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The Erika Slezak Interview – One Life to Live

Courtesy/ABC

Six-time Daytime Emmy winner, Erika Slezak (Viki) should probably get ready to pick up a seventh after this coming Wednesday’s episode, in which she will play three sides to Viki’s personality in a very special performance created by the powers-that-be, to honor her 40th anniversary milestone with the series.  It was back in 1971 that Erika first graced our television screens as the central heroine in Llanview and the wealthy daughter of the ruthless Victor Lord.  From that point on, the soap world has been mesmerized time and time again by her flawless, fearless, and heart tugging performances.

Trying to fathom the daytime world without Erika and her Viki is going to be a tall order, but sadly after the decision handed down by ABC less than two weeks ago, that day will have to come. On-Air On-Soaps had the distinct privilege to speak to Erika yesterday, and while we had to broach the subject of the cancellation, the focus of this interview was to celebrate with Erika her forty years of a monumental television achievement, that if you think about it, most likely not many other actors will experience that kind of longevity.  From the storylines, her leading men, her various alters (and we have loved watching her play them all) her cast mates, to her current front burner storyline, and the upcoming major episode, Erika shared her thoughts with such grace, delight, sentiment, and passion for what she does best…act!

When you think of the consummate professional, who for forty years has left an audience in tears and standing with cheers, there is only one who has accomplished this feat, and that is Erika Slezak.
I hope you will be moved by and enjoy this fantastic conversation with the one, thee only… Erika!

MICHAEL:

It is your 40th Anniversary with One Life to Live, and we are celebrating it on air with tomorrow’s special episode.  It has to be bittersweet with the heartbreaking news of the show’s cancellation a week and half ago.  How are you doing with the news?  I know it is still so fresh, and I know you released a statement to the fans.  But since you may have had a tiny bit more time to process it, is there anything else you may want to add?

ERIKA:

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We have seven more months left. I have talked to Frank Valentini (executive producer, OLTL) and he had told me there are brilliant stories to be told.  And, that we will go out with a bang.  Right now, I can only look forward to the next seven months.  After that, I think I will sleep for a while, because getting up at 5AM is tiring.  I have done it for 40 years and I can’t complain, because it has been a brilliant job.  I am very sorry to see it go, and not so much for me, but for the incredible loss of jobs for everyone connected with the show.  And, I don’t mean just the people that work there every day.  I mean the hundreds and hundreds of actors who are employed as under-fives, and as extras and day players every year.  There is work for actors there, and now there is not.  I don’t know about nighttime shows hiring those people on that type of scale.  And I find that horrendously sad, and the jobs that are lost are so awful.  However, we have seven months to make some really good stories, and that is what we are going to focus on.

MICHAEL:

Speaking of your 40th, on my website we posted a fantastic photo gallery of your surprise party last month at OLTL.   I hear you were totally surprised!  What went through your mind when you saw all of the cast and crew there to mark this incredible accomplishment with you?

ERIKA:

When the notice went up that we were having a St. Patrick’s Day party, I was talking to David Coleman, who is our security guard.  He is like the Mayor of Llanview and the show would not exist without him.  He does everything.  If you have a problem with your life, or your computer, he can fix it!  David looked at me and said, “Hmm, interesting!  St. Patrick’s Day party on your 40th Anniversary?” And I looked at him and said, “How do you know it’s my 40th anniversary?” And he said, “Because I have always known it was March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.”  I said, “Look, they have given me parties in the past and have said to me, ‘Look, we are going to give you a nice party and we are going to invite Agnes Nixon, and it will be lovely.’  And it has always been lovely.  No one had said anything this time.  And I said, “And it would be kind of dumb to surprise me, wouldn’t it? “   And I thought (regarding the St. Patrick’s Day party) that this is really nice of Frank.  It has been a really long rotten winter.  We moved down to that other studio, which is terrific.  But I thought, ‘It’s an excuse to have lunch on the floor and welcome in spring.’  Then the day of the party I was finished taping at noon, and lunch was going to be at 12:30.  I was really hungry, as I eat a little breakfast usually around seven in the morning.  And I said to Robin Strasser (Dorian) as we were leaving the set, “Thank God.  I am so hungry.”  And I went to my dressing room to change and Frank showed up at my dressing room door at 12:25.  And I said, “Oh good. Let’s go to lunch.” And he said, “No, I have to talk to you first.”  And he started talking about nothing. “Oh, I wanted to say this, and I saw the show that we aired, and it’s going to be interesting with the editing.”  And he is still taking about nothing!  I am looking at my watch and I go, “Frank, can we go to lunch?  I am really hungry.”   Well, he keeps talking, and he is walking ahead of me very, very slowly down the corridor – and I am thinking, “Geez! I am starving. Will you move it?”  And we go up in the elevator together and he is still talking away, and he pushed open the door and he is still talking…and…. everyone is standing there looking at the door.  They yelled, “surprise!”  I looked at Frank as I thought it was something for Frank.  I was so stupid!  And then, everyone started applauding and that is when I realized what it was.  I felt stupid, incredibly honored, and surprised, and of course cried, because that is what you do when you are that stunned.  It was quite amazing.

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

But then, there was even more in store for you once you entered your own party!

ERIKA:

Yes, there was.  I kind of walked into the room slowly and there are about 20 people wearing t-shirts that said “Erika” on them.  I thought “Oh, my God”, and my daughter. Amanda was there, too.  She had flowers for me. It was so sweet.  And my husband, Brian, who gets his hair cut at the studio, said to me that he was going to come in on that Thursday.  So Brian had been there in the morning and he vanished, and he was going to have the dogs groomed that day.  So I thought, I will catch up with him when the dogs finished their grooming. And of course, he walked in, too.  Apparently, everybody knew but me.  It was amazing!  And what kind of blew me away was the beautiful reel they put together, which had Nathan Fillion (Ex-Joey, now Castle) on it, my sweet boy!  He was on the reel, and that boy is not a boy, he is a man, but he is so wonderful.  I love him to death, I really do. And David Pressman was on the reel, Brian Frons, and Agnes Nixon, too.  I did have to laugh because Regis and Kelly were on it and the ladies of The View. Then, they had this enormous spread of food.  I finally said, “Gosh, I am really hungry. Can I get something to eat?” (Laughs) Then somebody else said, “No, you have to cut the cake now.”  And I thought, ‘OK, I will cut the cake.’  I never did get lunch, but it was OK. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

There was one picture I saw of Robin Strasser applauding you with you in tears. And I thought, it looked like such a great moment.

ERIKA:

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She is my great bud and she is wonderful!  Jerry verDorn (Clint) made a speech.  I said, “Jerry, you are not even working today, you drove all the way from New Jersey?”  And he said, “Of course I did.”  I was so touched by that and what Robin said.  I love Robin dearly.  I think she feels the same about me.  We respect each other, and she is so great to work with.  I have always said, “Robin, when you have to bring something to the table, you bring a thanksgiving feast every single day when you go to work.”  It was quite an amazing day and you look around and go: “All these people are here for me.”  I said to Frank, “You know, I could kill you for this, but at the same time, thank you, thank you.  It was awesome!”  I was kind of hoping it would go under the radar, because I don’t feel like I have been there for 40 years.  I am surprised that 40 years have gone by.  I am thinking of all the stories we have told and all the amazing actors I have worked with.

MICHAEL:

Continuing in the celebration, how did this upcoming 40th anniversary episode that airs Wednesday come about?  Was this the brainchild of Frank and Ron to honor you in this way?

ERIKA:

Yes it was.  Frank came to me about four months ago.  He said, “Listen, we do want to do something for your 40th anniversary, and we are writing a special show for you.”  And I burst into tears and said, “Whoa! That is like amazing!”  He said, “Yeah, it’s going to be great.”  And I said, “What is it about?”  And he said, “We don’t know yet, but it is going to be your show.”  Then, I did not hear any more about it till about three weeks before we were going to do it. Larry Carpenter, our director called me and said, “So, I am directing this show and it is all you and we need to talk about it.”  I said, “Great. Do you know what it’s about?”  And he said, “Yes, don’t you?”  It was then he told me, and then Frank came to me and we had a long sit down.  So I knew then it was going to be about Viki’s alters.  Frank and Larry came up with this incredible idea for a set that is so amazing.  Roger Mooney did such a terrific job designing this set.

MICHAEL:

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So give me the set-up of the special episode, which I hear is truly a tour de force by you!

ERIKA:

The episode takes place in the courtroom where Viki is fighting for custody of Ryder. And of course, I become Niki, so it’s Niki pretending to be Viki.  She gets outed in the middle of it and she is very funny.  Then Jean takes over, and it cuts back and forth to Viki’s subconscious mind.  So I played all three ladies in my mind, but Larry’s and Frank’s concept for my mind was this incredible warehouse that had all kinds of stuff from One Life to Live from Viki’s life.  I am talking about furniture, and mirrors, and in the middle is a cage, and there is a circular staircase, and guess where that came from? The secret room!  It has a cage and there are two locked doors to the cage, and Viki has to get out of her mind and get up the stairs to get back to where she belongs; and get back to life.  We shot it in two days.  The courtroom was one day, and the second day was this unbelievable set that took up half the size of the studio. I walked around the set and thought, ‘My God! These are chairs from the Lord Library.  This was Asa’s.’   I recognized most of the furniture, and I said to Roger, “This must have cost a fortune!” And he said, “No, we own all of this.”  And we did it in three separate segments.  I had two wonderful ladies who worked with me who were the doubles.  First we taped Viki, then Jean, and then Niki, which was kind of good because then it was a nice high note to end on.  Everything is a little larger than life in there, and Niki in particular.  I have said as you may have read, “I have officially joined Over-Actors Anonymous,” but I had to.  I had to seize that opportunity. (Laughs)  Larry said they had finished editing it, and it’s going to be really good.  I have not seen it, but I will see it on Wednesday when it airs.  I have made a date with myself.  I think I am almost in every scene.  It has a lot of me! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Last week, we saw Viki pushed to the edge by Tess; thus the emergence of Niki.  You make the shift to the alters so real and incredibly sad and painful for the viewers to watch.  You have done this time and time again, but of course, in different scenarios where Dorian triggers the alters, or other life-altering events in Viki’s life.  Are those scenes particularly difficult to pull off?

ERIKA:

It’s very difficult to do, because in my mind I know what triggers this.  We did a lot of research when Michael Malone wrote the multiple story; when we decided to give Viki’s DID a reason.  The sadness of that is what caused the mind to split.  I saw videotape with the permission of the psychiatrist and the patient of a woman who was a multiple, and it was during her session.  Again, we had her permission, and it was just the directors and I, and it was just incredibly sad, because the woman is a perfectly normal, very nice looking lady, who was horrendously abused as a child by various family members.  She has a whole bunch of personalities and they show up in the oddest way.  There is absolute silence, and then she comes back as somebody completely different. And it looks like ‘bad acting’ but its not.  It’s a whole different personality and very strange and sad to see.  So when we do it on our show, we have to make the personalities distinct characters.  This last time, I did not want to give it away because Viki was supposedly having a heart attack while Clint is having a heart attack.  So when I came back I did not want the audience to know instantly it was Niki.  There were like a couple of deep breaths, and I let them think Viki has composed herself. Then she turns around, and I actually wrote the line that Niki says to Tess, “God. You’re annoying!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

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How has it been having Kim Zimmer as Viki’s nemesis, Echo, on the canvas with you?  And then getting the opportunity as Viki to let Echo have it for destroying her marriage to Charlie.  Those were great scenes!

ERIKA:

I love Kim Zimmer, just let me say that.  When Frank told me he was asking her to come back I was so excited, because it was brilliant, and it was part of the history of the show. Kim is a wonderful actress and a great person.  From the first day she showed up we have laughed a lot and had such a good time.  And those scenes where Viki confronts Echo, I thought were particularly good.  It is hard to be really angry with Kim because she has such a sweet face on her.  But I loved playing those scenes and I think she did, too. And after that, I had scenes in the carriage house where I told her to get out, which I loved!

MICHAEL:

Niki now has the confession tape showing Echo knew all along that Clint was Rex’s father, not Charlie!

ERIKA:

Dorian gave her the tape, and Niki could care less. And then she realizes Echo could cause a problem for her with Charlie, and then she just figures I will go over there and threaten her. Niki is going through Echo’s closet when Echo comes in the room, and Niki just thinks everything she owns is just so ugly. (Laughs). And the rest you have to watch!

MICHAEL:

How do you feel about Viki losing another husband, as we know, Brian Kerwin will be leaving the series soon?  Many felt that Charlie was just not a good match for Viki, but yet they had such a sweet and pure love story originally at the Bon Jour Café.

ERIKA:

Courtesy/ABC

I think real life intruded on it.  There were some very sweet things that Charlie says that Viki realizes are kind of right.  He never could live up to what he thought Viki expected of him.  She didn’t.  She was quite happy to have Charlie, who was an incredibly good person… flawed, but good.  He says, “Echo understands because she is a drunk, and understands the failings and the flaws of another human being.”  And it probably was not a good match for Viki, because there is a lot to live up to… living in that house, everybody loving her, and being so rich.  Even though that is not her as a person, it is the trappings that come with her that Charlie realizes.  I think at the end she should realize it too, but she is heartbroken because she loves Charlie.  He is a really a good guy and Brian Kerwin (Charlie) is such a doll.  The whole Paris, Texas story I loved so much because it took Viki out of Viki.  It made her just the person who she is, but without the trappings.  She was so content being there, serving coffee, being a waitress, and meeting real people.  Viki and the audience met wonderful characters there: Mo, Noelle, Gigi, Shane, and Charlie, and all the people in and out of the café.  It was such a release and a relief for her to be away from the litany of problems in Viki’s life.

MICHAEL:

Have you and Brian said your goodbyes?

ERIKA:

Yes, unfortunately he is finished already, and I miss him.  He is a really good actor and a delightful person, but I wish him all the best, of course.

MICHAEL:

How have you enjoyed the pairing of Tess and Niki working together, as they are attempting to do in the custody case for Ryder?  Do you and Bree get a kick out of those scenes?  Yet, there is such great back-story there for what Niki did that left Jess vulnerable when she was a child and split in to Tess.

ERIKA:

Courtesy/ABC

Yes, because we never played that.  The one thing we talked about was that Tess was initially supposed to be like another Niki.  Bree Williamson (Jess/Tess) does not play it that way, which is brilliant.  Tess has a lot more feeling and heart.  Niki doesn’t care about anything except her own freedom.  She is the most selfish, self-centered person on earth, because that is what she was created to be.  It did not matter what happened, she would deal with it.  Tess is meaner than Niki, because Tess has more dimension.  When multiples are created, they are individually created to deal with certain problems and secrets.  Niki was created to deal with the sex, and so that is all she cares about.  It does not bother her to go sleep around, drink, and be totally irresponsible.  She is the antithesis of Viki.  We were very careful to be very separate as alters.  Bree is such a good actress and she has played this character of Tess so well, and we have lot more coming up with Viki and Tess that is really good!

MICHAEL:

Did you ever take issue with the back-story that was created for Jessica’s abuse, because of the behavior of Niki?

ERIKA:

I did not have trouble with it, but I thought it was the only way to deal with it.  They decided to have Jessica become Tess, and I was chatting with Frank one day and I said, “Where did Tess come from?”  And he said, “We hadn’t quite figured that out yet.  It probably should have been because of one of your alters.”  I said, “The only one that it could be is Niki.  The other ones would not have done that.”  And he said, “That is where we are going, we think.”  And that is where they did go.  Of course, it was so hard for Viki to have to deal with that because it’s her fault.  It is not her fault, but it is her fault.  But truly, it’s Victor’s fault for abusing her in the first place and creating her alters.  But Viki is not responsible for the actions of the alter.  She feels she is, but not really.

MICHAEL:

One of the comments I loved from OLTL head writer, Ron Carlivati, in this current story is; he loved when he flips Erika into Niki, and then you are Niki trying to pretend to be Viki.  Are those some of the most fun for you?

ERIKA:

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They are so much fun for me, and that is what the first half of the courtroom scene is about.  Niki is pretending to be Viki, and she thinks she is doing a really good job.  And so everything is slightly exaggerated because that is what she thinks Viki is.  It is terrific fun.  I am like the kid in the biggest sandbox in the world!

MICHAEL:

No matter what goes on in their lives, Viki and Clint are there for each other, even after the horrendous things Clint has done that have now hurt Viki.   Do you think there is hope now for a Viki/Clint reconciliation?  How has it been acting alongside Jerry verDorn?

ERIKA:

There is love there.  She understands Clint and the difficulties he is having now, and the difficulty he had with his father’s passing.  She has known Clint for a very long time and she always loved him.  And yes, they couldn’t be married anymore because then executive producer Linda Gottlieb decided we shouldn’t be married anymore.  I hope there is a reconciliation for Viki and Clint.  We have seven months to do it, so let’s do it. And Jerry verDorn is one of the most awesome human beings on this earth, and you can’t be mean to him.  I don’t care what he does.  He is just fantastic.  Jerry is amazing as a bad Clint!

MICHAEL:

Viki is going to have an internal struggle in the courtroom during the Ryder custody case this week.  This is not the first time she has had her alters come out on the witness stand.  At one point, didn’t they drag Niki out on the witness stand years ago?

ERIKA:

Yes, after Mitch Laurence killed Harry O’Neill, another awesome guy.  Have I been a lucky girl!  I remember working with Frank Converse (Ex-Harry). And I remember a scene where I was Niki and we were dancing some place, and I looked up at him, and it was in rehearsal, and I could not help myself, and I said, “God, you are handsome.”  And he was so embarrassed he did not know where to look. This is one of the most handsome men on earth.

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

And speaking of handsome, there was also Mark Derwin, as your Ben?

ERIKA:

I love him. He sent me the cutest email after my 40th stating that he was sorry he could not be on the tribute reel, but his mother had been ill and he could not make time for that.  But I thought it was just as well, because God knows what he would have said.  He is so disrespectful, but I love that man. (Laughs)  He sent me a cute email afterwards stating, “You know, people ask about our time together and we never had a day we did not have fun.”  And it’s true. Mark is like a big wonderful child.  I used to call him “My favorite 14-year old.”

MICHAEL:

When you look back at playing truly one of the all-time most memorable characters in soaps for forty years, what moments, either as Viki or personally to you as Erika, stand out in your mind?  Certain Emmy wins?  A little nugget, or a moment that may have happened on set, or a favorite storyline?

ERIKA:

I think the sixth Emmy win was the most stunning.  To win against seven other awesome actresses was incredible.  And, that is when we had the lunch the day before and Susan Flannery (Stephanie, B&B) had organized it.  It was fantastic!  We closed the restaurant. I think they were ready to throw us out.  There we were drinking champagne and laughing and screaming.  And Susan kind of vanished near the end and came back and she settled the bill.  I can’t imagine what the bill must of have been. We easily drank 8 to 10 bottles of champagne among the eight of us.  So to have a fabulous lunch and to have laughed and laughed and tell stories, it was just unbelievable!  And I had never met Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, Y&R) and Juliet Mills (Tabitha Ex-Passions) before.  I knew Martha Byrne (Ex-Lily, ATWT) but not very well.  I knew Kim Zimmer and Kassie DePaiva (Blair, OLTL).  Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis, GH), I knew well because we worked together.  I yelled at Susan, “You shouldn’t pay the entire bill.”  And she goes, “Let it go. Whoever wins tomorrow can pay next year.”  And we all said, “ha-ha-ha.”  And when I made my acceptance speech I should have said, “Lunch is on me next year.”  But all I could think of was all of these amazing actresses and how did they pick me?  I don’t know.  The best part of that win was the lunch with those women.

MICHAEL:

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Where are your record six Daytime Emmys that you have won over the forty years as Viki?  When you look at them now, is it still surreal?  Do you realize what an amazing accomplishment and honor that is?

ERIKA:

I do.  I am honored and floored. We have a little library and they are in a bookcase there.  I will walk by and go, “Wow.”  The first one I got was given to me by Stuart Damon (Ex-Alan, GH) and it was not televised.  I have kept all the little envelopes.  Stuart and my husband were dear old friends, and when I won Stuart said, “Take the envelope.” And that is the only proof I had that I won, because my name is in the middle, but it also has the names of the other nominees, so it’s kind of lovely to see.

MICHAEL:

You have seen so many regimes come and go over your forty years at OLTL.  Right now, this show is must-see TV, as it has always been, but particularly now it seems that all stories are firing on all cylinders, which makes this cancellation all the more disturbing and disheartening.  How has it been for you handling the changes behind the scenes throughout the years?

ERIKA:

Every time a producer leaves I think that’s the end of me, because they come in and recast, but I stayed.  I started in 1971 and thought I had a two-year contract.  I was stupid. I did not know they could fire me anytime they wanted to.  And I say, I do not know how forty years have gone by, but one year turned to another.  I got married and I had children, and I still had this brilliant, wonderful job.  People come and go, and you get closer to some than others.  I cannot think of a better job for an actress over a long period.  I am sure it’s great to be a movie star and make a ton of money and stuff, but I have consistently worked for forty years, and taken vacations when I wanted; knowing I have a job to come back to. That is incredible for an actress, and it just doesn’t happen.

MICHAEL:

Whenever I speak to your castmates, no matter whom, they always tell me you know your lines as well as everyone else’s. (Laughs)  Do you make that a point?

ERIKA:

Courtesy/ABC

Yes.  I don’t necessarily learn everybody else’s line, I learn my lines.  I come from the theatre and it’s important to me. You can’t give a performance if you don’t know what you are going to say.  I am not up there making it up, and people still write letters and go, “God, you have to make that up everyday?”  No, you don’t make it up, it’s written. You frame the performance around the words, and all of that has to be prepared in advance. You can’t just fake it.  I have had people who don’t know their lines in scenes with me that are very emotional.  Because you are on a track, and I know how to build the performance, they will say, “Oh, I don’t’ know my line, or what to say.”  Then you are screwed and you have to build that performance all over again, and go back to the beginning. There is no time to do all the preparation all over again.  But that does not happen often.  And when people go up on a line, it is generally an honest mistake. There are a few people over the years that just couldn’t be bothered to learn their lines, but they are not there anymore.

MICHAEL:

Now, as the series is ramping up for its final months, what is it going to be like for you having Roger Howarth (First-Todd) back?

ERIKA:

I am delighted!  I wanted to call him, but I don’t have his phone number.  But I wanted to say, “Thank God. He is coming back.”  I loved working with Roger.  He is a very talented, really clever, really nice guy.  He is kind of shy and keeps to himself, but he is such an interesting actor, and we had a wonderful time working together before.  So I am looking forward to that a lot.

MICHAEL:

I know this may be too soon to ask this question, but knowing that Viki’s life will not be able to be seen by viewers after January 2012 on ABC Daytime, is there something you would still love to get the opportunity to do, or play that you haven’t, before it ends?  And, how would you like to see Viki’s final moments play out on-air as the show comes to unfortunate fade to black?

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ERIKA:

No, I don’t think there is anything left I would still love to play.  I make jokes that I have no organs left except my appendix.  I have had every illness under the sun except, I have not been a drunk or a drug addict, and I don’t think I want to do that.  I don’t think that is a direction for Viki to go in.  At the end, I would love to see her happy.  Who knows what they are going to write?  But it should honor the show. And the final scene shouldn’t just be Viki.  It should be Viki and Clint, and Bo and Nora, and all the people who have been there and have been the heart and soul of that show for all those years.

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What a beautiful and moving interview with the talented Erika Slezak! I loved it. I can’t wait to see her special anniversary episode tomorrow.

Awesome interview!!!! I adore Erika, and you asked all of the questions that we all would have asked.

How wonderful! Erika Slezak has always been one of my favorites. I hope the final shows ends the way she wants it too. That’s how I want it to end too. I can’t imagine all the main longtime characters not all being in the final show or scene. I loved this interview; very emotional!

God, I love this woman. Erika Slezak is AMAZING. I’m going to cry my eyes out when we have to say goodbye to Viki on the last day of One Life To Live.

Thanks so much for this great interview!

Michael great interview Erika was so poised She is such a talented Actress the viewers have been blessed to have Erika play Vikki for 40 years !

I love Erika Slezak! I loved the questions you asked, because a lot of others would have asked the same ones. I can’t wait for her 40th anniversary episode tomorrow!

Thank you, thank you, thank you SO much for this interview. I love OLTL & I just love Erika. She’s such a classy lady. I really enjoyed hearing everything she had to say. I even cried some when she was talking about her 40th Anniversary episode.

Awesome interview with the best of the best. Looking forward to the show honoring her tomorrow!!

Thank you! Great interview. Erika Slezak was the reason I started watching One Life To Live over thirty-eight years ago and she continues to be the main reason I watch today. It will be so sad on that last day of OLTL, like a friend leaving.

Erika is such a class act!

Great interview. How can you not just love Erika? Always such a class act.

A loving interview, Michael. Erika has been the glue that has kept the show operating at such a high level. She is a phenomal actress.She makes everyone better because of her expertise and finesse in her performances And yes, she is a class act. She is someone you have to keep watching because she brings you in to her life so artfully. Then you don’t know what hit you and brought you in to her world. Fabulous woman! I will miss her very much. But, I believe we may see her doing something great on Nightime TV or perhaps she will go back to the theater and her roots. Do not retire Erika. There are a lot of performances we have yet to see!..

I adored this interview. I can’t imagine my life without Viki, I just can’t! Erika is a true class act!

Erika will always be Dame Erika to me, because she is acting royalty. She is gracious and I remember either Brett Claywell or Scott Evans tweeting and saying they just marveled at her work. The only thing I take issue with Dame Erika (it’s affectionate, not snarky) is the writer’s handling of Charlie Banks. Once they brought him to Llanview from Paris, they really didn’t know what to do with him, and they need to take responsibility for their poor writing of that character. Unfortunately they’ve done the same thing to Susan Haskell. They didn’t know how to write for her, so her character is getting the St. Anne’s treatment. It’s disrespectful to the actress and it’s disrespectful to the viewers. If OLTL was to survive, they would have to clean house starting from the top down. Frank and Ron would have to go. Their storytelling leaves a lot to be desired and is one of the chief reasons for the erosion of viewership over the past few years. There are still a lot of good stories to be told in Llanview. Frank and Ron just aren’t the people who could tell them.

Erika Slezak is one very classy lady! It will be so hard to watch final show. Congratulations on your 40th. You will be missed by all who love “One Life To Live”

Have loved Erika and the incredibly wonderful stories that have emanated thru the years…So much fun to escape the reality of everyday life ………Thank you for all the unforgettable scenes —watching the characters age (not as quickly as me though!!!)
Wishing continued happiness and good fortune to the cast…

Thanks for the heads up on the special Vicky episode. I’ll be sure to watch it. I remember when Erica took over the role. I would make a cup of tea for my mother and me and we would watch OLTL. Good memories….

I Love ‘One Life to Live’! it has been my fav since i was a young girl, watching w/my Grandma’s in the summers, and as an adult off and on…

Shame on ABC cancelling it!
For just another talk/info show! i hope the ratings sink!

Thank you Ms. Slezak! You are a ‘Class Act’!

I think that Erika is right the final moments should include Viki, Clint, Bo and Nora. Hopefully Dorian can squeeze her way in as well.They are OLTL and they are going to be the people that are missed most. I don’t know what I am going to do without my daily dose of Bo and Nora.

Michael you are truly amazing in the way you deal with your subjects. They are made to feel comfortable and allowed to answer the most pertinent and heart felt questions. Erika Slezak is a true Jewel and the thought of never seeing her perform again as our beloved Viki is too dreadful to contemplate. Thanks for the best interview I have read in a long time. You are the King!

I was watching OLTL since the very very beginning- and then ERIKA SLEZAK appears- how wonderful-
and, my sister in law and I used to discuss the happenings for when you were on- she was in costume dept- THE GINNY scenes, with the tight corset-
I am going to so miss you and all the actors- I hope down the road- you somewhere get into daytime shows- we will so miss you- THANK YOU for these years- CINDY P

can’t for viki and clint reunion as it should be them together and bo and nora together also

Thank you for all the wonderful years. I started watching OLTL in 1977 when i was 16. i will be 50 at the end of this summer. It was such a big part of my life and i will miss it and you very much

I so admire Ms. Slezak’s humility.

She truly is one of the best in the industry and deserved all of her emmy’s.

Oh my, but I am truly devastated about our soaps going of the air. Erika is one of my favorites and of course I am a big fan of OLTL and AMC , as well as DOOL and GH. These soaps have been a part of my life since 1965 and for sure I will miss them as will all of the other fans. For sure TPTB are caring about any of the staff, no matter what their job is, or the fans. Shame on them and thanks Erika for your wonderful acting and dedication which you have shown over the years. Sadness is a big part of my life right now due to this devastation.

I hope we see more from Erika after the show ends (and she’s had her big sleep and rested up). She’s not only a great actress, but a thoughtful, well-spoken woman. I hope there will be something wonderful in store for her.

Thank you MICHAEL ,ERIKA IS WONDERFUL

Oh my gosh…. Ever since hearing the news, I still feel like someone punched me in the gut. This is my family!!!!! Erika is my family!!!!!!!

Erika, You Are Soooo Terrific. We Love Watching You In Evanston, Illinois. 🙂 Thanks For Conducting This Super-Terrific Interview, Michael! 🙂

Oh, my God! If you didn’t see todays episode of OLTL , you missed the performanc of a lifetime. Erika Slezac was so effective in playing all her alters, going back and forth into each one that I knew I was witnessing the greatest soap actress of all time. And at the end, all I could do was sob. It was overwhelming to say the least. If all you fans haven’t seen it, go look for it and you will see for yourselves what I am talking about. Bravo….Bravo…Bravo Erica

I saw the episode with the alters today and was blown away. I wasn’t aware that this was going to be the show and I was mesmerized and all I could think of when it was over was that in a few short months Vicki will be gone from my life and this amazing actress. I grew up with most of the Soaps and when GL and ATWT went off I did not turn on CBS to see the new shows and still haven’t and to tell the truth I don’t even know what replaced those shows and the same will be true with ABC. My daytime TV viewing will be cut drastically. DOOL will be the only one left of my Soaps and I don’t know that I will start watching Y&R and B&B or GH.

Great interview Erika. And the show today was fantastic!! I have to say that when I heard the news about the cancellation I felt like I was told that I was terminally ill by my doctor. The news was shocking! How can I not have Erika and her great characters on OLTL. Erika is my family, she has kept me entertained and delighted since I began watching back in 1978. Erika really has been the only reason that I watched. I don’t want this year to end, Erika as Victoria Lord still has many years to be told. Thank God we will have her to 2012. Long live Victoria Lord! You are the best Erika. I’m so happy and proud to be your fan. I’m so very glad that I have much material in my archives to see again and again. You are the best of the best.

First, I must say that my daughter and I am truly devastated by the news of the cancellation of AMC and One Life to Live. We are doing everything we can to join forces to have the decision changed. To me, the best two actors on television are Erika Slezak and Bree Williamson!! They make changing into their alters look so easy and it is amazing when they are their alters and try to pretend to be the real character (Niki pretending to be Viki). You are the best!!! We are praying really hard that our shows don’t get cancelled and we won’t have to live out the rest of our lives without the best show on TV. Keep the faith, because I know I am going to. We love you and hope for 40 more years!!!

She is Amazing! I really hope that after hearing about the shows # 2 ratings that ABC will change for minds and not cancel this wonderful show.

I totally agree with you! OLTL FOREVER!

Wonderful interview! What a lovely, gracious lady. I wish only the best for Erika and all the amazing actors on my very,very favorite soap since it came on tv when I was a mere 13 years old. I will miss Erika tremendously!

Thank you for this interview. Erika’s performances have always been superb, but her performance on her 40th anniversary show was absolutely outstanding and Emmy-deserving. I have been a OLTL viewer since its inception and followed all stories with great enjoyment. I sincerely hope OLTL (and AMC) will find another home on NBC or CBS or a cable network. Exceptional acting, writing, direction and crew work will be sorely missed. ABC has made a huge mistake in cancelling these shows – my “stories”.

wow – what an awesome interview!!! erica is some lady……………

WOW! What a brilliant actress Erika is and Micheal is a masterful interviewer. I will miss OLTL deeply what a waste to cancel it in favor of a reality show.

I’ve watched OLTL from the beginning. It’s been my favorite of the ABC soaps. We moved a lot over the years and the soaps where my constant no matter where I lived. Kudos to Erika and the entire staff of OLTL for giving us a lot of joy and entertainment over the years. The cancellation of OLTL and AMC is a travesty. Shame on ABC!

She is such a classy and talented lady. She and Susan Lucci have truly been the jewels of daytime. I hope we will see these amazing actors again; though I fear ageism will get in the way. Sleazak is an amazing actress and would be a marvel for any show; Lucci may be typecast. Both are very beautiful ladies for any age.

***** ATTENTION: SOAP FANS *****
We need to take action to save All My Children and One Life to Live!!! We need our voices to be heard !
Go to this website http://soapfansunite.webs.com and join in the protest of these ridiculous cancellations! Go to the rallies, call the sponsors, write letters and boycott ABC (except for our soaps). We need to make it quite clear to the network that we WILL NOT watch any replacements if they go through with these soap cancellations.
We will not let our stories go without a fight!

soaps were yesterdays tv the talk shows are now shows more women working not home watching tv soaps so abc got to stay alive in today tv markets

The talk shows they have now are barely thriving, Rachel Ray, The Talk’s ratings are lower than ATWT’s last episode, even Oprah’s ratings are sagging in her last year. Reality and talk is just cheaper to produce and Disney wants out of the soap business. They have for a long time. And women DO still watch soaps. I don’t know where the theory comes from that we don’t watch anymore, we just don’t watch at the designated hour anymore BECAUSE of work and other things outside the home. That’s why SoapNet was such a lifesaver for many of us, just like DVR and Tivo and all the other ways to record and watch later. If the Neilsen’s actually counted the other ways we watched the shows, and not just during the 3 hour block periods, ABC couldn’t keep using ‘ratings’ as a reason for dropping the shows. I mean, BSFrons has said that GH is on par with Y&R, yet, OLTL has steadily gone up in ratings, beating GH, and for good reason. Better quality, better use of vets, better storylines, etc. More people are tuning in since the news broke, I’m sure, but even before that, OLTL has been gaining on word of mouth popularity alone, since the network never wanted to promote the show themselves. Now we’re losing it, sad.

And with Roger Howarth’s return, I’m sure they’ll look like even bigger fools. They pimped VMG’s return to the high heavens and it flopped in the ratings BIG TIME. And I LOVE Brenda and VMG, but they failed on that one. No real promotion for Roger except for in the mags and online and ecstatic fans passing the news to one another. I’m quite sure the splash will be bigger, given how he probably won’t hang out in Rome for two months, lol, and how much people are loving OLTL right now.

As I have said many times….Erika Slezak is indeed a rare jewel.

Michael, I think this has to be my favorite of all your soap star interviews. And your subject is THE class act of TV, daytime or night. Thanks! Robin Fletcher, Dallas, TX

Erika Slazak is such a gracious lady,I will miss her and everyone associated with “One Life To Live” Thank you again for giving us all these many years of heart-felt performances,may God bless you.

This is one of the most gracious and talented ladies of daytime T.V.

I LOVED ALL MY CHILDREN AND ONE LIFE TO LVIE EVER SINCE I WAS A KID. ON ALL MY CHILDREN, JOHN CALLAHAN EDMUND, MICHALE E. KNIGHT TAD, JACOB YOUNG JR, JUSTIN BRUEING JAMIE, WALT WILLEY JACKSON, SUSAN LUCCI ERICA AND AMEILA HINEL MIA AND TERI IVANS SIMONE AND AIDEN TRUNER AIDEN. ON ONE LIFE TO LIVE BREE WILLIMSON, HILLARY B. SMITH, SAMUEL BALL, BRAIN KERWIN, ROBERT S. WOODS, JERRY VER DORN, JOSH CASAUBIN, JUSTIS BOLDING, JOHN BOLGER, CHARISSA CHAMAROO, JAMES DEPIVA AND HIS WIFE KASSIE, LUARA KOFFMAN, TIMOTHY GIBBS, DON JEFFCOAT, JASON SHANE SCOTT, ERIN TORPEY, MARK DREWIN, KALE BROWEN, JESSICA MORRIS, SCOTT EVAINS, SEAN EVAINS, MELISSA GALLO, DAVID FUMERO EVERY BODY FORM THE PAST AND NOW.

General Hospital

(INTERVIEW) William deVry Talks on His Roles in Hallmark’s ‘A Whitewater Romance’, New Film ‘Pocket of Hope’ and His Time on the Soaps

For soap favorite, William deVry life-after-daytime has been reinvigorating, filled with new projects and new directions. This Saturday, May 11th he can be seen in the latest rom-com from Hallmark, A Whitewater Romance (8pm ET/PT) starring Cindy Busby as Maya and Ben Hollingsworth as Matt who play intense business rivals, and featuring Will as Jim Burdett, set against the backdrop of the outdoors and Canada.

In addition, Wil has been busy prepping other projects in which he is executive producing and starring including: Colt & McQueen and Christmas in Bordeaux, and producing and starring in a very dramatic departure for deVry, as the lead in the new true-life story feature film, Pocket of Hope.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Wil to get the lowdown on his latest and upcoming roles, his expanding career aspirations, and to get his reflections on his three main soap roles: Julian Jerome on General Hospital, Storm Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful and Michael Cambias on All My Children. Read on for what deVry has been up to of late and his reflections of the past.

Courtesy/Hallmark

In A Whitewater Romance, you play the character of Jim Burdett, tell me about him?

WIL: My character runs this whitewater rafting company and the deal is that there’s a corporate retreat that is organized at my company. Jim is sort of old school. He’s been running the company for quite a lot of years. Jim’s not social media savvy. In the story, Maya and Matt get there, and they end up obviously enjoying themselves at this corporate bonding retreat. They discover that Jim was going to close down the company. He stayed open specifically to accommodate this corporate retreat. And then, of course, Cindy Busby’s character, and Ben Hollingsworth character do this little online thing for Jim and get business booming. Before he knows it, the entire summer is booked with clients and they basically saved his company. It’s a feel-good movie with beautiful, stunning locations.

And, are you a good guy in this?

WIL: It’s almost like, wait!  Will is playing good guy? It’s funny because our director, Jason Bourque knows I’ve been playing bad guys for so long. Even the Christmas movie that I did with Terry Hatcher, Christmas at the Chalet, I went through such an arc. My character was so focused in his business and kind of unhappy because he was living his life for other people, and you don’t really realize that you might be slightly unhappy because you don’t take time to do inventory for yourself. In A Whitewater Romance, Jason had this idea that I was this really kind of ‘happy-go-lucky’ guy. And by the second day of shooting, he goes, “I think maybe Jim is a former military …” We both laughed because it was a subtle joke, because you know, I can be a little bit serious.

Photo: Willdevry

How was it to work with Ben and Cindy?

WIL: Great. Cindy being a lead, they set an example for everybody. Cindy is so low key and very friendly, and basically the trailer door is open if you want to discuss anything. Ben was also a producer on this. He might have had a little more stress on him than just sort of acting. But honestly, you couldn’t tell. Both of them had a good sense of humor. I would work with either one of them in a heartbeat again.

You have some exciting news to share; as you are about to be the lead in a new film?

WIL: Yes, I’m the lead in a new film called Pocket of Hope. It’s based on the true story of Chad Gaines, and I am playing Chad. It’s a beautiful movie. It’s in the present day with Chad talking with his daughter. He’s always been reluctant to share his past with her, and because there was a lot of trauma involved, he didn’t really want to put her through that. She’s no longer a young lady and so he feels now is the time to share that. There are a lot of strong flashbacks in the movie. It goes back between the past and the present, which I think is really engaging. The budget is well over a million dollars. We start filming at the end of May in Los Angeles, and then we will go on location in August to shoot the remaining scenes.

Courtesy/Willdevry

How do you feel about tackling a dramatic role such as this with tough subject matter?

WIL: It’s a heavy-duty role. There’s a lot of responsibility. I’ve prepared my whole life for these kinds of roles. It’s really exciting to play a true life individual, who has a story to tell. I think it’s a great honor for me and for the director/producer David Kohner Zuckerman, as well. David is wanting to do Chad’s story justice. We’ve got a good team for this. Robert Altman Jr’s, Cora Atlman, is playing my daughter. When you find a troupe that you like to work with and you can collaborate with, you stick together. So, we have David, as I mentioned and also Deran Sarafian, who is consulting on the project. Deran and I have been working on my other project together, Colt & McQueen. We are the luckiest people in the business right now to be working with Deran. He has had a lot of successful pilots that he’s done for Fox, ABC, and NBC and also Marvel and Netflix shows. He was also a producer on House for Fox.

Photo: Willdevry

In Colt & McQueen, you play a former LAPD detective, right?

WIL: Correct. He was basically dishonorably discharged for something that he didn’t do. He is going be trying to clear his name of any wrongdoings. However, in order to make a living, he sort of does these unsanctioned assignments for the captain of the LAPD, who is also on his way out. He’s a good guy. Kin Shriner (Scott, GH) is in it and he kind of plays a man of the streets who goes by “The Professor.” Rebecca Staab (Elizabeth, Port Charles, et al) is in it, and she plays the character with the code name “Leather Jacket” within the LAPD system. We go into production on it in July.

You’re doing your own projects now. That must be liberating in some ways and harder in others.

WIL: I just said, “Look, if I’m going to stay in this business, I have to have some control over my career now as opposed to just auditioning blindly.” That can be a frustrating process. I am learning a lot because I’ve never produced before or executive produced, but the effort is there, and the will to do so is there.

Photo: RStaabIG

Speaking of projects, you have another one you are working on, a romantic comedy called Christmas in Bordeaux. What is the theme of that one?

WIL: It’s a tale of family traditions, renewed passions, for love and life and spiritual and cultural awakenings. Finding value in the time we have left. And of course, a happy ending for all involved.

As an actor, when you finally get to the point where you get to act you probably really enjoy that. It’s just the challenges of all the things it takes to get there that can be daunting for a performer.

WIL: As an actor, you have to be so good and so comfortable and embrace the rejection. The rejection has to feed you. It can’t defeat you. However, I kind of do take everything personally. If a casting director doesn’t want to bring me in for something that’s their prerogative. I don’t really get angry about it, but I take it personally because I kind of feel like, they should bring me. I can’t just sit back and accept my fate based on other people’s ideas of what I’m capable of or not capable of. Sometimes my resume is a benefit, and sometimes it’s a detriment. It’s up to me to change the narrative.

Photo: JPI

What would you want to say to the GH fans who had been so supportive of you through the years?

WIL: It blows me away how loyal they are, and their passion. I want them to be of aware that. I’m excited to work for myself, and if that doesn’t work out, I am very comfortable going on to do something else with my life. Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis, GH) and I had talked about it at one point, and how she absolutely loves the business. I have other things that interest me and move me. I hope every single fan of Julian Jerome comes along on this journey with me.

Photo: JPI

Looking back, do you think your best role on the soaps was Michael Cambias on All My Children?

WIL: I think with Michael Cambias that All My Children destroyed the character. I sat down with the executive producer at the time, Jean Dadario Burke, and she said, “You’ll be here as long as you want. We did a focus group and you’ve got a 96% approval rating. That’s through the roof.” Two days later, I was called back into her office as they had fired the head writer. I was told Megan McTavish was coming back and they were going to make my character irredeemable, which as everybody knows, Michael Cambias went on to do horrible things to Erica Kane’s (Susan Lucci) family and then he was off the show.

Photo: JPI

Then, you went on to portray Storm Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful and the heartbreaking suicide storyline which saved Katie’s (Heather Tom) life, but cost Storm his.

WIL: Storm had a lot of potential. When you’re going through such a beautiful, heart-wrenching, horrific story like that, I wanted to give the audience a lot of credit. Soaps have a smart audience. I wanted them to go on the journey with me. I didn’t want to ruin it for them by playing the problem. I didn’t want to create the drama before it was time to pay the price, if you know what I mean. I allowed it to play out on-screen without any foreshadowing. I think that’s why it worked and that’s why it broke everybody’s heart, and I think that’s why it won a Daytime Emmy for Best Drama Series. Brad Bell (executive producer and head writer, B&B) trusted me with a vehicle that ended up being the Ferrari for that year. I’m eternally grateful to him.

Photo: JPI

Do you ever check out General Hospital nowadays to see how your old castmates are doing and what is happening in Port Charles?

WIL:  I like to check in. I like to see what Kin Shriner (Scott) is up to, and I like to see who’s showing up and who’s going. I like to see Maura West (Ava) who is such a terrific actress and who played my on-screen sister. We had such a good working relationship and I hope she is on the show forever.  I was happy with my eight years on the show. I knew for 18 months it was time for me to leave. I knew in my heart the character was done. Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) was thrilled with how I left the show. Those six and a half years on General Hospital were a lot of fun. I really loved going to work.

So, will you be watching William deVry in ‘A Whitewater Romance’ this weekend on Hallmark? What do you think about his upcoming projects and roles? Miss him on daytime? Comment below.

 

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Interviews

(INTERVIEW) Y&R’s Peter Bergman Deconstructs Jack’s Desperate Move to Sober Up Nikki, the Repercussions Ahead, and the Loss of TV Mom, Marla Adams

This week on The Young and the Restless, the top-rated soap deliver first in its five decades. An episode aired involving only two characters; Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) and Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott).

At its epicenter was Jack trying to stage his own intervention, of sorts, to get Nikki to stop drinking herself into oblivion as her battle with alcoholism escalated to a whole new level. Alone in a suite at the GCAC, Nikki has bottles of booze everywhere.

Jack, who is Nikki’s sponsor, finds her and for most of an entire episode tries everything he can think of to make her sober up, but she continues to hit rock bottom and doesn’t want to be saved. After she ridicules him in a drunken stupor, about how he failed her as her sponsor, it sends Jack, an addict himself, over the edge. Next thing you know, Jack is drinking with Nikki, and then takes it one step further and orders some pills from his dealer. And from there, things take a deadly turn.

Photo: JPI

Peter Bergman and Melody Thomas Scott have a long history on Y&R together, plus she was instrumental in bringing him to Genoa City in the first place. In story, Jack and Nikki were married from 1990-1994, but things came crashing down between them due to alcohol. Years later, in a case of history almost repeating itself, it once again almost destroyed their bond, but instead, the powerful moments bonded them together for life.

It is without question, that Peter Bergman and Melody Thomas Scott are Michael Fairman TV’s picks for the Power Performance of the Week, and for Bergman, who has already nabbed 24 Daytime Emmy nominations in his storied career with 3 previous wins, this performance surely will land him his 25th next year and maybe even Emmy gold.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Peter shortly after the heartbreaking episodes aired to get his thoughts on: Jack’s motivations throughout the key scenes, what will happen to Jack now, and the passing of his on-screen mother, Marla Adams (ex-Dina), who passed away on April 25th at the age of 85. Here’s what this iconic actor, who is known for the excellence of execution in his craft, had to share in our conversation below.

Photo: JPI

Well, my mouth dropped. I just could not believe how gut-wrenching this episode was. It was like a twist on the classic motion picture, Days of Wine and Roses, but on steroids.

PETER: That was a wild trip, I’ll tell you. As it was presented to me, it was the story of Jack going too far to help Nikki. When I got the script and saw that it was one of those great, ‘the tables turn,’ suddenly you’re on the receiving end. And normally in daytime television, the table doesn’t turn for about four days. And, in one episode, this giant shift happens. It was really rewarding to do that stuff with Melody with whom I have so much history. Some of my first scenes on the show were with Melody. My first couple years I was glued to Melody. So, it was pretty powerful for me. It really was. 

When you saw the script and you saw that Jack put his sobriety in jeopardy for Nikki, you’re left with all these questions, because it’s such a severe turn. I’ve been kind of tracking the response on social media, and some people are like, “Oh, that would never happen.” But we also have to take into account the dramatic license Y&R is taking here. What are your thoughts?

PETER: I think we have to give dramatic license. But I think too, Jack kept appealing to the goodness in her. It was covered by all of this addiction and alcohol. And the best way he could find her kindness, her goodness, was by putting himself in jeopardy and watching her come alive.

So, Jack knew what he was doing?

PETER: Yes. He knew what he was starting, and then it went too far. Jack knew he wanted to shock her into sobriety, shock her into clarity and he went too far and he’s going to pay for it.

Photo: JPI

Peter, this is an Emmy-performance! I’m calling it now.

PETER: Oh, well, it’s very, very, kind of you to say. Maybe I can get my 91st nomination. (Laughs) It was a crazy journey in so many ways. I found out about this episode, strangely enough, when one of the audio guys said to me, “Hey, I heard about your show next week with Melody?” I go. “What show is that?” And the sound guy said to me, “They were talking in the booth yesterday. It’s like an episode with only the two of you in it.” I thought he had to have heard that wrong. We’ve never, ever done that. Turns out, he was right. It was a day later that Josh Griffith (EP and head writer, Y&R) came to me and said, “Well, you ready?” I said, “Ready for what?” And, off we went …

The episode was like watching a two-person play in many ways.

PETER: It was just that, and it kind of came out of nowhere, but certainly didn’t come out of nowhere history-wise with these two characters. Obviously, Jack’s been Nikki’s sponsor here for a while. I think what I’m happiest about is this undercurrent that was there all along – that Jack really wanted to be there for her. Jack and Nikki were married once, and it really fell apart around alcohol. Jack was not the right person to be there for her. Back then, he was an enabler. He could not help her. Everything ended because of that and eventually, Victor (Eric Braeden) stepped in to take over Nikki’s sobriety and everything went. I think Jack has seen this opportunity to redeem himself. It meant the world to him. And suddenly that’s on the line, and it’s “Oh, God. I failed her again.”

That was the gut-wrenching part. You could see that there was a shift in Jack the moment Nikki went in on him and how he failed her as a sponsor.

PETER: I’m very glad to hear you say that. That really was the turning point. That was when Jack came up with this wacky, crazy, dangerous idea.

Photo: JPI

Does Jack believe what he said, when he started to drink, and says, “I’m Mr. Uptight?”

PETER: In fairness, it’s something she called him. They had to cut parts of this thing. Nikki was just tired of laced up, uptight Jack. She said it in those terms, and we ended up kind of keeping it in there as “Mr. Uptight” because it is kind of true. Jack’s gotten awfully straight-laced and buttoned up. And, well, you saw how he loosened up a bit. Wow!

What did you think about the story point that Jack has his drug dealer’s number on his phone?

PETER: That’s what addicts do. They tempt themselves. “You see, I’m stronger than my addiction. There’s a bottle of vodka in this house, and I am beating it.” That was Jack’s bottle of vodka in essence, in his phone.

Courtesy/CBS

So, when he started taking the pills, did he literally lose control of himself by taking them, or, was he just doing it to keep proving a point to Nikki?

PETER: Oh, no. The first one was very strategic and very carefully planned. The problem is once you fail, once you cross that line, you’re tempted to see what else is over here on the dark side. Before he knew it, he’d had three of them and then more, and then another after that and mixed with the alcohol. It pretty much did him in.

Courtesy/CBS

I’ve seen people in that kind of state, and you nailed it. There was the moment that was heartbreaking. His teeth were clenched from the drugs, he was so high on the pills combined with alcohol and he was asking Nikki to dance with him.

PETER: I have, too. I’m sad to say, I too, have been in that position. Going to help a friend out who ended up dying for all his bad choices.

Courtesy/CBS

Later, Jack gets resuscitated by the paramedics and then later Victor shows up. How is Jack feeling after his arch-nemesis walks in on the aftermath of this traumatic scene with his wife and Jack?

PETER: When the paramedics show up, frankly, Jack isn’t sure what they did. They gave him an injection to counteract the drugs in his system. Jack didn’t come around for quite a while. And when he does, Nikki is just shocked sober, trying to get help for Jack, Eventually, Victor shows up. Jack kind of has no leg to stand on, and he eventually makes it home. His son, Kyle (Michael Mealor) is the first person to see him in the house, and there’s clearly something very wrong with Jack. He’s trying to get back on track, but he’s just had a near-death experience.

Courtesy/CBS

And now of course, it’s going to be what will happen when Diane finds out what happened with Jack and Nikki.

PETER: Oh, God. The next thing is Diane walks in, and I mean this poor woman, he never called her. He never called her to say “I’m safe.” She spent a whole night worrying, and then she gets to find out where he actually was. Oh, that’s got to be reassuring – he was in hotel room holed up with Nikki – that should comfort her.

Photo: JPI

Originally, Diane warned Jack that is was a bad idea for him to be Nikki’s sponsor.

PETER: Oh, yeah. That’s the worst part. She saw this coming. Diane literally meets the Jack she never knew and her argument is, “Wait! You’re capable of this? Did you once think of me? Where do I fit into any of this?” It’s a pretty powerful argument. Jack didn’t call her to say, “I’m in a weird situation. I will be home as soon as I can. I am safe. I am fine.” He could have been dead as far as she was concerned. And she comes home and he wants to get back on track. Yeah. It’s bad. He’s like, “I’m sorry about that. And let’s get back to our life.” Is she not ready for that!

With what he just experienced, and taking pills again, do you think Jack is very worried that he won’t be able to help himself and he will go down a path like Nikki just did, where he can’t help himself and fight off his demons?  

PETER: I think Jack has convinced himself this is a one-off. This happened once, and it went way too far, and it’s not going to happen again. And, you know how dangerous that talk is.

Photo: JPI

What did you think about Melody’s performance when Nikki hit rock bottom and was stinking drunk in the GCAC suite with Jack?

PETER: It was just stunning. I got to tell you, as an actor, the hardest thing in that sloppiness is you’ve got to keep the scene moving. She was just spectacular.

Courtesy/CBS

I know you don’t often get more than one take on the soaps, but what was the approach to taping this episode?

PETER: No, we don’t get a lot of takes, but for this, it was broken up a little bit such as, “Once we get to this point, we will move the cameras upstage, and we will pick up on that line. We will pick up there.” There was an 11-page scene and I think we did that in one or two takes. It was quite a lot. Incidentally, that week I had three other episodes to tape. Is that incredible? I had so many words in my head. I’m not complaining. They decided to do something that’s never been done before. They decided, “I want do it with Peter Bergman.” Of course, I am honored and flattered and really happy that it went as well as it did. I said to my wife, Mariellen, “What did you think of the episode?” She saw it before I did. She said, “Here’s what I think. I think it was very well- written.” You’ve got a drunk character there. She could say all kinds of stupid things, and she was still kind of sparky and snotty underneath that slurring and everything. She was also acerbic and sarcastic. There was a point at which, as you said, you watched Jack and everything just changed and that’s good writing.

As a viewer, to make this make sense to us, Jack had to do something drastic to stop Nikki from drinking because nothing else was working.

PETER: Yep, and then, he has all of that substance in him and alcohol, and he says, in the most clear terms, “I would do anything for you.” And it’s just, “yikes.” What just happened?

Photo: JPI

Eric Braeden was touting your performances on social media. He said, “Watched scenes between MELODY and PETER , NIKKI and JACK, and they were brilliant! Their scenes in the hotel! Performers of the damn year!!! It was very difficult to keep this up, scene after scene and not hit a bad note! You don’t realize how many pages of dialogue that was!” Did you happen to see that?

PETER: I didn’t know that. That’s very, very generous. I am beyond respectful to what Eric and Melody had built together, so that is giant generosity on his part to do that.

What do you think this means for Jack and Nikki? Do you think they could ever be together again as a couple given all they have been through together?

PETER: It’s hard for me to imagine they could be together. They’ve been through too much. She’s in rehab, and Jack will be answering to everyone’s vitriol about his bad choices. I think, when he sees Nikki again, she will be the only person that understands what they went through. It’s hard to define, this isn’t romantic. This is shared experience, shared trauma. This was such destructive behavior and desperation.

Courtesy/ABC

It was Melody who originally recommend you for the part of Jack Abbott, and here the two of you are decades later tearing up the screen and the scenes.

PETER: Yes, absolutely. Melody did recommend me for the part. As story goes, I was on All My Children. That job had come to an end. Back then, there were 12 or so daytime television magazines. I seemed to be on the cover of all of them, because everybody seemed a little surprised that All My Children decided to let Peter Bergman go. Melody was on a flight with Ed Scott, who was then executive producer of the show. She saw my picture on the cover and she pointed to him. They’d been looking for somebody to replace Terry Lester for months. And she said, “That’s Jack Abbott.” How she got that from what I did as Cliff I’ll never know. So, Ed called the casting people and put that in motion.

Photo: JPI

Here you are together years later in this exceptional episode.

PETER: And here we are! My first day of work at Y&R, I worked with Jess Walton (Jill) and Jerry Douglas (ex-John). My second day, I worked with Melody at the old Newman Set.

Photo: JPI

I wanted to get your thoughts on the passing of your on-screen mother, Marla Adams (ex-Dina).

PETER: The passing of Marla Adams is bittersweet. She was so happy to return to The Young and The Restless. I had a hand in it all happening. Tony Morina (former Co-EP, Y&R) had asked me one day, “Is there anything you haven’t played on this show?” And I said, “You know what? Jack has a mother out there somewhere who did more damage to him. Every woman who’s been with Jack has paid for her crimes. I think it would be interesting if we found his mom.” That kind of set it in motion. Tony asked me to call Marla to see if she was interested, and that’s how it all began. So, Marla showed up and was delighted to be there, and so eager to do great work. She was so ready to tell this powerful story of Alzheimer’s and dementia. And partway into this story, it was clear that she was struggling with some of that herself. So, when people were judging Best Supporting Actress the year that she won, they saw this woman who was clearly just on a different plane than all those characters in that scene. It was stunning. Marla was a sweet, sweet woman who brought me the story that for so long we forgot to tell about Jack.

Photo: JPI

If you were to tease what’s coming up next here with Jack, what would you say?

PETER: I’m really fascinated to see how Jack and Diane survive this. I hope we have established enough of a real relationship between these two that we can dig deep. I love those types of scenes, and that’s what I look forward to. If I can do those digging deep scenes with Susan Walters, I’d be thrilled. In story, Jack has got to keep his eye on Kyle. There’s a growing resentment, a growing discomfort. I’m not sure what it is, but Jack can see it in Kyle and it could spell trouble. He is, in fact, Jack Abbott’s son.

Photo: JPI

Should we be worried about Jack? Perhaps, another slip might be around the corner and he could be headed to rehab?

PETER: No. I think we’ve established pretty strongly that this was a one-time thing. Thank, God! He had to pay such a heavy price for one slip. There is just no one who thinks he made the right move there. So, it pulls him up short at the right time before we’re into a real dangerous territory. I think Jack’s going to be all right. However, the damage he did that night to the trust with his wife, to his relationship with Victor, to his son’s belief in him, he did some real damage. And cumulatively all of these things, Ashley’s (Eileen Davidson) mental issues, then Nikki, and Diane and Kyle, and all these things are weighing really heavily on Jack. I hope he’s strong enough to survive it.

What did you think of Peter Bergman’s performance in the two-person episode where Jack literally put his entire life on the line for Nikki, but went too far? What did you think will happen to Jack’s marriage to Diane? Will he be tempted to pop pills again and suffer a similar fate as his ex-wife, Nikki has with booze?

Share your thoughts via the comment section, but first check out a few of the scenes from Melody Thomas Scott’s and Peter’s work in the back-to-back episodes on this story.

 

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General Hospital

(INTERVIEW) Adam Huss Talks on His Latest GH Return, Maura West, Nicholas Chavez, and Being a Swiftie

This week, General Hospital fans were in for a surprise appearance when Adam Huss reappeared as Nikolas Cassadine while serving jail time in Pentonville. He also had a very intriguing visitor, his ex, Ava Jerome (Maura West)!

In the key scenes, Ava seemingly tells Nikolas, who can do nothing about the situation, how she is getting closer to Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) and within his inner-sanctum, much to Nikolas’ chagrin. For Huss, those scenes were difficult to shoot, because in real-life he has just lost his beloved grandmother, but he soldiered through and delivered an effective performance.

Adam has had quite the adventure as GH’s dark prince of the Cassadine clan. Having first subbed for former Nikolas, Marcus Coloma, a few times and over a few years time, then taking over the role and being instrumental in moving story forward, but yet not always physically on the canvas. Since taking over the role, Huss has put his own spin on Nikolas, while delivering some top-notch performances. Look no further than in scenes with the exited Nicholas Chavez (Spencer), the aforementioned West, GH icon Genie Francis (Laura), or the twins that the play Baby Ace (Joey Clay, who shares the role with twin brother Jay) to name but a few.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Adam to get his thoughts on: Nikolas’ emotional state now, where he thinks the storyline may head in the future, his co-stars, reflecting on what the late Tyler Christopher (ex-Nikolas) brought to the role, and yes, some banter with us about Taylor Swift!  Check out what Adam had to say below.

Courtesy/ABC

Nikolas is kind of the gift that keeps on giving, as you keep popping back up on GH. Just when you think the show literally has written him off, he makes a return. Look no further than on Monday’s April 29th episode when he gets a visit from Ava while in prison.

ADAM: Listen, I’ve really fallen in love with playing the character. I’ve stated that I’m super passionate about it. I really like that the more I delve into his backstory, I learn about the layers of who he is. Watching Tyler Christopher’s (ex-Nikolas) work, because he really originated that character, I become even more enthusiastic about it. I have so much respect for this medium as it is. I’m a fan of TV and film. I am coming in to the story sometimes not knowing where Nikolas may be mentally. So, it’s been nice to be guided once you’re on set. You can’t come in with just your ideas and you have to be open to the collaboration. It’s been a challenge, but a lot of fun.

In the scenes that just aired opposite Maura West, it seemed you could tell that Nikolas still cared for Ava.

ADAM: I thought that was a happy surprise. I am so fond of Maura as a person. I could say that we’ve mutually grown closer each time I come in and play the part. I don’t think Ava knew what she was going to really get when she came to see Nikolas. When he saw her, I think he was just taken with her. It was interesting. There was one moment when she’s talking about Sonny. I felt as if Nikolas didn’t want to hear this, but I was advised by our director, Allison Reames Smith and Frank Valentini (EP, GH), “Remember, Nikolas hasn’t seen her in months and this is really exciting for him to be sitting across from her. ” So that really fed the motivation.

Courtesy/ABC

Nikolas gets an earful from Ava, and he is left with her secret, which is the dose of medication in Sonny’s (Maurice Benard) pills are causing him to act erratic. Ava kind of admitted to Nikolas what was going on and what she was planning.

ADAM: She did, and you’re right. I think she told him because it was safe, and in her mind he’s not going anywhere.

However, Nikolas isn’t always on the up and up, either.

ADAM:  No, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get what he wants. This is all speculation, but maybe to get her away from Sonny he uses the information she shared. I think Nikolas is thinking that he doesn’t want to see her get hurt, and, “I cannot lose another person right now. I lost my newborn son,” in that, he is not going to raise him. And even bigger, he lost his son Spencer who he believes is gone. So, imagine then losing the love of his life. Their last interactions around New Year’s Eve showed that he still had feelings for her.

Photo: ABC

So, when you first met Maura, what was your reaction to this daytime dynamo?

ADAM: From day one, she was so lovely to me. I tested with her. I got to know her in that moment. She was just so welcoming and wanted me to succeed. Then, when I did fill in for Marcus Coloma, the first time, she and Ken Shriner (Scott) were super lovely. It was like, “You’re my scene partner today. You are Nikolas today. Let’s have fun.” Each time I came in to work, I got the same thing, if not more – more trust, more openness and kindness. Then, as you’re aware, my grandma passed right before these most recent scenes. Maura was so lovely about it. We were running lines, but she just wanted to stop and talk about it for a second. I almost didn’t want to come to work. I just wanted to get home. Maura really got me focused. It was something you wanted to get off your chest with somebody. Then we filmed, and she called me after, and just made sure I was doing alright. I said to Maura, “You are a class act, you know that. Thank you so much.”  I am so glad I didn’t have to miss the funeral and I still got to film at General Hospital, which my grandma loved to watch me on.

Courtesy/AHussIG

Now. did you have any context when you started that your on-screen mother was Genie Francis (Laura)?

ADAM: I did. In the nineties, when I was on Long Island in college and working as a DJ in the summers, I just remember seeing soap opera magazine covers. I’d see that triangle between Nikolas, Lucky and Elizabeth. So, I very much knew of the world that those people were part of. I knew how big the Luke (Tony Geary) and Laura wedding was and all of that. I definitely knew the legacy I was coming into. When I read these sides for the role, I was like, “I think this is Nikolas Cassadine!” Later, when I was on the show, and doing scenes with Genie, where Laura was warning Nikolas about making up with Spencer, she said, “You’re doing wonderful work.” To hear that from her was a big sigh of relief for me. I love connecting with actors in the eyes. I know when things are cooking when you almost feel like magnets in your eyes with another actor, because you’re drawing that emotion through them. The eyes are the windows of the soul, right? I felt that with Genie, Maura and Nicholas Chavez, too. You feel that magnet pull and it’s so beautiful.

Photo: ABC

I’m going over your gut-wrenching scenes in my head. There was obviously when Spencer hands baby Ace  to Nikolas, and then the baby is so taken with you, and the scenes where Spencer tells Nikolas how much he loved him as a young boy and vice-versa.

ADAM: The three scenes you just mentioned are highlights for me in shooting the show thus far. Those moments felt so authentic to me. As soon as Spencer got Ace in my arms, I just would melt, and it made me emotional just to hold him. And then, he really took to me. His mom was like,”I think you kind of remind him of his father,” because there is a similar energy. He’s just a great little actor and a great little empath. The moment with him laying his head on my chest was so emotional. In the one scene with Nicholas Chavez, he’s supposed to not hand me Ace till the end, but as soon as we started the scene, the baby reached out to me with this smile. Nick is like, “OK, here you go.” We sort of had to improv around it a little bit, but it was amazing.

Courtesy/ABC

However, then there is the scene where Spencer cries about how Nikolas meant everything to him, too.

ADAM: I think Nikolas went to Spencer with the intention of like, “I’m taking this baby no matter what. And if I have to get through my son, I’m going, too.” There was so much power in the words that those writers chose especially when Spencer goes, “You were my whole world” as a child. Nikolas was saying how I loved him fiercely as a kid. I was watching a lot of those scenes between Nicolas Bechtel (ex-Spencer) and Tyler Christopher. That kid was such a dynamo, too, and he was so cute. Their bond stuck with me.

Courtesy/ABC

You are one busy actor. I check in on your Instagram and you are either in one town or the other shooting a horror film or other projects.

ADAM: Not just horror films, there’s a mix of Hallmark, too. I’m super excited about an indie film I did called Pieces of Lilo. It’s about an estranged father and son. In it, my father gets sick and I get stuck basically taking care of him. And then he passes and when I’m burying him, all these memories start flooding back. It’s this sort of flashback of basically trauma and how this trauma affected, my character, Jerry, in the present day. I fought for this part and I got it. We just wrapped in March. I’m excited about that. Next week, I am off to Long Island to do a rom-com called The Wedding Bell.

Don’t you also have a role in an upcoming Melrose Place-type streaming soap?

ADAM: Oh yes. I wish it was the Melrose Place reboot! I did work with Daphne Zuniga on a Lifetime movie, though. She was awesome, and we’re friends, so who knows? It’s called The BLVD and I’ve taped it already. There’s supposedly five more episodes they’re going to shoot soon. So, we finished the pilot and I play one of the one of the clients of the PR firm. It’s all about  cutthroat PR in Hollywood.

Photo: JPI

I know the fans really enjoy you in the part of Nikolas. However, the worst thing in soaps, I think, for any actor is having to replace a very well-known actor in a part; whether they’re good, bad, or indifferent. People just don’t like change. As a recast, you have to kind of go through that difficult part of waiting to be accepted by the audience. They often say how they don’t like the actor and then somewhere along the way, they are like “Oh! I love him in the part.” How has it been for you to ride that wave of, you’re not Tyler Christopher, you’re not Marcus Coloma, but now it’s you playing Nikolas?

ADAM: I get it. You want your original person to be the person, and sometimes they just can’t, and in soap operas, it’s more common. I also know it’s always polarizing. There were days in the beginning where I was like, “Oh, my God! Look at all these wonderful comments.”  Then it’s, “Oh, my God.” and as you’re scrolling, you see “I’m a hideous monster” to these people. I think you just have to have a very healthy perspective. Thankfully, I do have tools in my life to secure my foundation of who I am. And sure, on those vulnerable days or those ambiguous days where you don’t know your future at work, it could weigh on you. You could think of every, “Oh, my God! Everybody hates me.” I am so glad and grateful that people have come around. You’re not going to please everybody. It’s just the nature of what we live in now. I will say, the warm embrace and the acceptance, and people who have really come around, has moved me and then they’re feeling the same way about my performances. When I say I’m humbled by it, I’m blown away, it’s true.  I used to get annoyed at Taylor Swift when she would always say that. I’m like, “All right, honey, you’re selling millions of copies. Accept it.” But it is humbling, because you know how critical people can be, and for it to really start to change overtime, helps me every time I hear it.

Photo: DisneyPlus

Speaking of Taylor Swift, are you a Swiftie?

ADAM: I am a Swiftie, sure. I didn’t go to Taylor’s concert. I wanted to. But then, when my friend showed me The Eras Tour on Disney Plus, I was like, “That was amazing. That was like the best time.” I’d have a smile on my face for three and a half hours if I was at her concert. So, yes.

Did you listen to Taylor’s new album, Tortured Poets Department yet?

ADAM: Yes. I’ve been bouncing around in there. There are a lot of songs.

It’s a lot of songs. It took me a little bit to warm up to it. And now, just like in true Taylor Swift fashion, I’m like, “You know what? This track or that track is really good.”

ADAM: Yeah, at first they all sound the same for a minute.

So I wonder, how does Taylor Swift manage to suck us in all the time? 

ADAM: I know. I think it works whenever someone’s just raw and honest. Taylor gets a lot of flak for talking about her exes and stuff in her songs, but that’s her life experience. We feel that and we resonate with that, especially younger girls, or anyone really, can relate to these like breakups and this heartache. I think that’s where she gets you.

Courtesy/ABC

Hopefully soon, it’d be nice to see Nikolas not in prison orange. So, he gets out of jail and where does he go then?

ADAM: I don’t want him on the run because that’s the whole reason he came to prison, you know, to reform himself. So, for me, that was a nice sign of like, “Hey, maybe the reformation comes and you finally get to be free.” Maybe Alexis (Nancy Lee Grahn) gets her law degree back and then she’ll help him get out. Wyndemere’s gone. It’s out of his hands. I think it’s a good time for him to start a different life and for us to see Nikolas in different stories. Let’s see a different person trying to put his family back together and falling in love again. If it’s Ava, wonderful, would love that. I’d love to see a really great, big epic love story like he had in the past. I try to infuse that when Nikolas is sitting across from Ava. The last thing I want to say is, I wish I was there at GH more, too. However, I really trust in the process and the writers, and the way things unfold. So, I’m hoping that it all leads to a beautiful place.

What did you think about the scenes this week on GH between Ava and Nikolas? Do you hope Adam Huss is back on-screen sooner than later? What are some of your favorite scenes with him thus far? Comment below, but ICYMI, below are the touching scenes between Spencer, Ace and Nikolas that GH fans are still buzzing about.

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