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The Crystal Chappell, Jessica Leccia, and Nadia Bjorlin Interview – Venice

Courtesy/Venice

Courtesy/Venice

On August 7th, the wait is over for legions of fans when Crystal Chappell’s Venice, returns to the web with season four of the hit series, and all new episodes!  Venice and Chappell have been groundbreaking.  If you look at all the many web soap series and concepts that sprung from the success of Venice, Chappell had foreshadowed where the industry was going, and found a place where series creators can show their visions and their stories without having the constraints of network television and its censors.

Venice season four will continue to center the story on three women, two of whom are vying for the same girl!  Will Gina finally reunite with Ani?  Will Lara and Ani say their “I do’s?”  Will secrets, lies, Lara’s drinking, Gina’s past, or perhaps Ani’s brother come to tear everyone’s chance for happiness apart in different ways?  Chappell promises much drama with many characters on the canvas in season four, while providing answers to the season three cliffhangers! And, if you watched the just released promo for season four, there is a shocker at the end of it, when it looks like Gina is hit by a car!  Who’s driving? How will it all come about?

On-Air On-Soaps visited the set of Venice during its final week of production on season four, and sat down with its three leading ladies: Crystal Chappell (Gina), Jessica Leccia (Ani) and Nadia Bjorlin (Lara) who have sent hearts-a-flutter to many of their female viewers, and we are sure many men, too!  Venice fans have loyally supported this same-sex love story interwoven with complex relationships and family ties … and to think it all started from the love of Guiding Light supercouple, Otalia!

As you would expect when chatting with Crystal, Jessica, and Nadia, there was plenty of laughs and witty sarcasm, but what we came away with was speaking to three women who have great understanding of the human condition.  And that my friends, is one of the reasons we have fallen in love with their performances and Venice.  Here now, with a look into what is to come in season four, are Crystal, Jessica and Nadia!

MICHAEL:

Crystal, how was it working with these ladies again for season four of Venice?

NADIA:

Courtesy/Venice

She is ready to stab her eyes out!  (Laughs)

CRYSTAL:

They are extremely difficult women, because they are pretty. (Laughs) They are in my head year round, and it’s true.  I love them both as friends, and this is such a fun journey this show has taken, and it’s largely based on having Nadia and Jessica.  It works.  So it’s fun to sit down and see where story can go, and then watch them do their work, and then it becomes fantastic!

MICHAEL:

How much ahead did you gals get your scripts from Crystal so you knew what is going on this season, and what you had to play?

JESSICA:

She gives us some time to peruse and look through it.

NADIA:

Well, if you’re Shawn Christian (Brandon, Venice, Daniel, DAYS), he looks at it and goes, “Am I in that scene?”  And I go, “Did you not read the script?”  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

What did you think about this year’s scripts?

Courtesy/Venice

JESSICA:

Not only is the show about the three of us, but we branch out with these other characters. I feel like the stories are a lot more interwoven, and the stories come together more.  I get more of a background, and an insight as to why Ani is the way she is, and her insecurities.  There is a lot of story.

MICHAEL:

Nadia, originally and some still may feel, Lara is positioned as the interloper.  But, do you think now there are people rooting for Lara and Ani to be together?

NADIA:

I think it’s an intriguing and interesting balance.  It’s so well written that you are going to see both sides of the coin.  Some people are going to root for Lara and Ani, and some are going to root for Ani and Gini to get together.  I think people are into both sides.  And, whether you read that on Twitter or the Internet, there are a lot people shouting, “Lara is the bad guy!”  But, what is interesting in this storytelling is there is not necessarily a bad guy in all of this.  These are just people who are trying to figure out their lives.

CRYSTAL:

They are all good people.  Ani would be lucky to have either one of them!

JESSICA:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

If she doesn’t get her act together she is not going to have either of them! (Laughs)

NADIA:

There is no one that is a clear villain, which is not the intention.  You don’t have this villain who is trying to poison somebody.  Here you have people all dealing with their own issues and problems, and their own path in life and wanting to find love.  And, in this situation it might be that two people on this planet have found love in the same place.

CRYSTAL:

I like Ani and Lara together, and I like Gina and Ani together.  I think timing is everything, and what is right for you today may not be right for you tomorrow.  You just have to be ready for something.  Lara and Ani have a very sweet connection, and Gina and Ani have a history and a connection, as well.  That is what makes it interesting.  There is no right or wrong.  Connection is connection.  It’s about timing, and how you react to it.

MICHAEL:

Are you still shocked that after almost five years since Guiding Light’s Otalia, and what you have done with Venice, that Jessica and Crystal on-screen are still one of the main “It” couples of soaps no matter what the platform, TV or the web?

JESSICA:

Well, the way I used to look at soap structure is: you can’t have this thing go on for too long … this has to happen … and this formula has to happen.  I think Venice has been going on long enough that we don’t need those formulas, or to use the soap scenarios such as … that person who breaks up the couple.  I don’t feel we are stuck with that.   I think that is what keeps the fans coming to watch it!  It never got stale for us.  I hope it never got stale for the viewers.

Courtesy/Venice

CRYSTAL:

We are seasonal.  We don’t have to produce five days a week.  I think that gives us more time, and people time to anticipate and want, and then we are on for three months a year, and then we can take our time telling the story, too.  We started the script well over a year ago.  There will be 12 episodes.  I think on average the episodes will run longer than usual.  Last year they ran anywhere from 10 minutes to 26 minutes.

NADIA:

There was emotionally so much content this year when we shot it.  I thought, “Wow! These episodes are going to be long!”

CRYSTAL:

They are about 20 minutes each.  They are more balanced with the time and length.  It’s just packed with a lot!  There are so many twists and turns, and so much happens that you won’t expect.  I will say this season is very heart-wrenching and touching.

NADIA:

I do agree it is touching, and just when you think one thing is happening something else drives a wedge into that.

MICHAEL:

Was there a particular moment in the shooting of the script for season four that was the most memorable, or surprised you the most?  I know we are top secret on story details! 

CRYSTAL:

Courtesy/Venice

This season has been better than I expected.  I had Susan Flannery (Ex-Stephanie B&B, who is a director on Venice) say, “Well, that didn’t work,” or “That connection is not there anymore.”   But this has been satisfying all the way through with everybody.   I think we are all more comfortable with each other.  I think we have a very solid crew.  The actors have been amazing and brought their A-game.  Every character has something to lose and something to gain.  It just makes the stakes higher, and makes the show more interesting.

JESSICA:

I will say I have trouble answering the question as I don’t want to blow anything, but I will say, the way Crystal produces it, and the locations she picks are gorgeous!  The show looks so pretty, and I didn’t expect it to be as grand as it is.  I get excited about that when I come to the set.  Now as far as story, what I will say is: I was surprised when I read things.  I was more surprised watching them play out, whether it be in my story or other people’s story, with whom I don’t get to work with as often.

MICHAEL:

Is Y&R’s Christian LeBlanc in Venice a lot this season, as Ani’s brother Jake?

CRYSTAL:

Well, I didn’t write for him, but he showed up! (Laughs)

NADIA:

Courtesy/Venice

Basically, he kept showing up and was just there! (Laughs) So, we were like, “Oh, alright.”   And Crystal is like, “Well, I gotta give him something to say.”   He is just standing in the scenes and “bogarting”!  She is like, “We didn’t even ask him to be on the show, but we’ve got to give him something.” (Laughs)  Now, I have never met anybody who won’t stop talking.  (Laughs)  It’s pretty amazing, and it would be interesting to do a science experiment on Christian.  But yeah, I get to work with him quite a bit, which has been so fun, which is why I am joking about it.

CRYSTAL:

Christian LeBlanc has taken creepy to a new art…  (Laughs)

NADIA:

…Without realizing it! (Laughs) Christian is like the least creepy person in the world, which is so funny.  He is such a close personal friend, that it has been fun to work with him, and been fun to watch him do stuff, because it’s interesting to see someone who is a really good friend of yours do something that is completely surprising.  And then I went, “Oh, yeah.  That’s why you have all of those Emmys!” (Laughs)

CRYSTAL:

Well, there is a reason for that.  You can give Christian anything, and he can put a spin on it that you don’t expect, and it’s fun.  We were laughing doing some scenes in this stairway …

NADIA:

Courtesy/Venice

… There is a scene that was very integral to the story, but weird in the location we had to work with.  I did not get it.  I did not know how it would work here.  And I thought, “This is not going to work without it feeling cheesy or weird.”  And all of a sudden, I am literally witness to this, because I am above the other characters in a stairwell.  I am watching this scene happen, and I go, “Holy Shit! These people have just made this really work!”  I was so convinced.  The scenes were so sincere and beautiful, that it’s hard not to root for Gina!  (Laughs) There was something that Christian did in the scene, when he came into it, and I was kind of blown away.  Sometimes you see something on the page, and you don’t know how it’s going to work when you put it into real life context.

CRYSTAL:

This is the first season that I feel most confident that everything that is written, works.  It is largely due to the actors.  There is something very cohesive about the group.  There is not a wasted shot in this show, no one tries to slide through anything … they all care. Most people wouldn’t survive this group, quite frankly! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

So, what would you define as ultimately what things will be building and building to this season?

CRYSTAL:

Courtesy/Venice

It comes down to a choice.

MICHAEL:

Ani can be so wishy-washy, sometimes.   I mean, how many women would like to be in the position you are Jessica, with these two beautiful women fighting over you?

JESSICA:

Yes, I do know how many women, children, babies and animals, would love to be in my position.  I get it.  I totally get it. (Laughs)

NADIA:

She can do no wrong in this triangle.   Everybody is gushing over Jessica … and Jessica as Ani!

JESSICA:

She had done some things wrong!

MICHAEL:

Like what, binge on chocolate? (Laughs)

JESSICA:

Courtesy/VeniceTumblr

Yes, binge on chocolate (laughs).  No, she does make a lot of mistakes, and then has to figure it out.  It comes from a place of being in-love, insecurity, and that love can cloud your judgment.  That is just how it is.

CRYSTAL:

Ani is the eternal optimist.  She is always trying to see the best in people.  I really feel she is trying to make the best decision for herself based on past experience, and she is really trying.  She is working at something this season.  Ani is not being passive about what feels right to her.

MICHAEL:

Is Gina more in touch with her own feelings this season?

CRYSTAL:

Oh, yeah.  She comes out of something, and then falls right back into it, that is her consistency.  She gets hit with a lot, and has to make some choices that send her in Ani’s direction, but Ani has gone off and is making it work with Lara, and made some very strong choices for herself.  It’s all about the timing.

MICHAEL:

Does Lara have a drinking problem this season?

Courtesy/VenicetheSeries

CRYSTAL:

No, drinking is never a problem. (Laughs)

NADIA:

On a serious note, I think one of Lara’s main struggles is being so afraid to ask for help, because she is so afraid she will lose this love of her life, eventually.  I think Ani to her is her anchor, and the one person she has ever seen in her life as her stability.  Lara is so afraid of being abandoned by her.  She is afraid to admit she is fallible, and does not want to ask for help.  She wants to sweep everything under the rug and go, “OK.  I am going to prove to you that I am perfect,” because I think that is also her story growing up in that she was always having to prove she was perfect.  She was then a best-selling author, and she is always doing well, and there is no kink in the armor.  Then, we start to see her degrade again after we see her pretending it is so easy.  I think a lot of people can relate to that in some aspects, whatever that may be.  It may not be a drinking problem, but it could be anything else. It is feeling like you have to be perfect, or you are not good enough.  I think that is very sad, and I think that is a very human problem.  I think you start to see in season four how Lara deals with that, and how she deals with her thinking that she can handle everything on her own.

MICHAEL:

Crystal, what do you want everyone to know as a preview to season four, without telling anybody anything?  (Laughs)

CRYSTAL:

Courtesy/Venice

For people who are invested in these three women, you are going to see an amazing journey and the rest of the characters have so much they are going through.  Season four is about family, and love, and life, and loss, and moving on, and living.  It’s how time changes things, and how things can change in a blink of an eye, and that is what this season of Venice is really about.  You have to watch, or you are going to miss something.

MICHAEL:

Do the three of you believe in soul mates?   I think Ani and Gina are soul mates.

CRYSTAL:

I think it all comes down again to timing.  Your soul mate could be somebody who is giving you something so pure, and lovely, and wonderful, but what if something happens and somebody else comes along?  How does anybody measure up to that?  It seems so absolute.  I think you have many soul mates in a lifetime.  You’re lucky if it’s not a romantic relationship, that it is a connection and what a blessing that is.  Yes, I think these two women are soul mates, but again it’s life and timing, and will it let them find their way to each other?

JESSICA:

Also, I don’t know if soul mates are forever.  You may get a window of time with a soul mate, or it could last a lifetime!

MICHAEL:

Life is so complicated!

CRYSTAL:

Courtesy/Venice

We are getting so heady for you. (Laughs)

JESSICA:

I am not sure how other people see a soul mate, but that is how I see it.  Some people will think Gina and Ani are soul mates, and other people might think Lara and Ani might be.

CRYSTAL:

But honestly, I can say this season Ani and Gina have some very truthful talks.  I think people want to see that, and I think they are going talk some very important things out!

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anothercc
Guest
anothercc

Michael, thank you for an awesome interview as always. I cannot wait for Venice Season 4 !!! Is it August 7th yet ??? #TeamGiAni

BS
Guest
BS

I was so beaten down by the end of Season 3 that I wasn’t sure if I would be returning for V4. After the promo and this interview, I’m leaning towards giving it another try but I’m just not sure. So much momentum was lost and so little focus was placed on what should have been the core characters and stories. Ani and Gina have barely spent any real time onscreen together. It sounds like that might have changed. I like the triangle in theory but so much time has been spent (in interviews, not onscreen) trying to sell me… Read more »

ann
Guest
ann

Lara is not abusive, the whole incident with ani was unfortunate, but accidental. She has never been portrayed as abusive before or after the incident, so I think you’re just seeing what you want. Thankfully cc and rest of cast of show see it differently than you about the character of Lara.
You may want Gianni but myself and others love ani/lara and are invested in their love story too. If you don’t like the direction of the show then stop watching, no one owes you anything especially not cc and the rest of cast/crew of this show.

BS
Guest
BS

Which part was an accident? The one where she got wasted.. The part where she grabbed her head with both hands and shoved her away? Or the part where the wall was there to break her fall? In season 2, CC and Company started to tell an interesting and complex story about a dysfunctional and like I said, arguably abusive relationship and in Season 3 and subsequent interviews have tried to sweep that under the rug. I am not telling you what to like. If you like toxic, pretty couples, so be it. I think Venice wasted an opportunity to… Read more »

molsongrrrl
Guest
molsongrrrl

I have to agree, Lara was abusive and didn’t she hook up with that other chick? I don’t know why I’m supposed to be invested in Ani/Lara at all. I do happen to believe the Ani/Gina tease has gone on way too long. Because as mentioned above, they didn’t even share scenes last year! We were promised some forward motion with them last year and got nothing and here we are again hearing the same thing. I already bought my sub to the next season – so obviously I’m watching, but overall I’ve been a bit disappointed. Especially when reading… Read more »

Jesslover
Guest
Jesslover

I hate to disagree with Jessica but yeah the audience is getting tired of it, has grown tired and some fans may never come back. 4 seasons to wait for Giani is way too many. And Crystal is still being wishy washy about it. You can’t have it both ways. I agree with the poster, Lara is an abusive lying partner and Venice has all but forgotten the fact that Ani has been abused. Great message to send out to the audience. FYI, domestic abuse does occur between 2 women and it’s not ok just because the woman is pretty.… Read more »

BS
Guest
BS

I feel like CC has tried to play both sides of the fence. I would say about 25% of the fans are Lani fans and don’t seem to be as invested in the show as a whole as they are in Lani. It feels like CC knows they would walk if she ended Lani outright and she knows Giani fans can and will hang on regardless hoping for a Giani endgame. The problem is, Venice has gone on for years and there has been no forward movement in Giani and no reason for some to switch loyalties to Lani, so… Read more »

Amy
Guest
Amy

I just started watching the show this summer and have really enjoyed it. I think that what CC and the other writers are trying to do in entertain and give us a story of what does happen in a relationship. It does not matter if you are male or female. Yes that main story is about 3 women, however we also need to look a the story line of Owen, Van and Sammi and how that turned out. I see the focus to be about family, love and life, how these things intertwine together. Family is the most important thing,… Read more »

Perla
Guest
Perla

Awesome interview, this season is gonna be the bomb.

Rdblaz
Guest
Rdblaz

Thanks MF for posting this interview. It’s great to have some press for VTS. We go so long between seasons it’s hard for most to keep engaged. Your continued support and access to Crystal help with keeping fans around.
Appreciate it.

PalmGirl73
Guest
PalmGirl73

Loved the Interview, Love where this story is going and the way Crystal is writing it, I am looking forward to continuing the journey in season 4.!

Denise
Guest
Denise

I am looking forward to some good story!!!

Egolf
Guest
Egolf

Guess some of you forgot its about the journey in soaps. I for one can’t wait for the new season of Venice. Is it August 7th.

Ed
Guest
Ed

Thanks for the interview. Looking forward to the show. You can please some of the people some of the time, but some people are never happy unless they’re complaining. Good for them. Hope that works out for you.

I, for one, am looking forward to some good angsty story. It’ s a frickin show for god’s sake, not the moral compass for the entire universe.

That’s entertainment.

Thanks again Michael, Crystal, Jessica and Nadia.

PB
Guest
PB

Venice has gotten a bit cold. Drawn to it in the beginning because of how screwed up the way Otalia was handled. Even though Venice will be new characters for CC & JL, I was looking forward to seeing them work together again to keep that spark of Otalia alive. I think alot of the fans wanted that and were looking for it. I didn’t even like GL but I loved that storyline. That’s why I gave money and purchased items. I was hoping to see that wonderful love story in a new format, one where same sex relationships isn’t… Read more »

npa
Guest
npa

I too was drawn to Venice because of GL. I was intrigued by the Otalia storyline because it was so different from the usual storylines of a soap. Although I knew the characters and story would not be those of GL, I must say I was expecting to be drawn in by the story (probably because of the actors) but sadly that does not seem to be the case. I am a sponsor and have bought merchandise in support of the show but I am well over the seemingly never ending triangle. I am not new to soaps and know… Read more »

Jacinta
Guest
Jacinta

Hmmm not sure what to make of this interview. I think I’m going to have to wait before subscribing for Season 4 to hear what the reviews are. I really didn’t enjoy Seasons 2 or 3 and have been greatly disappointed by the storylines. Hopefully Season 4 lives up to the hype otherwise I’m afraid they will have lost this viewer forever.

Blake
Guest
Blake

So great to see the new season. And so glad that it’s still going, kudos to CC and the gang there!

sushe12
Guest
sushe12

Great interview Michael. I for one can’t wait for season 4 to begin. The promo added to the anticipation. This is soap and like Crystal said ” it’s about time and how you react to it”… I just hope that certain issues from last season get resolved like the infamous “letter”.

bookchick
Guest
bookchick

Venice technically isn’t a soap. It is a weekly serial drama with long hiatuses between seasons. Therefore, they don’t have the luxury of viewer patience and can’t waste any scenes, storylines, or characters on filler. If they don’t grab viewers, they lose viewers. Season 3 felt like a waste of time and did nothing to move stories forward. Now, over one year later, here we go again with another season and hopefully this one is more compelling and more tightly woven but we’ll see. This interview didn’t do much to assure me that CC gets it but maybe I will… Read more »

VB
Guest
VB

Lara y Ani ♥

LA
Guest
LA

Awesome interview i cant wait for season 4. Last season i was rooting for a giani reunion and for ani to see the letter, now i’m not so sure. Gina and ani do seem like soulmates but i don’t trust gina has completely changed and will not push ani away again, esp after seein the trailer and logan is sniffing around. Ani despite her insecurities is the perfect type of girlfriend and doesn’t deserve for her heart to be broken by gina again. She seems to have strong feelings for lara too and despite lara not being perfect, is only… Read more »

jocelyne
Guest
jocelyne

I am waiting patiently for Gina and Ani to end together.
But, it’s really tough and my heart sometimes bleeds.
Anyway, congrats to all the staff! And respect from France.

LW
Guest
LW

Anyone who took the time to comment here is certainly going to continue to watch. CC and her team have done what good storytelling does, they’ve crafted a story that illicits a strong reaction. For some, that reaction is so strong that they want to protest the show in order to get what they want from the characters. But I am just a spectator. I am not invested, one way or the other, in Ani’s love choices. But I am invested in the skillful way the characters are connected and how this family lives, loves, and works together. I found… Read more »

ann
Guest
ann

This was a nice comment LW :). I agree completely.

Sharonda Price(blueruby r pinkribbon price)
Guest
Sharonda Price(blueruby r pinkribbon price)

To Whom it May Concern Dear Crystal,Jessica,Nadia and the rest of the Actor’s/Actress’s I sharonda price just wanna say to you all that I wish you well on your Acting Career’s and May God bless you all with everything that your Heart Desire and Desired for in life and I also wanna say to you all that I’ve enjoyed watching you all on T.V. and on the website’s as well as watching your show and I Admit that I had a Blast of this whole darn thang and I hope that You 3 lovely Lady”s(Laddies-Ladies)Will keep up the good job/work… Read more »

imane assi
Guest
imane assi

Thank you.To be honest the only reason Im watchingb it is Lara.Her journey is the only interesting thing for me.She’s not abusive.She just pushed Ani ,who was trying to force herself on her ,away.She pushed her too hard because of her driking issue,but she never beated Ani before or After.It was an incident.What I wish for is Lara to end it with Ani and find someone who actually love her and care about her.Not someone who’s just using her until she finds her way back to her ex.I hope that Lara will find someone who will help her accept that… Read more »

raquel
Guest
raquel

I agree. Otalia fans have to stop thinking venice is otalia re cap. Lara and Ani

Maureen
Guest
Maureen

I so agree! I don’t think Gina wants Ani, I think that Gina just doesn’t want anyone else to have her. Ani is beuatiful and soft, and she doesn;t have enough backbone. Lara deserves someone better, that will actually emobrace her and help her with her addiction by truly loving her, and not thinking about her lost lover. Seems the writers have Gina tied to every storyline here. It all revolves around, and comes back to Gina.

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

Thank you Michael for the interview, but I really didn’t learn anything new about what is going to happen on V4. I pretty much got the same with the promo and other interviews. Sorry. I also love the triangle — there really is no bad combination, really! The decision has always been for Ani to make…whether, it is right or wrong, it’s for her and her alone. As for soul mates…I’m not quite sure about that. I believe there are soul mates and there is a place and time for them to meet; however, I also believe there are people… Read more »

whirl
Guest
whirl

I’ve watched all of “Otalia”, all of Venice to date, and The Grove pilot (awesome!)… I will probably keep watching these no matter what the direction of the storyline (barring our 3 leads going straight! 🙂 I love it all! And– the promo looks great- sexy and heart-wrenching…

livelifestrong
Guest
livelifestrong

Most of the videos on YouTube featuring Lani (Lara and ani) are the most viewed then giani ( Gina and ani) so you tell me what the Venice audience wants?

Oviously Team lani !

raquel
Guest
raquel

True 😉

CnK
Guest
CnK

Turn up the heat on those make out scenes! Push the envelope even more. The first scene of the first episode on S1 was H-O-T! Besides the shower scene w/ Lara and Ani, nothing has really followed suit. Give us more ‘throw caution to the wind’ impromptu heavy make out scenes, PLEASE!! Use the online medium to turn it up a lot more.

– sincerely, married lesbian from Ca

kelltwomyn
Guest
kelltwomyn

Thank you, Michael, for this interview. It is a pleasure to watch Nadia Bjorlin stretch her acting wings on Venice and I look forward to that each season. I enjoy the high production values on the show and the beautiful cinematography. For me, the show is a visual treat and the entertainment value of the stories is high. I am looking forward to V4.

I would like to read an interview with Susan Flannery on her directing work with Venice. That would be a fascinating interview!

Alex
Guest
Alex

I’m wondering since they mentioned Ani’s insecurities that might explain why she stays with Lara. Lara is beautiful and Ani can’t believe that someone like Lara would fall in love with her. You know, the “this amazingly hot person is into me?” syndrome. However, it’s also showing that even the beautiful people such as Lara deal with insecurities as well. Lara’s insecurities regarding perfection manifest through her alcoholism. Gina did a number on Ani and that led her into another toxic relationship with Lara. I believe Crystal is trying to convey that we can love more than one person and… Read more »

Anita
Guest
Anita

I kind of feel sorry for Lara Character. There are so many women in this world that don’t want to be alone because of bad relationships that made them feel a certain way or just struggles that they are having and they felt alone their whole life because they had expectations growing up and it was just rough for them. I would like to see Lara and Ani together. Have Ani see that Lara loves her and really needs her, let their relationship be like Bo and Hope from days of our lives. “huge fan” but with a twist of… Read more »

Dee
Guest
Dee

I was not watching until I heard Christian LeBlanc had joined the cast and Bam I didnt waste any time starting to watch Venice. He is such a great actor and great person I just cannot get enough of watching him. He brought a special something to Venice and I love watching Jake (CLB) He is naughty. I love him on Y&R my favorite of all time. He is who got me hooked on Y&R and now knowing he is an integral part of Venice Yo bet I am gonna watch. Paid to see him Season 4 Venice would do… Read more »

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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Days Of Our Lives

Peter Reckell Reflects On His Time As DAYS Iconic Bo Brady, Life In New Zealand & Christmas Music Project

Last week, Days of our Lives  turned 55-years young, and the historic long-running NBC daytime drama series has been home to some of the most memorable stars and characters of the soap opera genre, perhaps none more so than anti-hero Bo Brady played by Peter Reckell.

Reckell who appeared on the show for several runs that lasted over four decades, premiered as Bo back in 1983.  He then stayed through 1987, came back from 1990 to 1992, again from 1995 to 2012, and back again in 2015 during DAYS 50th anniversary and to wrap his run as Bo, when the character was killed-off, after Reckell made it clear that he wanted to give the audience closure for the character.  He later made another return in 2016 to help the character of Hope (Kristian Alfonso) move on with her life.  Hard to believe for all of those heart-tugging performances, Peter was nominated only once for a Daytime Emmy.

Photo: JPI

In this candid, deeply personal and enlightening new interview for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Reckell opens up as to: what led to many of the decisions he made throughout his time as Bo, how he helped craft the role from the start, the accident that almost took his life, how he handled all the fame that came his way as part of the Bo and Hope supercouple pairing, and how two women in the cast; the late Frances Reid (Alice) and Peggy McCay (Caroline) made lasting impressions on him that he will carrying with him for the rest of his life.

Photo: JPI

What would Peter say if somehow DAYS wanted him back and Bo was actually alive and well?  Find out as Peter weighs-in and wishes his former show a happy anniversary  In addition, he even shares how he felt when Robert Kelker-Kelly took over the role of Bo when he decided to leave the show at one point, and his time playing Johnny on primetime’s Knots Landing.

Photo: JPI

Reckell has moved his family to New Zealand, and this conversation was conducted from his home.  Peter is married to singer/songwriter/producer Kelly Moneymaker and the couple have a daughter, Loden.   It was not wanting to miss the moments of his daughter’s life growing up that has been much of the impetus for some of Peter’s career choices.

Photo: BlueAeris

With Christmastime approaching, Kelly and Peter are part of a brand new Christmas LP entitled Joy.  The album is now available for download on Spotify, Apple Music and major music streaming platforms.

In an exclusive during the interview, we give fans a sneak peek of Peter’s new music video for “Under the Mistletoe”, the song he sings that appears on Joy, which was written by his wife.  For more on the album project visit BlueAegis.com

Photo: BlueAegis

Now, check out the interview with Peter direct from New Zealand below! Then share your thoughts on Peter, Bo, and more via the comment section.

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B&B’s Matthew Atkinson chats with Michael Fairman about the wild ride of the Thomas/Hope Mamnequin storyline currently on The Bold and the Beautiful.Leave A Comment

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