Connect with us

Interviews

THE JEANNE COOPER INTERVIEW – THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS

jean-mainshot.jpgMonday on “The Young and the Restless”, Mrs. “C” took a husband! That’s right; the grand dame of Genoa City married the ever-faithful Murphy in front of friends, families and a schnokered Jill. Just another marvelous moment in the history of one of soaps most valuable treasures… the character of Katherine Chancellor.

For 36 years, Jeanne Cooper has played the “The Duchess” with spunk, spirit and humanity that has made her a daytime legend. And what becomes a legend most? Well, for starters plenty of accolades: A Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series in 2008, something many of us hope she may repeat in 2009. With the Daytime Emmy Award nominations a week away, and Jeanne in the running
for her spectacular turn in the Katherine/ Marge “doppelganger” story 2.0, fans and soap pundits are keeping their fingers crossed that her name is called in the finals. Jeanne had already been given a Lifetime Achievement Award Daytime Emmy in 2004. In 2009 Jeanne was honored with the AFTRA Media and Entertainment Excellence Award for her contribution to American culture.

Now at 80 years old, and better than ever, Jeanne is at the top of her acting game. With powerhouse performances and carrying a front burner storyline for quite some time, Jeanne could not be happier… and neither can legions of “Y&R” fans. I had the pleasure to chat with Jeanne in this revealing, honest, funny, and heartfelt interview to share with you at “On-Air On-Soaps”. The two of us go back many years, and I have always had a very special place in my heart for Jeanne… which enables us to talk about a myriad of subjects! From her thoughts on Katherine’s new hubby… to flipping the Katherine/Jill mother daughter story on its ear… to working with Jess Walton and Brenda Dickson, as her two “Jill’s”…to the young talent in Genoa City…..to the state of the Daytime Emmys…and to her battle with addiction. As you will learn, Jeanne’s proudest accomplishment is set for May 15th when the Springboard Center opens its doors in Texas. Now to revisit the golden moments of Jeanne’s and Katherine’s life, I give you, “The Divine Mrs. C”!

Listen to the audio:

[display_podcast]

MICHAEL:

How has it been working with the other Michael Fairman (Murphy)?

JEANNE:

He is a dear and a good actor. He is very giving, and not a selfish actor at all. He has done a lot of things in his career. He is a pro and comes prepared. The thing of it is, when you work in daytime, and how confusing that is; it has now taken him this long to know that you don’t count on anything for sure. Your 30 lines can be ripped down to two, if we need to for timing. Sometimes, he is so sweet and naïve. It’s hysterical!

wedding.jpgMICHAEL:

Now that Katherine married her new hubby Murphy, do you think it has any staying power or will last?

JEANNE:

With Katherine’s history of husbands, you are bound to die or go somewhere. (She laughs) We just got married and she finds that Murphy makes her happy. Katherine is a person who basically, since her first husband and her original happiness, has never really been a content woman. She has tried to be fair in her power. Looking for happiness at this age and this stage of the game, she finds somebody who is a great deal like Rex, but he is a simpler soul than Rex. She is just grateful that he took care of her and helped her find her identity, and that he believed in her. And if she was Marge, it was OK. If she was Katherine, it was OK. He did things that made her happy. Going to the diner, being a waitress, these things from the other side of the track… Katherine was aware of this side of life. She had empathy for it, for people with middle class economic values. She always cared but she never lived there, but she survived through the kindness of this man. It didn’t matter if he was 22 or 120, and vice versa.

MICHAEL:

Are you glad you have a love interest? Or, did you not envision a simpler man pairing for the grand dame of Genoa City? To me, I never saw Katherine with this type of a guy.

JEANNE:

I agree with what you’re saying. This is like saying, “Your hand can reach across the track”, but it can’t. I don’t think someone who is bait and tackle and fish is what Katherine envisioned for herself. Katherine married him in a sense, to appease him.

MICHAEL:

You are portraying an older citizen having a romance at 80 years old. I think it’s important to tell. How do you feel about the telling of their story, and how are you playing it?

JEANNE:

I feel their differences will make problems. Murphy will realize he just doesn’t fit into that element of life, and that’s all right and it doesn’t hurt him. I think he realizes Katherine can’t do bait and tackle. She has a worldwide industry to run. It’s like Jill said, “Welcome to the world, Murphy. You’re running with the sharks now and you are a fish out of water.” He has got to know that, and he can’t come in with his country bumpkin mentality and settle every argument. Also, don’t forget I am not playing madly in love Katherine; that I found love at this late date in life. I want the audience to say, “She’s not a 100 percent,” but it’s a sweet thing to do. Katherine is not about to become part of a ‘darling’ little couple. She is too powerful for that. I have talked to Maria Arena Bell (Head writer, “Y&R”) about that. Katherine cannot be just satisfied with bait and tackle. I do not think Doris Duke in any way would be happy with someone who drove a cab.

MICHAEL:

You have had such amazing material! For instance, when the show decided it was going to revisit the ‘doppelganger’ storyline, how far ahead did you know about it? And, how did you carry such a heavy workload?

JEANNE:

I knew a month ahead of time. Now I have a week off for the first time in six months. I have been working four weeks in a row, 12 to 14 hour days. I was in the dental chair for five hours getting stuff done that I should have done three months ago!

MICHAEL:

The Katherine/Marge “doppelganger” story was so great! Did you know it was going to turn out this good?

michaelGregoryGang.jpgJEANNE:

Oh, I knew. I felt good about it, and they were recreating something that happened 20 years ago, and out of all of this, and the ‘funeral’ alone, take a look at all the people you had returning to the show. Michael Gregory (Ex-Clint), who has been absent from the show for 20 years, he has been a friend of mine. We have talked two to three times a month for the past 20 years. I would go to New York, and he would go to the Daytime Emmys with me as my escort a lot of times. He comes out here, and we laugh, and we are going to be meeting in Las Vegas next time.

MICHAEL:

Tricia Cast is back as Nina, and this time she is sticking around for awhile!

JEANNE:

Tricia has been flying back and forth from Tennessee, and next time she comes out to tape she is staying with me. She is such a pro. TV Guide’s Michael Logan said years ago, and we did not know how to interpret it back then, but he said, “Of all the actors who can never be identified as daytime divas, but are among the finest ever, are Jeanne Cooper and Tricia Cast.” But, we were not your typical actresses. He said, “How novel of “Y&R” to bring these people forward.”

MICHAEL:

Recently, you were the centerpiece of “Y&R’s” 36th Anniversary episode when Marge was front and center!

JEANNE:

We had Maria Arena Bell (Co-executive producer and head writer, “Y&R”) do the “Our Town” version of Genoa City; having Marge being exhumed and sitting on the couch that was our 36th Anniversary episode. They had so many calls from that.

MICHAEL:

It was an homage!

JEANNE:

Basically, Katherine is the center of the show and she is the color wheel and off of her anything can spin! I can go into anybody’s storyline and be accepted. They can come into mine, but they can’t go into each other’s and be accepted. Maria brought the audience in by saying, “This is Genoa City. This is what the people do and who they are, and it’s this specific group of people in the city.” Where Lynn Latham (ex-executive producer and head writer, “Y&R”) was trying to show breaking news on people you never heard or cared about. Lynn saved us. I don’t care what anyone says, she got us to the top, and then started to make the show it never was meant to be. The ship sailed out of the harbor, and it was a different show, and then made it into something that it wasn’t, and it went down the tube.

mariabell_jeanne.jpgMICHAEL:

How do you like Maria’s writing?

JEANNE:

You are talking about Maria! She trained under Bill Bell Sr. before she married Billy Bell. She has been a highly respected writer in magazines, and what have you. She is the best!

MICHAEL:

What is coming up that fans can look forward to
with Katherine?

JEANNE:

Katherine will be involved with a character coming back to Genoa City who has not been on the show. And, through that character all hell will break loose; business wise, relationship wise… you name it, it will happen. It will affect everybody, and it’s not John Abbott! It’s a real human being. (She laughs) It will shock the shoes off of you on how the person comes back, and why!

MICHAEL:

Jess Walton (Jill) and you…are you glad they split up Katherine and Jill as mother/daughter?

JEANNE:

I did not like it and Maria either. Maria never wanted them to be mother and daughter. I had explained that I never had been happy with it, because it happened in such a ludicrous way. It happened to accommodate others. First, there was Elizabeth Harrower (Ex- Charlotte). She started out as an actress and she was a writer for Bill, until they had a falling out. I wanted Elizabeth to have a last shot at being an actress. She was a brilliant writer. She wrote all the good material for Katherine that every happened. I said, “Isn’t there something?” to Jack Smith (Ex-head writer, “Y&R”), at the time. He said to Elizabeth, who was undergoing chemo at that time, “Do you want to do this?” He put his thinking cap on and this is what he came up with. It was feasible if Katherine was young and crazy and drunk, and had the affair when she was separated from her first husband.

jess_jeanne_knife.jpgMICHAEL:

But you were very vocal about not wanting Katherine to be Jill’s biological mother?

JEANNE:

I never wanted to be her mother, because I thought it would take some of the fire away from their arguments. It was amazing in the soap magazines. They would say, “Jess and Jeanne were televisions super-couple,” and we were. We go back and forth with this off- set in our dressing rooms, and it’s so marvelous to have that kind of fire again. It’s great to be able to create an attitude towards a scene, and that sort of thing.

MICHAEL:

What did you think about the recent cake fight during Billy and Chloe’s wedding, which signaled the reigniting of the Katherine and Jill’s feud?

JEANNE:

We had a fun time between the two of us, and the cake worked for us. It was the turning point and every one was emailing the studio going, “Thank God. Thank God, they are at it again, and they are on the right track!” People absolutely ate it up!

MICHAEL:

Many people want to know if you and Jess Walton are close?

JEANNE:

Jess and I are very close friends. I protect her back, and she protects mine. We are always there for one another, and there is no two ways about it.

MICHAEL:

What about your first Jill, Brenda Dickson, who has seemed to land herself in hot water with the law in Hawaii?

brenda.jpgJEANNE:

Look, I love Brenda and she loves my family. She has known my family for 35 years, and I adore her, but she has a penchant for bad mates. The thing of it is, when we are dealing with Hawaii and the good ole boys, they can gang up on you and you don’t have a chance. I mean, what a dumb thing to do over the house? In Hawaii, law is a whole different thing, and forget the court system. Brenda never did anything to me, but to love me and be a friend. I loved her and I was her friend. When any one had problems with her; there was always more than one side to anyone and any story. Of course, she was erratic, but that was Brenda and that made her Jill.  Bill saw that, and John Conboy (Ex-executive producer, “Y&R”) to this day will tell you, “That’s Jill!” However, Jess Walton has done a hell of a job of doing the part her way.

MICHAEL:

You turned 80 years old this past October, won a Daytime Emmy last June, was honored with an AFTRA award at the beginning of 2009, and the head storyline of your career on soaps. Quite a thrilling time for you! What do you want people to know about turning 80?

80thblowout.jpgJEANNE:

I wanted people to know that age is just a number. It cannot stop you and you certainly can’t do a sprint like when you were younger, but that’s not what you are all about when you are 80, either. If you are productive, breathing, talking, and have something exciting to look forward to every day of your life, or try to, that is a good way to live. But, if you think you were 39 one day, and now you are 80 and life is passing you by, that is not a good way to think of it. It is the date you were born. It’s not to celebrate how long ago you were born, but that you were born. That’s all a birthday means to me.

MICHAEL:

How did you celebrate your 80th birthday?

JEANNE:

Lee Bell (co-creator, “Y&R” and “B&B”) set something up and it smacked of Lauralee Bell (Ex-Christine, “Y&R), too. What they did was have a birthday party for me. It was business and loveable people that I like in the business. No one was invited for the sake of “they better be invited.”

MICHAEL:

The guys on the show… you have a special connection it seems with many of them!

JEANNE:

Don Diamont (Ex- Brad, now Bill, “B&B”) is my sweet baby, and Doug Davidson (Paul). They are like my other two sons! Michael Graziadei (Daniel), Greg Rikaart (Kevin), who is a dreamboat, and Billy Miller (Billy), are so reminiscent of our guys when they were younger. We have that mature younger group now. I love doing scenes with the kids.

MICHAEL:

Speaking of the younger set, you and Adrienne Frantz (Amber) sparkle together!

AdrienneJeane.jpgJEANNE:

Adrienne is probably one of the finest talents I have worked with. She has been a dedicated professional. She is prepared, and she knows what she is going to do and she does not change it, because it’s well thought out before she performs. She is typically of that group that is wild and woolly, and has a great time. I have to keep saying to her, “Make sure you get some rest.”

MICHAEL:

Do you think Amber is really related to Katherine?

JEANNE:

I have often wondered if Amber is my grandchild because of my affinity for her. I just fell in love with this kid and her work. She is so damn talented, and she is a redeemable character. They won out, because we had such good chemistry working together. Maria saw that and now totally writes for it. She has Katherine have her favorites… like little Kevin. Katherine likes slightly demented people, because that is the kind of person she was.

MICHAEL:

You know, Katherine Chancellor is more popular than any of the younger kids on the soaps!

JEANNE:

I will tell you, Maria Bell by integrating and putting an older person out there in a major role, delivered ratings more so than other great ideas that went south.

MICHAEL:

What have you thought of Greg Rikaart’ flawless performances during his storyline with “Stockholm Syndrome”?

greg_jeanne.jpgJEANNE:

Greg is consummate. He has the material to play and did an unbelievable job

MICHAEL:

What is it about Michael Graziadei that you think pops off the screen?

JEANNE:

Michael Graziadei reminds me of movie stars in the heyday, like a young Paul Newman… that’s where he would fall. Graziadei is poised and focused. He could have a small part in a scene, but he will have a beginning and middle and an end to it. I love to watch him grow on our show. He is a light-hearted, and a dirty kid. (She laughs)

MICHAEL:

Have you always wanted to be a successful actress?

JEANNE:

I never wanted to be a star! I wanted to be an actress. “Star” is so temporary, and an actress is a way of life. When you think of Glenn Close or Shirley MacClaine you don’t say, “Movie star”… you say, “actress”. A movie star has a hell of a chore to make sure she is botoxed, and stitched together right, and is terribly glamorous, and has “T&A”. After her time is gone, if they keep attempting it, they get laughed at. So, she better know how to act. An actress is a way of life. Being a star is a selfish and acheivabable way of life, temporarily

MICHAEL:

Who are Jeanne’s acting idols?

JEANNE:

Ava Gardner was a good actress. She was a very down to earth human being, it was no b**s with her. You would watch Ingrid Bergman. You saw how she knew what she was doing, and she just happened to be beautiful. She never, ever met the criteria of movie star, but that is what she was. I think that Simone Signoret was wonderful, and Olivia De Havilland was great, too.

MICHAEL:

You were honored by AFTRA! How cool is that?

JEANNE:

I am as old as AFTRA, and its true! They are 80, too! As an actress, you have to be protected by a union, fighting for the rights and upholding it. It’s important for pensions and things later in life, and a fair shake with all the new media that is emerging right now.

emmy.jpgMICHAEL:

You are up for a pre-nomination at the Daytime Emmys for Lead Actress, and we will find out if you made the final cut on May 14th. What did you submit?

JEANNE:

It was a combination of Katherine and Marge. It was a ‘dive’ scene. Marge was drunk. You know, they changed the rules and you are only allowed one show now.

MICHAEL:

What do you think about the fact that the Emmys were not going to
be broadcast at all, by any major network that carry soaps, before
the CW stepped in?

JEANNE:

I think it’s degrading. I think it’s unacceptable, and I am humiliated and offended. I will tell you why. Daytime kept the three big fat networks alive for so many years while they jerked around so many pilots a year that were never sold. They used up the tremendous revenue of the 70’s and 80s that we brought them, so that they could afford to jerk around. And that’s how I feel about it.

MICHAEL:

CBS did not want to air them and it was their turn this year, and they currently have four soaps on the air!

JEANNE:

How about that? It was CBS’s time and they did not do it. I can see why NBC would pass, and I understand that. I would much rather have a luncheon and let the Academy handle it, and it’s not televised, and the press and the nominees, and the presenters are there. I never approved of them of going nighttime, ever! They did it because it made them a fortune, and when it stopped, they did not want anything to do with it.

MICHAEL:

“Y&R” is doing better right now than it has in awhile. Why do you think?

JEANNE:

At a time when unemployment is like it is, usually entertainment prospers. We picked up some new viewers, and that is Maria’s hard work. We have picked up some new viewers and proved a point.

mf_queenfaces.jpgMICHAEL:

What was the point of Katherine’s Restless Style photo shoot?

JEANNE:

I don’t know and I don’t ask questions. It was about Katherine being the Queen of Many Faces, and that is because of her life, and her storyline. She is the Queen of Genoa City and The Queen of Many Faces.

MICHAEL:

Of the 36 years you have been on “Y&R”, do you have a favorite storyline?

JEANNE:

I loved it when Katherine got drunk and threw herself over the ship, and got picked up by Felipe and hauled off into the jungle, where she was very, very, happy. I thought that is whom they would find for me now, Felipe, but 20 years older and extremely rich. He came to Genoa City because when he took me to be picked up by the consulate, he was hiding from the Cuban people who wanted his skin! What a great thing that would have been for Katherine! And Katherine could have felt a little more intimidated by him rather than Murphy being intimidated by Katherine.

MICHAEL:

How much of Jeanne is Katherine?

JEANNE:

Katherine is a control freak, but I have taken a lot of her strength in my later years. Basically, I am very empathetic to situations and people. I feel for my country right now and pathos I have never felt. I am a product of the depression in many ways, and so is any one who is 75 years old and over.

facelift.jpgMICHAEL:

You broke new ground on daytime with the first cosmetic facelift. Looking back, what did you think of that decision to let the cameras see you so raw in real-life?

JEANNE:
It was probably one of the best things I ever did for people! So many people did not have the courage; not only to get their facial stuff done, but to have reconstructive surgery. I was doing it because gravity was yelling, and I said, “I’m coming. I’m coming,” and by doing so, it achieved so much good from it. It took the stigma away from saying you have to look like you are falling apart because you are getting older. I broke down barriers .

MICHAEL:

What are you most proud of?

JEANNE:

I think my proudest moment will be coming up in Midland, Texas, in the middle of May, where not even two years ago there was bare ground, and now there is a three million dollar structure called the Springboard Center, which is a center for addiction. I am the spokesperson for the center. To see a structure that has patients in it, and to try and restore human beings and give their souls back to them and become productive people, is so fulfilling for me. Hopefully, it will become a franchise. It’s important that you stay there to find out why you do what you do. Their website is www.springboardcenter.com. You know, I played the alcoholic and then they sobered up Katherine, and I started drinking!

MICHAEL:

It was life imitating art?

JEANNE:

I started drinking after I decided I was not meant to be married to the man I was with. I would have panic attacks and my guts tied up… and then brandy hit it, and it relaxed the muscle. Pretty soon the stomach started calling for the brandy, and it was not difficult to fall into it all. However, it was “Y&R’s” creator Bill Bell Sr, and my son who said, “You have to stop this.” Thank God, somebody knew I needed help.

MICHAEL:

Katherine’s granddaughter is back on air in the form of Clementine Ford. How do you think she is doing as the “new” Mac?

JEANNE:

She almost has it coming around, and it takes time to walk into a new role or a recast. She has a slight saltiness, which is good for Mackenzie. Clementine is delightful. I am enjoying watching her.

MICHAEL:

How is working with Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki), who on-air is Katherine’s best friend?

JEANNE:

It’s like a soft glove, and a comfortable house, and deep respect… and vice-versa.

JeanneCooperFace.jpgMICHAEL:

What would you still love to do as Katherine?

JEANNE:

I would really like to see her open an orphanage stateside; rescuing the nine and the ten year olds, and for her to do something good with her money, and take in the boys and girls who are going to be in foster homes.

MICHAEL:

Katherine wrote a book. Would you, Jeanne Cooper write your memoirs?

JEANNE:

Yeah. I might. Telling on people is not my way of dealing with things, but some of the interesting stories might be good, so
there is a possibility. We will see!

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Cady McClain & Rob Scott Wilson Talk Being Recasts, All My Children Reboot, Future of Cin & Jennifer’s Bitch-Slap

Current Days of our Lives and former All My Children reboot stars, Cady McClain (Jennifer, Days, Ex-Dixie, AMC) and Rob Scott Wilson (Ben, Days, Ex-Pete AMC) chat with Michael Fairman in an enlightening and exclusive conversation for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

McClain, who recently took over the role of Days of our Lives beloved heroine Jennifer Horton from mainstay Melissa Reeves (who chose to stay with her family in Nashville during Covid-19 thus forcing the series to recast the role for now) talks about stepping into the key part of the Salem canvas, plus the recent Jennifer/Kate fight over Jack (Matthew Ashford), and how the legacy series is coping with production during Covid-19.

Cady is no stranger to be a recast.  She was the second actress to play Dixie on ABC’s All My Children, as well as the second actress to play Rosanna on As the World Turns, and she had previously taken over the role of Kelly Andrews on The Young and the Restless.

Photo: JPI

Rob, talks about landing the role of Ben and being a recast, and in an emotional moment, reveals how he credits the opportunity to the late producer, Lisa de Cazotte. Wilson also shares his hopes for his Salem alter-ego who is struggling to move on with his life after the supposed death of his wife, Ciara.

The actor also opens up on if DAYS decided to recast the role of Ciara, since Victoria Konefal is not presently with the NBC soap full-time, how he would feel about it and thus the future of Cin.

Photo: JPI

Both Cady and Rob first appeared together in Prospect Park’s online revival of All My Children. In this interview, they discuss how they had high hopes for the continuation of the series, how it ultimately fizzled, and what it was like to be a part of the then, groundbreaking first, for a daytime drama series along with One Life to Live.

Photo: TOLN

In addition, Cady gives the viewer insight on how she runs lines for both DAYS and GH at home with her real-life husband, Jon Lindstrom (Kevin and Ryan, GH), while Rob talks about his recent storyline where Ben was kidnapped and tortured by a vengeful Eve (Kassie DePavia) and much more.

Check out the full chat with Cady and Rob below. Then weigh-in: How would you feel if there was a Ciara recast? What are your hopes for the holidays for Jennifer? What did you think of the stories shared by Cady and Rob in the interview? Comment below, and if you have not done so already make sure to “subscribe” to the Michael Fairman Channel for more celebrity interviews.

Continue Reading

Interviews

B&B’s Matthew Atkinson Weighs-In On Daytime’s Wildest Storyline, The Hope Mannequin & What’s Really Going On With Thomas

If you think you’ve seen it all on daytime soap operas, think again! Over the past several weeks viewers of CBS Daytime’s The Bold and the Beautiful have been witness to fashion designer Thomas Forrester’s (Matthew Atkinson) descent into madness, or is it?

In B&B’s thriller-esque storyline, complete with tight close-ups and tilted angles of Thomas and his co-star, the Hope Mannequin – yup, you read that right, the series is taking the audience on one wild ride, something we have not seen the likes of since back in the hey day of the late head writer, James Reilly, during his tenure on Days of our Lives or Passions.

Photo: JPI

Inspired by, believe it or not, true life events, B&B’s head writer and executive producer, Brad Bell and his creative team have served up a story generated off all of the buzz the show was receiving for using mannequins as scene partners for the actors in intimate moments to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.  B&B was the first American show back in production amid the pandemic.

 

Within this twisted tale, Thomas has the life-like version of Hope Logan Spencer (Annika Noelle) at home with him.  Those who have stumbled upon him with the mannequin, well, he has been able to explain that away by saying that having the doll with him is helping him create some of the best designs of his career.

The problem is the mannequin is talking to Thomas, it’s eyes have often turned devil-red, and on Friday’s episode it walked!  It’s objective is to get Thomas to kill Liam (Scott Clifton) and to get Hope back to be his one and only. Throughout many of the scenes in the storyline, Thomas suffers from what appears to be severe headaches.  All of this leading the audience to believe either … he has a brain tumor … he is being drugged … he is suffering from a severe mental break and disorder, or something else.

Photo: JPI

In a very candid and often humorous conversation with Michael Fairman for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Thomas’ portrayer, Matthew Atkinson, discusses some of the craziest scenes to shoot thus far including Thomas having dinner with the mannequin!  In addition, Atkinson reveals how he and Annika Noelle tape the scenes where she is the voice of the Hope mannequin while adhering to safety protocols,  and how Liam is the only one, apparently, thinking something is off with Thomas, and so much more.

Photo: Gilles Toucas

One thing is for certain, Matthew Atkinson is sinking his teeth into the material and making it must-see daytime drama through his performances while we all wait to see what the possessed mannequin does next.

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

Then let us know, what do you think is happening or wrong with Thomas? Are you getting a kick out of the Hope Mannequin storyline? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

 

 

Continue Reading

Interviews

Eric Nelsen Talks Latest Film, Becoming a Tony-Nominated Producer, ‘The Bay’, and His Elizabeth Gillies & Ariana Grande Connection

You can catch All My Children reboot alum, Eric Nelsen (Ex-AJ Chandler), just about everywhere this month, and that’s hard to do given that we are all living in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this Daytime Emmy-winning actor has his hands in a myriad of projects of late including: appearing on season six of The Bay (new episodes every Tuesday on Popstar! TV) where he continues to play Daniel’s journey after the character has come to terms with his sexuality and finds love, plus his comedic turn in the film, 1 Night in San Diego, and recently becoming a Tony-nominated producer along with his wife Sainty for the critically-acclaimed, and now 11 times nominated Broadway play, The Inheritance.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Eric to get the lowdown on his busy professional life, and we were in for some surprises along the way including: what the producers of AMC had in mind for the character of AJ that ultimately did not happen, and that Eric starred on Broadway with Elizabeth Gillies (Fallon, Dynasty) and Pop superstar, Ariana Grande – and there’s more to that story below.

 

What makes Nelsen so good at what he does on-screen is that he is a like a chameleon; adept at playing the quirky, to the troubled bad boys, to the emotional heart-tugging anti-hero. So here’s what Eric had to say in this fascinating conversation.

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

Your latest film appearance in 1 Night in San Diego is out this week on multiple streaming on-demand platforms from: Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and more. Tell me about the movie and when did you film this?

ERIC:  We filmed it near San Diego, not this past February, but last February, and it’s hilarious.  It’s a female-driven comedy.  The cast is incredible.  Alexandra Daddario, who is just epic, and Jenna Ushkowitz, and Laura Ashley Samuels, they truly bring it in this powerhouse comedy, and it’s just one of those make-you -laugh movies from beginning to end, just silly, stupid stuff happening the whole time.  General Hospital’s Mark Lawson (Dustin) is also in the film.  While we don’t work in scenes together, I did get a chance to meet him and he’s a really great guy.  I play this off-the-wall character, named Gordo, who is a real burn-out, think Matthew McConaughey meets space cadet, which was a lot of fun to play.  Gordo is a great role.  I had more fun with this part than I’ve had in a long time.  So, it was cool to throw a comedy into all of the drama I have been playing in my other projects.

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

ERIC:  One of the girls knew him back in the day, so they were in town looking to reconnect, and she’s like, “Oh, we want to party and let’s hit up Gordo,” and they do.  He has just gone completely off the rails, off the deep end with spirituality and kind of in his own world. They find themselves in quite a predicament when they come visit what they didn’t know was a commune, basically.  Gordo creates this hippie commune for a bunch of outcast musicians, (laughs) and I don’t want to give too much away, but a lot of interesting stuff happens there.

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

In addition, you are now a Tony-nominated producer for the play The Inheritance!

ERIC: That was crazy, because it’s always been a dream of mine to produce for Broadway.  That was how I got into the world of film and TV acting, which was through the theatre.  That’s where I started.  I was lucky enough to star on Broadway when I was 16 and 17, in a musical called, 13.  I started with Ariana Grande! It was so fun.

Wait, what?

ERIC:  Yeah, that was her first big show, and Elizabeth Gillies’.

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

ERIC:  Oh yeah, and you know she and I dated for two and a half years during the whole run of the show 13.  Elizabeth is very talented.   She is amazing.  The funny part of it is, we were dating forever, and kind of had a bad breakup, and then Sainty, my wife, gets cast in her show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, in the pilot to play Liz’s best friend on the series.  So, all of the sudden, I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, out of all the shows, all of the things, this is who you have to get cast as best friends with?” and so they actually became really, really, close friends.  So, I’d actually come home from work or filming, and Liz would be on my couch sitting there giggling with Sainty.  I’m like, “This is just becoming too much.  This is a full-circle moment here.  I can’t deal.” (Laughs)

Now, you and Elizabeth are broken up at this point?

ERIC:  Yes.  We had been broken up at this point.  Sainty and I were actually together.  I started dating Sainty in New York and the pilot she was shooting was in New York, and she gets cast as Liz’s best friend, and I was like, “Oh, of course.”

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

ERIC:  Yes, so dying.  Dying.   You know, it’s just one of those things that in a million years, you would never expect this to happen, and of course, Sainty and her had to become best friends in real life because they’re both great girls, and naturally, they would be friends, but now, I’m like this guy stuck in the middle who can’t believe what’s happening, and thought that was one chapter, and this is a different chapter, and now the chapters are combining.  It’s kind of a comedy act.

Photo: JPI

Since Ariana Grande was on Broadway with you and Liz, what was she like back then before her meteoric rise to fame?

ERIC:  Ariana was literally the sweetest, most innocent, and cutest – like my little sister.   To me, it was like, Liz and I were dating, and Ari was kind of like the little sister.  All of a sudden the show ended. Ariana got a Nickelodeon show, and after that, she became the most famous person in the world and was like this sex icon, and I couldn’t get over it.   She’s always had that talent with her voice and in 13 she was an ensemble member.  She wasn’t even one of the leads, but her voice was so incredible, even then as a young teenager.  I thought she was going to go on to have this great Broadway career as an actress and do musicals her whole life just because of her voice.  Then, all of the sudden, right after the musical, we all auditioned for the same Nickelodeon show.  I ended up going to the finals for the boyfriend role, Liz got the girlfriend role, and Ari got the funny friend on the show role.  That kind of catapulted them into the TV world, and Ari got a spinoff because of her character on that show for another Nickelodeon show, called Sam and Cat, and then after Sam and Cat, she went from this innocent, sweet, little Nickelodeon girl that I knew to being the biggest star.  It was unbelievable to me.

Photo: Broadway World

So, you started on Broadway as a teenager, and you found you always wanted to produce for the Great White Way? 

ERIC:  Yes, I did the Broadway thing, and then I got into film and TV, and then I got into film and TV producing.  As an actor, there are a lot of ups, a lot of downs.  So, in between the ups, I wanted to fill my time, so I got into producing, and I loved it.  I loved creating.  As an actor, we just show up, and everything is already done.  All we have to do is say our lines.  We get pampered, and we go home, but I wanted to know how it got to that point, like what happens before that.  So, I started producing film and found some success doing that, and it was so much fun for me.  Sainty’s and my first love, and what feels like home, is theatre.  So, I wanted to take it full circle and produce a Broadway show.  I just thought that would be such an incredible moment, and so that’s what I did.  I started emailing all of the Broadway producers who I had worked with as an actor, letting them know what I had been doing, kind of the success I had gotten from producing The Bay and some of these other things. Different shows came across my desk that I didn’t quite bite the bullet on, a couple of which I wish I would have, Dear Evan Hansen being one of them.  I would have been so rich by now!  (Laughs)

I just want to clarify for people who might not know, the word “producer” can mean different things.  There are “producers” who are putting money in … they’re backing projects or shows.  There are other people who are “producers” on the creative side of projects.  So, when you’re talking about producing a Broadway show, it is as an investor?

ERIC:  So for theatre, unless you’re the head producer who kind of gets creative control, every other producer listed in the credits is basically helping raise finances and is also very heavily involved in the process of everything else along the way, which is also what makes it special.  So finally, The Inheritance came across our desk, and it checked every single box.  It was just an epic play.  It’s a two-part play, and it’s just hours and hours and hours long.  You see it in multiple days or in multiple shows.  I remember reading the script and not stopping until I finished.  I was like, “This is amazing,” and it had just come off of a huge commercial successful run in London.  It won the Olivier Award for “Best New Play” and just about every other award you could win, and so I was like, “This is the one.  This is incredible.  I love the piece, love the message, and pulled the trigger,” and I would have done it all over again if we could.

Photo: Broadway World

The Inheritance is a generational piece centering on gay men during the AIDS crisis.  What can you say about it to those who don’t know about it, or have not seen it yet?

ERIC:  It takes place in the past, and then it fasts forward to the future.  You see two generations of gay men in New York City, and it’s all about the AIDS crisis, and so you’re bawling crying, and then you’re laughing throughout it.  It’s just one of those epic plays that pulls at every single emotion and you feel like you’re watching a movie.

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s definitely its own thing.  It’s actually an adaptation of Howard’s End, the novel by Forster, definitely different from Angels in America, but the two-part show is kind of what I was meaning by that.  People have said it is kind of our generation’s Angel’s in America in tone and subject matter.  It was just a dream come true, and like all other theatre that was open during our season, it had to close because of the pandemic, and it will have life after Broadway.  We are already slated for the Geffen Playhouse in LA, so I’m very excited for all of my LA friends and the public to get to see it.

Courtesy/ENelsen

And you get nominated in the year that the coronavirus pandemic shut down live theatre! But it is my understanding we still do not have a date for handing out this year’s Tony Awards.

ERIC:  No, we do not.  They finally announced that they were going to announce nominations, and for a while we didn’t even know that they were going to do that.  We received 11 nominations, which is incredible.  We were so excited.  I truly thought the American Theatre Wing and the Tony committee were not going to do the Tonys at all, and so we were just like, “I can’t believe the one year we pull the trigger on the show, this isn’t going to happen for us,” but then thank God, they came to their senses.  There were plenty of shows that opened and needed to be recognized.

How long was it open on Broadway?

ERIC:  We were open from September 2019 through February or March.  So, as long as your submission was open on Broadway before Covid-19 and had at least all of its previews and an opening night before Covid-19 hit, then you could qualify, and then in the play category, there were like 10 plays that had opened last year that were contenders.  So, that was definitely the hardest category.   It will be interesting to see what happens after all of this.  The only good thing I know that is going to come from this is the amount of creatives who have had so much time sitting at home to create and write, that there will be so many new scripts and plays and musicals that are going to come from this.  I think it’s’ going to be the biggest boom that we’ve probably ever seen in theatre, just because there’s been so much time to develop stuff.  At the same time, it’s piggybacking on the darkest time that theatre has ever seen.

Throughout the pandemic, I always stream all of the Broadway Actor’s Fund events.  It’s really sad.  It’s just a difficult time, those in the arts are struggling and especially in the live theatre and also musicians who can’t tour or play gigs in front of an audience. I know they said Broadway is closed through May 31, 2021.

ERIC:  It is really hard.  I’m happy that we are able to find other ways like streaming shows.  I’m actually producing a big benefit for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS that will be airing on World AIDS Day, December 1st.  It’s a show called Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.  The cast we have is everybody from Nathan Lane, to Academy Award winner J. K. Simmons.  It’s insane.  It will be streaming online on the Broadway HD network.  It is a huge list of Broadway stars and a lot of movie and TV stars as well that are participating.  We’ve got people from all over the map.

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

ERIC:  (Laughs)  Ari is not in it, actually!

Photo: Prospect Park

So, in this week’s latest episode of The Bay, your character of Daniel Garrett makes his final choice for love between Caleb (Mike Manning) and Matthew (Randy Wayne).  When you came to the show, did you know that this part was going to wind-up being a gay character?

ERIC:  No, I did not.  I think I dropped a bird in Gregori Martin’s (creator, The Bay) ear by telling him that before All My Children ended, they were going to have my character of AJ Chandler have a storyline where he is gay.  The producers sat me down and talked through an entire storyline arc with me.  Basically, Ginger Smith (ex-executive producer, All My Children) and Alison, our casting director, and one other person from the show, took me to lunch in New York. They pitched me what they wanted to do for my character, and asked me if I would be comfortable with it, and they wanted my opinion, everything.  It was really cool how they approached it, and I was like, “100% completely.”  I look at what Chandler Massey (Ex-Will Horton) did on Days and where that brought him and his storyline, and I thought, “Yes, there’s going to be so much more depth and stuff to play than just being this fun little rich kid.”  At the time, there really wasn’t much depth to AJ.  So, I was like, “Yes.  I will be all over it.  Absolutely.”  So, I told Gregori that, and I don’t know if he already had something in his mind or not, or if that influenced it at all, but maybe he just figured that was something that would work well, and up till that point, I guess they didn’t really have that on the show.  Regardless, no, I wasn’t aware that that was the direction it was going in, but I was really happy with my storyline and it’s grown a lot since then, and in this current season especially.  It’s really given me an arc to play, which I’ve enjoyed.

Photo: LANYEntertainment

So for those who may not know let’s do a re-set.  Where is the character of Daniel at? It seems like he is at crossroads, and is making some important decisions, or trying to.

ERIC:  So Daniel was a wild party boy in the beginning, just head in the clouds, lives life with thinking there’s no repercussions and just doing what you want to do all of the time, and that got him into a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol. Then, we realize why Daniel has been the way he is, and why he acts out, and why he has been so all over the place, and it’s because he hasn’t been able to come to terms with who he is.  Then, he admits it to himself and for the first time to somebody else – who happens to be his priest in a catholic church, ironically –  that he is gay and this is what he has been battling with.  For the first time (and I don’t know where on television it has depicted it this way), but the catholic priest looks at Daniel, and he’s like, “What’s your sin?  You haven’t sinned.  This is perfectly fine.”  So, I love that Gregori made that the outlet for which Daniel was able to basically come to terms with who he was, because he grew up in the church, and so he was always told that it was wrong.  Obviously, it’s not wrong, or obviously the church needs to change their mindset, but on The Bay, he chose that to be the outlet through which he came out, which I thought was really powerful.  Through that, Daniel experimented with other boys and such to figure out where he wanted to land, and then in this newest season, I can’t say much that gives anything away, but for the first time, we really see Daniel’s growth, and he’s making decisions, and the most mature we’ve ever seen him, and it’s been really cool to see that come full circle.  He’s making commitments to himself.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

ERIC:  Obviously, that’s who it works with,  Caleb is a teacher and a great guy.

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

ERIC:  He is… he’s just not the great guy for him.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

This season of The Bay is heavily steeped with social issues of our time.  Covid-19 has come to Bay City and the Black Lives Matter movement also plays prominently.

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s kind of the beginning of the pandemic in The Bay and within all of the intense drama that Daniel has been having, he is still, for all intent and purposes the comedic relief of the show, and so there is a funny scene where I’m carrying like 28,000 rolls of toilet paper like, “Come on, guys.  We’ve got to stock up!”  We all remember those days, don’t we?

Photo: JPI

How do you feel about this season of the show and your work in it? You’ve previously won a Daytime Emmy for your performances on The Bay.

ERIC:  This season is more cemented in a character that has truly grounded himself.  So, the first Emmy I won was for a storyline of coming out and uncertainty and struggle and pain, whereas this season Daniel knows what he wants and is going for it.  There is much more passion and love in this season for Daniel, as opposed to struggle and heartache.

The cast and crew of The Bay all went away and quarantined at this ranch this past summer to get the new season completed.  What was that like?

ERIC:  We were actually in Santa Barbara, and filmed on this epic ranch up there.  It’s like this 500-acre ranch that we all quarantined on.  We had to do the testing, and temperatures three times a day, and the whole thing.  So, it was really structured, tough to pull off, but we were all so grateful that we were able to do this.  Luckily, we had this incredible kind of bubble of a ranch to live and work on while we were shooting.  They were really good about block shooting it all, so we’d kind of shoot one person’s character, then the next, so we wouldn’t have to ever be leaving the ranch before we were done.

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

ERIC:  Oh, it’s amazing.  I just can’t believe how fast the time is flying by because of it.  We just had Molly’s first birthday on October 1st, and I feel like yesterday she was born.  I sound like my parents when I say this, but it’s like the time keeps getting faster, but it’s so true.  She’s awesome.  We play Broadway musical soundtracks to her all day, and she sings.  She sits at the piano with me when I play, and she kind of plunks notes out next to me.  She loves music, and we’ve introduced it to her from day one.  We always joke that she won’t be able to watch any of daddy’s stuff until she’s 18 probably, but Sainty is a voice-over actress.  She has done parts for animated films and TV shows such as Trolls, and Barbie, and Boss Baby, so everything from the first part of my daughter’s life is all going to be Mommy’s stuff, and then, in the later part of life she can start watching Daddy’s stuff.

Right, she can’t watch anything that you do!  (Laughs) So, basically forget that!

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

Check out the trailer for 1 Night in San Diego below.  Then share your thoughts on Eric’s current role on The Bay, if you hope he wins a Tony to go with his Daytime Emmy, the six degrees of separation between him, Elizabeth Gillies and his wife, and that the All My Children reboot considered making the character of AJ Chandler gay via the comment section below.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Video du Jour

B&B’s Matthew Atkinson chats with Michael Fairman about the wild ride of the Thomas/Hope Mamnequin storyline currently on The Bold and the Beautiful.Leave A Comment

The Michael Channel

Recent Comments

Advertisement

Power Performance

William deVry as Julian

General Hospital

Airdate: 11-20-2020

Advertisement

Popular