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The Christian LeBlanc and Tracey E. Bregman Interview – The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: CBS/Getty Images

For months, the in-the-know Y&R viewer has been aware that a major storyline was coming down the pike for three-time Daytime Emmy winner and veteran of the series, Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin).  And this time it was to be something the character of Michael Baldwin hasn’t dealt with before, for it would be a major health issue that also cuts deep to the core of this man, or any man for that matter.  Recently, after having problems in the bedroom with his wife Lauren (Tracey E. Bregman), many wondered if it was due to the emotional scars left by Lauren’s affair with bartender Carmine (Marco Dapper)!  Although the couple seemed to find a path to move forward, and stay together, what was going on?  Fast forward, Michael has some tests and is informed that he has stage 3 prostate cancer.  And for weeks, Michael couldn’t bring himself to tell anyone, let alone the wife he loves so much!  Finally, last week in a stunning scene, Lauren learns from Michael that he has cancer.

On-Air On-Soaps sat down with the duo who are known best by Y&R fans as “Likey”, a Daytime Emmy winner also, Tracey E. Bregman, and Christian LeBlanc, for this insightful conversation on the complexities, long range story ramifications, and the possibilities that playing this kind of important, impactful, and emotional storyline has for this beloved long time on-screen couple, and how the series and the actors hope it will shed light on a cancer that raises so many issues for the man going through it, and those he loves.

In the weeks to come, starting with upcoming scenes on Y&R’s Christmas Eve episode, look for the Baldwin/Fisher clan, and key people in Michael and Lauren’s life, to slowly learn the news and rally behind him. Will Michael survive?  If he does, can he accept living with the outcome if he decides to undergo treatment?  Can his marriage survive when it’s always been so sexually-charged?  Here’s what Christian and Tracey shared with us now that the story is picking up steam.

MICHAEL:

Christian, how did you find out that they were going to be telling the story of Michael getting prostate cancer? What was your initial reaction?

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

We had kind of started into the ED (Erectile Dysfunction) part of it, and we were having problems, but it seemed it was about stress, and that they both were busy in their careers and lives.  A big part of Michael and Lauren’s marriage is the sex, and that these are two type-A personalities who constantly promise each other, “Let’s make time for one another.”  So that had been established.  But we had gone into the story, and my father passed in May.  Our executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and I had exchanged family stories about our real lives.  So she said, “I have a story for you.”  I didn’t rush to find out what it was.  However, Brent Boyd, one of our writers came downstairs and said, “We are starting this storyline and we thought you should know.”  It turns out that Jill thought I might be too sensitive to come to talk to her about a story about cancer.  But I didn’t know anything yet, and then Brent said, “Cancer” and I said, “Cancer?”  Then he said, “Prostate Cancer” and then I said, “Oh, not the glamour one!” (Laughs)  But then I talked to Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante (former head writers, Y&R) and they were very excited about this story.  Any women, or any wife, would tell you that men will not go to the doctor for this unless the arm is literally dangling from them.  It’s a big problem, and if it’s anything to do with sexuality or urology, or any of those issues, it’s even less likely that men will go see a doctor.  It’s a very sensitive area, and they wanted to sort of touch this third rail of manhood.  I said, “Oh, I will never be the hunk now!”(Laughs) And Jill goes, “Afterwards!”   When you have a hard story, or something that is difficult to tell, I want to have the opportunity to tell it, and I want them to give it to me to play.

MICHAEL:

Tracey, when did you find what the storyline was actually going to be?  What did you think when you knew they were handing Christian the ball with this one?

TRACEY:

I knew before Christian!  Jill told me, but told me not to say anything to Christian, because they wanted to tell him, and so, I avoided him like the plaque! (Laughs)   I knew Christian would be amazing, and it would be an amazing storyline for him.  Listen, for me, and what I have said to our writers, is that we like it messy, and we like to play the emotion.  I even said this morning; we like to do it different than it’s ever been played.  We like to fight it out, and maybe not give you the reaction you would expect.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

That is interesting you say that, because it was very unpredictable, and not expected when Lauren laughed, when Michael painfully and finally told her he had cancer!

TRACEY:

She really felt terrible, and I wished we would have been able to play that more, so that the audience really understood where I was coming from.  I tried to do it during the scenes while I was waiting for him at the party, but there wasn’t really the dialog to support it.  That laugh actually came from a real life event that was very similar, yet very different.  I had a very inappropriate reaction after a very serious time, but it came after thinking that someone in my life was going to die, and we were waiting and waiting for results, and the movie Shrek had just been released.  And after waiting for weeks, we thought this was it, and in walks a man who sounds like Puss in Boots as played by Antonio Banderas in Shrek!  He goes on to talk about all the procedures that can happen, but does it in a, “Well, you could have the Gamma knife” and he had the inflections of Banderas as Puss in Boots, and I started to laugh from the bottom of my toes, but the good news is we were told that this person was O.K.  And then all I could see was Puss in Boots, but now was not the time for that, and that is what they were using for the scene with Michael and Lauren, but it was in such a different circumstance that I gotta be honest with you, I wasn’t sure I could do it either.   So, we just had to try it and to see if it worked.

MICHAEL:

It has been widely known that forever and a day, that many fans of Y&R had let the producers know that they did not want to see this couple messed with, or broken up. They wanted them happy.  They love their “Likey”! (Laughs)

TRACEY:

Yea, but you have to do have us do something … and be on camera.  (Laughs)

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

It’s a great time to explore something like this from a couple who has been married for a long time, where they are not running off and have been with everybody else on the show.  These are two people that fell in love after they both had done some terrible things, and they had their eyes wide open.  They are not a couple of green-eyed kids.

TRACEY:

I was talking to our new head writer, Chuck Pratt, that Michael has been crazy and Lauren has been bad, which is what we say all the time.  Both of us are not afraid to be either one of those together to protect our on-screen family.

CHRISTIAN:

They have given us the infidelity story to play, which was great, and it’s about the sex.  There is something that comes out of Lauren’s history that they use, and the reaction to prosecuting Fenmore (Max Ehrich), and her defense of it, and then being highly sexual at the same time.  It all came out of a history of a couple who had lived together for a long time.  Lauren used the bartender as an outlet, but that was from her history.  They did not come up with that out of thin air.  And, from Michael’s history of being so stonewalled and cold when it came to the law, he was making his son obey the law, because he was afraid of his son becoming him.  Here you have an inherent sexual couple.  This is not a terminal disease.  Its stage 3, and it’s treatable, and so it’s different, and for someone like Michael who has used his sex to bludgeon women and people.  It is so important to him.  He married the hot woman.  He married the vixen on the show, and so it’s not that it is terminal.  It’s about: Does that character want to live with the consequences that come with treating something like this?  It’s not death, but it’s a quality of life issue, and it’s being tied up with, as it is for any man, with their sexuality.  One of the by-products of this storyline has been that now people are coming up to me and telling me their stories.   This disease has a big component of shame, and hiding it so that you keep it from everyone.  First, there is the cancer diagnosis, but then there is something about the shame of the sex of it, and questioning, are you a man anymore?  Michael thinks sex is, and it is, an important thing in their marriage.

MICHAEL:

Does Michael think that because of it being prostate cancer that he would lose his wife because of it?  And, especially because she has cheated on him with a hottie behind his back before!  I am sure that doesn’t help the situation!

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

We play that all the time.  That is the first thing that comes to mind for both of them in all the situations, but I think the thing that Tracey and I accomplished together is that there is not a beat of history that is not explored.  Michael and Lauren have such a rich history.  And of course, there is her cheating with Carmine, and now this happens to Michael!  Of course, Michael is going to be bruised by that, and Lauren laughs coming out of what she thought he was going to tell her, which was: “I thought you were going to tell me that you found a hot stenographer.”  It makes perfect sense.

MICHAEL:

Tracey, will Lauren remain supportive to Michael as he deals with the diagnosis and treatment options?

TRACEY:

All she cares about is that Michael beat the disease, and that he is alive.  She’s not thinking about anything else.  She’s scared to death.

CHRISTIAN:

She has a line where she says, “There are lots of ways to make love.”  It’s one of the things that people in this situation deal with, and that was a lifesaver to throw out.

TRACEY:

Courtesy/CBS

She loves him so much, and he is her salvation.  Lauren just wants him here no matter what.

MICHAEL:

Lauren does realize how traumatic it must be for Michael knowing that she had an affair with another man, and now he has to come to terms with this diagnosis?

TRACEY:

She feels tremendous guilt for that, and even though she felt justified at the time, she feels the guilt.  Michael does throw it up to her … he does!

CHRISTIAN:

As you would in a couple, it doesn’t go away.

MICHAEL:

Now that the cat is out of the bag, sort to speak, so many of your fans are worried that they might kill Michael and thus kill you off the show!  What would you say to them?

CHRISTIAN:

Depending on how this proceeds, we shall see.  The question is not will the disease kill him; it’s will he chose to live with the consequences of having to treat this?

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Will they explore the nuances of the diagnosis, and what it means in real time, or “real” in soap opera time?

TRACEY:

We hope so!

CHRISTIAN:

We are just beginning.  I brought up perhaps he should go to a support group.  There is a diner I go to New Orleans, and this waitress came up and showed me a band around her wrist, and I had just missed this a few weeks before, but there was the first prostate cancer march in New Orleans.  She told me about her husband, who has the terminal kind of cancer, because he waited.  So there it was right there in the middle of your breakfast, and the wonderful thing about what we are able to do, day in and day out, is we grow old with our fans.  Someone comes up to you at breakfast and tells you something like this, and they grow with you.  People will come up to me, or Tracey with this storyline, and tell us, “We know exactly what you are going through!”

TRACEY:

Even on Twitter, from the scenes where Michael reveals he has cancer to Lauren, we got tremendous feedback.  When we were taping those scenes it broke my heart.  People told me on Twitter, who have been through this, that they think the scenes were very truthful.

CHRISTIAN:

She made the scene.  I got to tell you, I turned to her as I do that speech, and you find it in the other person’s eyes.  I learned a long time ago, if you have lost the scene go to the other person, and that’s where you’ll find it…

TRACEY:

Courtesy/CBS

…Well, I always find it in his eyes.  And no one slays me deeper than Christian … nobody.

MICHAEL:

Greg Rikaart (Kevin) has been breaking my heart, every time he is in scenes with Christian.  Kevin so badly wants his brother to be OK. 

TRACEY:

Wait till you see the Christmas Eve (airing on Wed. Dec 24) show.

CHRISTIAN:

They have given us the most difficult material I have ever had to do …

TRACEY:

….Ever!  The scenes the other week, and our Christmas Eve show, were truly like the hardest, and most emotional for us.

CHRISTIAN:

Max Ehrich (Fen) has even a harder job since he comes in from doing other shows.  He comes in cold, and can jump right into it.  The scene where Michael tells Lauren would not have come off that way if I had not been surrounded by the crew, because you feel so comfortable with them, and then we have this Baldwin/Fisher family!  You will see scenes from now on with Gloria (Judith Chapman) and Lauren, Fenmore, and Kevin (Greg Rikaart) that you just can’t do without knowing each other so well.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Will we see Michael get sick-sick?

CHRISTIAN:

I don’t know.

TRACEY:

That’ a great question for Chuck Pratt.

CHRISTIAN:

Death is not, not an option.  I don’t know where we are heading.  I did talk to Chuck and I have a continual concern.  I want to make it clear that it’s stage 3, and if you treat it, it’s stage 3 and it beatable.  The point of this being it’s a shameful thing for him, and how do you deal with the results of what the treatment can do?  And, that in essence could be extremely difficult for a man who is trying to deal with insecurities about his manhood.

MICHAEL:

The scene in which Michael tells Lauren is so riveting, especially the end of it when you scream out loud, about the injustice of it all.  Did you use that for your Pre-Daytime Emmy nomination scene submission? 

CHRISTIAN:

I actually put something else in, but it’s a good one.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Is Michael playing over in his mind that he is dying, or he is thinking he is going to come out of this O.K.?

CHRISTIAN:

I think whenever you hear that diagnosis that you have cancer; all those things go through your head.  I don’t know, because I have never personally had this kind of diagnosis, so really I don’t know shit.  I am in awe of the people I have talked to who have battled this.  I come face to face with it every time we do a charity event.  There was one woman who told me, “I had so many things removed … my husband thinks I am a tin can.”  Wow, I thought.   She was the funniest woman in the room.  And to hear that … I am just in awe… and I can only try with the powers that we have as actors, and the skills we strive to have, to make someone experience something like that without them having to live it.  But, when you hear the word “cancer”, so many of us in our head would go right to hearing “death” and loss, and anger, and all of those things that I would imagine.  I have to then make those specific for Michael, and for Michael it’s about, “Do I want to live this way?”  It’s horrible.  I haven’t even started treatment on the show, and so the fear of what that could do to him …

MICHAEL:

Christian, do you think that Michael would want to take his own life over this?

CHRISTIAN:

Oh, I think that is a distinct possibility.  There are not many things that could make him consider that.  There is the law, and Lauren.  If he lost the ability to have either one of those, that would be devastating for him, and the next would be losing Fenmore or Kevin, and as for Gloria, that’s a big question mark.  That’s such a disturbed relationship.  With him not being able to have sex, that is something he never foresaw.  It’s who you are, and to have that taken away I wouldn’t be surprised if taking his own life won’t cross his mind.

MICHAEL:

Fans have waited for you, Christian, to drive a story all of your own for quite some time, and this is it.

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

It’s a man’s story.  I am very excited, but it’s very difficult.  I kind of feel like this is a team effort.  It truly is the women coming to talk to Michael.  The men aren’t coming up.  It’s the wives that are coming up to talk to him.  It’s a very important message.

TRACEY:

The fact that he is waiting for treatment, and exploring other options, makes Lauren crazy.  She is so afraid the cancer is going to advance, and he is not doing anything.  She just wants him alive and with her.  She is not thinking about the other repercussions.  She is thinking, “We’ll deal with it.  It’s OK. We are just going to make it all OK!”

MICHAEL:

Who will be Lauren’s confidante in all of this?

TRACEY:

It will be Jill. (Scenes airing in January)

CHRISTIAN:

He is mortified of anyone knowing.  I think the show did it best when they did that push into Michael with the camera, and dropped out the volume when he learned what he had and gets diagnosed.

TRACEY:

It’s like static!  You’re hearing static, or a “wha-what-wha” almost kind of noise in your head when you get terrible news.

CHRISTIAN:

Courtesy/CBS

You just see a mouth moving … but you may not be hearing, or grasping what they are fully telling you.

MICHAEL:

It will be so interesting to watch when Gloria (Judith Chapman) finds out!

CHRISTIAN:

Yes, but she hasn’t yet.  There are only four people who know so far … Michael, Lauren, Fenmore, and Kevin, and that’s it.  And now Jill will know, because Lauren tells her.  So there is a whole journey ahead of telling Gloria, and I think Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) comes up soon.

MICHAEL:

I loved the scenes with Greg and Christian, where Kevin was trying to motivate Michael to tell Lauren the truth about his condition.

CHRISTIAN:

It’s a great flip-flop.  I have been waiting for this to come for a while, and that’s Kevin being the big brother to Michael.  Greg is so wonderful about it.  And remember … Kevin was fixated on Lauren to the point of killing himself, and that’s how Michael and Lauren met.

MICHAEL:

Seems like everyone wants to kill themselves after being with Lauren! (Laughs)

CHRISTIAN:

It’s true!  She kills people with her sex! (Laughs)

TRACEY:

Courtesy/CBS

Remember, Brad Carlton (Don Diamont) had a heart attack after having sex with her! (Laughs)

CHRISTIAN:

It’s been 41 years plus on this show, and they have taken on a storyline about shame, and not talking about it, and prying, and trying to get it out but resisting.  It’s fascinating.

MICHAEL:

So, has Peter Bergman (Jack), or the other guys in the cast, said anything to you about this storyline?

CHRISTIAN:

It’s interesting.  The guys will make fun of it, and they will be guys, and it’s nerves. There are all sorts of jokes, and it can be funny.  I would laugh harder, except after I talked with a doctor about the cancer, this is exactly what the men fear from other men when they have this diagnosis.  It’s not women who come up and make fun, it’s other men.  Tracey and I have fun with it though.

TRACEY:

I’m allowed!

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

It’s great that Y&R is tackling a social issue storyline, which harkens back to the day of what Bill Bell (creator, Y&R) used to do in his storytelling.  Have you done a PSA (Public Service Announcement) for inclusion at the end of any upcoming Y&R episodes?

CHRISTIAN:

No, not yet.

TRACEY:

Have you done your PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test though?

CHRISTIAN:

Yes.  I get that checked all the time.  I am at that age.

TRACEY:

Good!

 

 

 

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Sheila
Guest
Sheila

This is a wonderful, frightening, enlightening and necessary storyline. The interview was filled with emotion, education and determination. Thank you Michael for doing it.

Pearl.Quebec,Canada here
Guest
Pearl.Quebec,Canada here

Thanks so much both of you for this……. Merry Christmas, Happy 2015

Kim Huck
Guest
Kim Huck

I love Michael. I wish Kim Brown as Shelia would come back. I miss the classic YR. Victor is just not the same. He hates women and children he uses like they are disposable . Adam should NEVER of been paired with Chelsea. Yrs ago it was wonderful how Nick would see he missed Sharon but Adam loved Sharon. Im so happy Kevin finally has someone. Not since Jana was Kevin given a real love story. Chloe was so wrong for Kevn. Now if we can only get back DRU and Malcolm and Daniel and Amber the show would be… Read more »

harry
Guest
harry

Why on earth would you want Sheila back? She was done to death and with her coming back from the dead countless times, I began to think Freddy Krugger was a slacker.
No, no, no more Sheila. She can go make a stunt appearance on GH. They never tire of the over-the-top campy villain.

Regina
Guest
Regina

Please, NO Sheila. Not again, EVER.

Beacon
Guest
Beacon

Kimberlin Brown only came back to Y&R once. You act like she’s been brought back dozens of times. Her character was stolen from her.

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

Beautiful interview; Shelley and Jean have been handling this storyline and all others, with great detail and superb writing. The life story of cancer is real for a lot of people, and Christian, Tracey and everyone else involved in this story has been doing an excellent job at portraying the range of emotions that would happen in a real life situation. I hope Michael is able to pull through and come out victorious with his diagnosis, and that viewers are able to find some comfort within the storyline if it does hit home for them.

Timmm
Guest
Timmm

Great insight Michael, thanks. I hope they do tell this story with great compassion and realism. I would like Michael to attend a support group filled with real people talking about their journey. It may be crazy but I thing Gloria may take the news the hardest?

Jennifer Endicott
Guest
Jennifer Endicott

I am glad that you’re not killing off Michael, from what I read. It would be a shame to see him leave. He and Lauren make a wonderful couple!

Bea
Guest
Bea

Christian LeBlanc plays his character to the hilt! I love the storyline don’t like Devon and Hilary and Nikki storyline.

bunting
Guest
bunting

Great interview. This feels like a Bill Bell story and Michael and Lauren are the perfect ones to be used to tell this story because of the depth of the relationship. We are invested in them and their family. It’s daytime drama for grown ups. All the Baldwin-Fisher actors are terrific but there is something so special about Christian and Tracey’s connection on screen. It always feels like I am eavesdropping on a real couple when I watch Michael and Lauren. I hope they continue to play the beats of this important story and we continue to see Christian and… Read more »

Dee Mac
Guest
Dee Mac

Thank You Michael It is an awesome interview and you asked the best questions . Tracey and Christian are the best actors for something this sensitive and heartrending. I love it and appreciate it and it was very insightful as to what is going on with Likey. Michael pain when he told finally told Lauren the truth The acting is superb . Hoping he comes out of this and becomes a Cancer survivor.

harry
Guest
harry

Beautiful interview. I always knew Christian was an amazing actor, but I did not know Tracey could deliver such a heart felt, guttural performance. Sure, I knew she was a perfectly capable soap actress but I didn’t know she could deliver a scene as if it came from her heart and soul. Both actors were powerful and emotionally compelling. Now, I have an admission to make. I am a closeted soap fan. No one in my family or circle of friends know I have a soap addiction issue which has lasted over thirty years. I was watching that scene which… Read more »

Bridget
Guest
Bridget

Christian and Tracey are going to ROCK this storyline. They have both been amazing so far, and the scenes with Michael and his brother…amazing work!

Arlene Harper
Guest
Arlene Harper

This is a Great story line with Amazing actors! I know they will do it justice and that the producers will promote information about testing for this kind of cancer. I do not like the new Phyllis. Move her into another story line and let Jack see her nastiness and continue to have “true love” with Kelly! I like what you have done with Adam, it is believable! Move forward on the Devon and Hillary story. Beal needs to be reunited with Priscilla! I find it hard to believe she hasn’t come back. We believe she survived the fall!! Thank… Read more »

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

Such a great bunch of actors to handle such an emotionally packed storyline!! Christian and Lauren are doing a wonderful job conveying all the emotions needed to make it believable. Bravo!!

nina
Guest
nina

i really enjoy this show and these two actors playinga difficult part in this story line i hope they come up with more story lines where the character can be saved im been watching this show for a very long time and enjoy this two actors if they leave i will quit watching the show i signed the partion to save the person to save his job getrid of the writer everybody deserves to do there job good luck tothese actors that are leaving you will be missed

Laura
Guest
Laura

What an amazing way to tell a story that affects so many men and families. Dealing with cancer is horrific and the way they are dealing with revealing it to the family is excellent. FYI people, the interview was about how they are dealing with the cancer not about the other storylines going on now.

Paula Ivie
Guest
Paula Ivie

Victor and Nikki…that ship has sailed. Y&R needs a new solid couple, that couple is Micheal and Lauren. Nick and Sharon, Jack and Phylis, Paul and Christine….not so much.

Vernelle
Guest
Vernelle

PLEASE dont let Michael die fix his problem and let him live. I luv Michael & Lauren,he’s a GREAT attorney and what would Avery do without Michael at her side he is the BEST attorney on Y & R, besides Mitchell Sherman who was Catherine Chancelor attorney. With that being said “LET MICHAEL BALDWIN LIVE”.
We luv CHRISTIAN LEBLANC.

Kari
Guest
Kari

Don’t kill off Michael. You have already ruined Y&R enough.

Shannon Carter
Guest
Shannon Carter

As a long time viewer I really hope the writers & production staff think about how hard suicide is on the surviving family members. My 20 year old son took his life in February 2010, and it is truly the most painfully awful thing to cope with. My husband, daughter & myself miss Lee every day & it just hurts when his birthday, Christmas, and other days come & go every year. I hope that if they choose this scenario, that there is exhaustive research into how & why people commit suicide & present the raw, horrible reactions to the… Read more »

Interviews

Y&R’s Brytni Sarpy Talks On Her Emotional Week of Scenes & The Fallout From Elena and Devon’s Break-Up

Talk about self-sabotage! Over the last few weeks, fans of CBS’ The Young and the Restless have seen how one decision, or moment in time, can have an effect on several residents of Genoa City, such as the case with Elena Dawson (Brytni Sarpy), after she had sex with her colleague Dr. Nate Hastings (Sean Dominic) … at the clinic they work at!

It all starts unraveling for Elena when her fears get the best of her thinking that the current-love-of-her-life, Devon (Bryton James) will fall for the sister of his late wife, Hilary, in the form of Amanda Sinclair (Mishael Morgan).  And thus sets the stage for a potential quadrangle, and perhaps … some baby drama?

Since coming to Y&R from General Hospital, actress Brytni Sarpy has been developing the character of Elena and playing her for all she is worth and then some in recent heavy-duty heart-tugging scenes where viewers saw Elena confess to Devon that she cheated on him with his cousin, Nate! Then later, she gets kicked to the curb by the man she loves, leaving her wondering, “What did I just do … and why?”

 

Well, Michael Fairman TV has some of the answers as we chatted with Brytni to get the lowdown and the insight on these pivotal moments in Elevon’s love story, and if there is even a future for them, or is it on ice for good? Plus, Brytni opens up about falling for her co-star and recent Daytime Emmy winner, Bryton James, and taping what would normally look like a red-hot passionate sex scene on the soaps with Sean Dominic, but having to do it under strict CDC Covid-19 protocols. Here’s what Ms. Sarpy had to say about it all!

Courtesy/CBS

You’ve got this big storyline unfolding now on Y&R.  Did you know when they brought on Sean Dominic that they were going to bust up  Elena and Devon?

BRYTNI:  Yes and no.  When Sean was first brought in, there had been another actor playing his role, so technically his character has already been on-screen.  So, I didn’t necessarily think it was going to cause any type of conflict, or a love triangle, or anything like that.  However, I think that there were little hints about it along the way in the writing, and our characters similarities in both being doctors.  The writers are pretty tight-lipped, so I only know things two or three weeks in advance.

Were you playing that Elena had this attraction to Nate for a while now?

BRYTNI:  There was a point where I decided to play it, and that is when I felt that it was in the material. It was when things got a little crazier with Amanda coming around and Elena being at the height of her insecurity about that, and her really choosing to only confide in Nate.  I think that kind of relationship and comfortability that she was finding and that dynamic of being at the clinic with Nate, and establishing that with him, she was not having with Devon.

Courtesy/CBS

Right, and so do you think once Elena knew Amanda was interested in Nate, she subconsciously stepped up her own interest in him?

BRYTNI:  No, I think around this time she was hoping for Amanda to date Nate, and she was asking a lot of questions and things to egg on that whole relationship.  I think in her subconscious she really felt like, “Oh good, if I can put these two together, then my fears about this woman who looks exactly like my boyfriend’s dead wife… that resolves that.”  I think for Elena it was just kind of putting them together.  It wasn’t about Nate.  It was about someone to occupy Amanda so that Elena’s insecurities didn’t have to come out and she didn’t have to worry about Devon, or anything with those two being together.

But didn’t Elena have a nightmare/dream about Amanda and Devon having sex?  Wasn’t she freaked out about Amanda being Hilary’s sister?

BRYTNI:  This was when she had already jumped down the rabbit hole of being insecure about what was going on about Amanda and Devon and how much time they were spending together and hoping that he didn’t fall back into those feelings he had for Hilary that he had just gotten through.  For Elena, I think it was a lot of PTSD; for her.  She felt the first half of their relationship was trying to get over Hilary.  Once it finally turned to a point where Amanda was spending a lot of time with Devon. and she had started only confiding in Nate and not Devon about how she felt, that’s when I think those insecure feelings came up, and her talking about it so much manifested into her dreams, and she set herself up for her own trauma.

Courtesy/CBS

So, you have to do this sex scene amidst Covid-19 protocols with Sean Dominic.  How was filming that scene with Sean because Nate looks at Elena, she looks at him, signaling they want to have sex right now, right there at the clinic, and then it cuts out.  Was it awkward filming it?

BRYTNI:  Yes, it was certainly awkward because his double was Bryton, so it’s hard to play that you’re cheating on a character with the actor who plays the character that you’re cheating on. (Laughs)

We are going to give you the Emmy right there for that!  (Laughs)

BRYTNI:  Right! (Laughs) Then in some of the scenes we are looking into each other’s eyes, and we appear to be close, but of course we are not that way.  So, I am staring up at a mannequin that it is at Sean’s eye-level, and he is staring down at a mannequin that is at mine.  It is not easy to try to sell that energy that is between two people in such an electric, heated moment, so it was definitely challenging.

Do you buy Elena’s rationale that they were on a euphoric high from saving Jared’s life at the clinic, as the impetus that leads her and Nate to have sex?

BRYTNI:  I don’t think she really understands what happened.  I think she is trying to put it together.  Right after it happens, she goes into that whole monologue about how, “I’m not blaming you, but this happened, and we were just coming down from a high.”  I think it’s just her trying to figure out why her emotions brought her to this place because I think this is one of the few times in someone like Elena’s life when she has acted without thinking or without forethought to the consequences.  I think she has just been exhausted with trying to battle her emotions, trying to be a doctor with a residency in a hospital, and then also trying to do as much work as she is doing at a clinic.  Then, coming off of an emotionally-charged partnership with Devon after seeing what he was going through with the ghost of Hilary for so long, and going back into this after finally having a calm and peaceful few months, it rocked the whole boat again.

Courtesy/CBS

Viewers have seen what played out over the last week and half, a lot of scenes were you as Elena are called upon to do a lot of breaking down, and crying.  So, how are those scenes to perform? Do you like those types of scenes, or are you like, “Oh, God! These are so soapy!”

BRYTNI:  For me, personally playing that, I think with all the tears and all of that, it’s been exhausting, because there are certainly levels of reality to this where I have to go for it to not be me just trying to emote on-screen, but actually feel the depths of what my character would be going through.  It’s a lot.  I’ve had a few migraines after work sometimes, but I do enjoy it.  I enjoy getting those emotions out.  I think that because of what I’ve established with her character for a little over a year, I’ve been building up Elena, and more importantly, building up her relationship with Devon.  I think to understand her actions, it had to come from a really solid place.  I don’t think she is ill-intended in any of her emotions.  I think she really cares about and wants to protect her partner, Devon throughout all of this, and then she finds herself unprotected and vulnerable in making decisions that inevitably do the complete opposite.  So, I think at the end of it, she really is disappointed in herself and also, she has just created this entire disruption of her life in the matter of a moment, and I think there is a lot of mourning, and there is a lot of guilt.  I just don’t think that it is intentional of her character to do something like what she did.  I think that for me to make it what it was… something that my character would do or did … it had to come from a real place that didn’t sit well with her, and it just happened, and she feels guilt-ridden.  It’s as serious as a character attempting to murder someone, or any other kind of character who would go to the extremes of who they are in their characteristics.

Courtesy/CBS

For you, since you are romantically-involved with Bryton James in real life, does that make it harder or easier to play?

BRYTNI:  I’d say both.  It makes it harder because it’s more real, but it also makes it easier because it’s more real.  These are situations that could at some point come up or have come up, and to put yourself in those positions, and to have him look at me the way that he does and to jeopardize something that real, to go to that place, is a dark place to have to portray.

… And then Devon throws her out! 

BRYTNI:  He does.

Devon tells her to leave the penthouse and he tells her to pack her stuff and go.

BRYTNI:  Rightfully so.

Courtesy/CBS

Doesn’t Elena deserve that reaction for her actions?

BRYTNI:  I think so.  She made a mistake, and she has to learn from it.  I think if there is any potential for these two to ever reconcile, there has to be space given, and there has to be understanding.  You can’t just pretend like everything is normal even though she is sorry.  Sorry isn’t a reason why and sorry isn’t proactive.  She has to fix the issue.

They brought Jared (Michael Maclane) back to be the catalyst that was ended up being the spark that ignited Nate and Elena’s passionate moment together at the clinic. What did you think of that plot point?

BRYTNI:  The point was actually, that it was a patient who they had invested in and cared about, and she was able to do something for this kid and save his life with someone who she has been leaning on, someone who she has had a shared connection with, someone who shares her perspective, and helped her through situations with Devon, and who has seen her ugly side and her insecure side, and it was a bonding moment, I guess, that they were able to save a kid’s life who they both knew added another layer to their relationship that caused things to go grey.

Coming up, it appears that Amanda is going to be instigating a lot of stuff, and Nate is going to still have feelings for Elena.

BRYTNI:  Yeah, I mean, it’s not over.  Now that the cat has been let out of the bag, they still have residual feelings.  I think Nate is starting to make it very clear why he went the direction he went.  I think he has more of an understanding of where his feelings lie and that they are with Elena.  I think with Amanda, maybe a part of her ego just got bruised, and maybe she wants to unearth the truth of all of this because she was kind of caught in the middle of it.

When you and Bryton are together in real life, are you rehearsing all of these scenes and playing all of the other characters in them?

BRYTNI:  Typically, we run lines together.  I have voices for everyone.  I have a Nate voice.  (Laughs)  I have an Amanda voice; I have a Lily (Christel Khalil) voice.

Photo: Sonja Fleming/CBS

You are in one of those interesting situations where you are with the person in real-life and in story.  I have talked to Bryton about this, but what was the moment when you knew it clicked with him? 

BRYTNI:  We certainly liked each other since day one just as people.  He was a great scene partner to do a screen-test with, very giving, just really professional, but just a down-to-earth nice guy. Then, just moving forward from that and working with him as my scene partner on Y&R, I think it was during our first group scene, it was the opening of Society, and we did a tribute to Neil Winters (Kristoff St. John), and that was the first time I had spent long hours on a Y&R set.  You’re with the whole group all day because you’re doing group scenes.  We just discovered and learned that we are both really goofy, and we were just laughing and talking about stories.  I think we found that we had a lot more in common than we would have realized… very similar pop-cultural references, and upbringings, and all of that.  From there, we’ve just gotten along really well, and it progressed.

Photo: Sonja Fleming/CBS

Back in late June,  there was this viral video of you jumping up and down when Bryon’s name was called as the winner of the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series during the 47th annual Daytime Emmys telecast.  What do you remember of that night with him?  You seemed more excited than he was!

BRYTNI:  Yeah!  I was really excited for him.  The year before – well, I didn’t know that it was our first date –  but,  I guess it was our first date at the 46th Daytime Emmys, because I honestly thought that Matt Kane (publicist, Y&R) had asked me if I wanted to go along, and apparently, Bryton had asked if he could invite me.  So, we spent that time together, and he was nominated that year as well and lost.  Cut to this year where Bryton is a person who I have actually worked with and have seen how he works, and after Kristoff’s passing, and just seeing the amount of work that Y&R put into it, and the time that they spent on those episodes, and how beautiful they came out, everyone deserved an Emmy for that.  It was really beautiful work, and it was really touching, and it was really true and honest.  I really thought Bryton deserved it.  I think he was just as happy.  He’s just more reserved than I am.

What do you want to see happen for Elena moving-forward?  Do you want to see more of her extended family pop up so she is a character who has more ties to Genoa City?

BRYTNI:  I do, I do.  A lot of the characters never know who their father is.  I’d love to know who that is. (Laughs)  Like when I played Valerie on General Hospital, she didn’t know who her father was either.  Things like that are interesting to play.  I’d love to start closing those little holes about her because that helps me.  It helps me to create more dimensions in her character and to make firmer choices, and give her somewhere to go, and it gives more richness in her story.  I would love to also cement her to the Y&R canvas if she has any relation to anyone else there.

Courtesy/CBS

There have been rumors that Elena will become pregnant.  What would you say to that?

BRYTNI:  What do I think of that?  I don’t know.  It could happen.  Crazier things have happened on soaps.  Will it be the classic, “Whodunit?”

You mean, who could be the baby daddy?

BRYTNI:  (Laughs) Yes, that would be interesting, and yes, I’ve seen those rumors, too.

Do you think Elena will fight and claw her way back to Devon, or do you think she is going to let it be? 

BRYTNI:  I think even from the scenes that aired this past week, you can see the extent of how sorry she is.  She is laying it all out there, in a puddle of tears, exactly how she feels even though she is not able to really understand why she did what she did, her sorrow is there.  I don’t think there is really much more for her to do as far as pleading to get him back until he is ready, if he ever is ready.  I think her respecting his wishes in the situation is probably the best thing that she can do at this point.

Photo: IG

Meanwhile, if you have any more romantic scenes with Sean Dominic, Bryton will step in, so you will still be in scenes with him, even if Elena and Devon aren’t together. 

BRYTNI:  (Laughs) Yes, that’s true!

So, are you rooting for Devon and Elena to get back together quickly?  Do you think she may end up in a relationship with Nate? What have you thought of Brytni’s performances in this storyline? Comment below, but first watch Devon tell Elena to move out!

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Interviews

Y&R’s Peter Bergman Talks On Dina’s Death & How It Will Impact Jack, His Final Scenes With Marla Adams & Taping During COVID-19

The Abbott family is reeling from the death of their mother, Dina Mergeron, who passed away from complications from Alzheimer’s disease at the end of last Friday’s episode; signaling the end of an era for Dina’s portrayer, Marla Adams.  In a pivotal and heart-breaking scene, Dina shares one last goodbye with her children: Traci (Beth Maitland), Ashley (Eileen Davidson) and of course, Jack (Peter Bergman).

Today, the drama continues as the Abbott’s grieve Dina’s death and its aftermath while they remember the life of their flawed mother. This puts Jack at the epicenter of the family, and like it, or not, the new head of the clan.  What does the future hold for him now?

Michael Fairman TV chatted with three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Peter Bergman, who has embodied Jack for over 30 years on the top-rated CBS Daytime drama, to get his thoughts on: how Y&R needed to handle Dina’s death within the confines of the coronavirus pandemic and its safety protocols, what he felt about playing those final scenes with Marla Adams and the significance of the ‘teardrop of love’, and a preview of what fans can expect in the coming days as the impact of Dina’s death will be felt by the Abbott children and extended family.

 

An actor’s actor, you can always expect a conversation with Peter to be forthright, candid and enlightening, and this one was no different.  Here’s what one of the genre’s absolute best had to share about the significance of this story and more.

How has it been returning to Y&R during the pandemic?  I bet you never thought in all of your years in daytime, that you would be doing your scenes socially-distanced, sitting or standing, so far apart from your castmates.

Courtesy/CBD

PETER:  Just getting back to work felt great, loved that.  I wasn’t involved really in romantic scenes at this point, so that I didn’t have to do.  So, all in all, I was very happy to be back, and socially-distancing didn’t really bother me at all, and then Dina died.  Doing that from six feet away was just awful.  You saw the limits at a time where not any of us could be within six feet of each other; where you would usually hold a hand, stroke a brow, and talk softly.  So, I think the writers did what they needed to do to make it work for Dina’s exit.  We are in the middle of COVID, in case anybody forgot, and so you have to ask, ‘Does America really want to watch an elderly woman die in the middle of the Abbott living room or anywhere else?’  So, we had to have Dina’s exit without looking at a dead body, out of respect for the times we are living in.  We had to do a strong, powerful, pivotal scene with our hands tied behind our backs.

Courtesy/CBS

It’s so interesting that you say that because that’s how I felt watching it, knowing what it would have been like, if Jack, Ashley and Traci would have been with Dina at her bedside, up till the end, for instance.  But all of that said, Peter, I got so choked up in your last moments with Marla.  Jack is just sitting there and Dina is telling him how much she loved him and you’re doing the thing that only Peter Bergman can do as the tears well-up in your eyes.  As we have talked about previously, my mom died from complications from Alzheimer’s, so these are always tough types of scenes for me to watch.  I am sure it was also for those in the audience, who have lost a loved one to this disease, many of whom reached out to me on social media following its airing.

PETER:  It’s got to be tough for you to watch.  I get that.

Photo: Ed McGowan/Plain Joe Studios

Yes, so I felt for Jack and Dina in the moment as a son and his mother.  But what did you think about how the scene was written, and what Dina was saying to Jack and his sisters as her final goodbyes to her children and their reactions to it?

PETER:  As written, something in this necklace triggers something in Dina that brings her out of a stupor, brings her out of the murk, the fog for a brief instant to tell the people who she cares the most about that she loves them in slightly different ways.  I have, with everything in me, a struggle to always add in there, “I have a complicated relationship with my mother.”  I’ve added that line in there so many times over the years, you have no idea.  It was a complicated relationship because by the time she dies, there is no kind of straightening that out, there is no kind of Jack looking for answers. The depth of what Ashley is feeling, what Traci is feeling, what Jack is feeling, were kind of lost because of the way we had to do it. The writers had to do it, so I’m not blaming anyone, but because of the way we had to do it, there was no, “Wow, why isn’t Ashley crying?  Why is she just so stoic that this isn’t touching her at all?” because she can’t go there. Traci feeling like she found her place in the family simply by Dina saying, “You’re the beating heart of this family,” and Jack, who is doing the right thing, “She should leave peacefully, she should leave feeling loved, we should all be here, we should give her nothing but love,” damn, this is complicated.  You couldn’t have any of those things.  .  Hopefully, some of that slid in there and we wedged some of those complexities into it, but it was hard to write a complex scene with the situation as it was.  We needed to get it done it one day.  We did not need to drag this out.  Again, were it not COVID time, sure, let’s drag it out.  Let’s spend some time on this.  People die.  Let’s watch the family process a death.

Photo: CBS

I just think of what it all means for Jack moving forward.  Dina basically tells him, “You’re in charge of the family. Look after the family.” That’s kind of where it’s been going for Jack this whole time.  I don’t know if that’s what Jack wanted, but that’s where he is ending up.

PETER:  Right!  That’s where he ends up, and you know, this has been a long time coming.  Dad dies, and it is pretty clear that he’s got to step up, and his mom comes into town, and she’s not just his mother.  She’s Ashley’s mother; she’s Traci’s mother, we’ve got to look out for her and give her the dignity and things like that.  Now, there is just no getting around it.  Jack is the head of the family.  That’s the way it fell.  Twenty-five years ago, was Jack ready to be head of anything?  Absolutely not, but I think enough has happened to Jack now: enough heartache, enough growth, enough introspection, enough losing people, that Jack might just be ready for this job.

Courtesy/CBS

When Marla Adams came back to Y&R 2017, and they started telling the Alzheimer’s storyline, it brought up such abandonment issues for Jack and rightfully so, about how a mother could just leave her family and children,  Throughout all that,  you did such poignant work.

PETER:  I wanted that to be in there at the very end.  One of the powerful parts in this whole thing is that Jack wanted to scream at Dina every bit as much as he wanted to hug her.  That was there for quite a while, and Jack had to kind of come to terms with, “Hey, you’ve been leaning on this excuse for quite a time.  She’s here.  She can’t do you any harm.  She feels bad about what happened.  What do you want, Jack?”

Photo: CBS

One of the highlights of this storyline was when Y&R explored the history and relationship between the siblings, Jack, Ashley and Traci.  We saw their younger versions as the show flash-backed to when Dina left John and the Abbott family.

PETER:  Between the writers and Peter Bergman, we built this story that the night that Dina left, Dad was upstairs with the girls, they were weeping inconsolably, there was no fixing it, there was no telling them that everything was going to be all right.  He didn’t want to lie to them and say she will be right back, he told them, “She’s not coming back,” and he comes downstairs, and Jack is fourteen-years-old, and a little confused, but decided to say to his dad, “Hey, can I help?”  He looks across the room, and his dad is weeping, first time he had ever seen that.  His father is weeping, and he said, “Jack, you’re going to have to help me with the girls.  I can’t do all of this,” and it changed Jack’s life forever.  Jack was a parent to Ashley for a good part of their relationship.  So, all of this stuff with Jack’s identity, all of the fighting with Ashley, all of the Jabot madness is Ashley finally getting to say, “I don’t need a father!  You’re not my father.  Stop talking to me like you’re going to fix things for me!  I’m sick of it.”  All done by Dina … all truly caused by Dina.

Courtesy/CBD

In my interview with Marla, she told me that at the end of her last scene, you and many others came back to the set to pay tribute to her.

PETER:  We did.  The show had arranged it, and Tony Morina, the executive producer, stepped out on the soundstage with a microphone, and Marla sat on the sofa in the Abbott living room. Tony began telling a lovely, lovely story about how far back his relationship with her goes because Marla and Tony wife’s, Sally Sussman (Ex- head writer, Y&R), also had a long-standing relationship.  Tony was just so grand and gracious in saying that there are some people who, if they weren’t an actor, they’d be this or that or the other thing, but that Marla was born to be an actress.  That’s what she is, and it was so generous.  I think she got three and a half years that she didn’t expect to get out of this.  It was supposed to be a six-month storyline, and four years later, she was still there, and it was a good thing for her, and a unique story turn for the rest of us.  It really was.  It was a powerful thing, and now the Abbott family has a new shape.  There are three adults there: Ashley has established her independence, she is not around as much, she is back and forth between Paris, and Genoa City, Traci is trying to be as supportive and kind as she can be, but essentially, Jack is in the big house by himself.

Yep!  Well, now we’ve got to find Jack a good woman.

PETER:  Yes, or a bad woman.

… Or a bad woman!  I’ll take him in a relationship with someone to stir things up.  I also hear coming up, there will be the reading of Dina’s will.  Is there anything you can tease about that?

PETER:  There is a will read, yes.  No one knows what to expect, and Dina … in the end… comes through for almost everybody…

Courtesy/CBS

Well … that ought to be good.

PETER:  Yep… really comes through for almost everybody, and you know, the Abbott children are wealthier, and all three of them are alone, and in no small thanks to Dina for that.  These are three adults who have been very unlucky in love.  Of course, this is the next challenge.  I don’t mean to assume that I have any idea of what you went through in losing your mom, but there is a point at which you also have to let go and say, “Okay, now it is just me, and what do I want to do with this life?  I’ve used this as a reason not to move forward for a good while.  What am I going to do now?”  I think the next turn in the Jack Abbott story comes pretty organically.  Dina’s death frees Jack to be just as alone as he has ever been.

No matter what Jack does, including the bad things, you always see the inner-pain that is very palpable within him, as you have portrayed him.

PETER:  Yes, but he really has grown in the last 30 years.  Jack is hungry for more right now, and he couldn’t really be that way with Mom in the house.  He didn’t have time for that.  Now he has all of the time in the world.  So, we’ll see what he does with that.

Courtesy/CBD

I understand there is a funeral for Dina, but it will be off-camera?  I guess, because of COVID, it is better that way.

PETER:  That’s true and it’s off camera, that’s correct.  What’s important at most of these things isn’t what happens at the gravesite, it is what happens at the reception afterwards, and that is also a fun turn.  So, they all agree as a family they are going to do it at Society, and they kind of close the joint and make it their own little party, and someone shows up who isn’t expected, and it throws a really, really different vibe into the whole thing, and everybody has to adapt.  It’s actually fun, what it turns into.  It turns into a memory fest with crazy stories of Dina.

Courtesy/CBS

Do you have a favorite moment, or memory, of a scene you played with Marla?

PETER:  I think I had a day where Jack tried to get through to her and tell her, “Do you realize the damage you did?  Do you realize?” and she wasn’t able to take it in, and he went to Traci, and he said, “I want to shake her.  I want to yell at her… and I want to protect her.”  I thought there was something just so rich about that.  That was my favorite moment, my favorite part of it, when Jack finally said, “She’s going, man.  We’ve got to get this conversation done now.  We’ve got to talk this through,” and he was too late.   She was too far along with Alzheimer’s.  She wasn’t up to it.  She couldn’t do it.

Photo: JPI

And now here is Jack; and his parents are both gone.  There is no Jerry Douglas or Marla Adams on the show as both John and Dina have passed on within the history of The Young and the Restless.

PETER:  Again, you were generous enough to share your own personal experience, but isn’t it amazing?  Wow, you’re the grownup now.  Isn’t it amazing?  That’s what the Abbott’s are going through: just what you went through.  There is no older generation to turn to for anything.  We are the older generation.  It’s powerful stuff, and I’m really, really grateful for anytime that Ashley, Jack, and Traci are together talking about those things, talking about, “Wow, okay, that just happened… where do we go from here?”  It’s going to be really interesting.  If you asked me, “Over the last 30 years that you’ve played Jack Abbott, have there been many times where you’ve thought, ‘I’ve got no idea where this is going!’”  I would say, “Yeah, right now.”  I’ve got no idea where we are going with this.

Courtesy/CBS

There has been much speculation that the “teardrop of love” necklace will lead Jack to a new romance, or some new adventure in his life.  They spent a lot of time mentioning it in short order, that it would seem it’s not just to bring Dina some closure.  What are your thoughts on it?

PETER:  I think it has legs.  I think you’re going to hear about it again. There is something in there, and I don’t know if it’s the teardrop’s magic charm or that its history is not what it was, or it gets stolen.  I don’t know, but I think we have spent enough time saying ‘teardrop of love’, that there could be a story there.

In Dina’s final moments where Jack brings her the ‘teardrop of love’, wasn’t it symbolic to her because it was her acknowledgement of having her family back together and with her at all times? There is a back-story to that piece of jewelry as well.

PETER:  The point of the necklace is, “This was when I was truly happy, when I had this necklace, when it is all back together,” and maybe we are to know something more about the teardrop…?  I don’t know.  So, this was a gift to her before Jack was born.  She wore it home from the hospital when she brought him home, but we don’t know exactly what year she got it, and we don’t know exactly what year she lost it.  It was stolen, and it was on the black market for a while, and Victor (Eric Braeden) was looking into it.  It was clear that it was very important to Dina.  So, Jack, against his own wishes, said, “No, I’ve got to do the right thing.  I’ve got to try to trace this thing down.  It clearly means something to her.  Maybe she is trying to tell us something.  God only knows.”  So, he did the right thing, not because, “I want to make Mommy happy,” but because he forced himself to do the right thing, to find the damn necklace, and to see what this is about.  Then, we saw the affect it had when he gave it to her.

Photo: CBS

It’s always good to chat and check-in with you during these key and historical moments in the life of the character of Jack Abbott.  There have been many throughout your time on Y&R, and it will be interesting to see where this goes from here.

PETER:  It will be, and I’m telling you, this is a real moment.  Normally, we just go from one story into the next, into the next, and this one has been hanging for so long that, “Okay, now that it is over, wow, what is going to happen to Jack?”  I’m just as curious as everybody else.

So, what do you think will happen next for Jack?  Did you reach for the hankies in Peter’s final scenes with Marla Adams?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Marla Adams Talks Her Final Scenes As Dina Mergeron, The Alzheimer’s Storyline, and Her Touching Farewell

Today on The Young and the Restless marks the end of the enduring run of Marla Adams in the role of Dina Mergeron. In story, Dina passes away from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a storyline that started four years ago when the CBS Daytime drama brought back the character and Adams; and one that has deeply affected many in the viewing audience who have also had their own personal experience of losing a loved one to this dreadful disease.

If you have not seen today’s episode yet, you may not want to read any further, but needless to say, make sure you have the hankies ready for Dina’s final moments with her children and how she leaves this earth, which will be remembered for quite some time to come.

Marla originated the role of the rich and spoiled Abbott matriarch back in 1983 and portrayed the role on and off for what amounts to five decades. Her classic scenes with Jerry Douglas (Ex-John), Eileen Davidson (Ashley) and so many more from the iconic soap, always made for great and complex stories.

 

With this her final airdate on Y&R, it also puts an exclamation point for Marla on an incredible daytime career having also appeared on: The Bold and the Beautiful. Capitol, Days of our Lives, Generations and The Secret Storm

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Adams in this very special conversation where she shared with us how it was to play these heartbreaking last scenes, the importance of the ‘teardrop of love’ necklace to the story, how Y&R gave her the most overwhelming and beautiful send-off, and her ‘thank you’s’ to all of you, who have been her extended family and are sad to see her go. She is one-of-a-kind …and now, here’s Marla.

Photo: Getty

Marla, I am so glad we have the opportunity to chat in this full-circle moment as you have brought the character of Dina to a close.

MARLA:  It’s such a joy to talk to you.  It seems like yesterday and an eternity as well.   I thought of you so much, and I remember talking to you specifically with all of the different interviews over the years, when I was at the studio.  But I will always remember the interview you did with me and Beth Maitland (Traci), my darling soul sister, and you talked to me about your mother who has since passed on from Alzheimer’s.  I’ll never forget what you had to say all those months ago

Photo: HallmarkChannel

Yes, and when as audience members we watch these stories unfold with characters we have loved, or watched on our screens for years, and there is a death, we feel connected to them as well.  And in this case, as a child who has lost a parent to Alzheimer’s, like many in the audience, you ask yourself first, “Can I watch this?” It hits very close to home, but I’m sure when people watch today’s episode of Y&R and see Dina pass away, they will be extraordinarily moved.

MARLA:  Oh, my gosh.  Wait until you people see Friday’s show.  I know they will be moved.  They should be!  I’ve got friends who I’ve already said to, “Get your Kleenex box out.”  It’s so beautiful what happens at the end of the episode.

Courtesy/CBD

How did you feel about playing Dina’s final scenes?

MARLA:  It was wonderful because it showed her lifetime of sorrow and regret, and what was so wonderful was the fact that the hero of the whole thing is the kindness and respect that she really did have for her whole family.  They had the most beautiful sendoff for me.  They sent me a limo!  I went to the studio, and dear Patti Denney (Make-up artist, Y&R) was there, of course with all kinds of makeup and everything else, and she looked like she was entering the ER room for Covid-19, because of all the safety protocols we must have.  It was unbelievable, the kindness that was served to me.  After we finished taping my final scenes, I came back to the soundstage and they totally surprised me.  Dear Tony Morina (executive producer, Y&R) and Sally Sussman (Ex-head writer, Y&R) were there, and Tony spoke about me, and so did my Y&R extended family and on-screen children: Peter Bergman (Jack), and Beth Maitland, and Eileen Davidson, and much of it was put on tape (see excerpts in video below).  Afterwards, Tony gave me beautiful flowers.  I was driven back home after this, and I felt really special, and it was just amazing to me. I had written Josh Griffith (Current head-writer and co-executive producer, Y&R) a ‘thank you’ for writing the show with his wonderful people, but I never heard back, but when I walked in my apartment, the phone was ringing.  Guess who?  It’s Josh!  He said, “I waited until I knew you would be home to thank you,” and I felt so lovey-doved up, I couldn’t believe it.  I want to read something to you that I received in the wonderful flowers that came the next day from CBS Daytime executive Margot Wain and others.  The flowers were so big that they didn’t fit on the bar!  The card read: “Thank you for bringing the amazing force that is Abbott matriarch, Dina Mergeron to countless fans of The Young and the Restless.  Your vast contribution to Y&R and CBS for more than five decades is unparalleled.  We are forever grateful for all you’ve brought to Y&R as both a consummate professional and a cherished co-worker.  All our best wishes.”  I was just so touched by the sentiments.

Photo: CBS

I also want to share something with you.  When it was revealed in the promo that came out last week that this would be your last show, I received so many notifications on social media, saying, “Oh, my God!  We love Marla!  You have to interview her!”  You are loved by the Y&R fans.  I hope you know that!  They’re sad to see you go, because you’re a legacy character to them, and soap fans have deep connections to characters that have been on their favorite soaps for decades.

MARLA:  Five decades!  My God!  I’m eighty-freaking-two.  I can’t believe it.

Courtesy/CBS

In story, Jack was on a mission to get the ‘teardrop of love’ necklace back to Dina before she died, hoping that she would have one last moment of lucidity and would recall it and it would hopefully make her happy.   He moves heaven on earth to get it, and does, and brings it to her and viewers saw her reaction. 

MARLA:  The necklace had never been anywhere before in story except recently, but I said to myself that I would play it ‘quietly and graciously’, because it made for such a beautiful moment for Dina with her children.

Courtesy/CBS

For Dina, the necklace was a symbol of remaining connected to her family and her children, even when she was not with them all of those years.  In your final scenes, Dina had these moments to say goodbye to each of your children.  Do you remember looking at Eileen, Traci, and Peter taping those highly emotional beats?

MARLA:  Yes, they were so there for me.  They are an extended family that is so precious to me, and playing this iconic character has been, too.  I remember when Sally Sussman told me a few years ago, “ I’m going to bring you back on The Young and the Restless, but you’ve got Alzheimer’s,” and I said, ‘What!?  You’re bringing me back so you can kill me off?’ and she said, “Oh no, it’ll be about a year.”  That dissolved into four years, and now five decades had passed and I was still on Y&R.  I am beyond grateful.

Courtesy/CBD

As an actress, was it hard to play Dina’s final moments when she goes to the light to join her beloved, John?

MARLA:  It was heart-wrenching for me.  In the story, Dina died when she went outside and to the front door of the Abbott home.  They did not tell me before-hand, and that’s why it was so wonderful.  I hope they came in for a closeup of that because I had no makeup on, it was beautiful, and then, Dina said, “Oh, John.”  I’ve done everything from movies, to daytime, to nighttime, to Broadway, but that was the iconic moment for me, to do this gig with wonderful, wonderful actors and friends, and to do this particular storyline.

Photo: CBS

It was 1983 when you first appeared on Y&R.  And through the years, Dina did not do such great things! She had an affair with Brent Davis who was the biological father of Ashley that caused such a rift between mother and daughter for years.  She abandoned the Abbott children and walked out on them and her marriage to John, and that’s just for starters! Dina was a complicated character. Did you love the fact that she could be very selfish at times?

MARLA:  You think?  That’s why I loved her.  Of course!  I can be very selfish, too.  You have to be selfish if you’re an actor, good God. (Laughs).

Courtesy/CBS

It was great that The Young and the Restless brought you back four years ago so that through the telling of the Alzheimer’s storyline that Dina was able to somewhat repair her relationships with her children.  Obviously, over the last many months the audience could not witness the more day to day progression and toll the disease took on Dina and her family in its final stages, but unfortunately with the way COVID-19 has affected shooting daytime soap operas, and all of our lives, including safety protocols, I am sure plans had to be altered,

MARLA:  Of course.  As an actress, this was the most important role of my life, and to have her final moments spread out in one day really is because of all of the fans who have been writing in and wanting to see Dina again,

Photo: CBS

People were rooting for you to win the Daytime Emmy back in 2018 when you were nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. That must be a nice moment to carry with you from playing Dina’s final storyline.

MARLA:  Yes, and I should have won!  Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) was furious. (Laughs)  He said, “What do you mean, darling, you should have won!  Goddammit!” He’s a wonderful man and a good friend.  He came to pick me up several times to go to the studio for my last few shows, and that’s the kind of mensch he is. So, I feel just so blessed and I feel great love and loss.  I would like Dina to come back as a ghost, but I have no idea, if that will happen or not. But if the fans would be interested in seeing Dina as a ghost … make sure to write in to the show and tell them!

Courtesy/CBS

Speaking of the fans that have followed you for decades on Y&R, what would you want to say to them now that Dina has passed on?

MARLA:  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for all of the love, the support, and the chance to play Dina out… and I’m thankful that you cared, and loved her, up till the end.

So what did you think about Dina’s final moments on today’s Y&R? Will you miss Marla Adams?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.  But first check out the special behind the scenes tribute for Marla, followed by The Michael Fairman Channel’s interview with Marla and Beth Maitland from Y&R’s 45th anniversary celebration referred to during the above conversation.

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