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THE CHRISTIAN LEBLANC INTERVIEW – DAYTIME EMMY NOMINEE

On The Young and the Restless, Christian LeBlanc may be the most respected actor from the A-class acting troupe, who day in and day out, brings us the lives of the characters in Genoa City.

Last week, Christian received another Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, something many were certain he was a lock for. Now he looks to be one of the front-runner’s for the prize. Winning is no stranger to Christian, having walked off with the top prize at the Daytime Emmys both in 2005 and 2007. Will the man who plays the complex Michael Baldwin take home his third when the ceremonies are held in Los Angeles on August 30th? I chatted with Christian to get his thoughts.

christianMain.jpgMICHAEL:

So, here we are again, Mr. Emmy Nominee! My guess is that you submitted the Christmas episode where Michael does his take on “It’s a Wonderful Life” story. Am I correct?

CHRISTIAN:

Yes, I did. I had to be talked into it, because of the length. I loved it, but since the competition went to submitting only one show, it was going to stick out as being long. Then I talked to Thaao Penghlis (Ex-Tony, “DAYS”) and he said he submitted a 27-minute show. I said, “Thaao, I am not so shy anymore.” It was a perfect show. Everyone in it is amazing and they made me look good. It was hard to put together, and not just for me, but everybody who worked so hard on it.

MICHAEL:

I loved that on CBS.com, they had an online special with you commenting and doing the narrative as the scenes unfolded, giving the user and the fans an inside look at the making of this amazing episode, and your take on the performances.

wonderfulLife.jpgCHRISTIAN:

I never heard my narrative, and they told me it came out really good. But truly, that was the first time I had seen the episode back. It was fascinating!

MICHAEL:

Why did you choose this show for competition? Did you know that this was the one?

CHRISTIAN:

I was convinced I put up my best work. That is the only thing you can be sure of in yourself. I looked and looked, and I did put the work in. If you are going to play the game, do your homework! I put my actor reel together as I go, because it helps me look back. I put things on it that I like. I tried not to put the Christmas episode in, but it just came back to being the best thing.

MICHAEL:

It was a true ‘tour de force’… a clear, stand-alone performance! Was that written as your Emmy show?

CHRISTIAN:

That doesn’t happen on our show. You will hear that a lot on set, “Emmy time”. Sometime some shows lend themselves to submitting something, and granted I had Ted Shackleford (Jeffrey) in my Emmy reel last year, and it was the whole show of me ranting at Ted in a wheelchair! I think people, as a compliment, say things like, “There is your Emmy reel!” I don’t know if the writers go about that or say, “Let’s give him his moment in the sun,” kind of thing. I think when you have the special combination of wonderful writing, and that I loved the original movie “It’s a wonderful Life”, it worked well. I think it was a happy medium.

MICHAEL:

It was your show, but there were some pretty incredible moments from your cast mates, as well.

CHRISTIAN:

I thought it was an amazing show, but I thought the writing was seamless and they should have put it up for Best Show. I thought everyone was on their best behavior because the actors really got to do a lot of character work, and they were excited. I looked good because everybody else was good, and the writing was amazing! I’ve got to tell you that when you walk in on those characters, those were done in one take. Not many people could have pulled that off, except daytime people.

door.jpgMICHAEL:

You had discussed this in previous interviews, and if I recall, the scenes were shot out of order and done in one day.

CHRISTIAN:

Yes. For instance, I had to open the front door to the Lauren scenes and had to do the scene outside the door where the magic happens, then wait to get through the door several scenes later. So, you had to recapture the moment of finding Lauren and seeing that she was there after she has slammed the door in my face at the very end. That’s like film work every day. I got the benefit from it, and it got me the nomination.

MICHAEL:

Were you shocked, as so many were that perennial powerhouse “Y&R” did not get Emmy nominations in Show, Writing or Directing?

CHRISTIAN:

I am surprised we are not up for Best Show, but so much is relied upon what you submitted. It’s so subjective, and I am under no illusion that I am the overall best leading actor, EVER! Damn it! (He laughs) Look, it’s an honor, but it’s an honor we give to daytime in general because the Emmys are a business proposition. We want to get people to watch by showing them what our best could possibly be.

tracyChristian.jpgMICHAEL:

Where were you when you found out you were nominated?

CHRISTIAN:

I was at my computer, and a friend of mine called from New Orleans going, “Aren’t they today?” I truly did not know this was the day, because it had become so confusing when it was going to be.
So, I was at my computer, and Tracey Bregman (Lauren) called me. Tracy is always the one who knows. She has her finger on the pulse of everything, and it’s always good when your hot TV wife calls you first.

MICHAEL:

Are you familiar with the other actor’s work in your category?

CHRISTIAN:

Those are really great people. Thorsten Kaye (Zach, “AMC”) I respect. Every time you say “Thorsten Kaye” to anyone, especially the girls, they go and repeat, “Thorsten Kaye.” It’s so upsetting! Tony Geary (Luke, “GH”)… I always know he is going to have phenomenonal work, and Peter Reckell I don’t know. I have never met him. Bo and Hope are legendary and iconic for “DAYS”… and Daniel Cosgrove (Bill, “GL”) is excellent, too. I haven’t handicapped it yet, but Tracey would know!

MICHAEL:

So, it looks like you have a great shot at the prize!

CHRISTIAN:

You want to be the one, even if you lose where they go, “You were robbed. Why didn’t you win?”

dressUp.jpgMICHAEL:

I thought it was an interesting twist to use the Christmas episode dream, or ‘time out of time’ shows to refer back to when Kevin was in a straightjacket for his latest dilemma. He was in a straight-jacket in the same room with a padded cell in Michael’s dream. Did you think they were going to use that, moving forward for story?

CHRISTIAN:

I didn’t think so. I was not told. I had no idea they would reference the dream. I did not even know I would comment on having it. I started referencing it, which I like, and I liked they used it later on. I thought it was brilliant. There was no indication that they were going to renew Kevin’s father issues in such a big way, with the Marge kidnapping. That was a
pleasant surprise, and what Maria has been
doing is tying in old storylines and making
it relevant to what is going on the show now,
and it’s terrific.

MICHAEL:

Are you going to pick out something to wear for the big event on August 30th?

CHRISTIAN:

From the floor you mean? (He laughs) Joseph Abboud measured me himself for my tux, and I am not giving that one up that easy. It’s a recession, my friend. Maybe I will be on the red carpet with my lunchbox and bring it to the banquet!

MICHAEL:

What did you think about the Emmy broadcast finally landing a home on the CW?

christianNaked.jpgCHRISTIAN:

We can’t afford to be lazy or run lax. I think at NATAS and ATAS no one can afford to feud. Maybe the CW is where we need to be. We need to entertain the people and we need the ratings up. I don’t think that is an impossibility. The audiences are shrinking, and that happens because they don’t see what they want to see. I don’t think it’s about dummying things down. I think it’s about stepping up and being more intelligent and not less. Despite what some may think, the audience does not want to be talked down to. There is a place for daytime. What there is not a place for here are people sitting on their laurels or being complacent. It’s a business, baby! We have to find a way to fill the seats and we will find the answer. And, it’s about a good story!

Days Of Our Lives

Stephen Schnetzer Talks On His Return to Days of our Lives and Working with Susan Seaforth Hayes In Emotional Episodes

Who says you can’t go home again? In the case of Another World favorite, Stephen Schnetzer (ex-Cass Winthrop), he has proven that it is true, and you can go back to your soap roots and where it all started for you.

Last week on April 11th, Schnetzer, along with several other key returns were on set at Days of our Lives taping all-new episodes of the Peacock streaming soap opera, centering on the funeral of Doug Williams (the late Bill Hayes), and as part of the iconic soap opera’s 15,000th episode.

Stephen is reprising his first daytime role as Steve Olson, the brother of Julie Williams (Susan Seaforth Hayes). The last time Schnetzer appeared on a DAYS set was during his one and only run on the show from 1978 to 1980. Clearly, viewers will be in for some very emotional scenes when Steve returns to Salem to be there for his sister, Julie in her time of need. In real-life, Susan has been going through her own grief, having just lost Bill back on January 12th at the age of 98.

Photo: NBC

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Stephen during the 15K episode celebration ceremony, and during a break from taping the gut-wrenching funeral scenes, to get his thoughts on being part of these highly-anticipated moments that will air later this year in December. Here’s what he shared with us below.

What has this been like for you to work with Susan Seaforth Hayes after all of these years?

STEPHEN: She’s a dream and she’s so bright. We ran lines yesterday and we ended up just visiting for about 45 minutes and just catching up and telling tales about each other’s career. She even dropped off the autobiography that she and Bill did. And being back here at DAYS, every time I turn a corner, there’s another familiar face. When I was on the show 40 more years ago, a bunch of the guys, played softball on a team together. This is really a trip down memory lane as I knew it would be.

Photo: JPI

Taping Doug’s funeral must be a hard day for Susan. Are you checking in with her to help hold her up through this?

STEPHEN: I am and I’m checking in with Amy Shaughnessy (Susan’s assistant), and she’s holding her up more than anybody. We’re there for each other.

There will obviously be some major hankie-inducing moments when Steve comes back to Salem to console his sister.

STEPHEN: Oh, wait till you see it in December. It’s going to be great.

Were you surprised you got this call to come back to the show decades later?

STEPHEN: It was out of the blue! I was completely surprised. They should have called me decades ago! That’s what surprised me. When Another World went down, I thought I’d land somewhere else and it never happened. That was more of a surprise.

Photo: JPI

Cass is such an identifiable character for you. As well, you and Linda Dano (ex-Felicia Gallant) are so synonymous together as best friends Cass and Felicia from Another World. When fans heard you were reprising your role as Steve Olson on DAYS, they are now hoping there will be more of you on the show to come.

STEPHEN: Steven Olson is a real “Cassian “character. I cut my teeth on Steve Olson and that’s how Cass was introduced. He was kind of a roguish charmer. And then when the character stuck for Another World, they rehabilitated me, and turned me into one of the shows heroes. And that’s what would’ve happened if I stayed as Steve Olson probably. So, Steve is the ‘pre-Cass’, Cass.

Photo: JPI

As the story goes, you originally decided to leave Days of our Lives?

STEPHEN: I was never on contract. I was doing a day and a half a week and I got a Broadway play directed by Franco Zeffirelli starring Joan Plowright and Frank Finlay. I was able to it as I didn’t have to break a contract or anything. I cut loose and went back to New York for that.

How well did you get to know Bill Hayes during your first time around on DAYS?

STEPHEN: My first episode was with Bill and Susan, as her long lost brother coming into Salem. They were so good to me. They were so kind. I had been doing eight years of classical repertory theater, never been in front of a camera. I tell everybody, it took me longer than any other actor I’ve ever seen to get comfortable in front of a camera. And they were very supportive at that time in my career. Coming back to honor Bill now in 2024, and to be see Susan, I am just so happy to be here.

Looking forward to seeing the scenes between Stephen and Susan Seaforth Hayes come December and Doug’s funeral and surrounding episodes? Do you hope that DAYS might bring the character of Steve Olson back for a longer stay? Comment below.

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Days Of Our Lives

Matthew Ashford and Melissa Reeves Talk Return to DAYS for Doug’s Funeral, Susan Seaforth Hayes, and Their Enduring Friendship

Last week, Days of our Lives celebrated the taping of their 15,000th episode which is tentatively scheduled to air on December 3rd. The story will feature emotional and heart-tugging scenes of Doug Williams funeral and honor his portrayer, the beloved Bill Hayes, who passed away on January 12th at the age of 98.

While the actors, producers, and crew took a lunch time break to pose for some pictures and speak with the press, they knew they would have to get back to taping the funeral, which was going to make it a tough day, but also cathartic for all who loved Bill Hayes.

Several returns have thus far been announced including; Melissa Reeves reprising her signature role of Jennifer Horton (a part she first played in 1985), and Matthew Ashford as Jack Deveraux. Reeves had last appeared on the show back in 2021, and she was replaced by Emmy-winner Cady McClain in her absence when Jennifer was in storylines. In real-life, Melissa had moved full-time to Tennessee along with her husband, Scott Reeves (ex-DAYS, GH, Y&R). Now, and as previously reported, Reeves will first appear back on DAYS for the Thanksgiving episodes with the Hortons.

Photo: JPI

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Matt and Melissa during the 15,000th episode celebration to get their take on: being back for these special episodes, how it has been working with and watching Susan Seaforth Hayes portray Julie’s grief over losing Doug, and how they have supported each other through the years. Check out what they shared below.

Melissa, you are back on the set of Days of our Lives for this very emotional and special moment in the series history. How does it feel?

MELISSA: Oh, my goodness. I am honored. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but to be here for Bill. He was like my real-life dance partner. He taught me how to ballroom dance. And to be here for Susan, of course, who’s just been our sweet hero this whole week. We’re just following her lead. She’s just been this incredibly strong example for us in the midst of this trial and season of her life. She is like just lifting us all up with her. It’s been incredible.

I was at Bill Hayes memorial service which was truly incredible and I know at the time you were in Tennessee. It was moving and celebratory of his life, all at the same time.

MELISSA: That’s all I have heard. I have to watch it on You Tube. They said it was just a real celebration of his life and I love that.

Photo: JPI

This must be difficult for Susan Seaforth Hayes depicting the death of Doug, when she is still grieving the loss of her beloved husband. (Susan pictured above with the returning Stephen Schnetzer who plays her on-screen brother, Steve Olson).

MELISSA: I’m sure Susan has those moments at home by herself, but she’s so good at being a leader and leading all of us. We’re following her, you know, and she’s like, “This is how I want to feel today.” And we’re just going along with her, you know? It’s so sweet.

Photo: JPI

How is it to see Matt Ashford again live and in-person?

MELISSA: You know, Matt and I can go years without talking, or seeing each other, and then the minute we see each other we’re chatting away.

MATT: Melissa was out on set doing a scene yesterday on the phone talking to a stage manager; as she was telling some really tough news on the phone. I’m like crying in the background, literally, I’m off-stage crying.

MELISSA: And then we get like back into normal life, and we’re like, okay, “What’s happening? What’s happening with this … or what’s happening with that?”

I had read, Melissa, that you were in touch with Matt about if there night be a possibility for you to reprise your role as Jennifer for these special episodes?

MELISSA: Yes. Well, Matt was like, “Hey! Would you want to come back? “And I was like, “Matt, you know, I would always come back. ”

MATT:  Every time I come here to Days of our Lives, they ask, “Where’s Missy? How’s Missy?” Everybody backstage says, “I miss her.” All of the crew is asking about her and saying, “It would be nice to see Missy. Nothing wrong with you Matt, but …”  They said, “Where is she?” I said, “She wants to come!”

Photo: JPI

There are some beautiful photos of Missy and Bill and Susan thorough the years that I found. It just reminded me of just the deep and entrenched history we all have had with the show, personally and professionally.

MATT: Missy is roughly the age where Francis Reid (ex-Alice Horton) was when she started the show, which is just crazy.

Photo: JPI

I’ve always said Missy was going to be the next generation Alice. Do you feel that Jennifer is the heir apparent matriarch of the Horton family?

MELISSA: Yes. I mean, this has been greatest blessing of my life, and that would be great. I told Ken Corday (executive producer, Days of our Lives) when I was 17 that this show would be my life. Ken always told me, “This is your home,” and I’ve always felt like that.

How have gotten through the scenes watching Susan Seaforth Hayes as Julie go through the loss of Doug?

MATT: Susan is bringing her best performance life for her and Bill. I mean, she’s a showbiz baby. She always has been one hundred percent, and she’s doing it for him, and this is who they’ve always been. So, you’re seeing this amazing performance colored by her life. She has her private life as Susan, but she has enough plugged into Julie that she’s done amazing work. The director, producers and writers are giving her room to live in these moments and it’s quite wonderful.

Photo: JPI

Have you already broken down in tears during the taping?

MELISSA: Yesterday, but today’s taping of the actual funeral I think they want us to try and be just more celebratory.

MATT: I mean, it is a beautiful long life for Bill Hayes and his character of Doug Williams, and so it will be about that. Then, you get a bunch of us together in the church pews, and there’s going to be hijinks.

MELISSA: We all have been through the waves of grief. You have that awful cry and then all of a sudden you feel okay.  There are those family situations we are portraying where you’re like, “What do we do? What do we do now? You know, no one knows what to do. But, it’s so sweet. I’m looking forward to seeing how the scenes all turn out.

So, are you glad that Matt and Melissa are back for the 15K episode and Doug’s funeral? From what we can tell, it’s going to be quite an emotional journey for Days of our Lives fans, and especially the performance of Susan Seaforth Hayes, 

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Days Of Our Lives

Ron Carlivati Talks on Decision to Make Days of our Lives 15000th Episode About Doug’s Funeral, and Previews Chances for WGA Award

This week, Days of our Lives celebrated the taping of their 15,000th episode. In of it itself, that is an incredible accomplishment for the long-running soap opera currently streaming on Peacock.

However, this on set gathering was a bit different. Though the show is celebrating their achievement, they are also in the middle of taping scenes surrounding the death and the funeral of Doug Williams, played by the late Bill Hayes, who passed away on January 12th of this year at the age of 98.

As previously revealed many longtime favorites are back to honor Bill and the character of Doug including: Gloria Loring (Liz), Melissa Reeves (Jennifer), Matthew Ashford (Jack), Maree Cheatham (Marie), Victoria Konefal (Ciara) and Stephen Schnetzer (Steve) to name but a few.

Photo: JPI

Michael Fairman TV was in attendance and spoke with Days of our Lives head writer, Ron Carlivati to gain some insight into how the 15,000 episode was crafted and the decision to honor the character of Doug Williams and Bill Hayes as its epicenter. In addition, Ron weighed-in on this Sunday’s April 14th WGA (Writers Guild of America) Awards, where he and his writing team are facing off with General Hospital for the daytime drama prize. Here’s what Ron shared below.

Was this your idea to make the 15,000th episode centered around Doug’s funeral and passing?

RON: It was. When you’re looking at it, and laying out the calendar for the whole year and you see 15,000 is coming up, we’re like, “What are we going to do?” And then, we got the news that Bill had passed away and something kind of clicked. I was like, “We should honor Doug on that show.” So then, we started to kind of build around that … when does he pass away? How does he pass away? Who could come back? You know, it’s a lot.  I’m very pleased with the returns that we got as there’s so much that you could do. We wanted everybody we could get. So, we put together a wish list and Janet Drucker (co-executive producer, Days of our Lives) made it happen.

Photo: JPI

You have Melissa Reeves back as Jennifer, when the role was last played by Cady McClain. What has it meant to have Missy back for these shows?

RON: It was so nice to see Missy Reeves. I think Cady has done such a good job, but on the 15,000th episode to see Missy as Jennifer, it’s a big deal. So having her was great, and overall, the milestone was a big undertaking, because you want to live up to it. You want the 15,000th episode to be good. Now, it has a lot of real emotion that you’re playing. because for the cast and the crew they’re honoring Bill Hayes just as much as we’re honoring Doug Williams.

Photo: JPI

Was it hard for you and the team to write this episode?

RON: Yes. I’ll tell you why it was hard to write.  When I wrote, for example, Asa’s (Phillip Carey) death on One Life to Live or Victor’s (John Aniston) on DAYS, Asa is a different type of character. Like, you could have characters going, “Oh! I’m glad he is dead.” You could have different points of view, but with Doug, you’re not having that. Every person loves this man. No one had a bad relationship with him. So, you’re challenge as a writer is how do you make it that not everybody’s saying the same thing and doing the same thing. And so, we tried to find ways to make the episode about all the familial relationships and yet, how do you make it about Doug and yet broaden the scope.

Photo: JPI

I had spoken to Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie), a week after Bill’s memorial, for an interview. She said that she felt very fortunate that you did include her on discussions of how you would tackle Doug’s passing. How did that conversation go?

RON: First, I attended Bill’s funeral, which was incredible. I said to so many people it was an emotional service, but it was hard to be sad at this. The guy had an incredible life and it was an incredible celebration. And so, you’re sitting there watching this knowing that you now have to write something similar. And how do you write something that lives up to what you just witnessed? I wanted to talk to Susan to get her thoughts about, you know, how much do you want this to be about keeping Bill separate from Doug. How comfortable are you sharing your grief. She was incredible to talk to. It was a great chat.

You’re in the middle of taping these major scenes for the 15,000 episode to air in December. How do you think it’s going? Have you seen any of the scenes?

RON:  I haven’t seeing anything. I mean, we were still making changes to the script up till this morning!

Photo: JPI

The Writers Guild Awards are this Sunday, April 14th and once again this year there are two daytime drama nominees, General Hospital and Days of our Lives. How are you feeling about your chances this year?

RON: It is often just GH and us in the category. I’ve won three years in a row, so I’m kind of feeling like it’s their turn.

Photo: JPI

What episodes did you submit for contention? If I recall, they had to do with Victor’s memorial.

RON: The episodes we submitted were centered around Victor’s funeral. I think one has story with Vivian (Louise Sorel). We had some fun stuff, we had some emotional stuff at Victor’s death, and I am pretty sure that our submission was three episodes right around that time.

Did you make the decision to go with those episodes because there was a mix of humor and drama?

RON: I like to have some humor, but it was also the funeral, then there’s Sarah (Linsey Godfrey) giving birth, and then Vivian’s crashing the reading of the will. So, we had a lot of fun and it’s hard sometimes to pick three that tell a story, as opposed to submitting for the Daytime Emmys, where the writing team only submits two shows. So, we shall see how it goes on Sunday.

Courtesy/Peacock

So, are you looking forward to the emotional 15,000th episode of Days of our Lives? Do you think DAYS will take home the WGA writing award for daytime dramas for the 4th year in a row? Comment below.

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