Outspoken, satirical, full of dish, and a fearless soap trouper and columnist through the years, is what has always made soap fans take notice of Carolyn Hinsey’s work. First, through her decades with Soap Opera Digest, and of course, with her uncanny and outrageously spot-on take on soaps in her column, It’s Only My Opinion. In addition to that, she continued her reporting on the daytime drama world for the New York Daily News where many times she has dropped an exciting sudsy bombshell or two! Now after taking a look at soaps from the ridiculous to the sublime, to the juicy gossip, to giving us behind-the-scenes scoops, Hinsey has released her long awaited ode to soaps: Afternoon Delight: Why Soaps Still Matter (Available at thesoapbook.com and amazon.com) and it is a barn-burner!
In it, Hinsey cleverly mixes a soap history lesson, some words of soapy wisdom, solid criticism, and enlightens the readers of some of soaps biggest wrong turns in the genre. There are also some hilarious backstage stories and dirt that the most ardent of soap fans will enjoy and revel in! On-Air On-Soaps certainly got a glimpse when we sat down to read the book, with it’s page- turning ride and look into where soaps have been and where they have ended up, and everything 360 degrees in between.
If you want to know Hinsey’s thoughts about: GL’s destruction via Peapack and Wheeler, OLTL’s Kish mess, soaps overused plot devices, ATWT’s Lily misfire, AMC’s Dixie Cooney death debacle, where all the minorities characters have gone in daytime, and why they have in most cases never existed, and much more, you have come to the right place! Afternoon Delight: Why Soaps Still Matter, has something for everyone, but in the end a splendid love for the genre. So now, on with our fun and insightful conversation with Carolyn!
Why the title of the book? Did Why Soaps Still Matter get added to the title Afternoon Delight after you watched everything implode in daytime in recent months?
No! Actually, I wanted to call it Why Soaps Still Matter and my publisher came up with Afternoon Delight: Why Soaps Still Matter because it was a more positive title, and it evoked the happy time which all of us still wish we had with soap operas. The nuts and bolts of the book is: why soaps still matter. So we combined the two titles, and the cover concept was their idea, which I love.
You, like many of us, have had ups and downs in your professional career. And you in particular, have been privy to so much juicy gossip and inside soap info. Did you always know you were going to write a book?
Having been in this business for almost 21 years, I always thought I should write a book someday. But I was not sure what to peg it to. And this book evolved as I wrote it, to be honest with you. I would find myself getting involved in conversations with people who don’t watch soaps and they would go, “You still write about soap operas? Are they still on the air?” And I found myself defending soaps to people who don’t understand the connection and why people watch them. And then I was approached to write a book. I decided to start in the middle and then move forward through the history of them and then back to why they matter. And to this day, I can’t believe I have to tell anyone why soaps matter.
It drives me nuts, too! I wanted to go through some of the chapters and discuss some of the highlight moments that sparked me as a reader to discuss with you. Let’s start with In The Beginning, where you say, “Irna Phillips’ harshest soap opera moment came in 1973, when she was cruelly fired by P&G, despite having created their entire stable of soap operas and selling billions of dollars worth of their detergent, toothpaste, diapers, and yes, soap. Unable to take inspiration from any of her own heroines – Phillips died heartbroken later that year.” And I mean this was the creator of the soap opera medium! Where did you pull this info from?
Some of that came from the Soap Opera Encyclopedia and some of that came from the Museum of Broadcasting about her. She was apparently very imperious, and there are famous stories of how she always called her actors by their character names. (Laughs) Her single-mindedness created the genre. I wrote at one point that she made $250,000 a year as a single woman in the sixties. That is a ton of money now!
You also detail how Irna set more and more of her soaps in hospitals, illustrating her hypochondria and fascination with her own “ailments.” I had to laugh!
She started setting her soap operas in hospitals and according to the research that is because she herself was a bit of a hypochondriac. She was so fascinated with doctors and nurses and hospitals, that she started writing about them. Irna was also the first person to hire a doctor as a consultant on a soap! Back then; it was kind of out there to hire a real doctor to consult with for your soap opera storylines, whereas nowadays it’s very commonplace.
In your next chapter, Shining a Light on Soap, you kind of go around the soap horn and point out memorable and favorite stories from the soaps. For As the World Turns, you had said your favorite story was that of Duncan McKechnie who wed Shannon O’Hara in a Scottish castle, and then comes that infamous shrunken head! I thought it was one of the worst stories ever! (Laughs)
Maybe “favorite” is not right, but most memorable. I mean, how do you get a shrunken head delivered to you and go, “Oh, my wife must be dead!” and then just go on with your life? It’s hilarious! Think about it! The whole Duncan and Shannon story was a favorite of mine. I liked the castle and it was so gothic and dreamy and romantic. I was also amazed that Michael Swan (Duncan) was from California and he had this fantastic Scottish brogue for 20 years!
I was like, “why do we care about them?” To me, these characters seemed to be thrown in the mix from the get-go! Then, you talk about the ending of ATWT in the book, and the final scenes between Holden and Lily. And as soapers know, it was Noelle Beck as Lily and not Martha Byrne. I have to say I thought Jon Hensley was amazing in those scenes. I could only imagined what it would have been like for long time fans if Martha would have been there, too.
I thought he did a fantastic job, and I agree with you, but that was not Lily! You are reminiscing to a stand-in about scenes that we all watched in the 80’s and it’s just fake! It s just not the same and I just don’t buy it.
Love of Life But Not Your Co-Star, this killed me. (Laughs) In this chapter, you mentioned that actors request love interests… and that All My Children’s Susan Lucci prefers tall co-stars because her lighting is better. But everyone is taller than Susan! And Walt Willey (Jack) towers over her!
I know this from being on the AMC set for the last 20 years, Susan has aged better than any one else in soaps and she knows what she is doing. Susan knows when you are looking up, your eyes look brighter, and the light is better. I mean Susan plays all her scenes with her neck up looking at Walt Willey and taller people. Even the actresses who play her daughters are taller, and so Susan just always looks fantastic. She is smart about that. The first time I was conscious about lighting on soaps was when Morgan Fairchild was on The City, and they invented the “Morgan Ball”. Do you remember that? She wanted her own special lighting on the set. So they would have this just over her face. It was like a ball of light, and it is like having a photo retoucher on the set with you, only it’s a light hanging over your head.
In the chapter you also chronicle the stormy professional relationship between Days of our Lives stars, Peter Reckell and Kristian Alfonso (Bo and Hope). I do recall they had their conflicts in the past, but they got over that and are now very cool with each other.
Right, and I revisited it in the book because I don’t think soap fans really want to know if their favorite couples don’t like each other in real life.
I think that breaks that fourth wall, or wrecks it for them.
Yes, I think it does. So people tend to do very careful interviews. So if you do get along great and if you don’t, keep it to yourself and play the scenes, because something has struck a chord in the fans. They want to see you two together, and the show wants to write you together, and for you to be popular. And so I say, just keep your mouth shut and do your job, which is what 99% of Americans do when they go to work, especially, if they have to go to work with someone they don’t like, right?
In your chapter Only On Soap Operas, you have listed and pointed out two of my favorite beyond ridiculous things in soaps, starting with…Short Supermodels! You are so right! I mean c’mon! How can Erica Kane and Brenda Barrett be high fashion super models? Yes, they are beautiful women, but they are so short in stature. That would never happen in the real world.
Well you know, that is part of what we all love about daytime. We all have to be in on the joke, and Susan is beautiful, but Erica was trying to be a model in little Pine Valley, Pennsylvania in the 70s, and then she became a New York and international high fashion model. So I guess back in the 70’s you did not have to be tall to be a supermodel. (Laughs)
What about GH’s Brenda being a supermodel? I keep thinking, these girls would not cut it on a runway anywhere!
Yes, but also in regards to Maurice Benard (Sonny), Steve Burton (Jason) and Scott Reeves (Steven), these are not super tall men. So if you really had a super model on GH, she would tower over the men and look like a female impersonator. This chapter was so much fun to do and I can tell you it could have been longer. And when it all just rolled off my fingers onto my computer, it was all the things I love about soaps and also like to make fun of in soaps, in one chapter. And when I talk about soap fans being in on the joke, we know when an actress is pregnant, but they are not writing it into the story. So then, it is so much fun to see how they are going to hide it? Is she behind a bar or a big table, or is she holding a big purse?
We are all in on it! And soap fans are not stupid at all! And at times, we all have to just suspend belief and go with it.
I agree a thousand percent. Now I watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy from last year where everybody just burst into song. I am sorry? You people are making fun of daytime soaps and you have 700 doctors singing through the hospital?
Ok, can we talk Doppelganger sex? Because that is my other favorite in this chapter! How can these soap women not know the man they are sleeping with is not the real deal?
Well, apparently, everyone on soaps has sex the exact same way, because you are unable to tell when your partner is not your partner. That is the only explanation, Michael!
I have to say doppelgangers are getting really tired, wouldn’t you say?
I agree! Well look at Y&R last year. There is no way 27 people are coming to town as look alikes! I mean, pick one and then every five to ten years you can do another one! And I mean only one! (Laughs)
In the next chapter, Black To The Future, you discuss the lack of minorities and diverse religious beliefs on soaps. One Life to Live back in the day, had a core Jewish family integrated into the show, and then later and to this day, has the only Jewish character on daytime, Nora Buchanan. Don’t you think there is something seriously wrong with that?
I do. Especially, because you never see people go into church except for either Christmas, or a christening at a church, but only if there is a shoot out to follow. So what is the harm in having a Jewish family? You don’t have to show them going to temple, you don’t have to build a new set and hire a rabbi.
It is very apparent that the WASPY fictional families drive daytime.
Part of that is that it is hard to introduce something new. What One Life to Live should have done was keep the Jewish family they had on all these years and not dumped them. To OLTL’s credit they did bring on Hispanics. I remember talking to Kamar De Los Reyes (Ex-Antonio Vega) and he said, “Don’t say Hispanics, say Latinos.” They did move from a Jewish family to a Latino family, and at least OLTL is not Lily-white like so many of the other soaps.
I think I would like to see a scenario where a Jewish character dies and watch the drama that unfolds from it and how they go through the process of grieving and life and death in the Jewish religion. You don’t see that and it’s kind of disheartening; that we don’t see this diversity and same thing with African Americans, as you discuss in the book.
The best thing that Jewish people do when someone dies is you sit Shiva. And you have either three or seven days and you remember the person who passed away, and that would be such great soap. Think about it; people were sitting Shiva and talking about people who died and someone has too much to drink and they get into a fight.
Listen, in real life when you go to Shiva, you are with family and extended family you have not seen in a long time and everyone is upset or grieving or getting on each other’s nerves. There are fights, tears, and people storming out the front door, and this event could actually be a catalyst for soap stories.
It would be a really good dramatic device, never mind being more inclusive of your show…having a Jewish family or two. (Laughs)
Oh, here we go. In the chapter Gays of our Lives, I was very interested to read what you had to say about Kish. I had heard from sources that Middle America in the end was denouncing it, and that ABC was blaming the couple for their ratings woes’. And then, there was a backlash by both the mainstream and the LBGT community on how could they blame the eroding ratings at that time on OLTL, solely on Kish, when people felt the character of Stacy Morasco was shoved down their throats. And then I heard from sources, some of the same things you wrote about; that it was more about the actors, Scott Evans (Ex-Oliver) and Brett Claywell (Ex-Kyle). What do you think went down?
There are a number of things that went down. First of all, One Life tried really hard to write a mainstream gay couple, which is something no other show has done. And they were vilified from all angles. Middle America said, “I will not watch two men kissing.” And then the gay community started a backlash that they were not on enough. How you can then call the only show that is trying to tell a gay story “homophobic,” is beyond me. Some people were saying, but not enough of them, “Great, I love it. I am watching for Kish.” So here you are trying to tell this groundbreaking story and you are being hammered by people who don’t want to see it, and hammered from people who want to see more, and no one was saying, “Wow, great job.” You persevere and you put the couple together. You have a love scene and one of the guys comes out and the parent’s turn on Fish, which makes everybody go, “Oh, poor Oliver.” And that in turn, makes us sympathize with him, and makes the audience like him even more than we already did. And then my understanding is, they offered the actors contracts, and they wanted tons more money then they were offered. The quote I used in the book and that I heard was they wanted, “Robin Strasser money.” And the truth of the matter is; the guys had only been on the show nine months. And so they were told what kind of salary they could get for someone who had been on the show that length of time. They could not strike a deal. So then it becomes, “Are we going to do some recasting? Are we going to bring in another actor to play this role that we are already getting hammered on from two different segments of our viewing audience?” But then, it dovetailed into my argument, which is: Why don’t soaps just tell the truth more. If someone would have come forward and said, “We offered them a deal and the actors did not accept it, and we are very disappointed.” That would have gone down better. But, I also think it’s not fair that the one show that tried to tell this story got vilified, while The Bold and the Beautiful, while set in the world of fashion, still does not have a gay character on the show.
One of the things you mention in the book is…did OLTL head writer, Ron Carlivati, go overboard because of the same-sex wedding-a-thon, and Dorian pretending she was a lesbian to get votes to be elected mayor?
In my opinion, it was too much all at once, and did not make sense. In what community do you pretend to be gay to get more votes? Never mind that Dorian was never a liar! I mean, she has been many things, but for her to lie about her sexual orientation just did not ring true. And, it was too much with everything else they were telling on the show, and if you noticed, they knew it. Then they pulled back on it pretty fast.
The one issue I wanted to bring up that you say in the book is, that it’s hard to create gay storylines for characters, because for instance, gay people don’t have accidental pregnancies. But I say to you, Oliver Fish got Stacy pregnant after she drugged him. So in a situation like that, a male gay character can be utilized. So the beauty of that was the show did weave in the gay couple. And the thing is, if things hadn’t gone down the way they did, they had a great opportunity because of that act, to tell the story of two men raising a baby! And now we see that on Modern Family, and that was the part of the story that riveted me. I wanted the guys to get custody of that child and then see them living in Llanview dealing with that.
Listen, if Brett Claywell would have signed a contract, you would have been seeing that story playing out today! But hold on! My gay friends are not sleeping with women. If you are a gay man and you can be drugged into impregnating a woman, yes, it’s dramatic, but is just not very realistic.
Your issue is the realism, and of course I understand that. I am saying OLTL used it as a plot-device with their gay characters. Look, I do believe what you said is true. But in this case, I am like, “Well, let’s just say we suspend belief like we do with everything else in soaps.” So I am thinking, “OK, we have a gay couple and one of them fathered a child. Ok, good. We have an issue for story there that also keeps them on air.” And then I am thinking, “Good. Now there will be a fight for custody and that could be poignant.” I think OLTL rushed this story at the end because, as you say, the guys did not sign contracts, and therefore, Kish got custody very fast and were sent off the canvas.
First of all, there is no doctor at Llanview hospital anymore. (Laughs) And if the actors would have stayed you would have seen Brett Claywell playing a doctor and Scott Evans playing a cop, and they would have been roped in to all the “normal” stories – kidnappings, and baby-switches and everything else, and in addition to the romantic side of it. In the same way they are currently writing John McBain and Natalie, they could have written it that way for Kish.
One of the juiciest chapters in the books is It’s Not Always The Idiots In Charge, about co-workers who hook up. But you didn’t really name anyone specifically, although soap fans can probably figure it out! (Laughs)
That was the first chapter I came up with and then the follow-up chapter, And Then Sometimes It Is. (Laughs) Well, I did not want to name anyone who was not already out, and I mean, I was not outing people. I don’t think fans really want to know who is doin’ it behind the scenes and who does not like each other behind the scenes. A lot of couples have broken up on the soaps because they “did it” in real life. (Laughs) And then, it all went horribly wrong. I think a lot of single actors who were put together on-screen, “did it” off-screen; I would have to say 35% to 40%. And, I would say 20% of married people have done it.
You chronicle the downfall of daytime, I Am Not A Crook But I Will Pre Empt Your Soaps. I looked at this and I personally it was tough reliving this all again. However, I remember I was doing the E! Entertainment Television series, first soap talk show, Pure Soap, as a writer/producer when the OJ trial hit us all in the gut, and then the marketing department pulled the show. It all went to hell in a hand basket from there. And I agree with what you said, it never has recovered from it, clearly.
What surprised me when writing the book was how much the OJ trial mirrored what the networks had done 20 years before with the Watergate hearings, because either they did not learn a lesson from that, or every network had a new executive in that slot. So they did the exact same thing by pre-empting the soaps, and it was willy-nilly in different markets, and meanwhile AMC is airing it in Vermont, but not in L.A. And back then; there was no SOAPnet or Internet coverage of the soaps. I mean, there were certainly not soap episodes being shown on the web. So the attitude from the execs was, “Oh well. You missed it.” And then fans got mad and started tuning out. After that there were a lot of dominos that knocked right into each other. Once people got out of the habit of watching their soaps, and people were telling them to come back, the audience was like, “Screw you. I did not get to watch my show for nine months.” People did not understand that AMC did not take themselves off the air, it was ABC and local markets deciding day-to-day, “Are we going to air our soaps? Or, are we going to air OJ?” It was disaster!
In your chapter, Naming Names, clearly one of the highlights of your book is about Ellen Wheeler destroying what was left of Guiding Light, and how you chronicled the demise of this legendary soap opera. I loved when you stated, “We turned a terrible corner when they broke up Reva and Josh and hooked him up with her sister, Cassie. Laura Wright had found out about the storyline during her negotiations and said, ‘I don’t want to play that.’ So when GH came calling, she had decided to take the offer and leave and go play Carly.” I mean, we all knew this was bad.
You had no anchor on your show, when you break up Reva and Josh; they are your money couple. Who is going to replace them? Then Laura left and they recast her with Nicole Forester, who was a perfectly fine actress, but she was brand new. And here’s Josh going after the much younger woman of the love of his life. It was gross!
Later, I think you know they flew journalists to Peapack, and they took us on the tour of their new production model, and also brought us to the production offices to show us how they doubled their offices for the new smaller sets to help their budgets. And the spaces were so small, and I felt so bad for everyone. And this is when the digital cameras were up the noses of the actors in these tiny office spaces! I do think it got better towards the end of their run, and as they said, they were working out the kinks… but still.
I would agree 1000%. People don’t care what is happening on the sets. I write about that in the book. No one cares where you are. And a big part of the problem with Peapack was they were working it out on air. So if it’s raining and you have a scene outside, they just barrel through it and you could not hear any of the dialog. The situation was troubling. I think everything that GL did to turn off viewers, obviously contributed to the demise of the show. It was a very sad ending for a once amazing show.
I love that you point out the most ridiculous death in daytime, that of All My Chldren’s Dixie Cooney, choking on poison pancakes and dropping dead as you called it, Death By Pancake. But you say in the book, it was caused by the fact that Cady McClain was unhappy with her current story, and told that to then head writer, Megan McTavish.
The story I heard was Cady was not very happy with some of the things that were being written, and she expressed that to then head writer, Megan McTavish. And I make this argument all the time and I will make it again to you: It is fine if you want to make a creative decision to kill a core character. What was wrong with that story and criminal about that story was that they did this in three episodes. It did not have any proper ending. Dixie did not get her own funeral. She had to share her funeral with Babe. So it was clearly some kind of retribution for something, because if you are a good head writer and you are killing a big character, you should get tons and tons of mileage out of it.
How do you think they are handling it now, going back and resurrecting the character from the dead and fixing their mistake? I call it, “The Dixie Debacle”!
You know, I give them credit for that. This is another one of those arguments where soaps fans are in on the joke. I will accept any way that they will bring back Cady McClain as Dixie. Obviously, David Hayward is going to be behind all this. He is already making all those cryptic phone calls and that is fine. I will completely accept it; just put her back on my screen! (Laughs) I kind of do know how it all plays out; I thought it is as good as it could be, considering we watched Dixie and other characters die! (Laughs).
I loved the ending of the book and the chapter, The Heart of the Matter, and it grabbed me about how soaps touch people, and how they give viewers a family and a lifeline. I thought the quote from One Life to Live, EP Frank Valentini’s, was beautiful and just perfect. Do you feel the same way, that soaps are an extended family to viewers?
Yes, I do feel that way that soaps are a family. And when you have upheaval in your life or you are moving, or starting a new job or starting a new school, and you turn on the TV and there is Viki, Clint and Bo, I consider them my family. And if I am far away from home I can turn on the TV and I would know they are there. That is how soap fans feel. You have no idea how many people live by themselves, have had hardship in their lives and lost loved ones, and they are kind of sad, and they turn on their soaps, and there is a party in Pine Valley or there is Nikki and Victor going at it at Gloworm. It means something. And that’s why I can’t believe I have to tell people why soaps matter in a whole book – because who doesn’t get that?
A few weeks ago, General Hospital fans watched as one of the series beloved stars, Dominic Zamprogna (Dante) exited the show in scenes opposite his longtime on-screen love interest, Emme Rylan (Lulu). For nine years, Zamprogna brought authenticity, emotion, and heart to the son of Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) and Olivia Falconeri (Lisa LoCicero) to life. While Dante’s journey started out with a bang, literally (thanks, Sonny!), over the years it appeared he was taking a backseat in meatier storylines. All the while, Dante and Lulu remained one of the more popular duos with the viewers.
After much reflection, Zamprogna decided it was time for him to walk away from a place that became his second home. His desire now shifted to play different characters in different projects, but it was not without taking many things into account with his life-changing decision.
Michael Fairman TV talked with Dominic to glean more insight into: if there was anything GH could have done to make him sign on the dotted line again, what went down to make those final scenes seem so rushed, how it was to say goodbye to his co-workers in front of the camera and behind the scenes, if he would consider a return at some point, and how would he feel if GH now planned on recasting Dante, and much more.
For us; we recall meeting Dominic for the first times just six months into his time at General Hospital for our first interview together. We were instantly struck by his sincerity, humor, and his eagerness to learn from some of the best in the business. Now exiting as a “soap vet“, per se, it is a full-circle moment that we had the time to conclude his GH journey with this conversation. Here’s what Dom had to say about it all.
What were the factors that contributed to your decision to exit GH? Was there a pivotal moment where you were feeling, and recognizing, that you were underutilized that you felt you needed to make a change?
DOMINIC: When you named me the “Most Underutilized Actor of 2017!” (Laughs) Well, my plan was never to stay forever. But half-way through my second contract, Emme Rylan (Lulu) and I were approached by our producer on set, who said words to the effect of: you guys have been on the sideline, time to get you into the game. That led to the Dante cheating storyline, which gave us story for about a year … which was great! But as that ended, so did any subsequent storylines, it seemed. In the year that followed, I started entertaining thoughts of leaving. By the next year, I started talking about it with my wife, Linda, who had started to notice that maybe I wasn’t happy anymore, and I wasn’t. That’s not a good feeling, especially if you’re bringing that energy home with you. Then, I made the mistake of going on social media, which is a terrible place to go sometimes. But fans were saying the same sort of things I was feeling. Was it all due to story or lack-thereof? No. I was starting to crave playing other roles, and that’s hard to do when you’re under contract.
Were discussions even had with Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) and the powers-that-be about your feelings of dissatisfaction over not being utilized more in storylines?
DOMINIC: The discussions happened late. Not until the negotiation process, actually. I’m no squeaky wheel I guess, but I also don’t feel it’s in my job description to be one. I did put out a few ideas here and there, but they didn’t happen. I know other actors have tried the same and it didn’t lead to anything for them, either. I was a creation of Bob Guza (former head writer, GH), and maybe I was spoiled by the amount of great writing I received while he was there.
There had to be some sadness in walking away from GH.
DOMINIC: Oh yeah… it was sad. I built that character, and now here I was walking away from it, and essentially my second family. That’s been the hardest part. Lifelong friendships were made, and memories. However, it’s been over a month and a half since I’ve been at GH and I feel happy. I’ve been up in Canada shooting Tin Star, which has been a great experience. I’ve stayed in touch with everybody and I miss everybody, in fact, I just spoke to Mo (Maurice Benard) yesterday, and I’m in class with Emme (she won’t leave me alone). But, I feel like I made the right choice for me at this moment.
To clarify; were you actually trying to work out a deal to stay put, but both sides just could not hammer things out to a satisfactory conclusion?
DOMINIC: We did try to work out a deal. After more talks and conversations, I felt maybe we were going to get things done. I was being told things would change and maybe shift things in the direction we wanted to go. But at the end of the day, it’s gotta be in writing. I feel like I’d been told similar things in the past which hadn’t come to fruition. I was also reminded that it was me who needed to sign my name on that dotted line and live with that decision, and I chose not to do so.
If someone would have said to you: “We have an “A” story for you, and you are going to be driving it,” would you have been more apt to stay?
DOMINIC: There was talk about us sitting down and talking about storylines, but that didn’t end up happening, not sure why. And even if it did, I don’t know that it would’ve changed my mind about leaving, anyway. But just to be clear: I have no anger towards anybody. It’s all a business at the end of the day. Both sides did what they felt was right. For me, I just felt this chapter had come to an end.
When, and how did you tell on-screen scene partner, Emme Rylan that you were leaving? Was she happy for you and your decision?
DOMINIC: Emme knew really early on. Once January rolled around I was like: “I have been thinking for the last six to nine months that I am going to go.” I wanted her to know, because we have been a couple for five years on the show. Emme was very happy for me. I went, “Wait a minute! Don’t be this happy. I’m leaving.” (Laughing)
What happened when you told your on-screen mom, Lisa LoCicero ?
DOMINIC: She was sad, but she is also said, “You’re in your prime, go see what’s out there!” I wouldn’t have done this move if I did not get support at home. My wife is the rock and the one that makes this household go. Some things outside the show were starting to happen; I had a nice screen-test for a pilot, and then I booked these four episodes of Tin Star. When you have choices in life; you have power and control over your future. I think Emme and Lisa as actors realized that. That’s what made them happy for me … for the future. The last nine years were exciting. However, when you can have a little bit more say in what you are doing on a day to day basis, that is empowering. So, in saying, “no” to something, and saying, “Thank you, but that’s not what I am looking for right now,” that can feel good.
It was a shame that through all the regimes that they rarely wrote any scenes between Dante and his father, Sonny. What was Maurice Benard’s reaction when you told him you were leaving?
DOMINIC: It has been pretty publicized that he and I were dissatisfied at the lack of storyline, or scenes together. Maurice asked the powers-that-be, “Why aren’t we working together more?” We never had a clear answer as to why. He didn’t know from one day to the next what was happening with my contract talks. Mo saw me smiling one day and asked, “So does that smile mean you’re staying?” And I said, “No, that smile is because I’m leaving.” (Laughs) I said that more to mess with him, and make him sad. He said, “As long as you are good financially, then I am all for anybody getting out of here and seeing what else is out there.” Really, Mo talks people into leaving so he can get more screen-time. (Laughs)
Let’s talk about the final airshow, and the story that came out of left field to facilitate your exit. Was that written quickly to accommodate a shooting schedule or contract completion? It felt rushed to the viewing audience.
DOMINIC: Left field is right! I still had a week and a half left of work when they found out I wasn’t going to re-sign, and within twelve hours I had six exit scenes written. So, it wasn’t done to facilitate anything but a set (Lante’s house), I think. My final tape date was May 18th, and Emme and I had scenes on the Wednesday or Thursday before that. I guess they wanted my last scenes that aired to be with Emme, and that might have been the only scheduling day that worked for the set and the actors, and maybe that’s also why it felt so rushed. All I could assume is that they didn’t think I was really going to leave so they didn’t plan for it, or they chose to protect themselves in this way, by not making a big deal about it. I had another week of scenes in the PCPD with Chase (Josh Swickard) and Michael (Chad Duell) that was shot afterward. But they had nothing to do with Dante’s “secret mission!”
I thought, “Wait! Is that it? Is this Dominic’s final show? Dante doesn’t say goodbye to his mother… his father … or his son, Rocco?
DOMINIC: Yeah, that was tough for me. After 9 years you think you’re going to get a little bit better of a send off. You also, hope they’re going to honor the character. Dante wouldn’t leave to go to the 7-eleven without saying goodbye to his mother and kids. Maurice and I talked about that. He said, “I guess, they don’t want people to feel really sad. You and me doing some goodbye scenes, people are going to be devastated.” I agree with that. However, I also think it’s a soap and that’s what fans want … good, ole drama. I would have loved to have had scenes with Sonny, Olivia, and Dante’s kids, but when you make a decision like this, how you leave on-air is not up to you. Both parties are going to handle it how it’s best for them. I was very grateful they gave Emme and I something to seek our teeth into.
They were very sad scenes. You are one of those actors that can take the material and connect with it while delivering it in a very subtle and heartfelt way. How was Emme after your final scenes?
DOMINIC: She was kind of crying the whole time, going “Damn you! Damn you.” I was having fun with it, because I love making Emme cry. It’s not a very difficult thing to do. (Laughs). We were both pretty teary-eyed, actually. Then, when we finished the scenes and I looked over and I saw how upset the crew was, that’s what really got me. Barbara, one of the camera operators actually jokingly apologized; suggesting that if my last shot was blurry it was my fault! As an actor, when you make the crew feel something it kind of gives you some extra good feels. That was always the best feeling, talking to Craig (our stage manager), or Donna (head of makeup department) after a scene to get the honest truth on how you did. I’ll miss them.
Viewers, watching Dante have this flashback about the guy who was responsible for Lulu going overboard the Haunted Star a few years ago, probably needed a moment to connect the dots. Some viewers were going, “What? Dante is going after the guy that tried to drown Lulu from two years ago?”
DOMINIC: When I read that in the script even I went, “What?” Who’s that?” I had no idea, either. (Laughs)
Then there was this: Dante was so hard on Lulu for her pursuing her dream as a journalist and how it inadvertently got Nathan killed. Then all of a sudden in your final scenes, Dante has a line to Lulu in which he says something to the effect of: I understand now – you got to do, what you got to do. In story, prior to these scenes it was leaning more towards Dante and Lulu were going to break-up over what had recently transpired.
DOMINIC: Which, who knows? If Dante had stayed in Port Charles it could have been the direction they were going in. It certainly looked like they were building toward conflict, conflict, conflict, but with me leaving it was much sweeter to leave on the note that we left on, instead of Dante leaving, because he can’t deal with being around Lulu. This all leads me to believe that they didn’t want to do anything too permanent to give them time to make the proper decisions.
What was the last day of shooting like for you? Was it hard to get through?
DOMINIC: It felt like a regular day, and my final scenes were up towards the end of the tape day. They had a cake afterwards. Frank briefly spoke and introduced Maurice; who said a bunch of sweet words. That meant a lot to me. I said “goodbye” to everybody and took some photos, and that was it. I already had my room packed up. Once you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go. Afterwards, I went out with Ryan Paevey (Ex-Nathan) and Jeffrey Vincent Parise (Ex-Carlos) for some beers and wings at the bar down the street. It wasn’t until everybody came back after a two-week break that it felt real, because then I was receiving text messages from people saying, “We’re back. Why the hell aren’t you here?”
The door has been left open for Dante to return. Would you ever come back?
DOMINIC: Of course, at some point. But it might not be my choice, they might recast. They told me they won’t, but who knows what’ll be done. Do I think you can just recast a role? No, I think it’s always a tough sell, but they’ve done it with bigger names/characters than mine. I would be a little surprised, only because there hasn’t been much story for Dante in the last three years. For me, as of now, I’ve moved on, and I’m very happy with my decision and my life. It’s sad in other respects, don’t get me wrong. I’ve read things that people have said on Twitter, and I want everyone to know I’ve seen it all and it means a lot to me. People have been beautiful to me. I’m truly overwhelmed by the love. I thought there would be more of, “Who cares?” when fans found out I left. I must have done something right during the years I was at GH.
Did you think when you made the decision to leave they would kill-off Dante?
DOMINIC: No, not at all. I don’t think killing off Dante would be a good idea, especially after they killed Nathan, and also because of the climate we live in with police involved shootings and violence, in general. In a perfect world as an actor, you crave the opportunity to have one last moment with the other characters that have been important to your character over the years. That’s all I would have wanted for myself, and Dante. I’ll take what I got though. It was extremely meaningful because of what Emme and I had and built. I feel we got to the heart and soul of those two characters in a pretty short amount of time in our scenes.
Speaking of Nathan, I think thus far those funeral scenes, which you were wonderful in, and the story arc revolving around his death, are GH’s best bet for an Emmy in the Drama Series category next year.
DOMINIC: I agree. It was so well-done. We’d all would like to go out like that! Tragic, but it made for great TV and great soap. It was phenomenally well-acted across the board. Lots of Emmy reel stuff for Michelle Stafford (Nina) and Kirsten Storms (Maxie), and Kathleen Gati (Liesl), and hopefully for our directors and crew, also. They did an amazing job bringing that to life.
This now leaves Josh Swickard as the lone cop now by default on GH. he PCPD is notorious for being the worst cop shop in the history of soaps! (Laughs) They can’t ever solve a crime.
DOMINIC: (Laughs) I know! What is Josh is going to do? Maybe between Chase and Jordan (Vienssa Antoine) they will solve crimes. Maybe, they’ll bring on a new cop. Josh is a great guy and I enjoyed working with him. At the beginning, we had that contentious relationship between the two guys. That would’ve been fun if it lasted longer, where they had this continual real dislike for one another. Who knows? With Dante gone, maybe they will start solving some crimes! (Laughs) Maybe now the PCPD will be the greatest police unit in the USA.
Over your nine years at GH, would you still consider that your best storyline was coming on to the show and then having Sonny shoot Dante, only for it to turn out that he just shot his own son?
DOMINIC: Yes, I think you have to. That was my intro. They had this story planned eight months before they even cast the role. To get to that moment, was a classic soap cliffhanger. I grew up watching soap operas with my grandparents, and if they had been alive for that scene they would have lost it, because it was something that ‘old school’ soap fans would really dig. For me, doing that story felt so special. ABC also pumped it with the promotion, and the promos, and the TV spots, and amped it up. I didn’t feel it disappointed. It was actually the audition scene that I had to perform to get the part! Then six months later you get to say these lines that got you the part, and you hope you don’t whiff on the softball.
While putting together and producing the GH 55th anniversary tribute package for this year’s Daytime Emmys, I included that moment between Sonny and Dante. I remember watching the complete scene before editing it and the dialog was so good. It still holds up to this day.
DOMINIC: My manager was at the Emmys that night, and said what a great moment that was. I meant to thank you for that, because I really appreciated it being in there.
Are there any other scenes that come to mind that you are most proud of?
DOMINIC: I also really loved the scenes with Max Gail (Mike). He is a special guy. There was so much in our scenes; where Dante finds him with Avery in the stables. Those moments are going to stick with me for a long time.
On June 28th, the airdate of your last episode, you posted a tweet to the fans that read: “The love you guys have given me over the years and continue to give is overwhelming. It is I that must thank YOU!” I thought that was extremely touching and very appreciated by the fans.
DOMINIC: I was thinking, “Man, I have to thank you, because I would not legitimately be here if you hadn’t liked this guy, Dante.” It was bringing tears to my eyes reading what people were saying, and seeing how much love I was receiving.
Tell me about your role in the British-Canadian production of Tin Star?
DOMINIC: It’s a recurring role, I’ve been working on it since March. It’s something very different from what I’ve been doing the last 9 years. Can’t give much away, but I play a hired gun type of guy. There are some great scenes and moments, and I was lucky enough to work with Christina Hendricks, John Lynch, and the legend, Tim Roth.
Do you feel now that you have had some time away now from GH, and have been playing another role, that the thought of playing Dante for you at this point is like: “Been there. Done that?”
DOMINIC: I would never say Dante is done forever. Right now for me, he is. They left it open, hopefully they left it open for me, but every actor hopes that. We want our cake and to eat it too! I want to leave right now, but I want you to want me to come back some day. No one wants their role to be recast. But it’s an important character, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Who knows what the future holds. I left on good terms. Just so everyone knows; I didn’t spring something on GH on the last day of my contract. It’s important that I let people know that I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “See ya”. This also wasn’t about money. Sure, we want to be paid what we believe we’re worth. But this in no way was about me asking for the moon, or I was going to leave. It was a very, very difficult decision.
So, what do you think about how GH wrapped up Dante’s story for Dominic’s exit? Would you like him to return to GH sooner than later? Do you think the role of Dante was problematic to write for? What were your favorite scenes of Dom’s during his time at GH? Let us know via the comment section below.
Jonathan Jackson Talks Avery’s Love Quandary, Saying Goodbye To ‘Nashville’ & If He Would Return To General Hospital
With just three weeks before the series finale of CMT’s Nashville, Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) finds himself in a major conundrum. The woman he has loved and had a child with, Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panetierre) has returned home after escaping a cult compound, just as Avery has opened himself up to the start of a new relationship with Alannah (Rainee Blake). After not hearing from Juliette, added to the many times he felt she abandoned him and their child, will a betrayed and hurt Avery want to find a way to patch up their relationship … or try to keep Alannah by his side?
Michael Fairman TV chatted with five-time Daytime Emmy winner, Jonathan Jackson to get the lowdown on what transpired over the last few episodes and how it may end for Avery, as we inch closer and closer to having to say farewell to the Music City drama.
Since Nashville wrapped its sixth and final season a few months back, General Hospital fans have been wondering and hoping, if now is the time that Jackson would return to his role as the beloved Lucky Spencer, the son of Luke (Tony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis). Jackson originated the role in 1993 and stayed with the series till 1999. He next returned in 2009 for a few years, then left again, and was cast on Nashville. Jonathan made a special return in 2015 to appear in a storyline that reunited him on-screen with Geary one final time, before the soap icon retired from the show. In this interview, Jackson addresses a return, some of his favorite moments of all-time on GH, what he learned from Tony and Genie, and more.
Those that follow Jackson are aware that his talent knows no bounds. He is also focused on his music career, and his band Enation, which has been building on its success, playing recent sold out shows in Europe, while Jackson also had been on the final Nashville tour performing with the cast. So, buckle up! The next step in Jackson’s career will be one to watch. Now, check out our insightful and heartfelt conversation below.
Avery is caught in a compromising position by Juliette, when she walks in while Avery is making out with Alannah, who has just has taken her top off. What goes on in Avery’s mind at that point? Is it, “Oh, no! I’m busted!” (Laughs)
JONATHAN: It’s all sorts of things. There is the visceral reaction, and then in his mind trying to figure what to do. It’s sort of awkward, because they are in her house and her photos are everywhere (Laughs). However clumsily and strange it is, he is trying to move on and get a life together with someone, and yet deep down he still has feeling for Juliette, which is mixed with anger and all of that. He is having all different confusing conflicting emotions, all at the same time, and for Alannah as well. It’s kind of a mess!
By the end of this week’s episode, viewers saw Avery and Juliette start to talk, with Avery letting her know just how he feels about her leaving him, and that he has decided to move out. All Juliette is asking is that he keeps talking to her. As Nashville moves toward its conclusion, the big question for the character of Avery will be … who is he going to end up with, if anyone? I would assume many longtime fans would be rooting for Avery and Juliette, because they have gone through so much together.
JONATHAN: Yes. However, I have been receiving messages from fans, and talking to fans on tour, and they are slightly conflicted, too. There is a lot of love for Avery and Juliette, but there is also frustration around the whole thing, and that they want Avery to move on and be happy.
Where is Avery at with his relationship with Alannah? He was getting close to her, and now she is attempting to put distance between them since Juliette resurfaced.
JONATHAN: It’s difficult to pinpoint where Avery is at right at this moment. There is a lot going on, and a lot of it is rooted in the fact that he went to Bolivia to try and bring Juliette home, and when she refused him that was so devastating for him. The Alannah relationship snuck up on him. In some sense his heart is still attached to Juliette, but his mind is telling him it’s over, and that she is gone. Avery and Alannah are connected to each other on a certain level. It surprised both of them. I think he has genuine feelings for her, but it’s also him pushing himself to move on from Juliette, which is something he has not been able to do.
Without Alannah, the band flounders with Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Avery, and then there is the health situation with Will (Chris Carmack). Alannah’s presence really put a kink in Gunnar and Avery’s friendship. She stared out with one guy, and was on her way to being with another.
JONATHAN: Gunnar and Avery are really good friends and care about each other a lot, and it is certainly an awkward moment in their friendship. In terms of the band, they lose Will who has been through this health crisis, and then Alannah. The music components are kind of imploding and they are just trying to hold on to their friendship, and not have that implode along with the band.
Brad (Jeff Nordling) is making advances towards Alannah, and she originally tells Avery about it. What does he think of the situation? Now, she may do whatever Jeff wants her to do to get ahead in the music biz, since Juliette came back into Avery’s life.
JONATHAN: I think Avery is trying to be supportive of Alannah. It was a little bit of a blow for her to leave the band, but he generally wants to support her. Avery has this instinct to be protective, as well. He kind of has to hold himself back a little bit and not complain too much. He knows Alannah is an independent person, and may not want his help. With the situation with Brad, Avery is aware of it, but she is walking into that in her own way. It’s a moment for Avery to sort of step back and trust her that this is how she wants to go about her career.
Did you know Rainee Blake was going to be your potential love interest this season? Did you screen-test with her?
JONATHAN: We did not screen-test together. I think relatively earlier on I heard that this might happen, but it is one of those things were you never really know. Often times, the writers and the producers bide their time and see how things develop as a couple, and how the audience responds to the on-screen chemistry. You never really know if it’s going to materialize. I actually did like how Avery and Alannah started to connect on the tour bus several episodes ago. The audience got a tease of a different side of Alannah, and Avery kind of brought that out. Rainee was great to work with.
You have gotten the opportunity as Avery to tug on the heartstrings, as a dad raising his little girl, Cadence, all by himself, with a the runaway mother who never shows up. How was the journey working with Hayden Panetierre? You two had to battle, bicker, fight, and had to play all these ups and downs together to make the story work over many seasons of Nashville.
JONATHAN: It was really amazing, and for me that is one of the things I will miss most about working on the show, and that is working with Hayden. It’s such an interesting thing when you work with people for so many years, and all of the emotional ups and downs that the characters go through. Often times, we would be doing a lot of intense and emotional scenes, but for whatever reason, we would find a way to have a lot of fun and find the humor when we are doing those. I have a lot of love and respect for Hayden. I think she is incredibly talented. We both started off in soap operas (Hayden was Lizzie on Guiding Light) and thus had a certain approach to our work, and our work ethic. For me, it’s always a highlight in my career when I get to work with somebody that the scene is already great, because of the person you are working with. We would constantly share ideas back and forth between us. The thing about working on Nashville was the friendships we developed in the cast, especially going on tour with the cast and to experience all of that with everybody else.
What happened when you found out that this sixth and final season of Nashville would be its last? Did you have any idea that this was coming down the pike when you wrapped season 5?
JONATHAN: No. I don’t think anybody knew when we wrapped season 5. We did not know till right before everybody else that this was going to be the last season. We were in production maybe halfway through season 6. I think that it helped having that time to adjust, and it gave us some time for reflection. It really did help in a sense, because you know other shows they might wrap a month, or two later, and it’s over. You don’t get to say goodbye, but we really did. We got to say our goodbyes.
I can imagine that was heartbreaking. When you think of the rollercoaster ride you and the cast had been through together which included: the cancellation by ABC, then the show coming back on CMT, only for it to be cancelled again, it’s quite a lot to deal with and not knowing if there is job security. Do you recall your last day on the set?
JONATHAN: I do remember it very well. There were a lot of beautiful moments with people, and having so much love for the crew and so many amazing people that worked on the show. We wrapped on April 10th and then we flew to the U.K. on the 12th It was two days later that the tour started. Even though filming was over, we were on a plane and then on a bus together, which was really good for all of us. I know it was for me to have another ending. In some ways, the end of the tour was even more emotional, because that really felt it was the end.
Do you think there were more stories to tell on Nashville … or, do you think the series is going off the air when it should, as the stories can tend to get repetitive on any long-running series? Do you think this was the right time for Nashville to say goodbye?
JONATHAN: I don’t know how other people’s perspectives are about it, but I know from my perspective, I think we told the story that was there to be told for these characters. That is sort of the bittersweet reality of it. It’s painful to say goodbye to a lot of people that I had become very close to, but at the same time, there was a sense of peace about it. It really did feel like the right time.
What can you say tease about how Nashville concludes? The series finale airs on July 26.
JONATHAN: One of the hardest things about being in a long form series; whether it be in the primetime format, or the daytime format, is often times the lack of resolution that takes place. You are pertually in Act 2 and in all the drama. So, knowing that the show was over, allowed the writers to approach everything from the perspective of the end, and Act 3. Certain storylines have resolution, and others are left open-ended. There is a good overall balance from the writers of what the audience is going to experience with the end of the show.
I produced the General Hospital 55th anniversary tribute package for this year’s Daytime Emmys. I remember looking at some of your storylines and touching performances all over again that still hold up to this day. One in particular was Lucky pulling tough love on Luke (Tony Geary) during his father’s intervention. Lucky is such a valuable character on the canvas. Would you consider going back to GH?
JONATHAN: My perspective on that is; I don’t really put that off the table. I really don’t have plans to do that, because after coming off six years on a series, that is a lot. I am definitely looking for other projects that have an Act 1, 2, and 3, that happen a little sooner than Nashville did. I always have going back to GH on the table, because it’s like a family for me. I have always said that that even when I left in the 90’s; that GH would be something I would come back to. But, I am very committed and excited about what is happening with Enation, and excited about some other projects that are out there on the acting front. I don’t see going back to GH in the near future, but I never write it off.
When you last returned you did come back to be part of Tony Geary’s exit.
JONATHAN: Yes, yes, which I was really happy to be a part of.
Still years later, when you think of all the stories you portrayed as Lucky, is there one, or two that stand out to you among the rest?
JONATHAN: There are many. There were a lot of stories, and the writers wrote so much material, and that is a double-edged sword. It’s great to have, but it was so much that I really couldn’t continue. (Laughs)
I remember saying to you years ago, “You cry so well on camera. They are going to keep expecting you to cry, and they will be throwing scripts like that to you every day!”
JONATHAN: And that is exactly what happened! But for me, it’s the moments with the co-stars that I will always carry with me. There are endless ones in my memory with Tony Geary. “The intervention” was certainly one of those moments. I had those moments as well with Tyler Christopher (Ex-Nikolas, now Stefan, DAYS), and Becky Herbst (Elizabeth). I remember having these scenes with Maurice Benard (Sonny) when scenes on the soaps were much longer. And of course, earlier on, with Genie Francis (Laura) as well. I feel like as an artist, I was really formed by Tony and Genie’s presence and observing them and watching how they worked. I asked so many questions to them as I really wanted to learn. They really protected me in so many ways, and yet gave me the freedom to try to find my own way through a whole process as well. Those are the things that really jump out at me, as well as working through the scenes prior to filming, especially with Tony. He and I would go pretty deep with what we were trying to figure out; what the scenes were, and what they were about, and how to approach it. That part of the process was really memorable to me. The unique thing I think in this industry for me was that I started at 11-years-old and got to come back to the show in my mid-20’s, and got to have that connection with another actor, and explore this father and son relationship.
I don’t think, and I really mean this, that there has been a father/son relationship on television like Luke and Lucky’s. It was so multi-faceted. Have you stayed in touch with Tony?
JONATHAN: We definitely stay in touch. Again, when I left General Hospital, I did not know if anything like that would happen again in my career where I would form sort of long-lasting friendships with people. Most of the time you do a film and you get to know some people, and you go your separate ways, and that’s just how it is. So I was really grateful for Nashville, because I feel like we were able to have those long-lasting relationships. I can’t really put into words my relationship with Tony. It’s just a lot of love and gratitude, and respect that I have for him.
Meanwhile, your music career is very exciting of late. Last month, you played the Royal Albert Hall in London with your band, Enation. How was that experience?
JONATHAN: It was amazing. I went overseas with the Nashville tour and then Enation did a couple of shows, and then we opened for Echo & the Bunnymen. The last gig on that tour was at Royal Albert Hall. I have loved Echo & the Bunnymen for such a long time, and so this was wonderful for us.
Will Enation be touring more coming up?
JONATHAN: We are looking to go back to Europe later this year, or the spring of next year, and are working out those details. We are going to be touring in the United States later on this year.
Did your wife Lisa (Ex-Hannah, GH) meet up with you on this recent European tour?
JONATHAN: The Nashville tour ended in Ireland, and then my wife and kids came over for the last two shows there. Then, got to go around Ireland for a couple of weeks and drive around, and it was fun.
Did you notice a difference between the European music fans of Nashville as opposed to those in the U.S.?
JONATHAN: Yes, and no. One of the things I have noticed playing over there is that the distinction in musical genres isn’t quite as a sharp as it is in the U.S. Over there, the radio seems to play a lot different kinds of music. So, it was a pretty seamless transition for a lot of the people that came to the Nashville show. We see a slight difference in the music fan base, and it mainly has to do with that they may go to a country show one week, and a couple of weeks later go to a rock concert, and not think twice about the genre. It’s just they are looking for good music.
Hard to believe we are turning the page on another great character played by Jonathan Jackson as Nashville heads towards its finale. What would you like to say to the fans, the #Nashies, who have loved, and have stuck with show every step of the way?
JONATHAN: Just a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for all the support, especially when the show was cancelled. CMT saw the enthusiasm and support from the fans here and internationally, and that was a huge part for us to be able to get the last few seasons. It has really meant a lot to us creatively to write that 3rd act, sort of speak, and have that sense of closure. I also would just say to the fans that have come out to the Nashville concerts as well, that it has meant so much. We feel like we have had some beautiful moments with everybody, and so I am very grateful for that.
So, what do you think will happen to Avery at the end of Nashville? Do you want him to end up with Juliette, Alannah, or by himself? Should GH try to lure Jonathan back to the his role as Lucky Spencer? Comment below!
Y&R’s Peter Bergman Talks On: Jack Finding His True Biological Father, His Co-Stars, And If He Would Like A New Love Interest
On The Young and the Restless turns out Ashley (Eileen Davidson) is not the only child raised as an Abbott; whose father is not John. As viewers learned back at the end of March, Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) is not the biological son of the Abbott patriarch, either! This has sent Jack on a pursuit to find out who he truly is, and who he truly belongs to, because being John Abbott’s (Jerry Douglas) son meant everything to him.
Once again, this story has given multi-Daytime Emmy winner, Peter Bergman an opportunity to play the complex layers of one of daytime’s best characters. Recently, Jack had gone through his mother Dina’s (Marla Adams) old diary, where there was a key page missing out of it. He then located a photo, which led him to believe that none other than late Phillip Chancellor II (played by the late Donnelly Rhodes) is his real father. Is Jack a Chancellor?
Hell-bent on exhuming the body for DNA proof, Jack is getting massive pushback from just about everyone on Genoa City. It is not helping the situation that Dina is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and her recollections of what transpired years ago when she had an affair, may not be accurate. Now this week, Jack has a plan that may backfire and ends up involving his son, Kyle (Michael Mealor) in the process. Will these two work together to get the proof of the truth?
Michael Fairman TV chatted with the actor’s actor, Peter Bergman to get his take on: the surprise story twist he never saw coming, if Jack has the purest of intentions, or if he is just chomping at the bit get his hands on Chancellor Industries, if he would like to see Jack have a new love interest, and more. It’s always a treat to speak with Peter. Here is what he had to say about Jack’s latest inner-turmoil.
Jack is not John’s Abbott’s son. He is searching for the answer of who is his biological father. Now, Jack believes he has found the answer in the photo he found that included Phillip Chancellor II, and then went to Dina to confirm the answer, even knowing his mother is battling Alzheimer’s disease. Don’t you think he jumped on this notion of Phillip being his dad all too son?
PETER: Jack has stumbled upon evidence that this is for real with the photo he found. He went to Dina on what was a very lucid day for her, and she was pretty damn clear. So, therefore it wasn’t just the ramblings of a lost woman. Jack is very eager for an answer. Could it be argued that he jumped on this as a possibility? Yes, and for a number of reasons. First, he feels somewhat utter-less and needs to be connected to something, but he also knows his family, and the history of this family, and “Oh, my God” could that be a way out of this untethered feeling that he had. So he is really grabbing on to this pretty quickly. Second, it is not lost on Jack that part of inheriting all of Phillip’s traits might also bring him part of the Chancellor estate, which would belong to Jack and perhaps he could pick-up at the corporate level where he left off. So that is exciting, but certainly not central to his thinking.
Everyone thinks from Cane (Daniel Goddard) to Jill (Jess Walton), to Billy (Jason Thompson) , that all Jack truly wants is to stake claim as an heir and to try to take control of Chancellor Industries. Are they that far off from the truth?
PETER: How honest is Jack being with himself? We will find out! He would want to stake his claim … and maybe a little bit more!
What was your reaction when you learned that Jack would be revealed to be the son of Phillip Chancellor II, when for decades you have been playing so much of what drives your character that he is the son of John Abbott? Were you like, “What!??” (Laughs)
PETER: I have been doing this much too long, to go “Why?” I, quite frankly ask, “Where do you want to go with this? Where do you want to take me?” The things that I have done in the past that I have fought the most have usually been the things that really led me somewhere. I tell the story all the time of John Abbott dying. They decided to bring him back as Jack’s conscious, and he would appear in scenes with Jack and talk to him. I thought “C’mon. This is The Young and the Restless, and I am doing a ‘ghost’ storyline?” I fought it and I didn’t like it, and I was wrong. It was fantastic, and it worked great, and the audience liked it. I learned from it. I don’t go, “Whaaat?” that much anymore. There have been a few of those including: the whole doppelganger story, while it confused me at times, and I thought this had gone a few steps too far, but it led us to Billy/Phyllis/Jack story. It was a direct line to that, and one of the most dynamic storylines I have ever been in. So, I see this current story, and I go, “That is an interesting turn.” Then, as an actor, I dig into it.
Jack wants to exhume Phillip’s body and everybody from Jill to Cane is objecting. Esther (Kate Linder) is worried Mrs. C. will roll over in her grave if he does this move. As we will see, Jack does not take “no” for answer.
PETER: Jack eventually all but gives up, but then a door opens slightly for him to look at this a different way Jack reluctantly walks through that door.
Do you think Jack has ever thought of the possibility of: “What if I am the son of someone from the circus … or the former pool boy at the country club?”
PETER: I have thought it’s amusing when I have met people who have explored their past lives. They have always been a prince or a princess. They were never menial laborers. I think he looks back and is kind of curious. I think Jill points it out to him that he is not at all suspicious that he is the pool boy, or the golf pro’s offspring? He knows the tryst happened at the country club, and so the first person you think of is one of the elite of the country club.
It would be such a huge devastating fall for Jack if something like that turned out to be true! Jack so wants to belong to a family that has wealth and prestige that goes along with their name. I wonder what it would be like if he had to say, “Yes. It’s true. I am the pool boy’s son!” (Laughs)
PETER: I don’t know how that would fit Jack.
How is working with the latest Kyle, you’re on-screen son, played by Michael Mealor? The part had been recast multiple times and the actor didn’t stick.
PETER: I cannot say enough good things about Michael. This is an extremely disciplined, very talented, and very professional guy. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him. I think he is doing a great job. Michael gets looser every show. He likes to take big chances and try a lot of things. We have had a lot of young actors on the show and what they do is try to project that they are cool. They don’t go outside of the, “I’m going to be cool, and honest, and real.” They say, “I am going to be solid, and make simple choices.” Michael takes big chances doing large stuff, and going overboard That’s scary do to as an actor, but I watch him in scenes with Hunter King (Summer) where he is trying to appear cool, but just her physical prescience gets to him. You can see it in his performances and it’s wonderful to watch. It’s lovely to see in a 26-year-old and it’s fantastic. I have high hopes for Michael.
This version of Kyle seems to be a bit of a chip-off-the-old-block. He can play dirty just like his dad!
PETER: As far as where Kyle is at … he is like Jack Abbott. He is not a good guy, nor a bad guy. Kyle is a bit of an opportunist with a heart, who wants to feel a part of things, but he also takes advantage of the situation, in a way that sometimes works against that.
We saw Jack stumble and drink again as he fights his addiction when learning the news that John is not is biological father. Do you see him stumbling again, and going back to popping pills and booze, if Phillip Chancellor II were not to wind up being his dad?
PETER: I don’t know if he will see him spiraling, but it is worth saying for someone who is a constant and has a had guiding light of ‘what’s right, and what’s wrong” and that now has been taken away from him essentially when John Abbot goes “Jack!”, that is a game-changer. What we can expect from Jack now may change. Jack isn’t as bound by “what would dad do” as he once was.
So, we may be surprised with a turn in attitude from Jack?
PETER: You may be surprised. So much of his life, and certainly so much of what I play is that Jack has spent his whole life trying to be like John Abbott, because John Abbott is his father. Now that is not so. So, how much effort should Jack be putting in to being like John Abbott?
PETER: It will be interesting to see where that goes!
We have seen many actors in the soaps portray drug and alcohol addiction. When Jack’s played itself out originally, it was one of the most harrowing to watch.
PETER: He got to a dark place very fast. It was out of control. It was an important part of the Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) and Jack story, because he honestly did not have the strength to do it by himself, and he had somebody to help him through it As it turned out, it was a formative experience for Jack and for Phyllis; one that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. They know things about each other that the rest of the world does not know.
Billy recently read Jack the riot act, when Jack told his brother about being Phillip Chancellor’s son. Having had it with Jack, Billy threw him out of his office. Where do you think the relationship stands between the brothers at this point?
PETER: It’s really hard for Jack. He is still on the board at Jabot. He has family ties there, and he still gets the checks, but it feels so weird for him, it really does. He is trying to be a bigger man and let Billy do what Billy is going to do. Deep down inside Jack has known Billy for a really long time, and when Billy sort of combusts, boy, does he go! Jack hates that Billy is holding the reins of Jabot, if things fall apart for Billy.
Viewers are seeing Billy turning to gambling again. What would Jack do if he finds out what is happening to his brother?
PETER: I don’t know what he could do. I am not sure what he could do to stop the CEO of the company as things currently stand. It’s hard for Jack to relax around Billy. It’s not a promising situation.
Do you think the Jack and Bill will ultimately be there for each other when the chips are down moving forward?
PETER: Jack has a soft place in his heart for addicts for reasons we both know, and a soft spot for family. It will be interesting to see how well Jack’s patience holds up, if Billy should go down that particular rabbit hole.
Do you think Jack might visit Chancellor Park and have a chat with the late Katherine about the revelation about Phillip and Dina?
PETER: I think Jack is really trying to be realistic about all of this. It could clearly be proven, but he is impatient. He could wait for Chance and Phillip III to come back from their Himalayan trip, but he does not want to wait. It’s just so easy if everyone would be practical about this, and get some fragment of Phillip’s remains, and there would be a DNA test.
Jack’s nemesis, Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) is having a lot of issues, too. This includes his mysterious health diagnosis …
PETER: Oh, damn! (Laughs)
How does Jack feel about Victor these days and the plight that he is in?
PETER: Jack has such contempt for Victor. However, Jack can occasionally see that Victor is important to some people, but Victor to Jack is everything that is wrong in the world. As to the fact that he is struggling right now, does Jack wish bad physical health on him, or anybody? No. However, if things didn’t go easily for Victor, Jack would not lose any sleep over it.
Don’t you think it’s time for Jack to have a real, honest-to-goodness, love interest?
PETER: Jack should have a new love interest. I think the writers and the producers of The Young and the Restless are paying me a lot for half of what I do.
Jack should find true love. Someone who will be with him and whom he loves with all his heart, and someone who loves him back, flaws and all. A romance where he is not manipulating her, or she is not manipulating him, for financial or corporate gain. Do you think at this point that is even possible?
PETER: I think that would be a swell thing, but that would be a daytime show investing in an actress that is over 40-years-old. They have done it, but it’s a rare thing. But yes, I do feel like we are seeing two-thirds of Jack. There is another third of him that is completely unexplored and that’s a shame.
We saw those heartbreaking scenes that aired last year where Jack had to admit to Ashley that his mother has Alzheimer’s. How is he going to continue in his relationship with Dina knowing she has had multiple affairs throughout her life, and when married to John?
PETER: This is a real difficult place for Jack. Obviously, he has his mother back in his life in one sense, but his mother has been responsible for pretty much everything that has gone wrong in his life over the last two years. It’s just one thing after another. Had his mother been faithful to John, Jack would not be in this situation. Had his mother not returned, we could have gone on with life as it was, and now all this mess is in part Dina’s doing. Now, Jack has moved out of the house and so his mother is slipping away by the minute, and Jack is not around for it. He keeps visiting, and he keeps stopping by, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Jack struggles with that a lot. He should be more in Dina’s life and be around for that, but being around for that means being in the Abbott house. Everywhere he looks are reminders that he is not who he told himself he is for his entire life.
One of the more endearing moments came at this year’s Daytime Emmys, after Eileen Davidson (Ashley, Y&R) took to the stage to accept her award for Outstanding Lead Actress. She thanked you while you were in the audience.
PETER: This is in keeping with my new plan for the Emmys each year, What I do is: I try to get a nomination so that I can sit in the audience after I have lost and hear the winner for Lead Actress thank me personally. (Laughs) I am two for two in the last two years! (Laughs) Gina Tognoni had won that category the year prior. Eileen Davidson is the greatest, and she has been for all intent and purposes my leading lady on Y&R.
Now, Eileen Davidson has announced, and made the decision to leave her role as Ashley.
PETER: I can’t say enough things about her. I adore her … I adored working with her. She is every bit as good as everybody thinks she is. She comes to work prepared She never needs hand- holding or spoon-feeding. Eileen is the real deal; had she been one of Jack’s lovers that would have been over a long time ago. The fact that she is his sister is fantastic. Now with her exiting the show, I will miss her terribly.
In closing, viewers should watch for Jack’s next move?
PETER: Jack is not leaving any stone unturned. He has to figure out who he is, and desperate times call for desperate measures.
So, do you think Phillip Chancellor II is truly Jack’s biological father? If not, who do you think is? What have you thought of Peter Bergman’s performance in the storyline? Would you like to see Jack have a new love interest? If so, who would you like to see the series bring onto the show to play opposite him? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.
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