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Guiding Light R.I.P.

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.

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Some beloved faces from Springfield return when they gather virtually for one of the next Guiding Light reunion chats via Alan Locher.

Look for fan favorites: Mark Derwin (Ex-A.C. Mallett), Melissa Hayden (Ex-Bridget Reardon), Morgan Englund (Dylan Lewis),, Kimberley Simms (Mindy Lewis) and Jocelyn Seagrave Fundoukos (Julie Camaletti) on Wednesday, June 10th beginning at 3PM EST/12 PM PST on The Locher Room You Tube channel.

Guiding Light fans will remember the love story of Mallet and Harley, Dylan and Julie, as well as Bridge’ts Relationship with Dylan and of course, the spoiled rich girl Mindy Lewis.

Get your questions ready and join the virtual chat.  To view on June 10th click here,

So, what were some of your favorite memories from GL featuring this fab five? Comment below.

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In one of the most exciting and highly-anticipated chats of the COVID-19 stay-at-home television reunions, this one will rank way up there!

Announced on Friday, by Alan Locher for his The Locher Room You Tube channel, a Guiding Light Cooper family reunion is on its way to longtime fans of the beloved CBS soap opera.

Circle Wednesday June 3rd at a special time 5 p. m. EST/2 p. m PST for “Cocktails with the Coopers”.

Joining Alan will be multi-Daytime Emmy winner, Justin Deas (Buzz), fan favorite Beth Ehlers (Harley) along with Frank Dicopoulos (Frank), John Driscoll (Coop) and Fiona Hutchison (Jenna).  

To log in to the Cooper family reunion event with some of the finest actors ever to grace the town of Springfield click here.

So excited to see Justin, Beth and the Cooper clan all together again? Comment below.

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ABC and PEOPLE’s ‘The Story of Soaps’: What Was Your Review Of It?

Tuesday’s night airing of ABC and PEOPLE’s two-hour special The Story of Soaps featured many notable daytime and primetime soap stars, past and present, clips from backstage to classic memorable moments, and some participants who were providing commentary on the erosion of the daytime soaps in our culture.  Still others, maintained and realized that everything today is serialized from the news we watch, to some of Netflix’s most binge-watchable series, and of course, the birth of reality-programming.

Throughout the airing of the special, The Story of Soaps was trending on Twitter and social media either at the #2, #3 or #4 spots for the entire duration of the broadcast presentation, and the cancelled and beloved All My Children was also at one point trending.

However, known soap writers, journalists, ardent fans, and actors of the genre, were all on Twitter last night live-tweeting their thoughts as the special went down, and there was definitely mixed reactions and reviews, when all was said and done.

What the special did not shy away from, but tackled, was Luke’s rape of Laura at the campus disco on General Hospital. and how that moment now, as Genie Francis (Laura), so eloquently put, would be considered as ‘date rape’ in our culture.  The series even included a pivotal moment where Laura addresses Luke (Tony Geary) about the rape years later, after helping Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst) through her rape ordeal.

John Stamos (Ex-Blackie Parrish, GH) got a bevy of “Right On’s!” for his comment that the soaps do not get the credit that they deserve and clearly came through as one of the soaps greatest supporters, as did former The Doctors and Knots Landing star, Alec Baldwin.

However, throughout the two-hours, Andy Cohen’s commentary was thread throughout; mostly citing soap’s demise and the creation of reality-programming and his “Real Housewives” franchise, that the special touted as the new soap operas.  It continued on the narrative that people preferred to see real-life drama then made-up drama on a fictional soap.  And while, that has been a trend in American culture for decades, the commentary came off as often out of place in a celebration of the soaps; and bringing in a lot of negativity to the special that soap fans were tired of hearing.

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In a lighting rod moment, Cohen stated: “I know Susan Lucci doesn’t agree with me, but I think that the Housewives have replaced soap operas because truth is stranger than fiction. Soaps became kind of unnecessary because you could do it with real people, and they’re writing the drama themselves.”

The special did also address the cancellations of All My Children and One Life to Live, (which many were not sure they were going to do – given this special was airing on ABC), where One Life’s leading lady and six-time Daytime Emmy winner, Erika Slezak (Ex-Viki) said what we all wanted to sa ywhen the ax fell on the towns of Llanview and Pine Valley, “People were horrified”.

Clearly, OJ Simpson and his murder trial and reality-programming were also given a chunk of time to show where the once mighty landscape of daytime soaps which once had 13 shows on the air, dwindled town to 4.  But, it would have been nice to see more time spent on how in this day and age, the people in this current landscape of the genre work so hard to get episodes done at an unbelievable pace, and how in that climate the performers still deliver gut-wrenching performances.

Photo: ABC

Former Loving, OLTL and Breaking Bad star, Bryan Cranston, did point out how the once powerful soaps, just don’t have the dollars they used to, and need to, to help with production costs and their taping schedule.

Viewers were reminded of soaps’ socially relevant storylines including hankie-inducing moments from: Robin (Kimberly McCullough) and Stone’s (Michael Sutton) HIV/AIDS storyline on General Hospital, to Billy Douglas being a gay teen coming out on One Life to Live, played by a young Ryan Phillippe.

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There also did not seem time spent on the contributions of William J. Bell; one of the most prominent writers of the soap genre of all-time.

For many commenting on social media last night, there seemed to be a feeling of some glaring omissions of participants who could speak on this genre, who have been in the trenches as soap producers, soap writers, pundits, actors, and more, who were not included in the special.

So, what was your review of The Story of Soaps? How would you grade it? Do you feel it accurately reflected the history of the genre?  Were you happily surprised,  or when it came to the end where you over it, or somewhere in between? Sound off in the comment section below.  Below are some tweets from notables who have worked as an actor, a writer, and a journalist in the soaps.  

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