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Interviews

THE CHRISTIAN LEBLANC INTERVIEW – THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS

By Michael Fairman

Listen to the audio:

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TV SOAP:

You have great story coming up! It seems it took awhile for this all to come to fruition, wouldn’t you say?

CHRISTIAN:

I have great story, with Lowell being my father. It was yes, no, then yes, no, then yes. When you look at it, it’s kind of interesting how the writers did it

TV SOAP:

So, you are glad that the show picked this point in time to unravel the story?

CHRISTIAN:

I did not want the story to go right away. We had the whole Tom Fisher thing, and a lot of men in Gloria’s life at the time. I liked the timing of this to clear the decks and you then have the right moment. I know they were going to go with it. They kept me busy, and I was lighter in story than I am usually, but I used that to my advantage.


TV SOAP:

There was this recent tease where Michael visited the jail where the “supposed” Lowell was being housed, but it turned out he was an imposter.

CHRISTIAN:

They changed identities, and Lauren, Paul and I have been piecing this together, and it was a red herring moment. I rarely harass the writers, but I called Maria Arena Bell (co-head writer, “Y&R”) and told her that this really pushed me to the edge of my skill level! These were some interesting scenes and the degree of difficulty was high.

TV SOAP:

Like getting an 8.3 from the judges?

CHRISTIAN:

Yeah, and you kill for that kind of thing! But, they are scary and intimating all at the same time. You want to be better, so you find a better tennis player.

TV SOAP:

The caliber of your performances is always top notch. Do you rehearse as much as you would like?

CHRISTIAN:

I actually would like to do many more takes then we are allowed to, because I find new stuff to play. You get used to the system. You have to make a choice and commit to it with very little prep time.

TV SOAP:

To recap for Australian fans, why is Michael so into searching for his real father?

CHRISTIAN:

I think it all started when he had Fen. It keys it off for a lot of fathers. This is a man who went to prison. He went to therapy to change his dark ways. He was a violent man and he claimed he never had a family. Then his family shows up and then you find out why he denied his family for so long. Michael is somebody who denied his brother’s pain, but he feels responsible for it. When you have a child, you are responsible for that child. Michael has Lauren to help him discover these things.

TV SOAP

What does Michael hope to achieve when finding his father?

CHRISTIAN:

I think he wanted to be a whole person and have a point of reference. You have a whole picture, and even if it’s a bad father you get it. It’s thinking this guy will come save us one day. This goes all the way back to when I would write letters to this man thinking Gloria was mailing them, and realizing she never mailed them. She kept them just to keep this fantasy. That’s where the push-pull comes, and as long as you don’t know its fantasy, but it’s very specific things happening. I find it with adopted people. It’s an interesting dynamic. I need to know, genetically. I am a huge genealogy freak in real life. That’s what I love about Michael. He is so complex, and it isn’t any push over to be him. The easy part is just to be myself, and the writers have stayed true to his character. You want to stay true to his dark side and his humanness, and it’s good and evil. You can reform yourself, but you cannot deny your history.


TV SOAPS:

Will the revelation of meeting the real Lowell Baldwin, played by Michael Gross do you think Michael will flip back to his dark side?

CHRISTIAN:

I don’t know if it will be his downfall or not, because Lowell is such an unexpected character, and it certainly pushes all those buttons again….

TV SOAP:

….Will we have sympathy for Lowell? I think so.

CHRISTIAN:

I think so too, and a good actor does that and Michael Gross was wonderful.

TV SOAP:

Do you think they will keep the story going and play this out, and keep Lowell on as part of the Genoa City canvas, after this initial shocker?

CHRISTIAN:

I think so. You don’t get Michael Gross just to toss him out for a day. It’s not worth his time. They will have a lot of work for him, which I am very happy about and he could not have been a nicer man, it’s so easy and that’s his professionalism. It’s a cast of thousands, one take… fast, fast, fast. It can scare anybody, but he was right there with it.

TV SOAP:

Do you think they will keep the story going and keep Lowell on as part of the Genoa City canvas, after this initial shocker?

CHRISTIAN:

I think they will. You don’t get Michael Gross just to toss him out for a day. It’s not worth his time. They will have a lot of work for him, and he could not have been a nicer man.

TV SOAP:

So, is Kevin and Jana’s wedding a huge disaster?

CHRISTIAN:

It is an amazing, amazing. It’s an amazing series of shows.

TV SOAP:

Were you in the audition process when they were casting Michael Gross as your on-screen dad, Lowell?

CHRISTIAN:
No. That poor man just got thrown into the Baldwin’s and this huge cast! We talked a little the first day of taping, but we were thrown into these really intimate scenes, and it kind of worked. He is the consummate professional.

TV SOAP:

Will there be a big showdown between the two characters once they meet?

CHRISTIAN:

Not quite a showdown, just a discovery, and going through the myriad of emotions of when the fantasy dies and the truth stands before you.

TV SOAP:

How does Michael feel then?

CHRISTIAN:

I think he is disappointed. This would be something that was not his expectation. It’s been chipping away at his fantasy, and at the end of the day it’s the worst-case scenario.

TV SOAP:

When is all this going to play out on the air?

CHRISTIAN:

It all happens at Kevin and Jana’s wedding. I think all of Michael’s fears come together in his one meeting on this one amazing day, which is so riveting. Everyone was on that day. It kicks off on Friday, August 15, here in the States.

TV SOAP:

So, does everyone at the wedding see him at the same time Michael does? Isn’t he the priest?

CHRISTIAN:

Just think, everybody sees him at the same time, and I talk to him!

TV SOAP:

Do you think they will keep the story going and keep Lowell on as part of the Genoa City canvas, after this initial shocker?

CHRISTIAN:

I think they will. You don’t get Michael Gross just to toss him out for a day. It’s not worth his time. They will have a lot of work for him, and he could not have been a nicer man.

TV SOAP:

What about working with Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren)?

CHRISTIAN:

We are like an old married couple. There is a physical comfortness, and she makes me look good. Wait till you see her in these scenes!

TV SOAP:

But don’t you think there has got to be some major troubles coming up for Lauren and Michael? I mean, on the soaps wedded bliss can only happen so long.

CHRISTIAN:

I don’t know. I hope we have complications. I want it to be like a real marriage. I mean, we don’t have to be broken up, but certainly, there are things that a married couple disagrees about. I would like to see us have conflict.

TV SOAP:

Do you think Michael might have an affair?

CHRISTIAN:

It’s soaps and in real life, given the right circumstances for my character, anything is possible. Nobody likes ‘happily- ever- after’ forever.


TV SOAP:

How was your night at the recent Daytime Emmys? It was so hot outside! You did not walk away with the prize for Lead Actor, unfortunately. Tony Geary, Luke from “GH” won that night.

CHRISTIAN:

It was so hot! I had a ball, and I was there with Nia Peeples (Karen). It’s always a fun night out. It was so exciting. Tony Geary hugged me before the show and said, “It’s going to be you this time! I got all sorts of compliments. It’s Tony Geary, a legend, saying this! That was such an honor coming from him.

TV SOAP:

Where are your two Emmys?

CHRISTIAN:

I have got two on my piano, to instill the need in me to practice. (He laughs) I am hoping for cross-discipline. I had myself my own Emmy for everything. (He laughs).

TV SOAP:

What’s left to do and accomplish with your acting career?

CHRISTIAN:

I want to do it all. I would like to do a feature. You want to be tested. I think I have something here and I have been given a gift. It’s my job to develop it to its utmost. It has never bored me here at “Y&R”. I just worked scenes with Chris Engen (Victor Jr.) today. When it’s somebody new, I get flop sweat!

TV SOAP:

How is working with Chris?

CHRISTIAN:

He is lovely and amazing, and so is Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe). They keep bringing new ones in! We have a great core group here, and Chris is intelligent. It’s a plumb part and he is just getting up to speed.

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TV SOAP;

Many fans think you ad lib a lot of Michael’s material on screen. Is that true?

CHRISTIAN:

I never ad-lib… never in my life! (He laughs) And that being said, so many of those are written more than people think. I actually think it’s a great compliment. I get a lot of humor and a lot of great lines. They give me the freedom to tweak a line. But I don’t do it as frequently as people think I do. It’s just me and my timing and delivery, or even better, it’s the other actor’s reactions.

TV SOAP:

So, what do you think we can tell the fans to look forward to in the coming months for Michael?

CHRISTIAN:

I have NO idea. With the writer’s building the momentum for this storyline for quite awhile, I can’t see them not taking advantage of this front and center stage. Especially, with Michael Gross being on the show.

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TV SOAP:

There has been such turnaround with the writing teams recently at “Y&R”. Are you noticing any difference in the scripts?

CHRISTIAN:

I think you do see changes slowly, but surely. All the writers have been good to me, and I have a scene to get nominated on every year, and that’s hard to find. I like working and they keep me in the picture. I do see it evolving in the scripts. I see a mixing of all the characters again. I like to see the integration of that. I think being given the amount of time when you are new to the show that’s the hardest thing in the world. It was the late Bill Bell’s gift, and a singular gift (creator and ex-head writer, “Y&R”). He never called me by my character name. He knew who I was. But in the end, he always had these stories and they were intermixing, and there was a spider-web that existed in his head, and that does not happen easily. Not everyone is gifted that way. But still you need to have time to get your people in place. I think we are still recovering from missing Bill Bell; it was never going to be easy. It’s nice to be hopeful, but you had a singular show with a single vision and it will take time. We need people to have patience. We had a lot of passionate people contributing to the process, and its takes a lot of siphoning through till you get the formula that you want.

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Cady McClain & Rob Scott Wilson Talk Being Recasts, All My Children Reboot, Future of Cin & Jennifer’s Bitch-Slap

Current Days of our Lives and former All My Children reboot stars, Cady McClain (Jennifer, Days, Ex-Dixie, AMC) and Rob Scott Wilson (Ben, Days, Ex-Pete AMC) chat with Michael Fairman in an enlightening and exclusive conversation for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

McClain, who recently took over the role of Days of our Lives beloved heroine Jennifer Horton from mainstay Melissa Reeves (who chose to stay with her family in Nashville during Covid-19 thus forcing the series to recast the role for now) talks about stepping into the key part of the Salem canvas, plus the recent Jennifer/Kate fight over Jack (Matthew Ashford), and how the legacy series is coping with production during Covid-19.

Photo: JPI

Rob, talks about landing the role of Ben; and in an emotional moment reveals how he credits the opportunity to the late producer, Lisa de Cazotte. Wilson also shares his hopes for his Salem alter-ego who is struggling to move on with his life after the supposed death of his wife, Ciara.

The actor also opens up on if DAYS decided to recast the role of Ciara, since Victoria Konefal is not presently with the NBC soap full-time, how he would feel about it and thus the future of Cin.

Photo: JPI

Both Cady and Rob first appeared together in Prospect Park’s online revival of All My Children. In this interview, they discuss how they had high hopes for the continuation of the series, how it ultimately fizzled, and what it was like to be a part of the then, groundbreaking first, for a daytime drama series along with One Life to Live.

Photo: TOLN

In addition, Cady gives the viewer insight on how she runs lines for both DAYS and GH at home with her real-life husband, Jon Lindstrom (Kevin and Ryan, GH), while Rob talks about his recent storyline where Ben was kidnapped and tortured by a vengeful Eve (Kassie DePavia) and much more.

Check out the full chat with Cady and Rob below. Then weigh-in: How would you feel if there was a Ciara recast? What are your hopes for the holidays for Jennifer? What did you think of the stories shared by Cady and Rob in the interview? Comment below, and if you have not done so already make sure to “subscribe” to the Michael Fairman Channel for more celebrity interviews.

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Interviews

B&B’s Matthew Atkinson Weighs-In On Daytime’s Wildest Storyline, The Hope Mannequin & What’s Really Going On With Thomas

If you think you’ve seen it all on daytime soap operas, think again! Over the past several weeks viewers of CBS Daytime’s The Bold and the Beautiful have been witness to fashion designer Thomas Forrester’s (Matthew Atkinson) descent into madness, or is it?

In B&B’s thriller-esque storyline, complete with tight close-ups and tilted angles of Thomas and his co-star, the Hope Mannequin – yup, you read that right, the series is taking the audience on one wild ride, something we have not seen the likes of since back in the hey day of the late head writer, James Reilly, during his tenure on Days of our Lives or Passions.

Photo: JPI

Inspired by, believe it or not, true life events, B&B’s head writer and executive producer, Brad Bell and his creative team have served up a story generated off all of the buzz the show was receiving for using mannequins as scene partners for the actors in intimate moments to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.  B&B was the first American show back in production amid the pandemic.

 

Within this twisted tale, Thomas has the life-like version of Hope Logan Spencer (Annika Noelle) at home with him.  Those who have stumbled upon him with the mannequin, well, he has been able to explain that away by saying that having the doll with him is helping him create some of the best designs of his career.

The problem is the mannequin is talking to Thomas, it’s eyes have often turned devil-red, and on Friday’s episode it walked!  It’s objective is to get Thomas to kill Liam (Scott Clifton) and to get Hope back to be his one and only. Throughout many of the scenes in the storyline, Thomas suffers from what appears to be severe headaches.  All of this leading the audience to believe either … he has a brain tumor … he is being drugged … he is suffering from a severe mental break and disorder, or something else.

Photo: JPI

In a very candid and often humorous conversation with Michael Fairman for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Thomas’ portrayer, Matthew Atkinson, discusses some of the craziest scenes to shoot thus far including Thomas having dinner with the mannequin!  In addition, Atkinson reveals how he and Annika Noelle tape the scenes where she is the voice of the Hope mannequin while adhering to safety protocols,  and how Liam is the only one, apparently, thinking something is off with Thomas, and so much more.

Photo: Gilles Toucas

One thing is for certain, Matthew Atkinson is sinking his teeth into the material and making it must-see daytime drama through his performances while we all wait to see what the possessed mannequin does next.

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

Then let us know, what do you think is happening or wrong with Thomas? Are you getting a kick out of the Hope Mannequin storyline? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

 

 

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Interviews

Eric Nelsen Talks Latest Film, Becoming a Tony-Nominated Producer, ‘The Bay’, and His Elizabeth Gillies & Ariana Grande Connection

You can catch All My Children reboot alum, Eric Nelsen (Ex-AJ Chandler), just about everywhere this month, and that’s hard to do given that we are all living in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this Daytime Emmy-winning actor has his hands in a myriad of projects of late including: appearing on season six of The Bay (new episodes every Tuesday on Popstar! TV) where he continues to play Daniel’s journey after the character has come to terms with his sexuality and finds love, plus his comedic turn in the film, 1 Night in San Diego, and recently becoming a Tony-nominated producer along with his wife Sainty for the critically-acclaimed, and now 11 times nominated Broadway play, The Inheritance.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Eric to get the lowdown on his busy professional life, and we were in for some surprises along the way including: what the producers of AMC had in mind for the character of AJ that ultimately did not happen, and that Eric starred on Broadway with Elizabeth Gillies (Fallon, Dynasty) and Pop superstar, Ariana Grande – and there’s more to that story below.

 

What makes Nelsen so good at what he does on-screen is that he is a like a chameleon; adept at playing the quirky, to the troubled bad boys, to the emotional heart-tugging anti-hero. So here’s what Eric had to say in this fascinating conversation.

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

Your latest film appearance in 1 Night in San Diego is out this week on multiple streaming on-demand platforms from: Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and more. Tell me about the movie and when did you film this?

ERIC:  We filmed it near San Diego, not this past February, but last February, and it’s hilarious.  It’s a female-driven comedy.  The cast is incredible.  Alexandra Daddario, who is just epic, and Jenna Ushkowitz, and Laura Ashley Samuels, they truly bring it in this powerhouse comedy, and it’s just one of those make-you -laugh movies from beginning to end, just silly, stupid stuff happening the whole time.  General Hospital’s Mark Lawson (Dustin) is also in the film.  While we don’t work in scenes together, I did get a chance to meet him and he’s a really great guy.  I play this off-the-wall character, named Gordo, who is a real burn-out, think Matthew McConaughey meets space cadet, which was a lot of fun to play.  Gordo is a great role.  I had more fun with this part than I’ve had in a long time.  So, it was cool to throw a comedy into all of the drama I have been playing in my other projects.

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

ERIC:  One of the girls knew him back in the day, so they were in town looking to reconnect, and she’s like, “Oh, we want to party and let’s hit up Gordo,” and they do.  He has just gone completely off the rails, off the deep end with spirituality and kind of in his own world. They find themselves in quite a predicament when they come visit what they didn’t know was a commune, basically.  Gordo creates this hippie commune for a bunch of outcast musicians, (laughs) and I don’t want to give too much away, but a lot of interesting stuff happens there.

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

In addition, you are now a Tony-nominated producer for the play The Inheritance!

ERIC: That was crazy, because it’s always been a dream of mine to produce for Broadway.  That was how I got into the world of film and TV acting, which was through the theatre.  That’s where I started.  I was lucky enough to star on Broadway when I was 16 and 17, in a musical called, 13.  I started with Ariana Grande! It was so fun.

Wait, what?

ERIC:  Yeah, that was her first big show, and Elizabeth Gillies’.

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

ERIC:  Oh yeah, and you know she and I dated for two and a half years during the whole run of the show 13.  Elizabeth is very talented.   She is amazing.  The funny part of it is, we were dating forever, and kind of had a bad breakup, and then Sainty, my wife, gets cast in her show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, in the pilot to play Liz’s best friend on the series.  So, all of the sudden, I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, out of all the shows, all of the things, this is who you have to get cast as best friends with?” and so they actually became really, really, close friends.  So, I’d actually come home from work or filming, and Liz would be on my couch sitting there giggling with Sainty.  I’m like, “This is just becoming too much.  This is a full-circle moment here.  I can’t deal.” (Laughs)

Now, you and Elizabeth are broken up at this point?

ERIC:  Yes.  We had been broken up at this point.  Sainty and I were actually together.  I started dating Sainty in New York and the pilot she was shooting was in New York, and she gets cast as Liz’s best friend, and I was like, “Oh, of course.”

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

ERIC:  Yes, so dying.  Dying.   You know, it’s just one of those things that in a million years, you would never expect this to happen, and of course, Sainty and her had to become best friends in real life because they’re both great girls, and naturally, they would be friends, but now, I’m like this guy stuck in the middle who can’t believe what’s happening, and thought that was one chapter, and this is a different chapter, and now the chapters are combining.  It’s kind of a comedy act.

Photo: JPI

Since Ariana Grande was on Broadway with you and Liz, what was she like back then before her meteoric rise to fame?

ERIC:  Ariana was literally the sweetest, most innocent, and cutest – like my little sister.   To me, it was like, Liz and I were dating, and Ari was kind of like the little sister.  All of a sudden the show ended. Ariana got a Nickelodeon show, and after that, she became the most famous person in the world and was like this sex icon, and I couldn’t get over it.   She’s always had that talent with her voice and in 13 she was an ensemble member.  She wasn’t even one of the leads, but her voice was so incredible, even then as a young teenager.  I thought she was going to go on to have this great Broadway career as an actress and do musicals her whole life just because of her voice.  Then, all of the sudden, right after the musical, we all auditioned for the same Nickelodeon show.  I ended up going to the finals for the boyfriend role, Liz got the girlfriend role, and Ari got the funny friend on the show role.  That kind of catapulted them into the TV world, and Ari got a spinoff because of her character on that show for another Nickelodeon show, called Sam and Cat, and then after Sam and Cat, she went from this innocent, sweet, little Nickelodeon girl that I knew to being the biggest star.  It was unbelievable to me.

Photo: Broadway World

So, you started on Broadway as a teenager, and you found you always wanted to produce for the Great White Way? 

ERIC:  Yes, I did the Broadway thing, and then I got into film and TV, and then I got into film and TV producing.  As an actor, there are a lot of ups, a lot of downs.  So, in between the ups, I wanted to fill my time, so I got into producing, and I loved it.  I loved creating.  As an actor, we just show up, and everything is already done.  All we have to do is say our lines.  We get pampered, and we go home, but I wanted to know how it got to that point, like what happens before that.  So, I started producing film and found some success doing that, and it was so much fun for me.  Sainty’s and my first love, and what feels like home, is theatre.  So, I wanted to take it full circle and produce a Broadway show.  I just thought that would be such an incredible moment, and so that’s what I did.  I started emailing all of the Broadway producers who I had worked with as an actor, letting them know what I had been doing, kind of the success I had gotten from producing The Bay and some of these other things. Different shows came across my desk that I didn’t quite bite the bullet on, a couple of which I wish I would have, Dear Evan Hansen being one of them.  I would have been so rich by now!  (Laughs)

I just want to clarify for people who might not know, the word “producer” can mean different things.  There are “producers” who are putting money in … they’re backing projects or shows.  There are other people who are “producers” on the creative side of projects.  So, when you’re talking about producing a Broadway show, it is as an investor?

ERIC:  So for theatre, unless you’re the head producer who kind of gets creative control, every other producer listed in the credits is basically helping raise finances and is also very heavily involved in the process of everything else along the way, which is also what makes it special.  So finally, The Inheritance came across our desk, and it checked every single box.  It was just an epic play.  It’s a two-part play, and it’s just hours and hours and hours long.  You see it in multiple days or in multiple shows.  I remember reading the script and not stopping until I finished.  I was like, “This is amazing,” and it had just come off of a huge commercial successful run in London.  It won the Olivier Award for “Best New Play” and just about every other award you could win, and so I was like, “This is the one.  This is incredible.  I love the piece, love the message, and pulled the trigger,” and I would have done it all over again if we could.

Photo: Broadway World

The Inheritance is a generational piece centering on gay men during the AIDS crisis.  What can you say about it to those who don’t know about it, or have not seen it yet?

ERIC:  It takes place in the past, and then it fasts forward to the future.  You see two generations of gay men in New York City, and it’s all about the AIDS crisis, and so you’re bawling crying, and then you’re laughing throughout it.  It’s just one of those epic plays that pulls at every single emotion and you feel like you’re watching a movie.

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s definitely its own thing.  It’s actually an adaptation of Howard’s End, the novel by Forster, definitely different from Angels in America, but the two-part show is kind of what I was meaning by that.  People have said it is kind of our generation’s Angel’s in America in tone and subject matter.  It was just a dream come true, and like all other theatre that was open during our season, it had to close because of the pandemic, and it will have life after Broadway.  We are already slated for the Geffen Playhouse in LA, so I’m very excited for all of my LA friends and the public to get to see it.

Courtesy/ENelsen

And you get nominated in the year that the coronavirus pandemic shut down live theatre! But it is my understanding we still do not have a date for handing out this year’s Tony Awards.

ERIC:  No, we do not.  They finally announced that they were going to announce nominations, and for a while we didn’t even know that they were going to do that.  We received 11 nominations, which is incredible.  We were so excited.  I truly thought the American Theatre Wing and the Tony committee were not going to do the Tonys at all, and so we were just like, “I can’t believe the one year we pull the trigger on the show, this isn’t going to happen for us,” but then thank God, they came to their senses.  There were plenty of shows that opened and needed to be recognized.

How long was it open on Broadway?

ERIC:  We were open from September 2019 through February or March.  So, as long as your submission was open on Broadway before Covid-19 and had at least all of its previews and an opening night before Covid-19 hit, then you could qualify, and then in the play category, there were like 10 plays that had opened last year that were contenders.  So, that was definitely the hardest category.   It will be interesting to see what happens after all of this.  The only good thing I know that is going to come from this is the amount of creatives who have had so much time sitting at home to create and write, that there will be so many new scripts and plays and musicals that are going to come from this.  I think it’s’ going to be the biggest boom that we’ve probably ever seen in theatre, just because there’s been so much time to develop stuff.  At the same time, it’s piggybacking on the darkest time that theatre has ever seen.

Throughout the pandemic, I always stream all of the Broadway Actor’s Fund events.  It’s really sad.  It’s just a difficult time, those in the arts are struggling and especially in the live theatre and also musicians who can’t tour or play gigs in front of an audience. I know they said Broadway is closed through May 31, 2021.

ERIC:  It is really hard.  I’m happy that we are able to find other ways like streaming shows.  I’m actually producing a big benefit for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS that will be airing on World AIDS Day, December 1st.  It’s a show called Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.  The cast we have is everybody from Nathan Lane, to Academy Award winner J. K. Simmons.  It’s insane.  It will be streaming online on the Broadway HD network.  It is a huge list of Broadway stars and a lot of movie and TV stars as well that are participating.  We’ve got people from all over the map.

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

ERIC:  (Laughs)  Ari is not in it, actually!

Photo: Prospect Park

So, in this week’s latest episode of The Bay, your character of Daniel Garrett makes his final choice for love between Caleb (Mike Manning) and Matthew (Randy Wayne).  When you came to the show, did you know that this part was going to wind-up being a gay character?

ERIC:  No, I did not.  I think I dropped a bird in Gregori Martin’s (creator, The Bay) ear by telling him that before All My Children ended, they were going to have my character of AJ Chandler have a storyline where he is gay.  The producers sat me down and talked through an entire storyline arc with me.  Basically, Ginger Smith (ex-executive producer, All My Children) and Alison, our casting director, and one other person from the show, took me to lunch in New York. They pitched me what they wanted to do for my character, and asked me if I would be comfortable with it, and they wanted my opinion, everything.  It was really cool how they approached it, and I was like, “100% completely.”  I look at what Chandler Massey (Ex-Will Horton) did on Days and where that brought him and his storyline, and I thought, “Yes, there’s going to be so much more depth and stuff to play than just being this fun little rich kid.”  At the time, there really wasn’t much depth to AJ.  So, I was like, “Yes.  I will be all over it.  Absolutely.”  So, I told Gregori that, and I don’t know if he already had something in his mind or not, or if that influenced it at all, but maybe he just figured that was something that would work well, and up till that point, I guess they didn’t really have that on the show.  Regardless, no, I wasn’t aware that that was the direction it was going in, but I was really happy with my storyline and it’s grown a lot since then, and in this current season especially.  It’s really given me an arc to play, which I’ve enjoyed.

Photo: LANYEntertainment

So for those who may not know let’s do a re-set.  Where is the character of Daniel at? It seems like he is at crossroads, and is making some important decisions, or trying to.

ERIC:  So Daniel was a wild party boy in the beginning, just head in the clouds, lives life with thinking there’s no repercussions and just doing what you want to do all of the time, and that got him into a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol. Then, we realize why Daniel has been the way he is, and why he acts out, and why he has been so all over the place, and it’s because he hasn’t been able to come to terms with who he is.  Then, he admits it to himself and for the first time to somebody else – who happens to be his priest in a catholic church, ironically –  that he is gay and this is what he has been battling with.  For the first time (and I don’t know where on television it has depicted it this way), but the catholic priest looks at Daniel, and he’s like, “What’s your sin?  You haven’t sinned.  This is perfectly fine.”  So, I love that Gregori made that the outlet for which Daniel was able to basically come to terms with who he was, because he grew up in the church, and so he was always told that it was wrong.  Obviously, it’s not wrong, or obviously the church needs to change their mindset, but on The Bay, he chose that to be the outlet through which he came out, which I thought was really powerful.  Through that, Daniel experimented with other boys and such to figure out where he wanted to land, and then in this newest season, I can’t say much that gives anything away, but for the first time, we really see Daniel’s growth, and he’s making decisions, and the most mature we’ve ever seen him, and it’s been really cool to see that come full circle.  He’s making commitments to himself.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

ERIC:  Obviously, that’s who it works with,  Caleb is a teacher and a great guy.

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

ERIC:  He is… he’s just not the great guy for him.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

This season of The Bay is heavily steeped with social issues of our time.  Covid-19 has come to Bay City and the Black Lives Matter movement also plays prominently.

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s kind of the beginning of the pandemic in The Bay and within all of the intense drama that Daniel has been having, he is still, for all intent and purposes the comedic relief of the show, and so there is a funny scene where I’m carrying like 28,000 rolls of toilet paper like, “Come on, guys.  We’ve got to stock up!”  We all remember those days, don’t we?

Photo: JPI

How do you feel about this season of the show and your work in it? You’ve previously won a Daytime Emmy for your performances on The Bay.

ERIC:  This season is more cemented in a character that has truly grounded himself.  So, the first Emmy I won was for a storyline of coming out and uncertainty and struggle and pain, whereas this season Daniel knows what he wants and is going for it.  There is much more passion and love in this season for Daniel, as opposed to struggle and heartache.

The cast and crew of The Bay all went away and quarantined at this ranch this past summer to get the new season completed.  What was that like?

ERIC:  We were actually in Santa Barbara, and filmed on this epic ranch up there.  It’s like this 500-acre ranch that we all quarantined on.  We had to do the testing, and temperatures three times a day, and the whole thing.  So, it was really structured, tough to pull off, but we were all so grateful that we were able to do this.  Luckily, we had this incredible kind of bubble of a ranch to live and work on while we were shooting.  They were really good about block shooting it all, so we’d kind of shoot one person’s character, then the next, so we wouldn’t have to ever be leaving the ranch before we were done.

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

ERIC:  Oh, it’s amazing.  I just can’t believe how fast the time is flying by because of it.  We just had Molly’s first birthday on October 1st, and I feel like yesterday she was born.  I sound like my parents when I say this, but it’s like the time keeps getting faster, but it’s so true.  She’s awesome.  We play Broadway musical soundtracks to her all day, and she sings.  She sits at the piano with me when I play, and she kind of plunks notes out next to me.  She loves music, and we’ve introduced it to her from day one.  We always joke that she won’t be able to watch any of daddy’s stuff until she’s 18 probably, but Sainty is a voice-over actress.  She has done parts for animated films and TV shows such as Trolls, and Barbie, and Boss Baby, so everything from the first part of my daughter’s life is all going to be Mommy’s stuff, and then, in the later part of life she can start watching Daddy’s stuff.

Right, she can’t watch anything that you do!  (Laughs) So, basically forget that!

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

Check out the trailer for 1 Night in San Diego below.  Then share your thoughts on Eric’s current role on The Bay, if you hope he wins a Tony to go with his Daytime Emmy, the six degrees of separation between him, Elizabeth Gillies and his wife, and that the All My Children reboot considered making the character of AJ Chandler gay via the comment section below.

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