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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 »

General Hospital

GH’s Finola Hughes, Marcus Coloma & Josh Swickard Talk On 15,000th Episode Milestone

The juggernaut that is ABC’s General Hospital, is marking yet another accomplishment in its storied 59-year-history.  The iconic soap opera is set to air on Wednesday, June 22nd (unless preempted), its 15,000th episode.

As part of the celebration, General Hospital’s Finola Hughes (Anna Devane), Marcus Coloma (Nikolas Cassadine) and Josh Swickard (Chase), who all appear in the standalone episode, chat with Michael Fairman to mark the occasion.

During the conversation now on You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Finola and Marcus, and later Josh, who logged on later while at Disneyland, discuss: their beginnings on GH from landing their respective roles, who in the cast perhaps most intimated them, at first, and what it has meant to be part of the legacy of General Hospital.  In addition, Finola, Marcus, and Josh reveal some of their more challenging storylines, and more.

Photo: ABC

Later, the trio each gives us a tease of what’s to come now that Nikolas has slept with Esme (Avery Pohl), what lies ahead for Anna and her love-interest Valentin (James Patrick Stuart), and Josh talks on working with his on-screen love-interest, Amanda Setton (Brook Lynn Quartermaine).

Watch for a special appearance by GH’s Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos) within the interview, as we do a deep-dive of being part of the ensemble cast.

We also take a moment to send out our condolences to Kristina (Felicia) and Jack Wagner (Ex-Frisco) on the passing of their son, Harrison, and how you can donate to the scholarship fund in his honor.

Check out our GH 15K interview with Finola, Marcus, and Josh below, and make sure to ‘subscribe’ to the Michael Fairman Channel for more upcoming features, interviews, and upcoming Daytime Emmy red carpet coverage.

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Interviews

Sean Kanan Talks On The New Season of His Streaming Series ‘Studio City’ and The Life and Times of B&B’s Deacon Sharpe

The second season of the Emmy-Award winning, digital streaming series, Studio City is now available on Amazon Prime. The six latest episodes bring us back into the series of an aging actor, Sam Stevens, played by soap vet, Sean Kanan, who is one of the stars of the soap opera, Hearts on Fire, in the role of Dr. Pierce Hartley.

Throughout Studio City, viewers go on the journey of Sam’s foibles through life off-camera juxtaposed with his life on-screen. A sundry of delicious characters enhances the premise of the series portrayed by the likes of: Carolyn Hennesy, Anna Maria Horsford, Justin Torkildsen, Lilly Melgar, Tristan Rogers and more, all names familiar to soap fans.

While Sean is busy promoting the latest season of Studio City, and his book Way of the Cobra, he is also continuing to appear on The Bold and the Beautiful as bad boy – trying to straighten out his life after years in prison – Deacon Sharpe.  Since his return last year, Sean has been mixing it up in stories with the likes of Kimberlin Brown (Sheila) and Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke).

 

In this chat with Michael Fairman TV, Sean weighs-in on: what could be next for B&B’s Deacon, the struggles and the joys of continuing his streaming series, and the homage Studio City is to the soap genre and much more. Check out what he had to share below.

Courtesy/StudioCity

How challenging was it to shoot this season of Studio City?

SEAN:  When we do this thing on a shoestring, everything needs to fall into place in order for it to happen properly.  We know that everybody involved with the show was going to potentially get other projects, or do other things   One of the biggest issues we have, is that a lot of times, we didn’t know what locations we had because Studio City is the real world, and then it’s the show within a show (Hearts on Fire).  So, with the show within a show, those actors aren’t in the ‘real world’. For instance, Tristan Rogers (Doc), is only in the ‘real word’, so, if we have a location that isn’t for the ‘real world’, we can’t shoot Tristan because he doesn’t exist there.  We would have to literally decide what we were writing (sometimes the night before) based on the locations we could get.  It was just an enormous challenge.

Sarah Brown (Laurie) was not a part of the newest six episodes as well as some others cast members. Will she and others be back at some point?

SEAN:  Sarah was directing a podcast, and we kind of had to look at who was available to us, and what stories we needed to tie-up, and hopefully we are going to wind up doing another five episodes to finish up this season.  Then, hopefully we are able to get the actors who weren’t able to do the first six to come back and do the second five.

What I liked about the new six episodes is that I thought you built-in some really solid scenes for the actors.  How did you feel about the outcome?

SEAN:  We make the best show that we can make with the resources and time that we have.  I was glad that we got to develop the story a little more with Delilah (Juliet Vega), Sam’s would-be-daughter.  We always try to do something that’s socially responsive, and diversity is certainly and important issue in Hollywood, without a doubt, but I also think that you need to see the comedic side of everything.  I thought there was some really funny stuff about that with Sam doing the podcast and the scene with Anna Maria Horsford (Jolene) and Will Roberts (Dennis), where she comes in, and she’s like, “The production is too white.”  I thought that was some funny stuff there.  I loved the monologue my wife, Michele, wrote for Carolyn Hennesy (Gloria) about the soaps – that thing about how all of the soaps are dead, and Carolyn just railed in support of the soaps, about the soaps being this dependable thing.  For a lot of people, soaps are their point of emotional contact.

Photo: StudioCity

I talk to fans all of the time and for many times soaps are their lifeline.  Your character, Sam, lands a part in action-adventure film and screws that all up while on set. Where did that plot point come from?

SEAN: It came from a couple different places.  I think that there is not a male actor alive, who some part of him doesn’t harken back to when he was a little boy and doesn’t want to be an action star.  I think the funny thing about it is, of course, Sam is right on the precipice of being over the hill for it, and he’s not going to let that stop him.  Natalie Burn (Shelby Brock) is a legit action star.  She’s a terrific martial artist.  Our director, Timothy Woodward Jr. has done some action movies.  So, we sort of said, “Okay, we’ve set this thing up where Sam wants to get this film.  Let’s give him the film and have him struggle abysmally.”  Marching orders for Studio City are always to keep as much mishigas on Sam’s shoulders as we can.  You never want to see the lead of your show succeeding wildly because that diffuses all of the conflict.  I do think I’ve had some really great dramatic stuff.  I really liked the scenes that I had with Delilah in the sixth episode, and I loved the stuff with Tristan, and I loved the stuff with Lilly Melgar (Becky).  I thought it was really funny.  Lilly killed it and so did Justin Torkildsen (Jacob).  I thought Justin was great.

Courtesy/StudioCity

I thought when you utilized on-camera testimonials from the cast and the EP, that was really a hilarious piece to add to the story.

SEAN:  That was great.  I’d love to take credit for that, but it was Tim’s idea, and it was a really great idea from a production standpoint, because you can do one of two things.  You can either do a whole show where you’re using those, or you can chop them up and use them throughout different shows. From a production standpoint, we had to build some things into the show to insert those when we needed.

Courtesy/StudioCity

You also cast celebrity publicist, Anthony Turk, as a network executive in the series.

SEAN:  Yes. Way back when I created Studio City, there was a part for a publicist, and I had talked to Anthony about doing it.  We had eliminated the publicist part until Lilly became the publicist; which ended up in a completely different plot point.  I always knew I wanted to put Anthony in the series, because I think he’s a good actor. I was like, “You know, I didn’t write this part for you, but I think you can do it,” and I was really happy with how he did it.

 

Courtesy/StudioCity

I also liked the scene with Anna Maria Horsford’s Jolene where she tells Sam to keep his mouth shut while he is working on set. 

SEAN:  She is so fabulous.  I love that woman.  She is such a talent, and I was so happy when she got nominated for a Daytime Emmy last year.  I have such an affection for everybody on our show, because they really put their heart and soul in it, and it just means so much that they show up, and they support, and they do great work.

What I noticed is that the way Timothy Woodward Jr. captures you as an actor.  There is so much going on in the reaction in your eyes of what is happening to Sam.  He realizes the, “Oh, my God,” of each situation as he realizes what he just stepped into, or he finds the humor in it, or when he lets out his frustration, as he did with his daughter in the sixth episode.

SEAN:  That was one of my favorite scenes.  I wrote that one.   It was great because it’s my real-life stepdaughter, and I thought she really stepped up, and I was so proud of her.

For the first time in the realignment by the television academies, Studio City will now be competing at the Primetime Emmys instead of the Daytime Emmys, if the series receives nominations.  How do you feel about that?

SEAN: We are really excited to be competing with the big dogs now at the Primetime Emmys, and rather than being intimidated by it, we are saying, “This is the universe opening up and saying, ‘this is what you need to do,’ and so let’s embrace it.”  It’s going to be exciting.  In my 35 years in the business, I’ve never been to the Primetime Emmys.  So, we shall see.

Photo: StudioCity

Justin Torkildsen’s role greatly expanded this season.  In story, do you see Jacob attempting to thwart his Aunt Gloria and take control of Hearts on Fire as the EP? 

SEAN:  I don’t know if the goal is for him to take over for Gloria.  It certainly was a lot of fun to see what happened when he got just a little taste of power.  He’s got his own agenda, and I also love that he wants the love from his Aunt Gloria.  He’s not just a young guy trying to ascend the power ladder of the show.  He really does want his aunt to be proud of him and to love him, and she’s a tough nut to crack.

There was scene after the network executive tells Gloria, “You’re out, if you don’t fix the show.”  Doesn’t Jacob gloat in it for a minute?  Doesn’t he want payback for how she treats him?

SEAN:  I don’t know if he does.  I think he certainly does like to see when Gloria gets her little comeuppances, but when push comes to shove, I think he’s really got her back, I do.  Justin is so naturally funny.  He’s a great guy to have on set.  He’s got a great attitude, and he’s a very good actor.  I was really struck by a moment in season one where he’s coming up the stairs, and he had this abject fear of interrupting Gloria, and Justin didn’t have any lines.  He just played it beautifully with no dialogue.  I was like, “We’ve got to give Justin more to do,” and for me, it was nostalgic to work with him again because the very first scene I had on The Bold and the Beautiful was with Justin.

Photo: JPI

What can you say about Carolyn Hennesy; who often is the quintessential scene-stealer in Studio City when she appears on-screen?  Does she go with the script or ad-lib parts of the dialog?

SEAN:  She’s a gorgeous, red-haired, flaming beast.  She definitely did some wonderful ad-libbing to elevate what was on the page, and she made it her own, and that’s one of the things that I love the most about her.  I love that I can write a 20-page scene and give it to, for example, Tristan Rogers, 20 minutes before and know that he’s going to nail it.  That’s one of the things that I love about working with Daytime actors.   Say what you want, but when the chips are down, and your back is against the wall, a Daytime actor is going to be the one who can take the dialogue, digest it quickly, and give you a good performance.  With the way that we are run and gun in our style of shooting, you have to move really quickly.  I’ve worked on a lot of films, and with people who are recognizable in the business, and sometimes they get overwhelmed when they have more than a couple of pages in a day … and you know what we do in Daytime.

Courtesy/StudioCity

When you were writing the new season with Michele and Tim, was it laid out pretty definitively, or did it evolve?

SEAN:  We laid out some large arcs.  We knew the storyline that we wanted to do with Natalie and with Will.  Natalie, actually joined us as a co-executive producer.  She is Ukrainian and has family there.  So, she had a lot going on.  I just feel like she really stepped up.  She really helped the production both as an actress and as a Co-EP, and we were very fortunate to have her, and have her at a time when it would be completely understandable when her ability to even act would have been compromised, yet alone have the facility to Co-EP.  In addition, we knew we wanted to deepen the relationship between Sam and Delilah.  We had a different idea with what we wanted to do with Doc, and we wound up doing something another way than what we had originally discussed.  Sometimes, you have to make these decisions that are sort of production-based and you have to alter storyline.  Of course, we knew we wanted to continue to create the storyline that like a lot of soaps, Hearts on Fire was potentially on the chopping block.  At the same time, we really wanted to illustrate that the soaps are full of people who are talented, gifted actors, who love what they do, they work really hard, and they don’t always get the respect that they deserve.

Courtesy/StudioCity

It looks like Doc might be having a change of heart?  Will he begin chemo to save his life?

SEAN:  That’s what we are thinking, and we are hoping to bring Patrika Darbo back in, and finding out where she’s been and having some really nice scenes between, she and Doc.  I think things are going to develop between Dennis, who is the producer, and my character, Sam, and we are going to learn that all has not been revealed of who Dennis really is.

Courtesy/StudioCity

What did you think when you saw your performances in the latest six of Studio City?

SEAN:  I’m always super critical of myself.  I like the stuff with the podcast because I thought it was really organic, and I thought it was funny.  I loved the stuff with Lilly.  I always see things that I could fix and do better, but I also saw stuff that I liked, and I really liked a lot of what was going on with Juliet.  We had another take where Sam really breaks down, and unfortunately, we had a sound problem with that one, and we couldn’t use it.  That was really crushing to me, but again, you make the show that you can make. Michele and I always joke and say, “Making a 50-million-dollar movie is easy.  You want to really produce something?  Produce it when you have no money.”

Photo: JPI

What did your wife, Michele, say about how she thought the latest season of Studio City turned out? 

SEAN:  I do have to say that Michelle really stepped up this season of Studio City.  She ran the show.  She is an executive producer, but she was also the supervising producer, in charge, responsible for crewing up.  She amazes me to no end.  I couldn’t be prouder of her, and I’m so honored that she and I were able to both win out at the Daytime Emmys.  We have very different skillsets, which is great.  There are not a lot of areas where we overlap, but we compliment, and that’s why I love working with her.

Photo: JPI

You are also busy with The Bold and the Beautiful.  How has this most recent return been for you as Deacon Sharpe?

SEAN:  Oh, my God, it’s been fantastic.  The Bold and the Beautiful consistently ranks as one of the best professional experiences that I have ever had.  I love the people I work with.  I love the creative freedom that I have on the show.  I love what they write for me.  It’s just great.  Listen, I’ve done four Daytime shows, and by far and away, this has been the best experience.   It’s a great role.  I’m the only guy who has ever played Deacon, so I’m fiercely protective of the character.  I know I’m coming into a really big storyline right now, which is very exciting.  I can’t say anything about it yet, but I’m going to be working with a character who I haven’t worked with very much before, which is very exciting.

Photo: JPI

What did you think about Kimberlin Brown receiving an Outstanding Supporting Actress Daytime Emmy nomination? I believe you are in some of her submitted scenes.

SEAN:  I think it’s incredibly well-deserved. She just brought so much to it, and I’m just honored that I was able to be a part of what she did.

People are saying you’re going to get all wrapped-up in the Li (Naomi Matsuda) Sheila, and Finn (Tanner Novlan) storyline.

SEAN:  Well, I guess I already am to a certain extent.  I like to think that in his infinite wisdom, Brad Bell (head writer and executive producer, B&B) knew that Kimberlin and I would find humor in an eccentric relationship; rather than just being two kinds of ‘baddies’.  Deacon is not nearly as bad as Sheila, but rather than be two people with somewhat aligned wants and needs, I think hopefully Brad was like, “I think they’re going to come up with something interesting,” and I think we did.   The fight that Deacon had with Ridge (Thorsten Kaye), that is not something that you see on Daytime all the time.  That was really exciting and fun.

Photo: JPI

I love that Deacon’s home-away-from-home is the supply closet!

SEAN:  I was teasing Brad.  I said, “If I get a raise, do I get a Swiffer?”  I love it.  In terms of Sheila and Deacon, I didn’t know if we were going to wind up in the sack together or not, and I thought, you know, if that happens, that would be interesting, too.  By my calculations, Deacon has now been out of jail for how long, and he has not gotten any action.  No action for a guy who just got out of prison for 5 years.  So, I don’t know what’s going on in that broom closet. (Laughs)

What was it like working with Katherine Kelly Lang during the whole ‘New Year’s Eve drunken night with Brooke’ story?

SEAN:  You know, Kelly and I really were able to capture lightening in a bottle many years ago, and I think it was wonderful.  I always wondered, what was going to happen all this time later if we worked together again?  Are we going to be able to come up with something great?  I love working with her.  Poor Kelly, just broke her ankle, which is terrible, but she is a champ.

Photo: JPI

Do you think there is still chemistry between Brooke and Deacon?

SEAN:  Yeah, I do.  I try to create chemistry with anyone I work with, men or women, but don’t we do that in life?  We always want to be interesting and sexy with anyone we talk to.  Ultimately, what we are trying to do on some level, is we are always seducing as human beings.  That’s where I come from as an actor.  You’ve got a goal.  You’ve got a series of actions that you use to get the goal.  You usually fail a couple times in the scene, so you change the actions, and you try to overcome the obstacles.

Right, and seduce people …

SEAN: … And seduce.  Deacon is a very adept seducer.  I think a lot of it was from being a conman.  I think now, Deacon is finding that he can be seductive by being authentic.  I think that’s new to him.  I think ultimately, when you’re authentic, that’s a way more powerful brand of seduction than something that is some sort of a manufactured, fabricated, external seduction.

Photo: JPI

So, what would say in a tease of what’s coming up for Deacon on B&B?

SEAN:  All I can say is that I’ve been told that I’ll have an exciting story coming up, and I’m looking forward to it.  I always like when I get the ball, and you never know what another actor is going to bring out of you.  Whenever I work with someone who I haven’t worked with, I hope that they are going to allow me to tap into a part of myself that maybe I haven’t demonstrated before.  That’s what I look for, and that’s what keeps me enthused in this job.  We do have to give the same information a lot in Daytime.  That’s just the nature of the beast.  The challenge is, “How do I do this in a way that is not only interesting for the audience but allows me to stay engaged as an actor?”  If you start getting apathetic as an actor, you start doing bad work, and I can’t do that.

Have you checked out the latest six episodes of Studio City? What do you hope happens next for Deacon on The Bold and the Beautiful? Share your thoughts and theories in the comment section below.

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General Hospital

General Hospital’s Nancy Lee Grahn Chats On Her Daytime Emmy-Nominated Performance and Its Significance

When the nominations were revealed for the 49th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, General Hospital mainstay, Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis Davis), was recognized for her stunning work in the Alexis-centric standalone episode which honored her 25th anniversary with the ABC daytime drama series.

Grahn, is already a two-time Daytime Emmy winner.  She won back in 1989 in a tie for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her work as Julia Wainwright on Santa Barbara along with All My Children’s Debbi Morgan, and again received the honors in that category in 2012 for her work on General Hospital.

Now. she is vying for the gold in 2022 in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category against other formidable actresses including: B&B’s Kimberlin Brown, DAYS Stacy Haiduk, Y&R’s Melissa Ordway, and her GH castmate, Kelly Thiebaud.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Nancy to talk about her decision to enter the Emmy race this year, her powerful and moving scenes, why this nomination is significant and important to her, and her take on some very important social issues of our time.

Always candid, insightful, combined with great humor and wit, here’s what Nancy had to share below, and make sure to check out GH this week when sparks fly between Alexis and Gregory (Gregory Harrison). Will he turn out to be the new beau in Alexis’ life? Stay tuned.

Courtesy/ABC

Congratulations on the Emmy nomination.  How do you feel about being in the running again, especially with the material from your 25th anniversary episode?

NANCY:  You know, I don’t submit myself if I don’t think I have something, and I didn’t last year.  This year, I had the one show, and the first reason I submitted myself was I had the episode that was worthy of the competition. These judges have to sit, and watch this stuff, and very often, it’s hard to watch soap opera scenes.  It really is, unless you’re in it.  It’s a different kind of material that most primetime people aren’t used to watching.  So, it’s tricky business.  I don’t want to put them through anything too awful. I don’t want to torture them and I’ve judged before. It can be a bit tedious. So, for me to submit myself, I thought, it has to be something that isn’t going to torture another human being. The second thing is, older women get marginalized the older they get, and they get diminished very often, and every time we get nominated, it means something different to me.  This time, to me, I want it to somehow be symbolic, or a shoutout to women who are still producing, who have been doing their job for a long time and are still doing it good enough, and that it’s still worthy of respect and recognition.

When we were at the GH Convention back in March, I played the scene on-stage for the fans in attendance of when Alexis goes over to the corner of Kevin’s office and heals her younger self.  You saw the reaction just from the fans.  It’s such a beautiful moment within the story.  What did you think about how the standalone episode was crafted?

NANCY:  It was a different experience for me because GH co-head writers Chris Van Etten and Dan O’Connor, and script writer, Scott Sickles gave it the attention, but even more to that, they allowed me to participate in the creation of it.  They allowed the director, Phideaux Xavier, to participate.  We all sat in a room.  They said, “You know what?  Make it how you’re comfortable with it.”  There were so many people who gave it time and effort, and Phideaux gets a lot of credit because he came up with a lot of ideas.  So, the little girl in the therapy room wasn’t initially a part of it.  That was Phideaux’s idea, and they let us alter things, and they allowed me to write some words that meant something to me with the character.  Our producers, Michelle Henry and M.K Weir, who I both adore, were also a part of this.

Courtesy/ABC

That is great to hear that you were involved in the collaborative process of the creation of the episode.

NANCY:  We read through the whole script, and we worked it like you would on primetime. We went through it like, “Does this moment work?  Does that moment work?  Does this make sense?  Does that make sense?”  We never do that in soaps.  We don’t get to that.  So, it was a gift to me.  It really was. Chris and Dan, and Scott and Phideaux, and the two producers, generosity in gifting me that experience and making sure that it was to everybody’s liking, was really very special to me, and it meant a lot.

Did you come up with the key lines which summarized Alexis as a person and her journey: “I’m Alexis Davis, and I’m a fighter, and an idealist and an advocate?”

NANCY:  No. They designed it, but we were allowed to enhance and contribute creatively to it, and, we don’t normally have the time to do that.  They don’t have the time to – and you can’t allow people to do that with every episode, to be creatively participating, because it would turn into madness with everybody.

Then, when it came down to choosing the scenes from your anniversary episode to include for your Emmy submission, was that a challenging process of which moments to go with?

NANCY:  I just told a little story with it with the time that I had, and so, I edited it with a friend of mine.  I did a sort of pre-edit on it, I’m good at that, and handed the timeline to our editor, who nicely put it together. It took very little effort.

In my humble opinion, I think that episode featured one of your all-time best performances.

NANCY: Thank you. There was a nice effort from everybody, from the lighting to everybody else, and all the effort Phideaux put into it.  He worked so hard on that!  It was fun for us.  It was like the old days where you really got to work something out.

Photo: ABC

It truly harkened back to everything we knew up to that point about Alexis and her past as well, and included a montage of scenes over the years.

NANCY:  I think it was M.K. who put that together, but when you’re working at the pace we’re working now, to have to sit and put together a montage of twenty-five years, that’s not an easy feat.  Nobody has time for that anymore, but they did it, and like I said, it was really, really appreciated.  My only thought with it is that I wanted it to be relatable to other people.  I didn’t want it to just be some, you know, self-indulgent Alexis episode. I knew that by bringing in the little girl and talking about people being hurt in their childhood and how that makes somebody feel that it was probably relatable to many people, and so it became meaningful to other people and not just me.

Do you think you’ll attend the Daytime Emmys? I know the last time you won you were not present.

NANCY:  Yeah, I’m planning on it.  I mean, barring anything happening! (Laughs)

Does it feel nice to be recognized by your peers?

NANCY:  Of course, it does.  It always does, and way too often, women who are still producing well in their jobs, don’t get the respect and the acknowledgment for it.  So, that’s why I’m saying, this is no small thing, and that I want other women to know that I know that, and that I wish for them the same thing.

What was the reaction of your daughter, Kate and your fiancé, Richard, when you told them you were Emmy-nominated?

NANCY:  Richie goes, “What is this?  Your 18th nomination?” (Laughs). You know what I mean?  It was just kind of like, “Yeah, sure, why wouldn’t you be?” It wasn’t like, “Oh, my God!”  It was like they kind of expected that.  That was nice!  I’m glad they feel that way.  I’m glad they weren’t surprised.  They were like, “Sure!  Of course, you would be.  Why wouldn’t you be?”  I said, “You know, it doesn’t always work like that!”

Photo: JPI

Now comes the part of having to find a dress and all that goes with it for the red carpet.  Do you enjoy that part?

NANCY:  No, I hate that part.  That is my… oh ‘boohoo’, you know?  I mean, I have to find something to wear.  Also, the older you get, that becomes so much less important, and the more makeup, and the more hair, and the more foofy, the more ridiculous I look. I start looking like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.  You’ve just got to keep it simple.

You were talking about women and ageism.  Do you not feel that also exists for men?

NANCY:  It exists for men, but it’s not at all on the same par as women.  I mean, men still get paid more than women, and men still are valued more than women.  I mean, there are exceptions, but if you look in any place of employment, even the soaps, you will typically find the men making more money than the women, and the older the women get, the less they get.  Life’s not fair right now.  It’s fairer than it was, but still the equality game is not won yet.

Photo: JPI

I know how much all of this means to you in terms of equality for women, and people being run out of their jobs because of their age.

NANCY:  It’s just a reality.  It’s not something that I’m hopeless about, but I have a story to tell.  I’ll tell it when the time is right.  It’s life!  It happens in every field everywhere.  When my mom was 70, she was still producing the exact same way she was producing when she was 30, and she got run out, and was replaced by a man who was 40 or something, and there was no particular reason for it.  It was just, “You’re done.  We decided you’re done,” but like I said, it happens everywhere, in every line of work, and that’s why I just wanted to give a shout-out, when you still, after 36 years, can be recognized or shown respect or acknowledgment for what your do.  It’s a very big deal that I am appreciative of and grateful for.

So, rooting for Nancy to win the Outstanding Supporting Actress prize? Happy she was nominated for her work in the the milestone episode devoted to Alexis? Share your thoughts in the comment section below, and to tune-in to the 49th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on CBS and streaming on Paramount+ on Friday night, June 24th.

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Cameron Mathison talks with Michael Fairman on taking on the role of GH’s Drew Cain, the latest developments in Port Charles for Drew. his busy career outside of soaps and the loss of his mother and his public battle with cancer.Leave A Comment
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Cynthia Watros as Nina

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Airdate: 6-3-2022

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