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SCOTT, TOM, STAFFORD INTERVIEWS -IN LA MAGAZINE, SOAPS IN THE CITY

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By Michael Fairman

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JAMES SCOTT

DAYS OF OUR LIVES

Days of our Lives’ James Scott raises temperatures daily on TV screens playing sexy, charming, bad boy EJ Wells. Scott has just been named this year’s, “Soap Adonis 2008,” voted on by the readers of Soaphunks.net. This is his second year voted as, “the hottest male actor on daytime.” Scott hails from Newcastle, England. A world traveler, he had made stops in under-privileged nations for humanitarian efforts. The sexy Brit took time out of his acting schedule to pose for our latest cover and answer some of our most burning questions.

MICHAEL:

Why did you decide to participate in the “IN LA” cover shoot for “Soaps in the City”?

JAMES:

I did not think I went through a process of making a decision. I knew you had asked me and it was a great opportunity to do a cover. I don’t get asked to do covers very often. I felt quite flattered.

MICHAEL:

Since we are doing this benefit, “Soaps in the City” for AIDS Walk Los Angeles to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles, what are your thoughts about the current AIDS crisis? Do you feel that in the United States it has been pushed under the table more now than in recent years, and less at the forefront?

scott91508_805011.jpgJAMES:

I am not going to pretend to be an expert. However, when I was living and working in New York for example, I did some work with an AIDS hospice with kids who were HIV+, whose parents had died. Some of the children had been put in care facilities when their parents could not deal with them anymore. That was because children born with HIV have a lot of problems, and they all seemed to fall in the same socio-economic demographic. They were the people who had no voice. If it was a disease that affected the most affluent one percent of society, you can be pretty sure it would have been a major election and political issue. I think you will find that it falls to the smaller social groups be it: race, economic, social, or sexual statuses, who tend to have less of a voice in this country. The problem is in America; there is this idea where you can live with AIDS now. Now, if you go into other parts of the world, such as in Africa, you can’t. They are not living with AIDS. They are dying with AIDS.

MICHAEL:

You are quite the accomplished world traveler, so perhaps you have seen more of this pandemic than other soap stars?

JAMES:

I have more experience than someone who has not left his or her armchair, and you see what you see, and it lends you to have somewhat of an opinion, while not a mission, but you have a little more information to base your perspective on.

MICHAEL:

In the latest Nielsen ratings that just came out 22% of the audience were males ages 18-49 while women were 26% 18-49, not much of a difference. Men are watching the soaps but it seemingly goes unnoticed. Why do you think that is?

scott91508_804991.jpgJAMES:

People do not notice that men watch daytime. It has a smaller male following. It is paid less attention to, because if you want to get into the business behind the soaps, the advertisers who are looking to sell into the show are looking for women 18-49, that’s their market. So, they don’t cater the show for men in that way, and they are not well represented. But, I am really happy to hear that we have a large number of men watching “Days of our Lives”. I don’t care who you are; it’s an addictive thing. You start watching, and it’s hard to switch off. It’s frustrating! I was talking to our new executive producer, Gary Tomlin the other day, and he said, “When they get to the end of my show, I want the viewers to be so angry at me,
and angry at the fact that that they have to tune in the next day. It’s that reaction which is built into the ways soap operas work. I don’t care if you are a man or a woman, you are left with a piece of information you have to know and crave.

MICHAEL:

What do you think fans of your character, EJ Wells, can expect in the coming months, now that there is a new executive producer at “DAYS”?

JAMES:

I don’t know what that means for EJ. They are making changes with the writing since Gary Tomlin came on board, and I think it’s a good thing. I hope the audience will like it and it will be more compelling to them, and in turn they will invest in it. I think Gary has a good vision for the show, and the support of the writers in his vision, which is very important. There is some stuff coming up with EJ that will keep him on the canvas… in the long term, I don’t know.

MICHAEL:

Being very attractive and one of the hottest men on daytime screens, are photo shoots like this easy for you?

JAMES:

I hate photo shoots. I hate it. I am incredibly self-conscious. I have never felt comfortable in them. Now people will take photos of me when I don’t know they are taking them and they come out very nicely. One thing is when people come up behind me and want me to smile at fan events, then I can’t smile! It’s tough. I am probably not the easiest subject to photograph.


HEATHER TOM
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THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

A political activist and accomplished actress, the outspoken Heather Tom plays Katie Logan on CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful. Tom has received two Daytime Emmy awards, and has become the only actress under the age 35 to receive a record 12 nominations. Fans may also recognize her for her work on The Young and the Restless and One Life to Live. The IN Los Angeles cover girl has always been a good friend to the LGBT community in supporting its fight for equality. She sat down and with me and chatted about her work for the Barack Obama campaign, the current state of HIV/AIDS and what’s next for Ms. Logan!

MICHAEL:

Heather, you have been so politically active and socially conscious for so many years, and currently, I know you are out on the campaign trail on the weekends!

HEATHER:

I am working for Obama right now, and we are working hard to bring change to America. The other issue is for the proposition 8 issues for people living in California. I think it’s important they have to vote “No”. A lot of people are confused as to what this is, and basically it means they want to strip rights away that have been granted by the Supreme Court of California. We have to make sure they fail in their efforts, and that they are exposed for the hate-mongers they are.


MICHAEL:

What is your feeling on the state of the domestic awareness of HIV and AIDS?
tom91508_804153.jpgHEATHER:

Unfortunately, for the last 8 years the focus has shifted from domestic AIDS issues to international AIDS issues, because it suited the Bush administration. Then, they could get away with telling other countries what to do, and not have to talk about contraception here in the States…. which is one of the main ways of combating the spread of HIV. Also, they have shied away from domestically talking about HIV. It’s still an issue! It’s a killer, and people are dying from it! Luckily, we have had major medical advances where people are living longer, but it’s not cured, and it’s not chronic. It’s not holding steady. The numbers are going up. It’s definitely an issue we need to focus on here domestically. I think HIV is also so much more prevalent in the African American and Latino communities, that I think Obama will be a presence who will focus on domestic issues regarding HIV.

MICHAEL:

What’s coming up next for your character, Katie Logan, on “B&B”?

HEATHER:

It’s so funny. They don’t tell me anything. I get these scripts, and I go, “Oh, that’s good to know!”


MICHELLE STAFFORD

horizontal4shot1.jpgYOUNG AND THE RESTLESS

As the sexy, brash, unpredictable schemer Phyllis Summers Newman on the top-rated daytime soap, CBS’s The Young and the Restless, Michelle Stafford is one of the most critically heralded and lauded actresses of the soap genre. The two-time Daytime Emmy winner and IN Los Angeles cover girl sat down and discussed the cover shoot, soap fans and her philanthropic efforts.

MICHAEL:

Do you like doing photo shoots? You seemed to have a great time with us for the ”IN LA” cover shoot!

MICHELLE:

I liked the “IN LA” cover shoot; because I got to hang out with people I never get to see. It was nice to get to know James. I just met him. I had briefly met Kimberly a few times before this, and to catch up with Heather Tom was great. It was cool! I usually am not a fan of photo shoots, because most of the time it’s the same thing, same pose, and the same look, and they can get boring. This shoot was different and it was fun to be a part of it.

MICHAEL:

You have participated in AIDS Walk Los Angeles before, correct?

MICHELLE:

I have done it three times in a row… of course! I did it a couple of times with my sister and my mom, just the three of us… like normal people… and then one time with my show, “Y&R”. It’s great fun! You are doing something for someone…and for people. Everyone feels good with that going on.

MICHAEL:

What are your thoughts on HIV and AIDS awareness here in our country, with the rise in HIV+ cases this past year? Do you feel some of the focus has been shifted away from this disease because people are now, “living with HIV”?

MICHELLE:

I think, in the beginning, it was so misunderstood this new virus that came out of nowhere. Certainly people were leaving us right and left. I think since we have some medications that gave us a handle on it somewhat, then it’s like, “OK. We’re good. We have a handle on it.” I think it’s just normal for people to do that. Listen, I raise money for many things, and believe me; a lot is going to AIDS research. If you think that people are looking the other way, that ain’t happening, comparatively to other things. There are a lot of different cancers that people don’t donate to. I have noticed that’s where it’s hard to get money from… lung cancer for one. The rise of people who don’t smoke and who get lung cancer is heightening. The reason a lot of people don’t donate to lung cancer, is because there is this perception that: “It’s you. You smoke, and it’s your own fault.” It’s been very difficult to get donations in the past. It’s really since Dana Reeves died from it, and she was not a smoker, nor was Christopher Reeves, that it changed a bit. AIDS is still getting a lot of attention and money. However, I think there was just more attention in the media previously, because so many celebrities passed away from it. That’s just how it is! If somebody in the public eye gets taken by one of these diseases, it gets noticed more.


MICHAEL:

Have you lost people close to you to AIDS?

MICHELLE:

Oh God, of course! We are in the arts and there are so many creative men and women who have been taken by this.

MICHAEL:

You have always been so supportive in your humanitarian efforts for many charities. What compels you to give back ? Have you always felt the need to give back?

MICHELLE:

I feel that people with a lot of things and a lot of money, who buy pretty things, and don’t do things with it, are just the most boring people in the world. They are the most angry, most selfish, and they are stuck to their things. I would rather stick 16,000 needles in my eye than hang out with somebody like that. There is nothing wrong with having things, if you have the money to buy it, but if you are not giving back you are just a very sad individual, to me.

MICHAEL:

I always think, “How can people not support people in need when they have the means to help out?”

MICHELLE:

It’s not about the money, because I do things to raise money for many different causes. You know, 20% of the time, it’s not people who have a lot of money who are donating. It’s mostly the people who do not have the money that donate! It’s phenomenal and it eludes me. That’s amazing! When I did the September 11th fundraiser, I got a huge check from a little child who was on, “GH”. I got $250 from this child, and I also got $250 (from a person who shall remain nameless) who makes a lot more money than this little boy. So, it’s just where you heart and soul is.

michelleblackdress1.jpgMICHAEL:

A recent Nielsen Ratings report came out showing that 6 Million men (22% of the 18-49 yr. old male demographic) of the audience are watching the soaps. So many gay men have spoken to me about loving the soaps, and they are a very big core part of the loyal audience. It’s time we recognize them.

MICHELLE:

And they are all Phyllis fans, girl! (She laughs) I have to say, “I have yet to meet a gay man who is not a ‘Phyllis’ fan.”

MICHAEL:

But I think it’s great that we acknowledge that gay men can “come out of the closet” and admit they watch the soaps, too!

MICHELLE:

Of course! I even hate to say, “Oh, the Gay people. It’s just people.” If we must point out an audience as being gay, then all right, but the soaps are a guilty pleasure and guilty fun. You get to talk with your girlfriends about it, or your co-workers. It’s just fun to do. Soaps are for anybody who likes to have fun.


MICHAEL:

Who is Phyllis Summers Newman? How would you explain the character you portray on “Y&R” to someone who has never watched the show?
darkdress1.jpgMICHELLE:

She is a completely damaged woman, who is always trying to win the prize and never gets it.

MICHAEL:

Have you always enjoyed the different storylines, journeys, and challenges that Phyllis has gotten the chance to take on “Y&R”?

MICHELLE:

I have always enjoyed the challenges. The last couple years, Phyllis has been a little tamer than she once was. Some people on the street go, “I like Phyllis. She is not as mean anymore.” However, reporters say to me, “When are you going to be vindictive and conniving again?” It’s interesting to me. I like the change in Phyllis and it’s something different to play. I have been playing her for 11 years now. You want to have ebbs and flows, and not always play the same thing. So, it’s been nice to be a little bit different over these past few years.

MICHAEL:

But, Phyllis has to remain redeemable no matter what bad deeds she does, right?

MICHELLE:

I think that’s kind of up to me. Even when you play a villain in soap operas, you have to give the audience the reason why you are doing what you are doing. It’s day in and day out. You have to allow the audience to be on the same journey with you and your character, or they will check out, and they will not invest in the story.

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Cady McClain & Rob Scott Wilson Talk Being Recasts, All My Children Reboot, Future of Cin & Jennifer’s Bitch-Slap

Current Days of our Lives and former All My Children reboot stars, Cady McClain (Jennifer, Days, Ex-Dixie, AMC) and Rob Scott Wilson (Ben, Days, Ex-Pete AMC) chat with Michael Fairman in an enlightening and exclusive conversation for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

McClain, who recently took over the role of Days of our Lives beloved heroine Jennifer Horton from mainstay Melissa Reeves (who chose to stay with her family in Nashville during Covid-19 thus forcing the series to recast the role for now) talks about stepping into the key part of the Salem canvas, plus the recent Jennifer/Kate fight over Jack (Matthew Ashford), and how the legacy series is coping with production during Covid-19.

Cady is no stranger to be a recast.  She was the second actress to play Dixie on ABC’s All My Children, as well as the second actress to play Rosanna on As the World Turns, and she had previously taken over the role of Kelly Andrews on The Young and the Restless.

Photo: JPI

Rob, talks about landing the role of Ben and being a recast, and in an emotional moment, reveals how he credits the opportunity to the late producer, Lisa de Cazotte. Wilson also shares his hopes for his Salem alter-ego who is struggling to move on with his life after the supposed death of his wife, Ciara.

The actor also opens up on if DAYS decided to recast the role of Ciara, since Victoria Konefal is not presently with the NBC soap full-time, how he would feel about it and thus the future of Cin.

Photo: JPI

Both Cady and Rob first appeared together in Prospect Park’s online revival of All My Children. In this interview, they discuss how they had high hopes for the continuation of the series, how it ultimately fizzled, and what it was like to be a part of the then, groundbreaking first, for a daytime drama series along with One Life to Live.

Photo: TOLN

In addition, Cady gives the viewer insight on how she runs lines for both DAYS and GH at home with her real-life husband, Jon Lindstrom (Kevin and Ryan, GH), while Rob talks about his recent storyline where Ben was kidnapped and tortured by a vengeful Eve (Kassie DePavia) and much more.

Check out the full chat with Cady and Rob below. Then weigh-in: How would you feel if there was a Ciara recast? What are your hopes for the holidays for Jennifer? What did you think of the stories shared by Cady and Rob in the interview? Comment below, and if you have not done so already make sure to “subscribe” to the Michael Fairman Channel for more celebrity interviews.

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Interviews

B&B’s Matthew Atkinson Weighs-In On Daytime’s Wildest Storyline, The Hope Mannequin & What’s Really Going On With Thomas

If you think you’ve seen it all on daytime soap operas, think again! Over the past several weeks viewers of CBS Daytime’s The Bold and the Beautiful have been witness to fashion designer Thomas Forrester’s (Matthew Atkinson) descent into madness, or is it?

In B&B’s thriller-esque storyline, complete with tight close-ups and tilted angles of Thomas and his co-star, the Hope Mannequin – yup, you read that right, the series is taking the audience on one wild ride, something we have not seen the likes of since back in the hey day of the late head writer, James Reilly, during his tenure on Days of our Lives or Passions.

Photo: JPI

Inspired by, believe it or not, true life events, B&B’s head writer and executive producer, Brad Bell and his creative team have served up a story generated off all of the buzz the show was receiving for using mannequins as scene partners for the actors in intimate moments to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.  B&B was the first American show back in production amid the pandemic.

 

Within this twisted tale, Thomas has the life-like version of Hope Logan Spencer (Annika Noelle) at home with him.  Those who have stumbled upon him with the mannequin, well, he has been able to explain that away by saying that having the doll with him is helping him create some of the best designs of his career.

The problem is the mannequin is talking to Thomas, it’s eyes have often turned devil-red, and on Friday’s episode it walked!  It’s objective is to get Thomas to kill Liam (Scott Clifton) and to get Hope back to be his one and only. Throughout many of the scenes in the storyline, Thomas suffers from what appears to be severe headaches.  All of this leading the audience to believe either … he has a brain tumor … he is being drugged … he is suffering from a severe mental break and disorder, or something else.

Photo: JPI

In a very candid and often humorous conversation with Michael Fairman for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Thomas’ portrayer, Matthew Atkinson, discusses some of the craziest scenes to shoot thus far including Thomas having dinner with the mannequin!  In addition, Atkinson reveals how he and Annika Noelle tape the scenes where she is the voice of the Hope mannequin while adhering to safety protocols,  and how Liam is the only one, apparently, thinking something is off with Thomas, and so much more.

Photo: Gilles Toucas

One thing is for certain, Matthew Atkinson is sinking his teeth into the material and making it must-see daytime drama through his performances while we all wait to see what the possessed mannequin does next.

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

Then let us know, what do you think is happening or wrong with Thomas? Are you getting a kick out of the Hope Mannequin storyline? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

 

 

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Interviews

Eric Nelsen Talks Latest Film, Becoming a Tony-Nominated Producer, ‘The Bay’, and His Elizabeth Gillies & Ariana Grande Connection

You can catch All My Children reboot alum, Eric Nelsen (Ex-AJ Chandler), just about everywhere this month, and that’s hard to do given that we are all living in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this Daytime Emmy-winning actor has his hands in a myriad of projects of late including: appearing on season six of The Bay (new episodes every Tuesday on Popstar! TV) where he continues to play Daniel’s journey after the character has come to terms with his sexuality and finds love, plus his comedic turn in the film, 1 Night in San Diego, and recently becoming a Tony-nominated producer along with his wife Sainty for the critically-acclaimed, and now 11 times nominated Broadway play, The Inheritance.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Eric to get the lowdown on his busy professional life, and we were in for some surprises along the way including: what the producers of AMC had in mind for the character of AJ that ultimately did not happen, and that Eric starred on Broadway with Elizabeth Gillies (Fallon, Dynasty) and Pop superstar, Ariana Grande – and there’s more to that story below.

 

What makes Nelsen so good at what he does on-screen is that he is a like a chameleon; adept at playing the quirky, to the troubled bad boys, to the emotional heart-tugging anti-hero. So here’s what Eric had to say in this fascinating conversation.

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

Your latest film appearance in 1 Night in San Diego is out this week on multiple streaming on-demand platforms from: Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and more. Tell me about the movie and when did you film this?

ERIC:  We filmed it near San Diego, not this past February, but last February, and it’s hilarious.  It’s a female-driven comedy.  The cast is incredible.  Alexandra Daddario, who is just epic, and Jenna Ushkowitz, and Laura Ashley Samuels, they truly bring it in this powerhouse comedy, and it’s just one of those make-you -laugh movies from beginning to end, just silly, stupid stuff happening the whole time.  General Hospital’s Mark Lawson (Dustin) is also in the film.  While we don’t work in scenes together, I did get a chance to meet him and he’s a really great guy.  I play this off-the-wall character, named Gordo, who is a real burn-out, think Matthew McConaughey meets space cadet, which was a lot of fun to play.  Gordo is a great role.  I had more fun with this part than I’ve had in a long time.  So, it was cool to throw a comedy into all of the drama I have been playing in my other projects.

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

ERIC:  One of the girls knew him back in the day, so they were in town looking to reconnect, and she’s like, “Oh, we want to party and let’s hit up Gordo,” and they do.  He has just gone completely off the rails, off the deep end with spirituality and kind of in his own world. They find themselves in quite a predicament when they come visit what they didn’t know was a commune, basically.  Gordo creates this hippie commune for a bunch of outcast musicians, (laughs) and I don’t want to give too much away, but a lot of interesting stuff happens there.

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

In addition, you are now a Tony-nominated producer for the play The Inheritance!

ERIC: That was crazy, because it’s always been a dream of mine to produce for Broadway.  That was how I got into the world of film and TV acting, which was through the theatre.  That’s where I started.  I was lucky enough to star on Broadway when I was 16 and 17, in a musical called, 13.  I started with Ariana Grande! It was so fun.

Wait, what?

ERIC:  Yeah, that was her first big show, and Elizabeth Gillies’.

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

ERIC:  Oh yeah, and you know she and I dated for two and a half years during the whole run of the show 13.  Elizabeth is very talented.   She is amazing.  The funny part of it is, we were dating forever, and kind of had a bad breakup, and then Sainty, my wife, gets cast in her show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, in the pilot to play Liz’s best friend on the series.  So, all of the sudden, I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, out of all the shows, all of the things, this is who you have to get cast as best friends with?” and so they actually became really, really, close friends.  So, I’d actually come home from work or filming, and Liz would be on my couch sitting there giggling with Sainty.  I’m like, “This is just becoming too much.  This is a full-circle moment here.  I can’t deal.” (Laughs)

Now, you and Elizabeth are broken up at this point?

ERIC:  Yes.  We had been broken up at this point.  Sainty and I were actually together.  I started dating Sainty in New York and the pilot she was shooting was in New York, and she gets cast as Liz’s best friend, and I was like, “Oh, of course.”

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

ERIC:  Yes, so dying.  Dying.   You know, it’s just one of those things that in a million years, you would never expect this to happen, and of course, Sainty and her had to become best friends in real life because they’re both great girls, and naturally, they would be friends, but now, I’m like this guy stuck in the middle who can’t believe what’s happening, and thought that was one chapter, and this is a different chapter, and now the chapters are combining.  It’s kind of a comedy act.

Photo: JPI

Since Ariana Grande was on Broadway with you and Liz, what was she like back then before her meteoric rise to fame?

ERIC:  Ariana was literally the sweetest, most innocent, and cutest – like my little sister.   To me, it was like, Liz and I were dating, and Ari was kind of like the little sister.  All of a sudden the show ended. Ariana got a Nickelodeon show, and after that, she became the most famous person in the world and was like this sex icon, and I couldn’t get over it.   She’s always had that talent with her voice and in 13 she was an ensemble member.  She wasn’t even one of the leads, but her voice was so incredible, even then as a young teenager.  I thought she was going to go on to have this great Broadway career as an actress and do musicals her whole life just because of her voice.  Then, all of the sudden, right after the musical, we all auditioned for the same Nickelodeon show.  I ended up going to the finals for the boyfriend role, Liz got the girlfriend role, and Ari got the funny friend on the show role.  That kind of catapulted them into the TV world, and Ari got a spinoff because of her character on that show for another Nickelodeon show, called Sam and Cat, and then after Sam and Cat, she went from this innocent, sweet, little Nickelodeon girl that I knew to being the biggest star.  It was unbelievable to me.

Photo: Broadway World

So, you started on Broadway as a teenager, and you found you always wanted to produce for the Great White Way? 

ERIC:  Yes, I did the Broadway thing, and then I got into film and TV, and then I got into film and TV producing.  As an actor, there are a lot of ups, a lot of downs.  So, in between the ups, I wanted to fill my time, so I got into producing, and I loved it.  I loved creating.  As an actor, we just show up, and everything is already done.  All we have to do is say our lines.  We get pampered, and we go home, but I wanted to know how it got to that point, like what happens before that.  So, I started producing film and found some success doing that, and it was so much fun for me.  Sainty’s and my first love, and what feels like home, is theatre.  So, I wanted to take it full circle and produce a Broadway show.  I just thought that would be such an incredible moment, and so that’s what I did.  I started emailing all of the Broadway producers who I had worked with as an actor, letting them know what I had been doing, kind of the success I had gotten from producing The Bay and some of these other things. Different shows came across my desk that I didn’t quite bite the bullet on, a couple of which I wish I would have, Dear Evan Hansen being one of them.  I would have been so rich by now!  (Laughs)

I just want to clarify for people who might not know, the word “producer” can mean different things.  There are “producers” who are putting money in … they’re backing projects or shows.  There are other people who are “producers” on the creative side of projects.  So, when you’re talking about producing a Broadway show, it is as an investor?

ERIC:  So for theatre, unless you’re the head producer who kind of gets creative control, every other producer listed in the credits is basically helping raise finances and is also very heavily involved in the process of everything else along the way, which is also what makes it special.  So finally, The Inheritance came across our desk, and it checked every single box.  It was just an epic play.  It’s a two-part play, and it’s just hours and hours and hours long.  You see it in multiple days or in multiple shows.  I remember reading the script and not stopping until I finished.  I was like, “This is amazing,” and it had just come off of a huge commercial successful run in London.  It won the Olivier Award for “Best New Play” and just about every other award you could win, and so I was like, “This is the one.  This is incredible.  I love the piece, love the message, and pulled the trigger,” and I would have done it all over again if we could.

Photo: Broadway World

The Inheritance is a generational piece centering on gay men during the AIDS crisis.  What can you say about it to those who don’t know about it, or have not seen it yet?

ERIC:  It takes place in the past, and then it fasts forward to the future.  You see two generations of gay men in New York City, and it’s all about the AIDS crisis, and so you’re bawling crying, and then you’re laughing throughout it.  It’s just one of those epic plays that pulls at every single emotion and you feel like you’re watching a movie.

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s definitely its own thing.  It’s actually an adaptation of Howard’s End, the novel by Forster, definitely different from Angels in America, but the two-part show is kind of what I was meaning by that.  People have said it is kind of our generation’s Angel’s in America in tone and subject matter.  It was just a dream come true, and like all other theatre that was open during our season, it had to close because of the pandemic, and it will have life after Broadway.  We are already slated for the Geffen Playhouse in LA, so I’m very excited for all of my LA friends and the public to get to see it.

Courtesy/ENelsen

And you get nominated in the year that the coronavirus pandemic shut down live theatre! But it is my understanding we still do not have a date for handing out this year’s Tony Awards.

ERIC:  No, we do not.  They finally announced that they were going to announce nominations, and for a while we didn’t even know that they were going to do that.  We received 11 nominations, which is incredible.  We were so excited.  I truly thought the American Theatre Wing and the Tony committee were not going to do the Tonys at all, and so we were just like, “I can’t believe the one year we pull the trigger on the show, this isn’t going to happen for us,” but then thank God, they came to their senses.  There were plenty of shows that opened and needed to be recognized.

How long was it open on Broadway?

ERIC:  We were open from September 2019 through February or March.  So, as long as your submission was open on Broadway before Covid-19 and had at least all of its previews and an opening night before Covid-19 hit, then you could qualify, and then in the play category, there were like 10 plays that had opened last year that were contenders.  So, that was definitely the hardest category.   It will be interesting to see what happens after all of this.  The only good thing I know that is going to come from this is the amount of creatives who have had so much time sitting at home to create and write, that there will be so many new scripts and plays and musicals that are going to come from this.  I think it’s’ going to be the biggest boom that we’ve probably ever seen in theatre, just because there’s been so much time to develop stuff.  At the same time, it’s piggybacking on the darkest time that theatre has ever seen.

Throughout the pandemic, I always stream all of the Broadway Actor’s Fund events.  It’s really sad.  It’s just a difficult time, those in the arts are struggling and especially in the live theatre and also musicians who can’t tour or play gigs in front of an audience. I know they said Broadway is closed through May 31, 2021.

ERIC:  It is really hard.  I’m happy that we are able to find other ways like streaming shows.  I’m actually producing a big benefit for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS that will be airing on World AIDS Day, December 1st.  It’s a show called Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.  The cast we have is everybody from Nathan Lane, to Academy Award winner J. K. Simmons.  It’s insane.  It will be streaming online on the Broadway HD network.  It is a huge list of Broadway stars and a lot of movie and TV stars as well that are participating.  We’ve got people from all over the map.

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

ERIC:  (Laughs)  Ari is not in it, actually!

Photo: Prospect Park

So, in this week’s latest episode of The Bay, your character of Daniel Garrett makes his final choice for love between Caleb (Mike Manning) and Matthew (Randy Wayne).  When you came to the show, did you know that this part was going to wind-up being a gay character?

ERIC:  No, I did not.  I think I dropped a bird in Gregori Martin’s (creator, The Bay) ear by telling him that before All My Children ended, they were going to have my character of AJ Chandler have a storyline where he is gay.  The producers sat me down and talked through an entire storyline arc with me.  Basically, Ginger Smith (ex-executive producer, All My Children) and Alison, our casting director, and one other person from the show, took me to lunch in New York. They pitched me what they wanted to do for my character, and asked me if I would be comfortable with it, and they wanted my opinion, everything.  It was really cool how they approached it, and I was like, “100% completely.”  I look at what Chandler Massey (Ex-Will Horton) did on Days and where that brought him and his storyline, and I thought, “Yes, there’s going to be so much more depth and stuff to play than just being this fun little rich kid.”  At the time, there really wasn’t much depth to AJ.  So, I was like, “Yes.  I will be all over it.  Absolutely.”  So, I told Gregori that, and I don’t know if he already had something in his mind or not, or if that influenced it at all, but maybe he just figured that was something that would work well, and up till that point, I guess they didn’t really have that on the show.  Regardless, no, I wasn’t aware that that was the direction it was going in, but I was really happy with my storyline and it’s grown a lot since then, and in this current season especially.  It’s really given me an arc to play, which I’ve enjoyed.

Photo: LANYEntertainment

So for those who may not know let’s do a re-set.  Where is the character of Daniel at? It seems like he is at crossroads, and is making some important decisions, or trying to.

ERIC:  So Daniel was a wild party boy in the beginning, just head in the clouds, lives life with thinking there’s no repercussions and just doing what you want to do all of the time, and that got him into a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol. Then, we realize why Daniel has been the way he is, and why he acts out, and why he has been so all over the place, and it’s because he hasn’t been able to come to terms with who he is.  Then, he admits it to himself and for the first time to somebody else – who happens to be his priest in a catholic church, ironically –  that he is gay and this is what he has been battling with.  For the first time (and I don’t know where on television it has depicted it this way), but the catholic priest looks at Daniel, and he’s like, “What’s your sin?  You haven’t sinned.  This is perfectly fine.”  So, I love that Gregori made that the outlet for which Daniel was able to basically come to terms with who he was, because he grew up in the church, and so he was always told that it was wrong.  Obviously, it’s not wrong, or obviously the church needs to change their mindset, but on The Bay, he chose that to be the outlet through which he came out, which I thought was really powerful.  Through that, Daniel experimented with other boys and such to figure out where he wanted to land, and then in this newest season, I can’t say much that gives anything away, but for the first time, we really see Daniel’s growth, and he’s making decisions, and the most mature we’ve ever seen him, and it’s been really cool to see that come full circle.  He’s making commitments to himself.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

ERIC:  Obviously, that’s who it works with,  Caleb is a teacher and a great guy.

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

ERIC:  He is… he’s just not the great guy for him.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

This season of The Bay is heavily steeped with social issues of our time.  Covid-19 has come to Bay City and the Black Lives Matter movement also plays prominently.

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s kind of the beginning of the pandemic in The Bay and within all of the intense drama that Daniel has been having, he is still, for all intent and purposes the comedic relief of the show, and so there is a funny scene where I’m carrying like 28,000 rolls of toilet paper like, “Come on, guys.  We’ve got to stock up!”  We all remember those days, don’t we?

Photo: JPI

How do you feel about this season of the show and your work in it? You’ve previously won a Daytime Emmy for your performances on The Bay.

ERIC:  This season is more cemented in a character that has truly grounded himself.  So, the first Emmy I won was for a storyline of coming out and uncertainty and struggle and pain, whereas this season Daniel knows what he wants and is going for it.  There is much more passion and love in this season for Daniel, as opposed to struggle and heartache.

The cast and crew of The Bay all went away and quarantined at this ranch this past summer to get the new season completed.  What was that like?

ERIC:  We were actually in Santa Barbara, and filmed on this epic ranch up there.  It’s like this 500-acre ranch that we all quarantined on.  We had to do the testing, and temperatures three times a day, and the whole thing.  So, it was really structured, tough to pull off, but we were all so grateful that we were able to do this.  Luckily, we had this incredible kind of bubble of a ranch to live and work on while we were shooting.  They were really good about block shooting it all, so we’d kind of shoot one person’s character, then the next, so we wouldn’t have to ever be leaving the ranch before we were done.

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

ERIC:  Oh, it’s amazing.  I just can’t believe how fast the time is flying by because of it.  We just had Molly’s first birthday on October 1st, and I feel like yesterday she was born.  I sound like my parents when I say this, but it’s like the time keeps getting faster, but it’s so true.  She’s awesome.  We play Broadway musical soundtracks to her all day, and she sings.  She sits at the piano with me when I play, and she kind of plunks notes out next to me.  She loves music, and we’ve introduced it to her from day one.  We always joke that she won’t be able to watch any of daddy’s stuff until she’s 18 probably, but Sainty is a voice-over actress.  She has done parts for animated films and TV shows such as Trolls, and Barbie, and Boss Baby, so everything from the first part of my daughter’s life is all going to be Mommy’s stuff, and then, in the later part of life she can start watching Daddy’s stuff.

Right, she can’t watch anything that you do!  (Laughs) So, basically forget that!

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

Check out the trailer for 1 Night in San Diego below.  Then share your thoughts on Eric’s current role on The Bay, if you hope he wins a Tony to go with his Daytime Emmy, the six degrees of separation between him, Elizabeth Gillies and his wife, and that the All My Children reboot considered making the character of AJ Chandler gay via the comment section below.

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