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THE ELLEN AND PORTIA INTERVIEW – PRATT FALLS

Over the past few weeks the online soap world has been abuzz at the hilarious satire called Pratt Falls, which offers a parody on the much maligned head writer of All My Children, Chuck Pratt. The series details Pratt’s fumbles and stumbles with the same sex storyline of fan favorite Bianca (played by Eden Riegel), and her new gal pal, Reese (played by Tamara Braun). In Pratt Falls the virtual animated Pratt has behind close doors chats with his alleged co-conspirator, “AMC’s” executive producer, Julie Hanan Carruthers, who at times during the webisodes (or clips) is the voice of reason against Pratt’s mishandling of “AMC” storylines.

In a very recent TV Guide Interview that added more fuel to the fire for the already disgruntled fans of the Reese/Bianca story, Chuck Pratt blamed the mess on Eden Riegel’s exit for pilot season. “I was led to believe we had her for longer than we really did — suddenly I got word that Eden is leaving now. We got to play everything we wanted to with Bianca and Reese, but not in the time we’d hoped for — in my mind, it was a two-year story,” Pratt continues. “I guess I could have rushed to the wedding earlier so that they’d have had more time together as a married couple and then had them break up, but I think the fans would have been even more unsatisfied with that.”

Regarding Tamara Braun, Pratt said, “If Tamara decided to stay, keeping her on the show as an angry lesbian — with no other lesbian characters on the canvas — would be kind of insane. So we thought about making Reese bisexual — kind of an Anne Heche who bounces back and forth.”

Through the use of the Xtranormal animated application, the creators of this satire have been able to keep in stitches, both soap pundits and fans, (especially fans of Bianca and Reese) and “AMC”, with their snarky observations. After much public fanfare on You Tube, the creators decided to come forth (a few weeks ago) only as their virtual selves, named Ellen and Portia, and give a face to their popular series.

When I approached Ellen and Portia for an interview, I was asked to take part in their virtual world and I happily agreed. I mean, how else could I get into their space? I wanted to chat with the very clever gals, who are now an online sensation. But there was one stipulation that they were adamant about; protecting their true identities, that seem to be akin to the Cape Crusader and his sidekick, Robin! On all accounts, Ellen and Portia seem to speak for many fellow soapers, who through their sharp wit and tongues only want what’s best for their favorite characters on their soaps.

So, I present to you my very special interview with Pratt Falls creators, Portia and Ellen!

View the video on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkxTe9y51zk

prattFalls.jpgHow did you two get the idea to start Pratt Falls? How did you come about the Xtranormal animations?

PORTIA: After reading Pratt’s TV GUIDE interview where he throws Eden Riegel under a bus, we simultaneously experienced the urge to slap Pratt. And that resulted in the satirical smack down now known as PRATT FALLS.

ELLEN: I am quite passive by nature, but Pratt’s blatant lies about Eden Riegel’s contract had me seeing red. If I remember correctly, I posted a ten line mock script on the Bianca/Reese message board. Portia emailed me, asking if she could play around with it and animate it. I said yes. Next thing we know: BAM! (No pun intended).

How long have you been Bianca fans and fans of Eden Riegel?

PORTIA: Always and forever.

ELLEN: Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, but I followed Eden to “AMC” from Imaginary Bitches. So I’m quite new to Pine Valley. It took me about a month to catch up on a decade’s worth of Bianca storyline on youtube. But now I’m a fan for life. And I will never leave Erica Kane. Ever.

Was there ever a Bianca story you liked, and if so, what was it? She had so many great stories from “coming out” to Erica, to the baby switch and getting back Miranda, etc?

PORTIA: Any story with Bianca in it, I like. Even if the story is abysmal, and the writing is wretched, Eden seems to rise above. And when the writing is good, she soars! I especially enjoyed the days when Bianca and Kendall hated each other. Their relationship right now is so fractured and damaged, it’s sad to watch.

eden.jpgELLEN: As Portia has said, anything with Bianca in it, no matter how poorly written, I’ll watch. I love the relationship between Kendall and Bianca. And I could watch Bianca bitch slap Babe over and over again.

Do the two of you have a background in comedy writing?

PORTIA: We do now.

ELLEN: Not at all (until last week, that is). I have spent years sitting in front of “SNL” and telling people how I would rewrite certain scenes. But no one ever listens.

How did you meet to collaborate on Pratt Falls?

PORTIA: We “met” as members of the Bianca/Reese Forum. But we’ve never met in person.

ELLEN: We met in a private message inbox. We’ve now moved into an email inbox.

Many want to know if you are life-partners or just friends.

PORTIA: We are just friends for life.

ELLEN: I prefer “friendly partners in crime.” It has a nice ring to it.

When the first episode of Pratt Falls made its way to the internet and you saw the amazing feedback, because it was spot on to what many fans of Rianca and “AMC” felt, what was you reaction?

PORTIA: My reaction was: “Jumpin’ Johosephat!”

ELLEN: I believe my exact words were “By the Hammer of Thor! What the hell is going on?” And then I let loose with some expletives that would make the Imaginary Bitches crew blush.

View the video on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjOaPGH4zZc

What would you like to see happen with Pratt Falls and animated Ellen and Portia, next?

PORTIA: I suppose Pratt Falls will continue as long as we have satirical things to say about the state of AMC. Which means, potentially forever…. I’d like to see Ellen and Portia address other absurdities currently rampaging through the world. I am endlessly fascinated by people’s ability to live with cognitive dissonance. And Silvio Berlusconi, — how is his existence even possible in the 21st century? Wouldn’t you love to hear us discuss that?

ELLEN: I think as long as we have something funny to say, we’ll keep putting episodes together. And the way “AMC” is going right now, that shouldn’t be very difficult. Plus, with Eden Riegel on the loose, who knows how many other storylines she will destroy? We’re on guard, protecting those who can’t protect themselves.

erica_gals.jpgIf you were writing “AMC” right now…..

PORTIA: Oh, please, from your lips to God’s ears.

ELLEN: I’d have to buy Susan Lucci’s pilates machine.

What changes or makeover would you give to Pine Valley in terms of story?

PORTIA: If I were writing AMC, I would institute a few basic rules: 1) Only Jesse gets to carry a gun. 2) Only one coma per character per decade. 3) Only one kidnapping, life threatening disease, and/or disappearance, per family per year. 4) Take all the minutes that Erica is scripted each episode and triple it. 5) No more blaming actors for crappy writing. 6) Casinos and hospitals are really not all that interesting, let’s stop going there. 7) No more misogyny. It’s offensive and not entertaining for our core audience. 8) If a character dies, they are dead. And they stay dead. Forever. 9) If you have Tamara Braun on contract, you use her more than 3 minutes a week. (See #4, it applies here too). 10) Bianca has suffered enough. Let the poor girl have (and keep) her happy ending already!

zach.jpgELLEN: Here I go: 1) No more sex in mental institutions, hospital beds or Ryan Lavery’s penthouse. 2) The characters should move the plot, not the other way around. 3) Erica Kane is the queen of daytime and she should remain front and centre. 4) Strong women. I am so tired of watching strong women makes fools of themselves in front of the men folk. Kendall is a Kane woman. She doesn’t need Zach or Ryan to survive. 5) Use the vets. Young and the Restless is heading into sweeps featuring a wedding between two eighty year olds, and it’s wonderful. 6) David needs to stop drugging people and twirling his imaginary mustache. 7) Jackson? Anyone? Jackson? 8) Less violence, more love in the afternoon (but not love between David and Krystal or Kendall and Ryan) 9) Where have all the sets gone? Long time passing. Where have all the sets gone? Long time ago. Where have all the sets gone? Gone to scrap heaps, everyone. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? 10) I agree with Portia. Bianca will now have a life of overwhelming joy. They can start heaping pain and sorrow on Miranda and Gabrielle in a few years, but lay off Binks.

How long have you been watching the soaps?

PORTIA: Since I was knee high to a grasshopper. But I don’t watch consistently. I check in every 4 or 5 years…. And I’ve never had a problem keeping up!

ELLEN: Since birth. A soap character inspired my first name. And my first crush was on Bo Brady (back when he was with Carly Manning).

How do you feel the portrayal of gays on the soaps has been, in general?

PORTIA: Mixed. Certainly some things have been done quite thoughtfully and with real sensitivity. But TBTB can’t quite seem to sustain that.

ELLEN: I feel like soaps haven’t quite figured out how to integrate gay characters into the general storylines. This is part of the reason the Bianca/Reese story went so off track. The writers obviously wanted to create some drama, but because there were only two gay characters on canvas, they went the Zach route. And it obviously came off as ridiculously offensive.

What are you expecting from the Reese/Bianca wrap-up this week?

PORTIA: I was hoping their reunion would be as intense and dramatic as their break up. But I know that’s not likely to happen. So sadly, I expect to be disappointed.

ELLEN: I have very low expectations. I know that Tamara Braun and Eden Riegel will take what they’re given and do fantastic work, but I have no faith in Pratt (shocker, I know). Maybe we’ll get a grief glance, followed by a grief high five and then a grief flight back to Paris.

View the video on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcXtUU8FnxY

How do you feel Tamara Braun did in this messed up role?

tamaraBraun.jpgPORTIA: I think Tamara Braun deserves a soap opera version of the Congressional Medal of Honor for distinguishing herself “conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of her life above and beyond the call of duty” while engaged in a storyline penned by Pratt & Co. Seriously, my Fake Internet Girlfriend has had a rough time in Pine Valley, and I feel sorry for her. She spun straw into gold for “AMC”. Plus she had to put up with the scorn of BAM and Zendall fans! She must be made of steel. The more convoluted and nonsensical they made Reese’s story, the more I fell in love with Tamara, because even though she was getting screwed over, she always gave a 100% of herself. I truly felt sorry for her. Much in the same way I feel sorry for Alicia Minshew right now…..

ELLEN: Don’t forget the Purple Heart, Portia! I can’t even begin to imagine how she went to work everyday and managed to portray this character with integrity and depth. Reese is an interesting character with an interesting back-story. But her feelings and motivations changed daily, and somehow, Tamara had to make the audience believe. Pratt & Co. did her no favors when they threw her between Zendall. I am actually a fan of the Zach and Kendall pairing, but the Zendall fans are armed and dangerous. I really hope Tamara avoids soap message boards because things can get vicious. Yet, no matter what they threw at her (both on and off screen), Tamara gave her all and so I have great respect and admiration for her. And I agree with Portia in regards to Alicia Minshew. I’m very tired of hearing characters refer to women as “whores, sluts and bitches.” Enough.

When the same-sex wedding day occurred on AMC, what did you think when it was over? A landmark or milestone? Botched opportunity?

PORTIA: It was all of that. It was a landmark and a milestone and they managed to botch it. I will admit to oohing and ahhhing over the dresses, and I thought the vows were beautifully written, and, yes, I cried. But I could not for the life of me understand why it all had to be intercut with the other stories. Really, how can you enjoy the wedding when Greenlee, in her wedding dress is on a motorcycle, flying off a cliff? I think Bianca and Reese deserved better than that. Actually, I think Greenlee deserved better than that too.

wedding.jpgELLEN: I have such mixed feelings about the wedding. On one hand, it was beautiful and everyone looked smashing. On the other hand, the constant juxtaposition of crazy Annie and biker Greenlee destroyed what could have been a beautiful, memorable event. Even the fact that Kendall was not present upset me. The wedding was not about Bianca and Reese; it was about Annie’s gun wielding, Kendall’s anger and Rebecca Budig’s exit. I wanted to concentrate on the vows and the love, but all I could think about was the absurdity of Greenlee riding that bike wearing her wedding dress. The whole thing was over the top and preposterous. And on top of all that, the Reese and Zach kiss hung over the event like a dark cloud. Bianca is the daughter of Erica Kane. The wedding should have been all about Bianca. Instead, it was about everyone else.

Why is the anonymity important to you? Why did you choose Ellen and Portia??

PORTIA: We just enjoy being a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, rendered in a cartoon.

ELLEN: We’re both comic book fans and I think the idea of a secret identity appealed to our nerdy sense of humor. We also want to live. And Pratt has connections with Sonny Corinthos.

Has anyone at ABC Daytime or any of the top brass from “AMC” contacted you regarding your parody and satire?

PORTIA: Not yet.

pratt_2shot.jpgELLEN: No. Although lately, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being watched.

What can we preview for your new online fans to look forward to in upcoming episodes of Pratt Falls or Ellen and Portia?

PORTIA: We just don’t know until we start venting…. Probably more pirate jokes.

ELLEN: Definitely more pirate jokes. We will continue to fight for truth and justice.

Final thoughts?

PORTIA: We’d like to encourage everyone to visit our virtual store at http://www.cafepress.com/breesenation You can purchase authentic Pratt Falls merchandise! 100% of all sales go to “Invalidate Prop 8.” And, of course, a great big THANK YOU, Michael for your interest in our little show. We’ve enjoyed “talking” with you.

portiaEllenWide.jpgELLEN: A huge thanks for your interest and a thank you to all the people who watch and support our little show! And before we go, just a reminder that in these dark times, we all must take extra precautious for our safety. Remember,
Eden Riegel walks among us.

PORTIA: Oh, I heard bells, did you hear the bells?

General Hospital

GH’s Laura Wright Talks on Mob Boss Carly and Her 30-Year Evolution in Daytime

She’s a fierce, force to be reckoned with, one who delivers raw and emotional performances time and time again, while never forgetting from where she came, and always willing to pass on to her newer co-stars’ the wisdom she gained from the grind of performing in front of the camera in the toughest acting genre there is … daytime drama.

General Hospital’s Laura Wright’s (Carly) real-life soap journey actually has a very humble beginning when in 1991 – fresh off a job at a gas station – she landed in Corinth and the role of Ally Rescott on ABC’s Loving.  Up next, a jaunt to its re-imagined version, The City, until the series ultimate demise in 1997. But that was just an appetizer for soap fans of Wright’s burgeoning talent, when next she ventured to Springfield and CBS’ Guiding Light to take on the role of a stripper with a heart-of-gold who ultimately would be crowned a princess, Cassie Layne. Then, after a popular 8-year-run, she would head to General Hospital, and one of the most coveted roles in soaps, that of Port Charles’ Carly Corinthos following in the footsteps of powerhouse actresses, Sarah Brown and Tamara Braun. In her 20th year in daytime, Laura took home the gold for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series back in 2011, and that brings us to now.  Next week on June 7th, marks Laura’s 30th year in daytime filled with memorable on and off-screen moments that she has cherished.

Meanwhile, currently on GH, Laura is getting to play Carly in a whole new set of circumstances as she enters her three-decade soap anniversary. In story, we find Carly stepping up to run the mob, now that she and everyone else believes her husband, Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) is dead, and while her best friend and mob enforcer, Jason (Steve Burton) had to go on the run. And from the looks of it, Carly is adjusting to the mob boss role quite well … but is she really?

 

Michael Fairman TV spoke with Laura to get the lowdown on Carly’s life without Sonny, which has pushed her front and center into managing crimes and misdemeanors, mafia-style, all to protect the ones she loves, and to reflect on her amazing ride in daytime; which has made her one of the all-time leading ladies of the soaps.  Here’s what Laura shared about it all.

Photo: ABC

When you first found out what the structure of this storyline was going to be, where Sonny was going to “die” along with Julian (William deVry), and then he turns up alive and has amnesia, what was your initial thought?  Did you know how far they were going to take this for Carly, as far as her now running  the mob in Sonny’s place?

LAURA:  I had no idea about the mob part of it until about two months ago. As far as Sonny having amnesia and having another life now, I love those kinds of stories.  It also gives you as an actor something to play, and what else are you going to do with Sonny and Carly?  You can’t really break them up.  You’re talking to the person who is game for almost anything, so I loved it.  What does Carly’s life look like now as everybody believes that Sonny has died? How does she even take care of herself?  For me, it gave me great material to play because of how it all started to crumble.  Ava (Maura West) takes Avery, Cyrus (Jeff Kober) starts taking over the territory and the town, and Carly starts losing all of this security in her life as she knew it in trying to protect her family, and it was scary for her.

Photo: ABC

Of course, viewers could see where this storyline was heading once Carly lit in to Nina (Cynthia Watros), when Nina was in Nixon Falls and saw that Sonny was very much alive! You could see that Nina was going to seek revenge on Carly and not tell her about Sonny, aka “Mike”, all the while getting closer to him.  What do you think Carly would do if she found out that Nina was with Sonny and kept it from her?

LAURA:  You know, Carly before taking over the mob would have been awful, but now… and I was thinking about this the other day …  I’m like, “Carly would go after her with a gun!”

For years, I’ve always loved this idea of, “What if Carly became a mob boss?”

LAURA:  If they did have Carly go after Nina, then Jason and Sonny would be like, “You cannot do this.”  I think there is this blind rage, at least for a moment.  It can’t just be standing there and yelling at her, do you know what I mean?  Carly would probably take action and then Nina would disappear, or it’s like ‘get me away from her because I am going to kill her’ for what this woman did.  So, you have to have at least an episode of that before you come to your senses and realize that you have children and responsibilities, and you’re going to have to do this the right way, but you have to have the moment of losing it.  It’s stealing their life.  It’s great stuff.  My other thoughts are, “Poor Cynthia,” (laughs) because she’s got to be the nicest human being on the planet, and she is so fun to work with, and so great and committed, so we are going to have some interesting times getting through whatever they write.  I have no idea what they’re writing by the way, and I have no idea when it’s going to happen, but I am sure it will be great.

Photo: ABC

With the way GH shoots their taping schedule, I am assuming now you barely see Maurice, because you are basically in two different parts of this interconnecting story?

LAURA:  We shoot by set.  So, if Maurice is working in the morning, and I am scheduled at let’s say at noon, by the time I get there, he’ll be gone.  So, it’s fascinating. It’s kind of running parallel of what is happening on and off screen because I don’t see him at work, either.

Photo: ABC

Carly seems that she is becoming pretty comfortable in this mob role.  There was a scene that recently aired between Diane (Carolyn Hennesy) and Carly, where Carly was discussing her options of what to do with Gladys (Bonnie Burroughs).  Does Carly like the power this brings her?

LAURA:  I think so, but it’s not like she’s sitting around going, “Oh, this is amazing.”  It’s seriously what she has to do.  What she is seeing is that there are so many moving parts that she didn’t realize how difficult it was.  Sonny made it look easy.  There’s not a time to even take a breath.  You’ve got to always be on your toes.  You know, she is doing it in ‘Carly fashion,’ so it’s always entertaining, and trying as a woman to put out all the fires, but there’s 20 fires behind it, because there is just someone constantly trying to take your seat, trying to hurt your family.  There’s just always something to look out for whether it be from the other families or law enforcement.  I think that Carly is surprised that she is good at it and surprised at how making these decisions is becoming easier and easier for her, but I don’t know if she sits back and enjoys it.  At this point, from air to what we are taping, the decisions don’t stop, and the danger doesn’t stop, and more decisions have to be made, and there is no one else to do it.  This is a world that is life or death.  This isn’t like, “Well, if they don’t like me, I’ll just find someone else to do the job.”  There’s nobody else to do that job.  It’s not that world.  You don’t get to walk away, and she is learning that more and more, as she plays in the big world.

Photo: ABC

So, Jason went on the run with Britt (Kelly Thiebaud).  How does Carly feel about that?

LAURA:  Britt saved his life.  She said that on camera.  “She saved your life; she can take you wherever.  I trust her.”  Carly saw how Britt stepped up and helped him.  I don’t think there is anything else that Carly is thinking right now.  Carly doesn’t have the luxury of being old Carly and being snippy, catty, wanting to vet every person in Jason’s life.  It’s just not her reality right now.  That would be a luxury if she could go back and be that person, but that’s not it.  Right now, it’s assessing the situation.  “Is he safe?  Is she taking care of him?  Great.  I don’t care about anything else right now.”  This is the difference between old Carly and mob-boss Carly.  Those days are gone.  She would give anything to go back to those days because she didn’t have to have the world on her shoulders because Jason was safe, and Sonny was alive.  It’s not where she is now.  It’s a different dynamic that she was forced into.

Photo: ABC

When you and Steve Burton are in scenes together, whether it’s just in your eyes, or expressions or emotions, there is so much going on, or at least that’s how it plays to the audience.  Is the relationship between Carly and Jason one of your favorites to play, because it’s so unique and deep rooted into their history? 

LAURA:  Oh, I love the Carly/Jason relationship. It’s the loyalty and that their dedication to each other is unbendable, unbreakable.  It’s so unwavering.  It’s great to play because it’s like being in a really good relationship, even though he’s not her ‘person’, but he kind of is.  It’s being in a great relationship that means that you get to be 100% you and everything that means, and that person loves and accepts you. There’s such incredible love and freedom, and that’s what it’s like to work with Steve because Steve approaches our scenes – and almost every scene when I watch him with other people – that there is no undercutting judgment, only help.  If I’m struggling with a line or I don’t want to do something, he’s either like, “Yeah, I agree. That’s unnecessary; cut it,” or he gives me a really great way of looking at it, where I’m like, “Oh, that is a really interesting thing, thanks!”  So, then you have full freedom to feel and play and do anything, and that’s kind of what you see.  There’s just a confidence, and I think it is also the relationship.  I think it has to be there when I work with Steve because the relationship between Carly and Jason is that way.

Photo: JPI

Carly and Jason accept each other for who they are, all their flaws, and the dangers that come with their lives.  Wouldn’t you say?

LAURA:  She accepts him 100% for who he is.  She wants to manipulate the world around him, so he is safe, and perfect, and always there, but she still accepts him when nobody else does and vice versa.  He knows that Carly is going to destroy things, and mess up, and spiral.  Like, she had that scene where she said, “Even when Jason knows I’m wrong, he supports me.” It’s really that right there that is everything between the two of them, and it’s the hardest thing to find in any relationship, real life, TV, etc.  We always want to change people to make them be who we want them to be so that we feel okay. It’s a great soap opera relationship because it causes conflict in every other relationship that they have, which is great for storytelling in a show because then there is always a challenge, always a hurdle, always a problem built-in if you need drama. It’s because there is so much acceptance and unconditional love and support that they are free to be who they need to be, and I feel that as an actor working Steve as well.  I think that’s what you see when you say there’s ‘a lot going on’.

Carly’s plan for Gladys took quite a turn!

LAURA:  Well, Carly thought the second that Cyrus finds out that Brando (Johnny Wactor) is the father of Sasha’s (Sofia Matteson) baby that Cyrus is going to want to take him out, so she basically said to Gladys, “Look, I’ll set you up.  I’ll give you all the money you want.  Hell, I’ll even buy you a house.  Leave town, but you have to tell everybody that you lied about Jason,” and she doesn’t bite the bait.  So, you then have Carly saying, “Well, we can do this the easy way where I just pay for your life and you go, or we can do it the hard way,” and the hard way is me letting her know that, “You have a grandchild on the way, and your son is going to be murdered if you don’t do this for me,” because it puts Cyrus back in prison because he is on probation, and he has now obstructed justice.  It’s all on Gladys’s testimony.  That was Carly’s plan.  Right now, her biggest threat is Cyrus and obviously as viewers have seen things did not go as planned!

Photo: ABC

June 7th you will be celebrating 30 years on daytime! Do you remember your first day on Loving? What happened?

LAURA:  I do.  Oh, God!  I remember what dress I had on.  I remember how my hair was.

Were you like in “Oz”?

LAURA:  I looked like Oz. (Laughs) I looked like Dorothy… the dress they had me in, the hair, are you kidding?  I didn’t know what a boom was!  I was really loud.  I had one line: “Grandma!” and that was it, and then they had to note that because I kept saying, “Grandmaw,” and they were like, “It’s not ‘Grandmaw.’  It’s ‘Grandma.’”  Then, I did whatever they said at first, but then the longer I was on the show, I was like, “I say ‘Grandmaw.’ I’m not saying ‘Grandmuh.’ I don’t care. (Laughs) Everyone gets their own personalization of how they say what they say.”  That was my big argument, and now I’ve had a thousand arguments over 30 years, but that was my first big pushback because I would be doing, what in my mind was great work.  I got all of the lines out, my God, and that was before we could do pickups, and when we shot the show in order. Those cameras had wheels. So if you were on set, and they shot the scene before us, you had to be ready to go, and they would fly down the studio on those cameras to set up to start shooting the next scene.  If I got through a scene and they had to do it over again because I said, “Grandmaw,” I would be so angry. (Laughs)

Photo: ABC

Who helped you the most on Loving?

LAURA:  Nada Rowand, who played my grandmother, Lisa Peluso, who played my aunt on the show, and Eric Woodall was my best friend and he played Matt Ford.  He and I would get together every Sunday night, and here’s a little bit of trivia for you … Eric lived with Billy Porter! They graduated from Carnegie Mellon together.  So, I would go over to his apartment, and on Sunday night, we would go over all of the scripts together for the whole week because Eric graduated from Carnegie Mellon; I worked at a gas station. (Laughs) We had very different talents that we were bringing to the table for this soap opera job.  Eric helped me a great deal, my gosh, and so did Bernie Barrow (Ex-Louis).

Bernie was an amazing actor and the only Daytime Emmy winner, ever from Loving!

LAURA:  I had scenes with Bernie because he played my grandfather on the show. I had no idea about half the notes that they were giving me. Bernie would pull me aside and explain what they meant and teach it to me in a way where I knew how to incorporate it into my scenes and adjust and take the notes.  He was extremely helpful.  Then, there is the famous Noelle Beck (Ex-Trisha) story, where two weeks after starting the show, Eric and I were invited to go to the Daytime Emmy Awards.  I was dying because I grew up watching daytime television, and I grew up watching the Daytime Emmys.  So, when I was allowed to go, I told my mom to ship me my prom dress from my senior year of high school, which was this poufy, emerald green thing, and it looked like something from Dynasty with jewels all over it.  I got it, and I was so excited, and everyone on the show was like, “Oh, my God, someone has got to tell her … she cannot wear that dress.”  I didn’t know you could go to wardrobe and ask to borrow a dress, because I’d only been on the show for two weeks maybe.  The same day, they came to me and said, “So, if Susan Lucci (Ex-Erica, AMC) doesn’t win, you’re going to be interviewed on Good Morning America the next morning about how the gas station girl got a job.”  So, it was a big deal. I’m getting ready for the Emmys, and to put this emerald-green dress on, and there is this knock on my door, and it’s Noelle Beck.  She has this beautiful, black, strapless dress. She’s like, “Your dress is beautiful, but I don’t know, I think this is really simple, and I think you might really look beautiful in it if you want to try it on.”

Photo: JPI

Her dress?

LAURA: Her dress! It was a dress that was in Noelle’s closet on the show because she went to wardrobe and was like, “Laura cannot wear that emerald green prom dress.  She will be laughed at.”  I would have been mortified because I did not know what people wore.  I had never been to a red carpet! Noelle went to wardrobe, and they all came up with this dress, and so she came to me and said, “Your dress is so pretty, but I think this might go better with Eric’s suit,” or however she sold it! I tried it on, and I just felt so sophisticated, and I was like, “It’s okay if I wear this!?” and she’s just like, “Oh, my God, yeah!”  When I think back to that story, I’m like, ‘thank God for Noelle Beck’.  It was one of the funniest stories ever, and her dressing room was right across the hall from me, and she was from Maryland; I was from Maryland.  She was like a sister.  Noelle was always looking out for me, personally.

Photo: ABC

Over the years, you have become one of the great leading ladies of daytime.  Was there a moment, when you were like, “I’ve got this down now … I really know what I’m doing.”

LAURA:   There have been different moments.  I remember the first time where I felt like ‘an actor.’  It was when they shot and killed Casey (Paul Anthony Stewart) on Loving, and he had to die in my arms.  I embodied something and felt it in a way that was different.  I didn’t know what it was at the time because I was playing my emotions of Paul leaving the show. I was really confused because I was like, “Do I really like this guy?” like in real life, because I didn’t know.  I didn’t have any tools of acting to know how to separate.  I was so in love with the characters’ love story, which was also my feelings at the time because I didn’t know the difference.  I didn’t know where Ally stopped, and Laura started.  I was just kind of playing myself.  I remember they called Paul to the set for a goodbye, and they were giving him a big cake and everything, and I could barely hold it together.  I couldn’t believe he was leaving.  I was like, “You’re going to say, ‘I changed my mind,’ right?” and I really believed that.  I really was like, “There’s just no way he’s going.”  Then, we had to shoot his scene, and I was very emotional and upset.  But, it was the next day where I had to go and play the scenes where he is dead and talk about it to the family, and that was when I just lost it.  I just changed as an actor in those scenes.  I remember having an opinion.  When the writers were telling me the story that they were going to tell, I remember saying, “Well, I think the interesting moment is she is not going to believe it,” and they were like, “What do you mean?”  I say, “When she comes home from the hospital, I think she needs to be like, ‘We have to go back.  Casey is at the hospital, and he needs us,’ and they were like, “That’s such a great thing to play.”  That’s what shifted for me.  I just remember there was a moment where Ally couldn’t lie anymore. She couldn’t convince herself, and then she had to tell her son that Casey wasn’t coming back.  I really understood what it was to get lost to a scene; what it was to not be Laura going, “I’m going to act now and play this scene.”  I learned how to become the character and transform in the moment.

It’s was on-the-job training.

LAURA:  Oh, for sure on-the-job training, because I went to one acting class thinking that in New York City I need to know what I’m doing, and I was so terrified to get up and speak in a scene that I literally could not talk.  I couldn’t even function outside of the safety of what I knew on a soap opera set.  I had that happen with my meditation teacher training a few years ago.  I almost left the training because it was terrifying for me to get up and not know what I’m going to do and have the script, no cameras in front of me!  It was very bizarre.

Photo: CBS

And later, Guiding Light came your way!

LAURA: When The City got canceled, I shot a pilot that did not get picked up, and my agents were like, “What do you want to do?” and I was like, “I’m really good at daytime… can we just stick with that?  I don’t really want to do this auditioning thing.” So, then all of the sudden within a week of me saying, “I think I’ll do daytime again,” I had a screen-test for All My Children and Guiding Light at the exact same time.  I was like, “What are the parts?” and I wasn’t going to pit them against each other because my agent was like, “It’s bad taste. We don’t represent that kind of negotiation.” You have to pick because before you go into any screen-test, you already have a pre-negotiated contract, and the deal has been placed.  So, you know going in what your situation will be.  So, it was All My Children, playing a doctor, or a stripper with a heart-of-gold on Guiding Light.  It was the role and that Guiding Light just had a better money offer that pushed me towards that screen-test. Then, I had to go in and meet Paul Rauch (Former EP, GL) before I screen-tested, and then Jim Brown and Barbara Esensten who were now the head writers at GL. They wrote for me on The City.  They were the ones who said, “Let’s get Laura Wright in here and see if she wants to do this.”  It’s interesting, because when they were shooting Annie’s (Cynthia Watros) big trial on Guiding Light, and Kim Zimmer (Reva) had these incredible, long days and tons of dialogue in the courtroom scenes. Then, they throw this screen-test at her with me in the middle of the afternoon! I remember when we were doing the scene. Kim had jumped to another part in it, and of course, I knew the script backwards and forwards because I’ve had it for a week and a half.  Kim had probably looked at it that day because she’s got a thousand other lines that she’s learning for that week of shows.  We were in the middle of the scene, and they’re rolling cameras, it’s very emotional, we’re going at each other, and Kim had jumped to the next page of a line, but I knew exactly where she went, so I went right there. We got back on track and ended the scene, and Kim goes, “She just saved my ass in that screen-test!” and we just started laughing.  It was a great moment.

Photo: LWInstagram

The cast of Guiding Light was so amazing!

LAURA:  So amazing, and that’s where I met my man.

Wes Ramsey (Ex-Sam, GL, now Peter, GH) at the time had a crush on you if I recall the story.

LAURA:  Yes, he had a crush.  I don’t know if he wanted to go out with me because when I first came on, I was pregnant, so that would have been weird! (Laughs) We have a funny story that he told me four years ago when we got together. Wes was going through old photos that he had logged into his computer and was trying to put things in different files, and he’s like, “Oh, my God.”  He had come back a few times on Guiding Light after he’d left, and one of the times was after I’d had my son, and this was when Richard had died, and Cassie had chopped all of her hair off.  So, he was going through these photos and he showed me that he had snuck a picture of me.  (Laughs) Then, he’s like, “See, I told you I had a crush!”  I’m like, “Oh my God, that’s so funny!”

Do you and Wes run lines together at home, even though you are in different storylines on GH?

LAURA:  If he needed me too, I would, but Wes has a totally different way of learning his lines than I do.  His prep work is very different than mine.  His is very professional and probably how you should do it. He is a Juilliard graduate.  So, he was taught well, and I’ve just figured it out.  Mine is just pure survival …’the gas station girl’.

Photo: ABC

What was the impact Guiding Light had on the trajectory of your career?

LAURA:  Guiding Light was 100% an actors show. They told a different kind of story, and the actors across the board were serious and wanted you to take it just as seriously. You were either going to sink or swim on that show, and I had to figure out how to swim. I think I spent the first six months in my dressing room crying when I wasn’t on set, trying to figure it out.  I was really taken care of on Loving.  I was 20-years-old when I got that part, 27 when I left. When I went to Guiding Light, it wasn’t like I wasn’t taken care of and protected, but it was a new energy. No one knew me.  No one knew what I was capable of.  I didn’t even know what I was capable of at the time, and you weren’t going to phone it in there.  I started working with Kim Zimmer and Jordan Clarke (Ex-Billy Lewis).  My God, you’re thrown in with people who make you feel things and play things that are uncomfortable, because that’s what we do as actors.  We make it uncomfortable, and we stretch the boundaries, and we play these emotions that are so raw and real.  One day I was freaking out over a scene with the characters of Edmund and Dinah, and I just said I would never do this.  I was just adamant. The director, said, “We have to do this.  So, you have to give me one reason where you could stay in this room.”  I said, “I guess my daughter could walk in the door, and I don’t want to leave her,” and he goes, “Great!  That’s great,” and I go, “Or…” and it just opened this door of there’s a thousand ways I could play a scene.

Photo: CBS

When you came onto General Hospital and embodied Carly, did you feel like this was it now… and that you were in command of your craft?

LAURA:  No, because it took me a long time to get comfortable.  I’m the fourth Carly, so you want to honor what they’re writing, you want to honor the fans and what they love about the character, and there were three women who played her before me and somebody loved something about all of them. So, you want to bring that, as well as make your own mark.  You’re taking over a leading female role of the show with that much passion and dialogue that comes with the character, so it was a lot of pressure at first, but I was excited for it.  I showed up every day ready to kick ass, but as far as feeling like, “Ha ha, it’s mine; I’ve made it!”, I’ve never felt that.

Photo: ABC

I have spoken to many of your co-stars through the years, and they often share how you helped them within a scene, or with something they were struggling with.  That is where experience can be a great asset for a performer in this medium.

LAURA:  As a female lead on the show, I do think it’s important to lift other women up to become their own female leads, and I do mean that.  If I’m working with someone, and I see them get a note that they don’t understand, or it’s a technical note, but gosh, it’s an important scene for them emotionally, anything I can do to help them in that moment, whether it has anything to do with me or not, I am there for.  There was a bathroom scene that I think aired a week or so ago with Carly and Sasha.  In the scene, Sasha (Sofia Mattsson) has all of her makeup in front of her, and the shot they need to get is through the mirror.  Sasha has a full conversation with Carly, who is standing upstage. It’s very difficult to do that when you don’t have rehearsal time to figure it out. They gave her the note that they needed her to say her line into the mirror, or they can’t get her face, right? I’m like, “Hey, do you have any idea how you’re going to do that?” because it’s so hard! I wanted to help. Having 30 years’ experience in something feels great, and it’s shocking because where did those 30 years go? What incredible memories I have, but what it’s gifted me the most is being able to help people through my experience, and through what I have learned along the way.  The whole show shines when we all shine, not just when one person does.

Photo: LWrightInstagram

What do you think your late parents would say about your 30 years in daytime?

LAURA:  Oh, they would be so proud… so happy.  It’s just so crazy that it’s been 30 years, and 2020 being the longest year with what we all experienced with Covid-19.  Looking back on my daytime career, I don’t know why, the shows didn’t let me go. I think it really was work ethic.  I can really say my work ethic is a huge part of me sticking around because I never got lazy.  I was never not going to figure it out.  I was never one to show up not knowing her lines, or being a problem, or not caring. I think that’s what kept me going, and then listening, watching, feeling, and I’m just so grateful.  I’m like, “Wow, what a ride!”

Photo: ABC

… And what can you say about what your time as Carly has meant to you within your now illustrious daytime career?

LAURA:  I love every second of it.  It’s my choice how I show up on that soundstage.  After 30 years, I am not bored.  I have had my moments of trying to find the fun in it and caring about Carly’s storyline at the time. That’s my own choice though, right?  It’s a choice – how I choose to show up every day there – and what I choose to find interesting and challenging, and I do.  No matter what storyline they’ve given me, I can choose for it to be, “Okay, I’m here.  I’ve been doing this for so long, I could do it in my sleep,” or I could choose to show up and go, “Where am I going to kickass today?  Where is the moment?”  Now, I don’t love the amount of time it takes for my hair to get blown out; I’ll be honest (Laughs). I’m an antsy person.  But when I get on set, it’s my choice to find the love and the fun of it, whatever that is for me.  I choose to open up every script I get, the second I get it, and am always excited to see what I’m doing.

Photo: ABC

Finally, what would you say, as a tease of what we should look forward to in the coming weeks involving Carly?

LAURA:  All I can say is there is amazing stuff coming, amazing performances, amazing excitement, amazing heartbreak, amazing surprises.  It’s all coming.

So, are you into Carly running the mob? What do you think will happen when and if Carly finds out Nina has been with Sonny aka Mike for months?  What has been your favorite moment of Laura’s on the soaps throughout her 3 decades in daytime? Share your thoughts and congrats to Laura in the comment section below.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Telma Hopkins and Bryton James Talk on their ‘Family Matters’ Connection, Amanda Sinclair’s Past, and the songs of Tony Orlando and Dawn

This week, kicks-off a very special guest appearance by Telma Hopkins on CBS’ The Young and the Restless.  Hopkins plays Denise Tolliver, a private eye with some very important intel for Amanda Sinclair (Mishael Morgan), about her past, her father, and her biological family drama.

Photo:CBD

Telma’s guest stint on Y&R reunites her with her dear friend and former on-screen son, Bryton James (Devon Hamilton) after they appeared together on the late 80’s and 90’s sitcom Family Matters.  Fans of the comedy series remember a very young Bryton as Richie Crawford and Telma as his mother, Rachel.  Year laters, they now have the opportunity to work together in Genoa City.

Photo: CBS

In a new interview out today on the Michael Fairman Channel, Telma and Bryton chat virtually with Michael, and we learn that Telma is a longtime fan of Y&R, a huge fan of Mishael Morgan’s, and just how Denise Tolliver’s arrival in Genoa City will set the stage for fireworks to come.

And while Telma and Bryton reminisce about first their first impressions of each other on the Family Matters set, we also delve into another key part of Hopkins career as part of the iconic singing trio Tony Orlando and Dawn, whose hit singles included: “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole’ Oak Tree”, “Candida”, “She Don’t Love You” and more.

Photo: CBS

So, excited to see Telma and Bryton together again? What were your first impressions of Telma as Denise Tolliver on today’s Y&R? What is your favorite Tony Orlando and Dawn tune? Did you watch “Family Matters” with Telma and Bryton years ago? Share your thoughts in the comment section.  But first check out their full interview below.

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Days Of Our Lives

WATCH: Daytime Emmy Nominations Special 2021 Replay

Last night, during the Daytime Emmy Nominations Special Livestream on the Michael Fairman Channel, 15 nominated performers who will be going for gold on the upcoming 48th annual Daytime Emmy Awards, shared their reactions and their excitement at learning they were in the running in the major Daytime Drama performer categories as chosen by their peers.

Throughout the livestream, the actors also shared what scenes they chose for their reels in the competition that landed them in the top spots in their respective categories.

Photos: ABC, CBS, JPI, NBC

During the broadcast, Michael welcomed: The Bold and the Beautiful’s Darin Brooks and Courtney Hope, General Hospital’s, Maurice Benard, Finola Hughes, Max Gail, Briana Lane and Dominic Zamprogna, The Young and the Restless’ Bryton James, Melissa Claire Egan and Alyvia Alyn Lind, and Days of our Lives nominees: Victoria Konefal, Cady McClain, Wally Kurth, George DelHoyo, and Tamara Braun.

In addition, NATAS President and CEO Adam Sharp shared insight into this year’s nomination process, the year in daytime, and teased what to look for on the upcoming Daytime Emmy Telecast on June 25th on CBS, where the award show recently got a two-year pick-up.

In case you missed it, enjoy this kick-off to Emmy season and watch the Daytime Emmy Nominations Replay below.  Then let us know what moments you enjoyed the most during our show, and who you are rooting for to take home Emmy gold in the comment section.

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GH’s Kelly Thiebaud (Britt) chats with Michael Fairman about Britt being on the run with Jason, their burgeoning romance, working with Steve Burton and her other co-star and Britt’s diagnosis of Huntington’s Disease. .Leave A Comment

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