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THE ILENE KRISTEN INTERVIEW – ONE LIFE TO LIVE

kristen-Main.jpgMICHAEL:

You have just finished performing in our benefit, “Soaps In The City”, and I know you have been involved so much in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

ILENE:

I probably have been involved for the last three years, at least. Last time, we had the east coast event at the club ”Prohibition” in New York. It’s for a great cause.

MICHAEL:

Have you personally been affected, or touched by people in your life, or in show business that have died of HIV/AIDS?

ILENE:

I lost many, many people… and there was a friend mine that was the stage manager from “Grease”, and then we lost another stage manager. Then, my wonderful Christopher Adler died, and this was early on. Then I lost more than 20 people that I knew, some which were really close to me. I lost my manager, and that was a tough one, because I don’t think he knew he had AIDS. Then he got pneumonia and he died. This was in 1994, and that was extremely difficult. It was a real shock because there was no time to prepare for that.

MICHAEL:

Do you feel that here in the US, AIDS awareness has been sidestepped as an issue, where globally it’s a pandemic?

ILENE:

Honestly, I don’t think we can ever do enough. But, I think it’s changed considerably from the 80s, for sure. I have a lot of friends living with AIDS, but not dying of AIDS. One of my very closest friends is HIV-positive and he is doing well. Of course, he is on the cocktail, and if people can’t afford the cocktail and the medications, that’s a problem. It’s changed a lot over the last 20 years, so people aren’t dying immediately. In fact, I haven’t heard of anybody dying that I have been friendly with. So, that’s a great thing!

kristen-mazur.jpgMICHAEL:

We all know you from your portrayal of Roxy Balsom on “One Life to Live”, and
the amazing, Delia, on “Ryan’s Hope”. But now, you seem to be taking the musical aspect of you talents to new heights?

ILENE:

I have always sung with one rock band or the other. I have always kept it on the down- low to some degree. If people had bands, they would want me to sing with them; so I would. Then, I started songwriting a lot in the 90’s. I had written
a lot in the 70’s and then I was doing a lot of other people’s songs. Then in the 90’s I started doing my own stuff. I started writing with a great writer out in LA…
Kenny Mazur. One day he said, “You know, you really ought to start writing, because you have so many adventures and you need to get them out, and start getting your life out.” There was a song I wrote called, “No Matter What”, which was about my life, and he said, “You are on a soap, Ilene, and you need to spice this up a bit!”

MICHAEL:

Why were you so low on the radar with your great singing ability?

ILENE:

It’s a very big problem, and it’s kept me from doing a lot because I grew up listening to the best music you could listen to. My criteria have always been very high. I listen to Joe Williams and Ella Fitzgerald, just the great people. The way I sing, is like a Julie London- type singer, kind of smoky. I feel if I am not as good as those people, I don’t count. And then after seeing KD Lang last night, I never want to open up my mouth again. But because I am a very good actress, I am going to pretend that I am full on KD Lang. I am the feminine KD Lang. She is all boy. ilene-soaps.jpgIt’s fantastic! I think
she is so comfortable in her skin, and she came out with no shoes on and looking like a man, but she was beautiful… and the voice was the best instrument that I ever heard! You want to be up there with the really good people to call yourself a singer, and I don’t call myself a singer. I call myself, a “Thinger”. I have a “thing” and I think it’s good.

MICHAEL:

The songs you performed for us at “Soaps In The City”, please tell us about them?


ILENE:

This one jazz song I wrote is a combination of “Fever” and “Moondance”. Then I wrote a song called, “Rise to the Occasion”, and my first job was with the great, Johnny Pacheco. I was a dancer at nine, dancing with two Cuban guys, and that is how I started in show business. So, this song is a kind of Latin boogaloo, which was popular in the 60’s. It was written as an assignment, between Lenny Kravitz’s, “Lady” and Cyndi Lauper’s, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. Then when that did not happen, I changed into a different groove. I performed a song called “Flesh and Blood”, that was written for a friend of mine who was dying; the wonderful and beautiful, Nancy Addison (Ex- Jillian Coleridge, “Ryan’s Hope”). I remained close with her, and was with her every day until she died. Nancy was a wonderful friend and she died from a form of cancer. The doctors did not know the origin of it, and it was very difficult, and it took about two and half years. I started writing the song about the thought of losing someone, but knowing they will always be there with you…. and then 9/11 happened! This song came out of that, and then it really wrote itself. I knew Nancy would be dying, and I knew I would sing this song at her funeral, which was what happened. It’s a song I did not sing at my father’s memorial, but I recited the words. I have done it at other friend’s funerals. The list just goes on. I am proud of it.

MICHAEL:

Your stupendous and stunning portrayal of Roxy on “OLTL”, is so completely different than any character or actress on daytime. The scene that aired last week where Roxy pushed Adriana up against the hospital glass letting her know that she was causing her son, Rex, to basically die. That was because Adriana would not allow Gigi in Rex’s hospital room, and that was heart wrenching. Did you know those scenes were dynamite?

ILENE:

I knew things were real for me. The thing that is so difficult about that is, once they put up the hospital set, they will do three shows a day at the hospital set. You are so overwhelmed. You are so scared that you are going to be sacrificed, and you have to get to another scene. I felt like there was a little scene I had with the troll days, and I was not sure I was totally on my game. But then, the stuff where I put Adriana against the glass, I felt that I was on my game. With age, you are able to pull so much stuff out of your life and access it for your character. Before, when I was playing Delia on “Ryan’s Hope”, I had to do crying scenes all the time. I would have to go in back of this set, and do all this sense memory stuff. Now, I don’t have to go to that place or substitute much anymore, because of my life experience as Ilene.

JP1.jpgMICHAEL:

How is working with John Paul Lavoisier (Rex)? We need more mother/son scenes between them.

ILENE:

Oh, it’s great! The audience wants more, and its short changing both Rex and Roxy, but they may get it. We got extraordinary reaction as to who is Rex’s father? That is yet untold, and they better tell it!

MICHAEL:

Will it be Mitch Laurence?

ILENE:

It would be great if it was Mitch, if they
tell a real story. They were about to do something when the writers’ strike happened, and then they felt it was not an important enough story to do, so they bypassed it. We waited till head writer, Ron Carlivati came back to the show. Once Ron came back, it didn’t go anywhere, but we are hoping that it does. You know, stories have to be approved by ABC Daytime and SOAPnet President, Brian Frons. So hopefully, he will see fit to give us a story. I know he likes me, but he has to like me enough to let me tell a story. The one thing I know I am capable of, is telling a good story…. even the stuff I had with Miles…. where did it go?

MICHAEL:

What about working with Erika Slezak (Viki)?

ILENE:

She is wonderful to work with. With Erika, this is nothing that she enforced, but she has her scenes early in the morning. So, if you have scenes with Erika, you better be on your game. First of all, she is so professional and wonderful to work with, and so generous. But, she knows all of your lines as well, and that’s a spectacular thing to do. Every once in awhile, I am on my game like that, but she is always on her game. Erika has been very, very, good to me.

MICHAEL:

I love that Roxy stumbles around drunk all the time. Do you think that will ever change?

ILENE:
Until she resolves certainly some of her issues, I think she should have a bit of a substance problem. I think when she goes to work, she really tries to do that hairdo. I know a lot of people like Roxy, who have more than slight substance problems, whether they are on Quaaludes or something else. I think Roxy was pretty coherent with the recent hospital stuff with Rex, though.

MICHAEL:

In your performances, do you like towing the fine line between comedy and drama?

ILENE:

Oh, yes! I like towing the line, because I feel that people need the humor, and it’s hard to play comedy on a soap. I think I have managed to do that extremely well, and better than most, and it’s my background. When I came on the show I came on right after 9/11. I felt that people needed a break, and also needed to be highly entertained. I felt people needed cushioning, especially in New York; it was like a scorched landscape. What happened was I got the job on September 10 and I only called a couple people to let them know, and then 9/11 happened. At first I thought, what is acting? What does that mean to people, after we have gone through something like this? Does anyone even care anymore? Is watching television, except for watching the news, important? And then a couple of days before I had to go to work, I got very inspired. I felt that somebody had to entertain the troops, and I really felt it was my job to do that.

Melissa-Ilene.jpgMICHAEL:

Now tell me about working with the fabulous Melissa Archer (Natalie)?

ILENE:

I really like working with Melissa. She has had a lot of responsibility at “OLTL”. You know, once they see that you can do three shows in a row that is probably 18 scenes, they will do that and work you a lot. They will get away with doing that, and it is very difficult. One day Andrea Evans (Tina) had 100 or so pages. The Game Show episode with Rex, of “Whose Shane’s Daddy?”, we had a lot to do that day. Then the director said to us, “Not to put any stress on you, but this is going to be my Emmy submission!” Then it was like, you got to
be on!

MICHAEL:

I think you have a few good shows to submit for Supporting Actress Emmy competition for next year. Would you go for it?

ILENE:

I think I would. I did have scenes last year had I gotten nominated. My second year on the show I got nominated and it was a bit tricky. First of all, you have to have shows, which not only are you good in,… but the person you are working with is good, too. There is nothing worse than your doing a good performance, and the other person not delivering. I tend not to like to submit hospital scenes. I said to ’JP’, when it was the scene when I was in the hospital with Charlie and he comes in and says, “I don’t want to know you! Both of you!” I said to ‘JP’, “I don’t care what other people say, but these are the scenes you are going to submit!” In the past he has not submitted the right scenes. He has not done the right choices. I helped Renee Goldsberry (Ex- Evangeline) with her choices, and I was very proud that I could help her with that, and she had good stuff.

MICHAEL:

Now to “Ryan’s Hope”, and your iconic role of Delia Reid Ryan Coleridge. Ah, the list of married names goes on and on. Why do you think that worked so well?

ILENE:

The answer is, because of the show’s creators and head writers, Claire Labine and Paul Mayer. They wrote something from their heart. They had the bible on that show written extraordinarily well from day one, and what they had written for these characters always stayed in my mind. I knew what they wrote in those three paragraphs for Delia… I could get it. At the time, what was hard for me was that I was a very happy person playing a very unhappy person and that was difficult. I had just come from doing “Grease” and making people laugh, and once you have made 1200 people in a room laugh, you want to do that all the time.

MICHAEL:

So, after “Grease” you went to “Ryan’s Hope”?

kristen-Main2.jpgILENE:

I had done “Grease” for two years. I quit “Grease” in 1974 and got “Ryan’s Hope” in 1975. All of a sudden, I am playing this semi-tragic character who is crying all the time, going, “Love me. Please love me!” That was not second nature to me… being that screwed up. So, it was hard for me and difficult. Also, what was difficult, was you got these long scenes, which made it extremely potent for the audience, and addictive for the audience. You’ve got to travel with these characters when they made certain transitions. What disturbed me about the recent scenes with Adriana on “OLTL” in the hospital, was that the initial scenes with her were so short. I said to her, “Listen pipsqueak…” and the scene was over.

MICHAEL:

The soap climate now is faster, quicker scenes, than in the classic soaps presentations of yesteryear. It seems to fans that they think perhaps the perception is the actors can’t handle that much dialog.

ILENE:

I don’t think that’s what they are doing. When MTV came in, and I do not know what they are doing now, people got faddy or trendy. Now in daytime, they are trying to tell as many stories as possible, where Claire Labine just tried to tell two really good ones. I actually think the half-hour soap format is better. It gets you to concentrate and to be mesmerized by these people’s lives. People were addicted to the emotion of it, and not so much to flashy story. You know, I don’t know why we try to do car crashes or train crashes on soaps. Why do we do that, when “Lost” does it so much better? Why are we trying to compete in an area that we shouldn’t compete in, when people just want to be touched by a story? I think there was real value to the way “Ryan’s Hope” was done and was shot.

MICHAEL:

Can you tell me, off the top of your head, some Delia moments that you just loved?

ILENE:

The hysterically blind scenes when I am on a cruise with Pat. He realizes I am lying and throws the hairbrush at me and I catch it. The stuff with Roger and Sheila in the cooking lessons were fabulous, and every time Maeve would say, “Where you going Delia?” And she would go, “Oh, I’ve got cooking classes”, and the audience would go nuts.

MICHAEL:

Speaking of Maeve Ryan, tell me how was working with the incredible Helen Gallagher?

kristen-ron.jpgILENE:

Oh my God, fantastic! She is a pure gift. Both of us were hoofers! The wonderful thing about the cast was it really didn’t matter what you paid us, we would show up, because we did not make a lot of money on “Ryan’s Hope”. It was like
hoofer pay. Helen did have in her contract, that nobody could get more than her. Malcolm Groome (Ex-Pat) Kate Mulgrew (Ex-Mary), and Ron Hale (Ex- Roger) these were great, great people.

MICHAEL:

Now to “OLTL” favorite Roxy moments?

ILENE:

First of all, working with Jim DePaiva (Ex- Max) was a pleasure. Our wedding scenes in Las Vegas, where he wakes up the next morning, and does not realize he married me, was during the live week. Everything shot during the live week was priceless, but it scared me.

MICHAEL:

But you perform sketch comedy, as you did here in Los Angeles this weekend at the ACME Theatre and other venues. Why are you scared, if you can do such impromptu performances on the spot? I know why, but probably most people looking in from the outside, would not figure it to be the case.

ILENE:

I am scared of everything. I did “Grease’ for two years and the adrenaline would be out of control. It’s all scary to me, but I guess it’s good to be scared, because you can come up with interesting work, but your stomach is upset all the time. I have been in this business so long, and I am still scared. It keeps you coming up with new creative things for yourself.

ilene-nightclub.jpgMICHAEL:

Do you ad-lib a lot as Roxy? Some of those jabs she gives to the other citizens of Llanview seem like it.

ILENE:

I am a great ad-libber, especially in the role of Roxy. If it’s a group scene and they need a Roxie line, they go, “Please come up with one!”

MICHAEL:

You are in a new film called “The Manhattanites”?

ILENE:

Yes. We had a screening for it in New York and Aidan Turner (Aidan, “AMC”) is terrific in it. David Fumero (Christian, “OLTL”) is also in it, and Forbes March (Ex-Nash, “OLTL”) plays my competition and steals my boyfriend away from me. Jill Larson (Opal, “AMC”) was going to do my part, but it worked out better because she ended up playing a homeless woman in the movie, because she wanted to try something different.

MICHAEL:

What is the premise of the movie?

ILENE:

It’s all these people’s different stories and how they intersect. They are in somewhat of a community, and that gets the ball rolling. I play a real professional type. I play a lawyer. It was not a comedic character, and not a villain. I am kind of one of the leads in it.

couch-ilene.jpgMICHAEL:

In closing what would you
say is at the core of Roxy Balsom, if you were going to explain her to someone who does not know her very well?

ILENE:

Party! Party! I think she has fun, even in times of tragedy, and she will always find a way to rock.

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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