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The Don Diamont Interview – The Bold and the Beautiful

Photo Credit: Gilles Toucas

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

The lip-smack heard around the world on The Bold and the Beautiful, had a vulnerable Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) and Bill (Don Diamont) giving into their attraction to each other, albeit for a minute.  Soon the reality and the gravity of what they had done would come back to bite them!  You see, just as soon as Bill and Brooke headed home to Los Angeles there was previously MIA Katie (Heather Tom), who had vanished due to her post-partum depression, waiting for her husband!  Now what was Bill going to do?  Or … Brooke for that matter?

On-Air On-Soaps caught up with daytime heartthrob Don Diamont to get his thoughts on this latest wrinkle, which could eventually cause a seismic shift in the relations between the Logan and the Spencer families!  Meanwhile, Dollar Bill had been up to his neck in manipulations in his attempt to keep ex-girl-on-the-side Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) happily married to his son, Liam (Scott Clifton), and away from Liam’s true love, Hope (Kim Matula)!  Now that much of his machinations have been exposed and caused havoc for his family including Caroline (Linsey Godfrey), Diamont has been at the story forefront painting a rather complex side of Mr. Spencer!

But while there are big changes on-screen for soap veteran, Diamont, over this past summer, there were big changes in Don’s personal life.  Don married his long time girlfriend, Cindy Ambuehl, in a romantic ceremony outside of Monte Carlo surrounded by his sons, castmates and friends, and as you will read, it was a magical time for his family.  And, family means everything to Mr. Diamont!  Here now is Dandy Don!

MICHAEL:

When you got the scripts that said, “Bill kisses Brooke,” or “Brooke goes to look for an MIA Katie with Bill,” how much of the story did you know?  When Ronn Moss (Ex-Ridge) left the series, did you know that this is what was going to happen?

DON:

Courtesy/CBS

I had an idea that we were going to move in that direction. 

MICHAEL:

The reason I ask, is that the last time we chatted you had said you think Katie and Bill are a great couple, and this new romantic entanglement could lead the viewers now questioning who to root for!

DON:

I do think Katie and Bill are a great couple and I love working with Heather Tom (Katie).  I think it reflects in our work.  Although, if Heather hated me, it would still be as good. (Laughs) But I don’t think that is the case, but having said that, we still went through the Steffy period, and that was challenging for Bill and Katie.  As this story progresses with Brooke, I am sure it will present its share of challenges, as well.  My feeling was that it has to be a real love story that has to develop with Bill and Brooke, as he has a real love story with Katie.  But, it has to be a real love story, and they have to be driven together and not an overly contrived fashion.  It is Bill’s sister-in-law, and Katie is Brooke’s sister.  Given Brooke’s history, that whatever story gets told, it has to be very compelling that would push these two people together that would otherwise not go anywhere near that.

MICHAEL:

The groundwork was laid out very well for Brooke and Bill to share that kiss.  Brooke was frantic to find Stephanie’s engagement ring that she gave to Brooke shortly before she died.  Bill was then the one to find it and hand it to Brooke.  There was symbolism in all of that for the future, for sure, and then … BAM … they kissed!

DON:

They both were in very vulnerable places.  At that point, as far as Bill knew, post-partum depression or not, Katie wanted a divorce.  She did not want to be a mother to their child, and she in her own right, wanted a divorce.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Next, Bill and Brooke head back to the Spencer home after Stephanie’s passing, and lo and behold …. there was Katie!  And your face in the scene was priceless!

DON:

Yes, there she was! (Laughs)  You know, Heather and I had talked about playing this scene.  Bill was and is conflicted.  He would be conflicted even if nothing had happened with Brooke.  Katie was back and like, “Oh, I am back, and everything’s wonderful and it’s all good.”  No it’s not!  You left and put us through a very difficult time.  Bill obviously was not aware of the ordeal Katie was going through, and that made this more difficult as well.  So, add to that, the feelings the Katie helped create – the feelings he now shares with Brooke – and obviously it wasn’t, “Katie’s home and everything is great. Oh, joy!”

MICHAEL:

So is Bill buying the post-partum depression from Katie as the reason for her checking out on him and baby Will?  Is he Ok with that?

DON:

He is many things, and idiot is not one of them.  So yeah, he gets it, but it still makes him feel like he is on unstable ground now.  So here is who I thought she was, and yeah, the post-partum depression was a big part of this.  But, is there more going on here than that that is going to potentially rear its ugly head?  She is not the same person Bill thought he married.  It’s unsettling for him and he is not sure what to do.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Gilles Toucas

He wants to be a father to baby Will, right?  This is his chance to be a dad after missing out on years raising his other son, Liam!

DON:

No question.  He loves this baby.

MICHAEL:

One can assume this will cause conflict with Liam down the road, because he was Bill’s first born son?

DON:

I would imagine once Will is an infant and goes to boarding school and returns as 17 (laughs), I would think down the road that two male Spencer’s would be a great story to tell!  Will would be the golden child, for sure.  I would guess Will probably will be molded more in Bill’s image.  I already suggested putting a sword around his neck! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Yes! They need to cast a little Don Diamont who looks like you!  In real life, you are a father to a ton of boys! (Laughs)  There isn’t one person we have ever met who knows you, who does not say you are the best father.

DON:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

I try.  Being a dad is something I always wanted to be.  When I was a kid, I had valued my relationship with my dad, and I lost that pretty young.  I wanted that and I thought it was very important.

MICHAEL:

You finally got married to your long time sweetheart, Cindy Ambuehl, over the summer.  How was the wedding?

DON:

We went to Rome, Venice, and Monte Carlo.  The wedding took place June 12th in Eze, which is this magical storybook medieval city.  It was perfect.  As I said, because we had waited to get married, the boys were older, and we all had many years together.  So, a lot of our collective life experiences were brought to bear.  It was very much like we all got married.  It was very emotional for everyone.  Cindy walked out, and Luca, my eleven year old, just started crying.  Let me tell you, I was having to hold everyone up at my own wedding! (Laughs) My son Alexander made a speech on behalf of all the boys, and he got emotional and everyone started crying.

MICHAEL:

I remember chatting with you and Cindy on the red carpet at B&B’s silver anniversary party!  She was so funny and charming.

DON:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Cindy is hysterical; she has an amazing sense of humor.  She is a very funny.  When she was still acting comedy was her real passion.  She had two sitcoms, and she had guest-starred on every sitcom from the 90’s: Seinfeld, Frasier, Wings, and on and on.  She looks like she does, and is hysterical on top of it.  She often brings me to tears and I beg her to stop because I am laughing so hard that I am doubling over in pain.  And on top of that, she is gorgeous, brilliant, a hard worker, and an amazing mom … and she puts up with me! (Laughs).

MICHAEL:

This role as Dollar Bill Spencer seems to be the defining role in your daytime career.  So many of your peers feel that you really “pop” with this character.  Would you say that you have really immersed yourself in this role, like none other?

DON:

What happened on Y&R and the way it happened was difficult, and when Brad Bell (B&B’s executive producer and head writer) called it was a job, so that was great.  So when he described the character to me it was over the phone, but then we later sat down and he told me he had created this character for me.  I just immediately understood and knew Bill Spencer.  I was able to create a life experience in my head for him, and had just a great give-and-take collaboration with Brad.  He gave me the outline for this guy, and he gave me the “ball” and the freedom and trusted me.  I felt that from him.  Brad expressed to me that he had very high hopes for the character and that he created other leading male roles over the years for this show that were not so successful.  I promised him that I would not let him down.  In creating Bill, I was able to bring some elements to me that are right there and other elements that we all have that are smaller parts of who we are, and parts of your personality that you handle; like Bill is quick to temper.  I, Don, am not so quick to temper, so you bring that, but it’s there and you bring it more to the forefront.  I relished the opportunity to bring Bill to life.  I thought this is an opportunity to bring a unique and dynamic character to the show.  It is my job to make him complex, contradictory, and a Type-A person.

MICHAEL:

When I talked recently with Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke) she was saying, “Oh God, I don’t want Brooke to be paired with another man so soon after Ridge.”  And … here Brooke was kissing Bill!  Did the two of you have any talks about that and address any concerns?

DON:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

No.  We did not really talk about it.  (Laughs)  I think her concerns were the same as mine and Heather’s; that the integrity of all concerned not be comprised.  We will see how this plays out as we move forward.

MICHAEL:

What are your thoughts on this situation?  Do you think Katie and Bill can come back from anything and endure it as couple?  Or, do you think Brooke is a real spoiler and threat to their relationship?

DON:

I think where Katie is at now is not good, especially if they can’t come to a meeting of the minds.  Bill feels this is not the Katie that he married.  This is a person living in fear, as opposed to this wallflower of a person that had all this stuff within her that he saw and yanked out of her.  Bill made her more in his own image.  Then, Katie became more of a powerhouse and a go-getter.  That is not who she is right now.  She is strong in other ways, but not that person.  We will see how it unfolds.  I think it’s great story.

MICHAEL:

There will probably be at least 327 episodes to come now of Brooke and Bill looking longingly at each other, with nothing advancing! (Laughs)

DON:

I don’t read facebook, or the blogs, or Twitter, just because I don’t want to know what people’s opinions are, or what the reactions out there are.  I just like to do my work and do my thing, and not let it be colored by opinion … everyone else can do all that.  I don’t really know what the reaction of Bill and Brooke is at this point.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

From the reactions we have seen, the fans are more disappointed in Brooke because she just apologized to Stephanie for her behavior with all the Forrester men and taking them from her.  Then she kissed Bill, and to many it made her look bad.

DON:

She thinks Katie is gone at that point, and that Katie wants a divorce.  Brooke is dealing with her own vulnerability of the Ridge situation and losing Stephanie, her best friend.  I think moving forward it’s important that Brooke fights against whatever feelings clearly she has for Bill, and genuinely tries to make Bill and Katie work things out in their marriage.

MICHAEL:

B&B’s first on-screen same sex couple: Joanna Johnson (Karen) and Crystal Chappell (Dani) were back for a short-arc after Caroline’s “accident”.   What did you think about the way Bill handled the reveal of his sister’s sexuality?

DON:

Who would have expected that Bill would respond that way, and be OK with his sister’s sexuality?  I was glad that he responded in that way.  It was very important.  I said from the very beginning, “Bill is probably very Republican with his wallet, but he is very liberal in his social views.”   He does not care who sleeps with whom.  Bill is not about that … Jewish, Gentile, Muslim, Gay, Straight… he doesn’t care.  If you mess with him, no matter what you are, you are in trouble! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Photo Credits: L Bohm & K. Hutchins

Would you like to see the show delve more into Karen and Bill’s brother-sister relationship and dynamic?

DON:

I like our scenes, and I like our dynamic.  Crystal is great, too.   I liked the scenes with Crystal where he is thinking, “Oh, yeah. She is into me. C’mon! You’re telling me, I don’t know when a woman is interested in me?”  I thought it would be kind of funny, if Crystal’s character was finding herself into Bill! (Laughs)  That would have created a riff between Bill and his sister, Karen.

MICHAEL:

What do you think of Bill’s sudden alcohol “problem”? And is it really a problem? Or, do you think he will get this under control?

DON:

He doesn’t have anything to get under control. It’s not a problem. Bill is not drinking any more or any less than he ever was. Bill really sees it more as Katie having a heightened sensitivity since having gone through her recent near death experience, almost losing the baby and her post partum depression.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Everyone in town is furious with him: from Hope, Caroline, Liam etc.  How was it to play all of those heavy confrontational scenes?  Bill even got so upset that he “stabbed” himself with Liam’s little dagger charm on his necklace! Is he unraveling?

DON:

Confrontation plays right into Bill’s wheel house so that is a non-issue.  There are certain things that Bill certainly doesn’t like being challenged about but he is always up to the task. I relish the opportunities to play those scenes. Those kinds of scenes get your juices flowing. Lastly, as the audience found out, Bill did not actually stab himself.

MICHAEL:

One day Bill will get shot by any number of suspects, and they can do a “Who Shot Bill?” whodunit!  Of course, Bill lives though it! (Laughs)

DON:

You mean like Dallas’ “Who Shot J.R.?”   This would then be “Who Shot B.S?” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Well … Bill did have a part in the machinations that ruined Hope and Liam’s chance at happiness that inevitably pushed Liam into the arms of Steffy!

DON:

Courtesy/CBS

Bill got Deacon out of prison to throw an emotional wrench in Hope’s world, and then that would hopefully stop the wedding from happening.  Deacon showed up in Hope’s hotel room while she was getting ready for the wedding.  However, Hope and Liam did get married, as Bill had made clear.  Hope showed some emotional fortitude and Bill respected that.  He did welcome her into the family, and he meant that.  It’s not his fault that the wedding wasn’t legal, and that they neglected to take care of the paperwork.  It was really on Rick.  Rick was the one who created the problem, and that has been Bill’s position this whole time.

MICHAEL:

Were you on set for Susan Flannery’s (Ex-Stephanie) farewell party day?

DON:

As I said to Susan, my first episode was with her and that meant a lot to me.  Bill being introduced in scenes with Stephanie brought gravitas to Bill right off the bat.  It was an honor for me to work with her, and to start out what I hoped would be a nice long run here.  I valued my scenes with Susan.  The first eight weeks I was on the show that story arc revolved around Stephanie.  I worked with her quite a bit.  I have so much respect for her as an actress and as person, and it was really wonderful for me.  I was glad I got the time with her that I did.  The entire send-off was beyond well deserved.  If anyone deserved that kind of send-off, both in story and in terms of the party we had here, it is Susan. My hats are off to Brad Bell for all of that.  I give Susan a lot of credit too for giving Brad the opportunity to send her and the character off in the manner in which she he and Susan deserved. 

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Gilles Toucas

In closing, do you want the audience to like Bill, hate Bill, or ultimately both?

DON:

Interesting question and nobody has ever asked that.  I think that both are the answer.  I think Bill is very entertaining and a likeable hard-ass.  Even though he gets in his own way, genuinely he believes he is doing the right thing.  The commitment to his family is clear.  I think there are some people out there who love to hate him, and some who love him, and some who want to be Bill!  It’s all of that.  But overall, I think he is very entertaining, and coming up he will be smack dab in the middle of a huge firestorm with the women in his life.

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annesha
Guest
annesha

I would love for you and Steffy to fid your way back to each other, what do you think about that?

kimmie
Guest
kimmie

cause they truely deserve each other, thats why bill fights so hard to keep steffy near, he wants her but is with katie so next best thing give er to his son, just keep it in the fam right dolla bill

Dee Bickford
Guest
Dee Bickford

I love Don. When he was on YR, and love him on BB more! His character is basically good.. But he is all man! So good to look at too, so that sure doesn’t hurt. 🙂 I can see lots of chemistry with Brooke. In spite of her history. That’s life in the soaps! I agree with Bill about Hope too! I don’t like her with Liam! It actually surprises me how much I dislike her character. I am sure she is a lovely person. So credit for my dislike is given to the writers. 🙂

Jeffery
Guest
Jeffery

It’s so refreshing to see Don so vibrant on B&B after his Brad seemed to diminish over many years on Y&R. B&B is like daytime’s answer to Greek mythology, and Bill Spencer is a formidable god. Of course, we can love and hate him at the same time. His sexiness counterbalances the absolute jerk that he is. He’s both bold and beautiful! Without Don in the role, I don’t think we’d get that complexity. It’s compelling, to say the least. So glad to see this talented guy not going to waste.

carla
Guest
carla

we want Bill & steffy together!

Lee
Guest
Lee

I absolutely LOVE Bill and Steffy as a couple. Those two were so hot!!!!!!!!! What were the writers thinking breaking them up!

Jane
Guest
Jane

I soo love the Bill Spencer character, when he appears on screen i find im holding my breath just waiting to see what will happen next. Don – you are wonderful to watch, keep it up!

sam
Guest
sam

Love Brooke and Bill together

Joanna Maria
Guest
Joanna Maria

Bill’s heart belongs to Katie, Brooke or Steffy won’t change. Bill always “has” feelings for another woman when feels hurt, abandon or betrayed by Katie. Does Anyone See a Pattern Here?

Joanna Maria
Guest
Joanna Maria

I meant Steffy and Brooke won’t change this!

beth garvin
Guest
beth garvin

I have been watching b&b and y&r for 20yrs. I think bill and steffy looked good together! hope and liam should have 1 more chance without anyone messing with em. steffys plane should crash and she would lose the baby.

lori
Guest
lori

i totally agree

Christine
Guest
Christine

There are other less dramatic ways to lose a baby then a plane crash. Most pregnancies don’t make it through the first trimester because the baby isn’t meant to be in the first place.

Sheila E. Hollingsworth
Guest
Sheila E. Hollingsworth

I love to see you on B&B Don, you are so goodlooking!!!!! You also have a very beautiful wife & family, so proud of you!! Keep on doing your thing we love YOU!!!

anothercc
Guest
anothercc

I would love to see Bill, Karen & Dani in a storyline. The possibilities are endless. Dani could go nose to nose with Bill in business and be all protective of her family at the same time. $Bill & Dani Warfare will be an opportunity missed if it is not explored.

Hillary
Guest
Hillary

I love Don & Bill. However, the Steffy/Liam/Hope triangle is soooo tired. Stop. Please. I honestly don’t even care who Liam is with anymore. They can all go fly a kite for all I care. Is he the only hot, rich, available guy in LA? C’mon, B&B you’re killing me with this!

Wanda
Guest
Wanda

I loved Brad on Y & R. I despise Bill. The only woman on B & B that deserves him is Steffy. They are both just a like and deserve each other.

Shari
Guest
Shari

I love DD and loved Bill until he decided to change his thinking of Brooke. Not only is Brooke the sister of Katie, she just turned Bill into all the other men (cough) on the show. I’m not a huge fan of Katie’s nor do I want Bill with Steffy (prefer her with a new hot guy) but Bill was the man you loved to watch because he meant business. Sorry, but Brooke brings him down and I don’t think we’ll see the man that Bill was when he originally showed up. Next thing, he’ll be giving Brooke his FC… Read more »

erica
Guest
erica

disagree, finally an exiting storyline with the Bill and Brooke forbidden romance instead of everydays of the old Hope/Liam/Steffy triangle, so so played out, they try to recreate Brooke/Ridge/Taylor triangle we get it but it is not the same..Steffy although a dynamic character is not tornado Brooke Logan and Ridge had far more sex-appeal, charisma than Liam back in the day..i would say Hope is less dull than Taylor but Taylor was particularly gorgeous back in the day, Hope is just pretty..so not the same..i am not sure it can endure years like old school Brooke, Ridge, Taylor were able… Read more »

Lily
Guest
Lily

Sorry, but there is nothing exciting about seeing Brooke act like a hoe who can’t keep her hands off her relatives significant others once again. Not looking forward to another boring triangle.

k/kay
Guest
k/kay

Lily I agree Don Diamont’s statement about the character of Brooke keeping integrity. What a joke and just for the record KKL wants to be front and center all the time the show has and still is a snoozefest.

Cris
Guest
Cris

Love Don As $ Bill

ZALINA GOSINE
Guest
ZALINA GOSINE

BILL IS HOT,BROOK IS HOT,LET;S SEE SOME FIREWORKS WITH THEM….

julie
Guest
julie

yep finally an exiting story, makes me want to watch ! Yep scandalous, soapy, forbidden, sexy, they have chemistry so go go Brooke and Bill, write this story Bold and Beautiful, we want to be entertained !

jessica hutson
Guest
jessica hutson

Am I mistaken? Isn’t the actress who plays Carolines mother , the same actress who was Ridges wife/lover years ago ? I think she died of cancer? Im sure its the same woman! and her name was Caroline, too! Help me please, figure this out!!!

Betty
Guest
Betty

Yes, the actress is the same one. And yes, Caroline of years ago did die. The actress is playing Caroline’s twin sister Karen.

Ridge had married Caroline many yrs ago, she was his one and only. Then she got leukemia and she died. I don’t recall if we (audience) knew she had a twin sister at that time, but she did appear a few times through the years as Karen after Caroline died.

Sherrigoree21
Guest
Sherrigoree21

I want to see real drama! I want to see Bill and Steffy and Liam team up Hope! I want Hope to wigged out! I also want to see Bill tell Katie that he don’t want to be her no more because she not woman enought and Bill and Brooke go on vaction I want to see it all.

lulu
Guest
lulu

Bill and Brooke : exiting !!! We want to see that Brad Bell, don’t stop this story for pete’s sake, i began to watch again this soap with this direction, hep you want triangle alright..write a Katie/Bill/Brooke triangle and give us a break from Hope/Liam/Steffy triangle.

michelle
Guest
michelle

I wish the story line with Liam , Hope, and Steffy woul change up Liam can never make up his mind who he wants, Hope is so immature. I hope Steffy just leaves him standing.

Christine
Guest
Christine

Ugh. So many comments complaining about storyline … to Don Diamont mostly … especially after he said he does NOT read these comments. Thank you, Michael, for another amazing interview. I have really grown to admire Don Diamont from his Y&R days. It is just a shame how poorly things went there after all those years, but he must have a little bronze statute of Brad Bell on his mantel because that man has really given him something! He is about as front burner as you can get for a half-hour show. I’m so happy for him. I’m also happy… Read more »

kelly-ann jones
Guest
kelly-ann jones

DD pimps which ever storyline than can keep him front burner

jaybird369
Guest
jaybird369

More and more, as Dollar Bill Spencer on B&&, Don Diamont TRULY ROCKS!!!!! Also, more and more, the Brooke/Bill/Katie love triangle has been so wonderfully well-written and all…so far. And, Dollar Bill himself is so wonderfully BAD-ASS…LOL!!!!! Looking back on it now, I now realize and understand as to why Bill tried to break up Liam and Hope (and more than once, too). Liam acts like such a whiny and lovesick MORON and Hope’s wholesome and Puritan-like behavior is BEYOND ANNOYING!!!!! And don’t even get me started on Taylor…who is WAY TOO MUCH of an annoying and meddling busybody!!!!! One… Read more »

shidda
Guest
shidda

I love Don always!! I dont care who he be with as long its not with NASTY BROOKE!! i LOVE THAT MAN EVERYTIME i SEE B&B

Alice Croom
Guest
Alice Croom

I love bill&brooke together this is the only reason I watch.katie treated bill like a child telling him what he can do and what to do.now she is using his son to control him and I don’t like that, too many woman today are doing that, do what or you can not see your child.i want to see bill and brooke grow old together.i would like to see more passion with bill and like I did with brooke and ridge I loved to see them make love it was so hot.

Interviews

B&B’s Scott Clifton and Don Diamont Talk on the Plight of Liam & Bill and Their Cover-Up of Vinny’s Death

If you are watching current episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful then you know that Scott Clifton (Liam) and his on-screen father, Don Diamont (Bill Spencer) have been spending plenty of time together in scenes in very dramatic and intense fashion.

In story, Liam is guilt-ridden over running down Vinny Carter (Joe LoCicero) by accident when he was driving Bill’s car.  Since the moment that Vinny was killed, Bill leapt into action, destroying any evidence tying the two to the scene of the crime and continually demanding that Liam let this go and move on with his life, or the implications for the both of them could certainly be a long jail sentence, or worse.

Photo: JPI

Now as Liam is finally making headway in a reconciliation with Hope (remember his last secret – sleeping with Steffy – was quite the doozy), this new secret of what he has done, and hiding, could up the stakes even more and take him away from his family for good … or would Hope (Annika Noelle) after finding out what Liam did be the nail in his coffin that ends their relationship once and for all and kicks him to the curb?

Courtesy/CBS

Both, Scott Clifton and Don Diamont chatted virtually with Michael Fairman exclusively for You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel to offer up for viewers and fans of The Bold and the Beautiful: an inside look at what goes on when they tape their scenes, how they see their characters motivations, and they serve up a preview of what may lie ahead in this tangled web that Bill and Liam have unfortunately weaved.

Photo: JPI

Check out the humorous, candid, and enlightening conversation with two of the leads and mainstays of this CBS Daytime drama series below.

Then let us know; how do you think Liam and Bill can get out of the mess they find themselves in? Will Liam crumble and spill the beans? Will everyone in town get on to them and figure out the secret they have been keeping? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section after taking a look at the virtual conversation.

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Days Of Our Lives

Kevin Spirtas Talks ‘After Forever’s’ Digital Special ‘Riley’s Unforgettable School Project’, The Loss of Michael Slade, and a Chance to Reprise DAYS Craig Wesley

The coronavirus pandemic has put to the test many content creators on just how they would keep their projects moving forward in ways they never dreamed of. However, out of that situation has come some of the most compelling, unique series, specials, and features currently streaming for viewers. One of which is Riley’s Unforgettable School Project, brought to you by the team from the six-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning series, After Forever.

Former Days of our Lives star, Kevin Spirtas (Ex-Craig Wesley) has starred in and created the first two seasons of what has become the most honored Emmy-awarded LGBTQ-themed drama series on any platform.  Along with his ‘After Forever’ writing/producing partner, the late Michael Slade (DAYS, OLTL, Passions, Another World), the two also conceptualized and delivered this latest documentary-style offering now on Amazon Prime Video.

What makes Riley’s Unforgettable School Project so noteworthy is not just how they were able to execute the series based on fictional 11-year-old Riley’s virtual school project and utilize its cast, which includes: Spirtas, Cady Huffman, Jamison Stern, Lenny Wolpe, Erin Cherry, Anita Gillette, Christopher J. Hanke, and Finn Douglas, but that it was made while Slade was succumbing to his battle with cancer, and that this special marks the final script from this talented writer.

 

Michael Fairman TV spoke with Spirtas about making the special during Covid-19, how the death of Michael Slade has made a lasting impact on his life, what After Forever has personally meant to him, and how an official third season is still in the works, and … if he would consider a return to Salem and Days of our Lives, should they come a-calling.  Here’s what Kevin had to say about it all.

Photo: AfterForever

I think the entire story of this digital special has become even more meaningful with Michael Slade’s passing. What was the genesis of the concept? You wanted to continue the telling of the story of After Forever … but we are all in the middle of a pandemic?

KEVIN:  Yes and… when we filmed season 2, we had the scripts for season 3 already completed. It was our hope and desire to film them at the same time, back-to-back, so that we would have had all of our cast and crew together, and we could have gotten through it because we’ve always imagined this story being told in a trilogy so to speak – a beginning, middle, and end to Brian (Spirtas) and Jason, (Mitchell Anderson) and Brian’s healing or his steps towards healing through grief.  Schedules turned out that they couldn’t really work out for us to hold all the people and hold all of the sets for that amount of time.  So, we thought, “We’ve got the scripts for season 3 ready.  We’ll come back to it in the following year,” and that was always the intention, and then the pandemic hit.  So, it was shut down immediately that we weren’t going to do anything, but we wanted to stay current, and instead of going back in and telling the third installment of After Forever as a Covid-19 story as well, Michael and I sat down and looked at a way of staying relevant and current with a story within COVID, and there was born the idea to do this documentary style story/special about the characters of After Forever told through the lens of the character of Riley, the 11-year-old boy, who is now being homeschooled during the pandemic. He gets an assignment to do a project about the most unforgettable person he has ever met, and he, of course, chooses his best friend, the late Jason Adams, and he enlists all of Jason’s friends and family to join in.  Michael actually said, “What if we tell a story about Riley being homeschooled?” And, not only is Riley a technical genius at 11-years-old in the story, but Finn Douglas, who plays Riley, is a technical genius.

And didn’t Finn perform and write the song “Forever There” contained within the special?

KEVIN. Yes. He is this incredible musician.  Michael thought, “What would it be like if we asked to have the character of Finn sing a song for Jason?”  I said, “Well, what kind of song would we have him sing?”  Finn could play anything, I’m sure, because he’s self-taught, he plays by ear – guitar, piano, and drums.  Michael said, “What if we ask him to see if he could write a song?” and when we heard this song, we all called each other and we all got on Zoom and went, “Can you believe this song?  Can you believe this came out of this 11-year-old?”  It’s pretty incredible.  Michael did a gorgeous job of weaving the stories in and out and how they just sort of dove-tailed into each other, and then it was framed by Riley opening the project and ending the project.  During the Zoom reading we wanted to hear the song out loud.  We said to Finn, “Would you want to sing the song?”  We all just watched everybody on that Zoom call just fall apart.  It was just so beautiful. He’s an amazing talent.

Where is your character within this?

KEVIN:  I still stand in the center of the story of Jason because my character, Brian, was married to Jason, and it sort of connects us all, and through Riley’s understanding of how we all connect to Jason, is how we are all sort of spread out throughout the story.  Michael jokingly said, “You know, you’re not going to be the star of this special,” and I said, “I don’t think it’s about being the star.  It’s really about the storytelling.”  The beauty of Riley’s Unforgettable School Project is that we get to see moments of each person’s relationship with Jason, which Riley sets out to say, “Answer these three questions: What did you like most about Jason?  What did you like least about Jason? And what’s your favorite memory?”  Those three things, cut back and forth is where we all kind of fit in.  Nobody has more of a story than the next person, and it’s all telling honest portrayals of how they’re dealing with their loss of their good friend, or their child, or partner.

It’s a very inventive idea during Covid-19 to continue it in a way where you weren’t having to go shoot a full season of episodes.

KEVIN:  Well, we couldn’t. I have to say, Allison Vanore, who not only produced this special, but she also stepped up saying, “I’d love to direct this,” and I said, “Yes, please!”  She knows the characters.  She understands the story because she’s been a part of it for the last two seasons.  Allison also has this extraordinary amount of knowledge and expertise with the camera and what was needed for a remote shoot, and to also be able to organize filming 13 people in 2 different countries and 5 different cities… that’s just the technical side of it, but having that in our back pocket, knowing that it was a remote shoot, we had to send the camera, the computer, the ring light, and the microphone to each person’s house.  We had to location scout over Zoom.  We had to do wardrobe over Zoom.  It was all this big puzzle putting it together, and once you look at that board of storytelling and how we were going to do it, it kind of fell into place.  I feel blessed that a) we still had Michael with us, at that point, and b) Allison had the know-how to do this.  We all feel that at least this pandemic didn’t keep us from doing what we love.

Photo: AfterForever

In terms of the contribution of Michael Slade in this special, was it the construction of the story, and how was he able to work and write this during his illness?

KEVIN:  Michael’s contribution to the special was no less than the contribution to season 1 and season 2, and the future of season 3, because the scripts are written.  We did everything on Zoom, and we worked around his schedule of treatment.  We scheduled 2 people per day, and we spread them out over two weeks.  He was very present, and when there would be a day where he would say, “I’m going to be an hour late, let’s just push that call time,” I would ask, “Is this too much right now?  We can shelve it; we can stop it.” He’d then say, “Absolutely not, otherwise cancer will win.”  He was determined to stay focused and to stay active because it took his mind off of what was happening to him.

Photo: AfterForever

It would be lovely moment if you both were to win a Daytime Emmy for this project. 

KEVIN:  It’s our last collaboration together as a team, as I said, season 3 has been scripted, and it is on the calendar to get made.  We are just waiting for the COVID restrictions to lift a little bit and everyone to get vaccinated.  Michael was really hit hard with cancer – to stay healthy was so challenging for him.  Sadly, he didn’t make it to see the final edit of the special, and he died four days before we launched, but he had seen the cuts before that and was very approving of it, and had made some decisions, and offered some suggestions, and if God gives him an Emmy for this, it’s not because he died.  It’s because it’s great work.  It just happens to be that the work that was involved in this particular special was very tricky.  It brought up everything, like life itself to have to deal with.  Here we are dealing with the loss of a colleague, the loss of a friend, someone’s brother, someone’s son, this is life imitating art, imitating art imitating life. I can’t tell you the darkness that I went through just experiencing the need to stay focused on getting everything edited, and everything ready, and everything aligned for a release of this project that we had put into motion.  On top of it, our editor lost his mother just before Michael passed, and Allison’s mom was sick at the time, as well.  It took a lot of heavy deep breaths with Michael’s death, and the pandemic, and the loss has, for me, on a personal level, sent me back to really questioning my spiritual muscle and to help remind me that we have to come out of this better than we went into this.  I had many dark nights of the soul this last year, and December was probably the darkest.  I feel like I’m just kind of coming out of it now with the spring revealing itself.

Photo: AfterForever

It must have been extraordinarily difficult for you to also go to New York during a pandemic and also knowing Michael did not have much time left.

KEVIN:  I will say this: I am grateful that I was able to stay in touch with my heart and my instinct and go out to New York to let that be my remote location.  Yes, maybe there was some risk involved.  I wore my mask; I was Covid-19 negative, and I was determined to be fine.  Once I got to New York, I would visit him very protectively with our masks and our gloves, and I’d sit across the room, and then I’d go back to the house I was at.  It was a gift that I was able to see him at that time.  We had some good talks then about how he was feeling, and I think he was still being optimistic, and then once we got the project in the can there was maybe this psychic letting go. That’s when everything really started to reveal itself as this could be the end.  I did go back to see him when he was in hospice.  I think I was there the last two days that he really was able to really stay coherent.  He would close his eyes and be at peace and quiet for a minute, and he would finish a conversation and sort of close his eyes, not to sleep and not to go away, but I remember watching him going, “Look how peaceful he is,” and then he’d open his eyes and he’d remember that he is in this body that has been given a time limit of life, and he’s on his way out.  I’d watch the fear go back in his eyes.  At one point, he did say, “I’m so scared,” and I just held his hand, and I said, “I’m scared too.  Let’s be scared through this together.”  I don’t know how to navigate grief like that.  We are all going to be in a position at some point where we are going to be on the other side of the hand holding.  The wonderful thing is that we were able to have honest communication about our feelings.  I thanked him for everything that he has done for me and how he believed in my talent and creativity and our partnership.  I will always take that with me.  I waved my finger at him, and I said, “Listen.  Now, we wrote a series about a man talking to his deceased husband.  You’d better talk to me!”  So, we laughed about that.

Photo: AfterForever

You’ve done a lot of things in your career from Broadway to television, and of course, daytime fans know you best as Dr. Craig Wesley on DAYS.  How does the entire After Forever project stack up to you within all that you have done?

KEVIN:  Former DAYS casting director Fran Bascom, sought me out and offered me this 2-day role on Days of Our Lives, and those 2 days turned into 8 years, and unbeknownst to me at the time, the final 3 months of that contract of those 8 years, Michael Slade was brought in to write.  We didn’t cross paths at that point, but years later, when we did cross paths in New York, and then After Forever was born, that was that universal crossing point.  I am most proud of the fact that we were able create something fresh, and real, and personal to ourselves that we didn’t have to cater to any “powers that be” that had their vision and their tinkering, that they thought that it could be better in this way or that way.  Then for After Forever to gain such recognition, within the film festivals, and the Emmys, and then, just after Michael died, we won the GLAAD award for Special Recognition this year.  We don’t even fit into one of their categories!  They found a way to acknowledge this project.  If another Emmy happens again, that might be another one to put up on the shelf for After Forever that would be beautiful, and I couldn’t have done it without Michael.

For the Daytime Emmys this year, what category have you entered Riley’s Unforgettable School Project?

KEVIN:  We are not a series this year, we are a daytime fiction special, and the “Daytime Fiction Special” category is a special class.  It’s anything that’s digital in the construct of less than 40 minutes.  NATAS (National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) is being bombarded with so much content, they’re trying to find ways to put categories together.

Photo: JPI

So, now, when we last saw Days of Lives’ Dr. Craig Wesley, where was he? (Laughs)

KEVIN: (Laughs) He was in a flash from the past or something in the DOOL app’s Last Blast Reunion series. I had a fun time working with Patrika Darbo (Nancy) and Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe), once again.

So, if they were to want Craig to come back to DAYS, would you be all for it?

KEVIN:  Hell yes!

Photo: JPI

Now, what story would you want to be told involving Craig? 

KEVIN:  When Craig was first on the canvas in Salem, there was a lot of mustache twirling and a lot of hand wringing.  He was always plotting; most of the time with Nancy.  It was kind of this high drama, evil villain storyline being told, but when the writers created an opportunity for us to be on after those first three months by bringing on Chloe without a father, there was something real about it.  It may have been told under the construct of soap opera storytelling, but there was a reality-based story about, “You have a daughter, and we are just now finding out about it?”  Then, finding a cure to her health was another realistic story, and finding out that Craig was her real father.  Anything that’s reality based is what I’m getting to.  I would welcome any job that brings me back and gives me an opportunity to dive into something real.

Photo: JPI

Would you welcome the opportunity to play a gay character on daytime; in a medium where there are very few represented in storylines?

KEVIN:  I’d have no problem with that.  Do you know anybody who is starting that?  Let’s do it!  (Laughs) First of all, there’s nothing to hide anymore.  There’s nothing to pretend you’re not anymore.  I would think that bringing in a storyline that deals with anything outside the norm that we are used to seeing would be interesting.  How many times can you retell a story?  How many times can you set the same story up with another couple?  So, why not be diverse and have a stylized story being told through the lens of a gay person.

Photo: AfterForever

In closing, so many go through life without acknowledging people who had an impact them.  We don’t give pats on the back, often enough, and especially in Hollywood, where people can be very self-involved.  You have already paid tribute to Michael Slade in our discussion, but what gift from him is your personal takeaway?

KEVIN:  The gift that Michael really gave to me is to remember to be kind to myself and to others, and to acknowledge and salute the person who is in front of us, because we don’t know when we will have, or if we will have, another moment to do that.

Now below, check out the trailer for Riley’s Unforgettable School Project.  Then let us know, what do you think of its concept? Kevin’s thoughts on the passing of his collaborator on the project, Michael Slade? And, do you hope DAYS brings back Dr. Craig Wesley? Share your thoughts via the comment section.

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General Hospital

GH’s Kin Shriner Talks on Franco’s Demise, Scott’s Budding Romance with Obrecht, and His Enduring On-Screen Partnership with Genie Francis

One of the most beloved actors in the history of General Hospital, Kin Shriner, currently finds his alter-ego, Scott Baldwin, in a new budding on-screen romance with none other than Liesl Obrecht (Kathleen Gati).

This comes on the heels of Scott learning the devastating news that his son, Franco Baldwin was shot and killed, thus writing-off the ABC daytime drama series, for now, popular actor, Roger Howarth.

Photo: JPI

Throughout his now almost 44-year-run on the ABC daytime drama series, Kin Shriner has brought his unique acting chops that helped mold the character of legal eagle Scott Baldwin into the humorous, at times cutthroat, endearing and many times heartbreaking character we have all come to love.’

 

In a brand new exclusive virtual sit-down interview with Michael Fairman on You Tube’s The Michael Fairman Channel, Shriner opens up about his history with GH and the times he stepped away to take on roles on Texas and As the World Turns, and then back again to the town of Port Charles and GH.

Photo: ABC

As well, Kin reveals his reaction to learning the news that Roger Howarth would be exiting the show as his TV son and how he shot the key emotional scene where Laura (Genie Francis) tells Scott that Franco had died.  Shriner shares that he does not see how when Howarth returns to the show in as a yet-to-be-revealed character, that it would be a stretch if the two were some how related, but that he will miss working with the talented Howarth as a scene-partner.

Photo: JPI

As to the women in Scott’s life, Kin addresses each of them from: Lucy (Lynn Herring), Bobbie (Jackie Zeman), Dominque (Shell Danielson), Laura (Francis), Ava (Maura West) – to which the character could never get that close to – and now Liesl (Gati), and working opposite all the powerhouse actresses who portray them.

Photo: ABC

For fans of General Hospital who have watched the series for decades, Kin also shares memories of working with his late TV parents, Peter Hansen (Lee), Susan Brown (Gail) and his friend and former GH castmate John Reilly (Sean), plus backstage stories with his longtime scene partner, Genie Francis.

Watch the entire conversation with Kin below.

Now let us know, are you all for the Scott and Liesl romance? Will you miss scenes between Scott and Franco?  Would you ever want to see Scott and Laura reunite romantically? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Y&R’s Joshua Morrow, Amelie Heinle, Mark Grossman, Hunter King and Melissa Ordway chat with Michael Fairman about being a part of and portraying the Newman Children as the show celebrates its 48th anniversary.Leave A Comment

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