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The Jeanne Cooper Interview – The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: Charles Bush

On The Young and the Restless she has been called the Grand Dame of Genoa City, The Duchess, and Mrs C.!  In real life, she has been called an icon, a Daytime Emmy Award winning actress, a legend in the world of the soap opera, an accomplished primetime television and feature film actress… and a wonderful mother of three children.  At eighty-three, and after playing the powerful, wealthy, and beloved Katherine Chancellor to the hilt for 39 years, Jeanne Cooper has finally decided to tell her life story!  And what a story it is!  Her new highly anticipated memoir, Not Young, Still Restless (Harper Collins) is due in book stores this coming Tuesday, July 31st!

Not Young Still Restless revisits Jeanne’s childhood; how she followed her dream and moved to Hollywood with the help of some very sneaky good friends, and how she became a working actress in the studio system.  And as she made quite a name for herself along the way, she met some of the most recognizable names in film and television, many of whom she had friendly or romantic relationships with!  The book also details the destruction of her marriage to Harry Bernsen, which ultimately led to her downward spiral into alcoholism, plus the call while she was in Hawaii that would change her life and daytime forever, getting cast on a new CBS soap The Young and the Restless!

On-Air On-Soaps talked with Jeanne Cooper to bring you this very special interview, as we looked into the behind-the-scenes life of this incredible talent.  From her backstage battles with Brenda Dickson (Ex-Jill, Y&R), to her big reveal that she and her on-screen son Beau Kayzer (Ex-Brock, Y&R) were in love and had a relationship, to being the first performer to break the wall between fiction and reality, when she and Katherine had a real-life facelift, to her many health battles.  Jeanne along with co-writer, Lindsay Harrison, brings the reader and any soap fan on one remarkable journey.  Saying that this woman is a treasure is an understatement.  So all we can add to that is … here now is the feisty, funny, irreverent, gem of an actress, Jeanne Cooper, as we take our own journey with the legend from her humble beginnings to Genoa City 2012!

MICHAEL:

Jeanne, I read your memoir, Not Young Still Restless, in a day and half!  It was a real page-turner where I kept thinking, “I can’t believe this happened to one person in their lifetime!”  And then knowing you like I do, it makes it all the more amazing!

JEANNE:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

It reads like a novel, and then you stop and realize, “I know her!  I know her.”  I did the same thing after I got the hardcover version.  I put it on my coffee table and said, “I know her.” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

I know we talked about this years ago, that someday you should really write your tell-all.  Why did you decide to write it and publish it now?

JEANNE:

I am not kidding when I tell you I got so tired of people asking, “When are you going to write a book?”  I can now say, “Shut up! Leave me alone.  It’s done!” (Laughs)  Several people have asked me, “Now what are you going to write in your second book?” 

MICHAEL:

When you decided to write it, was there trepidation on your part to delve into your past, your childhood, your career, and what no one knew went on behind the scenes at Y&R?

JEANNE:

I had tremendous trepidation.  First of all, you stand the chance of people who like you then saying, “I don’t like her anymore.”  You can lose a lot of friends, and they are public friends.  There are many who have been part of my career for 60 years.  Then I thought I was not being offensive about anything, but just honest with an edge.  That is how I think most people accept things much easier.  I just had this feeling of something terrible happening if I wrote my book.  But Lindsay Harrison helped me conquer those fears.  And she said, “I will show you how to make it so simple.  Here is a tape recorder.” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Did you decide before the book was going to be released, to let certain people you work with, know that you wrote about them in your tell-all?

JEANNE:

No, I did not.  I said I would like it to read like they are reading about a character that is made up, and it’s like a novel instead of “This Is Your Life, Jeanne Cooper!”  I wanted it to be truthful, but believable.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

Your childhood certainly had its ups and downs, and some very disturbing moments where you reveal that you were sexually molested.  You also say in the book that one of the pictures with you and your dad was one of the only ones you recall.  I found that very heart-rending.  Your mom died quite early at 46 years old.  What do you think your mom would have said about Mrs. Chancellor?

JEANNE:

She would have said, “Oh! All of the affairs!” (Laughs)  I think my mother would have enjoyed my success.  She loved the fact that I wanted to be an actress.  I think she secretly wanted something other than what she had.  I always enjoyed making grandpa, or my mom and dad laugh, and then we would laugh together.  And that is where the whole thing stems from.  You may not have everything in the world, but if you are happy and you can feel the love that runs throughout, that is wealth without dollars.

MICHAEL:

You also talk in great detail about your start in Hollywood and your ascendance to feature film roles and television series guest star spots.  It is very intriguing how it all happened for you.  You mention two good friends, Barbara Hale and Raymond Burr, with whom if I am correct, you also had an affair.

JEANNE:

Oh yeah!  Barbara just turned 90 and she looks like she is 50.  I could smack her.  She is a very close friend and we have gone through a lot together, including our failed marriages.  We have had laughter and tears together on and off the screen you have never seen the likes of.  I had an affair with Raymond.

MICHAEL:

And your laundry list of men also included David Janssen, and Dennis Weaver …  Good list, Jeannie!

JEANNE:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

I was also with Robert Taylor!  I was working with Barbara Stanwyck and I was late due to a buckle not working in my wardrobe.  I was getting on the set and I apologized and she said, “That’s all right.  I am so proud to have you here, Jeanne.  I have seen all of your work and you are an incredible actress. You belong to this town and you belong to this industry.”  And my jaw dropped down to my knees.  I wanted to say, “Did you know that I went out with your ex-husband?”  In which she told me later on, “How did you find my ex-husband?”  And I said, “The Truth?  He’s boring!”  And she said, “But he’s handsome.”  And I said, “Yeah, you can say that again.”

MICHAEL:

However, the man who would forever change your life was Harry Bernsen.  And your tale and true life story is a very cautionary one that many people still go through today.  How many women have not fallen under the spell of a good-looking, charming, smooth-talking guy, and not seen all the red flags?

JEANNE:

I do let everyone know he was not my favorite person!  Thank you for noticing the point I was trying to get across.   I want to express that no matter who you are, there is likeness in everybody.  Harry was drop dead gorgeous, and he was like two different people all the time, just unreal.

MICHAEL:

When your first son Corbin Bernsen was born, I read you were screaming for the baby and for the nurse to bring you your child.  All the while your husband Harry said, Corbin was deformed.  What happened?  You must have been beside yourself!

JEANNE:

Yes, but then the nurse explained to me what it was.  It was a hematoma that scrapes on the pelvic bone coming out and forms a little blood blister, and it looks terrible. But the point of it is … it absorbs.  It’s like a wound.  When you are born, everything is so close to the skin and everything is so tender and so fragile.  I have forgiven Harry of that, but also, I will never forget.  I thought, “What do you care if the baby was deformed?  What are you going to do?  Show the baby and hide its head?”  It was this man’s actions, and again that was certainly a red flag.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

Were you happy you were pregnant?

JEANNE:

At first I wasn’t, because I wasn’t sure I wanted to have children … with him.  Then, I had three. (Laughs)  First of all, he said he could never ever have children because of a wound he got in the war.  And I don’t know where the wound was. (Laughs)  I wanted a boy and a girl and I got two boys, and I said I am going to try for a girl.  And, if I have a girl I am blessed and if not, I am going to throw it away! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

You must have been thrilled when you finally had your little girl, Caren?

JEANNE:

I stayed in the hospital for eleven days with her!  I wouldn’t come home.  The doctor, finally said, “Jeanne, we have no reason to keep you here any longer, and look at your boys!”  The boys would come outside my hospital and say, “Mommy, please come home with our sister!” And finally I said, “OK.”  I lived in a world of boys and after a while you want someone to talk to and understand.  I felt like saying, “Why do men think they are better than us?”

MICHAEL:

Then, all of a sudden you get Y&R and the role of Katherine Chancellor.  We won’t spoil how that all went down here, but we will say, a trip to Hawaii was called short!  But, you go to the set at CBS for your first reading, but John Considine is playing the role of Phillip Chancellor, not Donnelly Rhodes.

JEANNE:

Horribly enough, John Considine reported to the studio and someone forget to call his agent and tell them not to come.  So he came in and I went over to him to run lines, and our executive producer at the time John Conboy came over and said, “Don’t do that. He’s not playing Phillip anymore!”  I went, “What?”

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

So what did you think when you met Donnelly Rhodes for the first time?

JEANNE:

He was self-assured, nice and cocky, and a very talented actor.  I spent some time with Donnelly.  I had an affair with him, too. (Laughs)  I always say, don’t do things where you work…

MICHAEL:

Well you seem to have done that quite often, Jeanne!  (Laughs)

JEANNE:

Not in the studio, others have made out in the studio!  Crazy fools!

MICHAEL:

Then I laughed, but could not help love what you said about your first meeting with Brenda Dickson (Ex-Jill, Y&R) … “I do remember a sexy confident little piece of work named Brenda Dickson!”  But it is true you two got off on the wrong foot!

JEANNE:

We got off to a bad start.  But you know, so did Shelley Winters and me!  We were under contract at Universal and she had asked my agent if I could come see her performance in a play because she would like to know what I think.  I went and she said, “Please have her come backstage.”  And she said, “I’m Shelley Winters.”  And I said, “Yes, I bet you are.”  She said, “So what did you think of the play?”  I said, “It’s interesting.”  She said, “Interesting?”  I said, “Well this part has been played by so many different actors, but yours is interesting.”  She goes, “That’s all?”  And I go, “Yeah.”   She said, “You mean you didn’t’ like it?”  I said, “No.”   She goes, “Well I will be damned.”  Fast-forward to five years later; we are doing a thing called Let No Man Write My Epitaph.  I reported to work and we started the picture.  And they said to me, “Jeanne, you know your hair is about the same color as Shelley’s.  So let’s put a little more ash into it.”  So they put ash in it.  And out I went again, and it’s a three-hour process!  So we started a scene where Shelly was going to make her entrance.  And it was stopped again, and they said, “Jeanne, would you mind terribly if we just make your hair darker?”  I said; “Let’s take it back to black!  That is my original color and I have not been that color since I don’t know when.”   Then they dyed my hair again and I was brunette without a great deal of highlights.  By that time it’s 3PM in the afternoon and I have been doing this since 8AM.  They say, “We have got to get a goddam shot.  Sometime today, drag her out here!”  So Shelley comes into my dressing room and says, “Isn’t there anything I can do to make you ugly?”  And I said, “No, or younger!”  And she started to laugh, and we became good friends after that.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

So with you and Brenda Dickson … she did not show up to rehearse with you, and you called her a “tart”?

JEANNE:

I want somebody there so I can settle down and give a performance.  I said, “A professional is on time. You don’t wait around for people.  Being a professional is knowing your craft and knowing your lines!”  And Brenda said, “Oh really?  I have never been talked to like this before!”  And I said, “Well get used to it, because if you can’t, then I am Shelley Winters!”  And so this is how Shelley Winters popped in and out of my life! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

In the end, it seemed like you came to love Brenda.  She has had such a crazy life and had gone through so much.  You seemed to be able to say in the book that there were some very deep emotional issues Brenda dealt with that you did not elaborate on.

JEANNE:

There is much more to her life than people knew.  And a lot of pressure was put on Brenda from within the cast, and they will remain nameless at this point, but it was unfair and unkind.  Anybody with that kind of treatment that one would allow themselves to do to another human being … that is unforgiveable in my book.  I may not like somebody, but I am certainly not going to treat them so horribly.

MICHAEL:

Was Brenda Dickson the butt of jokes on the set?

JEANNE:

Absolutely!  And I want to tell you, Brenda made the part of Jill, and Jess Walton (Jill, Y&R) and I talked about this.  Jess had a completely different spin on Jill, and no more like Brenda Dickson than the man on the moon.  And let’s face it; Brenda Dickson was in life like a Jill Abbott.  That is one of those things that she just captured.  You can portray it and try to imitate it.  So, that is why Jess took a different spin on the character all-together, which was smart. You cannot compare the two and what Brenda Dickson brought to Jill.  And I have to say, she became more of a professional and knew her lines, and what have you.  But even the tricks they played on her on the set were unforgiveable, and these people know who they are!

MICHAEL:

With all the turmoil and trouble Brenda has been in legally in Hawaii, have you ever spoken to her since that time?

JEANNE:

Oh yeah!  In fact, I called her in Hawaii.  I was hoping to get over there when she was in jail.   Let’s face it.  It’s hard to beat anything in Hawaii, with the good ole boys, and Brenda knew that.  She just did not get it up to the proper courts and with the proper publicity it needed.  But the guy did try to take everything from her.  He was smart and Brenda by that time had acquired quite a bit.

MICHAEL:

When I watched Y&R from the beginning of its run, Brenda and you really set the tone – it was Katherine and Jill at each other throats.   She was a gold-digging tart, and I bought it!  I was like, “Ooh, I want to smack that bitch!”

JEANNE:

Yeah right, absolutely!  Listen, I got to tell you, Brenda had as much fun with the Katherine/Jill relationship as Jess and I did.  When there was the “Who Killed Phillip?” storyline and our characters were in court, and being thrown about, a faction of fans lined up at CBS with posters marching, and this group flew in from the east coast.  And they were pro- Brenda.  Then, I in turn said to her, “Well all these people must have gotten pregnant by someone else’s husband.”  (Laughs)  They had to get us out of the studio because we had death threats!  They would say that I or she “deserved to die.”  Oh, the studio was very quiet about that, and they had police stand there.  It was wild!

MICHAEL:

When you first got to the set of Y&R, William Gray Espy was there, too!  And, he was playing Dr Snapper Foster.  But you first met him in one of my favorite films to this day, Kansas City Bomber!  I loved the roller derby, and to see you as the coach/manager of the team was a hoot.  Plus, you worked with Raquel Welch, who had the title role!

JEANNE:

I got trampled to death in that thing!  And these women would say, “Now listen. We promise if you go down on the deck on the rink, and you don’t move, we won’t hurt you. But, if you do move, you will get bruises all over from head to toe.”  I said what the F*** am I doing out here being a captain of a roller skating team?  It was amazing!  When I went down to the deck all these big bodies were are all over the place.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/IMDB

You mentioned in your book, that Raquel Welch was one of the most underrated actresses.  Do you think she was good in KC Bomber?

JEANNE:

For what she did, she was good.  She could play cheapies and she has a great sense of humor.  I remember saying to her, she has a body and a face of a knockout, but she is also someone who is grounded.  Raquel also knows Hollywood, and what it took, and what it thinks.

MICHAEL:

I would have called your book … From Roller Derby to Restless …. The Jeanne Cooper Story! (Laughs)

JEANNE:

(Laughs) Who didn’t love the roller derby back then!  I was the blonde captain of the L.A. Thunderbirds!  I did not get hurt on the film, thank God, but Raquel Welch broke her wrist.  So we had to delay the film for about six weeks.  I got to tell you I met William Gray Espy (Ex-Snapper, Y&R) there.   He was this handsome and gorgeous guy, who was on the men’s side of the roller derby team.  He was very shy, but at the end of a filming day, he needed a massage.  He was battered at the end of the day.  So I talked to the producer and got it arranged for him.  Now, when I went into the first rehearsal at Y&R and everyone was talking to each other and muttering, and I would say my lines out loud, John Conboy would say, “Well, we have somebody we could hear.  Thank you, thank you Ms. Cooper, very much.”  (Laughs) And William Gray Espy at rehearsal said, “I know her.  And I am telling you right now, don’t cross her path because she can get things done that you don’t know!” (Laughs)  And he was referring to me getting him into the steam room when he was not allowed, because he was not a starring role in Kansas City Bomber!

MICHAEL:

Then there is this little ditty in the book, when you and your dear friend Juliana McCarthy (Ex-Liz, Y&R) are in your dressing room listening to Michelle, the other woman in Harry’s life, who called you at the studio letting you in on their affair and asking you for financial help?  And she said that Harry told her you had an “illness”?  Oh, brother!

JEANNIE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Oh sure, and she even knew what time I would be there!  (Laughs)  Oh the fury that I felt. I was beside myself.  Thank God, everybody had retired to their dressing rooms and was getting ready for the days shooting.  I wanted to destroy, and if that coffee pot had been Harry, I would have been in jail now.  The disrespect!  He has children.  Doesn’t he know that?  It doesn’t matter what they say about him or me, but it does matter what they say about our children.  They are the innocent bystanders in all of this.  The fact that this was going on, and the fact that people in the business were knowing that he was seeing her, was so awful.  He was so open about so much of this shit in the advance stages, it became an embarrassment.  It is like me knowing somebody is cheating on their wife, and yet their wife and I are having lunch and I want to say, “Don’t you know you are married to an asshole?”  It is not so much what I feel, but anybody who has been betrayed.  If a man wanted to screw around, I would rather have him come up to me and say, “Listen.  I feel I need to do something and I need to do this.”  And I would say, “Fine. Let’s do a legal separation.  And you go do what you have to do.  And I will make up my mind if I think it’s right or not.”  And, I probably won’t think it’s right!

MICHAEL:

It was that, combined with the fact everybody seems to know but you!

JEANNE:

Patty Weaver (Gina, Y&R) knew!  I have been a big supporter of Patty Weaver and always have been.  There is still nobody who can sing a song like she can and bring you to your knees with it.  It’s just something she does so well.

MICHAEL:

And that is where your drinking began?

JEANNE:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

I think it was the emotional part of my life with Harry.  If it weren’t for that, I would’ve had that stomach spasm.  And the frame of mind I was in was not good, and the friend I was with told me to have an after dinner brandy and said, “Here take this!”  I take a deep swallow because my stomach was so distended and you would think I am pregnant and that I was going to deliver.  It was amazing.  I took two big gulps of that and made the spasms go away.  And the spasms were very scary.  It’s physical, but it was brought on by emotion.  Many truths just kept coming out of what I suspected and things kept coming up in which I had red flags, and I should have known it then.  I thought things would work out.  Being as gorgeous as he was, he had girls falling all over him left and right.  And that was okay, too. But the thing of it is also; you don’t have to return the favor.

MICHAEL:

For many years, I knew you were a self-admitted alcoholic.  But I never knew when the drinking started.  I thought it was digression from the character you play; Kay was a drunk, so you became a drunk. 

JEANNE:

Actually, I got Katherine sobered up and then she would have to sober me up!  Bill Bell (Creator, Y&R) gave me an ultimatum.  He met with my son Collin, and they arranged to put me in St. John’s.  And I came home from work and Collin was already at the house and he said, “Mom, we are all packed and ready to go.”  I said, “Where are we going?”  He said, “St. John’s.”  And I said, “Thank God.”

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

Do you think it affected your work at Y&R?

JEANNE:

Well, I think it would have, but Bill Bell wouldn’t let me go into the heavy storyline with Phillip, where I adopt little Phillip and all of that.  He would not have gone into that story if he thought for a minute that I would continue to drink and not have full control over what I was doing.  I saw a little bit of it in one of my performances, and it just sickened me.  It made me sick to my stomach that I would ever let that happen to myself.  My private life was such hell at the time, and of course, the brandy started calling for stomach spasms after awhile. That is what is so amazing and incredible; that kind of attachment you have that gives you a break from the misery you are going through.  I never felt such relief in my life, because the one thing I did love was my job … and in my job I can express who I am through my acting.  It is in making magic for people to escape to.  I always say, “Thank you God for Bill Bell and Collin saving my life.”

MICHAEL:

You also had several run-ins with Bill Bell where you refused to say certain lines of dialog he wrote.  He retorted back to you, “This isn’t Jeanne Cooper saying these lines, it’s Katherine Chancellor!  I don’t care what Jeanne Cooper would say!”

JEANNE:

I know he and his writers would give me some of these Midwest expressions, and not one script went out that Bill was not completely aware of what was in it.  If there were a grammatical error, he would call the writer and go, “I never want to see anything like that again.”   Look, Bill said he was not writing the soap for the sophisticates in Manhattan, but that he was writing for Middle America and the middle class people of the world.  Of course, he was right about what Katherine should say.

MICHAEL:

Then, there is the Beau Kayzer (Ex-Brock, Y&R) shocker!  You fell in love with your on-screen son in real-life.

JEANNE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Doug Davidson (Paul, Y&R) was the only one who half-way suspected.  He told me that about a year ago.  Beau was one of the most innocent loving people.  Beau can deliver dialog that is so believable that it’s like Meryl Streep’s performances.  I never think Meryl Streep is any other person than who she is playing.  And Beau can take words, and make you listen to them.  I got news!  Beau was getting more fan mail than anybody on the show.

MICHAEL:

Why did Beau disappear off the show?  Did the producer and writers want to get rid of him?

JEANNE:

They didn’t.  If I married him, he probably would have stayed on the show.  I do think Beau was deeply in love with me, and I was deeply in love with him for a great period of time, too.

MICHAEL:

You said you felt the age-difference between you two was a big issue for you, eventually.

JEANNE:

Not at that time, but later down the line.  Look at it.  He would have just turned 50 and I am 83!  But still, even to this day he said, “I don’t see what you are talking about.”  I broke it off and I said, “We can’t see each other.”  He married a woman about ten years older than I was at the time, and that didn’t work out.  He is still one of the sweetest, kindest people that I know.  He is very poetic and the kids loved him.  Beau has never liked younger women as companions.  It is amazing and he never really changed.

MICHAEL:

We both have something in common, Jeannie, other than we have made careers in daytime.  Both of us have had surgery with Dr. Harry Glassman!  You had the first daytime television on-screen face-lift with him, and he reconstructed my nose after it broke in five places in a freak accident I had several decades ago!

JEANNE:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

My God!  It was groundbreaking.  And the first reality show on TV was my facelift!  Dr. Glassman was so funny.  It was so funny having the cameras in the procedure room while they were doing my facelift, but when it was over it was incredible.  Dr. Glassman was offered some brilliant reconstructive surgeries because of my facelift.  He is an artist at reconstruction.

MICHAEL:

Then, there was another big event in your life, or at least it was supposed to be, when you receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmys, along with a slew of other honorees on the Emmy telecast.   And when you go to get your Emmy backstage, the boy giving them out goes, “Jeanne Cooper?  Which one are you?”  OY!

JEANNE:

It’s hysterical!  We are all looking at each other going, Lifetime Achievement?  This jerk-off does not who is who!  He is pulling out the names from a cardboard box and reading them.  The worse thing was not showing any of our work for the Lifetime Achievement award.  Big Bird got all the attention that year.  So we all felt we should have had Big Bird costumes on and maybe then we would have gotten more recognition!  They didn’t even show anything, nothing of our work.  It tarnished the whole thing, the award and the academy.  They should be ashamed of themselves!

MICHAEL:

IN 2008, you finally won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.  I love the fact that Tyra Banks, who presented the award to you, knew what designer’s dress you were wearing.  Also, the loving words from Crystal Chappell! (Danielle, B&B, Gina, Venice)

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

JEANNE:

Crystal said, “It’s yours, you deserve it.”  Crystal has been a big booster and supportive of my work, and I of hers, because she is such an incredible actress.  She is really taking control of her life with her Internet series, knowing the way the business is and taking nothing for granted.  She is a hard working and also a very fine, fine actress.  So when I turned around and gave her thumbs up when she was sitting at the table next to me, and she was on her feet and clapping her hands like mad.  It meant so much! 

MICHAEL:

I will never forget that night.  You were not in the press room yet, and I am telling you, you have never seen so many people screaming and cheering for you.  I thought, “Is there anyone more beloved in this genre than Jeanne?”  You don’t usually see that kind of heartfelt emotion in a room filled with irritable, cantankerous, and jaded reporters!

JEANNE:

And winning alongside with Tony Geary (Luke, GH)!  I love that man!  I love him, I love him! He read my book and I got 100 tulips, and the most magnificent bouquet you have seen in your life.  It had to weigh 50 lbs.  He read the book to give his thoughts on the back cover, and what he wrote was so heartfelt, I can’t tell you.  I think Tony Geary is one of the finest actors in the business.   He is premiere; there is no two ways about it.

MICHAEL:

You also reveal a surgery and serious medical condition nobody knew about until your memoir!

Courtesy/Harper Collins

JEANNE:

That was seven or eight years ago.  I was gone recently from Y&R because of double pneumonia.  I now have had double pneumonia three times, and I have got to tell you anytime anybody starts to tell me something is going on in my chest, I panic.  I had the SARS flu a few years ago, and I literally melted.

MICHAEL

Now this was something I did not know, you are the legendary Y&R butt pincher to all the young male hotties on the show?  For instance, you seem to reveal you enjoy pinching Greg Rikaart’s (Kevin, Y&R) ass!

JEANNE:

Oh God, you didn’t know that?  Watch the show when you see who jumps! And usually it’s Greg Rikaart (Kevin, Y&R), and I just adore him.  Watch the guy’s expression!  The only one who doesn’t react is Joshua Morrow (Nick, Y&R)   He just moves closer … the little shit!  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Let’s talk a moment about Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) and you.  You say in your book that Eric Braeden will never let you have the last word in any scene between Victor and Katherine?  By the way, I do love the Victor/Katherine relationship.

JEANNE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Oh yeah, he wont have it with anybody!  But, I did it once.  We improvise a lot, and I get along with Eric so well.  Victor and Katherine respect each other, and that is what we try to let everyone know when we play in our scenes.  You can have one relationship in business, but if you have a friend, you are friends through thick and thin.  And that is what we are.  And as much as Katherine wants to protect Nikki, as she is like the daughter she never had, when Nikki starts to like Victor too much, Katherine just turns a deaf ear.  And also, Victor will not let anyone talk badly about Katherine in front of him in a derogatory way.

MICHAEL:

I was surprised to find out that Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki, Y&R) seemed to decide not to speak with you for a while, and had cut you off as a friend with no explanation.  What do you think happened there?

JEANNE:

I have reminded her about that, and she says, “Oh, mother?  Who knows what was going on with me then?”  And I go, “Well I suppose I didn’t.”  I was very hurt by it.  I protected her in so many ways.

MICHAEL:

But you also say, Ed Scott (Ex-EP, Y&R, now producer, B&B) spent hours lighting Melody in scenes that you were in together while completely ignoring you.

JEANNE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Oh yeah.  I don’t know where Ed’s head was.  He said, “Jeanne, please forgive me.  It was a terrible time in my life.”   And I wanted to say, “Is that it, Ed?  But you are not the boy that I supported!”  Bill Bell called me since John Conboy was leaving and I said, “Well, Ed is good.”  And the others never gave him a chance to express himself.  And I said, “If you don’t like him after awhile, all you do is get rid of him and hire somebody else.”  And that is how Ed got his job.  Of course, he does not like to think that.  As far as Ed Scott, I was his biggest supporter.  We talked the first time the other day, as we both attended a wedding of a friend and he knows.  He knows what he did was wrong.

MICHAEL:

Another long time cast member, Kate Linder (Esther), also did not treat you so kindly.  Seems Kate went to the powers-that-be and pitched them a story where Katherine dies and Esther inherits everything including the mansion!  You had to be taken aback by that one?  I couldn’t believe what I was reading!

JEANNE:

I can believe it! (Laughs)  It’s OK.  Kate is aggressive, and she has lived longer in this town on less. The thing of it is, she became an icon for maids on daytime. They tried it on a few other soaps and it doesn’t work, because they don’t have me to bounce off of.  The thing of it is, I made the part work.  I gave her a name.  Kate just wanted to be a leading lady so desperately.  Well, they let her try that, and you saw what happened.  She would go out of her way to help you, as long as her picture was taken with it. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Terry Lester, you say, is one of your favorite actors to ever grace Y&R, and that you have worked with. You also talk about the differences between his Jack Abbott and how Peter Bergman plays the part.  What was it about Terry that you think was so unique and special?

Courtesy/CBS

JEANNE:

Terry was not afraid to step out of the box and try anything.  He had his dark side and shadows, but then most creative people do.  Terry was incredibly creative and sensitive, and he was a very special person.  I thank God he was part of my life, even how brief it was.  But I met Doug Marland (the late head writer of ATWT) through him.  Doug Marland said he would create a role for me as my contract was coming up and things were happening.  I said. “If you write the part, I will do it.”  I even said, “I would come to New York to do it.”  And he went home and had a heart attack and I died.  As for Terry, he nailed Jack Abbott.  It was like a Gig Young playing the part of a second banana, or a Tony Randall.  It’s such amazing parts of my life.  What a very rich and fulfilling life I have had, through the life of Katherine Chancellor!

MICHAEL:

Jeanne, you must have taken a moment after writing your memoirs and all that you have lived, and come to realize what an amazing journey you have gone on in your lifetime!

JEANNE:

I will pass by the book and think, “And that’s only a portion of what you have done and been through.  How about that?   There you are, your face is in my face.”  And it’s hard to realize it’s my face.  It’s me who has been there and done these things. Otherwise, as I have said, everything seemed to come by me and just bump into me.  I never said, “I am going to meet this person, if it’s the last thing I do.”  And there I would be at some event, and I would happen to meet someone I always wanted to meet, and they would know my name!  Oh God, that was thrilling!  It’s amazing, when you get on a plane and are doing a five- hour plane trip, and there is a celebrity sitting next to you who goes, “I know I just shouldn’t do this, but I love your work.”  And I am thinking, of course, they are just like me.  They have their favorite shows and favorite people.  And you think they are so far removed and they are not.  I think what you have to do is appeal to both men and women to reach any level of notoriety in this business.

Courtesy/Harper Collins

MICHAEL:

You have so many fans in the viewing audience, and so many fans of your work including your peers, and all the people who have had the good fortune to know you.  When all is said and done, and you look at your life and you read the last page of your memoir, you must now feel a sense of pride and respect from others that you deserve. 

JEANNE:

The respect from the industry, that includes the press, has been amazing.  It has been amazing how much I have gained in knowledge and in relationships, and it’s been a learning experience.  This life has been a learning experience for me.  That people basically love people, if they are decent human beings, and that I have earned the right to be respected.  I now know it, because so many people have told me.  I am aware of it, and I thank God I was put in a position to do so.

 

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kay/kay
kay/kay

Great Interview!! Yes I agree Terry Lester’s take was the rich playboy and he played it to the hilt I miss that man great actor.

Sean
Sean

She’s so amazing. I was a little suprised about all the affairs, especially with beau who played Brock but i can’t wait to read the book. I already have it preordered on my kindle. In a way i feel like i know the family because i know her for years on Y&R and i’ve watched L.A Law episodes many times to see Corbin and her other son Collen was in a few cinnemax movies several years ago.

Doe
Doe

Michael, loved this interview with Jeanne. I loved the fact that she was so open about her life experiences. Wow! Somereal eye-openers here. But she is one gutsy lady.She is a wonderful actress and whrn she comes into a scene, you know something is brewing. I also like the Katherine-Jill relationship. They really go at it, but truly love each other. Katherine is like a king pin where everything revolves around her.. And Jeanne, you look fabulous.! Can’t wait to read the book. Long may you reign….

Sandee
Sandee

Love the interview. Can’t wait to read the book!

Mara DeRose
Mara DeRose

Hello: If one is handicapped how can one go about getting an autographed book signed by Ms Cooper without having to stand on line? I want to present my best friend Kathy with a copy of Ms Cooper’s book for her 70 birthday on Aug 19/12 because she and I are in love with the show and I wanted to give Kathy a special gift because shes battling breast cancer and who knows what could happen? If there is some way please get in touch with me soon so I can purchase it. If Mrs. C would sign the book to kathy Balsan for me, I’d be thrilled on her 70th birthday and the date. WE’ve been watching the show since I can’t even remember.

MBmomof3
MBmomof3

Thank you for another great interview. Can’t wait to read the book!

Brian Greene
Brian Greene

Thanks For This Great Interview With Jeanne, Michael! 😀

Charles
Charles

The Queen of Daytime was IN MINNEAPOLIS!!!!! – at the Mall of America at a book signing event. She was FABULOUS! Fans had tears in their eyes! Her generosity of spirit and love for her loyal fans was unbelievable!!!!!! We love her and are grateful for her talent!!! We are forever grateful for making Y&R the show that it is today. Still number #1………We absolutely love her. I told her myself that her scenes with Jess Walton are the best comedic scenes…..ever! ! The timing is perfect!!!There is no other actress in daytime that is better than MRS C……../Jeanne Cooper

tia
tia

Is this particular interview on audio somewhere?

terry mitchell
terry mitchell

What happened to Mrs. Chancellor? Why was she not in attendance at Victor and Nikki’s
43rd Wedding? And where is Murphy! Also would like to have Drucilla’s real name!

Thank you so much!

GINGER
GINGER

TO: MRS. JEANNE COOPER,
I AM DEEPLY SORRY TO HEAR OF YOUR ILLNESS, I PRAY GOD WILL RESTORE YOUR HEALTH. I HAVE ENJOYED YOU DOWN THOUGHT THE EARS ON YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. CONTINUE TO FIGHT A GOOD FIGHT AS ALWAYS. SMILE
MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOU WILL CONTINUE TO BE IN OUR PRAYERS.
GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I.
GINGER

Interviews

Y&R’s Gina Tognoni Opens Up About Billy’s Bombshell With Summer & What’s Next For Phyllis

Talk about walking in at the wrong moment and getting an earful!  That’s exactly what happened to The Young and the Restless’ Phyllis on Wednesday’s episode.  Taking the moment to level his revenge and payback for Phyllis’ romp with Nick (Joshua Morrow), her beau Billy (Jason Thompson) tells Phyllis that he slept with her daughter, Summer (Hunter King), right as Summer is standing there!   With that moment now out in the open, and Billy’s intention behind it, look for fireworks to fly!

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Daytime Emmy-winning gem, Gina Tognoni, who brings the complex Phyllis to life on the CBS daytime drama series, to get her take on how Phyllis handles this shocker, and the ramifications it poses to her, and the key relationships in her life.

As to what happens in the near future, looks like Phyllis is not going to do too well with what has just come to light, and that may set her on a whole new trajectory!  But will it be to Jack (Peter Bergman), to Nick (Joshua Morrow), or to someone else?  And, oh, there is that little item of her part in the death of J.T. Hellstrom.  Will that ultimately prove to be her downfall?  Here’s what Gina dished on the latest developments from GC.

When Phyllis gets the bombshell dropped upon her that Billy had sex with Summer, in that immediate moment what does this mean for Phyllis’ relationship with her daughter?

GINA:  Phyllis never saw this coming.  She is gutted and disgusted with her daughter in the moment, and in disbelief that her daughter would turn on her like this.

What about Billy saying to Phyllis and Summer that he had revenge sex with Summer to get back at Phyllis for sleeping with Nick?  Is she disgusted with him?

GINA:  I mean, she is speechless with him.  She’s speechless that he would stoop so low.  In her mind, this is a different offense.  Her sleeping with Nick is something that can’t be put in the same ballpark as Billy sleeping with her daughter.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you think Phyllis knew in her gut that Billy would sleep with Summer; after the truth about her tryst with Nick came out at Sharon and Nick’s wedding?

GINA:  I think she was consumed with her own guilt and her own loss of control that it was not in the forefront of her mind.  So, when he plops that on her, that’s what leaves her to be absolutely speechless.  Whether you call it karma, or whatever, she got knocked with some of that, and she doesn’t know what else to say.  She’s devastated by both of these people.  In Phyllis’ mind she had moved on and was trying to make things right, but Billy sleeping with her daughter just crosses a boundary.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I actually thought Phyllis knew in her gut that Billy would go to Summer, after the Shick wedding busted wide open, as she drank out those tiny liquor bottles!

GINA:  She was drinking the bottles, and it was all out, and her life was beginning to unravel, which caused her to want to numb the pain, because it was getting so intense.  It came out at the wedding that she slept with Nick, but what she was upset about was how Billy and she had now imploded, and their relationship has been forever changed.  That’s what that drinking was about.  They had overcome so much.  Here they were trusting each other, she was supporting him, brought him out of his gambling addiction, and she ‘drowns’ herself, and then we come to today. She walks in, and he just unloads it, and says, “I slept with Summer.”   From that moment on, we start to see that she has a break, and the break is in her personality.  Not that she’s a multiple personality, but it’s literally so painful for her that it changes something within her, and we’ll see something within the next two to three weeks on-air of what that means.  Phyllis gets really drastic, which has been fun to play.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Does she think at all, that this is her fault, because she did sleep with Nick?

GINA:  Oh, yes.  She’s so confused and so overwhelmed by how screwed up it’s gotten that she is in survival mode.  We’ve seen Phyllis go in and out of that during the almost five years that I have played her. This is good stuff to play, and the writing is much more detailed than I have ever seen it.  When you see the scenes that are airing the rest of this week, they were done in one take.  Jason Thompson’s performance is so good, and Hunter King is really wrapping her arms around this role in such a cool way, that I just think the viewers are going to feel something.  Phyllis is just wrecked.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

One of the great scenes that you’ve had this year was when Phyllis realized that Summer is going after her man and she confronts her.  Phyllis slapped her own daughter and then went on the offense to keep her daughter from meeting up with Billy.  Summer did try to seduce Billy, and his gambling addiction wouldn’t have resurfaced at this time in his life, if it weren’t for her.

GINA:  Yes. Summer did push it.   I think in life, people disappoint us in such a profound way.  People are human.  We will be disappointed.   You pray to God that it’s not to certain levels, but it happens.  At the end of the day this is still her daughter, and it’s that bond that you have forever, and you love them, and you have to find a way to forgive because it’s natural: that love in your heart for your child.  That’s all I can say about this story, because it’s bizarre. (Laughs)  It sounds so funny, “My daughter slept with my boyfriend.” (Laughs)  You know what I mean?  However, when you really think about it, Summer broke her mother’s heart.

Even though Summer was a big contributor to the combustion of Billy and Phyllis’ relationship, Phyllis wants what’s best for her?

GINA: That’s the way Mal Young (EP and head writer, Y&R) is writing it.  I think that’s the most human way to do it.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t be angry, or that you have to be trusting in a situation like this.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

What does this mean for any future for the duo known as “Philly”?

GINA:  I was just saying to Jason Thompson: “I don’t feel like we’ve really worked together or hung out, because we’ve broken up on this show, so I never see you,” and he said, “I know! It’s so bizarre,” and it really is, because you get into such a rhythm with somebody.  You develop this shorthand where you understand each other’s rhythms.  Now, I’m getting to work with different groups of people.  Phyllis and Billy have such a very good dynamic.  It works.  So, to mess with something that’s not broken, (I mean, obviously it’s broken in Genoa City) it’s a bummer.  The good news is, maybe we’ll find our way back to one another.  She loved Billy very much.  That’s very much her soulmate.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Where does Phyllis see Jack in all of this?  At times, in scenes, it looks like maybe she could rekindle her relationship with Jack.

GINA:  Here’s the thing … Jack represented wisdom to her.  Jack is the type of man that no woman should ever walk away from.   Phyllis screwed that up.  She also screwed up her relationship with Billy, but I actually think that Billy had a lot to do with that too.  They both have demons.  Billy and Jack are two great men that she has failed at.  How does she live with that much failure?  How does she see herself?  What does she do?  She can’t make Billy come back, and she can’t be forced to love him.  They’re both so hurt by all of this.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Joshua Morrow was on my podcast Soap Nation Live recently, and we were talking about the hotness that is Phyllis, and how there’s this constant sexual tension between Nick and Phyllis, and how they play videogames as their foreplay, before they have sex.  (Laughs) Where is that relationship at now?

GINA:  Yes, there is that foreplay with the video games. (Laughs)  Gina and Joshua have never really explored the dynamic of Phyllis and Nick.  It was Michelle Stafford (Ex-Phyllis, Y&R, now Nina, GH) and Joshua who played that.   Now we are getting a chance to get Gina and Joshua’s take on it.  Joshua is very present when you work with hum, and that’s a very powerful thing.   So, we’ll see what happens with those two, but right now it seems to be a very physical thing between them.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Then, there are the ramifications of Phyllis’ part in J.T.’s death and the four women in collusion to hide what happened to him. What is it like for Phyllis having to work with Sharon on this, when Phyllis was the cause of Sharon’s wedding to Nick to blow up?

GINA:  Well, she’s compartmentalizing.  She’s got the J.T. thing that she wants to control as much as she can, and she’s got to also be successful in her business career.  She’s proving something to herself, and she’s proving something as a woman.  Phyllis wants to be taken seriously, but she’s got this conflict that’s telling her that she’s a fraud.  She’s got this murder cover-up that she’s involved with.  Again, like in life, you try to go forward, but everyone has demons and things inside them that take them off their game.

Is there any part of her that thinks she could wind up in prison for this crime?

GINA: Yeah!  Her whole life could just blow up to a whole other level! That’s how I see it!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I know throughout your soap opera career; the writers and producers have loaded you up with heavy material, because you are an accomplished actress who can always deliver.  But, how do you feel now getting all of this material and trying to work through it?

GINA:  I’m getting to a place just now where I’m going, “Okay.  We’ve got this.”   For the last month and a half to two months, it’s been a lot.   Now, I’m starting to find my center and balance.  At first, it was a lot to digest.  I even felt emotional not working with Jason, and not working with Peter Bergman.  There is that attachment, were you go as an actor: “That was ours.  We built that, man!”  Then it moves on and it takes its shape, and you have to remind yourself that’s your job: that you are the chameleon.  You have to come in and sell it, and commit emotionally, because that’s your job.  There are certain days that I feel too much, and I have to remember to just breathe.  Day by day is how I take it, but I feel good.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

If you could preview to the audience what they should watch for with Phyllis, what would you tell them? 

GINA:  Watch the subtle differences within Phyllis.  There is even a different look in my eyes.  I’m bringing her to a place, and she’s bringing me to a place that I have never

So, what do you think Phyllis should do now in her relationships with Summer and Billy? Are you glad the truth is out that Billy had sex with Summer? Who should be the new man in Phyllis’ life? What changes do you think will happen to her personality as previewed by Gina in this interview? Comment below.

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General Hospital

GH’s Tamara Braun Talks On: Kim’s Plight With Her Son Oscar, Her Relationships With Julian and Drew & Coming Home To Port Charles

When Tamara Braun stepped back on to the canvas of General Hospital back in November of last year, the one-time and wildly popular Carly Corinthos #2 was now taking on the role of Dr, Kim Nero – a single mom of a teenage son (who is very protective of him), top-notch gynecologist in the medical profession, and a woman with a past with Drew Cain (Billy Miller). It was eventually revealed that Drew is her son Oscar’s (Garren Stitt) biological father.

Now as viewers have seen on recent episodes of the ABC soap opera, Oscar’s life looks like it could very well be cut short after the story shocker that now has the young teen diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor from cancer.  Kim had kept the truth from her son until he confronted her upon learning the news on his own (with an assist from Cameron) and putting two and two together.  This sets the stage for some difficult and heartbreaking moments ahead.

As for Braun, she rose to the top as one of soap operas most critically-acclaimed actresses after having the challenging task of taking over the role of Carly #1 in 2001 from three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Sarah Brown.  Tamara not only met this challenge, but made Carly her own scoring an Emmy nod along the way.  After departing GH in 2005, Tamara returned to daytime in 2008 in the role of Ava Vitali on Days of our Lives, which indeed earned her an Emmy.   Next, she headed to Pine Valley and All My Children to take on the role of Reese Williams, the love interest to Bianca Montgomery (Eden Riegel), who eventually married from 2008-2009.  Tamara even came back to DAYS for awhile in the role of Taylor in 2011, and later reprised the role of Ava in 2015-2016.  With an impressive resume, GH is lucky to have her back and Braun finally felt the time was right to take on a new role on her first soap home  upon her return in 2017.  Viewers hope that they get to see more of those emotionally raw, honest performances that Braun is known for as more layers of Kim are revealed,

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Tamara to get her take on: the latest storyline involving Kim, Oscar and Drew, where Kim’s relationship with Julian Jerome stands, and how she feels it’s important to shed light on causes of the day needing our help and how we can all ultimately live in a kinder, more thoughtful world.  Here’s what Tamara had to shared below.

In the episodes we saw last week, Kim had no choice but to tell Oscar the truth. What have you thought about this whole story where now Oscar is hating his mother, and upset with her, when she did not come forward with the truth about his medical condition to him, because in her mind she was protecting him?

Courtesy/ABC

TAMARA:  Yes, that was reasoning.  She did all of this to protect him so that he could have a normal teenage life without all of that hanging over his head.  What do I think of it?  I think that it has been hard for me, Tamara, to play.  It has been hard for me to wrap my head around why a physician would not tell her son that he’s ill.  It’s also been hard for me to wrap my head around because the way the writers have made Oscar and Kim’s relationship such a beautiful one that has been seemingly full of honesty and openness, that they can really talk to each other, which is one of the things that I really like.  In terms of the storyline, what it does do is create conflict which is what’s needed in shows.  Things can’t be ‘happy, happy, joy, joy’ all of the time, so it’s created conflict for Oscar and Kim and now Drew, because Kim dragged him into keeping the secret too for a little bit. 

Courtesy/ABC

We just also learned that Kim’s reasoning to come to Port Charles in the first place was indeed because of Oscar.

TAMARA:  Like Kim said, she came because she did an ancestry report, and it turned out that he has relatives in Port Charles.  So, she wanted for them to get the opportunity to know him and him to get the opportunity to get to know them.  I’m sure we will learn something about Kim’s past which would explain why in her mind she felt this was the right thing to do.  We know that it seems like a very controlling thing.  As a mother, take the physician out of it, I still think that Kim would have shared his diagnosis with him, but I don’t think one ever knows what they would do in that situation.  You think you know what you would do, but perhaps she felt that she could control it; she could figure it out.  Perhaps, Kim felt that because she is a physician she’ll find some answer, and she’ll be able to fix it.  These are the questions, and these are the things that as an actor, I have to put in my head because it’s not what I believe I would do.  It’s not even what I believe the character of Kim as I knew her would have done, but it’s what the writers have written.  So, they have to have a reason, and I think that it has got to be more than just to create conflict.  That’s what stories rely on.  It’s soap, and a lot of people on soaps have to do crazy things and find out ways to justify them when they seem out of character.

You’re right.  Kim and Oscar had a very open relationship.  Yes, she was a “controlling mother,” if you want to say that, but they were honest with each other.  Garren Stitt has been very endearing in the role.  What can you say about working with him?

TAMARA:  I just adore Garren. I have adored him from the minute I met him.  I think he’s a lovely, sweet, kind person, and I feel so fortunate to get to play his mom.  I really do.  I think he’s wonderful, and I’m lucky.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Now as to the situation with Drew, Kim truly did not know he was in town when she got to Port Charles, right?

TAMARA:  Correct.

What does she feel towards Drew now, and does this situation ultimately draw them closer together?

TAMARA:  I think it absolutely draws them closer together, because now they have to deal with Oscar.  Because once Kim accepted Drew back into their lives (she thought he was dead long ago), she opened up her arms to him in the capacity of being a father for Oscar.  Kim has had to deal with everything with her child all on her own for fifteen years.  It’s just been the two of them.  So, I think that at some point it has got to be difficult to allow someone else in to help make decisions, and to lean on, and to co-parent with.  I think it was difficult at first, but I think now she is grateful to have him to share it with, even though they may not see things eye-to-eye all of the time.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you foresee Kim and Drew, at any point, growing closer romantically?

TAMARA:  I don’t know.  It’s not looking like that.  It’s looking like a nice friendship and one that is very caring and understanding, but as of now, I don’t see hints of it.  You never know.  As you know, it’s a soap.  Anything could happen.

How has it been working with Billy Miller? He has also done some wonderful work as the devastated father.

TAMARA:  It’s been great.  The last few scenes that we had to do, there have been those special moments you get as an actor where the angels are just with you.  It all just kind of connects and flows together.   I think we’ve been lucky to have gotten a few of those as of late, and that’s been really nice.

Courtesy/ABC

In story, it was revealed that Oscar could enter an experimental trial that could help his tumor and the cancer, is that what Kim wants her son to do?

TAMARA:  Absolutely, because she feels anything that could possibly save his life or give him more time, she wants for him.

I also like that they made Dr. Terry Randolph (Cassandra James), Oscar’s pediatric oncologist.

TAMARA:  Yes.  Cassandra is really lovely to work with, and she’s just a lovely human being as well.  I’m fortunate right now.  I get to work with some lovely people.

Courtesy/ABC

Do you think Kim’s going to let Julian (Will deVry) know about what she is dealing with?

TAMARA:  Julian does not know.  Oscar doesn’t want anyone to know and especially Julian.  He wants his mom and dad together, so he’s decided not to let Julian know.  I think only for those reasons.  Kim really didn’t honor Oscar by keeping this news of him being ill from him, so she has to honor him in his request not to share this with Julian.

Is Kim aware of how Cameron (William Lipton) is trying to maneuver himself into a relationship with Josslyn (Eden McCoy)?  Does she understand what’s going on there? 

TAMARA:  Kim doesn’t know anything about it.

Photo: ABC

Does Kim want Josslyn to be with Oscar?

TAMARA:  She does, because she knows that Josslyn makes Oscar happy, and to be happy, is what’s most important right now, because that also can help any type of recovery.  When we are happy, or are doing things that make us joyful, or raise our endorphin levels in a positive way, that’s good for health.  That’s good for recovery, and she wants her son to be happy.  What mother doesn’t want her son to be happy?  Especially now, with everything going on.

Kim was having an issue that Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst) and Franco (Roger Howarth) knew about Oscar’s prognosis.  Do you think she’ll be more lax about that now, or do you think she’ll be more even intense about people not finding out?

TAMARA:  I think she doesn’t want people to know because Oscar now knows, and he doesn’t want people to know.  I think that she wants to keep his confidence.  I think she doesn’t want anyone else to know because she needs to respect Oscar’s wishes.

Courtesy/ABC

Do you think that it’s possible that Drew’s twin, Jason (Steve Burton) is somehow the bio-dad of Oscar, and not Drew?  The character of Jason has a history of brain injuries and trauma.

TAMARA:  I never thought of that! (Laughs)  That would be a fun kind of plot twist!  I don’t think so because there have been lines a couple of times when Kim is with Jason and she says, “You know, you look exactly like him.  It’s kind of hard to wrap my head around that, but you act so differently.”   You know what?  Even if Jason did have a brain tumor, he is Drew’s twin, and Drew is Oscar’s father, so that does still genetically match and run in the family.  It’s an interesting twist there that you bring up!

I remember watching the episode where the audience learned Oscar was dying and I was completely shocked!   I had no idea where the writers were going with it after the seizure.  When the powers-that-be filled you in on what was going on, what was your reaction to that part of the story?

Photo Credit: ABC

TAMARA:  Illness in any form on a soap gives you something to play.  So, that’s good.  When they start saying in the dialogue, “terminal,” you’re like, “What!?” But then you also have people saying, “There’s always hope,” so, you never know where it’s actually going to go, or how the story lines will play.  I understand how people keep saying that it came out of the blue and they didn’t even hint at that.  So, I will say they did write a scene the day that Michael (Chad Duell) lost the baby, and I believe Sonny (Maurice Benard) and Michael were in the church. There was a scene that I was ready to shoot that day, and it was a monologue in the church.  It was after Nelle’s (Chloe Lanier) baby had died and after Kim and Nelle had scenes.  Kim goes to the chapel and she has a monologue talking to God, and it was a bit of a hint, but they had to cut the scene because the tape day ran long.  I didn’t even shoot it.  I think that had they had left it in; people would have been like, “Oh, that’s what that meant.”  I think now that I see the reaction of viewers and you’re bringing it up, that would have been the moment you could have gone to and said. “Oh!  That’s the moment.  That’s what she meant,” or when it happened, the audience have been like, “What’s going on?  What don’t we know?”  I think had that scene been in there, people wouldn’t have been taken aback so much.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, what would you say the audience can look forward to with Kim coming up?  Are we going to see her with a lot of stress on her relationship with her son?  Do you see her holding it together, or falling apart? 

TAMARA:  I think probably all of the above… trying to pull it together, falling apart, a rift between them, trying to bring it back together, making mistakes, doing the right thing … I think it’s everything.  I think reality just smacked Kim in the head, and her son… but when you’re so closed and tight about something in life, and when you no longer have control over it… you’ve got your best-laid plans, and you know what they say about your best-laid plans.  (Laughs).  It explodes, and then you have to deal with the aftermath.  So, hopefully we will see some nuance in there.  I’m hoping for it.  Hopefully, we will see Kim and Oscar work through stuff because people make mistakes; people do the wrong things for what they think are the right reasons all the time.  If Oscar is dealing with an inoperable, terminal brain tumor here, then time is of the essence for them to get it together and come together.

Well, I hope that it’s hankie-inducing, poignant and does have those beats for you to play, and they don’t kind of skip story beats.  As you said, time is of the essence for them and there is, usually no matter what, an unbreakable bond between mother and son.

TAMARA:  I hope so, too!  We can keep our fingers crossed for that!

Photo Credit: ABC

What attributes of Kim do you like playing?

TAMARA:  Kim’s no pushover, which I do like about her.  She’s strong, but she’s a quiet strong.  She doesn’t come at somebody charging, blazing, knocking things down or with a baseball bat like Carly does.  She has strength as a woman, and it’s in a very different way.

Do you think Kim is in love with “Charlie” AKA Julian? 

TAMARA:  I think she loves him.  It’s been a long time since she’s been in a relationship.  Her primary relationship, for better or for worse, has been her son all these years.  She’s made him her number one and didn’t feel she had time or that there was anyone who was worth that time.  So, I think that with Charlie, or Julian, whoever the hell he is (laughs)…

… Wait! She knows he’s Julian, right? (Laughs)

TAMARA:  Yes, she knows, but she likes to call him, “Charlie” because of the bar.  It was a cute little thing from the beginning.  I think that he doesn’t pressure her.  It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s light, and that’s what I think she can handle right now.

How has it been playing the mother of a teenager?  Is that odd for you?  It seems like a bit of a jump.

TAMARA:  It seems like a jump from what people have seen me do for a long time.  If you think about it, the last time people saw me on General Hospital with a kid, it was Michael (formerly Dylan Cash), and I mean, not in soap terms, but in real life terms, he was playing I think 6 when he was 8, and now he’s 23 so he would have been playing 21 if he had stayed.

Courtesy: TBraunTwitter

Is it ever odd for you that you aren’t the character of Carly anymore when you see Michael and characters that you have shared and played emotional attachments with your first go-round on GH?  I would suppose as an actress you can switch that on and off, but what about as a person?

TAMARA:  Yes, as an actress you switch it off, but as a person Michael is not the same Michael.  I think if he had been the same because we were so close, and we were so connected it might have been more difficult.  If it were him on set playing him every day, I’d be like, “Hi honey!   Hi my son!”   He was so in my heart.  I think because it’s Chad Duell now playing the part, who is lovely and wonderful, there’s no history with us, and that made it really okay.   I loved Dylan as a little boy.  I still love him.  He stopped in at my fan event, which was wonderful!

When you think back on all of your soap roles, it’s pretty amazing what you’ve done. Although we hated the end of the Reese/Bianca wedding on All My Children, it was the first same-sex wedding, and was a landmark moment.  You were a part of it.  Forget what happened afterwards, but that moment was key.  When you were on General Hospital, you received a Daytime Emmy nomination for your performance as Carly.  And then there was Days of our Lives’ Ava Vitali!  You got to play the psycho.  You won the Supporting Actress Emmy for your performance.  Do you think Ava is somehow still alive? 

TAMARA:  I think she may be alive.   I mean, no one really saw.  They put a sheet over her and rolled her out.  You didn’t see her dead.  I mean, come on now.  Joey (James Lastovic, Ex-DAYS) can strangle, but I don’t know that he’s that strong.  Ava’s got some fire in her.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Such a great role!

TAMARA:  I have been really, really blessed to play very strong or pivotal or interesting, dynamic roles on daytime.  I have been very fortunate to do that, and I have been very fortunate to work with people who allow me to do my thing.  They don’t hamper it.  They say, “Go.  Go for it.”

I love your Instagram posts, and I love when you talk about social issues and things that are important to you.  Could you talk a little bit about how you’re using that platform to make a difference?

TAMARA:  I just like to post things that are important to me. There are a lot of people who are using social media for brand identity.  I’m glad that I don’t even know what that is.  I mean, maybe I should know.  (Laughs)  It probably would be better for me, but –

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

You realize on Instagram; if you post a shirtless pic along with a quote from something unrelated and are a guy, or are a very sexy woman, you’re going to get millions of likes.

TAMARA:  Yeah, and that’s not my brand.  (Laughs) I guess if I had to say what my brand is; it would be “Truth. Real. Honest.”  You know, here’s the real deal from me.  I think it’s important to bring awareness to what’s going on that touches your heart.  I think that if you can shed light on issues in a positive way, to make people think, to make people feel; that is important.  I have always wanted to do good things in the world, and you can do that at any place and time in your life as a human being, but when you have a bit of a platform, I believe it is a responsibility to use that to share things of importance to the world for humanity.  We’re given this one life.  Whether you come back, or whatever you believe this is the one life we have, if we don’t do something good with it, what’s the point?   I think there’s too much, “Me, me, me, me, me.”  I mean, that’s what this business is, right?  But we need to step back, and we need to remember that there is a real world going on out there where people are dealing with issues, and we need to be kind.  That being said, I do post stuff of myself, and people want to see it, so I want to give them what makes them happy, but I think that as long as I’m doing that too, I think it also makes people happy to see things good going on in the world, bring light to issues that need light brought on them.  I really just feel that we need more kindness.  We need more positivity because right now is a really hard time in our world, in America especially. It’s important to be more generous and kind-spirited than what we’re so often seeing these days.

So, what have you thought about the way Kim handled telling Oscar of his cancer diagnosis?  Do you hope Kim continues to stay in Julian’s orbit, or would you want her to become involved with Drew?   What do you think will happen next in the story … will Oscar survive?  What has been your most favorite performance of Tamara Braun of all her soap roles through the years? Comment below.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Hunter King Talks Summer’s Clash With Phyllis, Seducing Billy, ‘Life In Pieces’ & Being Newly Engaged

On The Young and the Restless viewers just watched the summer of …  Summer!  When the top-rated soap brought back two-time Daytime Emmy winner, Hunter King to the canvas, you knew it was going to be to stir up some major drama.  But, little did viewers know that Summer came back a vixen, ready to steal her mother’s man!

Last month, it became game on between mother and daughter after their epic showdown, where Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) got wind of Summer’s attempts to put the moves on Billy (Jason Thompson) and her plans to meet up with him in Philly! (And that spelled trouble for the couple known as “Philly” too)  Oh yes, and there was that well-deserved bitch-slap!  So, where will it all go from here?

Michael Fairman TV caught up with King where we discussed: Summer’s new attitude, if Summer will get her wish and have sex with Billy, her real-life engagement, and her upcoming return to the CBS sitcom Life in Pieces, and more. Check out what Hunter had to say below.

Summer is so pursuing Billy! When you came back to Y&R, did they tell you we need her to be really vampy and this seductress?  What has happened to her? (Laughs)

HUNTER:  Yes.  I understood where it was coming from, and I was excited to play the same character, but being able to play it totally different.  I get to sort of reinvent her.   I think when Summer went away she discovered herself, and kind of grew into Phyllis’ daughter … maybe.  But I will say, it has been very vampy, and you don’t even know yet what’s to come!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

How is working with Jason Thompson?

HUNTER:   Working with Jason is great.  He is always so professional and prepared and always willing to collaborate on scenes.  Jason is just so creative, and so in it, and loves to work so much that he just exudes that the scenes.

Let’s just say when Summer and Billy “finally” hit the sheets … (Laughs)

HUNTER:   We don’t yet … we shall see.  The way this whole storyline unfolds you think it’s going one way and then there is a twist, and then twists on top of twists.  The more layers that come into play you start to understand why everything is happening the way it is.

Now, Summer had no idea that Billy had a gambling addiction, which put this whole spiral of his in motion?

HUNTER:  I guess not?  (Laughs)  It’s hard to know. I would say she evidently did not know about his gambling.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Viewers saw Phyllis slap her daughter in the face as the fight between them escalated; when Summer admitted she was going after her mother’s boyfriend!  How was it taping that scene, and working with Gina Tognoni?

HUNTER:  She’s amazing! Gina didn’t really slap me, but I will say afterwards they wanted to put red blush on my cheeks, and I said, “Oh, just pinch my cheek instead, and I wound up bruising my cheek.”  So Gina goes, “I really didn’t hit her!”  It was the funniest banter on set.  Gina was scary in those scenes, like a good scary.  I went, “Damn!”

On August 18th, you got engaged to your beau, Nico Svoboda.  Were you expecting him to propose when he did?

HUNTER:   I was so shocked, even though I had wanted it to happen, very much.  But, I had no idea when it was coming. It was amazing, and the best day of my life and, we are engaged!

Photo : HKingInstagram

And he got down on one knee for the proposal!

HUNTER:  Yes!  I thought it was sweet.  It’s something you dream about when you are a little girl.

What it is about Nico that makes him the guy for you?

HUNTER:  Besides the amazing qualities he has as a person – he’s compassionate, he’s caring, he’s driven, he’s loving, and just cares for others so much – I love the way that he loves me.  I have never felt so loved before, and so accepted, and he is very supportive of my career.

Courtesy/CBS

Are you excited to go back to your role as Clementine on the sitcom, Life in Pieces?  It is slated for a midseason premiere.

HUNTER:  I am super excited to be back.  We are back taping again   I am excited to do the sitcom and Y&R   As an actress, it’s so exciting to get to do different things:  a sitcom and soaps … why not?! (As noted in the press: King took a three-episode break from Y&R to film some episodes of the sitcom due to a scheduling conflict.)

Then speaking of “All in the Family,” it was just announced, your sister, Joey is coming onto Life in Pieces.

HUNTER:  Yes!  How crazy. She will be on for a few episodes, and it will be fun.  I think we will interact a little bit on the show, and we have never had the chance to work together before.

Photo: HKingInstagram

You and your sister have the funniest Instagram videos.  Do you plan those out?

HUNTER:  Joey is so funny.  It kind of just happens when we get together.  Sometimes we film something and sometimes we don’t.  But Joey is so much fun and my best friend. She is the funniest person in the entire world, and so it’s just easy to laugh when I am with her.

So, what did you think of the showdown between Summer and Phyllis?  Are you glad Phyllis slapped her daughter, or was it a mistake?  What do you think will happen next?  Will Summer ultimately sleep with Billy? Do you want Summer to end up with Kyle (Michael Mealor)? Will you be checking out Hunter on Life in Pieces? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Video du Jour

This weekend we mourn the loss of General Hospital’s beloved Susan Brown who played Gail Baldwin. Here is her final scene from 2004 when Gail and her husband Lee (the late Peter Hansen) showed up at Lila’s funeral and had an exchange with Alan and Monica. Share your thoughts on Susan’s passing via the link below. Leave A Comment

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