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THE ERIC BRAEDEN INTERVIEW – THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS

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Playing the ruthless businessman Victor Newman on “Y&R” for more than 28 years, Eric Braeden still thrills fans with his powerhouse performances. Particularly in 2008, he gave a star turn that many feel should be recognized. The series brought back star-crossed lovers Nikki and Victors’ relationship to the forefront, and reignited the relationship between Victor and Ashley, as well.

In this honest and direct interview, Eric only tells it like it is. We discuss the exit of fellow cast mate and long time friend, Don Diamont. We talked about The Daytime Emmy voting system gone wrong, the aging of his on-screen daughter, and upcoming retribution for those who wronged Victor Newman. Eric also spoke about the “Dream Team” regime that has revived “Y&R” back to its rightful place as one of the most compelling dramas on television, as well as Braeden’s pet project,
“The Man Who Came Back”.

Listen to the audio:

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MICHAEL:

What are your thoughts on Don Diamont (Brad) being ‘let go’, since he had been part of the Genoa City canvas for so long?

ERIC:

I was very sad about that, to be quite frank with you. He did some of his best work in the last months, where he played the ‘shifty’ guy and the bad guy and you don’t know quite what he is up to. I think he played that extremely well. I always think that’s a mistake to let people go that have been part of the fabric as long as he has been. Furthermore, he was related to people on the show, and personally, I think those things are a mistake. If you want to want to save money, then cut down on hiring new actors.

MICHAEL:

It’s a hard pill to swallow, to see people lose their jobs.

DonsLast.jpgERIC:

My heart goes out to him. I don’t know why the decision was made. Who knows? That is why when I do my movies I control everything. I don’t like other people to control things.

MICHAEL:

The animosity grew between Brad and Victor (on Don Diamont’s final weeks on the show) over both being Abbe’s father. Victor was showering the young girl with
lavish gifts, while Brad got pissed off.

ERIC:

Victor is Abbe’s father, but that does not mean that affection and love have to come naturally, and you can’t force that. I hope it won’t continue that he buys all sorts of things, and buys her love. I am tired of that. Hopefully, they will grow closer. Victor is basically a loner and does not trust anyone. He grew up in an orphanage and was abandoned when he was seven years old. So, he is sometimes a little awkward because he does not trust affections either, not really, and the moment there is the slightest inkling, I think he goes against that person to protect himself.

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MICHAEL:

Victor’s romantic life finally got a jump-start after the death of Sabrina, when Eileen Davidson returned to the show as Ashley. And this brings up something you and I discussed over the years, that “Y&R” never really played out the Victor/Ashley romance re-do.

ERIC:

I agree with you, and I love working with her, but I love working with Melody as well. With Eileen, I always felt it was an unrequited love story that should have been started a long time ago, and for various reasons it wasn’t. I always thought it was an honestly felt love story with great material for conflict with Nikki.

Diamontein.jpgMICHAEL:

Now your daughter Abbe has grown into quite the teenager within a blink of an eye. Yup, SORAS (Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome) has hit another of the Newman kids. How do you explain it?

ERIC:

Well you know what happens, as I have told you before. Victor Newman sends his children to Switzerland and they go to a clinic and they eat Swiss cheese and learn how to yodel. That combination while there makes them go through enormous growth spurts and they suddenly jump by ten years. (He laughs)

MICHAEL:

In 2008, and now through the beginning of 20009 on “Y&R”, you have been front and center and have delivered powerful performances as Victor Newman. You were in the running for the in-house pre-nomination Lead Actor category for Daytime Emmy consideration. (Braeden eventually did not make the in-house final cut) This year you submitted yourself, even though in the past, I know you have been vocal about participating in the Emmy process.

ERIC:

You know when I think about that Michael, I don’t think much about the Emmys. I really don’t. It’s irrelevant ice. There are other people who are just as deserving. I wanted to pull out of that years ago. It’s nice if you get them. Does it translate into anything? No, it doesn’t. It’s just another piece to put on your mantle. The point is, how do you judge certain performances? It’s so hard. Let me give you an example: I recently saw some performances that were fantastically written and played. They were scenes by Peter Bergman (Jack) and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis), and between Joshua Morrow (Nick) and Sharon Case (Sharon)… all good stuff. This happened in the last few days. Where do you draw the line and whom do you choose there? Melody Thomas Scott (Niki) and I had some good scenes when Sabrina was dying, and all that. There are so many good actors on the show, and how do you decide between them? How many times have I watched the Oscars where I say, “How could you give it to this person and not that person?” Sometimes, they give it to someone because of age and for all the wrong reasons. Besides, it’s a pain in the ass to get dressed up in a tuxedo. I appreciate very much that you, the soap community and fans, think I gave a wonderful performance last year. That is very satisfying to me. There is so much politics involved in the awards process. I have a bad taste in my mouth about it all, but it’s a nice show, the Emmys, and I am not denigrating the show per se, but do I want to be there? Nope!

MICHAEL:

You have an incredible fan base and viewers who want to know what Victor Newman is going to do next.

ERIC:

I really appreciate the people who are fans, I really do. Victor is going to go after those who tried to do him wrong with a vengeance, and that’s what my movie, “The Man Who Came Back” is about, as well. I do that well. (He laughs)

MICHAEL:

You can’t shoot everyone in retribution, can you?

ERIC:

Well, I almost do, but not on “Y&R”. There would be nobody left! (He laughs)

TheManAd.jpgMICHAEL:

Speaking about your film, “The Man Who Came Back” was released direct to DVD late last year, and it spent time as the #1 DVD rental for films with non-theatrical distribution and the #10 film to buy, overall, and is still available. For those who still may not be aware of your project, how would you describe the movie?

ERIC:

“The Man Who Came Back” was 80 years in the making! (He laughs) It’s a western, and takes place in the second part of the 19th century. It’s a revenge story, where the lead character, myself, is falsely accused of a crime he did not commit… a lynching. They go after him and send him to prison. Obviously, he is full of rage and comes back and kicks-ass. It’s a revenge film, pure and simple, in a historic context. It deals with the second bloodiest labor strike in US history in 1887. The film has been doing extremely well.

MICHAEL:

You were both the star and the executive producer of the film, but had a host of other known Hollywood actors in the feature with you.

ERIC:

The cast is wonderful, with George Kennedy, an Oscar winner, who I have enormous respect for. He played my father on “Y&R” for a while. We had Billy Zane, who I worked with on “Titanic”, Armand Assante, Sean Young, Peter Jason, Ken Norton and James Patrick Stuart. It was a wonderful cast. I am eternally grateful to my fellow actors to make this possible. So, we had a hell of a time last year shooting it.

MICHAEL:

On “Y&R”, will we finally see enormous payback for Jack and an eventual huge showdown between the two rivals?

ERIC:

Eventually, there will be a huge showdown. Peter Bergman is wonderful actor, so it will come to that.

MICHAEL:

Chris Engen plays your son, Victor Jr. How do you feel about the plot point that Victor has let his own flesh and blood rot in a jail cell?

Melody-Eric22.jpgERIC:

Being a father, it would break my heart, and I could never do what Victor did to his own son. But, I understand it. It provides for good drama and good conflict, and probably a lot of people are angry with me for doing it. On the other hand, Victor Jr. was trying to frame me for a murder I did not commit, and he conspired with my archenemy. So again, it is Victors’ way of paying back. I think he wants to teach Victor Jr. a lesson as well. Victor Jr. was arrogant for awhile, and needs his wings clipped a little, I think.

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MICHAEL:

I so vividly remember the recent scene where Victor and Nikki were in the Mexican bar. It was such an emotionally packed scene, where Victor railed at her. It reminded us all of the old Victor/Nikki, showing us their complete and utter
dysfunction. Did you enjoy those moments?

ERIC:

The answer to that is simple, I like to play whatever comes naturally out of that situation. Obviously, Victor has enormous anger when it comes to her, because she was in front of him flaunting her relationship with that David character. She did not listen to what Victor was telling her and tried to defy him. And, all he wanted was for her to be successful and not embark on a political career, and it backfired. These are two strong personalities and she always felt that she lived in his shadow. Victor understands that, but yet, if you show disloyalty to Victor Newman, you are finished. That’s why these scenes are so good, because they are so real and visceral, and recently that’s what I saw happen between Nick, Sharon, Phyllis and Jack. Those are real scenes! They are so riveting.

MICHAEL:

“On-Air On-Soaps” voted Joshua Morrow the Most Underrated Actor of 2008. He delivers consistently great work, and yet he never really gets the recognition he deserves. Would you agree?

Josh-MOrrow.jpgERIC:

You bet! To be honest with you, I called him two nights ago and said, “What you have done the last few days is riveting and just fantastic. You should submit that stuff and keep it for reel.” You are right. I have talked to Joshua about this before,”Embrace what you have,” and he has done that more lately. He is an athlete, and some of us are sort of reluctant to embrace the whole acting thing. The best thing to do in those circumstances is to stop hiding it and embrace it. I think he has a big future, to be honest with you.

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MICHAEL:

The ‘Dream Team’ came into “Y&R” towards the latter part of 2008 and turned “Y&R” on its ear. It has revitalized the show to probably the best it’s been in many years. What do you think of co-head
writers, Maria Arena Bell and Hogan Sheffer,
and executive producer, Paul Rauch’s
accomplishments?

ERIC:

I pull no punches. Maria Bell has done the best job since Bill Bell. I have not met Hogan Sheffer, but you see the writers never let you know who is responsible for what, but I have to assume Maria had everything to do with it. I thought Lynn Latham gave it her best; I personally liked her very much. I think the regime before them was trying to undo the show and reconceptualize it, and I thought that was nonsense. But right now, it is back on track and better than ever before. Maria simply realized what works for the show. It does not take a brain surgeon to figure that out. But, unfortunately what happens is; some writers come in with such egos that they want to redo everything and reinvent the whole thing. Well, don’t do that! We have been number one for 21 years. I think Maria Bell is perfectly aware of what works for the show, and she has brought it back to that. I have never heard the actors so happy.

Eileen-Eric.jpgMICHAEL:

What do you think makes for Victor’s popularity? I mean, after all, you and he have been on more Soap Opera Digest covers than anyone else!

ERIC:

I don’t know. I am enormously grateful that is the case and it’s very flattering, and especially for someone who played bad guys. “Y&R” has been very good to me and I feel
intensely loyal to Bill Bell Sr. He
and I created the character together.

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MICHAEL:

What do you think about the current state of soaps and continuing budget cuts? Do you think that soaps are about to die-off?

ERIC:

I would be very saddened if it did. I am not privy to the financial structure, but I think someone is making money. We are in an economic down turn right now, so the advertising dollars are not as forthcoming as they were. But they have to be very judicious on how they go about pairing soaps down and how they go about making it more cost efficient. I just think letting Don Diamont go is a mistake. To me, it’s so clear; when you have an audience that is invested in the show, why hire new characters? It does not make sense to me. I am sorry!

meddin-Braeden.jpgMICHAEL:

Speaking of new actors who had come and gone, Raya Meddine (Ex-Sabrina) came on and Victor’s romance with her character was so quick. It was hard for viewers to digest, yet out of that came the storyline of the year, “Sudden Impact”. What were your thoughts on the relationship?

ERIC:

I loved working with Raya. She is a brilliant woman and a joy to work with. I think Victor and Sabrina was rushed along, but I think they had something else long term in mind. If that were going to be a viable relationship, it would have had to grow very slowly. I think there is one thing wrong in soaps. I think we jump into stories too quickly to tell the story. We don’t trust the vetting process and getting to know one another. It’s a slow process. Even Bill did that sometimes. I think it’s intrinsic in soaps. I think they make a mistake when they do it. It’s very interesting the things with soaps; that soap writers need to learn that there could be a lot of emotional moments played without dialog. If, for example, you have a party going on and you want to tell the story of two people falling for each other, have them look at each other. That’s real. Let it build up.

MICHAEL:

What can we look forward to coming up from Victor on “Y&R”?

BradenHead22.jpgERIC:

He is going to get even with those who tried to undo him, for certain. Beyond that, I hope that the relationship with Ashley will go well for a while, although there is a lot of history that could throw a monkey wrench into that business.

MICHAEL:

You don’t want Victor to go back to Nikki too quickly?

ERIC:

No. I think it’s painful to watch sometimes. And I think that’s all good drama, and what we sell in this business is drama and conflict.

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Cady McClain & Rob Scott Wilson Talk Being Recasts, All My Children Reboot, Future of Cin & Jennifer’s Bitch-Slap

Current Days of our Lives and former All My Children reboot stars, Cady McClain (Jennifer, Days, Ex-Dixie, AMC) and Rob Scott Wilson (Ben, Days, Ex-Pete AMC) chat with Michael Fairman in an enlightening and exclusive conversation for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

McClain, who recently took over the role of Days of our Lives beloved heroine Jennifer Horton from mainstay Melissa Reeves (who chose to stay with her family in Nashville during Covid-19 thus forcing the series to recast the role for now) talks about stepping into the key part of the Salem canvas, plus the recent Jennifer/Kate fight over Jack (Matthew Ashford), and how the legacy series is coping with production during Covid-19.

Cady is no stranger to be a recast.  She was the second actress to play Dixie on ABC’s All My Children, as well as the second actress to play Rosanna on As the World Turns, and she had previously taken over the role of Kelly Andrews on The Young and the Restless.

Photo: JPI

Rob, talks about landing the role of Ben and being a recast, and in an emotional moment, reveals how he credits the opportunity to the late producer, Lisa de Cazotte. Wilson also shares his hopes for his Salem alter-ego who is struggling to move on with his life after the supposed death of his wife, Ciara.

The actor also opens up on if DAYS decided to recast the role of Ciara, since Victoria Konefal is not presently with the NBC soap full-time, how he would feel about it and thus the future of Cin.

Photo: JPI

Both Cady and Rob first appeared together in Prospect Park’s online revival of All My Children. In this interview, they discuss how they had high hopes for the continuation of the series, how it ultimately fizzled, and what it was like to be a part of the then, groundbreaking first, for a daytime drama series along with One Life to Live.

Photo: TOLN

In addition, Cady gives the viewer insight on how she runs lines for both DAYS and GH at home with her real-life husband, Jon Lindstrom (Kevin and Ryan, GH), while Rob talks about his recent storyline where Ben was kidnapped and tortured by a vengeful Eve (Kassie DePavia) and much more.

Check out the full chat with Cady and Rob below. Then weigh-in: How would you feel if there was a Ciara recast? What are your hopes for the holidays for Jennifer? What did you think of the stories shared by Cady and Rob in the interview? Comment below, and if you have not done so already make sure to “subscribe” to the Michael Fairman Channel for more celebrity interviews.

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Interviews

B&B’s Matthew Atkinson Weighs-In On Daytime’s Wildest Storyline, The Hope Mannequin & What’s Really Going On With Thomas

If you think you’ve seen it all on daytime soap operas, think again! Over the past several weeks viewers of CBS Daytime’s The Bold and the Beautiful have been witness to fashion designer Thomas Forrester’s (Matthew Atkinson) descent into madness, or is it?

In B&B’s thriller-esque storyline, complete with tight close-ups and tilted angles of Thomas and his co-star, the Hope Mannequin – yup, you read that right, the series is taking the audience on one wild ride, something we have not seen the likes of since back in the hey day of the late head writer, James Reilly, during his tenure on Days of our Lives or Passions.

Photo: JPI

Inspired by, believe it or not, true life events, B&B’s head writer and executive producer, Brad Bell and his creative team have served up a story generated off all of the buzz the show was receiving for using mannequins as scene partners for the actors in intimate moments to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.  B&B was the first American show back in production amid the pandemic.

 

Within this twisted tale, Thomas has the life-like version of Hope Logan Spencer (Annika Noelle) at home with him.  Those who have stumbled upon him with the mannequin, well, he has been able to explain that away by saying that having the doll with him is helping him create some of the best designs of his career.

The problem is the mannequin is talking to Thomas, it’s eyes have often turned devil-red, and on Friday’s episode it walked!  It’s objective is to get Thomas to kill Liam (Scott Clifton) and to get Hope back to be his one and only. Throughout many of the scenes in the storyline, Thomas suffers from what appears to be severe headaches.  All of this leading the audience to believe either … he has a brain tumor … he is being drugged … he is suffering from a severe mental break and disorder, or something else.

Photo: JPI

In a very candid and often humorous conversation with Michael Fairman for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Thomas’ portrayer, Matthew Atkinson, discusses some of the craziest scenes to shoot thus far including Thomas having dinner with the mannequin!  In addition, Atkinson reveals how he and Annika Noelle tape the scenes where she is the voice of the Hope mannequin while adhering to safety protocols,  and how Liam is the only one, apparently, thinking something is off with Thomas, and so much more.

Photo: Gilles Toucas

One thing is for certain, Matthew Atkinson is sinking his teeth into the material and making it must-see daytime drama through his performances while we all wait to see what the possessed mannequin does next.

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

Then let us know, what do you think is happening or wrong with Thomas? Are you getting a kick out of the Hope Mannequin storyline? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

 

 

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Interviews

Eric Nelsen Talks Latest Film, Becoming a Tony-Nominated Producer, ‘The Bay’, and His Elizabeth Gillies & Ariana Grande Connection

You can catch All My Children reboot alum, Eric Nelsen (Ex-AJ Chandler), just about everywhere this month, and that’s hard to do given that we are all living in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this Daytime Emmy-winning actor has his hands in a myriad of projects of late including: appearing on season six of The Bay (new episodes every Tuesday on Popstar! TV) where he continues to play Daniel’s journey after the character has come to terms with his sexuality and finds love, plus his comedic turn in the film, 1 Night in San Diego, and recently becoming a Tony-nominated producer along with his wife Sainty for the critically-acclaimed, and now 11 times nominated Broadway play, The Inheritance.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Eric to get the lowdown on his busy professional life, and we were in for some surprises along the way including: what the producers of AMC had in mind for the character of AJ that ultimately did not happen, and that Eric starred on Broadway with Elizabeth Gillies (Fallon, Dynasty) and Pop superstar, Ariana Grande – and there’s more to that story below.

 

What makes Nelsen so good at what he does on-screen is that he is a like a chameleon; adept at playing the quirky, to the troubled bad boys, to the emotional heart-tugging anti-hero. So here’s what Eric had to say in this fascinating conversation.

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

Your latest film appearance in 1 Night in San Diego is out this week on multiple streaming on-demand platforms from: Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and more. Tell me about the movie and when did you film this?

ERIC:  We filmed it near San Diego, not this past February, but last February, and it’s hilarious.  It’s a female-driven comedy.  The cast is incredible.  Alexandra Daddario, who is just epic, and Jenna Ushkowitz, and Laura Ashley Samuels, they truly bring it in this powerhouse comedy, and it’s just one of those make-you -laugh movies from beginning to end, just silly, stupid stuff happening the whole time.  General Hospital’s Mark Lawson (Dustin) is also in the film.  While we don’t work in scenes together, I did get a chance to meet him and he’s a really great guy.  I play this off-the-wall character, named Gordo, who is a real burn-out, think Matthew McConaughey meets space cadet, which was a lot of fun to play.  Gordo is a great role.  I had more fun with this part than I’ve had in a long time.  So, it was cool to throw a comedy into all of the drama I have been playing in my other projects.

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

ERIC:  One of the girls knew him back in the day, so they were in town looking to reconnect, and she’s like, “Oh, we want to party and let’s hit up Gordo,” and they do.  He has just gone completely off the rails, off the deep end with spirituality and kind of in his own world. They find themselves in quite a predicament when they come visit what they didn’t know was a commune, basically.  Gordo creates this hippie commune for a bunch of outcast musicians, (laughs) and I don’t want to give too much away, but a lot of interesting stuff happens there.

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

In addition, you are now a Tony-nominated producer for the play The Inheritance!

ERIC: That was crazy, because it’s always been a dream of mine to produce for Broadway.  That was how I got into the world of film and TV acting, which was through the theatre.  That’s where I started.  I was lucky enough to star on Broadway when I was 16 and 17, in a musical called, 13.  I started with Ariana Grande! It was so fun.

Wait, what?

ERIC:  Yeah, that was her first big show, and Elizabeth Gillies’.

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

ERIC:  Oh yeah, and you know she and I dated for two and a half years during the whole run of the show 13.  Elizabeth is very talented.   She is amazing.  The funny part of it is, we were dating forever, and kind of had a bad breakup, and then Sainty, my wife, gets cast in her show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, in the pilot to play Liz’s best friend on the series.  So, all of the sudden, I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, out of all the shows, all of the things, this is who you have to get cast as best friends with?” and so they actually became really, really, close friends.  So, I’d actually come home from work or filming, and Liz would be on my couch sitting there giggling with Sainty.  I’m like, “This is just becoming too much.  This is a full-circle moment here.  I can’t deal.” (Laughs)

Now, you and Elizabeth are broken up at this point?

ERIC:  Yes.  We had been broken up at this point.  Sainty and I were actually together.  I started dating Sainty in New York and the pilot she was shooting was in New York, and she gets cast as Liz’s best friend, and I was like, “Oh, of course.”

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

ERIC:  Yes, so dying.  Dying.   You know, it’s just one of those things that in a million years, you would never expect this to happen, and of course, Sainty and her had to become best friends in real life because they’re both great girls, and naturally, they would be friends, but now, I’m like this guy stuck in the middle who can’t believe what’s happening, and thought that was one chapter, and this is a different chapter, and now the chapters are combining.  It’s kind of a comedy act.

Photo: JPI

Since Ariana Grande was on Broadway with you and Liz, what was she like back then before her meteoric rise to fame?

ERIC:  Ariana was literally the sweetest, most innocent, and cutest – like my little sister.   To me, it was like, Liz and I were dating, and Ari was kind of like the little sister.  All of a sudden the show ended. Ariana got a Nickelodeon show, and after that, she became the most famous person in the world and was like this sex icon, and I couldn’t get over it.   She’s always had that talent with her voice and in 13 she was an ensemble member.  She wasn’t even one of the leads, but her voice was so incredible, even then as a young teenager.  I thought she was going to go on to have this great Broadway career as an actress and do musicals her whole life just because of her voice.  Then, all of the sudden, right after the musical, we all auditioned for the same Nickelodeon show.  I ended up going to the finals for the boyfriend role, Liz got the girlfriend role, and Ari got the funny friend on the show role.  That kind of catapulted them into the TV world, and Ari got a spinoff because of her character on that show for another Nickelodeon show, called Sam and Cat, and then after Sam and Cat, she went from this innocent, sweet, little Nickelodeon girl that I knew to being the biggest star.  It was unbelievable to me.

Photo: Broadway World

So, you started on Broadway as a teenager, and you found you always wanted to produce for the Great White Way? 

ERIC:  Yes, I did the Broadway thing, and then I got into film and TV, and then I got into film and TV producing.  As an actor, there are a lot of ups, a lot of downs.  So, in between the ups, I wanted to fill my time, so I got into producing, and I loved it.  I loved creating.  As an actor, we just show up, and everything is already done.  All we have to do is say our lines.  We get pampered, and we go home, but I wanted to know how it got to that point, like what happens before that.  So, I started producing film and found some success doing that, and it was so much fun for me.  Sainty’s and my first love, and what feels like home, is theatre.  So, I wanted to take it full circle and produce a Broadway show.  I just thought that would be such an incredible moment, and so that’s what I did.  I started emailing all of the Broadway producers who I had worked with as an actor, letting them know what I had been doing, kind of the success I had gotten from producing The Bay and some of these other things. Different shows came across my desk that I didn’t quite bite the bullet on, a couple of which I wish I would have, Dear Evan Hansen being one of them.  I would have been so rich by now!  (Laughs)

I just want to clarify for people who might not know, the word “producer” can mean different things.  There are “producers” who are putting money in … they’re backing projects or shows.  There are other people who are “producers” on the creative side of projects.  So, when you’re talking about producing a Broadway show, it is as an investor?

ERIC:  So for theatre, unless you’re the head producer who kind of gets creative control, every other producer listed in the credits is basically helping raise finances and is also very heavily involved in the process of everything else along the way, which is also what makes it special.  So finally, The Inheritance came across our desk, and it checked every single box.  It was just an epic play.  It’s a two-part play, and it’s just hours and hours and hours long.  You see it in multiple days or in multiple shows.  I remember reading the script and not stopping until I finished.  I was like, “This is amazing,” and it had just come off of a huge commercial successful run in London.  It won the Olivier Award for “Best New Play” and just about every other award you could win, and so I was like, “This is the one.  This is incredible.  I love the piece, love the message, and pulled the trigger,” and I would have done it all over again if we could.

Photo: Broadway World

The Inheritance is a generational piece centering on gay men during the AIDS crisis.  What can you say about it to those who don’t know about it, or have not seen it yet?

ERIC:  It takes place in the past, and then it fasts forward to the future.  You see two generations of gay men in New York City, and it’s all about the AIDS crisis, and so you’re bawling crying, and then you’re laughing throughout it.  It’s just one of those epic plays that pulls at every single emotion and you feel like you’re watching a movie.

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s definitely its own thing.  It’s actually an adaptation of Howard’s End, the novel by Forster, definitely different from Angels in America, but the two-part show is kind of what I was meaning by that.  People have said it is kind of our generation’s Angel’s in America in tone and subject matter.  It was just a dream come true, and like all other theatre that was open during our season, it had to close because of the pandemic, and it will have life after Broadway.  We are already slated for the Geffen Playhouse in LA, so I’m very excited for all of my LA friends and the public to get to see it.

Courtesy/ENelsen

And you get nominated in the year that the coronavirus pandemic shut down live theatre! But it is my understanding we still do not have a date for handing out this year’s Tony Awards.

ERIC:  No, we do not.  They finally announced that they were going to announce nominations, and for a while we didn’t even know that they were going to do that.  We received 11 nominations, which is incredible.  We were so excited.  I truly thought the American Theatre Wing and the Tony committee were not going to do the Tonys at all, and so we were just like, “I can’t believe the one year we pull the trigger on the show, this isn’t going to happen for us,” but then thank God, they came to their senses.  There were plenty of shows that opened and needed to be recognized.

How long was it open on Broadway?

ERIC:  We were open from September 2019 through February or March.  So, as long as your submission was open on Broadway before Covid-19 and had at least all of its previews and an opening night before Covid-19 hit, then you could qualify, and then in the play category, there were like 10 plays that had opened last year that were contenders.  So, that was definitely the hardest category.   It will be interesting to see what happens after all of this.  The only good thing I know that is going to come from this is the amount of creatives who have had so much time sitting at home to create and write, that there will be so many new scripts and plays and musicals that are going to come from this.  I think it’s’ going to be the biggest boom that we’ve probably ever seen in theatre, just because there’s been so much time to develop stuff.  At the same time, it’s piggybacking on the darkest time that theatre has ever seen.

Throughout the pandemic, I always stream all of the Broadway Actor’s Fund events.  It’s really sad.  It’s just a difficult time, those in the arts are struggling and especially in the live theatre and also musicians who can’t tour or play gigs in front of an audience. I know they said Broadway is closed through May 31, 2021.

ERIC:  It is really hard.  I’m happy that we are able to find other ways like streaming shows.  I’m actually producing a big benefit for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS that will be airing on World AIDS Day, December 1st.  It’s a show called Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.  The cast we have is everybody from Nathan Lane, to Academy Award winner J. K. Simmons.  It’s insane.  It will be streaming online on the Broadway HD network.  It is a huge list of Broadway stars and a lot of movie and TV stars as well that are participating.  We’ve got people from all over the map.

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

ERIC:  (Laughs)  Ari is not in it, actually!

Photo: Prospect Park

So, in this week’s latest episode of The Bay, your character of Daniel Garrett makes his final choice for love between Caleb (Mike Manning) and Matthew (Randy Wayne).  When you came to the show, did you know that this part was going to wind-up being a gay character?

ERIC:  No, I did not.  I think I dropped a bird in Gregori Martin’s (creator, The Bay) ear by telling him that before All My Children ended, they were going to have my character of AJ Chandler have a storyline where he is gay.  The producers sat me down and talked through an entire storyline arc with me.  Basically, Ginger Smith (ex-executive producer, All My Children) and Alison, our casting director, and one other person from the show, took me to lunch in New York. They pitched me what they wanted to do for my character, and asked me if I would be comfortable with it, and they wanted my opinion, everything.  It was really cool how they approached it, and I was like, “100% completely.”  I look at what Chandler Massey (Ex-Will Horton) did on Days and where that brought him and his storyline, and I thought, “Yes, there’s going to be so much more depth and stuff to play than just being this fun little rich kid.”  At the time, there really wasn’t much depth to AJ.  So, I was like, “Yes.  I will be all over it.  Absolutely.”  So, I told Gregori that, and I don’t know if he already had something in his mind or not, or if that influenced it at all, but maybe he just figured that was something that would work well, and up till that point, I guess they didn’t really have that on the show.  Regardless, no, I wasn’t aware that that was the direction it was going in, but I was really happy with my storyline and it’s grown a lot since then, and in this current season especially.  It’s really given me an arc to play, which I’ve enjoyed.

Photo: LANYEntertainment

So for those who may not know let’s do a re-set.  Where is the character of Daniel at? It seems like he is at crossroads, and is making some important decisions, or trying to.

ERIC:  So Daniel was a wild party boy in the beginning, just head in the clouds, lives life with thinking there’s no repercussions and just doing what you want to do all of the time, and that got him into a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol. Then, we realize why Daniel has been the way he is, and why he acts out, and why he has been so all over the place, and it’s because he hasn’t been able to come to terms with who he is.  Then, he admits it to himself and for the first time to somebody else – who happens to be his priest in a catholic church, ironically –  that he is gay and this is what he has been battling with.  For the first time (and I don’t know where on television it has depicted it this way), but the catholic priest looks at Daniel, and he’s like, “What’s your sin?  You haven’t sinned.  This is perfectly fine.”  So, I love that Gregori made that the outlet for which Daniel was able to basically come to terms with who he was, because he grew up in the church, and so he was always told that it was wrong.  Obviously, it’s not wrong, or obviously the church needs to change their mindset, but on The Bay, he chose that to be the outlet through which he came out, which I thought was really powerful.  Through that, Daniel experimented with other boys and such to figure out where he wanted to land, and then in this newest season, I can’t say much that gives anything away, but for the first time, we really see Daniel’s growth, and he’s making decisions, and the most mature we’ve ever seen him, and it’s been really cool to see that come full circle.  He’s making commitments to himself.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

ERIC:  Obviously, that’s who it works with,  Caleb is a teacher and a great guy.

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

ERIC:  He is… he’s just not the great guy for him.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

This season of The Bay is heavily steeped with social issues of our time.  Covid-19 has come to Bay City and the Black Lives Matter movement also plays prominently.

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s kind of the beginning of the pandemic in The Bay and within all of the intense drama that Daniel has been having, he is still, for all intent and purposes the comedic relief of the show, and so there is a funny scene where I’m carrying like 28,000 rolls of toilet paper like, “Come on, guys.  We’ve got to stock up!”  We all remember those days, don’t we?

Photo: JPI

How do you feel about this season of the show and your work in it? You’ve previously won a Daytime Emmy for your performances on The Bay.

ERIC:  This season is more cemented in a character that has truly grounded himself.  So, the first Emmy I won was for a storyline of coming out and uncertainty and struggle and pain, whereas this season Daniel knows what he wants and is going for it.  There is much more passion and love in this season for Daniel, as opposed to struggle and heartache.

The cast and crew of The Bay all went away and quarantined at this ranch this past summer to get the new season completed.  What was that like?

ERIC:  We were actually in Santa Barbara, and filmed on this epic ranch up there.  It’s like this 500-acre ranch that we all quarantined on.  We had to do the testing, and temperatures three times a day, and the whole thing.  So, it was really structured, tough to pull off, but we were all so grateful that we were able to do this.  Luckily, we had this incredible kind of bubble of a ranch to live and work on while we were shooting.  They were really good about block shooting it all, so we’d kind of shoot one person’s character, then the next, so we wouldn’t have to ever be leaving the ranch before we were done.

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

ERIC:  Oh, it’s amazing.  I just can’t believe how fast the time is flying by because of it.  We just had Molly’s first birthday on October 1st, and I feel like yesterday she was born.  I sound like my parents when I say this, but it’s like the time keeps getting faster, but it’s so true.  She’s awesome.  We play Broadway musical soundtracks to her all day, and she sings.  She sits at the piano with me when I play, and she kind of plunks notes out next to me.  She loves music, and we’ve introduced it to her from day one.  We always joke that she won’t be able to watch any of daddy’s stuff until she’s 18 probably, but Sainty is a voice-over actress.  She has done parts for animated films and TV shows such as Trolls, and Barbie, and Boss Baby, so everything from the first part of my daughter’s life is all going to be Mommy’s stuff, and then, in the later part of life she can start watching Daddy’s stuff.

Right, she can’t watch anything that you do!  (Laughs) So, basically forget that!

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

Check out the trailer for 1 Night in San Diego below.  Then share your thoughts on Eric’s current role on The Bay, if you hope he wins a Tony to go with his Daytime Emmy, the six degrees of separation between him, Elizabeth Gillies and his wife, and that the All My Children reboot considered making the character of AJ Chandler gay via the comment section below.

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