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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.

Courtesy/ABC

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:

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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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Guest
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… Read more »

todd
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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… Read more »

eve henley
Guest
eve henley

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

Brian Greene
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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… Read more »

Alaina
Guest
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.

Interviews

Y&R’s Christian LeBlanc and Michelle Stafford Talk On Their Enduring Friendship, Sharing Scenes & Preview Special Episode

Coming up on the Monday, January 10th episode of The Young and the Restless, the CBS daytime drama series will mark the 30th anniversary of Christian LeBlanc as Michael Baldwin.

In it, Michael will being trying to figure out what’s next in his life, after he has been a successful legal eagle for decades, with the assistance of several characters and some memorable flashbacks that might inform him.

Photo: JPI

LeBlanc debut on Y&R back at the end of November in 1991, and has won three Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series throughout his time in Genoa City.

To celebrate Christian’s 30th anniversary, Michael Fairman welcomed Christian and his longtime co-star and dear friend, Michelle Stafford (Phyllis) for a special conversation on You Tube’s The Michael Fairman Channel along with some memorable clips.

Photo: JPI

During the chat, Michelle and Christian reveal their favorite scenes together, how they met, the key to their enduring friendship, and and how they have gone through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Later, Christian shares his reaction to the on set celebration in his honor with his co-star and previews his special episode.

Photo: JPI

In addition, during the holidays, Michelle helped organize a toy drive for the second year in a row to help children and families in need along with the NAACP and the National Action Network, which Christian participated in along with several Y&R cast members, and they discuss how the toy drive came together during these trying times for everyone.

Courtesy/CLeBlancIG

Now below, check out the full interview with Christian and Michelle, followed by the promo for LeBlanc’s special episode.

Let us know in the comment section what your favorite part of the conversation was, what are your favorite Michael and Phyllis scenes through the years on Y&R and share your congratulations to Christian on a job well-done for his 30-year milestone.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Joshua Morrow Chats On Nick’s Standalone Christmas Eve Episode

Nick Newman (Joshua Morrow) is one tired Santa! After delivering presents to the less fortunate for Christmas, he is tuckered out, and thus will begin the special episode The Young and the Restless is serving up on Friday, December 24th.

The Christmas Eve airing of this all-new standalone episode marks the fourth time in Joshua Morrow’s career that he has been featured like this on the top-rated CBS soap.

In this story, Nick will try to come to terms with where his life is headed when he is taken on a journey through his dreams. Enter plenty of your other favorites from the Newman clan and more, who will definitely make an impact on Nick.  At the end of it all, will Nick come away with some revelations and reflections? Will he learn anything that will change him for the better and give him a clear direction?

As viewers recently witnessed, Nick and Phyllis (Michelle Stafford) called it quits in heartbreaking scenes, leaving Nick once again at a loss in the love live department.  Will he, in turn, eventually reunite with Sharon (Sharon Case), when all is said and done?

Michael Fairman TV talked with Joshua to get insight and a preview on what to expect during this holiday episode including: if he feels Nick is adrift, how he sees each of the characters from Adam (Mark Grossman) to Victoria (Amelia Heinle) impacting his alter-ego, and of course, Nick’s relationships with the women in his life.  So, with that, ‘ho, ho, ho,” here’s our yuletide chat with Mr. Morrow.

Photo: SonjaFlemming/CBS

How did you feel when you got a script for this special Christmas episode, and that it was all centered-on Nick?

JOSHUA:  My first reaction was, “Do people really want to see more of Nick? (Laughs) When you see an episode like this, you instantly know that you’ve got to do a lot of work. You’re basically in every scene, and I think it’s pretty common knowledge that I learn my lines in the morning when I get to work. However, on those days, you can’t do that, so you just know that you’ve got to prepare, and everyone is counting on you.  I like doing my scenes as fast as possible, but when you have that much material, you’ve got to put the time in.  As an actor, you hope it’s written well, and that you perform it the way they want you to, and you just go from there.

It’s not about which women Nick should sleep with next?  (Laughs)

JOSHUA:  I think all of Nick’s dreams are women-based. (Laughs) He’s walking around town going, “Who’s next?”  No, it’s a dream about figuring out who he is.  He is going through this kind of loop in his life where he’s not entirely sure where he is, where he should be, what he should be doing, how he’s treating people … it’s just kind of a look inside himself to see if he can come up with any solutions because he knows that what is happening and what he is doing right now is not working.  He doesn’t necessarily know why or how he got to this place, but with the help of some family, hopefully he will figure it out in the dream.

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Sounds like Nick is very much at a crossroads here.

JOSHUA:  Yes, that’s a good description of it.  He’s just kind of wandering, and the biggest thing (and he’s been going through this a lot throughout his whole life) is that he just doesn’t know why he gets to this place.  It’s like, is it something he’s doing?  Is there something wrong with him?  He’s just questioning a lot of things, so during the holidays, it seems like the perfect time to come up with solutions for oneself.

So, in his dream, should viewers expect to we see different characters coming to him, like we’ve seen in other Y&R episodes similar to this?

JOSHUA:  Yes, in the dream, we’re seeing his family coming into his life, and they’re talking about who he is, the good parts about him, sometimes the bad …

… Wait, Nick has bad parts about him? 

JOSHUA:  Well … just maybe some things that he needs to improve on. (Laughs) Without him knowing it, I think Nick is kind of hard on people.  If they don’t necessarily think like he is, without knowing it, he tends to hold that against them.  Just because somebody doesn’t think like you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re wrong.  He is just struggling with where he is in life.  He is wondering if he is doing things right.  The dream comes up, and it helps him realize some things.

Photo: JPI

You and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis) did some wonderful scenes recently that aired when Phyllis and Nick broke up.  Do you remember taping those?  How did you feel about the on-screen relationship going south … again?

JOSHUA:  For me, Stafford is my bro.  When you start doing those types of scenes, you realize it’s the end of something for now.  I realized that there was a window when I was with her every day, laughing, making fun of each other, doing the fraternity style comedy that we do with each other.  I did those scenes with sadness because I knew that they were breaking us up and that I wouldn’t get to see her every day, but they were great.  Michelle is such a freaking tornado of talent. I was excited to see her really do the thing I think she does best, which is just unbridled passion, whether it’s positive or negative.  She obviously crushed it.  I was just happy to be a part of it.  I don’t have to do much heavy lifting in those scenes. I just wanted to be there for her.  I think that the scenes did turn out very well.  I wasn’t happy to do them, but I always want to do good work.

Photo: JPI

So, where is Nick at with Sharon (Sharon Case) at this point?  How does she impact him in the holiday episode?

JOSHUA:  Sharon is in the special episode offering Nick a lot of advice and guidance.  Sharon is one of Nick’s biggest cheerleaders.  She is constantly trying to make him feel good and better about things that he does.  They’re really good friends.  They are coparenting, you know.  I’m no dummy, obviously the writing is on the wall as to where this will lead, but the journey of how they get there will be the question.  I don’t know when it will happen, but obviously Nick and Sharon have a tremendous history, and anytime they get together it is usually beautifully told.  I don’t know for certain because I don’t ask, but if that is indeed the path that they are going down, I am sure that it will be something the long-time “Shick” supporters are very happy with.  Like I said, there is no romantic anything at the moment. They’re nothing about that.  It’s just that around the holidays, it’s tough not to have someone, and they’re there for each other.  They’ve got kids, and they’re just trying to have a good Christmas.

Photo: JPI

Nick and Adam (Mark Grossman) have a very contentious relationship that is very complex. How does that figure into the equation?

JOSHUA:  It’s an interesting dynamic because Nick is forever grateful to Adam.  I literally think he has saved every one of Nick’s children’s lives at some point in their past, and maybe even Noah a couple of times (Laughs) It’s a delicate relationship because whether he mentions it or not, Nick is jealous that Victor (Eric Braeden) seems to turn to Adam now.  Despite all of Nick’s, “I want to do my own thing, leave me alone, etc.” it really hurts him that Victor turns to Adam when the family needs it.  For all of Nick’s, “I’m my own man,” he still really believes in the strength of the Newman family.  He will always have its back, and if it’s being threatened, like it was with what Nick perceives Ashland (Richard Burgi) to be doing, and Victor doesn’t come to Nick to help with that (or … he does in the beginning, but when it comes to an end, he basically casts Nick aside), that really bothers him.  It’s hard not to take that out on Adam. Still, he doesn’t trust him fully, and he is always kind of on edge around him.  It’s a delicate balance of trust and acceptance with Nick and Adam.

Photo: SonjaFlemming/CBS

Does Nick feel like the ‘odd man out’ with Victor, when it always seems that Adam and Victor team up?

JOSHUA:  He absolutely does, and again, Nick had brought a lot of this on himself.  He is constantly saying, “I’m going to do me.  I’m going to make my own decisions.  I don’t want you impacting any of those,” but then when Victor turns to Adam and not Nick in a very important situation that involves his sister, Nick is pretty hurt by that.  Nick does feel like Adam has come into his relationship with his father.  They’re working together very closely.  It seems like Adam had Victor’s ear.  It seems like Victor trusts Adam – at this point, maybe even more than Nick.  That definitely bothers him. I don’t fault Victor in this because all Nick has done is stomp is feet and say, “I don’t like the way you handle things,” and, “Leave me alone.  I’m going to handle things my own way.”  It’s an interesting situation for Victor to be in because I think he wants Nick to be in the fold.  He wants Nick to be there whenever he needs him, but Nick has not made that easy.  He is very hardheaded when it comes to the family dynamic at times.  Nick has created all these difficult relationships now in his family, except with his mother.  He and Victoria (Amelia Heinle) are at odds.  He and Victor are always staring each other down at opposite sides of the fence, and then Adam comes in, and threatens what he perceived to be his role in the family, and that also kind of leads to the whole dream.

Photo: SonjaFlemming/CBS

You brought up Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott).  How do you see the bond between mother and son?

JOSHUA:  Nick and his mother have always had an extremely close relationship.  Nikki leans on Nick to bring peace in the family, and Nick leans on her to talk him off the ledge at times because he does overreact, and he acts impulsively at times, while Nikki is very cool, calm, and collected at all times.  Usually, he does everything she asks of him.  Nick is very clearly a Momma’s boy, and he always will be, and if his mother needs him, he is going to step up and do what she wants.

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

In terms of his sister, Victoria, how does Nick feel about their stormy relationship?

JOSHUA:  I feel like they are not contentious now, but there is a level of sadness because they’ve always been the best of friends.  They have always relied on each other for everything, and now that has been completely cast aside.  They realize they are no longer each other’s person, the person they go to for anything: advice, support, comfort, whatever.  That is gone for each of them now.  It started with the Phyllis situation with the hotel, and now, it is certainly taken to another level with the Ashland thing.  I think that’s what the overall feeling is between the two of them at this time.

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

What’s amazing is that you, Amelia, Eric, and Melody are all really close in real life.  It’s like you truly have a second family.

JOSHUA:  It’s a real family.  The four of us are, for sure.  Without question, my favorite scenes to do on the show are when the four of us are together because we really are so close. Those dynamics are the fabric of what the show is about.  It’s not just the Newmans, but with the Abbotts and the Winters as well, and when the show highlights that, and really puts those small details at the front of the show, the fans realize that you don’t need those big, dynamic stories.  You don’t need the big explosive things.  When you just see those tender moments between those family members, that is everything.  That is the Bill Bell (Co-Creator, Y&R) playbook.  It’s easy to play because we care so much about each other, and I think it comes across on the screen.

Photo: JPI

Now, you’ve got a new Noah in Rory Gibson, and you got a new Faith in Reylynn Caster, both who came on to the show in the last several months.  How are they doing, and how has it been for you to adjust to working with them as their on-screen father?

JOSHUA:  It’s been awesome.  I’ve always said it’s a very tough job because I fall in love with these kids who play my children, and eventually they go off and do something else, or when they are little, sometimes there is a window when they turn about four, where they go, “I don’t want to be here! (Laughs) But when they’re babies, they’re just kind of in your arms, and it’s hard not to fall in love with them, but then when they get older, I see them grow up and turn into young adults.  Rory is an absolute stud. I did screen-test with the actors auditioning for the role of Noah, and he went first. I’m not exaggerating when I say two beats into our rehearsal, not even the actual screen-test in front of the network, I locked eyes with him, and I went, “This is him.  What are we doing?  I don’t need to do this with anyone else.”  He’s got a soul to him that is really amazing to watch.  He’s got depth.  He’s a really tremendous actor.  He’s a good kid, too.  He works hard, and he really wants to do well, and he’s humble.  In the special episode, Rory steals the dream. He does a scene in this show that is going to break women’s hearts around the world.  I am excited for people to see what he can truly do.  The sky is the limit for this kid.   I love having him here.  I super miss Robbie (Robert Adamson, Ex-Noah).  I love him like he is a son of my own, but Rory has taken this role and done something really good with it.  So has Rey-Rey.   She is obviously a tremendous talent.  Losing Alyvia Alyn Lind (Ex-Faith), who was one of the great loves of my life, killed me.  However, I couldn’t be prouder of her.  We text weekly about what’s going on with her, and she’s off crushing it, and the world is not ready for Aly, trust me!  Rey-Rey has come in, a beautiful, talented, young girl, who really wants to do well, and she fits right into the Newman mold.  I’ve been very, very blessed.  The casting department has really knocked it out of the park with these two.

Photo: JPI

I know Hunter King (Ex-Summer) is not on the show right now, but I know you two are really close.

JOSHUA:  Yeah, good grief.  It’s hard for me.  Probably Hunter and Amelia are the two others loves of my life along with Aly.  Hunter and I will text each other constantly, making fun of each other.  We have such a special relationship.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her.  I just know that she will be back someday.  I don’t know why.  Whereas I know Aly is gone forever.  She is off, and she is going to be a huge star.  Some fish outgrow their ponds, and I said that about her when she left.  Aly is off to a much bigger world, but I have a feeling (and maybe it is more of a hope) that Hunter will come back to me, and I say “me” because nobody loves her more than me. My kids are just everything to me on this show.  Honestly, it is one of the things that keeps me coming back for now almost 28 years.  I love them.  They’re all great people.

Photo: TMorrowTwitter

What are you and your wife, Tobe, and the family, going to do for the holidays?

JOSHUA:  We always go snowboarding.  We didn’t go last year obviously because of staying safe from COVID, but we tend to go Colorado every year, and we will be doing that again.  My oldest is away at college this year, so it will be fun to get him home and go off and do what we do.  I remember when I was in my teens learning to snowboard, I was like, “Someday, I cannot wait to lead a bunch of sons down big mountains!” and I’ve been doing that for years with them.  Two years ago, my middle son, who is just this testosterone-raged-alpha-male, finally said, “Dad, I’m leading us down.”  I was like, “Okay.”  He is the one son who has surpassed me in speed, and now we follow him. (Laughs)

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Now let’s talk College Basketball! (Laughs) Gonzaga has already had two losses and it seems every week there is a new team at #1 in the rankings.  Who do you think is looking good? 

JOSHUA:  I only watch Oklahoma hoops. (Laughs) The days of going off to March Madness with all my friends and acting like jackasses for multiple days are gone because I have soccer and lacrosse commitments with my family, but I am still equally as passionate about Oklahoma basketball as I’ve ever been.  I always say it, and it is definitely more heart than mind, but Oklahoma is going to win the national championship this year.

Okay, Joshua.  We will put it out there in the press!

JOSHUA:  You’ve got to put it in the universe!

So, looking forward to Nick’s Christmas journey on Y&R? Which women in Genoa City would you like to see Nick have a relationship with next? What advice would you give Nick Newman to get his life on track? Share your thoughts on this, and our conversation with Joshua, via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Chandler Massey & Zach Tinker Chat On ‘WilSon’, Being Recasts, ‘A Very Salem Christmas’ and that Drag Show

Chandler Massey (Will) and Zach Tinker (Sonny) are back for another streaming special, reprising the duo of “WilSon”.  Massey and Tinker can now be seen in the holiday film, Days of our Lives: A Very Salem Christmas now on Peacock.

In a new virtual interview with Michael Fairman for You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Chandler and Zach talk about their scenes and their participation in the Salem Christmas tale.

Courtesy/Peacock

As many know by now, in story, Will has to act fast to come up with a story for his script with his Christmas Eve deadline approaching.  Sonny decides he will assist Will and help conjure up the story, and thus we get an altered version of Salem from the guys that plays on the history of Days of our Lives.

Photo: JPI

During the conversation, Zach weighs-in on being a recast for Sonny (previously played by Freddie Smith), and Chandler shares that it’s always challenging to step into a role played by someone else – something he also had to do when he began on DAYS.

Courtesy/Peacock

In addition, the two discuss reprising their drag roles of Amanda Bottom and Sonny Delight for the holiday number to help save Salem business owners from eviction in Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem.

The actors also banter about the importance of maintaining a presence for ‘WilSon’ as one of the only LGBTQ on-screen duos as part of a daytime soap opera.  The question is: will the airshow write them back in?

Photo: JPI

Chandler also weighs-in on: if he was writing Will’s holiday script, what would he like to see befall the good citizens of Salem? You’ll hear his answer.

Check out the interview with Chandler and Zach below.

Now let us know, are you enjoying Chandler and Zach as the new version of WilSon? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Cameron Mathison talks with Michael Fairman on taking on the role of GH’s Drew Cain, the latest developments in Port Charles for Drew. his busy career outside of soaps and the loss of his mother and his public battle with cancer.Leave A Comment
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