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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.

 

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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!

Interviews

B&B’s Katherine Kelly Lang on That ‘Brill’ Kiss, 33 Years as Brooke, Her Co-Stars & International Success

Just when you think Brooke will finally score a moral victory in her vendetta with Thomas Forrester, (who’s manipulations almost destroyed her marriage to his father, Ridge), then she finds herself once again in hot water, and with a secret that in the wrong hands could cause a seismic shift to several relationships – that would he hers and her sister Katie’s – thanks to that ill-timed smooch with Bill!

But what else is new for Brooke? For 33 years, the character has captivated audiences with bold moves, questionable choices, enduring romances and plenty of gusto, all in the more than capable hands of her portrayer, the one and only Katherine Kelly Lang.

This week marks Katherine’s 33rd-year in the role of Brooke Logan Forrester, who along with John McCook (Eric Forrester), are the two original cast members since the very inception of the CBS daytime drama; which debuted back on March 23, 1987.  Now over three decades later, Lang is an international favorite. First, due to the success and broad appeal of B&B in foreign countries, but second, from her own entrepreneurship and hustle.  Always with multiple projects going on at once, Lang and her beau, Dom Zoida recently opened the American version of the Italian clothing and leather store in Beverly Hills, California, Benheart USA.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Katherine to get the lowdown on: Brooke’s line-up of nemesis’ which seems to be growing! (Yes, you can put Thomas, Quinn and Shauna on that list, for sure.) Plus, what she feels this B&B anniversary is truly about, how she and others in the cast are coping with the ‘stay at home’ orders in California during the coronavirus pandemic, the recent loss of B&B co-creator, Lee Phillip Bell, and those all-time classic Stephanie and Brooke scenes opposite Susan Flannery and more.  Here’s what this BOLD original had to share with all of you.

Photo: JPI

What did you think about Brooke’s whole relationship with Thomas (Matthew Atkinson) and the tit-for-tat between them?  Brooke really stood up to him and his manipulations, and held her ground. Meanwhile, he was going to do everything he could do ruin her and cause so much trouble for Brooke’s marriage to Ridge (Thorsten Kaye).

KATHERINE: This is my feeling: she was so adamant and so trying to convince people about Thomas and that he was so out for himself;  and out for Brooke’s daughter, Hope (Annika Noelle), and very manipulative, and nobody would listen really.  Only a few people like Liam (Scott Clifton) did and her daughter finally agreed with her.  Then at the wedding of Thomas and Zoe (Kiara Barnes), it proved that Brooke was right all along.  I still don’t feel like Brooke got her due as far as what everybody was saying.

No, she didn’t!  No one really said to her in a grand way, “Oh, my God, Brooke!  You were right about Thomas all along.”

KATHERINE:  I know!  Ridge did say, “You were right,” and that’s great.  However, more people should have apologized and acknowledged her, and said, “Oh, we understand now where you were coming from,” and, “Hey!  Good intuition!”

Photo: JPI

That was must have been so frustrating to Brooke!  She knew the truth, and everybody was treating her so badly and painting her to be the bitch.

KATHERINE:  Yup!  They dubbed herthat crazy one” and the bitch.

Was all of this enjoyable to play?

KATHERINE:  It was enjoyable that it finally came out that Thomas is the manipulative person that he is, even though he is so good at it that he almost makes you feel sorry for him.  But he’s like a good sociopathThat’s why they’re so good at what they do.  They’re good at bringing real emotion into every situation and yet being very manipulative.  Kudos go to Matthew Atkinson for playing Thomas, really well.  He’s been great, and he brings something really different on to our show.

Photo: JPI

Brooke and Ridge’s relationship has been severely tested; almost tearing them apart over Ridge previously standing up for his son.  Now Brooke’s recent kiss with Bill (Don Diamont) threatens it, as that kiss was caught on tape, and landed in the wrong hands.  Is Brooke in freak-out mode yet?

KATHERINE:  I definitely think she is, and she wanted to take that kiss back from the second that it happened.  She allowed it to happen.  It’s a little bit of old Brooke resurfacing there.  Right away she was like, “What are we doing?   This is ridiculous.  You’re with Katie, and I’m with Ridge, and we’re both happy.”  Brooke has had underlying feelings for Bill, and she probably always will (and he for Brooke), but we know that’s not where we want things to be.  So, in Brooke’s mind, it’s “let’s forget about that and carry on, and don’t tell anybody.”  Of course, it comes out to some people, and it’s so embarrassing for Brooke.  Like, how does she explain herself?  I mean, at that point she can’t explain what happened … or why she did that.  She has to kind of succumb to it.

Right! And of course, Shauna (Denise Richards) and Quinn (Rena Sofer) want to take her down with this ammo.

KATHERINE:  Of course!  That’s what they live for. (Laughs)

Photo” JPI

Recently, Quinn spiked Brooke’s drink with some booze after they had quite the argument. Fans were on the edge of their seats that Brooke might start drinking again.  What did you think of the plot point?

KATHERINE:  I think it could have been interesting.  I have no idea if they will bring it up again.  That happens sometimes.  They’ll put in a little teaser and not run with it.  However, you never know if it’s going to resurface down the line, especially when Brooke is really down in the dumps for some reason.

I could see her being down in the dumps if she finally had no man in her life! (Laughs)

KATHERINE: (Laughs) That’s probably what she needs … not having a man in her life!

How is working with Rena Sofer and Denise Richards; especially when they are antagonists in scenes with Brooke?  Do you ever have a good laugh while trying to tape those scenes, as well?

KATHERINE: I think there’s a good chemistry between the three of us, and we have that rivalry going on.  So, I think it’s been working, and it’s been entertaining and interesting.  They’re fun to bounce off of.  Usually we are pretty serious when we do those scenes, especially if they’re more verbally combative.  So, we’ll just be really serious and stay in it.  Of course, sometimes things happen, and you laugh, but we sometimes don’t have the luxury to take the time to laugh and enjoy the moment, because we have to try to get the scene done in one take and move on.

Photo: JPI

There were a few months there that Brooke was slapping everybody! There were plenty of bitch-slaps that needed to go around. What did you think of those scenes?

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KATHERINE: I loved it, but then I felt like it was also maybe getting out of hand because it’s not really PC.  Nobody is supposed to hit people or slap people in anyway.  So, it worked more years and years ago in our genre, as times have changed in our world and culture.

Viewers saw this week that Donna (Jennifer Gareis) knows Brooke kissed Bill and that they have to make sure Katie (Heather Tom) does not find out, while others are out to expose Brooke!

KATHERINE:  I would imagine that everybody would want to see how Brooke unravels.  So, just keep watching!

Photo: JPI

Would you welcome another go round at a Brooke and Bill romance?

KATHERINE: Not when Bill’s with Katie and with everything that Katie’s gone through.  I couldn’t see that.  I don’t think it would be right.  That would mean that Brooke is completely selfish, you know?  There are so many other men.  Why does she have to go for her sister’s man?

Photo: JPI

In recent months, we have witnessed scenes where Brooke has been more confrontational and fighting back and not putting up with the shenanigans of others!  We have seen this in particular with Thomas, Shauna, and Quinn.  Did it seem like they ramped that up for Brooke?

KATHERINE:  Yes, because at some point it’s frustrating because nobody was listening to her.  It all started with the whole Thomas thing, and once she started fighting back, she wanted to fight back on everything.  She’s been lied to about a lot of things.  It’s not been fair.

Does Brooke still think Hope is too vulnerable to make wise decisions for herself; even after she stood up for herself at the wedding of Thomas and Zoe?

KATHERINE: Now. I think she feels much better, because there are moments where Hope is very vulnerable, but then she kicks herself in the butt, and stands up for herself and everybody else.  So, Brooke knows that Hope’s strong, but she also knows that she can be vulnerable.  At this moment, she is proving that she can handle things.

Photo: JPI

B&B turned 33-years-old this week as the show continues to remain so popular in the United States, and of course, is the most watched soap in the world. What can you say about still being with the series since its inception, and all that has happened to you in your life and career, because of playing Brooke, plus a nod to the fans?

KATHERINE: It’s been an amazing opportunity for me.  It’s been my life basically! 33 years on The Bold and the Beautiful, and the show has always kicked butt.  I mean, the show has been going strong ever since it started, and it still is going strong.  It’s just been an honor to be on the show, and remain on the show for so long as one of the original characters.  My heart really goes out to the fans, because honestly, so many of them tell me they’ve watched from day one.  We have a history with them raising their families.  Younger people come up and say, “I’ve been watching the show ever since I was little with my mom.”  So, there’s a wide range of different people who watch the show, and I appreciate them so much.  We all appreciate them so much because really, without them, there would be no show.  I just want to say ‘thank you’ to all of the fans.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Photo: JPI

Brooke is one of the most notable characters of all-time in soap operas and you are the actress playing her. That has to be a very good-feeling for you.

KATHERINE: I think there have been a lot of notable characters on soap operas, who have even been on the air a lot longer than me.  Look at Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) who just celebrated his 40th, and Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki, Y&R) who also reached a milestone recently.  What I have learned from all of this is; what matters is when you come on a show that your heart is in it 100%, and you come to your job and you try your hardest.  That to me is what matters and makes you an honorable person.  I’m very flattered that I’ve been on The Bold and the Beautiful for as long as I have.

Photo” JPI

When you look back at 33 years of your time on The Bold and the Beautiful, are your scenes with Susan Flannery and those epic moments between Stephanie and Brooke, the ones that still standout to you the most?

KATHERINE: Those scenes with Susan informed and formed the show and the characters for years.  I had a lot of memorable scenes with Susan.  I’m so lucky to have worked so closely with her.  She’s an amazing actress.  I learned so much from her, and just watching her.  I would hang on her every word – how she would talk about the business, how she would talk about acting, directing (because she loved to direct), and producing.  Susan was very knowledgeable, and she was very tough, but very fair, I thought.  I just loved her work ethic.

You and Thorsten Kaye have created your version of Brooke and Ridge. What do you think about working with Thorsten?  Is it fun? Challenging? How would you define it?

KATHERINE:  He’s very fun to work with.  Thorsten is very serious, very prepared all of the time, and he’s watching everything.  He’s got eagle eyes.  He’s just so on top of it and working with people like that makes you raise your bar.  It makes you want to try 110% to be there and put in the work.  Thorsten’s also so funny, and easy to work with, and so charming, and such a dear friend.   I love working with him.  I do think Brooke and Ridge have an interesting relationship even though some people say, “Oh, they should be over,” or whatever they want to say.  I do think they have created a good banter between them, and almost an understanding without having to say anything.  Thorsten’s a delight!

Photo: JPI

What is your takeaway when you travel overseas and internationally to places such as Italy, Dubai, Monaco or Australia where B&B is so widely popular and the reaction you receive from the fans?

KATHERINE:  Just seeing the overseas reactions in different countries and how popular or how loved The Bold and the Beautiful is truly special.  The fans really do love from their hearts.  They feel a part of it, and they are, but just their enthusiasm and their passion and their love, and they give their whole heart to you and to the show.  I just found that really interesting, and like I said earlier, we owe the success of B&B to the fans who love the show so much.

Photo: JPI

You recently were in Greece appearing for a multi-episode arc on the soap 8 Lexeis.  How was that experience?  I know Greek soap star, Andreas Georgiou, also came over to the States and appeared on B&B afterwards, too.

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KATHERINE:  It was an incredible opportunity.  I love working in other countries, and seeing how other people work, and how they make different projects and things.  8 Lexeis is their top TV show on their top network in Greece, so it was really exciting to go there and work on that.  I did 15 episodes in 5 days; something crazy like that.  We worked all morning through late at night every day, but it was fun.  It was amazing to see how creative they are and how they just run with it.  Everything was really chill on the set, but they still moved really fast and got everything done, and they were all so talented and so nice.  Then later, Andreas came over and did some shows here.  He was supposed to come to visit, but then the Coronavirus happened, so he had to postpone his trip, but we’ll see him soon.

Photo: JPI

B&B is on a production break due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Have you stayed in touch with your co-stars during this time?

KATHERINE: A lot of us talk on Instagram all of the time, and then a lot of people have been going live on their as well.  So, we jump into each other’s live videos!  Have you seen Katrina Bowden (Flo) and Kelly Kruger (Mackenzie, Y&R) do their little workouts together? You should check those out! Ashley Jones (Bridget) is always on, and Annika Noelle, and then our Supervising Producer, Casey Kasprzyk, started doing Zoom.  He did a Zoom with some of the B&B people.  So, we’ve all been texting and keeping in touch and making sure that everybody is okay.  I know it’s very hard times and it can be scary for all.   Hopefully, if everybody does what they should be doing, it will flatten the curve and the Coronavirus will be a lot easier to deal with.

Photo: JPI

You are one of the busiest people I know! Recently, you went to Australia, you opened your new store Benheart USA in Beverly Hills, and you appear on B&B in a lead role.  Is there ever a moment when you’re like, “I can’t do one more thing?” or do you like the go-go-go of it all of the time?

KATHERINE: I like the go-go-go, but I felt that I was going too fast and too hard, and I’ve recently been thinking of what I can take out of our lives and our schedule, and then in thinking of that, I couldn’t really think of what I can take out.  Then, this all happened with life coming to a screeching halt, which I find very interesting because life is set up to go so fast.  Nobody can really enjoy anything.  We have to get up early, we have to go to work, we have to make money to pay for this, we’ve got to take care of the family, do this, do that, maybe just try to be motivated to be successful, whatever your dreams are, you’re going after them, etc.  It’s such a driven world all around that I think with having to self-quarantine that this is a chance to take a good look at what is going on in your life.  Now, we have a lot of down time.  We have time to think, go inside ourselves.  It gives you time to be kind, slow down, think of others.  What can you do for others?  What can you do for the world?  It’s been frightening for a lot of people; especially the ones who have gotten sick, or the ones who are scared of getting sick because they are immunocompromised.  But, at the same time, we need to try to not let that anxiety get to us and try to appreciate what we have.  Like, “Why is this happening?  What is this moment trying to tell us?”  I’m always trying to find the silver lining; or what is this trying to tell us in life?

Photo” JPI

B&B and Y&R co-creator Lee Phillip Bell passed away at the end of February, and it was so heartbreaking.  I know you were close with Lee.  What can you share on her passing?

KATHERINE:  It was heartbreaking.  I always think, “Gosh, I wish I saw her one more time before she passed,” but she was around her family, who are so loving, and supportive, and always there for her.  Lee created an amazing life for herself and for her family, and she was a huge part of The Bold and the Beautiful, and of course, I thank her so much because she hired me.  Lee gave me my life, and this time on the show.  She was amazing.  She cared so much about the show and the people on it.  Lee was such a great mom and such a great friend.  It’s been special knowing her and spending all of that time with her that I was able to through the years.  My heart goes out to the Bell family as well.  I know this must be hard for them.

Photo: JPI

Then, it was so sad that Orson Bean died tragically before that.  Have you talked to Alley Mills (Pam)?

KATHERINE: Yes, a bunch of us went over and spent time with Alley and brought her food.  We brought her goodies, and we just hung out.  We just gave her lots of love, spent time, and that was before I had to run off to Australia as well, but she’s really strong.  That was just very tragic.  Two weeks before Orson died, we had seen them both in the play Bad Habits.  It was so, so funny, and they both had all of us who attended laughing so hard, and it was such a pleasure.

Photo: JPI

In closing, what are your hopes for Brooke moving forward into the future?

KATHERINE: I’ve been saying that I hope she’ll spend time by herself and be alone for a while and focus on her family.  I’ve said that for so long, but I don’t know what’s going to work for her! (Laughs)  However, I’m just so curious to see what will happen next for her.

So, what do you think of Brooke’s latest predicament after her kiss with Bill? Do you hope that Ridge and Brooke stay together? What have you thought of the more recent version of a feisty Brooke who fought back when no one believed her about Thomas? And finally, share your congrats to Katherine for 33 years as Brooke and let us know some of your favorite all-time scenes via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Eric Braeden Talks On 40 Years Of Life In Soaps As Victor Newman

Back in February, Eric Braeden added another milestone to his illustrious career – that of portraying the one and only Victor Newman for 40 years on the top-rated daytime drama, The Young and the Restless.  And boy was he celebrated!  First, there was a one-of-a-kind on set celebration at CBS Television City which was quite the star-studded affair.  That was followed by special episodes of Y&R, where Newman Enterprises turned 50 with a gala that also proved emotional with speeches and retrospective clips.

When you talk daytime dramas to anyone, you would be hard-pressed for the general public to not know the name “Victor Newman”- and that is because of the powerhouse performances and nuances that Braeden brings to his soap opera alter-ego.  For it was Y&R co-creator Bill Bell and Braeden who really shaped what viewers have come to know, expect, and love, forty years later.

Those who know Eric understand he can be at times outspoken, has a heart of gold, stands up for what he believes, can bring the drama, the suspense, the tension, the romance and the tears in any given scene when it is called upon, and that throughout the years he has earned the respect from his peers for an impressive job well-done.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Eric to take a look back at all that had gone down recently in his honor, and to get his thoughts on some major moments in time through over 40 years in Genoa City, and where things are at now.  Check out our special conversation below.

Photo: JPI

When I attended and saw you at your 40th anniversary on set celebration at Y&R last month, I cannot tell you what a special event that was.  I have never seen that for anybody else!  The amount of people who attended, and the love they showed for you, was so special. When you were sitting in that chair on the soundstage and watching and hearing what was being said about you, what was going on in your mind at that point?

ERIC:  Well, first of all, it was the nicest thing that’s ever happened to me in 40 years on that show, and secondly, in moments like that, you try to stay focused on who is giving the speeches, because if I then look around and see all of the people who I have known for so many years, it’s emotional.  There’s a saying in German, “he’s close to the water,” meaning it’s very moving.  I saw my son and my granddaughter there and obviously everyone else, and my old coach and players, and so many others that have been a part of my life.

Photo: JPI

There were some very special guests and speeches.  I loved that Justin Hartley (Ex-Adam, Y&R and now Kevin, This Is Us) came.  I thought that was sweet and cool, and also that ESPN sports personality, Stephen A. Smith was there calling you one of his good friends.  There were so many moments.  You knew who was going to speak, right?

ERIC:  Yes, I did.  We kept it to just family, and in other words, Y&R family, etc.  I want to thank Matt Kane (Publicist, Y&R), who had a lot to do with putting the event together.  I also wanted to thank Tony Morina (executive producer, Y&R). The Y&R art department and David Hoffman (Production Designer) also did a fantastic job with those pictures they had created that was part of a set.  Thinking back on it, again, I would without a doubt say, that the celebration was the most moving moment in 40 years in the business and on that show.

Photo: JPI

A few weeks ago, Y&R and B&B co-creator Lee Phillip Bell passed away.  Obviously the late Bill Bell (co-creator, Y&R) and she were instrumental for you being at Y&R in the first place, and the creation of Victor Newman.  What can you say about Lee? 

ERIC:  We invited Lee to the event, and she apologized and said she was not in a position to attend, and then, shortly thereafter she passed.  In a sense, I’m glad Lee wasn’t there because when I would see her on some occasions, I just am moved to tears.  I would have not been able to really hold it together for long.  Obviously, she was co-responsible for a lot of stuff that happened on Y&R. co-responsible for that show still being number #1, and my heart goes out to her.  I know what I owe them, and she had a lot of influence on the storylines.  Lee was an incredibly smart and bright lady.  Her son, Brad Bell (EP and head writer, B&B) did speak at the 40th event and I appreciated it enormously.

There were a lot of retro clips shown of you show in celebration of your 4oth anniversary from when you started on the show back in 1980 till now.  Did you remember all of those moments?

ERIC:  First of all, they put that together so beautifully.  That was done so extremely well.  When I see it, it comes right back, or in other words it evokes precise memories, but if I weren’t seeing it, it’s all a blur.

Photo: JPI

Y&R brought Meg Bennett (Ex-Julia) and Robert Parucha (Ex-Matt), for the on-screen episodes celebrating Newman Enterprises 50th anniversary.  Was it nice having them back and seeing them, or is it kind of weird, because it can be such a long time in-between since you have all been together?

ERIC:  It is both.  It is very nice to see old colleagues obviously, and very touching, but look, we are in a weird business.  When I saw Meg, you suddenly realize how the show has evolved in many ways.  So, I’m always very grateful to see those who I started out with on the show and of course, doubly grateful to those who are still there.  I think of Melody and Doug Davidson (Paul) for example.  Doug has been there for longer than I have, and what a great job he did emceeing the 40th anniversary event, and as for Melody, that her and my relationship still endues after all of these years is amazing.

Photo: JPI

Let’s talk about those Newman Children.  I thought Joshua Morrow (Nick) gave a hilarious speech and even Mark Grossman (Adam) spoke so sincerely from the heart to you.  You get a sense that the Newmans are a fun group to work with.

ERIC:  I obviously love working with Joshua.  Same for Amelia Heinle (Victoria), I adore her, and Melissa Ordway (Abby).  They all have a great sense of humor, and Mark Grossman, I think is doing a damned good job.  And there is Peter Bergman (Jack).  Peter has been a great nemesis for all of these years.  Of course, Peter was very funny in his speech, and Joshua was very funny, and Ed Scott’s (Producer, B&B) was very good.  Tony Morina also shared a very funny little antidote!

Photo: JPI

What came across loud and clear is what we already knew.  Everyone knows the name “Victor Newman”.  You know when they go, “Victor Newman … Y&R!”  It’s so synonymous, right?  I don’t know what it must be like for you knowing the public has that reaction to you … and you’re that guy.

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ERIC:  I’ll tell you very honestly, I have an ambivalent relationship to that fact.  I deny it on one hand, don’t want to know about it, don’t really want to know about it, and on the other hand, when I hear about it, I say, “Yeah, very happy to hear about it, but is it true?”  I am sort of strange that way.  I have not had a picture of myself or anyone else in my dressing room for these 40 years.  It’s barren, as you know.  I don’t have any pictures hanging up of me; there’s nothing.  Now, I was talking about taking the one picture that David Hoffman had designed beautifully, and I have it on one wall.  I thought, “I’ll be damned,” because the picture includes Melody and some scenes that went on.  I’ve always been funny that way with praise.  Do I like it?  Of course, but …

There’s an uncomfortableness about it, right?

ERIC:  Yes, but I’ve seen too much in this business.  I’ve seen too many extraordinary stars, where you wonder, “Where are they now”?  I take this business with a grain of salt.  I really do.  It’s so easy to succumb to it.   I’ve known many people, including on our show, who used to say, “Well, without me, this thing would go down the drain,” and I said, “Yeah?  No s**t,” and they’re not there anymore.  You have no idea what happens to some actors when they see themselves on the cover of soap magazine.  They go crazy.  I’ve seen it, and the worst thing you can do is to believe in that, and I’ve always been skeptical of that, very skeptical.  Get back to what counts in this business:  do a good job … do the best you can … and where is the money?  I mean really, let’s call a spade a spade, and that’s it.

Photo: JPI

I was just going to say, the one person I so wished was at your 40th celebration was Jeanne Cooper (Ex-Katherine, Y&R).   I wish she could have been there with us, because she would have loved it.  I know she loved you.

ERIC:  She would have spoken, trust me!  She would have said, “Alright, you son of a bitch.  Alright, macho man let’s see what you’ve got!” and then she would grab me by the balls.  The first scene I ever had with her, Jeanne did that.  Absolutely hilarious!  Jeanne and I could not do a scene without laughing.  I’m serious.  We had to pull ourselves together.  She had such a great sense of humor, and we both looked at this, obviously, with an enormous grain of salt, because we’ve been there.  We’d seen it all.

set

Photo: JPI

Through the years, you obviously have been vocal on social media where you will call out things as you see them and as you truly feel, especially through various regime changes, or if there is a noticeable shift away, or focus, from core characters. What are your thoughts on what ultimately makes Y&R, the iconic soap that it is?

ERIC:  Let me put it very simply: the show is based on the comradery and enmity between the Newmans and the Abbotts, and I’ve included on that a go-between, if you will, a Chancellor … Jeanne Cooper.   That was sort of the plan, but the major triangle was sort of the Montagues and the Capulets in Romeo and Juliet.  That is what legendary stories are based on.  It’s family rivalries, and within those rivalries, we tell all kinds of fantastic stories.  It’s father-son, father-daughter, husband-wife, love affairs, disloyalties, ruthless business competition, and it goes on and on.  The scenes with Peter Bergman and me over the years have been legendary, wonderful, and they’re great scenes.  Now, to suddenly bring in whole new characters that no one knows about, which previously happened on our show, you have to ask, “What are you not getting?  You want to reinvent the wheel?”  Go with what is working.  It doesn’t often happen that you have the right cast and the right story.  That is what makes a show successful.  Imagine taking Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) out of Seinfeld.  You couldn’t.   It wouldn’t work.  In other words, when you have the right actors and the right storyline, you have a hit.  We’d been number #1 for over 30 years because of it

Photo: JPI

When you get a script, have there been those moments in the 40 years where you will say. “My character would never do this.  I’m not playing it!?”

ERIC:  Of course.  Not that I’m not playing it, but I will make certain adjustments here and there.  I always have, by the way, from the very beginning.  Bill Bell agreed with most of it.  I know my character, and I have and instinctive feel for what is emotionally touching and what is not.  Look, I have always said that I admire writers.  I don’t envy their job.  I really don’t.  I think it is the hardest job in the business, and writing for soaps is even harder.  So, I have great respect.  So therefore, I don’t even want to know who wrote what.  I don’t ever want to be in the position of insulting a writer because I know how difficult it is.  As in everything in this business, it is a cooperative business.  There are very few writer/directors who have earned the right (I’m talking about Martin Scorsese, I’m talking about Ingmar Bergman, I’m taking about a handful) to write and direct their own stuff.  Even they rely on the cooperation of their lead actors.  That’s what is so wonderful about this business in that it’s this precisely cooperative thing.  However, when there are some people who simply don’t listen to those of us who have been around for a while and we know, we really know, then, they’re being foolish.

Photo: JPI

Y&R taped the Newman Enterprises 50th anniversary gala, which was in essence, your on-screen 40th anniversary episodes.  That was another amazing part of this.  I love that they would go to a clip, and one of the characters would say something in speech, and then, they’d go back to a shot of you reacting.  Were you, you, or Victor at that point, because it seemed so genuine and emotional?

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ERIC:  You know, look, one thing sort of blends into the other.  I loved that show by the way.  It was brilliantly done, and they could have easily screwed that up, but they didn’t.  I thought Josh Griffith (head writer, and Co-EP, Y&R) did a hell of a job, and Tony Morina did a wonderful job, they really did.  So, I really can’t say enough about that.

Photo: CBS

When you look back on the enormity of scenes you have performed as Victor Newman; the ones that and you and I always come back to are the scenes between you and Dorothy McGuire as Victor’s mother; and the scenes with you and George Kennedy as Victor’s father.  Do you still consider those your all-time favorites?

ERIC:  I always think about them.  They are my top favorites, plus one other.   No question about it; because the scene with Dorothy McGuire laid the groundwork of what Victor Newman is all about.  That summarized all of his subsequent moments of anger, and upset, and mistrust, and etc.  It was the seminal scene for Victor Newman … period.  One other scene that one of my favorites was the one with Melody, on Christmas Eve where Nikki keeps on bugging Victor to tell her about his past, and he finally does.  It was about that orphanage experience, etc.  Actually, those two scenes early on were responsible for my really wanting to stay and realizing that now I had a chance to play some real emotions, some real feelings, some real conflict.   I remember after Victor told Nikki that story, a moment when I went to my dressing room, I called home, and I said, “Now, I’m going to stay.”  No two ways about that.  I called my wife, and I said, “I’m staying,” because I wasn’t sure if I was going to.  It happened because I had talked to Bill Bell and I said, “Bill, I’m so tired of playing bad guys.  I’ve done it for too many years.  I’m empty.  I’m burnt out.  It’s too dehumanizing.  Let’s imbue this character with a background,” and he did, brilliantly, and that’s the reason I stayed, and that’s the reason I’m here 40 years later, truly.

So, when you were feeding rats to Nick Benedict as Michael Scott, were you ready to leave? (Laughs)

ERIC:  Well, that was a little different story, but I looked at that, and I said, “Are you kidding me?” (Laughs)  Back then, I knew little about what works on soaps … and people still talk about it!  They loved it.

Photo: JPI

The scenes opposite George Kennedy were so emotional … and heavy-duty, too.  It was so sad watching Victor’s father reject him.

ERIC:  It was sad.  It was really, really sad, and George played it wonderfully.  I cannot say enough about that because here is an actor who comes from the outside of our genre.  George lived in Boise. Idaho and he traveled all the way by car to LA with his grandson to do the scenes He wouldn’t take a plane.  George was so damn prepared that we did those scenes in one take!  It’s stunning!  I can’t talk enough about him.  I just so admired and respected him.  George passed away about a year ago, but that’s why I had him in my film, The Man Who Came Back.

Photo: JPI

As a leading man, Victor has had many women in and out of his romantic life for years and of course, his constant, Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott).   You’ve been fortunate to work with so many wonderful actresses such as Eileen Davidson as Ashley.  Which standout to you? 

ERIC:  I have to say obviously Melody, but I have to also say the scenes with Eileen – they meant a lot to me.  I regret that she and I did not have more storylines together.

Photo: CBS

So, the coronavirus is shutting down the world, life in America, and has shut down production on the soaps.  How is everybody dealing with it at the show, and how do you feel it’s being handled?

ERIC:  Well, originally I wanted to continue working, but I said only if everyone was fully supplied with the proper wipes and antiseptics all of the time.  In other words, from the makeup department, from the props department, to someone wiping down all of the handles and all of that, but I completely understand now from a company point of view, they had to shut down because what if you work and someone gets sick because of it… and it goes on and on.  It’s a terrible thing, but I was willing to continue working.  Yes, perhaps stupidly so.  It’s going to be tough when we come back because a lot of work has to be made up, but I understand why we stopped.

What would you say to the fans who have stayed so invested in Victor Newman, and you, even 40 years after your Y&R debut? 

ERIC:  I’ve said it before, and I will happily say it again:  I am deeply grateful to the fans everywhere.  Without them, you and I would not be talking.  That’s really the long and the short of it.  The fans have really everything to do with it.  I’m glad that I am on social media because I am engaged with quite a few people very gladly, and I hear some interesting stories, and some very touching stories.  Y&R has taught me to really not look at that as a sort of nebulous audience.  I put faces behind it because I’ve seen them.  I’ve seen them in the last 30-odd years in public appearances.  I don’t forget them.  I don’t forget what it means to me.  It’s deeply touching.  I’m not at all anesthetized to it, no.  It touches me deeply, and whenever I do a PA, and receive the people’s reactions, I say, “Whoa,” and now I know why I’m in the business.

Courtesy/CBS

In closing, fans have been watching what looks to be another showdown brewing between Victor vs. Adam for control of Newman Enterprises.  Do you think still after all these years; Victor has it in him to out maneuver his black sheep son, as he has done in the past?

ERIC:  Hell, yes.  What do you think?  Bring him on, man.  Bring him on.  Victor’s still full of piss and vinegar.  Okay?  What people don’t know is that I’m a feisty son of a bitch.  I don’t give up.  I fight to the last.  I mean it.

So, what has been your favorite all-time Y&R scenes featuring Eric Braeden? What do you hope happens next for Victor and the Newman clan? What do you think about the sentiments shared throughout our conversation on Eric’s 40th anniversary celebration? Comment below.

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General Hospital

General Hospital’s Johnny Wactor Talks ‘Being Brando Corbin’

This week on General Hospital, viewers saw that Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) has set Port Charles newcomer Brando Corbin (Johnny Wactor) up with a mechanics garage for a place of business, that has left Brando concerned, but also thankful.

Brando came onto the scene when he saved Carly (Laura Wright) from gunfire. The once believed-to-be-dead son of Gladys Corbin (Bonnie Burroughs), has a checkered past, but has been trying to remain on the straight and narrow.  Sonny had previously put into motion protection for teenaged Dev (Ashton Arbab), that he will continue to be passed off as the biological son of Brando to keep him safe.  That, along with a back-story that includes: the Iraqi War, prison time, drug use, PTSD, familial issues, mob wars, and more, has loaded the deck for actor Johnny Wactor to show his acting chops and more within the daytime drama arena.

Since making his debut in the recurring role of Brando back in January of this year, in a short amount of time, Wactor has already displayed that he has solid leading man, and soap anti-hero potential, something that always serves one well amidst the romance, intrigue, and suspense of the genre’s storytelling.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Johnny to get his thoughts on becoming part of the iconic GH and where he hopes Brando’s journey goes from here.  Check out what he had to say below.

Photo: ABC

What do you think about your character’s name being “Brando”? Did GH tell you where the idea for the name came from?

JOHNNY:  Oh, I love it.   No, they didn’t tell me why, but I assume it was in some relation to Marlon Brando; when back in the day he was in a leather jacket … because I come onto the scene wearing a leather jacket as a badass!

What’s your experience been like coming onto a show like GH?  Previously, I know you’ve done a lot of primetime roles and series.  Were you shocked at the pace of shooting a daytime drama?

JOHNNY:  Oh, yeah.  I was made aware of the pace beforehand by my manager, as well as my buddy, Mark Grossman (Adam Newman) who works on The Young and the Restless.  He’s kicking ass over there.  In this genre, you get one rehearsal and one take pretty much, and then, they move on.  It’s definitely been a learning curve, and I’m still getting used to that at times where I’m just like, “Ah, I want one more take!”  I can get a bit obsessive and I’m a perfectionist.  It definitely has been challenging, but I enjoy it.  It’s fun to work at a fast pace.  It’s a lot like working in the theatre.

In story, Johnny is pretending to be Dev’s father.  Did you know that would be part of Brando’s story when you took on this gig?

JOHNNY:  I did not.   I didn’t know that until I read the first script that they sent me.  I’m like, “I also have a son?”   It was a lot to take in, but that’s where the imagination comes in.

What’s great for you, I would think, is that you’re getting to play in scenes with Maurice Benard and Laura Wright and major players who are a part of that core group.  What’s it been like working with them?

JOHNNY:  It’s been a Godsend, really.  Being my first time on a daytime show, for one, anytime you come onto a new project and one that’s been going on for some time, and you’re a newcomer, there’s always that concern like, “What will this set be like?  Is it like a familial atmosphere?  Am I going to be welcomed?”  They’ve made it super easy.  I’m just so lucky that I have people who have so much experience on this show and just daytime shows in general, where they’ve kind of taken me under their wings and are super helpful.  Anytime I have questions, they’re patient.  I’m sure I annoy them sometimes, but they don’t let on to it.   I’m grateful that they’ve sort of “teamed” me up with them to kind of ease me onto the show.

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The fans are seeing a spark between Brando and Carly.  Is Brando into Carly?

JOHNNY:  I’d like to say that he rescued her because she was a beautiful blonde, but that’s not what that was and why he did it … even though I’m not denying that she’s a beautiful blonde.  I think there’s something there, but how far Brando pursues that, I don’t know!  Sonny sets Brando up with the garage and a pretty sweet deal at that.  So, does Brando want to screw this up?  However, not everyone makes logical, levelheaded decisions.  We’ll see.  I’m not ruling it out as something that could possibly happen.

How are you playing Brando right now? Is he a good guy … or, are there secret ulterior motives going down that the audience may not know about, yet?

JOHNNY:  In my opinion, he is a guy who has got a good heart.  I don’t think he is infallible.  I think he is someone who is determined to be on the mend and make up for his decisions and his past, because he is someone who has made poor decisions.  I don’t think you can rule him as a good person who will never make a mistake, or won’t get into trouble, or won’t make some bad decisions.  “Does he have ulterior motives?”  Maybe, but I think that if he does, they might be a little unconscious.  I think he is a genuine good guy.

Photo: ABC

Are the fans swooning over you on social media now that you’ve made your GH debut?  When you get the, “Oh, he’s hot,” do you take those compliments well, or, is it uncomfortable for you, and you deflect that?

JOHNNY:  It’s always flattering to get those compliments.  I think when I was younger, like 22, first getting into this business; I was definitely pining for those compliments and put more weight into it.  I will say; it’s always good to have someone say something positive about you.  I will take, “Hey, he’s good-looking.”  I love the comments.  It’s great.

So, what would you love to see happen with Brando?  Is there anything that you’re seeing with your character that you wish you could do …or get to have the opportunity to be able to drive the direction in which he goes in?

JOHNNY:  That’s a great question.  I love when the writers put Brando on the scene and planted some seeds early on when he was revealing a little of his background to Carly.  He reveals he has PTSD and spent time in prison.  Brando also has got issues with drug addiction.  I would love for those to kind of resurface somehow.  Maybe Brando has a relapse and gets back on the sauce, or drugs, or maybe has some kind of other issues with PTSD, because those are the real things in the world that people deal.

Photo: ABC

What’s great about it is that they kind of loaded you up with a back-story that they can fill in, so that as a viewer, you ultimately root for the guy

JOHNNY:  Absolutely.  Yeah, nobody wants to root for the guy who has everything and just has the perfect life.  We’ve all made mistakes.  So, alright, he’s trying to get back on the horse and make a good life for himself.

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Did you get any pointers from GH vet Steve Burton (Jason), who you have also shared several scenes with since coming to GH?

JOHNNY:  The most pointers I’ve gotten from Steve are about preparation for the scenes.  Every time we have scenes together, he’s just always willing to work with you, and make sure that you’re prepared, and he’s prepared, and the scene is going to be the best that it can be.  Also, he’s been really invaluable with giving me more of a crash course on the background of these characters.  This show has been on for decades and it’s tough to get caught up in the short amount of time between when you find out you have the job, and you start filming, to really know who everybody is.  So, he explained to me who Jason is on the show and who the Corinthos family is and what they represent … these are dangerous guys!

Photo: ABC

Take me through what happened when you learned you got the part of Brando, and were joining the cast of General Hospital?

JOHNNY:  I was at my apartment.  I think it was probably two days after I went in for the producer’s session.  They brought in 4 or 5 guys to read in front of the producers, (at least that I saw) and I felt strong about my reading.  Then, I just kind of tried to forget about it after I left so I wouldn’t get all into my head about whether I got the part, or not.  Then the next day, I didn’t get a phone call.  So, I’m like, “Man, really?  I thought that might have been it.”   But the next day, I was with my girlfriend at the time and my agency was calling.  My manager was on the phone as well, and they shared with me that I got the part, and it was exciting.  It was a relief and an affirmation.  It’s always exciting when you book a job and then to book a major recurring role on a show with a character whose name is “Brando Corbin”, needless to say, was really cool.

Photo: ABC

I think it’s very apparent that you have the “It” factor.  You already have a shown a strong presence on the show and have a very bright future ahead of you.   I have seen a lot of actors come and go, and who launch their careers on daytime over the years, and I think you are going to be one to watch for quite some time to come.

JOHNNY:  First of all, thank you so much for saying that.  That’s really kind of you.  It’s really high praise.  Coming from someone who knows that show and who is a fan of it that means I passed the test!  Thank you, Michael!  I really appreciate that affirmation.  It’s good to get validation from someone whose opinion really matters.

Photo; ABC

Could you see a love interest for Brando coming up in the future?

JOHNNY:  I could definitely see a love interest for him coming up.  Maybe multiple love interests!  Who knows?

I think there are a lot of single ladies in Port Charles.

JOHNNY:  Yeah!  But, why do they have to be single?

Right! Or, they could be married!

JOHNNY:  It’s Port Charles!

Photo: ABC

So, have you been enjoying Johnny’s performances as Brando Corbin thus far?  Who do you hope he becomes involved with romantically on GH? Do you want to know more about his back-story and see what happens next now that Sonny has set him up with a garage? Comment below.

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Knots Landing favorites: Joan Van Ark (Valene), Michele Lee (Karen) and Donna Mills (Abby)  chat with Michael Fairman in honor of Knots Landing’s 40th anniversary. Leave A Comment

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