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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.

General Hospital

GH’s Chloe Lanier Talks On Nelle’s Twisted Plots, Her Co-Stars & That Cliffhanger “Ending”

Recently on ABC’s General Hospital, Chloe Lanier’s Nelle Benson created even more havoc for Carly (Laura Wright), Michael (Chad Duell), Julian (William deVry), Brook Lynn (Briana Lane), and of course, her son, Wiley.

However, is Nelle really gone after her ‘fall,’ which has left her MIA and Carly believing she is responsible for her sister’s ‘death’? But as we know with Nelle, she keeps secretly planning her next move and loves to slowly torture those who she believes have wronged her. There is also the ongoing mystery of just who is Nina’s (Cynthia Watros) daughter, especially since Nelle has the other half of the necklace so near and dear to Nina; leaving viewers pondering if it could mean they are mother and child, or is this all a red-herring?

One thing is for sure, Daytime Emmy winner, Chloe Lanier brings it each and every time she returns to GH. She gives always give the storylines a much needed injection of drama, drama and more drama. No one is quite like Lanier in the soaps either; she can play tough, vulnerable, manipulative, and street smart, like nobody’s business.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Chloe to get her answers to some of our burning questions for her and her portrayal of naughty Nelle, and how one of her co-stars helped her through a very difficult time in her life.  Here’s what she had to say about it all.

Courtesy/ABC

What did you think of the courtroom antics of Nelle during the custody hearing for Wiley?

CHLOE:  I mean, showing up in a wedding dress was her first mistake. Then antagonizing everyone in the room was probably her second. But she’s so wounded—so broken from her childhood. She doesn’t have the proper emotional tools to combat her self-destructive behavior.

Which showdown or confrontation between Nelle and Michael stands out to you?

CHLOE:  I particularly loved the scenes where Nelle, nine months pregnant, leaves Michael in the rigged car, hoping it would explode. It’s rare that you’re given comedic material on a soap, so that was particularly exciting for me. Also, Chad’s reactions always make me laugh. He’s great.

Photo: ABC

What is it like working with Chad Duell as feuding exes and parents of Wiley? 

CHLOE:  Chad is so easy to work with. He’s been doing the show for so long and is very technically gifted. The writers graced us with some meaty material that we were able to sink our teeth into.

Photo: JPI

What does Nelle think of Willow (Katelyn MacMullen)? She really hates her, huh?

CHLOE: I don’t believe she hates her. She’s envious. Willow is the exact opposite and oftentimes we’re afraid of what we don’t understand. Particularly someone like Nelle, who was raised by a con artist and taught to exploit and manipulate anyone she comes across. So when she sees someone so pure, so innocent, she immediately distrusts her because that behavior is so far outside the lines of how she operates.

What was it like taping the fight scenes between Carly and Nelle, where Nelle “Plummets” to her death?  

CHLOE:  Shout out to Amanda Hall and Heather Bonomo, our amazing stunt doubles for those scenes. They were fantastic.

Courtesy/ABC

When you and Laura Wright get the scripts; where Carly and Nelle are having a huge showdown, are you thrilled about getting the chance to play the emotional beats of those moments? What if it’s a fight scene?

CHLOE:  Those scenes were such a joy, because we got to explore some of the deep roots of Nelle’s trauma, and Carly explicitly said, “I believe you love your son.” That, for me, was important.  Because despite all of her failings, she truly did love her son—in her own warped, off kilter, way.

Photo: Paul Smith

Nelle has really been blackmailing Julian, until he turned the tables on her on the pier?  What has it been like acting opposite Will deVry in those scenes?

CHLOE:  I love Will. He and I actually have the same acting coach, so our prep and how we’re working is from a similar place. What I love about Will is the confidence he has in his stillness. He’s lovely on camera, so connected.

Photo: ABC

Nelle has the other half of the necklace belonging to Nina.  What do you think if it turns out that Nelle is Nina’s daughter?  It is quite possible, tho, that she is not, and it’s all a red herring. How has it been working with Cynthia Watros?

CHLOE:  Cynthia is one of the kindest human beings I’ve ever met, truly. We haven’t known each other for long, but earlier this year, and not many people know this other than my close friends, I was having glaring mental health issues stemming from unresolved trauma. I was going going going for so long that I couldn’t run away from it anymore. I had never dealt with any of it. She saw it and could tell I was silently struggling and reached out. You don’t forget kindness like that. So I’m very grateful for Cynthia—and of course, therapy. I would be flattered if they decided to make Nelle Nina’s daughter.

Photo:ABC

What do you think about how the writers have kept finding ways to have plot points that get all the other characters in trouble and make it look like they did something to Nelle, but she ultimately has her own diabolical plans for them with her actions? She is pretty smart!

CHLOE:  Nelle is the perfect victim, and her love language is sabotage. She’s also a narcissist, so she’s always going to think she’s the smartest person in the room. She’s basically a walking version of Taylor Swift’s song, Look What You Made Me Do. I love that the writers gifted me the opportunity work with almost everyone on the show. Josh (Swickard) and I always had a great time together. And Maurice (Benard)—god he’s hilarious. I would have loved to work with Briana Nicole Henry (Jordan) more though. I love watching her work. She’s going to have an amazing career.

Photo: ABC

Do you think Nelle can ever be redeemed at this point?

CHLOE:  Redemption is a weird one for me, because I don’t believe that people are inherently good or bad. We’re all human. We all have flaws, make mistakes, have regrets, experience shame. We have the ability to grow and we learn from our past. Nelle has done and felt all of those things, to a degree, but continued to do the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. A character either has to change or they die. So, I’ll say this—if Nelle is alive out there somewhere, I hope she’s going to therapy.

Photo: JPI

What has been the hardest scene for you to play emotionally in the time you have been playing Nelle?

CHLOE:  Probably the scene with the newborn, where Nelle runs into Brad on the side of the road. I had never held a newborn baby before, so I was TERRIFIED. I realized I was the only thing in that moment keeping that baby alive…a very bizarre and life altering feeling, I’ll say.

So, have you enjoyed Chloe’s performances? Do you think Nelle is plotting from afar?  What would you like to see happen in the storylines with  baby Wiley, Nina’s child, and more? Comment below.

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Days Of Our Lives

Chandler Massey & Freddie Smith Discuss Their Departure From DAYS, New Beginnings & WilSon’s Journey

This week, Days of our Lives viewers saw the highly-anticipated exit off the canvas, for now,  of Daytime Emmy-winners, Chandler Massey and Freddie Smith as Will and Sonny.

Tuesday marked their final airshow, while the actors found out they were being written-out of the show and had filmed their last six episodes over seven months ago, because at that time and before the pandemic, DAYS was taping far in advance of air.

Now with this leg of their journey complete as the popular Salem duo, Chandler and Freddie are embarking on new chapters of their lives, as Chandler details his move to Atlanta and Freddie in a few weeks to Florida.  But as they discuss in this very special conversation with Michael Fairman on You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, they are not stopping acting either.

During this “farewell for now” interview with Michael, the two actors open up about their final scripts, their last tape day, how both characters helped many individuals come out and come to terms with who they are via watching Will’s coming out story, Will and Sonny’s on-screen relationship and more.

In addition, Freddie discusses what happened when he auditioned for the role of Sonny and what he thinks helped land him the gig; Chandler shares a story about a fan that is very moving, and that his biggest regret was not getting to play the wedding scenes between Will and Sonny (Guy Wilson at that time had stepped into the role of Will).   The duo also reveal their favorite and least favorite storylines they were involved in, and much more.

Watch the full interview below.

So, what do you think about what Freddie and Chandler had to share during our conversation? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Melody Thomas Scott Talks Harrowing Childhood, Growing Up In Hollywood, Nikki’s Storylines

This week, The Young and the Restless’ iconic, Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman) new memoir, Always Young & Restless: My Life on and Off off America’s #1 Daytime Drama,” from Diversion Books, is available everywhere.

For everyone that follows Melody, this book has been several years in the making with some starts and stops, but in it she does not hold back and reveals some very painful details and moments from her upbringing when she was raised by her unstable grandmother and more.

Courtesy/DiversionBooks

Melody also talks about reuniting with her estranged father when he suddenly awoke from his coma while she was by his side.  Throughout her lengthy career in Hollywood, Melody has worked with some of the greats including: Clint Eastwood, Brian DePalma and Alfred Hitchcock.

Now in a conversation with Michael Fairman on The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Melody opens about her decision on the stories she told in the books, her favorite and least favorite storylines as Nikki on Y&R, working with Eric Braeden (Victor) and the entire company of the CBS daytime drama where she has been for over 40 years, and how she hopes her memoir might help others; including those stage moms and children considering life in front of the camera and more.

To watch the full interview with Melody, check it out below.

Then let us know, what have you been most surprised to learn about Melody this past week as her memoir has come out? What is your favorite or least favorite storylines of Nikki’s on Y&R over the years? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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B&B’s Heather Tom talks with Michael Fairman immediately following her record-tying win in the Lead Actress category during the 47th annual Daytime Emmy Awards.  Heather and Erika now hold the most wins for an actress with 6! Leave A Comment

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