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Miles Gaston Villanueva On Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders: "We Are All Really Grateful To Be Able To Give A Voice To Not Only The Menendez Brothers, But Other People Who Have Suffered Abuse Whether It Be Sexual, Emotional, or Psychological"

16. One Life's, Destiny - One Life To Live

Photo: Paley Center For Media

One of the most highly-anticipated new shows on the fall line-up is NBC‘s Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders. 

The eight-episode season tells the brothers side of the story and the dramatization of the trial of Lyle and Erik who were convicted in 1996 for the murder of their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez. The boys, who were defended by then attorney Leslie Abramson, were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1996.

While Lyle and Erik committed the crime, they were both the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of their parents, which is detailed in this harrowing and powerful series. The point of contention of the real-life story back in the 90’s was were the boys telling the truth about their abuse, or not. As Dick Wolf, the executive producer of the series said during the Paley Center for Media Panel spotlighting the show, “It’s not the ‘who’, at the end of the eight hours, you’re going to really understand the ‘why.’”

On-Air On-Soaps caught up on the red carpet with former Y&R star, Miles Gaston Villanueva (Ex-Luca Santori) who plays Lyle Menendez on the upcoming drama series, as well as his on-screen younger brother, Gus Halper, who plays Erik Menendez at the Paley Center for Media Fall Preview of the series last week.  Here’s what they shared of their experience thus far (as they are currently taping the last few episodes of the season), and their thoughts on inhabiting the lives of these troubled young men, and what they believe to be the truth of what happened behind close doors in the Menendez family.

MILES: Honestly, if I could do this role again in maybe 5 or 10 years, maybe I could do it more justice, but it’s one of the hardest and most difficult tasks to capture and to try to put yourself in their shoes. I know personally, Gus brought me back to a place of authenticity and a darkness, and a really scary truth, that is maybe something that I can’t really fathom, or are to afraid to get into.  This show has been the most challenging thing we both have done.

Photo: Paley Center For Media

GUS:  Far and away, this is the most challenging thing I have done. I feel very confident in what I believe is the truth of what happened.

MILES:  Yes, undeniably and daily.  We have a whole crew of people, and a whole group of people who believe it too, and if they are not saying it or spouting it out, they know the story we are telling.  We are bonding with our family members in the show, and in the production. We are all really grateful to be able to give a voice to not only the Menendez brothers, but other people who have suffered abuse whether it be sexual, emotional, or psychological.

GUS:  There are certain days (during the shooting process) where you get something important, and you’re doing well, and those days make it all worth it.

MILES: I know I have to do turn to Gus and he gives me a reality check with this story.  In the audition process, I got to read with Gus.  I was really fortunate to have read with him, and I know he was a huge reason why I booked this part, because our bond was pretty immediate and deep.

Later inside the panel, when asked if Miles would want to ever meet the man he is portraying, Lyle Menendez, he answered: “That’s a hard question.  I’m just wondering if they (the brothers) wonder how each other is doing.  They have not seen each other in over 2o-some-odd years.  We found out they play chess through the mail.  I have brothers in real life, and Gus is like a brother, and so the idea that while yes, they committed this crime and that was wrong, to not being able to see your brother for decades is just wild to me.  To ask another human being: ‘How are you doing now?’ ‘How is life now?’ It would be insightful, and at the same time really heartbreaking.”‘

Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders premieres Tuesday, September 26th at 10PMEST/9PMCST.

So, will you be watching the series? Think you know all the details of the Menendez Murders? Think again! This show promises to rip the lid off the story, and it should be must-see TV. Comment below!

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I do want to catch this show. Don’t know if it will be as highly rated as a couple of other installments in the Law and order franchise but i do think it will be good for me.

Initially, I wasn’t interested, having “lived” through all the coverage when it happened. But the more I read about it, the more interested I am. It’s on my schedule for the new season & I will definitely be watching.

Love “Law and Order SVU” and “Criminal Intent” (reruns)… much so that I can watch and rewatch reruns over and over.
I will try to watch, albeit I have an antipathy for Villanuema. Not a fan……We shall see, James .

Was the abuse ever really proven?

So he wants to give a voice to killers. Okay. I wont’ be watching.

No, the abuse is still in question. And their actions following the murders didn’t help their claims of abuse.

Consider the source! We have had six thousand movies made of thes killers enough already!

Does anyone agree that there is a bigger problem going on here, especially when you take a look at the fall TV schedule? They’re rehashing EVERYTHING, good or bad, interesting or (usually) not. Scott Peterson specials, live interviews with that creepy Son of Sam, endless noise about O.J. or that poor Jon-Benet Ramsey. Isn’t there anything else they can come up with? Inane reality shows about people I hope I never meet or live next to; Navy Seals; conspiracy-driven maze-plots with no redeeming characters; ever more grisly crime dramas that exploit violence toward women under the guise of realism? And they stand there in shock when a quality drama about interesting people like THIS IS US becomes a hit? Maybe they should ask any one of US what we’d like to see…viewers’ ideas could hardly be any worse.

They can’t seem to come up with new ideas. I read “Miami Vice” will be redone. Why? The original was good, the 2.0 version probably won’t be.

Soaphound…oh, I agree. To me, NOTHING out there on the TV HORIZON is looking new or fresh. Beyond sad.

Have a good one.

Totally agree with your comment Soaphound. I recently found a fun time out from all of the rehashed crap on tv, as well as the daily negative news. It’s reruns of “Murder She Wrote.” Each one is a new adventure in who will be guest stars per episode which include many from our favorite soaps…like John McCook, Eric Braeden, Genie Francis, Judith Chapman, and “Yes” even Constance Towers/Helena. Today it was George Clooney. Probably not for su, though.

Hmmmm, got you–I see what you mean.


Y&R’s Colleen Zenk on the Flipside of Aunt Jordan Tormenting Nikki: “My Relationship with Melody Thomas Scott Has Just been Incredible Since I Got Here”

Viewers of The Young and the Restless were left in disbelief with the arrival of Aunt Jordan, who schemed to have recovering alcoholic, Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott) kidnapped with an IV drip of booze flowing through her veins (and that’s just for starters).

When As the World Turns favorite Colleen Zenk was cast on Y&R, to portray the revenge-filled Aunt Jordan, the top-rated soap got a bit of a spring back into its step.  Zenk spoke this week with CBS San Francisco affiliate KPIX on her return to daytime and how she is getting along with the cast and crew at the CBS daytime drama.

In speaking with KPIX anchor, Gianna Franco, Colleen expressed: “Tthe fact that they welcomed me with such open arms and love, it really freed me up, because of how they received me and made me feel incredibly welcome, and not just the cast. I mean, the entire production, the crew, the staff, the directors, the writers … everybody from the top down.”

Photo: JPI

Hard to believe, but as Colleen shared, throughout her years in daytime she had never spoken with Y&R’s iconic star, Melody Thomas Scott, who she now has a budding on-screen rivalry with. Things have certainly changed.

Colleen added, “My relationship with Melody Thomas Scott has just been incredible since I got here.  She and I had never had a conversation before until the day I walked on the set. It’s just been fabulous. I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying that.”

Photo: CBS

And walk in she did! Zenk shared that her casting had been kept top-secret at the show. No one really knew she was on the call sheet or the cast list at the time. To keep it mum, Colleen revealed, “My name was not anywhere. They did not have “Colleen Zenk” in print. So, when I finally did show up on November 17th (on-air) it was shock.”

Check out the segment where Colleen speaks on her Y&R adventure thus far below.

Are you looking forward to seeing … Nikki get her revenge on Aunt Jordan for all she put her through? More scenes between Colleen and Melody?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Guiding Light

Matt Bomer Reveals More On Why He Turned Down ‘Barbie’ Role as a Ken

Guiding Light alum Matt Bomer (ex-Ben Reade) is currently receiving rave reviews for his performance in Showtime’s Fellow Travelers and the motion picture Maestro.

However, on the December 6th episode of The Tonight Show, Bomer revealed more intel on why he decided to pass on an opportunity to appear in the summer blockbuster Barbie. Matt was in heavy consideration to play a Ken in Greta Gerwig’s smash hit starring Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie.

The in-demand star told Jimmy Fallon,”I had some projects in development, and I wasn’t sure if they were gonna happen or when they were gonna happen. So, I auditioned. I mean, I dressed up like Malibu Ken. I dressed up like Business Suit Ken. I had like four different looks going on. I have pictures of this.” Bomer shared that, “he really got into it.”

Photo: Warner Bros/Mattel

In the end, the timing just wasn’t right for Bomer who shares three sons with his husband, Simon Halls.  Matt expressed, “I was talking with Greta, I was looking forward to doing it and then the things in development came to fruition, and I would have been away from my family for a year, which was just too much time away.”

As for how the cast shook out for Barbie, Bomer gave a thumbs up, “I think they made a perfect movie, and it was cast perfectly.”

Photo: AP

Bomer does not regret his decision because in the end he “got to do Fellow Travelers and Maestro and spend time with my family.” In Fellow Travelers, Matt stars in what he deemed on The Tonight Show as ‘the gay The Way We Were.”  Bomer plays opposite Jonathan Bailey in the series.  In Maestro, Bomer plays clarinettist David Oppenheim, who was one of Leonard Bernstein’s lovers.

Photo: CBS

On Guiding Light, daytime soap fans remember that Bomer played Ben Reade for two years from 2001-2003. The character was revealed to be a male prostitute and a serial killer before his death. Matt had told the producers before he exited, “Just throw the kitchen sink at me, and they did.”

Watch Matt’s segment on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon below.  Now let us know, do you wish he would have played a Ken in the Barbie movie? Have you caught his performances in ‘Fellow Travelers’ and soon Maestro?  What do you recall about his work as GL’s troubled Ben Reade? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Breaking News

Ellen Holly, Groundbreaking Actress of ‘One Life to Live’, Passes Away at 92

Ellen Holly, who portrayed Carla Gray on ABC’s One Life to Live, had died at the age of 92.  Her death was confirmed by her cousin Grant Shipp via his Facebook page. The groundbreaking actress passed away on December 5th.

Holly appeared on One Life from October 1968 through December 1980, and from May 1983 through December 1985.  In his post, Shipp related of Holly, “She was a pioneer in daytime television. Starring on One Life to live for 20 years. Playing Lawrence Fishburns mother on the show. She appeared in several movies, and performed on stage with the greatest black actors of her generation. Sidney Poitier, Harry Beafonte, Cicely Tyson, Robert Hooks, James Earl Jones to name a few. You had One Life to Live and it was amazing Life. You were simply one of the best. Now you know the secret. God rest your soul.”

Following several theatre roles, Holly came to One Life to Live and took on the role of Carla Benari. Secretly, she was born Clara Gray, and eventually went by the name of Carla Gray. Agnes Nixon, iconic creator of the soap opera, wanted to tell an important social issue of the times, when in story, Carla was passing herself as white, in order to get a job. This was also an issue Holly faced in real-life and shared publicly in an essay she wrote for the New York Times, “How Black Do You Have To Be?”

Photo: ABC

In story for the first five months, the audience thought Carla was white. However, in a landmark moment, Carla came face-to-face with her mother, Sadie (Lillian Hayman) who was a housekeeper. Her mother felt she betrayed her race. Carla was embroiled in an interracial relationship with a white doctor, Jim Craig (Nat Polen), who was her boss at the hospital. Caral also was involved with another resident Prince who was Black. After breaking it off with Jim, Carla came clean about her race.

Eventually, Holly would star opposite Daytime Emmy-winner, Al Freeman Jr., and the love story of Carla and Ed Hall, became a fan favorite in the soaps earlier years.  The couple adopted a teenaged son, Joshua played by now motion picture star, Laurence Fishburne. When Ed and Carla’s relationship fell apart, she eventually remarried Dr. Jack Scott played by Arthur Burghardt.

Photo: ABC

Holly said in a 1979 interview with Ebony magazine, “There are enormous stretches in this country where they don’t know anything about Black people…Our viewers tend to regard us as neighbors. People at the supermarket, total strangers, will throw their arms around you and treat you as a neighbor…My mother on the show has been a domestic and is now head of the housekeeping staff at the hospital; my ex-husband on the show is a policeman, and Arthur [Burghardt] plays a brilliant heart surgeon…I think we’ve opened up our viewers’ heads a little bit more to the variety that exists in the Black race. And the more that happens, the slower somebody will be — when they’re confronted with any given Black person — to jump to conclusions about who and what that person is.”

After Holly departed the show in 1980, she later returned to Llanview in 1983, at that time, Carla was now an assistant district attorney. She also was reunited with Ed Hall. Ellen last played the role in 1985.

Share your remembrances for One Life to Live’s Ellen Holly via the comment section and make sure to check out Holly speaking on the importance of her early storyline with the Television Academy below.


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Peter Reckell returns for a second visit with Michael Fairman following the wrap-up of his recent run as Bo Brady on Days of our Lives.Leave A Comment

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