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Guiding Light

THE GINA TOGNONI INTERVIEW – GUIDING LIGHT

Gina-head.jpgWhat’s ahead in the New Year for Dinah when the clock strikes twelve, and in 2009 for one of daytime’s most accomplished actresses, Gina Tognoni? Well, read below and click on the audio player above to hear this new online exclusive with “On-Air On-Soaps”.

Gina reveals what it’s like working with her new co-star, Jeff Branson, the threat of “GL’s” cancellations, performing in the new production module, the Daytime Emmys, her contract renewal, and her upcoming real-life wedding plans and more.

Always a delight, Gina brings to light her thoughts on “Guiding Light”.

Listen to the audio:

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MICHAEL:

How is working with Jeff Branson (Shayne)?

GINA:

Incredible! Wonderful! I just go to work and come home, so I don’t know how things are going. I do know from just working with him, he is so great, and such a wonderful addition. He is hard worker, and not too bad to look at it, and he looks like Reva and Josh! So, it’s like it’s way too perfect. I am very lucky, so we are having a great time.

MICHAEL:

Did you know of Jeff’s work as Jonathan Lavery on “AMC”?

GINA:

I remember seeing him on “AMC” thinking, “interesting guy.” Then, through the years, I would hear his name and when he showed up for the screen test, I thought right away….. Hmmm!

MICHAEL:

Did you know he was going to get the part?

GINA:

It was 50 and 50 on both, and he was one of them. I could see his performance, and they were both different in a lot of ways. He looked so much like Kim Zimmer (Reva) and Robert Newman, (Josh), and that’s big!
gina-jeff1.jpgMICHAEL:

Did you have input into the final casting choice?

GINA:

I think they saw a harmony immediately on the screen test. I knew they would make the right decision, and I had a big smile on my face. I found out the next day he got the part and I was pleased. So I was thrilled. It’s a great role; its well written and our opening scenes were beautiful. It was a gorgeous day and the sun was shining and he bounces right off the screen. There is a tremendous ease that comes through with the two of us, so I am just thrilled.

MICHAEL:

So, can we assume “big” love story for Shayne and Dinah in the coming months?

GINA:

We don’t know where this is going to go, but I know they are taking their time with this. Dinah and Shayne are feeling their way through this, one step at a time. So we can build this and not rush anything, but tell good story. It’s going to evolve with the energy that these two people are giving it. I am excited to see what’s going to happen.

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MICHAEL:

Now Dinah has been involved in Lizzie’s kidnapping, and all this stuff. For those who don’t understand the set up, why does she do what she did?

Gina-fire.jpgGINA:

It’s so funny. I feel I have to defend poor Dinah, but who will if I won’t? She was involved in a kidnapping and she hired Grady to show her brother who is boss. He went a little farther and worked on his own, and decided to kidnap Lizzie and surprise Dinah. Dinah was like, “You did what?” She had to back pedal, because if she went to the cops and said, “Grady kidnapped Lizzie,” Grady would rat out Dinah and she would be implicated, and she does not want that. It started to go horribly wrong as time went on. Her brother got into an accident, and she is like, “I am out of here…for god sakes and I can’t take it anymore!!” Then, my brother gets into an accident. I am like, “I am out of here.” I go to Germany and find Shane and bring Shane back. This little kidnapping detail we will let sit until the New Year, when we let that little bugger out. She was related to it, and involved in it. It was not her idea. She tried to get out of it, so I think that will be in her favor. Then, in an effort to turn her life around she comes across Reva! In 5 years on the show, I think I have two to three scenes with her. I have worked more with her in the last month, and I am so thrilled. She is so good, and she can do this with her eyes shut.

MICHAEL:

Alan gets involved here, and Grady and Cyrus tell Dinah that Alan might, “Kill Bill”, correct?

bill-dinah.jpgGINA:

Yeah. Alan, hate’s Bill, and he wants Bill dead, and Dinah knows that, and she is fearlessly protective of her family. She loves Bill. It’s her family and her blood. She cares so much about her family, but she needs to roll with the punches. This kidnapping thing she is sitting on, and she goes to burn the evidence against her brother. Now you ask, “Why would Dinah do such a thing?” She feels she is doing her duty, and that she will be very successful in burning this evidence, so she does and it’s OK and gone. Now we are moving forward, and I think what will happen is a lot of stuff will come up when we do the trial, and that will be pretty soon. Shayne knows all the details and Dinah’s implications. So we start a fire and we are both doing it. And Shayne is doing it because, “Yeah, where’s the party?” And Dinah’s doing it because, “I got to get rid of this evidence. I know it’s not right, but I don’t know what to do.”

MICHAEL:

How is working with Kane Madera as Grady?

kane.jpgGINA:

Kane Madera is a sweet and gorgeous great guy. We are really lucky.

MICHAEL:

You have won two Daytime Emmy’s for Outstanding Supporting Actress for your role as Dinah. What do you think will happen this year to the show, when no one seemingly wants to broadcast it?

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GINA:

Let’s figure this whole Emmy thing out. I know people watch, and if the show goes away it would not be good for Daytime on all levels, and it will be very bad. I will say, the network or cable network that does inherit it could do so much for it and turn it on its ear. What’s the problem? It’s a fun night. It’s celebrating one night a year and it’s got a gold mine!

MICHAEL:

I had a problem with the broadcast in the last couple of years, where I felt they diluted the show. The ratings were lower, and they seem to be getting away from the true essence of it, which is soap operas, and what the fans want to see on the award show.

GINA:

I think the vision gets lost somehow, and it’s getting away from the drama. They should focus on that, as well as talk shows.

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MICHAEL:

Last year “GL’s” writing had great material for the actors to submit at the Emmys. Do you think this year there is a lot of material for you to choose?

gina-emmy.jpgGINA:

If there is going to be an Emmy? Yes, I am blessed. I always have stuff. This year, it would be Dinah basically unraveling for the tenth time, and she unravels in a new way before she goes off to Germany. The guilt and the honesty; I got a beautiful chance to be honest with her. She is so uncomfortable in her own skin, that when I have an opportunity as an actress to be unafraid, that is a wonderful opportunity. I have had a lot of this the past year that I would be willing to submit, because I would be proud of it.

MICHAEL:

How is working in Peapack for you in doing the exterior scenes, and the CBS “GL” production offices which double as interiors for some scenes now?

GINA:

Initially, it was difficult to get used to. Everyone had to change the way they worked. We removed all walls, and suddenly there were cameramen 360 around us, and then we were doing four passes of the same scene. That was unheard of. We would do our own pick-ups. To be able to do that in this medium in the interest of time and money, that’s a godsend. The hard part was claustrophobia, because we were working so close together at first. It was a little imbalanced, but we found our balance, and that just goes back to “When you’re good, you’re good”. Our whole cast is good, and all things have to be running on all cylinders. We had to publicly go through this transition and that was very difficult. “GL” did the same thing from radio to television. We made it that we were the oldest, we were the first, and we are doing it again. I love being a part of it! Yeah, HD sucks as a woman with the wrinkles and the discoloration. You see it like it is. It’s about being real. At first I was like, “I’m good with the fantasy. I need a little soft light.” What was online was lovely to watch, and what was on the air was a little different. We are in a lovely place now. I am very happy with it now.

MICHAEL:

I don’t know if all fans realize what “GL” had to go through to stay on the air.

GINA:

As a team, we had to forge this new way, and we are working hard and not calling it in here.

ginaPeacock.jpgMICHAEL:

Does it ever cross your mind that “GL” could be cancelled at any moment?

GINA:

From time to time, it comes across my mind. I hear things and I am quick to push that worry out. I know our executive producer is not driven by fear, and that is inspiring. As a cast member, I try to emulate the same thing. I know if it’s one show that can make a difference and an impact, where one can enjoy the ride it’s with us. I know we can do that. That to me is very cool. I have been in daytime for 10 years. I have been around. I can say I am happy where I am, and we will see what my future holds.


MICHAEL:

For New Years’, what can we tease the fans with for Dinah?

GINA:

Dinah and Shayne, and Dinah and Shayne…..they are kind of together, but it’s at the beginning stages. But watch out, because a lot is a-coming. On New Years’ they are in a situation together at midnight.

MICHAEL:

This is not necessarily a bad thing.

Jeff-gina2.jpgGINA:

No. It’s really not bad when it comes to Shayne. She will have some happiness. I just hope it’s more than a moment. I think she learns how not to self-destruct. She does find a balance in a way, so it’s a very interesting story.

MICHAEL:

Do have any New Year’s resolutions for 2009?

GINA:

I do. I have to. I am getting married in May and I want to get in the best shape I have been in. It’s not for just physical reasons. I want to feel good. With working so tough, you have to be fit by going to the gym. I really want to get back to Pilates, and getting right back on the horse.

MICHAEL:

Are you looking forward to the prospect of marriage?

GINA:

Oh, yes! I really believe in marriage. I think it’s a beautiful thing, and just the idea of walking down the aisle gets me crazy.

MICHAEL:

Do you have a dress?

GINA:

It’s in the process of being made. I am not worried about that dress. I have great dress karma. They always fall into my lap. I have good karma that way!

MICHAEL:

Finally, what would you say is at the core of Dinah, especially for someone that is meeting her for the first time?

GINA:

This girl is kick-ass! She is a survivor and she is very aware, and she is trying to make the best of her life. She is a fighter, and I adore her. I think she has got it all in so many ways. I really think she has got it all.

MICHAEL:

Of all the roles you have gotten to play, do you think this role of Dinah is the gem?

GINA:

I think all roles I have ever played have been quite perfect at the time. I know that four years ago when I said “yes” to this role, it truly was meant to be. Now that I am coming into five years this coming June, that will be the question. That will be the question! Is this where I leave Dinah, or do I take her on the next journey? I don’t know, and that part frightens me a little bit, because I don’t know what’s ahead and I don’t know what I’m going to do. So, we will see.

MICHAEL:

If you get to that point you have to follow your heart and your gut!

Gina-purp.jpgGINA:

You’ve got to really know what you are doing. I love what I am doing, and I am a workaholic. I believe in what we do here. It’s a beautiful role, but at a certain time you have to ask yourself, “Is this where I stop? Or, is this where I keep going?” I think it’s healthy to check in.

MICHAEL:

Do you ever think of, or miss your role as Kelly Cramer on “OLTL”?

GINA:

You know, it was so different. Kelly was kind of zany, and that character you could just write for forever. “OLTL” is such a great show. I am a big fan of executive producer, Frank Valentini. The show is so good right now, and Susan Haskell (Marty) is back. I have always had a huge soft
spot for that show when they do well.
I hope they do well this year, at the
Daytime Emmys.

General Hospital

Soap Alums Frank Grillo and Dee Wallace to Star in New Peacock Streaming Series

From director and executive producer Jason Woliner, best know for his work on Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, comes a new untitled streaming series for Peacock which is said to be groundbreaking, in that, it mixes fact and fiction to tell a bizarre and incredible tale.

Casting announcements have begun and two faces very familiar to soap fans are in the ensemble.  First, former Guiding Light star, Frank Grillo (Ex-Hart Jessup) who most recently appeared in Kingdom, and Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, and second, former General Hospital star, Dee Wallace (Ex-Patricia Spencer), best known for her role in the film, E.T.

In addition to Grillo and Wallace, look for Rosanna Arquette and Dennis Haysbert to also appear in the series.

The “Untitled Jason Woliner Project” will be executive producerd by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver, Loreli Alanis  Megan Ellison. Michael Sagol, and Bert Hamelinck.

Looking forward to seeing Frank and Dee in this one-of-a-kind project on Peacock? Did you love them as GL’s Hart and GH’s Patricia? Comment below.

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Breaking News

Guiding Light’s Lee Lawson Dead At 83

UPDATED: More loss for the Guiding Light family.  Now comes word on Monday that Lee Lawson, who played Bea Reardon on the CBS daytime drama series from 1981-1990, passed away Sunday night in Los Angeles at 83-years-old. Lawson passed away at Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles after a decades-long fight with cancer with her children by her side.

What makes this all the more heartbreaking is that Guiding Light and soap fans just recently mourned the loss of one of Lee’s on-screen daughter’s Lisa Brown (Ex-Nola Reardon) who died back in November of last year.

According to Lee’s dear friend, Marian-Hailey Moss via Facebook, she shared: “My down-to-earth, sassy smart and beautiful friend LEE LAWSON is telling it like it is in a better place. A fine actress and a super generous friend. I’ll meetcha there LEE!!”

 

Michael Fairman TV spoke to Marian-Hailey Moss and confirmed Lee’s passing.

In addition to her time in Springfield, Lawson also appeared in for a time in 1979 on One Life to Live in the role of Wanda Wolek and started her soap acting career on Love of Life in 1965 in the part of Barbara Sterling.

Lawson also appeared on numerous primetime television shows from Kojak to Maude and many others.  After a long career in entertainment, Lee achieved a lifelong ambition by gaining a doctorate in clinical psychology, and enjoyed a fulfilling successful second career in Los Angeles as psychologist and crisis counselor.  She was especially proud of the work she did for many years at the Los Angeles Times before moving into private practice.

Lee’s daughter, Leslie Bova, took to Facebook on May 24th and shared: “My Mother died. May 22, 2022. Thank you for having Chris, Me & Gaby so that we could have Gianna, Wilder & Sterling. We love you. You fought Cancer & COVID-19 like a champ. Rest, you brilliant, woman ❤️. Thank you, mom. R.I.P.”

She is survived by her children: playwright Christopher Stetson Boal, Gabriella, and Leslie; her sister, artist Susan Gray Arlow; and her grandchildren Wilder, Sterling and Gianna.

Below check out some scenes between Bea and Nola from Guiding Light.

Share your remembrances of Lee Lawson as Bea Reardon and your condolences in the comment section below.

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Guiding Light

One Life to Live and Guiding Light Stars Share Reactions and Remembrances of Jerry verDorn

Over the last 24 hours, tributes have poured in on social media for beloved soap opera veteran, Jerry verDorn (Ex-Ross, GL and Ex-Clint, OLTL) who passed away on May 1st.

The two-time Daytime Emmy-winning star, was one of the most genuine people you could ever meet and work with as noted by so many of his former colleagues from Llanview to Springfield.

Michael Fairman TV will continue to update this post as more remembrances for Jerry continue to be shared and posted.  Here is just a sampling of verDorn’s impact on the lives of those who worked with him in front of the camera and behind the scenes:

Photo: JPI

Erika Slezak (Ex-Viki, OLTL) statement to her Fan Club: “For anyone who knew Jerry verDorn, Sunday, May 1st, was a heartbreakingly sad day.He was a man of such warmth and kindness, talent, intelligence and most importantly humor, that every day spent working with him could hardly be called work.  It was joy.  He so loved what he did and was so very good at it. I was the very lucky recipient of his last 8 years in daytime and I thank God for that. “He made every day one to look forward to. I will always think of him with that lovely, rather impish, smile on his face, and that will stay in my heart forever. I know that he has gone to a peaceful place, with no pain.  I send my love and deepest sympathies to Beth and their sons and their families, of whom he was so very proud. They have lost a great man.”

Melissa Archer (Ex-Natalie, OLTL) expressed: “I’m heartbroken to hear of Jerry VerDorn’s passing. I have so many wonderful things to say about this man, but I’ll try to keep it brief. I had the honor of playing his daughter on oltl. He was genuine from start to finish. A giving actor, a caring coworker, funny, talented, and full of smiles. When he took over the role of Clint, it was seamless. It felt as though he’d always been there and he formed family bonds with all of us quickly. His family are in my thoughts and prayers.”

Bree Williamson (Ex-Jessica, OLTL) shared: “I am devastated to hear about the death of Jerry. He was a wonderful man and I am so grateful for the time that I spent with him as my TV father. He was a talented and generous actor and a kind and gentle man. He made it effortless for me to feel close to him and to love him like a dad. I enjoyed everyday I was lucky enough to spend with him and I will hold those memories of him in my heart and mind forever. 💔💔”

Photo: JPI

Amanda Setton (Ex-Kimberly, OLTL, now Brook Lynnm GH) said: “I am so very sorry to hear this news. I was so fortunate to have worked with Jerry early in my career. I learned so much from him. I remember we would often run lines in his dressing room, classical music playing and all. His preparation and commitment to his craft was inspiring. He was an incredible actor, the consummate professional; prepared, present, supportive, and kind. He treated everyone with such respect and admiration. We have lost someone special. I am holding his family in my thoughts and prayers. “

Ron Carlivati (Ex-head writer, OLTL, now head writer, DAYS) shared: “Sad to hear the news that Jerry Ver Dorn has passed away. Jerry stepped into the role of Clint Buchanan in 2005 and quickly made it his own, playing a loving husband and father and eventually a very convincing villain, although the man himself was all heart. Rest in peace. #OLTL”

Robin Strasser (Ex-Dorian, OLTL) said:#JerryVerDorn a fine actor and true gentleman. It always felt good to see him, not just because he was so darn good looking (he was:) but because he was so affable & easygoing; while being thoroughly hardworking and dedicated to the work. All honor to one of the best of the best!”

Frank Valentini (Ex-EP, OLTL, now EP, GH) tweeted: “I was very sad to learn about the passing of my friend and all around great guy, Jerry verDorn (Clint #OLTL.) On behalf of everyone here at #GH, we send our heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends.”

Photo: JPI

Mark Lawson (Ex-Brody, OLTL) expressed: What a gentleman. I remember being so intimidated by both he and Bob Woods. Until I finally had scenes with them.  Jerry was the consummate gentleman. So elegant and kind. With a blue collar approach to the work and a respect and generosity for his fellow actors that flew beyond what was necessary. He was a benevolent king on that set. And funny. And ready to laugh.This photo was from the very last moments of filming OLTL at the studios in Manhattan.  I was blessed that day to work with Erika, Jerry, Bree, and Melissa.  I think about that day and these people all the time. Farewell, sir. It was a pleasure to know you.  #jerryverdorn #onelifetolive #oltl”

Liz Keifer (shared: “My heart is broken and filled with bittersweet love for Jerry and his family. Thank you for being my trusted friend onscreen and off. It was an honor to be yours. Rest well, dear Jerry. You are loved beyond measure.”

Patrick Mulcahey (Former head writer, GL) “So sad to hear of Jerry verDorn’s passing. What a fine actor and a good guy. He never stopped thanking me for a special GL episode I wrote for him (Ross’s Election Day dream), but I loved his work way back when Ross was with Vanessa, then Carrie, and then later, with Blake… He and Peter Simon [ex-Ed] played best friends beautifully — abiding male friendships are rare on soaps — and he had crazy deep chemistry with all his leading ladies. Writing Blake and Ross was about as much fun as a writer could have and those scenes always aired so deliciously… Many thanks, sir, for all you offered us, the humor, the depth, the stuffiness and vanity too, which you knew was there in all of us. Sorry you had to leave us in apple blossom time. Sorry you had to leave us at all.”

Robert Newman (Ex-Josh, GL; now Ashland, Y&R): “This one really hits hard. Jerry Ver Dorn was a wonderful actor and a beautiful person. He was one of my first role models. He actually was instrumental in getting me into Union service. He was our Aftra Deputy on Guiding Light, and eventually I took over for him in that role on the show. That planted seed led me to over a decade of serving on both the National and Local boards of Aftra, then Sag-Aftra after the merger. One of the finest human beings I’ve ever known. Rest peacefully, Jerry.”

What do you think about the comments and tributes from Jerry’s former castmates? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

 

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A post shared by Melissa Archer (@_melissaarcher)

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