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The Farah Fath, John-Paul Lavoisier & Austin Williams Interview – One Life to Live

Courtesy/ABC

For those who have been tuning into One Life to Live in recent months, you have seen the carefully plotted, and true to life front-page news type storyline unravel before your eyes.  The soap which has always been at the forefront of telling social issues of the day, during its 43 year history, took on a subject that has seen young high school and college students take their own lives, after being bullied endlessly by their peers, roommates, or class mates.  Over the last several months, the rash of teen suicides via bullying in the United States has become staggering.  But unfortunately this is nothing new, for teen suicides because of bullying have gone on for a very long time in our society, just perhaps, slightly more under the radar.

In January of this year, the powers-that-be in Llanview, executive producer, Frank Valentini and head writer, Ron Carlivati began to embark on telling the tale of teenager Shane Morasco being both bullied and cyber bullied.  Later it would turn out that Jack Manning (son of Todd and Blair) is behind the horrific situations that Shane found himself in.  Eventually, feeling all hope was lost and alone in the world, Shane decides he has nothing to live for and feels he needs to end his life.  So he decides he is going to jump off his high school rooftop.  Even though those scenes aired a month ago, the story is still playing out with all the ramifications and complexities of this delicate subject.

Three performers at OLTL were handed the ball to make this story come to life.  And we have to say, all three have brought us all to tears, and made us take a look at what is going on in the world, not only with young children, but their parents, too.  We can only be talking about Farah Fath (Gigi), John-Paul Lavoisier (Rex) and Austin Williams (Shane).  OLTL has done an admirable and inspiring job taking a look at how bullying and attempted suicide affects not only the child, but the parents, and how do they deal with this most dangerous, unthinkable, and saddest of situations.

On-Air On-Soaps wanted to speak to all three key participants to discuss playing out the major rooftop scenes, the fallout, and how they have personally been affected, from being part of this very serious and important issue of the day.   And now with One Life to Live’s unfortunate and ill-timed cancellation, the integrity and quality of work that this storyline continues to bring to the series again begs the question, “ABC, what were you thinking?” That being said, here is our very special conversation with Farah, JP and Austin!

MICHAEL:

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I want to begin by talking about the cancellation of One Life to Live that was handed down now three weeks ago by ABC.  I know it is a sad loss, and that the cast was told before you went on a week hiatus.  Now that everyone is back, and has had a little more time for the news to settle in, how are you doing with the news and what is the outlook of everyone over at One Life these days?

FARAH:

I think my grandfather puts it best when he says, “It is what it is.”  That is the most comforting saying you can think of when something bad happens, or you have something you need to wrap your head around.  It is out of our control.  The fans can do as many campaigns as they want and write to the advertisers.  But at the end of the day, we all just have to continue to try and put out the best episodes we can and stay focused on our current storylines.  We still have a lot of show left to tape.  So we are not trying to get depressed about it, as that is just going to be a waste of energy.  We are trying to be upbeat and not miserable the last six months of work.

JOHN-PAUL:

Everyone at work knows that the dust has sort of settled.  At least in the studio, it seems to be a lot happier and nicer… almost.  There is a sense of peace now.  For the past year, we have lived with all these rumors.  Not a day went by in the daytime community where somebody wasn’t talking about somebody hearing something from somebody that the show was being canceled.  So it was this funky energy ever since we moved into the new studio.  Now that we have been given this seven months notice, it lets people sort of plan their life personally, professionally, and geographically.  And there is sort of a sense of peace in that we know how we can move forward from this in our own ways.  Obviously, people are not smiling or happy at all because the show has been canceled, just for their own ability to move forward.

FARAH:

Unfortunately for the viewers, they are not going to have that hour of the day to look forward to when they come home from work and watching their Llanview characters.  But as far as the cast and crew go, everyone is starting to be positive.  It is not a dreary place to be.  We are making jokes and laughing, and still having a good time.

MICHAEL:

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One Life will have a very special place in your hearts, JP and Farah, because you met there.   It will and has become very historical for you, in a way.

FARAH:

Llanview will always be a very special place to me and John-Paul.

JOHN-PAUL:

I just talked about this with Farah the other day.  I am not a big Internet guy, but I hope there is a YouTube type platform when we are old so we can go there and watch the stuff we used to do and go, “That is how we met.  Look at us meeting!”

FARAH:

It’s already weird to look back at 2007 and 2008 in clips, even now.

JOHN-PAUL:

Our first kiss was on TV…and now it’s on the Internet!

MICHAEL:

The performances in the bullying storyline have been tremendous from each of you involved.  I dare say the best work you have done during your time on the series.  When they told you that One Life to Live was going to embark on this very current hot topic storyline and that the three of you would be the characters used as the device to tell this story, what went through your minds?

AUSTIN:

I think I found out at casino night for ABC with Farah and JP!  I saw Frank Valentini, our executive producer that night, and talked to him a little bit, and I am pretty sure that is when I found out.  I was really excited and happy that I would get to be a part of such an amazing and powerful storyline.

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FARAH:

At first, I felt a little weary because it was a ripped from the headlines’ story.  I felt it was little bit Law and Order! But with each passing script I got I would think, “This is working.”  It had a nice built up and it wasn’t too sudden, and it also wasn’t dragged out too long.  I think it climaxed at the right time.  It has been fun as an actor, but a sad and scary place to dive into as far as playing it all out.  I think the chemistry between myself, JP, and Austin is good.  We have a nice connection going.  Austin has grown as far as being a nice little actor.  This has been a well-written storyline and something everyone can relate to, and that is what makes connecting to the characters right now a bit easier.  I was bullied in school; John-Paul had some situations.  Everyone has a little taste of that at some point in their lives.  You hear the stories in the news and it makes you feel so sad for these kids that are tormented so badly that they think the only way out is suicide.  I applaud the writers.  I think it’s all been executed really well.  In fact, the story has not concluded at all.  It’s going to escalate even more come next month.  So you have not seen the end of the bullying storyline!

MICHAEL:

Austin, did you have any trepidation playing a kid who is bullied, when you were still in high school yourself?  Did it cause any problems for you?

AUSTIN:

It definitely mirrors real life, but my school is not tolerant of that type of thing at all.  So, I didn’t see that much of it.  But you definitely see it online – cyber bullying – is very prominent right now and very true to life. Then, I think everything the kids did to Shane is so true to real life, because kids will find anything and go after you about it.  And it can be very random like that.

MICHAEL:

One of the things I recently shared about myself to the online readers of my website is that I was bullied terribly as child, and like Shane, I was an asthmatic.  I too, wanted to end my life at one point as a kid.   I shared that One Life to Live saved my life, since that is how I would escape the bullying and find a safe haven to take my mind off of it.  So when I saw that Shane was going to be bullied and the way it went down, I can attest it is very true to life.  Now, of course, when I was a child there were no computers so it was all emotional and physical abuse and not on the Internet.  But the Internet adds a frightening complexity to all of this.   But I have to say, that Shane immersing himself in comic books, etc as his world to escape into is dead-on.  So Austin, I personally wanted to congratulate you for doing such an amazing job with the material.

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AUSTIN:

Thank you.  I tried my hardest to make it as realistic as possible.  I pretended that these things were happening to me, and that worked, while trying to make myself at the same time as sad as possible.

MICHAEL:

It also made great sense that the writers chose Shane, of all the kids on the canvas, to be picked on.  He was ripe for it, if you think about it.  He had gone through leukemia, had asthma and came from a blue-collar family.  He was not the rich kid and in the “in crowd” like Jack Manning.

AUSTIN:

He is definitely weaker because of always being sick with asthma, and the one line that he said on the roof really rings true for him: “He does not always want to be that kid that is sick with cancer or asthma.”

MICHAEL:

John-Paul, the speech Rex gave in the hallway of Llanview high, after Shane’s suicide attempt, was so riveting and something that I know any kid who was bullied mercilessly by their fellow students would probably stand up and cheer!  Rex screamed at the kids and the teachers!   What did you personally think of that scene?

JOHN-PAUL:

It was such a real speech.  It was a speech any parents would want to shout!  Kids should not be allowed cell phones, and kids should not be allowed to do all this none school stuff when they are in school.  When we all went to school from 8AM to 3AM, you were paying attention to the teacher.  Then you get your time in the lunchroom and at recess to socialize and play with a stick and a swing set… not a computer, where you are typing in and watching videos and doing all this crazy stuff.   It’s basically pointless!  You have the rest of the day to do that, and you should not be allowed to do all that crap in school.  So it was true and I felt it.  There should be no social networking from 8-3.  It is not going to help you get a job or go to college.  I want to say to the kids, “Stop it!”

MICHAEL:

There is such poignancy watching the struggle of Rex and Gigi.  Here are two very young parents that truly don’t know how to deal with this situation that was happening literally under their nose the whole time.  Rex seems so lost at times.

JOHN-PAUL:

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He is lost!  He does not know what to do.  Rex is guessing his way along with Gigi on this, and they are trying to be a strong team for their son.

MICHAEL:

Austin, what was the hardest scene for you to tape in all of this?

AUSTIN:

I would say the roof scenes were the hardest.  Now Shane is improving and therapy is helping, but every scene that you have to put yourself down like that is pretty hard to do.

MICHAEL:

JP, in the scene in the hospital where Rex breaks down in front of Bo, is one of the moments that will forever resonate with this story.  Everyone loves to see the dynamics between you and Bob Woods (Bo).  But since these were such high emotional stakes that we seldom get to see you do, was this more challenging for you to play?

JOHN-PAUL:

It wasn’t hard to do because of what I was talking about and the situation, and of course, it was not hard because I was working with Bob Woods (Bo).  Now perhaps if it was an actor who I had never worked with before and was a stranger, I don’t think I could have done it as well.  The hard part of it, other than I could not relate to it (because I don’t have a kid who tried to commit suicide, or anyone I know tried to commit suicide) was we taped out of order.  We had not taped the pivotal roof top scenes yet.  The hospital scenes we taped weeks before the roof top scenes, so I did not have the visual in my head.

FARAH:

I really wish we could have done the reverse order.  The scenes where we come into the hospital and I am suppose to break down with the nurse, and John-Paul was suppose to break down with Bo, we had nothing to really go off of, and it was our first time taping anything in that storyline.  I had no idea that being up on that roof, and seeing Austin Williams in that situation, was going to be as gut-wrenching as it was.  I felt so desperate up there.  All of us wish we had the opportunity to film those scenes first.  It would have changed our choices in the scenes that followed.

MICHAEL:

…Which is amazing to think about because those moments came off so real to me, and were portrayed beautifully.  It was just two parents… devastated, frightened, and helpless.

FARAH:

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Thankfully, it all came together OK, but imagine how much better it would have been.

MICHAEL:

Have you received or been aware of any reactions from family members, friends, or parents or kids, who have come forward that have lost a child via suicide to bullying, or a child who had been badly bullied?

AUSTIN:

My parents watched it, and they were like, “Oh, my God.  I am so proud of you.”   It was tough for them to watch, too.  I know my grandpa would not watch some of the scenes.  He was so hurt by them, since they were so sad.

FARAH:

For the first time in my entire daytime career, I have gotten compliments from people that I don’t know.  I just made a facebook page and people are messaging me on there.  I am hearing from women who have literally had children kill themselves. They tell me, “Gigi’s life was their living nightmare five or ten years ago.”   I just could not believe it. They told me what a good job I was doing, and that just brought me to tears.  For people who have actually experienced it to tell me that I am doing a good job for playing what they felt, that is the highest of compliments.  Also my family– who are hard to get compliments out of, like my sister and my mom – they watch OLTL and I never hear anything from them.  Well this time, I got phone calls and emails from my dad, my mom, my aunt, after the roof top scenes telling me it was the best work they had ever seen me do, and that hopefully, I will get pre-nominated next year for a Daytime Emmy, and those are my scenes.  I have never gotten that kind of feedback from them.  My sister particularly, is my harshest critic.  She will point out my bad habits, and she tries to get me to do better all the time.  She even said she was so proud of me.  So between my family complimenting me and the messages and letters that I have gotten from mothers who have been in the same boat, it’s the biggest response I have ever had in the last 12 years, and it has been really fulfilling.  I am glad in this last year of OLTL I have gotten to be part of this great story.

JOHN-PAUL:

My mother has been complimenting me a lot.  She complimented the Bo scenes.  She complimented Farah more. (Laughs)  I did a personal appearance a few months ago at the beginning of the storyline where I was doing a Q&A from the stage, and one woman in particular commended the show in general for tackling this very current and relatable subject.  And what was so startling was she lives in the town where they had recently had a teen suicide from Internet bullying. There have been three of four storylines of mine in the 9 years I have been on the show, and this is definitely in the top three in the biggest feedback.  In the past, fans would say, “Oh, it’s really fun when you went to Texas,” or, “It’s really fun when you and Bo outed Daniel Coulson.”  But when the show is over, this will be one of the top three which I saw was a hit with the audience the most.  And, it’s a good storyline and it’s great to be part of it!

MICHAEL:

Austin, did any of your younger castmates, such as Eddie Alderson (Matthew) or Shenell Edmonds (Destiny) come up to you and give you kudos for the rooftop performance?

Courtesy/ABC

AUSTIN:

Yeah, I was just on set the other day and I saw Shenell and she said, “Oh my God. You did such a good job!”  I was so happy and laughing whenever I hear that, because it’s fun to hear!  I remember Kassie DePaiva (Blair) said something, too.  Everybody is very supportive at OLTL.

MICHAEL:

What did you think, JP and Farah, when in a major story point turned out to be Rex who hired thugs to beat up Jack Manning!  People thought it was Clint for a bit!

JOHN-PAUL:

I was surprised, I was shocked, and I went, “I did do it? Well, OK.” But, I justify it with the fact of Rex still very much being a kid at heart.  Look, if jail did not exist Rex would kill Jack, and beat the crap out him with his fists.  This has made Rex in a slight way digress. Rex is having to fight inside himself actually becoming a 14-year-old boy walking on to the recess yard and beating up Jack and all of his friends, and not caring about the repercussions.  He would strangle Jack to death!  So the fact that he hired these people does not surprise me.  It makes sense.  I agree with it, and as an actor, I have justified it.

FARAH:

Listen, I do not know what it is like to be a parent, but as an older sister, I was in a situation one time where I went to the bathroom and was coming out of the bathroom – we were in a public place – and a woman started to beat up my 16-year-old sister.  I had never been so enraged in my life!  I can imagine if you are seeing your 16-year-old kid being beaten up!  I don’t think you care who is beating up your child; you are going to jump on that person and defend your child.  You don’t care how old that person is, as your emotions just overcome you.  I asked John-Paul’s mother for a little bit of advice before the storyline got going.  I said, “If you think back to when John-Paul was a freshmen in high school, and you found out that all these horrible things were happening to him and he was being picked on so badly that he wanted to kill himself, how would you feel?  Would you be sad, or would you be so pissed off that you wanted to strangle someone?”  And she said, “I would be so pissed off.  I would go to their house and be banging on their door. I would scream at them and tell their mothers what was going on, and be madder than I have been in my life.”  So, I thought, “OK, so there is my answer then.”  As an adult, you don’t think about the consequences when you are seeing your precious child being abused.  You can’t think rationally like, “This might put me in jail.” In fact, you probably don’t even care if you end up in jail, because you want to protect your baby.

MICHAEL:

Now that Rex has had Jack roughed up, is Shane fearful that Jack and his young goons will become more aggressive for Shane ratting them out to his parents?

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AUSTIN:

That was one of the main fears for Shane at the beginning.  He was afraid to say anything to his parents, because he thought it would make things worse.  But to me, it seems like Shane is starting to get his confidence back.

MICHAEL:

Will we see major confrontations between the families?  Will we see the Mannings vs. the Balsoms clashing to protect and defend their children?

FARAH:

The Mannings and the Balsoms meet up in the hospital one day, and you will see the Mannings on one side and the Balsoms on the other side, and you kind of see the families go head-to-head for a minute.

MICHAEL:

How is Andrew Trischitta (Jack) to work with, Austin?  What goes on behind-the-scenes between takes after he is being really mean to you when the cameras are rolling?

AUSTIN:

Andrew is so much different than his character in real life.  He is so cool and so much fun to hang out with.  It is weird when he goes from that to someone who does such bad things on the show.  For the most part we talk to each other between takes.  He does not stay in character and bully me when we are not taping! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

What about scenes between Rex and Todd?  Now those should be some complex exciting scenes to watch.  Can you preview anything?

JOHN-PAUL:

I just worked with Trevor St. John (Todd) yesterday and this is actually going to air next month, and as far as I have been told, this is going to spark a lot of stuff between Todd and Rex.  To my knowledge I am going to be having quite a few scenes with Trevor, which I have not had in awhile.   So the answer is yes, we will be working together for the next few months.

MICHAEL:

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What did you think of Austin’s performance on the roof as Shane, when he delivered the sad and emotional speech?

JOHN-PAUL:

Yes, you mean “…having to make up friends and the comic books.”  I know.  We could have done the rooftop scenes in the studio, since as you have seen we do rooftops scenes in the studio all the time.  But it helped, and it was really good that we were on the roof. (Even though, it was our ABC studio roof in the back lot.)  It felt real.  We are on a roof and it felt high above the ground, and the wind made it so you had to shout and be loud to communicate, and our hair was blowing, and it felt so real.  I commended Austin afterwards.  I said, “Really good job, good for you. You do snot really well.  I cannot do snot.” (Laughs)  Austin’s face just bleeds snot.  He had boogies. (Laughs)  I can’t do that. (Laughs)

FARAH:

His dialog was heartbreaking to the point where in the one scene where I had all of those lines, I got stuck. It was Gigi’s turn to so desperately spill her guts, and tell him how much she loves and needs him,  “I need more minutes, baby…” etc.  Now Austin was so good, and even though I had read his dialog before hand, hearing him say it and see his little face so crushed saying those lines, my jaw was on the ground.  I thought, “Oh my God. This is so sad.”  And then I went blank.  I could not remember anything I was supposed to say, because I was so caught up in listening to him.  I was at the point in Gigi’s speech where I discuss when I got pregnant at 17, and how that was not cool.  Gigi goes on to tell him, “People laughed at me and pointed at me.”  But, I just could not remember anything I was supposed to say.  I was blank and I felt so bad, because Austin was doing so well.  I felt like I screwed it up for everyone because I could not remember my lines.  But thankfully, the stage manager fed me my line, so we just did a pick up right there where we left off and continued on.  Bottom line: Austin was so good that he made me go blank! (Laugh)

MICHAEL:

Austin, the roof top scenes where Shane wanted to jump and end his life, and watching him so sad and breaking down in front of his mom and dad, gave all of us in the viewing audience a lump in our throats, and we grabbed the hankies.  How did you prepare for the big episode to deliver this kind of a performance?

AUSTIN:

Courtesy/ABC

I had known for a month that this was coming, while they figured out when they were going to shoot the remote scenes.  I only found out we were going to be shooting on the roof of the studio a day before.  The day of, I woke up, went over to the studio, had breakfast, and then did not talk to anybody.  I tried to make myself as sad as possible and get really depressed, because that is how Shane felt.  He was really sad and did not know what to do.  Eventually, I saw the episode.  I was in school when it aired, but I did watch it on SOAPnet later.  I thought it was really good and JP and Farah did an amazing job, too.  It was really weird seeing myself in that situation, though.

MICHAEL:

Speaking of how good JP and Farah were in those scenes, Austin, how has it been to play their on-screen kid all these years?  Clearly, they are very impressed with your acting!  It seems like all of you have a love and a mutual admiration society going on!

AUSTIN:

They are both so amazing and so nice.  I have worked with them so much, and it is always fun to know that I have more scenes coming up with them.  They are such amazing actors and they are awesome to hang out with, and they are like a second family to me.

MICHAEL:

You also got to work with Daytime Emmy winner, Kim Zimmer (Echo) as your grandma in some big scenes.  How was that to work with her?

AUSTIN:

She is amazing, too!  I am kind of sad I have not worked with her for a while.  It’s been a few months now.  I was hoping I would have more scenes with her, but soon maybe there will be more.

MICHAEL:

Have your classmates said anything, or seen you on OLTL in the bullying storyline?

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AUSTIN:

For the most part… no.  One Life to Live is on while we are in school, but one person just posted on my facebook that they were out sick from school and turned on the TV and saw me!  I pretty much keep my school life and work life separate.  I am not going around going, “Watch me!”  For the most part, I don’t acknowledge it, and just hang out with my classmates and be a normal kid.  But then when it’s time to film, sometimes I have to leave school early and be like, “See ya everybody!”  Then, I get to go off and become Shane.

MICHAEL:

Austin, many times kids who are bullied grow up to be bullies.  Many times they don’t, and are extremely sympathetic to those who have gone through this.  Where do you think Shane falls in all of this?  How do you think he will be affected long term by the bullying?

AUSTIN:

I don’t think it will change who he is.  I always think that Shane will be this really nice kid, but I think things will be different for him.  However, I don’t believe it’s going to change his personality.

MICHAEL:

Now that all of you have experienced this bullying storyline and seen the feedback, and the importance of this issue, would you be open to speaking publicly for an organization that helps kids who have been bullied, or to a group of parents who have lost children via suicide this way?  I know GLSEN is a wonderful organization that helps kids, and also I know One Life worked with STOMP Out Bullying, too.

AUSTIN:

That would be amazing, and that is what is so amazing about this storyline.  That is, it can make a difference and can help people that are going through this, and hopefully stop people who are hurting other people and bullying them.  Yes, that would be very exciting to speak and a great opportunity.

FARAH:

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I would love to.  As I mentioned earlier and I don’t want to have a pity party for myself, but I was bullied very badly when I was in the eight grade.  When I entered ninth grade, all I wanted to do is get out of school and go to L.A. and become an actress.  It drove me to want to be an actress.  I think acting was my escape, because I could forget about Farah’s torment, and try to be somebody else, and that has helped me get through.  I would love to talk about my time as being the bullied kid, and share my experience of playing a mother to a bullied kid.  I have now learned even more about the subject in the last few months of working at One Life to Live.

JOHN-PAUL:

They wanted me to speak at an event recently, and its not that I don’t want to speak, it’s just there is no way I could write the speech.  I could easily do a Q&A talkback and would love to on this topic. But I will never steal Ron Carilivati’s (head writer, OLTL) job from him! (Laughs)  I don’t know how to write anything.  I just cannot step up to a podium and read something that I have written.  I could not even write a toast for a best man’s speech.

MICHAEL:

Speaking of weddings, I loved the nice moment recently where Rex went down on his knees and asked Gigi to marry him, again.  What did the two of you think about it?

FARAH:

I thought it was nice.  Gigi thought it was odd timing, but Farah thought it was good timing.  I think that Rex and Gigi should get married.  They love each other, and they have a son, and they want to be a family forever.

JOHN-PAUL:

It’s a third time Rex has asked Gigi, so I did not really think anything was in Rex’s mind. It was not like, “Here we go again,” but in John-Paul’s mind it was.  It was very serious and important for Rex, so I went with it and played it as such.

MICHAEL:

On tomorrow’s episode, there is a big group therapy session for the Morasco/Balsoms.  What can we expect to see?

FARAH:

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Gigi confesses to stealing the tape and Rex confesses to the thugs.  We just admit our faults and we make a bit of progress at being open and honest with each other.

JOHN-PAUL:

When Gigi and Rex go to see the doctor it’s interesting, because Rex and Gigi are two adults with a teenage child, yet they are sitting in front of this doctor going, “We don’t know what to do. Please help us help our son.”  So it’s really about these two people who should know how to take care of themselves, but don’t quite know how.

FARAH:

The therapist, Dr. Buhari, starts to apologize to Rex and Gigi because Shane’s tape went missing.  Gigi is feeling really guilty and she thinks that Dr. Buhari is on to her.  She thinks Dr. Buhari is saying all these things in the session to get Gigi to confess, when in actuality, Dr. Buhari has no idea that Gigi took the tape!  But Gigi fesses up and says she is sorry and was wrong.  Rex hands the tape right to her.  Dr. Buhari had asked Shane to step out of the room, because she did not want Shane to know his tape was missing.  And then when Shane comes back into the room, that is when we confess our wrong-doings.

AUSTIN:

Shane and his parents want things to get better now, and they feel therapy is the best way for him to get past it and just move in.  There are some scenes where it’s individual counseling, and some where we have therapy scenes together. But it’s very interesting what happens.

MICHAEL:

Austin, what would you say is the one key message you would like to say to kids going through this, now that you have depicted one on television?

AUSTIN:

Hurting yourself is not the answer.  Please try to find ways to make yourself happy.  Like, Shane’s thing is doing comics and that is what made him happy.   No matter what it is: drawing, music, watching TV, anything that you can do to be happy and be yourself, and you will get past it.  Having someone to help back you up is so helpful, like your parents, friends or anybody.  They can help you get past it and be a healthy and happy kid.  I would say to not shut down.  You really do need to tell somebody.  They really can help you.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

In closing, what you would say to the fans about the bullying storyline?  Will it dovetail and continue into more story for all of you?

AUSTIN:

Now that his parents know, which is huge, it’s not only his secret anymore.  Things look like they are getting better.  We will see if Jack continues to bully him, or if he has learned anything from this, or if he finds away to continue bullying Shane.

FARAH:

It has had a climax, but the worst is yet to come…if you can imagine.

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Sarah White Sees
Sarah White Sees

I think this will be one of the most important storylines in daytime this year. It is such an important story to tell, and I hope it helps many people. The acting from John-Paul, Farah, and Austin has been amazing. Their performances have been real and raw. This storyline and the acting involved is one of the reasons One Life To Live continues to shine as the best show in daytime right now. I am so saddened that it has been canceled, but I know the cast will continue to put their best efforts into this show and enhance the legacy it will leave.

todd
todd

I was bullied throughout junior and high school. The roof scenes really made me break down. Amazing work by Faras, JPL, and especially Austin. They have their reels for next years Emmys…..if they have the awards next year.

lisa
lisa

What a fabulous interview from three very talented actors…..my hat is off to all for such stellar performances on such a timely and important issue as bullying.
Great stuff !!

Michelle
Michelle

The storyline hits home, but I was in high school over twenty years ago, and school bullying was not near as bad then as it is now. I was bullied in high school, and I know how Shane feels, but not near as bad. I felt lonely and depressed a lot, and there were times I felt like killing myself, but then I thought of my parents, and I knew that they would be devastated if I did commit suicide. That is the only reason I did not do it. I was not bullied near as bad as Shane, and if I was I would of probaly killed myself without any hesitation. I’m just glad that Shane did not kill himself, and Jack Manning gets put into his place. I loved the interview between John Paul, Farah and Austin, and it should be interesting to see where this storyline goes.

eve henley
eve henley

at least u could had a good going off the air fornally this messed up

Brian Greene
Brian Greene

OMG! Big Props Must Go To Michael For Conducting An Informative & A Most Meaningful Interview With John-Paul, Farah, & Austin! Bless You All!

eve henley
eve henley

why didn’t u just let gigi and rex get married,give shane a family he deserve that.why did christen make that dum move, it shouldn’t end this way.

patti
patti

the roof top scene made cry I was alone watching watching it. I want the 2 main bullies Brad and Jack to be expelled and they should be,

Lindley Pablo
Lindley Pablo

My name is Lindley Pablo. When I saw the bullying story on OLTL, I really related to Shane.I was bullied from the time I was in 8th grade to the end of my 12th grade year in high school. Even a few of my teachers talked bad about me behind my back. I did not tell my parents. However they did figure out what was going on thanks to one of my best friends. I just want to say that Austin deserves an award for his acting. He had me in tears. When I heard Shane say “I don’t always want to be the sick kid,” that really choked me up. I remember telling my mom and dad that I wanted to be normal and liked by people. Basically the only friends I had were my band friends and my church friends. I also think Farah and John-Paul deserve awards. They reminded me so much of my parents. Rex reminded me of my dad and Gigi reminded my of my mom. My dad wanted all of the people that hurt me to pay for what they did and my mom was supportive of me. My dad was also supportive. If it hadn’t been for my mom and dad and my best friend Jordan, I probably would have committed suicide. I would have slit my wrists in the bathroom at school just like I was trying to and I would have bled to death. I just thank God every day that I am now out of high school. But some days I wish i could go back and get revenge on all of the people who hurt me. Thank you OLTL for showing this storyline. Bullying is real and it can happen to anyone. Thank you Austin, JP, and Farah! The three of you are such talented actors!

Alaina
Alaina

That second picture down is a picture I took New Year’s Eve 2009. So how could it be a JPI Studio picture? I don’t care if you used it though, just wanted to let you know.

General Hospital

Dominic Zamprogna Speaks Out On His Decision To Leave GH, His Final Scenes With Emme Rylan & How Dante Exited The Canvas

A few weeks ago, General Hospital fans watched as one of the series beloved stars, Dominic Zamprogna (Dante) exited the show in scenes opposite his longtime on-screen love interest, Emme Rylan (Lulu).  For nine years, Zamprogna brought authenticity, emotion, and heart to the son of Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) and Olivia Falconeri (Lisa LoCicero) to life.  While Dante’s journey started out with a bang, literally (thanks, Sonny!), over the years it appeared he was taking a backseat in meatier storylines.  All the while, Dante and Lulu remained one of the more popular duos with the viewers.

After much reflection, Zamprogna decided it was time for him to walk away from a place that became his second home.  His desire now shifted to play different characters in different projects, but it was not without taking many things into account with his life-changing decision.

Michael Fairman TV talked with Dominic to glean more insight into: if there was anything GH could have done to make him sign on the dotted line again, what went down to make those final scenes seem so rushed, how it was to say goodbye to his co-workers in front of the camera and behind the scenes, if he would consider a return at some point, and how would he feel if GH now planned on recasting Dante, and much more.

For us; we recall meeting Dominic for the first times just six months into his time at General Hospital for our first interview together.  We were instantly struck by his sincerity, humor, and his eagerness to learn from some of the best in the business.  Now exiting as a “soap vet“, per se, it is a full-circle moment that we had the time to conclude his GH journey with this conversation.  Here’s what Dom had to say about it all.

What were the factors that contributed to your decision to exit GH?  Was there a pivotal moment where you were feeling, and recognizing, that you were underutilized that you felt you needed to make a change? 

DOMINIC:  When you named me the “Most Underutilized Actor of 2017!” (Laughs) Well, my plan was never to stay forever.  But half-way through my second contract,  Emme Rylan (Lulu) and I were approached by our producer on set, who said words to the effect of: you guys have been on the sideline, time to get you into the game.  That led to the Dante cheating storyline, which gave us story for about a year … which was great!  But as that ended, so did any subsequent storylines, it seemed.  In the year that followed, I started entertaining thoughts of leaving.  By the next year, I started talking about it with my wife, Linda, who had started to notice that maybe I wasn’t happy anymore, and I wasn’t.  That’s not a good feeling, especially if you’re bringing that energy home with you.  Then, I made the mistake of going on social media, which is a terrible place to go sometimes.  But fans were saying the same sort of things I was feeling.  Was it all due to story or lack-thereof?  No.  I was starting to crave playing other roles, and that’s hard to do when you’re under contract.

Were discussions even had with Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) and the powers-that-be about your feelings of dissatisfaction over not being utilized more in storylines?

DOMINIC:  The discussions happened late.  Not until the negotiation process, actually.  I’m no squeaky wheel I guess, but I also don’t feel it’s in my job description to be one.  I did put out a few ideas here and there, but they didn’t happen.  I know other actors have tried the same and it didn’t lead to anything for them, either.  I was a creation of Bob Guza (former head writer, GH), and maybe I was spoiled by the amount of great writing I received while he was there.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

There had to be some sadness in walking away from GH.

DOMINIC:  Oh yeah… it was sad.  I built that character, and now here I was walking away from it, and essentially my second family.  That’s been the hardest part.  Lifelong friendships were made, and memories.  However, it’s been over a month and a half since I’ve been at GH and I feel happy.  I’ve been up in Canada shooting Tin Star, which has been a great experience.  I’ve stayed in touch with everybody and I miss everybody, in fact, I just spoke to Mo (Maurice Benard) yesterday, and I’m in class with Emme (she won’t leave me alone).  But, I feel like I made the right choice for me at this moment.

To clarify; were you actually trying to work out a deal to stay put, but both sides just could not hammer things out to a satisfactory conclusion?

DOMINIC:  We did try to work out a deal.  After more talks and conversations, I felt maybe we were going to get things done.  I was being told things would change and maybe shift things in the direction we wanted to go.  But at the end of the day, it’s gotta be in writing.  I feel like I’d been told similar things in the past which hadn’t come to fruition.  I was also reminded that it was me who needed to sign my name on that dotted line and live with that decision, and I chose not to do so.

If someone would have said to you: “We have an “A” story for you, and you are going to be driving it,” would you have been more apt to stay?   

DOMINIC:  There was talk about us sitting down and talking about storylines, but that didn’t end up happening, not sure why.  And even if it did, I don’t know that it would’ve changed my mind about leaving, anyway.   But just to be clear: I have no anger towards anybody.  It’s all a business at the end of the day.  Both sides did what they felt was right.  For me, I just felt this chapter had come to an end.

Photo: ABC

When, and how did you tell on-screen scene partner, Emme Rylan that you were leaving?  Was she happy for you and your decision?

DOMINIC:  Emme knew really early on.  Once January rolled around I was like: “I have been thinking for the last six to nine months that I am going to go.”   I wanted her to know, because we have been a couple for five years on the show.  Emme was very happy for me.  I went, “Wait a minute!  Don’t be this happy.  I’m leaving.” (Laughing)  

What happened when you told your on-screen mom, Lisa LoCicero ?

DOMINIC:  She was sad, but she is also said, “You’re in your prime, go see what’s out there!”   I wouldn’t have done this move if I did not get support at home.  My wife is the rock and the one that makes this household go.  Some things outside the show were starting to happen; I had a nice screen-test for a pilot, and then I booked these four episodes of Tin Star.  When you have choices in life; you have power and control over your future.  I think Emme and Lisa as actors realized that.  That’s what made them happy for me … for the future.  The last nine years were exciting.  However, when you can have a little bit more say in what you are doing on a day to day basis, that is empowering.  So, in saying, “no” to something, and saying, “Thank you, but that’s not what I am looking for right now,” that can feel good.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

It was a shame that through all the regimes that they rarely wrote any scenes between Dante and his father, Sonny.  What was Maurice Benard’s reaction when you told him you were leaving?

DOMINIC:  It has been pretty publicized that he and I were dissatisfied at the lack of  storyline, or scenes together.  Maurice asked the powers-that-be, “Why aren’t we working together more?”  We never had a clear answer as to why.  He didn’t know from one day to the next what was happening with my contract talks.  Mo saw me smiling one day and asked, “So does that smile mean you’re staying?”  And I said, “No, that smile is because I’m leaving.” (Laughs)  I said that more to mess with him, and make him sad.  He said, “As long as you are good financially, then I am all for anybody getting out of here and seeing what else is out there.” Really, Mo talks people into leaving so he can get more screen-time. (Laughs)

Let’s talk about the final airshow, and the story that came out of left field to facilitate your exit.  Was that written quickly to accommodate a shooting schedule or contract completion?  It felt rushed to the viewing audience.

DOMINIC:  Left field is right!  I still had a week and a half left of work when they found out I wasn’t going to re-sign, and within twelve hours I had six exit scenes written.  So, it wasn’t done to facilitate anything but a set (Lante’s house), I think.  My final tape date was May 18th, and Emme and I had scenes on the Wednesday or Thursday before that.  I guess they wanted my last scenes that aired to be with Emme, and that might have been the only scheduling day that worked for the set and the actors, and maybe that’s also why it felt so rushed.  All I could assume is that they didn’t think I was really going to leave so they didn’t plan for it, or they chose to protect themselves in this way, by not making a big deal about it.  I had another week of scenes in the PCPD with Chase (Josh Swickard) and Michael (Chad Duell) that was shot afterward.  But they had nothing to do with Dante’s “secret mission!”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I thought, “Wait!  Is that it?  Is this Dominic’s final show?  Dante doesn’t say goodbye to his mother… his father … or his son, Rocco?

DOMINIC:  Yeah, that was tough for me.  After 9 years you think you’re going to get a little bit better of a send off.   You also, hope they’re going to honor the character.  Dante wouldn’t leave to go to the 7-eleven without saying goodbye to his mother and kids.   Maurice and I talked about that.  He said, “I guess, they don’t want people to feel really sad.  You and me doing some goodbye scenes, people are going to be devastated.”   I agree with that.  However, I also think it’s a soap and that’s what fans want … good, ole drama.  I would have loved to have had scenes with Sonny, Olivia, and Dante’s kids, but when you make a decision like this, how you leave on-air is not up to you.  Both parties are going to handle it how it’s best for them.   I was very grateful they gave Emme and I something to seek our teeth into. 

They were very sad scenes.  You are one of those actors that can take the material and connect with it while delivering it in a very subtle and heartfelt way.  How was Emme after your final scenes?

DOMINIC:  She was kind of crying the whole time, going “Damn you! Damn you.”   I was having fun with it, because I love making Emme cry.  It’s not a very difficult thing to do.  (Laughs).  We were both pretty teary-eyed, actually.  Then, when we finished the scenes and I looked over and I saw how upset the crew was, that’s what really got me.  Barbara, one of the camera operators actually jokingly apologized; suggesting that if my last shot was blurry it was my fault!  As an actor, when you make the crew feel something it kind of gives you some extra good feels. That was always the best feeling, talking to Craig (our stage manager), or Donna (head of makeup department) after a scene to get the honest truth on how you did.  I’ll miss them.

Courtesy/ABC

Viewers, watching Dante have this flashback about the guy who was responsible for Lulu going overboard the Haunted Star a few years ago, probably needed a moment to connect the dots.  Some viewers were going, “What?  Dante is going after the guy that tried to drown Lulu from two years ago?”

DOMINIC:  When I read that in the script even I went, “What?” Who’s that?”  I had no idea, either. (Laughs)

Then there was this:  Dante was so hard on Lulu for her pursuing her dream as a journalist and how it inadvertently got Nathan killed.  Then all of a sudden in your final scenes, Dante has a line to Lulu in which he says something to the effect of: I understand now – you got to do, what you got to do.  In story, prior to these scenes it was leaning more towards Dante and Lulu were going to break-up over what had recently transpired.

DOMINIC:  Which, who knows?  If Dante had stayed in Port Charles it could have been the direction they were going in.  It certainly looked like they were building toward conflict, conflict, conflict, but with me leaving it was much sweeter to leave on the note that we left on, instead of Dante leaving, because he can’t deal with being around Lulu. This all leads me to believe that they didn’t want to do anything too permanent to give them time to make the proper decisions.

Courtesy/ABC

What was the last day of shooting like for you?  Was it hard to get through?

DOMINIC:  It felt like a regular day, and my final scenes were up towards the end of the tape day. They had a cake afterwards.  Frank briefly spoke and introduced Maurice; who said a bunch of sweet words.  That meant a lot to me.  I said “goodbye” to everybody and took some photos, and that was it.  I already had my room packed up.  Once you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go.  Afterwards, I went out with Ryan Paevey (Ex-Nathan) and Jeffrey Vincent Parise (Ex-Carlos) for some beers and wings at the bar down the street.  It wasn’t until everybody came back after a two-week break that it felt real, because then I was receiving text messages from people saying, “We’re back.  Why the hell aren’t you here?”

The door has been left open for Dante to return.  Would you ever come back?

DOMINIC:  Of course, at some point.  But it might not be my choice, they might recast.  They told me they won’t, but who knows what’ll be done.  Do I think you can just recast a role?  No, I think it’s always a tough sell, but they’ve done it with bigger names/characters than mine.  I would be a little surprised, only because there hasn’t been much story for Dante in the last three years.  For me, as of now, I’ve moved on, and I’m very happy with my decision and my life.  It’s sad in other respects, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve read things that people have said on Twitter, and I want everyone to know I’ve seen it all and it means a lot to me.  People have been beautiful to me.  I’m truly overwhelmed by the love.  I thought there would be more of, “Who cares?” when fans found out I left.   I must have done something right during the years I was at GH.

Did you think when you made the decision to leave they would kill-off Dante? 

DOMINIC:  No, not at all.  I don’t think killing off Dante would be a good idea, especially after they killed Nathan, and also because of the climate we live in with police involved shootings and violence, in general.  In a perfect world as an actor, you crave the opportunity to have one last moment with the other characters that have been important to your character over the years.  That’s all I would have wanted for myself, and Dante.  I’ll take what I got though.  It was extremely meaningful because of what Emme and I had and built.  I feel we got to the heart and soul of those two characters in a pretty short amount of time in our scenes.

Courtesy/ABC

Speaking of Nathan, I think thus far those funeral scenes, which you were wonderful in, and the story arc revolving around his death, are GH’s best bet for an Emmy in the Drama Series category next year. 

DOMINIC:  I agree.  It was so well-done.  We’d all would like to go out like that!  Tragic, but it made for great TV and great soap.  It was phenomenally well-acted across the board.  Lots of Emmy reel stuff for Michelle Stafford (Nina) and Kirsten Storms (Maxie), and Kathleen Gati (Liesl), and hopefully for our directors and crew, also.  They did an amazing job bringing that to life.

This now leaves Josh Swickard as the lone cop now by default on GH.   he PCPD is notorious for being the worst cop shop in the history of soaps! (Laughs) They can’t ever solve a crime.

DOMINIC: (Laughs) I know!  What is Josh is going to do?   Maybe between Chase and Jordan (Vienssa Antoine) they will solve crimes.  Maybe, they’ll bring on a new cop.  Josh is a great guy and I enjoyed working with him.  At the beginning, we had that contentious relationship between the two guys.  That would’ve been fun if it lasted longer, where they had this continual real dislike for one another.  Who knows?  With Dante gone, maybe they will start solving some crimes! (Laughs) Maybe now the PCPD will be the greatest police unit in the USA.

Courtesy/ABC

Over your nine years at GH, would you still consider that your best storyline was coming on to the show and then having Sonny shoot Dante, only for it to turn out that he just shot his own son?

DOMINIC:  Yes, I think you have to.  That was my intro.  They had this story planned eight months before they even cast the role.  To get to that moment, was a classic soap cliffhanger.  I grew up watching soap operas with my grandparents, and if they had been alive for that scene they would have lost it, because it was something that ‘old school’ soap fans would really dig.  For me, doing that story felt so special.  ABC also pumped it with the promotion, and the promos, and the TV spots, and amped it up.  I didn’t feel it disappointed.  It was actually the audition scene that I had to perform to get the part!  Then six months later you get to say these lines that got you the part, and you hope you don’t whiff on the softball.

While putting together and producing the GH 55th anniversary tribute package for this year’s Daytime Emmys, I included that moment between Sonny and Dante.  I remember watching the complete scene before editing it and the dialog was so good.  It still holds up to this day.

DOMINIC:  My manager was at the Emmys that night, and said what a great moment that was.  I meant to thank you for that, because I really appreciated it being in there.

Courtesy/ABC

Are there any other scenes that come to mind that you are most proud of?

DOMINIC:  I also really loved the scenes with Max Gail (Mike). He is a special guy.  There was so much in our scenes; where Dante finds him with Avery in the stables.  Those moments are going to stick with me for a long time.

On June 28th, the airdate of your last episode, you posted a tweet to the fans that read: “The love you guys have given me over the years and continue to give is overwhelming.  It is I that must thank YOU!”  I thought that was extremely touching and very appreciated by the fans.

DOMINIC:  I was thinking, “Man, I have to thank you, because I would not legitimately be here if you hadn’t liked this guy, Dante.”  It was bringing tears to my eyes reading what people were saying, and seeing how much love I was receiving.

Tell me about your role in the British-Canadian production of Tin Star?

DOMINIC:  It’s a recurring role,  I’ve been working on it since March.  It’s something very different from what I’ve been doing the last 9 years.  Can’t give much away, but I play a hired gun type of guy.  There are some great scenes and moments, and I was lucky enough to work with Christina Hendricks, John Lynch, and the legend, Tim Roth.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you feel now that you have had some time away now from GH, and have been playing another role, that the thought of playing Dante for you at this point is like: “Been there. Done that?”

DOMINIC:  I would never say Dante is done forever.  Right now for me, he is.  They left it open, hopefully they left it open for me, but every actor hopes that.  We want our cake and to eat it too!  I want to leave right now, but I want you to want me to come back some day.  No one wants their role to be recast.  But it’s an important character, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  Who knows what the future holds.  I left on good terms.  Just so everyone knows; I didn’t spring something on GH on the last day of my contract.  It’s important that I let people know that I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “See ya”.  This also wasn’t about money.  Sure, we want to be paid what we believe we’re worth.  But this in no way was about me asking for the moon, or I was going to leave.  It was a very, very difficult decision.

So, what do you think about how GH wrapped up Dante’s story for Dominic’s exit? Would you like him to return to GH sooner than later?  Do you think the role of Dante was problematic to write for?  What were your favorite scenes of Dom’s during his time at GH? Let us know via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Jonathan Jackson Talks Avery’s Love Quandary, Saying Goodbye To ‘Nashville’ & If He Would Return To General Hospital

With just three weeks before the series finale of CMT’s Nashville, Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) finds himself in a major conundrum.  The woman he has loved and had a child with, Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panetierre) has returned home after escaping a cult compound, just as Avery has opened himself up to the start of a new relationship with Alannah (Rainee Blake).  After not hearing from Juliette, added to the many times he felt she abandoned him and their child, will a betrayed and hurt Avery want to find a way to patch up their relationship … or try to keep Alannah by his side?

Michael Fairman TV chatted with five-time Daytime Emmy winner, Jonathan Jackson to get the lowdown on what transpired over the last few episodes and how it may end for Avery, as we inch closer and closer to having to say farewell to the Music City drama.

Since Nashville wrapped its sixth and final season a few months back, General Hospital fans have been wondering and hoping, if now is the time that Jackson would return to his role as the beloved Lucky Spencer, the son of Luke (Tony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis). Jackson originated the role in 1993 and stayed with the series till 1999.  He next returned in 2009 for a few years, then left again, and was cast on Nashville.  Jonathan made a special return in 2015 to appear in a storyline that reunited him on-screen with Geary one final time, before the soap icon retired from the show.  In this interview, Jackson addresses a return, some of his favorite moments of all-time on GH, what he learned from Tony and Genie, and more.

Those that follow Jackson are aware that his talent knows no bounds.  He is also focused on his music career, and his band Enation, which has been building on its success, playing recent sold out shows in Europe, while Jackson also had been on the final Nashville tour performing with the cast.  So, buckle up!  The next step in Jackson’s career will be one to watch.  Now, check out our insightful and heartfelt conversation below.

Avery is caught in a compromising position by Juliette, when she walks in while Avery is making out with Alannah, who has just has taken her top off.   What goes on in Avery’s mind at that point?  Is it, “Oh, no! I’m busted!” (Laughs)

JONATHAN:  It’s all sorts of things.  There is the visceral reaction, and then in his mind trying to figure what to do.  It’s sort of awkward, because they are in her house and her photos are everywhere (Laughs).  However clumsily and strange it is, he is trying to move on and get a life together with someone, and yet deep down he still has feeling for Juliette, which is mixed with anger and all of that.  He is having all different confusing conflicting emotions, all at the same time, and for Alannah as well.  It’s kind of a mess!

Courtesy/CMT

By the end of this week’s episode, viewers saw Avery and Juliette start to talk, with Avery letting her know just how he feels about her leaving him, and that he has decided to move out.  All Juliette is asking is that he keeps talking to her.  As Nashville moves toward its conclusion, the big question for the character of Avery will be … who is he going to end up with, if anyone?  I would assume many longtime fans would be rooting for Avery and Juliette, because they have gone through so much together.

JONATHAN:  Yes.  However, I have been receiving messages from fans, and talking to fans on tour, and they are slightly conflicted, too.  There is a lot of love for Avery and Juliette, but there is also frustration around the whole thing, and that they want Avery to move on and be happy. 

Courtesy/CMT

Where is Avery at with his relationship with Alannah?  He was getting close to her, and now she is attempting to put distance between them since Juliette resurfaced.

JONATHAN:  It’s difficult to pinpoint where Avery is at right at this moment.  There is a lot going on, and a lot of it is rooted in the fact that he went to Bolivia to try and bring Juliette home, and when she refused him that was so devastating for him.  The Alannah relationship snuck up on him. In some sense his heart is still attached to Juliette, but his mind is telling him it’s over, and that she is gone.  Avery and Alannah are connected to each other on a certain level.  It surprised both of them.  I think he has genuine feelings for her, but it’s also him pushing himself to move on from Juliette, which is something he has not been able to do.

Without Alannah, the band flounders with Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Avery, and then there is the health situation with Will (Chris Carmack).  Alannah’s presence really put a kink in Gunnar and Avery’s friendship.  She stared out with one guy, and was on her way to being with another.

JONATHAN:  Gunnar and Avery are really good friends and care about each other a lot, and it is certainly an awkward moment in their friendship.   In terms of the band, they lose Will who has been through this health crisis, and then Alannah.  The music components are kind of imploding and they are just trying to hold on to their friendship, and not have that implode along with the band.

Courtesy/CMT

Brad (Jeff Nordling) is making advances towards Alannah, and she originally tells Avery about it.  What does he think of the situation?  Now, she may do whatever Jeff wants her to do to get ahead in the music biz, since Juliette came back into Avery’s life.

JONATHAN:  I think Avery is trying to be supportive of Alannah.  It was a little bit of a blow for her to leave the band, but he generally wants to support her.  Avery has this instinct to be protective, as well.  He kind of has to hold himself back a little bit and not complain too much. He knows Alannah is an independent person, and may not want his help.  With the situation with Brad, Avery is aware of it, but she is walking into that in her own way.  It’s a moment for Avery to sort of step back and trust her that this is how she wants to go about her career.

Did you know Rainee Blake was going to be your potential love interest this season? Did you screen-test with her?

JONATHAN:  We did not screen-test together.  I think relatively earlier on I heard that this might happen, but it is one of those things were you never really know.  Often times, the writers and the producers bide their time and see how things develop as a couple, and how the audience responds to the on-screen chemistry.  You never really know if it’s going to materialize.  I actually did like how Avery and Alannah started to connect on the tour bus several episodes ago. The audience got a tease of a different side of Alannah, and Avery kind of brought that out.  Rainee was great to work with.

Courtesy/CMT

You have gotten the opportunity as Avery to tug on the heartstrings, as a dad raising his little girl, Cadence, all by himself, with a the runaway mother who never shows up.  How was the journey working with Hayden Panetierre?  You two had to battle, bicker, fight, and had to play all these ups and downs together to make the story work over many seasons of Nashville.

JONATHAN:   It was really amazing, and for me that is one of the things I will miss most about working on the show, and that is working with Hayden.  It’s such an interesting thing when you work with people for so many years, and all of the emotional ups and downs that the characters go through.  Often times, we would be doing a lot of intense and emotional scenes, but for whatever reason, we would find a way to have a lot of fun and find the humor when we are doing those.  I have a lot of love and respect for Hayden.  I think she is incredibly talented. We both started off in soap operas (Hayden was Lizzie on Guiding Light) and thus had a certain approach to our work, and our work ethic.  For me, it’s always a highlight in my career when I get to work with somebody that the scene is already great, because of the person you are working with.  We would constantly share ideas back and forth between us.  The thing about working on Nashville was the friendships we developed in the cast, especially going on tour with the cast and to experience all of that with everybody else.

Courtesy/CMT

What happened when you found out that this sixth and final season of Nashville would be its last?  Did you have any idea that this was coming down the pike when you wrapped season 5? 

JONATHAN:  No.  I don’t think anybody knew when we wrapped season 5.  We did not know till right before everybody else that this was going to be the last season.  We were in production maybe halfway through season 6.  I think that it helped having that time to adjust, and it gave us some time for reflection.  It really did help in a sense, because you know other shows they might wrap a month, or two later, and it’s over.  You don’t get to say goodbye, but we really did.  We got to say our goodbyes.

Courtesy/CMT

I can imagine that was heartbreaking.  When you think of the rollercoaster ride you and the cast had been through together which included: the cancellation by ABC, then the show coming back on CMT, only for it to be cancelled again, it’s quite a lot to deal with and not knowing if there is job security.  Do you recall your last day on the set?

JONATHAN:  I do remember it very well.  There were a lot of beautiful moments with people, and having so much love for the crew and so many amazing people that worked on the show.  We wrapped on April 10th and then we flew to the U.K. on the 12th   It was two days later that the tour started.  Even though filming was over, we were on a plane and then on a bus together, which was really good for all of us.  I know it was for me to have another ending.  In some ways, the end of the tour was even more emotional, because that really felt it was the end.

Photo Credit: CMT

Do you think there were more stories to tell on Nashville … or, do you think the series is going off the air when it should, as the stories can tend to get repetitive on any long-running series? Do you think this was the right time for Nashville to say goodbye?

JONATHAN:  I don’t know how other people’s perspectives are about it, but I know from my perspective, I think we told the story that was there to be told for these characters.  That is sort of the bittersweet reality of it.  It’s painful to say goodbye to a lot of people that I had become very close to, but at the same time, there was a sense of peace about it.  It really did feel like the right time.

What can you say tease about how Nashville concludes? The series finale airs on July 26.

JONATHAN:  One of the hardest things about being in a long form series; whether it be in the primetime format, or the daytime format, is often times the lack of resolution that takes place. You are pertually in Act 2 and in all the drama.  So, knowing that the show was over, allowed the writers to approach everything from the perspective of the end, and Act 3.  Certain storylines have resolution, and others are left open-ended.  There is a good overall balance from the writers of what the audience is going to experience with the end of the show.

Courtesy/ABC

I produced the General Hospital 55th anniversary tribute package for this year’s Daytime Emmys.  I remember looking at some of your storylines and touching performances all over again that still hold up to this day.  One in particular was Lucky pulling tough love on Luke (Tony Geary) during his father’s intervention.  Lucky is such a valuable character on the canvas.  Would you consider going back to GH? 

JONATHAN:  My perspective on that is; I don’t really put that off the table.  I really don’t have plans to do that, because after coming off six years on a series, that is a lot.  I am definitely looking for other projects that have an Act 1, 2, and 3, that happen a little sooner than Nashville did.  I always have going back to GH on the table, because it’s like a family for me.  I have always said that that even when I left in the 90’s; that GH would be something I would come back to.  But, I am very committed and excited about what is happening with Enation, and excited about some other projects that are out there on the acting front. I don’t see going back to GH in the near future, but I never write it off.

When you last returned you did come back to be part of Tony Geary’s exit.

JONATHAN: Yes, yes, which I was really happy to be a part of.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Still years later, when you think of all the stories you portrayed as Lucky, is there one, or two that stand out to you among the rest?

JONATHAN:   There are many.  There were a lot of stories, and the writers wrote so much material, and that is a double-edged sword.  It’s great to have, but it was so much that I really couldn’t continue. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: ABC

I remember saying to you years ago, “You cry so well on camera. They are going to keep expecting you to cry, and they will be throwing scripts like that to you every day!”

JONATHAN:  And that is exactly what happened!   But for me, it’s the moments with the co-stars that I will always carry with me.  There are endless ones in my memory with Tony Geary. “The intervention” was certainly one of those moments.  I had those moments as well with Tyler Christopher (Ex-Nikolas, now Stefan, DAYS), and Becky Herbst (Elizabeth).  I remember having these scenes with Maurice Benard (Sonny) when scenes on the soaps were much longer.  And of course, earlier on, with Genie Francis (Laura) as well.  I feel like as an artist, I was really formed by Tony and Genie’s presence and observing them and watching how they worked.  I asked so many questions to them as I really wanted to learn.  They really protected me in so many ways, and yet gave me the freedom to try to find my own way through a whole process as well.  Those are the things that really jump out at me, as well as working through the scenes prior to filming, especially with Tony.  He and I would go pretty deep with what we were trying to figure out; what the scenes were, and what they were about, and how to approach it.  That part of the process was really memorable to me.  The unique thing I think in this industry for me was that I started at 11-years-old and got to come back to the show in my mid-20’s, and got to have that connection with another actor, and explore this father and son relationship.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I don’t think, and I really mean this, that there has been a father/son relationship on television like Luke and Lucky’s.   It was so multi-faceted.   Have you stayed in touch with Tony?

JONATHAN:  We definitely stay in touch.  Again, when I left General Hospital, I did not know if anything like that would happen again in my career where I would form sort of long-lasting friendships with people.  Most of the time you do a film and you get to know some people, and you go your separate ways, and that’s just how it is.  So I was really grateful for Nashville, because I feel like we were able to have those long-lasting relationships. I can’t really put into words my relationship with Tony.  It’s just a lot of love and gratitude, and respect that I have for him.

Courtesy/JJacksonInstagram

Meanwhile, your music career is very exciting of late.  Last month, you played the Royal Albert Hall in London with your band, Enation.  How was that experience?

JONATHAN:  It was amazing.  I went overseas with the Nashville tour and then Enation did a couple of shows, and then we opened for Echo & the Bunnymen.  The last gig on that tour was at Royal Albert Hall.  I have loved Echo & the Bunnymen for such a long time, and so this was wonderful for us.

Will Enation be touring more coming up?  

JONATHAN:  We are looking to go back to Europe later this year, or the spring of next year, and are working out those details.  We are going to be touring in the United States later on this year.

Photo: JJacksonInstagram

Did your wife Lisa (Ex-Hannah, GH) meet up with you on this recent European tour?

JONATHAN: The Nashville tour ended in Ireland, and then my wife and kids came over for the last two shows there. Then, got to go around Ireland for a couple of weeks and drive around, and it was fun.

Did you notice a difference between the European music fans of Nashville as opposed to those in the U.S.?

JONATHAN:  Yes, and no.  One of the things I have noticed playing over there is that the distinction in musical genres isn’t quite as a sharp as it is in the U.S.  Over there, the radio seems to play a lot different kinds of music.  So, it was a pretty seamless transition for a lot of the people that came to the Nashville show.   We see a slight difference in the music fan base, and it mainly has to do with that they may go to a country show one week, and a couple of weeks later go to a rock concert, and not think twice about the genre.  It’s just they are looking for good music.

Courtesy/JJacksonInstagramm

Hard to believe we are turning the page on another great character played by Jonathan Jackson as Nashville heads towards its finale.  What would you like to say to the fans, the #Nashies, who have loved, and have stuck with show every step of the way?

JONATHAN:  Just a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for all the support, especially when the show was cancelled.  CMT saw the enthusiasm and support from the fans here and internationally, and that was a huge part for us to be able to get the last few seasons.  It has really meant a lot to us creatively to write that 3rd act, sort of speak, and have that sense of closure. I also would just say to the fans that have come out to the Nashville concerts as well, that it has meant so much.  We feel like we have had some beautiful moments with everybody, and so I am very grateful for that.

So, what do you think will happen to Avery at the end of Nashville?  Do you want him to end up with Juliette, Alannah, or by himself? Should GH try to lure Jonathan back to the his role as Lucky Spencer? Comment below!

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Interviews

Y&R’s Peter Bergman Talks On: Jack Finding His True Biological Father, His Co-Stars, And If He Would Like A New Love Interest

On The Young and the Restless turns out Ashley (Eileen Davidson) is not the only child raised as an Abbott; whose father is not John.  As viewers learned back at the end of March, Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) is not the biological son of the Abbott patriarch, either!  This has sent Jack on a pursuit to find out who he truly is, and who he truly belongs to, because being John Abbott’s (Jerry Douglas) son meant everything to him.

Once again, this story has given multi-Daytime Emmy winner, Peter Bergman an opportunity to play the complex layers of one of daytime’s best characters.  Recently, Jack had gone through his mother Dina’s (Marla Adams) old diary, where there was a key page missing out of it.  He then located a photo, which led him to believe that none other than late Phillip Chancellor II (played by the late Donnelly Rhodes) is his real father.  Is Jack a Chancellor?

Hell-bent on exhuming the body for DNA proof, Jack is getting massive pushback from just about everyone on Genoa City.  It is not helping the situation that Dina is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and her recollections of what transpired years ago when she had an affair, may not be accurate.  Now this week, Jack has a plan that may backfire and ends up involving his son, Kyle (Michael Mealor) in the process.  Will these two work together to get the proof of the truth?

Michael Fairman TV chatted with the actor’s actor, Peter Bergman to get his take on: the surprise story twist he never saw coming, if Jack has the purest of intentions, or if he is just chomping at the bit get his hands on Chancellor Industries, if he would like to see Jack have a new love interest, and more.  It’s always a treat to speak with Peter.  Here is what he had to say about Jack’s latest inner-turmoil.

Jack is not John’s Abbott’s son.  He is searching for the answer of who is his biological father.  Now, Jack believes he has found the answer in the photo he found that included Phillip Chancellor II, and then went to Dina to confirm the answer, even knowing his mother is battling Alzheimer’s disease.  Don’t you think he jumped on this notion of Phillip being his dad all too son?

PETER:  Jack has stumbled upon evidence that this is for real with the photo he found.  He went to Dina on what was a very lucid day for her, and she was pretty damn clear.  So, therefore it wasn’t just the ramblings of a lost woman.  Jack is very eager for an answer.  Could it be argued that he jumped on this as a possibility? Yes, and for a number of reasons.  First, he feels somewhat utter-less and needs to be connected to something, but he also knows his family, and the history of this family, and “Oh, my God” could that be a way out of this untethered feeling that he had.  So he is really grabbing on to this pretty quickly.  Second, it is not lost on Jack that part of inheriting all of Phillip’s traits might also bring him part of the Chancellor estate, which would belong to Jack and perhaps he could pick-up at the corporate level where he left off.  So that is exciting, but certainly not central to his thinking.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Everyone thinks from Cane (Daniel Goddard) to Jill (Jess Walton), to Billy (Jason Thompson) , that all Jack truly wants is to stake claim as an heir and to try to take control of Chancellor Industries.  Are they that far off from the truth?

PETER:  How honest is Jack being with himself?  We will find out!  He would want to stake his claim … and maybe a little bit more!

What was your reaction when you learned that Jack would be revealed to be the son of Phillip Chancellor II, when for decades you have been playing so much of what drives your character that he is the son of John Abbott?  Were you like, “What!??” (Laughs)

PETER:  I have been doing this much too long, to go “Why?”  I, quite frankly ask, “Where do you want to go with this?  Where do you want to take me?” The things that I have done in the past that I have fought the most have usually been the things that really led me somewhere.  I tell the story all the time of John Abbott dying.  They decided to bring him back as Jack’s conscious, and he would appear in scenes with Jack and talk to him.  I thought “C’mon. This is The Young and the Restless, and I am doing a ‘ghost’ storyline?”  I fought it and I didn’t like it, and I was wrong.  It was fantastic, and it worked great, and the audience liked it.  I learned from it.   I don’t go, “Whaaat?” that much anymore.  There have been a few of those including: the whole doppelganger story, while it confused me at times, and I thought this had gone a few steps too far, but it led us to Billy/Phyllis/Jack story. It was a direct line to that, and one of the most dynamic storylines I have ever been in.  So, I see this current story, and I go, “That is an interesting turn.”  Then, as an actor, I dig into it.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Jack wants to exhume Phillip’s body and everybody from Jill to Cane is objecting.  Esther (Kate Linder) is worried Mrs. C. will roll over in her grave if he does this move.  As we will see, Jack does not take “no” for answer.

PETER:  Jack eventually all but gives up, but then a door opens slightly for him to look at this a different way   Jack reluctantly walks through that door.

Do you think Jack has ever thought of the possibility of: “What if I am the son of someone from the circus … or the former pool boy at the country club?”

PETER:  I have thought it’s amusing when I have met people who have explored their past lives. They have always been a prince or a princess. They were never menial laborers.  I think he looks back and is kind of curious.  I think Jill points it out to him that he is not at all suspicious that he is the pool boy, or the golf pro’s offspring?  He knows the tryst happened at the country club, and so the first person you think of is one of the elite of the country club. 

Courtesy/CBS

It would be such a huge devastating fall for Jack if something like that turned out to be true!  Jack so wants to belong to a family that has wealth and prestige that goes along with their name.  I wonder what it would be like if he had to say, “Yes. It’s true.  I am the pool boy’s son!” (Laughs)

PETER:  I don’t know how that would fit Jack.

How is working with the latest Kyle, you’re on-screen son, played by Michael Mealor? The part had been recast multiple times and the actor didn’t stick.

PETER:  I cannot say enough good things about Michael.  This is an extremely disciplined, very talented, and very professional guy.  I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him.  I think he is doing a great job.  Michael gets looser every show.  He likes to take big chances and try a lot of things.  We have had a lot of young actors on the show and what they do is try to project that they are cool.  They don’t go outside of the, “I’m going to be cool, and honest, and real.”  They say, “I am going to be solid, and make simple choices.”  Michael takes big chances doing large stuff, and going overboard  That’s scary do to as an actor, but I watch him in scenes with Hunter King (Summer) where he is trying to appear cool, but just her physical prescience gets to him.  You can see it in his performances and it’s wonderful to watch.   It’s lovely to see in a 26-year-old and it’s fantastic.  I have high hopes for Michael.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

This version of Kyle seems to be a bit of a chip-off-the-old-block.  He can play dirty just like his dad!

PETER:  As far as where Kyle is at … he is like Jack Abbott.  He is not a good guy, nor a bad guy.  Kyle is a bit of an opportunist with a heart, who wants to feel a part of things, but he also takes advantage of the situation, in a way that sometimes works against that. 

We saw Jack stumble and drink again as he fights his addiction when learning the news that John is not is biological father.  Do you see him stumbling again, and going back to popping pills and booze, if Phillip Chancellor II were not to wind up being his dad?

PETER:  I don’t know if he will see him spiraling, but it is worth saying for someone who is a constant and has a had guiding light of  ‘what’s right, and what’s wrong” and that now has been taken away from him essentially when John Abbot goes “Jack!”, that is a game-changer.  What we can expect from Jack now may change.  Jack isn’t as bound by “what would dad do” as he once was.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, we may be surprised with a turn in attitude from Jack?

PETER:  You may be surprised.  So much of his life, and certainly so much of what I play is that Jack has spent his whole life trying to be like John Abbott, because John Abbott is his father.   Now that is not so. So, how much effort should Jack be putting in to being like John Abbott?

Good point!

PETER:  It will be interesting to see where that goes!

We have seen many actors in the soaps portray drug and alcohol addiction. When Jack’s played itself out originally, it was one of the most harrowing to watch.

PETER:  He got to a dark place very fast.  It was out of control.  It was an important part of the Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) and Jack story, because he honestly did not have the strength to do it by himself, and he had somebody to help him through it   As it turned out, it was a formative experience for Jack and for Phyllis; one that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. They know things about each other that the rest of the world does not know.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Billy recently read Jack the riot act, when Jack told his brother about being Phillip Chancellor’s son.  Having had it with Jack, Billy threw him out of his office.  Where do you think the relationship stands between the brothers at this point?

PETER:  It’s really hard for Jack.  He is still on the board at Jabot.  He has family ties there, and he still gets the checks, but it feels so weird for him, it really does.  He is trying to be a bigger man and let Billy do what Billy is going to do.  Deep down inside Jack has known Billy for a really long time, and when Billy sort of combusts, boy, does he go! Jack hates that Billy is holding the reins of Jabot, if things fall apart for Billy.

Viewers are seeing Billy turning to gambling again.  What would Jack do if he finds out what is happening to his brother?

PETER:  I don’t know what he could do.  I am not sure what he could do to stop the CEO of the company as things currently stand.  It’s hard for Jack to relax around Billy. It’s not a promising situation.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you think the Jack and Bill will ultimately be there for each other when the chips are down moving forward?

PETER:  Jack has a soft place in his heart for addicts for reasons we both know, and a soft spot for family.  It will be interesting to see how well Jack’s patience holds up, if Billy should go down that particular rabbit hole.

Do you think Jack might visit Chancellor Park and have a chat with the late Katherine about the revelation about Phillip and Dina?

PETER:  I think Jack is really trying to be realistic about all of this.  It could clearly be proven, but he is impatient.  He could wait for Chance and Phillip III to come back from their Himalayan trip, but he does not want to wait.  It’s just so easy if everyone would be practical about this, and get some fragment of Phillip’s remains, and there would be a DNA test.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Jack’s nemesis, Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) is having a lot of issues, too.  This includes his mysterious health diagnosis …

PETER:  Oh, damn! (Laughs)

How does Jack feel about Victor these days and the plight that he is in?

PETER:  Jack has such contempt for Victor.  However, Jack can occasionally see that Victor is important to some people, but Victor to Jack is everything that is wrong in the world.  As to the fact that he is struggling right now, does Jack wish bad physical health on him, or anybody?  No. However, if things didn’t go easily for Victor, Jack would not lose any sleep over it.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Don’t you think it’s time for Jack to have a real, honest-to-goodness, love interest?

PETER:  Jack should have a new love interest.  I think the writers and the producers of The Young and the Restless are paying me a lot for half of what I do.

Jack should find true love.  Someone who will be with him and whom he loves with all his heart, and someone who loves him back, flaws and all.  A romance where he is not manipulating her, or she is not manipulating him, for financial or corporate gain.   Do you think at this point that is even possible?

PETER:  I think that would be a swell thing, but that would be a daytime show investing in an actress that is over 40-years-old.  They have done it, but it’s a rare thing.  But yes, I do feel like we are seeing two-thirds of Jack.  There is another third of him that is completely unexplored and that’s a shame.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

We saw those heartbreaking scenes that aired last year where Jack had to admit to Ashley that his mother has Alzheimer’s.  How is he going to continue in his relationship with Dina knowing she has had multiple affairs throughout her life, and when married to John?

PETER:  This is a real difficult place for Jack.  Obviously, he has his mother back in his life in one sense, but his mother has been responsible for pretty much everything that has gone wrong in his life over the last two years.  It’s just one thing after another.  Had his mother been faithful to John, Jack would not be in this situation.  Had his mother not returned, we could have gone on with life as it was, and now all this mess is in part Dina’s doing.  Now, Jack has moved out of the house and so his mother is slipping away by the minute, and Jack is not around for it.  He keeps visiting, and he keeps stopping by, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough.  Jack struggles with that a lot.  He should be more in Dina’s life and be around for that, but being around for that means being in the Abbott house.  Everywhere he looks are reminders that he is not who he told himself he is for his entire life.

One of the more endearing moments came at this year’s Daytime Emmys, after Eileen Davidson (Ashley, Y&R) took to the stage to accept her award for Outstanding Lead Actress.  She thanked you while you were in the audience.

PETER:  This is in keeping with my new plan for the Emmys each year,  What I do is: I try to get a nomination so that I can sit in the audience after I have lost and hear the winner for Lead Actress thank me personally. (Laughs)  I am two for two in the last two years! (Laughs) Gina Tognoni had won that category the year prior.  Eileen Davidson is the greatest, and she has been for all intent and purposes my leading lady on Y&R.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Now, Eileen Davidson has announced, and made the decision to leave her role as Ashley.

PETER:   I can’t say enough things about her.  I adore her … I adored working with her. She is every bit as good as everybody thinks she is.  She comes to work prepared   She never needs hand- holding or spoon-feeding.  Eileen is the real deal; had she been one of Jack’s lovers that would have been over a long time ago.  The fact that she is his sister is fantastic.  Now with her exiting the show, I will miss her terribly.

In closing, viewers should watch for Jack’s next move?

PETER:  Jack is not leaving any stone unturned.  He has to figure out who he is, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

So, do you think Phillip Chancellor II is truly Jack’s biological father?  If not, who do you think is?  What have you thought of Peter Bergman’s performance in the storyline? Would you like to see Jack have a new love interest?  If so, who would you like to see the series bring onto the show to play opposite him? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Next week on Y&R, Hilary is fighting for her life, but the prognosis is not good. Friends and loved ones come to the hospital and ask for forgiveness and to tell her to fight. But how can she? Watch the latest promo from CBS Daytime below. Leave A Comment

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