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The Frank Valentini Interview – One Life to Live & What If

Courtesy/ABC

What soap viewer has not entertained the thought of, “What if my favorite soap babe met up with my favorite soap hunk from another soap?”  Or, “I wonder what would happen if two soap legends from different daytime dramas perform together for the very first time as their renowned alter-egos?”  Or, “I wish my favorites from Pine Valley could just get stuck somewhere with some of my favorites from Llanview!”  Well, some of your prayers are about to be answered coming up this Monday July 12th, when ABC Daytime and SOAPnet’s new creative webisode mash-ups, What If premieres, with some of the most famous and infamous characters from One Life to Live, All My Children, and General Hospital in some very unique out-of-time scenarios.  Just an FYI for your viewing pleasure – the webisodes will be derivative of the characters you love and their unique past, but are not related to current storyline. You can view the webisodes at both ABC.com and SOAPnet.com, and cut down versions will air on both ABC Daytime and SOAPnet.

So, once the What If’s were put into motion, who was the man who was instrumental in directing the amazing talent of ABC Daytime stars in these humorous, touching, and exciting featurettes?  And, who could give us the inside story on what to expect?  That would fall to One Life to Live’s head honcho, Frank Valentini.  And while Valentini runs the ship in Llanview, many insiders know that it is also his directing prowess that has earned him kudos from his peers and the press.  In this new interview with On-Air On-Soaps, Valentini gives us a look at how the What If’s were made, and takes us through each of the ten webisodes
you will see rolled-out throughout the summer.

Next, Frank gives us the overview for this summer’s sizzling storylines coming up on One Life to Live. And yes, finally, we do discuss how Valentini manages to keep things moving forward with his cast and crew amidst constant rumors that One Life could be the next show to hit the chopping block.  But after speaking with Frank and reading his thoughts, it should be apparent to anyone that this guy has the drive, determination, and love for the genre to keep creating new ways for soapers to enjoy their favorite stories be it on the web or the small screen.

You can view the full schedule of What If’s by clicking here

MICHAEL:

Frank, how did it come about that you were chosen for the job of director of all ten What If webisodes?  I know you directed the Endless Drama promo marketing campaign with ESPN Sports and ABC Daytime in the past.  So this obviously was a natural for you on so many levels.  And how involved were you in the development process until you finally went to tape?

FRANK:

Couresty/ABC

I heard from Sue Johnson, the Vice President of Programming and Talent for ABC Daytime on the east coast, about What If, and I got really excited.  She said that Adam Rockmore, and his team in marketing at ABC/SOAPnet, were heading them up, and it had been an idea that Sue and Adam had been talking about for awhile. They finally figured out a time when they could do it, and they told me the actors they were thinking of using from One Life to Live, and I got really excited about it. Then they said, “Well, we have one other thing… we know you are really busy, but do you think you could direct them?” And I was just floored, flattered, and honored.  I was really, really psyched.  I think it’s a really fantastic idea and fantastic for the fans.  It’s huge big wet kiss to the fans.  The webisodes are all really fun, sweet and heartfelt, and emotional.  The whole body of ten different scenarios is just fantastic and this great young writer, Sara Saedi, wrote them.  And, after I was invited on board and I was going through the directing process, I made some suggestions in terms of location, and how we might be able to make them the most accessible and most satisfying for the fans.  I was then able to bring all my experience over from One Life to Live to that.

MICHAEL:

Getting to work with so many of the top talent in the ABC Daytime line-up, that you never had the opportunity to work with before, was there any moment or scenario in working with certain actors that surprised you?  

FRANK:

There were a couple.  I always knew that Susan Lucci (Erica, AMC) was a wonderful actress, but she was really fun and funny to work with, and we did a scene with her and Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH).  I had known Susan for years, but I had never worked with her like this, and I had been a fan of Maurice’s for years, but only met him in passing.  I was thrilled that two dynamite stars were going to be in a scene together.  And just getting on the set with them, I could see it was exciting for them to find the humorous moments and the deep emotional moments in their scenes.  I mean, I directed Susan on All My Children like ten thousand years ago, but working with her and Maurice, who I had never worked with before, it was like instant chemistry.  I am always so floored with the professionalism and the dedication the daytime actors have.  When you work as fast and rapidly as we do, and as consistently as we do, those muscles are so strong and they react so fast.  Obviously, with the What If’s, we had a lot of time to do these compared to the regular daytime schedule.  Even within the five minutes of the piece, we were able to mine all these great moments, and that what was really fun for me.

MICHAEL: 

Courtesy/ABC

As a lover of the genre, you had to be pinching yourself, that you’re doing this and directing this with some of your favorite performers and colleagues.  How cool!

FRANK:

Oh, my God, it was totally cool!  Look, I am a fan, and it’s always great when you get to work with somebody you have never worked with before.  Also, it was a proud moment for me to see my One Life to Live actors working with other actors from the other soaps. What a blast to see Trevor St. John (Todd, OLTL) and Bradford Anderson (Spinelli, GH) together.  It was so fun, and those guys were so great together.  And, Trevor is such an interesting actor.  He is just incredibly spontaneous, and Bradford was coming up with all types of different ideas.  And together, I am so proud of all ten of the What If’s, and they all have individual moments that were great.  I have never been able to direct Rebecca Budig (Greenlee, AMC), and we have been friends for years.  She was so funny, and she and Steve Burton (Jason, GH) immediately had chemistry on-screen, and they obviously knew each other from soap fan events, and what not.  Their segment is really funny, and then all of a sudden there is this poignant moment in it that is really sweet.

MICHAEL:

One of the pairings many are interested in seeing is Michael Easton (John, OLTL) and Kelly Monaco (Sam, GH).  These two had hot vampire love together on the now defunct Port Charles. How was it to watch them work together for the first time in years?

FRANK:

I think people forget what great timing Michael Easton has.  If you saw some of the scenes from Bo and Nora’s wedding, some of his reactions were just classic.  He is always very subtle, and some of the work he has done over the years with Tuc Watkins (David, OLTL) is priceless.  I am so crazy about Michael and his talents.  He is a real gift to One Life to Live. I know Kelly and I think she is dynamite.  These are two wild, energetic actors coming together, and they have such great history.  Their piece is a little more physical then some of the others and it takes place in an elevator, and it’s awesome.

MICHAEL:

Where were the What If’s shot at?  You obviously came west for a time to accomplish this. 

Courtesy/ABC

FRANK:

Yes, I came out to Los Angeles to shoot these.  They were done in a separate studio called Air Hollywood out in Pacoima, just outside L.A.  We were dark at One Life to Live and we had a little break.  So that is how we were able to get the One Life to Live actors out to the west coast.  Then, I was able to come out and spend some time. We shot all of them within a two and a half day period.

MICHAEL:

One of the other What If’s, that I am looking forward to is the bringing together of six-time Daytime Emmy winners and soap opera legends, Erika Slezak (Viki, OLTL) and Tony Geary (Luke, GH).   What can fans expect from their pairing?

FRANK:

That one was so sweet, and we built a separate elevator set just for them. There was a mutual admiration society going on with them.  Tony did some things that came right out of his head that just added to the process.  I am a big fan of his.

MICHAEL:

Ok, but here you are directing all these heavy-hitters on daytime.  Did anyone take issue when you asked them to take direction, or with some notes you may have had to offer to get to your goal with each webisode?

FRANK:

Courtesy/ABC

First of all, the actors who were picked are all incredible professionals.  I have a good relationship with them.  So they will do what I ask them to do as their boss, (Laughs) but I have to say everybody was very excited about these.  All seven actors from One Life to Live said, “Oh, my God.  I am so flattered to be asked to participate.  This is going to be cool.”  When I told Michael Easton he was going to be paired with Kelly Monaco, he just burst into this big smile.

MICHAEL:

Kirsten Storms (Maxie, GH), and John-Paul Lavoisier (Rex, OLTL) is a pairing that could be quite interesting to watch, since they are both extraordinary and have a very quirky acting style!

FRANK:

It’s a fun one!  That one is actually very interesting because it has some moments that the younger audience can relate to.  Sort of like two sides of a coin, and a look at love and dating in the 21st Century, and what that means.  And we explore it through the eyes of these two very unique and very different characters.

MICHAEL:

One Life’s, Bree Williamson, (Jessica) got to play with Dominic Zamprogna (Dante) of GH.  But she is not Jess.  You brought back good ole’ Tess!  How does Tess know Dante?  From the… bedroom? (Laughs)

FRANK:

Tess knew him from the past, and that one is so good, because Bree Williamson is playing her alter-Tess in it.  And you know how much I love Bree! Also, another What If has Michael Knight (Tad. AMC) who is phenomenal in this teamed with Kassie DePaiva (Blair, OLTL).  That one is chucked full of surprises. 

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

All My Children’s Jesse/Angie, somehow get mixed up with Starr from One Life to Live. That is an odd and interesting soap mash-up!

FRANK:

You’ve got to watch that one!  Little Kristen Alderson (Starr, OLTL) is right in there, holding her own with Debbi Morgan (Angie, AMC) and Darnell Williams (Jesse, AMC). And again, it’s an interesting look at different people and how they see life.

MICHAEL:

Ah, then this one looks to potentially have some soap elevator sex.  Always good, but it’s made even better because Pine Valley’s Ryan, meets Port Charles’ Carly.  How was that to tape?

FRANK:

I fell in love all over again with Laura Wright (Carly, GH). And, Cameron Mathison (Ryan, AMC) and I have been friends for years.  We used to have a locker at the gym together. That one is so fun, and that is one of the first ones you will see.

MICHAEL:

Now that you have done these ten, where can this lead?  What is the hope of the ABC Daytime initiative with this?

FRANK:

Like I said, it’s a big wet kiss to the fans of ABC Daytime.  Lets just hope this is foreplay, and there will be more of them to come.  A couple of them lend themselves to sequels, and that would be fun to keep these relationships going and play out in different scenarios. We are open to new synergies. There are wonderful actors from all three ABC Daytime soaps, who just because we only could utilize a certain amount of people, were not included in this round.  But hopefully, they will be represented in the next round.  With two of the soaps now out in L.A., it’s not as difficult and challenging to make it all work.

MICHAEL: 

Courtesy/ABC

With all the challenges soap operas are facing at the beginning of this decade, do you think there will come a day, because of the rough times we face in the genre, that perhaps to save shows, characters, and performers on the ABC Daytime line-up, that they might integrate some characters into one big show?

FRANK:

No, because all three shows have lots of interesting characters and can stand on their own.  I don’t buy into the doom and gloom as much.  I know it’s a reality that we are in a recession and budgets are tight, but if the fans love these shows and watch these shows, and continue to support them, and support things like the What If’s, then they should get out there and say positive things.  Look, there are plenty of negative things to say about the world right now, let’s say
a few positive things.  Let’s support the things we love before they go away,
because then we won’t be able to say anything about them.

MICHAEL:

You are known to be great with budgets.  In fact, One Life is one of the only shows that is always under budget.  What is your secret?  Because, in addition to everyday costs of taping episodes, you seem to bring in all the special effect shows, such as Stacy’s Ice Freeze sweeps story, on point within the budget constraints.

FRANK:

I can’t speak to other people’s budgets, but I feel we have an incredibly hard working group at One Life to Live.  I think everyone understands if we want to do Stacy falling through the ice, or the musical we just did, Starr X-d Lovers, or Bo and Nora’s wedding, which was also extremely tough to do, that everybody needs to be on set on time, and everybody needs to be able to do their blocking, and know their lines, and the whole crew is behind us.  The actors on One Life are just such professionals. We move along at a nice pace.  And we also have a crew and a team that has been together for many years, and we developed a short hand, and we have found a way to make it work.  I am then constantly refining that, and thinking things through.  For instance, I might say, “Do we absolutely need that?  Because if we don’t, we can take that money, and put it into this.”  Knowing we were coming off of the musical and into Bo and Nora’s wedding, it was extremely important to figure out how we can do this, and still have Bo in a bathtub filled with tons of tomato juice, and six guys in the room that needed to be there.  And, so we can also have Tuc Watkins come back for the summer and that gives Llanview a jolt of his craziness and brilliance. 

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

Speaking of Tuc sticking around this summer in Llanview, what else can viewers at One Life expect through the summer heat?  Who is going to be front and center?

FRANK:

Fans can expect some very interesting things to happen with Bo and Nora, which will be really fun. We will explore what married life means for them and their relationship with Matthew.  Starr and Cole are going to continue to persevere amidst the craziness of their families, and the situation that they are in, especially involving James and Hannah.  There is a great story going on which is picking up steam and will play out for a couple of months between Viki, Dorian and David, and Charlie, and it goes through to the beginning of fall.  The story is humorous.  Viki and Charlie are trying to set up Dorian and David, which ultimately will make these two see their true feelings for one another.  It’s always fun when Viki and Dorian are in the mix together.  We are finding now that Eli is not the good guy we all thought he was.  He has a lot of stuff coming up with Blair and Todd that will happen.  Of course, the other major story is what is going to happen with Tea, and her daughter, Dani.  It’s really a hard, emotional story, and very uplifting at the same time, and life affirming. We did a fantastic remote with Trevor and Florencia Lozano (Tea), and Kelley Missal (Dani).  Also, there are a lot of surprises and twists and turns with Natalie, John, Jessica, and Brody.  That story will definitely be heating up over the next couple of weeks.  There is a little bit of everything this summer on One Life.

MICHAEL:

You have accomplished so much at a young age in daytime.  When did you start at One Life?  It’s been a few decades, right?

FRANK:

I have been at One Life to Live for 25 years, and I have been the Executive Producer for seven and a half years. 

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

Do you think looking back, that this was your ultimate goal?  To run a daytime soap opera?

FRANK:

It’s kind of like when you first meet somebody, you don’t know you are going to spend the rest of your life with them. (Laughs)  And then 25 years later, you look back and go, “Wow, Wow, that has been fun.”  I came out of college and started working at One Life to Live for then executive producer, Paul Rauch, (now co-exec prod at Y&R) who was an incredible teacher and mentor, and I sort of fell in love with the show.  I fell in love with the actors, and yes, I love what I do, and I work incredibly hard.  But, I never want to watch the show and think, “I wish we could have done that, or we should have done that.”  We are
always trying to learn, and make the show better every day.

MICHAEL:

As the show’s EP, when you hear rumors that the show could be canceled this December, or all the other rumors about One Life’s cancellation over the past year, how do you rah-rah your show?  Keep everyone’s spirits at One Life up?  Rally the troops?

FRANK:

It’s a combination of pointing out what the facts are, because rumors don’t mean anything… they are just rumors.  And yes, you can re-check with the network and ask, “Is there something we should know?”  But we look at the ratings, and the sweeps period for the show, and the different segments of the audience.  Obviously, the demographic of 18-49 is very important.  From February up through May we were doing pretty well, and pretty much number three in the demos.  That is very good.  And sometimes, that number goes up, and sometimes that number goes down.  And on a good day it’s great, and on the bad days we try to sit back a minute and think, “OK, what did we do wrong?”  Everybody on our set has a great sense of humor, and they know ABC Daytime is behind us 100%, so we just keep going. 

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

In closing, what tip would you give every soap fan or ABC Daytime fan, about enjoying the upcoming What If’’s?

FRANK:

Don’t miss them from the beginning, because then when they all roll out you will be on board.   They are all fun!  Make sure you share them with all of your friends.  It’s for people who watch the soaps, or even who don’t watch the soaps, because it’s new and it’s never been done before.  Get in early and stay for the whole ride.

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Keith
Guest
Keith

Great interview. Nice hearing from Frank as we do not hear from him much in the press. The “What If” promos sound really great and I think a lot of soap fans will be tuningin to check them out.

Ann
Guest
Ann

A very interesting read! I enjoyed the interview and it was nice to see the cancellation rumors addressed. The “What If” promos are a unique concept. I am looking forward the most to Todd/Spinelli. I know that one will be great! Frank should have mentioned what a great “gift” TSJ is to OLTL though. I think he is by far OLTL’s biggest asset! I just love Trevor’s work!

Tina Payne
Guest
Tina Payne

Michael Fairman, thanks for that great interview with Frank Valentini! I saw Frank’s genius up close for almost 10 hours when my husband and I had the privilege to see OLTL tape for a day. I think he puts out the best daytime drama on TV today. I told him that after the Emmys a couple of weeks ago, then some fans came to him pleading “Don’t kill Tea!”!, and later Laura Wright and he talked a long time, so I never got the chance to ask him about cancellation rumors. I may not have had the heart to anyway,… Read more »

Cammie
Guest
Cammie

I really enjoyed the interview and I’m glad he addressed the cancellation rumors as just that rumor.I’m really looking forward to the What If webisodes,especially the ones with Michael Easton,Kassie DePaiva and Trevor St. John.I really think it’s an interesting concept and if they do it again I would love to see one with Michael Easton and Bobbie Eakes.I really think they would have amazing chemistry.

Doe
Guest
Doe

Michael, this is one of the best and inteligent interviews you have done. Not only did you ask the right questions to Frank , but he was very willing to give you and the fans , the right answers. I think the creation of these episodes is brilliant. The mash-ups are ideal. This shows the clevernes of Frank Valentini. I think they will be so succesful that the fans will be asking for more. Frank must have had a ball working with the personalities of these srars. Kidos to you for the interview and kudos for Frank for being so… Read more »

Keith
Guest
Keith

You are so correct Doe. This was a great interview. As you said, Michael asked great questions and just as important, Frank seemed to be very open in his answers. I would love to see Frank do an interview with Michael where he went in to depth about all the comings and goings at OLTL, storylines, what to look forward to, etc. You can tell Frank was very comfortable with Michael, so you know it would be a great read to hear Frank talk in depth about OLTL.

Ann
Guest
Ann

There will have to be a sequel with Michael and Kelly. If there are
sequels, you can bet this will be one of them. I cannot wait to see them
together again!

Joanna
Guest
Joanna

Excellent interview! I am looking foreward to OLTL in the next couple of weeks, because it looks like we move away from teen centered stories and back to the adults. I am really looking foreward to John/Natalie Jessica/Brody stuff. And Bo/Nora they have been missed.

Rosalind Wolf
Guest
Rosalind Wolf

I wonder if the powers that be know that not only the younger generation watch OLTL. My mom watched the show from its inception and I was hooked from the start. I am now a senior citizen and just love the show but I would appreciate seeing Erica, Charlie and Bo and Nora and Clint have more screen time. I loved the interview.

Jason
Guest
Jason

I’m glad Starr and Cole are perserving and working on repairing their relationship. Those two have gone through enough, and they deserve a break from the drama I just hope they tell each other what happened first before.

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

I’m a new viewer to OLTL and James & Starr have drawn me to watch it and anticipate it every day.

I love this new potential couple!!

Joan
Guest
Joan

“One Life to Live is the best soap on ABC…..I started watching when “All My Children”
and One Life to Live….. in with the baby switch…..I’ve been watching ever since…
I hope “One Life to Live ” can continue to thrive…..
I also enjoyed the “What if clips”….they were very entertaining.
I wish Tea didn’t have to leave…..I feel so bad for Danielle….
I also enjoyed watching Michael Easton….in Port Charles.

General Hospital

GH’s Maurice Benard Chats On Mia St. John’s Powerful Interview on ‘State of Mind’, Winning the Daytime Emmy & Sonny’s Future If Carly & Jason Get Hitched

Since the launch of Maurice Benard’s You Tube series, State of Mind, he has welcomed numerous guests who have opened up and shared their struggles with different aspects of mental health.  But this Sunday, July 11th, Maurice will share for the first time his powerful and emotional sit-down interview with Mia St. John; one that he reveals was one of the most moving of his series thus far.

With Maurice being a huge boxing enthusiast throughout his life, having St. John, who is a boxer, herself, on as a guest was, of course, special. However, as soap fans know, Mia is also the former wife of the late Kristoff St. John (Ex-Neil Winters, Y&R) and they shared a son, Julian.  Both men died, tragically. Julian, suffered from a long-history of mental illness, and his death was ruled a suicide, and Kristoff was consumed with grief following his son’s death which ultimately set him on a downward spiral.  Kristoff’s death was ruled accidental caused by hypertrophic heart disease; which was exacerbated by alcohol use.  In the conversation with Benard, Mia opens about her own personal struggle with addiction and how she coped with these two devastating losses. (See an exclusive preview clip below within this interview)

It’s also been a whirlwind year for Maurice. He just took home his third Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series during the 48th annual Daytime Emmy Awards for his moving portrayal as GH’s Sonny Corinthos, as he goes through all the stages of a child watching his father, Mike Corbin (played by Emmy-winner Max Gail) slip away due to the ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Since the Emmy broadcast was pre-taped due to Covid restrictions, except for revealing who the winners actually were, Benard shares what went down when his name was called watching the show from home with his family.

 

And … things are heating up on General Hospital!  For months, Benard has been playing an amnesiac Sonny aka “Mike” who has become taken with deceitful Nina (Cynthia Watros), who knows he is alive and well and living in Nixon Falls, but fails to tell her nemesis Carly (Laura Wright), or anyone else in Port Charles.  With everyone believing Sonny is dead after his showdown with Julian Jerome, Carly and Jason (Steve Burton) find themselves having to save Sonny’s territory and go up against the five families.  So, what are the besties deciding to do? Get married! And as viewers saw, Carly recently removed her wedding rings to Sonny.  So, now the question on GH fans inquiry minds is; will Sonny get his memory back in time, and stop Jason and Carly from tying the knot?

Benard weighs-in on what the future may hold for Sonny, the difficulties he faced during the Covid-19 lockdown with his mental health, his conversation with Mia, and much more.  Here’s what Maurice shared.

Courtesy/StateofMind

Having Mia St. John on as your guest on the upcoming episode of State of Mind was quite emotional for you. What can you preview? 

MAURICE:  I can say that during last ten minutes, there’s a lot of spiritual stuff going on.  I felt it.  She’s very tough.  You can tell that she doesn’t want to hurt anymore, and with me, I don’t know for sure, but I think she felt safe and protected.  We got into Julian and Kristoff and what happened.  I’m pretty sure I asked her and said, “I’d like to get into something.  You could say ‘no’ to me.  It’s fine,” and she told me the whole story.  Michael, I know you were friends with Kristoff, you’re going to really be moved because I was extremely moved.  It really, really hit me hard, because of what I’ve just been through during the pandemic. I just felt the need to be there for her.  I mean, I have that in me anyway, but with her, I did because it seemed like a lot for someone to go through.  I didn’t know Kristoff.  I met him once, and we talked for a bit.  He seemed like a great guy.  I knew he was a great actor because I watched his work.  I do know that everybody seemed to love him, but through State of Mind, it seemed like I got to know him a little better through Mia.  I was looking in her eyes, and taking it all in, and she was telling me everything.

Throughout your series, you seemed to have become more comfortable in the role of the interviewer.  It’s quite the switch isn’t it from always being on the other end as the interviewee.

MAURICE:  Yeah, I’ve gotten better.  You know what it is with me, and somebody said it, I’ve got a curiosity that I love to hear people’s stories, and I have a way to make people comfortable.

Photo: KSJIG

Does it help you in listening to what other people have gone through in dealing with your own struggles with mental illness?

MAURICE:  Yeah, I’ve said it before.  It’s like therapy for me.  After Mia, I was drained, but in a good way.  In the beginning of doing “State of Mind’, I was just learning.  I wish I was more well-rounded in my intelligence.  I barely graduated out of high school, but as far as what it is with me, if I know something like acting or mental health, I really completely know it.  I’m into it.

How did the interview with Mia come about?  Did you ask her to come on State of Mind?

MAURICE:  I know who is involved with mental health.  I know who would be interesting to interview, and then I reach out, and I have people coming who are not in the soap world.  I have a WWE person; I have a TV critic, etc.  So, I asked her, and Mia said ‘yes’, and then we did the interview.  I’m a huge boxing fan.  So, to be able to talk to her about boxing and things that happened to her right before her fights, I was just really fascinated.

That is right in your wheelhouse!

MAURICE:  Way up my alley!  If I could have more boxers on, I would love that.  I love sports, but boxing is my one sport, so I was like a kid in a candy store talking to Mia.

How do you feel Mia is doing as she has been very open about her battle with alcoholism?

MAURICE: Any time you’ve been through that much, I think it’s a daily struggle for anyone. In addition, there is a really great organization she works with that I hope people will check out as she is trying to help others.

In terms of all of your State of Mind’s, did this one impact you in a different way?

MAURICE:  The good thing for me about State of Mind is that I learn from each person about things that I didn’t know.  For instance, coming up I have: Linsey Godfrey (Ex-Sarah, DAYS) who got hit by a car.  I mean, you could read about it, but when you’re talking to someone, things come out.  That’s what I love about doing this show.  Jason Thompson (Billy, Y&R) didn’t know anything about mental illness, personally, but he talked about mental illness more than anyone!  I said to him on the episode, “For somebody who doesn’t know anything about mental illness or didn’t have someone with it, you talk more about it,” because he had a curiosity on the subject.  Mia’s was a little more because of the boxing and how deep we went with her talking about death.  In an upcoming episode with Ken Shriner (Scott, GH), he teaches me a lot about death.  When your parents die at 16, I don’t know how you could keep going.  He taught me how.  It was beautiful.

Photo: NATAS/CBS

Let’s go back to a few weeks ago on June 25th and you win the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.  How did you find out you took home the gold?

MAURICE:  I was at my place in LA with my son, Joshua and my wife, Paula and we were watching the show.  When they called my name, I was very moved to watch my wife and my son get so excited, it really was sweet.  I liked my speech even though people had a problem with it, which is fine.  It’s always great if Max Gail wins or I get a win, because it’s the Alzheimer’s storyline that gets the attention.  And as I told you already, my dad has Alzheimer’s so it makes it even more personal.

And as you know, my mom had Alzheimer’s and died.  That’s why what you and Max did together on-screen together felt so real and raw and touched so many people – especially those who have a loved one going through this now, or that has passed.

MAURICE:  Yeah, it’s tough. I truly believe with this Emmy win, that it is the Alzheimer’s that really pushed it over the edge because it was a real story, greatly written, everybody deals with it, including you, including me, and you just can’t help but have a feeling about it.  You know, if I have a reel that shows me as Sonny yelling at people, beating people up, it’s not going to give you the impact.

Photo: NATAS

Was it weird coming to the stage and doing a pre-taped Emmy acceptance speech knowing that everybody else that was nominated had to do one too?

MAURICE:  Well, thank, God I didn’t have to do it in front of actors; I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it.  It’s weird, right?  I knew I had to adjust.  When I’ve won before, it’s in front of a lot of people, or semi-in front in a lot of people.  So, with this year, your energy is different.  So, you can’t act in a speech like that, because then it would seem kind of over the top, maybe.  So, I just made a speech that I thought would work for what I was doing; which is kind of acting because I didn’t want to come out and say, “Oh, my God!  I can’t believe it!”  So, I said, “Okay, I’ll thank the actors, I’ll thank Frank, and I’ll make it about Alzheimer’s.”

Photo: GFrancisTwitter

I know some fans on social media jumped on the comment you made within the speech about ‘being the star of the show’ and you did tweet out that you went to Genie Francis (Laura, GH) to make sure there were no ruffled feathers there.

MAURICE:  I went to Genie because I thought, I don’t want her to take what I said personally, and she’s like, “What are you talking about?”  Sometimes I respond to a negative comment on Twitter with an emoji which can incite people.  So, I decided, “I’m not going to do that anymore. No more responding.”  Like I always say, you want to be loved and you want to be hated.  You just want to be loved a little more. So, I stopped with the child’s play.  I’m cool with it.

It seemed that things got twisted up, because you had related in the speech, that Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) came over to you and said you have to do the storyline, because you are the star of the show, when you were overcome in the screen-test with Max Gail. 

MAURICE:  Sometimes people love to change the narrative.  If you watch everything … they say what I said, but they don’t say that I also said ‘Alzheimer’s’ was the star, but I’ll take the hit.

Courtesy/ABC

I recently posted a clip of my interview with Cynthia Watros from the red carpet at the Daytime Emmys saying how she is so thrilled and honored to work with you.  How is it working with Cynthia?

MAURICE:  Let me tell you about Cynthia, and this is just my experience because I don’t know her that well.  We hadn’t worked together before. First of all, we tend to overlook, because of her character and the story, or whatnot, is that she is a real actress.  Let’s not forget that, I know she did Lost, and I didn’t watch her on another soap.  I know from working with her.  She can act She makes adjustments, and she listens, and I’m really happy to be working with her.  She is just stuck in a circumstance that is not her fault, but you know what, like I said today I think on Twitter to somebody, ‘but wait’.  I’ve been working this last month doing some scenes with her, and when you see that, there’s a little bit of magic in there!  I’m not saying it’s the greatest thing in the world, I’m just saying there’s a little magic!

Photo: ABC

Have you liked being “Mike “and not having Sonny’s memory because it opened up the story?

MAURICE:  I know people think this story is my idea, like I needed a break or something.  It has nothing to do with me needing a break.  They came to me and said they were going to do this story.  I said, “Let’s do this!”  I’ve been enjoying this.  It’s a different energy.  The energy that Sonny has is dark.  It’s like in third gear.  Mike is like in first gear, calm, relaxed, happy.

You’re just realizing that now?

MAURICE:  (Laughs) Well, I guess until you’ve gone somewhere else you really don’t know.  Often times, when I do movies and other projects, it’s often the same kind of energy that Sonny has. I’ve never played a character like “Mike” where it’s a whole other feeling!

Courtesy/ABC

Is it more challenging to play a character like Mike?

MAURICE:  No, easier!  Sonny can be difficult to play.  But guess what?  The audience – at least my fans – they don’t care how happy I am or whatever, they are screaming “Go back to fricken Sonny!”  I like that in a way, but I didn’t know that it was going to be this vocal from people.  It’s not that they hate Mike, they just want Sonny, and Cynthia is put in a tough situation because of her history in that character.

So, now everyone saw last week that Jason and Carly have decided they have to get married for the sake of the business with Sonny believed-to-be-dead.  What did you think when you heard that they were going in that direction with the story?

MAURICE:  Well, I was the last one to know.  I didn’t know they were going to get married until I heard about it in the makeup room.  I think the first thing I thought of was … we are all going to be having some great scenes coming up, like, “Alright.  Let’s rock and roll!  Let’s do it!  I’ll get into this character of Sonny when called upon.”  It might be and dark and the whole thing, but once I’m in there, I’m fine.

Courtesy/ABC

It would seem if Carly and Jason do actually get married, it’s not going to be an easy road to reconciliation for Carly and Sonny down the line.

MAURICE:  No.  I would say not.  The thing about Sonny is that it’s what Sonny does best, or what I do playing him best, is betrayal.  So, for him, this is not a good thing.  I would assume he’s just going to go, “What the…” and all hell is going to break loose.

Sonny’s body washed ashore and he was very much alive, while the search and rescue mission quickly became a recovery.  Once again, law enforcement in Port Charles isn’t very good! (Laughs)

MAURICE:  So, there you go.  It’s going to be a bigger fight.  It’s going to be a great fight when Sonny does return.

Photo: ABC

Fans are predicting that Jason and Carly are going to be at the altar, and Sonny is going to walk in alive and well with his memory back to the nuptials!

MAURICE:  Well, however it goes, I would say, just let them just watch the fireworks as they unfold.

But you’re enjoying this story?

MAURICE:  I’m cool, man.  I will say this, I’m glad that I have been given this last month playing Mike, and the Nixon Falls story.   I don’t know how much more we have ahead.  I just know that what we’ve taped has been really cool, and I’m glad that they gave me that.

Photo: ABC

I know that the coronavirus pandemic and its isolation was rough for you.  What can you share, and how did you find your way out of a downward spiral?

MAURICE:  Yeah, Covid was just one of those things where I was hit with a lot of different things all at once, which was …  GH shutting down production, my book tour not being in New York (although the book ended up probably doing better because of the pandemic, which was interesting) … my mom and dad moved out …  and I thought it was the end of the world.  We all did at some point, and it all hit me with a rush of anxiety that I had never felt before in my entire life, and it was four months of terror … way too long. I was shaking like a leaf, not sleeping, it was tough.  What I tell people is that when you go through these things, it will pass.  I know, for me, four months was too long, but it did pass.  You’re better because of it.  You can take one of either two roads.  You can get worse, and you can say, “I’m a victim, I’m a victim,” or you can take the other road and say, “I’m stronger now.  Look at what I’ve been through,” and then, look at what happens … a year and a half later, look at what my life is.  I have a pond here at home, and I used to run around this pond crying my eyes out, every morning crying, like I couldn’t do it anymore, and a year later, I walk around the pond like it’s the greatest thing in the world, but that’s what this is, this mental health.  You can think you can’t go on, but then it rewards you with a better life.

Photo: Noah Harmon

I was going to say, that’s pretty profound.  When you were going through the four months, did you think you were going to come out of it okay?

MAURICE:  No,   I’m going to be honest.  I finally got on Lexapro after three months.  If Lexapro didn’t work, I can’t say positively what would have happened.  It gradually made me feel better.  Like I have said, if GH had called me a month before, I wouldn’t have been able to finish the storyline.  It would have been the end.  I wouldn’t have been able to go back to work, because I was in that state of mind.  So, they called at the right time.  I went back to work and I was on Lexapro.  The thing about Lexapro is – and we always tell people to get professional help. There are a lot of people like me, and I’ve got to say, first you get professional help because you’re on the brink of whatever.  So the first five days of taking Lexapro, you feel worse than you did just before you started taking it, and that is scary because you’re like, “I can’t take this.  This is horrible,” and then I stayed on it.  It got gradually better, and just a month and a half ago or so, I weaned myself off.

How are you feeling now?

MAURICE:  Oh, let me tell you, the day that I weaned off, was a Thursday, and I wasn’t going to take it, and I was on my bed, and I felt the greatest I felt maybe, ever.  Now, I’m not saying people should go off it, whatever, because I was on it for like 8 months or something, but it saved my life like lithium for my bipolar disorder, and that’s an amazing thing that these pills could do.  What happened with me with the pandemic is that I had never really taken anything for anxiety.  I had only taken lithium, and I’d been on lithium for 30 years, but for anxiety, I never wanted to take anything, but if you’re bad, if you’re like (you know those gears I’ve been talking about) in 4th and I was like in 5th gear, you’d better get some help, man, because you can’t get off it on your own.

Photo: State of Mind

I want to conclude checking in on your dad, Humberto.  When did you learn he had Alzheimer’s, and how is he doing now?  

MAURICE: It’s been a while since I found out.  I didn’t really want to talk about it, and then I did something in People magazine with the book, and I asked him if I could talk about it, and he said “yeah”.  So, it gave me the green light, and that was maybe 10 months ago.  He’s actually doing good.  It’s slowly kind of happening but that is how the disease works.  This has been a really great conversation, man!

So, what do you think will happen with Sonny aka “Mike”? Will he return to Port Charles before Carly and Jason tie the knot?  Have you been watching Maurice’s State of Mind series, and has it helped you with any of your mental health issues or concerns? Were you happy that Maurice took home the gold this year for his portrayal in the Alzheimer’s storyline? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

B&B’s Jacqueline MacInnes Wood Shares Her Emotions & Reactions On Her Second Daytime Emmy Win for Lead Actress

Last Friday night on CBS broadcast of the 48th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, The Bold and the Beautiful’s Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Steffy Forrester) took home the gold in the hotly contested Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category.  This marks Jacqui’s second win.

MacInnes Wood’s performance in Steffy’s opioid addiction storyline, that aired in 2020, was the ticket to victory for the talented young actress and new mom to her second son, Lenix.

As viewers saw, the Emmy telecast was pre-recorded including all the nominees taping acceptances speeches ahead of air; with the winner being revealed for the very first time on the broadcast.

 

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Jacqui post-Emmys, to find out how she felt about her speech, her emotions at having her name called for the second time in her career, and how she felt Steffy’s addiction storyline resonated with so many people at home, and obviously, the Emmy voters.  Here’s what she had to say …

Photo: NATAS/CBS

What was it like for you to do have to pre-tape your acceptance speech?  Yours, actually came off very in-the-moment, because you kind of stumbled over a word, but it seemed like you were very excited.

JACQUELINE:  Yeah!  I was very excited.  Of course, it is strange to do it that way.  I am very grateful that I was up to my nose in The Bold and the Beautiful scenes and dialogues in the week and the days before, that whole week.  I wasn’t sitting around going, “I’m going to rehearse this in the mirror.”  I just wanted it to be very heartfelt and real.  I wanted to make sure it wasn’t like last time – I truly was not expecting it the first time I won.  I think that this time I wanted to be mindful of who to thank and talk about the story, which was so important to bring up opioid addiction, and I really wanted to thank Brad Bell (executive producer and executive producer, B&B) for giving me this story, and allowing me to tell it, because it was such an important message to tell.  Even though this year’s Daytime Emmys were shot differently, I was still nervous. I was so excited to get on a stage. Last year, we were on a Zoom, so it was nice to be able to do this on a stage again.

So where were you on Emmy night?  Were you watching the broadcast at home?  

JACQUELINE:  I was at home, and I was with my friends and my family.  To be honest, it was such a fun way to do it.  Even though it was so wild the way that we shot it – they do this on RuPaul’s Drag Race.  Sometimes they’ll do it live, but everyone has their acceptance speech.  I was just happy during the Emmy taping day to be dressed up, wearing high heels, and to be with my cast, Then, I got to celebrate watching it with my friends and family.  It was so cool to find out in that moment, then afterwards we ended up going out.  We went to Ronn Moss’ (Ex-Ridge, B&B) house for a party, where Ronn was performing, and it was great to be with some of the cast and have everybody together.  So, we danced the night away, and it was so much fun.  I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  Of course, if we had been able to be at the Daytime Emmys that way would have been great, but it was nice to be able to go, “Okay, I can celebrate in my casual clothes, and dance, and not be uncomfortable.”

Photo: JMW Instagram

Were your children, Rise and newborn Lenix, with you watching when their mom won her second Daytime Emmy?

JACQUELINE:  My children were with me, and we celebrated together, and of course they don’t really understand what is going on, but they just saw all of us jumping around.  I probably scared my 4-month-old.  My mom ended up watching them.  Then, we all went out.  So, it was a good night.

Photo: HutchinsPhoto.com

Did you have an inkling that you were a frontrunner to take home the gold as Lead Actress for your work in Steffy’s opioid addiction storyline?

JACQUELINE:  Were there times when I thought I could win?  I wasn’t sure, but I knew what we did was very special.  The first time I won, I was very proud of myself knowing I had to do all of these long scenes, but I was not expecting to win.  This time, I thought there was a possibility, and I wouldn’t say that it’s all because of me.  I know it’s cliché, but honestly those days when we were filming, you could just feel the energy.  Everyone brought it.  We do film so quickly, and some performances are great, and some of them aren’t, whether it’s because you don’t sleep that night, you don’t know your dialogue that well, you don’t understand why your character is doing a certain thing, but you’re trying to figure it out.  When we were filming these scenes, I thought it was just such an important story to tell, and I felt like everyone gave it 110%.  I looked at everyone, and I knew we were all connected, and even though it was such a heavy storyline, there was something so magical those days and those weeks of filming.  I was so proud of everyone, and it wasn’t something that was like, “Here I am forcing myself to cry,” I was like, “I am just going to be in this scene and really tell this story that millions of people have gone through.” When I watched back those scenes after they initially aired, it was not only about the cast, but it was just how the audio had been added, how the directing was done (since we had to be six feet away from each other because of Covid-19 protocols) which made it all come to life.

Did you think when you came into this medium that you wind up being a two-time Daytime Emmy-winner?  Was it something that you aspired to have?

JACQUELINE:  I think yes and no.  I can’t sit there and say, “No, I didn’t.”  I have goals for myself, and you want to manifest some things, so I wanted to visualize that one day.  I’m in this industry, and I want to do the work, and I eventually wanted to have the Emmy one day, absolutely.  I’d be lying if I said, “I just want to go with the flow, and if I get an award, great.”  No.  I definitely thought about it and said, “Okay, this is something that I do want one day. I didn’t think I’d have two!  I just wanted an award, one day.  So, I think that’s amazing in itself, but I am very honored.

Courtesy/CBS

So, during the Lead Actress nominee package during the Daytime Emmy broadcast, they showed the gut-wrenching clips of yours, where Steffy admits in front of Ridge, Liam and Finn, “I’m addicted.  I’m addicted.  I have a problem.”  Do you remember performing those scenes?

JACQUELINE:  You know, you remember it sometimes as if you’re out of your body. In that moment, I remember being so in my body, but in a good way.  To say those words, to finally realize how heavy – even in talking to you right now – my body feels heavy.  I felt the weight of what Steffy was finally admitting. It broke Steffy, and it broke me.  I’ve never been in that position, but I did my research, and I looked up people who have suffered from addiction and the families, and to look over at Thorsten Kaye (Ridge) and see the heartbreak in his eyes, in Ridge’s eyes, to see what Steffy was doing to other people – she realizes in that moment, “Oh, my God. I am addicted.”  Looking back at those scenes, there is just so much truth in them, and for so many people who have been there.  It just breaks my heart that people have to go through this every day.  People sent me messages from all over the place, it was amazing.  I couldn’t believe the number of direct messages they sent me on my Instagram.  It was pretty incredible.

Courtesy/CBS

Your performance just felt so raw and real, which is why I think it registered with people who have been in that situation, and for the peer vote for the Emmy.  Whenever I talk to other actors about what they look for in judging other performers work, they always say they look for the truth. They don’t want to see a false note delivered in a performance.

JACQUELINE:  Absolutely.  For sure.  That’s why I’m so proud of everyone in the scenes because they all gave that.  It wasn’t like you look over at a cast member and went, “Oh, what’s my line?”  We were there.  It just gave me goosebumps.  It isn’t just my award.  It was everybody’s award.  When you get to really feel like you’re really alive in these scenes, living in those scenes, it’s such an incredible feeling. After this win, I am just riding the wave right now and really just enjoying it.

Photo: MFTV Inc.

Well, I’ll finish on this last question: How do you rate our Emmy photo together this year? (Laughs) We have well-documented our issues taking a decent photo together; usually because we break up laughing trying to take one.

JACQUELINE: (Laughs) I mean, okay … I am happy that we had those LED bars of light.  We have to have LED lighting around us 24/7.  So, I’ll give it a 9.5 rating   Moving forward, we need indoor, 3-4 LED lights, and we’ll be good.  Now that I have two Emmys, I’m going to be asking for that lighting moving forward … now that I’ve turned into a diva. (Laughs)

Share your congratulations to Jacqui via the comment section below … and let us know your thoughts on her winning her second Daytime Emmy – this time for Steffy’s powerful opioid addiction storyline.  But first, check out our red carpet interview with more with the eventual Lead Actress Emmy winner.

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Days Of Our Lives

WATCH: 48th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards Lead Actor Nominee Red Carpet Interviews

Tonight on the 48th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards five talented actors will vie for the gold in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series category during the Emmy broadcast, which airs on CBS and streams on Paramount + beginning at 8 p.m. EST.

During the Daytime Emmy Red Carpet event featuring nominees and presenters, four of the five nominated actors were able to make the festivities, missing was daytime favorite, Thorsten Kaye (Ridge) of The Bold and the Beautiful.

Michael Fairman chatted with GH nominees: Maurice Benard (Sonny), Steve Burton (Jason) and Dominic Zamprogna, plus Days of our Lives nominee and also a GH cast member, Wally Kurth (Justin, Days and Ned, GH) to get their thoughts on what this nomination for their work means to them, what performances they submitted for Emmy judging, and what it has been like to be a part of the collective daytime community.,

Check out our red carpet Lead Actor nominee interviews below, and make sure to check out more nominee and presenter conversations on the Michael Fairman Channel.

Now, let us know, which actor you are rooting for in the Outstanding Lead Actor category? Let us know your pick in the comment section.

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GH’s Kelly Thiebaud (Britt) chats with Michael Fairman about Britt being on the run with Jason, their burgeoning romance, working with Steve Burton and her other co-star and Britt’s diagnosis of Huntington’s Disease. .Leave A Comment

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