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The Genie Francis Interview – Pretty & The Young and the Restless

Courtesy/S.Fleming/CBS

Courtesy/CBS

Who says you can’t reinvent yourself multiple times over after portraying one of the most iconic, identifiable, and memorable characters of the soap genre and pop culture?  Well, don’t tell that to Daytime Emmy winner, Genie Francis.  The former Laura Spencer of General Hospital has gone on from her life in Port Charles’ sturm and drang, to her new role as mother-from-hell (sort of) Genevieve Atkinson on The Young and the Restless, to her starring role in the Hallmark series of made-for-television movies The Note.   But now Genie is taking another left turn in her stellar career, playing Dr. Kate, the pageant therapist, in creator and writer Steve Silverman’s hit comedy web series, Pretty! (www.prettytheseries.com)

If you missed the season-three premiere of Pretty, you will want to make sure to watch Genie, as she is plopped in amongst the zany and outlandish pageant-crazy Champagne family!  Francis will also appear in several more webisodes, where her Dr. Kate tries to make sense of it all … something we don’t think anyone can do with these folks!  On-Air On-Soaps chatted with Genie, not only about being part of a series on the web, but the consistent rumors that she is heading back to General Hospital, her current role as Genevieve on Y&R and what’s in store for fans of the show who have been missing Genie on-air.  And yes, she tells us about working with her CBS co-stars, including fan favorite Daniel Goddard (Cane) who plays her on-screen Genoa City son.

We also take a look at the genre today as opposed to when Francis first started in the glory days of daytime, and where she feels some much needed transition did not occur that might have saved the soaps from becoming extinct.  And what about that Oprah Show appearance with her and Tony Geary (Luke, GH), and being trotted out as part of the soap star legend spectacular?  Genie tells us more on what went down behind the scenes. We think that any long time soap fans will enjoy this interview with Genie, in which she tells it like it is, with honesty, humor, and as an actress who has been through it all in the tough world of show biz, and let’s not forget … the woman is still quite young!  Here’s the incomparable Genie Francis!

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/PrettytheSeries

Genie, you came into being on Pretty through your former on-screen GH mom, Denise Alexander (Ex-Lesley Webber) who also appears in Pretty in the role of Louise Kirkpatrick.  How did she get you to even consider doing something like this wickedly funny and off the wall comedy web series?

GENIE:

I got a call from Denise Alexander telling me how much she loved this script, and Steve Silverman, and how fun he was to work for.  And since Denise is in the show too, she said, “It would just be great if you would do it, and would you consider it for me?”  And I said, I would, because this woman has been so good to me all of my life.  And, she has never asked me for anything in return.   So it was sort of a chance for me to do something for her.  So based on that … I made my decision to do it.  Then, I went through a very busy time in my life with making this movie for Hallmark, and working on the soap and getting my kids back into the first week of school.  I was just running around like a crazy person and I did not really read the script of Pretty till right before I had to go to work.

MICHAEL:

So you said “yes”, but had not read the script, and truly had no idea what you were getting yourself into or involved in.  You must trust Denise implicitly!

GENIE:

Yeah, because I basically made the decision that I was going to do this for Denise!  And then, I was very pleasantly surprised that it was this cute, funny, interesting group of people, and that it was actually a really fun experience.  So that’s it.  That’s the whole story. (Laughs)

Courtesy/PrettytheSeries

MICHAEL:

In Pretty you get to play Dr. Kate, Pageant Therapist!  I thought you were so funny! And it was so great, because we don’t get to see you like that.

GENIE:

Oh, I am so glad to hear you say that.  Thank you for telling me that.   And you’re right; you don’t get to see me like that. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

When you watched back the season three premiere webisode, with you front and center, did you think you were funny?

GENIE:

I was happy with the thing I did, that was much in the style of the hit comedy show The Office, where I was talking about the gold curtain and the lighting.  And that was great because I did what I wanted to do, which is that style made famous by The Office.

MICHAEL:

So were you acting by yourself in many of those “therapy” scenes with the cast of characters, which includes a hilarious cameo from The Bay’s Mary Beth Evans? Or, were they in the room with you?

GENIE:

Courtesy/PrettytheSeries

Sam Pancake (Michael Champagne) and Stacy McQueen (Annette Champagne) were there and Mary Beth Evans was there. But then there were others who were not there.  All of my part was done in like four hours!

MICHAEL:

Did you come in the way you were going to interpret the character and that was how you were going to play, Dr. Kate?  Or, did Steve Silverman give you more direction? Or, was it a ‘I’m going to run with it, here you go’ type of scenario?

GENIE:

Steve jokes about this, since I waited till the night before the shoot to read the script, but I was really busy.  And I have to take each job one at a time or I get confused.  So I just go one job, and one day at a time.  So I called Steve the night before and I went, “Ok. What do you want from me here?”  And he basically said, “I want you to be the voice of reason, because that would be the worst nightmare for the character of Michael Champagne, which would be to have to face the voice of reason.”  And I said, “Oh Great.  I can do that.  See you tomorrow.” (Laughs) There have been years that I have had in the past where I have not done a darn thing, but this happened to be during a busy time.  Like I said, Steve knew exactly what he wanted from me, so he facilitated that beautifully and quickly.  He got what he wanted.  The guy is very professiononal, smart, and very talented.  He deserves all the kudos.

MICHAEL:

So, would you come back and do another season of Pretty?

GENIE:

Oh yeah!  I would for him.  For him I would do it, because I think Steve is cool.  I don’t know that I would do it for just anybody.  Denise was right when she said, “I needed to do something that I have never done.”  I think she did not steer me wrong.  She involved me with somebody who is actually interesting creatively, and for that I am grateful.

Courtesy/Prettytheseries

MICHAEL:

The Mary Beth Evans therapy scene was hilarious!  Wasn’t she Sara Garrett from The Bay who was confused that she was in the wrong therapy office?

GENIE:

Yes.  I also thought that Mary Beth’s long monologue about all the things that happen to her was terrific. (Laughs) She did a really good job at it, and it was hard for me not to laugh while she did it!  I was happy to see her dealing with the monologue that way, because there are so many times in soaps that we are asked to do these ridiculous speeches, and we always say to ourselves, “This could be comedy real easily, if we could just play it that way.”  And there she was playing it that way.  And I thought, “Good for her!”   I was proud of her and impressed with her ability.

MICHAEL:

So on The Young and the Restless you came on as Genevieve, and you had said in interviews it was like breath of fresh air for you.  After years of playing “put-upon” Laura Spencer on GH, you got to play an eerie bitch!  How did that feel?

GENIE:

I will tell you it made me feel immediately lighter in my person.  I just felt like I don’t have to wring my hands and cry all the time, and worry and focus on the pain, you know. Now the focus of this new character was: how do I entertain myself, even if it’s at your expense?  It’s kind of like the character in House.  I just say what I want to say because it tickles me.  That was a fun-freeing part of the character to play and I enjoyed it.  I think they are changing Genevieve now a little bit, where they are leaning towards making her a more traditional heroine model, which is also OK with me.  They have a very big show to tackle, and how they want to use me in their show should be their decision, and I don’t have my heels dug in.  We know that Genevieve has this caustic side to her that is not gone.  Right now she is in a happy moment in her life and there is a little bit of softening going on, which I think is good.  Ultimately, she should have both.  She should have her tough side and her soft side.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

It was interesting because fans and soap pundits where saying, “Was Genie channeling her inner Helena Cassadine?”  Through your portrayal of Genevieve, were you at all doing that?

GENIE:

At times I was in the very early part of playing her, and then it started to change a bit as we went forward because I started to make her funny.  I don’t think Helena was ever funny.  Then it also started to be more fun for me to play.  I know that a lot of my cast mates thought it was funny, and I liked it.  And honestly, I don’t know how the audience receives it because we are so in a vacuum.  It’s very hard to tell.  You can use Twitter to try and ask people.  But even that represents a small group of people, and it’s not inclusive of everybody.  It’s uncomfortable being in that sort of a void, and seeing how people are receiving it.  I am hoping that the networks know more than me. (Laughs)  I am just grateful for every day of work they give me, and whatever they write for me.  I try to bring it to life as fully and as completely as I can, because that is what I am hired to do.

MICHAEL:

I think people were worried once they wrote off Tristan Rogers ( Ex-Colin, Y&R) and they saw less airtime from you that you were leaving Genoa City as well, and that you were rumored to be heading back to General Hospital.  So what would you say to that?

GENIE:

Well first of all, the rumors about me going back to General Hospital are just that… they are just rumors.  I wanted to go back to General Hospital for many years and they did not want it.  And I am quite sure, even after my Oprah Show appearance, they were not interested. 

MICHAEL:

Well, to this moment that stuns me!  I am damn sure, you were stunned too.

Courtesy/HarpoProds.

GENIE:

Yeah, I was little angry that they would put me out there as part of Luke and Laura and then not follow-up with a job offer.  They were getting me to do free press for their show, but not offering me any employment.  So to tell you the truth, I have really quite had it with that.  It is not fair.  I was very grateful that someone like Y&R’s executive producer and head writer, Maria Arena Bell said, “Well, I am interested and I will write for her.”  And in fact, CBS really embraced me in a very nice way.  They gave me lots of press.  They worked hard at creating a character.  I could not have asked for more from them.  I really couldn’t have.  I am very grateful to them at trying to re-launch me on a soap!

MICHAEL:

Any thoughts now with Garin Wolf and Shelly Altman co-head writing GH and it being a different regime? If they were to come to you now and ask you to come back, would that make any difference for you?  Would you consider it?  Even though Jill Farren Phelps is still the Executive Producer over there?

GENIE:

First of all, I think Jill is a very good producer, and I have nothing against Jill.  She is very smart and very talented.  I think she was stuck in a bad situation too.  I think it’s great that GH has a new creative team writing the show.  I hope it’s going to help them.  I would like to see them go on and do well.  But I suspect, they can’t make me an offer or do anything because they don’t know how long they are going to be on the air.  They can’t write a contract with me, when they don’t know what tomorrow holds.  You know what I am saying?

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Exactly!  GH is the show that unfortunately looks the most vulnerable right now compared to the rest of the soaps that are left, because of the moves made by ABC Daytime to shift and change their programming perspective.

GENIE:

Right!  ABC does not appear to have a commitment to the soaps that the other networks are holding on to.  I think that is the reason.  It’s not that I would not give them a chance to have me back.  It’s just that I don’t want to quit a three year contract to go for three months or so there.  It does not make sense for me, and there you have it.  I mean, I am thrilled to be back working again, and these people at Y&R have made a long-term commitment to me.  I am working with them and it’s a nice relationship.  I prefer to continue there where they do have a long-term picture in mind, and they haven’t given up.  They are not just biding their time just waiting to be canceled.  They want to keep working.

MICHAEL:

For the Genie Francis fans that adore you, let’s clear something up. When you are not on Y&R that does not mean you are off the show.  That means they are pushing forth other story and you are still going to be in the mix?  Right?

GENIE:

What happened was, I went to do a movie and the fans and some magazines assumed I was done.  But it just meant that I went to Canada for a month for another “Note” movie that I signed on to do before Maria Bell hired me for Y&R.  So for that reason, she had to write in my contract she would let me go do the film.

MICHAEL:

How was working with Tristan Rogers as his on-screen wife, after years of working with him in a different capacity at GH?

GENIE:

Courtesy/ABC

I loved working with Tristan.  I loved it.  I think he is a great guy and it is sad not to have him anymore on our show, but I hope he will go back to General Hospital.  I think they should pick him up.  And, I just want to say I hope GH makes it.  I really don’t want them to go off the air.

MICHAEL:

It’s hard for people not to see you, and Jonathan Jackson (Lucky, GH) and Tony Geary (Luke, GH) together again.  It’s like the three best actors on daytime!  There is a piece missing.

GENIE:

That is very sweet of you to say, but that piece has been missing for a very long time. And the piece was willing to come back, and honestly, they have been unwilling for whatever reason to give me a contract position there.  What can I do?  Someone else was willing to give me a contract position, and so I snapped it up.

MICHAEL:

How was working with Daniel Goddard (Cane, Y&R) as your son?

GENIE:

I think he is a great and he has been a sweet friend to me.  Daniel is very easy to get to know and very open.  I enjoy him and I enjoy working with him.  I hope that now that they are changing my character a bit that I will get some more realistic scenes with him that are a bit more about the relationship about these two people, and less about the agenda of getting rid of the evil dad.  So now we can delve into the history of these two people, which I think Daniel plays very well.  And I think it’s interesting for my character too.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/S.Fleming/CBS

Did you go, “Gosh. I have such a good-looking on-screen son!”

GENIE:

You know what I did?  The first day I said to him, “How old are you?” (Laughs)  He is nine year younger than me!  I could not conceive at eight, I am sorry.  Anyway, we giggle about that, but that is television, you know. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

And how is working with Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R)?

GENIE:

I love working with Peter and I got into his dressing room once.  And, I went into his bathroom, and Oh my God!  The guy has like 21 Emmys on the wall and these photographs, and that is the most intimidating bathroom!  I am like, “21 Emmys!  I am so out of my league here!”  And I laughed and laughed.  But it was terrific. The truth is I think he is possibly the best leading man I have ever had.  And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.  I love that he is really concerned about making it about the best scene it can be.  And there is a critical difference there.  Some soap actors want to make the best “them” they can be.  They want to steer the story to make it all about “them”, and I drive everything their way and that is all not who Peter is.  He just wants to make a great scene and he is concerned with your half of it as well as his.  And for that reason, I always listen to him and never question his judgment.  So when he says, “Hey Frankie, try this?”  I do.

MICHAEL:

“Frankie” is your nickname?

Photo Credit: Getty Images

GENIE:

It is my nickname that has been in my family for a long time.  But, I am using it over at Y&R because of Jeanne Cooper (Katherine).  There is one Jeanne over there, and it ain’t me.  I am Frankie to those people. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Should fans expect more with Jack and Genevieve?

GENIE:

I hope so.  I would like to continue to work with him because he is just so good, and Peter is so nice.  I did do a couple scenes with him that I was really proud of, and they were right before the two of them make love for the first time.  There were two scenes where Genevieve bares her soul to him.  And through that, the audience hopefully got more insight into who this woman really is.  That day was fun because we had some really nice long scenes.  Now most of the scenes they write these days in soaps are a page to a page and half, and that can be very tough.

MICHAEL:

Isn’t it so different than back in the day?  Soap operas would have two or three person scenes that would go on forever!

GENIE:

We used to have two or three character scenes that went on for nine to ten pages, almost like a play!  We just don’t have that anymore.  I just don’t know why we don’t have that anymore.  It doesn’t work as far as I am concerned.  You keep skimming the surface and never get anything deep or meaty.  I don’t like it.  I prefer the older way of writing where we really got a chance to lose ourselves in the material and the other actors.  And then some wonderful surprises would come out of it and thus the material would have more depth, and a scene would have more depth, as a result of it being a “scene”.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: PR Photos

I was there the night you won the Daytime Emmy, and I was so thrilled for you.  And I remember thinking that this was something that I felt should have happened many times over, and was a long time coming.  Did you feel like it was a defining moment?  And where is your Emmy?

GENIE:

My Emmy is by the TV cabinet by the television set, because they sort of go together.  In a weird way, it was sort of anti-climatic because it feels like it was done posthumously!

MICHAEL:

I know.  I couldn’t agree more. (Laughs)

GENIE:

It seems a bit like that, but that’s O.K. and you have to be grateful.  Better late than never, but who knows?  I got it at a time in my life when I could really be grateful for it and not tipped off balanced by it.  It didn’t blow up my ego, so in turn I would go act like a weirdo.  Now, when I was a teenager that might have happened.  Everything happens for a reason.  I am thrilled that they finally acknowledged my work, and that I got to put the little statue in my house.  I am glad I got the recognition.

MICHAEL:

When you and Tony Geary were on Oprah, it felt like such as short segment to me. Was it weird being on there?

GENIE:

You know what?  It actually really was.  I think the reason it feels like that to you is that they cut so much of that interview down. There were a lot of things that were said that were actually not included on the air show.  But I think to the producer’s credit, they cut out things that should have been cut out, and not have gone over the airwaves.  I think the Oprah Show and their producers are to be commended for how they put it together.  I personally thank Oprah for really taking the time.  And if you notice, she really teases out of me, “Well, c’mon. What do you want?”  She was like for the underdog in a way, and she was trying to give me a chance to speak to say what I wanted.  She made sure I got that moment.  I actually think the Oprah people handled that situation beautifully.  

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

Do you and Tony Geary ever stay in touch?

GENIE:

You know, we really don’t.  He has always been a very private person and has kept to himself, and even in times of closeness, we were not particularly close.  I have not talked to him, and I don’t know what is going on with him at all.

MICHAEL:

When you think of that, and then the magic that happens on-screen between the two of you, it is truly amazing.  You must be proud of that and that you are iconic!

GENIE:

I am proud of what we created.  I think Tony is also proud of what we created.  And then when we do work together, we try to live up to it.

MICHAEL:

It had to be daunting from a very young age playing all of Laura’s crisis and despair up through being a grown up and a mother of several children.  Did you ever just want to yell, “Stop.  I can’t cry one more tear!?”

GENIE:

(Laughs) I enjoyed playing Laura right up until they had Lucky “die”.  And I played that as real as I could, and it was so tragic and so painful.  And then they kind of wrote the loss of a child through Tony eyes and they kind of put me aside.  So I really see that as the moment that they got off track with Laura.  For me, it was not much fun to play her from then on.

MICHAEL:

Even doing all of her heavy emotional breakdowns?

Courtesy/ABC

GENIE:

When my contract fell apart with them and I had to work with them for three or four more months, before I was going to be done, they finally wrote something for me. That was the Rick Webber situation and her losing her mind and going off into the straightjacket into a mental institution.  I loved that.  But I had to get fired to do it! (Laughs) It actually wasn’t a firing, it was a mutual decision. We both were done with each other at that moment, but out of it came some really exciting acting that I did enjoy immensely.

MICHAEL:

What did you think of Luke and Laura’s re-wedding?  Perhaps some of the biggest tearjerkers in soap history as we watched Laura slip away from her family and the man she loves, and she could not do anything to stop it.

GENIE:

When I did the re-visit for six weeks that I got my Emmy for, I had a lot of fun.  I enjoyed playing someone who had a physical ailment. Laura had a chronic illness and then she would only be around for a short period of time, and then she would go back into her trance-like state.  It was based on the movie Awakenings.  And again, I enjoyed that too because there was a story.

MICHAEL:

You are an icon.  So, what is it like for someone like you who is witnessing the genre dying?  It’s hard for me and I have been covering the genre for so long.  Do you think things could have been done differently at some point, so it wouldn’t have gone this way?

GENIE:

I think one of the biggest problems that I see is that the great, great, great writers, and minds, who created this stuff, the Doug Marlands’s, the Gloria Monty’s, the Bill Bell’s, the Agnes Nixon’s …they did not replace themselves.  They did not grow a new one to pass the baton on to.  It was like they held the position and held the power and closed the door as if it was all mine, mine, and mine.  They didn’t grow a new generation of people to carry it forward.  There really isn’t that new blood and I think that is a shame.  I think there are a lot of talented and new writers that don’t want to write for daytime because it’s dying and nobody wants to be associated with something that is dying.  So in a way, we can’t get the fresh blood we need.  They did not groom a new person who was passionate about soaps.  I am not sure why that is, but they didn’t.

MICHAEL:

What is it like being Genie now as opposed to back in the heyday in 1981 with the historic Luke and Laura wedding that blew up through pop culture and brought in sensational ratings and numbers? Do fans still come up to you from everywhere?  How do you handle those types of encounters different now?

GENIE:

Courtesy/ABC

It is much mellower, when I meet the fans now. They are not hair pulling on me or crying.  (Laughs) It is much more,Oh my God!”   And then there is this very warm feeling I get from them.  Then, I sort of do a very genuine check-in with them.   And I will often ask them, “Well, what are you doing now in your life?  And how are your kids?”  And then I will tell them about mine.  So it’s sort of like class reunion time and I treat it that way, sort of a “You were watching and I was doing. What is your life about now?”

MICHAEL:

Deflection! Very good.  I like your style!

GENIE:

It makes sense, doesn’t it? (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

I know you have had so many trials and tribulations through your relationship with GH, but you have to look at your life and be extremely proud of what you have accomplished.

GENIE:

I am very grateful that after 36 years I am still working and under contract.  That alone is such a huge gift.  Most of us in television and as actresses work a long time and then you don’t hear from us.  I have been at this for 36 years.  I am still able to earn a living at it.  I am grateful and happy for my life.  I do hope the soaps can continue on, but if they can’t, you will see it grow into something new.  If you look at primetime television, there are tons of continuing dramas with continuing storylines.  People love to tune-in to get more of the story next week and that is never going to go away.  I just watched The Hamptons for the first time; I think it’s a soap!  I don’t think we are going to see soaps completely die.  I think we are going to see the genre move into different time slots, where there is an audience.  There is not much of an audience in the daytime anymore.  Everybody is at work and busy.

MICHAEL:

When you went onto the Y&R set for the first time, were cast members falling over themselves going, “Oh my God. I can’t believe it’s Genie Francis!  And she is on our show!”

GENIE:

(Laughs) I was welcomed by open arms, particular by Jess Walton (Jill).  I was greeted by such warmth right away from Jeanne Cooper, who could not have been sweeter and nicer.  It was my second day on the set and she was having a union rep into her dressing room and rounding people up. She yelled to Jess, “Go grab Genie Francis!” So I was summoned to her room and I was there.  So right away, I was treated as one of the gang, and you really can’t ask for more than that.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/TimesColumnist

And finally, are you going back to work for the first time in a while next week? When can fans expect to see Genevieve figure prominently into story?

GENIE:

I have been doing one episode a week for the last four weeks.  I work this week and then in November I am working a lot.  I have got several episodes per week.  So I think the storyline that they have been planning and building must be coming to a head in the next four weeks of shooting.   We should look for Genevieve to be playing heavy as the year comes to a close.  Needless to say, there will be a lot of “me” in December on TV. (Laughs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Colin & Jill
Guest
Colin & Jill

We want Tristan back on the Y&R with Jill. GF can feel free to go back to GH.

Webbie
Guest
Webbie

I have to say I’m surprised that she went on record as saying that PB is her best leading man ever. Wow.

Tralala
Guest
Tralala

Yep poor Tony…lol

kay killgore
Guest
kay killgore

Hey I loved her on GH she is toning it down some on Y&R, it does not surprise me at all the things she said concerning Peter Bergman. They are so sexist over at GH and they are going to fall. Why because they are only about the male characters. Ask Nancy Grahan how they treat them and a few others. My husband used to walk by and catch a glimpse and still swears MB uses cue cards. Oh and ask Jackie Zemen about them I know the excuse is the plactic surgery she had well if it had been… Read more »

soapbaby
Guest
soapbaby

Lovely interview. I love how candid and honest Ms. Francis is. GH’s treatment of her is possibly the biggest blunder the show has ever made. And that says a lot considering how the show has eliminated The Quartermaines and focused on the mob. Laura was the soul of The Spencer family and now that family represents what GH currently is: morose and depressing. Luke, Lulu and Lucky are all drug-dependent, selfish, hateful characters. Luke has been ruined by the current writing and it is evident in Tony Geary’s every scene that he is more concerned with himself rather than the… Read more »

Webbie
Guest
Webbie

I have to admit I never noticed this about TG. Interesting. Thanks for enlightening me a little. It’s a shame that the legacy of this once-amazing couple has come to this. And with the 30th anniversary of their wedding just days away, it’s even more evident how far from the fairytale this story has fallen. But if you were to ask TG, he would probably say that what we are seeing is the real Luke. I think he was “over” the romantic aspects of his character a long time ago. THIS is what he likes to play and wants to… Read more »

Tralala
Guest
Tralala

if it is the case Tony Geary is really a smart actor, the challenge and the portray of human being flaws are far more interesting, complex and important than the sappy romance and i say that whereas i love/loved Luke and Laura (above all for the awesome chemistry between the actors and back in the day the layered storytelling of their love story)..as an actress i totally get it Tony, you should have tried prime time man.

JT
Guest
JT

Not nice, Stephen Nichols was your BEST leading man and certainly the most interesting!!!

m.k.
Guest
m.k.

With Genie now at Y&R , I am hoping she will eventually get a scene with Stephen Nichols. They shared such great chemistry together as Stefan and Laura on GH. I’m not expecting any romantic pair up, but a scene would be nice. 🙂

Ron Klopfanstein
Guest
Ron Klopfanstein

Much as I’d like to see her back on “General Hospital” as “Laura”; I’m happy that she’s someplace where she’s happy and treated with the respect she deserves. She has earned a role that is at par with her experience and ability. “GH’s” loss is ultimately “Y&R” and Genie Francis’ gain. Good for her.

(I wonder if she meant “Revenge” when she mentioned watching a new TV drama, “The Hamptons”? We can certainly forgive her for not remembering the title considering the massive amount of work she is doing!)

Michelle
Guest
Michelle

Thank you for this wonderful interview. I love how forthright and honest Genie is. I think she’s was spot on about the old guard of soaps not training/mentoring the next generation.

bonnie
Guest
bonnie

Jeannie has it right being a gh fan forever they really left her hanging and the truth about the show now is the writing and they dont develop the charcters enough to make us care Women who watch soaps like mysself like the drama the emotional family dynamics more than the violence and mob activities and crazy whodunits that make no sense. The writers they need are the soap fans that are in there 40 and 50 they could write better then the writers they have now. The Reason the MIchael and Abby story is a fav because we have… Read more »

Tim
Guest
Tim

I’m so over the workings of Maria Bell. Her writing is disjointed and bounced around like a monkey with ADD. Instead of trying to create another lame story for Genie, Bell should have done the story of Colin, Cane and Jill justice. I like GF, but Bell ruined Colin by bringing Genevieve on. And now… making Genevieve heroic? I loved wathcing Tristan and Jess. They were fun, but now Bell has ruined that and most of the other characters. Bell’s crazier than Genevieve with all her rewrites and undoing and revisions. I used to love this show but Bell has… Read more »

aria
Guest
aria

i enjoy ms. francis being so forthcoming but i suspect all her y&r praising could be call premature, afterall she hasn’t been there a year yet, and while she is entitled to her feeling about gh, I doubt very much that the young and the restless doesn’t have a few stars over the years who felt mistreated ( victoria rowell.) and they also have their sexist macho stars like Eric Braeden. and as for her remark about peter bergman “possibly” being the best leading men she ever had, I think she’s still in the honymoon faze with that comment. still… Read more »

kay killgore
Guest
kay killgore

Soapbaby right on the money about TG I just am glad to know there are other fans out there who felt the same way. The most disturbing part he seems to lavish each slam to their history. That is why I do not think it would work if GF comes back how do you retract all these rewrites what happened to his angel he use to call her.

TweetMaxine
Guest
TweetMaxine

General Hospital will be off-the-air by Spring. The announcement will come in January. Abc wants Katie Couric in place well before the 2012 elections. The Conventions are in July/August, but the Primaries start in the Spring. Also, Tony Geary is GAY. Not sure why our esteemed interviewer never asks about that. Why does he need protecting? Let the WORLD know, spread-the-news ….Tony Geary GAY GAY GAY !!!

Sarva
Guest
Sarva

Tweet Maxine, you say gay as if there is something wrong with being gay. Are you accusing or telling the world what the world has known for many years? Do you dislike gay people or just gay actors who don’t talk about their sexuality?

Michael
Guest
Michael

The esteemed interviewer never asks because (a) it’s irrelevant, (b) many people already assume it’s the case, so if it’s true, it’s hardly news, and (c) nobody really cares anyway (except you, apparently). Hope that clears it all up for you. Have a nice day.

1loveabcsoaps
Guest
1loveabcsoaps

Damn: I didn’t know that. In Genie Francis interview she spoke about of Tony being very private and I was, GOOD. (I can relate to that). Now, after reading Genie’s interview, I read these POST, and I’m like ok, gay, explains him being so private, and the long vacations far, far away for long periods, BUT who cares, anyway? I didn’t know, BC I’v known him to be with woman. Michael, that was a Helleva interview you conducted; I was thinking that while reading it. I would love to write for your site if your ever needed a writer. Jeer!… Read more »

1loveabcsoaps
Guest
1loveabcsoaps

Michael, I meant to Cheers!!! Genie Francis couldn’t have given that type of interview without the right reporter/ interviewer asking the RIGHT questions…..

Happy New Year!

Jo
Guest
Jo

And? So are lots of men in Daytime. What exactly is your point?

kay killgore
Guest
kay killgore

Personally I could care less if Tony Geary is gay and Ms. Francis has to much class to even respond to such a question and in the final scheme of things what does that have to do with anything. I just wish TG would have objected to some of this character destruction of he and Laura but maybe he does not have that much clout after all! The gossip is still out there that she is being killed off on Y&R. If so and GH does get cancelled I think she should be part of the send off the woman… Read more »

Michael
Guest
Michael

Terrific interview; I love the fact that Genie is willing to be so candid while really not stooping to being particularly negative. In particular, she states her case about feeling overlooked and neglected by GH and ABC without going overboard: here’s what they did and here’s how it made me feel, and I wanted to go back and they wouldn’t commit to it, so I’ve moved on. The one thing I have to say that I think she’s wrong about is that people like Marland and Nixon and Bell didn’t nurture the next generation of writing and producing talent. They… Read more »

Mary
Guest
Mary

I thought the interview was great . The part that stood out to me was when the writers made the story of Lucky dying all about Luke and I think they are doing the same disservice to Liz on Gh right now. I don’t watch Y/R but I have friends who do and are loving GF on it. I am glad she is not coming back to Gh either it is not a soap for woman really the writers seem to write male dominated story lines . I also think Gh hasn’t got long either cause the writers don’t seem… Read more »

Jo
Guest
Jo

I feel sorry for this woman. She has NO idea how Y&R works and seems totally clueless that her character is bombing badly. They keep trying to make her work, and it’s just not clicking. Sony will dump her and she will have missed the chance to go back to her iconic role. Mark my words, this woman will be gone from Genoa City in under six months.

Joe
Guest
Joe

It is very odd that there was no mention how poorly this character and storyline on Y&R has been received. I hope Genie lands on her feet because if Maura West is any indication Genie Francis hasn’t a prayer of lasting much longer. Which is a shame because she is very talented and pretty. I got to add but does anyone remember the Laura and David Hamilton affair and then murder. Well, I think Genie was only 15 or 16. That girl had major talent even back then. Simply amazing!!!!!

1loveabcsoaps
Guest
1loveabcsoaps

Yup, I remember the David Hamilton storyline. Amazing!

And Genie is real. Reading her interview, you got the feeling you were dealing with a real person, not ego, showbiz, talk for the camera and all that. But the truth, and she didn’t tiptoe around (just like a true Gemini) which I commented on below.

Louise
Guest
Louise

I feel Genie was a tremendous child/teenage actress but developed sloppy acting habits in her later years. She must have used “you know” in between every other sentence and coasted on her ability to cry on cue. I also think GH spoiled her and she got lazy. Now that she’s having to really act a new character Genie’s flaws are showing. Not saying the woman doesn’t have talent but she has to remember how to “act”. And, I just can’t believe how she’ll never mention Stephen N. and the Stefan/Laura magic. Is she clueless?

Sylvia
Guest
Sylvia

I have loved Genie for as long as I’ve watched GH and this interview was candid and open, without being negative.

I love her on Y&R, and, no matter how much GH has tried to ruin L&L’s legacy, they can’t for for fans who were there at the beginning and remember it!

So, my L&L love continues – as does my admiration for Genie and Tony (I don’t listen to his interviews – LOL!)

Tweet Maxine
Guest
Tweet Maxine

Hey everybody guess what? It’s not 1981 anymore and Actors’ personal proclivities and peccadiloes are totally fair game. There’s no such thing as privacy anymore. Even people that aren’t on TV have no privacy. Didn’t Genie sleep with Kin Shriner way back when? Why is she never asked about that?

1loveabcsoaps
Guest
1loveabcsoaps

Who said Genie slept with Kin Shriner (Scotty)? I never heard that?

WHERE did you hear that from and WHEN…….?

Paul
Guest
Paul

My goodness, I just love Genie’s honesty and I wish nothing but the best for her. She sounds very happy 🙂

m.k.
Guest
m.k.

Watching Y&R I finally did see a scene with Genie and Stephen Nichols. They still have that tremendous chemistry and even though they are paired with different people, I am glad they are on the same show and I hope they run into each other again in upcoming scenes. They should since they are now both paired with the Abbot siblings.

Jonnie
Guest
Jonnie

I personally don’t care who she is with…although Luke and Laura was one of the best chapers in any Soap….however, I love her and very pleased she is on my Fav show…Y&R!! Keep up the good work Genie!!

1loveabcsoaps
Guest
1loveabcsoaps

Wow, Genie! U give a helleva interview. And in TRUE Gemini form, you are HONEST and you dont TIPTOE over what you believe the Truth to be. I have ALWAYS gotten the scence that you were GROUNDED as a person, down to earth, and not like some of those other soap actress’s we know…. lol Genie is a class act, with how she handels the fans that come up to her. She speaks with them as IF she KNOWS them, “What is your life like now?” Class. With Genie knowing fans watching keeps her employed, (it’s like) having JUST a… Read more »

jaybird369
Guest
jaybird369

As a longtime fan of Genie Francis, I am so glad that she is on Y&R now!!! Trust me…GH’S loss is most definitely Y&R’S gain!!! I quit watching GH about 3 years ago because some of the storylines and some of the characters just weren’t cutting it for me. And, besides, I’ve ALWAYS thought that Y&R was a better written and a better directed show. I still do!!! Most of all, it is BEYOND refreshing to watch Genie play Genevieve, a (new) character that is feisty and no-nonsense, yet that also has shades (or whatever) of softness and vulnerability. I… Read more »

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Cady McClain & Rob Scott Wilson Talk Being Recasts, All My Children Reboot, Future of Cin & Jennifer’s Bitch-Slap

Current Days of our Lives and former All My Children reboot stars, Cady McClain (Jennifer, Days, Ex-Dixie, AMC) and Rob Scott Wilson (Ben, Days, Ex-Pete AMC) chat with Michael Fairman in an enlightening and exclusive conversation for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

McClain, who recently took over the role of Days of our Lives beloved heroine Jennifer Horton from mainstay Melissa Reeves (who chose to stay with her family in Nashville during Covid-19 thus forcing the series to recast the role for now) talks about stepping into the key part of the Salem canvas, plus the recent Jennifer/Kate fight over Jack (Matthew Ashford), and how the legacy series is coping with production during Covid-19.

Photo: JPI

Rob, talks about landing the role of Ben; and in an emotional moment reveals how he credits the opportunity to the late producer, Lisa de Cazotte. Wilson also shares his hopes for his Salem alter-ego who is struggling to move on with his life after the supposed death of his wife, Ciara.

The actor also opens up on if DAYS decided to recast the role of Ciara, since Victoria Konefal is not presently with the NBC soap full-time, how he would feel about it and thus the future of Cin.

Photo: JPI

Both Cady and Rob first appeared together in Prospect Park’s online revival of All My Children. In this interview, they discuss how they had high hopes for the continuation of the series, how it ultimately fizzled, and what it was like to be a part of the then, groundbreaking first, for a daytime drama series along with One Life to Live.

Photo: TOLN

In addition, Cady gives the viewer insight on how she runs lines for both DAYS and GH at home with her real-life husband, Jon Lindstrom (Kevin and Ryan, GH), while Rob talks about his recent storyline where Ben was kidnapped and tortured by a vengeful Eve (Kassie DePavia) and much more.

Check out the full chat with Cady and Rob below. Then weigh-in: How would you feel if there was a Ciara recast? What are your hopes for the holidays for Jennifer? What did you think of the stories shared by Cady and Rob in the interview? Comment below, and if you have not done so already make sure to “subscribe” to the Michael Fairman Channel for more celebrity interviews.

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Interviews

B&B’s Matthew Atkinson Weighs-In On Daytime’s Wildest Storyline, The Hope Mannequin & What’s Really Going On With Thomas

If you think you’ve seen it all on daytime soap operas, think again! Over the past several weeks viewers of CBS Daytime’s The Bold and the Beautiful have been witness to fashion designer Thomas Forrester’s (Matthew Atkinson) descent into madness, or is it?

In B&B’s thriller-esque storyline, complete with tight close-ups and tilted angles of Thomas and his co-star, the Hope Mannequin – yup, you read that right, the series is taking the audience on one wild ride, something we have not seen the likes of since back in the hey day of the late head writer, James Reilly, during his tenure on Days of our Lives or Passions.

Photo: JPI

Inspired by, believe it or not, true life events, B&B’s head writer and executive producer, Brad Bell and his creative team have served up a story generated off all of the buzz the show was receiving for using mannequins as scene partners for the actors in intimate moments to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.  B&B was the first American show back in production amid the pandemic.

 

Within this twisted tale, Thomas has the life-like version of Hope Logan Spencer (Annika Noelle) at home with him.  Those who have stumbled upon him with the mannequin, well, he has been able to explain that away by saying that having the doll with him is helping him create some of the best designs of his career.

The problem is the mannequin is talking to Thomas, it’s eyes have often turned devil-red, and on Friday’s episode it walked!  It’s objective is to get Thomas to kill Liam (Scott Clifton) and to get Hope back to be his one and only. Throughout many of the scenes in the storyline, Thomas suffers from what appears to be severe headaches.  All of this leading the audience to believe either … he has a brain tumor … he is being drugged … he is suffering from a severe mental break and disorder, or something else.

Photo: JPI

In a very candid and often humorous conversation with Michael Fairman for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Thomas’ portrayer, Matthew Atkinson, discusses some of the craziest scenes to shoot thus far including Thomas having dinner with the mannequin!  In addition, Atkinson reveals how he and Annika Noelle tape the scenes where she is the voice of the Hope mannequin while adhering to safety protocols,  and how Liam is the only one, apparently, thinking something is off with Thomas, and so much more.

Photo: Gilles Toucas

One thing is for certain, Matthew Atkinson is sinking his teeth into the material and making it must-see daytime drama through his performances while we all wait to see what the possessed mannequin does next.

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

Then let us know, what do you think is happening or wrong with Thomas? Are you getting a kick out of the Hope Mannequin storyline? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

 

 

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Interviews

Eric Nelsen Talks Latest Film, Becoming a Tony-Nominated Producer, ‘The Bay’, and His Elizabeth Gillies & Ariana Grande Connection

You can catch All My Children reboot alum, Eric Nelsen (Ex-AJ Chandler), just about everywhere this month, and that’s hard to do given that we are all living in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this Daytime Emmy-winning actor has his hands in a myriad of projects of late including: appearing on season six of The Bay (new episodes every Tuesday on Popstar! TV) where he continues to play Daniel’s journey after the character has come to terms with his sexuality and finds love, plus his comedic turn in the film, 1 Night in San Diego, and recently becoming a Tony-nominated producer along with his wife Sainty for the critically-acclaimed, and now 11 times nominated Broadway play, The Inheritance.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Eric to get the lowdown on his busy professional life, and we were in for some surprises along the way including: what the producers of AMC had in mind for the character of AJ that ultimately did not happen, and that Eric starred on Broadway with Elizabeth Gillies (Fallon, Dynasty) and Pop superstar, Ariana Grande – and there’s more to that story below.

 

What makes Nelsen so good at what he does on-screen is that he is a like a chameleon; adept at playing the quirky, to the troubled bad boys, to the emotional heart-tugging anti-hero. So here’s what Eric had to say in this fascinating conversation.

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

Your latest film appearance in 1 Night in San Diego is out this week on multiple streaming on-demand platforms from: Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and more. Tell me about the movie and when did you film this?

ERIC:  We filmed it near San Diego, not this past February, but last February, and it’s hilarious.  It’s a female-driven comedy.  The cast is incredible.  Alexandra Daddario, who is just epic, and Jenna Ushkowitz, and Laura Ashley Samuels, they truly bring it in this powerhouse comedy, and it’s just one of those make-you -laugh movies from beginning to end, just silly, stupid stuff happening the whole time.  General Hospital’s Mark Lawson (Dustin) is also in the film.  While we don’t work in scenes together, I did get a chance to meet him and he’s a really great guy.  I play this off-the-wall character, named Gordo, who is a real burn-out, think Matthew McConaughey meets space cadet, which was a lot of fun to play.  Gordo is a great role.  I had more fun with this part than I’ve had in a long time.  So, it was cool to throw a comedy into all of the drama I have been playing in my other projects.

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

ERIC:  One of the girls knew him back in the day, so they were in town looking to reconnect, and she’s like, “Oh, we want to party and let’s hit up Gordo,” and they do.  He has just gone completely off the rails, off the deep end with spirituality and kind of in his own world. They find themselves in quite a predicament when they come visit what they didn’t know was a commune, basically.  Gordo creates this hippie commune for a bunch of outcast musicians, (laughs) and I don’t want to give too much away, but a lot of interesting stuff happens there.

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

In addition, you are now a Tony-nominated producer for the play The Inheritance!

ERIC: That was crazy, because it’s always been a dream of mine to produce for Broadway.  That was how I got into the world of film and TV acting, which was through the theatre.  That’s where I started.  I was lucky enough to star on Broadway when I was 16 and 17, in a musical called, 13.  I started with Ariana Grande! It was so fun.

Wait, what?

ERIC:  Yeah, that was her first big show, and Elizabeth Gillies’.

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

ERIC:  Oh yeah, and you know she and I dated for two and a half years during the whole run of the show 13.  Elizabeth is very talented.   She is amazing.  The funny part of it is, we were dating forever, and kind of had a bad breakup, and then Sainty, my wife, gets cast in her show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, in the pilot to play Liz’s best friend on the series.  So, all of the sudden, I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, out of all the shows, all of the things, this is who you have to get cast as best friends with?” and so they actually became really, really, close friends.  So, I’d actually come home from work or filming, and Liz would be on my couch sitting there giggling with Sainty.  I’m like, “This is just becoming too much.  This is a full-circle moment here.  I can’t deal.” (Laughs)

Now, you and Elizabeth are broken up at this point?

ERIC:  Yes.  We had been broken up at this point.  Sainty and I were actually together.  I started dating Sainty in New York and the pilot she was shooting was in New York, and she gets cast as Liz’s best friend, and I was like, “Oh, of course.”

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

ERIC:  Yes, so dying.  Dying.   You know, it’s just one of those things that in a million years, you would never expect this to happen, and of course, Sainty and her had to become best friends in real life because they’re both great girls, and naturally, they would be friends, but now, I’m like this guy stuck in the middle who can’t believe what’s happening, and thought that was one chapter, and this is a different chapter, and now the chapters are combining.  It’s kind of a comedy act.

Photo: JPI

Since Ariana Grande was on Broadway with you and Liz, what was she like back then before her meteoric rise to fame?

ERIC:  Ariana was literally the sweetest, most innocent, and cutest – like my little sister.   To me, it was like, Liz and I were dating, and Ari was kind of like the little sister.  All of a sudden the show ended. Ariana got a Nickelodeon show, and after that, she became the most famous person in the world and was like this sex icon, and I couldn’t get over it.   She’s always had that talent with her voice and in 13 she was an ensemble member.  She wasn’t even one of the leads, but her voice was so incredible, even then as a young teenager.  I thought she was going to go on to have this great Broadway career as an actress and do musicals her whole life just because of her voice.  Then, all of the sudden, right after the musical, we all auditioned for the same Nickelodeon show.  I ended up going to the finals for the boyfriend role, Liz got the girlfriend role, and Ari got the funny friend on the show role.  That kind of catapulted them into the TV world, and Ari got a spinoff because of her character on that show for another Nickelodeon show, called Sam and Cat, and then after Sam and Cat, she went from this innocent, sweet, little Nickelodeon girl that I knew to being the biggest star.  It was unbelievable to me.

Photo: Broadway World

So, you started on Broadway as a teenager, and you found you always wanted to produce for the Great White Way? 

ERIC:  Yes, I did the Broadway thing, and then I got into film and TV, and then I got into film and TV producing.  As an actor, there are a lot of ups, a lot of downs.  So, in between the ups, I wanted to fill my time, so I got into producing, and I loved it.  I loved creating.  As an actor, we just show up, and everything is already done.  All we have to do is say our lines.  We get pampered, and we go home, but I wanted to know how it got to that point, like what happens before that.  So, I started producing film and found some success doing that, and it was so much fun for me.  Sainty’s and my first love, and what feels like home, is theatre.  So, I wanted to take it full circle and produce a Broadway show.  I just thought that would be such an incredible moment, and so that’s what I did.  I started emailing all of the Broadway producers who I had worked with as an actor, letting them know what I had been doing, kind of the success I had gotten from producing The Bay and some of these other things. Different shows came across my desk that I didn’t quite bite the bullet on, a couple of which I wish I would have, Dear Evan Hansen being one of them.  I would have been so rich by now!  (Laughs)

I just want to clarify for people who might not know, the word “producer” can mean different things.  There are “producers” who are putting money in … they’re backing projects or shows.  There are other people who are “producers” on the creative side of projects.  So, when you’re talking about producing a Broadway show, it is as an investor?

ERIC:  So for theatre, unless you’re the head producer who kind of gets creative control, every other producer listed in the credits is basically helping raise finances and is also very heavily involved in the process of everything else along the way, which is also what makes it special.  So finally, The Inheritance came across our desk, and it checked every single box.  It was just an epic play.  It’s a two-part play, and it’s just hours and hours and hours long.  You see it in multiple days or in multiple shows.  I remember reading the script and not stopping until I finished.  I was like, “This is amazing,” and it had just come off of a huge commercial successful run in London.  It won the Olivier Award for “Best New Play” and just about every other award you could win, and so I was like, “This is the one.  This is incredible.  I love the piece, love the message, and pulled the trigger,” and I would have done it all over again if we could.

Photo: Broadway World

The Inheritance is a generational piece centering on gay men during the AIDS crisis.  What can you say about it to those who don’t know about it, or have not seen it yet?

ERIC:  It takes place in the past, and then it fasts forward to the future.  You see two generations of gay men in New York City, and it’s all about the AIDS crisis, and so you’re bawling crying, and then you’re laughing throughout it.  It’s just one of those epic plays that pulls at every single emotion and you feel like you’re watching a movie.

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s definitely its own thing.  It’s actually an adaptation of Howard’s End, the novel by Forster, definitely different from Angels in America, but the two-part show is kind of what I was meaning by that.  People have said it is kind of our generation’s Angel’s in America in tone and subject matter.  It was just a dream come true, and like all other theatre that was open during our season, it had to close because of the pandemic, and it will have life after Broadway.  We are already slated for the Geffen Playhouse in LA, so I’m very excited for all of my LA friends and the public to get to see it.

Courtesy/ENelsen

And you get nominated in the year that the coronavirus pandemic shut down live theatre! But it is my understanding we still do not have a date for handing out this year’s Tony Awards.

ERIC:  No, we do not.  They finally announced that they were going to announce nominations, and for a while we didn’t even know that they were going to do that.  We received 11 nominations, which is incredible.  We were so excited.  I truly thought the American Theatre Wing and the Tony committee were not going to do the Tonys at all, and so we were just like, “I can’t believe the one year we pull the trigger on the show, this isn’t going to happen for us,” but then thank God, they came to their senses.  There were plenty of shows that opened and needed to be recognized.

How long was it open on Broadway?

ERIC:  We were open from September 2019 through February or March.  So, as long as your submission was open on Broadway before Covid-19 and had at least all of its previews and an opening night before Covid-19 hit, then you could qualify, and then in the play category, there were like 10 plays that had opened last year that were contenders.  So, that was definitely the hardest category.   It will be interesting to see what happens after all of this.  The only good thing I know that is going to come from this is the amount of creatives who have had so much time sitting at home to create and write, that there will be so many new scripts and plays and musicals that are going to come from this.  I think it’s’ going to be the biggest boom that we’ve probably ever seen in theatre, just because there’s been so much time to develop stuff.  At the same time, it’s piggybacking on the darkest time that theatre has ever seen.

Throughout the pandemic, I always stream all of the Broadway Actor’s Fund events.  It’s really sad.  It’s just a difficult time, those in the arts are struggling and especially in the live theatre and also musicians who can’t tour or play gigs in front of an audience. I know they said Broadway is closed through May 31, 2021.

ERIC:  It is really hard.  I’m happy that we are able to find other ways like streaming shows.  I’m actually producing a big benefit for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS that will be airing on World AIDS Day, December 1st.  It’s a show called Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.  The cast we have is everybody from Nathan Lane, to Academy Award winner J. K. Simmons.  It’s insane.  It will be streaming online on the Broadway HD network.  It is a huge list of Broadway stars and a lot of movie and TV stars as well that are participating.  We’ve got people from all over the map.

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

ERIC:  (Laughs)  Ari is not in it, actually!

Photo: Prospect Park

So, in this week’s latest episode of The Bay, your character of Daniel Garrett makes his final choice for love between Caleb (Mike Manning) and Matthew (Randy Wayne).  When you came to the show, did you know that this part was going to wind-up being a gay character?

ERIC:  No, I did not.  I think I dropped a bird in Gregori Martin’s (creator, The Bay) ear by telling him that before All My Children ended, they were going to have my character of AJ Chandler have a storyline where he is gay.  The producers sat me down and talked through an entire storyline arc with me.  Basically, Ginger Smith (ex-executive producer, All My Children) and Alison, our casting director, and one other person from the show, took me to lunch in New York. They pitched me what they wanted to do for my character, and asked me if I would be comfortable with it, and they wanted my opinion, everything.  It was really cool how they approached it, and I was like, “100% completely.”  I look at what Chandler Massey (Ex-Will Horton) did on Days and where that brought him and his storyline, and I thought, “Yes, there’s going to be so much more depth and stuff to play than just being this fun little rich kid.”  At the time, there really wasn’t much depth to AJ.  So, I was like, “Yes.  I will be all over it.  Absolutely.”  So, I told Gregori that, and I don’t know if he already had something in his mind or not, or if that influenced it at all, but maybe he just figured that was something that would work well, and up till that point, I guess they didn’t really have that on the show.  Regardless, no, I wasn’t aware that that was the direction it was going in, but I was really happy with my storyline and it’s grown a lot since then, and in this current season especially.  It’s really given me an arc to play, which I’ve enjoyed.

Photo: LANYEntertainment

So for those who may not know let’s do a re-set.  Where is the character of Daniel at? It seems like he is at crossroads, and is making some important decisions, or trying to.

ERIC:  So Daniel was a wild party boy in the beginning, just head in the clouds, lives life with thinking there’s no repercussions and just doing what you want to do all of the time, and that got him into a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol. Then, we realize why Daniel has been the way he is, and why he acts out, and why he has been so all over the place, and it’s because he hasn’t been able to come to terms with who he is.  Then, he admits it to himself and for the first time to somebody else – who happens to be his priest in a catholic church, ironically –  that he is gay and this is what he has been battling with.  For the first time (and I don’t know where on television it has depicted it this way), but the catholic priest looks at Daniel, and he’s like, “What’s your sin?  You haven’t sinned.  This is perfectly fine.”  So, I love that Gregori made that the outlet for which Daniel was able to basically come to terms with who he was, because he grew up in the church, and so he was always told that it was wrong.  Obviously, it’s not wrong, or obviously the church needs to change their mindset, but on The Bay, he chose that to be the outlet through which he came out, which I thought was really powerful.  Through that, Daniel experimented with other boys and such to figure out where he wanted to land, and then in this newest season, I can’t say much that gives anything away, but for the first time, we really see Daniel’s growth, and he’s making decisions, and the most mature we’ve ever seen him, and it’s been really cool to see that come full circle.  He’s making commitments to himself.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

ERIC:  Obviously, that’s who it works with,  Caleb is a teacher and a great guy.

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

ERIC:  He is… he’s just not the great guy for him.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

This season of The Bay is heavily steeped with social issues of our time.  Covid-19 has come to Bay City and the Black Lives Matter movement also plays prominently.

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s kind of the beginning of the pandemic in The Bay and within all of the intense drama that Daniel has been having, he is still, for all intent and purposes the comedic relief of the show, and so there is a funny scene where I’m carrying like 28,000 rolls of toilet paper like, “Come on, guys.  We’ve got to stock up!”  We all remember those days, don’t we?

Photo: JPI

How do you feel about this season of the show and your work in it? You’ve previously won a Daytime Emmy for your performances on The Bay.

ERIC:  This season is more cemented in a character that has truly grounded himself.  So, the first Emmy I won was for a storyline of coming out and uncertainty and struggle and pain, whereas this season Daniel knows what he wants and is going for it.  There is much more passion and love in this season for Daniel, as opposed to struggle and heartache.

The cast and crew of The Bay all went away and quarantined at this ranch this past summer to get the new season completed.  What was that like?

ERIC:  We were actually in Santa Barbara, and filmed on this epic ranch up there.  It’s like this 500-acre ranch that we all quarantined on.  We had to do the testing, and temperatures three times a day, and the whole thing.  So, it was really structured, tough to pull off, but we were all so grateful that we were able to do this.  Luckily, we had this incredible kind of bubble of a ranch to live and work on while we were shooting.  They were really good about block shooting it all, so we’d kind of shoot one person’s character, then the next, so we wouldn’t have to ever be leaving the ranch before we were done.

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

ERIC:  Oh, it’s amazing.  I just can’t believe how fast the time is flying by because of it.  We just had Molly’s first birthday on October 1st, and I feel like yesterday she was born.  I sound like my parents when I say this, but it’s like the time keeps getting faster, but it’s so true.  She’s awesome.  We play Broadway musical soundtracks to her all day, and she sings.  She sits at the piano with me when I play, and she kind of plunks notes out next to me.  She loves music, and we’ve introduced it to her from day one.  We always joke that she won’t be able to watch any of daddy’s stuff until she’s 18 probably, but Sainty is a voice-over actress.  She has done parts for animated films and TV shows such as Trolls, and Barbie, and Boss Baby, so everything from the first part of my daughter’s life is all going to be Mommy’s stuff, and then, in the later part of life she can start watching Daddy’s stuff.

Right, she can’t watch anything that you do!  (Laughs) So, basically forget that!

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

Check out the trailer for 1 Night in San Diego below.  Then share your thoughts on Eric’s current role on The Bay, if you hope he wins a Tony to go with his Daytime Emmy, the six degrees of separation between him, Elizabeth Gillies and his wife, and that the All My Children reboot considered making the character of AJ Chandler gay via the comment section below.

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