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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

Melody Thomas Scott Chats On 40 Years As The Young and the Restless’ Incomparable Nikki: The Men, The Booze, The Drama

Today marks Y&R icon Melody Thomas Scott’s 40th anniversary with the top-rated daytime drama series.  While CBS plans to air a special standalone episode (Nikki is in the slammer for confessing to J.T.’s murder, and she will reflect on her life in an emotional look-back), Michael Fairman sat down with the popular and beloved star for a deep dive into four decades in the life of stripper-turned-socialite, Nikki Newman for The Michael Fairman Channel.

During the interview, Melody first addresses her sadness at the loss of her longtime friend and co-star Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters): “I adored him.  I love him to bits.  I loved working with him; such a wonderful actor.  I don’t even know if he knew how good he was.”

When discussing Nikki’s colorful past, and when Y&R planned to have Nikki strip again decades later, Melody revealed she did refuse to play it: “That’s right, and I very rarely put the kibosh on anything on this show,  I was 48-years-old.  The head writer called me and I was up in hair and make-up.  They heard me say, ‘I’m 48-years-old .. that’s just not happening.”‘

Photo: TheMichaelFairmanChannel

Over the years, Nikki has faced many battles, perils ,and demons including her addiction to alcohol which has provided many a juicy story for Thomas Scott.  As to the fans always loving to see a ‘boozy’ Nikki, Melody remarked;  “Yes!  They love it!  I have great fun with it and I think it’s wonderful.”

During a segment of the conversation, Michael shows Melody some photos of Nikki’s past loves, and gets her thoughts on why Nikki fell for those men, and what it was like working with her co-stars through the years: John Enos (Bobby), Doug Davidson (Paul), Heath Kizzier (Joshua), Wings Hauser (Greg), Don Diamont (Brad), Vincent Irizarry (David), Peter Bergman (Jack), Sean Kanan (Deacon, and of course, her longtime on-screen partner Eric Braeden (Victor).

Later, Melody reminisces about her time working with the late great Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) and when asked by Fairman what she thinks Jeanne would say about her 40th anniversary milestone, Melody replied: “She would say, ‘I’m (bleeping) proud of you Mel!”‘

Photo: CBS

Check out the entire interview with Melody below (make sure to also subscribe to the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube for more feature interviews), and following that the special CBS promo honoring Melody’s 40th anniversary with Y&R.  Then let us know, what has been your favorite Nikki Newman moment over the last 40 years? Share your thoughts via the comment section below,

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Interviews

Executive Producer Michael Levitt Previews The Adorable 2019 ‘American Rescue Dog Show’

Dog lovers everywhere get ready! Coming your way on Sunday, February 17th and Monday, February 18th, the good folks at the Hallmark Channel will air a two-night special event (8pmET/7pmCT) that puts a spin on the traditional competitive elite dog shows, while at the same time championing an important cause for man’s best friend.

The 2019 American Rescue Dog Show honors some of the cutest rescue dogs from around the country going paw-to-paw in categories that will tickle-your-funny-bone, bring a smile to your face, or, potentially shed a tear.  This marks the second year for this oh-so-heartwarming show, where in its first year, it beat the Westminster Dog Show in the ratings; much to the delight of rescue dogs and their families, who take these wonderful animals into their homes.

The brainchild behind the concept is the executive producer of the event. Michael Levitt (Skin Wars, Daytime Emmys, TV Land Awards), who spoke with Michael Fairman TV to give us all the inside dish and insight into why this dog show is so personally important to him, and how its goal is to create awareness about the plight of millions of abandoned dogs in shelters each year, and to inspire viewers to think about rescuing one of these loveable pups.

Levitt has a collection of notable hosts and judges along for the ride who bring this one-of-a-kind doggy competition to life from the world of TV, film, and animal advocacy.  So, for the lowdown on the competition and more, here’s what Michael shared.

Photo: Crown Media

For those who want to check out the two-night event, is the American Rescue Dog Show in the same vein as the Westminster Dog Show, where the dogs are competing? 

MICHAEL: The format of the show is similar to a fancy dog show, such as Westminster, however, on the American Rescue Dog Show, we aren’t “judging” the dog.  In our show, they all have to be rescue dogs that are spayed or neutered in order to compete, and we are not judging them based on their bloodlines, we are celebrating their cuteness in such categories as, “Best in Wiggle Butt,” “Best in Couch Potato,” “Best in Snoring,” “Best in Special Needs,” and  “Best in Senior Dog” – those are obviously some of the most important.   We have the fancy arena floor with the judges and the tuxedos.  We filmed it at the Pomona Fairplex, which is the same place that they film the Beverly Hills Dog Show.

And you have a bevy of dog-loving celebrity judges along for the ride, too!

MICHAEL: Yes, and this year we are lucky to have the support of celebrity animal advocates that include: Lisa Vanderpump, Debbie Gibson, Brandon McMillan, host of CBS’s Lucky Dog, Bill Berloni, who is the dog trainer to a lot of the dogs on Broadway, and Dirty Job’s Mike Rowe.  Our prerequisites for them to be a judge were: they all needed to be rescue-friendly.  So, they either needed to have a rescue dog of their own or support rescue in some way.  Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell are the hosts this year, along with Ross Matthews and Home & Family’s Larissa Wall, who served as co-hosts and cover all of the action ringside.

Photo: Crown Media

So, did the judges get along?  Did they differ on their top picks?

MICHAEL: The judges absolutely got along famously, but as a producer of the show, I was a fly on the wall listening to them when they were deliberating as they were picking a winner.  That was quite entertaining, because each of them had a strong point of view on the dog, or dogs that they thought should win the competition. We found ourselves throughout the filming just turning to each other and saying, “I don’t know how the judges are going to pick just one, because they are all just so incredibly special.”

How was Lisa Vanderpump? 

MICHAEL:  Lisa was wonderful!  When she was being interviewed by Rebecca and Jerry O’Connell, they asked her what she would say to a potential family that is about to buy a dog from a breeder, and it was such a profound moment, because as someone who comes from her socioeconomic level, from her privilege, to see that she has embraced rescue might be incredibly meaningful to someone who might think that rescue dogs are second-hand animals.  Lisa Vanderpump disproves that just by being there, and being a part of it.

Photo: Crown Media

How did you decide on Rebecca and Jerry as your hosts with the most?

MICHAE:  I have a long history with Rebecca from producing my show, Skin Wars, which she hosts.  I knew that she and Jerry had four rescue dogs of their own, and that she is incredibly passionate about rescue and shedding light and creating awareness about the plight of animals that are sheltered.  They were not only organic and authentic to the cause, but they were a lot of fun and clearly had a lot of natural chemistry.  They also brought their own rescue dogs to the show, as did Lisa Vanderpump.  So that was fun.

You have two wonderful dogs of your own.  So, this is your passion project!

MICHAEL: This is a true labor of love for me, because in 2011 when my sister, Jennifer was dying of cancer, my partner and I decided to rescue a dog, and we rescued a pit bull named Trooper, and Trooper rocked our world.  My sister met him four days before she died, and it’s that old adage of “Who rescued who.”  Trooper really was there for me during a really difficult time of my life. I learned first-hand how special not only rescue dogs are, but pit bulls, and that really was the beginning of my animal advocacy.  I ended up taking a year off from producing just to rescue dogs.  I realized at the end of that year, that as a rescuer, I am saving one dog at a time, but as a producer, I could do so much more to bring awareness to the plight of animals in our shelters by creating rescue-themed programming.

Pit bulls seem to always get a bad rap.  Do you feel that way?

MICHAEL:  They absolutely get a bad rap, and after we rescued Trooper, we rescued another pit bull named Nelson, and it was really the two of them who inspired me to get heavily involved in rescue and to be an advocate for pit bulls.  With pit bulls it is such a unique human-animal bond that you don’t find with any other breed.  All they really want to do is please their humans, and it is absolutely true that when you hear these horrific stories about pit bulls on the news, these are rare incidents of pit bulls who have fallen into the hands of bad people who have treated them badly.  It’s really unfair to profile and entire breed of dog, because all dog breeds have some dogs that have behavioral problems.  I have come in contact with thousands of pit bulls, and I have only met one that was human-aggressive, and that dog was severely, severely abused.  Every other pit bull I have come in contact with has been nothing but incredibly sweet.

Photo: Crown Media

So, last year’s American Rescue Dog Show is currently in the running to earn a Daytime Emmy nomination in the ‘Special Class Special’ programming category!

MICHAEL:  Yes, “Special Class Special”. (Laughs)

You obviously know who wins this weekend’s American Rescue Dog Show competition.  Were you happy with the winner? 

MICHAEL:  Yes, but you can imagine how difficult it is for the judges to pick a winner because every single dog in the competition is beyond adorable. It is really the dogs who deliver on the show, and that’s what makes the show so heartwarming.  The real purpose of the show is to inspire the viewers to rescue their next dog from their local shelter, or rescue organization, so that people who are watching turn to the person they are with and say, “Honey, I didn’t know you could get a pure-bred dog at a shelter!  Let’s rescue our next dog!”  We have really powerful segments in the show about the joy of adopting a senior dog, or a special-needs dog.  We do a segment on debunking the myths about pit bulls, and we have messaging on why it is important to spay and neuter your dog.  So, through this wonderfully entertaining program, we are also educating people and hopefully touching their heart and their soul and inspiring them to be a part of the solution by rescuing their next dog; instead of being a part of the problem by purchasing a dog from a pet store or breeder.

Photo: Crown Media

When you look at what you have to take on as a producer when you do this type of show; as opposed to any other type of production you have helmed, what are the major differences?

MICHAEL: The biggest distinction is that on this show we are dealing with living animals, so I take that responsibility very seriously.  First and foremost: is the safety and well-being of the dogs that are participating on the show.  We have to consider everything from making sure that the animals are up-to-date with their vaccinations to having veterinarians on hand, having production personal on-hand standing by with treats and pooper-scoopers. This also means that the dogs are being treated like VIPs.  So, we have a VIP room, but that stands for “Very Important Pooch”, and all of the dogs that are participating have their own dressing rooms with a star on it and their name.  There were over 130 dogs that actually participated from all over the country.  In addition, we had a gifting suite like they do on the Oscars and Golden Globes, but on this show, they didn’t get swag bags, they got “Wag Bags”.

Knowing you as I do, it seems a lot this creative from the categories in the competition, to the backstage VIP room, are very YOU!

MICHAEL:  I have an incredible team of producers who I collaborate with.  None of this would be possible without the good people at Hallmark being such incredible animal advocates.  Specifically, Bill Abbott, who is one of the few network executives in the industry who is really walking the walk and doing so much to be supportive of dogs and cats who need homes.  So, this is right up my alley, because creatively I am so passionate about it that it is so easy to come up with fun ideas that hopefully resonate with the viewers.

Photo: Crown Media

Are there any other fun moments that you can tease?

MICHAEL:  We are celebrating the perfectly imperfect.  So, we love when a dog decides to roll on his back in the middle of the arena and decide he wants to get a belly rub in the middle of the competition.  We had a dog decide that he had to go potty on the middle of a flower arrangement on the arena floor.  Those are the moments that give the show its heart and feel-good sensibility.  We had a couple of dogs in the “Best Wiggle Butt” category where one of their forever parent brings them out initially, and their other forever parent was on the other side of the area, and we removed their leash so that they can run from one parent to the other so that we can really see their butts moving, but … we had a few dogs get so excited that they ran right out of the arena! (Laughs)  They ran right through the tunnel off stage and come running back in, and the whole audience erupted into laughter.  It’s just magical.

How did you find these dogs to compete? 

MICHAEL:  We put out a call-to-action on social media, and we got thousands of responses. People submitted their rescue dogs in as many categories as they qualified for, and they submitted photos and videos. Then, we have a team of producers and rescue experts who go through all of the submissions, ultimately picking the top semi-finalists in each category who come to Los Angeles to compete.  We had a wonderful partnership with Pedigree Foundation in which they provided $100,000 in grant money for the dogs that win for the rescue that saved him or her.  So, in the ten semi-final categories, each winning dog received a $5,000 grant for the rescue that saved him or her, and then the ultimate winner of the competition, which is crowned the title, “Best in Rescue,” received an additional $30,000 for the rescue that saved him or her, again, courtesy of Pedigree Foundation.  We also had a partnership with adoptapet.com, which is the largest online resource for people to find rescue dogs in their own communities. Throughout the show, we have a call-to-action for people to go to hallmark.com/bestinrescue and look for the adopt a pet icon … they click it… then enter their zip code … and they are instantly linked to thousands of available dogs in their own community who are patiently waiting for a loving home.

Photo: Crown Media

The dog handlers are the owners of these pets?

MICHAEL:  Yes.  We call it a member of their “forever family”.  Several of the dogs on the show are service dogs now, or companion animals, working in senior homes or working with military service people suffering from PTSD.  We celebrate each and every one of them.

Is your hope to do a third annual show, and keep the dog rescue competition going?

MICHAEL:  Yes!  My hope is that this show continues to be on for many years to come and be a platform for the 8 million animals that enter our shelters each year and are patiently waiting for their forever home, and that we can continue to be a voice for these dogs that don’t have voices of their own.  Of all of the shows that I have produced over the years, this one is going to be the most meaningful to me, and is going to be my legacy, because it is such a beautiful thing that I can bring my work and my passion together to hopefully make a difference in the lives of all of these animals.  As a result of this show, we heard from numerous shelters across the country that there was a definite uptick in adoptions.  That warms my heart beyond compare.

In closing, you know what they say:  it’s easier to work with animals than humans! Thoughts? (Laughs)

MICHAEL:  Every show has its challenges, but I would much rather deal with a diva Chihuahua than a diva celebrity.  So, on that level, this show is pure joy to make.

So, will you be watching this heartwarming, creative two-night rescue dog event?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below, but first, check out this behind-the-scenes video of how the American Rescue Dog Show is put together with co-host, Ross Matthews.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Jason Thompson Talks On: The Self-Destructive Billy Abbott, Victoria, Phyllis, And Katie’s Disappearance

As February sweeps kicks in to high gear on The Young and the Restless, Billy Abbott (Jason Thompson) and his ex-wife, Victoria Newman (Amelia Heinle) are once again in each other’s orbit.  First, Billy was not too happy to learn that his nemesis, Cane Ashby (Daniel Goddard) shared some passionate kisses with her.  In fact, he went running to Cane’s imprisoned wife. Lily (Christel Khalil), to give her the lowdown.  Next, their child, Katie has gone MIA, but as viewers saw on Friday’s cliffhanger she is somehow heard singing through the walls at the Newman Ranch. Previously, Katie said she was playing with an imaginary friend, but someone is lurking around and watching the Newmans every move!

And let’s not forget, Summer (Hunter King) is back in Genoa City!  The last time she hit town she all but destroyed Billy – his gambling addiction returned, she tried to seduce him, and he slept with her as revenge against Phyllis for her having sex with Nick (Joshua Morrow), and we could go on!  After all the hurt, and the dissolution of their relationship, Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) and Billy are not seeing eye to eye on much, but saying they will try to work together.  Can they?

To fill us in on all the drama, Jason Thompson chatted with Michael Fairman TV and weighed-in on: the future for Villy, Philly, what he has learned from working on two major soaps; General Hospital, where he played the popular Dr. Patrick Drake, and Y&R, his thoughts on his recent Daytime Emmy Pre-Nomination in the Lead Actor category in what was a banner year of storyline for him in 2018, and much more.

Insightful, driven, and talented, Jason is one of the standouts in our genre.  Check out what he had to share below.

What did you think about the plot point that had Billy going to visit Lily in prison, and once there, he informs her that her husband, Cane has been kissing on Victoria!?

JASON:  What I think about it is somewhat irrelevant.  It wasn’t hard for me to rationalize it.  In the moment, Billy was hurt and pissed off.  He is irrational sometimes.  Once he got to the prison, I think he second-guessed himself.  Lily did a pretty good job of convincing him that she needs to know what is going on in order to just live in a certain amount of truth in this situation.  Billy felt that it would be worse for her wondering what was going on on the outside without knowing the truth.  I think that in that moment, he was convinced that telling her the truth was the right thing.  There was a part of him that wanted to get back at Cane, and when Billy gets hurt, he seems to lash out a bit and then sometimes he kind of recoils.  Could he have let it go?  Probably.  I think it’s an interesting thing for Lily and Billy’s relationship; to be honest.  Billy has always respected Lily.  I think that he’s always looked at Lily as someone who does the right thing, and was a good wife, and a good mother, and all of those things.  He thinks that she is in a rough place and wanted to offer her a little bit of support, and that’s the way that he did it.

Photo: JPI Studios

Where do you think the show can go now with his relationship with Cane?  They have been contentious all this time, anyway, and now this has happened.   How do you think this will resolve, or would it ever resolve?

JASON:  I think it’s one of the most interesting relationships Billy hasI don’t know that it will ever resolve.  I don’t know that Billy thinks too much about Cane either way, but in saying that,  there is still no one that can get under his skin and quickly!  In an instant, Cane can be Billy’s enemy and I think that’s great.  I always think there is story for Billy and Cane.  In our working relationship as well, I think we both get a different energy out of each other that inevitably ends up in the characters.  That’s always fun.

Photo:” JPI

How does Billy feel about Victoria now?  She’s been struggling since her relationship with J.T., making out with Cane, etc. 

JASON:  Billy does have feelings for VictoriaI think it’s a number of things that contributes to this.  I think it’s where he finds himself in his life.  He has been kind of hurt by the woman he loved (Phyllis).  He had everything for a moment that he wanted … he had the job, he had the girl, and if he had just done the right thing and had a little bit more self-control, he probably would have been in the best place of his life.  So, when all of those things get pulled away, the one constant is just when he goes to see his kids and they smile, and they don’t know what’s going on in the outside world.  I think the only people who don’t judge him are probably the kids.  There’s something really comfortable about that situation.  No matter what happens, there’s always going to be a little something with Victoria.  She’s always very supportive (not that she hasn’t been very, very upset with him, at times), but there is always something about their relationship that will keep him wondering if they should be together.  I think it will probably be like that for the rest of their lives.

Billy is still unaware that Victoria, Nikki, Phyllis and Sharon are all part of a cover-up in J.T.’s murder.  How aware is Billy in the depths of the abuse Victoria suffered at the hands of J.T.?

JASON:  There was never really a big realization about how dramatic, hurtful, and volatile the whole situation was.  It was a shock to hear all of that obviously, but he has no idea about the depths of it all.

Photo: CBS

If he found out, how do you think he would react knowing what Victoria had gone through?

JASON:  I think he would probably want to kick him again and then re-bury him. Billy has got a lot of flaws, but there is one thing that he will do, and that is always stand up for his family, and that includes Victoria.

Currently, it is just devastating for Billy when Katie goes missing.   He’s like, “I can’t go through this again after what happened with Delia,” and I know you didn’t play the Delia material, because you weren’t on the show at that time.  However, this does give you the opportunity to tap into all of that.

JASON:  Yes!  I mean, that is his biggest fear … going through all of that again.  I think that he would rather not be on the planet than go through all of that again.  What happened to Delia is never going to ever leave him.  I can’t imagine that something like that ever really does.  You just deal with it on a daily basis probably, and things come up, and you feel it all over again, and this is one of those moments.

Courtesy/CBS

I think that you being a father of two children now in your own life; really gives you a perspective when you play these things types of emotions and scenes out.

JASON:  Definitely.  Peter Bergman (Jack) and I were having a conversation about how much life and living, and trying to live a full life, really helps you with your acting.  I work really hard on my craft, but the most important thing that I can do for my work and my career is live a full life.  With the kids and everything else in my personal life, that to me is something that I can always draw upon.  It’s hard to even let myself go there sometimes, because of how scary it would be.  But yeah, I think Billy is not far off from that.  That character has a lot of life and is tied to this volcano and it’s just waiting to erupt, and that eruption is good and full of liveliness fear, and anger.  Some of that comes from hurt, and some of that comes from pain, and some of that comes from a good time, and some of that comes from addiction, and it makes it fun for me because there’s always something to play.  When I talk about what I think of a particular story line, I don’t think of it as, “Oh, I would never do this,” or “I would never do that.  That doesn’t make any sense.”  I try and make sense of everything.  That’s my job.  I just try to find a reason why Billy would be in that situation; instead of trying to find a reason why he wouldn’t be.

Photo: JPI Studios

Would you say that the situation with Katie will draw Victoria and Billy closer together?  At the end of Friday’s episode, they hear Katie’s voice in the wall, so they know she is alive.

JASON:  I think so.  One step up is often two steps back with them, but they are always connected in that way.  The kids do that, and what they’ve been through in the past, and like you said, I wasn’t necessarily there for a lot of that, but it’s in this character.  I would never say never with Victoria.

Photo: CBS

So, where is Billy at with Phyllis?  You and Gina Tognoni played that coupling to the hilt and the show separated them.  Major romances are never really ‘done, done’ on soaps.

JASON:  I mean, it only gets worse with Phyllis.  I’ll say that.  They’re not in a good place.   We have gone through some changes behind the scenes.  So, I have no idea what is happening as far as storyline.  I think there is always going to be something unresolved with Phyllis, but that’s the good thing about this kind of stuff.  You can put these two people together when you have two actors who kind of embrace it, and work at it, and have a natural chemistry, which in turn helps the characters have chemistry.  When Gina and I talk about what we did and accomplished with our characters, to be honest, it’s a little bit of a bummer that they are kind of apart right now, because we had a lot of fun.  We really enjoyed working with each other.  We felt like there was a lot more there to continue to explore, but like you said, it’s never over.  As far as the way that he sees Phyllis … it’s interesting.  I think as an outsider, he kind of looks at her as a selfish person who is going to get and grab whatever she wants, but I feel like he does understand her differently than other people do.  I think he’s looking at Nick and Phyllis and shaking his head like, “You can’t be serious.” (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI

You have had quite a gold mine of leading ladies in your daytime career from: Kimberly McCullough (Robin) to Kelly Monaco (Sam) while you portrayed Dr, Patrick Drake on General Hospital, to Gina and Amelia at Y&R.  I have to say that of all of the leading men on daytime, I think you’ve had consistently some major romantic kickass scene partners.  What are your thoughts on that?

JASON:  Yeah, I have been very fortunate.  I can go back thirteen years now and talk about how much Kimberly helped me out in the beginning, and how patient, and impatient (laughs) she was in a lot of ways.  Kimberly taught me a lot about how the business is, and to hold onto your values, and that it is very important to collaborate with your directors, and your writers, and your producers, and with other people that you work with.  You then see new things.  I’m constantly seeing things in other characters where I’m like, “That would be really interesting to shine a light on.”   I think there’s something really interesting about Sharon (Sharon Case) and Billy.  I think Billy could bring something out in Sharon that somebody else can’t.  That’s what is exciting for me as an actor – trying to find something different and trying to bring life that is not necessarily there yet.  I have had a lot of trust from writers, from producers, and from networks.  I have been very fortunate in that way.

Hunter King has returned to Y&R as Summer.  She played havoc in Billy’s life her last go-round.  I know now she is currently after Kyle (Michael Mealor) and not after Billy, but does Billy blame her at all for his spiral back into his gambling addiction?

JASON:  Realistically, if  Billy were really being dead honest about it and trying to really work soberly in his life, he would say there’s nobody to blame but himself.  There’s definitely that conversation that could be had between them about the situation that they found themselves in.  They both hurt each other pretty badly, and the people surrounding them.  I think there is probably a little bit of blame that can go around on both of them, but I don’t think he really sits back and blames her for falling back into addiction.  She might have been one of the triggers, but I think that he was really responsible for that.

Congratulations on your Daytime Emmy Pre-Nom in the Lead Actor category!  It’s quite a talented group of ten actors that made it through to the final round of competition. You certainly had a stellar year of material!

JASON:  I had a ton of great storylines last year, and it just kind of kept going, and kept going One thing I will say that really helped me out is my relationship with Mal Young (Ex- EP and head writer, Y&R).  We got along really well.  He helped me out by letting me know six months ahead of time where we planned on going with the story.  So, I was able to understand and slowly build the depths of hurt, and the gambling, and how it got further along, and the lies.   I was able to understand where we were going and the plateau that we needed to get to, which was very helpful for me. I worked with amazing people constantly; every day was like something different.  The hard part in this next round of voting is trying to find something that represents the whole year.  When I look at that list of pre-nominees, I’m proud of the work that daytime actors do … everybody from a little bit of a younger guy like Billy Flynn (Chad, DAYS) to icons like Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) , and Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH).  What Maurice brought to my life as an actor and still does has been wonderful, and on the other side of that you’ve got Peter Bergman, who is like a real brother to me now, and we’re really close.  It’s a nice comradery between everybody in the category.  It’s a great group of people to be included with, and aside from the competition part of it, that’s the really cool part.

Photo Credit: JPI

So, let’s talk about your on-screen, mom, Jess Walton (Jill).  I’ve heard you say publicly how much you really like working with her, and she with you.  What can you say about when you do get some scenes with Jess, and get to play that mother-son relationship?

JASON:  That’s another one that you can loop in with all of the other women I’ve worked with.  It’s a different kind of relationship, but talk about a soap icon! Jess Walton is right up there.  She’s a pro, and she’s got this little girl inside that is the sweetest thing alive, and her little giggle.  I can say that relationship is just there with her.  I would love for her to be there more.  If there’s one person that can tell Billy to just, you know what, she’s somebody that can give him a little whipping, and he’d be like, “Okay mom, you’re right.” (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

Finally, you are on this juggernaut of a show that just celebrated yet another milestone, 30 years at #1.  You go from a historic show like GH, to another here at Y&R that keeps celebrating these milestones that nobody will ever overtake.  All of this has to be a ‘pinch yourself’ moment for you?

JASON:  Yeah, I definitely pinch myself.  I think at this moment, all four soaps that are left are having monumental anniversaries and celebrations, because the truth of it is, it’s really incredible what soaps have done in our history.  With playing Patrick on General Hospital, I still look back on that time and that character, and am just so grateful that I was able to bring him to life.  Every once and awhile I wonder what Patrick’s doing.  On the other end of that, to come over to Y&R with a show that is now 30 years at number #1, and the pride that they have, and the support that they have from the network, there’s a real kind of challenge that we have in order to keep that up.  It is not about the slogans, or the glitzy ad campaigns in the magazines that say, “Hey!  We are #1 for 30 years.”  While that’s very important, what’s more important are the people who have gotten us there for the last thirty years.  We have to show them respect by doing the best that we can and continue that. That’s what drives us. You can feel it in the building.  To take on a character like Billy, who has been a part of that for a very long time, there is a pressure that comes with that, but at the same time, there is an excitement of taking on this character and continuing to make him relevant, and a part of this great soap’s history.

So, do you want Billy to end up with Victoria, Phyllis, perhaps Sharon, or someone else? Who do you think has got Katie and is watching the Newmans?  Are you rooting for Jason to receive a Lead Actor nomination for his work on Y&R in 2018?  What do you think about the other sentiments shared by Jason in this interview, and what was your favorite part of our discussion? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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GH icon Genie Francis chats with Michael Fairman about her return to the soap as Laura after being taken off-contract earlier this year. Leave A Comment

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Kate Mansi as Abigail

Days of our Lives

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