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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

Interviews

Mishael Morgan Talks on Her Return to Y&R and Tackling the New Role of Amanda Sinclair

So, just how did The Young and the Restless lure back one of the series most powerhouse actresses to take on a brand-new role? Mishael Morgan, who earlier this year was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her gut-wrenching final performances as Hilary Curtis, reveals in a new interview with Michael Fairman TV, what went down to bring her back to the CBS Daytime drama.

As fans know thus far, after appearing as ‘Ghost Hilary” through the late spring and summer, Y&R’s creatives worked behind the scenes to get Morgan back on screen without tainting Hilary’s ultimate demise.  That is when they came up with the role of the sexy yet tough lawyer, Amanda Sinclair.

So, enter Mishael in a new wig and style that defines Amanda as her own character.  Question is, since Amanda is a dead-ringer for the late Hilary, are they related? And, what will ultimately be proven to be in her DNA?  In story, Amanda entered the scene as the often-mentioned Chance Chancellor’s attorney.  She shows up in Genoa City to contest the legitimacy of the late great Katherine Chancellor’s will and the fortune she left to Devon (Bryton James).  With Devon directly in Amanda’s line of fire it sets the stage for potential fireworks down the line.

We sat down with Mishael backstage at Y&R for this informative and entertaining chat as we officially welcome back this truly kick-ass performer.  Here’s what Mishael shared below.

Photo: JPI

What transpired behind the scenes to make it possible for you to come back to Y&R?

MISHAEL:  Tony Morina (executive producer, Y&R) kind of gave me a little bit of a heads up.  They called me back to come in and do the ghost episodes as Hilary, and it happened really quickly.  It was like, “Hey, Mishael, do you think you can do this?  Yeah?  Okay.  We’ll work it out with your team.  Alright.  We’ll see you tomorrow.” (Laughs) It was really, really fast.  I was hesitant for a second about the whole Hilary ‘ghost thing’, because I felt good about how we wrapped up Hilary’s storyline.  I’d only left for a couple of months, and I still felt funny about it, but I was like, “I’ll do it.  She’s a ghost … so she hasn’t returned from the dead.  So, it’s fine.”

Originally, I was concerned that they were going to have you as Hilary keep popping up as a ghost to Devon for an indefinite amount of time; when the show has already done that with Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) and his father, John (Jerry Douglas).  Because of your previous performances, and Emmy-nominated performance for the final arc of Hilary’s story, I thought, in the end, it might detract from that.

MISHAEL:  Yes, and I think that’s how I felt too, but I agreed to do it because they said that it was going to be a max of seven episodes.  So, while I was doing that, Tony was on set watching the scenes.  Next, he just called me up and said, “Well, how do you feel about coming back?”  I was like, “Coming back?  Hilary is dead.  Like, Hilary is dead-dead.  Is this going to be an alternate universe?” (Laughs) He said, “Well, no.  You’d be coming back as a different character.”  That was really intriguing to me, because one of the reasons why I left was because I felt like creatively I’d played a character from beginning to end, and it felt like it would just be nice to go off and play somebody new.  I never in a million years thought that I could come back to Y&R and actually play someone new!  That was weird to wrap my head around when they said, “You’d play a new character,” but then when they said she was going to me a lawyer, my ears really perked up! I’ve always wanted to play a lawyer, because I have the background where I wanted to be a lawyer in real life.  So, then I’m like, “OK. Now I get to play a lawyer on TV.”  They really got their hooks in to me with that … and just hooked me in from there.  Then, I got open to the idea and the story that Josh Griffith (head writer, Y&R) wanted to tell.

Photo: JPI

Once you learned the idea of the story from Josh, it seemed that things happened very quickly!  We all found out about your return via a social media post where you got to tell the fans yourself that you were coming back … but as a new character.

MISHAEL:  It happened relatively quickly in terms of me tentatively coming back, but then they still had to write the story.  So, everything wasn’t really confirmed until a couple of weeks before I started taping again.  We were in talks for about two months, and we worked it all out.  I said, “I’d do it,” and then it was 100% confirmed around August of this year, and I was airing in September.  It was kept was very, very quiet.

Are you still figuring out what Amanda’s back-story is?

MISHAEL:  I am.  I feel like every writer is a little different, and I feel like Josh likes to keep things very close and tight to his chest so that you kind of don’t know what’s happening.  Josh gives you enough information to play a little bit of something that is coming down the pike, but he doesn’t really disclose everything.   I’ve gotten little hints, and I kind of know where we are going, but I still don’t know the whole back-story of Amanda.  I’m still trying to figure her out.  If she’d been the polar opposite of Hilary, I think it might have been easier, but if you read her description, she’s very much like Hilary: A-type, strong, driven, all of those things.  Hilary had this very malicious, unscrupulous side to her, but I don’t know if Amanda has that.  In terms of the general description of the character, they’re very similar, which I was happy about just because I like playing strong women on TV.  If they had said, “We’re bringing on this character, and she is homeless” … or somebody who was super quiet… that would pose a different set of things for me as an actress.  I think seeing strong women of all different colors, shapes, and sizes is so important right now on TV, and it is very relevant.  I am happy to be a part of that.

Photo: JPI

What was it like playing all of these entrance scenes as Amanda where your former and current scene partners had to suspend belief? There’s Bryton James, Christel Khalil, Daniel Goddard, Jess Walton, and you, and Amanda walks in like, “Hey there!” (Laughs)

MISHAEL:  We just laughed about it.  It’s one of those things that is so funny, and it can only happen in the world of soaps.  A lot of the fans said, “This is weird,” in the beginning, but the fans love the show, and they accept it, and they do suspend their disbelief, and then it becomes normal.   We just had fun with it.

You’re like, “Hi, do you like my new hair?” (Laughs)

MISHAEL:  That was the thing too.  (Laughs) I don’t even think Christel even saw my hair until she came to set, and she was like, “Oh wow! I like your new hair.”

Photo: JPI

What happened when you and Christel taped the scenes where Lily sees Amanda for the first time, after the former contentious relationship of Lily and Hilary that ultimately changed the course of both their lives?

MISHAEL:  For me, it was super fun and easy because I don’t know any of the Hilary/Lily back-story.  I just play very oblivious like,“Hi, I’m just here.” (Laughs)  So, it’s very easy for me, but I almost envy a lot of the other characters who have to play all of these layers because Lily does have that back-story because she was charged for Hilary’s death, and the guilt associated with doing something like that, and also the hate that she had for Hilary.  Then overcoming that hate, and then going on that entire beautiful journey that they had together as women.  But now having that as a layer, and adding on top of it this woman who looks exactly like Hilary, but is a completely different person, is really interesting. Even for Bryton, I feel like he has a golden opportunity as well, because to have that love of your life, and then a new love of your life there in Elena, and then see a woman who looks just like your ex-wife is, I’m sure, really difficult.  Your mind would just be exploding!

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How did Bryton find out that you were coming back, and what was his reaction to the news?

MISHAEL:   Well, I came in for the ghost episodes, and I just couldn’t hold it in any longer.  I told him before we finalized this new deal.  He’s a friend of mine.  I wanted to get his opinion, and he was like, “You should do it!”  I was like, “Really?  It feels so weird because I just left a year ago, and I was so happy and content with leaving, so it feels weird to come back.”  He was like, “No, it will be fine.”  He’s like, “The fans will love you either way.  They’ll want you back.”   I was worried about how the fans would feel because it is such a quick return.

Photo: JPI

What is the feedback you’re getting from the fans thus far on your transformation from Hilary to now Amanda?

MISHAEL:  I feel like it’s pretty positive for the most part.  There are always going to be a couple of fans who are skeptical … or who don’t like the storyline … and even if they don’t like it they say, “This is kind of weird to bring her back as a different character.  We miss Hilary, but we love that Mishael Morgan is back, so, that kind of makes it all OK.”

The story that brings Amanda to Genoa City revolves around the legitimacy of Katherine Chancellor’s (the late Jeanne Cooper) will, and she comes in and says there was a counterfeit will etc.  She’s the messenger at this point and her client is Chance, correct?

MISHAEL:  Yes, Amanda’s client is Chance.

Isn’t she starting to question the legitimacy of her client?

MISHAEL:  Yes, but I think she still believes that it was Chance.  She’s kind of wondering now … because she even accuses Jill (Jess Walton).  She’s like, “It’s your grandson.  He’s all out to lunch.  He’s not getting back to anybody.”  Jill is very much in the headspace where she is like, “Well, this is probably not my grandson.”  Amanda is like, “I’m pretty sure it is.”  So, I think Amanda still thinks that it is Chance, even if he is a criminal, and even if he is doing something tricky.

Photo: JPI

How did Amanda get contacted by Chance in the first place to take this case?

MISHAEL:  It was an email, and then Amanda spoke to him on the phone …  or at least to who she believed was Chance.  He signed the papers, he scanned them over, and he forwarded Amanda the retainer. She had no reason not to believe that it was him.

So, when Amanda came to see Devon and company, she had no idea that there was this lookalike of her that was intertwined with this family?

MISHAEL:  No, but then after Devon tells Amanda about all of this, she sees pictures of Hilary online, but this is all done off-camera.

Does Amanda now suspect that she could be a twin? 

MISHAEL:  I think so.  I’m kind of playing that or keeping that there.  I’m kind of playing that as part of the reason why I want to stay in town because Amanda is intrigued by this other person who looks like her.  This could possibly be family.  I think it adds an extra layer as to why she wants to stay on Genoa City.  It is not just because she likes this person, or that person.  I think it is because she wants to figure out her connection to this person who looks just like her.

Photo JPI

We’ve seen Amanda be a little shifty.

MISHAEL:  Maybe a little bit. (Laughs)

What do you think we, as the audience, should be feeling at this point about Amanda?

MISHAEL:  I think we just have to wait and see.  Hilary had a lot going on before I left, and this is a new character who is slowly building.

I think that one of the things that daytime shows often have done wrong is that when they bring in a new character, they shove them down the audience’s throats too fast that they get sick of them.  I don’t know if that’s the tactic for the emergence of Amanda, more of a slow burn?

MISHAEL:  I feel like they are definitely doing a good job of building her character slowly and adding layers.  It’s not all coming out right away.  I feel like people should be feeling excited to try and figure out who this woman is because that is what it is eventually going to be leading to.  Right now, we are all just together in trying to figure out who she is.  I feel like everybody is really excited (and I am too) to get going, but even when Hilary came to Genoa City, it took about a year for her to catch her stride.  I think it’s going to take a while to really understand the meat of this character and how she fits into everyone’s lives.

Photo: JPI

Do you think Amanda feels badly about what is going on with Cane and Devon with the will, and how it would change both their lives forever?

MISHAEL:  Yes.  I definitely think that she feels badly about that.  In the beginning, it was very much her job.  I think when Devon is contemplating giving over his fortune, it makes Amanda see him in a different light, and her empathy for him starts to increase because she sees that he is a good guy, and that there wasn’t anything that he did that was malicious.

I think there is an attraction brewing here between Devon and Amanda.

MISHAEL:  Possibly.  I mean … Devon was attracted to someone who looked like Amanda.

Photo: JPI

Will she like him if he has no money, though?

MISHAEL:  I don’t know… I mean, Hilary definitely wouldn’t. (Laughs)

What do you think about working with Brytni Sarpy (Elena)? I see a triangle or quadrangle brewing and I see catfights in your future!

MISHAEL:  I love Brytni.  I definitely see that because Elena is definitely in the state of mind where she can’t stand this Amanda character.  The second she walked through the door, she couldn’t stand her.  I’m sure there are going to be some catfights coming.  I’m sure that it is going to be very entertaining for everybody! We’ll see.

Because you were considering being a lawyer … wait until you get into the courtroom set for some scenes!

MISHAEL:  I know, I’m excited for that!

Christian LeBlanc (Michael) always loves the courtroom monologues because he says it’s like doing a stage play.  Will you be up for that?

MISHAEL:  I think it’ll be ready for it.  I had a little one already to kind of warm up.  I won’t tell you what it was about.  I was like, “I can do this,” and I think it would have been even more fulfilling if there were an actual jury there where it feels like you’re performing.

Photo: JPI

What kind of lawyer is Amanda?  Does anyone know? (Laughs)

MISHAEL:  Well, right now she specializes in estates and trusts, but the one thing that I do know about attorneys is that technically with your license you can kind of do anything.  It is just that your experience will be in a specific area.  So, certain people may not want you to defend them, because you’ve never defended people in these cases.  I feel like it is not the same as a surgeon.  A surgeon specializes in the heart, and they don’t really do anything else, but as an attorney, you can kind of do anything.  You can defend anyone if the price is right and you feel confident.

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When you were thinking of being a lawyer, did you think of the kind of lawyer you wanted to be?

MISHAEL:  Well, when I wanted to be a lawyer, I wanted to be an international human rights lawyer.  So, something very different.  I wanted to save the world.

You know what they should do?  Maybe Amanda could have a courtroom show.  Instead of Judge Judy, it could be called Judge “Mandy”!

MISHAEL:  Put people in their places.

That’s if Amanda doesn’t get a talk show gig on the side, like Hilary did with GC Buzz! (Laughs)

MISHAEL:  With the courtroom cases, and the talk show, that would be a lot.

Photo: JPI

We talked about Hilary and taking her through everything she had gone through, and it really was the perfect ending when she passed.   Do you look back on that time and that work which we all loved so much?

MISHAEL:  Yes, I do.  I still look back on it, and I feel so blessed to have gone through that journey with her and to have created such a great character.  There are times when I’m like, “Yeah, coming back as Hilary would have been a lot of fun,” because I read the lines, and I know how Hilary would say everything, and now I have to figure out how Amanda says it – and it never feels the same, because I got so used to this being Hilary’s home.  I feel like Amanda is a little more like me, so there is a little less playfulness happening.

You want more of that which is reminiscent of Hilary, or not as much with Amanda?

MISHAEL:  I feel like naturally there is not as much now with Amanda, but I do want more of the playfulness to happen. It’s fun to play that on camera.  I feel that’s the fun of acting and pretending in that you get to be less of yourself, and more like a character.  Hilary was so different from me that it was just so fun to play her.  I feel like I’ve got to find those things in Amanda that make her unique and different that I can indulge in.

Photo: MMorganInstagram

In real-life you’re now a mom of two.  When you leave your kids to come to work, is it hard for you?

MISHAEL:  It is, but it’s okay because my husband stays at home with them.  We bounce back and forth.  He doesn’t work when I am working, and the days when I am not working, I am at home, and I get to enjoy time with them.  Then, when I am working, he stays home, and he gets to enjoy time with them.  It sucks to leave them, but at the same time it’s great to know that they are getting to spend time with their father, and I’m getting some ‘me time’.  I think that is necessary, because being a stay at home mom was a lot harder than I thought.  It is exhausting, and you are always on call.  You feel like you’re a surgeon.  It is just too much at times.

You always have the best Instagram photos with your kids and their outfits.  Are you going to have them dressed for Halloween?

MISHAEL:  Oh, yes.  They are going to dress up.   My son is going to be a firefighter, and I am going to be the fire, and my husband is going to be the fire hydrant, and my daughter is going to be the fire dog, the little Dalmatian!

Were you thrilled that you had a daughter this time, after previously having a son?

MISHAEL:  Yes.  At the time, I was okay with whatever the gender turned out to be.  I know everybody says it, but as long as they’re healthy, that is the most important thing.  I even thought about if I did have another boy, there would be that brother bond.  I grew up with sisters so to give him a brother would have been great, too.  Everybody always wants to have one of each because you want to be able to see what a boy would look like, and what a girl would look like, and their temperaments and all of that.  So, it’s nice that we got one of each.  We are happy.  We are good.  No more kids in my future.  (Laughs)  I shouldn’t say that too much because what if I do get pregnant, and my kid is like, “I was definitely an accident, Mom?” (Laughs)

We don’t know who Amanda has ties to at this point, but would you like to see her in another romantic relationship with some guy who is not Devon?

MISHAEL:  I would like to see that just because it would be something that kind of defines her as her own kind of person with her own journey and her own likes and her own dislikes.  I even feel that if she just ends up with Devon, it would be kind of weird.  We don’t know if Hilary and Amanda are related, but if they are related somehow, you would not have the same experiences, you would not have the same connections as this person.  As far as who I would want to work with, I don’t know.  I don’t know how to judge.  Well, Sean Dominic (Nate) has been awesome.  It would be kind of cool to be with Sean character-wise, because if Amanda ends up with Nate, that’s a relative of Devon, so Devon would have to see that all of the time … so that’s interesting.

Photo JPI

How is working with Sean?

MISHAEL:  Lots of fun.  He actually has the same birthday as my dad.  He’s a really cool guy, and we get along great.  That is half the battle because every now and again (and you rarely hear about it) you can’t stand the person you’re working with, and every time you get into scene work with another character, you’re always wondering, “Am I going to get along with this person?”  I love Bryton because we definitely have a special connection when we are on camera and when we are working together.  We’ve known each other for so long, and we’ve done so many amazing scenes together, and I think there is a lot of trust there.  It’s easy to just work with him.  That being said, the challenge of working with another character would be great as well.  We’ll just see where the chips fall.  Either way; I’m going to have a blast.

So, Camryn Grimes (Mariah) and you obviously have this great relationship together on-screen.  Mariah was Hilary’s dear friend.  Did you ever see her performance after Hilary died and her heartbreaking monologue on the set of GC Buzz?

MISHAEL:  Yes, I did.  It was amazing.  She’s an amazing actress.  She’s an amazing person.  I was so happy to work with her, and I am so happy to be back, because we are such good friends.  My first day back on set when I walked in, Camryn was the first person I saw.

Photo: JPI

Did Camryn know you were coming back to the show as Amanda?

MISHAEL:  Yes, she knew I was coming back.  We had a big hug and everything like that, and we were laughing about the fact that she’d come back to Y&R too as a whole different character.  So, I was like, “What pointers can you give me?” I would really love to figure out how Amanda and Mariah can work together.

The big question … I wonder if Amanda will have friends in Genoa City? (Laughs)

MISHAEL:  I think she would.  I mean, I know she is a little uptight, but I think she’ll have friends.  I hope so.  I don’t know who though. Guess everyone will have to stay tuned to see.

So, are you happy to see Mishael back at The Young and the Restless? What do you think of the character of Amanda Sinclair thus far? Do you want to see her with Nate, Devon, or someone else on the canvas romantically?  Do you think it will turn out that Hilary and Amanda were twins? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

B&B’s Matthew Atkinson Talks On Thomas’ Vendetta With Brooke & Playing The Manipulative Bad Boy Of The Forrester Clan

Since coming to The Bold and the Beautiful earlier this year, Matthew Atkinson is making his mark in the role of Taylor (Hunter Tylo) and Ridge’s (Thorsten Kaye) son, Thomas Forrester.  But while Matthew was a recast for his predecessor Pierson Fodé, his Thomas is quite different.  The new Thomas is a bad boy capable of horrific manipulations to get what he wants, and a young man who has caused so much suffering already for the Logans, Spencers, and the Forresters  But is there a heart underneath that often volatile exterior?

After all, Thomas went to great lengths to keep Hope (Annika Noelle) in a relationship with him and for her to be a “mother” to his son, following the death of Caroline.  So, what did he do? He covered-up and blackmailed many people to keep their mouths shut to the truth – that his sister Steffy’s (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) little girl, Phoebe, was actually baby Beth, the child Hope and Liam (Scott Clifton) believed had died at birth!

Following the big reveal, and getting a bit of comeuppance, Thomas landed in the hospital with a questionable push from Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) after a fall.  After promising to change his ways, looks like Thomas is back to scheming and conniving – this time to make sure Brooke gets payback and that her marriage to his father blows up to smithereens.  Meanwhile, Thomas needs to be a better father to his little boy, Douglas (Henry Joseph Samiri), but will the Logans and the Spencers come between father and son?

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Matthew Atkinson to get his take on: the emotional make-up of his incarnation of Thomas Forrester, what his ultimate takedown of Brooke would be, and how he thinks Thomas can find a way back into the family good graces, and more.  Here’s what Matthew had to say about it all.

Photo: JPI

Thomas really has a vendetta with Brooke.  The scene where Brooke slaps him illustrated just how deep-rooted his issues apparently are with her. What did you think about what Thomas said to Brooke that came to a boiling point with the slap, and what was it like performing the material with Katherine Kelly Lang?

MATTHEW:  Katherine rocks every chance I get to be around her.  She is such a sweet human being and so fun to work with and takes her job seriously and puts a lot of work in, and I think it shows.  As far as the scene goes, every chance that I get to work with her is fun.  She’s just a great actress.  Brooke basically had this vendetta against Thomas for a while now, and she was the one who unjustifiably went a little crazy about Thomas before anybody knew Thomas was off the rails.  So, it’s kind of this interesting culmination of having that where she has built herself up to hating Thomas at this point, and she is just scared of him and what he could possibly do.  Then you have Thomas, who has hated Brooke ever since she came in and destroyed his family.  There is so much emotion there and so many levels to it.  It’s just so much fun to play around with, and in those scenes especially, it is kind of like neither one of them really has a filter.  They are both just going at each other.

He is punctuating his plan by telling Brooke that she may, “Have his father tied around her slutty little finger, but her reign of terror ends with him!”  I was just like, “Uh-oh.” (Laughs)

MATTHEW:  Yeah, and that’s how Thomas sees Brooke.  He sees her as this slutty woman who came in and kind of giggles her way into his dad’s life and flirted with him and destroyed his entire family.  Thomas sees her and all of her sisters as these air-headed women who are kind of just family-destroying kind of people.  They come in, they do whatever they can to get what they want, and he doesn’t care about them at all.  I think he has kind of gotten to this point, especially with Brooke … considering what happened with Hope and that he has this genuine love for Hope.  Brooke won’t even accept that, or think about that as a possibility with how she views him.   It’s that crazy dynamic and those scenes were definitely an emotional peak for both of them.

Photo: JPI

Thomas seems to become obsessed, and laser-focused on people like Hope, and now Brooke.  What has happened to him?  How are you playing this behavior pattern of his that we are seeing established?

MATTHEW:  Some of the most successful people in the world are people who obsess over things.  I think Thomas is like that, but I think that since Caroline’s death, his obsessive nature has been so focused on things other than fashion.  They aren’t his job and what his talents are, which is where he should focus all of that energy, but instead it’s been on his son needing a mother.  So, getting Hope in his life was key to him, and with Brooke, it’s a woman who has destroyed his entire family.  He wants his dad to be better off.  He wants his entire family to be better off.  He honestly feels that they would be better off without Brooke in their lives, and so that is what he is focused on.  I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad attribute to have when it is focused in the right direction, but for Thomas, since the death of Caroline, his focus has been on things that are a little abstract and are not necessarily objectively sound decisions.

Photo: JPI

What was interesting was that I did not know how they were going to be able to save the character of Thomas on the B&B canvas after all that he has perpetrated.  But then, there were scenes in the hospital where he is recovering from his “fall”, and Thomas is having big emotional scenes with Ridge and Steffy.  In those moments as the viewer, you say to yourself: “Oh, they’re going to redeem him,” but then they don’t.  He goes right back to a new vendetta.  What did you think of those plot twists?

MATTHEW:  The interesting thing about this character is that I don’t think this guy is a bad guy.  I think he is a guy who is doing a lot of bad things, but I think a lot of people can relate to him and the struggles that he is dealing with: being a single father and having a rough childhood with his family being broken up.  This is a guy who wants his father to approve of him and respect him and he has never really felt that way.  I think a lot of people out there know what it’s like to have a parent who they just want approval from but can’t get it … couple that with the fact that he let his sister down.  Everybody knows what it is like to think that they are making the right decision and end up making the wrong decision and possibly hurting someone in the process … and the kind of shame that you feel from doing something like that.  I think this makes Thomas an interesting character where viewers could say, “Well, he is doing bad things, and I don’t agree with anything that he is doing, but I can relate to him, and I want him to be better, and I want him to get better and become the good person we all know he can be.”  Yet, Thomas just keeps making all of the wrong decisions.

Photo: JPI

I predict that in short order, Thomas will be in cahoots with Shauna (Denise Richards)!

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MATTHEW:  Okay, we shall see.  (Laughs)  They have aligned interests; especially at the moment, when it comes to removing Brooke from that situation.  I think with Shauna, it’s fun that Denise Richards has come into this role and what she has done with this character.

Denise Richards is doing a great job in the role.

MATTHEW:  She’s amazing, but I think that behind the thought process she has is this woman, Shauna, who is not so dissimilar from Thomas, and is willing to blur the lines of what is acceptable and morally sound to make sure that she gets what she wants.

Photo: JPI

When you were taping those emotional hospital scenes where Thomas admits he has lost his way, and reaching out to his dad to try to find forgiveness, how were playing those scenes with Thorsten Kaye?

MATTHEW:  I respect Thorsten a lot as an actor.  I just love having scenes with him because I feel like we play off of each together so well.  When we enter a scene together, we are both in it.  When you are both in it, something real happens from that, and those real moments are kind of magical in a way, and it makes you feel great about the work that you do.  Thorsten shows up, and he’s prepared, he knows what he is doing, and at the same time, there is this connection between father and son.   I think Thorsten and I have definitely done that as father and son, and Jacqui and I have done that as brother and sister.

Since the show usually has you shirtless or sneering in scenes (laughs), I was so happy that they finally let you have some crying scenes.  It was at the point that the audience was able to see you bring another emotional level and dimension to the character.

MATTHEW:  I think he is not a guy who breaks down and cries very often.  It takes something very serious (especially for him) to get to that point.  For Thomas, the most important thing in the world is family, and he has kind of destroyed his relationship with his own family with what he has done, and I think that from the inside out is what breaks him.

Photo: JPI

Speaking of shirtless scenes; in a short amount of time you have been with the show, I think you may have set a record there.

MATTHEW:  (Laughs) Yep.  It’s all the time because the wardrobe sends me mostly pants – no shirts (Laughs).

Obviously, there is the issue of Thomas’s son, Douglas … and will he lose him because Hope and Liam want to gain custody of him. Brooke wants Thomas out of Douglas’ life for good.   This poses a major obstacle for Thomas moving forward. Agree?

MATTHEW:  Sure.  However, Brooke has no legal right to stand on.  You can’t just take a guy’s son.  There’s no legal way to do that, but they can try their hardest to either sign adoption papers or sign over custody, or something like that, but there’s not a legal way they can go and just take his son.  There are a lot of people who I understandably think Douglas would be better off with being raised by Hope and Liam, but I think Thomas has a point of view too, and just because he is going through a bad part of his life at this time, doesn’t mean that he is unfit to be a father.  I think Thomas will prove that he is fit to be father and all the while, a great force to be reckoned with,

Photo JPI

But, Thomas hasn’t been so great to Douglas, either.  Hasn’t he yelled at his son, manipulated him for his own gain, etc?

MATTHEW: Right, this was kind of right before the truth about Beth came out, and Thomas was on this massive downward swirl where he wasn’t thinking clearly; he wasn’t himself. I  think in reality, you have a person who went off the rails, he wasn’t being himself, he found the person he wasn’t, and I think that the “accident” of Brooke pushing him off a cliff, the slip, kind of clarified his intention in life to be a good, standup person from here on out.  So, I think his priorities are straight now, and I think he is thinking clearly.  I don’t think he is in the same mental state that he was before, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t be manipulative and that he won’t get what he wants, because he will.  There was a time that he went through a headspace when nothing was really clear for a minute, and he didn’t really have any moral backbone, but I don’t think that moving forward you’re going to see a Thomas Forrester that would hurt his son.  You’re going to see a Thomas Forrester who will stop at nothing to protect his son.

How does Thomas feel about Hope now, especially since Hope wants to raise Douglas? 

MATTHEW:  Well, here is what I will say; I think that Thomas has always had a love for Hope. I think he respects her as a person, I think he has seen her be a mother to his child, and that is undeniable … how much of a connection that she has to Douglas, and she is incredibly important to him.  Thomas can basically discard any Logan except Hope.  Hope is kind of his kryptonite.  So, going forward, I think you’ll maybe see a guy who wants to discard Hope as a person who he cares for (her and the rest of the Logans), but he may not be able to do that, because she has got a place in his heart that he can’t compartmentalize and leave behind.

Photo: JPI

What can you say about working with Annika Noelle, because you as Thomas had been terrorizing Hope for many months?

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MATTHEW:  Well, she’s a sweetheart, but also, secondly, she is a badass.  She could kick my butt any day of the week.  So, I just had to make sure that in between takes I said, “You understand that I wouldn’t do this to you.”  She’s so sweet, and she was actually one of the first people to talk to me about taking over a role on the show, because she had been one of the most recent people to take over a role, and that was something that was really hard for me.  Coming into a character that has already been there for 30 years, you have a lot to live up to.  She was amazing from the beginning just helping me through that process.

On that note, what did you think of the epic fight scene on the rooftop opposite Scott Clifton; right before all the truth came out to Hope that Beth is alive and Thomas was lying to Hope and up to no good?

MATTHEW:  So much fun.  The shots they got were incredible.  Shooting those fight scenes was so much fun and I love Scott to death.  So, every time we get to work together it’s fun, but just getting outside and literally pretending to beat the crap out of each other is a blast.  We got to go out to Malibu, and I got to fall over a cliff.  What else can you say about that? (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

There is another interesting relationship Thomas has on B&B, and that is with his friend, Vinny.  How has it been creating the on-screen dynamic with Joe LoCicero (Vinny) as these two scheming dudes?

MATTHEW:  I like it, and I love Joe.  This dynamic between these two guys is really funny because you have this shrewd, alpha male, Thomas Forrester, who is extremely driven, and insanely smart, but also very manipulative and he has got a thousand things going on.  On the flipside, you’ve got Vinny, who is just this guy who he has been friends with for a really, really long time, who just kind of lives life.  He is living in his apartment in Venice, he sells some not so legal substances just to his friends, and he’s a decent guy.  It’s just fun when we have these scenes together, because essentially you’ve got him looking at me like I’m an alien creature, and thinking, “I don’t understand this guy.  I don’t know why he is acting this way, but who cares; I’m going to eat my Chinese food.”  (Laughs) I think it kind of grounds some of those scenes especially when you see Thomas going off that rails, and his friend doesn’t even seem to notice. (Laughs)

I know! (Laughs) Thomas has got his own sidekick.

MATTHEW: I think Vinny wants to give sound advice, but he gives all the worst advice.  He’s like, “Well, the way you described it Thomas, it sounds like a good idea, so yeah, go ahead with that,” but maybe doing a little behavioral cognitive therapy and questioning would be good for Vinny.  He just kind of goes, “okay,” (laughs) but I think that’s what makes those scenes so much fun.

Photo: JPI

Having appeared on The Young and the Restless previously you know how soaps go.  There is always this fear of: “Will they kill me off if my character has gone too far?” Did at any point in Thomas’ storyline, and as you got the scripts and read all the terrible things Thomas was doing, that the character might get murdered, kicking off a murder mystery, and you’d have to make an exit?

MATTHEW:  I’d had discussions with Brad Bell (executive producer and head writer, B&B) and I kind of knew where the character was going, so I kind of knew that he was going down a rabbit hole, but that Thomas wasn’t a lost cause.  I knew that he would at least be present for the upcoming short future that I know of, that Thomas wasn’t going to find his demise, which was very nice of Brad to give me that insight into the character to not only know what was coming up, but also know where his head is at by this point.  It helps me with the character work that I do for each scene and prep for each day; because I know where Thomas’ head is going to be at two weeks from now.

Photo: JPI

Have you had any interactions with fans, or are you checking out on social media what the viewers are saying about Thomas?  Do they love him?  Hate him?  Is there a great debate going on?  What is your take on where Thomas sits with the audience?

MATTHEW:  Oh, yeah.  I definitely pay attention.  The fans are the reason I have the job that I have.  All the feedback that I have seen is positive, and by positive, I mean that it is emotionally effective.  Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that people are happy with Thomas because most people are not happy with Thomas.  They don’t like what he is doing, and that obviously gets them angry or sad or whatever, but that is kind of the point of the show.  If you’re watching a bunch of characters who are all great people and who all do nice things, then it wouldn’t be that much fun to watch.  You’d be watching 40 Liam’s talk to each other, and it would be like, “Yeah, it’s just another day in Happy World.”  (Laughs)  I think that Thomas especially has been such a driving force in the last couple of months and caused a lot of drama.  I think there are a lot of storylines that people have connected to in the past that are really making people enjoy the drama happening now. You have the people who hated Ridge getting together with Brooke in the beginning that are happy with what Thomas is doing now.  You have the people who are pro – Liam and Steffy.  Thomas has been a big advocate of that since the beginning.  There are some people who just can’t stand Thomas and don’t like him, and he makes them mad, but the reality of it is that there is a thin line between love and hate.  So, as long as they love me or hate me, I’m happy.

So, have you been enjoying Matthew’s portrayal of Thomas? Do you think he will rip Brooke and Ridge apart for good and succeed in his plans? Do you think he should somehow pay for his manipulations? Share your thoughts on the current B&B storyline involving Thomas via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Eileen Davidson & Vincent Van Patten Talk ‘7 Days to Vegas’, Their Relationship and Y&R, DAYS & RHOBH

Today’s the day for the highly-anticipated film, 7 Days to Vegas which bows in selected theaters. The motion picture which stars Vincent Van Patten and his real-life wife, two-time Daytime Emmy winning actress Eileen Davidson (Y&R’s Ashley and former Kristen/Susan Banks, Days) is a comedic gambling romp, centering around the character of Duke (Van Patten), an out-of-work actor turned poker player who makes a prop bet that he walk from the San Fernando Valley in California to Sin City, Las Vegas in 7 days.

There are some catches to this bet that make it even more challenging  … Duke has to wear a suit the entire time in scorching heat.  The events in the movie are loosely based on Van Patten’s Hollywood Poker game nights.  7 Days to Vegas features a fictional gang of betting entertainment industry bigwigs, who are hardcore gamblers and of course, jealousy strikes.  Davidson plays Duke’s wife, KC.

Michael Fairman sat down with Eileen and Vincent at their home, and at their famed poker table for the Michael Fairman Channel, to chat about the making of the movie, their relationship and some intriguing tidbits for fans of Eileen’s work on The Young and the Restless, Days of our Lives and her time on Bravo’s hit reality franchise, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

In 7 Days to Vegas, Eileen says that Vincent fashioned her role of KC after their real-life relationship adding, “They are in it together. This is a lifestyle that they both enjoy.  That is what somebody does when there is a home game; you call people up, and make sure who is going to be there.  Van Patten said, “There is a host of the game, and that is her role in the movie.”

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As to the scenes where Duke is walking to Vegas, Van Patten shared, “We shot the film in Santa Clarita, California in the hills and the mountains and all of that, and then we out five days after with a second unit shoot and shot with drones in the desert.  So, I must have walked 10 miles a day, shooting, sweating, but you don’t feel it, because when it’s your baby, it’s a labor of love.”

When asked if she would go back to daytime, Eileen shared she would be back for more Ashley on Y&R: “I am supposed to go back to Y&R in a couple of more weeks. So I am popping in and out at this point.”  Davidson also shared she wishes nothing but the best to Stacy Haiduk who inherited her roles on Days of our Lives as Kristen DiMera and Susan Banks. Eileen said she does not watch the episodes of the show anymore, because it makes her feel sad.  The roles of Kristen and Susan were so close to Davidson’s heart.

In speaking of her time on RHOBH, Van Patten shared, “I think she (Eileen) did a great job. It went by real quick. I think she did like three years on it.  I was in the background carrying her purse, going, ‘Yes, yes, here I come.”  (Laughs)  Davidson expressed: “Listen, reality TV … it’s a crazy, wild, Wild West.”  When Michael asked about the time a drink was thrown in her face, Eileen explained:  “I think Brandi (Granville) felt she needed to be relevant to be on the show, and her role was to be a troublemaker. I understand more of it now.  At the time, I was a deer in the headlights for the first couple of years.”  Vincent shared, “People always ask if this stuff is scripted, and it’s actually not, but you can spice it up”   As to if ‘Housewives’ makes up the drama, Davidson elaborated, “Before the season starts they will ask, ‘What is going on in your life?’, and maybe there is some of that behind-the-scenes stuff.  It didn’t happen with me.  I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but it is a reality show, but it is also entertainment, and if all we did was sit around, how fun would that be?”

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Watch the full interview below with Eileen and Vincent and make sure to “subscribe” to The Michael Fairman Channel for more celebrity interview features.

Now let us know, will you be checking out 7 Days to Vegas, which will also be available on iTunes and VOD come September 24th? Do you hope there will be more Ashley on Y&R? Share your thoughts via the comment section.

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DAYS Eric Martsolf and Stacy Haiduk chat with Michael Fairman at Day of Days 2019; during their conversation the on-screen dup talk about the latest developments of Brady and Kristen within the series time-jump and more. Leave A Comment

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