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The Jack Wagner Interview – The Bold and the Beautiful

© JPI Studios

He’s on the world’s most watched soap opera, and has had multiple successes in daytime and primetime television, theatre, and recording.  Not to mention, he is one hell of a champion golfer.  We can only be talking about The Bold and the Beautiful’s cantankerous former seaman now turned fashion business mogul, Nick Marone, played to the hilt by Jack Wagner.

On the storyline front: With Nick dealing with a lung cancer scare and facing his own mortality, plus dealing with the inconceivable pairing (to him anyway) of his mother Jackie, and her much younger boy toy husband, Owen (Who had a baby no less with his then wife, Bridget) it has not been smooth sailing for this captain of the ship.

On-Air On-Soaps sat down with Wagner in his dressing room to discuss Nick’s bold and beautiful 6,000 episode intervention; why Nick and Brooke should still have a chance at recapturing love, his recent amazing trip to South Africa, and the revelations that came from it.

Also, we get the low down on his upcoming 5th Annual Jack Wagner Celebrity Golf Classic, to help raise awareness and funds to benefit Leukemia Lymphoma.  And, we learn why teeing off stretches your mind, not just your body!  Here’s the witty, ever so charming and talented, Mr. Wagner!

MICHAEL:

Nick was integral to the special 6,000 episode of The Bold and the Beautiful due in part to his cigar smoking.  The show featured real life cancer survivors talking with Stephanie to create a support group, since Stephanie has been battling stage four-lung cancer.  Nick is along for the ride since the episode serves as sort of an intervention for him to come to terms with what he is doing to himself via smoking. Did you watch back the episode?  What did you feel performing in it?  And, did you think it was effective and accomplished what it is set out to do?

JACK:

© JPI Studios

I did like how it turned out.  I thought it was kind of groundbreaking to have no script.  I have done improv and all of that, but never worked without a script.  To be in character and to have Susan Flannery (Stephanie) be in character, with the guests giving their testimonials (who are cancer patients telling their story) was interesting to see them being who they are and me reacting to it as Nick and this sort of denial he is in.  His denial about smoking only one cigar a day, or every two days type of thing, was interesting.  It was interesting to be in the reality of it, and then play the denial.

MICHAEL:

Part of Nick’s character from the beginning was that he was this crusty seaman who drank and smoke cigars.

JACK:

Yes, that was very apparent at the beginning of my time as Nick.  He was heavily smoking cigars. And then, CBS Standards and Practices had enough of the smoking on the show, but they decided to bring it back and allow it for the telling of this storyline.

MICHAEL:

Working with Susan in this special episode, you were reactionary and we the viewers, would watch your eyes and watch things unfold in your eyes, especially when the opera singer, Zheng Cao, sang her aria and your look was of,  “Oh my God!” Hankies! Very touching.

JACK:

It was very emotional and I was tearing up and just letting it go, and it was very unexpected. We asked Zheng Cao to sing right there on the spot. Brad Bell was right there on the set and came up with that.  So it kind of felt awkward when she did it, but it worked.  She is so good and it was poignant.  I think Nick was touched by it.  What a gift with her voice, and to tell her story and have it end on the guy who they are trying to reach, who is Nick.  Add to that, Stephanie, who has already gone through her cancer treatment and is still going through it.  So yeah, I think it worked, I really do.  It was different and groundbreaking at the same time.  I am glad I was picked to do this storyline with Susan, because you have two people who have been around for quite awhile, and if you are going to have two people who are going to be available for a different feel of a show, Susan is really the best at that.  I loved working with her on this!

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MICHAEL:

Now that B&B Executive Producer and head writer, Brad Bell, has tackled social issue after social issue recently, is there any issue you would love for him to touch upon, using your alter-ego Nick?  We have to say, you have sort of been in several of the issue-driven stories of late!

JACK:

When I reflect back, Nick has uncovered his childhood through this and had some great scenes with Lesley-Ann Down (Jackie) through that.  And, then I realized with the Aggie story, there was a rape that had to do with her, and Nick was kind of heroic and helped her though that. Then there is this baby with Nick’s mother’s husband coming up along with the cancer!  I am like, “Wow. We have done a lot of stuff here.”  You know what I would like to see is, I always liked the rivalry with Ridge and Nick. That seems to have been replaced. Now Jackie M. has its own world, and Forrester has its own world and they used to be rivals.  Now it seems it has gotten away from that.  I like mixing it up with those two families with those two characters.  I really do!

MICHAEL:

What about Nick‘s love life?  Sarah Brown (Aggie) had been dropped to recurring as Aggie.  And Bridget, played by Ashley Jones, is on recurring and barely on the show at all.  So, who could be next in line for Nick’s heart?

JACK:

Nick is like the recurring stud for hire!  (Laughs)  I don’t know about his future love life.  I think its kind of a sailboat without a sail right now and it’s floating out there.  And, if you look at your pieces of the puzzle, if we are going to work a romantic storyline, it would have to be a revisit with someone… unless it’s with some younger girls, which I think Nick’s available for! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Wagner Golf LLS

You have a very big golf tournament coming up for Leukemia Lymphoma.  It’s your annual Jack Wagner Celebrity Golf Classic. Tell us the information on it and how long you have done it?  And, what other celebrities will be participating?

JACK:

It’s April 18th, and a one day event out in Los Angeles at the Valencia Country Club.  This will be the fifth year for the event, and it’s actually a long time for a golf tournament when you think about it.  We are hoping to get to one million dollars in the five years after the golf tournament this year. And this is a small event with celebrity friends of mine, and with people who buy groups to play with the celebrities.  So we get anywhere from 15-25 groups, and then there is a silent auction and a live auction with a banquet afterwards.  It’s a day of golf with athletes, actors, golf pros, etc.  For example, Marcus Allen and John Elway, former pro football players, have come out and television and motion picture stars, Tim Allen, Joe Pesci, and Heather Locklear are there every year. Also, hockey great Wayne Gretsky comes out.  I just called a bunch of other guys today to participate.  It’s usually a who’s available mix of celebrities, and it’s a fun day.

MICHAEL:

Any one from B&B play?

JACK:

Kyle Lowder, who played Rick, and Brad Bell plays every year, of course.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/UPI.com

Why did you decide to do this and start your Celebrity Golf Classic?

JACK:

I lost my father to blood cancer known as multiple myeloma in 1990, and then my brother was diagnosed with Leukemia in1999. And strangely enough, I was asked to do Celebrity Week on Wheel of Fortune in 2006.  I just won this golf tournament in Lake Tahoe that NBC airs and it’s a very big deal every summer, and I had never won and I finally won.  And when I won the Wheel of Fortune, my partner on the show was incredible. We broke the record and I gave the money to Leukemia Lymphoma and they were like, “Didn’t you just win a golf tournament?”  And that is kind of how it came together; the germination of golf and fundraiser and me.

MICHAEL:

Why are you so good at golf?  You are “thee” guy in the celebrity ranks!

JACK:

I am from a little town in Missouri.  I picked it up because my father played this little nine-hole course.  I did not take lessons and I was not a country club kid.  I sort of just picked it up.  And, I was a natural at it.  I stuck with it as I grew up, and when I got General Hospital, I had already quit golf while I was in drama school for three or four years. Gloria Monty, who was the executive producer at the time of General Hospital and her husband, were members of Bel Air Country Club.  She came up to me and said, “Darling, I hear you play golf?”  And so I went out there with her husband and he sponsored me to join the club.  So I have been a member of Bel Air since 1986.  That is how I started playing again.  Then, I played in the AT&T and The Bing Crosby tournament in 1991 and won it.  So I started slowly playing a lot more visible tournaments and started winning a lot of them.

MICHAEL:

I can’t watch golf because it’s like watching paint dry to me.  However for you, what is it like playing?  What is it about the game that fascinates you?

JACK:

It’s like life… You just wake up one day and you just never know what is going to happen.  You can be prepared, but stuff will happen and you go,” Well, I wasn’t quite prepared for that to happen!”  You can eat right and sleep perfectly, but you never know what to expect, and that is kind of the challenge with golf.  It is unpredictable and always tests your emotions.  It’s physical, but it’s really about your mind.

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

Back to B&B for a moment with Nick’s mother Jackie and her much younger hubby Owen.  Where’s Nick at with the relationship of his mother and this young guy?  After all, he did preside over the wedding, even though he doth protest too much.

JACK:

I think this is such a great example of this character, Nick.  He can roll his eyes at what happens around him. It’s like the breaths I take, and the eyes roll, and the scowling and the frowning; that I think is so perfect for “my” mother and this guy.  It is just a bit bizarre!  He is my step-father. “Owen six-pack,” is my stepfather!  And so you’ve got to look at that as they are always making out and pawing each other.  So it’s this running underlying joke of, “Could you just go get a room somewhere!  I am trying to run a business. Hello! Our overhead is like one hundred thousand dollars a month.  Could you keep your clothes on?”  That is my attitude with every scene. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

We had spoken in the past that you would be interested in reigniting the Brooke and Nick romance.  Do you still feel that way?

JACK:

I always thought those characters had great chemistry.  But I don’t know how that would happen now.  Their lives are so far apart now and separate, but that is the magic of soap operas.  You can bring people back and you can reconnect people.  That relationship has not been revisited for so long.  I think that has been since there had been a baby with Taylor, and the In –Vitro storyline about two years ago.  So then there was this baby, and Brad really kept to keeping two people together for a long time with Ridge and Brooke.

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

Which he had not been doing!

JACK:

Yeah.  I mean, how many times can Ridge and Brooke break-up?  I guess a lot. (Laughs) But I guess what Brad decided to do there was to have these two stay together for a while.  I have always loved working with Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke).  And with Bridget not being there right now, it always felt to me that Brooke was Nick’s real rooted fire and his real flame when he first came on the show.  He was always fighting very hard for Brooke to have her back and protect her all the time.  So I think at the core of Nick’s life has been his love for Brooke.

MICHAEL:

What is it like working with Katherine? You joke around a lot on set, because you can be quite the prankster, we hear.

JACK:

I don’t joke around all the time, but we have to be able to do that.  It’s a kooky business and we are kooky people. We have our laughs but we are very serious too, because there is a lot of dialog to know and you have to be very focused.  It’s always about that and having a good time.

MICHAEL:

Are you worried about the eroding canvas of daytime soap operas?  The ratings are dropping; shows have been cancelled, etc?  What are your thoughts on this as a daytime veteran?

© Gilles Toucas

JACK:

I don’t think you can ignore what is happening on the daytime landscape right now.  There are too many shows with numbers that are down, and others soaps have been cancelled. We have lost a generation of viewers because there are so many more options in entertainment right now.  People are on the Internet, on their cells phones, and there are 600 channels.  Everything is suffering, not just soap operas, but also all of daytime programming.  How do you go about getting an audience when you can’t show nudity or use profanity?  We can’t shoot shamelessly or what they shoot on HBO. We have a lot of rules and have to answer to Standard and Practices, and it makes it tough. We are then limited.  So the question becomes, how do we get a young audience that wants to tune-in to MTV and watch The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and all that stuff, or tequila shots off navels?  How do you get them attracted to tune-in from 11AM-2PM in the afternoon, when they are in school?   Well, the way we used to do that was generational.  There were about four stations to watch, and you would sit there and watch with your grandmother and mother, period.  And now it is the other way around, where the mother and grandmother watch what the kids watch to have some contact with them because there is so much distraction in life.

MICHAEL:

What do you think of the new opening sequence of B&B?

JACK:

Flashy! Very flashy and contemporary!  Yes, we were in front of a green screen to do our looks but you know, I hit my mark and do what I am told.  I used to battle everything, but I am older now. (Laughs)

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

Remember the old “bad boy Jack Wagner” days?

JACK:

I do…my hair changes…my look changes….battling… script changes…. all of that and that attitude was fun at the time, but now its like, “Ok, where do you want me?”

MICHAEL:

You recently appeared on the TV Land hit comedy sitcom, Hot in Cleveland working alongside Valerie Bertinelli.  How was it going into that realm?

JACK:

It was a great experience.  I got to chat with Betty White and we hung for quite awhile. Valerie’s son and my son were in the same class together at school, and so we saw each other at functions. So we knew each other. The sitcom is such a different medium, yet when you have some seasoned veterans you are able to adjust to it.  I had a lot of down time, but when it was time to work they are pretty intense, and as an actor you have to be pretty on it.  The notes are very different than a soap opera, in that they are very specific, and very specific about what they want for the comedy and how they want you to play it.

MICHAEL:

Are there a lot of last minute script revisions and joke revisions?

JACK:

Yeah, there are, and that’s OK.  But for me, it was about breaking everything down and doing so much less than I would normally do on B&B.  Less animation, less forcing something, less trying to make a moment out of something, it’s about just being exactly how you are and letting it be.  It was quite an exercise for me.

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

So, after whetting your appetite on Hot in Cleveland, does it make you stop and think, “I want to do more of that?  More sitcoms!”

JACK:

I would love to do more and I love the sitcom format.  I try to play it Nick with sarcastic wit and humor, and if you look at what is happening from a realistic viewpoint on B&B, there is a lot of kooky stuff happening.  There is the camp, and that harkens back to the part of our discussion about Owen and my mother, Jackie on the show.  I want Nick to be grounded and let the audience sort of live through his reactions.  That is why I love the sitcom.  It’s really a craft.  It’s not like soap opera or live theatre. In Hot in Cleveland, Valerie had to be more animated and giddy and thrown, and the more grounded I could be the better.  I had to trust the director and be the man at the door.  So in that scenario, I am the guest-star and it is really about them, the stars of the series.  So I played it the way they wanted me to.

MICHAEL:

So if someone said let’s do a Jack Wagner sitcom, you would be up for it?

JACK:

Oh, I love that stuff!  It’s fun to mold comedy material.  And, what is fun for daytime does not read correctly in a sitcom.  It’s a different medium and a whole different performance.  And in sitcoms, it’s all for the joke.

MICHAEL:

Jack, you just recently returned from a personal appearance trip for The Bold and the Beautiful to the country of South Africa.  How was it meeting the fans there and being in the environment?

JACK:

Courtesy/Qwest Records

If I could go back to Jack Wagner circa 1985-1990, and the fan hysteria of General Hospital and back in those days, that is what it was like in South Africa.  I was there with Brandon Beemer (Owen) and Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Steffy), and it was like when the Beatles landed in New York to do The Ed Sullivan Show!

MICHAEL:

Wow. When that happened to you were you like, “Oh, Cool?” Or, were you like, “Oh God… No!”

JACK:

I knew how to handle it, and for the other actors there is an adrenaline and a pump that happens, which requires you to be cool, because the fans are the ones that are getting stirred up and crazy and so the cooler you are as the artist or the actor, the easier things go.   What was great was going back to the vans and the rooms of the hotels.  Because of that experience, to have hysteria from ten thousand people all in one place, not many performers or actors will get to feel that, and these two younger actors got to feel that.  It brought me back to the days when I had hit records, and was touring around the country and on General Hospital, which was number one at the time. It brought me back to the feeling of that whole teen idol thing.  So it was really great for me to re-experience that in South Africa, and in particular, with the black people who were just so amazingly open with their feelings and available and loving.  It was not really about shaking hands and signing autographs. When we were around the staff at the hotels at the restaurants, you hug and hold people, and it’s very real.  In America and other countries, we are very guarded and jaded, and driven for success and finances, and especially when we get older with children.  I just found there in South Africa, that at any level, be it the wealthy or the poor, they were very free and expressive with their feelings.  It was a gift for me to be available and to just give back and say, “hello” and hold them.  And, as an artist to be that famous or popular to them and to give that gift, and I was very grateful.

MICHAEL:

When you look back at all the successes you have had in your career, you must have some “pinch yourself” moments where you think how cool some of your accomplishments have been.  Not many performers can say they have had success and dabbled in all forms of the entertainment medium like you have had!

JACK:

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It’s really never like that, because my kids are like, “Did you get the Oreos?”  You see, I came home from South Africa and they say to me, “How was it in South Africa?”  And I go, “Pretty crazy.”  And they go, “Did you get the Oreos?”  So it kind of puts it in perspective. (Laughs) When I look back, it is kind of like defined to me this way; the 80’s were the All I Need era and General Hospital. The 90’s was going to a nighttime series like Melrose Place from daytime, which was really a big jump, and then doing like 10 movies of the week, which was another big step.  And then, for me to go to Broadway and perform in Jekyll and Hyde, is always something I will pinch myself over.  It is just thee role for an actor to get to perform live on stage.  Then to come to B&B, which is not just a domestic hit but an international hit, and experience this now back in daytime television, I have to ask myself, “How am I going to recreate myself back in daytime television and not feel as though I have gone backwards?”  I am sustaining myself here, and it is about how can I do my best.  And as I have gotten older, that is the transition for me… to be grateful for what I had, and say today, how can I do my best today?  Or, what can I bring to the table today that not only gives my best as a performer, but brings my best as a human being to other human beings?

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Doe
Doe

Love your interview, Michael. I first became aware of Jack when he was Frisco on GH. I think the scenes with Susan have been really powerful. She has been at her best.Personally, I don’t want Nick to be with Brooke. She is used goods and has to be stopped sometime. Bring on someone new and exciting, like Heather Locklear. Hah! We need a new face! I have watched Jack on the celebrity golf tournaments and enjoyed his efforts and interplay with the celebrities. It’s fun to watch. Even better his support of the Lymhoma charity. I would like to know if Jack’s sons play golf with their father. Just a side line. Will be watching B&B and Jack…Loved the new opening, It’s very smart and classy……

mmc
mmc

oh what a great pairing…Jack and his RL gal Heather Locklear.I actually like KKL, but not for Nick either!

mmc
mmc

a handsome man and underappreciated actor.Maybe one day TPTB will let Nick find a good woman and be happy but just for a while.We can’t have Nicjk get boring!

Stephanie
Stephanie

I hate Nick and Aggie pairing. Actually I was one of the rare few that actually liked Nick and Bridget as a couple.

diamondgirl
diamondgirl

I love you Nick!

kay killgore
kay killgore

I think Brad Bell is making a big mistake by focusing on the younger actors actually I think they need to revisit the story with the baby he had with Taylor and have her be the real mother not Brooke.

red and vanessa forever
red and vanessa forever

i would love a nick and taylor reunion

mmc
mmc

I don’t like Nick and Taylor together, actually I don’t like Taylor at all anymore.i did at one time.and I can’t stand the Steffy character….I wish she’d go away and take Amber with her!

Ekaterina Gustavsson
Ekaterina Gustavsson

lIKE all av you!Have a nice time!Take a care my friends!Hope we can have yours,,B&B longng time jet!Manny hugs!

Ted
Ted

Michael, this was a great interview of a daytime legend who I’ve been an admirer of for over 25 years. You seemed to penetrate his usually guarded nature and elicit more than the stock, and cliched responses he has been known to give. Would love to hear more music from this 80’s hitmaker. I’ve heard he still performs in concert from time to time. Thank you Mr. Fairman.

Tony
Tony

Jack go back to GH……Port Charles needs Frisco!

birdie
birdie

Fantastic interview, Michael! I hope B&B finds a storyline that challenges its most dynamic and compelling character: Nick.

birdie
birdie

P.S. – LOVE all the pics too!

debbie silverman
debbie silverman

I hope they bring back Bridget. Of all the women on the show with whom Jack has worked, it is Ashley with whom he had the best chemistry. Since she left, Jack has been left hanging. He is too good for his efforts to be wasted and I don’t want him to leave the show, but he does need a love interest. Ashley and Jack are the only reason I started watching B&B and the only reason I continue to watch it as I continue to hope they bring back Ashley. Please bring back Ashley, get her on contract and give her the “outs” she needs to do her extra work, so she can have the best of both worlds and we can have the best of her.

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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Interviews

Y&R’s Jason Thompson Talks On: The Self-Destructive Billy Abbott, Victoria, Phyllis, And Katie’s Disappearance

As February sweeps kicks in to high gear on The Young and the Restless, Billy Abbott (Jason Thompson) and his ex-wife, Victoria Newman (Amelia Heinle) are once again in each other’s orbit.  First, Billy was not too happy to learn that his nemesis, Cane Ashby (Daniel Goddard) shared some passionate kisses with her.  In fact, he went running to Cane’s imprisoned wife. Lily (Christel Khalil), to give her the lowdown.  Next, their child, Katie has gone MIA, but as viewers saw on Friday’s cliffhanger she is somehow heard singing through the walls at the Newman Ranch. Previously, Katie said she was playing with an imaginary friend, but someone is lurking around and watching the Newmans every move!

And let’s not forget, Summer (Hunter King) is back in Genoa City!  The last time she hit town she all but destroyed Billy – his gambling addiction returned, she tried to seduce him, and he slept with her as revenge against Phyllis for her having sex with Nick (Joshua Morrow), and we could go on!  After all the hurt, and the dissolution of their relationship, Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) and Billy are not seeing eye to eye on much, but saying they will try to work together.  Can they?

To fill us in on all the drama, Jason Thompson chatted with Michael Fairman TV and weighed-in on: the future for Villy, Philly, what he has learned from working on two major soaps; General Hospital, where he played the popular Dr. Patrick Drake, and Y&R, his thoughts on his recent Daytime Emmy Pre-Nomination in the Lead Actor category in what was a banner year of storyline for him in 2018, and much more.

Insightful, driven, and talented, Jason is one of the standouts in our genre.  Check out what he had to share below.

What did you think about the plot point that had Billy going to visit Lily in prison, and once there, he informs her that her husband, Cane has been kissing on Victoria!?

JASON:  What I think about it is somewhat irrelevant.  It wasn’t hard for me to rationalize it.  In the moment, Billy was hurt and pissed off.  He is irrational sometimes.  Once he got to the prison, I think he second-guessed himself.  Lily did a pretty good job of convincing him that she needs to know what is going on in order to just live in a certain amount of truth in this situation.  Billy felt that it would be worse for her wondering what was going on on the outside without knowing the truth.  I think that in that moment, he was convinced that telling her the truth was the right thing.  There was a part of him that wanted to get back at Cane, and when Billy gets hurt, he seems to lash out a bit and then sometimes he kind of recoils.  Could he have let it go?  Probably.  I think it’s an interesting thing for Lily and Billy’s relationship; to be honest.  Billy has always respected Lily.  I think that he’s always looked at Lily as someone who does the right thing, and was a good wife, and a good mother, and all of those things.  He thinks that she is in a rough place and wanted to offer her a little bit of support, and that’s the way that he did it.

Photo: JPI Studios

Where do you think the show can go now with his relationship with Cane?  They have been contentious all this time, anyway, and now this has happened.   How do you think this will resolve, or would it ever resolve?

JASON:  I think it’s one of the most interesting relationships Billy hasI don’t know that it will ever resolve.  I don’t know that Billy thinks too much about Cane either way, but in saying that,  there is still no one that can get under his skin and quickly!  In an instant, Cane can be Billy’s enemy and I think that’s great.  I always think there is story for Billy and Cane.  In our working relationship as well, I think we both get a different energy out of each other that inevitably ends up in the characters.  That’s always fun.

Photo:” JPI

How does Billy feel about Victoria now?  She’s been struggling since her relationship with J.T., making out with Cane, etc. 

JASON:  Billy does have feelings for VictoriaI think it’s a number of things that contributes to this.  I think it’s where he finds himself in his life.  He has been kind of hurt by the woman he loved (Phyllis).  He had everything for a moment that he wanted … he had the job, he had the girl, and if he had just done the right thing and had a little bit more self-control, he probably would have been in the best place of his life.  So, when all of those things get pulled away, the one constant is just when he goes to see his kids and they smile, and they don’t know what’s going on in the outside world.  I think the only people who don’t judge him are probably the kids.  There’s something really comfortable about that situation.  No matter what happens, there’s always going to be a little something with Victoria.  She’s always very supportive (not that she hasn’t been very, very upset with him, at times), but there is always something about their relationship that will keep him wondering if they should be together.  I think it will probably be like that for the rest of their lives.

Billy is still unaware that Victoria, Nikki, Phyllis and Sharon are all part of a cover-up in J.T.’s murder.  How aware is Billy in the depths of the abuse Victoria suffered at the hands of J.T.?

JASON:  There was never really a big realization about how dramatic, hurtful, and volatile the whole situation was.  It was a shock to hear all of that obviously, but he has no idea about the depths of it all.

Photo: CBS

If he found out, how do you think he would react knowing what Victoria had gone through?

JASON:  I think he would probably want to kick him again and then re-bury him. Billy has got a lot of flaws, but there is one thing that he will do, and that is always stand up for his family, and that includes Victoria.

Currently, it is just devastating for Billy when Katie goes missing.   He’s like, “I can’t go through this again after what happened with Delia,” and I know you didn’t play the Delia material, because you weren’t on the show at that time.  However, this does give you the opportunity to tap into all of that.

JASON:  Yes!  I mean, that is his biggest fear … going through all of that again.  I think that he would rather not be on the planet than go through all of that again.  What happened to Delia is never going to ever leave him.  I can’t imagine that something like that ever really does.  You just deal with it on a daily basis probably, and things come up, and you feel it all over again, and this is one of those moments.

Courtesy/CBS

I think that you being a father of two children now in your own life; really gives you a perspective when you play these things types of emotions and scenes out.

JASON:  Definitely.  Peter Bergman (Jack) and I were having a conversation about how much life and living, and trying to live a full life, really helps you with your acting.  I work really hard on my craft, but the most important thing that I can do for my work and my career is live a full life.  With the kids and everything else in my personal life, that to me is something that I can always draw upon.  It’s hard to even let myself go there sometimes, because of how scary it would be.  But yeah, I think Billy is not far off from that.  That character has a lot of life and is tied to this volcano and it’s just waiting to erupt, and that eruption is good and full of liveliness fear, and anger.  Some of that comes from hurt, and some of that comes from pain, and some of that comes from a good time, and some of that comes from addiction, and it makes it fun for me because there’s always something to play.  When I talk about what I think of a particular story line, I don’t think of it as, “Oh, I would never do this,” or “I would never do that.  That doesn’t make any sense.”  I try and make sense of everything.  That’s my job.  I just try to find a reason why Billy would be in that situation; instead of trying to find a reason why he wouldn’t be.

Photo: JPI Studios

Would you say that the situation with Katie will draw Victoria and Billy closer together?  At the end of Friday’s episode, they hear Katie’s voice in the wall, so they know she is alive.

JASON:  I think so.  One step up is often two steps back with them, but they are always connected in that way.  The kids do that, and what they’ve been through in the past, and like you said, I wasn’t necessarily there for a lot of that, but it’s in this character.  I would never say never with Victoria.

Photo: CBS

So, where is Billy at with Phyllis?  You and Gina Tognoni played that coupling to the hilt and the show separated them.  Major romances are never really ‘done, done’ on soaps.

JASON:  I mean, it only gets worse with Phyllis.  I’ll say that.  They’re not in a good place.   We have gone through some changes behind the scenes.  So, I have no idea what is happening as far as storyline.  I think there is always going to be something unresolved with Phyllis, but that’s the good thing about this kind of stuff.  You can put these two people together when you have two actors who kind of embrace it, and work at it, and have a natural chemistry, which in turn helps the characters have chemistry.  When Gina and I talk about what we did and accomplished with our characters, to be honest, it’s a little bit of a bummer that they are kind of apart right now, because we had a lot of fun.  We really enjoyed working with each other.  We felt like there was a lot more there to continue to explore, but like you said, it’s never over.  As far as the way that he sees Phyllis … it’s interesting.  I think as an outsider, he kind of looks at her as a selfish person who is going to get and grab whatever she wants, but I feel like he does understand her differently than other people do.  I think he’s looking at Nick and Phyllis and shaking his head like, “You can’t be serious.” (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI

You have had quite a gold mine of leading ladies in your daytime career from: Kimberly McCullough (Robin) to Kelly Monaco (Sam) while you portrayed Dr, Patrick Drake on General Hospital, to Gina and Amelia at Y&R.  I have to say that of all of the leading men on daytime, I think you’ve had consistently some major romantic kickass scene partners.  What are your thoughts on that?

JASON:  Yeah, I have been very fortunate.  I can go back thirteen years now and talk about how much Kimberly helped me out in the beginning, and how patient, and impatient (laughs) she was in a lot of ways.  Kimberly taught me a lot about how the business is, and to hold onto your values, and that it is very important to collaborate with your directors, and your writers, and your producers, and with other people that you work with.  You then see new things.  I’m constantly seeing things in other characters where I’m like, “That would be really interesting to shine a light on.”   I think there’s something really interesting about Sharon (Sharon Case) and Billy.  I think Billy could bring something out in Sharon that somebody else can’t.  That’s what is exciting for me as an actor – trying to find something different and trying to bring life that is not necessarily there yet.  I have had a lot of trust from writers, from producers, and from networks.  I have been very fortunate in that way.

Hunter King has returned to Y&R as Summer.  She played havoc in Billy’s life her last go-round.  I know now she is currently after Kyle (Michael Mealor) and not after Billy, but does Billy blame her at all for his spiral back into his gambling addiction?

JASON:  Realistically, if  Billy were really being dead honest about it and trying to really work soberly in his life, he would say there’s nobody to blame but himself.  There’s definitely that conversation that could be had between them about the situation that they found themselves in.  They both hurt each other pretty badly, and the people surrounding them.  I think there is probably a little bit of blame that can go around on both of them, but I don’t think he really sits back and blames her for falling back into addiction.  She might have been one of the triggers, but I think that he was really responsible for that.

Congratulations on your Daytime Emmy Pre-Nom in the Lead Actor category!  It’s quite a talented group of ten actors that made it through to the final round of competition. You certainly had a stellar year of material!

JASON:  I had a ton of great storylines last year, and it just kind of kept going, and kept going One thing I will say that really helped me out is my relationship with Mal Young (Ex- EP and head writer, Y&R).  We got along really well.  He helped me out by letting me know six months ahead of time where we planned on going with the story.  So, I was able to understand and slowly build the depths of hurt, and the gambling, and how it got further along, and the lies.   I was able to understand where we were going and the plateau that we needed to get to, which was very helpful for me. I worked with amazing people constantly; every day was like something different.  The hard part in this next round of voting is trying to find something that represents the whole year.  When I look at that list of pre-nominees, I’m proud of the work that daytime actors do … everybody from a little bit of a younger guy like Billy Flynn (Chad, DAYS) to icons like Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) , and Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH).  What Maurice brought to my life as an actor and still does has been wonderful, and on the other side of that you’ve got Peter Bergman, who is like a real brother to me now, and we’re really close.  It’s a nice comradery between everybody in the category.  It’s a great group of people to be included with, and aside from the competition part of it, that’s the really cool part.

Photo Credit: JPI

So, let’s talk about your on-screen, mom, Jess Walton (Jill).  I’ve heard you say publicly how much you really like working with her, and she with you.  What can you say about when you do get some scenes with Jess, and get to play that mother-son relationship?

JASON:  That’s another one that you can loop in with all of the other women I’ve worked with.  It’s a different kind of relationship, but talk about a soap icon! Jess Walton is right up there.  She’s a pro, and she’s got this little girl inside that is the sweetest thing alive, and her little giggle.  I can say that relationship is just there with her.  I would love for her to be there more.  If there’s one person that can tell Billy to just, you know what, she’s somebody that can give him a little whipping, and he’d be like, “Okay mom, you’re right.” (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

Finally, you are on this juggernaut of a show that just celebrated yet another milestone, 30 years at #1.  You go from a historic show like GH, to another here at Y&R that keeps celebrating these milestones that nobody will ever overtake.  All of this has to be a ‘pinch yourself’ moment for you?

JASON:  Yeah, I definitely pinch myself.  I think at this moment, all four soaps that are left are having monumental anniversaries and celebrations, because the truth of it is, it’s really incredible what soaps have done in our history.  With playing Patrick on General Hospital, I still look back on that time and that character, and am just so grateful that I was able to bring him to life.  Every once and awhile I wonder what Patrick’s doing.  On the other end of that, to come over to Y&R with a show that is now 30 years at number #1, and the pride that they have, and the support that they have from the network, there’s a real kind of challenge that we have in order to keep that up.  It is not about the slogans, or the glitzy ad campaigns in the magazines that say, “Hey!  We are #1 for 30 years.”  While that’s very important, what’s more important are the people who have gotten us there for the last thirty years.  We have to show them respect by doing the best that we can and continue that. That’s what drives us. You can feel it in the building.  To take on a character like Billy, who has been a part of that for a very long time, there is a pressure that comes with that, but at the same time, there is an excitement of taking on this character and continuing to make him relevant, and a part of this great soap’s history.

So, do you want Billy to end up with Victoria, Phyllis, perhaps Sharon, or someone else? Who do you think has got Katie and is watching the Newmans?  Are you rooting for Jason to receive a Lead Actor nomination for his work on Y&R in 2018?  What do you think about the other sentiments shared by Jason in this interview, and what was your favorite part of our discussion? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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GH icon Genie Francis chats with Michael Fairman about her return to the soap as Laura after being taken off-contract earlier this year. Leave A Comment

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Kate Mansi as Abigail

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