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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?

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Interviews

Melody Thomas Scott Chats On 40 Years As The Young and the Restless’ Incomparable Nikki: The Men, The Booze, The Drama

Today marks Y&R icon Melody Thomas Scott’s 40th anniversary with the top-rated daytime drama series.  While CBS plans to air a special standalone episode (Nikki is in the slammer for confessing to J.T.’s murder, and she will reflect on her life in an emotional look-back), Michael Fairman sat down with the popular and beloved star for a deep dive into four decades in the life of stripper-turned-socialite, Nikki Newman for The Michael Fairman Channel.

During the interview, Melody first addresses her sadness at the loss of her longtime friend and co-star Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters): “I adored him.  I love him to bits.  I loved working with him; such a wonderful actor.  I don’t even know if he knew how good he was.”

When discussing Nikki’s colorful past, and when Y&R planned to have Nikki strip again decades later, Melody revealed she did refuse to play it: “That’s right, and I very rarely put the kibosh on anything on this show,  I was 48-years-old.  The head writer called me and I was up in hair and make-up.  They heard me say, ‘I’m 48-years-old .. that’s just not happening.”‘

Photo: TheMichaelFairmanChannel

Over the years, Nikki has faced many battles, perils ,and demons including her addiction to alcohol which has provided many a juicy story for Thomas Scott.  As to the fans always loving to see a ‘boozy’ Nikki, Melody remarked;  “Yes!  They love it!  I have great fun with it and I think it’s wonderful.”

During a segment of the conversation, Michael shows Melody some photos of Nikki’s past loves, and gets her thoughts on why Nikki fell for those men, and what it was like working with her co-stars through the years: John Enos (Bobby), Doug Davidson (Paul), Heath Kizzier (Joshua), Wings Hauser (Greg), Don Diamont (Brad), Vincent Irizarry (David), Peter Bergman (Jack), Sean Kanan (Deacon, and of course, her longtime on-screen partner Eric Braeden (Victor).

Later, Melody reminisces about her time working with the late great Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) and when asked by Fairman what she thinks Jeanne would say about her 40th anniversary milestone, Melody replied: “She would say, ‘I’m (bleeping) proud of you Mel!”‘

Photo: CBS

Check out the entire interview with Melody below (make sure to also subscribe to the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube for more feature interviews), and following that the special CBS promo honoring Melody’s 40th anniversary with Y&R.  Then let us know, what has been your favorite Nikki Newman moment over the last 40 years? Share your thoughts via the comment section below,

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Interviews

Executive Producer Michael Levitt Previews The Adorable 2019 ‘American Rescue Dog Show’

Dog lovers everywhere get ready! Coming your way on Sunday, February 17th and Monday, February 18th, the good folks at the Hallmark Channel will air a two-night special event (8pmET/7pmCT) that puts a spin on the traditional competitive elite dog shows, while at the same time championing an important cause for man’s best friend.

The 2019 American Rescue Dog Show honors some of the cutest rescue dogs from around the country going paw-to-paw in categories that will tickle-your-funny-bone, bring a smile to your face, or, potentially shed a tear.  This marks the second year for this oh-so-heartwarming show, where in its first year, it beat the Westminster Dog Show in the ratings; much to the delight of rescue dogs and their families, who take these wonderful animals into their homes.

The brainchild behind the concept is the executive producer of the event. Michael Levitt (Skin Wars, Daytime Emmys, TV Land Awards), who spoke with Michael Fairman TV to give us all the inside dish and insight into why this dog show is so personally important to him, and how its goal is to create awareness about the plight of millions of abandoned dogs in shelters each year, and to inspire viewers to think about rescuing one of these loveable pups.

Levitt has a collection of notable hosts and judges along for the ride who bring this one-of-a-kind doggy competition to life from the world of TV, film, and animal advocacy.  So, for the lowdown on the competition and more, here’s what Michael shared.

Photo: Crown Media

For those who want to check out the two-night event, is the American Rescue Dog Show in the same vein as the Westminster Dog Show, where the dogs are competing? 

MICHAEL: The format of the show is similar to a fancy dog show, such as Westminster, however, on the American Rescue Dog Show, we aren’t “judging” the dog.  In our show, they all have to be rescue dogs that are spayed or neutered in order to compete, and we are not judging them based on their bloodlines, we are celebrating their cuteness in such categories as, “Best in Wiggle Butt,” “Best in Couch Potato,” “Best in Snoring,” “Best in Special Needs,” and  “Best in Senior Dog” – those are obviously some of the most important.   We have the fancy arena floor with the judges and the tuxedos.  We filmed it at the Pomona Fairplex, which is the same place that they film the Beverly Hills Dog Show.

And you have a bevy of dog-loving celebrity judges along for the ride, too!

MICHAEL: Yes, and this year we are lucky to have the support of celebrity animal advocates that include: Lisa Vanderpump, Debbie Gibson, Brandon McMillan, host of CBS’s Lucky Dog, Bill Berloni, who is the dog trainer to a lot of the dogs on Broadway, and Dirty Job’s Mike Rowe.  Our prerequisites for them to be a judge were: they all needed to be rescue-friendly.  So, they either needed to have a rescue dog of their own or support rescue in some way.  Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell are the hosts this year, along with Ross Matthews and Home & Family’s Larissa Wall, who served as co-hosts and cover all of the action ringside.

Photo: Crown Media

So, did the judges get along?  Did they differ on their top picks?

MICHAEL: The judges absolutely got along famously, but as a producer of the show, I was a fly on the wall listening to them when they were deliberating as they were picking a winner.  That was quite entertaining, because each of them had a strong point of view on the dog, or dogs that they thought should win the competition. We found ourselves throughout the filming just turning to each other and saying, “I don’t know how the judges are going to pick just one, because they are all just so incredibly special.”

How was Lisa Vanderpump? 

MICHAEL:  Lisa was wonderful!  When she was being interviewed by Rebecca and Jerry O’Connell, they asked her what she would say to a potential family that is about to buy a dog from a breeder, and it was such a profound moment, because as someone who comes from her socioeconomic level, from her privilege, to see that she has embraced rescue might be incredibly meaningful to someone who might think that rescue dogs are second-hand animals.  Lisa Vanderpump disproves that just by being there, and being a part of it.

Photo: Crown Media

How did you decide on Rebecca and Jerry as your hosts with the most?

MICHAE:  I have a long history with Rebecca from producing my show, Skin Wars, which she hosts.  I knew that she and Jerry had four rescue dogs of their own, and that she is incredibly passionate about rescue and shedding light and creating awareness about the plight of animals that are sheltered.  They were not only organic and authentic to the cause, but they were a lot of fun and clearly had a lot of natural chemistry.  They also brought their own rescue dogs to the show, as did Lisa Vanderpump.  So that was fun.

You have two wonderful dogs of your own.  So, this is your passion project!

MICHAEL: This is a true labor of love for me, because in 2011 when my sister, Jennifer was dying of cancer, my partner and I decided to rescue a dog, and we rescued a pit bull named Trooper, and Trooper rocked our world.  My sister met him four days before she died, and it’s that old adage of “Who rescued who.”  Trooper really was there for me during a really difficult time of my life. I learned first-hand how special not only rescue dogs are, but pit bulls, and that really was the beginning of my animal advocacy.  I ended up taking a year off from producing just to rescue dogs.  I realized at the end of that year, that as a rescuer, I am saving one dog at a time, but as a producer, I could do so much more to bring awareness to the plight of animals in our shelters by creating rescue-themed programming.

Pit bulls seem to always get a bad rap.  Do you feel that way?

MICHAEL:  They absolutely get a bad rap, and after we rescued Trooper, we rescued another pit bull named Nelson, and it was really the two of them who inspired me to get heavily involved in rescue and to be an advocate for pit bulls.  With pit bulls it is such a unique human-animal bond that you don’t find with any other breed.  All they really want to do is please their humans, and it is absolutely true that when you hear these horrific stories about pit bulls on the news, these are rare incidents of pit bulls who have fallen into the hands of bad people who have treated them badly.  It’s really unfair to profile and entire breed of dog, because all dog breeds have some dogs that have behavioral problems.  I have come in contact with thousands of pit bulls, and I have only met one that was human-aggressive, and that dog was severely, severely abused.  Every other pit bull I have come in contact with has been nothing but incredibly sweet.

Photo: Crown Media

So, last year’s American Rescue Dog Show is currently in the running to earn a Daytime Emmy nomination in the ‘Special Class Special’ programming category!

MICHAEL:  Yes, “Special Class Special”. (Laughs)

You obviously know who wins this weekend’s American Rescue Dog Show competition.  Were you happy with the winner? 

MICHAEL:  Yes, but you can imagine how difficult it is for the judges to pick a winner because every single dog in the competition is beyond adorable. It is really the dogs who deliver on the show, and that’s what makes the show so heartwarming.  The real purpose of the show is to inspire the viewers to rescue their next dog from their local shelter, or rescue organization, so that people who are watching turn to the person they are with and say, “Honey, I didn’t know you could get a pure-bred dog at a shelter!  Let’s rescue our next dog!”  We have really powerful segments in the show about the joy of adopting a senior dog, or a special-needs dog.  We do a segment on debunking the myths about pit bulls, and we have messaging on why it is important to spay and neuter your dog.  So, through this wonderfully entertaining program, we are also educating people and hopefully touching their heart and their soul and inspiring them to be a part of the solution by rescuing their next dog; instead of being a part of the problem by purchasing a dog from a pet store or breeder.

Photo: Crown Media

When you look at what you have to take on as a producer when you do this type of show; as opposed to any other type of production you have helmed, what are the major differences?

MICHAEL: The biggest distinction is that on this show we are dealing with living animals, so I take that responsibility very seriously.  First and foremost: is the safety and well-being of the dogs that are participating on the show.  We have to consider everything from making sure that the animals are up-to-date with their vaccinations to having veterinarians on hand, having production personal on-hand standing by with treats and pooper-scoopers. This also means that the dogs are being treated like VIPs.  So, we have a VIP room, but that stands for “Very Important Pooch”, and all of the dogs that are participating have their own dressing rooms with a star on it and their name.  There were over 130 dogs that actually participated from all over the country.  In addition, we had a gifting suite like they do on the Oscars and Golden Globes, but on this show, they didn’t get swag bags, they got “Wag Bags”.

Knowing you as I do, it seems a lot this creative from the categories in the competition, to the backstage VIP room, are very YOU!

MICHAEL:  I have an incredible team of producers who I collaborate with.  None of this would be possible without the good people at Hallmark being such incredible animal advocates.  Specifically, Bill Abbott, who is one of the few network executives in the industry who is really walking the walk and doing so much to be supportive of dogs and cats who need homes.  So, this is right up my alley, because creatively I am so passionate about it that it is so easy to come up with fun ideas that hopefully resonate with the viewers.

Photo: Crown Media

Are there any other fun moments that you can tease?

MICHAEL:  We are celebrating the perfectly imperfect.  So, we love when a dog decides to roll on his back in the middle of the arena and decide he wants to get a belly rub in the middle of the competition.  We had a dog decide that he had to go potty on the middle of a flower arrangement on the arena floor.  Those are the moments that give the show its heart and feel-good sensibility.  We had a couple of dogs in the “Best Wiggle Butt” category where one of their forever parent brings them out initially, and their other forever parent was on the other side of the area, and we removed their leash so that they can run from one parent to the other so that we can really see their butts moving, but … we had a few dogs get so excited that they ran right out of the arena! (Laughs)  They ran right through the tunnel off stage and come running back in, and the whole audience erupted into laughter.  It’s just magical.

How did you find these dogs to compete? 

MICHAEL:  We put out a call-to-action on social media, and we got thousands of responses. People submitted their rescue dogs in as many categories as they qualified for, and they submitted photos and videos. Then, we have a team of producers and rescue experts who go through all of the submissions, ultimately picking the top semi-finalists in each category who come to Los Angeles to compete.  We had a wonderful partnership with Pedigree Foundation in which they provided $100,000 in grant money for the dogs that win for the rescue that saved him or her.  So, in the ten semi-final categories, each winning dog received a $5,000 grant for the rescue that saved him or her, and then the ultimate winner of the competition, which is crowned the title, “Best in Rescue,” received an additional $30,000 for the rescue that saved him or her, again, courtesy of Pedigree Foundation.  We also had a partnership with adoptapet.com, which is the largest online resource for people to find rescue dogs in their own communities. Throughout the show, we have a call-to-action for people to go to hallmark.com/bestinrescue and look for the adopt a pet icon … they click it… then enter their zip code … and they are instantly linked to thousands of available dogs in their own community who are patiently waiting for a loving home.

Photo: Crown Media

The dog handlers are the owners of these pets?

MICHAEL:  Yes.  We call it a member of their “forever family”.  Several of the dogs on the show are service dogs now, or companion animals, working in senior homes or working with military service people suffering from PTSD.  We celebrate each and every one of them.

Is your hope to do a third annual show, and keep the dog rescue competition going?

MICHAEL:  Yes!  My hope is that this show continues to be on for many years to come and be a platform for the 8 million animals that enter our shelters each year and are patiently waiting for their forever home, and that we can continue to be a voice for these dogs that don’t have voices of their own.  Of all of the shows that I have produced over the years, this one is going to be the most meaningful to me, and is going to be my legacy, because it is such a beautiful thing that I can bring my work and my passion together to hopefully make a difference in the lives of all of these animals.  As a result of this show, we heard from numerous shelters across the country that there was a definite uptick in adoptions.  That warms my heart beyond compare.

In closing, you know what they say:  it’s easier to work with animals than humans! Thoughts? (Laughs)

MICHAEL:  Every show has its challenges, but I would much rather deal with a diva Chihuahua than a diva celebrity.  So, on that level, this show is pure joy to make.

So, will you be watching this heartwarming, creative two-night rescue dog event?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below, but first, check out this behind-the-scenes video of how the American Rescue Dog Show is put together with co-host, Ross Matthews.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Jason Thompson Talks On: The Self-Destructive Billy Abbott, Victoria, Phyllis, And Katie’s Disappearance

As February sweeps kicks in to high gear on The Young and the Restless, Billy Abbott (Jason Thompson) and his ex-wife, Victoria Newman (Amelia Heinle) are once again in each other’s orbit.  First, Billy was not too happy to learn that his nemesis, Cane Ashby (Daniel Goddard) shared some passionate kisses with her.  In fact, he went running to Cane’s imprisoned wife. Lily (Christel Khalil), to give her the lowdown.  Next, their child, Katie has gone MIA, but as viewers saw on Friday’s cliffhanger she is somehow heard singing through the walls at the Newman Ranch. Previously, Katie said she was playing with an imaginary friend, but someone is lurking around and watching the Newmans every move!

And let’s not forget, Summer (Hunter King) is back in Genoa City!  The last time she hit town she all but destroyed Billy – his gambling addiction returned, she tried to seduce him, and he slept with her as revenge against Phyllis for her having sex with Nick (Joshua Morrow), and we could go on!  After all the hurt, and the dissolution of their relationship, Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) and Billy are not seeing eye to eye on much, but saying they will try to work together.  Can they?

To fill us in on all the drama, Jason Thompson chatted with Michael Fairman TV and weighed-in on: the future for Villy, Philly, what he has learned from working on two major soaps; General Hospital, where he played the popular Dr. Patrick Drake, and Y&R, his thoughts on his recent Daytime Emmy Pre-Nomination in the Lead Actor category in what was a banner year of storyline for him in 2018, and much more.

Insightful, driven, and talented, Jason is one of the standouts in our genre.  Check out what he had to share below.

What did you think about the plot point that had Billy going to visit Lily in prison, and once there, he informs her that her husband, Cane has been kissing on Victoria!?

JASON:  What I think about it is somewhat irrelevant.  It wasn’t hard for me to rationalize it.  In the moment, Billy was hurt and pissed off.  He is irrational sometimes.  Once he got to the prison, I think he second-guessed himself.  Lily did a pretty good job of convincing him that she needs to know what is going on in order to just live in a certain amount of truth in this situation.  Billy felt that it would be worse for her wondering what was going on on the outside without knowing the truth.  I think that in that moment, he was convinced that telling her the truth was the right thing.  There was a part of him that wanted to get back at Cane, and when Billy gets hurt, he seems to lash out a bit and then sometimes he kind of recoils.  Could he have let it go?  Probably.  I think it’s an interesting thing for Lily and Billy’s relationship; to be honest.  Billy has always respected Lily.  I think that he’s always looked at Lily as someone who does the right thing, and was a good wife, and a good mother, and all of those things.  He thinks that she is in a rough place and wanted to offer her a little bit of support, and that’s the way that he did it.

Photo: JPI Studios

Where do you think the show can go now with his relationship with Cane?  They have been contentious all this time, anyway, and now this has happened.   How do you think this will resolve, or would it ever resolve?

JASON:  I think it’s one of the most interesting relationships Billy hasI don’t know that it will ever resolve.  I don’t know that Billy thinks too much about Cane either way, but in saying that,  there is still no one that can get under his skin and quickly!  In an instant, Cane can be Billy’s enemy and I think that’s great.  I always think there is story for Billy and Cane.  In our working relationship as well, I think we both get a different energy out of each other that inevitably ends up in the characters.  That’s always fun.

Photo:” JPI

How does Billy feel about Victoria now?  She’s been struggling since her relationship with J.T., making out with Cane, etc. 

JASON:  Billy does have feelings for VictoriaI think it’s a number of things that contributes to this.  I think it’s where he finds himself in his life.  He has been kind of hurt by the woman he loved (Phyllis).  He had everything for a moment that he wanted … he had the job, he had the girl, and if he had just done the right thing and had a little bit more self-control, he probably would have been in the best place of his life.  So, when all of those things get pulled away, the one constant is just when he goes to see his kids and they smile, and they don’t know what’s going on in the outside world.  I think the only people who don’t judge him are probably the kids.  There’s something really comfortable about that situation.  No matter what happens, there’s always going to be a little something with Victoria.  She’s always very supportive (not that she hasn’t been very, very upset with him, at times), but there is always something about their relationship that will keep him wondering if they should be together.  I think it will probably be like that for the rest of their lives.

Billy is still unaware that Victoria, Nikki, Phyllis and Sharon are all part of a cover-up in J.T.’s murder.  How aware is Billy in the depths of the abuse Victoria suffered at the hands of J.T.?

JASON:  There was never really a big realization about how dramatic, hurtful, and volatile the whole situation was.  It was a shock to hear all of that obviously, but he has no idea about the depths of it all.

Photo: CBS

If he found out, how do you think he would react knowing what Victoria had gone through?

JASON:  I think he would probably want to kick him again and then re-bury him. Billy has got a lot of flaws, but there is one thing that he will do, and that is always stand up for his family, and that includes Victoria.

Currently, it is just devastating for Billy when Katie goes missing.   He’s like, “I can’t go through this again after what happened with Delia,” and I know you didn’t play the Delia material, because you weren’t on the show at that time.  However, this does give you the opportunity to tap into all of that.

JASON:  Yes!  I mean, that is his biggest fear … going through all of that again.  I think that he would rather not be on the planet than go through all of that again.  What happened to Delia is never going to ever leave him.  I can’t imagine that something like that ever really does.  You just deal with it on a daily basis probably, and things come up, and you feel it all over again, and this is one of those moments.

Courtesy/CBS

I think that you being a father of two children now in your own life; really gives you a perspective when you play these things types of emotions and scenes out.

JASON:  Definitely.  Peter Bergman (Jack) and I were having a conversation about how much life and living, and trying to live a full life, really helps you with your acting.  I work really hard on my craft, but the most important thing that I can do for my work and my career is live a full life.  With the kids and everything else in my personal life, that to me is something that I can always draw upon.  It’s hard to even let myself go there sometimes, because of how scary it would be.  But yeah, I think Billy is not far off from that.  That character has a lot of life and is tied to this volcano and it’s just waiting to erupt, and that eruption is good and full of liveliness fear, and anger.  Some of that comes from hurt, and some of that comes from pain, and some of that comes from a good time, and some of that comes from addiction, and it makes it fun for me because there’s always something to play.  When I talk about what I think of a particular story line, I don’t think of it as, “Oh, I would never do this,” or “I would never do that.  That doesn’t make any sense.”  I try and make sense of everything.  That’s my job.  I just try to find a reason why Billy would be in that situation; instead of trying to find a reason why he wouldn’t be.

Photo: JPI Studios

Would you say that the situation with Katie will draw Victoria and Billy closer together?  At the end of Friday’s episode, they hear Katie’s voice in the wall, so they know she is alive.

JASON:  I think so.  One step up is often two steps back with them, but they are always connected in that way.  The kids do that, and what they’ve been through in the past, and like you said, I wasn’t necessarily there for a lot of that, but it’s in this character.  I would never say never with Victoria.

Photo: CBS

So, where is Billy at with Phyllis?  You and Gina Tognoni played that coupling to the hilt and the show separated them.  Major romances are never really ‘done, done’ on soaps.

JASON:  I mean, it only gets worse with Phyllis.  I’ll say that.  They’re not in a good place.   We have gone through some changes behind the scenes.  So, I have no idea what is happening as far as storyline.  I think there is always going to be something unresolved with Phyllis, but that’s the good thing about this kind of stuff.  You can put these two people together when you have two actors who kind of embrace it, and work at it, and have a natural chemistry, which in turn helps the characters have chemistry.  When Gina and I talk about what we did and accomplished with our characters, to be honest, it’s a little bit of a bummer that they are kind of apart right now, because we had a lot of fun.  We really enjoyed working with each other.  We felt like there was a lot more there to continue to explore, but like you said, it’s never over.  As far as the way that he sees Phyllis … it’s interesting.  I think as an outsider, he kind of looks at her as a selfish person who is going to get and grab whatever she wants, but I feel like he does understand her differently than other people do.  I think he’s looking at Nick and Phyllis and shaking his head like, “You can’t be serious.” (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI

You have had quite a gold mine of leading ladies in your daytime career from: Kimberly McCullough (Robin) to Kelly Monaco (Sam) while you portrayed Dr, Patrick Drake on General Hospital, to Gina and Amelia at Y&R.  I have to say that of all of the leading men on daytime, I think you’ve had consistently some major romantic kickass scene partners.  What are your thoughts on that?

JASON:  Yeah, I have been very fortunate.  I can go back thirteen years now and talk about how much Kimberly helped me out in the beginning, and how patient, and impatient (laughs) she was in a lot of ways.  Kimberly taught me a lot about how the business is, and to hold onto your values, and that it is very important to collaborate with your directors, and your writers, and your producers, and with other people that you work with.  You then see new things.  I’m constantly seeing things in other characters where I’m like, “That would be really interesting to shine a light on.”   I think there’s something really interesting about Sharon (Sharon Case) and Billy.  I think Billy could bring something out in Sharon that somebody else can’t.  That’s what is exciting for me as an actor – trying to find something different and trying to bring life that is not necessarily there yet.  I have had a lot of trust from writers, from producers, and from networks.  I have been very fortunate in that way.

Hunter King has returned to Y&R as Summer.  She played havoc in Billy’s life her last go-round.  I know now she is currently after Kyle (Michael Mealor) and not after Billy, but does Billy blame her at all for his spiral back into his gambling addiction?

JASON:  Realistically, if  Billy were really being dead honest about it and trying to really work soberly in his life, he would say there’s nobody to blame but himself.  There’s definitely that conversation that could be had between them about the situation that they found themselves in.  They both hurt each other pretty badly, and the people surrounding them.  I think there is probably a little bit of blame that can go around on both of them, but I don’t think he really sits back and blames her for falling back into addiction.  She might have been one of the triggers, but I think that he was really responsible for that.

Congratulations on your Daytime Emmy Pre-Nom in the Lead Actor category!  It’s quite a talented group of ten actors that made it through to the final round of competition. You certainly had a stellar year of material!

JASON:  I had a ton of great storylines last year, and it just kind of kept going, and kept going One thing I will say that really helped me out is my relationship with Mal Young (Ex- EP and head writer, Y&R).  We got along really well.  He helped me out by letting me know six months ahead of time where we planned on going with the story.  So, I was able to understand and slowly build the depths of hurt, and the gambling, and how it got further along, and the lies.   I was able to understand where we were going and the plateau that we needed to get to, which was very helpful for me. I worked with amazing people constantly; every day was like something different.  The hard part in this next round of voting is trying to find something that represents the whole year.  When I look at that list of pre-nominees, I’m proud of the work that daytime actors do … everybody from a little bit of a younger guy like Billy Flynn (Chad, DAYS) to icons like Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) , and Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH).  What Maurice brought to my life as an actor and still does has been wonderful, and on the other side of that you’ve got Peter Bergman, who is like a real brother to me now, and we’re really close.  It’s a nice comradery between everybody in the category.  It’s a great group of people to be included with, and aside from the competition part of it, that’s the really cool part.

Photo Credit: JPI

So, let’s talk about your on-screen, mom, Jess Walton (Jill).  I’ve heard you say publicly how much you really like working with her, and she with you.  What can you say about when you do get some scenes with Jess, and get to play that mother-son relationship?

JASON:  That’s another one that you can loop in with all of the other women I’ve worked with.  It’s a different kind of relationship, but talk about a soap icon! Jess Walton is right up there.  She’s a pro, and she’s got this little girl inside that is the sweetest thing alive, and her little giggle.  I can say that relationship is just there with her.  I would love for her to be there more.  If there’s one person that can tell Billy to just, you know what, she’s somebody that can give him a little whipping, and he’d be like, “Okay mom, you’re right.” (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

Finally, you are on this juggernaut of a show that just celebrated yet another milestone, 30 years at #1.  You go from a historic show like GH, to another here at Y&R that keeps celebrating these milestones that nobody will ever overtake.  All of this has to be a ‘pinch yourself’ moment for you?

JASON:  Yeah, I definitely pinch myself.  I think at this moment, all four soaps that are left are having monumental anniversaries and celebrations, because the truth of it is, it’s really incredible what soaps have done in our history.  With playing Patrick on General Hospital, I still look back on that time and that character, and am just so grateful that I was able to bring him to life.  Every once and awhile I wonder what Patrick’s doing.  On the other end of that, to come over to Y&R with a show that is now 30 years at number #1, and the pride that they have, and the support that they have from the network, there’s a real kind of challenge that we have in order to keep that up.  It is not about the slogans, or the glitzy ad campaigns in the magazines that say, “Hey!  We are #1 for 30 years.”  While that’s very important, what’s more important are the people who have gotten us there for the last thirty years.  We have to show them respect by doing the best that we can and continue that. That’s what drives us. You can feel it in the building.  To take on a character like Billy, who has been a part of that for a very long time, there is a pressure that comes with that, but at the same time, there is an excitement of taking on this character and continuing to make him relevant, and a part of this great soap’s history.

So, do you want Billy to end up with Victoria, Phyllis, perhaps Sharon, or someone else? Who do you think has got Katie and is watching the Newmans?  Are you rooting for Jason to receive a Lead Actor nomination for his work on Y&R in 2018?  What do you think about the other sentiments shared by Jason in this interview, and what was your favorite part of our discussion? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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