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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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Shannon CarterKariVernellePaula IvieLaura Recent comment authors
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Sheila
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
Pearl.Quebec,Canada here

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

Kim Huck
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 as amazing as it was. Holidays need to be improved. Love the Abbott family holidays with John Abbott at the head of the family . Jack needs to get it together. Phyllis is all wrong,

harry
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
Regina

Please, NO Sheila. Not again, EVER.

Beacon
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)
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
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
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
Bea

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

bunting
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 Tracey on screen for a long time.

Dee Mac
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
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 transpired between Michael and Lauren (where he tells her he has cancer) and I burst into tears–something I almost never do. But it was utterly heart wrenching! My spouse walked in at the moment horrified to discover that not only was I watching a soap, but that I was crying! “Since when do you watch soaps?” I was asked. ‘Oh. I wasn’t watching that! I was watching the news and this just came on……and, uh…well…. I have something in my eye,” I stammered. ‘Hey, how about those 49ers?’ I ask in my attempt to recover. I do not follow football but if I did, I would know our home football team is not doing very well so my attempt to deflect failed miserably.
I snapped off the television, grabbed some free weights, and re watched the aforementioned scene alone on the TV Guide channel later that night. Both Tracey and Christian deserve Emmys for that scene. Wow, just wow.

Bridget
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
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 you for the best Daytime Soap!!

Kelly
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
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
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
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
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
Kari

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

Shannon Carter
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 loss. I really pray that Michael overcomes this cancer & lives another 50 years!!! Think about how you would feel if your son died before you !!!

Interviews

B&B’s Katherine Kelly Lang on That ‘Brill’ Kiss, 33 Years as Brooke, Her Co-Stars & International Success

Just when you think Brooke will finally score a moral victory in her vendetta with Thomas Forrester, (who’s manipulations almost destroyed her marriage to his father, Ridge), then she finds herself once again in hot water, and with a secret that in the wrong hands could cause a seismic shift to several relationships – that would he hers and her sister Katie’s – thanks to that ill-timed smooch with Bill!

But what else is new for Brooke? For 33 years, the character has captivated audiences with bold moves, questionable choices, enduring romances and plenty of gusto, all in the more than capable hands of her portrayer, the one and only Katherine Kelly Lang.

This week marks Katherine’s 33rd-year in the role of Brooke Logan Forrester, who along with John McCook (Eric Forrester), are the two original cast members since the very inception of the CBS daytime drama; which debuted back on March 23, 1987.  Now over three decades later, Lang is an international favorite. First, due to the success and broad appeal of B&B in foreign countries, but second, from her own entrepreneurship and hustle.  Always with multiple projects going on at once, Lang and her beau, Dom Zoida recently opened the American version of the Italian clothing and leather store in Beverly Hills, California, Benheart USA.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Katherine to get the lowdown on: Brooke’s line-up of nemesis’ which seems to be growing! (Yes, you can put Thomas, Quinn and Shauna on that list, for sure.) Plus, what she feels this B&B anniversary is truly about, how she and others in the cast are coping with the ‘stay at home’ orders in California during the coronavirus pandemic, the recent loss of B&B co-creator, Lee Phillip Bell, and those all-time classic Stephanie and Brooke scenes opposite Susan Flannery and more.  Here’s what this BOLD original had to share with all of you.

Photo: JPI

What did you think about Brooke’s whole relationship with Thomas (Matthew Atkinson) and the tit-for-tat between them?  Brooke really stood up to him and his manipulations, and held her ground. Meanwhile, he was going to do everything he could do ruin her and cause so much trouble for Brooke’s marriage to Ridge (Thorsten Kaye).

KATHERINE: This is my feeling: she was so adamant and so trying to convince people about Thomas and that he was so out for himself;  and out for Brooke’s daughter, Hope (Annika Noelle), and very manipulative, and nobody would listen really.  Only a few people like Liam (Scott Clifton) did and her daughter finally agreed with her.  Then at the wedding of Thomas and Zoe (Kiara Barnes), it proved that Brooke was right all along.  I still don’t feel like Brooke got her due as far as what everybody was saying.

No, she didn’t!  No one really said to her in a grand way, “Oh, my God, Brooke!  You were right about Thomas all along.”

KATHERINE:  I know!  Ridge did say, “You were right,” and that’s great.  However, more people should have apologized and acknowledged her, and said, “Oh, we understand now where you were coming from,” and, “Hey!  Good intuition!”

Photo: JPI

That was must have been so frustrating to Brooke!  She knew the truth, and everybody was treating her so badly and painting her to be the bitch.

KATHERINE:  Yup!  They dubbed herthat crazy one” and the bitch.

Was all of this enjoyable to play?

KATHERINE:  It was enjoyable that it finally came out that Thomas is the manipulative person that he is, even though he is so good at it that he almost makes you feel sorry for him.  But he’s like a good sociopathThat’s why they’re so good at what they do.  They’re good at bringing real emotion into every situation and yet being very manipulative.  Kudos go to Matthew Atkinson for playing Thomas, really well.  He’s been great, and he brings something really different on to our show.

Photo: JPI

Brooke and Ridge’s relationship has been severely tested; almost tearing them apart over Ridge previously standing up for his son.  Now Brooke’s recent kiss with Bill (Don Diamont) threatens it, as that kiss was caught on tape, and landed in the wrong hands.  Is Brooke in freak-out mode yet?

KATHERINE:  I definitely think she is, and she wanted to take that kiss back from the second that it happened.  She allowed it to happen.  It’s a little bit of old Brooke resurfacing there.  Right away she was like, “What are we doing?   This is ridiculous.  You’re with Katie, and I’m with Ridge, and we’re both happy.”  Brooke has had underlying feelings for Bill, and she probably always will (and he for Brooke), but we know that’s not where we want things to be.  So, in Brooke’s mind, it’s “let’s forget about that and carry on, and don’t tell anybody.”  Of course, it comes out to some people, and it’s so embarrassing for Brooke.  Like, how does she explain herself?  I mean, at that point she can’t explain what happened … or why she did that.  She has to kind of succumb to it.

Right! And of course, Shauna (Denise Richards) and Quinn (Rena Sofer) want to take her down with this ammo.

KATHERINE:  Of course!  That’s what they live for. (Laughs)

Photo” JPI

Recently, Quinn spiked Brooke’s drink with some booze after they had quite the argument. Fans were on the edge of their seats that Brooke might start drinking again.  What did you think of the plot point?

KATHERINE:  I think it could have been interesting.  I have no idea if they will bring it up again.  That happens sometimes.  They’ll put in a little teaser and not run with it.  However, you never know if it’s going to resurface down the line, especially when Brooke is really down in the dumps for some reason.

I could see her being down in the dumps if she finally had no man in her life! (Laughs)

KATHERINE: (Laughs) That’s probably what she needs … not having a man in her life!

How is working with Rena Sofer and Denise Richards; especially when they are antagonists in scenes with Brooke?  Do you ever have a good laugh while trying to tape those scenes, as well?

KATHERINE: I think there’s a good chemistry between the three of us, and we have that rivalry going on.  So, I think it’s been working, and it’s been entertaining and interesting.  They’re fun to bounce off of.  Usually we are pretty serious when we do those scenes, especially if they’re more verbally combative.  So, we’ll just be really serious and stay in it.  Of course, sometimes things happen, and you laugh, but we sometimes don’t have the luxury to take the time to laugh and enjoy the moment, because we have to try to get the scene done in one take and move on.

Photo: JPI

There were a few months there that Brooke was slapping everybody! There were plenty of bitch-slaps that needed to go around. What did you think of those scenes?

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KATHERINE: I loved it, but then I felt like it was also maybe getting out of hand because it’s not really PC.  Nobody is supposed to hit people or slap people in anyway.  So, it worked more years and years ago in our genre, as times have changed in our world and culture.

Viewers saw this week that Donna (Jennifer Gareis) knows Brooke kissed Bill and that they have to make sure Katie (Heather Tom) does not find out, while others are out to expose Brooke!

KATHERINE:  I would imagine that everybody would want to see how Brooke unravels.  So, just keep watching!

Photo: JPI

Would you welcome another go round at a Brooke and Bill romance?

KATHERINE: Not when Bill’s with Katie and with everything that Katie’s gone through.  I couldn’t see that.  I don’t think it would be right.  That would mean that Brooke is completely selfish, you know?  There are so many other men.  Why does she have to go for her sister’s man?

Photo: JPI

In recent months, we have witnessed scenes where Brooke has been more confrontational and fighting back and not putting up with the shenanigans of others!  We have seen this in particular with Thomas, Shauna, and Quinn.  Did it seem like they ramped that up for Brooke?

KATHERINE:  Yes, because at some point it’s frustrating because nobody was listening to her.  It all started with the whole Thomas thing, and once she started fighting back, she wanted to fight back on everything.  She’s been lied to about a lot of things.  It’s not been fair.

Does Brooke still think Hope is too vulnerable to make wise decisions for herself; even after she stood up for herself at the wedding of Thomas and Zoe?

KATHERINE: Now. I think she feels much better, because there are moments where Hope is very vulnerable, but then she kicks herself in the butt, and stands up for herself and everybody else.  So, Brooke knows that Hope’s strong, but she also knows that she can be vulnerable.  At this moment, she is proving that she can handle things.

Photo: JPI

B&B turned 33-years-old this week as the show continues to remain so popular in the United States, and of course, is the most watched soap in the world. What can you say about still being with the series since its inception, and all that has happened to you in your life and career, because of playing Brooke, plus a nod to the fans?

KATHERINE: It’s been an amazing opportunity for me.  It’s been my life basically! 33 years on The Bold and the Beautiful, and the show has always kicked butt.  I mean, the show has been going strong ever since it started, and it still is going strong.  It’s just been an honor to be on the show, and remain on the show for so long as one of the original characters.  My heart really goes out to the fans, because honestly, so many of them tell me they’ve watched from day one.  We have a history with them raising their families.  Younger people come up and say, “I’ve been watching the show ever since I was little with my mom.”  So, there’s a wide range of different people who watch the show, and I appreciate them so much.  We all appreciate them so much because really, without them, there would be no show.  I just want to say ‘thank you’ to all of the fans.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Photo: JPI

Brooke is one of the most notable characters of all-time in soap operas and you are the actress playing her. That has to be a very good-feeling for you.

KATHERINE: I think there have been a lot of notable characters on soap operas, who have even been on the air a lot longer than me.  Look at Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) who just celebrated his 40th, and Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki, Y&R) who also reached a milestone recently.  What I have learned from all of this is; what matters is when you come on a show that your heart is in it 100%, and you come to your job and you try your hardest.  That to me is what matters and makes you an honorable person.  I’m very flattered that I’ve been on The Bold and the Beautiful for as long as I have.

Photo” JPI

When you look back at 33 years of your time on The Bold and the Beautiful, are your scenes with Susan Flannery and those epic moments between Stephanie and Brooke, the ones that still standout to you the most?

KATHERINE: Those scenes with Susan informed and formed the show and the characters for years.  I had a lot of memorable scenes with Susan.  I’m so lucky to have worked so closely with her.  She’s an amazing actress.  I learned so much from her, and just watching her.  I would hang on her every word – how she would talk about the business, how she would talk about acting, directing (because she loved to direct), and producing.  Susan was very knowledgeable, and she was very tough, but very fair, I thought.  I just loved her work ethic.

You and Thorsten Kaye have created your version of Brooke and Ridge. What do you think about working with Thorsten?  Is it fun? Challenging? How would you define it?

KATHERINE:  He’s very fun to work with.  Thorsten is very serious, very prepared all of the time, and he’s watching everything.  He’s got eagle eyes.  He’s just so on top of it and working with people like that makes you raise your bar.  It makes you want to try 110% to be there and put in the work.  Thorsten’s also so funny, and easy to work with, and so charming, and such a dear friend.   I love working with him.  I do think Brooke and Ridge have an interesting relationship even though some people say, “Oh, they should be over,” or whatever they want to say.  I do think they have created a good banter between them, and almost an understanding without having to say anything.  Thorsten’s a delight!

Photo: JPI

What is your takeaway when you travel overseas and internationally to places such as Italy, Dubai, Monaco or Australia where B&B is so widely popular and the reaction you receive from the fans?

KATHERINE:  Just seeing the overseas reactions in different countries and how popular or how loved The Bold and the Beautiful is truly special.  The fans really do love from their hearts.  They feel a part of it, and they are, but just their enthusiasm and their passion and their love, and they give their whole heart to you and to the show.  I just found that really interesting, and like I said earlier, we owe the success of B&B to the fans who love the show so much.

Photo: JPI

You recently were in Greece appearing for a multi-episode arc on the soap 8 Lexeis.  How was that experience?  I know Greek soap star, Andreas Georgiou, also came over to the States and appeared on B&B afterwards, too.

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KATHERINE:  It was an incredible opportunity.  I love working in other countries, and seeing how other people work, and how they make different projects and things.  8 Lexeis is their top TV show on their top network in Greece, so it was really exciting to go there and work on that.  I did 15 episodes in 5 days; something crazy like that.  We worked all morning through late at night every day, but it was fun.  It was amazing to see how creative they are and how they just run with it.  Everything was really chill on the set, but they still moved really fast and got everything done, and they were all so talented and so nice.  Then later, Andreas came over and did some shows here.  He was supposed to come to visit, but then the Coronavirus happened, so he had to postpone his trip, but we’ll see him soon.

Photo: JPI

B&B is on a production break due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Have you stayed in touch with your co-stars during this time?

KATHERINE: A lot of us talk on Instagram all of the time, and then a lot of people have been going live on their as well.  So, we jump into each other’s live videos!  Have you seen Katrina Bowden (Flo) and Kelly Kruger (Mackenzie, Y&R) do their little workouts together? You should check those out! Ashley Jones (Bridget) is always on, and Annika Noelle, and then our Supervising Producer, Casey Kasprzyk, started doing Zoom.  He did a Zoom with some of the B&B people.  So, we’ve all been texting and keeping in touch and making sure that everybody is okay.  I know it’s very hard times and it can be scary for all.   Hopefully, if everybody does what they should be doing, it will flatten the curve and the Coronavirus will be a lot easier to deal with.

Photo: JPI

You are one of the busiest people I know! Recently, you went to Australia, you opened your new store Benheart USA in Beverly Hills, and you appear on B&B in a lead role.  Is there ever a moment when you’re like, “I can’t do one more thing?” or do you like the go-go-go of it all of the time?

KATHERINE: I like the go-go-go, but I felt that I was going too fast and too hard, and I’ve recently been thinking of what I can take out of our lives and our schedule, and then in thinking of that, I couldn’t really think of what I can take out.  Then, this all happened with life coming to a screeching halt, which I find very interesting because life is set up to go so fast.  Nobody can really enjoy anything.  We have to get up early, we have to go to work, we have to make money to pay for this, we’ve got to take care of the family, do this, do that, maybe just try to be motivated to be successful, whatever your dreams are, you’re going after them, etc.  It’s such a driven world all around that I think with having to self-quarantine that this is a chance to take a good look at what is going on in your life.  Now, we have a lot of down time.  We have time to think, go inside ourselves.  It gives you time to be kind, slow down, think of others.  What can you do for others?  What can you do for the world?  It’s been frightening for a lot of people; especially the ones who have gotten sick, or the ones who are scared of getting sick because they are immunocompromised.  But, at the same time, we need to try to not let that anxiety get to us and try to appreciate what we have.  Like, “Why is this happening?  What is this moment trying to tell us?”  I’m always trying to find the silver lining; or what is this trying to tell us in life?

Photo” JPI

B&B and Y&R co-creator Lee Phillip Bell passed away at the end of February, and it was so heartbreaking.  I know you were close with Lee.  What can you share on her passing?

KATHERINE:  It was heartbreaking.  I always think, “Gosh, I wish I saw her one more time before she passed,” but she was around her family, who are so loving, and supportive, and always there for her.  Lee created an amazing life for herself and for her family, and she was a huge part of The Bold and the Beautiful, and of course, I thank her so much because she hired me.  Lee gave me my life, and this time on the show.  She was amazing.  She cared so much about the show and the people on it.  Lee was such a great mom and such a great friend.  It’s been special knowing her and spending all of that time with her that I was able to through the years.  My heart goes out to the Bell family as well.  I know this must be hard for them.

Photo: JPI

Then, it was so sad that Orson Bean died tragically before that.  Have you talked to Alley Mills (Pam)?

KATHERINE: Yes, a bunch of us went over and spent time with Alley and brought her food.  We brought her goodies, and we just hung out.  We just gave her lots of love, spent time, and that was before I had to run off to Australia as well, but she’s really strong.  That was just very tragic.  Two weeks before Orson died, we had seen them both in the play Bad Habits.  It was so, so funny, and they both had all of us who attended laughing so hard, and it was such a pleasure.

Photo: JPI

In closing, what are your hopes for Brooke moving forward into the future?

KATHERINE: I’ve been saying that I hope she’ll spend time by herself and be alone for a while and focus on her family.  I’ve said that for so long, but I don’t know what’s going to work for her! (Laughs)  However, I’m just so curious to see what will happen next for her.

So, what do you think of Brooke’s latest predicament after her kiss with Bill? Do you hope that Ridge and Brooke stay together? What have you thought of the more recent version of a feisty Brooke who fought back when no one believed her about Thomas? And finally, share your congrats to Katherine for 33 years as Brooke and let us know some of your favorite all-time scenes via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Eric Braeden Talks On 40 Years Of Life In Soaps As Victor Newman

Back in February, Eric Braeden added another milestone to his illustrious career – that of portraying the one and only Victor Newman for 40 years on the top-rated daytime drama, The Young and the Restless.  And boy was he celebrated!  First, there was a one-of-a-kind on set celebration at CBS Television City which was quite the star-studded affair.  That was followed by special episodes of Y&R, where Newman Enterprises turned 50 with a gala that also proved emotional with speeches and retrospective clips.

When you talk daytime dramas to anyone, you would be hard-pressed for the general public to not know the name “Victor Newman”- and that is because of the powerhouse performances and nuances that Braeden brings to his soap opera alter-ego.  For it was Y&R co-creator Bill Bell and Braeden who really shaped what viewers have come to know, expect, and love, forty years later.

Those who know Eric understand he can be at times outspoken, has a heart of gold, stands up for what he believes, can bring the drama, the suspense, the tension, the romance and the tears in any given scene when it is called upon, and that throughout the years he has earned the respect from his peers for an impressive job well-done.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Eric to take a look back at all that had gone down recently in his honor, and to get his thoughts on some major moments in time through over 40 years in Genoa City, and where things are at now.  Check out our special conversation below.

Photo: JPI

When I attended and saw you at your 40th anniversary on set celebration at Y&R last month, I cannot tell you what a special event that was.  I have never seen that for anybody else!  The amount of people who attended, and the love they showed for you, was so special. When you were sitting in that chair on the soundstage and watching and hearing what was being said about you, what was going on in your mind at that point?

ERIC:  Well, first of all, it was the nicest thing that’s ever happened to me in 40 years on that show, and secondly, in moments like that, you try to stay focused on who is giving the speeches, because if I then look around and see all of the people who I have known for so many years, it’s emotional.  There’s a saying in German, “he’s close to the water,” meaning it’s very moving.  I saw my son and my granddaughter there and obviously everyone else, and my old coach and players, and so many others that have been a part of my life.

Photo: JPI

There were some very special guests and speeches.  I loved that Justin Hartley (Ex-Adam, Y&R and now Kevin, This Is Us) came.  I thought that was sweet and cool, and also that ESPN sports personality, Stephen A. Smith was there calling you one of his good friends.  There were so many moments.  You knew who was going to speak, right?

ERIC:  Yes, I did.  We kept it to just family, and in other words, Y&R family, etc.  I want to thank Matt Kane (Publicist, Y&R), who had a lot to do with putting the event together.  I also wanted to thank Tony Morina (executive producer, Y&R). The Y&R art department and David Hoffman (Production Designer) also did a fantastic job with those pictures they had created that was part of a set.  Thinking back on it, again, I would without a doubt say, that the celebration was the most moving moment in 40 years in the business and on that show.

Photo: JPI

A few weeks ago, Y&R and B&B co-creator Lee Phillip Bell passed away.  Obviously the late Bill Bell (co-creator, Y&R) and she were instrumental for you being at Y&R in the first place, and the creation of Victor Newman.  What can you say about Lee? 

ERIC:  We invited Lee to the event, and she apologized and said she was not in a position to attend, and then, shortly thereafter she passed.  In a sense, I’m glad Lee wasn’t there because when I would see her on some occasions, I just am moved to tears.  I would have not been able to really hold it together for long.  Obviously, she was co-responsible for a lot of stuff that happened on Y&R. co-responsible for that show still being number #1, and my heart goes out to her.  I know what I owe them, and she had a lot of influence on the storylines.  Lee was an incredibly smart and bright lady.  Her son, Brad Bell (EP and head writer, B&B) did speak at the 40th event and I appreciated it enormously.

There were a lot of retro clips shown of you show in celebration of your 4oth anniversary from when you started on the show back in 1980 till now.  Did you remember all of those moments?

ERIC:  First of all, they put that together so beautifully.  That was done so extremely well.  When I see it, it comes right back, or in other words it evokes precise memories, but if I weren’t seeing it, it’s all a blur.

Photo: JPI

Y&R brought Meg Bennett (Ex-Julia) and Robert Parucha (Ex-Matt), for the on-screen episodes celebrating Newman Enterprises 50th anniversary.  Was it nice having them back and seeing them, or is it kind of weird, because it can be such a long time in-between since you have all been together?

ERIC:  It is both.  It is very nice to see old colleagues obviously, and very touching, but look, we are in a weird business.  When I saw Meg, you suddenly realize how the show has evolved in many ways.  So, I’m always very grateful to see those who I started out with on the show and of course, doubly grateful to those who are still there.  I think of Melody and Doug Davidson (Paul) for example.  Doug has been there for longer than I have, and what a great job he did emceeing the 40th anniversary event, and as for Melody, that her and my relationship still endues after all of these years is amazing.

Photo: JPI

Let’s talk about those Newman Children.  I thought Joshua Morrow (Nick) gave a hilarious speech and even Mark Grossman (Adam) spoke so sincerely from the heart to you.  You get a sense that the Newmans are a fun group to work with.

ERIC:  I obviously love working with Joshua.  Same for Amelia Heinle (Victoria), I adore her, and Melissa Ordway (Abby).  They all have a great sense of humor, and Mark Grossman, I think is doing a damned good job.  And there is Peter Bergman (Jack).  Peter has been a great nemesis for all of these years.  Of course, Peter was very funny in his speech, and Joshua was very funny, and Ed Scott’s (Producer, B&B) was very good.  Tony Morina also shared a very funny little antidote!

Photo: JPI

What came across loud and clear is what we already knew.  Everyone knows the name “Victor Newman”.  You know when they go, “Victor Newman … Y&R!”  It’s so synonymous, right?  I don’t know what it must be like for you knowing the public has that reaction to you … and you’re that guy.

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ERIC:  I’ll tell you very honestly, I have an ambivalent relationship to that fact.  I deny it on one hand, don’t want to know about it, don’t really want to know about it, and on the other hand, when I hear about it, I say, “Yeah, very happy to hear about it, but is it true?”  I am sort of strange that way.  I have not had a picture of myself or anyone else in my dressing room for these 40 years.  It’s barren, as you know.  I don’t have any pictures hanging up of me; there’s nothing.  Now, I was talking about taking the one picture that David Hoffman had designed beautifully, and I have it on one wall.  I thought, “I’ll be damned,” because the picture includes Melody and some scenes that went on.  I’ve always been funny that way with praise.  Do I like it?  Of course, but …

There’s an uncomfortableness about it, right?

ERIC:  Yes, but I’ve seen too much in this business.  I’ve seen too many extraordinary stars, where you wonder, “Where are they now”?  I take this business with a grain of salt.  I really do.  It’s so easy to succumb to it.   I’ve known many people, including on our show, who used to say, “Well, without me, this thing would go down the drain,” and I said, “Yeah?  No s**t,” and they’re not there anymore.  You have no idea what happens to some actors when they see themselves on the cover of soap magazine.  They go crazy.  I’ve seen it, and the worst thing you can do is to believe in that, and I’ve always been skeptical of that, very skeptical.  Get back to what counts in this business:  do a good job … do the best you can … and where is the money?  I mean really, let’s call a spade a spade, and that’s it.

Photo: JPI

I was just going to say, the one person I so wished was at your 40th celebration was Jeanne Cooper (Ex-Katherine, Y&R).   I wish she could have been there with us, because she would have loved it.  I know she loved you.

ERIC:  She would have spoken, trust me!  She would have said, “Alright, you son of a bitch.  Alright, macho man let’s see what you’ve got!” and then she would grab me by the balls.  The first scene I ever had with her, Jeanne did that.  Absolutely hilarious!  Jeanne and I could not do a scene without laughing.  I’m serious.  We had to pull ourselves together.  She had such a great sense of humor, and we both looked at this, obviously, with an enormous grain of salt, because we’ve been there.  We’d seen it all.

set

Photo: JPI

Through the years, you obviously have been vocal on social media where you will call out things as you see them and as you truly feel, especially through various regime changes, or if there is a noticeable shift away, or focus, from core characters. What are your thoughts on what ultimately makes Y&R, the iconic soap that it is?

ERIC:  Let me put it very simply: the show is based on the comradery and enmity between the Newmans and the Abbotts, and I’ve included on that a go-between, if you will, a Chancellor … Jeanne Cooper.   That was sort of the plan, but the major triangle was sort of the Montagues and the Capulets in Romeo and Juliet.  That is what legendary stories are based on.  It’s family rivalries, and within those rivalries, we tell all kinds of fantastic stories.  It’s father-son, father-daughter, husband-wife, love affairs, disloyalties, ruthless business competition, and it goes on and on.  The scenes with Peter Bergman and me over the years have been legendary, wonderful, and they’re great scenes.  Now, to suddenly bring in whole new characters that no one knows about, which previously happened on our show, you have to ask, “What are you not getting?  You want to reinvent the wheel?”  Go with what is working.  It doesn’t often happen that you have the right cast and the right story.  That is what makes a show successful.  Imagine taking Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) out of Seinfeld.  You couldn’t.   It wouldn’t work.  In other words, when you have the right actors and the right storyline, you have a hit.  We’d been number #1 for over 30 years because of it

Photo: JPI

When you get a script, have there been those moments in the 40 years where you will say. “My character would never do this.  I’m not playing it!?”

ERIC:  Of course.  Not that I’m not playing it, but I will make certain adjustments here and there.  I always have, by the way, from the very beginning.  Bill Bell agreed with most of it.  I know my character, and I have and instinctive feel for what is emotionally touching and what is not.  Look, I have always said that I admire writers.  I don’t envy their job.  I really don’t.  I think it is the hardest job in the business, and writing for soaps is even harder.  So, I have great respect.  So therefore, I don’t even want to know who wrote what.  I don’t ever want to be in the position of insulting a writer because I know how difficult it is.  As in everything in this business, it is a cooperative business.  There are very few writer/directors who have earned the right (I’m talking about Martin Scorsese, I’m talking about Ingmar Bergman, I’m taking about a handful) to write and direct their own stuff.  Even they rely on the cooperation of their lead actors.  That’s what is so wonderful about this business in that it’s this precisely cooperative thing.  However, when there are some people who simply don’t listen to those of us who have been around for a while and we know, we really know, then, they’re being foolish.

Photo: JPI

Y&R taped the Newman Enterprises 50th anniversary gala, which was in essence, your on-screen 40th anniversary episodes.  That was another amazing part of this.  I love that they would go to a clip, and one of the characters would say something in speech, and then, they’d go back to a shot of you reacting.  Were you, you, or Victor at that point, because it seemed so genuine and emotional?

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ERIC:  You know, look, one thing sort of blends into the other.  I loved that show by the way.  It was brilliantly done, and they could have easily screwed that up, but they didn’t.  I thought Josh Griffith (head writer, and Co-EP, Y&R) did a hell of a job, and Tony Morina did a wonderful job, they really did.  So, I really can’t say enough about that.

Photo: CBS

When you look back on the enormity of scenes you have performed as Victor Newman; the ones that and you and I always come back to are the scenes between you and Dorothy McGuire as Victor’s mother; and the scenes with you and George Kennedy as Victor’s father.  Do you still consider those your all-time favorites?

ERIC:  I always think about them.  They are my top favorites, plus one other.   No question about it; because the scene with Dorothy McGuire laid the groundwork of what Victor Newman is all about.  That summarized all of his subsequent moments of anger, and upset, and mistrust, and etc.  It was the seminal scene for Victor Newman … period.  One other scene that one of my favorites was the one with Melody, on Christmas Eve where Nikki keeps on bugging Victor to tell her about his past, and he finally does.  It was about that orphanage experience, etc.  Actually, those two scenes early on were responsible for my really wanting to stay and realizing that now I had a chance to play some real emotions, some real feelings, some real conflict.   I remember after Victor told Nikki that story, a moment when I went to my dressing room, I called home, and I said, “Now, I’m going to stay.”  No two ways about that.  I called my wife, and I said, “I’m staying,” because I wasn’t sure if I was going to.  It happened because I had talked to Bill Bell and I said, “Bill, I’m so tired of playing bad guys.  I’ve done it for too many years.  I’m empty.  I’m burnt out.  It’s too dehumanizing.  Let’s imbue this character with a background,” and he did, brilliantly, and that’s the reason I stayed, and that’s the reason I’m here 40 years later, truly.

So, when you were feeding rats to Nick Benedict as Michael Scott, were you ready to leave? (Laughs)

ERIC:  Well, that was a little different story, but I looked at that, and I said, “Are you kidding me?” (Laughs)  Back then, I knew little about what works on soaps … and people still talk about it!  They loved it.

Photo: JPI

The scenes opposite George Kennedy were so emotional … and heavy-duty, too.  It was so sad watching Victor’s father reject him.

ERIC:  It was sad.  It was really, really sad, and George played it wonderfully.  I cannot say enough about that because here is an actor who comes from the outside of our genre.  George lived in Boise. Idaho and he traveled all the way by car to LA with his grandson to do the scenes He wouldn’t take a plane.  George was so damn prepared that we did those scenes in one take!  It’s stunning!  I can’t talk enough about him.  I just so admired and respected him.  George passed away about a year ago, but that’s why I had him in my film, The Man Who Came Back.

Photo: JPI

As a leading man, Victor has had many women in and out of his romantic life for years and of course, his constant, Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott).   You’ve been fortunate to work with so many wonderful actresses such as Eileen Davidson as Ashley.  Which standout to you? 

ERIC:  I have to say obviously Melody, but I have to also say the scenes with Eileen – they meant a lot to me.  I regret that she and I did not have more storylines together.

Photo: CBS

So, the coronavirus is shutting down the world, life in America, and has shut down production on the soaps.  How is everybody dealing with it at the show, and how do you feel it’s being handled?

ERIC:  Well, originally I wanted to continue working, but I said only if everyone was fully supplied with the proper wipes and antiseptics all of the time.  In other words, from the makeup department, from the props department, to someone wiping down all of the handles and all of that, but I completely understand now from a company point of view, they had to shut down because what if you work and someone gets sick because of it… and it goes on and on.  It’s a terrible thing, but I was willing to continue working.  Yes, perhaps stupidly so.  It’s going to be tough when we come back because a lot of work has to be made up, but I understand why we stopped.

What would you say to the fans who have stayed so invested in Victor Newman, and you, even 40 years after your Y&R debut? 

ERIC:  I’ve said it before, and I will happily say it again:  I am deeply grateful to the fans everywhere.  Without them, you and I would not be talking.  That’s really the long and the short of it.  The fans have really everything to do with it.  I’m glad that I am on social media because I am engaged with quite a few people very gladly, and I hear some interesting stories, and some very touching stories.  Y&R has taught me to really not look at that as a sort of nebulous audience.  I put faces behind it because I’ve seen them.  I’ve seen them in the last 30-odd years in public appearances.  I don’t forget them.  I don’t forget what it means to me.  It’s deeply touching.  I’m not at all anesthetized to it, no.  It touches me deeply, and whenever I do a PA, and receive the people’s reactions, I say, “Whoa,” and now I know why I’m in the business.

Courtesy/CBS

In closing, fans have been watching what looks to be another showdown brewing between Victor vs. Adam for control of Newman Enterprises.  Do you think still after all these years; Victor has it in him to out maneuver his black sheep son, as he has done in the past?

ERIC:  Hell, yes.  What do you think?  Bring him on, man.  Bring him on.  Victor’s still full of piss and vinegar.  Okay?  What people don’t know is that I’m a feisty son of a bitch.  I don’t give up.  I fight to the last.  I mean it.

So, what has been your favorite all-time Y&R scenes featuring Eric Braeden? What do you hope happens next for Victor and the Newman clan? What do you think about the sentiments shared throughout our conversation on Eric’s 40th anniversary celebration? Comment below.

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General Hospital

General Hospital’s Johnny Wactor Talks ‘Being Brando Corbin’

This week on General Hospital, viewers saw that Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) has set Port Charles newcomer Brando Corbin (Johnny Wactor) up with a mechanics garage for a place of business, that has left Brando concerned, but also thankful.

Brando came onto the scene when he saved Carly (Laura Wright) from gunfire. The once believed-to-be-dead son of Gladys Corbin (Bonnie Burroughs), has a checkered past, but has been trying to remain on the straight and narrow.  Sonny had previously put into motion protection for teenaged Dev (Ashton Arbab), that he will continue to be passed off as the biological son of Brando to keep him safe.  That, along with a back-story that includes: the Iraqi War, prison time, drug use, PTSD, familial issues, mob wars, and more, has loaded the deck for actor Johnny Wactor to show his acting chops and more within the daytime drama arena.

Since making his debut in the recurring role of Brando back in January of this year, in a short amount of time, Wactor has already displayed that he has solid leading man, and soap anti-hero potential, something that always serves one well amidst the romance, intrigue, and suspense of the genre’s storytelling.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Johnny to get his thoughts on becoming part of the iconic GH and where he hopes Brando’s journey goes from here.  Check out what he had to say below.

Photo: ABC

What do you think about your character’s name being “Brando”? Did GH tell you where the idea for the name came from?

JOHNNY:  Oh, I love it.   No, they didn’t tell me why, but I assume it was in some relation to Marlon Brando; when back in the day he was in a leather jacket … because I come onto the scene wearing a leather jacket as a badass!

What’s your experience been like coming onto a show like GH?  Previously, I know you’ve done a lot of primetime roles and series.  Were you shocked at the pace of shooting a daytime drama?

JOHNNY:  Oh, yeah.  I was made aware of the pace beforehand by my manager, as well as my buddy, Mark Grossman (Adam Newman) who works on The Young and the Restless.  He’s kicking ass over there.  In this genre, you get one rehearsal and one take pretty much, and then, they move on.  It’s definitely been a learning curve, and I’m still getting used to that at times where I’m just like, “Ah, I want one more take!”  I can get a bit obsessive and I’m a perfectionist.  It definitely has been challenging, but I enjoy it.  It’s fun to work at a fast pace.  It’s a lot like working in the theatre.

In story, Johnny is pretending to be Dev’s father.  Did you know that would be part of Brando’s story when you took on this gig?

JOHNNY:  I did not.   I didn’t know that until I read the first script that they sent me.  I’m like, “I also have a son?”   It was a lot to take in, but that’s where the imagination comes in.

What’s great for you, I would think, is that you’re getting to play in scenes with Maurice Benard and Laura Wright and major players who are a part of that core group.  What’s it been like working with them?

JOHNNY:  It’s been a Godsend, really.  Being my first time on a daytime show, for one, anytime you come onto a new project and one that’s been going on for some time, and you’re a newcomer, there’s always that concern like, “What will this set be like?  Is it like a familial atmosphere?  Am I going to be welcomed?”  They’ve made it super easy.  I’m just so lucky that I have people who have so much experience on this show and just daytime shows in general, where they’ve kind of taken me under their wings and are super helpful.  Anytime I have questions, they’re patient.  I’m sure I annoy them sometimes, but they don’t let on to it.   I’m grateful that they’ve sort of “teamed” me up with them to kind of ease me onto the show.

READ MORE
THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS: 50th Anniversary Of Newman Enterprises Gala Brings Retro Clips, Speeches & Icon Eric Braeden

The fans are seeing a spark between Brando and Carly.  Is Brando into Carly?

JOHNNY:  I’d like to say that he rescued her because she was a beautiful blonde, but that’s not what that was and why he did it … even though I’m not denying that she’s a beautiful blonde.  I think there’s something there, but how far Brando pursues that, I don’t know!  Sonny sets Brando up with the garage and a pretty sweet deal at that.  So, does Brando want to screw this up?  However, not everyone makes logical, levelheaded decisions.  We’ll see.  I’m not ruling it out as something that could possibly happen.

How are you playing Brando right now? Is he a good guy … or, are there secret ulterior motives going down that the audience may not know about, yet?

JOHNNY:  In my opinion, he is a guy who has got a good heart.  I don’t think he is infallible.  I think he is someone who is determined to be on the mend and make up for his decisions and his past, because he is someone who has made poor decisions.  I don’t think you can rule him as a good person who will never make a mistake, or won’t get into trouble, or won’t make some bad decisions.  “Does he have ulterior motives?”  Maybe, but I think that if he does, they might be a little unconscious.  I think he is a genuine good guy.

Photo: ABC

Are the fans swooning over you on social media now that you’ve made your GH debut?  When you get the, “Oh, he’s hot,” do you take those compliments well, or, is it uncomfortable for you, and you deflect that?

JOHNNY:  It’s always flattering to get those compliments.  I think when I was younger, like 22, first getting into this business; I was definitely pining for those compliments and put more weight into it.  I will say; it’s always good to have someone say something positive about you.  I will take, “Hey, he’s good-looking.”  I love the comments.  It’s great.

So, what would you love to see happen with Brando?  Is there anything that you’re seeing with your character that you wish you could do …or get to have the opportunity to be able to drive the direction in which he goes in?

JOHNNY:  That’s a great question.  I love when the writers put Brando on the scene and planted some seeds early on when he was revealing a little of his background to Carly.  He reveals he has PTSD and spent time in prison.  Brando also has got issues with drug addiction.  I would love for those to kind of resurface somehow.  Maybe Brando has a relapse and gets back on the sauce, or drugs, or maybe has some kind of other issues with PTSD, because those are the real things in the world that people deal.

Photo: ABC

What’s great about it is that they kind of loaded you up with a back-story that they can fill in, so that as a viewer, you ultimately root for the guy

JOHNNY:  Absolutely.  Yeah, nobody wants to root for the guy who has everything and just has the perfect life.  We’ve all made mistakes.  So, alright, he’s trying to get back on the horse and make a good life for himself.

READ MORE
Award-Winning Playwright and Y&R Alum, Terrence McNally Dies Due To Complications From Coronavirus

Did you get any pointers from GH vet Steve Burton (Jason), who you have also shared several scenes with since coming to GH?

JOHNNY:  The most pointers I’ve gotten from Steve are about preparation for the scenes.  Every time we have scenes together, he’s just always willing to work with you, and make sure that you’re prepared, and he’s prepared, and the scene is going to be the best that it can be.  Also, he’s been really invaluable with giving me more of a crash course on the background of these characters.  This show has been on for decades and it’s tough to get caught up in the short amount of time between when you find out you have the job, and you start filming, to really know who everybody is.  So, he explained to me who Jason is on the show and who the Corinthos family is and what they represent … these are dangerous guys!

Photo: ABC

Take me through what happened when you learned you got the part of Brando, and were joining the cast of General Hospital?

JOHNNY:  I was at my apartment.  I think it was probably two days after I went in for the producer’s session.  They brought in 4 or 5 guys to read in front of the producers, (at least that I saw) and I felt strong about my reading.  Then, I just kind of tried to forget about it after I left so I wouldn’t get all into my head about whether I got the part, or not.  Then the next day, I didn’t get a phone call.  So, I’m like, “Man, really?  I thought that might have been it.”   But the next day, I was with my girlfriend at the time and my agency was calling.  My manager was on the phone as well, and they shared with me that I got the part, and it was exciting.  It was a relief and an affirmation.  It’s always exciting when you book a job and then to book a major recurring role on a show with a character whose name is “Brando Corbin”, needless to say, was really cool.

Photo: ABC

I think it’s very apparent that you have the “It” factor.  You already have a shown a strong presence on the show and have a very bright future ahead of you.   I have seen a lot of actors come and go, and who launch their careers on daytime over the years, and I think you are going to be one to watch for quite some time to come.

JOHNNY:  First of all, thank you so much for saying that.  That’s really kind of you.  It’s really high praise.  Coming from someone who knows that show and who is a fan of it that means I passed the test!  Thank you, Michael!  I really appreciate that affirmation.  It’s good to get validation from someone whose opinion really matters.

Photo; ABC

Could you see a love interest for Brando coming up in the future?

JOHNNY:  I could definitely see a love interest for him coming up.  Maybe multiple love interests!  Who knows?

I think there are a lot of single ladies in Port Charles.

JOHNNY:  Yeah!  But, why do they have to be single?

Right! Or, they could be married!

JOHNNY:  It’s Port Charles!

Photo: ABC

So, have you been enjoying Johnny’s performances as Brando Corbin thus far?  Who do you hope he becomes involved with romantically on GH? Do you want to know more about his back-story and see what happens next now that Sonny has set him up with a garage? Comment below.

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DAYS Eric Martsolf and Stacy Haiduk chat with Michael Fairman at Day of Days 2019; during their conversation the on-screen dup talk about the latest developments of Brady and Kristen within the series time-jump and more. Leave A Comment

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Airdate:3-23-2020

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