Connect with us

Interviews

20

The Jeff Giles Interview – Llanview in the Afternoon: An Oral History of One Life to Live

Courtesy/IMDB

Courtesy/JGiles

In a time when fans are awaiting to find out the fate of the beloved One Life to Live once again, writer Jeff Giles just recently released his un-authorized history of the series in the book titled Llanview in the Afternoon: An Oral History of One Life to Live.  The self-published book is available at Amazon.com and via a kindle.

Taking a look back through four decades of the series on ABC and its often quirky, heartbreaking, shocking, dramatic, or even at times, non-sensical storylines, Giles speaks to countless producers, former and current cast members, and behind-the-scenes crew to learn some of the untold story about what went into making the series, the backstage drama, and how the show often times struggled to find its own identity in the early days sandwiched between ABC Daytime heavy weight brands, General Hospital and All My Children.  

On-Air On-Soaps chatted with Giles after reading the book ourselves, where we were stunned at some of the admissions he related that some cast members told him, and never before heard backstage tales.  So if you are a long time fan of the series, buckle up and read below at what Erika Slezak (Viki), Nathan Fillion (Ex-Joey), Hillary B. Smith (Nora), Brandon Buddy (Cole), Anthony Call (Ex-Herb), and many more had to say on a myriad of topics!  Jeff clarifies to us that his intent to write the book was to share his passion and love for the series, and give credit to the hardworking men and women who have worked tirelessly to bring Llanview to life for now 45 years.

MICHAEL:

How long did it to take you to write this oral history of One Life to Live, which seemingly contains quotes taken from many interviews with people in front of the camera, or behind the scenes, during OLTL’s ABC days?

JEFF:

Courtesy/IMDB

It took me a year and half to write it.  I think it helped by the fact that I was talking to people who were not on the show, and had not been on the show for a very long time, and did not have a stake in One Life to Live, or were even acting anymore.  The first person I spoke with was Tony Call (Ex-Herb Callison), and then I went to Marilyn Chris (Ex-Wanda Wolek), and Michael Storm (Ex-Larry Wolek).  I also spoke with Bob Woods (Bo Buchanan), who has still been part of the show, whose phone number I got from Marilyn Chris.  That was another way that it happened.  People would talk to one another and suggest other people for the book, for the most part.  Nobody seemed very concerned that it was un-authorized.

MICHAEL:

When you read the book there are some jaw-dropping moments for One Life to Live fans that they may never have heard about before.  For instance, I have not heard Erika Slezak (Viki) talk this candidly before, either.  So then people call into question the validity of the book.  What would you say to that?

JEFF:

There were people, and she was part of the group, that told me things that were off the record, and it did not make it in.  There were things people told me that did not make it into the book, actually. A lot of the conversations were even more candid then what ended up in the final book, because I didn’t want it to be a dirt-digging expedition, because that was not the point.  I did not want anyone to grind any axes in here, with the exception of Ellen Holly (Ex-Carla Hall) because I knew it was already public record, and that is why I sought out Arthur Burghardt (Ex-Dr. Jack Scott) to ask for his side of the story.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/Ebony

Speaking of people from the past, one of the more heartbreaking things in the book is kind of following the downfall of actors who were being phased out, or were just written off, after years on the show!

JEFF:

Steve Fletcher (Ex-Brad Vernon) and Michael Storm (Larry Wolek)  are a powerful example of how brutal daytime can be!  In theory, it’s an open-ended gig; the show never stops.  It’s such a weird thing for an actor to assume a character that is supposed to go on and on.  And you often don’t get to have closure; especially guys like Michael Storm.

MICHAEL:

So, why did you decide to write Llanview in the Afternoon: An Oral History of One Life to Live?

JEFF: 

I am fascinated by the medium in general.  I think it’s loaded with possibilities that are often, for whatever reason, left untapped.  I am concerned for a number of reasons for the way it’s dwindled for the last decade in change.  When I interviewed Paul Glass (current musical director at GH), that was my in, and if it hadn’t been for his stories, and more importantly his encouragement, I don’t think I would have had the gumption to do it.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought somebody should do it, and it did not seem like anyone was going to do it.

MICHAEL:

Who shocked you the most when speaking to them?

JEFF:

Probably Joe Stuart (executive producer OLTL 1977-1983).   I was terrified to talk to him after all the stories I had heard about him.  In the book, there are a lot of stories about what a tyrant he was on set, and that he kept a punching bag in his office, and he fired people for inscrutable reasons.  Everyone lived under this terror of being called into his office.  When I talked to him he was this sweet, good-humored older man.  We had a warm conversation.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

At the very beginning of its run, OLTL was about a diverse group of families of different social and economic backgrounds.  You had the blue collar Wolek’s, the Jewish Siegels, the wealthy Lords, and an African-American family in the Halls.  It almost seemed that after Judith Light left the show in the early 80’s as Karen Wolek, the show got away from what made it originally groundbreaking, and at times it looked like it was fighting so hard for an identity.

JEFF: 

I am guessing, much like me, you saw every ten to fifteen years they would have a new little pocket of token minorities kind of bubble up for a little bit, and then fade away.

MICHAEL:

So many producers changed up One Life to Live in the early days; that if they had kept it to what it was at the beginning, it would have been a defining show in the ABC lineup instead of the least known of the ABC Daytime brand fighting for recognition between General Hospital and All My Children.

JEFF: 

You are absolutely correct!  And, I think a whole other book could be written about how everyone grossly misunderstood what Gloria Monty was doing at GH, and how deeply it affected every other show in daytime. And as far as getting away from its original identify, all OLTL had to do was go back to what they had at the beginning.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/YouTube

There was a really interesting moment in the book where Tony Call admits to a director’s note he was given on how to play the classic courtroom confession, where D.A Callison is grilling Karen and breaking her down bit by bit!  Apparently, Tony hated his performance!

JEFF:

I was fortunate to speak with him right after the OLTL Marathon on SOAPnet, shortly before they went off the air on ABC.  So his performance was fresh in my mind, and I remember thinking,” Oh, my God. This is so over the top.”   My clear memories of Herb are from the 80’s, and not that period.  And I remember him being a much more naturalistic actor.  So, I wanted to ask him about that.   He was very funny.  I really enjoyed hearing how he would go to real courtrooms and watch lawyers at work, and try to emulate what they were dong, and how ashamed he was of his own performance in this really iconic moment in the show’s history.

MICHAEL

“Solaramite and the Big 80’s” is the name of a chapter in the book, which harkens to the ridiculousness of some of the story arcs and themes at that time!

JEFF:

That storyline in particular reminds me of that weird interlude in OLTL’s history where they were kind of fumbling about, and it was mentioned in passing in the book, how Asa had a western bar and people hung out there, and they dabbled in country singing for a little bit   Bo owned a football team for awhile, and there was a period in the early 80’s where they did not know which direction they wanted to go.  But, that was an inadvertant prelude to all the stuff Paul Rauch (former OLTL executive producer (1984-1991) got up to with the Wild West, Heaven, and Eterna storylines.  I wish I had gotten more people to talk about Eterna, because that is the one that really is ridiculousness to me.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ErikaSlezak.com

I love when Erika Slezak talks about working with props like the papier-mâché looking rocks in the underground city of Eterna scenes!  She said in your book, ” So here were these two grown men, respected actors and directors, digging a hole in the studio floor to find the entrance to Eterna behind little papier-mâché rocks.”

JEFF:

I was lucky with that too, because those scenes were also on the OLTL SOAPnet marathon, and Erika was in scenes with the actor who played the Native American spirit guy called “Bright Eyes”.  My question to Erika was, “What is your approach to carry a scene like that, because it was obvious that the guy was not an actor, and you are surrounded by all of these very fake-looking props (I mean it looks fake on the TV screen.  It has to look ten times faker on the set.)  How do you sell the material?”  And that was her response, and she told me the director of that scene had to read “Bright Eye’s” lines to him one by one from off-camera as the scene was being filmed … he was that bad!

MICHAEL:

So in your book, Clint Ritchie’s (Ex-Clint Buchanan) drinking problem is discussed. Erika Slezak seemed to have a good perspective on the situation, though.

JEFF:

There was no judgment from her at all.  That story from her in the book, where he accidently throws a chair at her and she ends up stopping the scene, I left it in the book because she told it as part of the story, that the main condition for him re-signing with the show was that they needed to buy Erika a director’s chair, or he was not going to come back.  I thought that highlighted what a complex guy he was, and how complicated it was for everyone else who had a relationship with him.  Michael Storm talks about how he did not like working with Clint.  There were a couple of other people who talked about how belligerent he would get on the set, and how kind of mean he could be.  But, he was not always like that.  He was talented, and I thought Erika seemed to have a clear picture of who he was.  I never was of the opinion that he was judging him for his behavior   Linda Gottlieb (Former OLTL executive producer 1991- 1994) tells a story about showing up to the set on a Monday morning and the cast is in the middle of filming this dinner scene.  Clint showed up with bandages on his face, because he had gone out and done what they call “getting a little work done.”  She flipped out and was livid, because they had to change the storyline completely because his appearance had changed.

MICHAEL:

Out of all the producers that you discussed with former cast members, or behind the scenes personal, was there one producer who stood out as the most favorable?

JEFF:

Courtesy/ABC

No one said a bad word about Frank Valentini, and no one said a bad word about Jean Arley, either.  But everyone loved Frank Valentini, and how he earned his stripes under Paul Rauch.

MICHAEL:

In the book, there is a point where Hillary B. Smith (Nora) talked about one of the grossest moments in the shows story, involving Roscoe Born (as Mitch Laurence)?

JEFF:

She said, “She was so turned off by her own show, because she was so turned off that he was trying to rape his daughter, while spouting bible verses!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

How was Roscoe Born to talk to?  Mitch was such a heinous character, but the series always found a way to bring him back!

JEFF:

Roscoe was wonderful to talk to.  I think he is funny.  He will say things and contraindicate things – such as: he did not really care for the daytime stigma, but then talk about how it affected his career, and all the roles that it cost him, and the personal embarrassment of how people treated him because of it.  He was very open about that.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/YouTube

One of the things mentioned in the book that is fascinating is that during the closing arguments in Todd’s rape case, (that Hillary B. Smith won the Daytime Emmy for) she related to you that she overstepped her bounds and re-wrote a lot of the closing argument from the original dialog given to her, by then OLTL head writer, Michael Malone.

JEFF:

I can tell you that Michael Malone and Hillary are still friends, because it was Michael who put me in touch with Hillary. 

MICHAEL:

You also reveal how a beloved favorite, Marilyn Chris (Ex-Wanda Wolek) decided she was done with the show.  I remember watching the show back then.  All of a sudden, Marilyn was gone!

JEFF:

She did not want to do it anymore.  Marilyn was so afraid they were going to make her an offer she couldn’t refuse, so she begged them not to give her any financial figures.  She just said, “No, I can’t do it anymore.”  I think she saw the way the show was changing, and I don’t think she was really one of the actresses that had an allegiance to daytime.  I think like for a lot of other actors, it was a terrific way for her to subsidize her theatre career, and then she did not need the money anymore.  She was not working as much, and the landscape of the show had changed to such a great extent, it was easy for her to let go of the character.

MICHAEL:

Where does your book end … because right now, there is a huge cliffhanger for fans if One Life to Live will see a second season with Prospect Park?

JEFF:

It ends after the first season of the revival of One Life to Live, and interestingly enough the way that Prospect Park constructed their sets.  At ABC, the actors would come and go all day long for block/ taping schedules.  At Prospect Park’s version, the actors would have to be on set mostly all day long.   Both Erika and Hillary said it had the effect of restoring some of the theatre and repertory feeling to the company, and restored some of the comradarie they had in the old days.  I thought that was a nice way to bring it full circle.  I was really struggling to end the book on a happy note.  Since the “shelving” news came out just before I thought I was done.  So I ended it on a question mark … rather than a period.

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

Castle star Nathan Fillon (Ex-Joey Buchanan OLTL) also participated in the book?

JEFF:

Yes, he was wonderful.  The sense you get from him is he is a passionate defender of daytime.  He tells a great story of Bob Woods in the book where Nathan credits One Life to Live with giving him all the tools to become a successful actor, and how they gave him an acting coach.  He was green, and he picked up all these skills. Towards the end of his contract Bob Woods set him down and said, “You are going to leave.  No matter what, you are going to tell the network you are leaving at the end of your contract.  And, you are going to go to L.A. and do whatever it takes to get your career off the ground.  And if you try and you fail, you can always come back to One Life to Live.  But if you try and you stay, you are going to find yourself trapped in what Woods called, ‘Golden handcuffs’.”  It is his way of describing the soap actor’s lifestyle.  You get locked into that role for so many reasons; some of which are the steady work and money. You build a lifestyle, and you have mortgage payments to make, and you can’t get out to do other productions because you are always on the soap.  Then sometimes casting directors don’t want to see you because you have been on a soap.  For someone like Woods, it gave him a good life and lifestyle.  When Nathan Filllon told that story, and he looks around and sees everything he has, he knows he owes it to Bob Woods.

MICHAEL:

You also had a great story about Brandon Buddy coming from Texas and landing the role of Cole Thornhart.

JEFF:

I spoke with Brandon and how he got the role.  His manager told him, “You are not going to get the part, but go out to New York and have fun and treat it like a vacation.”  Brandon said he went out and tried out with all these other guys in the room, who were trying out for Cole.  After the auditions, somehow Brandon ended up ferrying all of these guys back to the hotel they were staying at.  And as he is driving them back to the hotel, they are all telling him how sure they are that they got the role!  (Laughs) Brandon seems very self-effacing and down to earth.

Courtesy/ErikaSlezak.com

MICHAEL:

The AIDS quilt storyline was one of the most emotional and remembered storylines in the history of OLTL, and so important for its time.  Roy Thinnes did a remarkable job at playing Sloan Carpenter, who dealt with coming to grips with his own son being gay, and also falling in love with Viki, and eventually dying.  But what went down behind the scenes, according to you in the book, was also intriguing!

JEFF:

Linda Gottlieb and Michael Malone lured Roy Thinnes back to play Sloan, after he played his other role on the show of Alex Crown.  He talks about how Alex was killed, and then they called and asked him to come back and he said, “My character’s dead!” Linda woo’d him back, because first he wanted to work with Erika Slezak and second, the story of the crusty old military guy who learns to accept his gay son, appealed to Roy. Unfortunately, it did not end very well.  They were playing him against Clint Ritchie, and Linda wanted to make a triangle on-screen.  Clint got hurt with a tractor accident and they had been meaning to get rid of Sloan.  But then when Clint got hurt they knew they needed to keep him around, and so they signed him to another deal.  And then when Clint got better, they decided to get rid of him.  And Peter Miner (Director, OLTL) said in the book, Roy was miserable because they would not tell him what Sloan was dying of, and he had no idea what was happening.

MICHAEL:

As someone who watched the show for a big chunk of time, went away from it and then came back to it years later, what are your favorite storylines or characters of all-time?

JEFF:

Photo Credit: ABC/Getty Images

When those three characters; Todd, John and Starr went over to General Hospital after One Life to Live ended on ABC, I was excited about the idea of it, as I wanted to see the characters continue, but seeing them in a different context really drove home for me that my fondness for OLTL was never really about any particular character, or couple. For me, it was the sum total, and all of those characters in that place of Llanview. And part of what was so gratifying about me coming back to One Life to Live after not watching it for so long was that sense of place.  I mean, obviously, it wasn’t completely the same, but a lot of it was. That felt good.

MICHAEL:

When you watched the final two episodes of One Life to Live on ABC, and the sheer brilliance of the writing, production and acting, what was the most moving moment for you as a long time fan of the show?

JEFF:

The really moving moment for me was in the final episode when Bob Woods turned to Hillary B. Smith and said, “I love you, Red.”   He said it in such a way that you could tell that he meant it.  He was in tears, and I told him how much I loved that scene.  There are a few moments from the last few years of the show on ABC that also were so emotional impactful to me, and one of those was when Viki and Jessica (Bree Williamson) are together and Jessica remembers that her baby died.  Instead of going over the top like a soap might, it was so quiet.  They just held each other.

Courtesy/JeffGiles

MICHAEL:

What is the picture on the cover of your book supposed to be?  Fans have been inquiring!

JEFF:

Well, I knew I couldn’t use any logo, or any still from the series, so I had to improvise. So I went to a stock photo company, and used a picture from the Philadelphia Town Hall, because it reminded me a bit of the opening credits of OLTL from the 80’s.

MICHAEL:

When, or how were your interviews with Erika Slezak (Viki) conducted?  Why do you think she wanted to talk with you about all things OLTL?

JEFF:

There were two interviews with Erika, actually.  She called me, and we talked for a while, and she invited me out to her place in Vermont.  And, we spent an afternoon doing follow-up stuff.  It was wonderful.  Erika made me quiche!  It was surreal.  I think the other thing people might want to take away from this, is often soap actors don’t have a chance to talk about the craft of acting in the context of daytime.  There is an incredibly unique thing they do of inhabiting one character for gross quantities of time, and using the character to traverse these insane emotional landscapes.  I think she was maybe glad for the opportunity to talk about all of this stuff.

MICHAEL:

What is that you want fans to takeaway from your book?  Was this a project done out of love for OLTL?

JEFF:

Courtesy/ABC

Yes, this was a project of love, and that is all it is.  I tried to write in such a way that even if you did not see the show, it’s still an interesting read.  I never really understood how deeply the odds were stacked against the people that worked on the show, from the actors, to the writers, to the producers.  They were always barely on the edge of the whole damn thing falling apart.  I think that is what carries through in the book, that as much as people may want to make fun of, or laugh at soaps, there is a lot of profound emotional drama that comes out of those shows.  It’s the only type of drama you can get out of a long form narrative, and that is on a soap opera.  The fact that it works as often as it does is a real testament to the skill, and the craft, and the dedication, and the effort that went in to those shows.

 

Leave a comment | 20 Comments
Advertisement

20
Leave a Reply

avatar
16 Comment threads
4 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
14 Comment authors
Kat Hilderbrandjaybird369FranAvatar610Charles E. Recent comment authors
newest oldest
Sean
Sean

Thank you for this interview. I got the book on my kindle as soon as it came out and now i’m in the process of rereading it. A book like this takes a few readings to get everything to sink in…it’s so great! a Must-have for all OLTL fans!

louisa
louisa

Thank you for the interview! Fascinating. Reading the book now.

Eric Henwood-Greer
Eric Henwood-Greer

This is a must own book for ANY soap fans, even if they never watched OLTL. *Finally* truly candid remarks, and the whole he said/she said format helps let the viewer make their own mind up about what happened. Especially thrilling to hear so many stories of the early years of the show–there’s always been so much mis-information (ie just how involved was Agnes during the 70s? Again, from a few different comments you’ll have to decide for yourself.)

I bought the Kindle edition when it first came out–even though I have no Kindle (I used the free computer Kindle reader) but a few pages in, knew I wanted it to be kept with the few favorite soap books I have (Schemering’s 1980s Soap Encyclopedia, Dan Wakefield’s All Her Children) so finally bought the on-demand print edition. Can’t recommend it enough–it has gossip about actors, insight about the struggled of putting on the show, details on storylines and writers… Just brilliant. I wish other soaps had a book like this.

Daniel
Daniel

Thanks for letting us know about this book a while back. It is fascinating – I can’t put it down! Brings back lots of memories of beloved actors and storylines.

Fran
Fran

I am half way done with the book it was written well not a tell all vibe , Ms holly seems to have issues. It would be nice if Erika would write a book about OLTL / her life she a classy lady and would not scandalize thing s, but I read somewhere that she wouldn’t write a book , but she did say she wouldn’t be on twitter their and she is on twitter , she tweets sometimes . so maybe u should ask her michael.

Patricio
Patricio

Hi Fran –

I have been hoping Erika Slezak writes a biography that would have OLTL at its center . It would b a fascinating read for any soap fan as her view of over 40 years on the sam show would be a unique and thoughtful read.

mgb357
mgb357

Thanks for writing this book. Hope to pick it up soon.
Will read it every day at 2:00pm, turning off the tv.
Maybe PP will see the sales and realize what they are missing out on.

Alan
Alan

Ordered this book the day Michael posted about it and couldn’t put it down. Well worth the money and a must have for OLTL fans.

Iakovos
Iakovos

This books is a delight and so entertaining and written with meaning. I ordered the Kindle edition as soon as I heard of the project. I am greatly enjoying it. Grew up with OLTL and hung on through all the shifts. The original premise of living in a diverse community with its class and economic struggles is the golden age for me. Loved it then.

dawnhaze
dawnhaze

Thanks Jeff. One Life to Live is my favorite soap and I enjoyed the excerpt above and mention of all the past characters. I didn’t know about your book until I read it in the interview but I immediate went to buy it. I know I will enjoy it since it is about characters that filled an hour of my day for so many years. I surely hope PP puts OLTL back on soon. I just hope it is soon. Thanks again for the book Jeff and to Michael for telling us about it.

jaybird369
jaybird369

Hmmm…I wonder…I wonder if Jeff Giles’s, um, book includes the following tidbits:
1. When Linda Gottlieb was OLTL’s executive producer in the early 90’s, Phil Carey tried (more than once) to undermine her authority. At one time, he even tried to get her fired.
2. Basically EVERYONE on the OLTL set HATED working with Barbara Luna because she was too difficult and demanding to work with. Clint Ritchie ESPECIALLY hated working with her.
3. BOTH Joe Stuart and ESPECIALLY Paul Rauch treated Ellen Holly like dirt.
4. Paul Rauch VERY CRUELLY fired BOTH Ellen Holly and Lillian Hayman will little or no explanation.
5. James DePaiva (when he was married to that Hee Haw chick Misty Rowe) kept bringing his marital drama to the OLTL set. Constantly.
In short…D-A-M-N!!!!!

dmr
dmr

I loved the courtroom scenes from when Judith Light confessed that her character Karen was a prostitute. I was too young to watch when these scenes first aired; but, I have seen them since in reruns; and what fantastic scenes! That’s what I miss about daytime, cliff-hanger Fridays, great, diverse storylines, like when Tad was sleeping with Marion and Liza on AMC, Erica was having an affair with Travis’ brother, Jack on AMC, old-style Luke and Laura on GH, the adventures of the WSB on GH and all of the 80’s icons, dramatic heat from Sonny and Brenda on GH, etc. Now, it’s a lot of recurring actors with hardly any talent (newbies on GH) or attempting to resurrect a character (OLTL characters on GH). I watch daytime for drama and romance! It’s an escape for me!

Charles E.
Charles E.

Does the book mention ANYTHING on Jacqueline Courtney and George Reinholt? I wonder if it touches on her affair with Joseph Stuart or how Robert S. Woods wasn’t that thrilled with her. Also, from what erika has had to say about Clint Ritchie, it seems that he was VERY much like George Reinhol, an emotionally tortured person who ALSO threw a chair on the set (that was during his “Another World” days- he threw it at AW director Ira Cirker in rage over Pete Lemay’s scripts- it’s been said that this particular incident led to his 1975 AW firing). OLTL picking up those two was a turning point in the show’s history, and then George made the now-ludicrous decision to leave the show only after two years! Was George Reinholt interviewed?

jaybird369
jaybird369

Charles…honestly, I forgot about Jacqueline Courtney. Dude…that DOES NOT surprise me at all that she had an affair with Joe Stuart. I once read somewhere that (when she was alive) Jacqueline had affairs with SEVERAL soap opera executives over the years. And, Jacqueline was downright MEAN AS HELL to other soap opera actresses and MOST soap opera actors TRULY HATED working with her because of her snobby, demanding and diva-like ways. Most of all, I wonder if Jeff Giles interviewed Jacqueline’s daughter for his book? Supposedly, Jacqueline’s daughter knows ALL of Jacqueline’s deep, dark secrets. Every last one of ’em!!!!!

Charles…take care, dude. Peace.

Avatar610
Avatar610

Well, I do know that for her last P&G contract on AW in the mid 70s she demanded her own dressing room with a toilet- and she got her wish!! This reminds me of how Joan Crawford had her own private toilet in her dressing room at MGM in the 30s, a fact that impressed Greta Garbo during the filming of “Grand Hotel”. George and Jacquie were very seemingly exclusive members of their own club on the AW set, so to speak, and apparently openly critized the work of fellow performers- just one reason why the rest of the cast didn’t mind saying goodbye to both actors when they were fired. Just before Paul Rauch came to produce OLTL, Jacquie’s contract wasn’t renewed, and according to her she was to be Dorian’s rival for David Renaldi’s affections instead of Jenny Wolek Siegel Vernon Janssen. Obviously ABC didn’t want a repeat of the Rauch vs. Courtney war from the 70s at AW- they valued Paul Rauch more than one of their biggest stars!

jaybird369
jaybird369

Avatar, check this out…back in the day, when she was on both Another World and (especially) One Life To Live, Jacqueline Courtney (over the years) did SEVERAL interviews. Interviews openly criticizing and OPENLY BASHING fellow co-stars from AW and OLTL, writers, producers, directors, crew members, etc.. One time, she even did an interview bashing BOTH NBC and (especially) ABC (aka the networks). Well, eventually, Jacqueline was pretty much forced into retirement because NO ONE in the soap opera community wanted to work with her anymore and (after a while) basically EVERYONE got tired of dealing with her. Period.

Take care, Avatar. Peace.

jaybird369
jaybird369

Avatar…check out these, um, other tidbits about Jacqueline Courtney:
1. When she was on BOTH AW and OLTL, Jacqueline used to annoy and irritate directors with her so-called and “helpful” suggestions. One day, it all reached a boiling point when a now former OLTL directer had enough and TOTALLY WENT OFF on her…including dropping the F-bomb SEVERAL TIMES in front of SEVERAL people on the OLTL set.
2. One time, on the AW set, Jacqueline VERY RUDELY walked into and interrupted a private meeting between some of the AW writers.
3. After a while, cast members from BOTH AW and OLTL had enough of Jacqueline’s snobby, insufferable and diva-like ways and each told producers of BOTH shows POINT-BLANK, “It’s EITHER her or us!!!!!”

Bottom Line: Over the years, Jacqueline Courtney burned A LOT of soap opera bridges with her unreasonable, demanding and awful behavior. STUPID WOMAN!!!!!

Fran
Fran

just finished book great book . thanks .. someone needs to write A tell all book about OLTL the above comments sound juicy . Hey this sound like a drama within a daytime drama I would buy that book in a minute too.

jaybird369
jaybird369

That does not surprise me (at all) that Michael Storm did not like working with Clint Ritchie. Back in the day, on the OLTL set, ONLY Erika Slezak, Robert S. Woods and the late Phil Carey enjoyed working with CR. That was because all 3 of them knew how to deal with him and knew how to keep him in line. As for the rest of the OLTL cast (overall), they all either “cheerfully” tolerated working with CR or they flat-out HATED working with him. Period.

Kat Hilderbrand
Kat Hilderbrand

This is a must-read for any OLTL fan. I read it once and am reading it through again. The stories for behind the scenes of 4 decades are so interesting for the fan to read. It is fantastic that Jeff Giles tracked down so many different people from the show for this book. Bravo!

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Alum Kevin Spirtas Chats On His Heart-Tugging Series ‘After Forever’ & Love and Life In Your 50s

Filling the void in the digital drama series arena, the eight episodes first season of After Forever (available on Amazon), tackles the journey of a two middle-aged gay men in their 50’s in a deep romantic relationship, and looks at it through its various stages of love, loss, and moving on with one’s life when suddenly your world is turned upside down, when one of them has died.

While the LGBT community has seen other love-centric and dramatic web series, none have really taken a deep dive into the difficulties of starting anew in your 50’s or even older.  Leave it to former Days of our Lives alum and Broadway producer, Kevin Spirtas (Ex-Craig Wesley), along with another DAYS alum, writer, Michael Slade, and the two put their shared experiences, and dramatic ideas into this emotional series, that is not limited to anyone who is gay, but touches on the universal themes that anyone may have, or will experience, at one time in their lives.

Spirtas, brought along with him none some notables for his passion project.  First, none other than former Prospect Park One Life to Live EP, Jennifer Pepperman, to bring his vision to life, and some amazing co-stars: Mitchell Anderson (Ex-Party Of Five), MIchael Urie (Ugly Betty), Cady Huffman (Ex-OLTL), Anita Gillette, Colleen Zenk (Ex-Barbara, ATWT) to  name just a few.

While the series bowed a little over a month ago, if you haven’t taken a look, check out our interview with Spirtas for some juicy insight into the making of and the construct of, After Forever.  Following that, check out the teaser for the series, and the video for the theme song, “My Forever” by Lio Nicol which becomes available tomorrow June 4th on Amazon and iTunes.

Photo Credit/JPI Studios

What was the genesis of the idea for the series?

KEVIN:  Patrika Darbo, came to New York close to 7 years ago. She had called me ahead of time, and said, “I was asked to present at the ISA Awards, and you’re coming with me.”  She was getting very involved in the world of the web series. I looked at this amazing presentation of content that was being shown at the ISA’s.  I was blown away. It was better than half the stuff on TV, theater, or film. At that point, I made a mad rush for a gentleman by the name of Sebastian La Cause.  Sebastian had won several awards that night and his material was so well presented, and beautifully shot, and his acting was very unique.

Sebastian La Cause was the star of the web series Hustling, right?

KEVIN:  Yes, it was Hustling, the first season.  I went up to him and I said, “I’m Kevin Spirtas. I’m an actor, I did a soap …”  He goes, “Kevin, I know who you are.” I was starstruck, and impressed, and inspired, because he is exactly the kind of person I want to work with.  He is talented, and creative and I want to work with those kind of people. I said to him, “If you do a second season, I’d love to be considered for anything you might be doing.”  Wouldn’t you know? He wrote me in. I fell in love with the story. I was very clear to me, that you have to start creating for yourself, because creating your own content in this industry now is king.  The third season of Hustling then crossed me over to appearing in Winterthorne.  That was also the first year that NATAS opened up the judging to the digital world.  I got nominated for an Emmy. It inspired me to start thinking about, ‘What do I know?  What do I have in my life that I feel is worth sharing and putting out there to help heal, or inspire?’  I had been producing in New York City for 3 years at this point.

Photo Credit/JPI Studios

It becomes every performer’s concern, as they get older, that they can still be considered for the roles they would like to play.  Sometimes, actors can grow into the types of roles, and sometimes they’ve expired past those types of roles. Was creating After Forever also a way to re-enter being part of the conversation?

KEVIN:  Well, I was hoping to write something for myself … because I just didn’t see the roles coming toward me anymore.  My name wasn’t on them as I imagined them or had seen them in the past. I was worried about that. I thought, “If I have a chance to keep working, I’ve got to keep current.”

And somehow, you and Michael Slade ran into each other, and thus, a collaboration began that would eventually turn into After Forever?

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  Then, I ran into Michael Slade at a gym… I had never met him before, he was a writer on Days as I was leaving the show.  And I remember saying to myself, “wouldn’t it be great to work with somebody, and see what kind of story we could come up with?”  Unbeknownst to me, Michael, at that particular time in his life, was working on the very same type of story and idea about what it’s like to be who he is, at his age, where he’s at, and what he knows.  I pitched him this idea: “I think there’s some really funny ideas I could express to the world about my experience as a single gay man at this point.” He said, “Call me.” In short, he was living life as a single gay man, and I was living life as a single gay man, and that’s how After Forever was born.  Michael had the experience of losing his long-time partner of 25 years.  There’s a part in the story where Brian and Jason are going along and they have everything in their life that they could possibly want, and then they don’t, because Jason is diagnosed with cancer and it takes him away.

Do we see Jason die in this?

KEVIN:  You just might! … It’s how we incorporated him in the story…

Courtesy/AfterForever

After Forever bounces back and forth in time, obviously, that was part of the unique structure of the storytelling?

KEVIN:  It does do that.  It tells the story through a lot of present, and a lot of flashbacks.  There is also the present with Brian, and his memory of Jason. As Brian is going through the next chapter of his life as a single man, he has to look at his life and learn how to continue to love even though the person’s not there.  When someone dies, the love doesn’t die, the relationship doesn’t die, it keeps growing on a certain level. So, if he turns around, and he sees him, is it real? Is it him working it out in his own mind? It’s a tool to tell more story …

Tell me about casting Mitchell Anderson?  He had retired and moved to Atlanta, and he ends up playing the love of Brian’s life.

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  When Michael and I were writing, we threw out, “Who do you think would play this part?”  One day, I just dropped the name “Mitchell Anderson” I said, “I just see him as Jason.” Michael said to me, “Kevin, he’s retired.”  I just knew Mitchell and I had great history in the business. We started off as actors together in class. He went one direction, I went another, then he left the business, but I just felt there was something about his persona – not to mention his talent – his unique humor, his sensibility, and style, so I said, “I think we should ask him.”  We did. Mitchell said, “Okay, Kevin. Let me read the script.” He called back immediately after receiving it, and said, “I would love to do this!” I have not stopped thanking him every day. He’s so good in it.

The main character of Brian goes on this journey: he meets other guys, some appear younger than others! (Laughs)

KEVIN:  It’s a year after Jason is gone, Brian is trying to settle into his new life, but he’s guilty that his partner has died.  He has sadness, grief, and so much love for Jason that he’s having trouble moving forward, and everyone is trying to push him forward.  Brian is not necessarily ready, but sometimes his body is ready, while emotionally, he’s not. It’s how we deal with all that navigation of seeing good-looking guys.  He meets a guy in the middle of the series, and it starts to open up the doors. That’s the beauty of what happens when he starts to let himself open up to the possibilities.  There are some great rollercoaster moments that you’ll see.

Would you do another season of After Forever?

KEVIN:  Oh, my God!  Michael and I have already started to script out seasons 2 and 3.

Courtesy/AfterForever

Middle-aged gay men do have it rough in the relationship department, if they’re not already partnered up by this point in their life.  Younger guys think they’re over the hill, older guys aren’t necessarily interested either, and unfortunately, the LGBTQ community is unforgiving to community if you’re not young and pretty, and not in your 20s or 30s. There aren’t a lot of LGBT-oriented shows out there like this.  On that level, I think the concept of the show is an important story to tell.

KEVIN:  We were absolutely committed to writing not just another gay story.  We’ve seen those. I think the beauty of After Forever is that it’s not just a gay story- even though it’s told through two gay men… but, it’s a story about love … it’s a story about loss.  Everyone is going to have to deal with this in their life.

Courtesy/AfterForever

Dealing with loss is part of the circle of life, whether it’s a parent, a child, a lover, a friend, or your longtime partner. Many in the LGBT community succumbed to AIDS in the ‘80s and ‘90s, which was a pivotal moment in the gay movement.

KEVIN:  We lost half of our community.  We lost half of our brothers. To jump back to that history with Mitchell, he and I had so many mutual friends who aren’t here anymore.  We would look at the scene that was at hand, take a breath, look at each other, and they’d say “action” and we’d step into these people. Yes, it’s gay themed, because it’s told by two leading male characters who are gay.  But, I have heard more people in the last two months since this has come out, who have not only stopped and said, “Thank you for writing such a wonderful story about love and loss, and new beginnings, but also, what it’s like to have to confront that loss.” They also went on to say, “For so many years, gay people have had to watch the heterosexual world. People are trying to fit themselves into our world now, into our story, and how they would feel navigating it.”

Michael Urie is in it too? And you have some pretty accomplished people in your cast.  

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  Yes, there’s Michael Urie, Cady Huffman who sings in one of the episodes.  Tere is a scene in episode 3 that it still floors me, I can’t watch it without losing it.  Then, there’s Anita Gillette, Lenny Wolpe, David Dean Bottrell. Everyone is perfect, and everyone was able to show up, and everyone delivered a million percent.

What’s the response you’ve been getting from people who have watched After Forever?  You mentioned it’s been very positive.  

KEVIN:  Everyone has been touched.  The majority who have seen this, are just moved to tears and full of excitement.

I saw that Jennifer Pepperman, ex-executive producer of One Life to Live, directed your series.  What was it like working with Jen?

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  We had a lot of people who we could have pulled from.  Jennifer came up in conversation, because she had sent Michael an invitation to go see her new short film that she had done with Austin Peck (Ex-Austin, Days) and his wife, Teri Conn (Ex-Katie, ATWT).  I said, “Maybe if I go see the show and I like it, I can introduced myself to Jennifer.”  I called him right after and I said, “If we don’t get her, we’re crazy!” She’s so good. What she did is perfection.  We shot the whole thing like a movie. It was shot in 12 days. She knew everything she wanted to do and it shows in the edit.  And, this extraordinarily, talented girl named Colleen Kwok, who was the director of photography. She’s the real thing. She got it.  She got the style we were going for immediately.

So, we want to tell people to binge watch the series on Amazon.

KEVIN:  Binge it, or make it last for 15 days…

How many hankies will I need for this? 10? 5?

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  I say Kleenex is not included … Anybody who has ever loved, anybody who has ever lost, must see this show, because it unifies all of us, it shows us that we are the same.  It shows us that we still have love in our lives, regardless of if that person is gone, the relationship never ends, it never dies. That’s what people are getting from this.  That’s what people are taking away from it. You and I were raised with the symbols of a straight world and how we had to fit into that certain way of life. That’s changed now.  We have Will & Grace … we have RuPaul … all these great things that are illustrating our diversity.  Now, people are going, “it’s just a story being told.”

What was Mitchell’s reaction when he saw the final product?

KEVIN:  We saw it together…We just sat there and cried.  It’s hard. Especially, the first two episodes and the last two episodes.  We served it up, Michael, we served it up!

Courtesy/AfterForever

I think you spoke to a greater issue, as you move through this career, you have to remain relevant as things change.  So, you’ve dipped yourself into this pool and now you can do more.

KEVIN:  I hope so.  You and I talked about this along time ago, when I first started on Days Of Our Lives, it was still a different world.

It was so different back then.  Actors couldn’t be out. There was still that stigma that if the audience at home knew they were gay, they wouldn’t buy into what they were portraying.

KEVIN:  That’s where I kind of worked it out, because I didn’t pretend not to be me, I just wasn’t very open about everything in my life.  Not that I still am. There’s certain things that I don’t talk about, because it’s not relevant, or it’s no one’s business.

So, do you get the obligatory question, “What’s a guy like you doing being single”? (Laughs)

KEVIN:  Michael said to me one day, “How come a guy like you is single?”  I made a joke out of it and said, “Have you seen me eat? Come on!”

So, intrigued to check out After Forever? What do you think about its central theme looking at what happens when one loses their partner at middle-age and more?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

Continue Reading

General Hospital

GH’s Laura Wright and Wes Ramsey Talk Their Love Connection & The Demands Of Daytime

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

After presenting for the first time together, at the 45th Annual Daytime Emmys since they’ve been a couple, Laura Wright (Carly) and Wes Ramsey (Peter aka Henrik) of General Hospital have certainly been in the throes of a romantic, fun, and cherished relationship. The two former stars of Guiding Light reconnected last year at Emmy time. Now, sharing their over one year anniversary, Michael Fairman TV caught up with Laura and Wes to get some insight into what makes their relationship work amidst the hustle and bustle, and pace of both being on a network television daytime drama series, and with the pressures of Hollywood where often relationships between two actors seem to start hot and heavy but then fizzle out.

If you caught this week’s GH, you witnessed that the town of Port Charles has found out that Peter is the notorious Cesar Faison’s son, and the ramifications that will be felt for weeks and months and potentially years to come. Meanwhile, Carly is in all sorts of trouble, thanks to naughty Nelle (Chloe Lanier). Nelle is making Carly look awfully unstable and what happens next could change Carly’s life forever.

So, what do these two lovebirds have to say about their relationship and their passion for working on the soaps? Check out what they had to share below. 

Wes, you had met Laura originally years ago on Guiding Light.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: Yes, 15 years ago in New York.

And what did you think of her then?

Wes: Well, I was smitten, but I had to keep it to myself.

You had to keep it under wraps, huh?

Wes: Yep!

Laura: I was married then.

Wes: She was pregnant with her second child.

Laura: And he’s a good Kentucky boy.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: Uh-huh! But we would run lines in the green room and I would try very hard to make sure she didn’t catch me staring at her… too often. But we laughed, and had great conversation.

Laura: I would always say, “Wes, will you run lines with me?,” because I would want to run my lines.

Wes: We never had story together, but she always knew I was game to hang out with her for a moment.

It’s good when you’re in a relationship with someone and you can laugh with them. You seem to be able to do that a lot!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Laura: Oh, gosh. I think that’s all we do.

Wes: Yes, yes, yes, yes…

Laura: Like, we belly laugh. It gets to the point where people would think we were ridiculous. We’ll say things and just think it’s the funniest thing ever and people would be like, “You guys have a problem …” and we’re like, “Yeah.” (Laughs)

Laura, and then he comes back into your life years later…

Wes: That’s right, it was Emmy weekend 2017.

Laura: I totally was not expecting it at all. Even when I gave him my number I walked away going “huh…”

You mean you thought he wouldn’t call?

Laura: No, I didn’t feel that… because he hit on me hard. He’ll tell you that.

Wes: I still am hitting on her.

Laura: I remember I walked away quick after he got my number. I was like, “Oh, my God … I gotta go.”

Courtesy/Instagram

Wes: There was an assertiveness on my part that was for sure 15 years in the making. I did not expect to run into her. I also did not expect for her to tell me that she was recently single. In that split second, it was one of those, “stop the presses!” moments. Like, you need to give me your number, I’m taking you to dinner.

Laura: I go, “Oh, be quiet! Are you like, 32, because I can’t do that.” (Laughs)

Wes: And I said, “Far from it.”

Laura: He’s like, “I’m getting ready to be 40.” And I’m like, “I can do that!”

Then, on top of all of this, Wes, you land a primo role on General Hospital. That of Henrik aka Peter, Cesar Faison’s son.

Photo Credit: Courtesy/ABC

Wes: Yes, a dream come true.

Laura: I’m going to jump in and say it’s a role that he worked all on his own for. He had to screen test against 8 plus guys, 3 different auditions, 2 different days.

Wes: That’s true.

Laura: I can’t say strong enough that the best actor got the role. Meaning, Wesley is so talented and has the ability to give this character the depth, and emotion, and layers that it needs to tell the story that needs to be told. I just think he’s incredible.

So, did you know from the get-go who you were going to be playing?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: I did not.

Laura: I did! (Laughs)

Wes: I’m thrilled that the writers have been giving me such incredible material to dive into.   Each month that goes by, it becomes more and more complex, and more and more layered and intense. I love the depth… I love the conflicts… I love the humanity… I love the desperation… I love the psychology behind it. It’s a very interesting story and a great journey to tell.

Laura: I was getting ready to say, where you mentally have to go to be the son of Faison and Anna Devane (Finola Hughes)! To blend that together is amazing. It’s incredible to watch.

You used to run lines together on Guiding Light. Do you run lines together now on GH? It’s like a full circle moment.

Laura: We do, and we carpool.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: Something we were trying to manifest together. We thought it would be a lot of fun to work together one day.

Laura: The last week we worked, we didn’t. He worked all afternoon. I worked all morning. I was like, “Are they doing this on purpose?” I was so mad! I was like, “Why are you in the afternoon everyday?” (Laughs)

Wes: She lost her chauffeur. (Laughs)

Laura: I did! He always drives us to work. I also love when we both have afternoon calls, because we love having mornings together. So, I didn’t get my morning, nor did I have my chauffeur!

So, two actors can have a good relationship? You see so many Hollywood relationships with actors and they go bust. But that’s not always the case …

Wes: Oh, my God, yes.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Laura: I’m going to say this; I think I can see it being more difficult for daytime actors, because the work we do is so intense. I know the weeks he’s getting ready to go into, and I’m getting ready to go into. Where we go emotionally and psychologically to tell these stories, on the level that we tell them, as quick as we tell them, you kind of have to become really in a headspace. The fact that we can …

Wes: … the long hours …

Laura: Yes, and exhaustion! You really have to go, “Wow! It’s not about me right now. It’s about us individually as actors.” Thank God, we know the workload. I know what he’s getting ready to go through.

Wes: I have always had so much respect for Laura’s work. On Guiding Light, I’ve always been in awe of what she’s capable of doing. So, the level of respect is obviously there. But also, the understanding whatever it is that you need from a personal assistant in one moment… or a life partner in another moment … or a best friend in moment … or whatever it is in order to get through the day-to-day and the week-to-week, so we can do what we love to do. We know we’re very lucky to have the opportunity to do what we love.

Courtesy/welcometolaurasworld Instagram

Laura was such a great co-host on my Soap Nation Live! Daytime Emmy Nomination Specials, in particular when she talks about acting. It’s so rewarding to hear the other actors who are guests on the show listening to what Laura has to say about her craft and respecting the hell out of her.

Wes: Without a doubt. You can’t watch her work and not be in awe. It speaks for itself.

Laura: I just love the journey of going to the places that we go; to bleed for it.

Wes: Leave it all out on the floor.

Laura: I know that process. So, when I see another actor that’s bleeding, I just bow to them, because I know what it takes to go there. I know the work that Wesley does. When I see that he’s spent at the end of the day, I’m like, “Babe, I so get it.” So, I can see where it could be really difficult for people that haven’t been there, because it’s a lot of work and you’re spent. It’s hard! For us, that works.

What do you think of Laura and Wes’ love connection? What do you think of the latest developments for GH’s Carly and Henrik? Comment below.

Continue Reading

Interviews

EXCLUSIVE: 45th Annual Daytime Emmys Winners & Backstage Video Interviews!

Photo : MF Soaps Inc

The 45th Annual Daytime Emmys are in the record books.  And as previously reported, it was a big night for NBC’s Days of our Lives taking Outstanding Drama Series, Writing and Directing in a Drama Series Awards, plus top acting nods to James Reynolds (Abe) and Greg Vaughan (Eric).

Behind the scenes while the ceremony continued on-stage, and as the night’s big winners and several presenters were whisked away backstage following their victory, they took to the Winner’s Walk and chatted with Michael Fairman who got their reactions to winning the gold, or presenting important moments of the night during the live-stream broadcast.

From DAYS Deidre Hall (Marlena), Dr. Oz, The Ladies of The Talk, and GH’Chris Van Etten to DAYS head scribe Ron Carlivati, to Y&R’s actress winners: Eileen Davidson (Ashley) and Camryn Grimes (Mariah), and GH’s Chloe Lanier (Nelle, Vernee Watson (Stella) and more now you can watch the complete backstage series of conversations on The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.  Make sure to “subscribe” for these and more celebrity interviews.

After the jump, check out some of the winners and backstage interviews with Michael.  You can also go directly to the video you are looking to view, by clicking on the blue hyperlink on the interviewees name. (more…)

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Video du Jour

This week, Nick lost temporary custody of Christian leading to a defiant and emotional turn by Joshua Morrow (Nick) as he has to say farewell to the little boy he has come to love as his own son, and give him to his father, Victor, who wanted and was granted custody of the child. Watch the hankie-inducing moment! Leave A Comment

The Michael Channel

Recent Comments

  • Cassie Misino: “How can there be Dynasty with no CC!?
  • Jamesj75: “THIS is bizarre... Count me in as a fan of Nathalie's work as well as the reboot in general. I'm…
  • dmr: “I like Jason Thompson and like him as Billy Abbott. I just don't like this storyline and I don't…
  • dmr: “I have zero interest in this storyline. Summer's return is awful. What a wretched character; and the acting…
  • Momo: “Summer had to know about Billy's gambling addiction. I am not interested in seeing Billy get sucked back into…
Advertisement

Power Performance

Jason Thompson as Billy

The Young and the Restless

Airdate: 6-21/22-2018

Advertisement

Popular