. Althea Davis on The Doctors, and as Lucinda Walsh on As the World Turns,died this past Saturday at her home in Connecticut from cancer.
Throughout this afternoon, several of Hubbard’s former As the World Turns castmates took to social media to share their reactions on the passing of this beloved daytime icon. In addition, Retro TV, which has been airing vintage episodes of The Doctors, also paid tribute to Hubbard.
Martha Byrne (ex-Lily, ATWT) shared on her Instagram: As many of you are finding out this morning, Elizabeth Hubbard passed away. First and foremost I want everyone to know I made sure she was aware of how much everyone loved her. I would share your comments from social media, videos and your fond memories of her as Lucinda, Althea, every time I saw her. She loved the audience and fought like HELL to bring truth and honesty to her performances. On a personal level there aren’t words to describe how much she meant to me. Only feelings, which override words in so many cases when it comes to love. I will be sharing more so we can all grieve together but here are our last words together only just a few days ago. I said, “Liz, do you know how much you have done for me?” She said, “You can do more.” Because of what she has done for me over the last 38 years, the strength and fearless nature in how she lived her life, she is right, I can AND WILL do more. I look forward to sharing more about her life, which encompasses so much more than her INCREDIBLE career on daytime television. She also said to me when I told her how much the fans loved her…”I tried.” She more than tried. She left it all on the screen. I’ll miss her every day but grateful the universe gifted me with such a force of nature, of which the world will not see the likes of again. ❤️”
Michael Park (ex-Jack) shared via Twitter: “If Liz was involved in a scene I was lucky enough to be in, I could always count on learning a little something and laughing a whole lot. She was a ferocious talent in love with her craft. One of the greats that will certainly be missed.”
Mary Beth Evans (ex-Sierra, ATWT and now Kayla, DAYS) expressed: “I was so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Elizabeth Hubbard for six years on As the World Turns, where she played my mother. What an amazing powerhouse this woman was … always striving for spontaneity and keeping it real. My favorite times with her were riding in the car from Manhattan to Brooklyn — the stories she would tell were so much fun. Rest in peace, sweet lady. #RIPLIZ#ATWT
Peter Boynton (ex-Tonio, ATWT)added: “Rest in peace, Boss! Working with/for you at ‘Walsh Enterprises’ was a highlight of my NYC years! Your encouragement and respect meant the world to me. I’m raising a glass to you and feel so lucky to have worked with you in that great ‘ATWT’ community. On angels wings. – Peter ‘Tonio Reyes’ Boynton.”
Retro TV expressed: “We are saddened to hear of soap-opera legend Elizabeth Hubbard’s passing at age 89. A force to be reckoned with, Hubbard stole our hearts with her portrayal of Althea Davis on The Doctors. Please share your favorite memories with us as we remember the beloved Elizabeth Hubbard.”
In addition, Alec Baldwin who played Billy Aldrich on The Doctors wrote: “I worked on The Doctors with the great Liz Hubbard. An amazing woman and remarkable actress.”
Michael Fairman TV will continue to update this post as reactions continue from Liz’s colleagues.
What do you think about the remembrances shared thus far from Martha Byrne, Michael Park, Mary Beth Evans and Peter Boynton on working with the great Elizabeth Hubbard? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
We are saddened to hear of soap-opera legend Elizabeth Hubbard’s passing at age 89. A force to be reckoned with, Hubbard stole our hearts with her portrayal of Althea Davis on The Doctors. Please share your favorite memories with us as we remember the beloved Elizabeth Hubbard. pic.twitter.com/Ctb020q6bw