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The Jess Walton, Doug Davidson, and Tricia Cast Interview – The Young and the Restless

Courtesy/CBS

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto/CBS

This week on The Young and the Restless, friends and loved ones of Katherine Chancellor (Jeanne Cooper) gather together for a remembrance on the 1-year anniversary of the passing of the Grand Dame of Genoa City!  And as we know in story thus far, Katherine left specific instructions of how she wanted her party/celebration that honors her in the hands of her long-time friend and often times foe, Jill (Jess Walton)!  For the special episodes, which will begin airing on Tuesday and Wednesday, Y&R brought back fan favorite Tricia Cast (Nina) who notices during the celebration that there seems to be trouble in paradise between Paul (Doug Davidson) and her bff and his wife, Christine (Lauralee Bell). In addition, actor Michael Fairman (Murphy) makes a return when Murphy has been given his own set of instructions from Mrs C., and that doesn’t sit well with Jill!

But with this being the 1-year anniversary marking the death of the character of Katherine Chancellor, it has also been a year and a few months since the passing of the iconic and beloved Jeanne Cooper, who died in May of 2013.  How are her co-stars and Y&R family dealing with the loss a year later of this remarkable woman and talent?  On-Air On-Soaps talked with three cast members who have each shared a long-standing unique and profound relationship with Jeanne: Jess Walton, Doug Davidson, and Tricia Cast.

In this very special tribute interview, Jess, Doug, and Tricia share what it has been like at the studio without Jeanne, some of their favorite personal stories that are, for anyone that knew her, or are fans of hers, quintessential Jeanne!  Plus, the trio weighs-in on if they feel the number one soap has done a good job at keeping Katherine Chancellor in story enough, and they give us a preview of what is happening with their characters on the day of the gathering at Chancellor Park.

There isn’t a day that goes by for many that knew and loved Jeanne that don’t miss her panache, humor, graciousness, often cantankerous nature … and how she loved, in her own way, all of us.  For anyone who was lucky enough to be able to spend some time with this woman, she left an indelible mark, as well as on the millions of fans of The Young and the Restless.  This one’s for you, Jeanne!

MICHAEL:

The three of you were so close with Jeanne Cooper, personally and professionally.  What has it been like for each you, a year or so later, coming to the studio and realizing she is not there?  Do you still feel her presence with you?

JESS:

Courtesy/CBS

I kind of feel like, “The joke’s over. Where are you?”  It’s really dawning on me personally, that it’s becoming more and more real all the time.  I so miss her energy in scenes.  Whenever you would walk on to the stage with Jeanne everything came alive in a way it doesn’t without her.

TRICIA:

I am not there at Y&R all the time, and when I was there filming these episodes it was really apparent that she wasn’t there anymore.  I think she is there in spirit.  We all laugh about her and talk about her, but you can’t walk into her open door dressing room anymore and get cursed at!  (Laughs)  It’s kind of empty.

DOUG:

I have to remind myself she is in a different form, in a different place, and when that happens I am saddened.  I think her spirit must spend a lot of time around Y&R, because I feel her presence, and what she would say if she were here.  It’s almost like she is speaking silently inside of my head.  There are aspects of it like with Jess, where you feel, “My gosh, I guess she is not coming back.”

JESS:

You just reminded me that she gave us so much power of personality, and the staying power of it, and the fact that she is still there, and she is so much a part of everything.   I wonder if that’s why it’s not even more painful?  She filled us up so much, didn’t she? … More than an average person would.

DOUG:

I didn’t see her everyday, even when she was here.  There would be long periods of time, but I would still feel her presence in her heart and soul, and that hasn’t changed.  She had a huge aura that radiated beyond her physical being even when she was alive. 

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

For me, I so remember an interview I did years ago with Jess and Jeanne.  I came to Jeanne’s dressing room, and sat on the floor and chatted with the two of you.  I remember Jeanne saying to me, “Come in, dear” or “Come in, love”, and giving me a kiss.   And just being there with Jess and Jeanne, and seeing how remarkable the two of you were together, and the banter, and the fun they had with each other, was truly special.  Jeanne’s presence was always so welcoming.  It’s weird now when I do visit the set, and still expecting to see her there.

DOUG:

Once in a while the link is posted of that comedic video they did with Jeanne and Jess in the dressing room to me.  It is just so “both of you.”  It’s amazing to watch.  And it’s a moment frozen now for eternity.  You can look at it over and over again.  Jeanne has the audio version of her memoir, Not Young, Still Restless, and I have not been able to bring myself to listen to it.

JESS:

I have listened to it, Doug!  It’s exactly like she’s right there!  It’s like she is back with us.

DOUG:

Yes, there is a sample of it on Amazon.com, and I said to myself, “I am not ready for that yet.”

JESS:

I can’t think of anyone who was uncomfortable with this woman.  She made everybody feel like she had known you forever.  She would bust your balls on anything at all.  What a heavenly creature she was, and devilish.

DOUG:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

And then she would disrespect everyone to their face from the highest echelon of CBS and Sony … and for some reason no one took offense to it at all.  And, she was spot on with her comments! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Tricia, you actually stayed with Jeanne at her house?

TRICIA:

I did, and she was just a darling.  Jeanne opened up her house to me and let me be who I was.  I was not always terribly social.  So she would let me go hide in whatever room in the house, and sleep in the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on.  Then, I would creep out of my room, and we would laugh at the silliness on the television, or she would just go on with stories that were fascinating about old Hollywood and her old times, and her as child and her upbringing.  I really feel very grateful for that special time I had with her, and if I would tell her that it was very nice of her to open up her home to me, she would curse at me again! (Laughs)  I would say to her, “Thank you so much Jeanne for having me,” and she would say, “Shut up!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Jess, after a year or so later, where do you sit with that final scene between Katherine and Jill, where Katherine goes up the stairs and says “goodnight” to Jill?  Do you think: “I can’t believe that was my last scene with her!”  Or, do you think: “I am so glad I have that on tape between us!”

JESS:

It was so magical that we even had that scene, because nobody knew that would be her final scene …

PAUL:

Courtesy/CBS

Oh, she knew! (Laughs)

JESS:

She was getting weaker and weaker, and it was magical. You are right.  I was reminded of it when we did those scenes for the memorial this time.  I was reminded when Katherine married Murphy (Michael Fairman).  He had given her a tiny, tiny ring, and after a while Jeanne got really tired of it and missed her diamonds, so she would put these huge rings over it.  And I am reminded of it because Colin (Tristan Rogers) gave Jill this little band, which kind of looks like stainless steel, and now I am kind of tempted to do the same thing Jeanne did! (Laughs)  She used to make funny remarks about Murphy all the time.  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Doug, you were so close to Jeanne in real-life, but as for your character of Paul Williams, he was more ancillary in the life of Katherine Chancellor.  As an actor, do you feel that proved difficult during last year’s very emotional memorial episode honoring Katherine?

DOUG:

Paul certainly was not as close to Kay, as Doug was to Jeanne, which was part of the difficulties playing those scenes. You had to tell Doug to shut up and have Paul just be respectful.  Corbin Bersen (Jeanne Cooper’s son, who plays Father Todd on Y&R) was there and he brought part of her ashes to put in the urn.  I mean, so much of it was for me: “Is this real?” Or: “Is this the play?”  That was a hard line to draw that day.

TRICIA:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

There was a lot to draw on that day.

DOUG:

There was so much energy, and it was on the heels of the other show we put together, where the cast sat around and talked about Jeanne.  And, that was only after a few months after she died.  So, it was pretty raw in all of her hearts.

MICHAEL:

How do the three of you feel the writers have done keeping Katherine Chancellor alive in story?  We have had a few stories coming out of Katherine’s passing.  Do you feel Y&R has kept her enough front and center in people’s minds?

JESS:

It’s not difficult to do.  They have kept her alive with his music box story, but the fans still talk about her all the time.  When I said earlier what a true gift she was to all of us, it’s impossible to ever forget her.  It’s almost impossible to believe she is on another plane, and she is in the minds of the fans every day, like I am talking hundreds of thousands of people!  So, her vibration still lives on so strongly.

MICHAEL:

So now leading up to this week’s 1-year anniversary of Katherine’s death, she has written letters again from the great beyond? (Laughs)

JESS:

Courtesy/CBS

She has written letters to be delivered at this time.  Colin and Jill had been off on their honeymoon and it’s very, very emotional for Jill to see Katherine’s handwriting, to hear the voice out of the cosmos, and it’s very amusing how she gives all of these specific instructions for her party.  It’s fabulous, and it has all those emotions that are mixed in with Jeanne.  She was the sweetest lady in the world, and then she would make you almost want to strangle her! (Laughs)  The letter was very much her.  I am so glad the show is keeping her alive in that way.  It’s going to be a fabulous episode.  And, to see Tricia there is great, and Michael Fairman back, who plays Murphy, was wonderful.

MICHAEL:

And then I hear Nina returns to be part of the remembrance, and she is not too happy to see that Paul and Christine (Lauralee Bell) are having marital issues, ( Last year at this time, Paul and Christine got married at Katherine’s memorial service) due to the attention Paul is giving hapless Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott)!

TRICIA:

The nerve of him!  Not cool!  Nina sees that Paul is not exactly pining for Christine at the moment.  All he can do is watch Nikki, and true it’s out of concern for her, but still it doesn’t sit well with Nina. This is: 1) her best friend Christine: 2) that marriage was supposed to last forever, and for Nina she is saying to herself, “If it wasn’t me you chose to spend your life with, than darn it, it better be my best friend!”  It’s a tough moment for Nina.  I think she actually channels Mrs. Chancellor a little bit, and tells him “what’s what!”

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS Photo Credit: JPI

So Nina wants to help Christine, even though Paul dumped Nina to be with her bff?  That’s awfully nice of her! (Laughs)

TRICIA:

Yes.  She wants to help Christine, and since Paul dumped Nina she is thinking, “You better be there for my girlfriend!”

MICHAEL:

So Doug, what is going on here?  Paul is clearly drawn to Nikki because of the revelation that they now share a child together in Dylan (Steve Burton), and all that has happened.

DOUG:

I don’t know if that’s exactly the case. Nikki has a lot of stuff going on in her life right now.  I think as with any friend, at least from Paul’s perspective is that she is pretty needy right now.  She has been batted around by Ian Ward (Ray Wise) and she has these health issues, and she is not handling the little bumps in the road so well.  She actually looks pretty doggone fragile.  I think Paul just wants to make sure that she is OK.   I think Paul loves Nikki, but I don’t think it’s the kind of love that everyone else seems to be worried about.

TRICIA:

You’re lying to yourself! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/Pinterest

Doug, what did you think when they made Dylan, Paul’s biological son?  Did you like it … or were you like, “Where is this coming from?

DOUG:

I think a little of both.  I think the long-term story that we have they spent quite a while building is certainly interesting.  And, it was interesting coming on the heels of Paul having lost one son, and then it’s not like I can teach Dylan (Steve Burton) how to ride a bike, or play ball.  He is a grown man.  So, that is a very odd position to be in, and for Dylan as well.  I think that part is interesting, and to have to figure out what’s next is also interesting.  I think that requires the writers to consider the possibilities, and not just jump to the lowest common denominator.  I mean, Paul and Dylan do care about each other, but now it’s just blood related, so it’s a little bit different.

MICHAEL:

Can viewers expect an emotional and touching show when Y&R marks the 1-year anniversary of Katherine’s passing this week?

DOUG:

I think it’s more story-related this time, and the fact that she has more letters is pretty interesting!  Katherine has us turn inside for our feelings, and that is kind of interesting that even in life on this planet, she is assisting in the lives of the people in Genoa City.

MICHAEL:

So we know Jill got a letter this time from Katherine, but does everyone else get a letter by the time the gathering happens?

JESS:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

No, we don’t all get a letter, but Murphy reads her words to all of us and her instructions about something.  What is very interesting about it is it psychologically makes you feel like she is there talking to you.  It really does.  It’s like she is still alive, and talking to them. They really use her voice, or how the character of Katherine would speak in the letter, and the language that she would use.  It’s a device that works.

MICHAEL:

How was it to film those episodes this time?  Was it emotional for you?

JESS:

It was emotional when I was reading Katherine’s letter in the Chancellor living room … that was very emotional for me.

DOUG:

I think every time we get together as a group, it’s hard not to feel her presence and remember her.  And, the characters that are involved in this particular episode are probably the people in real life that knew Jeanne the best.  So, it’s hard to not talk about her and not feel her.

MICHAEL:

Will Katherine send Jill off on another goose chase … ala “The Music Box Mystery”?

JESS:

Courtesy/CBS

I have no idea, Michael, because the “Music Box” is still going strong!

MICHAEL:

I thought that was going to be wrapped-up! (Laughs)

JESS:

Yeah I did too, and it’s still going strong … and there you go. (Laughs)

DOUG:

I was surprised.  Y&R has re-signed the music box!  It has its own dressing room now! (Laughs)

JESS:

It has a special slot on the prop box! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Who has Jeanne’s dressing room now at the studio?

DOUG:

Courtesy/DougDavidsonTwitter

It’s Daniel Goddard’s (Cane) dressing room.  He gets it when he’s there taping.  If he’s not there, whoever is working, and in that day, might get it.

JESS:

But it will always be Jeanne’s dressing room.

DOUG:

When Corbin was in, he was in her dressing room, which was harder for him than he expected.

MICHAEL:

So Tricia, you just come back for a few episodes?

TRICIA:

Yes, and I am very happy that they called me in for this.  It was great chance to see everybody and laugh, play, and act. What a gift!

MICHAEL:

Fans are always excited when you come back to the show.

DOUG:

Maybe, she can come back to the show and rag on somebody else next time!  (Laughs)

JESS:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

You could come back and stay in Katherine Chancellor’s house with us!  And maybe then Chance (John Driscoll) could come back.  It would be great!

TRICIA:

It would be.  A house full of us would be good!

DOUG:

A house full of people that really don’t like each other! (Laughs)

TRICIA:

What better soap opera!

MICHAEL:

Can each of you share a story or little nugget about Jeanne?  We have all had such fond memories of time we shared with her.  I know it’s hard to single out one thing, but what comes to mind?

TRICIA:

There are so many, but there would be times we would sit together an eat ice cream and poke fun at Dancing with the Stars, or whatever show was on.  I just remember watching it at the time and just laughing.  Jeanne’s laugh was so infectious.  I loved making her laugh!  That was amazing.  If I could get a chuckle out of Jeanne my day was made!

DOUG:

I think what happens to me now is the Chancellor Mansion set is usually stored in a visible location on the way to the CBS commissary, if it’s not up.  I have her voice in my head and part of the sorrow has lessened.  I don’t think there is a day for me that goes by, in or out of the studio, where I don’t hear her saying something to me, or have a memory, and for me it’s just knowing that she is still around.

JESS:

Photo Credit: CBS

I was just reminded recently, because somebody brought this up on Twitter, that there was this segment that I think Entertainment Tonight had done years and years ago … like in the 80’s!  And, it was Jeanne and I on stage, and it was around the time Barbara Crampton was on Y&R as Leanna Love, and Jill was trying to think of something to call her.  And she called her: “Bubble butt”, and they wouldn’t let me say, “Bubble butt.”  So I just came out with “Fish head”, and Jeanne loved, “Fish head”.  And I kept going; “I can’t say ‘Fish head’… it doesn’t make any sense.”  And Jeanne was going, “Please!  Please say ‘Fish head’”. (Laughs)  And if you go on Twitter you can find it, but it was a perfect example of how we used to sit in the dressing rooms, back in the day when we both smoked for hours.  Jeanne’s set was up last in the afternoon, so we had hours to kill.  We would go over every bit of comedic material, and we would sacrifice our characters to work up to a punch line for the other one. (Laughs)  We would make ourselves look foolish, so the other one could have their moment.  It was the most beautiful partnership, and it didn’t even make me so sad, but what it left me with was wonderment that I didn’t even appreciate more at the time of what a wonderful combination of people we were, whose intention was the same, which was to make the story great, and to make the duo of Katherine and Jill interesting and entertaining.  We loved the comedy of Jill and Katherine.

MICHAEL:

Jess, you have to pinch yourself when you look at the legacy you have left with Jeanne!  Those classic fights between Katherine and Jill are the best!  The hose scene, the cake fight, the attic, I could go on!  When I was culling clips for the 40th Annual Daytime Emmys clip package on classic soap catfights, I watched so many of those moments and just laughed out loud!

JESS:

Courtesy/CBS

Remember the hose in the face?  I came at her with that hose and I just sprayed it in her face … and it was just awful! (Laughs)  What I did to that poor woman? (Laughs) Oh God, it was so much fun.  I wish I could relive some of those days.

MICHAEL:

That’s the thing; Jeanne was so much fun, a vibrant lady, exceptional!

JESS:

She was so much fun, and it was always fun with her and we would drive over the hill together to come to work at CBS.  Because most of our scenes were together, we would meet up on Laurel Canyon and we would drive along to the studio waving to each other!  Her in her seafoam jaguar, and I was in a Volvo wagon, and I would always pass her! (Laughs)  She loved that! (Laughs)  Jeanne was incredible.

 

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TraceySallyDE fanwilBarbara from Atlanta Recent comment authors
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Gloria Zimmerman
Guest
Gloria Zimmerman

Thank you for this lovely conversation between these wonderful Y&R actors! One would think a person would get used to the fact Jeanne is gone but she isn’t ! This week is proof of that .a year has passed already but when you scratch the surface of the story lines Jeanne keeps popping up as though she were rehearsing for her scenes …. People let us never forget this dynamo wrapped up in a beautiful smile !keep looking up and Jeanne don’t forget us the loyal fans… Farewell lovely Lady 🙂

Liza
Guest
Liza

It’ so nice to hear all the stories about Jeanne. Thanks for a heartwarming interview. I only wish Y&R would do the same with Katherine Chancellor’s story. I hated that Katherine Chancellor’s memorial turned into Christine & Paul’s wedding. Now it sounds like the 1 year anniversary is about Paul & Christine’s relationship. Who cares? I’d love to see some flashbacks of Katherine Chancellor intertwined with the future of Kay and Jill’s long story which began back in 1973. Shouldn’t Kay’s anniversary episode be about her relationships, her estate, and her company? She has 40 years of flashbacks and story… Read more »

LOu
Guest
LOu

I agree. Chancellor industries should have been left to Jill, not Victor. And I agree with your comment about the roles of women being diminished. They have become sniveling little women from the 50’s, not the powerful women of 2014.

Barbara from Atlanta
Guest
Barbara from Atlanta

I agree as well. I’m disappointed in how the show has used Katherine’s death. Everything seems unoriginal: I’m not sure where the music box storyline is going but it really seems to me to be a knockoff of the “red swan” storyline that was used on Another World when the actor who played Mac Cory died suddenly. Also, Chancellor Park seems like a copy of Horton Square on Days that is suppose to honor Tom and Alice Horton. Of all the ways that the show could remember the Duchess, a park would be the LAST thing that would come to… Read more »

DE fan
Guest
DE fan

very well put!!!

Sally
Guest
Sally

Yes, I am also SO sick of that park!!!

Jess Walton
Guest
Jess Walton

Michael, what a wonderful interview……you are so good at what you do! You really bring all your subjects to life! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

jaybird369
Guest
jaybird369

Jess…I totally agree. I TOTALLY ENJOYED reading the interview!!!!! I LOVE to read, period!!!!! Thank you…Jess, Doug and Tricia. And, yes…Michael Fairman is so good at what he does!!!!! Thank you, Mr. Fairman. And Mr. Fairman…your website TRULY ROCKS!!!!! Thank you.

Take care, Jess. XOXOXOXOXO

MBmomof3
Guest
MBmomof3

Thank you, your cast mates, and Mr. Fairman for a lovely interview!

alistaircrane
Guest
alistaircrane

Nina needs to be back full time!

Lois
Guest
Lois

I really miss Jeanne- it always feels like something special is missing….RIP Jeanne

Jake
Guest
Jake

Its time to make Nina the new Katherine Chancellor. She should have gotten the mansion so she could but heads with Jill Abbott.

bernie tauer
Guest
bernie tauer

I miss her she was a great lady

bernie tauer
Guest
bernie tauer

An a great actress

jimh(leave it to beaver)
Guest
jimh(leave it to beaver)

Katherine shouldve had a half sister and it should be Mamie Johnson who was the Abbots housekeeper…Jill was Johns wife and she and Mamie didnt get along…Mamies neice was Dru so she also has ties to the Winters family…Mamie could return to town as half owner of the Chancelor estate and be in constant conflict with Jill like Katherine and Jill were for years…just a thought!!!

DE fan
Guest
DE fan

Such a fab idea. You should write for them! 🙂

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

The death is Jeanne and Katherine still lives on with the show, and the struggle everyone has in their every day lives. And I feel like this one-year tribute to the both of them is really going to be a great remembrance of what an extraordinary woman Ms. Cooper was, and what a tremendous and bold character Katherine was too! Mrs. C, we miss you!

kalamaty
Guest
kalamaty

THanks for sharing this wonderful interview! Wonderful to read their personal accounts!

Sam
Guest
Sam

Enjoyed the interview piece. Been a Y&R viewer for 30 years. Truly miss Mrs. C. RIP.

Loretta Singleton
Guest
Loretta Singleton

Wow this was so good to read and I remember her last scene when Jill was about to help her and she threw up her hand and then started up the stairs and Jill ask do you need some help going up the stairs and Ms C look up and say I can manage turn around and say good night I knew when she walk up those stairs that was the last time we would see Ms C. I can see her now pointing her finger and telling you how she feels love this Lady and all The Casts of… Read more »

Robert Clark
Guest
Robert Clark

Thank you all for remembering a woman who was and is such apart of my childhood and life. I starting watching Y/R with my Grandmother. When I watch it and see Ms.C. it brings back memories of my childhood. I know Y/R has a special Angel looking after the cast, crew and it’s fans. Thanks for the memories.

Tami Ply
Guest
Tami Ply

I have been a Y&R fan since day one! Jeanne Cooper has always been my absolute favorite! I miss her soooo much! And just as everyone else,…I cherish all the memories and awesome scenes that she made epic! Wish she was still with us! She will forever be a part of the Young and Restless! Love you and miss you Jeanne!!!

Eva Watson
Guest
Eva Watson

Love Y&R. Miss Ms C. The people are so real. Good storie. Great writers.

damien
Guest
damien

don t understand why we have kelly and a recasted phyllis who will never last( lets be honest) when we can just have nina back full time on our screens!! a character who everyone cares about with plenty of storyline potential, history and a amazing actress portraying her! baffles the mind…

Barbara from Atlanta
Guest
Barbara from Atlanta

AMEN

Mary SF
Guest
Mary SF

Timeless beauty never fades; the blooms of youth my whither and fall to winter’s touch of cold death, but the vibrant promise of spring lingers in slumber yet.

Iakovos
Guest
Iakovos

This is a gift, Michael Fairman. Thank you for this interview. The conversation reminds me of the Y&R I loved and I miss now.

mary
Guest
mary

I have watched Y&R since day one. I record it every day. I felt like I lost a member of the family when Mrs. C past away. I miss her wit, charm. She could make you laugh, cry, and cuss right along with her. There was never a dull moment when she was in a scene. I was so afraid they were going to try to replace her when she died. It would of been a disaster. You could never replace her. She was one of a kind and I am so glad that I got to watch her for… Read more »

Carol
Guest
Carol

I miss Jeanne Cooper. What a Great Lady. Thank you for the
Memories. Keep the rest of actors on show, so it stays alive.

Deb
Guest
Deb

I loved reading this article and thanks for sharing. It’s great that the Y&R had the 1 year celebration of her passing on the show. I remember watching it when she told Jill goodnight for the last time. Jill asked her if she needed any help and Katherine turned around and snipped at her no I can manage(I believe this was her words). Katherine then finished up the stairs. Katherine will be missed by all.

Timmm
Guest
Timmm

I dont know why things can be so obvious but never done. Katherine and Jill had a bitter sweet relationship. Katherine is dead. You have to bring someone in that Jill can spar with now. Katherine could have had a long lost son [Corbin] or daughter come into town looking for their inheritance. Giving Victor control of Chancellor would make good business sense but one, who does benefit from it and two, story line wise, Victor has no competition now. I would have liked to see someone challenge Victor. Even Tucker, bring the original Tucker back and have him and… Read more »

Liza
Guest
Liza

I like the original Tucker too. William Russ’s Tucker had oodles of chemistry with Jill and could give Colin some competition. The only problem is MAB went too far with the Tucker character, he became unappealing…gross really. Maybe nuOldTucker could have had a brain tumor?

DE fan
Guest
DE fan

the 1st tucker with the white hair and overweight was too old looking for her, but had a hell of a lot more charm

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

This was a great interview, thanks for sharing!

MBmomof3
Guest
MBmomof3

Great interview to honor a great lady. Clearly she is loved and missed by all who knew her and her multitude of fans.

She is one-of-a-kind and will never truly be gone. She is immortal through her body of work and the legacy she left on the lives of those she touched.

wil
Guest
wil

I have watched this show for most of its running.. I have always enjoyed the part of Nina, played by Tricia Cast.. I was so glad to see her character brought back after the death of Jeannie Cooper.. and also to have her back for the memorial.. It would be great to see her back on the show again, and living in the Chancellor Estate.. I am sure that Katherine Chancellor would have wanted it that way..

Tracey
Guest
Tracey

Thank you for the interview. Jeanne Cooper was a treasure. I miss her.

Interviews

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Since Mishael Morgan returned to The Young and the Restless as Hilary’s twin, Amanda Sinclair, it’s been a slow burn for the character.  However, recent revelations of Amanda’s childhood past have exposed the emotional wounds and the inner fight of this legal eagle, who is now poised for a romance with her late sister’s husband, Devon Hamilton (Bryton James)!

And who better to take on the challenge of trying to make Amanda and Devon a couple to root for then the talented Morgan.  In recent scenes, viewers watched as Amanda learned the harsh reality from her biological mother, Naya (Ptosha Storey), that she gave her and her sister up at birth and never really regretted it! Mishael played those scenes as you would expect for all they were worth and then some.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with the Trinidadian-Canadian Morgan, as the United States marked Martin Luther King Day on Monday – a holiday that holds a special place for her – and then the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice-President of the United States on Wednesday and its historical significance.

 

While Mishael shares her thoughts on these moments of our time, we also do a deep-dive into how she created a second life in Genoa City and the challenges of playing a twin and making her unique and different, plus what fans should look forward to in the months ahead, which to us looks like it could be a love triangle between Elena (Brytni Sarpy), Devon, and Amanda.  And, as the second anniversary of the death of Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters) is fast approaching, Morgan opens up about the impact her former co-star had on her daytime career.  Here’s what Mishael had to say about it all below.

Photo: AP

Yesterday was such a historic day watching the swearing in ceremony of Kamala Harris, as Vice-President of the United States.  She is the first woman, first Black woman, first Indian woman, so many firsts to hold this office.  I just wanted to get your thoughts from watching it.  What was it like for you?

MISHAEL:  For me it was such a beautiful moment, and such a defining moment because now there is no person in America who can feel like they can’t do it all, that they can’t make it to the highest level of office, or at least one of the highest levels of office.  I think that is going to transform this country and the world in many ways because the rest of the world really does pay attention to American politics, and to what goes on in America.  I think it will really have a ripple effect throughout the entire world.  For me, it was so exciting to see this moment actually come to fruition because I think that the impact is even greater than we all could imagine.  You never know who you’re inspiring.

Photo: Hustory.com

It was really amazing, and this was also right after Martin Luther King Day and I know you produced your “I Have a Dream” Project.  How was the holiday for you?

MISHAEL:  It was funny because even though I did the MLK project, I didn’t really think that it was something I could really explain to my son.  Then, yesterday my son really wanted to know: “What was Martin Luther King Day about?  Why was it a holiday?”  It was so interesting because I had to come up with a way to explain it to a five-year-old, and what I came up with was so basic but so true.  I just said, “This was a day when Martin Luther King, a very famous man, who was famous because he stood up for everybody’s rights, and he marched to make sure that everybody can do the same things in this country as everyone else no matter how they look,” and that’s what he was.  He wasn’t just a champion for just Black lives.  I think he is a champion for equality, and he is a champion for making sure that we always remember to see each other the same.

Is that what inspired you originally to do your project?

MISHAEL:  Yes.  100%.  I remember being inspired by Martin Luther King as a child when I was learning about him for Black History Month and stuff like that, and then when all of the social unrest happened, I just remembered him again, and it was something that I wanted to explore.  When I started reading about him again, I just became so inspired by him all over again that I wanted to do something, and that’s what really inspired me to do the “I Have a Dream” Project.

Photo: Getty

I just hope that we will make strides in our country in stomping out systemic racism – it’s such a deeply-entrenched issue in our society.  A lot of people talk, but we need action to bring change to the system.

MISHAEL:  That’s the thing, I think that this moment, you can’t stop – like the moment when Kamala Harris got sworn in as our Vice-President – you can’t stop the train now because strides will be made that the next generation will look at as normal, and of what it means to be a Black woman or a woman in this country is going to change forever.  It’s the next generation that is really going to continue to move it forward.  So, I think that at the end of the day.  This will always be something that’s remembered.

Courtesy/CBS

Now on to Y&R, I wanted to tell you that these performances that you gave that recently aired were just great.  I always love it when they give you the ball.  How did you feel about the scenes and the storyline, where we learn the deep pain and hurt of Amanda’s childhood and the truth from her mother?

MISHAEL:  I was so excited to play it because for me, I really love telling human stories.  I love diving into that part of myself, and I really know that a huge part of why I am an actor is because I just have this outpouring level of empathy for every life that’s lived.  When I talk to people, and they tell me their stories, I want to take it on because I want to show that beautiful side of humanity.  So being given this story, I wanted to be very careful with it, because I knew that this is a reality for a lot of people.  I also thought about the fact that twin stories have always been done before, paternity stories have been done before, but I have to make sure that it comes from a truly honest place inside of me and a truly empathetic place.  I was excited to take on the challenge to be true to myself, and be true to my artist, and just find the beauty and the honesty in this real human story.

Courtesy/CBS

Ptosha Storey, who played your on-screen mother, Naya, was amazing in the scenes with you.  What was it like working with her and the gravity of it, where this woman is basically unapologetic that she didn’t want her children and she gave them up, and she did not sugar-coat it.

MISHAEL:  Ptosha was amazing.  I loved working with her.  We really got to kind of know each other a little bit.  She has such an interesting story about coming to LA to pursue acting, taking a break from it, (and I don’t want to speak for her), but then really going full-throttle right now when Black, female characters are being played, and she’s getting an opportunity to get back out there and do what she loves to do.  Just listening to her story was so inspiring to me. We had a true respect for each other when we got on the stage, and I think we made some art.

Photo: JPI

It was almost like watching a two-person play in those scenes.  What did Amanda feel at this point?  Was she hoping that her mother would say, “I loved you.  I wanted you?”  Was she hoping for a different outcome in her head?

MISHAEL:  I think anybody who goes into a search for their parents is hoping for a positive outcome.  I think for her, it was heartbreaking to hear that if Naya could go back and do it all over again, she would have made the same choices, and also knowing that those choices really impacted Amanda’s life in an incredible way.  I don’t think that all of it has come out yet.  I think a lot of the pain and hurt that she had to go through as a child, and the loneliness that she had to go through as a child, and hearing from a mother that she would put you back in that situation because it was more comfortable for her, and the level of selfishness is hard to take. Then there is the anger and everything that would come out of hearing that from your biological mother.  It’s funny because the way that those scenes were scripted, there was no stage direction, which to me, I love, because a lot times it will say like, “in this moment she is going to get a little angry,” or, “in that moment she is going to be sad,” but for those scenes, for some reason (and they were really juicy scenes) they really didn’t give much direction. I appreciated that because then it really allowed me to really just make the scene what I thought it was and just really live in the moment.  I know this was a roundabout way to answer the question, but yes, it was very heartbreaking because nobody expects that somebody would say that to them.

Photo: JPI

It was just so heartbreaking.  I kept thinking, “Maybe she’ll…” but no, Naya just stood her ground on it even though Amanda grew up in a foster home.  She wasn’t the “chosen” twin either!

MIHAEL:  No, and she was never chosen, and I think that’s an interesting thing that you said because she was never chosen, and I then even to this day, as a grown woman, she still isn’t chosen, and that I think is heartbreaking.  It’s an interesting thing because I do happen to have a bit of a personal experience with this.  My father wasn’t in the foster system, but he was raised… kind of farmed out to two aunts as a young child and didn’t really get to have a relationship with his parents until he was older, and with his mother, until he was in his 20s.  So, it was so fascinating watching my father.  I just remember always looking up to him and thinking he was so strong, and so powerful, and never cared about what anybody thought, and because of his upbringing, it made him a very driven person, very much like Amanda, but there was a weird sense of wanting to be good enough when his father was around, or when people talked about his father.  It was very fascinating for me to watch that.  It was like I would see my father almost turn into a child again, just wanting that love.  I think it’s because that is so organic to who we are as human beings that it just never goes away, that need to know that your parents love you, that there are two people in this world who no matter what will be there for you, and they will love you.  That’s a hard reality to come to when you realize that’s not true.  I think that’s something that’s really hard for the human spirit to let go of.

Photo: MMorganIG

Yes, and I think what you are saying is also true that you realize as an adult that we are so deeply affected by our childhood and how it plays into our choices, or how we perceive things that happen in our lives.  So, when you think of that, and because you’re a mom, doesn’t it make you feel even more that you want to do right by your kids? That you don’t want to do anything to screw them up in their later years?

MISHAEL:  Yes, it’s true.  It does make you want to be the best person for them and the best example, especially the best example for love.  You want them to feel accepted, and appreciated, and proud, and you want them to know that you’re proud of them.  You want to do everything you can because you think of every single person you may have met who felt like their parents didn’t love them enough, and you want to do every single thing to make sure that your child doesn’t feel that way.  I talked to one of my friends, and they’re like, “My parents never told me that they were proud of me,” and I’m like, “Alright!  Well, Niam, I am so proud of you!” Every day, “I am proud of you!  I am proud!”  It’s like every day I better make sure to tell my kids that I am proud of them, and that I love them.  I was talking to Bryton James about this because I had a disciplinary moment with my son, and you wonder if they are going to take it the way that you take it, but at the end of the day, that might get burned into his memory as “the worst thing that my mom ever did to me,” and meanwhile I thought it was a life lesson that I think he learned.  You kind of have to get rid of that fear that you are going to screw them up because I think it doesn’t matter.  You’re either going to love them too much, or you’re not going to love them enough, and you just have to do the best that you can, and you just hope that it’s good enough.

Photo:JPI

Now, you were brilliant as Hilary on Y&R and had this amazing story send-off, and then you came back to the show as Amanda, a new character.  How has it been to try to define Amanda as her own character without the ‘Hilary-isms’, or does it not matter anymore?  Do you feel you have made the distinction for yourself that they are two very different characters?

MISHAEL:  I feel like now they just are different.  It was active choices that I was making in the beginning, and it was important for me in the beginning.  That’s why, for me, when I was bringing Amanda in, I was trying to stay very steady in my tone and how I spoke because Hilary was very, very up and down, and everything was all over the place.  So, for me, that was my beginning moment, just really focusing on how Amanda spoke and how she conducted herself. I can’t change the way that I look, but I feel that the way that I speak and the way that I carry myself will naturally start to define the character.  After a while, when that becomes more second nature, I feel like more of the character comes through … more of how she is and how she takes things in.  That’s just sort of explaining a bit of my process. It’s just the weirdest situation that I never thought I would ever be in, but I definitely feel like a different character for sure!  I do feel like I know who Amanda is now.  In the beginning, when I read the script, all I heard was Hilary.  I really had to think about how I was going to say things because I didn’t want it to sound like Hilary, and now when I read the script, I see Amanda.  I don’t hear Hilary anymore.  It’s become easier for me now to lean more into the role and get more comfortable with it.

Photo:JPI

Amanda had said to her mother that she was also robbed of her sister.  How does that play into her whole psyche?  She does know that Devon was deeply in love with her sister, and now she has feelings for him too.  Did she want to meet her sister?  Does she feel robbed of that?

MISHAEL:  She feels very much robbed of that.  For me, it was very important that the time when she discovered that Hilary was her sister and that Hilary was gone, that I’m playing that loss properly.  It was important for me because if you couldn’t believe that Amanda’s heart is truly breaking for her sister, then you can’t believe anything else that’s coming afterwards.  This is a really defining moment for me as an actor playing two characters on the show.  It was really important, leaning into the fact that I had a twin, and I’ll have a connection to a person who doesn’t exist anymore, and really letting that break my heart, and break Amanda’s heart.  Once the audience believes that, then they can really believe that Amanda is a different character.  Then, our amazing fans will start to just buy into it, and they will figure it out, and they will work it out, and they will wrap their heads around it, but for me, it was that they had to believe that Amanda’s heart is truly broken for Hilary, otherwise we can’t hook them.  Amanda and Hilary have to become two separate characters in people’s minds.

Right.  So, after the confrontation with her mother, she runs to Devon, and she is torn up, and he consoles her.  This week he asked her out on a date.  She likes this guy, right? 

MISHAEL:  Yeah, I think she does!  He’s the first person that she met when she came to town, and I think she’s always been impressed by how he treated her even when he hated her, and the more that she learned of him, the more she became impressed by who Devon was, and his patience with all of this. In seeing his vulnerability with Hilary, and everything that he went through, and then seeing his heart being broken because of Elena and Nate, I think all of it together is starting to give these two characters reasons to be okay with exploring something that may seem strange to other people, but you can’t control who you love sometimes.

Photo: JPI

Hilary and Devon were such a hugely popular couple.  Do you feel pressure to hit lighting in a bottle, twice?

MISHAEL:  It’s really hilarious because we’re the same people!  Yeah, there is a little bit of pressure because you do wonder if you’re going to be able to create the same magic, especially because Bryton and I have known each other for so long, and we know each other so well now.  Looking back at some of the Hilary and Devon scenes, there is something that is so interesting about it and fun about it because I think Bryton and I were just getting to know each other at the same time.  So, wondering if we are going to be able to recreate that and just make it feel fun and fresh, I think is the worry or the challenge.  I think we will figure it out.  Bryton and I were talking, and the one thing that is missing, or the one thing that we have to get to in terms of the underbelly of Amanda and Devon’s attraction is that Amanda is more like Devon than Hilary ever was.  It’s almost like Devon realizing that the whole journey with Hilary was meant to happen just so that he could meet Amanda.

Isn’t Amanda going to be kind of worried that he was so in love with Hilary and the way that she looked…

MISHAEL:  Well, she doesn’t need to worry because Hilary is dead anyway.  It’s not like she’s coming back!  (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

Since the last time you played an on-screen relationship, Bryton is with Brytni Sarpy in real-life, and Brytni is on the show now, and there is all of that.  What has that been like working with Brytni?

MISHAEL:  Oh, I’m so Canadian!  As soon as I got back to the show, I was like, “I’m so sorry,” and she was like, “Why are you sorry?”  I said, “I just feel very sorry that I’m here.  You guys have your real-life love thing going on, and your on-screen love… I feel weird.  I’m happy to be back on the show, but I’m like breaking up the party!”  She’s like, “No!  It’s fun!  It’s fine!  Maybe we’ll be rivals!”  I’m like, “Yeah, okay it’ll be fun!”

I can see a classic soap bitch-fight on the horizon on Y&R!

MISHAEL:  Brytni has been awesome about it.  That’s been great.  We don’t know where it’s going to go, but it’s going to be fun.  They’re also playing with Devon’s love for Elena still.  They still have a pull.  Devon is still looking at Elena.  So, I think it’s going to be interesting either way.

Photo: JPI

We are going to have the fan wars again for the couples!

MISHAEL:  That’s even more fun!  I always said I’d rather people be fighting for me to be with this person and that person as opposed to just always with one person because then to me, I kind of wonder, “Is it just this one actor who makes me better?”  I want to be an actor who makes everyone better!  That I can work off of anybody and get that chemistry or that thing that audiences are looking for, that’s what I really challenge myself to do.

Photo: JPI

On February 3rd, it’ll be the second anniversary of Kristoff  St. John’s death, which is hard to believe that it will have been 2 years already.  I keep remembering when I first met you.  Kristoff and you were on The Price is Right, but it was also a crossover for your characters, and you were the new girl on Y&R.  Do you still feel his presence at Y&R?

MISHAEL:  A few days ago, I had asked Bryton, who is s actually in Kristoff’s old dressing room, “Do you ever feel Kristoff in there?  In your dressing room?” and he’s like, “No, not really.  Definitely not in my dressing room, but on set sometimes.”  Even though he’s not here, it’s like he’s still with us because you still see him in pictures and sometimes that happens while you are on set doing a scene.  One time, I was on set doing a scene with Christel Khalil (Lily), and I saw a picture of Kristoff in the background, and it’s just kind of a reminder that I think he is always going to be here in terms of his impact on me and my time on the show.  He means a lot to me because I think I am the artist I am largely because of his influence, and how he really took me under his wing and made me feel so comfortable.  He was such a light, and he made acting so fun, but he always had your back as an acting partner and as friend, and I miss him a lot.

Me too.  He was just a wonderful actor too, when you look back on some of the work.

MISHAEL:  Oh my gosh, yes.

Photo:JPI

What does Amanda think of Naya’s other daughter, Imani (Leigh Ann Rose)?

MISHAEL:  She’s just irritated by Imani because she basically got to live the life that Amanda should have had essentially. To watch her be up on her high horse to Amanda, it’s laughable because the amount of hoops and obstacles that Amanda has had to go through to get to where she is standing today, somebody like Imani is just a complete joke to her! In Amanda’s mind, she is who she is just because of the opportunities that she was given and because of the family that she was born into.  It was complete luck, and it had nothing to do with hard work.  In Amanda’s eyes, everything that she is and every ounce of who she is, is because of her determination, and the choices that she made, and the obstacles that she overcame.  So, the way that Amanda looks at Imani is like she is just a person who she doesn’t even think could fathom how insignificant Amanda thinks that she is.  There is a deep-rooted resentment for Imani because I just think that Amanda has been through so much.

Would you like to have more scenes between Amanda and Naya and Imani?

MISHAEL:  Yes.I want more scenes with both of them!  Both of them are so amazing.  So, I’d love to work with both Imani/Leigh-Ann and Naya/Ptosha again.

Photo:JPI

What can you say to the fans to look forward to?

MISHAEL:  I think I would say that Amanda coming to Genoa City was a really big surprise, and I think that those surprises will continue … ff we want to be as vague as possible! I think there are a lot of things to look forward to because this relationship with Devon is definitely going, and I think it will be interesting to watch how Bryton and I figure that out, which will be fun!

Photo: JPI

Big surprises? Hmm.  Are you going to tell me that there are four of you? That Naya really gave birth to quadruplets … and you are about to take on two more roles?

MISHAEL:  Well, you never know!  That’s all I’ll say!

So, what did you think of Mishael’s recent performances where Amanda met her birth mother? Are you rooting for Amanda and Devon to wind up together, or Devon and Elena? What have you thought of Amanda Sinclair vs. Hilary Curtis Hamilton?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

Watch the Replay: GH, DAYS, Y&R, B&B & OLTL Stars at Michael Fairman’s Virtual Birthday Party for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 Relief Fund

Earlier this week on Monday night, several of the stars of General Hospital, Days of our Lives, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, and One Life to Live, took part in a virtual livestream “party” for Michael Fairman’s 60th birthday.

The event was held virtually to help performers in need who have been deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic by letting viewers know where to make a donation to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Covid-19 Relief Fund.

Photo: ABC, NBC, CBS

Participating throughout the 90 minute livestream were: The Young and the Restless, Jason Thompson, Sharon Case, and Christian LeBlanc, General Hospital’s Maurice Benard, Laura Wright, Wes Ramsey, and Chloe Lanier, The Bold and the Beautiful’s Katherine Kelly Lang, Days of our Lives’ Rob Scott Wilson, Eric Martsolf, Galen Gering, Arianne Zucker, Shawn Christian, Santa Barbara favorite, A Martinez, One Life to Live’s Kristen Alderson and Eddie Alderson, and Studio City’s Sean Kanan.

You can catch the replay of the birthday benefit event below or on The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

Throughout the evening, the actors shared stories of how they got their SAG card, played a game of Michael’s trivia, and revealed stories about themselves and other “party” guests in a wonderful display of community and camaraderie at all went down live!

Since March of 2o2o, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation has given out more than $6.2 million in emergency aid to over 6,500 SAG-AFTRA performers and their families facing hardship and uncertainty during this pandemic. Thousands of SAG-AFTRA artists have found themselves in dire need of assistance to help pay their rent, buy groceries, cover health care premiums and other bills.  You can still make a donation of any dollar amount to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 relief fund here. https://members.sagfoundation.org/donate 

Now, check it out below, and let us know if you enjoyed the virtual birthday party livestream via the comment section.

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General Hospital

GH Co-Head Writers Chris Van Etten and Dan O’ Connor Interview – “Soapmakers of the Year” Honors 2020

In a year which saw production of your favorite soaps shutdown for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic, everyone in daytime had to pivot.  As original episodes aired, they eventually ran out, giving way to rebroadcasts, while the audience eagerly awaited the return of the current stories.

At General Hospital, once production resumed over the summer, head writers, Chris Van Etten and Dan O’ Connor had teed-up: surprising homecomings (Dante, Britt) shocking twists and revelations, the conclusion of what will become an all-time soap classic, the Alzheimer’s storyline, dipping into the rich 57-year history of the iconic soap to tie story to the present (Laura, Cyrus, Martin), and crafting stories for its A-list cast which gave 2020 some of its finest on-screen moments.  GH became can’t-miss television again, coming back even stronger than its pre-pandemic self; which also kicked the year off in high-style with the reveal of Nikolas to his family, alive and well, and the long-awaited truth about baby Wiley.

Chris and Dan’s depiction of Mike’s heartbreaking battle with Alzheimer’s gave viewers many tears through its unrelenting and realistic storytelling, plus their commitment to air the standalone episode to honor the passing of the 19th amendment of the women’s right to vote in November.  Both were noteworthy, and illustrated what daytime can do best.

 

Each year, Michael Fairman TV gives our highest honor to a creative or creatives who most delivered to its audience and whose quality of work continues to keep us engaged, on the edge of our seats, or reaching for the hankies. That is why this year’s Soapmkers of the Year honor goes to GH scribes: Chris Van Etten and Dan O’Connor.  Shortly after receiving their acknowledgement, the duo spoke to us about some of the 2020 highlights in Port Charles, and how they work so well together to bring their stories to life.  Here’s what they shared.

Courtesy/ABC

First, and foremost, I want to commend you for the Alzheimer’s storyline  As I’ve shared publicly, my mother died of Alzheimer’s, and I have seen the progression of this disease and the effects it has on a family and loved ones, and the person afflicted with it.  You did a beautiful job of telling every beat of the story within the context of what you could do within a soap opera.  What can you tell me about crafting that and seeing it through to the end?  You never abandoned the story, which at times, can happen on daytime.

CHRISNo, we didn’t abandon it.  Soap operas have a power that I am sure we have acknowledged before, to allow audiences to really get to know characters in a deeper and more profound way than I think most other mediums do.  We get to see characters’ lives day in and day out.  For us to tell a story about Alzheimer’s, which is a disease that is devastating in so many ways, not the least of which is the fact that it can take years to develop and years to finally claim a life, we felt that among our audience, there had to be many people who had experienced this in an up-close and personal way.  So that to tell the story too expeditiously would really deny their experience and would take away from their appreciation of the show as a reflection of reality.  Of course, soap operas don’t do that in every sense on every episode, but when you’re telling a story about a disease that people experience every day, you have an obligation to reflect the real-world experience.  So, by bringing it to a close too fast and by doing it in a way that didn’t honor what at times is the horror of the disease, felt like it would be a cop-out.  We wanted to do our best within the constrictions of the medium to depict that; while at the same time, of course, not wanting to leave people so depressed as to not want to tune back in.  It was a really delicate dance.  We are very grateful to have had the support of the network and Frank Valentini’s (executive producer, GH) ingenious production team as well as a great repertory of actors who were willing and able to give their all to this story.

Courtesy/ABC

Maurice Benard (Sonny) did some of his finest work of his career in this story, and you gave him the ball to do it, and Max Gail (Mike) was amazing.  Two standout episodes included: when Mike passed and was taken to heaven by Courtney (Alicia Leigh Willis) and Mike’s funeral episode.  Did you realize when you were writing it, the impact it would have on the audience?

DANAs for the funeral, I’d say that we knew as we were writing it that not only did we want to give the characters and the audience a chance to say goodbye to Mike, but we also wanted to give the performers a chance to say a goodbye to their relationship with the actor, Max Gail as well.  Max is a fantastic, phenomenal actor, and he formed close relationships with many of our performers.  So, when we wrote the episode, yes, we did want to give the audience a chance to say goodbye to the character, but we also knew that because of the close relationships that these performers have made with each other that the actors were going to bring their all, and it was going to provide the audience with some powerhouse performances.

Did you get emotional seeing it? 

CHRIS:  Oh, personally, I cried.

Courtesy/ABC

I know you both love and appreciate the soap genre and understand that the audience often wants a good cry and is invested in these characters.  So because of that; what’s it like for you when you see these emotional moments play out that start in your mind, go to the page, then to the stage, and now are out in the world for people to see and experience?

CHRIS:  I can’t speak for any of the other writers, but I’m not crying when I’m writing it, but I’m crying when I see it realized and how the actors, and the producers, and the directors realize it.  I personally am always surprised by the nuance and the beats that they find that we, in our first draft kind-of-lifestyle that we have as soap opera writers; where we are writing six or seven episodes per week, we don’t have the time or the luxury to really sit with an episode and mine it for every single beat and every emotion. That’s why we have great directors and great actors who take these scripts and find these extra moments.  So, it is really gratifying to watch – yes, to see something that we’ve imagined be produced and personified, but then to see how the production then takes it in other directions, that’s the best.  I think that’s the most gratifying part of writing for a show, not seeing what you’ve written produced, but seeing how it was parented into life.  When you have a baby, I think you have all sorts of ideas about what the baby will be, and then the baby becomes something else as the result of its environment and of the people who are influencing and guiding it along and that may be a bit of a stretched metaphor, but it kind of feels relative.

As co-head writers of General Hospital, how do you work together to come up with long-term story?  What is your process?

DAN:  Chris and I will meet regularly and discuss the long-term stories that we are telling, and plan to tell, and maybe some adjustments that we have to make along the way.  We get to meet with our writers several days every week as we figure out the best way to tell that story in the form of however many episodes we write a week.  Chris and I also write episodes along with our great breakdown script team, and every week we figure out the best way to either stay on the path of the story we are intending to tell, or find new opportunities or new twists and turns we can take along the way.

Photo: ABC

Do you get into friendly, creative disagreements? Is one of you more protective of a certain character than the other? 

DAN:  Chris and I have known each other for close to 15 years at this point, and we are not just colleagues, we are also friends.  There is a certain amount of shorthand that we have with each other which is just invaluable in telling story.  What’s great is that we sometimes come at the story from different angles or we have a different point of view, much like any two fans of the show wouldn’t agree on necessarily everything, but in our discussions about the show’s needs, wants, and haves, and the story trajectory, we ultimately get somewhere better than where either of us could have come up with on our own.  At the same time, there are those moments where we both come to the same idea at the same moment, and that’s definitely when we go, “Okay, we’re onto something good.”

CHRIS:  I can add as a partial translation that I can get really snippy, and Dan has the patience of a saint.  So, often times, I need 24 hours to go away, and sleep on something, and wake up, and say, “Oh Dan, you were totally right about that.  I’m so sorry I was snippy the other day,” and he doesn’t seem to hold it against me.

Do you ever get a writer’s block; as has to happen often with scribes in the unrelenting medium of daytime drama, and if so, I would think having a writing partner would be an asset during those times?

DAN:  I think it’s the nature of the beast.  At a certain point, you might hit a roadblock somewhere, but that’s why having a partner is so valuable that there is somebody else that you can bounce ideas along with, and just as, if not more importantly, our team of writers are always there to sometimes give us even better ideas than what we would have come up with on our own.

Courtesy/ABC

This year you utilized and delved back into a lot of GH history.  How did the idea come about to bring back the character of Jackie Templeton and have former All My Children and NYPD Blue favorite, Kim Delaney, take on the role?

DAN:  Jackie Templeton is a character who has been an Easter egg on the show for many years now.  Whenever we needed to namedrop a famous journalist, she was always our go-to.  It always felt like the character was in the ether of Port Charles for awhile, and we were excited to bring this take-no-prisoners character back and explore her history with Robert (Tristan Rogers), and at the same time, we were finally teed up to tell the story of Finn’s (Michael Easton) falling out with his father and step-mother, and we realized we had a great opportunity to have the character serve both stories and collide with not just Anna (Finola Hughes) and Finn, but Robert as well. Those three played wonderfully with each other. When we heard that Kim Delaney was interested in playing with us, we were just over the moon.  .

Courtesy/ABC

You have also been delving back into Laura’s childhood past and her history. I love that you brought up the death of David Hamilton and her teenage years, which hasn’t been discussed for a very long time on the show while tying it into the present.

DAN:  We were always aware of the story just because we love General Hospital and we love the character of Laura, and there is nothing else like daytime drama, and one of the great things about it is that you can reach decades into the past and expand on stories and themes that the audience actually witnessed. Long reaching history is a tool in our toolbox that not many other series have.  Chris and I love honoring and using our characters’ histories to propel the show into the future with some serious momentum.

Photo: ABC

You created and brought the character of  Cyrus Renault (Jeff Kober) on to the canvas. Was it originally a case of, “We need an uber-villain to come and shake things up,” and then you decided to connect him to Laura?  It’s been an intriguing shocker for viewers.  Jeff is playing the multi-levels of Cyrus with great finesse, and whenever you give Genie something, the fans go nuts, and she, in turn, delivers every time.

CHRIS:  The story of Cyrus has a couple of phases to it.  We wanted to bring on a villain who would not only be an adversary to Sonny, but someone who we could use to really test Jordan (Briana Nicole Henry) and Curtis (Donnell Turner), and we knew going in that the first phase of this story would really hit the Corinthos family and also the Ashfords, and as we developed it, we thought about what the act two would be, and we knew that we had an opportunity to really engage Genie Francis and to expand her sphere and expand her footprint on the show, and by connecting her to Cyrus, who is not your typical face or presence for a soap, but is also not your typical person who I think Laura would encounter in her daily life.  So, we knew, as we really developed Cyrus as a villain, that for Laura to find out that this man is her brother, would really allow us to play with Laura in a different context and in a different light and really give Genie a new kind of challenge.

Speaking of Genie, what did you think when you watched back her performance in the episode where you wrote that Laura has to say goodbye to her comatose daughter, Lulu (Emme Rylan), before she was sent off the canvas to a long-term care facility?

CHRIS:  I mean to me, that’s vintage Laura.  I came to General Hospital personally in the late 80s to early 90s, so my experience of Laura really only begins with her, and Luke (Tony Geary), and Lucky (Jonathan Jackson) at the Triple L Diner.  I think that what we’ve gotten to see with Genie is really reflective of the high emotion that she is capable of delivering.  At the same time as the high emotion, you’re also seeing really small human moments that she really breathes a lot of life into.  I can speak for Dan and myself when we say that we are just really thrilled with what she has been able to bring to the screen.  Thrilled, but I guess not surprised.

Coutesy/ABC

Nelle (Chloe Lanier) was such a great interloper and threat throughout the year in story; whether it’s hatching plots to gain custody of baby Wiley, or her “death” scene and confrontations with Carly (Laura Wright).  However, through all of this, when was it decided to make Nina (Cynthia Watros), Nelle’s biological mother?

DAN:  There are very few things that are as exciting on a soap as a character that makes you wonder what they are going to do next, and Chloe and Nelle provided that role with just gusto.  The truth is, the idea that Nelle was Nina’s daughter has been a part of the conception of that character, and over the last few years, the story evolved, and we ultimately got to reveal the truth to the audience.

Courtesy/ABC

As writers, there has to be characters that are just so delicious and treacherous to write for that you have to get a kick out of it! Chloe Lanier is so good that she makes the audience want to slap Nelle when she takes the dialog and then brings it to the screen.  

CHRIS:  It is tremendous fun.  Yes, yes, we love writing for these characters who are willing to do and say anything to get what they want.  We are constrained when writing for characters who have morality.  It takes a moral character a lot of really difficult circumstances for them to make a decision that might go against the grain, but when you have a character like Nelle, who is not shackled by certain societal norms, then you really get to live out the worst impulses that a person could have, and it’s really fun, especially when you take a really great performer like Chloe and see her as Nelle unleash all of the poison that she’s capable of.  At the same time, she can turn on a dime and rip your heart out a little bit when she turns on the water works.

Photo :ABC

Ava Jerome’s (Maura West) story this year had her moving into a relationship with Nikolas (Marcus Coloma).  We, the audience, didn’t know how that was going to go – if they were just going to use each other, or ultimately fall in love.  Was that the plan all along … that they would develop deep feelings for each other, or did you want to see how it progressed and played out on-screen, and then make that determination?

CHRIS:  I think that once we saw the chemistry between the two actors, we knew we had gold. So, we wanted to take our time, especially the way that it was constructed.  These were two people who had little use for each other emotionally, and in fact, probably wanted to see one another’s downfall, and that’s what makes it so great to write – that these are people who, in a similar vein as Nelle, don’t live by the same rules as most of the rest of us, and therefore, they might do things to each other that the rest of us would not do to anyone let alone whether we like them or not.  That’s what makes Ava and Nikolas so delicious is that from one moment to the next, you don’t know if they’re going to hatch a plot against each other or fall into bed and ravish each other. That’s what I think we hope to continue to play as we go forward because they certainly have very strong, passionate feelings for one another.  When you’re talking about Ava and Nikolas, these are two people who do not have a lot of fans necessarily in Port Charles, and there are a lot of people who don’t necessarily want to see them achieve happily ever after.  Knowing that there was so much initial mistrust and suspicion between the two of them could really provide the foundation for their own undoing or their undoing from someone who does not want to see them happy.

Photo: ABC

Back in November, GH made good use of a standalone episode spotlighting the history of the women’s right to vote and the suffrage movement; just as the presidential election was happening.  What made you decide to write this special show, and how do you feel it turned out as it also spotlighted the female cast?

CHRIS:  We had long intended to honor the one hundred years of American women’s suffrage with a special episode to air on the anniversary of the 19th amendment’s passage, but we missed the date due to the pause in production.  We realized we had a second chance as the election neared.  Going forward was a no-brainer. The biggest challenge was in distilling such an epic story into one episode. We think ABC would do well to consider a spinoff: “Port Charles, 1920”

Courtesy/ABC

You have such a powerhouse cast to write for.  It’s loaded.  It’s got to be a challenge for you to construct the story for GH when you’ve got to front burner people and back burner people, and then you’ve got these huge daytime stars all in one show.

DAN:  It’s an embarrassment of riches to have a cast as talented as we do quite frankly.  We are fortunate enough that we know that we have these amazing performers that we can trust with whatever stories that we throw their way.

CHRIS:  I will say that we do have a great cast.  They’re all wonderful, and when you have a show that is only approximately 35 minutes of airtime on any day, it’s a real balancing act to make sure that everybody gets a story that really is worthy of their talents, and we’ve got one for everybody.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of which story takes precedence in which moment, which is why occasionally some characters aren’t featured on a daily basis, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be.  If you were to ask me, “Who are the standouts?”  I would say all of them.  You saw this year: Maurice Benard, Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis), Maura West, Genie Francis, and Laura Wright (Carly) to name but just a few.  They’ve all done such fantastic work, and we can’t wait to give them more material to give them more moments to shine.

DAN:  A priority of ours is every week, we meet up and look (well, it’s virtual now during Covid-19) at the big board of our cast photos and we go through each character and always make sure that they have some story percolating even if it’s not on the air at the moment.

Photo: ABC

As we close out 2020, and look forward to 2021, any parting thoughts, and perhaps a tease of what GH fans can look forward to in the New Year?

CHRIS:  In general, I would just say that despite all of the challenges of the year, we are really grateful to our cast and the crew back in Los Angeles for realizing and improving the show that we imagined, and we are so excited for everything that is coming in 2021.  We hope to continue to throw a lot of surprises at the audience, and at the same time give them a lot of moments and stories of heart and love and excitement.

So, what did you think of the year in story on General Hospital in 2020? Share your thoughts on Chris and Dan’s comments and their year-end honors via the comment section below.

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