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The Hillary B. Smith Interview – One Life to Live

Courtesy/ABC

If you have been witness to the shenanigans and skullduggery being perpetrated in Llanview over the last several weeks, you know that everyone’s favorite couple, Bo and Nora, have been victims of a well-calculated series of events, thanks to Clint Buchanan with an able assist from the now deceased Eddie Ford and Inez Salinger!  Everything was orchestrated to drive a wedge and destroy the marriage of Llanview’s’ most loveable duo, after the couple had a lover’s spat about their past.  From kidnapping Nora, to bogus text messages, to blackmailing Inez to sleep with Bo, Clint pulled all the strings, but then some things went amiss, namely Eddie was found murdered!

On-Air On-Soaps caught up with one of our all-time favorite actresses, Daytime Emmy winner Hillary B. Smith (Nora Hanen Buchanan) to shed some light on the machinations that has given her some frontburner material including scenes where Eddie almost raped her, and later, when Rex finds her tied-up, bound and gagged to a chair in a motel room. So where will the story go from here?  Will Bo and Nora have a Happy New Year?  Is what broke them up ten years ago (Nora slept with Sam Rappaport) going be the same thing that breaks them up now, even though it’s not true, and this time it’s Bo who believes he cheated on Nora?  Hillary fills us in.  But, we can tell you that right after Christmas look for some major developments in Bo and Nora’s relationship, when certain truths may come out sooner than later.

Hillary also chats about her scene-stealing role as Guya on Crystal Chappell’s hit web series Venice, and the opportunity to work with her on-screen love interest there, Days of our Lives star Shawn Christian (Daniel).  Plus, we get some more information and insight into Hillary’s beloved project to help pet owners and their dogs, The Willee-Coppee Fund.  Finally, we get Hillary’s thoughts on Nora’s Best Moments of 2010 and her hopes for her alter ego in the New Year.  Without further ado, here’s Hillary! 

MICHAEL:

Over the past week, you have gotten some great story to play. The scene where Rex comes to find Nora in the motel room, where Eddie Ford held her captive, was one of those great Hillary B. Smith moments.  Nora’s reactions to the situation were so right on, in lieu of the fact that Eddie almost raped her.  Did you see your performance?

© JPI Studios

HILLARY:

I saw it on the air and it was very real.  Here we are.  Nora is tied to a chair and jibber-jabbering. Then, when Rex goes to reach for the knot on her coat to help untie her, I thought, “Wouldn’t I bat his hands away?”  So Jill Mitwill, who is our director said, “Just do it and let’s see what happens.”  So we did it and it became this big moment.  It really grounded Rex, and it became a really beautiful moment between two people who have always cared about each other.  It was just was one of those moments you can’t quite put into words that would never happen between them ever again, and would not have happened between them, except under these circumstances.

MICHAEL:

What do you think of the change to the dark side of Clint, played brilliantly by Jerry verDorn?  I mean, it is Clint that is truly Bo and Nora’s worst enemy and they don’t even know it yet!

HILLARY:

Well, thank God, because it’s really given all of us something to do! (Laughs) Jerry verDorn is so interesting because he says all these horrible things, and does all these horrible things pretty much in the same way as he says, “Good Morning” and “Would you like some coffee?”  I think its right, and at some point it had to happen because Clint was humiliated and he will never forget that.  And then Jerry jokes around the set saying, “Bring Kim back and everything will be fine.”  I think he is doing some great, great work.  It does give you a chill down your spine, doesn’t it, when you watch him?

MICHAEL:

When you found out that Bo and Nora were going to be manipulated by circumstances via Clint so soon after they had just gotten back together after all these years, what went through your mind?  “I can’t believe they are trying to break us up after all we went through to reunite.” Or, did you think, “Good.  Frontburner story.”

© JPI Studios

HILLARY:

Well they didn’t say, “This is what we are going to do.”  We sort of took it one step at a time and when they brought Inez in, I thought, we just got married and they are bringing someone else back in?  And, I think that is what the audience thought, too. Then my thought was, “Are we going back to the Georgie days where Inez would have this irrational crush on Bo?”  So, I think bringing Clint in, and that Nora is the one that pushed Inez and Clint together, I think is really interesting.  And then to have Clint turn around and use Inez against Nora is an interesting twist of the knife for Clint.  He would be thinking, “Oh, now Nora is trying to set me up with this girl?  Well, great!  I will use her.”  I think it makes more sense for Inez to come in and not arbitrarily worm her way into this relationship, and that Clint is actually using her kids against her.  I don’t know how they are going to redeem Clint, or deal with this, or if they ever will!  But we were not privy to any of this. We just opened our scripts and read it as we went along. Remember we shoot scenes very much out of order. We really jump ahead and jump behind.  You kind of have to go with faith.

MICHAEL:

You know what I thought when she went missing last week? (Laughs)  I thought what if Colin or Troy McGiver, and Lindsay Rappaport took her again!  Maybe it was a clever bit by head writer, Ron Carlivati, doing homage to that OLTL classic.  Nora is always disappearing at least once every decade!  (Laughs)

HILLARY:

(Laughs)  You will see why, and it’s very interesting the way they set that up. Nora does not remember where she was. All she knows is that she went off to get help and when she came to she had collapsed in the woods, and made her way back to the accident site. I think it’s important that the audience knows that there is this missing chunk of time.  Then, when I got back to the accident site, Bo is there and he knows something is not right, because he found my ring. Then, I am trying to piece together where I was and what I was doing, and to tell Bo about Eddie Ford.  And meanwhile, he knows that Eddie Ford is dead.

MICHAEL:

And he has yet to tell her his guilt over what he believes he did, which was sleep with Inez! Oh, poor Bo! Poor you!

HILLARY:

© JPI Studios

You know, we are a very honest couple. Do you think he will tell me?

MICHAEL:

Yes I do, eventually!

HILLARY:

He should eventually tell me, but he doesn’t after the first opportunity to do so! So that makes everything worse.

MICHAEL:

And Nora will be rocked to the core, and then God knows, what she will do.

HILLARY:

First of all, she has just told Bo that Eddie tried to have her, and she says, “He didn’t rape me, but he tried to.”  Bo is just beside himself, and then when he says, “I have something to tell you,” I don’t think she has a clue where he is going with it.

MICHAEL:

So Nora still believes that after all those horrible text messages sent by Eddie, that Bo did not act on anything.  But, they were awful messages for any person in love with someone to receive!

HILLARY:

Why would you think if you sent somebody a text message that said, “Oh, by the way, I want you to sleep with that woman,” that they would?  That is where Nora is at.  She is in a fog and she has decided that all of this is a terrible nightmare, and that she really just wants to get away from it.

MICHAEL:

Do you think (A) Nora could be a prime suspect in Eddie’s killing? Or, (B) become involved in the court case as an attorney?

HILLARY:

© JPI Studios

I think it is really interesting there is a period of time that is unaccountable, and I think they have very carefully put that there.

MICHAEL:

Eddie Alderson (Matthew) now has a subtle turn to the dark side, too, thanks to the influence of Clint.  How do you think Eddie is doing playing this new version of Matthew?  I think he’s doing a terrific job!

HILLARY:

I think it’s great and makes sense, because Clint has been such a constant in Matthew’s life.  Clint was the great uncle before Nora and he got together.  Matthew loved Clint. Then when Nora and he got married, Matthew was there with thumbs up.  And, Matthew felt very much betrayed at first, when Nora and Bo got back together, because they were in love behind Clint’s back.  So Matthew has had this allegiance to Clint.  It’s very interesting to see as he is learning about his Uncle, and where he comes down on the issue.

MICHAEL:

So this is another little red herring dangling out there for Bo and Nora fans.  How will Matthew play into this?  He saw Bo and Inez making out, which led him to believe they were truly sleeping together.  And he could tell Nora at any moment before Bo does!

HILLARY:

That is an interesting dynamic too, and Bo does not know that Matthew saw Bo and Inez together. Bo knows what he thinks he knows, and Nora knows nothing, and they are all living under the same roof!

MICHAEL:

How was it playing opposite John Wesley Shipp (Eddie)?

HILLARY:

© JPI Studios

You know, we worked together on As the World Turns when I was Margo, and he was playing Doug Cummings.  It was so funny.  We ended up shooting out of order at One Life to Live because John got sick.  And all of the stuff he had with me in the motel room, we shot in one day, where he attempts to molest me, and has me in the closet, and all of that material.  It was his last day, too.  And, he was so out there and interesting.  He is the nicest and loveliest man in the whole world, and he is such a good actor.  He really was very thorough in his character development to the point where I am sure he was ready to shake this guy off… as that guy was pretty damn creepy.  At one point, he turned around to Larry Carpenter, our director, and said, “I have loved this woman most of my life and you are making her hate me on my last day?” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

When you were Margo to his Doug Cummings on ATWT, he turned out to be a nut job then, too!

HILLARY:

Well, we did not know that.  He was acting then with now film star, Julianne Moore (Ex-Frannie/Sabrina ATWT). Then in that storyline, Doug became a whacko, and being the cop that Margo was, I had to go get him, and things did not end up well for him.  I think his character got murdered, too!  He is so much fun, because back then he had that beautiful little boy face.  Now he has aged into this really interesting character with those fabulous features and that prizefighter nose.  It truly is just fabulous.  The whole experience with him at OLTL was great because he committed to it.  He made the character and he filled every inch of that, and it made it easy to work with him, because he was who he was.  There was only one way to react to him!

MICHAEL:

How is working with Jessica Leccia (Inez) as your pseudo-nemesis?

HILLARY:

© JPI Studios

I adore her.  We have a good time and we both are on Venice. And even though I don’t get to work with her there, I was excited when she came on to One Life to Live, to get to work with her.  Jessica is a very subtle actress. Our scenes together have been different dynamics then let’s say my scenes with Lindsay.  It’s such a completely different thing because Inez is truly a victim, not like Lindsay, who just played victim.  It’s been fun.

MICHAEL:

Is that what prompted Nora’s psyche regarding Inez, a flashback to times with Lindsay?  She was already feeling the vibe that Inez was on to her man before anything happened.  Is Nora just a very jealous person?

HILLARY:

I don’t think she was jealous as much….well…. I think because of Nora’s past experiences with Georgie and Lindsay, the history is there.  But with Georgie especially, you learn from your history, so that the same mistakes don’t happen again.  I think there was just something about Inez.  I also remember Nora had people in her ear all the time saying “Oh, my God. They are getting very close. Oh, my God, I would not leave her alone with him.”  And then all the time Inez is bringing Bo cookies, and always running to him. You know, I am talking my real life now. I love my husband to death, I really do.  I have seen women try to throw themselves at him and he does not get it.  I think married men don’t get it. They think, “She’s so nice.”  You have to go up and say to him, “Honey, you’re not seeing it,” and my husband will go, “Well, what do you want me to do?”  And I go, “Just be aware so you don’t get caught in a situation where something can be misconstrued by her.”  And then you go to the girl, (which I would never have done), but Nora did, and go, “He is this way to everybody.  Don’t read anything special into his reaction.”  And I think Nora thought that was going to be the end of it, and then Clint started in, and then it was her saying to herself, “I knew it!”  So I am trying to say to Inez, “Stay away from my husband,” and to Bo, “Don’t let her in the door so often.” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Robert S. Woods (Bo) is one of the finest and most understated actors in the soap game.  How has it been working with him again after all the years being apart on the show?

HILLARY:

© JPI Studios

It hasn’t changed.  Here is the thing: chemistry is trust and respect.  And, we both respect each other’s talents, and we both trust where the other one is going to take us.  So that high-wire act where you trust that the other person is there to catch you, it is still there.  I think the more we work together again it becomes very solid, because remember, we did not work with each other for ten years. And, I don’t know why it took them so long to put us back together again, but both of us are thrilled that we are.  It’s easy… it was like putting on your favorite pair of flannel pajamas and going, “Ah”.  By the time our characters got together, we realized that they were in love with each other, and a lot of it was we had to listen to each other and act off of that.  Also, the scenes were written well. Bob and I were lucky, and it was really easy.  We had forgotten how easy it is supposed to be.

MICHAEL:

So as we head into New Years Eve in Llanview, do you think there is hope for Bo and Nora?  Can they figure out that they have been duped?

HILLARY:

I think there is hope. You are going to see what works between Bo and Nora in the process, and see them overcome and work together.  I think this is the beauty of the story, and that is, when the forces go against them and everything seems like it’s falling apart, their trust and their love and respect will not let it go, and they fight for each other.

MICHAEL:

If you could take the writing reigns for the day, what would be your New Year’s wish for Nora in 2011?

HILLARY:

© JPI Studios

I want her to go back to being a defense attorney.  I think it’s a lot more fun.  I like the legalese and all of that, but being a prosecutor is very cut and dry.  I like being able to have to think fast on your feet, and when you are a prosecutor you don’t.  Everything is mapped out and you have to follow the course.  So, I don’t think it’s as good a fit for me as a defense attorney.

MICHAEL:

Well, here is what I would like to see…I would like to see Tea defend Nora for the murder of Eddie Ford!

HILLARY:

There is an interesting thought.  I like that.  Put it out there to our head writer, Ron Carlivati!  That is a good one.

MICHAEL:

What do you think were the Best Nora Moments of 2010?

HILLARY:

I think the kidnapping and the turn of events with Eddie Ford and Rex coming to find her. The wedding of Bo and Nora was fun. That was high comedy and I enjoyed that from the standpoint that I got to do my comedy.  And then for drama, I really liked being able to play the subtlety of what happened in the motel room with Eddie.

MICHAEL:

You know I am very pro-doggie.  So tell us what is happening with your Willee-Coppee Fund that you created to assist pet owners to help man’s best friend with medical costs when they become ill?  What do you want to tell the fans that you need help with?

HILLARY:

Courtesy/WCFund

Here is the thing: we have raised over $20,000 since last fall.  We are very happy about it since it is not a tax-deductible charity; it’s just a discretionary fund that my friend Lindsay Harrison and I started.  From that $20,000 we are now low again, because we have been helping out so many animals, a lot of strays and rescues that people have adopted that have been brought in. We have had to bring the dogs back from death’s door.  We have been doing all of that and it’s really wonderful because we have saved the lives of animals that otherwise would have died, or were going to be put down, because their owners could not afford the medical treatment.  My goal in 2011, and I am putting it out there for any fan that has a law degree or knows how to do this.  We are looking for someone who will help us do all the paperwork in California to help us turn this into a non-taxable charity.  But it costs so much money to do so that we would rather put that money into the fund. Other than that, I want to thank everyone for their contributions.  It’s been wonderful.  It’s changed owner lives and dog’s lives, and brought us joy to help out.  So anything that anyone can contribute is wonderful. What we are looking for is to take the fund to that charitable level, where we can start getting donations and things.

MICHAEL:

So we need a Tea Delgado at The Willee-Coppee Fund!

HILLARY:

She is a defense attorney, and you know I should be giving Bob Krimmer (Ex-Rev. Andrew Carpenter, OLTL) a call, because he is a lawyer in California and he sets up grants and all of that!

MICHAEL:

Venice is about to come to a close with its final two webisodes of season two!  It’s been great to watch what is happening to Guya.  How was your time with Venice this time around?  And especially, working with Shawn Christian as Guya’s boy toy, Brandon?

HILLARY:

© JPI Studios

It is a joy to stretch a different muscle because Guya is very different than Nora.  I love the experience of Venice. It’s a very close-knit group, and it was a lot of hard work in a very short amount of time. We all bonded very quickly and deeply, and if I could have brought Shawn Christian home with me, I would have (Laughs).  However, I don’t think my husband would have understood.  And I don’t think Bo would have understood either! (Laughs) Had I known that Shawn had been on One Life to Live at one point, I would have flown out to Hawaii myself!

MICHAEL:

You did not know that Shawn had been on OLTL as the original Ross Rayburn?

HILLARY:

He shot in Hawaii and I never met him.  So when Shawn said to me, “I was on your show for awhile. I played Ross.” I went, “Oh, my God!”

MICHAEL:

What did you think of Shawn?

HILLARY:

He is wonderful and adorable, and very easy on the eyes. I think when we first started working together he did not know what to do with me.  I think he was a little scared, because I was a lot more direct than he might have anticipated.  I look directly into people’s eyes.  So then I think he got used to me, and he said, “Wow, you are so there!” But I think I did scare him a little bit.

MICHAEL:

Guya is a psychic.  Did you get all of her metaphysical terminology?

HILLARY:

© JPI Studios

She is a spiritual guider.  I understand most of what she is saying and whatever is on the page, I just say it.  That it the beauty of being an actor.

MICHAEL:

In closing, what would you like to say to the fans of OLTL as we close out 2010?

HILLARY:

I would like to say to the fans thank you so much for watching us on One Life to Live. We work really really hard to give you the best that we can, and with these economic times that are tough, we all have had to be tightening our belts.  But, we are here putting it out there, and we hope you are enjoying it, and hang with us.  I think that we are learning that love triumphs all, and that you can have all the craziness of the world, but as long as you got love, you are good.  I think they are bringing more love and relationships into OLTL, and that sort of offsets this dark stuff that we were going through.  The show has a nice balance now.

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martha mcdadeAshleeJanDoeBrian Recent comment authors
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sara
sara

GREAT INTERVIEW …I LOVE HBS…AND I HOPE THAT OLTL WILL KEEP THE BALANCE AND LET THE VET BE ON MORE……

semaj
semaj

love nora on oltl and love bo and nora bo and nora endgame

Ceridwyn2
Ceridwyn2

LOVE the interview. Hillary is such a doll. I love both Nora & Guya/Jane. Very different, but Hillary knocks it out of the park everytime.

Thanks, Michael!

Brian
Brian

Yay Hillary–We Love You Madly! 🙂

Doe
Doe

This story with Clint buying off Eddie so Eddie can kidnap Nora, was so evil and more so because Eddie was a menacing character, done extremely well by John. He was really scary! I love Nora and Bo together so I hope that they will find their way back to one another. I’m kinda hoping that Inez killed Eddie, and that her conscience will get the better of her and maybe she will be the one to expose Clint. Or maybe Matthew will figure it out. It’s a genuine mystery at this point, but in truth, it’s quite a stretch to make Clint so vindictive. Jerry verDorn is outstanding! Looking forward to the next episodes. Happy you did this interview with Hillary, Michael.

Jan
Jan

Great interview Michael. Thanks for doing it. Hillary has been my fav actress for many years and I always enjoy hearing what she has to say. She’s very interesting and really thinks about the question. But you asked great questions!

Ashlee
Ashlee

The character of Clint Buchanan has NEVER been written, portrayed, or represented as evil. He had little use or concern for the Buchanan family ties, or legacy, or whatever. He had an unknown son, Cord, whom he immediately embraced. Now suddenly, due to a drastic rewrite, characters are CONSTANTLY talking about how Clint has ALWAYS been the one to preserve the “family” at all costs. The REAL Clint would NEVER deny Rex as his own flesh and blood. Between the Eli’s and the Eddie’s, OLTL has enough middle-aged male psychopaths running amok without changing Clint from a hero to a scumbag. Ron Carlivati usually honours show history, but he is making a dreadful mistake here with this character assassination of Clint. It is disturbing and disgusting, NOT entertaining.

martha mcdade
martha mcdade

love and Bo and Nora together

General Hospital

Bryan Craig Talks Javi In ‘Grand Hotel’, Recasting GH’s Morgan, And His Post-Daytime Career

When Grand Hotel finally makes its highly-anticipated debut this summer (Monday night, June 17th) on ABC, soap opera fans will see some very familiar faces in primo roles as this sudsy drama, based on the Spanish series Gran Hotel, tells the story of a family-owned hotel in Miami, the people who run it, and all of the secrets they keep from one another.

Brought to you by executive producers Eva Longoria and Ben Spector, the show explores the family dynamic of the Mendoza family. Longoria herself will play a mother in four episodes of the show, as well.

General Hospital fans will take note that Daytime Emmy-winner, Bryan Craig (Ex-Morgan Corinthos) is front and center in the cast as Javi Mendoza, the troubled son of the family who has some major obstacles in front of him.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Craig during the recent ABC TCA’s Press Tour for the network to get some insight into his new role, how he would feel if GH would recast the role of Morgan (he recently propped up former DAYS star Billy Flynn as a potential viable candidate) and what it has been like post-daytime in his burgeoning career in film and TV.  Here’s what he had to say about his TV life past and present.

What has this experience been like for you taping the episodes of Grand Hotel and working with such a stellar cast?

BRYAN:  It’s been incredible   It feels like it went by so fast.  It’s an awesome group of people.  We’ve got a fun show.

How would you say your character of Javi Mendoza stacks up against GH’s Morgan Corinthos?

BRYAN:  I think it’s one of the most layered characters that I’ve ever played.  There’s a lot going on with Javi.  He has a big disability, kind of like Morgan did.  It’s a physical disability, and there are a lot of challenges that come along with that.  He also has a substance problem.  So, some of the same issues and in the same world that Morgan was in.  Javi is a very troubled character, but he is also a lot of fun, and a ladies’ man … and sleeps with a lot of women! (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you think the audience will care for Javi, though?  

BRYAN:  Oh yeah, one hundred percent.  He was written in a very kind-hearted manner.  He’s a great guy, who has had a tough life.

Did they put you through a audition process to nab the role in Grand Hotel?

BRYAN:  They had read hundreds and hundreds of people for this role.  I came in at the tail end of it, and then the process went pretty quickly.  I read once, and the next think I knew, I was in a room with Eva Longoria and director, Ken Olin.  Then two days later, I was testing with Eva, and then I got the call that I had the part.

You’re a part of the core family, the Mendozas, on Grand Hotel, and on GH, you were part of the Corinthos clan.  How do the family dynamics stack-up?

BRYAN:  It’s pretty special.  There are a lot of similarities.  It feels like we have kind of shifted GH into prime-time.  In Grand Hotel, we have Demián Bichir, who plays Santiago Mendoza, and he is my Sonny Corinthos now.   They gave us a very heavy, heavy storyline … just like they gave Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH) and me.   So, I think the fans are really going to buy into it.   ABC, (I think) wanted to marry that bond a little bit, and I feel it was very apparent in the writing.  This network has been very good to me.

Courresy/ABC

Did you know that your co-star Denyse Tontz was in Prospect Park’s All My Children reboot as Miranda Montgomery and had a soap past, as well?

BRYAN:  Yes! I did know that.  Denyse plays my sister on Grand Hotel and we work together a lot on the show.  There were quite a few people on the show who came from soaps.  Even some guest stars who came in were big in soap at points.

So, this kind of all  worked out for you!  You left General Hospital, and landed a major primetime series, plus your other movie roles!

BRYAN:  It was a scary move, but it worked out.  I did a few things; a couple of movies, and I did a show for CW for a while, and then this.  So, it’s been back-to-back.  I’ve been fortunate.

Courtesy/ABC

How would you feel if General Hospital, ultimately, recast the role of Morgan?

BRYAN:  You know, if it was to behoove the show, then so be it.   I feel like it was a pretty nice end for me there, but I can’t sit here and be selfish and be like, “I’m the last person who could play that role!”  Would that be awesome?  I mean, yeah!  But, who knows?  They’ve got to do what’s best for the show.

GH’s Maurice Benard had great story in 2018 with the Alzheimer’s storyline involving Sonny’s dad, Mike Corbin (Max Gail).  Had you been checking it out at all?

BRYAN:  I know!   I do keep up with Maurice a lot.   We are good friends.

To remind those who have not seen the trailer to Grand Hotel check it out below.  Will you be watching Bryan in his exciting new role on Grand Hotel? Will you be OK with a Morgan recast on GH, or hope the show will wait for Bryan to return one day? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Melody Thomas Scott Chats On 40 Years As The Young and the Restless’ Incomparable Nikki: The Men, The Booze, The Drama

Today marks Y&R icon Melody Thomas Scott’s 40th anniversary with the top-rated daytime drama series.  While CBS plans to air a special standalone episode (Nikki is in the slammer for confessing to J.T.’s murder, and she will reflect on her life in an emotional look-back), Michael Fairman sat down with the popular and beloved star for a deep dive into four decades in the life of stripper-turned-socialite, Nikki Newman for The Michael Fairman Channel.

During the interview, Melody first addresses her sadness at the loss of her longtime friend and co-star Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters): “I adored him.  I love him to bits.  I loved working with him; such a wonderful actor.  I don’t even know if he knew how good he was.”

When discussing Nikki’s colorful past, and when Y&R planned to have Nikki strip again decades later, Melody revealed she did refuse to play it: “That’s right, and I very rarely put the kibosh on anything on this show,  I was 48-years-old.  The head writer called me and I was up in hair and make-up.  They heard me say, ‘I’m 48-years-old .. that’s just not happening.”‘

Photo: TheMichaelFairmanChannel

Over the years, Nikki has faced many battles, perils ,and demons including her addiction to alcohol which has provided many a juicy story for Thomas Scott.  As to the fans always loving to see a ‘boozy’ Nikki, Melody remarked;  “Yes!  They love it!  I have great fun with it and I think it’s wonderful.”

During a segment of the conversation, Michael shows Melody some photos of Nikki’s past loves, and gets her thoughts on why Nikki fell for those men, and what it was like working with her co-stars through the years: John Enos (Bobby), Doug Davidson (Paul), Heath Kizzier (Joshua), Wings Hauser (Greg), Don Diamont (Brad), Vincent Irizarry (David), Peter Bergman (Jack), Sean Kanan (Deacon, and of course, her longtime on-screen partner Eric Braeden (Victor).

Later, Melody reminisces about her time working with the late great Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) and when asked by Fairman what she thinks Jeanne would say about her 40th anniversary milestone, Melody replied: “She would say, ‘I’m (bleeping) proud of you Mel!”‘

Photo: CBS

Check out the entire interview with Melody below (make sure to also subscribe to the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube for more feature interviews), and following that the special CBS promo honoring Melody’s 40th anniversary with Y&R.  Then let us know, what has been your favorite Nikki Newman moment over the last 40 years? Share your thoughts via the comment section below,

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Interviews

Executive Producer Michael Levitt Previews The Adorable 2019 ‘American Rescue Dog Show’

Dog lovers everywhere get ready! Coming your way on Sunday, February 17th and Monday, February 18th, the good folks at the Hallmark Channel will air a two-night special event (8pmET/7pmCT) that puts a spin on the traditional competitive elite dog shows, while at the same time championing an important cause for man’s best friend.

The 2019 American Rescue Dog Show honors some of the cutest rescue dogs from around the country going paw-to-paw in categories that will tickle-your-funny-bone, bring a smile to your face, or, potentially shed a tear.  This marks the second year for this oh-so-heartwarming show, where in its first year, it beat the Westminster Dog Show in the ratings; much to the delight of rescue dogs and their families, who take these wonderful animals into their homes.

The brainchild behind the concept is the executive producer of the event. Michael Levitt (Skin Wars, Daytime Emmys, TV Land Awards), who spoke with Michael Fairman TV to give us all the inside dish and insight into why this dog show is so personally important to him, and how its goal is to create awareness about the plight of millions of abandoned dogs in shelters each year, and to inspire viewers to think about rescuing one of these loveable pups.

Levitt has a collection of notable hosts and judges along for the ride who bring this one-of-a-kind doggy competition to life from the world of TV, film, and animal advocacy.  So, for the lowdown on the competition and more, here’s what Michael shared.

Photo: Crown Media

For those who want to check out the two-night event, is the American Rescue Dog Show in the same vein as the Westminster Dog Show, where the dogs are competing? 

MICHAEL: The format of the show is similar to a fancy dog show, such as Westminster, however, on the American Rescue Dog Show, we aren’t “judging” the dog.  In our show, they all have to be rescue dogs that are spayed or neutered in order to compete, and we are not judging them based on their bloodlines, we are celebrating their cuteness in such categories as, “Best in Wiggle Butt,” “Best in Couch Potato,” “Best in Snoring,” “Best in Special Needs,” and  “Best in Senior Dog” – those are obviously some of the most important.   We have the fancy arena floor with the judges and the tuxedos.  We filmed it at the Pomona Fairplex, which is the same place that they film the Beverly Hills Dog Show.

And you have a bevy of dog-loving celebrity judges along for the ride, too!

MICHAEL: Yes, and this year we are lucky to have the support of celebrity animal advocates that include: Lisa Vanderpump, Debbie Gibson, Brandon McMillan, host of CBS’s Lucky Dog, Bill Berloni, who is the dog trainer to a lot of the dogs on Broadway, and Dirty Job’s Mike Rowe.  Our prerequisites for them to be a judge were: they all needed to be rescue-friendly.  So, they either needed to have a rescue dog of their own or support rescue in some way.  Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell are the hosts this year, along with Ross Matthews and Home & Family’s Larissa Wall, who served as co-hosts and cover all of the action ringside.

Photo: Crown Media

So, did the judges get along?  Did they differ on their top picks?

MICHAEL: The judges absolutely got along famously, but as a producer of the show, I was a fly on the wall listening to them when they were deliberating as they were picking a winner.  That was quite entertaining, because each of them had a strong point of view on the dog, or dogs that they thought should win the competition. We found ourselves throughout the filming just turning to each other and saying, “I don’t know how the judges are going to pick just one, because they are all just so incredibly special.”

How was Lisa Vanderpump? 

MICHAEL:  Lisa was wonderful!  When she was being interviewed by Rebecca and Jerry O’Connell, they asked her what she would say to a potential family that is about to buy a dog from a breeder, and it was such a profound moment, because as someone who comes from her socioeconomic level, from her privilege, to see that she has embraced rescue might be incredibly meaningful to someone who might think that rescue dogs are second-hand animals.  Lisa Vanderpump disproves that just by being there, and being a part of it.

Photo: Crown Media

How did you decide on Rebecca and Jerry as your hosts with the most?

MICHAE:  I have a long history with Rebecca from producing my show, Skin Wars, which she hosts.  I knew that she and Jerry had four rescue dogs of their own, and that she is incredibly passionate about rescue and shedding light and creating awareness about the plight of animals that are sheltered.  They were not only organic and authentic to the cause, but they were a lot of fun and clearly had a lot of natural chemistry.  They also brought their own rescue dogs to the show, as did Lisa Vanderpump.  So that was fun.

You have two wonderful dogs of your own.  So, this is your passion project!

MICHAEL: This is a true labor of love for me, because in 2011 when my sister, Jennifer was dying of cancer, my partner and I decided to rescue a dog, and we rescued a pit bull named Trooper, and Trooper rocked our world.  My sister met him four days before she died, and it’s that old adage of “Who rescued who.”  Trooper really was there for me during a really difficult time of my life. I learned first-hand how special not only rescue dogs are, but pit bulls, and that really was the beginning of my animal advocacy.  I ended up taking a year off from producing just to rescue dogs.  I realized at the end of that year, that as a rescuer, I am saving one dog at a time, but as a producer, I could do so much more to bring awareness to the plight of animals in our shelters by creating rescue-themed programming.

Pit bulls seem to always get a bad rap.  Do you feel that way?

MICHAEL:  They absolutely get a bad rap, and after we rescued Trooper, we rescued another pit bull named Nelson, and it was really the two of them who inspired me to get heavily involved in rescue and to be an advocate for pit bulls.  With pit bulls it is such a unique human-animal bond that you don’t find with any other breed.  All they really want to do is please their humans, and it is absolutely true that when you hear these horrific stories about pit bulls on the news, these are rare incidents of pit bulls who have fallen into the hands of bad people who have treated them badly.  It’s really unfair to profile and entire breed of dog, because all dog breeds have some dogs that have behavioral problems.  I have come in contact with thousands of pit bulls, and I have only met one that was human-aggressive, and that dog was severely, severely abused.  Every other pit bull I have come in contact with has been nothing but incredibly sweet.

Photo: Crown Media

So, last year’s American Rescue Dog Show is currently in the running to earn a Daytime Emmy nomination in the ‘Special Class Special’ programming category!

MICHAEL:  Yes, “Special Class Special”. (Laughs)

You obviously know who wins this weekend’s American Rescue Dog Show competition.  Were you happy with the winner? 

MICHAEL:  Yes, but you can imagine how difficult it is for the judges to pick a winner because every single dog in the competition is beyond adorable. It is really the dogs who deliver on the show, and that’s what makes the show so heartwarming.  The real purpose of the show is to inspire the viewers to rescue their next dog from their local shelter, or rescue organization, so that people who are watching turn to the person they are with and say, “Honey, I didn’t know you could get a pure-bred dog at a shelter!  Let’s rescue our next dog!”  We have really powerful segments in the show about the joy of adopting a senior dog, or a special-needs dog.  We do a segment on debunking the myths about pit bulls, and we have messaging on why it is important to spay and neuter your dog.  So, through this wonderfully entertaining program, we are also educating people and hopefully touching their heart and their soul and inspiring them to be a part of the solution by rescuing their next dog; instead of being a part of the problem by purchasing a dog from a pet store or breeder.

Photo: Crown Media

When you look at what you have to take on as a producer when you do this type of show; as opposed to any other type of production you have helmed, what are the major differences?

MICHAEL: The biggest distinction is that on this show we are dealing with living animals, so I take that responsibility very seriously.  First and foremost: is the safety and well-being of the dogs that are participating on the show.  We have to consider everything from making sure that the animals are up-to-date with their vaccinations to having veterinarians on hand, having production personal on-hand standing by with treats and pooper-scoopers. This also means that the dogs are being treated like VIPs.  So, we have a VIP room, but that stands for “Very Important Pooch”, and all of the dogs that are participating have their own dressing rooms with a star on it and their name.  There were over 130 dogs that actually participated from all over the country.  In addition, we had a gifting suite like they do on the Oscars and Golden Globes, but on this show, they didn’t get swag bags, they got “Wag Bags”.

Knowing you as I do, it seems a lot this creative from the categories in the competition, to the backstage VIP room, are very YOU!

MICHAEL:  I have an incredible team of producers who I collaborate with.  None of this would be possible without the good people at Hallmark being such incredible animal advocates.  Specifically, Bill Abbott, who is one of the few network executives in the industry who is really walking the walk and doing so much to be supportive of dogs and cats who need homes.  So, this is right up my alley, because creatively I am so passionate about it that it is so easy to come up with fun ideas that hopefully resonate with the viewers.

Photo: Crown Media

Are there any other fun moments that you can tease?

MICHAEL:  We are celebrating the perfectly imperfect.  So, we love when a dog decides to roll on his back in the middle of the arena and decide he wants to get a belly rub in the middle of the competition.  We had a dog decide that he had to go potty on the middle of a flower arrangement on the arena floor.  Those are the moments that give the show its heart and feel-good sensibility.  We had a couple of dogs in the “Best Wiggle Butt” category where one of their forever parent brings them out initially, and their other forever parent was on the other side of the area, and we removed their leash so that they can run from one parent to the other so that we can really see their butts moving, but … we had a few dogs get so excited that they ran right out of the arena! (Laughs)  They ran right through the tunnel off stage and come running back in, and the whole audience erupted into laughter.  It’s just magical.

How did you find these dogs to compete? 

MICHAEL:  We put out a call-to-action on social media, and we got thousands of responses. People submitted their rescue dogs in as many categories as they qualified for, and they submitted photos and videos. Then, we have a team of producers and rescue experts who go through all of the submissions, ultimately picking the top semi-finalists in each category who come to Los Angeles to compete.  We had a wonderful partnership with Pedigree Foundation in which they provided $100,000 in grant money for the dogs that win for the rescue that saved him or her.  So, in the ten semi-final categories, each winning dog received a $5,000 grant for the rescue that saved him or her, and then the ultimate winner of the competition, which is crowned the title, “Best in Rescue,” received an additional $30,000 for the rescue that saved him or her, again, courtesy of Pedigree Foundation.  We also had a partnership with adoptapet.com, which is the largest online resource for people to find rescue dogs in their own communities. Throughout the show, we have a call-to-action for people to go to hallmark.com/bestinrescue and look for the adopt a pet icon … they click it… then enter their zip code … and they are instantly linked to thousands of available dogs in their own community who are patiently waiting for a loving home.

Photo: Crown Media

The dog handlers are the owners of these pets?

MICHAEL:  Yes.  We call it a member of their “forever family”.  Several of the dogs on the show are service dogs now, or companion animals, working in senior homes or working with military service people suffering from PTSD.  We celebrate each and every one of them.

Is your hope to do a third annual show, and keep the dog rescue competition going?

MICHAEL:  Yes!  My hope is that this show continues to be on for many years to come and be a platform for the 8 million animals that enter our shelters each year and are patiently waiting for their forever home, and that we can continue to be a voice for these dogs that don’t have voices of their own.  Of all of the shows that I have produced over the years, this one is going to be the most meaningful to me, and is going to be my legacy, because it is such a beautiful thing that I can bring my work and my passion together to hopefully make a difference in the lives of all of these animals.  As a result of this show, we heard from numerous shelters across the country that there was a definite uptick in adoptions.  That warms my heart beyond compare.

In closing, you know what they say:  it’s easier to work with animals than humans! Thoughts? (Laughs)

MICHAEL:  Every show has its challenges, but I would much rather deal with a diva Chihuahua than a diva celebrity.  So, on that level, this show is pure joy to make.

So, will you be watching this heartwarming, creative two-night rescue dog event?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below, but first, check out this behind-the-scenes video of how the American Rescue Dog Show is put together with co-host, Ross Matthews.

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