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The Brad Bell Interview – The Bold and the Beautiful – Soapmaker Of The Year 2015

Photo Credit: Gilles Toucas

Inspiring bold choices, adding in long overdue diversity, garnering critical acclaim and mainstream coverage for being on the forefront of the national conversation of the plight of the transgender community, while continuing in the daytime tradition of classic soap opera storytelling, and sprinkling in a few shock and awe moments and major surprises, these were all major factors in deciding On-Air On-Soaps highest honor of Soapmaker of the Year 2015.  Without question this year that achievement and accolade goes to the executive producer and head writer of The Bold and the Beautiful, Brad Bell.

It’s been quite some time that a daytime drama has broken ground in such a comprehensive and compelling way with the story of Maya Avant (Karla Mosley), who viewers learned earlier in the year was born as “Myron”.   Maya’s story became one of the most compassionate tales told in soap opera history with new wrinkles and twists, while expanding the Avant family by bringing in Maya’s parents and sister to the canvas.  The soap was right on target with its story choices, as this was the year that also saw everyone in America and across the world watching the real-life story of Caitlyn Jenner unfold.  But Brad Bell and his fearless team continued to push the envelope in 2015, with the sudden death of Aly Forrester (Ashlyn Pearce) in virtually the same place her mother met her maker years before.  Then there was the inspirational story of actress Linsey Godfrey (Caroline) who returned to the show after a harrowing real-life accident, and Bell was able to utilize her and give her story through the classic, “Who’s the daddy?” tale with a twist.  Caroline’s pregnancy is fraught with drama for potentially years to come.

On-Air On-Soaps spoke with Brad about his honor, and took him through the year of storylines on the screen to get his comments, during a 2015 that was also somewhat transitional for him.  No longer did he spend all of his time in Los Angeles at the B&B offices at CBS.  Brad found himself writing in Hungary, while accompanying his wife, the ambassador to that nation, Colleen Bell.  And, why not?  B&B continues to be the number one show worldwide, while firmly remaining in the #2 position of the daytime dramas in the U.S.  It was a good year to be bold and beautiful in so many ways for our culture, and that goes for this soap, too.  Here’s our Soapmaker of the Year, Brad Bell!

MICHAEL:

2015 in the world of soaps will be remembered as a very impressive year for The Bold and the Beautiful.   As you have seen, I am not alone in my thought-process, as other critics/pundits have been extolling year-end accolades for your show.

BRAD:

Courtesy/CBS

It’s a year I will look back on and be very proud of, and one that was very unique in the history of B&B.

MICHAEL:

Let’s touch on the year on B&B, and discuss what you have done with the show that has you as our choice for Soapmaker of the Year.   Obviously, first and foremost, the transgender storyline involving the character of Maya has been front and center, and told so beautifully.  You touched upon several of the issues facing the transgender community.  What can you say about what you’ve told within that story as you reflect on 2015?

BRAD:

I think we really tried to analyze progressive thinking vs. traditional thinking.  Creating the character of Maya as this transgender character has opened our minds up as writers.  It hopefully had the same effect around the country and around the world, as we see what a beautiful person she is, and how she is being treated by the Forrester family.  But also, there were many obstacles and many ahead.  It’s not just a fairy tale for her, but something that hopefully mirrors reality in the good, the bad, and the ugly.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

The writing of the wedding of Maya and Rick (Jacob Young) was such a poignant episode, and the showdown scenes between Maya and her father Julius (Obba Babatundé) were riveting.  It was also a great decision to bring Maya’s parents on to the canvas: Julius and Vivienne (Anna Maria Horsford).  Take me through how you and your writing team made the decision to craft the scenes, and the confrontation during the nuptials?

BRAD:

I thought that things were going so well for Maya that we needed to bring someone in who didn’t agree with her choices, and who had issues with who she has become.  The father was that character.  We created a character that was traditional, stubborn, stuck in his ways, close-minded, and charming all at the same time.  As soon as I saw Obba Babatundé’s tape, I knew he was the man for this role.  He is just an incredible actor. What he has found together with Karla Mosley has just been gold for us.  Patrick Mulcahey wrote the dialog for that episode, and he just killed it as he always does.  Those scenes really came together, beautifully.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Through this journey of telling Maya’s story, was there anything as the executive producer and head writer of the show that you were surprised to learn about the transgender community, or what they are facing?

BRAD:

Yes.  I definitely have a greater understanding of what they are facing.  Getting to know more transgender people and to be able to be part of the community now, you find out we are all much more similar than we are different.  We have the same basic needs, wants and desires.  Everyone should have the right to express themselves, and to reach their goals, and to be who they want to be.  The people in the trans community are brave, and they are original.  It is great to live in a country where this is possible.  I think there are many challenges, but yet there are many successes to be where we are far, and ahead of most countries in the world.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/Pop

You took the transgender story one step further with the surrogate arc, where Rick and Maya want to have a child, but enlist Maya’s sister Nicole (Reign Edwards) to assist them in the most major way.  Was the decision to tell that story, basically about a “where do we go from here” with their relationship, because now Rick and Maya were a happy couple, or was it about exploring what would happen to a couple in this situation?

BRAD:

I just thought getting to know these characters, and what Karla and Jacob put into them also, and the natural outgrowth of who they are would be the desire to have a family.  So, how do we get that done?   It did line up beautifully for Nicole to come to talk to them, and for them to make this request.  You can see how on one side it makes complete sense – it’s a younger daughter’s gift to her sister – but you also see how other people might find it to be outrageous.  It’s a great arena for drama.  This story is not going to be a bed of roses for any of them; it’s going to be difficult.  Everybody’s going to weigh-in.  Now to have Rome Flynn with us playing Zende, and Felisha Cooper playing Sasha in the story mix, plus there is much more we will hear from the Avant parents that will make the next chapter, I think, as exciting as the first.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

You continued to integrate the transgender community into your stories.  You had transgender models in a fashion show, and you had Scott Turner Schofield (Nick), the first trans male actor in a role on a soap making daytime history.  It was commendable that you did not take a sensationalistic approach to Maya’s story, but carried this initiative and weaved it within the show.  What has been the response from the trans community?  Have people reached out to you with emails, letters, or in person?

BRAD:

Yes, it’s been great.  The letters of gratitude has been very special.  People are actually using some of our episodes in classrooms.  To hear stories like that where they are looking at scenes and discussing them is so exciting for me.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ESPN

Soap operas always used to tackle, and were ahead of the curve and on top of it, on telling social issues.  I don’t feel the genre has been on top of it for a while now.  I feel you and your team brought that back with the transgender storyline.  As it turned out, it was kind of the perfect storm with Caitlyn Jenner’s real-life story happening at the same time.

BRAD:

That is what I am most proud about for 2015 in story.  This is something we need to be doing.  It is something that historically when soaps are good, that is why they are good, because they are mirroring and analyzing the sociology of our time, and what we are confronting within communities.  It’s great to be on the forefront of this, and to be writing this story and to be well into it.  And then, to have Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner) making her announcement of transitioning, the timing could not have been better on this one.

MICHAEL:

You recently received a WGA nomination from the Writers Guild, and are up against General Hospital for the Daytime Drama series writing award that will be announced and handed out in February.  What episodes did you submit for contention?  Additionally, can you share with the fans of the show the collaborative process of your writing team?

Courtesy/CBS

BRAD:

We submitted episodes involving Maya’s story.   As the head writer I come up with the plots, and work very closely with Michael Minnis.  Then Patrick Mulcahey joins us on story conversations frequently.  Then I have a great team of dialog writers including; Michele Val Jean and Tracey Kelly, but we are all in it together.  This team has been together a long time now.  We have had very little changes.  One year you are on to something, and the next year you take a turn.  People drop out of the show, which allows you to highlight other people.  Looking at Jacob Young and Karla Mosley, who were a bit back-burnered, to have them come up and embrace these roles the way they have has been outstanding.  Karla has been such a great spokesperson for the story.  I have the same writing team, but the transgender story has totally reinvigorated us.  We are looking for the next socially relevant story.  We are not done with this story by a long shot.  We are going to follow these people in the next stage of their lives, which will be very exciting.

MICHAEL:

There were other major storylines on B&B, and performances as well.  Chief among them is Linsey Godfrey (Caroline), who after being in a terrible accident early in 2015, returned to the series and delivered dramatic performances in the Caroline/Thomas/Ridge story.  What can you say about the decision to create this story, where a kind of ‘out of it Caroline’ would have sex with Thomas (Pierson Fode) and we would find out Ridge (Thorsten Kaye) can’t father a child?   And oh-oh, voila’ she is pregnant?

Courtesy/CBS

BRAD:

First, Linsey is a very raw, and authentic actress.  This story falls into the category of classic storytelling, not just for soap opera, but from the beginning of time.  It involves a powerful man in Ridge Forrester, and the secret he is keeping from his wife, and from his son!  The architecture of this one is strong, and the actors are committed to the material, and this will roll out beautifully in 2016.  I am so happy to be working with Thorsten Kaye (Ridge), Pierson (Thomas), and Linsey.  This will be a tight one, but the drama that will unfold should be pretty potent.

MICHAEL:

So, were you sitting there one day and you went, “Ah!  I’m going to have her pregnant by her husband’s young son!”  How does Brad Bell’s mind work to come with these classic soap stories?

BRAD:

Courtesy/CBS

The thing is before the “Ah-ha” moment, there are usually months of grinding your teeth and pulling your hair out with me going, “What do I do?”  (Laughs)   I always say it’s like being in a dark room feeling around and trying to find a way out.  It’s been a very different for me this year.  I have been in Budapest for most of it.  So that has been a new dynamic.  I have had a lot of alone time, and a lot of quiet time.  I go to my apartment there in the fifth district. Colleen says to me, “Don’t complain.  I have heard you for 25 years complaining that you wanted this solitude.”  So, now I have it and it’s a bit painful! (Laughs)  However on the flipside, it’s also really great for a writer to be alone with their characters for hours at a time.

MICHAEL:

Did any of your stories exceed your expectations in 2015?  Were you shocked to see a certain story come out so well?

BRAD:

Yes.  There is always disappointment, and great, great surprises.  This story with Caroline, Thomas and Ridge, far exceeded my expectations.  The performances, the writing, and the production all fell together so well here.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Now you have “accidental serial killer” Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) running around on the loose causing “accidental” havoc.  (Laughs)  She knocked Aly (Ashlyn Pearce) to her death, and then pushed Ivy into electrical wires on her way to being electrocuted!  Aly’s death was a surprise twist that was kept under wraps so well, that nobody saw coming.  It made for one of the most surprising moments in soaps in 2015.

BRAD:

It’s interesting when the pieces fit.  It’s wonderful, and when they don’t fit you have to kind of shock yourself, and shock your characters into making them fit.  Ashleigh Brewer (Ivy) has taken all of these tumbles, and been “electrocuted”, and been through so much from day one since she joined the show.  From the beginning she was falling into the Seine River in France (Laughs).  But, it is evolving into a new chapter of the story which is very exciting for Scott Clifton (Liam) and Steffy, and for the Spencer brothers, and also Quinn.  Rena Sofer (Quinn) has been awesome on the show, and she has been patient.  Now the spotlight will turn to Rena in 2016.

MICHAEL:

What can you say about having Jacqueline MacInnes Wood back in 2015 as a major component of B&B?  Steffy is such a polarizing, and popular character around the world.

BRAD:

Courtesy/CBS

Jacqui is a beautiful spirit on camera and off, really high energy, but a super sharp actress.  I am so glad to be working with her.

MICHAEL:

It must have been hard for you as well to have Ashlyn Pearce leave the show, who was finally getting a chance to shine in the material you were giving her, and then to have to sacrifice her in terms of story.  We understand that these are decisions that head writers and executive producers have to make along the way.  What can you share about killing Aly?

BRAD:

Ashlyn is a great actress, and she has a great career ahead of her.  I think the actors understand this going in that this is something we have to do as writers.  We have to surprise people.  We have to kill people, and do the unexpected.  They are players on the show until they can’t be.  Ashlyn just killed the material, especially at the end of her run.  She is phenomenal!

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

At the beginning of 2015, lest we forget, “Drunk Brooke”!  Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke) got to deliver some memorable performances, especially when she was getting sloshed at Bill (Don Diamont) and Katie’s (Heather Tom) wedding!

BRAD:

I think Katherine did such a great job, and it’s great to see her character unhinged.  I mean, Brooke without a man, she would have to turn to something! (Laughs)  Brooke is one of two remaining run-of-show characters, and at an interesting point in her life.  She is empty nesting, which comes with a whole array of issues and challenges.  We are starting a whole new chapter with Brooke, and Bill and Katie in 2016.

MICHAEL:

Earlier in the year, you had a soundstage at CBS dedicated to you in honor of B&B’s milestone of producing an incredible 7,000 episodes.  Your plaque is right across the hall from the soundstage dedicated to your father, the legendary Bill Bell Sr. (Co-Creator, Y&R and B&B).  This has truly been special for you.  What do you think now when you sit back and take in what that dedication ceremony meant?

BRAD:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

It is an incredible honor, and we have had such a great working relationship with CBS. They are great network to be on.  They are very helpful, and they really care. They care about their fans, and their viewers, and their employees.  I am thankful to CBS for the honor. It’s an honor for everyone who works on that stage every day, and around the world dubbing us into different languages, and everyone in the office.  It was a great moment.

MICHAEL:

When you are at CBS, do you ever walk by the plague with your name on it, and smile?

BRAD:

Yes! (Laughs)  My son Oliver was here visiting with a friend from Budapest, and he showed him the plaque, and then his friend said, “Where’s the commissary?” (Laughs)  But yes, it’s very special that it is up there.  I am grateful to everyone who spoke at the dedication, especially my wife.  Now that I am the spouse of the Ambassador to Hungary, I am realizing, and fully appreciating, perhaps for the first time, what that role is about, and how challenging it could be. Colleen has been so wonderful as my partner all of these years.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

The production, marketing, and publicity team at B&B, under your guidance also needs to be commended for their accomplishments this year: you had the first Pop-Up fan event in New York in the series history, and launched a B&B You Tube channel in the UK.  No other daytime drama has done this type of creative outreach in so many different aspects, as well as consistently planning taking the show on remotes worldwide, and integrating story within it.  Tell me about the BOLD team.

BRAD:

These producers including: Rhonda Friedman, who has been with us from the beginning but left us just before Christmas; and the consistency and the enthusiasm of Casey Kasprzyk and Mark Pinciotti who are the creative younger producers; and veterans such as Cynthia Popp and Ed Scott, we have the perfect blend of creativity, and continuity.  We love being with each other.  So, if we say let’s go to Australia, or let’s go to Israel to do a location shoot, we are thinking first and foremost: “That’s going to be fun time and a party!” (Laughs)  And then we think that we have to get the work done, which we know we will do. (Laughs)  But honestly, we all just like to hang out together.  I think our enthusiasm comes through, and it shows in our events with the fans in the U.S and around the world.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Now that we walked down memory lane, let’s look to the future!  In a broad stroke, what can you tease fans of B&B to look forward to in 2016?

BRAD:

I think we are going to have a great balance of issues, of villains, and some new villains appearing, and some romance.  I mean balanced in the most unbalanced way possible. (Laughs)   It will be an incredibly dramatic year.  The characters are all in a great spot.  It’s not a year of building or transitioning, but it’s a year of payoffs.  The New Year is going to explode.  I fully expect 2016 to be the best, if not the best ever, certainly over recent years, and the one to watch.  

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Callie
Callie

Great interview, Michael!

I’ve been glued to my screen watching Ridge and Caroline’s romance this year. I’m really hoping it continues for a long, long time and the baby turns out to be his.

Scoma60
Scoma60

B&B was so good a few months ago but it’s now awful. The storyline of Liam/Steffy/Wyatt/Ivy is vapid and the ping ponging of emotions makes no sense. B&B needs to ship Thomas back to Europe. No matter how they gloss it over he violated Caroline. He’s creepy as hell. He doesn’t respect women at all. He’s pushy with Ivy, making a bet to bed her, screwing underlings,etc…
Ridge/Caroline have disappeared. An 18 yr old being pushed to be a surrogate.

Aj
Aj

Time for the Return of Phoebe Forrester!!

Lynn
Lynn

The Maya story, and family are the utmost in poor storytelling, poor acting, and read the boards, UNLOPULAR. Maya is a bully, a liar and a greedy deceitful skank. The tranny story was offensive I every way possible. The show basically wrote it , that it’s all ok that Maya is a creep…a bigot…cause it’s a tranny. So it’s ok. And Nick?? That blow hard ass. He actually came across as another intolerant, judgemental bigot. Showed how hypocritical and pathetic the ten my community is. Who can forget that ass thinking that Brooke should be more concerned for the lying Maya then her own son? Couple this crap with the Bruce Jenner bomb of a show…and it’s ridiculus Bell wouldn’t back off fast. The trannies on Bruce’s show were awful, bigoted, entitled jerks. Treated Her like crap cause she dared speak her own mind and have her own thoughts. Completely bullying her.

Typical close minded bigotry of liberals. Bell sounds like a fruitloop. Hypocritical. He writes Maya as a hatefull, greedy, bigot, who is unliked by the fans enmasse. One needs only to read the boards to see the disdain..BEFORE he made her a transgender. Bringing her family on ticked off the audience who is literally FF This story. The actors playing Avants are all awful. Nicole and Sasha are two if the worse actors possible. The parents are unlikeable. Greedy.

Where he thinks this was a positive story for transgenders is confusing. He wrote them as selfish intolerant bigots.

Maryann V.
Maryann V.

I couldn’t agree more.

denisefan
denisefan

Yep…….

Gigi
Gigi

Could not agree more. The worst story yet on B&B. Nobody was thrilled or liked it. The boards are overrun with disgruntled fans. Maya and Rick have never paid for the horrible things they did to others. Can’t stand Nicole and the parents. They are not good actors, boring and add zilch to the show. And now the Steffy show. Sorry, she does zilch for me as well. The mop of overkill extendions is pathetic.

I certainly do not see this show as an award show.

What planet is Fairman on that he thinks Bradley Bell is such a terrific writer.

Marc Lormand
Marc Lormand

I’d recommend you take out a mirror and look at it. Starting back at you will be the definition of a ‘bigot’.

The transgender story is outstanding! Very well written, acted, and produced. Kudos to Brad and his entire ensemble.

Shrly pab
Shrly pab

Bring Taylor back ,do not break up Liam and Steffy I read Ivy and Steffy will be at the top of the stairs and some one will fall just as Liam open the door and walked in the house it better be Steffy falling down those stairs and not Ivy so Liam can realize how much he Love Steffy and don’t ever want to lose her you better not let Ivy fall that is a bit too much we don’t want to see any thing happen to Ivy any more for Liam to feel sorry for her we are sick of her leave Liam and Steffy alone.

wendy
wendy

This crap of making Steffy the bad guy really stinks!! And now Ivy crawling back to Liam and begging him to come back is also stinkareo!!!!!! Brad Bell! COME UP WITH SOMETHING BETTER!! KEEP LIAM AND STEFFY TOGATHER!!!!!!

Mary
Mary

Keep Katie and Bill together. I really love them

Beth
Beth

Thanks for the interview. Giving credit where it’s due, the transgender story was not only groundbreaking, but the best kept secret in Daytime, second only to Aly’s death, which was the second best kept secret in Daytime. The ability to stun the audience, mostly in a good way, is as rare today as the telling of a groundbreaking storyline like Maya’s. For those reasons, kudos to Brad Bell for a job well done in 2015. However, so many of the other stories on B&B this year were repetitive, dull and often infuriating, and I’d include the Thomas/Caroline/Ridge storyline in those categories, good acting or not. Having Ivy recently, or Brooke recently, or Katie from earlier this year, suddenly realize she never stopped loving Liam/Bill/Bill, is not good storytelling. It’s plot-driven and we’ve seen it 200x before on B&B.

However, I’m a fan of Daytime and I want it to succeed, so I’ll have some hope that when Mr. Bell says that the fallout from the Thomas/Caroline/Ridge story will be “pretty potent”, he means it, and I hope it involves Ridge getting a solid dose of his past Romeo behavior slapping him hard in the face. I hope that there’s some twist to the new Brooke/Bill storyline that doesn’t end in Bill tanking his marriage to Katie, since we’ve all seen that before. I would like something different to happen in the Ivy/Liam/Steffy storyline, something we haven’t seen before, and I hope that the creative minds at B&B will surprise us all as they did with other characters in other stories in 2015. I would like to ask for B&B to find a way to juggle more than one storyline at a time, which has been very frustrating. Lastly, if Rena Sofer is going to be on more in 2016, I’ll be a very happy viewer. She’s been sadly overlooked for members of the younger crowd this past year, and she’s too talented and has too big a fanbase to sit on the sidelines.

Geena
Geena

With the Ridge/Thomas storyline, we need Taylor!! If HT cannot come back, I am open to recasting. Taylor doesn’t have to be on permanently but I definitely think she is needed for this particular storyline.

Monica.
Monica.

The best of B&B? I Think not. Maya and Rick bullying everyone and getting a slap on the wrist for it because Maya is a transgender don´t fly with fans. So transgendrs can´t do anything wrong due to fact that they switched their gender? I agree on the crap pulled on Ridge, Steffy and Thomas. Why all the hate on the real Forresters of the show? Yes, real Forresters. Eric is Ridges father in the Eyes of the law. He should be with a woman his own age, not running around with a Little girl . Steffy Forrester is the best and most intresting females on the show, followed by Katie and Quinn. Why? Because unlike the others, they don´t need a man to function. They take the reains and do it themselves. I see that the B/B/K tripe fest is to make a return: Why? No one liked it the fist time. Bill and Brooke are one of the worst Couples in show history. Keep Bill and Katie as Power houses on Spencer and send Brooke to Paris. She is an over the hill sex addict, nothing more, nothing less! And can she please take Ivy with her? Speking of Ridge. Hire a Power house actess for Thorsten Kaye. Lisa Peluso, Alicia Minshew or Cady Mcclain are names that would work. And I whole hearted agree on Taylor. Where is she? We need more Taylor!

Sharon
Sharon

What? The transgender story was popular and well-received? If you read the soap boards and polls, it was one of the worse story. And now it’s supposedly being shown at schools? That’s pathetic. So you’re telling students you can be a bully, feel entitled to everything, lie about having a child and signing those rights away when the child isn’t even your’s and once you become transgender, all is forgiven and no one can say anything because they’ll be called prejudice. Brad has never written a good social issue. They were all a joke, and I certainly would question the schools that are forcing their students to watch something that’s not even believable.

kevin
kevin

I wrote and asked Brad Bell to hire Jaime Lyn Bauer and have her play opposite of John McCook, wouldn’t that be wonderful to have John and Jaime together again. Do you all remember them as Lance and Laurie on Y&R? I never did get a reply back…Brad, please offer Jaime Lyn Bauer a job and bring her to the B&B.

Patty
Patty

Here is hoping that Liam and Ivy will be left in 2015 !!! They couldn’t find a more BORING pair. Send them both back to Australia !!!! This whole accident routine with Steffy is beyond ridiculous !!!!!!! Bring a man with some back bone onto the canvas for Steffy — no more boys — please !!!!

Ramona
Ramona

I’m loving the new storylines…love the way finally Steffy is feeling the hurt and pain from all her plots, scheme’s, and undermined, bully ways, its time for Steffy be hold responsible for her out of control bully ways…Y&R, GH,DOOL, has defective and police stations, hospital, rescues squares, along with love compassion storyline’s, which has brought them as #1, I think B&B Bradley Bell and writers need to reviews the storyline’s that draw attention and boost the rates up…..reviewing a lot soap websites and polls is requesting the re-cast of Hope Logan or bring back Kim Katual for Liam …his characters hasnt been right sense Hope left…its time these two finally come together with family and careers, Hope, need to come back with the power and control of shown Steffy how these turn for worst with double pay for wrong doing in other romantic relationships… So, happy thstvfinally the old Liam has return of the compassion, honestly and less drama with the ethics as an young business man should have as Hope Logan have also…they are also the soulmate Princes&Princess of B&B..young ppl this age need some positive respectful on how to deal with these obstacle’s in an relationships and be able to conquers it all.so many views from ALL AGE wants Liam and Hope together here in the USA…they are very upset, wants to stop watching, wants to see Steffy Monroe to stuffer behinded bars and Lt.Baker is awesome, its also time for the detective from mexico come back and take Quinn down for the death of the owner of that blue diamond necklaces!!! B&B could be #1 Soap Opera and take Y&at place for along time, if changing be made in these areas!!!

Linda
Linda

I agree on recasting Hope, we the fans has been asking for over a year for them to bring Hope back, I think it will bring a nice twist bringing her back, I’d like to see Hope and Liam back together, married and have a family with no interference from anyone else, Bil or Steffy. I don’t like Maya, I don’ t like what Maya and Rick did to Caroline and others and then everyone looks the other way. Now Maya is the wonderful model? Really. And all the crap Rick pulled is all forgiven. I think bring Mr. Avant’s secret daughter into the picture is a good twist, like to see where that goes. As far as the love triangles, get rid of them!!!! Leave Katie and Bill alone, they make good couple, let Brooke be with Eric I think that would be a good match, And Ivy, I’m sorry I like her I didn’t like Wyatt when he was after Hope but he is good with Ivy and I don’t like what Ivy has done to him. I honestly think he would be good with Steffy, but there you go with the triangles, let some beautiful women come on the show and sweep Wyatt up. Let Steffy be alone. And Liam pine after Hope. And why cant Carter have better lines? Let him find a love. I hate that Nicole his carring Maya’s baby, I like Nicole, she needs to be a model not having the line of carring Maya’s baby. Ridge and Caroline has grown on me, but they can’t keep the secret to long, Thomas will figure it out. Thomas is trouble, right along with his sister. One more thing PLEASE PLEASE RECAST HOPE LOGAN.

Lisa Ann Nesbitt
Lisa Ann Nesbitt

Bradley Bells could you put in the show is because they need my help and also bring Hope Logan back so she can go back to liam and give something that know body can and also can you fine a man for Brooke and Sasha because theyonly go after other people man like Katie own and also Nicole make sure sash and Brooke fine they own man and leave them married men alone please Bradley Bells .

Mary
Mary

Love Katie and bill. Please brad have them stay together . Brooke should be with ridge

Keriannb
Keriannb

Brooke made me laugh today saying Bill the love for her life!!!! WTH!! Yes her and Bill sizzle but Brooke sole mate and destiny as she said 5 million times is Ridge. Obviously not Tk version of Ridge but Come on those words rang hollow! Get Carter a SL stat and please don’t let Nicole keep this up I find it bizarre! Maya and Caroline personlalties been rewritten some many times I can’t keep up!!! Wyatt and Stepahie are fabulous. lIam turned into a border my dufus!! he way better as computer geek! Wake up Liam can’t possibly be so admired when you have Wyatt! Please don’t ruin Quinn too much with this nonsense with Liam in a cabin! Quinn is the best helicopter mom on TV! That’s all for now I give BB a B+ but minor adjustments need to be made! Carolyn and Ridge perfection! Thomas give him something to do like go after single women that aren’t drugged or dating Spencer’s girlfriends and non blood cousins with me last name! Eww!

Laura
Laura

Really why Katie and Bill again… can’t we have ONE Stable couple on the show??? Quinn is a big waste of time … Steffy belongs with Liam and Wyatt belongs with ???? The new Avant daughter has Biotch written all over her face ugh!

Dianna
Dianna

Watch the show today been watching for 20 +years 2016 has got to be more not so predictable Wiatt & steffy come on Wiatt has to quit getting sloppy seconds or 3rds hope the writer has better story lines this year for Katie , Bill, & Logan -brook were is Caroline& ridge?

Peggy
Peggy

I think it would be extremely interesting to see Hope return to Liam while Steffy is with Wyatt and see all four of them all in love with each other and start acting like interchangeable couples. I also think the Quinn and Liam “Adam and Eve” thing is hilarious. However, Quinn having sex with Liam is shocking; almost seems like incest and I can’t see this ending any other way than Quinn getting fired by Steffy and disowned by Wyatt.

General Hospital

GH’s Tamara Braun Talks On: Kim’s Plight With Her Son Oscar, Her Relationships With Julian and Drew & Coming Home To Port Charles

When Tamara Braun stepped back on to the canvas of General Hospital back in November of last year, the one-time and wildly popular Carly Corinthos #2 was now taking on the role of Dr, Kim Nero – a single mom of a teenage son (who is very protective of him), top-notch gynecologist in the medical profession, and a woman with a past with Drew Cain (Billy Miller). It was eventually revealed that Drew is her son Oscar’s (Garren Stitt) biological father.

Now as viewers have seen on recent episodes of the ABC soap opera, Oscar’s life looks like it could very well be cut short after the story shocker that now has the young teen diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor from cancer.  Kim had kept the truth from her son until he confronted her upon learning the news on his own (with an assist from Cameron) and putting two and two together.  This sets the stage for some difficult and heartbreaking moments ahead.

As for Braun, she rose to the top as one of soap operas most critically-acclaimed actresses after having the challenging task of taking over the role of Carly #1 in 2001 from three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Sarah Brown.  Tamara not only met this challenge, but made Carly her own scoring an Emmy nod along the way.  After departing GH in 2005, Tamara returned to daytime in 2008 in the role of Ava Vitali on Days of our Lives, which indeed earned her an Emmy.   Next, she headed to Pine Valley and All My Children to take on the role of Reese Williams, the love interest to Bianca Montgomery (Eden Riegel), who eventually married from 2008-2009.  Tamara even came back to DAYS for awhile in the role of Taylor in 2011, and later reprised the role of Ava in 2015-2016.  With an impressive resume, GH is lucky to have her back and Braun finally felt the time was right to take on a new role on her first soap home  upon her return in 2017.  Viewers hope that they get to see more of those emotionally raw, honest performances that Braun is known for as more layers of Kim are revealed,

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Tamara to get her take on: the latest storyline involving Kim, Oscar and Drew, where Kim’s relationship with Julian Jerome stands, and how she feels it’s important to shed light on causes of the day needing our help and how we can all ultimately live in a kinder, more thoughtful world.  Here’s what Tamara had to shared below.

In the episodes we saw last week, Kim had no choice but to tell Oscar the truth. What have you thought about this whole story where now Oscar is hating his mother, and upset with her, when she did not come forward with the truth about his medical condition to him, because in her mind she was protecting him?

Courtesy/ABC

TAMARA:  Yes, that was reasoning.  She did all of this to protect him so that he could have a normal teenage life without all of that hanging over his head.  What do I think of it?  I think that it has been hard for me, Tamara, to play.  It has been hard for me to wrap my head around why a physician would not tell her son that he’s ill.  It’s also been hard for me to wrap my head around because the way the writers have made Oscar and Kim’s relationship such a beautiful one that has been seemingly full of honesty and openness, that they can really talk to each other, which is one of the things that I really like.  In terms of the storyline, what it does do is create conflict which is what’s needed in shows.  Things can’t be ‘happy, happy, joy, joy’ all of the time, so it’s created conflict for Oscar and Kim and now Drew, because Kim dragged him into keeping the secret too for a little bit. 

Courtesy/ABC

We just also learned that Kim’s reasoning to come to Port Charles in the first place was indeed because of Oscar.

TAMARA:  Like Kim said, she came because she did an ancestry report, and it turned out that he has relatives in Port Charles.  So, she wanted for them to get the opportunity to know him and him to get the opportunity to get to know them.  I’m sure we will learn something about Kim’s past which would explain why in her mind she felt this was the right thing to do.  We know that it seems like a very controlling thing.  As a mother, take the physician out of it, I still think that Kim would have shared his diagnosis with him, but I don’t think one ever knows what they would do in that situation.  You think you know what you would do, but perhaps she felt that she could control it; she could figure it out.  Perhaps, Kim felt that because she is a physician she’ll find some answer, and she’ll be able to fix it.  These are the questions, and these are the things that as an actor, I have to put in my head because it’s not what I believe I would do.  It’s not even what I believe the character of Kim as I knew her would have done, but it’s what the writers have written.  So, they have to have a reason, and I think that it has got to be more than just to create conflict.  That’s what stories rely on.  It’s soap, and a lot of people on soaps have to do crazy things and find out ways to justify them when they seem out of character.

You’re right.  Kim and Oscar had a very open relationship.  Yes, she was a “controlling mother,” if you want to say that, but they were honest with each other.  Garren Stitt has been very endearing in the role.  What can you say about working with him?

TAMARA:  I just adore Garren. I have adored him from the minute I met him.  I think he’s a lovely, sweet, kind person, and I feel so fortunate to get to play his mom.  I really do.  I think he’s wonderful, and I’m lucky.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Now as to the situation with Drew, Kim truly did not know he was in town when she got to Port Charles, right?

TAMARA:  Correct.

What does she feel towards Drew now, and does this situation ultimately draw them closer together?

TAMARA:  I think it absolutely draws them closer together, because now they have to deal with Oscar.  Because once Kim accepted Drew back into their lives (she thought he was dead long ago), she opened up her arms to him in the capacity of being a father for Oscar.  Kim has had to deal with everything with her child all on her own for fifteen years.  It’s just been the two of them.  So, I think that at some point it has got to be difficult to allow someone else in to help make decisions, and to lean on, and to co-parent with.  I think it was difficult at first, but I think now she is grateful to have him to share it with, even though they may not see things eye-to-eye all of the time.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you foresee Kim and Drew, at any point, growing closer romantically?

TAMARA:  I don’t know.  It’s not looking like that.  It’s looking like a nice friendship and one that is very caring and understanding, but as of now, I don’t see hints of it.  You never know.  As you know, it’s a soap.  Anything could happen.

How has it been working with Billy Miller? He has also done some wonderful work as the devastated father.

TAMARA:  It’s been great.  The last few scenes that we had to do, there have been those special moments you get as an actor where the angels are just with you.  It all just kind of connects and flows together.   I think we’ve been lucky to have gotten a few of those as of late, and that’s been really nice.

Courtesy/ABC

In story, it was revealed that Oscar could enter an experimental trial that could help his tumor and the cancer, is that what Kim wants her son to do?

TAMARA:  Absolutely, because she feels anything that could possibly save his life or give him more time, she wants for him.

I also like that they made Dr. Terry Randolph (Cassandra James), Oscar’s pediatric oncologist.

TAMARA:  Yes.  Cassandra is really lovely to work with, and she’s just a lovely human being as well.  I’m fortunate right now.  I get to work with some lovely people.

Courtesy/ABC

Do you think Kim’s going to let Julian (Will deVry) know about what she is dealing with?

TAMARA:  Julian does not know.  Oscar doesn’t want anyone to know and especially Julian.  He wants his mom and dad together, so he’s decided not to let Julian know.  I think only for those reasons.  Kim really didn’t honor Oscar by keeping this news of him being ill from him, so she has to honor him in his request not to share this with Julian.

Is Kim aware of how Cameron (William Lipton) is trying to maneuver himself into a relationship with Josslyn (Eden McCoy)?  Does she understand what’s going on there? 

TAMARA:  Kim doesn’t know anything about it.

Photo: ABC

Does Kim want Josslyn to be with Oscar?

TAMARA:  She does, because she knows that Josslyn makes Oscar happy, and to be happy, is what’s most important right now, because that also can help any type of recovery.  When we are happy, or are doing things that make us joyful, or raise our endorphin levels in a positive way, that’s good for health.  That’s good for recovery, and she wants her son to be happy.  What mother doesn’t want her son to be happy?  Especially now, with everything going on.

Kim was having an issue that Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst) and Franco (Roger Howarth) knew about Oscar’s prognosis.  Do you think she’ll be more lax about that now, or do you think she’ll be more even intense about people not finding out?

TAMARA:  I think she doesn’t want people to know because Oscar now knows, and he doesn’t want people to know.  I think that she wants to keep his confidence.  I think she doesn’t want anyone else to know because she needs to respect Oscar’s wishes.

Courtesy/ABC

Do you think that it’s possible that Drew’s twin, Jason (Steve Burton) is somehow the bio-dad of Oscar, and not Drew?  The character of Jason has a history of brain injuries and trauma.

TAMARA:  I never thought of that! (Laughs)  That would be a fun kind of plot twist!  I don’t think so because there have been lines a couple of times when Kim is with Jason and she says, “You know, you look exactly like him.  It’s kind of hard to wrap my head around that, but you act so differently.”   You know what?  Even if Jason did have a brain tumor, he is Drew’s twin, and Drew is Oscar’s father, so that does still genetically match and run in the family.  It’s an interesting twist there that you bring up!

I remember watching the episode where the audience learned Oscar was dying and I was completely shocked!   I had no idea where the writers were going with it after the seizure.  When the powers-that-be filled you in on what was going on, what was your reaction to that part of the story?

Photo Credit: ABC

TAMARA:  Illness in any form on a soap gives you something to play.  So, that’s good.  When they start saying in the dialogue, “terminal,” you’re like, “What!?” But then you also have people saying, “There’s always hope,” so, you never know where it’s actually going to go, or how the story lines will play.  I understand how people keep saying that it came out of the blue and they didn’t even hint at that.  So, I will say they did write a scene the day that Michael (Chad Duell) lost the baby, and I believe Sonny (Maurice Benard) and Michael were in the church. There was a scene that I was ready to shoot that day, and it was a monologue in the church.  It was after Nelle’s (Chloe Lanier) baby had died and after Kim and Nelle had scenes.  Kim goes to the chapel and she has a monologue talking to God, and it was a bit of a hint, but they had to cut the scene because the tape day ran long.  I didn’t even shoot it.  I think that had they had left it in; people would have been like, “Oh, that’s what that meant.”  I think now that I see the reaction of viewers and you’re bringing it up, that would have been the moment you could have gone to and said. “Oh!  That’s the moment.  That’s what she meant,” or when it happened, the audience have been like, “What’s going on?  What don’t we know?”  I think had that scene been in there, people wouldn’t have been taken aback so much.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, what would you say the audience can look forward to with Kim coming up?  Are we going to see her with a lot of stress on her relationship with her son?  Do you see her holding it together, or falling apart? 

TAMARA:  I think probably all of the above… trying to pull it together, falling apart, a rift between them, trying to bring it back together, making mistakes, doing the right thing … I think it’s everything.  I think reality just smacked Kim in the head, and her son… but when you’re so closed and tight about something in life, and when you no longer have control over it… you’ve got your best-laid plans, and you know what they say about your best-laid plans.  (Laughs).  It explodes, and then you have to deal with the aftermath.  So, hopefully we will see some nuance in there.  I’m hoping for it.  Hopefully, we will see Kim and Oscar work through stuff because people make mistakes; people do the wrong things for what they think are the right reasons all the time.  If Oscar is dealing with an inoperable, terminal brain tumor here, then time is of the essence for them to get it together and come together.

Well, I hope that it’s hankie-inducing, poignant and does have those beats for you to play, and they don’t kind of skip story beats.  As you said, time is of the essence for them and there is, usually no matter what, an unbreakable bond between mother and son.

TAMARA:  I hope so, too!  We can keep our fingers crossed for that!

Photo Credit: ABC

What attributes of Kim do you like playing?

TAMARA:  Kim’s no pushover, which I do like about her.  She’s strong, but she’s a quiet strong.  She doesn’t come at somebody charging, blazing, knocking things down or with a baseball bat like Carly does.  She has strength as a woman, and it’s in a very different way.

Do you think Kim is in love with “Charlie” AKA Julian? 

TAMARA:  I think she loves him.  It’s been a long time since she’s been in a relationship.  Her primary relationship, for better or for worse, has been her son all these years.  She’s made him her number one and didn’t feel she had time or that there was anyone who was worth that time.  So, I think that with Charlie, or Julian, whoever the hell he is (laughs)…

… Wait! She knows he’s Julian, right? (Laughs)

TAMARA:  Yes, she knows, but she likes to call him, “Charlie” because of the bar.  It was a cute little thing from the beginning.  I think that he doesn’t pressure her.  It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s light, and that’s what I think she can handle right now.

How has it been playing the mother of a teenager?  Is that odd for you?  It seems like a bit of a jump.

TAMARA:  It seems like a jump from what people have seen me do for a long time.  If you think about it, the last time people saw me on General Hospital with a kid, it was Michael (formerly Dylan Cash), and I mean, not in soap terms, but in real life terms, he was playing I think 6 when he was 8, and now he’s 23 so he would have been playing 21 if he had stayed.

Courtesy: TBraunTwitter

Is it ever odd for you that you aren’t the character of Carly anymore when you see Michael and characters that you have shared and played emotional attachments with your first go-round on GH?  I would suppose as an actress you can switch that on and off, but what about as a person?

TAMARA:  Yes, as an actress you switch it off, but as a person Michael is not the same Michael.  I think if he had been the same because we were so close, and we were so connected it might have been more difficult.  If it were him on set playing him every day, I’d be like, “Hi honey!   Hi my son!”   He was so in my heart.  I think because it’s Chad Duell now playing the part, who is lovely and wonderful, there’s no history with us, and that made it really okay.   I loved Dylan as a little boy.  I still love him.  He stopped in at my fan event, which was wonderful!

When you think back on all of your soap roles, it’s pretty amazing what you’ve done. Although we hated the end of the Reese/Bianca wedding on All My Children, it was the first same-sex wedding, and was a landmark moment.  You were a part of it.  Forget what happened afterwards, but that moment was key.  When you were on General Hospital, you received a Daytime Emmy nomination for your performance as Carly.  And then there was Days of our Lives’ Ava Vitali!  You got to play the psycho.  You won the Supporting Actress Emmy for your performance.  Do you think Ava is somehow still alive? 

TAMARA:  I think she may be alive.   I mean, no one really saw.  They put a sheet over her and rolled her out.  You didn’t see her dead.  I mean, come on now.  Joey (James Lastovic, Ex-DAYS) can strangle, but I don’t know that he’s that strong.  Ava’s got some fire in her.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Such a great role!

TAMARA:  I have been really, really blessed to play very strong or pivotal or interesting, dynamic roles on daytime.  I have been very fortunate to do that, and I have been very fortunate to work with people who allow me to do my thing.  They don’t hamper it.  They say, “Go.  Go for it.”

I love your Instagram posts, and I love when you talk about social issues and things that are important to you.  Could you talk a little bit about how you’re using that platform to make a difference?

TAMARA:  I just like to post things that are important to me. There are a lot of people who are using social media for brand identity.  I’m glad that I don’t even know what that is.  I mean, maybe I should know.  (Laughs)  It probably would be better for me, but –

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

You realize on Instagram; if you post a shirtless pic along with a quote from something unrelated and are a guy, or are a very sexy woman, you’re going to get millions of likes.

TAMARA:  Yeah, and that’s not my brand.  (Laughs) I guess if I had to say what my brand is; it would be “Truth. Real. Honest.”  You know, here’s the real deal from me.  I think it’s important to bring awareness to what’s going on that touches your heart.  I think that if you can shed light on issues in a positive way, to make people think, to make people feel; that is important.  I have always wanted to do good things in the world, and you can do that at any place and time in your life as a human being, but when you have a bit of a platform, I believe it is a responsibility to use that to share things of importance to the world for humanity.  We’re given this one life.  Whether you come back, or whatever you believe this is the one life we have, if we don’t do something good with it, what’s the point?   I think there’s too much, “Me, me, me, me, me.”  I mean, that’s what this business is, right?  But we need to step back, and we need to remember that there is a real world going on out there where people are dealing with issues, and we need to be kind.  That being said, I do post stuff of myself, and people want to see it, so I want to give them what makes them happy, but I think that as long as I’m doing that too, I think it also makes people happy to see things good going on in the world, bring light to issues that need light brought on them.  I really just feel that we need more kindness.  We need more positivity because right now is a really hard time in our world, in America especially. It’s important to be more generous and kind-spirited than what we’re so often seeing these days.

So, what have you thought about the way Kim handled telling Oscar of his cancer diagnosis?  Do you hope Kim continues to stay in Julian’s orbit, or would you want her to become involved with Drew?   What do you think will happen next in the story … will Oscar survive?  What has been your most favorite performance of Tamara Braun of all her soap roles through the years? Comment below.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Hunter King Talks Summer’s Clash With Phyllis, Seducing Billy, ‘Life In Pieces’ & Being Newly Engaged

On The Young and the Restless viewers just watched the summer of …  Summer!  When the top-rated soap brought back two-time Daytime Emmy winner, Hunter King to the canvas, you knew it was going to be to stir up some major drama.  But, little did viewers know that Summer came back a vixen, ready to steal her mother’s man!

Last month, it became game on between mother and daughter after their epic showdown, where Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) got wind of Summer’s attempts to put the moves on Billy (Jason Thompson) and her plans to meet up with him in Philly! (And that spelled trouble for the couple known as “Philly” too)  Oh yes, and there was that well-deserved bitch-slap!  So, where will it all go from here?

Michael Fairman TV caught up with King where we discussed: Summer’s new attitude, if Summer will get her wish and have sex with Billy, her real-life engagement, and her upcoming return to the CBS sitcom Life in Pieces, and more. Check out what Hunter had to say below.

Summer is so pursuing Billy! When you came back to Y&R, did they tell you we need her to be really vampy and this seductress?  What has happened to her? (Laughs)

HUNTER:  Yes.  I understood where it was coming from, and I was excited to play the same character, but being able to play it totally different.  I get to sort of reinvent her.   I think when Summer went away she discovered herself, and kind of grew into Phyllis’ daughter … maybe.  But I will say, it has been very vampy, and you don’t even know yet what’s to come!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

How is working with Jason Thompson?

HUNTER:   Working with Jason is great.  He is always so professional and prepared and always willing to collaborate on scenes.  Jason is just so creative, and so in it, and loves to work so much that he just exudes that the scenes.

Let’s just say when Summer and Billy “finally” hit the sheets … (Laughs)

HUNTER:   We don’t yet … we shall see.  The way this whole storyline unfolds you think it’s going one way and then there is a twist, and then twists on top of twists.  The more layers that come into play you start to understand why everything is happening the way it is.

Now, Summer had no idea that Billy had a gambling addiction, which put this whole spiral of his in motion?

HUNTER:  I guess not?  (Laughs)  It’s hard to know. I would say she evidently did not know about his gambling.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Viewers saw Phyllis slap her daughter in the face as the fight between them escalated; when Summer admitted she was going after her mother’s boyfriend!  How was it taping that scene, and working with Gina Tognoni?

HUNTER:  She’s amazing! Gina didn’t really slap me, but I will say afterwards they wanted to put red blush on my cheeks, and I said, “Oh, just pinch my cheek instead, and I wound up bruising my cheek.”  So Gina goes, “I really didn’t hit her!”  It was the funniest banter on set.  Gina was scary in those scenes, like a good scary.  I went, “Damn!”

On August 18th, you got engaged to your beau, Nico Svoboda.  Were you expecting him to propose when he did?

HUNTER:   I was so shocked, even though I had wanted it to happen, very much.  But, I had no idea when it was coming. It was amazing, and the best day of my life and, we are engaged!

Photo : HKingInstagram

And he got down on one knee for the proposal!

HUNTER:  Yes!  I thought it was sweet.  It’s something you dream about when you are a little girl.

What it is about Nico that makes him the guy for you?

HUNTER:  Besides the amazing qualities he has as a person – he’s compassionate, he’s caring, he’s driven, he’s loving, and just cares for others so much – I love the way that he loves me.  I have never felt so loved before, and so accepted, and he is very supportive of my career.

Courtesy/CBS

Are you excited to go back to your role as Clementine on the sitcom, Life in Pieces?  It is slated for a midseason premiere.

HUNTER:  I am super excited to be back.  We are back taping again   I am excited to do the sitcom and Y&R   As an actress, it’s so exciting to get to do different things:  a sitcom and soaps … why not?! (As noted in the press: King took a three-episode break from Y&R to film some episodes of the sitcom due to a scheduling conflict.)

Then speaking of “All in the Family,” it was just announced, your sister, Joey is coming onto Life in Pieces.

HUNTER:  Yes!  How crazy. She will be on for a few episodes, and it will be fun.  I think we will interact a little bit on the show, and we have never had the chance to work together before.

Photo: HKingInstagram

You and your sister have the funniest Instagram videos.  Do you plan those out?

HUNTER:  Joey is so funny.  It kind of just happens when we get together.  Sometimes we film something and sometimes we don’t.  But Joey is so much fun and my best friend. She is the funniest person in the entire world, and so it’s just easy to laugh when I am with her.

So, what did you think of the showdown between Summer and Phyllis?  Are you glad Phyllis slapped her daughter, or was it a mistake?  What do you think will happen next?  Will Summer ultimately sleep with Billy? Do you want Summer to end up with Kyle (Michael Mealor)? Will you be checking out Hunter on Life in Pieces? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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General Hospital

General Hospital’s Max Gail Opens Up On Portraying Mike’s Battle With Alzheimer’s & Making A Difference In People’s Lives

“What happens the day I wake up, and you guys are the strangers,” says Mike to his son, Sonny and his wife Carly (Laura Wright). “I left you before to my everlasting regret, but it’s going to happen. I’d do anything if I didn’t have to do it again, but it’s going to happen – one way or the other.  At least this way I could leave some good feelings, instead of disappearing before your eyes.”  Those words were said during a gut-wrenching scene on Friday’s episode of General Hospital, as Mike tries to come to terms with his deteriorating mental state in his battle with Alzheimer’s, and the hard realization that he may be better off in a care facility, instead of at his son’s home.  These scenes, as all the scenes in this storyline, have been exquisitely played by Max Gail (Mike) and Maurice Benard (Sonny).

When Max Gail arrived on the GH canvas as the recast Mike Corbin in a role made soap-famous by Ron Hale, viewers did not know what to initially expect.  What they did know was that Max is an accomplished actor with a body of work from primetime dramas and comedies, film, and the stage, and that if he is coming to GH, he must be coming on board for something major.  Before GH, suffice to say, Gail is most remembered for his role as “Wojo” on the ABC sitcom Barney Miller that aired from 1975-1982.

In story on GH, Mike, who abandoned Sonny as a child, once again re-enters his son’s life, but soon we learn that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and that the soap is tackling a story that is an important medical, social, and familial issue of our time.

Gail has been a revelation in this role.  A clear frontrunner for an Emmy, playing the facets, the levels, the characteristics, and the heartbreak of a person who is slowly losing everything they know near and dear to them, as in the end they are ultimately stripped of their dignity from this most horrific of diseases.

On a personal note, and as part of this conversation with Max, it was important for him and for me to share, that I lost my mother at the end of April of this year to Alzheimer’s.  So his work hits close to home, this story hits close to home, as it has also resonated for many viewers who have shared their stories on social media and when Max makes personal appearances.

Here now is this very special interview for Michael Fairman TV with an actor whom we can all agree is touching all of our lives.

You’re portraying a person suffering from Alzheimer’s and play the progression of the disease.  Do you feel pressure as an actor to get it right for those who have loved ones, or person’s afflicted with it?

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  It’s more like an urge, or a calling to find some kind of truth in it that I can connect with.  One of the things I’m inclined towards showing is someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia often just drifts off somewhere else.  “Where am I going?”  This has happened to me many times in life.  For instance, when I was a youngster, I can remember getting in my car, and I’d driven a long way from some party or something like that, and I’d been drinking, and I didn’t remember it.  I knew I’d gotten home somehow.  So, it’s not out of my realm.  I’ve learned that there are no set behaviors really… other than that it usually ends up being really difficult for caretakers, and seemingly really painful for many, if not most people suffering with Alzheimer’s, and losing connection and losing the ability to just function.  We are kind of on the cusp of that in story at GH.  I think it was originally proposed that I would play the part for just a few months, and to give me an out if it wasn’t working.  Maybe, there was a placeholder idea to ship Mike off to a home or something, but the storyline has touched so many people that it has been continuing.

The story has been so effective.  You’ve done such an amazing job, and the fans love Mike and what you’re doing with the character, and they’re on board on this journey.  It’ll be interesting to see how far they will take this with Mike.  Will we actually see him not being able to communicate anymore?  How far will the writers go to show the horrific aspects of Alzheimer’s? 

MAX:  I’m not sure.  You know, I’ve had times where I’ve got the scene, I get the writers, and I get the heart of it.  Other times, I find where that transition is from where Mike is lucid and clear, and other times what that state of mind is and that switch is, and what that is in behaviors and energy level.  I think there’s an ongoing downturn for Mike, and for me as an actor finding something in the moment and finding how it works with things that he does remember.  They’re trying to find a place for Mike within all of the interwoven drama of General Hospital.  I, frankly, had no idea how complex the range of storylines was.  Mike doesn’t really have control over his story.  I don’t want that as an actor.  Mike has some intentions that are really important to him.  I’m trying to find that balance where there are times when he has a pathetic, very sad remorse about what he has missed.  I think that underlies his feelings for his son, who he never could quite reach, because of his own failings as a father.  Sonny’s formative experiences growing up were then with his abusive stepdad.  Finding all of that is really important to do in a way that doesn’t make Mike just this sweet older man with Alzheimer’s.   It’s a wonderful challenge to be presented with.

Courtesy/CBS

You brought up that Mike is seemingly very sweet in his demeanor now.  My mother, who I shared with you died a few months ago from Alzheimer’s was a strong-willed, feisty woman.  As the disease took hold of her, she became very sweet.   She became almost childlike.  The fire had gone out of her eyes.  You knew she didn’t know who you were, and so, all of that, as you know is so tough to witness as her son.  In terms of Mike and his ultimate care, everyone says they love him and want what is best for him, but that he needs to be taken care of because he gets confused, doesn’t know where he is sometimes. etc.  Sonny has been grappling with putting him in a care facility to be looked after, or to keep him with the Corinthos family under their roof.  However, Mike has come to a realization that he may need to be in facility all on his own, and doesn’t want to burden his son by living with him anymore.  That was a poignant moment, and another one of the best scenes has been when Mike couldn’t remember that Sonny was his own son. 

MAX:  Right and he doesn’t know if he’s around friends or around enemies.  This can be true of Alzheimer’s patients.

I had that happen with my mother when she came out to Los Angeles to see me for the last time.  She was out of her element, she was confused, and she broke down and cried in the hotel room.  She asked my father, “Why did you bring me here?” and he told her, “We came to see our son.”  It was heartbreaking.   Later, she had a moment of clarity and realized more of what was going on.  I think it’s those in-and -out moments that you portray so well on-screen.  I feel that they are very realistic to what I, and others, have experienced.

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  I appreciate that and sharing that with me, because you never know as an actor.  That place of “Where am I?  What is this?” makes me think of that “Summer Wind” moment from the Nurses’ Ball when it wasn’t just, “I’m embarrassed.  I don’t remember the words.”  It was, “I don’t know where the f**k I am.  I thought there was a band there, but there’s not.”  So, in a way, I just had to be there on this big soundstage and just feel this big space around me.  I could barely see that there were people out there.  It’s kind of a terrifying thing to a lot of people, but I think Mike has something in him that makes him want to be okay with all of this.  He doesn’t have to freak out and get accusatory.

Courtesy/ABC

What has it been like working with Maurice Benard as your on-screen son?  Do you watch back your scenes together and ever go, “Oh, that was great!?”

MAX:  Yes, there have been a lot of those!  There are some scenes that are so emotionally focused, and we get a lot of delight in each other.  He has been playing this character in this situation for so long, so it’s just kind of in him.  Maurice has presence.  I think when I went in to read for the part of Mike, I had gone through pilot season and had gone in for some interesting pilots.  I didn’t feel like I was really connecting in the readings, because most things are by tape these days, anyway.  When this part came up, a soap hadn’t really been on my radar.  I knew I’d be going in to read with the actor, so I said, “Okay,” and I looked at the material, and then I checked out Maurice on IMDB.  One of the things that got my interest was that he has been diagnosed and takes medication to deal with bipolar disorder, and that’s become a part of his life, and it’s become part of his character.  I thought, “Wow, that’s really interesting.  This is a survivor, and he’s risen to something that takes a certain kind of balance and courage.”  I watched some clips, and when I went in for the reading of this kind of an amalgamation scene of what the story elements were going to be, I felt like we connected before we’d even started the dialogue.

Well, Maurice certainly loves working with you! He has been very supportive and vocal about that.

MAX:  It’s mutual.  We can take really little simple moments, and we can find something deeper in it, and it doesn’t have to be an, ‘I’m going to start crying now’ moment.  Although, I would love for Mike to have a moment of self-observation where he goes, “Gee.  I cry a lot more than I used to.”  I think there are people who are like that, and it’s okay for certain people to cry, and for other people it is not.

Courtesy/ABC

There was a part of my mom that knew something was wrong.  She’d go, “Why am I crying?  I don’t know why I’m crying.”  She got confused as to why she was feeling that.  She couldn’t connect it all, and at times she kept saying, “I don’t understand.  I don’t understand.”  Those were the things she would try to express.

MAX:  I have a feeling that Mike has those moments too, but he finds a way for it to be okay.  There may be a point where someone with Alzheimer’s can’t pull it off anymore, but how we find those and those specifics, I don’t know.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Working on a classic sitcom such as Barney Miller is vastly different than working on a daytime soap opera.  While now being at GH, have you found any commonality within the experience?

MAX:  If I can take a moment and reflect on Barney Miller, because it was a great experience and one that I found was not so easy to find again over the years.  One of the things that really resonates is that when we started shooting the studio audience laughed too easily.  We would end up retaking the scenes.  Sometimes, we didn’t have the end of the show written, because they tended to let certain things start to show up in the earlier parts of the script.  Danny Arnold who was the writer, creator and producer of Barney Miller would always take over the way Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) does in a way … looking to be respectful of the director, but still seeing things on his own.  Frank has a really wonderful eye.  He’s much more connected into the overall storylines, the motivations that went into the writing, and what he sees in the moment.  I always welcome him on the set because the directors, who have a range of talents and sensibilities, are tasked with coming up with a whole lot of shots to cover, a whole lot of tricky angles, and all of that.

Courtesy/ABC

Vernee Watson has been amazing as Stella, who is also Mike’s social worker.  Does Mike have romantic feelings toward Stella?

MAX:  Vernee is wonderful.  I didn’t know Vernee had been on the show when I came on board.  She won an Emmy, and I’m not surprised.   She is so present and so specific, and she’s very bright and gets what all of these elements are, and so, I think they have a connection.  For whatever ways Mike has lived in his like, there isn’t some strange, exotic draw that she is black, and Mike is white.  I like that because both my first and late wife, and my second wife, with whom I’ve had children (and we’ve been separated for awhile, but have a great relationship) are African-American.  So, in my world that is not a big deal.   I think there’s an affinity there between Mike and Stella.  You know, he’s alive.  He’s old, but he’s not dead.  There’s an ease with women he likes.  I think there are a whole lot of reasons for them to not get involved.  One is just professional, and she’s a social worker.  We just shot something where I say something to somebody else about, “back when I still had all my marbles,” you know, he’s in another stage of life, which many people go into gracefully, while many don’t.

 

What do you think about how Mike knows about who was buried at Charlie’s Pub?  He was trying to keep the truth about Charlie Delaney from coming out, which turned into a gas leak that blew up the bar!  This storyline ties in to Sonny’s mobster dealings as well.

MAX:  Well, this is where they put this effort in the storytelling to connect Mike in some way and be intertwined with Sonny.  Of course, it reveals certain things about Mike that he’s never revealed to anybody before.  So, that’s kind of cool.  I think when he knows what and how much sometimes is not clear.  That’s why I started talking about Barney Miller because the other thing was a lot of times when we go together for the table reads, they didn’t have the end of the story.  They had a first draft, maybe. Dan would talk about it, and they’d say, “Next week, the main story is going to be this man in his fifties who is coming to terms with the fact that he is gay,” or whatever those underlying themes may be with the different characters reactions.  So, we knew elements going into it and that sometimes I  didn’t know what the writers are really intending.  In terms of Mike, he’s kind of back and forth in certain moments.  I have to resist the idea that they trap me by just being careless.  I’ve learned that just trying to fix the script often gets you into a place where you “rehearse yourself out of it,” as they say.

Courtesy/GoodDayLA

You appeared on the morning show Good Day LA  a few months back with Laura Wright (Carly), and Maria Shriver, who has founded the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.  What was that like meeting Maria, and helping get the word out about the effects of this disease and the work Maria is doing?

MAX:  It was great to do.  Maria had sent out a tweet that is was wonderful what was going on, on General Hospital.  On Good Day LA, she talked about her work, particularly focusing on the fact that more women are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than men.  So, then Laura and I sat down and did an interview alongside Maria.  We actually had a nice conversation before.  They did a web interview also as a follow-up.  That was very cool, because Maria is very smart, and I’d never met her, but it was great to see what she was doing.  Whatever we are dealing with in the show is sort of my opportunity in the real world to bring awareness and shed light on the subject.  I’d love to see an ongoing conversation online amongst people who can share their stories with each other.  That’s a lot of what they’re doing.  They’re raising money for research, but people need to be able to talk to each other when you’re a caregiver.  Coming out of the early sixties and early seventies when I was playing a cop on TV, I never was a fanatic activist.  I certainly got the behavior of the Chicago police at a certain time in terms of the energy and conflicts of the time.  There was something to think about, but at the same time, I had opportunities to kind of share that all cops aren’t bad, just look at the show, Barney Miller.

Courtesy/ABC

You were my favorite character on Barney Miller as Detective Wojciehowicz!  I think for many who watched the show you were, too!

MAX:  I think “Wojo” ended up being the heart of the show.

Max, you’re helping people through your beautiful performances including me.  Congratulations on that.   I’ll continue have to have a box of Kleenex handy as I watch how it all unfolds for Mike.

Photo: IMDB

MAX:  Well, I really appreciate your questions.  I’m just planting that seed.  That is really what I would like to do after talking to you and so many people.  That’s something I’d like to put out there.   We each have our own domains and responsibilities and all of it overlaps, and you can kind of get in touch with that; if you just go around the circle and share it, and then go around again.  I’m looking to help people out there in the world who are watching and are looking to share in the conversation.

So, what did you think about the heartbreaking scenes on Friday’s episode of GH between Mike and Sonny?  What have you thought of Max Gail’s performance throughout his GH run?  Have you experienced the loss, or are watching someone you love, or care about slip away from Alzheimer’s?  Share your thoughts via the comment below.

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Video du Jour

This weekend we mourn the loss of General Hospital’s beloved Susan Brown who played Gail Baldwin. Here is her final scene from 2004 when Gail and her husband Lee (the late Peter Hansen) showed up at Lila’s funeral and had an exchange with Alan and Monica. Share your thoughts on Susan’s passing via the link below. Leave A Comment

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