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The Gina Tognoni Interview – The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto

Courtesy/CBS

It was one of the most sought after roles in the history of daytime for any actress to play. After quite the search to find the successor to two-time Daytime Emmy winning dynamo, Michelle Stafford, The Young and the Restless has found their gal in Gina Tognoni  to step into the shoes of Phyllis Summers!  Soap fans know of Gina’s stellar work from her first daytime role as Kelly Cramer on One Life to Live, to her two-time Daytime Emmy winning star turn as Dinah Marler on Guiding Light.  Now the journey begins for the Y&R audience to see just how the talented Tognoni will put her own stamp and spin on firecracker Phyllis!

And as it written in the soap opera handbook 101 … when one actress is put in a coma to facilitate her exit, but then goes to another soap, only to wake up from a coma as a different character … the original soap has the character wake up from a coma as another actress!  Got it?   But with that, both Michelle Stafford now Nina Clay on GH, and Gina Tognoni now Phyllis on Y&R, both have roles befitting their acting chops!

On-Air On-Soaps had the pleasure of sitting down with Gina at the set of Y&R for one of her first interviews back to the soap fold where we gleaned: just how she landed the primo role in Genoa City, how she views the character of Phyllis, and what she thinks of her new leading men, Joshua Morrow (Nick) and Peter Bergman (Jack). And Gina gives us some subtle, yet definite clues as to what to look for when Phyllis finally awakens for her comatose state.  And let’s be real here … hell hath no fury like a Phyllis scorned!

In addition, Gina addresses the sad fate of her former soap homes, Guiding Light and One Life to Live, plus getting into the groove at the number one soap playing the kickass Phyllis, who fans are just waiting to spring back to life and into action!  The story picks up stream on the Monday, August 11th episode of Y&R when Gina makes her on-screen debut.  And now, here’s our enlightening and entertaining chat with the new Phyllis in town!

MICHAEL:

Was there ever a time you thought: “I would like to be on the number one show, Y&R?”

GINA:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Yes, yes, and yes! A few weeks ago I stayed in Melody Thomas Scott’s (Nikki) dressing room, which I have to say is epic!  It is incredible.  My whole life I have admired this show.  It is number one for a reason.  It is not only beautiful to look at, but there is just a certain type of class with this show, and I say that in the best possible way.  It was no more evident when I got the job from the phone calls I got from everybody, but especially the phone call I got from Peter Bergman (Jack).  And, can I just say, he was my first call!  Peter is truly the ambassador of The Young and the Restless.  He is truly authentic, and what a gift to be working with him.

MICHAEL:

Did Peter Bergman say to you, “Gina, you don’t know what you have gotten yourself into?” (Laughs)  And then did he say, “You have big shoes to fill!”

GINA:

(Laughs) Actually, it was a kind message congratulating me and saying how happy he was.  I kept that message on my phone for a really long time, because it meant a lot to me.  It’s people like Jimmy Freeman, our associate producer and former show publicist, who call and open their heart and tell you a little bit about the show.  And from there it was the hair and make-up team, directors, wardrobe; it has been awesome and rare.

MICHAEL:

I heard you blew everyone away with your audition tape and screen test!  So what were the scenes that you performed? Everyone kind of wants to know how this all came about that the show ended up choosing you, since this role is so identifiable to Michelle Stafford (Nina GH) who was your predecessor in the part.

GINA:

Photo Credit: DuffImages.com

So, I have loved Michelle Stafford’s work.  I think she is fabulous, and that is why this role is so amazing, because she is fearless.  I identify with that.  With that being said, I was in New York.  I put myself on tape and I sent it to the Y&R casting director, Judy Blye Wilson.  There was a casting call for the role that was open to all.  It was interesting.  I didn’t know if I was going to go back to daytime, or what I was going to do, or what was going to be in my path.  I thought, “You know what?  We are going to try and see if this is the right match.”  So the show called me back and said they wanted me to come out to L.A to screen test.  And when I came out here, I was so open to the fact that maybe this isn’t the right thing, but if it is, it will be.  Then when I arrived here and got to the studio, and being here the day of the screen test, it just felt like Kismet.  It felt right.  So I performed two scenes: one with Peter Bergman and one with Joshua Morrow (Nick).  And initially the scene I sent in from New York was between Phyllis and Sharon.  I love that relationship.  It’s a real fierce relationship.  I felt that I understood that.  I was then happy to see they were going to focus on the two guys here.  I think that was important to see what the chemistry is like.  Peter and Joshua are two different entities, and what is wonderful is that Phyllis has two important men in her life.

MICHAEL:

What was your first impression of Mr. Morrow?

GINA:

Joshua is gorgeous inside and out.  He is a bright light, and he has been here a long time, and he is still so humble.  That struck me, along with Joshua’s ability.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Joshua told me in a recent interview that he wants the fans to give you a shot and a chance to win them over as Phyllis!  What were the audition scenes with Joshua like?

GINA:

It actually was an aggressive scene between Phyllis and Nick that was a fight layered with a lot of passion.  Whereas the Peter scene was about Jack’s trust and how the hallmark of their relationship was that they always had trust.  And with Nick, there is a fire.  Now, Joshua is a beautiful man! (Laughs)  And I am a married woman in real life! (Laughs)  I am looking at him, again thinking that he is just so humble, and yet he is so funny!  I love being around anybody who can make me laugh.

MICHAEL:

So are you aware of the “Phick” fans and the “Shick” fans, and that never the two will meet? (Laughs)

GINA:

I learned about it.  I am like scared of these people! (Laughs)  Let me tell you, I am going to wear horse blinders, because I am NOT going to read what people are saying.   I will purposely not read what people are writing for awhile.  I have to focus on the work.

MICHAEL:

What happened when you found out you had nabbed the role of Phyllis?  How did you find out?  Who told you?

GINA:

Courtesy/IMDB

Let me just put like this: It was completely on facebook and quickly on the Internet. And that happened well before any of my family members knew, and it just shows you the speed of social media.  It got out there fast when it was announced.  I truly, when I left this building for the screen test, knew I was proud of my work.  I had stepped out of my comfort zone.  I pushed it, in my opinion, but I knew that’s what this particular role needs.  As Phyllis, you have to really just go for it!  And, we don’t know the way the fans are going to go with this.  I am like: “Well, I hope they like me.”  I remember after the audition seeing Y&R executive producer Jill Farren Phelps’ face.  She looked happy, but there was still another girl to read for the role.  Everyone gets a fair shot, but the cards went my way.  Now the way I found out was through a text message from a friend who said, “Oh, my God.  I just found out you got the role!”  When I found out I got the part I couldn’t believe it, and I was so thrilled.  Then, I had a moment of: “Oh, my gosh!  How am I going to do this?”  I was concerned how I was going to work out the flying back and forth from the east coast, and the logistics of it all.  As everyone knows, soaps are at an insane speed.  Every day there is new stuff for everyone to learn.  I was used to that stuff, but the travel I had not done.  But what is unbelievable is that it is all working out quite well.  Typically, I will fly in a day before I tape an episode, or if it’s for four episodes, even better.

MICHAEL:

But you had to have a “pinch yourself moment” when it sank in that you were going to be the actress to play Phyllis.

GINA:

I was speechless.   I think I thought, “Wow! Wow! Wow!”  Because in my mind, Y&R is the number one show on the planet!  This is the number one role on the planet, so this is it!  In Jill Phelps’ words: “This is as good as it gets!”  And it’s true.  I am a very lucky girl, but I am blessed.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto

You had worked with Y&R’s executive producer Jill Farren Phelps previously, correct?

GINA:

Yes.  I worked with Jill a million years ago when I was at One Life to Live.  She said to me, “You grew up pretty good.”  And that just meant so much.  Jill is wonderful to work for.  It had been so long since we had worked together, but to get this role was still a fair fight.

MICHAEL:

Michelle Stafford sent you a tweet congratulating you on becoming the next Phyllis. What did you think of her doing that?

GINA:

I think it was classy.  Look, I loved what she did with the role, and I think I identified with it.  Dinah and Phyllis could have been from the same family, in fact, they might be cousins! (Laughs)  I pray that the audience gives me a chance, but what I am going to do with all of my heart is express the spirit of Phyllis.

MICHAEL:

And what is the spirit of Phyllis to you?

GINA:

She loves with all of her heart fearlessly, and she is not afraid of what that looks like, and that is interesting to play.

MICHAEL:

Are you nervous that no matter what you do, you will not be accepted by the Y&R viewing audience?

GINA:

Courtesy/CBS

I think it’s human nature to fulfill people’s expectations, but if you go too far in that direction in your mind, you are toast.  I am excited, but if turns too much to nerves, I watch that and keep an eye on that.  I will say; you need all the strength you can get for this role! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

What happened when you met Y&R legend Eric Braeden (Victor) for the first time?

GINA:

I met him the other day, and he is like an icon!  And in that voice of his, he went, “It was so nice to meet you!” (Gina screams)  I said back to him, “You are so cool!”

MICHAEL:

And what are your thoughts on your on-screen nemesis Sharon Case (Sharon)?

GINA:

I love Sharon Case.  First of all, Sharon is the most beautiful girl ever.  I have not worked with her yet, but she gave me a hug, and I gave her a hug.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Who have you worked with thus far from the cast?

GINA:

Peter Bergman, Hunter King (Summer) who plays my daughter.  That girl is wicked talented.  I love her energy, and I was drawn to her right away.  Matt Atkinson, who has been great as Austin, the character of Dr. Cutler, and I have worked with Eric Braeden.  Victor came to visit Phyllis.

MICHAEL:

So here you are, two-time Daytime Emmy winner Gina Tognoni, and it’s your first day on set at Y&R, and your first scenes, and you have to pretend that you are in a coma! (Laughs) 

GINA:

My first scenes were me lying in a coma.  I kept thinking, “I hope my hair color is correct and I hope my eyes are not twitching,” and they were!  I got a note that I was twitching a little. (Laughs)  Must have been too much coffee! (Laughs)  But it was fine, and it is actually the best way to get to know somebody – to be able to be there and not talk, but to listen.  So that was all O.K.

MICHAEL:

So you obviously know the story, and there are major issues and bombshells surrounding Phyllis waking from her coma.  First on the list is revealing Sharon switched the paternity test, and Summer is Nick’s bio-daughter.  Please tell me, Phyllis is not going to wake up with amnesia?

GINA:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto

Well, you don’t know.  You don’t know what place Phyllis has gone to, and what she has seen while she was gone, and we don’t know what she has seen.

MICHAEL:

Well, knowing Phyllis she has probably got a few tricks up her sleeve!

GINA:

Yes.  I will tell you when you talk to anybody who has been in a coma, when they come back … they know they have come back.  They could have either passed on, or come back, and Phyllis is back and there is a reason she is coming back, and that intrigues me.  I think that is fabulous.  There are quite of bit of undercurrents going on here!

MICHAEL:

I think there is a huge revenge element in there, too!  After all, everyone else has moved on with their life, while she was stuck in this coma!

GINA:

Which is interesting, because now she has to get integrated back into her life.  So physically, where is she?  There are all of types of wonderful questions that come up for an actress: is she 100% strong?  So we are going to see a journey, and the audience is going to have to watch very closely, because it’s going to be subtle.  It has to be built brick by brick.

MICHAEL:

Which is so interesting, because Michelle Stafford’s new character on GH was in a coma for 20 years!  You two are the comatose twins!

GINA:

Courtesy/ABC

I love that, and I know!  It’s going to be like Frick and Frack, right?  It’s going to be … who was the best coma patient?  It’s very weird that we both have those storylines, but that’s also what is kind of cool about it.

MICHAEL:

So, as you know, fans were very worried about who was going to take over this role. They had seen so many of their favorites depart The Young and the Restless for one reason or the other over the last year and half, that they wanted to make sure that someone truly capable of performing this role got the job, in their opinion.  What has been the pulse you are getting from fans in their reaction to the news that you the new Phyllis?   On my site, it was extremely positive … which is a rarity these days! (Laughs)

GINA:

Honestly, the manifest I got was: “Oh, we are so happy.”  I know they were happy I was coming to the show.  Now, there will be no negativity! (Laughs)  I don’t want to hear it! (Laughs)  I am a very spiritual girl, so I would not have flown all the way here!  So we are going to embrace that.  When you take on a character, you take on a character, and then you open the door and trust, and have that responsibility.

MICHAEL:

OK, let’s get down to it.  Who do you want to have love scenes with?

GINA:

Courtesy/CBS

(Laughs)  I think I am in great hands with Peter Bergman, or Joshua Morrow!  And then Cady McClain (Kelly) and everyone else is going to hate me for it! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Do you know where the character of Phyllis is heading, let’s say, six months out from now?

GINA:

I do not know six months out.  I have never in my career on daytime known story six months out.  Let’s just say that I know there is quite a bit of conflict coming up with Sharon, and a lot of concern over Summer, and then Phyllis fighting her way back and being integrated again.  I know there will be specific things to accomplish for her!

MICHAEL:

Do you want Phyllis to have a knock down drag out catfight with Sharon?  I think many fans really want to see it!

GINA:

I think she needs to step in the ring with Sharon, but I think there needs to be a discussion!  (Laughs) And I think the fans will get plenty of that!

MICHAEL:

You know the entire back-story of the tumble down the stairs that Phyllis took in a confrontation with Sharon?

GINA:

Courtesy/CBS

Yes.  I knew Phyllis took a tumble. There is a debate whether she was thrown down the stairs, or if she fell down the stairs, or if Sharon pushed Phyllis down the stairs.  Of course, Phyllis will probably see it as Sharon pushed her down the stairs!  And, as I said, when people come back to life from this kind of situation they come back with a sense of purpose, and fans will see that.  That will be very clear.  She is back to establish relationships, make some relationships good, to get some clarity on things with Avery (Jessica Collins) and Kelly!  The thing is Jack seems quite happy right now with Kelly, and that relationship is going quite well, and the fans certainly like it.  However, Jack and Phyllis had a connection   He is in many ways Phyllis’ soul mate.  She has two soul mates, the other being Nick.

MICHAEL:

Nick is really Summer’s father.  What do you think will happen when Phyllis realizes this?  I think this will draw her back to Nick!

GINA:

Ideally, yes, in a perfect world.  I think Phyllis has a soft spot for sex with Nick! (Laughs) But also having that soft spot for everything with him … she wants it all.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Sue Coflin/Max Photos

Fans have loved you from Guiding Light, and they have loved you from One Life to Live.  Both shows have now gone, for all intent and purpose, to soap heaven.  Can you share a few thoughts on your experience on Guiding Light?  You had left GL early before the show wrapped.

GINA:

What happened there was my contract was up, and it was time to go.  It was something when I look back at it that almost felt like I left the funeral early.  I wished I had stayed through to the end.  I loved my experience on Guiding Light.  It was amazing, and I loved playing Dinah.

MICHAEL:

Do you think the role of GL’s Dinah prepared you to be able to take on a role like Y&R’s Phyllis?

GINA:

Oh, yeah!  I am sure I will use a lot of strength and fire that we saw in Dina, and yet, Phyllis has a very different core.

MICHAEL:

On One Life to Live you came back to the role you originated of Kelly Cramer, and continued on shortly before the show went off the air.  Can you touch upon your feelings for the show that gave you your first soap break being canceled?

Courtesy/ABC

GINA:

My heart broke for that show.  It felt very unfair that it was canceled.  OLTL fans were so supportive and vocal about the show being canceled; you would think in these days that it would be enough to keep it on the air.  I think for the TV version, Frank Valentini (former EP OLTL, now EP GH) and Ron Carlivati (former head writer OLTL, now head writer GH) did a good job of wrapping it up.  It broke so many people’s hearts to take something off the air that meant a lot to so many.  I feel grateful to be on The Young and the Restless as there is an appreciation here for what we do.

MICHAEL:

What did you think about your final turn playing Kelly on One Life?

GINA:

I feel like Kelly’s storyline was stuck somewhere between first gear and neutral, but here at Y&R I feel thrilled to be working with all five gears with the Phyllis storyline. Case closed! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

And now in another twist of irony, Michael Easton, your former love interest on OLTL, is now involved with former Genoa City Phyllis, Michelle Stafford, on General Hospital!

GINA:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Damn him! Damn her!  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

In closing Gina, what would you like to say to the fans … those that are in your corner, and those who may be your toughest critics, as you begin a new chapter in your soap life as Phyllis?

GINA:

I have so many people rooting for me that I do not take it for granted.  I love that, and I cherish that.  I promise, to the people that I have not won over yet, that I will work very hard to do that.  I will put my heart and soul into this, because I want to, and I have to, and I will do this character justice.  And you be nice!!!! (Laughs)  I plan to go for it with this role.  It’s going to be balls to the wall!

 

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Max
Guest
Max

Love Gina and cannot wait!! Loving Michelle as Nina too.

Phyllis Newman
Guest
Phyllis Newman

I LOVE GINA SHE IS MY FAVIRETE ACTRESS EVER SHE’S GOING TO DO GREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT

steve
Guest
steve

I hope Gina stays on the y and r for a long time.She is foxey

Jeffrey Sweeney
Guest
Jeffrey Sweeney

AWESOME INTERVIEW!!!! I am so excited that Gina is taking over the role of Phyllis Newman; I was a HUGE fan of her work as Dinah on GL.

Sharon
Guest
Sharon

Me too… I loved her on GL…. I was really upset when they said Phyllis was leaving the show…. but when I saw her on the other soap one day… Made me really mad she would leave the top Soap on tv to go there…. I am so excited for Nina to play this part now….

Michael
Guest
Michael

I am so looking forward to Gina’s take on Phyllis starting next Monday! It’s going to be fun to watch!

Susan
Guest
Susan

If this story plays out in real life (not reel life) I doubt Phyllis will remember anything before falling. After a severe head injury like that most cannot immediately remember what caused the accident, if they ever remember. I have never seen Gina in anything but will give her a go. I still can’t stand nu-nu-Billy. He has no chemistry with anyone. The other one who needs to go is Stalker Stitch. What a creep.

Eileen Hargis
Guest
Eileen Hargis

Stitch isnt a stalker, he is the good guy u will soon see. Burgess has great chemistry with Melissa who plays Chelsea. Gina is a terrific actress. Watch and learn.

Enola Barrett
Guest
Enola Barrett

I totally agree,can’t stand Stitch either.And we all know that in the soap world,they don’t always do what is reality. Phyliss could wake up and remember everything all at once.

MBmomof3
Guest
MBmomof3

Susan, I just call nu-nu-Billy, Old Bill now. Much more fitting for a man of his years.

marion
Guest
marion

It’s funny everyone mentions the new billy as being old.truth is he is younger then Victoria.He is 40,she is 41

Linda A.
Guest
Linda A.

The one character I REALLY want to see leave town — PERMANENTLY — is IAN WARD! He is Satan personified! I can’t STAND him! He totally creeps me out! I usually don’t support Victor’s schemes, but ANYTHING he can do toward accomplishing that goal is just FINE with me! I heard a suggestion that they should kill off Ian and there’d be a “Who Killed Ian?” storyline. I know that’s SO cliched, but there’d be plenty of suspects! Sounds good to me! :^) You’re right, Susan. New nuBilly doesn’t have chemistry with anyone — I’m still getting used to him… Read more »

jonboy
Guest
jonboy

While I found her boring on OLTL I will give her a chance. My fear is that, like with many recasts, the actor attempts to make the character “their own” and suddenly the character you’ve known and loved is a virtual stranger. Presently I don’t know who this Billy is. But he’s not the Billy I’ve enjoyed for years (even with David Tom).

Leslie
Guest
Leslie

I haven’t seen Gina’s acting before, but unlike other recasts, Gina sounds like she “gets” what Phyllis is about. She seems to value what this character’s past brings to her future. While I’m sure the character might change a bit over time as she continues in the role, this interview goes a long way toward making me feel excited and hopeful that this is going to be a perfect recast (and I agree that it’s time to rest the role of Billy). Good luck and welcome, Gina!

Susan
Guest
Susan

I agree with recasting Billy. David Tom would have been good if they had given him time to settle back into the role. Billy Miller is going to be the new Jason on GH. Michelle Stafford and Billy Miller to GH. JFP killer of soaps, is doing her job. T he only story that interest me now is Nick, Sharon and Mariah. I love Joshua Morrow. His smile lights up the screen. Sad to see what was once a great soap decline in ratings. While they boast they are #1 this is true. But, there are only 4 soaps left.

MBmomof3
Guest
MBmomof3

This newnuBilly seems to me is actually oooooollllllllddddddddBilly. In that he’s been SORAS’d like 25 years! Its like having Peter Bergman playing the part of Billy, but without the good acting. Don’t like this version of Billy at all. Maybe now we should call him Old Bill. He and Victor can get together and tell Victoria how to run her life. They’ll finally have something in common. (For the record, I really don’t blame the actor. I blame casting, writing and production for this debacle. I thought David Tom was warming back into the role and doing fine.)

Kathleen Karp
Guest
Kathleen Karp

I hate David Thom as Billy! So glad they recast that role. He just didn’t work. The new ( old) Billy is o.k. but they could have done a better pick. Also don’t like Gina Tognoni as Phyllis but I’ll keep an open mind and we’ll see what happens.

jonboy
Guest
jonboy

I disagree about Burgess Jenkins. For a former prime-time actor I’m astounded that his acting skills are so poor.

louisa
Guest
louisa

LOVE her from OLTL. I don’t watch Y&R, but will check it out now.

B.J.
Guest
B.J.

I love Gina, and will be delighted to see her again. GL was my favorite soap for years.

There’s no doubt she has the acting chops to portray Phyllis.

k/kay
Guest
k/kay

Lovely Lady! I really wondered about her age but with the new hair cut and PB looks dam good for 60 she will probably make it work. She has a couple of things working for her that Maura West did not playing the Dianne character she is not having to play a love interest for Victor/EB because he is 30 years her senior and they will not be showing Daniel so she does not have to deal with that issue. Wish her the best I just hope they do not waste her talent and throw her with Dylan. Let’s be… Read more »

Kathleen Karp
Guest
Kathleen Karp

Gina Tognoni is not 60! Who are you talking about?

k/kay
Guest
k/kay

@Kathleen PB stands for Peter Bergman/Jack he just turned 61 I think. Sorry I confused you Gina is only 40 and I was concerned she was going to look to young next to Peter Bergman/Jack.

SR
Guest
SR

I loved her on G&L. Looking forward to supporting her . I am a Phick fan and can’t wait to see what happens! go Gina.

scotty m
Guest
scotty m

she is amaaaazing! thrilled about this and pumped to see her on Y&R. Phyllis can’t wake up soon enough!

Enola Barrett
Guest
Enola Barrett

I loved Gina when she played Dinah on GL…..and will enjoy seeing her as Phyliss,never really liked Michele Stafford that much anyway…so I am glad for the change.

Aunt Libby
Guest
Aunt Libby

ME TOO!!!!

MsErica
Guest
MsErica

Me THREE! Never liked MS; loved Gina as Dinah. She’s gonna kill it!!!

A Baptiste
Guest
A Baptiste

I remember Robin Stasser so annoying as Christina Karas on All My Children but she was totally transformed and hit the ground running as One Life’s Dorian. My instincts tell me that although Gina’s Kelly Kramer was ehh (sorry) she has “grown up good,” indeed and is gonna kick a… and take names on Y & R…this is her time!

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

Her stint on Dinah on Guiding Light worked so well, I hope she channels Dinah during her portrayal.

Lawrence
Guest
Lawrence

I can’t wait for her to debut as Phyllis. She is an amazing actress. I loved her as Dinah on GL.

Sue
Guest
Sue

Did not care for MS, did not like her acting. Welcome Gina, nice to see the change.. That being said U better take it easy on Sharon or she will kick your ass!! LOL

juju
Guest
juju

as if…

MBmomof3
Guest
MBmomof3

I was a fan of MS as Phyllis. That said, she was really phoning it in for a long time and I welcome the change. I think Gina will be great. (I’m a Sharon fan too)

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

I love this interview, and absolutely adore Gina. Her being cast as Phyllis on The Young and the Restless is going to be good; while she wasn’t my top choice of actress (Sarah Joy Brown was), I have a strong feeling she’s going to really connect with the audiences and her fellow cast mates. I hope the drive of Phyllis returns; during Michelle’s final years the fire of Phyllis kind of disappeared. I’m excited about her joining, from the video of her and Joshua and Hunter, there seems to be a great familiar connection there. Gina and Hunter even look… Read more »

MBmomof3
Guest
MBmomof3

Another great interview. Loved her as Kelly on OLTL. She can really generate great chemistry with both male and female cast members, so I don’t think fans will be disappointed. It’s always hard when you are in placed in the role as a recast of a classic soap role, such as Phyllis. I am really looking forward to having Phyllis back in G.C. and I think Gina T will be awesome.

Break a leg, Gina!

Barbara Cummings
Guest
Barbara Cummings

I think Gina is a perfect fit to replace Michelle. I loved her on Guiding Light and she played a great role in Guiding LIght. Congats Gina wake up soon as we have missed you. You will be accepted as the Y&R fans don’t worry about that. I only watch CBS Soaps so get out of that coma and start some trouble Y&R needs it. Good Luck!

Judie
Guest
Judie

I feel like Gina will fit in well. As for the Billy character…David Tom was much too young for the mature “Billy.” The current actor is better, but certainly hasn’t successfully “replaced” Billy Miller. Maybe “resting” the role is called for while they search for a more acceptable actor and at the same time perhaps have something happen to “Billy” that changes his personae before he comes back to Genoa City. If Josua Morrow ever leaves we are in deep trouble….same sort of charismatic actor as Billy Miller but more so.

Robbie
Guest
Robbie

So happy that she will be playing the new Phyllis. I remember when she was Dinah on GL. Ooh yes, they have the right one. It’s on now!!!! Welcome Gina!

Jim McGlynn
Guest
Jim McGlynn

Glad you are back have watched O.L.T.L. for over 20 years and Young and Restless longer. My mom and dad had watched it before me. Good Luck you will be put in the line of fire.

Jacqueline
Guest
Jacqueline

Being a 20 year fan of Y&R it’s always hard when someone leaves or is replaced . It’s takes time to think of them as That Person they’ve replaced. I’ve seen 3 Billy’s in this time and you just go along with the story line. It took me awhile for me to get to like the Phillis character but when I finally loved her, she went into a coma . Now another persons coming in. It’s like trying to replace Edith Bonker. That person was the character ….. And that’s how I feel about the people on Y&R. You could… Read more »

Aunt Libby
Guest
Aunt Libby

Gina really did do a great job on GL as Dinah. I totally feel she will ROCK this character on Y&R.
On another note, I had heard a rumor that Stitch and Kelly’s mom actually set their dad on fire and Stitch took the blame and confessed to protect their mom. And nobody not even Kelly knows, and that is why she is so mad that their mother took Stitch’s side and supported him, just a rumor though.

SHAUN
Guest
SHAUN

ITS DEFINITELY GOING TO GET STEAMY QUICKLY IM GUESSING WITH THE SUMMER PATERNITY COMING OUT….GOOD LUCK GINA

Mary Ann Redeker
Guest
Mary Ann Redeker

I loved Guiding Light and loved watching Gina on that show! She is one of my absolute favorite soap actresses! I am a die hard fan of Y & R too and have always love Michelle Stafford. I was sad that she left the show, but when I found out who they case new in the role, I was so happy! I knew Phyllis would be back, better than ever, and I was ecstatic that I would get to see Gina’s work again! Y & R hit a home run here and I call it early: Gina will win another… Read more »

Delores S.
Guest
Delores S.

i am willing to give you a chance but RED left some mighty big shoes to fill. And Please make your hair the same shade of red. Thanks. and good luck.

Teri
Guest
Teri

Yes her hair needs to be redder!

Teri

Caroline
Guest
Caroline

This new Billy is a horrible choice! He’s waaaay too old looking and he is a terrible actor. Nobody can sufficiently replace sunnyboy Billy Miller!

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

Blech!

What happened when you met Y&R legend Eric Braeden (Victor) for the first time?

GINA:

I met him the other day, and he is like an icon! And in that voice of his, he went, “It was so nice to meet you!” (Gina screams) I said back to him, “You are so cool!”

honestly

seriously

???

hold on… this is the truth

Victor needs to go

if so much at Y&R is new…. to hold on to Victor has no resonance…. no reason… dull

MTS’ Nikki…needs to celebrate and MOVE

if it’s with Meredith Baxter Burney… then so be it… a one upsmanship… womanhood… would hold

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

that last picture… in the red dress

is fire : comeuppance : fearful… : lasting

go their

k/kay
Guest
k/kay

Patrick so glad to see a post from you I was beginning to think something had happen to you. Concerning Eric Braeden maybe he will remember her name in 10 years. I believe he said that is how long it takes for him to recall your name.

Angela Meredith
Guest
Angela Meredith

Great recast. Gina you’re perfect for this role. I loved Dinah! Good luck to you. As far as the new/ old Billy is concerned, people need to lighten up. Billy Miller moved on. So should Y&R. Yes he was special, but give this one a chance. So he’s stoic and not at all silly, but what’s going on in the story doesn’t call for comedy either. I wish you both Blessed long lived success.

Val
Guest
Val

Welcome Gina! I have watched Y&R since the beginning and I think you will fill MS’s shoe’s nicely. I can’t wait to see where the story goes! I just heard that Michael Muhney wrapped up the movie he was filming a couple of days ago, so I have a feeling Phyllis coming out of the coma is going to affect Adam’s storyline as well. I think once Phyllis reveals that Sharon changed the paternity test results, Summer is not going to be able to handle the stress of her life being turned upside down yet again and will take off.… Read more »

SherryLynn
Guest
SherryLynn

I am so so excited to see Gina take on this role. I have never even seen her work before. But this interview was like looking at cookies and cakes through the window of a bakery. I can hardly wait for her to bring Phyllis’s character back to us.

Suzybel
Guest
Suzybel

Gina has big shoes to fill, but I think she’s up for it. I’m just glad Phyllis is finally waking up, I miss her. My only thought is, maybe her hair could be a bit more on the red side. Good luck!

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

Phyllis’ hair wasn’t exactly red when she slipped into a coma, though. So they probably are keeping it a darker hue right now to keep something the same.

Analois
Guest
Analois

NO ONE can take Michelle Staffords place, just like no one can take Billy Millers place!!!!!! I’ve been watching for 40 years, I saw the first show! Some people you can’t replace and they are the ORIGINALS, Victor, Nicky, Catherine ( deceased), Paul, Lauren, Jill, Michael, Nicholas, and BILLY AND PHYLLIS.
You are making a big mistake!
If the cast doesn’t get better than this Billy, get Adam back, get the real Phyllis back and Billy Miller I’m afraid your #1 spot will fall!

Linda A.
Guest
Linda A.

I don’t think “Y&R” has to worry about losing its #1 status. I’m gradually warming up to Burgess Jenkins’s Billy, although I don’t think he’ll ever completely replace Billy Miller.

Another actress playing Phyllis? Yeah, I know it’s going to take some getting used to, but if any actress can do it, I think it’s G.T.

BTW, Jess Walton is NOT the original Jill, she’s a recast, but she IS the best. I remember when she first came into the role I took to her immediately, and I don’t think I’d ever done that with a recast before.

Analois
Guest
Analois

This Jack is not the original Jack either but he’s been there so long now he cannot be replaced. ☺️ It will be very hard to replace Phyllis but I guess we’ll see. This Billy just doesn’t fit the bill, no pun intended. Billy Miller had it all, looks, personality, charisma. This guy does not ,nor did David Tom even tho he use to be Billy! Billy Miller is just awesome. MM wasn’t the original Adam either but did fit the part sooooo well! Hard to see someone else being Adam. Good looks was not what Adam was about, it’s… Read more »

Linda A.
Guest
Linda A.

Shemar Moore is coming back? Nice thought, but I doubt it. He’s still on “Criminal Minds.” Besides, why would he ever go back to daytime when he’s been in primetime for so long, now. That’d be like going back to dial-up when you’ve had broadband! :^)

Andrea
Guest
Andrea

I’ve watched GL’s Gina Tognoni as “Dinah,” and she truly made the show! The 2 Daytime Emmies she has won are a small example of Gina’s depth of character! I watched GL from 1979-the very end, and Gina was def one of the most exciting actresses I’ve ever seen,& she was a recast back then as “Dinah,” and she cleaned the floor (so to speak) of the former actress who played Dina,so well that whenever “Dinah Marler,” is spoken of -it’s with Gina’s name! She will rock this role! To those that don’t know her yet-give her a chance, cuz… Read more »

pat coggins
Guest
pat coggins

I hated to see Michelle go but if anyone can do great as a recast its Gina. She is

an awesome actress and certainly seems to know Phyllis. Hope everyone gives her a shot.As for new billy. David toms was better than him tooo old looking for part. They will never sucessfully replace billy or micheal(adam)…….

Don
Guest
Don

She could be a good fit as phyllis time will tell but for the billy recast they should have write him off since billy miller left the series. I am willing to give her a chance in playing phyllis as she can.

Jared
Guest
Jared

I was also devastated when Michelle left, and I was disappointed that she signed on with a show that isn’t on Y&R’s level of excellence, for an invented role that was pushed on the GH audience. However, just like with Billy Miller, leaving was Michelle’s choice. Longtime viewers like me will remember that there was chaos in the late 80’s when Brenda Dickson was fired and Terry Lester left. Both Jess Walton and Peter Bergman took over the respective roles and they were quick hits with the audience and critics. Even on GH, Laura Wright was able to make lightning… Read more »

Long Time Fan
Guest
Long Time Fan

I agree with everything you said. David Tom may look to young, but he was familiar and I enjoyed seeing him on screen. This guy is too old to be Billy. No question about that. People who are long time viewers know that Billy is supposed to be younger than Victoria. He was a mid-life birth to Jill and John. I have to use my FF button everytime this NuBilly is on screen. I cannot stand to look at him. He does not look the part. He may have some chemistry with MCE, but he has none with the Abbotts… Read more »

Marcie Tatum
Guest
Marcie Tatum

I am so glad Phyllis is coming back she put the fire in the show an i think they need to offer the old Billy more money an let him come back he was amazing .

BlueHorn
Guest
BlueHorn

Am looking forward to Gina T as Phyllis; I think she has what it takes to make the role her own… and the latest Billy is more enjoyable than David Tom (and I’m surprised that I feel that way, but David T was ‘colorless’ as Billy after Billy Miller ‘made’ Billy Abbott ‘his’ character); just sayin’!! Looking forward to lots of Phyllis intrigue… and what are they doing to make Neil a ‘wimp’ and marrying the chick who is HOT for Devon (Brytan)?? I’m sorry to see Devon falling in lust with her, she is so memorable that I can’t… Read more »

Blake
Guest
Blake

I know Gina is going to kill it as Phyllis. If you saw how she played Dinah on Guiding Light then you know she has the look and the chops to play Phyllis. Amazing casting choice there Y&R!

Chaz
Guest
Chaz

Have been a fan of Ms. Tognoni’s since she first played Kelly on OLTL. Thought she was good in that role but outstanding as Dinah on GL. I have no doubt she will portray Phyllis with the same intensity and talent she has brought to her previous roles. She might, just maybe, convince me to tune in to Y&R again. I only hope they write for her and not make a mess out of Phyllis like they have for everyone else. I watched a few minutes of the show last week and was as unimpressed with it as I had… Read more »

jaybird369
Guest
jaybird369

Chaz…VERY EXCELLENT POST!!!!! While I agree with everything you said, I would like to throw in my 2 cents and all. Like… 1. I (also) have been a fan of Gina Tognoni ever since her OLTL days. Furthermore, I am already ROOTING FOR GT to make the role of Phyllis her own. Y-A-Y GINA!!!!! 2. Chaz…RIGHT ON about that Devon/Hilary/Neil SNOOZE-FEST!!!!! Furthermore, that LOOSE CANNON Lily WORKS MY NERVES THE MOST!!!!! S-H-U-D-D-E-R!!!!! 3. Character-wise, The Incredible Hulk (to me) was WAY MORE BELIEVABLE AND DIMENSIONAL than that WALKING STIFF Dylan…LOL!!!!! Yep. 4. If Y&R is actually trying to redeem that… Read more »

Timmm
Guest
Timmm

With Y&R stumbling on Billy and Adam, I think they got this right. She and Michelle could be sisters and it sounds like Gina will incorporate the character and put her on mark on it.

Lynn Robbins
Guest
Lynn Robbins

I love that you all chose Gina. I have missed her acting since her days with Guiding Light. I met her at King Dominion in Virginia quite a few years ago… I think she is the perfect pick for Phyllis. Can’t wait to have her wake up and act.

arterbell
Guest
arterbell

Gina will do a very good job on young and reckless, I have watched her on guiding light and one life to live, she is wonderful.

dmr
Guest
dmr

I miss Guiding Light (before all of the cost-savings measures took place). I used to watch the show when on school vacation, when it was on at 10:00 a.m. EST. I was sad when the show ended. I watched the last week of the show and thought the writers did a good job at wrapping up the family arcs, storylines, and bringing back veteran actors. I’ve always liked Gina. I remember when she began on OLTL. The best of luck to her.

Tracey
Guest
Tracey

Gina will do a great job and put her own magic on portraying Phyllis.

fay johns
Guest
fay johns

Gina is great as Phyllis. Whose coat was she wearing on today’s episode. I want it. Oct 22 2014 please respond. Thankyou

Tams
Guest
Tams

Love the new Phyllis…I mean like, Michelle who????…For me its Gina all the way for Phyllis…Personally I would like to see a Phyllis/Sharon hookup…the animosity they have towards one another..lets just say that if one of them was a man…they woulda slpet together a long time ago….LOL!…Like Gina said Sharon Case is a beautiful woman and so is Gina!!..So really lets get that ball rolling…Nick and Jack can go sulk in a corner…who cares…

sherrie
Guest
sherrie

I had to watch for a few weeks to see how Gina is as the new Phyllis and she is great. Really connected with her . Keep up the good work. What took you so long Y&R to put her in that character?

marge symons
Guest
marge symons

Gina is perfect for this role, do not get rid of her.

Phyllis Newman
Guest
Phyllis Newman

Gina Tognoni YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Interviews

Y&R’s Executive Producer Anthony Morina Talks On Daytime Emmy Drama Series Win For Neil’s Memorial & Honoring Kristoff St. John

Last Friday night, The Young and the Restless was named the Outstanding Drama Series at the 47th annual Daytime Emmy Awards broadcast on CBS. The show won on the strength of their submissions, which centered on the death of Neil Winters; including when the residents of Genoa City find out of his passing, and the subsequent heartbreaking memorial service in his honor.

However, what made those hours of television unlike anything seldom seen; were not only was Genoa City saying goodbye to Neil, but the cast was saying their goodbyes to their beloved friend and colleague, Kristoff St. John (Neil) who had passed away suddenly back in February of 2019.

Y&R’s executive producer, Anthony (Tony) Morina accepted the award for the top-rated CBS Daytime drama during the Emmy telecast, which now makes Morina a five-time Daytime Emmy winner himself!

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Tony on the series emotional Emmy win, and what it meant for him to win the gold for these incredibly moving and special episodes that were at its epicenter paying tribute to Kristoff in the best way the soap opera could. Here’s what Tony shared on the Y&R Drama Series victory and more.

Photo: JPI

Congratulations on your Outstanding Drama Series win. The episodes that you submitted were at every level, so gut-wrenching, sincere, and beautiful.  What did you think about the process that you went through to make these right for Kristoff and the character of Neil?

TONY:  Occasionally, when you are in this business, as you know, you work so hard to achieve certain things, sometimes you think you’re achieving something, and you’re not, and sometimes something shows up that surprises the heck out of you, and this was kind of it for me.  But what didn’t surprise me, of course, were the actors’ ability, the director’s ability, and the crews’ ability, and for these episodes it was at such a high level.  Sometimes there is an emotional element, or an otherworldliness thing that takes over.

Photo: CBS

Yes, because it was all so real and raw; in that we were watching the characters who loved Neil Winters mourn him, but we were also watching all the actors who loved their co-star.

TONY: When everybody was in that church set and were giving their eulogies, it felt like everybody was so behind each other, and everybody just cared for each other so much because they cared so much for Kristoff.  All the eulogies that people were doing were a page and a half to two pages.  They were really long, but you could feel the emotional tension, and you could feel how people just felt.  Kristoff was a very unique special person, who ended up going through some rough times, but he really was beloved.  Sometimes you love people, and sometimes you say somebody is beloved.  Whenever you saw him, he put a smile on your face.  He made you feel like he really cared about you.  Those shows came together really out of this feeling of love.  We did two whole shows that day.  We did that whole show and the show that came after it.  I don’t know how many hours of a day it was, but people had so much emotion attached to it that those shows really kind of took over themselves with everybody just trusting and letting go and supporting each other.  I got a text from Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R) saying how it was one of the greatest experiences he’d ever had in terms of how it all came together.  Those shows just meant a lot to us, and I really felt that if we didn’t win, I’d be perfectly fine with that, because I was just so glad that we were able to do these episodes, and people got to see it.

Photo: JPI

At what point did you decide, “We are going with this to submit for the Emmy!”

TONY:  I actually knew that day.  I think, I actually said to Josh Griffith (head writer and Co-EP Y&R), “This is going to be our Emmy show … or one of our Emmy shows.”  The other show when everybody finds out Neil died was an incredibly powerful show to me too, but I knew that day when we shot the funeral that you rarely see that kind of rawness.  When you get into this business, and you want to become an actor, it’s tough, but you know that in the end what you want is to get into a position where you can share who you are as a person in an artistic way.  I think the Neil memorial gave people a way to say, “This is why I do this because I get to really share myself, and I get to express how passionate I am and how much I care about other people.”

Photo: JPI

Shemar Moore (Ex-Malcolm) came back to honor his dear friend and on-screen Y&R brother.  How was it having him on set with you to share this experience?

TONY:  Shemar was amazing.  He was there until the bitter end of our tape day.  He could not have been kinder and more supportive of everybody, and really laid out his emotions, and it was like that with everybody.  I would say this was the the most amazing experience I have ever had.

What do you think Kristoff would say?  I think he would be very proud that you gave Neil a real proper sendoff.

TONY:  Absolutely.  I also think Kristoff, would have thought that Neil deserved it, and would have loved it, a, it’s an interesting question because you have got to say to yourself, “Does Kristoff feel he deserves it?” As a character, he’d definitely feel he deserved it.  He was a part of that community.  He was a part of Genoa City.  Those were his friends and his family.  Would Kristoff feel he deserves that?  I don’t know if he would have felt he deserved it, but I know he would have loved knowing how much people cared for him.  I think that would have meant the world to him.  I really do.

Photo: CBS

I loved your acceptance speech.  I thought it was one of the better ones of Emmy night. 

TONY:  Thanks so much.  Matt Kane (publicist, Y&R) has been amazing.   He gave me a lot of guidance on where to go, and my wife, Sally (Sussman Morina) really helped write the speech because the rules were you’ve got 30 seconds.  I really believe in the notion that when you have an opportunity to speak in front of people about something, it has some meaning to you and to other people.  I think you have to put thought into it because how many opportunities do you get in life to share about yourself and how you feel about people?  So, I really appreciate you saying that.

Photo: CBS

What did you think of your Y&R actors: Bryton James’ (Devon) and Jason Thompson’s (Billy) major Emmy victories?

TONY:  Well, personally, I am enormous fans of both people.  I like when nice, good people have nice things happen to them, and you know them.  First off, I was so happy for Bryton because I know he and Kristoff were close, and I know he was deeply affected, as Christel Khalil (Lily, Y&R) was, as everybody was, but they were like family.  I love Bryton personally, and he laid his heart out there.  As for Jason Thompson, people think the world of him, and I think he is an unbelievable actor.  I taught for years, and I have worked with a lot of actors, and I think Jason has such control of his work.  I’m impressed by him.  I’m just as impressed by who Jason is.  I think he’s deserved it other times too, and this was his first win; which must be very special for him.

Photo: deCazotteFacebookPage

During the In-Memoriam tribute on the Emmy broadcast, former producer, Lisa de Cazotte was also featured.  What can you say about your time working with her at Y&R and over your career?

TONY: I’ve known Lisa De Cazotte since Santa Barbara when Paul Rauch (former executive producer) brought her there, and that’s where we first met. Lisa was probably my favorite producer to ever be in the booth with because she let you be yourself, and she let you do your job, and yet, she still had control over the room and the studio.  She was a great touchstone for me, because when you are in this position, you need someone to bounce stuff off of or just say, “Am I really being an idiot here?” because we were old friends, she could say, “Tony, you’re being an idiot.”  (Laughs)  We miss her terribly.  She was really a loved person, and she was just fantastic at what she did.  I just miss her as a friend.

Photo: JPI

And of course, the In-Memoriam featured the late Y&R co-creator, Lee Philip Bell who also passed recently. 

TONY:  Yes, and that’s what was interesting about that speech I gave, because you had to mention those three people: Lee, of course, Kristoff, and Lisa – three truly linchpin important people in daytime drama for many years. Losing all three made it a particularly rough year for The Young and the Restless family.

I also wanted to talk about Eve LaRue (Ex-Celeste Rosales), who had never won a Daytime Emmy but she did for her work on Y&R! She was very emotional and moved by her win as Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series.  What can you say about Eva?

TONY:  She is such a lovely person and she did a great job for us.  I’m just glad for her because I know she had ever won before.

Photo: JPI

One of the clips shown on the Emmy broadcast that Y&R chose for air from Neil’s memorial was Victor’s emotional eulogy; which Eric Braeden delivered so beautifully.   I know how found he was of Kristoff; so it made that on-screen moment all the more heartbreaking. What can you say about Eric?

TONY:  Eric feels as deeply as anybody who I have ever known.  Really, he can come across sometimes as a certain kind of image for people on-screen, but he cares deeply, and is the most supportive actor of every other actor.  Eric has a depth and is a fantastic actor, and he knows how to use his talent.  He actually called me last night and left a message.  He just said, “Hey, I saw you on TV,” and then he just laughed for 5 minutes.  It was really very funny.  He’s not used to seeing me on TV, and so he just laughed.  It was hilarious.

What did you think of Y&R’s win for Outstanding Drama Series knowing they submitted the episodes of Genoa City finding out Neil had passed, and his funeral? Share your thoughts on Tony’s remarks via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Daytime Emmy Winners: Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, Scott Clifton & Heather Tom Talk Winning the Gold & Returning to Work at B&B

This week, The Bold and the Beautiful has been airing encore presentation of Daytime Emmy-winning performances from some of the cast over the years as a prelude to tomorrow night’s 47th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on CBS.

The weeklong Emmy celebration concludes tomorrow with Jacqueline MacInnes Wood’s (Steffy) Emmy-winning performance from last year which won the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series prize for the first-time in her daytime career.

Michael Fairman chatted with Jacqui, along with five-time Daytime Emmy-winner and a nominee for Lead Actress again this year, Heather Tom (Katie) and three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Scott Clifton (Liam).  As daytime soap fans know, Heather and Scott hold the distinction of being the only actors to win in all three acting categories: Younger, Supporting and Lead.

In this candid and fun conversation on the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Jacqui, Scott and Heather remember the nights the won Emmy gold, their acceptance speeches, things they wish they would have said, and what it was like waiting for their names to be called, plus taking a stroll down memory lane and remembering when they taped their Emmy-winning performances.

Scott reveals why he chose not to submit himself in Lead Actor this year, even though he has some of the finest performances throughout the Baby Beth baby switch storyline,.

Later the trio talk about The Bold and the Beautiful being the first U.S. soap opera and first U.S. broadcast show back in production following the shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic and how B&B is looking to shoot episodes during the times we live.

Watch the full video interview below.

Then let us know, what was your favorite part of the moments shared by Jacqui, Scott, and Heather in the Emmy conversation?  Do you think Heather might tie Erika Slezak (Ex-Viki, OLTL) tomorrow night with her sixth win in the Lead Actress category?  What do you think of B&B’s return to production following the sentiments shared.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Thaao Penghlis Chats on His Daytime Emmy Nomination & How He Makes Tony DiMera One of a Kind

He has been one of the longstanding cast members of Days of our Lives and certainly of Salem’s notorious DiMera Clan; and while Thaao Penghlis may be off our screens for a time and then comes back again; though the years one thing has been true, he delivers top-notch performances in a way that is uniquely ‘Thaao’.

This year at the 47th annual Daytime Emmy Awards to be broadcast on Friday night, June 26th at 8 p. m. EST, Thaao is vying for the Outstanding Lead Actor prize amongst a formidable group of other daytime favorites.  And this makes it two years in a row that Penghlis has received an Emmy nomination although this time in a different category.

As fans know, Penghlis takes the art of acting seriously, and expects other he works with to bring their A-game, just as he does time and time again; whether it be playing DAYS dashing Tony or the evil Andre or when he portrayed Victor Cassadine on General Hospital.

Michael Fairman TV spoke to Thaao to get his thoughts on: receiving the Emmy recognition and what it means to him what he thought about his nominated scenes, plus what he might be doing at home during the ceremony, and where he hopes Tony DiMera’s future is headed.   Here’s what Thaao shared.

Photo: JPI

Tell me about what scenes you submitted that landed you a Lead Actor Emmy nod!

THAAO:  Well, the week I came back to DAYS, I had 11 shows, and this material was from one show of three I did one day!  When you think of other actors doing 150 shows, and I did less than 50 this past year, my choice is kind of limited.  So, when I came across these particular scenes, which were with Eric Martsolf (Brady) and with Arianne Zucker (Nicole), what I liked about it is that usually when you see other peoples’ work, its histrionic, it’s great tears, it’s drama – and what I was able to put together had a through line and an arc from beginning to end.  It makes it very logical when somebody is following your story, and you can show a whole ebb that makes sense.  I had some lines that were really difficult to say, like, “Coming back from the dead is not easy.”  When I get lines like that, I throw it away, and because of that, it becomes humorous.  I have to say I work well with Arianne.  She was great.  I found in the past, when I have worked with some actors, they step on your lines.  I found the best way to stop that is I put my hand up, and I say, “Hey!” and everything goes silent.  They go into shock mode, and I say, “I haven’t finished,” and then I go on.  (Laughs)  So, when Kristen as Nicole starts to talk to Tony the way she does, and she says, “You’d better behave…” I thought, “This is a DiMera you are talking to,” so, I just snapped back at her.  I gave her a, “Hey!”  So, she shut up, froze, and I went on.

Photo: JPI

Would you say your reel was more comedic … or both funny and serious?

THAAO:  It is both.  There are subtleties to it.  There is a teacher I know in Australia, and she is very critical.  She said, “I want to see your work.”  I showed it to her, and she wrote back, “Oh my, God.  How did you make those transitions so readily?”  I went, “Oh.  How did I do it?”  I didn’t think of that.  I think it’s an old technique.  It’s called having to do 3 shows in one day, and you had better get your stuff right, and it’s about how do you make a scene work?  There is one director who I did a miniseries with who said to me, “Where did you get your training from?”  I said, “Daytime.”  He said, “My God.  You certainly know how to have a camera follow you,”   Well, the camera has to follow your movement.  So, when I finished a transition, I’d move to another spot, and the camera had to follow me.  So, what happened in the arc of this Emmy-nominated piece is that I took charge and controlled the scene so that it became a scene of lots of transitions. And of course, charm, I did all of what I thought Tony would be.  He is a DiMera.  I have one of those looks. I don’t know where it comes from, maybe it’s as I get older, but I’ve learned how to work the camera where I may slam something first to get your attention, and then the camera comes onto your face, and you’re going, “Oh, what the hell is he thinking?”  So, I can play the dark side quite readily, and yet in my real life, I’m not so bad. (Laughs)

Courtesy/ABC

You have Thorsten Kaye (Ridge, B&B) and Steve Burton (Jason, GH) also in your category, and these guys who are obviously been soap veterans like yourself.  What do you think about the group you have been nominated with? 

THAAO:  I never worked with Steve Burton, but hear good things.  I know Jon Lindstrom (Kevin/Ryan, GH).  He’s a lovely actor.  I have worked with Jason Thompson (Billy, Y&R).  He’s a lovely actor.  He is well-trained.  So, it is nice to see that the nominees are all vets.

Right, they are all vets.  It seems like a good group to be with. 

THAAO:  I agree, and I love that the Daytime Emmys are coming back to television.  I think it is an upswing when they think of daytime dying.  I think whoever made this happen is taking on the responsibility of taking daytime back.  It is why people love novellas.  People love the story, they love to follow the characters, and we’ve got fantastic fans.  I mean, what would we do without them?  You can’t sustain the show without them, and you pay a price, you have to know how to entertain them because once they know who you are and what you’re about, they get bored.  So, you have to be ahead of your audience all of the time.  That’s what I have always tried to do with both characters that I’ve played on DAYS

Photo: JPI

They’re doing a virtual ceremony this year.  How do you think you would dress while watching the ceremony?

THAAO:  You don’t wear a tux in your house, do you? So, I’ve invited some people for a celebratory time.  Lauren Koslow (Kate, DAYS) and her husband Nick Schillace (head of make-up, DAYS) and Leann Hunley (Anna, DAYS) are some of my great friends who have been very supportive of me through some tough times this year, and I’ve got a friend who has got  a wonderful restaurant, and he is going to cater it.  Probably it will be a group of 10.  You know, could you imagine being here on your own, in a tuxedo, with a glass of champagne? (Laughs)

I know, kind of awkward! (Laughs)  You’ll put something nice on for the big night, right?

THAAO:  Yes, you know me.  I’m always dressed.  What would you suggest?  Sweatpants on the bottom and a tuxedo jacket!  How about that? (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

Now, you have been previously nominated for Daytime Emmys, too!

THAAO:  Yes, and last year I was nominated as well for Outstanding Guest Performer.  So, it’s kind of nice to be back-to-back, and in 2008, I was nominated for Lead Actor when I played the clown in the Tony and Andre storyline.  Thank God, DAYS recently DAYS had James Reynolds (Abe) wining in the Lead Actor category.  I thought, “Wow.”  That was for years and years of good work that he’s done, and also, Greg Vaughan (Eric) wining for Supporting Actor was very nice, but we haven’t had that many wins in the acting categories over the years.

Photo: JPI

DAYS tapes so far ahead of air; that what was once a seemingly major concern has paid off swimmingly during the coronavirus pandemic.  The soap is the only show to have enough episodes in the bank for months ahead when production shut down and enough even when other shows go back into production.  Who would have thought?

THAAO:  We used to think it was ridiculous that DAYS taped eight months ahead, but look at us now! Who would have thought is right?

What would you love to see happen with Tony when DAYS does resume filming new episodes again? 

THAAO:  I’d like to go back and play the head of the DiMera family.  I’ve never been granted that, and I think, at this stage, with the way I worked with Joe Mascolo (Ex-Stefano) it would be nice to see the transition just like Michael Corleone did in Godfather.

So will you be rooting for Thaao to take home the gold as Lead Actor in a Drama Series come Emmy night?  Do you hope DAYS writes Tony into upcoming story, and if so, how would you like to see him on the canvas? Comment below.

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