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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:

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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!

Interviews

Y&R’s Melody Thomas Scott Talks on 45 Years as Nikki Newman, the Keys to Playing Drunk, And Those Genoa City Relationships

February is ‘Nikki Newman Month’ in soapland as the The Young and the Restless iconic Melody Thomas Scott celebrates her 45th anniversary in her leading role.

My how time flies! Nikki has had numerous marriages, and some to the same man, battled her addiction to alcohol too many times to count (and we loved it all), and faced so much heartache in the process.

Currently, on all-new episodes of the top-rated CBS daytime drama series, Nikki can’t quite get a grip as Jordan (Colleen Zenk) is out there and in the middle of her next master plot to make Nikki suffer, all the while Nikki is drinking again. Thanks to the heinous plot concocted by Jordan and Claire (Hayley Erin) that revealed itself last November.

Photo: JPI

In a special conversation for You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Melody shared her thoughts on a myriad of subjects including: her current story, those long tape days at Victor and Nikki’s weddings, why she plays drunk better than anyone on television, plus we take a mini-deep dive into Nikki’s past.

Y&R fans were stunned when the powers-that-be had Nikki kidnapped and then hooked her up to an IV of booze. Just how much did Melody know of the story going in? She elaborated, “I knew Nikki would be terrorized. That’s all that I knew. I thought that sounded like great fun. I didn’t know for a little bit that she was going to fall off the wagon in the process of it. And then when I heard how it would happen, I was thrilled to bits. I did kind of want to have a little leader (or crawl) down at the bottom of the screen saying, ‘Hey, people don’t put an IV with vodka in your arm because that will kill you.’ But, poetic license, I suppose.”

Photo: JPI

Melody also weighed-in on if she thinks Nikki will stop drinking anytime soon, expressing, “She just can’t get out of this. Then of course, Jordan’s not letting her out very easily. Just when Nikki thinks she is mentally strong enough to never take another drink, well, of course she does, because something else happens. I think it’s also a learning point for people who are watching the show who may have an addiction problem. Now, I could be wrong, but I think it’d be highly unusual for somebody to be just mentally strong to be able to stop.”

If you wondered if Melody enjoys playing a drunk Nikki, look no more, “I do. That’s simply for selfish reasons,” she shared. “That’s for my enjoyment. I take great pleasure in it. It’s fun for me, and just the process of pretending to be drunk. I love the end result. I try not to do too much because there’s nothing worse when an actor is overplaying drunk. So you have to kind of keep it a little bit underneath (the surface). However, sometimes because of Jordan, Nikki does get much sloppier than I normally would play it.”

Photo: JPI

In recent episodes, it seems that Jack (Peter Bergman) and Nikki are gravitating more to each other, as both are drawn together through their shared experiences with addiction. Victor (Eric Braeden) is not happy that his arch-nemesis is helping Nikki try to stay sober. Could Melody see Jack and Nikki becoming romantic again? “I love Peter. I mean, Peter was my second favorite husband on Y&R. It would be wonderful, but I don’t know if the fans would go for that,” she explained. “They’re so invested in Niktor that I think they would really be upset about that unless Victor did something really crummy, then I could buy that.”

Photo: JPI

One of the more ‘out there’ stories during Melody’s 45-year run, was when Nikki was paired with Crazy Edward, and he took her home to meet his mother … who was in an urn! You would think maybe Melody didn’t like the story .. but think again! “Bill Bell (co-creator, Y&R) was writing the show in those days, and Bill kept that information pretty tight. I don’t remember us knowing even a week in advance. Maybe, we would get our scripts, three or four days in advance and that was it. You knew nothing about future story, but I loved the story,” she raved. “It was almost Hitchcockian, shall we say. The actor who played Crazy Edward, Paul Tulley was so magnificent and such a sweetheart. We loved working with each other so much, but man, when that red light came on the camera, he scared the you-know-what out of me. He was absolutely terrifying. But then, the minute the scene was over, we’re fooling around and laughing and everything. He was so good. So good!”

Photo: JPI

According to Melody, the pairing of Victor and Nikki was not something she, nor Eric Braeden, initially thought would made sense: “I was a little terrified when I heard that he and I would be doing scenes. I thought, ‘What, what?’ He also wondered, ‘What am I going to be doing working with that young kid, that snotty kid?’ We had no idea what Bill Bell saw. He had a vision with us and somehow knew that we would have chemistry. It didn’t take Bill long to show us in the scripts why he put us together. Then, we started to see it. Although, it was hard to imagine at first, certainly we knew it worked by the time Nikki had baby number one during the ‘Who’s the father?’ storyline. Nikki and Victor weren’t even married yet. So, we did figure it out pretty early on.”

Photo: JPI

From her early years as Nikki Reed, Melody reflected back on some major story points in her character’s history, relating, “I actually did like her in the very beginning when she was just a little brat living with her sister and her father, who of course ended up trying to rape her…  and she had hit him over the head with a lamp … and he died. I did not care for the stripping storyline at all. Only because I knew that I didn’t have the natural dancing ability. I wasn’t fluid enough to really look good up there stripping. I know they hired wonderful choreographers and everything for me, but I just didn’t feel worthy of being up there … I guess is what it was. Of course, now I look back on it and I think, ‘Oh, I guess it wasn’t too bad.’ Later, there was a strip she did in the Colonnade Room. At the time, she was married to Jack. Victor’s sitting there with some other woman and she’s drunk. I saw that scene recently, and I thought it was great. I didn’t at the time, but looking back, I thought, ‘Wow, that was good.'”

Photo: CBS

Watch the full 45th anniversary conversation with Melody below.

Now let us know, are you enjoying Nikki being back on the bottle? Would you want to see Jack and Nikki try their relationship one more time? What has been your favorite storyline of Melody’s over the last 45 years on Y&R.  Let us know in the comment section.

 

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Days Of Our Lives

Days of our Lives Legendary Susan Seaforth Hayes Talks on the Horton House Fire Storyline, Mourning the Loss of Husband Bill Hayes & His Near-to-Final Performances

It has been an emotional time for longtime fans of Days of our Lives and beloved veteran, Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie Williams). On-screen, the iconic Horton home was burned to the ground in what appears to be a storyline-dictated decision that shocked many. In real life, Susan is mourning the loss of her husband and DAYS enduring favorite, Bill Hayes (Doug Williams), who passed away at 98 in January. Over the weekend, during the 2024 SAG Awards In Memoriam tribute, Hayes was remembered along with other motion pictures and television stars whom we lost over the past year.

Since the Peacock streaming soap opera tapes months ahead of air, the Horton home fire and its aftermath are currently playing out in all-new episodes with more on this story featuring Susan to come. Bill Hayes also appeared in several of these episodes making it all the more touching and heartfelt.

When Julie came back to the Horton home to see what remained of it after the fire, Days of our Lives fans were treated to a heart-tugging episode that streamed last Wednesday, February 21st. In it, newly-taped scenes of a young Tom (Zach Chyz) and Alice (Sydney Kathrann Smith) Horton telling the story of how they came to live in the house to raise their children, juxtaposed with Julie and Doug (and members of their family and friends), surveying what’s left of the beloved house, brought many a tear.

Michael Fairman TV talked with Susan Seaforth Hayes for this very candid and heartfelt conversation to get her feelings on the Horton house fire, and being given the opportunity to have a storyline at this point in her storied career. In addition, Susan provides some insight on what it was like for her ailing late husband to tape scenes at DAYS shortly before his death, what the series plans to do about writing off the character of Doug while honoring the legacy of Bill Hayes, and how she knew she had the greatest love affair that anyone could hope for in their lifetime, which in turn, has inspired all of us.

Photo: JPI

I was shocked when they decided to burn down the Horton house. Were you at first devastated … and did you know that there would be a big story surrounding it?

SUSAN: I did not know how big a story was with it. I knew that many years ago, another regime had planned on trashing the set and getting rid of the set because nobody cared about the Hortons anymore. It was stopped by one person, and I was eternally grateful for that. This time I thought, “Oh, my goodness! I guess I’ll be meeting people for a cup of coffee at the Horton Square. No home, no roots, no reason to be called in,” and thinking that’s the end of Julie. That’s the end of Doug and Julie. Then, when they began to structure a story around it, I think all of this came up during the writer’s strike. So of course, I was curious to see how this was going to turn out. I enjoyed the aftermath, because in the aftermath, and a little bit before the fire, if you saw the show, I get to talk a bit about the history of the household and the people in it.

Photo: JPI

In the special episode that aired last Wednesday, Julie gave Leo (Greg Rikaart) the family tree history of the Hortons for his story in the Spectactor.

SUSAN:  I’ve had a couple of good long soliloquies about the past. I’m fated to be the character that does that because I’m the one still standing. I must say, I do enjoy doing them. Emotionally, all I have to do is rerun some of the actors and my own family in my mind and the emotion starts to come, you know, the emotion starts to flow.

Julie talks to Maggie (Suzanne Rogers) immediately after the fire. She is upset that the Horton family Christmas ornaments are gone. Fans were not happy that they could possibly have burned up. Thank God! There was a happy ending when they were located and unscathed, or there would have been hell to pay! 

SUSAN: I knew that they were in the prop room and that they still existed. But how much they were going to put a story around their loss, I did not know. We don’t get to ponder the plot. We just get to show up and start doing it. I think on this particular matter, something as important as a structure of the original set of the show, there’s been quite a bit of interest. So, I can appreciate that.

Photo: JPI

I was thinking, ‘Did they decide to burn the house down, because they were finally retiring the old Horton home set?’ What was the purpose of it?

SUSAN: They’ve done everything to make quicker set changes, which is remarkable and very efficient right now. The set designer said, “I’ll be interested in your input,” which was nice. The one thing that I loved that had been done, didn’t work. You couldn’t shoot into it. It was a federal mirror over the mantle. I loved it. The size was perfect. I was just delighted. And then, we tried to shoot it, and because of the roundness of the mirror, you got a perfect view of camera one and camera three. So, it came down.

This is Julie’s project to renovate the home. She’s determined to bring back all the memories and redo it?

SUSAN: Absolutely, which is another nice note to play for my character. She’s determined to make the house something that her grandparents would recognize and still feel comfortable in.

Photo: JPI

What did you think of the episode that just aired where the show incorporated flashbacks of a young Tom and Alice Horton?

SUSAN: Well, I set it up. They had their own their own lovely scenes. I read them, and I’m sure the audience was charmed.

What do you remember when you first came to DAYS, and you were in that house, in that set?

SUSAN: What did I notice about the set? I noticed that it was a strange shade of green. (Laughs) It was explained to me that that dull color meant that your face would pop on color TV. I understood that. I loved the little window up the staircase. I’ve always loved that. And at one time, there was a model of the house that sat on the set on its own little pedestal, a little playhouse of the exterior of the house. Whenever the house was on (and remember this is when we were a half-hour and practically live, but not live, because there was no editing), there would also be the sound of a barking dog whenever we reached the Horton house neighborhood. We never saw the dog, but I’m sure his name was “Spot”, and I’m sure he belonged to someone.

PhotoL JPI

You shared so many scenes with Frances Reid (Alice) and MacDonald Carey (Tom) in the Horton living room set and up till they passed. Did they get along well with Bill? Looking back, how was your relationship with them?

SUSAN: They loved him. Well, Mac and Billy had worked together before in theater. Mac was very kind to me at the beginning and helpful. Frances was as well. As Frances got older, she got a bit testy. When someone says, “You’re not going to read the line like that … are you?” It catches your attention. (Laughs). I got peeved at Frances from time to time, but her intent was always to make everything as good as it possibly could be. I saw her come back from her stroke. learn to talk again, learn to do it all again. Not do it easily, but to do it at all was wonderful, and the same with Mac. In his last shows, he was very frail, but we’re actors. We liked being there.

Photo: JPI

During the taping of the episodes surrounding the Horton house fire, Bill was mostly in them with you. How was Bill doing at the time you taped these scenes?

SUSAN: He was okay. He was up for it. He had difficulty moving at that point. So, they restricted his movement a lot. Bill always enjoyed coming to work a lot, and it was extremely difficult for him because he was blind, and didn’t move very well. And now, to do a scene with people who may or may not, have rehearsed with you, who may or may not, give you the exact cue, and when they are attempting to have you look each other in the eye, you can’t see who’s eyes they are, that was the hard part. The easy part was working with him, which was lovely and was a gift. It was a gift from Corday Productions that he was able to work within three weeks of his death, which I thought was super and extraordinary.

Photo: JPI

That is amazing. Did Bill understand everything that was going on at the time of the tapings?

SUSAN: Absolutely. He understood what was going on. He just couldn’t see it or touch it.

The timing couldn’t have been easy for you with Bill’s declining health, and that the show was going to burn down the Horton home where you shared so many scenes and memories.

SUSAN: Well, it hasn’t been my greatest stretch. But I knew that life would be like this. I’ve had five decades of an absolutely wonderful, blessed marriage and a chance to work and a chance to live in my own home and travel, all good. And now, we’re going to have the epilogue. And the epilogue is the hard part, seeing rapid change around you and losing the people that were the center of your life. I’ve just been very fortunate to have cultivated some wonderful friendships, and to have a wonderful large family of Hayeses.

Photo: JPI

You do realize that you and Bill were the gold-standard of what we all should be lucky enough to have in our lives. What an incredible, beautiful, passionate, loving marriage that the two of you had. You don’t see marriages like that anymore. We were all just in awe of the two of you. To us, it was the greatest love affair. You got to have that which is so extraordinary.

SUSAN: I know, and it was all Bill. I mean, any idiot could have been married to Bill Hayes and been deliriously happy. The guy was so perfect in every way that you really would have to pick something and blow it out of proportion to ever complain about any of his traits of character. He was just all good character, goodwill, and good humor. I just followed along and tried to live my life for him, with him, and follow his style, which I hope to carry on. I hope to be as good to people as he was to people, and, not be selfish.

Photo: JPI

I always remembered how the two of you would come to the studio with your suitcases, ready to work no matter what material, large or small, they gave you. You showed up. You just had such great work ethic and you don’t see that as much anymore.

SUSAN: At the moment, it’s hard to find it everywhere. I think it’s probably generational. You cannot get too angry at people that are still holding up their phones in the one rehearsal that we have. I think it’s more convenient to receive your work electronically, but somehow it doesn’t seem quite as real. You don’t have a script in your hand anymore unless you print one up yourself.  Sometimes you haven’t met the person you’re working with. Well, that’s not unusual, but no rehearsal at all, that’s kind of marvelously new.

Photo: JPI

Does Julie lean on anybody for emotional support as she tries to rebuild the Horton home. Who’s there for her?

SUSAN: As far as I can tell, nobody. I’m supposed to be the wise woman, and Marlena (Deidre Hall) is supposed to be the other wise woman. I haven’t had any scenes with Marlena for help. I would think Marlena would be the person I would be going to for grief counseling, for friendship, for all of that. I haven’t seen it in the scripts, yet. I’m still deeply entwined with Chad’s (Billy Flynn) storyline.

How is Billy Flynn to work with?

SUSAN: A pleasure. Billy Flynn has grown a lot as a human being and as an actor since I’ve known him. I’m really enjoying his company and really enjoying doing scenes with him. We rehearse and then we get on other subjects and laugh and talk and inform each other. We’re interested in a lot of the same things. He’s a new parent. He’s really devoting himself to that, to that experience in the best possible way. So, I’m lucky.

Do Julie and Chad try to figure out who set the fire?

SUSAN: Oh yeah.

Photo: JPI

I kept thinking about how Julie got burned in the kitchen fire years ago and her face was scarred, At the time, your mother Elizabeth Harrower was writing DAYS and wrote that for Julie. Did you hate that story?

SUSAN: Well, I know where the story came from. It came up from something in mother’s own life. I knew the people involved, and I wasn’t crazy in love with the idea. Then, when it was supposed to go for six weeks and went on for months and months, I was concerned. Mainly, I was concerned that my face was going to be affected because of the appliance, the scars, that I was wearing. I was told by a dermatologist, “You’re going to have a little beard after this. Ripping your face every single day to get this off is going to be hard on you.” But, I seem to have survived.

Has the show even addressed with you how they plan to handle writing-off the character of Doug Williams, and how they want to honor Bill?

SUSAN: Only in the smallest way. I had a conference call with the producers and our head writer last Friday. I was informed about the immediate, immediate future. I’ve also been promised that they’re going to keep me busy. It’s a cast of over 40 people. I’ll be happy to show up and to be included.

Photo: JPI

I was just hoping that whatever they decide to do with the character of Doug that they were going to run it by you, first.

SUSAN: They have, and they have been very sweet about it.  I’ve got to tell you, this regime, they have a sign up on the wall now, that says, Things we expect on this stage.”  The first one at the top of the list is “kindness.”

Have you watched your work back all these years? I know some actor’s never like to watch the scenes they taped.

SUSAN: I think you learn by watching yourself, if you have an open mind, and if you are not hypercritical, or dismissive. I cannot be dismissive of a character that has given me such a wonderful life. I’m still interested in Julie, perhaps I wouldn’t have been if I’d been on the show for three years and never returned to it. But I’m quite interested in her now, and what she has to offer as a member of this ensemble.

Photo: JPI

Julie’s ties to the whole history of Days of our Lives from this point on are very important. How do you feel about that?

SUSAN:  There are those that don’t care about the history of the show. I know that. I know there are those that only care about continuing with something snappy to keep eyes on the screen through action, adventure, drama, death, kidnapping, missed opportunities, all that, which I suppose that’s what the audience craves. But, that’s not just what the show can do. What the show can do so well is character. There’s a lot of people over 70 who are still on the show now. I’m the oldest one, but I’m not the only one. We’re coming up on the 60th anniversary. I don’t think the show is worn out. And if it is, it’s had a remarkably successful six decades.

Lamon Archey (Eli) is back on DAYS for a stint. What has it been like to work with Lamon as his on-screen grandmother?

SUSAN: I think he’s terrific and visually he is so beautiful, so appealing. I think both Eli and Lani (Sal Stowers) are very appealing as characters. I’m delighted to be connected to Eli as a family member. That was a lucky break for me.

Photo: JPI

Do you think DAYS fans are going to continue to be emotional in the aftermath of this fire and all the story that comes out of it? Do you think we’ll be touched by what Julie goes through to get the remains all cleaned up for a new house?

SUSAN: I think anybody in America who’s gone through a disaster, and have unfortunately had the disruption of their home, will be sympathetic and interested in how it all turns out. It’s a nice note to play. We haven’t had to do that very often. We just go from one lovely apartment to another without much discussion. I think this is the one set that meant a lot to people. I was very sorry to lose “Julie’s Place,” as it turned into kind of a sandwich shop. I still loved having a business, a tangible place to be, and an alternate place for people to meet.

Photo: NBC

Upon reflection, what was your favorite scene with Bill? Was it when Julie and Doug got married on-screen, or was it something else that was much more intimate?

SUSAN: I think our last scene is going to be more important, emotionally. I think the first wedding was beautiful, but the material around the time of our second wedding, when Brenda Benet (ex-Lee) came back on the show and Doug stood up to her and says, “I’m not going to be manipulated anymore,” was also strong. There has been a lot of very important times – when Doug was killed-off by James Reilly, and we met in the tunnel of light. That was a day. That was a difficult day, which I certainly can’t revisit right now emotionally. When Julie found out Doug had run off and married her mother, Addie, that was a day. It was a day because, I went to the producer at the time, Jack Herzberg, and said, “Is this it? Am I not going to work with him anymore?”And he said, “Right! That’s it. You’re not working with Bill Hayes anymore.” We were not married at the time, and I thought I was going to go through the floor! That wasn’t a happy day.

Photo: JPI

In terms of Bill’s final day on the set with you, did you know that it was his last, and what would turn out to be his last scene?

SUSAN: Well, they didn’t know. But I knew. I had been allowed to rewrite it. So, I can’t tell you Bill’s last line now, of course, but I will in time.

What do you think about the sentiments shared by Susan on her late husband, and this storyline? How do hope the show properly honors Bill and Doug Williams when the series writes-off the character? Are you enjoying the Horton house fire story arc or does it upset you too much? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Trevor St. John Chats On His Latest Film ‘A Good Enough Day’, His Y&R Leading Ladies and the Loss of Kamar de los Reyes

The Young and the Restless multi-talented Trevor St. John (Tucker McCall) most recent film dropped last week on Amazon Prime, AppleTV+ and Tubi. Not only does St. John star in it, but he directed and co-wrote the feature, as well.

A Good Enough Day features St. John as Tyler Hamilton, a terminally ill photographer who has been saddled with enormous grief over a loss in his life for over 10 years, while trying to tie up loose ends before his death. Wanting to right his fractured relationships, Tyler interacts with his sister, and his daughter via phone calls in two haunting and moving moments in the film. St. John shot all of the scenes in the movie in his home state of Washington.

During a recent livestream conversation on You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Trevor spoke on the character he portrayed, the making of the film, the poignant phone calls and the takeaway he hopes lingers in audiences’ hearts and minds. In addition, Trevor shared his thoughts on his experience thus far on Y&R, and being in story with two strong leading ladies, Eileen Davidson (Ashley) and Zuleyka Silver (Audra).

Photo: AGoodEnoughDay

Many fans recall Trevor’s stellar performances as One Life to Live’s Walker Laurence/Todd Manning/Victor Lord Jr.  Recently, he and many other members of the OLTL family, suffered the loss of actor Kamar de los Reyes (ex-Antonio Vega). St. John takes a moment to share his thoughts on losing one of his dear friends. Coincidently, Reyes’ wife, Sherri Saum (ex-Keri, OLTL, ex-Vanessa, Sunset Beach), also appears in A Good Enough Day.

Speaking on embodying A Good Enough Day’s Tyler Hamilton, and what the journey he is going through during the film, Trevor shared, “We did our best to make this man, not all one thing or the other. If you heard the other end of those phone calls he was on, you think this guy’s a real piece of work. But then you realize he really suffered. He didn’t choose the grief, and maybe he made some choices out of that grief. Maybe he did not do enough to resist being all consumed by it. But as you pointed out, how can anyone know what that’s like to go through what he did?”

Photo: A Good Enough Day

As fans of St. John’s may know by now, when Tyler speaks to those on his phone, it all seemed so raw and real. Trevor gave us the secret as to why it worked so movingly and effectively. He explained,”The calls were shot and performed in a really unique way. We gave each character a very detailed biography. In particular, the detail of their relationship with Tyler, and their particular family life in the present day. But, we didn’t tell them anything else. So, none of those actors were ever told or were given the full material. We just said, ‘Here’s what you know about this man. Here’s in great detail what’s happened in the past 10 years and maybe even before. That’s all we are going to tell you. He’s gonna call you and you answer the phone as if this is all you know.'” Trevor added, “It was very risky, but once we shot that first scene I thought, ‘I think we might be able to get away with this.'”

Photo: A Good Enough Day

The beauty of A Good Enough Day is that it requires the viewers to think, interpret and go along on Tyler’s journey without hitting you over the head of exactly what is happening. However, by the final moments in the film, and we mean after the credits roll, you know everything you need to know. Trevor shared on laying out the movie: “You have to, you have to reveal everything. By the end, everything must be revealed. The question is the timing. The question is the intensity with which you peel layers away of information. The goal is to have the audience thinking, ‘I’m not sure I know precisely what’s going on here but man, I can’t really look away. I wanna see what happens next.'”

Photo: JPI

On The Young and the Restless, St. John has been in a red hot storyline with two-time Daytime Emmy winner, Eileen Davidson (Ashley Abbott), where Ashley’s sanity is now completely in question., Trevor expressed on sharing scenes with Eileen,”She’s terrific. She’s such a dear person.” St. John is also quite impressed with her recent work, “She’s become so open to the unexpected and the unknown, and that’s where you want to be. She’s a wonderful playmate and a really great person, supportive, and just super talented. I’m very lucky to be working with her.”

The CBS daytime drama currently has the relationship between Tucker and Audra taking several turns. St. John shares he is not sure where it’s ultimately leading,”That’s very difficult to say. When I get these scripts, I’m surprised as the audience. So I’m intrigued. Tucker has definitely some legitimately strong feelings for Audra.  She’s his best friend. She might be his only friend. The connection with Audra is profound. Whether he can communicate it, whether she can communicate, is another matter. But there’s something inherent there, something built up over years.”

Photo: JPI

So, just how is working with Audra’s portrayer, Zuleka Silver? Trevor remarked, “I just adore her. I light up when I’m around her. She’s just a lovely person and talented and we have great fun together. I like to tease her a little bit, but she’s also open to the unexpected, which for me, if you’re any good, you gotta be prepared for curve balls, you know, because as a human being you don’t know what’s gonna happen next. If you’re a good actor, you’re receptive to all of that, and she’s like that. ”

Photo: JPI

Back on Christmas Eve of 2023, Trevor’s former One Life to Live castmate, Kamar de los Reyes (ex-Antonio), passed away after his battle with cancer at the age of 56.  St. John opened up on this personal loss, explaining, “That was hard. He was a good friend of mine, a dear friend. I miss him. I miss him terribly. It still hasn’t even penetrated completely that he’s gone. It’s just that stage where you don’t believe it. He was a beautiful man. I saw Sherrie recently and she’s doing okay, all things considered. She’s got a nice support system. My heart breaks for her, and his family, and his boys. I appreciate you asking. It’s been very difficult.”

Photo: JPI

In case you missed it, watch the full interview with Trevor below, followed by the trailer for A Good Enough Day. 

Now let us know, if and when you watch Trevor’s film what was your reaction to it? Then, who do you want Tucker to end up with on Y&R? Audra, Ashley or someone else? Let us know in the comment section.

 

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