When One Life to Live was unceremoniously dumped by the ABC Television Network back in 2011, and aired its final episode in January of 2012, fans were furious and heartbroken! For many, the show they invested in for four decades was no longer in its time slot, and that also meant they could no longer see the central heroine of Llanview and One Life to Live, Viki, as portrayed by six-time Daytime Emmy winner Erika Slezak!
But all that has changed, thanks to the effort of Prospect Park and The Online Network, when Viki and many of your Llanview favorites, return in all new episodes of One Life to Live starting April 29th on Hulu, HuluPlus and iTunes. On-Air On-Soaps caught up with Erika to ask her thoughts on how things are shaping up at One Life’s new studio digs in Connecticut; behind the scenes and in front of the camera; and what’s in store for Viki now that she and Clint (Jerry verDorn) seemed to get closer at the end of the ABC One Life finale. Now with all the reports that there is some cussing going down in Llanview these days, we had to ask: “Could the very proper Viki now be prone to uttering a foul word? Or, how about her alter, Niki Smith?” Erika addresses that, and if the revival of One Life is all about the young these days, and not at all about the vets. From what you will come to understand, the Viki/Dorian feud is once again going to reignite right from the start, so that should be a good sign to long time fans of the series.
Of course, Erika has been thrilled to work alongside one of her favorite scene partners of all -time these past few weeks, Roger Howarth, who returned to One Life to Live to kick start the series’ move online as Viki’s brother, the always entertaining and dangerous Todd Manning. Erika fills us in on working with Roger, and former cast mates from Jessica Tuck (Ex-Megan) to Judith Light (Ex-Karen) as well as new cast mates including Corbin Bleu, who as Jeffrey King is set to share lots of screen time with Erika’s “Viki”. From the sadness her fans felt at the cancellation of the original One Life, to Erika’s views on the poor judgment by ABC, to the revitalization of the series now, we think you will enjoy this chat with Erika … who is truly in a class all by herself.
So Erika, how was it to play Viki again? Did you have to rev yourself up for it, or was it just like you had never stopped playing her, and it just felt like you were in her skin once more within a blink of an eye?
First, because we had the cast photo shoot three weeks or so before we started taping, we got all the “hello’s” out of the way. We started at work on a Monday morning March 18th as if it had been a weekend. And for me, it was like everybody fell right back into it. There was not a hesitation. As for the new actors, it was like they had always been there. That is how easily they kind of fell into it, as well. The only thing that was different is we had to try and learn the outline and the shape of the studio. They have a wonderful commissary where they feed us breakfast and lunch, and you just have to figure that out, and once you have done that you are on your way. It is a slightly different schedule. Things are taking a bit longer, because they want to make sure everything is absolutely perfect. So every scene is being shot, even if you didn’t have to, two or three times, so they can pick the absolutely best shot. They are working very carefully on the lighting. We are in HD, which is really fantastic. We have never been shot in HD before. When I first saw it on the monitor, I couldn’t believe it! I thought, “God, we looked like crap all those years.” (Laughs)
The First Look One Life to Live sizzle reel that has been released on Hulu.com really popped! I think the quality of the show looks terrific!
It’s so clear and so good, but you know for us as the actors, everything is exactly the same as it was a year and a half ago. We have sets. We have costumes. We have props, we have lighting, we have stage managers, we have cameramen, and we have cameras. The only thing that is different is what those cameras have inside of them and where they are being fed to. Everything else is exactly the same. So there was no getting used to anything except the new studio.
Does Viki still have “Llanfair”? What are the sets like?
Oh, my God, yes! We have a new set designer, who is fabulous. What he has done is re-created the sets that they needed of the old sets like; Dorian’s house and Viki’s library, and Bo’s garret. For all intent and purposes, when you see them the first time they look exactly the same … but like they have been redecorated a little bit. They are a little different, but you say, “Oh, that’s Dorian’s house! I just recognized it.” Everything has been slightly updated, and looks a little sharper and little fresher, as if every character had a designer come in and redecorate for the afternoon! (Laughs) But I have to tell you, they really did a lovely job. And, we have brand new sets that are fabulous, too. We have a new coffee house with a street scene outside where they have kids on bikes riding around. And of course, we have the ubiquitous hospital set! (Laughs)
Jerry verDorn and you got to work together again! When we last saw Viki and Clint on the final ABC episode of One Life to Live, Clint had proposed to her. When the show picks back up, will we know where things stand between the couple?
You will find out on day one where things stand between Clint and Viki, but don’t hold your breath, because it probably won’t last! (Laughs)
I see problems on the horizon! (Laughs) I would assume they will have to fight their way back to each other once again, if they are pulled apart by something Clint does?
This is just in the first 20 scripts I am talking to you about. Clint is behaving himself beautifully, but we know at heart, he is Asa. So I am quite sure he is going to do something that shows his true colors! Jerry is so good at that, but I don’t want to give anything away, or give any spoilers, but I think the audience is going to like what is going on … I hope! Please! (Laughs)
Corbin Bleu is one of the new casting additions to One Life, playing Jeffrey King. From teasers that have already been revealed, Viki wants him to help save The Banner. What can you tell us about Jeffrey … and working with Corbin?
The Banner, as with every newspaper in the world, is in trouble because of the Internet. People don’t read paper print anymore. They read everything online. So readership is down, and advertising is down, while the costs are the same. So Jeffrey is a hot shot young reporter who has been working freelance for The Banner, and helping us bring it to the digital age. He has established the online Banner and is helping us make the transition, not to get rid of the print version, but to have both going concurrently. Corbin is a wonderful young actor, and the nicest, charming man you could ever imagine. He is so sweet and lovely, and I am very pleased we have him. I think his character is going to be pivotal in the length of this show. He is not just going to be a reporter. There is a lot more that is going to happen with him.
So, Viki will finally have someone on her side battling the “bad” guys in the workplace? From the sounds of it, these two probably will develop a strong bond and close friendship!
So far, Jeffrey and Viki have a wonderful relationship. He has been a big help at The Banner. He has been terrific, but again we have only shot 20 shows, which in the scope of things is nothing given where we are going to go.
How has it been getting to work with the incomparable Robin Strasser (Dorian) again? You can’t have One Life without the show’s most famous supercouple … Viki and Dorian!
(Laughs) I had to laugh, because day one Viki and Dorian are at it again, which is great. As you know, Robin had back problems and had to leave early from One Life on ABC, and I was sad to see her go, because that has been a very big part of my time at One Life to Live. I love all my scenes with Robin Strasser, who I love, and I love working with her. And to know she was coming back now, and that at day one we were going to be at it again, was a joy. She is the same as she always was. Robin is top notch, on her game, and looking great!
In the First Look One Life to Live preview reel, you as Viki are narrating the story of Llanview to get viewers caught up on the back-story leading into the premiere episode on April 29th. It contained some of the best moments of the history of Viki and Dorian. What are some of your favorite scenes between the two? And then, there is that moment when Dorian relentlessly goes after Viki till she splits into multiple personalities, and Tommy throws her down the stairs! So gut wrenching, and oh so juicy!
Some of the best scenes we had were when it was just the two of us talking, and we are locked up somewhere together. We were locked in Asa’s wine cellar at Asa’s funeral, when she told me to go do something interesting with your life. So, Viki left and went to Paris, Texas. There also is the stuff when we were in the cave together for days and days, because when you put Viki and Dorian together, and they are just talking, that is by far the most interesting, because then each one is allowed to be the character that she is. The scenes where I was turning into Tommy, was all her egging me on and egging me on, and me being very vulnerable, obviously, and slowly allowing this truth to come through. It wasn’t so much about connecting with her then. So what I love are the scenes when we are connecting with each other in conversations. One of the best examples of that were the very last scenes of Dorian and Viki on ABC’s One Life to Live. A conversation between Dorian and Viki can start at one level, and can go up and down and to 20 different places, and end on a completely different note. That is what I love about it – it’s that every line of dialogue changes the tone of the conversation in some way between them.
So with the new One Life to Live, they are obviously re-setting the Viki and Dorian feud.
You will see! Jeffrey has written an article that really pisses Dorian off. Viki runs with the article and publishes it, and then starts the whole thing again. She does that because it’s the truth and is the right thing to do. It’s a scandal that Dorian is involved in Washington.
Susie Bedsow Horgan just left her post as co-head writer of One Life to Live. I know from our previous conversation, she is one of the reasons you were very excited about the writing of One Life. How do you feel about this sudden departure?
I was disappointed to hear that she left the writing team. I called her, and this was her decision. She said, “It’s just so much work.” And whatever the other reasons were, she did not go into. But, it was her decision to leave. I am hoping it was for the good of the show. Thom Racina is staying on as head writer. He is a brilliant guy, and has such an experience in daytime that I think things will continue along very well. Susie did what was right for her … that is the most important thing.
Fans always look to you, Erika, in so many ways that if things are alright with you, then it’s going to be alright with them. Therefore, do you think the writing team understands the characters who were previously on the One Life canvas?
I do think the writers are understanding the characters the fans have loved, absolutely! But again, I have not seen a whole show, but I have seen scenes. And the scenes ring very true and the characters seem true, and when they are not, we say, “Can we fix this line? Or, tweak this a little bit?” And production says, “Absolutely! Say what you think is more appropriate in terms of language, etc.” I think they have been very good. I think they have pushed the envelope a little bit it terms of what we can, and cannot say on the Internet, as opposed to network television where we had censors. But, it’s nothing outrageous. It’s not like everyone is suddenly going around cursing. That is not the case at all. They have just made us a little more human, and talking how we do in real life. People are now much more real in terms of the dialogue, and I think that’s good.
So the big question: Will super-proper Viki ever utter a swear word?
When necessary, I suppose. But Viki is not somebody who resorts to that kind of language. The way she was raised, and the way she is and had always been, she is a journalist. She was an English major, I am sure in college. She uses good English and she speaks in very proper sentences, and sure, the occasional “hell” or “damn” might slip out, but that’s not abnormal for her. We actually had that in the last few years on ABC. I don’t think Viki will ever go into real rotten language, because it’s not who she is. I don’t think they would ever write it for her, and if they did, I would say, “That is really not who she is.” Unless Niki comes back, and then all bets are off. (Laughs)
You know, they are going to do that at some point I am sure, just to have Niki on the Internet cussing away, and God knows what else! (Laughs)
Possibly … I have no idea. I purposely never asked Susie where they were going with it, and I have no idea what their plans are regarding that. Personally, it would be a lot of fun to play Niki! (Laughs)
Fans were also thrilled to see publicity images of you and Roger Howarth (Todd Manning) in new scenes together as Viki and Todd! What has it been like getting the chance to work together again?
Talk about the guy I love! We had the best scenes together last week! He is so good. Roger is so full and rich as a character, and he is just phenomenal. I was very pleased to have him come back, because that is a relationship that we have built up over 20 years. It is very strong, and it gets better and better. It is a very unique relationship. Yes, Viki criticizes him, she corrects him, but she loves him. And in Todd’s own way, he loves Viki back.
Do you think getting the opportunity to work with you again was one of the reasons Roger decided to come back?
I have no idea; you would have to ask him. I know he wanted to be a part of One Life to Live whatever his reasons were. I don’t know that I was a part of that.
What do you think of the younger set of new actors on the show?
They are good. Robert Gorrie, who plays Matthew, is terrific. He is thoughtful and strong. And oddly enough, looks exactly like an older version of Eddie Alderson (Ex-Matthew). He is very handsome, but there are a lot of features about him where you say, “OK. That’s Eddie grown up.” It’s terrific casting. I haven’t, worked with him, but I have seen a lot of his stuff, and I think he is very interesting. And Laura Harrier, in spite of not really having been an actress before, picked up so much in the short time we have been working, and she is going to be a very good Destiny.
Have you gotten to work much with your on-screen daughter, Melissa Archer (Natalie) yet?
We are getting to work together a little bit, but Natalie doesn’t live at Llanfair anymore! That makes Viki sad. But Natalie has her own set, so there is lots more she can do.
Of course, we all saw the images of you and several OLTL cast mates bringing coffee and donuts to the wonderful group of fans that came to welcome you back to work in your new studio in Connecticut, and to show their support. I know you got some beautiful roses, too. How was that moment?
We all went outside the studio to say “hello” to the fans. It was a bitter cold day, and they were standing out there for hours with balloons and slogans and signs! It would have been cruel just to ignore them. They were so sweet to come and cheer and to say, “We are so glad you are back.” We went out on a five minute break from shooting. It was incredibly good of them to come and show their support. I think the outcry that the fans made when ABC cancelled both shows on the same day, and the outcry that continued, I think was a big factor in Prospect Park’s willingness to try and put this back on the air. They realized how important this show was to the fans. They thought, “Yes we can do this,” even though it fell apart the first time they attempted it. They pushed through and they were able to get it done.
When I post something on my website that is something that Erika Slezak said, there is an outpouring of love for you that I have never seen for any actress in this genre. One of the comments I consistently get is, “She is a class act.”
That is just lovely. It is a credit to Viki, too, that we have always managed to keep her true to who she is. Then she becomes Jean, Torrie, Tommy, or Niki, or somebody, and they forgive her that, and then she comes around again as Viki.
The final ABC OLTL interview we did together in New York City on November 8th 2011 was one of the saddest things I ever had to do in my career. I know we both fought back tears. Do you remember going through that day? And how the cancellation decision sent shockwaves through the industry?
It was a sad day. I have said what I had to say about ABC, but I think they made a mistake. I hope they realize they made a mistake. I think it’s wonderful that General Hospital was saved, and even though it moved its timeslot, which is generally never a good thing, it’s doing better now than it had been. It shows that the audience wants entertainment. They don’t want to be taught how to cook, or how to get thin in the middle of the afternoon. You can learn that anywhere else! Our audience was so used to entertainment from Ryan’s Hope through to General Hospital, and then when they left Port Charles come in, and there was still All My Children and One Life to Live. The audience wanted that time for entertainment. We were told, “No, the audience doesn’t want entertainment anymore, they want information.” I am sorry that is a load of rubbish. When you are used to being entertained, all of a sudden you are being told how to cook a Pork Loin a different way? The answer was “no” from the fans. They want to continue seeing their fantasy family, but then to follow it up with, “How to get thin and change your life?” I think it was pretty evident how bad a call that was, because they canceled The Revolution just a few months after it started!
One Life to Live was firing on all cylinders in the final two weeks of air shows. It was amazing! Ratings were up! It made no sense for the suits to can the show. Do you think looking back they canceled, or sacrificed One Life to keep General Hospital?
I was certainly upset that they canceled One Life to Live and All My Children, but I was delighted that they were keeping General Hospital. When thy canceled us they had not been planning on canceling GH, but in my own mind, I thought it might be on the chopping block in a year or two. But, very wisely they took Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati and pepped GH up again. I think it would have been suicide to cancel all three shows at the same time. The fact they did both shows was bad enough! But they had nothing to replace the third show with. They canceled AMC and OLTL because they already had something in place for them. They had The Chew for All My Children and The Revolution for One Life. We were allowed to continue till January of 2012, because The Revolution was doing so poorly and it needed so much work. They kept testing it, and it would test very badly. I think had they had something to replace General Hospital with, they very well might have canceled it, but thank God, they didn’t. Now ABC has a different mindset going, “OK, let’s stick with the entertainment … because it’s working!”
Do you miss working with Frank Valentini (Ex-executive producer OLTL, now EP GH) and Ron Carlivati (Ex-head writer, OLTL, now GH)?
Yes, I was very fond of both of them. I think they were incredibly good at what they do. However, in the last four weeks I have seen our new executive producer, Jennifer Pepperman become a whole different person. She is now the executive producer who is running the show. She is working her tail off. I don’t know how she ever goes home. Our new staff is wonderful. Hopefully, when we see all the new shows together, we will find out that the writing is equally as good. Ron Carlivati is a fantastic storyteller! Frank is an extraordinarily talented producer, and it was to his credit that One Life to Live went out the way it did on ABC. From the minute we were canceled he said to everybody, “We are not going out sad. We are going out on top. We are going to get better and better and better!” And, we did just that. That was all Frank. He was a leader, and a cheerleader and a boss, and he was always like that. Yes, I do miss them, but Jen is doing an amazing job, and our writers are working their tails off in the very short space of time that was given to them. We will be fine.
Now that you had a year and half off from playing Viki, is there something you would love to suggest to the writers that you would like to just dive into and play?
No. I am not a writer. I play Viki. And when you are a writer, you have to write for everybody and incorporate everybody into all the stories. As an actress, you are thinking, “What am I going to do with Viki?” I am always pleased, surprised, sometimes delighted, and sometimes absolutely horrified what is given to me to play, but that’s OK. That is their job, and they constantly come up with stuff for Viki! (Laughs) If that stuff happened to me in my life, I would be dead a hundred times over already. (Laughs)
Are you at all concerned with the youth movement in daytime, and the youth movement for the new One Life to Live, which is to keep the current audience but to expand it and bring in a younger generation? And, that characters such as Viki, Clint, and Dorian could be pushed under the carpet in favor of all the newbies?
At some point that probably will happen, and probably should happen. You have to have the younger generation take over and become the core characters, but I don’t see that happening now. I know that had we stayed at ABC, Jessica and Natalie would have become Viki, and Viki would have become older, and that is fine. That is what happens in life. You go through ups and downs and arcs. I think Viki will always be a character there. How important she will be after awhile would be determined by who comes to take her place. You do need a vocal morale center of the show, which Viki has always been. If they can replace her with somebody else then they should. Hell, I am not going to live forever, and Viki’s not going to live forever. But for now, I don’t see that happening at all. Viki is very much in the forefront mixing into everybody’s life, as she always does. She is very concerned about The Banner, and her family, and Clint and Jefrrey, and Natalie, and everybody, so let’s see where this goes. But yes, I think that at some point that should happen. What they have to do is bring in very interesting younger characters and give them time to develop. And, that is something that soaps don’t always do. You can’t just throw a character bing-bang in the middle of a story! The audience doesn’t know who he or she he is. They have to learn to like them, or not like them, one way or the other. You know, the characters you love to hate, as opposed to the ones you love. You have to give them time to grow as characters, and the audience to get to know them. But for now, everything is as it was.
I recently interviewed Judith Light, and we discussed the famous courtroom scene when Karen gets on the stand and admits her life as a prostitute in order to save her friend Viki from a murder rap. Judith reminded me that the overall theme, in part, was about saving and helping a friend in need. Do you remember taping those monumental scenes?
Viki was the one who discovered what Karen had been up to. And, Viki was very fond of Larry, who was Viki’s brother-in-law when he was married to Viki’s sister Meredith. She was very fond of Karen, and totally trying to find a way out of this without having her destroy her life! It was very painful for Viki to watch this, and how Herb Callison just destroyed her on the witness stand. Judith was so fabulous! But, what I didn’t realize is that they were shooting an awful lot of Viki willing Karen to get through it. I did not know it till I saw the episodes, but I remember the scene, very, very well. Oh My God, how could you forget? At one point the writers and people said, it was the best story on daytime television, ever. The way Gordon Russell had pulled everybody into this story was genius. Gordon Russell, was our head writer back then, ‘par excellent’ … and we lost him much too soon.
So now looking back at 41 years, are there new favorite all-time storylines you have?
Yes, but having been the same character for 41 years, you forget so much of the story. I could not give you one right now. Certainly, Paris Texas, The Heaven Story I loved because I was so comfortable and so happy. (Laughs) But all the stories were adventures. Years ago, Viki and Marco Dane (Gerald Anthony) had a silly adventure and that was fun, and working with Lee Patterson as Joe Riley was always fun, working with everybody was fun.
You had the opportunity to work with Jessica Tuck (Megan) again at the end of ABC’s One Life in the final “heaven’” scenes. How was that?
Oh, that was lovely. I was so fond of Jessica, and I still am. When Megan was dying, and the whole Scheherazade story, it was so touching, and even leading up to that, all the scenes were wonderful.
And now you will create new memories!
There will be new memories, which will be wonderful. We are making new memories and we are creating an old again/new again show. All My Children’s Thorsten Kaye (Zach) and Vincent Irizarry (David), and I are all going to on The View to promote the premieres of both shows. I am not sure of the date of our appearance, though.
Fans are thrilled they will be able to see you again as Viki. During your time away, I am sure many people came up to you expressing the loss they felt not seeing Llanview. But now thanks to the fans unwavering quest and support, Prospect Park, The Online Network, and Hulu, new episodes will begin very shortly!
I am happy to be back. I love Viki and I have all these years. She is not a part of me, but I know her so well now. I like her more and more. It’s a pleasure to be back in her skin. People were coming up to me so missing her. One lady came up to me one night while I was having dinner with my family. She was this very elegant woman, and she said, “I don’t want to interrupt, but I just want to tell you I find it disgraceful you were canceled. I miss you guys. I have enjoyed you so much over the years on OLTL. It is such a part of my life. I just looked forward to that hour … and why? Why did they do this?” And I thought, “This is an intelligent educated woman, who is saying, ‘Why would they take that hour a way from me? My fun time? My time? My entertainment?” People were really sad. There are people who lived with One Life to Live for 43 years! And unfortunately, we have a wonderful sweet fan named Marge Cash, and she is in her mid 80’s now. She wrote me this sweet letter not too long ago. She has been a fan of the show before I joined the cast. She wrote me a letter to say, “I wish you all the luck in the world. I am in my mid-80’s and I don’t have a computer and I can barely put the television on, so I won’t be able to see it, but I wish you and everybody all the best.” And I thought, “Oh, I wish we were in a place for her to see it.” It means a lot to her.
A few weeks ago, General Hospital fans watched as one of the series beloved stars, Dominic Zamprogna (Dante) exited the show in scenes opposite his longtime on-screen love interest, Emme Rylan (Lulu). For nine years, Zamprogna brought authenticity, emotion, and heart to the son of Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) and Olivia Falconeri (Lisa LoCicero) to life. While Dante’s journey started out with a bang, literally (thanks, Sonny!), over the years it appeared he was taking a backseat in meatier storylines. All the while, Dante and Lulu remained one of the more popular duos with the viewers.
After much reflection, Zamprogna decided it was time for him to walk away from a place that became his second home. His desire now shifted to play different characters in different projects, but it was not without taking many things into account with his life-changing decision.
Michael Fairman TV talked with Dominic to glean more insight into: if there was anything GH could have done to make him sign on the dotted line again, what went down to make those final scenes seem so rushed, how it was to say goodbye to his co-workers in front of the camera and behind the scenes, if he would consider a return at some point, and how would he feel if GH now planned on recasting Dante, and much more.
For us; we recall meeting Dominic for the first times just six months into his time at General Hospital for our first interview together. We were instantly struck by his sincerity, humor, and his eagerness to learn from some of the best in the business. Now exiting as a “soap vet“, per se, it is a full-circle moment that we had the time to conclude his GH journey with this conversation. Here’s what Dom had to say about it all.
What were the factors that contributed to your decision to exit GH? Was there a pivotal moment where you were feeling, and recognizing, that you were underutilized that you felt you needed to make a change?
DOMINIC: When you named me the “Most Underutilized Actor of 2017!” (Laughs) Well, my plan was never to stay forever. But half-way through my second contract, Emme Rylan (Lulu) and I were approached by our producer on set, who said words to the effect of: you guys have been on the sideline, time to get you into the game. That led to the Dante cheating storyline, which gave us story for about a year … which was great! But as that ended, so did any subsequent storylines, it seemed. In the year that followed, I started entertaining thoughts of leaving. By the next year, I started talking about it with my wife, Linda, who had started to notice that maybe I wasn’t happy anymore, and I wasn’t. That’s not a good feeling, especially if you’re bringing that energy home with you. Then, I made the mistake of going on social media, which is a terrible place to go sometimes. But fans were saying the same sort of things I was feeling. Was it all due to story or lack-thereof? No. I was starting to crave playing other roles, and that’s hard to do when you’re under contract.
Were discussions even had with Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) and the powers-that-be about your feelings of dissatisfaction over not being utilized more in storylines?
DOMINIC: The discussions happened late. Not until the negotiation process, actually. I’m no squeaky wheel I guess, but I also don’t feel it’s in my job description to be one. I did put out a few ideas here and there, but they didn’t happen. I know other actors have tried the same and it didn’t lead to anything for them, either. I was a creation of Bob Guza (former head writer, GH), and maybe I was spoiled by the amount of great writing I received while he was there.
There had to be some sadness in walking away from GH.
DOMINIC: Oh yeah… it was sad. I built that character, and now here I was walking away from it, and essentially my second family. That’s been the hardest part. Lifelong friendships were made, and memories. However, it’s been over a month and a half since I’ve been at GH and I feel happy. I’ve been up in Canada shooting Tin Star, which has been a great experience. I’ve stayed in touch with everybody and I miss everybody, in fact, I just spoke to Mo (Maurice Benard) yesterday, and I’m in class with Emme (she won’t leave me alone). But, I feel like I made the right choice for me at this moment.
To clarify; were you actually trying to work out a deal to stay put, but both sides just could not hammer things out to a satisfactory conclusion?
DOMINIC: We did try to work out a deal. After more talks and conversations, I felt maybe we were going to get things done. I was being told things would change and maybe shift things in the direction we wanted to go. But at the end of the day, it’s gotta be in writing. I feel like I’d been told similar things in the past which hadn’t come to fruition. I was also reminded that it was me who needed to sign my name on that dotted line and live with that decision, and I chose not to do so.
If someone would have said to you: “We have an “A” story for you, and you are going to be driving it,” would you have been more apt to stay?
DOMINIC: There was talk about us sitting down and talking about storylines, but that didn’t end up happening, not sure why. And even if it did, I don’t know that it would’ve changed my mind about leaving, anyway. But just to be clear: I have no anger towards anybody. It’s all a business at the end of the day. Both sides did what they felt was right. For me, I just felt this chapter had come to an end.
When, and how did you tell on-screen scene partner, Emme Rylan that you were leaving? Was she happy for you and your decision?
DOMINIC: Emme knew really early on. Once January rolled around I was like: “I have been thinking for the last six to nine months that I am going to go.” I wanted her to know, because we have been a couple for five years on the show. Emme was very happy for me. I went, “Wait a minute! Don’t be this happy. I’m leaving.” (Laughing)
What happened when you told your on-screen mom, Lisa LoCicero ?
DOMINIC: She was sad, but she is also said, “You’re in your prime, go see what’s out there!” I wouldn’t have done this move if I did not get support at home. My wife is the rock and the one that makes this household go. Some things outside the show were starting to happen; I had a nice screen-test for a pilot, and then I booked these four episodes of Tin Star. When you have choices in life; you have power and control over your future. I think Emme and Lisa as actors realized that. That’s what made them happy for me … for the future. The last nine years were exciting. However, when you can have a little bit more say in what you are doing on a day to day basis, that is empowering. So, in saying, “no” to something, and saying, “Thank you, but that’s not what I am looking for right now,” that can feel good.
It was a shame that through all the regimes that they rarely wrote any scenes between Dante and his father, Sonny. What was Maurice Benard’s reaction when you told him you were leaving?
DOMINIC: It has been pretty publicized that he and I were dissatisfied at the lack of storyline, or scenes together. Maurice asked the powers-that-be, “Why aren’t we working together more?” We never had a clear answer as to why. He didn’t know from one day to the next what was happening with my contract talks. Mo saw me smiling one day and asked, “So does that smile mean you’re staying?” And I said, “No, that smile is because I’m leaving.” (Laughs) I said that more to mess with him, and make him sad. He said, “As long as you are good financially, then I am all for anybody getting out of here and seeing what else is out there.” Really, Mo talks people into leaving so he can get more screen-time. (Laughs)
Let’s talk about the final airshow, and the story that came out of left field to facilitate your exit. Was that written quickly to accommodate a shooting schedule or contract completion? It felt rushed to the viewing audience.
DOMINIC: Left field is right! I still had a week and a half left of work when they found out I wasn’t going to re-sign, and within twelve hours I had six exit scenes written. So, it wasn’t done to facilitate anything but a set (Lante’s house), I think. My final tape date was May 18th, and Emme and I had scenes on the Wednesday or Thursday before that. I guess they wanted my last scenes that aired to be with Emme, and that might have been the only scheduling day that worked for the set and the actors, and maybe that’s also why it felt so rushed. All I could assume is that they didn’t think I was really going to leave so they didn’t plan for it, or they chose to protect themselves in this way, by not making a big deal about it. I had another week of scenes in the PCPD with Chase (Josh Swickard) and Michael (Chad Duell) that was shot afterward. But they had nothing to do with Dante’s “secret mission!”
I thought, “Wait! Is that it? Is this Dominic’s final show? Dante doesn’t say goodbye to his mother… his father … or his son, Rocco?
DOMINIC: Yeah, that was tough for me. After 9 years you think you’re going to get a little bit better of a send off. You also, hope they’re going to honor the character. Dante wouldn’t leave to go to the 7-eleven without saying goodbye to his mother and kids. Maurice and I talked about that. He said, “I guess, they don’t want people to feel really sad. You and me doing some goodbye scenes, people are going to be devastated.” I agree with that. However, I also think it’s a soap and that’s what fans want … good, ole drama. I would have loved to have had scenes with Sonny, Olivia, and Dante’s kids, but when you make a decision like this, how you leave on-air is not up to you. Both parties are going to handle it how it’s best for them. I was very grateful they gave Emme and I something to seek our teeth into.
They were very sad scenes. You are one of those actors that can take the material and connect with it while delivering it in a very subtle and heartfelt way. How was Emme after your final scenes?
DOMINIC: She was kind of crying the whole time, going “Damn you! Damn you.” I was having fun with it, because I love making Emme cry. It’s not a very difficult thing to do. (Laughs). We were both pretty teary-eyed, actually. Then, when we finished the scenes and I looked over and I saw how upset the crew was, that’s what really got me. Barbara, one of the camera operators actually jokingly apologized; suggesting that if my last shot was blurry it was my fault! As an actor, when you make the crew feel something it kind of gives you some extra good feels. That was always the best feeling, talking to Craig (our stage manager), or Donna (head of makeup department) after a scene to get the honest truth on how you did. I’ll miss them.
Viewers, watching Dante have this flashback about the guy who was responsible for Lulu going overboard the Haunted Star a few years ago, probably needed a moment to connect the dots. Some viewers were going, “What? Dante is going after the guy that tried to drown Lulu from two years ago?”
DOMINIC: When I read that in the script even I went, “What?” Who’s that?” I had no idea, either. (Laughs)
Then there was this: Dante was so hard on Lulu for her pursuing her dream as a journalist and how it inadvertently got Nathan killed. Then all of a sudden in your final scenes, Dante has a line to Lulu in which he says something to the effect of: I understand now – you got to do, what you got to do. In story, prior to these scenes it was leaning more towards Dante and Lulu were going to break-up over what had recently transpired.
DOMINIC: Which, who knows? If Dante had stayed in Port Charles it could have been the direction they were going in. It certainly looked like they were building toward conflict, conflict, conflict, but with me leaving it was much sweeter to leave on the note that we left on, instead of Dante leaving, because he can’t deal with being around Lulu. This all leads me to believe that they didn’t want to do anything too permanent to give them time to make the proper decisions.
What was the last day of shooting like for you? Was it hard to get through?
DOMINIC: It felt like a regular day, and my final scenes were up towards the end of the tape day. They had a cake afterwards. Frank briefly spoke and introduced Maurice; who said a bunch of sweet words. That meant a lot to me. I said “goodbye” to everybody and took some photos, and that was it. I already had my room packed up. Once you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go. Afterwards, I went out with Ryan Paevey (Ex-Nathan) and Jeffrey Vincent Parise (Ex-Carlos) for some beers and wings at the bar down the street. It wasn’t until everybody came back after a two-week break that it felt real, because then I was receiving text messages from people saying, “We’re back. Why the hell aren’t you here?”
The door has been left open for Dante to return. Would you ever come back?
DOMINIC: Of course, at some point. But it might not be my choice, they might recast. They told me they won’t, but who knows what’ll be done. Do I think you can just recast a role? No, I think it’s always a tough sell, but they’ve done it with bigger names/characters than mine. I would be a little surprised, only because there hasn’t been much story for Dante in the last three years. For me, as of now, I’ve moved on, and I’m very happy with my decision and my life. It’s sad in other respects, don’t get me wrong. I’ve read things that people have said on Twitter, and I want everyone to know I’ve seen it all and it means a lot to me. People have been beautiful to me. I’m truly overwhelmed by the love. I thought there would be more of, “Who cares?” when fans found out I left. I must have done something right during the years I was at GH.
Did you think when you made the decision to leave they would kill-off Dante?
DOMINIC: No, not at all. I don’t think killing off Dante would be a good idea, especially after they killed Nathan, and also because of the climate we live in with police involved shootings and violence, in general. In a perfect world as an actor, you crave the opportunity to have one last moment with the other characters that have been important to your character over the years. That’s all I would have wanted for myself, and Dante. I’ll take what I got though. It was extremely meaningful because of what Emme and I had and built. I feel we got to the heart and soul of those two characters in a pretty short amount of time in our scenes.
Speaking of Nathan, I think thus far those funeral scenes, which you were wonderful in, and the story arc revolving around his death, are GH’s best bet for an Emmy in the Drama Series category next year.
DOMINIC: I agree. It was so well-done. We’d all would like to go out like that! Tragic, but it made for great TV and great soap. It was phenomenally well-acted across the board. Lots of Emmy reel stuff for Michelle Stafford (Nina) and Kirsten Storms (Maxie), and Kathleen Gati (Liesl), and hopefully for our directors and crew, also. They did an amazing job bringing that to life.
This now leaves Josh Swickard as the lone cop now by default on GH. he PCPD is notorious for being the worst cop shop in the history of soaps! (Laughs) They can’t ever solve a crime.
DOMINIC: (Laughs) I know! What is Josh is going to do? Maybe between Chase and Jordan (Vienssa Antoine) they will solve crimes. Maybe, they’ll bring on a new cop. Josh is a great guy and I enjoyed working with him. At the beginning, we had that contentious relationship between the two guys. That would’ve been fun if it lasted longer, where they had this continual real dislike for one another. Who knows? With Dante gone, maybe they will start solving some crimes! (Laughs) Maybe now the PCPD will be the greatest police unit in the USA.
Over your nine years at GH, would you still consider that your best storyline was coming on to the show and then having Sonny shoot Dante, only for it to turn out that he just shot his own son?
DOMINIC: Yes, I think you have to. That was my intro. They had this story planned eight months before they even cast the role. To get to that moment, was a classic soap cliffhanger. I grew up watching soap operas with my grandparents, and if they had been alive for that scene they would have lost it, because it was something that ‘old school’ soap fans would really dig. For me, doing that story felt so special. ABC also pumped it with the promotion, and the promos, and the TV spots, and amped it up. I didn’t feel it disappointed. It was actually the audition scene that I had to perform to get the part! Then six months later you get to say these lines that got you the part, and you hope you don’t whiff on the softball.
While putting together and producing the GH 55th anniversary tribute package for this year’s Daytime Emmys, I included that moment between Sonny and Dante. I remember watching the complete scene before editing it and the dialog was so good. It still holds up to this day.
DOMINIC: My manager was at the Emmys that night, and said what a great moment that was. I meant to thank you for that, because I really appreciated it being in there.
Are there any other scenes that come to mind that you are most proud of?
DOMINIC: I also really loved the scenes with Max Gail (Mike). He is a special guy. There was so much in our scenes; where Dante finds him with Avery in the stables. Those moments are going to stick with me for a long time.
On June 28th, the airdate of your last episode, you posted a tweet to the fans that read: “The love you guys have given me over the years and continue to give is overwhelming. It is I that must thank YOU!” I thought that was extremely touching and very appreciated by the fans.
DOMINIC: I was thinking, “Man, I have to thank you, because I would not legitimately be here if you hadn’t liked this guy, Dante.” It was bringing tears to my eyes reading what people were saying, and seeing how much love I was receiving.
Tell me about your role in the British-Canadian production of Tin Star?
DOMINIC: It’s a recurring role, I’ve been working on it since March. It’s something very different from what I’ve been doing the last 9 years. Can’t give much away, but I play a hired gun type of guy. There are some great scenes and moments, and I was lucky enough to work with Christina Hendricks, John Lynch, and the legend, Tim Roth.
Do you feel now that you have had some time away now from GH, and have been playing another role, that the thought of playing Dante for you at this point is like: “Been there. Done that?”
DOMINIC: I would never say Dante is done forever. Right now for me, he is. They left it open, hopefully they left it open for me, but every actor hopes that. We want our cake and to eat it too! I want to leave right now, but I want you to want me to come back some day. No one wants their role to be recast. But it’s an important character, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Who knows what the future holds. I left on good terms. Just so everyone knows; I didn’t spring something on GH on the last day of my contract. It’s important that I let people know that I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “See ya”. This also wasn’t about money. Sure, we want to be paid what we believe we’re worth. But this in no way was about me asking for the moon, or I was going to leave. It was a very, very difficult decision.
So, what do you think about how GH wrapped up Dante’s story for Dominic’s exit? Would you like him to return to GH sooner than later? Do you think the role of Dante was problematic to write for? What were your favorite scenes of Dom’s during his time at GH? Let us know via the comment section below.
Jonathan Jackson Talks Avery’s Love Quandary, Saying Goodbye To ‘Nashville’ & If He Would Return To General Hospital
With just three weeks before the series finale of CMT’s Nashville, Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) finds himself in a major conundrum. The woman he has loved and had a child with, Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panetierre) has returned home after escaping a cult compound, just as Avery has opened himself up to the start of a new relationship with Alannah (Rainee Blake). After not hearing from Juliette, added to the many times he felt she abandoned him and their child, will a betrayed and hurt Avery want to find a way to patch up their relationship … or try to keep Alannah by his side?
Michael Fairman TV chatted with five-time Daytime Emmy winner, Jonathan Jackson to get the lowdown on what transpired over the last few episodes and how it may end for Avery, as we inch closer and closer to having to say farewell to the Music City drama.
Since Nashville wrapped its sixth and final season a few months back, General Hospital fans have been wondering and hoping, if now is the time that Jackson would return to his role as the beloved Lucky Spencer, the son of Luke (Tony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis). Jackson originated the role in 1993 and stayed with the series till 1999. He next returned in 2009 for a few years, then left again, and was cast on Nashville. Jonathan made a special return in 2015 to appear in a storyline that reunited him on-screen with Geary one final time, before the soap icon retired from the show. In this interview, Jackson addresses a return, some of his favorite moments of all-time on GH, what he learned from Tony and Genie, and more.
Those that follow Jackson are aware that his talent knows no bounds. He is also focused on his music career, and his band Enation, which has been building on its success, playing recent sold out shows in Europe, while Jackson also had been on the final Nashville tour performing with the cast. So, buckle up! The next step in Jackson’s career will be one to watch. Now, check out our insightful and heartfelt conversation below.
Avery is caught in a compromising position by Juliette, when she walks in while Avery is making out with Alannah, who has just has taken her top off. What goes on in Avery’s mind at that point? Is it, “Oh, no! I’m busted!” (Laughs)
JONATHAN: It’s all sorts of things. There is the visceral reaction, and then in his mind trying to figure what to do. It’s sort of awkward, because they are in her house and her photos are everywhere (Laughs). However clumsily and strange it is, he is trying to move on and get a life together with someone, and yet deep down he still has feeling for Juliette, which is mixed with anger and all of that. He is having all different confusing conflicting emotions, all at the same time, and for Alannah as well. It’s kind of a mess!
By the end of this week’s episode, viewers saw Avery and Juliette start to talk, with Avery letting her know just how he feels about her leaving him, and that he has decided to move out. All Juliette is asking is that he keeps talking to her. As Nashville moves toward its conclusion, the big question for the character of Avery will be … who is he going to end up with, if anyone? I would assume many longtime fans would be rooting for Avery and Juliette, because they have gone through so much together.
JONATHAN: Yes. However, I have been receiving messages from fans, and talking to fans on tour, and they are slightly conflicted, too. There is a lot of love for Avery and Juliette, but there is also frustration around the whole thing, and that they want Avery to move on and be happy.
Where is Avery at with his relationship with Alannah? He was getting close to her, and now she is attempting to put distance between them since Juliette resurfaced.
JONATHAN: It’s difficult to pinpoint where Avery is at right at this moment. There is a lot going on, and a lot of it is rooted in the fact that he went to Bolivia to try and bring Juliette home, and when she refused him that was so devastating for him. The Alannah relationship snuck up on him. In some sense his heart is still attached to Juliette, but his mind is telling him it’s over, and that she is gone. Avery and Alannah are connected to each other on a certain level. It surprised both of them. I think he has genuine feelings for her, but it’s also him pushing himself to move on from Juliette, which is something he has not been able to do.
Without Alannah, the band flounders with Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Avery, and then there is the health situation with Will (Chris Carmack). Alannah’s presence really put a kink in Gunnar and Avery’s friendship. She stared out with one guy, and was on her way to being with another.
JONATHAN: Gunnar and Avery are really good friends and care about each other a lot, and it is certainly an awkward moment in their friendship. In terms of the band, they lose Will who has been through this health crisis, and then Alannah. The music components are kind of imploding and they are just trying to hold on to their friendship, and not have that implode along with the band.
Brad (Jeff Nordling) is making advances towards Alannah, and she originally tells Avery about it. What does he think of the situation? Now, she may do whatever Jeff wants her to do to get ahead in the music biz, since Juliette came back into Avery’s life.
JONATHAN: I think Avery is trying to be supportive of Alannah. It was a little bit of a blow for her to leave the band, but he generally wants to support her. Avery has this instinct to be protective, as well. He kind of has to hold himself back a little bit and not complain too much. He knows Alannah is an independent person, and may not want his help. With the situation with Brad, Avery is aware of it, but she is walking into that in her own way. It’s a moment for Avery to sort of step back and trust her that this is how she wants to go about her career.
Did you know Rainee Blake was going to be your potential love interest this season? Did you screen-test with her?
JONATHAN: We did not screen-test together. I think relatively earlier on I heard that this might happen, but it is one of those things were you never really know. Often times, the writers and the producers bide their time and see how things develop as a couple, and how the audience responds to the on-screen chemistry. You never really know if it’s going to materialize. I actually did like how Avery and Alannah started to connect on the tour bus several episodes ago. The audience got a tease of a different side of Alannah, and Avery kind of brought that out. Rainee was great to work with.
You have gotten the opportunity as Avery to tug on the heartstrings, as a dad raising his little girl, Cadence, all by himself, with a the runaway mother who never shows up. How was the journey working with Hayden Panetierre? You two had to battle, bicker, fight, and had to play all these ups and downs together to make the story work over many seasons of Nashville.
JONATHAN: It was really amazing, and for me that is one of the things I will miss most about working on the show, and that is working with Hayden. It’s such an interesting thing when you work with people for so many years, and all of the emotional ups and downs that the characters go through. Often times, we would be doing a lot of intense and emotional scenes, but for whatever reason, we would find a way to have a lot of fun and find the humor when we are doing those. I have a lot of love and respect for Hayden. I think she is incredibly talented. We both started off in soap operas (Hayden was Lizzie on Guiding Light) and thus had a certain approach to our work, and our work ethic. For me, it’s always a highlight in my career when I get to work with somebody that the scene is already great, because of the person you are working with. We would constantly share ideas back and forth between us. The thing about working on Nashville was the friendships we developed in the cast, especially going on tour with the cast and to experience all of that with everybody else.
What happened when you found out that this sixth and final season of Nashville would be its last? Did you have any idea that this was coming down the pike when you wrapped season 5?
JONATHAN: No. I don’t think anybody knew when we wrapped season 5. We did not know till right before everybody else that this was going to be the last season. We were in production maybe halfway through season 6. I think that it helped having that time to adjust, and it gave us some time for reflection. It really did help in a sense, because you know other shows they might wrap a month, or two later, and it’s over. You don’t get to say goodbye, but we really did. We got to say our goodbyes.
I can imagine that was heartbreaking. When you think of the rollercoaster ride you and the cast had been through together which included: the cancellation by ABC, then the show coming back on CMT, only for it to be cancelled again, it’s quite a lot to deal with and not knowing if there is job security. Do you recall your last day on the set?
JONATHAN: I do remember it very well. There were a lot of beautiful moments with people, and having so much love for the crew and so many amazing people that worked on the show. We wrapped on April 10th and then we flew to the U.K. on the 12th It was two days later that the tour started. Even though filming was over, we were on a plane and then on a bus together, which was really good for all of us. I know it was for me to have another ending. In some ways, the end of the tour was even more emotional, because that really felt it was the end.
Do you think there were more stories to tell on Nashville … or, do you think the series is going off the air when it should, as the stories can tend to get repetitive on any long-running series? Do you think this was the right time for Nashville to say goodbye?
JONATHAN: I don’t know how other people’s perspectives are about it, but I know from my perspective, I think we told the story that was there to be told for these characters. That is sort of the bittersweet reality of it. It’s painful to say goodbye to a lot of people that I had become very close to, but at the same time, there was a sense of peace about it. It really did feel like the right time.
What can you say tease about how Nashville concludes? The series finale airs on July 26.
JONATHAN: One of the hardest things about being in a long form series; whether it be in the primetime format, or the daytime format, is often times the lack of resolution that takes place. You are pertually in Act 2 and in all the drama. So, knowing that the show was over, allowed the writers to approach everything from the perspective of the end, and Act 3. Certain storylines have resolution, and others are left open-ended. There is a good overall balance from the writers of what the audience is going to experience with the end of the show.
I produced the General Hospital 55th anniversary tribute package for this year’s Daytime Emmys. I remember looking at some of your storylines and touching performances all over again that still hold up to this day. One in particular was Lucky pulling tough love on Luke (Tony Geary) during his father’s intervention. Lucky is such a valuable character on the canvas. Would you consider going back to GH?
JONATHAN: My perspective on that is; I don’t really put that off the table. I really don’t have plans to do that, because after coming off six years on a series, that is a lot. I am definitely looking for other projects that have an Act 1, 2, and 3, that happen a little sooner than Nashville did. I always have going back to GH on the table, because it’s like a family for me. I have always said that that even when I left in the 90’s; that GH would be something I would come back to. But, I am very committed and excited about what is happening with Enation, and excited about some other projects that are out there on the acting front. I don’t see going back to GH in the near future, but I never write it off.
When you last returned you did come back to be part of Tony Geary’s exit.
JONATHAN: Yes, yes, which I was really happy to be a part of.
Still years later, when you think of all the stories you portrayed as Lucky, is there one, or two that stand out to you among the rest?
JONATHAN: There are many. There were a lot of stories, and the writers wrote so much material, and that is a double-edged sword. It’s great to have, but it was so much that I really couldn’t continue. (Laughs)
I remember saying to you years ago, “You cry so well on camera. They are going to keep expecting you to cry, and they will be throwing scripts like that to you every day!”
JONATHAN: And that is exactly what happened! But for me, it’s the moments with the co-stars that I will always carry with me. There are endless ones in my memory with Tony Geary. “The intervention” was certainly one of those moments. I had those moments as well with Tyler Christopher (Ex-Nikolas, now Stefan, DAYS), and Becky Herbst (Elizabeth). I remember having these scenes with Maurice Benard (Sonny) when scenes on the soaps were much longer. And of course, earlier on, with Genie Francis (Laura) as well. I feel like as an artist, I was really formed by Tony and Genie’s presence and observing them and watching how they worked. I asked so many questions to them as I really wanted to learn. They really protected me in so many ways, and yet gave me the freedom to try to find my own way through a whole process as well. Those are the things that really jump out at me, as well as working through the scenes prior to filming, especially with Tony. He and I would go pretty deep with what we were trying to figure out; what the scenes were, and what they were about, and how to approach it. That part of the process was really memorable to me. The unique thing I think in this industry for me was that I started at 11-years-old and got to come back to the show in my mid-20’s, and got to have that connection with another actor, and explore this father and son relationship.
I don’t think, and I really mean this, that there has been a father/son relationship on television like Luke and Lucky’s. It was so multi-faceted. Have you stayed in touch with Tony?
JONATHAN: We definitely stay in touch. Again, when I left General Hospital, I did not know if anything like that would happen again in my career where I would form sort of long-lasting friendships with people. Most of the time you do a film and you get to know some people, and you go your separate ways, and that’s just how it is. So I was really grateful for Nashville, because I feel like we were able to have those long-lasting relationships. I can’t really put into words my relationship with Tony. It’s just a lot of love and gratitude, and respect that I have for him.
Meanwhile, your music career is very exciting of late. Last month, you played the Royal Albert Hall in London with your band, Enation. How was that experience?
JONATHAN: It was amazing. I went overseas with the Nashville tour and then Enation did a couple of shows, and then we opened for Echo & the Bunnymen. The last gig on that tour was at Royal Albert Hall. I have loved Echo & the Bunnymen for such a long time, and so this was wonderful for us.
Will Enation be touring more coming up?
JONATHAN: We are looking to go back to Europe later this year, or the spring of next year, and are working out those details. We are going to be touring in the United States later on this year.
Did your wife Lisa (Ex-Hannah, GH) meet up with you on this recent European tour?
JONATHAN: The Nashville tour ended in Ireland, and then my wife and kids came over for the last two shows there. Then, got to go around Ireland for a couple of weeks and drive around, and it was fun.
Did you notice a difference between the European music fans of Nashville as opposed to those in the U.S.?
JONATHAN: Yes, and no. One of the things I have noticed playing over there is that the distinction in musical genres isn’t quite as a sharp as it is in the U.S. Over there, the radio seems to play a lot different kinds of music. So, it was a pretty seamless transition for a lot of the people that came to the Nashville show. We see a slight difference in the music fan base, and it mainly has to do with that they may go to a country show one week, and a couple of weeks later go to a rock concert, and not think twice about the genre. It’s just they are looking for good music.
Hard to believe we are turning the page on another great character played by Jonathan Jackson as Nashville heads towards its finale. What would you like to say to the fans, the #Nashies, who have loved, and have stuck with show every step of the way?
JONATHAN: Just a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for all the support, especially when the show was cancelled. CMT saw the enthusiasm and support from the fans here and internationally, and that was a huge part for us to be able to get the last few seasons. It has really meant a lot to us creatively to write that 3rd act, sort of speak, and have that sense of closure. I also would just say to the fans that have come out to the Nashville concerts as well, that it has meant so much. We feel like we have had some beautiful moments with everybody, and so I am very grateful for that.
So, what do you think will happen to Avery at the end of Nashville? Do you want him to end up with Juliette, Alannah, or by himself? Should GH try to lure Jonathan back to the his role as Lucky Spencer? Comment below!
Y&R’s Peter Bergman Talks On: Jack Finding His True Biological Father, His Co-Stars, And If He Would Like A New Love Interest
On The Young and the Restless turns out Ashley (Eileen Davidson) is not the only child raised as an Abbott; whose father is not John. As viewers learned back at the end of March, Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) is not the biological son of the Abbott patriarch, either! This has sent Jack on a pursuit to find out who he truly is, and who he truly belongs to, because being John Abbott’s (Jerry Douglas) son meant everything to him.
Once again, this story has given multi-Daytime Emmy winner, Peter Bergman an opportunity to play the complex layers of one of daytime’s best characters. Recently, Jack had gone through his mother Dina’s (Marla Adams) old diary, where there was a key page missing out of it. He then located a photo, which led him to believe that none other than late Phillip Chancellor II (played by the late Donnelly Rhodes) is his real father. Is Jack a Chancellor?
Hell-bent on exhuming the body for DNA proof, Jack is getting massive pushback from just about everyone on Genoa City. It is not helping the situation that Dina is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and her recollections of what transpired years ago when she had an affair, may not be accurate. Now this week, Jack has a plan that may backfire and ends up involving his son, Kyle (Michael Mealor) in the process. Will these two work together to get the proof of the truth?
Michael Fairman TV chatted with the actor’s actor, Peter Bergman to get his take on: the surprise story twist he never saw coming, if Jack has the purest of intentions, or if he is just chomping at the bit get his hands on Chancellor Industries, if he would like to see Jack have a new love interest, and more. It’s always a treat to speak with Peter. Here is what he had to say about Jack’s latest inner-turmoil.
Jack is not John’s Abbott’s son. He is searching for the answer of who is his biological father. Now, Jack believes he has found the answer in the photo he found that included Phillip Chancellor II, and then went to Dina to confirm the answer, even knowing his mother is battling Alzheimer’s disease. Don’t you think he jumped on this notion of Phillip being his dad all too son?
PETER: Jack has stumbled upon evidence that this is for real with the photo he found. He went to Dina on what was a very lucid day for her, and she was pretty damn clear. So, therefore it wasn’t just the ramblings of a lost woman. Jack is very eager for an answer. Could it be argued that he jumped on this as a possibility? Yes, and for a number of reasons. First, he feels somewhat utter-less and needs to be connected to something, but he also knows his family, and the history of this family, and “Oh, my God” could that be a way out of this untethered feeling that he had. So he is really grabbing on to this pretty quickly. Second, it is not lost on Jack that part of inheriting all of Phillip’s traits might also bring him part of the Chancellor estate, which would belong to Jack and perhaps he could pick-up at the corporate level where he left off. So that is exciting, but certainly not central to his thinking.
Everyone thinks from Cane (Daniel Goddard) to Jill (Jess Walton), to Billy (Jason Thompson) , that all Jack truly wants is to stake claim as an heir and to try to take control of Chancellor Industries. Are they that far off from the truth?
PETER: How honest is Jack being with himself? We will find out! He would want to stake his claim … and maybe a little bit more!
What was your reaction when you learned that Jack would be revealed to be the son of Phillip Chancellor II, when for decades you have been playing so much of what drives your character that he is the son of John Abbott? Were you like, “What!??” (Laughs)
PETER: I have been doing this much too long, to go “Why?” I, quite frankly ask, “Where do you want to go with this? Where do you want to take me?” The things that I have done in the past that I have fought the most have usually been the things that really led me somewhere. I tell the story all the time of John Abbott dying. They decided to bring him back as Jack’s conscious, and he would appear in scenes with Jack and talk to him. I thought “C’mon. This is The Young and the Restless, and I am doing a ‘ghost’ storyline?” I fought it and I didn’t like it, and I was wrong. It was fantastic, and it worked great, and the audience liked it. I learned from it. I don’t go, “Whaaat?” that much anymore. There have been a few of those including: the whole doppelganger story, while it confused me at times, and I thought this had gone a few steps too far, but it led us to Billy/Phyllis/Jack story. It was a direct line to that, and one of the most dynamic storylines I have ever been in. So, I see this current story, and I go, “That is an interesting turn.” Then, as an actor, I dig into it.
Jack wants to exhume Phillip’s body and everybody from Jill to Cane is objecting. Esther (Kate Linder) is worried Mrs. C. will roll over in her grave if he does this move. As we will see, Jack does not take “no” for answer.
PETER: Jack eventually all but gives up, but then a door opens slightly for him to look at this a different way Jack reluctantly walks through that door.
Do you think Jack has ever thought of the possibility of: “What if I am the son of someone from the circus … or the former pool boy at the country club?”
PETER: I have thought it’s amusing when I have met people who have explored their past lives. They have always been a prince or a princess. They were never menial laborers. I think he looks back and is kind of curious. I think Jill points it out to him that he is not at all suspicious that he is the pool boy, or the golf pro’s offspring? He knows the tryst happened at the country club, and so the first person you think of is one of the elite of the country club.
It would be such a huge devastating fall for Jack if something like that turned out to be true! Jack so wants to belong to a family that has wealth and prestige that goes along with their name. I wonder what it would be like if he had to say, “Yes. It’s true. I am the pool boy’s son!” (Laughs)
PETER: I don’t know how that would fit Jack.
How is working with the latest Kyle, you’re on-screen son, played by Michael Mealor? The part had been recast multiple times and the actor didn’t stick.
PETER: I cannot say enough good things about Michael. This is an extremely disciplined, very talented, and very professional guy. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him. I think he is doing a great job. Michael gets looser every show. He likes to take big chances and try a lot of things. We have had a lot of young actors on the show and what they do is try to project that they are cool. They don’t go outside of the, “I’m going to be cool, and honest, and real.” They say, “I am going to be solid, and make simple choices.” Michael takes big chances doing large stuff, and going overboard That’s scary do to as an actor, but I watch him in scenes with Hunter King (Summer) where he is trying to appear cool, but just her physical prescience gets to him. You can see it in his performances and it’s wonderful to watch. It’s lovely to see in a 26-year-old and it’s fantastic. I have high hopes for Michael.
This version of Kyle seems to be a bit of a chip-off-the-old-block. He can play dirty just like his dad!
PETER: As far as where Kyle is at … he is like Jack Abbott. He is not a good guy, nor a bad guy. Kyle is a bit of an opportunist with a heart, who wants to feel a part of things, but he also takes advantage of the situation, in a way that sometimes works against that.
We saw Jack stumble and drink again as he fights his addiction when learning the news that John is not is biological father. Do you see him stumbling again, and going back to popping pills and booze, if Phillip Chancellor II were not to wind up being his dad?
PETER: I don’t know if he will see him spiraling, but it is worth saying for someone who is a constant and has a had guiding light of ‘what’s right, and what’s wrong” and that now has been taken away from him essentially when John Abbot goes “Jack!”, that is a game-changer. What we can expect from Jack now may change. Jack isn’t as bound by “what would dad do” as he once was.
So, we may be surprised with a turn in attitude from Jack?
PETER: You may be surprised. So much of his life, and certainly so much of what I play is that Jack has spent his whole life trying to be like John Abbott, because John Abbott is his father. Now that is not so. So, how much effort should Jack be putting in to being like John Abbott?
PETER: It will be interesting to see where that goes!
We have seen many actors in the soaps portray drug and alcohol addiction. When Jack’s played itself out originally, it was one of the most harrowing to watch.
PETER: He got to a dark place very fast. It was out of control. It was an important part of the Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) and Jack story, because he honestly did not have the strength to do it by himself, and he had somebody to help him through it As it turned out, it was a formative experience for Jack and for Phyllis; one that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. They know things about each other that the rest of the world does not know.
Billy recently read Jack the riot act, when Jack told his brother about being Phillip Chancellor’s son. Having had it with Jack, Billy threw him out of his office. Where do you think the relationship stands between the brothers at this point?
PETER: It’s really hard for Jack. He is still on the board at Jabot. He has family ties there, and he still gets the checks, but it feels so weird for him, it really does. He is trying to be a bigger man and let Billy do what Billy is going to do. Deep down inside Jack has known Billy for a really long time, and when Billy sort of combusts, boy, does he go! Jack hates that Billy is holding the reins of Jabot, if things fall apart for Billy.
Viewers are seeing Billy turning to gambling again. What would Jack do if he finds out what is happening to his brother?
PETER: I don’t know what he could do. I am not sure what he could do to stop the CEO of the company as things currently stand. It’s hard for Jack to relax around Billy. It’s not a promising situation.
Do you think the Jack and Bill will ultimately be there for each other when the chips are down moving forward?
PETER: Jack has a soft place in his heart for addicts for reasons we both know, and a soft spot for family. It will be interesting to see how well Jack’s patience holds up, if Billy should go down that particular rabbit hole.
Do you think Jack might visit Chancellor Park and have a chat with the late Katherine about the revelation about Phillip and Dina?
PETER: I think Jack is really trying to be realistic about all of this. It could clearly be proven, but he is impatient. He could wait for Chance and Phillip III to come back from their Himalayan trip, but he does not want to wait. It’s just so easy if everyone would be practical about this, and get some fragment of Phillip’s remains, and there would be a DNA test.
Jack’s nemesis, Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) is having a lot of issues, too. This includes his mysterious health diagnosis …
PETER: Oh, damn! (Laughs)
How does Jack feel about Victor these days and the plight that he is in?
PETER: Jack has such contempt for Victor. However, Jack can occasionally see that Victor is important to some people, but Victor to Jack is everything that is wrong in the world. As to the fact that he is struggling right now, does Jack wish bad physical health on him, or anybody? No. However, if things didn’t go easily for Victor, Jack would not lose any sleep over it.
Don’t you think it’s time for Jack to have a real, honest-to-goodness, love interest?
PETER: Jack should have a new love interest. I think the writers and the producers of The Young and the Restless are paying me a lot for half of what I do.
Jack should find true love. Someone who will be with him and whom he loves with all his heart, and someone who loves him back, flaws and all. A romance where he is not manipulating her, or she is not manipulating him, for financial or corporate gain. Do you think at this point that is even possible?
PETER: I think that would be a swell thing, but that would be a daytime show investing in an actress that is over 40-years-old. They have done it, but it’s a rare thing. But yes, I do feel like we are seeing two-thirds of Jack. There is another third of him that is completely unexplored and that’s a shame.
We saw those heartbreaking scenes that aired last year where Jack had to admit to Ashley that his mother has Alzheimer’s. How is he going to continue in his relationship with Dina knowing she has had multiple affairs throughout her life, and when married to John?
PETER: This is a real difficult place for Jack. Obviously, he has his mother back in his life in one sense, but his mother has been responsible for pretty much everything that has gone wrong in his life over the last two years. It’s just one thing after another. Had his mother been faithful to John, Jack would not be in this situation. Had his mother not returned, we could have gone on with life as it was, and now all this mess is in part Dina’s doing. Now, Jack has moved out of the house and so his mother is slipping away by the minute, and Jack is not around for it. He keeps visiting, and he keeps stopping by, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Jack struggles with that a lot. He should be more in Dina’s life and be around for that, but being around for that means being in the Abbott house. Everywhere he looks are reminders that he is not who he told himself he is for his entire life.
One of the more endearing moments came at this year’s Daytime Emmys, after Eileen Davidson (Ashley, Y&R) took to the stage to accept her award for Outstanding Lead Actress. She thanked you while you were in the audience.
PETER: This is in keeping with my new plan for the Emmys each year, What I do is: I try to get a nomination so that I can sit in the audience after I have lost and hear the winner for Lead Actress thank me personally. (Laughs) I am two for two in the last two years! (Laughs) Gina Tognoni had won that category the year prior. Eileen Davidson is the greatest, and she has been for all intent and purposes my leading lady on Y&R.
Now, Eileen Davidson has announced, and made the decision to leave her role as Ashley.
PETER: I can’t say enough things about her. I adore her … I adored working with her. She is every bit as good as everybody thinks she is. She comes to work prepared She never needs hand- holding or spoon-feeding. Eileen is the real deal; had she been one of Jack’s lovers that would have been over a long time ago. The fact that she is his sister is fantastic. Now with her exiting the show, I will miss her terribly.
In closing, viewers should watch for Jack’s next move?
PETER: Jack is not leaving any stone unturned. He has to figure out who he is, and desperate times call for desperate measures.
So, do you think Phillip Chancellor II is truly Jack’s biological father? If not, who do you think is? What have you thought of Peter Bergman’s performance in the storyline? Would you like to see Jack have a new love interest? If so, who would you like to see the series bring onto the show to play opposite him? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.
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