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Sonia Blangiardo, Alicia Minshew & Jessie Godderz Talk ‘Tainted Dreams’ & The Soap And Wrestling Connection!

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What happens when you put three distinct talents together with diverse backgrounds and a host of soap opera notables?

The answer: the fascinating dramedy Tainted Dreams from creator Sonia Blangiardo, which takes viewers on a heartfelt, and often wacky journey of what goes on behind the scenes of a soap opera, something Sonia (a Daytime Emmy-winning director) knows a thing, or two about.  Her passion project has been circulating for a while now, but a few months back the first season of Tainted Drams was acquired by Amazon.  Now fans can enjoy the ride, the romance, the friendships, and the meltdowns of this unique show, with its look into the genre played by the cast of this online series which also includes: Austin Peck, Grant Aleksander, Michael Lowry, Natalia Livingston, Kelley Hensley, Bobbie Eakes, and Walt Willey to name just a few.

Blangiardo, who is currently directing at Days of our Lives, and who became one of All My Children’s most accomplished directors, cast former AMC star, Alicia Minshew (Ex-Kendall Hart Slater) in the lead role in ‘Tainted’ as Angelica Caruso, the supervising producer.  Add to that, Impact Wrestling (POP TV Thurs 8PM) and Big Brother star, Jessie “Mr. PEC-Tacular” Godderz to the mix, and Tainted Dreams can bring in additional eyeballs of wrestling fans, who want to check out Jessie’s acting skills and bulging biceps all at the same time!

On-Air On-Soaps chatted in a joint interview with Blangiardo, Minshew and Godderz to get the skinny on their experiences filming the series, their roles, the connection between professional wrestling and soap operas, and in particular their fans, and much more.  In addition, with the passing of Tainted Dreams cast member and soap vet Larkin Malloy, and the iconic Agnes Nixon, Sonia and Alicia share their thoughts on how two greats in the business affected their lives, while Jessie weighs-in on his pro wrestling future aspirations.  So, here’s what this terrific trio offered up below!

How did your show land on Amazon as is its home?

Photo Credit: GettyImages

SONIA:  We found the right fit at the right time, which is true.  Amazon did not have this option till six months ago, or so.  Once we found out Amazon was a viable option for us we took full advantage.  We thought, “Let’s do it.” The platform is great.  It has visibility, and it just gave us what we needed and wanted, once we realized this was an option.  We have episodes 1-8 on Amazon.  The only episode that was seen previously was episode 1 that was broken up into three parts.  So episodes 2-8 are all new to the audience. 

I have always loved the concept of Tainted Dreams, because having been in this business for decades, I can concur that what goes on behind the scenes of a soap is far more interesting, and more dramatic than what is put on the air! (Laughs)

SONIA:   I am not the first to think about this, and how many people have over the years said, “We have to do a show like this,” or toyed with an idea like this.  But I wanted to bring something real, and like any family you laugh and you cry.  This story isn’t just based on me personally, it’s many, many stories and things I have witnessed throughout the years.  I say all the time, “Love it … hate it.”  You can’t accuse me of not being authentic, because there is very little that’s made up, outside the storyline, and the characters. They are loosely based on people I have worked with.  It’s just these set of circumstances, and the insanity of it, and the craziness so brilliant played by the late Larkin Malloy, whose character of Henry was based off All My Children director, Henry Kaplan.

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ALICIA:  Henry was the first director I ever worked with on All My Children, and Larkin embodied him, wouldn’t you say?  He was just him, which was so awesome.

SONIA:  Larkin was so awesome.  Henry was such a bigger than life personality for this that we were fortunate to find someone who understood who Henry was.  Larkin Malloy tapped into those nuances as to who Henry was, and who was seriously crazy.  Henry would be brought up on charges in today’s world, because some of the things he did were just so inappropriate! (Laughs)

How did Larkin Malloy’s death impact you?

SONIA:  A low point for me is that he will never have an opportunity to see how much the audience, and his colleagues have responded to him in this role.  They would be calling me saying, “We love Henry!  We love Henry!”  I know it would have meant so much to him.  Of course, his loss meant so much to me and others personally, and professionally, but I hate that he didn’t get to see what he brought to Tainted Dreams.

Alicia, you play the Supervising Producer of Painted Dreams, the soap within the soap, which is in essence Sonia?

ALICIA:   Yes.  I play, in a sense, Sonia and her experiences.  It was fun for me not to play the actor, but play the boss, and the one who tries to hold everyone together, and tries to keep everyone sane, and doing their jobs correctly, and the one that you could talk to.  It was fun being the one trying to deal with all the crazy actors from her point of view, and she has crazy in her, too.

So here comes Jessie Godderz, this wrestling star!  Sonia, why did you decide to cast Jessie in the role of Dylan in Tainted Dreams?  Why Jessie to play the bad boy? Hmmm. (Laughs)

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SONIA:  I had known Jessie for a couple of years through a mutual friend of ours, and I always thought he had something special.  Jessie is just an amazingly, sweet, and smart, and professional person, that I just knew immediately that I wanted to bring him on board.  As much as I love my soap talent, and I made sure for this project I picked, in my opinion, some of the best that are out there, I wanted to bring in a bit of an interesting twist.  I knew immediately who I wanted to see in it, and then create the right characters for them.  So basically, I created the character of Dylan with Jessie in my mind and knowing what he could bring to the role, and to the character, and then some.

Jessie can give me some insight into your experience working on this soap project, and playing Dylan?

JESSIE:  Well, I have never been a convict before, but …. (Laughs).   I was surrounded by such amazing talent from the get-go, and it is not like I was stressed-out, or anything, but working with Alicia in the first scene I got to do, because she is so good it elevated me to her level.  The only way I can relate it to is with wrestling:  like if you are in the ring with Hulk Hogan or Shawn Michaels, you are going to have to be at their level.  They are not going to go down to your level. So with that said, working on Tainted Dreams I had the most fun I could ever have.  This whole project has been great, and Sonia giving me the opportunity.  I am so stoked for this series, and when I told my friends what I was going to do, I told them all I am going to have to do is pick up stuff up, and be eating, and lifting at the same time.  (Laughs)   But when I got to the set, Sonia protected me, and when I see myself on the show I am proud of my work, and it was all new to me …

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ALICIA … can I interrupt?  OK, Jessie! First of all, you are very sweet to say that about me.  However, I have to say Jessie is a natural!  He does not have to try.  He is better than some actors I have worked with who have been doing this much longer than him.  He came in so prepared and more prepared than any of us! Jessie did his lines with such ease that I didn’t have to do anything.  I played off of him, and he made it easy for me. Remember Jessie I said to you: “You need to be doing this!  You can be the next ‘Rock’!” As sweet as you are to say that I helped you, I need to say that you were good with everybody, and anybody.  You could do a scene with the chair I was sitting on, and it would still be a good scene.

As someone who has been very passionate about soap operas and wrestling, and who was a writer for the WWE at one point, I can definitely say there is a connection and close similarity between wrestling and soap operas, and continuing stories, and characters, and especially the fandom.  I can’t tell you how many fans I have found out that follow the soaps that are also big fans of the squared circle!

JESSIE:  Wresting fans are the most vocal fans on the internet, and they thrive on stuff.

ALICIA:   I don’t know about that!  Soap fans are pretty vocal too, and could give wrestling fans a run for their money.  It’s a great match of strong fans.

Courtesy/POP

SONIA:  There is a loyalty there,  and I think with wrestling and soaps, you build characters, you build personas, and at times you may think they are polar opposite genres, but they are not.  You could be a Brad Pitt fan.  You see his new movie, and it’s over in two hours.  The next time you see Brad Pitt he will be playing a different character.   I think what connects the fans in wrestling and in soap opera is that they get to see Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) and her daughters’ journey every day, and the same with wrestling, because the audience feels like they know you as you go out and perform as your persona.  It’s the familiarity.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been walking down the street with someone, and they don’t know the actors real name.  They will go,”Hi Tad!  Hi Jake!”  They will go, “You know me!  I am Mary from Idaho” (Laughs)  It’s really interesting to witness.  I think it’s interesting and unique to these two genres; and that wrestling and soaps can find common ground.

JESSIE:  So Sonia goes, “I know what Jessie can play in Tainted Dreams!  A handyman in a tank top … or shirtless.” (Laughs)

SONIA:  Because I know you my Jessie!  You would never wear a shirt with sleeves! C’mon! First, we couldn’t find a shirt that fit your arms!

But in soap operas, they always have obligatory shirtless scenes where guys have no shirt on for no reason at all!  Right?

ALICIA:  Oh yeah! Always!  Jessie can hop on the set of any soap and kickass!

Alicia, what is the relationship between Angela and Dylan?

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ALICIA:  Well, he is coming to her for a job.  Then he walks in and she is like, “Alright! What have we here?” (Laughs)  Ultimately, she gives him a chance and the job.  It’s a fun dynamic.  She knows he has a past, but she is trying to just give him a chance.  So our scenes are about me telling me not to mess up this opportunity.

JESSIE:  I am really teetering on the line of really messing it up!

ALICIA:  His intentions are really good, which makes the characters really fun to watch.

SONIA:  Look at the late great David Canary, who people loved as Adam Chandler on All My Children.  Even though he went about things many times the wrong way, you knew at his heart he loved his children, and he loved whoever the woman in his life was at the moment, mostly with Brooke (Julia Barr) and sometimes with Erica.  So you can be bad, but you have something that is redeemable that makes you one of the best kinds of characters to play, because all people can relate, because we are all flawed.

Is there a major cliffhanger at the end of season one?

SONIA:  We left season one with a cliffhanger, and hopefully to engage the fans in wanting to know what happens next.  Poor Courtney’s (Bobbie Eakes) fate will be decided.  We are working on season two, but we don’t know yet when we plan on releasing it.  We are looking at sometime in mid-2017.

Alicia, was there a scene, or moment of yours in Tainted Dreams that was your favorite?

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ALICIA:   Oh, God!   I thought there were scenes with other people where I thought, “Damn, that was good!”  I think everyone will agree with me. Kelley Hensley, who plays Veronica, is drunk and she explodes in front of the cast.  It’s the scene in which Jessie’s characters calm her down.  Watching Kelley do the scene, she was incredible! We witnessed her character lose it, and have this drunken breakdown.  She is an actress who I have admired, and it was fun for me to see her strut her stuff.  As for me, I had fun and sweet moments.  I had nice moments with Anthony Wilkinson, who plays Angelica’s best friend, Anthony.  It was just the two of them hanging out, eating hot dogs, and the two of us playing off of each other.  It felt like I had been acting with Anthony for years.

SONIA:  If I may interject here, Alicia has chemistry with everyone in Tainted Dreams including: Michael Lowry, Austin Peck, the relationship with Anthony which is close to home for me, because it’s based on my real-life relationship with Anthony, and she couldn’t have done a better job.  Her scenes with Jessie brought this, “Don’t mess with me vibe”, that were also fantastic.

JESSIE: I got hit by a Mac truck, and I wasn’t even ready for it!  I’m this grown man.  I wrestle, I’m rugged, but when Alicia’s character yelled at me after Dylan had stolen money out of the bank account, I felt like I was just grounded.  It was like life-altering for me.  I wished I could do it over again, though!

Courtesy/NYCBrandsProds

SONIA:  You can’t do scenes like that over again, because what you brought to it is, “Oh, my God!  I am in so much trouble!”  It was perfect.

ALICIA:  It was great, and so authentic. Don’t even second guess that for a second.

JESSIE:  I was scared for my life! (Laughs)

Jessie, what is happening with Impact Wrestling?  In early January, there were some major shake-ups, and changes behind the scenes.  What is your goal with your wrestling career as Mr. PEC-Tacular?

JESSE:   I am trying to move my way up the ranks, and hopefully can win the Heavyweight Championship down the line sometime this year.  It’s been five years of hard work.  Everyone is super psyched now that Anthem came in, and has purchased the company, and we are going in a different direction with different personnel, and with a new regime coming in.  Jeff Jarrett and Dutch Mantell are handling the creative.  We go back at the beginning of March for our TV tapings in Orlando, Florida for ten days or so, and we will knock out two to three months of TV episodes.

Would you say you are living the dream, and getting to do what you have always wanted to do?

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JESSIE:  Absolutely, living the dream.  We may shoot 2 to 3 matches in a day and some vignettes.  You definitely get submerged into it.  It is not like a few years ago where you show up and you may have one pre-tape, and one-show in one day.  Now at one taping it can be pretty stressful.  If I just did a match, I have about an hour to cool down from wrestling and then start up a different bout for a different episode.  But it’s fun, and I am in my underwear. (Laughs)  I am not the tallest person for this profession, but right now there is so much athletic talent in professional wrestling that it’s crazy.

The big question Jessie! In the ring, do you like playing the heel, or the babyface?

JESSIE:  I’m not trying to be braggadocios, but they will go,”Look at this guy!  Of course, he looks this way.  It’s probably just genetic.”  And I am like, “Really?  No!  I worked my ass off for it.”  To answer your question … I love being a baby face, because I know what I want the other guy to do, and I can do it now, because I can control it.  You are kind of dictating the pace of the match, and how fast it is, but I can turn it up just with the speed of my moves.

Alicia on the soaps; do you like playing the heroine … or the villainess? When you debuted as Kendall on All My Children she was not-so-nice! (Laughs)

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ALICIA:  I think I may have turned into a heroine, but I know when I first came on to All My Children, Kendall was definitely hated!  I was a bit of a bitch!  I loved playing it though to where she wound up ‘the heroine with the edge’. You certainly don’t want to mess with her, but at the end of the day she was good at heart, and that is how I believe she was.  With Angelica in Tainted Dreams, she is a good person just trying to keep everybody sane.  I love being able to play both, the heroine and the person who causes a little trouble.

Alicia and Sonia: I wanted to get your thoughts on the passing of the iconic Agnes Nixon (Creator, AMC and OLTL) last year, and what she meant to you and your careers.

ALICIA:   I cried, because I had not seen her years.  The last time I saw her was on the set of All My Children in California.  I sat right next to her, and Susan Lucci when we took our final cast photo.  I felt like it was truly the end of the era when she passed, because these shows (AMC and OLTL) meant so much to so many people, and this woman who created them, and she put these shows on the map.  It made me miss the show, and want to be around my former AMC cast and the directors.  Her death made me miss everybody more, and miss the time that we all shared together.  There were definitely some days of sadness, for sure.

Courtesy/ABC

SONIA:   For me personally, all throughout high school I just wanted to work on All My Children.  All of my friends thought I was crazy, and then when I went back for my ten-year reunion I showed them the yearbook, and I knew I had to prove it   I owe Agnes my entire professional and personal identity.  There are just no words that can do her justice, the only solace we have is that she lived an amazing life.  I hope this is a time that will give her family peace.  When you lose your faculties, as one often does when one gets older, it can be sad all around.  We had the best of the best, and now she is hopefully up there in heaven doing something better, but she was one of a kind.

Jessie, did you ever watch soap operas?

JESSIE:  Yes, because I had a mom (laughs) and every morning I watched The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, and Days of our Lives.  I grew up in Iowa!  We didn’t have cable only CBS, NBC and ABC.  So when I saw Grant Aleksander on the Tainted Dreams set, I nearly lost my mind!  I was like ‘Phillip from Guiding Light!’  And I am trying to be cool going, “Ah, I am not a soap fan, but when I was a kid ..?”  Meanwhile, Grant is talking about football, and I am like, “What is going on?” (Laughs)  It was so surreal for me.

Courtesy/NYCBrandProds

SONIA:   Grant is so physically imposing, but he is the nicest, generous, sweetest man. He was lifting sandbags for us at 2 in the morning.  I said, “Grant please put those down and go home!” The entire cast is just so amazing, and we had a great group of people.

ALICIA:  I agree.  I came from the cast of All My Children, and in my mind there is none better, but when I came on to Tainted Dreams I thought, “Well here I am with another great group of people … not only soap actors, but theatre actors, reality actors, and wrestling performers.  Jessie, can I just say, you are one of the nicest people I have ever met, but you look at Jessie, and you can feel a bit intimated.  But he is such a gentleman!  He may have even called me “M ‘am” at one point!  I’m like, “Don’t you call me M ‘am!” (Laughs)  Everyone on the set was so great, and it made going to work on Tainted Dreams so fun.  I hope it’s reflected in the series, and our joy and commitment to the project.

So, have you checked out the first season of Tainted Dreams on Amazon? If so, who is your favorite character in it? What do you think about how pro wrestling and soaps are similar in their continuing storylines and characters? Do you check out Jessie “Mr. PEC-Tacular” Godderz on Impact Wrestling? Do you miss Alicia Minshew from your daily soap viewing? Is the concept of what goes on behind the scenes of a soap opera intriguing to you? Share your thoughts on the interview in the comment section below!

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Troy Turner
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Troy Turner

I wish all these guys well-and Jesse is a talented guy. I know you were a writer for WWE for a bit-but having IMPACT around is only healthy for the business

Beth
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Beth

Thanks so much for the interview, Michael. I was skeptical about watching an online soap about a soap, with so many actors from so many different shows whom I recognize as Philip Spaulding and Jackson Montgomery and Simone Torres, let alone Kendall Hart Slater and Austin Reed, but I’m so glad I did. I binge-watched Tainted Dreams over the holidays and enjoyed it so much. As I watched, I realized that I missed seeing these actors on a screen anywhere, telling soapy stories. I also love seeing New York City and the scenes done on the Upper West Side of… Read more »

Johnny Grant
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Johnny Grant

Gee I don’t mean to be dense, but I thought this show was “dead in the water”, it seemed like it was conceived in 2013 (or so, I lost track) and NOW all of a sudden it’s available? Well, I no longer get amazon Prime (found it kind of expensive since I already pay for NETFLIX and HULU, and I originally got HULU to see All My Children / One Life to Live) and I guess I would have to pay for each show? Is there another way to see it? I did see the Preview shows and I thought… Read more »

Karen Trawick
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Karen Trawick

I just watched the first episode and I liked it. It has a few kinks to work out. The acting was kinda stuff, but I enjoyed seeing Philip from GL, Kendall from AMC and especially Kelley Menighan Hensley from ATWT. Kelley still looks great! I have Amazon Prime so I’ll keep up with this one.

All My Children

‘Strahan, Sara and Keke’ Canceled by ABC; Show Aired In Timeslot That Once Housed ‘All My Children’

No matter a network tries to do, replacing All My Children, which ran for 41 years on ABC has remained as everyone that follows the world of daytime drama knows, problematic.  Now come word via Page Six that Strahan, Sara and Keke has been canceled.

The show hosted by Michael Strahan, Sara Haines and Keke Palmer if you recall, replaced the foodie show, The Chew which ran for seven seasons and was the first show to air in the timeslot that belonged for over four decades to All My Children. 

Back in March of this year, Strahan, Sara and Keke took a break to make way for ABC’s News  Pandemic: What You Need to Know, a daily coronavirus report anchored by Amy Robach, Dr. Jen Ashton and sometimes TJ Holmes.

However, because the show did well in that two-week experimental run it morphed into GMA 3: What You Need to Know.  The new version of the show also talked about hot topics in the current news cycle, as well.

ABC’s Catherine McKenzie began producing the “GMA3” show four months ago and the network officially announced her as Executive Producer of the program on Thursday.

While ABC has yet to officially announce Strahan, Sara and Keke is over, a spokesperson told Page Six: “We’re proud of our teams at ‘SSK’ and ‘GMA3’ and how quickly they transitioned to producing a daily show to give people the news and information they need during an unprecedented pandemic, and conversations continue about how the show will evolve in the months ahead.”

It appears that Strahan, Sara and Keke won’t be returning; the future as many of their staff have transitioned over to ‘GMA 3’ with producers from ABC News Live, (the streaming division), helmed by McKenzie.

As for the futures of Strahan, Haines and Palmer; Strahan will continues to host Good Morning America, and they are all actively under contract with the network.

So, what do you think of  ‘Strahan, Sara and Kek’e being replaced by ‘GMA 3: What You  Need to Know’?  How long do you think that show will last in the timeslot once taken up by residents of Pine Valley? Comment below.

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All My Children

Eva LaRue Talks On Her Daytime Emmy Nomination, And Opens Up About The Loss Of John Callahan

For Eva LaRue, the past two months have been some of the most emotionally gut-wrenching and challenging of her life, following the passing of her ex-husband, father of her child, and dearest friend, John Callahan (Ex-Edmund, All My Children). The outpouring of support she has received not only from her former AMC cast mates, but the soap world in general illustrates just how dear Eva is to all of us, and how many people had special memories of their time with John.

While mourning the loss of Callahan along with their daughter, Kaya, there was some heartwarming and re-affirming news that any actress would love to hear. Eva was nominated for a Daytime Emmy in the Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series for her work as Celeste Rosales on CBS’ The Young and the Restless, and she is great company as her former AMC co-star Michael E. Knight (Ex-Tad) is also nominated along with her for his work on General Hospital.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit our country and world hard, but through it All My Children virtual reunions emerged as fans were engaged by the content, transported to happier times that brought them back to familiar faces in Pine Valley in which Eva participated along with her good friends, Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos and so many more, thanks to the EW. com weeklong event which concluded on Friday.

Michael Fairman TV talked with Eva in this very candid, at times heartbreaking, and open conversation where she shares details into the final days of her beloved John, her last moments with him, and how she tried to plan a memorial in his honor during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For so many of us, 2020 has certainly seen more lows then highs, but in the end for Eva, to receive a nomination now (an award she was last nominated for back in 1997 as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work as Dr Maria Santos on All My Children) couldn’t have come at a better time. Here now is our conversation with Eva.

Photo: JPI

I’ve been thinking so much about you.  I’m glad we could do this, and in the midst of the tragedy of losing John Callahan, and then receiving a Daytime Emmy nomination.  What was your reaction when you learned you were nominated in a category with none other than your former AMC castmate and good friend, Michael E. Knight (Ex-Tad, AMC, now Martin, GH)?

EVA:  Oh, I know!  He’s the first person I texted!  I was like, “Congratulations, Michael!  Did you ever in a million years think that you and I would be in the same category of anything?”  Then I said, “And when you win this, can I just borrow it for the weekend just to dress it up and take pictures with it… just want to borrow it, just babysit the trophy for a weekend, please?” (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

What did you end up submitting that landed you the nomination for your role as Celeste on Y&R?

EVA: I submitted a scene with Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R), who I have been friends for 30 years, if not more, and in all that time we had never worked together.  I met him when I was married to John O’Hurley (Ex- Dr. James Grainger) because John was over at The Young and the Restless at the time.  I went to a Christmas party with John to Peter and Mariellen’s house, and do you know who else was there?  Lisa Rinna (Ex-Billie, Days), and it was before she had gotten Days of Our Lives. She was dating Peter Barton (Ex-Scott Grainger, Y&R) at the time. We both ended up on soaps at the same time.  So, I submitted a scene with Peter, who is amazing, warm and open and such a great actor. Then I submitted a scene with my on-screen daughter Sasha Calle (Lola, Y&R) – I love that girl, and another one with Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, Y&R) who has also been my great friend for a couple of decades. The other scene I put on my reel was with me and Jordi Vilasuso (Rey, Y&R) who I also adore.  He is awesome and such a sweetheart.  I only had two months worth of material to draw upon.  So, I just submitted the scenes that I liked the best, and they all were within story, and all made sense.

Photo: Getty Images

Where is Celeste supposed to be now?

EVA:  She went back to Florida, and that was that. I would never say never to anything, but it was always supposed to be a short stint, and it was great.

So not only is it you and Michael E. Knight, but Jeffery Vincent Parise, Chrishell Stause, and Elissa Kapneck. This Guest Performer category is loaded!

EVA:  I know! I know and love, Chrishell (Ex-Amanda) because we worked together on All My Children, too, right before I left, and she is a doll.  She just might be the sweetest, kindest, girl on the planet.  She literally might be the sweetest person who ever lived!  I don’t know the other two nominees personally.  So, I’m excited for them too.  It’s such a diverse category.  It’s just really fun to be nominated with all of them.

Photo: Hallmark Channel

You were nominated before, though, for your work as Maria on All My Chldren during the emotional baby switch storyline; working opposite Susan Lucci (Ex-Erica) for a lot in it.

EVA:  Yes.  I was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for All My Children, and I was nominated for Best Original Song.  I wrote a song when Maria came ‘back from the dead’ to All My Children, with a producer friend of mine from Miami Sound Machine.

Photo: Live with Kelly Ryan

So, you’ve been doing all of these All My Children virtual reunions, which is so interesting that in this pandemic, people are looking for content, and they dip back into these beloved shows.  Was it fun doing the EW.com Santos Family reunion with everybody?

EVA:  Oh yeah, it was really, really fun.  I only saw in the big picture everybody else’s photo who was a part of it, and the people who I actually do hang out with the most, and see the most, and talk to the most, are Kelly Ripa (Ex-Hayley), Mark Consuelos (Ex-Mateo), and Sydney Penny (Ex-Julia).  I don’t see Sydney as much, but I do see her probably once every two years at least, but Sarah Michelle Geller (ExKendall) I see all the time and talk to all the time.  Kelly, Mark, and Sarah are the ones who walked me through that first week when John Callahan passed.  They literally were on the phone with me, the three of them, almost every day, but I got beautiful outreach, from what seemed like everyone.  This is when no matter how many years have passed since you have been in daytime, that the daytime family as a group – there used to be fifteen shows, now there are four – and people have bounced around and they are on other shows- – but the entire soap opera community reached out,   I cannot even tell you how much that meant to me.  It was overwhelming, and it was really, spectacularly beautiful.

Photo: JPI

I hope it was some solace to you knowing how much people loved John, and also that they love and care so deeply for you.

EVA:  I mean, people who did not even work with John reached out.  Every soap was represented by getting a hold of me, sending a text or a phone call, or if they didn’t have my personal information, they tweeted, or whatever it was… literally from every reach of soapdom.  It was amazing.

And your relationship with John was amazing with all of the ups and downs you went through; that you remained such dear friends.

EVA:  We remained really great friends all the way.

Photo: JPI

I so remember when the two of you first got together and it was this storybook real life soap couple romance.  John was always so sweet to me.  I was so, so sad, and you know, my heart just broke for you.

EVA:  I think it was just such a shock.  I don’t think anybody, and even Kaya were talking about it, because she graduated this week, and her dad is not here.  We’re not having a graduation, because of COVID-19, which sucks on top of it, but we were just kind of talking through the feelings of it.  She said, “You know what’s weird?  I guess I never pictured dad getting old, and I always wondered why, and now I know.”  When I would get on John about his heart or his health, he used to always say, ‘Oh, don’t worry Evala, (he always called me “Evala”).  I’m going to be here.  I’m going to be here a long time.  I’m fine.  I’m going to be here to walk Kaya down the aisle and see her kids and all that.  Stop worrying,” Every time he said it to me, something in my gut said, “I don’t think he is.  I don’t think he is,” but I always just dismissed that.  But never in my wildest dreams did I think John wouldn’t make it to her high school graduation.  He was only 66.

Photo: JPI

I had heard you ended up running to Palm Springs to be near John.  I can’t even imagine what that must have been like.

EVA:  The only good thing about this pandemic is that we had been shut down for only two weeks at that point.  Kaya and I got in the car.  John had some heart procedures the day before, on a Thursday.  I called him in the morning before he went in for the procedure.  I said, “Call me as soon as you get out of there.  Call me as soon as you come-to again, and you’re good,” and he said, “Okay, I will.”  I said, “I’m going to send Kaya out to you on Friday for the weekend, just so you have somebody to hang out and watch you, and I might come out too,” And then, I said, “Maybe, I’ll come down too in case you are feeling weak, just to watch out for you for the weekend.”   So, he called me after the procedure.   I said, “I cannot believe they sent you home! You just had some major heart stuff done.”  He said, “Oh no, they said I’m fine.  It was just run-of-the-mill heart stuff, angiogram…”  I was like, “Are you sure?”  He said, “Yeah, I’m fine.  I’m just tired.  I’m going to go to sleep.”  I said, “Do you want me to send Kaya out tonight?” and he was like, “No, no, no.  Send her tomorrow.”  So, in the morning, I called him at 9:00am.  No answer.  I texted him.  He always texted me like Johnny on the spot, and then texts me immediately back.  So, I call him again at 10.  Nothing.  His best friend calls me about a half-hour later, “Hey, I talked to John at about 8:00 this morning.  He said he was feeling really, really shitty and was going to go back to the hospital, and then, I texted him again at like 8:30 to just tell him something, and he hasn’t texted me back, and he always texts me immediately back.”  I said, “Oh my, God, I’ve been trying to get a hold of him for two hours; he hasn’t texted me back,”   I said, “You know what, I’ll call you back.”  So, I called his friend who lives down the street from John, and I said, “Go to his house, please right this second, knock on the door, jump the fence, knock on his bedroom, he might be asleep, I don’t know.”  So, he gets there, nobody is answering.  I said, “Break into the house please.  So, he did, and John was collapsed in the bathroom.  They called the paramedics, and as soon as they called me back and said, “John is unresponsive in the bathroom,” Kaya and I threw everything in the car, and what usually takes us two and a half hours without traffic, we made it down there from Los Angeles in an hour and forty-five minutes.

Photo: JPI

I don’t know how you made it down there in one piece. Thank, God!

EVA:  I drove so fast, like literally broke all land speed records and thank God because we got there just in time.  He was in emergency.  He hadn’t been put up in ICU yet, where we wouldn’t have been able to see him.  They weren’t going to let us in the hospital.  Thank God the person answering the door was an All My Children fan.  She was the one saying, “Sorry, no one is allowed in the hospital, no one can come in,” and I was like, “No, no, no, my ex-husband just came in.”  She said, “Was it Edmund?” and I said, “Yes, it was Edmund!”  She said, “Okay, follow me.”  Thank God for All My Children.  Thank God.  So, we followed this woman secretly, and we get to spend a half-hour with him in Emergency.  He was already on life-support, totally unresponsive, but we got to play John his favorite music, we got to just sit there and hold his hand and talk to him, and tell him how much we loved him.  Sarah Michelle Gellar called right when we were in the hospital in Emergency, and she said, “Put the phone by his ear,” so I put the phone by his ear, and she talked to John too, and she told him how much she loved him.  She used to always call him “GP”, which was short of grandpa, because she came on the show when she was 15, and she didn’t have a dad, and John acted like a dad to her – but she used to always call him “grandpa”, and he hated “grandpa”, so he was like, “You can call me “GP”, but not grandpa,” so she always called him GP.  I just put the phone by John’s ear, and what was crazy is that when she talked to him, his feet started twitching.  He started moving his feet.  Then, when Kaya was talking to him about Yankee season, he started moving his feet.  We were kind of hopeful that something was changing for the better.  We had about a half-hour with him, and then, they took him up to ICU, and then, we knew we couldn’t see him again.  They called us later that night that he had passed.

Photo: JPI

I am just so thankful that you got to see John one last time.

EVA:  I thank God every day that we got to say goodbye, because if we hadn’t gotten there in time to say goodbye, I just don’t know.

It’s very rare that a couple after a divorce, who have a child, and went from romance to dear friends, end up maintaining that relationship so many years later in their lives.  I know so many people who were together at one point in their lives, for years, and they don’t even talk to each other now.

EVA:  Well, you know, like any divorce, the first four years afterwards were super contentious but then, by year five, we kind of had this major breakthrough, and from then on, he was one of my closest friends, and one of the things we always kept alive for each other was we loved to  dance together. We fell in love, I think, dancing because originally our characters on AMC met at this country-western bar, and we had to take country line dancing lessons on the show.  They hired a choreographer for us so that during those scenes where we were falling in love, we would actually be able to do a two-step! So, we went out and practiced at Denim and Diamonds, which was a big country-western place in New York City at the time.  We used to go out with a whole group of us.  It was me, and Teresa Blake (Ex-Gloria) and Kelly Ripa, and her boyfriend at the time, Winsor Harmon (Ex-Del), sometimes Walt Willey (Ex-Jack); we just had a whole crew of us who would go out country dancing.  John and I also loved singing together.  He had the most amazing gravely kind of rockstar voice, but his real talent was harmonizing.  He could harmonize to anything.  So, when he would come over, we would sit in the kitchen and sing, and sing, and sing until the late hours because that’s what we loved to do, and that’s what he loved to do.  That’s one of my favorite last memories of us.  He was just over the month before, and Kaya’s bedroom is near the kitchen, so she came out and was like, “Can you two shut up?”  It was like two in the morning and we were still singing in the kitchen. (Laughs)  John was my dear friend and my confidant.

Photo: ABC

Were you able to have some kind of service during this stay-at-home pandemic we are all dealing with, in order to mourn the loss of John?

EVA:  It’s been so crazy.  We couldn’t even have a funeral.  That’s what made it all the more heartbreaking.  There were less than twenty of us, and we just got on a Zoom call and memorialized John.   I thought we were going to do a big Zoom memorial, but it seemed so overwhelming and so impersonal, it just was rubbing us wrong in every way.  Every way we were looking at it, we were like, “Oh my, God, we just can’t.”  We wanted to invite everybody he had ever worked with, and we were like, “No, we want to do that when everything can open back up again, and invite every person, and have a party” because John was always the life of every party.  Maybe we can do that in the fall or next year.  I kept trying to write something for the small memorial we did do for three days.  I kept coming back to this one song, because John was always the consummate bartender, too.  I sang a song that Bette Midler sang on the very last episode of Johnny Carson.  It was “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” and it’s about a bartender who has got a big personality and a lot to say.   I changed some of the words around a bit just to reflect who John was, and so, I ended up singing for it instead of speaking.  We always talked about that last episode of Carson; how stunningly emotional it was when Bette sang that song to kind of sing Johnny off for of all of his years on the air.  So, that’s what I did and because we loved to sing together, it just made sense.

Photo: HutchinsPhoto

I do think you touched upon something, earlier, too.  I don’t think any other genre would have that kind of unbridled camaraderie.  It’s such a family, like you said.  I don’t think you would find that quite like this; certainly in show business. 

EVA:  I really don’t think you can. Even though there is always a good amount of competition in the soaps as well; between the soaps it’s like they are any sports team, but there is always a level of respect, love, and familial connection within the community.  I think that is why they have stood the test of time.  I really do think that is what hooks our audience, that is what keeps them there after all of these years, even though unfortunately the genre is antiquated looking, there is something about it that is nostalgic, familial, and comfortable for people.

Photo: JPI

Every time I talk about All My Children, why do you think everybody go ga-ga for it, when it’s been off the air for several years now?

EVA:  It speaks to people’s childhoods.  It speaks to how we grew up.  You can’t undo nostalgia.  You can’t.  It’s in the way we grew up, the things we loved, the things that we scheduled our lives around, the people we fell in love with on the shows that we watched, who we cared about and loved their storylines. I grew up watching All My Children, General Hospital, and Days of Our Lives.

It must have been a spectacular moment for you when you realized you were actually in Pine Valley and a member of the cast of All My Children then?

EVA:  It was amazing.  I was a fan when I got the show.  I was a straight up fan.  I fangirled walking through that dressing room hallway for the first time! I was trying to keep it in check, but you know … (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

So, in closing, you would say, “Thrilled to be nominated”?

EVA:  Yes.  So fun.  It has really been a rollercoaster of a couple of months here.  That nomination was literally the bright, shining spot in all of this.

So, happy to hear Eva is in the running for a Daytime Emmy? Were you moved by Eva’s sentiments she shared on her relationship with the late John Callahan? Do you miss Pine Valley’s Dr. Maria Santos? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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All My Children

All My Children Reunion with Josh Duhamel, Ricky Paull Goldin, Cameron Mathison and More; Later Debbi Morgan Live

It’s a big finale of the weeklong virtual celebration of the iconic All My Children.  On tap today in EW’s series to benefit Feeding America during the COVID-19, some major names from the history of Pine Valley and who had story with each other participating in the chat, premiering at 10 a. m. EST.

Taking part in the walk down memory lane are none other than Josh Duhamel (Ex-Leo), Ricky Paull Goldin (Ex-Jake), Chrishell Stause (Ex-Amanda), Cameron Mathison (Ex-Ryan), Rebecca Budig (Ex-Greenelee) and Melissa Claire Egan (Ex-Annie).

But that’s not all folks! Daytime Emmy winner, Debbi Morgan will participate in a live virtual chat with EW.com today beginning at 3 p.m. EST/12 p. m. PST.  Now will be your chance to hear from the one and only Angie Hubbard from the beloved ABC daytime drama series.

Over the week, EW.com has posted other virtual conversations with notables from Pine Valley, you can check them out here.

So, will you be checking out today’s one-two punch of AMC favorites? Comment below.

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B&B’s Heather Tom talks with Michael Fairman immediately following her record-tying win in the Lead Actress category during the 47th annual Daytime Emmy Awards.  Heather and Erika now hold the most wins for an actress with 6! Leave A Comment

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