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The David Gregory Interview – One Life to Live & She Walks in Beauty

Courtesy/DavidGregory.com

Courtesy/DavidGregoryOfficialSite

It has been exactly one year since On-Air On-Soaps ventured to New York City to say goodbye to the amazing cast of the beloved One Life to Live.  And as hard as that was, we will treasure it for the rest of our lives.  But as this year has played out many of your favorites have gone on to new projects, new roles, and new endeavors.  One such performer is David Gregory, who as hottie Robert Ford, spent his time in Llanview bedding many of the young ladies, being the big brother to his two younger siblings, dealing with his abusive dad and the issues that caused, and finally finding love and becoming a dad in his own right shortly before his untimely death.

Now the multi-talented Gregory can add writing and directing to his resume, as this weekend (with a show tonight and on Sunday) his new play, She Walks in Beauty, has performances at the prestigious Manhattan Repertory Theatre in New York City.  David does not act in it, but tells On-Air On-Soaps how the play came about, and how he cast some folks with a close connection to Llanview in it.  David also filled us in on some very great news during our conversation that he has been cast in a recurring role on the upcoming NBC primetime soap, Deception!  If you recall, this was the opulent soap announced by the peacock network that was originally titled, Notorious.

Of course, there was so much to discuss about the final days of One Life, and how David felt about the way they chose to wrap up Ford’s story, what he thought of the final juggernaut of an ending to the 43-year-old soap, and his chance meeting post-Llanview with Erika Slezak (Ex-Viki) that put the loss of the series in proper perspective for him. With David, we looked at the past and what he has accomplished, and how important it is to remember to cherish memories, but also to move forward with a passion for life, and to more importantly, keep oneself open to new and exciting things ahead!  And certainly for David, dreams come true!

MICHAEL:

David, what a week for you!  Putting your first New York play on stage that you wrote and directed!  And, this was also the same time last year that we got together with the cast of One Life to Live for the final press junket, which was the last time I saw you in person!  How have things been for you post-One Life?

DAVID:

Courtesy/ABC

It’s been almost a year-to-the-day that we did all of those final One Life to Live exit interviews!  Of recent, I have been extremely busy!  This play that I wrote I submitted it to a festival, basically to have something to do.  This summer was a little slow, and as soon as it got accepted and we started rehearsals, I got another acting job.  It’s been a challenge and joy to juggle these two things, and we are putting the show on its feet this week.

MICHAEL:

But if I understand correctly, this is pretty fantastic for you!  The very highly regarded Manhattan Repertory Theatre chose your play from submissions from hundreds of upcoming playwrights.  How did this all go down?  It’s kind of thrilling, actually!

DAVID:

The Manhattan Repertory Theatre does a play festival each season of the year.  I submitted my play and they picked it, and the best part about it is they provide the space for you to perform it, and you have stock sets you can use.  They provide the lights, and the sound system, and that whole thing.  And, you get about three performances out of it, and more if it does well.  I took a play writing class in January because OLTL had just ended, and I wanted to get into acting class and do things to keep my chops sharp, but I did not want to get too burned out on it, especially because losing One Life was such a loss.  So I thought, “I will take up a playwriting class. That is something different!”  And, it’s something I have always been interested in.  This play I wrote in late August and finished in a decent amount of time.  I submitted it for, for a lack of a better term, “shits and giggles,” and here we are!

MICHAEL:

And … there are some familiar faces connected to the play that One Life to Live  fans will know! 

DAVID:

Photo Credit: Steven Bergman

So, I was able to get Barret Helms (Ex-Baz) from One Life to Live and I needed a middle-aged man to play the sort of father figure, doctor, kind of role.  I thought of Gary Donatelli for that, who was one of our directors at One Life, and it was just a shot in the dark.  I sent him email and said, “Hey, you are really right for this role.  I don’t know if you act, or if you would be interested, but I would love to talk to you about it.”  He sent me back an email that he was really interested, and that he was very flattered.  I had auditions for the lead female role, and Gary showed up to audition as well for his role, like everybody else!  And, you’ve got to give it to this guy.  He rose to the occasion! Gary was man of much power at One Life, and someone who I always admired, and one of the first directors I worked with.  He directed the famous “Ford and the Bucket Scene,” which was one of my first days of work.  We had a great time working together, and when would I have seen him again if not for this play, post One Life?

MICHAEL:

Did you know Gary even acted?

DAVID:

No, I did not know he acted, but I went with “type” first.  When I heard him read the part I knew he was exactly right, and my girlfriend Jen, who is an actress as well, sat in with me when I did his audition, just so I could get another perspective as well.  She said, “I think you have got to give it to him.  He is great!”   Not that I did not want to be surprised, but he brought it.

MICHAEL:

When we last talked a year ago, you had informed me that the end of One Life to Live probably would not hit you as much as would some of the long standing veterans of the series who gave decades to their roles.  Looking back now, do you still feel that way?  It must have a very deep emotional connection for you.

DAVID:

Courtesy/ABC

When One Life to Live ended, I had sort of had bits of panic the last week we were shooting.  We were sort of a family and people we going to miss each other a lot. And a lot of times, I wouldn’t remember certain episodes, but I do remember days I had with Bree Williamson (Ex-Jessica) or Brittany Underwood (Ex-Langston) or with my boys on set.  And the longer the show had been off the air, the more of a gap you start to feel from that.  Lenny Platt (Ex-Nate) and I still see each other a lot, and I see Barret obviously, but a lot of people moved to the west coast.  Months later it started to bug me.   You are back to a totally different life style of auditioning and hitting the pavement.   I went to get a hair cut from Wayne Bilotti, who was one of our hair guys on One Life, and he happened to be cutting Erika Slezak’s hair while I was there.  Erika started talking to me, asking how I was doing.  I think this was late January and I did not want to ask her, but I did want to know.  I asked her, “How are you?”  She said, “Great.”  She seemed to say she had time to do things now that she did not have time to do before, and by that she meant having time with her family. You know how she is … she is such a personable person.  I am sure she misses One Life so very deeply. And I do not want to put words in her mouth, but I got the sense from her that if she was OK, then I had to be OK myself, because she was trying to see the silver lining it.  I don’t mean that in a false sense.  I genuinely believed she saw the next step in her life, whatever that may be.  I thought whatever is going on in my head, if Erika Slezak has got her heard on straight, which she does, then I should absolutely too!  For so many years everyone looked to her, and now if she is not panicking, or freaking out, then what choice do I have?  That is also the same way she worked.  She was always prepared, knew her lines better than anyone else, and everyone else’s lines!

MICHAEL:

True that!  Well, Erika knew everybody else’s lines better than them!

DAVID:

She did!  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

When we last talked, the final episodes of One Life had not aired yet.  What did you think of Ford’s big scenes in Hell with John Wesley Shipp (Ex-Eddie)?

Courtesy/ABC

DAVID:

What a blast! (Laughs) We knew we were shooting out of order.  I knew that Ford was hovering and Frank Valentini (EX EP, OLTL, now EP, GH) came up to me one day out of the blue and said, “You know you’re dying, right?” (Laughs) And I said, “No, I didn’t.”  And he said, “Well, someone had to go!”  And I almost said, “Thank you,” and here’s why:  In a show that has such a huge history, and that has characters on it that deserve a strong ending and deserve to be written for in the last week, I knew that if they were going to kill me off that meant they had to then write a story for it, which meant that I was not going to be twiddling my thumbs the last couple of weeks.  So I thought of it as a blessing in disguise … and great!  Then I got the script that said that John Wesley Shipp was coming back in and that we were going to duke it out in Hell! (Laughs)    They wrote these wonderful scenes, but to sort of cap off what it was about … has Ford changed?  Or, has he not changed?  In addition, Ford got to stick to his old man in the end. Ford has got to throw his father into the burning pit of Hell to survive, but then, Ford sort of runs into Heaven, and we all know how that ended.

MICHAEL:

Also remember, the original show title of OLTL was Between Heaven and Hell, and you got to play that throughline at the end of the show’s historic run.  You know, I thought maybe they would let Ford pay for being such a dog with women! And I mean more than making him dress up like a hotdog to pay his bills! (Laughs) Anyway, I thought Ford would actually end up in Hell, but in the end, he did get a reprieve, if you will, and he did wind up in Heaven.

DAVID:

I tried to explain this to my family before it aired.  I said, “I am going to sort of be in between worlds.  They are not sure if Ford is going to Heaven or Hell, and they want to show that.”  But I think it worked! They were able to bring back some very familiar faces for the Heaven sequences, and I think they utilized it beautifully.  I was actually in Chicago for an event on the last episode airing of One Life.  The actors in attendance watched it together with the fans in this huge bar area.  And … what a topper!  Having Trevor St. John (Ex-Victor Jr.) show up in the last scene!  I did not know that was coming.  I did not know ‘till it aired.  It was such a blast for us, because we were watching it with fans of the show, and it was such surprise to them as it was for us!  And we were all thinking, “This is the last one, and what a way to go out!”

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

OK, being the man who clocked the most shirtless scenes in soapdom … what happened with the infamous bucket scene?  Was that always supposed to be the plan?  Was it in the script that way?

DAVID:

It was written that way!  I got the script, and I will never forget this.  I am a big fan of Hugh Jackman, and ever since I was a kid, he has been the guy I want to emulate.  I got the script for the scene and it literally said, “Ford picks up the bucket of water in the barn to cool off.”  And then they wrote as a note, “It should look like Hugh Jackman in Australia!”  I saved that script, because I was so excited that, that is what they wanted me to go for.  There were a few episodes I had prior to that, but when it came to the bucket scene I thought, “Oh, now we are getting into soapy goodness!  This is good and fun!”   We literally shot it as plain as day.  It was supposed to be a little more in slow-motion, but they shot it and that was the first day I met Gary Donatelli.  I had no idea it would cause the tremor that it did.  I am so glad it did!  You know how this goes?  Fans can make you or break you in this soap business.  I was supposed to only be on OLTL for two and half weeks, and I was there instead for two and half years, because these people kept me in my job.  I am reminded of that all the time whenever I go to something someone says, “I miss your character, or we miss the show,” but you know what? “We miss you guys!”  It boils down to that.

MICHAEL:

I will never forget our special BlogTalkRadio OLTL final two-hour finale broadcast, where fans spoke to members of the cast live on-air telling them how much they will miss them and One Life.  It was heartbreaking!

DAVID:

Jerry verDorn (Ex-Clint) had his recent annual charity event, and the year before I attended, fans were saying, “We are so sad the show is going off the air,” and this year, it had been more of, “We really miss it” and some people were talking to me as if One Life had just finished, and I realized it was still that fresh to them.  If you watch a show, for say 25 years, when a year goes by without it, you still feel that void in your life.  I just sat and talked to some people about this for a while, and you get the sense that it was more than just a television show that people would sit down to watch.  It was families who would watch it together.  I talked to a husband who said, “I am not a soap guy, but my wife and I have opposite schedules, and the only time I get to spend with her and do something she likes to do, is watching OLTL with her.”  I thought that was really neat of him as a husband, and the fact that it brought them together.  So when something like that for them ceases to exist, that is a huge void. 

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

You got a lot of flack for coming on and stealing air time from some of the main characters of the series.  Your family then expanded to bringing on your two brothers, Nate and James.  You must have a special place in your heart for Lenny Platt (Ex-Nate) and Nic Robuck (Ex-James).

DAVID:

Listen, those guys are always going to be important to me, always.  No matter where we go, or what we do from here on out, we are going to remember this is where we started out.  I was raised to believe you never forget how you began and at OLTL, I learned everything that I needed to know.  Now obviously, I want to learn more, but I have done primetime work since, and it is never as stressful.  You are shooting fifty pages a day in three hours on a soap, and it can take its toll on you after awhile, but you can go do a guest spot on a primetime series, and it’s three pages in four hours.  One Life prepared me for anything that I could possibly have to deal with, and I did it with Lenny and Nic, because we often had scenes together, or stunts to do together.  We were all kind of in the same boat.  It sort of helps to have guys who are thinking what you are thinking.

MICHAEL:

Now let’s talk about Bree Williamson (Ex-Jessica)!  I know you two are once again on the same show!  Explain! (Laughs)

DAVID:

Bree is doing Haven on SyFy, and she is going to be on this new show on NBC series called Deception, which they just changed the name of to that.  It’s going to be a mid-season series. I just got hired on there as well!  I am about to shoot my fourth episode.  Bree and I ended up working the same day, and so we got to see each other for a little bit.  What the odds are of that?  Unfortunately, we do not have scenes together as of now, but she plays a very important role in the show.  I think it should start airing in January.  It’s a killer; it’s being billed as primetime soap.  I am playing Kyle, he is sort of a bad guy with a motorcycle, maybe with a heart, but we are not sure.  Does that sound familiar at all?  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

You?  Playing that kind of role?  No! (Laughs)

DAVID:

He swoops in … and the show is about this big family, The Bowers, and he has his eye on the youngest daughter.  I think I start airing on the third episode.

MICHAEL:

Now let’s get back to your play, which I found the subject matter quite intriguing.  Tell me the basis of She Walks in Beauty?  What would you tell people is at the core of the story?

DAVID:

The way I have it structured is in the first scene, it’s a husband and a wife, and we get the idea that they haven’t been married very long, but there are problems developing in their relationship, and very soon after that we realize that she is in fact a mechanical human prototype!  Her husband helped invent her and his boss, who they just refer to as “dad”, is the mastermind behind the entire project.  So what I wanted to explore was – are the problems in their relationship because she is a robot?  Or, is it because she is actually starting to have human characteristics, and they are just normal problems everyone experiences, which sort of make this a dark comedy!  It’s what we would laugh at if it was somebody else, and what we would not laugh at if it was.  What ends up happening is, she gets very curious.  So the questions become: Is she capable of having children with her husband?  Can she go to school like everyone else?  One of the things her father says is, “We can input anything into your system? “  She says, “I don’t want to be inputted.  I want to learn.”  And it holds up a mirror to us in a sense, and shows us maybe that we are better off the way we are, because we have all the tools and the abilities and we just have to make that choice.  Without giving the story away too much, it sort of heats up when there are problems where she may have been made faulty, and maybe they should make another one … and so, if they make a 2.0 version of this woman, does this make it the same thing, or something different?  And, the guy ends up having an affair with the 2.0 and it starts riddling him with guilt, and so he actually starts to develop this guilty conscience about it.  The best way to describe it is ….  a sci-fi dark comedy.

MICHAEL:

Who plays the robo-woman?

Photo Credit: Steven Bergman

DAVID:

The robot woman is played by Andrea Leach.  She made me laugh when she read for the part and took it places I did not expect.  She reminded me of a Bree Williamson, in that they have a relationship a little like Ford and Jessica – like you get on my nerve, but you really don’t, but I really like you! (Laughs)  I could not stop laughing at Andrea’s reading, because it was like here is someone who found humor in something that maybe was not funny, but she sees the reality of the situation, and she is great.  I needed someone who could hold their own on stage against two very strong men.  She has Barret on one side and Gary on the other.  Gary is like 6’4” (Laughs) He can be a very intimating presence, and I can attest to that when he came in to direct my first scenes years ago saying, “Who’s that Ford kid?  What is a Ford?” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Many of your former One Life to Live co-stars are on the west coast, as we have discussed.  Are you content staying on the east coast?

DAVID:

I have definitely thought about it.  As of now, with Deception shooting now in New York, I am staying put.  My heart is in TV and film.  But what I am doing now, and what I had been doing, is exactly what I want to be doing, which is a wonderful thing to be able to say, because I don’t think a lot of people can say that about what they do for a living.  I guess, I would just know if it was the right project, or if the time was right for me to move to L.A.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

Have you been auditioning for other daytime soap roles, although that would now bring you to L.A.?

DAVID:

I have not been. You know, I signed for another four years at OLTL before it was canceled.  In my mind, it was sign to stay in New York and see what happens.  I kind of left it at that.  Deception happened, and I felt like it was the right thing at the right time.

MICHAEL:

So, do you get a sense that this role on Deception could turn into something bigger for you?

DAVID:

I was talking to one of the writers today, and they told me they like the character I play and the chemistry they are seeing, so I am just taking each episode as a blessing and seeing what goes on.  I was kind of keeping this low key until I started shooting and got a few episodes under my belt.  Just because I know how quickly things can change, and when I auditioned for it, it wasn’t supposed to be a recurring role, but it was suppose to be an episodic and then done.  They are now getting back in their production offices once we got Hurricane Sandy out of the way.  I feel more confident now that I am really involved in this show in some small way.

MICHAEL:

The big question David … Will you be on Deception with your clothes on?  Or, off?

DAVID:

Courtesy/ManhattanRepTheatre

Believe it, or not?  I am wearing layers of clothing. .. A lot!   I am a motorcycle guy and I have my hoodie and leather jacket.  He is a little rougher around the edges than Ford.  It’s a blast.  I am working with a girl named Ella Rae Peck.  She was heavily recurring on Gossip Girl last year.  When I saw she was attached to it, I was thrilled.  She and I had actually done a Gossip Girl episode earlier in the year.  On Gossip Girl we were playing best friends, and on Deception we are playing lovers.  So, we are playing opposite of what we played before, which is great.

MICHAEL:

In closing, I just want to say kudos to you, David.  Best of luck with putting up your play!  You must be very proud. 

DAVID:

It’s a little nerve-wracking thinking about what you are doing, but my girlfriend told me, “You are creating something in the middle of New York City.  How many people get to do that?”

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God we all miss our soaps soooo much! And of course all the Actors Too!!

Lots of good information here! Still really missing OLTL…

Congratulations to David Gregory and his upcoming projects. I am so glad he is getting new projects. I miss One Life to Live so much as well as everyone that worked on it including the behind the scenes people. I wish great success for all of them. I love OLTL always!!

Thank you so much Michael Fairman for keeping us up to date on everything.

Yes, Sharon I am so glad Mr. Faiman is keeping us up to date with so many of the actors from cancelled soaps! I still miss OLTL and its been almost a year since it went off the air.

Wow, this brings back so many memories & makes me miss OLTL so much, all over again. I have the official cast portrait framed & hanging on my bedroom wall across from my bed. That is my big, wonderful family who I love & miss so much. Watched the show all my life. I’d give anything to have it back.

David my warmest congrats on ‘She Walks in Beauty’ I’m sure it will be hit & awesome
Interview You’re still missed on Daytime lol !

Thank you, Mr. Fairman for a great interview. Congrats to David Gregory. Miss OLTL & the cast/characters everyday. Always happy to learn what the actors are up to.

So happy David is staying busy with successful projects. Looking forward to “Deception” and wish him a very great future.
All of us miss OLTL very much and feel ABC should have found a way to keep the show on the air. Hope the other “Ford” boys, Nic and Nate are also doing well.
Had OLTL not been cancelled, I’m sure Barret Helms would have become a fan favorite also. Since his actual screen time turned out so minimal, we didn’t have the opportunity to get to know his character.
Just wish I could have gone to New York to see David’s play.

Thank you for keeping in touch with David Gregory. I was a big fan of his work (and shirtless scenes) on OLTL. I recognized him on the streets of NYC before OLTL was canceled (sniff…sniff). Can I just tell you…how nice and personable he was to me. He spent time chating with me about the show and let me take some photos of us together. He had no problems with guy fans coming up to him and saying hi. I was sad that Ford died at the end but it truly was a memorable run. I wish him the best of luck and hopefully I’ll run into him again and say hi. Keep up the great work Michael!

Days Of Our Lives

Days of our Lives Star Blake Berris Chats On the Everett Lynch/Bobby Stein Mystery, Working with His New Co-Stars, and the Last Christmas Episode with Bill Hayes

On Days of our Lives, the return of Blake Berris is making for some very intriguing drama, with the audience guessing just which way the story will go.

When Berris arrived back on Days of our Lives, after previously playing Nick Fallon, he was taking on the new role of Everett Lynch, who has a past with Stephanie Johnson (Abigail Klein) and Jada Hunter (Elia Cantu). Only, as it has been revealed, the past he had with Jada was under the name “Bobby Stein,” who from what we can tell was far from a nice guy.

Blake visited the Michael Fairman Channel for a livestream interview this week, where fans in the live chat were weighing-on what could be the truth about the guy – is he a split personality suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder? Did the accident that cost him a year of his life in a coma, never happen? Recently, someone set fire to the beloved Horton house. Fans are suspecting it would have been “Bobby” who is working for Clyde Weston (James Read). Others believe that Everett/Bobby could actually be Clyde’s son. With upcoming therapy sessions with Dr. Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall) about to start, things are about to get more juicy in Salem.

Photo: JPI

Here are just a few excerpts from our conversation with Blake on a myriad of Everett/Bobby subjects. Make sure to check out the full interview for more.

Did you know that they were going to make Everett Lynch a Jewish character? This is only the second time in the history of the show that they have even had a Jewish character on the canvas. Didn’t they reveal this at the Horton family Christmas episode?

BLAKE: No, they never asked me. I am half-Jewish on my dad’s side. There was never like, ‘You’re Jewish, right? We can call you Jewish on the show?’ At the Horton Christmas, “They made a real point of it, yeah.”

And now the new ‘character’ is “Bobby Stein” …

BLAKE: “Right, and that suggests more Jewish, and then Lynch must be coming from somewhere else, maybe the mother. I was so curious because I think the show has been historically, I’m gonna say, Catholic more than like Wasps. With the Bradys there’s this sort of Irish influence, and then the DiMeras, that’s Italian. So, we’ve got Catholics sort of on both sides that are dominant. Now I, “represent”.

Photo: JPI

What has it been like working with Abigail Klein?

BLAKE: I think she is extraordinary. We start off sort of frosty, or she’s frosty with me, like she doesn’t want to let me in. And then, for a while things are going really well. I just could not adore Abigail more. She’s such a good actor. I could always rely on her to bring me back into a scene and be there in this emotionally, supportive way.

Photo: JPI

Everett and Chad seemed to be becoming friend-ish, when all went awry when at the PCPD interrogation room, Everett let him know about Elia and Bobby Stein, and Chad let him have it for worming his way back in to Stephanie’s life.

BLAKE: Billy would call us the ‘disgusting brothers’ and that’s a reference from Succession, because all of a sudden they’re just so chummy with each other. It’s like all of a sudden we just had this like ‘Bernstein and Woodward’, sort of dynamic duo. I think that Everett really started to think of Chad as a friend and feels sort of disappointed, and he feels, “Oh, it’s that easy? I just needed to have some other identity and now you’re a fair-weather friend?”‘

Photo: JPI

In recent scenes, Jada sees Bobby Stein for the first time, and we see you and Elia Cantu share scenes with each other for the first time. What is it like working with Elia?

BLAKE: She’s fire, man. She comes in hot and she tells you the way it’s going to be. I think early on, we were trying to suss each other out and the more we worked together, the more comfortable you get with somebody. I think actors do this sometimes with each other; if there’s spice on screen, you like to keep some of what you have on-screen in your (real-life) interactions because it helps … it helps the work.  Eventually, we just sort of wore each other down and we’re like, ‘I actually totally get you, and you’re great.'”

Did you know that they were going to make Everett Lynch a Jewish character? This is only the second time in the history of the show that they have even had a Jewish character and didn’t they reveal this at the Horton family Christmas episode?

BLAKE: No, they never asked me. I am half-Jewish on my dad’s side. There was never like, ‘You’re Jewish, right? We can call you Jewish on the show?’ At the Horton Christmas, “They made a real point of it, yeah.”

And now the new ‘character’ is “Bobby Stein” …

BLAKE: “Right, and that suggests more Jewish, and then Lynch must be coming from somewhere else, maybe the mother. I was so curious because I think the show has been historically, I’m gonna say, Catholic more than like Wasps. With the Bradys there’s this sort of Irish influence, and then the DiMeras, that’s Italian. So we’ve got Catholics sort of on both sides that are dominant. Now I, “represent”.

Photo: JPI

You were on set and in the annual Horton Christmas episode which sadly marked the last for Days of our Lives legendary Bill Hayes, who passed away in January of this year.  What do you recall of that tape day?

BLAKE: It was the Christmas episode when we were watching Susan (Julie) and Bill, say ‘Merry Christmas.’  And there was something about it that just felt like it could be the last time. I mean, it wrecked us all on set. Bill gets so choked up and there was something really profound about the moment. They kiss each other as they have so many times before on the show. It was just beautiful. It felt beautiful to be there for that last Christmas. He’s just such an icon. Every time I’d see him, he was so with it … he knew my name, he knew his lines. What an incredible, incredible man.

Photo: JPI

Fans will get to see Everett in therapy sessions with Dr. Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall)? Would you say she is helping the guy?

BLAKE: Deidre’s always making jokes about Marlena, ‘She’s the worst therapist in the world’ (Laughs) I remember in the first therapy session, we almost couldn’t get through the scenes because it’s just so clear that Everett has a litany of very profound psychological issues that he is going to have to work through. He’ll keep coming back. This guy’s gonna pay the bills!

Photo: JPI

Viewers are waiting to see how they mystery of Everett Lynch/Bobby Stein plays out. What can you say as a tease for what’s to come?

BLAKE: As far as a tease, I would say, you have all these characters sort of, trying to wake up the ‘sleeping giant’ in a way. I think it’s safe to say that like if you poke a bear, the bear might wake up.

Watch the livestream chat with Blake in full below.

Now let us know, what do you think is going with Everett/Bobby? What has happened to him in his past? Share your theories in the comment section below, and make sure to catch Days of our Lives next week on Peacock for more to his story.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Melody Thomas Scott Talks on 45 Years as Nikki Newman, the Keys to Playing Drunk, And Those Genoa City Relationships

February is ‘Nikki Newman Month’ in soapland as the The Young and the Restless iconic Melody Thomas Scott celebrates her 45th anniversary in her leading role.

My how time flies! Nikki has had numerous marriages, and some to the same man, battled her addiction to alcohol too many times to count (and we loved it all), and faced so much heartache in the process.

Currently, on all-new episodes of the top-rated CBS daytime drama series, Nikki can’t quite get a grip as Jordan (Colleen Zenk) is out there and in the middle of her next master plot to make Nikki suffer, all the while Nikki is drinking again. Thanks to the heinous plot concocted by Jordan and Claire (Hayley Erin) that revealed itself last November.

Photo: JPI

In a special conversation for You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Melody shared her thoughts on a myriad of subjects including: her current story, those long tape days at Victor and Nikki’s weddings, why she plays drunk better than anyone on television, plus we take a mini-deep dive into Nikki’s past.

Y&R fans were stunned when the powers-that-be had Nikki kidnapped and then hooked her up to an IV of booze. Just how much did Melody know of the story going in? She elaborated, “I knew Nikki would be terrorized. That’s all that I knew. I thought that sounded like great fun. I didn’t know for a little bit that she was going to fall off the wagon in the process of it. And then when I heard how it would happen, I was thrilled to bits. I did kind of want to have a little leader (or crawl) down at the bottom of the screen saying, ‘Hey, people don’t put an IV with vodka in your arm because that will kill you.’ But, poetic license, I suppose.”

Photo: JPI

Melody also weighed-in on if she thinks Nikki will stop drinking anytime soon, expressing, “She just can’t get out of this. Then of course, Jordan’s not letting her out very easily. Just when Nikki thinks she is mentally strong enough to never take another drink, well, of course she does, because something else happens. I think it’s also a learning point for people who are watching the show who may have an addiction problem. Now, I could be wrong, but I think it’d be highly unusual for somebody to be just mentally strong to be able to stop.”

If you wondered if Melody enjoys playing a drunk Nikki, look no more, “I do. That’s simply for selfish reasons,” she shared. “That’s for my enjoyment. I take great pleasure in it. It’s fun for me, and just the process of pretending to be drunk. I love the end result. I try not to do too much because there’s nothing worse when an actor is overplaying drunk. So you have to kind of keep it a little bit underneath (the surface). However, sometimes because of Jordan, Nikki does get much sloppier than I normally would play it.”

Photo: JPI

In recent episodes, it seems that Jack (Peter Bergman) and Nikki are gravitating more to each other, as both are drawn together through their shared experiences with addiction. Victor (Eric Braeden) is not happy that his arch-nemesis is helping Nikki try to stay sober. Could Melody see Jack and Nikki becoming romantic again? “I love Peter. I mean, Peter was my second favorite husband on Y&R. It would be wonderful, but I don’t know if the fans would go for that,” she explained. “They’re so invested in Niktor that I think they would really be upset about that unless Victor did something really crummy, then I could buy that.”

Photo: JPI

One of the more ‘out there’ stories during Melody’s 45-year run, was when Nikki was paired with Crazy Edward, and he took her home to meet his mother … who was in an urn! You would think maybe Melody didn’t like the story .. but think again! “Bill Bell (co-creator, Y&R) was writing the show in those days, and Bill kept that information pretty tight. I don’t remember us knowing even a week in advance. Maybe, we would get our scripts, three or four days in advance and that was it. You knew nothing about future story, but I loved the story,” she raved. “It was almost Hitchcockian, shall we say. The actor who played Crazy Edward, Paul Tulley was so magnificent and such a sweetheart. We loved working with each other so much, but man, when that red light came on the camera, he scared the you-know-what out of me. He was absolutely terrifying. But then, the minute the scene was over, we’re fooling around and laughing and everything. He was so good. So good!”

Photo: JPI

According to Melody, the pairing of Victor and Nikki was not something she, nor Eric Braeden, initially thought would made sense: “I was a little terrified when I heard that he and I would be doing scenes. I thought, ‘What, what?’ He also wondered, ‘What am I going to be doing working with that young kid, that snotty kid?’ We had no idea what Bill Bell saw. He had a vision with us and somehow knew that we would have chemistry. It didn’t take Bill long to show us in the scripts why he put us together. Then, we started to see it. Although, it was hard to imagine at first, certainly we knew it worked by the time Nikki had baby number one during the ‘Who’s the father?’ storyline. Nikki and Victor weren’t even married yet. So, we did figure it out pretty early on.”

Photo: JPI

From her early years as Nikki Reed, Melody reflected back on some major story points in her character’s history, relating, “I actually did like her in the very beginning when she was just a little brat living with her sister and her father, who of course ended up trying to rape her…  and she had hit him over the head with a lamp … and he died. I did not care for the stripping storyline at all. Only because I knew that I didn’t have the natural dancing ability. I wasn’t fluid enough to really look good up there stripping. I know they hired wonderful choreographers and everything for me, but I just didn’t feel worthy of being up there … I guess is what it was. Of course, now I look back on it and I think, ‘Oh, I guess it wasn’t too bad.’ Later, there was a strip she did in the Colonnade Room. At the time, she was married to Jack. Victor’s sitting there with some other woman and she’s drunk. I saw that scene recently, and I thought it was great. I didn’t at the time, but looking back, I thought, ‘Wow, that was good.'”

Photo: CBS

Watch the full 45th anniversary conversation with Melody below.

Now let us know, are you enjoying Nikki being back on the bottle? Would you want to see Jack and Nikki try their relationship one more time? What has been your favorite storyline of Melody’s over the last 45 years on Y&R.  Let us know in the comment section.

 

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Days Of Our Lives

Days of our Lives Legendary Susan Seaforth Hayes Talks on the Horton House Fire Storyline, Mourning the Loss of Husband Bill Hayes & His Near-to-Final Performances

It has been an emotional time for longtime fans of Days of our Lives and beloved veteran, Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie Williams). On-screen, the iconic Horton home was burned to the ground in what appears to be a storyline-dictated decision that shocked many. In real life, Susan is mourning the loss of her husband and DAYS enduring favorite, Bill Hayes (Doug Williams), who passed away at 98 in January. Over the weekend, during the 2024 SAG Awards In Memoriam tribute, Hayes was remembered along with other motion pictures and television stars whom we lost over the past year.

Since the Peacock streaming soap opera tapes months ahead of air, the Horton home fire and its aftermath are currently playing out in all-new episodes with more on this story featuring Susan to come. Bill Hayes also appeared in several of these episodes making it all the more touching and heartfelt.

When Julie came back to the Horton home to see what remained of it after the fire, Days of our Lives fans were treated to a heart-tugging episode that streamed last Wednesday, February 21st. In it, newly-taped scenes of a young Tom (Zach Chyz) and Alice (Sydney Kathrann Smith) Horton telling the story of how they came to live in the house to raise their children, juxtaposed with Julie and Doug (and members of their family and friends), surveying what’s left of the beloved house, brought many a tear.

Michael Fairman TV talked with Susan Seaforth Hayes for this very candid and heartfelt conversation to get her feelings on the Horton house fire, and being given the opportunity to have a storyline at this point in her storied career. In addition, Susan provides some insight on what it was like for her ailing late husband to tape scenes at DAYS shortly before his death, what the series plans to do about writing off the character of Doug while honoring the legacy of Bill Hayes, and how she knew she had the greatest love affair that anyone could hope for in their lifetime, which in turn, has inspired all of us.

Photo: JPI

I was shocked when they decided to burn down the Horton house. Were you at first devastated … and did you know that there would be a big story surrounding it?

SUSAN: I did not know how big a story was with it. I knew that many years ago, another regime had planned on trashing the set and getting rid of the set because nobody cared about the Hortons anymore. It was stopped by one person, and I was eternally grateful for that. This time I thought, “Oh, my goodness! I guess I’ll be meeting people for a cup of coffee at the Horton Square. No home, no roots, no reason to be called in,” and thinking that’s the end of Julie. That’s the end of Doug and Julie. Then, when they began to structure a story around it, I think all of this came up during the writer’s strike. So of course, I was curious to see how this was going to turn out. I enjoyed the aftermath, because in the aftermath, and a little bit before the fire, if you saw the show, I get to talk a bit about the history of the household and the people in it.

Photo: JPI

In the special episode that aired last Wednesday, Julie gave Leo (Greg Rikaart) the family tree history of the Hortons for his story in the Spectactor.

SUSAN:  I’ve had a couple of good long soliloquies about the past. I’m fated to be the character that does that because I’m the one still standing. I must say, I do enjoy doing them. Emotionally, all I have to do is rerun some of the actors and my own family in my mind and the emotion starts to come, you know, the emotion starts to flow.

Julie talks to Maggie (Suzanne Rogers) immediately after the fire. She is upset that the Horton family Christmas ornaments are gone. Fans were not happy that they could possibly have burned up. Thank God! There was a happy ending when they were located and unscathed, or there would have been hell to pay! 

SUSAN: I knew that they were in the prop room and that they still existed. But how much they were going to put a story around their loss, I did not know. We don’t get to ponder the plot. We just get to show up and start doing it. I think on this particular matter, something as important as a structure of the original set of the show, there’s been quite a bit of interest. So, I can appreciate that.

Photo: JPI

I was thinking, ‘Did they decide to burn the house down, because they were finally retiring the old Horton home set?’ What was the purpose of it?

SUSAN: They’ve done everything to make quicker set changes, which is remarkable and very efficient right now. The set designer said, “I’ll be interested in your input,” which was nice. The one thing that I loved that had been done, didn’t work. You couldn’t shoot into it. It was a federal mirror over the mantle. I loved it. The size was perfect. I was just delighted. And then, we tried to shoot it, and because of the roundness of the mirror, you got a perfect view of camera one and camera three. So, it came down.

This is Julie’s project to renovate the home. She’s determined to bring back all the memories and redo it?

SUSAN: Absolutely, which is another nice note to play for my character. She’s determined to make the house something that her grandparents would recognize and still feel comfortable in.

Photo: JPI

What did you think of the episode that just aired where the show incorporated flashbacks of a young Tom and Alice Horton?

SUSAN: Well, I set it up. They had their own their own lovely scenes. I read them, and I’m sure the audience was charmed.

What do you remember when you first came to DAYS, and you were in that house, in that set?

SUSAN: What did I notice about the set? I noticed that it was a strange shade of green. (Laughs) It was explained to me that that dull color meant that your face would pop on color TV. I understood that. I loved the little window up the staircase. I’ve always loved that. And at one time, there was a model of the house that sat on the set on its own little pedestal, a little playhouse of the exterior of the house. Whenever the house was on (and remember this is when we were a half-hour and practically live, but not live, because there was no editing), there would also be the sound of a barking dog whenever we reached the Horton house neighborhood. We never saw the dog, but I’m sure his name was “Spot”, and I’m sure he belonged to someone.

PhotoL JPI

You shared so many scenes with Frances Reid (Alice) and MacDonald Carey (Tom) in the Horton living room set and up till they passed. Did they get along well with Bill? Looking back, how was your relationship with them?

SUSAN: They loved him. Well, Mac and Billy had worked together before in theater. Mac was very kind to me at the beginning and helpful. Frances was as well. As Frances got older, she got a bit testy. When someone says, “You’re not going to read the line like that … are you?” It catches your attention. (Laughs). I got peeved at Frances from time to time, but her intent was always to make everything as good as it possibly could be. I saw her come back from her stroke. learn to talk again, learn to do it all again. Not do it easily, but to do it at all was wonderful, and the same with Mac. In his last shows, he was very frail, but we’re actors. We liked being there.

Photo: JPI

During the taping of the episodes surrounding the Horton house fire, Bill was mostly in them with you. How was Bill doing at the time you taped these scenes?

SUSAN: He was okay. He was up for it. He had difficulty moving at that point. So, they restricted his movement a lot. Bill always enjoyed coming to work a lot, and it was extremely difficult for him because he was blind, and didn’t move very well. And now, to do a scene with people who may or may not, have rehearsed with you, who may or may not, give you the exact cue, and when they are attempting to have you look each other in the eye, you can’t see who’s eyes they are, that was the hard part. The easy part was working with him, which was lovely and was a gift. It was a gift from Corday Productions that he was able to work within three weeks of his death, which I thought was super and extraordinary.

Photo: JPI

That is amazing. Did Bill understand everything that was going on at the time of the tapings?

SUSAN: Absolutely. He understood what was going on. He just couldn’t see it or touch it.

The timing couldn’t have been easy for you with Bill’s declining health, and that the show was going to burn down the Horton home where you shared so many scenes and memories.

SUSAN: Well, it hasn’t been my greatest stretch. But I knew that life would be like this. I’ve had five decades of an absolutely wonderful, blessed marriage and a chance to work and a chance to live in my own home and travel, all good. And now, we’re going to have the epilogue. And the epilogue is the hard part, seeing rapid change around you and losing the people that were the center of your life. I’ve just been very fortunate to have cultivated some wonderful friendships, and to have a wonderful large family of Hayeses.

Photo: JPI

You do realize that you and Bill were the gold-standard of what we all should be lucky enough to have in our lives. What an incredible, beautiful, passionate, loving marriage that the two of you had. You don’t see marriages like that anymore. We were all just in awe of the two of you. To us, it was the greatest love affair. You got to have that which is so extraordinary.

SUSAN: I know, and it was all Bill. I mean, any idiot could have been married to Bill Hayes and been deliriously happy. The guy was so perfect in every way that you really would have to pick something and blow it out of proportion to ever complain about any of his traits of character. He was just all good character, goodwill, and good humor. I just followed along and tried to live my life for him, with him, and follow his style, which I hope to carry on. I hope to be as good to people as he was to people, and, not be selfish.

Photo: JPI

I always remembered how the two of you would come to the studio with your suitcases, ready to work no matter what material, large or small, they gave you. You showed up. You just had such great work ethic and you don’t see that as much anymore.

SUSAN: At the moment, it’s hard to find it everywhere. I think it’s probably generational. You cannot get too angry at people that are still holding up their phones in the one rehearsal that we have. I think it’s more convenient to receive your work electronically, but somehow it doesn’t seem quite as real. You don’t have a script in your hand anymore unless you print one up yourself.  Sometimes you haven’t met the person you’re working with. Well, that’s not unusual, but no rehearsal at all, that’s kind of marvelously new.

Photo: JPI

Does Julie lean on anybody for emotional support as she tries to rebuild the Horton home. Who’s there for her?

SUSAN: As far as I can tell, nobody. I’m supposed to be the wise woman, and Marlena (Deidre Hall) is supposed to be the other wise woman. I haven’t had any scenes with Marlena for help. I would think Marlena would be the person I would be going to for grief counseling, for friendship, for all of that. I haven’t seen it in the scripts, yet. I’m still deeply entwined with Chad’s (Billy Flynn) storyline.

How is Billy Flynn to work with?

SUSAN: A pleasure. Billy Flynn has grown a lot as a human being and as an actor since I’ve known him. I’m really enjoying his company and really enjoying doing scenes with him. We rehearse and then we get on other subjects and laugh and talk and inform each other. We’re interested in a lot of the same things. He’s a new parent. He’s really devoting himself to that, to that experience in the best possible way. So, I’m lucky.

Do Julie and Chad try to figure out who set the fire?

SUSAN: Oh yeah.

Photo: JPI

I kept thinking about how Julie got burned in the kitchen fire years ago and her face was scarred, At the time, your mother Elizabeth Harrower was writing DAYS and wrote that for Julie. Did you hate that story?

SUSAN: Well, I know where the story came from. It came up from something in mother’s own life. I knew the people involved, and I wasn’t crazy in love with the idea. Then, when it was supposed to go for six weeks and went on for months and months, I was concerned. Mainly, I was concerned that my face was going to be affected because of the appliance, the scars, that I was wearing. I was told by a dermatologist, “You’re going to have a little beard after this. Ripping your face every single day to get this off is going to be hard on you.” But, I seem to have survived.

Has the show even addressed with you how they plan to handle writing-off the character of Doug Williams, and how they want to honor Bill?

SUSAN: Only in the smallest way. I had a conference call with the producers and our head writer last Friday. I was informed about the immediate, immediate future. I’ve also been promised that they’re going to keep me busy. It’s a cast of over 40 people. I’ll be happy to show up and to be included.

Photo: JPI

I was just hoping that whatever they decide to do with the character of Doug that they were going to run it by you, first.

SUSAN: They have, and they have been very sweet about it.  I’ve got to tell you, this regime, they have a sign up on the wall now, that says, Things we expect on this stage.”  The first one at the top of the list is “kindness.”

Have you watched your work back all these years? I know some actor’s never like to watch the scenes they taped.

SUSAN: I think you learn by watching yourself, if you have an open mind, and if you are not hypercritical, or dismissive. I cannot be dismissive of a character that has given me such a wonderful life. I’m still interested in Julie, perhaps I wouldn’t have been if I’d been on the show for three years and never returned to it. But I’m quite interested in her now, and what she has to offer as a member of this ensemble.

Photo: JPI

Julie’s ties to the whole history of Days of our Lives from this point on are very important. How do you feel about that?

SUSAN:  There are those that don’t care about the history of the show. I know that. I know there are those that only care about continuing with something snappy to keep eyes on the screen through action, adventure, drama, death, kidnapping, missed opportunities, all that, which I suppose that’s what the audience craves. But, that’s not just what the show can do. What the show can do so well is character. There’s a lot of people over 70 who are still on the show now. I’m the oldest one, but I’m not the only one. We’re coming up on the 60th anniversary. I don’t think the show is worn out. And if it is, it’s had a remarkably successful six decades.

Lamon Archey (Eli) is back on DAYS for a stint. What has it been like to work with Lamon as his on-screen grandmother?

SUSAN: I think he’s terrific and visually he is so beautiful, so appealing. I think both Eli and Lani (Sal Stowers) are very appealing as characters. I’m delighted to be connected to Eli as a family member. That was a lucky break for me.

Photo: JPI

Do you think DAYS fans are going to continue to be emotional in the aftermath of this fire and all the story that comes out of it? Do you think we’ll be touched by what Julie goes through to get the remains all cleaned up for a new house?

SUSAN: I think anybody in America who’s gone through a disaster, and have unfortunately had the disruption of their home, will be sympathetic and interested in how it all turns out. It’s a nice note to play. We haven’t had to do that very often. We just go from one lovely apartment to another without much discussion. I think this is the one set that meant a lot to people. I was very sorry to lose “Julie’s Place,” as it turned into kind of a sandwich shop. I still loved having a business, a tangible place to be, and an alternate place for people to meet.

Photo: NBC

Upon reflection, what was your favorite scene with Bill? Was it when Julie and Doug got married on-screen, or was it something else that was much more intimate?

SUSAN: I think our last scene is going to be more important, emotionally. I think the first wedding was beautiful, but the material around the time of our second wedding, when Brenda Benet (ex-Lee) came back on the show and Doug stood up to her and says, “I’m not going to be manipulated anymore,” was also strong. There has been a lot of very important times – when Doug was killed-off by James Reilly, and we met in the tunnel of light. That was a day. That was a difficult day, which I certainly can’t revisit right now emotionally. When Julie found out Doug had run off and married her mother, Addie, that was a day. It was a day because, I went to the producer at the time, Jack Herzberg, and said, “Is this it? Am I not going to work with him anymore?”And he said, “Right! That’s it. You’re not working with Bill Hayes anymore.” We were not married at the time, and I thought I was going to go through the floor! That wasn’t a happy day.

Photo: JPI

In terms of Bill’s final day on the set with you, did you know that it was his last, and what would turn out to be his last scene?

SUSAN: Well, they didn’t know. But I knew. I had been allowed to rewrite it. So, I can’t tell you Bill’s last line now, of course, but I will in time.

What do you think about the sentiments shared by Susan on her late husband, and this storyline? How do hope the show properly honors Bill and Doug Williams when the series writes-off the character? Are you enjoying the Horton house fire story arc or does it upset you too much? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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