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The Erika Slezak Interview – One Life to Live

Photo Credit: Sue Coflin/Max Photos

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.

MICHAEL:

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?

ERIKA:

Photo Credit: Chapman Baehler

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 studioThey 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)

MICHAEL:

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!

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

Does Viki still have “Llanfair”?   What are the sets like?

ERIKA:

Courtesy/ABC

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)

MICHAEL:

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?

ERIKA:

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)

MICHAEL:

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?

ERIKA:

Courtesy/ABC

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)

MICHAEL:

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?

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: David Russell/TOLN

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!

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

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!

ERIKA:

(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!

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

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!

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

So with the new One Life to Live, they are obviously re-setting the Viki and Dorian feud.

ERIKA:

Photo Credit: David Russell/TOLN

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.

MICHAEL:

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?

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Sue Coflin/Max Studios

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?

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

So the big question: Will super-proper Viki ever utter a swear word?

ERIKA:

Courtesy/ABC

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)

MICHAEL:

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)

ERIKA:

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)

MICHAEL:

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?

ERIKA:

Photo Credit: David Russell/TOLN

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.

MICHAEL:

Do you think getting the opportunity to work with you again was one of the reasons Roger decided to come back?

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

What do you think of the younger set of new actors on the show?

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit; Chapman Baehler

Have you gotten to work much with your on-screen daughter, Melissa Archer (Natalie) yet?

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

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?

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Sue Coflin/Max Photos

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.”

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

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?

ERIKA:

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!

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

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?

ERIKA:

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!”

MICHAEL:

Do you miss working with Frank Valentini (Ex-executive producer OLTL, now EP GH) and Ron Carlivati  (Ex-head writer, OLTL, now GH)?

ERIKA:

Courtesy/ABC

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.

MICHAEL:

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?

ERIKA:

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)

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: David Russell/TOLN

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?

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

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?

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

So now looking back at 41 years, are there new favorite all-time storylines you have?

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

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?

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

And now you will create new memories!

ERIKA:

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.

MICHAEL:

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!

ERIKA:

Courtesy/ABC

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.

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scott
scott

Love her.

ghfan4evr
ghfan4evr

This interview was everything I expected and more. I remember the interview you did with Erika on that sad final day. How wonderful it must have been this time around. Thank you once again, Mr. Fairman!

C
C

Great interview. Though I’m assuming that, in Erika’s comment about Natalie, that you meant to see she’s no longer living at Llanfair, not Llanview.

Mary Fergen
Mary Fergen

Such a fun and interesting interview, Michael! There would be no OLTL without Erika and Viki. She knows just how the fans feel, and how much these soaps mean to us. I’m getting even more excited to see the new episodes!

lanell
lanell

welcome home OLTL- 😀

Batmarc6
Batmarc6

Beyond the honor of being pictured with Erika and Soap Fans United President, Shawn Brady… this conversation with her is an absolute TREASURE that I shall ALWAYS cherish. It is SO thrilling to be exposed to her honesty, her forthright attitude towards both the past and the future, her elegance, grace, charisma, intelligence, charm and, as always, she remains the epitome of class. The two weeks that remain before the Hulu premiere are going to be absolute TORTURE!! Not the same kind of torture that the last two years have been, mind you, but agonizing, nonetheless!!

Rob
Rob

I can’t wait

Llanviewer717
Llanviewer717

What a wonderful interview. Thank you Michael for posting it. Erika Slezak is as articulate and classy as always. I have always said OLTL has the strongest, most grounded cast on television and she is at the head of the class. My heart and soul are with all of them.

Stephanie
Stephanie

Love her. Thank you Michael for bringing us the interview. Looking forward to seeing Viki again, Erika and the rest of the cast has been greatly missed.

CTwildheart
CTwildheart

Michael…I would LOVE to help out Marge Cash! Is there any way you can ask Erika for her contact info? Please?!?!?

rebecca
rebecca

that is sooo nice of you. I hope Michael can get that for you. best… 😉

Troy Turner
Troy Turner

Yes, we MUST help Marge to see OLTL again. This is why we’re still fighting as hard as we are. Michael, what more can you tell us?

Llanviewer717
Llanviewer717

I agree. If there is some way for the rest of us fans to help here, I’d love to participate.

CTwildheart
CTwildheart

Or you can give Erika MY contact info….

Nancy
Nancy

I can barely contain myself until 4-29. I never thought this would happen and am so proud to be part of the movement that saved my shows. 2 more weeks and back to normal. Thanks to all the people who did this unbelievable amount of work to get our shows back.

heidi
heidi

Another fabulous interview Michael!!!

Erika is one of the best and a favorite! I am so glad she thinks things on the new PP show are going well. I am so hoping they continue with OLTL and just make it even better than it was as it changes like life does. Do they address where characters are that are not on the show yet… like Jessica? I hope they do that well and leave the oportunity for them to join or come back in the future. She is best!

Oh… when she was talking about playing her alters… it made me think of something about the Kate/Connie storyline. I have loved Erika/Viki for all of her years and I accepted and or loved seeing her play the alters because first and foremost… I loved Viki and Erika. With the Kate/Connie storyline… I was not invested in the new Kate/Kelly and I was not truly invested in the Kate character enough to endure the Connie alter. I do believe Kelly Sullivan is talented and I am sure she is a lovely person… and RC can write great DID storylines… and acting with Maurice/Sony was great… but I did not like the Kate/Connie storyline and I really thought it went on for way to long! If they had waited a few more years till I was really invested in Kate/Kelly I am certain I would endure or embrace or enjoy it more. I would really like to get the Kate character back running the magazine and having Maxie and Lulu working for it again… those were fun days… especially with Kate/Megan… loved the “Devil Wears Prada” type story line! No one does the DID story like Erika/Viki!!!

Did she happen to mention off interview if she liked the nods that GH has done to Viki through Todd mainly… those were fun and always made the crossover more beneficial to OLTL continuing in whatever form it did.

Thanks again for a great interview Michael and Erika!!!

Marva
Marva

Ohhhhhh Erika Bring it on homeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee….. Can’t wait to watch my soaps again, family and friends think I am nuts because I boycotted ABCD…Still do……

Llanviewer717
Llanviewer717

You’re not nuts. The alphabet network and the mouse company have no respect, regard, concern for the audience that made millions of dollars for them over the past 40 plus years and no respect for their employees. They will never get one more second of my time or penny of my money.

Marva
Marva

Thank you, glad I am not the only one who feels this way.. 🙂

CTwildheart
CTwildheart

I am also still boycotting. I don’t take being lied to and manipulated and talked down to lightly. I especially don’t like that they did that to their own employees. I doubt they will ever get me back…it will take a LOT. So if you’re crazy – then so am I!

Barb Coleman
Barb Coleman

Thank you Michael for this awesome interview! Erika is a class act! Loved hearing her enthusiasm. I have missed her so! I cannot wait for April 29th! It will be nice crying happy tears instead of tears of devastation! Oltl was my all time favorite and I lost a part of myself, a part of my day when it went off the air! I am over joyed to have my family back! Thank you so much Erika for all your years of dedication and years to come! WHOO HOO!!! I am even more excited now after hearing what she had to say!

Tina
Tina

I adore this woman. I cannot wait to see the show again.

Trapper
Trapper

Great interview! It’s so wonderful to know that OLTL, and especially Viki, will be back with new stories. I’ve missed Erika Slezak and the rest of them, as has my 90 year old Mum. Thanks for the interview, Michael!!

Christina
Christina

Another great interview!!! I love this woman, she is the reason I started watching OLTL and I am SO glad that I am now again able to watch OLTL. Thank you for this interview and thanks to Erika for all that she does to bring Viki to our screens.

Ann
Ann

Great interview! I am so excited for OLTL to come back. Oh, how I have missed my Llanview friends…after watching for around 30 years, through school & jobs & raising kids…they really do feel like part of my life! Erika/Vicki is the greatest. Cannot wait!

susan r.
susan r.

Erika I love you & I can,t wait til OLTL returns! I,m counting days tick tock to see OLTL resume! Ive really missed all the Buchanans,Cramers & all the fine people & I have to pinch myself to make sure that this is real but it is real & I,m SO happy! Hurray we the fans wouldn,t take no for an answer our wish has been granted & our awesome show is back! Yeah! I can,t wait to see you all in action & no our OLTL should have never been cancelled in the 1st place!

Joliefan Forever
Joliefan Forever

That Lady is the Definition of Class…..

Rosalie
Rosalie

Great interview with a great person! I’m sooo excited to see OLTL back again!!!

Edna Barefoot
Edna Barefoot

Michael thank you so much for the article about Erika. She IS a classy lady. I have missed OLTL so much. I have been watching my tapes of Erika & finally I get to see it new. I am so glad Erika cares for her fans ABC/D didn’t. I can hardly wait til the 29th. Thank you again Michael glad you are an Erika fan that leads to great articles.

Shelley D
Shelley D

She is such a class act. I love hearing her talk about the younger actors with such fondness. I can hardly wait for my show to come back!

Debbie Harris
Debbie Harris

Wonderful interview with the Great Erika Slezak!! Cant wait to see my Favorite OLTL live again!!

Jeffrey Jonas Moree
Jeffrey Jonas Moree

Oh God yes let Nikki come back and curse everyone out…lol

Jackie
Jackie

I grew up watching OLTL since I was a kid in high school and never missed one show! I am so excited that show will be on again! Even if it’s going on the internet instead of TV. I love all the characters and especially Vicki and Dorian! It’s going to be wonderful!

Bob J
Bob J

Hopefully the time of the show will go back to one hour. I am sure rating will make a difference. Is this going to be on soap net ?.

Michael
Michael

Great interview with an absolute class act!

Cindy
Cindy

I can’t wait for OLTL to start again!

Karen B.
Karen B.

I am so happy our shows are coming back and happy to say Erika hit the nail on the head with her comments about the cancellations being dumb. I never watched one episode of the Revolution or The Chew and I quit watching GH for the most part. We do want our entertainment and there is a whole channel devoted to cooking so why watch a cooking show on ABC? I am most sure there was a much broader fan base for the soaps than The Chew. I am very glad to know Erika understands her fans. 🙂 She is a class act and the interview was wonderful. Can’t wait for the 29th!

Lou
Lou

I am in Canada, and I can’t watch it, as we can’t get it in Canada. I really wish they could find a way for us to see it. I loved OLTL.

Troy Turner
Troy Turner

PP has just inked a deal with FX Canada to air both AMC and OLTL

Lou
Lou

How do I get FX Canada?

CTwildheart
CTwildheart

That’s right! FX Canada will air both shows! Good for Canada and Prospect Park!

Lou
Lou

Great, but how do I get FX Canada? Is it on tv, or on-line? I sure hope it’s on tv.

CTwildheart
CTwildheart

FX Canada is a TV channel. You need to check your cable carrier and see if you have it…good luck!

Brian Greene
Brian Greene

We Love You, Erika–Yay! 😀 <3

Tracey
Tracey

Thank you for the wonderful interview with Ms. Slezak. She is the heart of OLTL and yes, one classy lady.

peg
peg

Erika will always be viki
I am so happy they bought oltl back
oltl was my favorite soap
thank you erika

Days Of Our Lives

NATAS President, Adam Sharp Talks On Daytime Emmy Review Findings & Plans For Change To Competition Process

In the aftermath of the letter that was sent to NATAS from daytime drama executives and producers demanding immediate change to the Daytime Emmys contest procedures, guidelines, or they would boycott participating in the upcoming 46th Annual competition, earlier today NATAS and its new president, Adam Sharp, released the findings of an independent investigation into the allegations levied against the academy and its annual competition.

After the full findings came to light , seemed to address most of the concerns raised by the four network soaps, Michael Fairman TV spoke with Adam Sharp to dive into what the reports means for change and evolution of the Daytime Emmys, and if it can resolve the issues so that General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, and Days of our Lives will come to the table and participate in the only kudofest honoring excellence in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes for daytime programming,

Here’s what Adam had to say about the key points addressed in our conversation below.

Transparency was a key issue noted by the soap producers in their concerns levied against NATAS.   One of the points centered around if NATAS had prior knowledge of the winners before the opening of the envelopes at the ceremony and the integrity of the contest.  What can you detail what the investigation found?

ADAM:  On the matter of whether anyone had prior knowledge to the winners, the reports clearly state that there is no evidence to support that. To the concern raised on the arm’s length distance necessary between us and the accountants we use to tally the votes, again there is no evidence to suggest that there was anything short of what you would expect of the standards of the competition. What it did find was that there were processes that either by virtue of generosity and us trying to be helpful when they asked, or by a lack of documentation to make people aware of policies and procedures, that created the appearance of unfairness, or unbalance in the process that may have been completely unintentional.  For example, the report noted that we did not have a published procedure for appealing decisions or filing any concerns or complains.  Some of this started because of one entrant in a digital category that raised concerns, and it was certainly elevated when the four soaps sent their letter, but without a published procedure, you’re really putting the onus on the entrants to know who to call and how to bring their concern.  So, that creates a system where there’s an imbalance because someone who doesn’t know who to call, doesn’t get the same hearing.  Likewise, if someone has made a mistake or technical error in their entry, and they happen to have entered the process early, and we catch it, we, in the past, have gone back to people and said, “Hey, I don’t think you intended to do this.  Would you like to resubmit?”  But if someone is entering at 11:59:59 on deadline night, they won’t necessarily have that.  Again, completely unintentional, but it could be argued that it created an imbalance or bias in the process, and the report made that clear.  For those types of things, we are going to crack down and be more consistent about our policies.  I told Brent and David that it’s going to mean saying no a lot more often in terms of giving waivers and extensions, and the types of things that we have done in the past to help people along. It is going to mean being more transparent and public about what our policies and procedures are so that every entrant has the equal set of knowledge to work from.

Courtesy/NATAS

Does this mean a demotion for David Michaels, Senior VP Daytime Emmy Awards?

ADAM:  Absolutely not.  That’s something that I want to put a very strong pin in right here.  David led the 2018 Daytime Emmys to record participation and a growing audience.  This new resourcing of the team allows him to be more singularly focused on doubling down on that success for 2019.  The Daytime Emmys are the only entertainment award show to have posted year-over-year audience growth from 2017 to 2018, and more than 30% increase in the number of entries.  The report rightly noticed that we did not do enough administratively to scale to that growth and to bring the resources to manage that added audience, and that added interest from competitors.  So, now we are going to make sure that David and Brent Stanton (Executive Director, Daytime Emmy Awards) each have the support and focus they need to be successful.

When the letter from various soap producers pointed out a “conflict of interest” for having the executive producer of the Daytime Emmys ceremony also be the awards administrator, many were wondering how that would shake out, or how NATAS planned to deal with this complaint.

ADAM:  Obviously, “conflict of interest” is a legal term of course, but I think that what the reports found was that it was not a conflict of interest.  It was a conflict of time, and many of the more specific errors that were raised in the report, as I said to David, occurred in the 25th hour of the day.  So, that is where it was really a resourcing problem, and a lack of procedure and policy problem.  The lack of resourcing created the environment for something to go wrong, and the lack of policy and procedure created an ad hoc nature for how we address those problems and made that ad hoc response open to questions because there was no prior documentation that this was how these things should be handled.  So, hopefully we have addressed each of these areas going into 2019, and that gives us a chance at a fresh start with the community.

 

Courtesy/NATAS

In response to the internal investigation findings, you mentioned you would bring additional resources to the Daytime Emmys, additional help in the operations, and you would add a “second pair of eyes”.  Would you potentially let people know who is in those positions that would be working with David Michaels and Brent Stanton?

ADAM:  Yes, so we are absolutely at a minimum committed to adding one full time position, and a handful of part time positions for that initial vetting process of the competition; that review of entries to make sure they meet the technical requirements, rules, and guidelines of their categories.  Now, in the past, there would be one individual, one set of eyes conducting that review, but now, we are modifying our policies such that before any adverse decision is made, such as disqualifying an entry, a second pair of eyes review it and give their independent assessment of the technical criteria and qualifications of the entry, so that there can be more confidence that multiple perspectives were employed before making any decision that could have an adverse effect on an entry.

Could a daytime drama actor participate and submit their work on n their own without the show being a part of it, if let’s say, the soaps won’t participate as a whole? And on that note, what would be the plans moving forward for the Daytime Emmys if the soaps decide not to participate in the competition?

ADAM:  If an actor or actress wishes to enter on their own with their soap still not participating: our rules permit anyone to enter independent of their program.  So, there is not a requirement that a show participate for an individual performer on that show to participate.  That said, they need to have the actual material to submit, and certainly a performer on that show is not necessarily the owner of that show and the owner of that content.  So, the question of whether they would have the necessary access to and rights to the video material to submit, that would be a question to the show producers as to what they would allow of that. In terms of the Daytime Emmy ceremonies moving forward without the soaps, the old saying goes, ‘the show must go on,’ and hopefully, it won’t come to that.  We have had constructive conversations with each of the broadcast soaps and believe our response and support goes a long way to addressing their concerns.  So, we are looking forward to having them.  Of course, they have a number of colleagues in digital drama, children’s programming, gameshows, and the rest of daytime television that we still expect to have a robust program at the 46th Annual Daytime Emmys in May of 2019.

You had mentioned that when you saw the results of the report that you felt it was very thorough, and you felt it pointed out things that needed to be fixed.

ADAM:  Yes, the report was exceedingly thorough and fair.  It delivered criticism where criticism was due, and there were a number of areas where we should have and must do better in the management of the Daytime Emmys and our other awards competitions.  I think the report certainly examined every issue that had been raised by members of the Daytime community and then some.  It allowed us to think about what actions we can take as a team to address each of those points.  I don’t think any awards show in our space has ever undertaken such an in-depth introspection of their procedures, yet alone made it public.  So, hopefully we are a trend-setter here.

The report indicates that NATAS will work more closely with the Television Academy (ATAS).  That seems to always be a point of contention.  How do you see yourself improving participation with them to engage that academy in more of the process?

ADAM:  So, the relationship between the two academies has strengthened incredibly in the past year, largely through the leadership of our respective chairman, Terry O’Reilly, the chairman of NATAS, who was elected earlier this summer and Hayma Washington at the Television Academy.  Obviously, they are going to have a new election soon as Hayma is retiring from the role.  So, we can continue that momentum into 2019.  What we note in our response to the report, was that one element of concern raised in the letter from the four soap producers was the mix of Television Academy members on our judging panels, and we want to be responsive to that.  We are prepared to make Television Academy membership a much higher priority in our consideration of judges for these panels, but obviously accessing that membership and engaging that membership requires a deeper partnership with the Television Academy, and we will see to that.

You are starting the call for entries on Monday, November 12th.  If the daytime dramas don’t participate within the timeframe you’ve given, do you see yourself adjusting the timeframe for the soaps if they were to say, “We want to work somethings out before we commit,” or are you just going to move forward if they are not participating in the deadlines you’ve set?

ADAM:  Our deadlines are going to be rather firm for all entrants.  We have a show date set for May and a process that moves backward from there in terms of the time that is needed.  Certainly, the fact that we have added additional review steps and procedures makes that timeline even more critical.  So, we are not going to be in a position to be extending extensions really to anyone.  In fact, the report specifically discourages granting extensions to anyone because that could create the appearance of unfairness that some types of entries get more time than other types of entries.  We welcome everyone, and if by the entry deadline there are particular genres, programs, or individuals that choose not to participate, we will miss them, hope they attend the show in May, and hope we can reengage them for 2020.

If the soaps did not participate in the 46th annual Daytime Emmys, but decided to come back later, it is my understanding that there would just be one drama category whereby web series and daytime soaps would be competing together in that.  Is that potentially what could happen?

ADAM:  I don’t want to go too many branches down off a tree of ‘what if’s,’ but our policies and guidelines do allow that if a category does not have a sufficient number of participants to be competitive, then that category can be eliminated or merged with another category or have its entries moved into another category for the competition.  So, we will look at all of the categories once we have the entries to see which ones remain viable and which ones do not.  Certainly, the fact that we do have digital drama categories gives us a place to contribute to have a drama competition regardless of what mix of entries we have.  I suspect that once you combine those, it becomes very difficult to uncombine them in the future, but obviously the call to entries is revisited every year, so, I can’t think of any long-term prognostications beyond 2019.

Since you are relatively new to your position with NATAS, you probably weren’t expecting that the producers that signed the letter demanding that change and issues be addressed in regard to the Daytime Emmys or they would boycott, would be something you would be dealing with off the bat.  How did you feel about it?

ADAM:  Well, I’m obviously rather new to the role.  My first day as interim president was the day after the Daytime Emmy show this year.  I was only named the permanent president last week.  It was certainly a trial by fire.  I would not say that I had enough history with the daytime drama community to have any expectation one way or another, and I think that is also true of our chairman, Terry O’Reilly, who came into office on July 1st.  That said, in a world of looking for silver linings, I think it gave us an opportunity for a blank slate and a fresh start.  By the community raising these concerns to our attention, and allowing us to conduct this deep review and make it public and be responsive to the issues they raised, it gives us a lot more opportunity to strengthen that relationship in 2019 than if a lot of these concerns had just continued to deteriorate and be whispered about at various cocktail parties, but never really spoken up and therefore, never really addressed.  So, while it was a painful process and there were parts of this report that were difficult to read, I think it gave us the opportunity to start from scratch and to put some of that history behind us.

So, do you think NATAS has addressed the concerns of the daytime dramas? What did you think of the points raised by Adam Sharp in this interview? Do you hope the Emmys will continue as usual with all four network soaps participating? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Interviews

Eileen Davidson Farewell Y&R Interview: From Her Exit Storyline, To Her Co-Stars, And Her Decision To Leave

In a candid and heartfelt conversation, The Young and the Restless exiting Daytime Emmy-winning star, Eileen Davidson sat down with Michael Fairman to discuss her decision to exit the series after playing Ashley Abbott on and off since 1982.

Eileen’s final episodes are now airing on the CBS daytime drama series.  Just how will it end for Ashley?  How will she leave the canvas?  How sad will be her goodbyes?  Y&R fans are counting down now to just a few more airshows that feature Eileen.

During this interview for the Michael Fairman Channel, Eileen clarified many points that the audience has wanted to know about or come to understand, in particular, what led to her making the decision to call it quits, and would she ever return and how would she feel if the series recast her role.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

In regard to what went into her decision to depart Genoa City, Eileen expressed: “It’s something I gave a lot of thought to.  Not something you can just go, ‘Gee, this week I want to leave!’  I was really thinking about it for over a year ago.  I talked it over with my husband and he was very supported of me.  My son is in high school and my stepson had left the nest and it had gone by so quickly.  I was like, ‘Wait! What happened?’  I was spending a lot of time in my car commuting; like two hours a day, and a lot of time in my dressing room, because our days are longer here than they used to be, and a myriad of reasons went into it.  It was not just one simple thing.  It was actually a whole bunch of reasons.  Even though I won the Emmy (Eileen won Lead Actress back in April of this year) I had pretty much decided long before then.  (Winning the Emmy) That was like “Oh, my God!”  That actually made me feel my timing was really right … I get this incredible nod right before I’m leaving.”

The emotional part of leaving the place she has called her home away from home for Davidson is saying goodbye to her beloved co-stars including; her on-screen big brother, Peter Bergman (Jack Abbott).  As Y&R viewers know, over the years Jack and Ashley’s relationship, and Bergman and Davidson, have shared plenty of screen-time together.  Eileen also gives a very special thanks to the fans who have supported her through the years and who have followed Ashley’s journey.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Davidson expressed on her final storyline revolving the “Blood Abbott” clause and how it all ties up, “It’s such a great way to go.  It’s so awesome how this whole thing comes up, and you realize how being an Abbott has affected her to her core.”

Now below watch Eileen’s farewell interview filled with clips from her performances and time on Y&R, and more heartfelt topics of conversation.

Then in the comment section below; tell us what you have thought of Ashley’s exit storyline?  What do you hope happens for Ashley? What was your favorite part of this interview and the sentiments shared by Eileen?  

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General Hospital

Genie Francis Talks On Her Return To GH, Fans Outcry Of Support & Her All-Time Favorite Storylines

On Tuesday, Genie Francis participated in a Satellite Media Tour with television stations and press outlets around the U.S. chatting it up on her return to her iconic role of Laura on ABC’s General Hospital.

Francis, who quickly wrapped-up her run after she was taken off-contract with the show back in January of this year, saw her and Laura exit Port Charles swiftly in a story-move that felt stilted to the audience.

Courtesy/ABC

After a huge outpouring of support on social media, GH fans cried foul on the play and wanted one of the series mainstays of all-time back where she belonged.

Francis elaborate it on that in our interview on seeing the show of support: “I couldn’t believe how long it went on and how big it was.  I think part of that was it looked like they were finally giving me a story with the major storyline, and then they yanked it so quickly, and I think people felt cheated.”

GH listened and brought Genie back to the canvas with a new storyline that puts her front and center on the series, as Laura is unaware that her husband Kevin (Jon Lindstrom) is locked up in Ferncliff, while his evil twin Ryan (Jon Lindstrom) has taken his place. Now Laura is reeling from the strange behaviors being exhibited by her “husband”. Will she figure it out in time? Will she run for mayor again?

Photo Credit: ABC

During her conversation with Michael Fairman TV and the Michael Fairman Channel, Genie touched on what she knew was going to be happening for Laura when she came to the show: “I knew we were going to start with the Ryan beat, which I thought was great. Everyone loves a good sociopath (laughs) and Jon (Lindstrom) is a wonderful actor.  It makes for an exciting story!”

Genie goes on to say that she is: “Just happy to have story, because it’s awfully boring to just be hanging around. I don’t want to be window-dressing. If it came to that, I think I might just leave.”

As to if Laura has a vendetta against Valentin (James Patrick Stuart) who for all intent and purposes murdered her son, Nikolas, Genie weighed-in: “She absolutely has a vendetta. I think right now, Laura who has the biggest heart and is kind of like the heroine of the show in many ways –  but this is the one person on the planet who she truly hates, and it would be interesting if she had to go through the exercise of forgiving him, but I also like that there is that one place where we can see all of that negativity and evil come out. I like that Laura has a dark side.  I really like that.”

Courtesy/ABC

To find out some of Genie’s all-time favorite storylines and least favorite storylines and more on her return watch the video below and make sure to subscribe to The Michael Fairman Channel for more upcoming interviews.

What do you think about Genie’s return to GH thus far and the sentiments shared in this interview? Comment below.

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Video du Jour

GH icon Genie Francis chats with Michael Fairman about her return to the soap as Laura after being taken off-contract earlier this year. Leave A Comment

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