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The Jess Walton Interview – The Young and the Restless

© JPI Studios

© JPI Studios

“Hello, Restless Style, Jill Fenmore speaking?”  What???  Yes.  As viewers learned late last week, and at the beginning of this week’s episodes of The Young and the Restless, the previously known Jill Foster Abbott apparently is part Fenmore… as in… Lauren Fenmore.  The truth of what we all hope will finally be the end to Jill’s long and exhausting plight and search for her biological birth mother, (for her sake, not necessarily the viewers), took a drastic turn when Jill’s adopted mom, Liz Foster, made a death bed confession to her son, Dr Snapper Foster. (The guest starring David Hasselhoff)  Loaded with the info, and following the powerhouse scenes by two-time Daytime Emmy winner Jess Walton (Jill), (when she has to cope with the grief and feelings of abandonment after losing the one mother that loved her unconditionally), Snapper tells Jill what Liz explained to him about her birthright.

On-Air On-Soaps chatted with the amazing Jess Walton to revisit the latest developments in the ongoing saga of one of daytime’s most unique and enduring characters.  In addition, Jess discusses her on-screen relationship that has endured and withstood countless relationship rewrites, that between her and soap legend, Jeanne Cooper (Katherine).  From the catfights, to the cake-fights, to the DNA results, to the doppelgangers, these two have gone through it all.  Walton also reveals she was sad the return of Y&R 80’s Foster brothers, (David Hasselhoff and Wings Hauser) was so brief, but yet it propelled great story. 
And, what of her current on-screen sons, Daniel Goddard (Cane), and Billy Miller (Billy)?  Find out what this savvy soap veteran has to say about these two popular soap studs.

And, with the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards just around the corner on Sunday night June 27th from Las Vegas live on CBS, Jess and I take a trip down memory lane through her two Emmy wins – one for Supporting Actress in 1991, and the other for Lead Actress in 1997.  An irreverent, funny, tell- it-like-it-is phenomenal actress, and a pure joy to watch on-screen, here’s what Jess had to say about all her mommas!

MICHAEL:

Your performances last week when Liz was dying were phenomenal.  Now we learn, Jill is apparently part Fenmore.  How did you feel when your character gets thrown around so many times, in so many directions, with mothers, jobs, men, etc?  I think she is one of the soap characters who has changed course so many times, it’s hard to keep up with her!

JESS:

It is, isn’t it?  I agree with you, and it used to bother me.  I would try and keep a steady course with it, and now I can’t.  Now I just roll with the punches.  It’s impossible!  For awhile there you just kind of say things like, “My character wouldn’t do this, and who is this?”  But now, I just kind of go, “Oh, my God.  This is going to be fun”, because it’s something new, and it’s something different.

MICHAEL:

© JPI Studios

The episodes that just aired were very well written.  It really made the audience aware of Jill’s emptiness and issue of abandonment, and where it all stems from.  Therefore, the viewers felt really bad for her.

JESS:

They were well written, and that is what you have to do, because when Jill goes off on her crazy tangents, I have got to balance it with some sympathy.  Because, if the audience can a see a bit inside of her and understand her, and not just hate her, then it affects them. I thought the scenes with her brothers, Snapper and Greg, were just so good!

MICHAEL:

It was sad to say goodbye to Julianna McCarthy as Liz, and then at the Friday tag you end up at Lauren’s door.  And this past Monday you explain to Lauren what you were told by Snapper via Liz, of Jill’s biological background.  What do you think of the Fenmore twist, it sort of came out of nowhere?  However, the big question as to who is Jill’s real mother is still a mystery.

JESS:

It all happened so fast. We had David Hasselhoff for a week, and Julianna as Liz, dies within a week and all of a sudden it’s, “I am a Fenmore”.  And we really didn’t have a chance to explore it much, but in real life that happens.  My first thought as Jill is, “I actually know who my blood is, and I have a sister.” And, Jill was very moved and touched and shocked from the death of Liz, but full of love for her sister.  Lauren would actually be Jill’s half-sister.

MICHAEL:

Do Lauren and Jill have a bad past?

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JESS:

Most people don’t like Jill, and she hasn’t particularly loved Lauren. I have never had that much to do with Lauren, really.

MICHAEL:

So now, the canvas is wide open again, as to who could be Jill’s mother! Speaking of past mothers… how did you feel about the reversal of plot point that unconnected Katherine and Jill as mother and daughter?  Jeanne Cooper made no bones that she did not like it from the beginning and was glad it has been dropped. With everything that has transpired on-screen, how do you feel about Jill not being related to Katherine?

JESS:

As Jess, I originally loved the idea and it seemed a natural progression to me. I thought it would make it more interesting, because we had already been playing our relationship for 20 years on one note.  I thought it would deepen, but it never did what I thought it could have done.  But, Katherine and Jill have an incredible relationship on-screen in spite of all this.  The love and the hate is so mixed, and there is never any telling when it will bubble out now.  It used to be, “This month I like her… this month I hate her.”  Now, it’s more from moment to moment.

MICHAEL:

How was it to play those huge emotional scenes, and watch Julianna die on-screen?

JESS:

They were easy, easy, easy.  I knew we only had David Hasselhoff for one week, and it was all going to happen.  There was going to be a lot of pain, and a lot of crying, and I was dreading it.  But I have got to tell you, those tears flowed so easily.  Julianna, first of all, is a consummate actress.  She and I have a lot of history together, and we are friends. I adore her, and when I lock into those blue eyes of hers, I just become Jill.  And the strange thing is, Wings Hauser, who I never met before, because as you said, the scenes were so well written, that as soon as we started playing them, the story all made sense.  It was great, and pretty effortless.  I really felt Wings and David were my brothers.  I have to say there was a lot of distraction on the set while David was filming his reality show and that was different.  But I was kind of excited about it, because it was fun.  In the end, I think the scenes came out really well.

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

How was David to work with?

JESS:

He was wonderful and a friendly guy and upbeat.  David was proud to be back on The Young and the Restless, and like all parents, proud of his kid.  And that was all he could talk about… his daughter, Taylor-Ann, who played the nurse in some scenes who mixed up Liz’s medications.

MICHAEL:

Jess, you have won two Daytime Emmys, and I was watching this year nominated writing episode from Y&R where yet again, there you were with your mother issue. Jill found out at Billy and Chloe’s wedding definitively that Katherine was not an imposter and your DNA did not match.  Then comes the cake-throwing scene, which set back the Katherine and Jill feud to its rightful place!  What did you think about those scenes?  Jill was a raving bitch!

JESS:

Always, the scenes that turn out the best are the ones I am most worried about, because I know they have the potential to come out great.  I thought they were fabulous.  I had no idea how I was going to be playing all that craziness.  You remember how crazy Jill was acting?  She was all over the place and flip-flopping.  I said to Sally MacDonald, who was directing the episode, “Um, you have to give me a drink in my hand at the very beginning of this wedding because I have to have a little aid, and you have to assume Jill is a little tipsy.  It gives the excuse for why she is so all over the place.”  So, Sally started me out with a Mimosa right at the beginning of the show and it kind of explained it.  And what did I say to poor Murphy?  I know, “You dig up worms for a living!”  (Laughs) She was awful!  Then I threw the cake in Nikki’s face, too!  I said to Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki), “You better watch out Melody.  I am going to get you, too.”  It was great!

MICHAEL:

© JPI Studios

What did Jeanne think of this cake fight extraordinaire?

JESS:

Jeanne was like, “bring it on” with the cake fight.  Here was the problem. The problem was that the frosting was butter cream and it got on the floor on the tiles.  And whoever was holding me up, was really holding me up…and it was Beau Kayzer. (Brock) That was because Jeanne was trying to get her arms around the entire cake!  I am telling you, that is what she was trying to do!  She is so funny! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

So to make this extraordinary pairing work on-screen at this point, after so many years, do you and Jeanne sit down and have a process where you run lines, or is it all just hit your mark, say your lines, and we will make it remarkable?  With daytime production moving so fast these days, has it at all impacted you and Jeanne?

JESS:

There is very little time to run lines if we are first up to tape in the day.  Other than that, there is usually time to rehearse.  We use to have a drama coach on set who was great.  His name was Judd Lawrence.  He was great for group scenes, and he had a little room near hair and make-up.  When we had those group scenes with a lot of people, as we passed by his area, all of us would sit down in a room and get those really fast cues that you have in party scenes.  So that was cool.  But for Jeanne and I when it comes to one and one scenes, we find each other and we put in the work.

MICHAEL:

Jeanne is a remarkable lady!  And the two of you still “bring it” to the viewers!

JESS:

© JPI Studios

I thank God every day for that woman.  She feeds me. She is like a shot in the arm when you see her in the morning.  She is funny and sharp and I love her.

MICHAEL:

What are you playing as Jill now?  Inner-struggle? Is she going to have a metamorphosis?

JESS:

She is feeling all of her emotions right now to the hilt and thinking, “Whatever I am feeling, it’s like what the hell!  Life had always brought me a lot of dirty blows,” but she always tries new things.  She has really deep feelings for people like Cane and Billy.  She adores them, even though Billy is such a little brat.  He has a lot of Jill in him, but when she gets mad, she really gets mad, but I don’t think she is any longer trying to make much sense of it.  Jill went out of trying to fit in and be part of society.  She is now like, “What is going on?” (Laughs) Michael, I can tell you, there is really good stuff coming up.

MICHAEL:

Jill is such a shrew sometimes!

JESS:

She can be such a shrew!  Did you know that a Shrew is really an animal that has a horrible personality! (Laughs)  Jill gets her happiness where she can, and she certainly is not going to contain her anger.  She lets it out, so it does not fester in there.  She is on a roller coaster though, I will say that much.

MICHAEL:

So she is going to be in a continual search for her biological mother, coming up?

JILL:

I suppose.  I can’t tell you anything. (Laughs)

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

Another thing, Jess, is that Jill has had a lot of job changes. (Laughs) Where is she working now, officially?

JESS:

She is still with Billy. He fired her once (laughs), but I am working at Restless Style.

MICHAEL:

How is working with Daytime Emmy nominee Billy Miller (Billy)?

JESS:
Oh, it’s fantastic.  He is the best actor. Yesterday, Billy walked on the set after we had just rehearsed these scenes, and during the performance I looked at him and I saw so much!  I think back to when he met Cane, and the character had just come back.  Billy was jealous of him and happy to be home with Jill, and it was all playing across his face. He is very, very good.

MICHAEL:

Your other on-screen son, Phillip Chancellor III played by Thom Bierdz, came back for sort of a reverse coming out story to his family, but the story fizzled.

JESS:

When I worked with Thom recently, I have to tell you, he hasn’t changed a bit.  He is still the same sweet guy that he was.

MICHAEL:

And how is working with Daniel Goddard (Cane)?

JESS:

© JPI Studios

Oh my God, it’s like butter.  It is, it’s like butter, and we have this connection.  He reminds me of my real life son.  His energy is like my son.  And I feel like he is my real son, and he is just amazing.  Daniel’s sense of humor is so terrific.  I love his wife and his kids.  I am always thrilled when I work with him.

MICHAEL:

On Sunday, the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards will be handed out on CBS.  So as a past recipient, where are your two Emmys?

JESS:

They are on each side of the TV.

MICHAEL:

When you look at them, do you look back and go, “Wow, I won these!  How cool.”

JESS:

They are always there so I don’t always notice them, but as I am sitting here talking to you, I am looking at them.  Sometimes when I have new people come into the house that don’t really know me well or know what I do, I think “Oh, what are they going to think when they see those?” (Laughs)  They are very impressive, but most of the time I forget.

MICHAEL:

When you won them, do you remember what went through your mind at the time, close to when your name was called or shortly after?

JESS:

© JPI Studios

The first one was at the Marriott and it was a lunchtime deal. I remember when I won them I was very angry that I had to do anything, because all I wanted to do was feel.  I remember it distinctly.  First of all, I sure as hell did not want to get up and give the damn speech. (Laughs)  It was just horrible!  Then I wanted to go hug my husband and I had to do the press, but I did not want to do the press.  Not because it’s difficult, or that I don’t like doing it, it’s just that I wanted to feel that feeling, and I wanted to feel it purely and not have to work.  Then the second one was killer and the icing on the cake.  It was for Lead Actress and it was really, really great.  And, at that time it had been many, many years since The Young and the Restless was on, and no one had ever won in the Lead Actress category.  I think it had been on 20 years maybe at that point.

MICHAEL:

What would you say to the actresses this year who are in the final five, as we countdown to Emmy night?

JESS:

I would say, enjoy the nomination process, because everyone is a winner until that night and it’s a glorious, glorious time.  And for the winner, it goes on, and for the ones who don’t win, it sort of stops right there.

MICHAEL:

Well, after seeing this last week of air shows, I think you have some very strong material, that if you so choose to throw your name in the mix next year, you could just get a nod!

JESS:

If I decide to do it, we shall see.  But the great thing about the Emmys is: once I won one, and then won a second, it did not matter to me anymore.  It’s over and done and I did that.   I did not have that yearning that I had before.

MICHAEL:

OK Jess, of all the numerous twists and turns in Jill’s storylines, there had to be some that you were like, “You have got to be kidding me? How I am going to make this work?”

JESS:

© JPI Studios

Oh, my God, Michael.   I had those moments a lot when you think of the twists and turns. And the very first one I remember was when Billy was small.  I was fighting for custody with John Abbott.  Jack went and hired a guy who sweeps me off my feet who lets me know he is not interested in a child.  And…I give up custody from that one day of scenes. That was a “How am I going to make this work?”  And every time I have scenes with the whole town (Laughs), and I announce to the whole town that I was going to take over Katherine’s house, knowing they all loved her and hated me (Laughs)…. I am always having to do stuff like that.  I mean, when I had to tell poor Murphy that he digs worms for a living…you know, it was like, “How am I going to do this?”  My whole soap opera life is filled with, “How am I going to make this work?”  Sometimes, my solution is going to the director and saying, “Please give Jill a Mimosa the first thing in the morning so I can make this work.” (Laughs)  The other story that was the hardest, “How am I going to make this work,” was Brittany’s baby.  I fell in love with the baby, and I was going to go into the Witness Protection Program to be the nurse maid for the baby. (Laughs) And then, Michael Nouri was on the show for a while.  He was a dishonest CEO for Katherine, and I was trying to get the goods on him and fall in love with him.  But then, Jill runs off with him knowing he was an embezzler and never to see her family again. Well, please! (Laughs) You know what I mean?   It’s so much fun, and it’s been such a
challenge to try to make it some sort of cohesive tapestry of a human being.

MICHAEL:

But you had to speak to the writers at times to clarify or find out where your story is headed sometimes when things were perhaps, murky?

JESS:

I have gone on the phone with the writers before to shape an idea, or to go over the forward thrust of a story, but mostly it’s self-explanatory.  I don’t know how to answer that except there have been times I have needed to talk to them.  Particularly, if I saw in the direction it was going that there were going to be problems.  But of course, they are great that way and glad to talk about it with us.

MICHAEL:

Who do you think is the dream mother for Jill?

JESS:

© JPI Studios

I think Julianna was!  Liz was the dream mother for Jill.  She always could handle Jill.  That is the trouble on soap, you can never be happy. You always have to be unhappy because that is where the drama lies.  I had many mothers now haven’t I?  Remember Elizabeth Harrower, played by Charlotte, and Jill was crazy about her! (Laughs) Oh, my God.  She had so many mothers! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

But Jill’s deep rooted insecurity and issues stem from that and from when she was poor.

JESS:

There is a basic insecurity that came from her being the housekeeper’s daughter. She was around Katherine with her rich society country club friends, and she had this deep feeing of inadequacy, and that is where I think it all stems up.  But, she is very much a bossy little lady, and domineering.  Jill is attracted to powerful men, but yet she is not going to buckle under to them.

MICHAEL:

Have you ever been bored with playing Jill?

JESS:

No, it’s never boring now.  When it was boring, was the time I won Best Actress because all I was doing at that time was supporting Sonny Von Deusen who played Keith Dennison, and his two girls, Megan and Tricia. That is all I did for two years and it was really boring, and nothing ever has been that boring, and no period of time on the show has ever been as boring as that one.  Sonny was a wonderful actor and I loved him, but I wasn’t doing hardly anything.

MICHAEL:

When you heard all these people were coming back for one week, David Hasselhoff, Julianna McCarthy and Wings Hauser, were you shocked when they told you?

JESS:

© JPI Studios

I have a really good friend whose is David’s agent, so I was not completely unaware of what was going on.  But, I was very sad that it was so quick though, and no, I am not in David’s reality show!

MICHAEL:

What would you say about working with Jeanne Cooper after all these years?

JESS:

It’s like rolling off a log at this point and so easy.  Working with Jeanne is stimulating and we laugh constantly.  We are so in the same boat.  We know each other so well, and we know the looks on each others faces, and we know if we have gone up on each other’s lines, and we know if this isn’t working right or it doesn’t feel right.  It’s just wonderful.

MICHAEL:

So what happened when Jeanne’s prediction that the mother/daughter storyline was not going to work came true?

JESS:

What are you going to do?  I hate that Jeanne was proved right that it didn’t work, because I think it should have.  But, I thought it would deepen it in theory, and make it more interesting, in theory.  C’mon, we got years of story out of it, and there was no wrong to that.  I don’t care what she says.  It’s been 25 years that I have been on the show, and there has been a Jill in her life for way longer than that. You have got to throw it some curves.

MICHAEL:

OK, after all the mothers, men, children, boardrooms, and manicures that Jill has come in contact with or had in her life, what is something you would still love to see your character get to do?

JILL:

I would love to see a lot more fantasizing scenes, where apparently I put Katherine under the hair dryer and electrocute her! (Laughs)  And one time, I know I did hide the toilet paper in the Colonnade Room when she went into the stall.  And, I loved it when I rented the Doberman, because I knew she was afraid of dogs.  And I loved it when I hired my own maid, so we could have dueling maids, with her Ester being her maid.  I remember, Beverly Archer from Momma’s Family, who played the neighbor on that sitcom, played Jill’s maid.  She was hilarious, and her sense of comedy timing was out of this world.

MICHAEL:

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Would you like to see Jill have a new romance?

JESS:

No.  I would like to see her become a master spy.  (Laughs) Look, I am up for anything new and different at this point.

MICHAEL:

Well Jess, I know and the fans know, that there is some big stuff coming down the pike for Jill, from discovering more about who she is, to God knows what else, in the coming weeks!

JESS:

It will be an emotional roller coaster, and it’s never smooth.  It’s all about going for broke with her coming up, and its going to get very interesting.

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waldo doe
Guest
waldo doe

Thanks for the great JW interview. I don’t think I have ever read an interview with her. She seems pretty cool, so unlike her neurotic alter ego!

I’m not so crazy about this Fenmore storyline, but I will keep watching to see where it goes.

KELLEY MIES
Guest
KELLEY MIES

Jess is the BEST actress on daytime tv!!! She makes Y&R the show that it is #1!!!

Nora
Guest
Nora

Great interview! I love Jess and I’m looking forward to this new development!

Diane
Guest
Diane

Absolutely one fabulous intereview with the great Jess Walton whom I love and adore and have since I saw her ‘ions’ ago when she was a young gal on the now defunct soap SOMERSET! Awesome ballsy broad and I love her character and what she brings to it. Thanks Michael.

Mandel
Guest
Mandel

Good interview Michael. When people say that they don’t like Jill, that shows that Jess is a good actress.

cburdsall
Guest
cburdsall

found interesting and helpful. Jill is such a difficult person to like; but now, separating the actor from the character, makes it easier to watch the prerformance.

Trish
Guest
Trish

I like Jess but my favorite of all time was the original Jill, Brenda Dickson.

Interviews

B&B’s Matthew Atkinson Weighs-In On Daytime’s Wildest Storyline, The Hope Mannequin & What’s Really Going On With Thomas

If you think you’ve seen it all on daytime soap operas, think again! Over the past several weeks viewers of CBS Daytime’s The Bold and the Beautiful have been witness to fashion designer Thomas Forrester’s (Matthew Atkinson) descent into madness, or is it?

In B&B’s thriller-esque storyline, complete with tight close-ups and tilted angles of Thomas and his co-star, the Hope Mannequin – yup, you read that right, the series is taking the audience on one wild ride, something we have not seen the likes of since back in the hey day of the late head writer, James Reilly, during his tenure on Days of our Lives or Passions.

Photo: JPI

Inspired by, believe it or not, true life events, B&B’s head writer and executive producer, Brad Bell and his creative team have served up a story generated off all of the buzz the show was receiving for using mannequins as scene partners for the actors in intimate moments to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.  B&B was the first American show back in production amid the pandemic.

 

Within this twisted tale, Thomas has the life-like version of Hope Logan Spencer (Annika Noelle) at home with him.  Those who have stumbled upon him with the mannequin, well, he has been able to explain that away by saying that having the doll with him is helping him create some of the best designs of his career.

The problem is the mannequin is talking to Thomas, it’s eyes have often turned devil-red, and on Friday’s episode it walked!  It’s objective is to get Thomas to kill Liam (Scott Clifton) and to get Hope back to be his one and only. Throughout many of the scenes in the storyline, Thomas suffers from what appears to be severe headaches.  All of this leading the audience to believe either … he has a brain tumor … he is being drugged … he is suffering from a severe mental break and disorder, or something else.

Photo: JPI

In a very candid and often humorous conversation with Michael Fairman for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Thomas’ portrayer, Matthew Atkinson, discusses some of the craziest scenes to shoot thus far including Thomas having dinner with the mannequin!  In addition, Atkinson reveals how he and Annika Noelle tape the scenes where she is the voice of the Hope mannequin while adhering to safety protocols,  and how Liam is the only one, apparently, thinking something is off with Thomas, and so much more.

Photo: Gilles Toucas

One thing is for certain, Matthew Atkinson is sinking his teeth into the material and making it must-see daytime drama through his performances while we all wait to see what the possessed mannequin does next.

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

Then let us know, what do you think is happening or wrong with Thomas? Are you getting a kick out of the Hope Mannequin storyline? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

 

 

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Interviews

Eric Nelsen Talks Latest Film, Becoming a Tony-Nominated Producer, ‘The Bay’, and His Elizabeth Gillies & Ariana Grande Connection

You can catch All My Children reboot alum, Eric Nelsen (Ex-AJ Chandler), just about everywhere this month, and that’s hard to do given that we are all living in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this Daytime Emmy-winning actor has his hands in a myriad of projects of late including: appearing on season six of The Bay (new episodes every Tuesday on Popstar! TV) where he continues to play Daniel’s journey after the character has come to terms with his sexuality and finds love, plus his comedic turn in the film, 1 Night in San Diego, and recently becoming a Tony-nominated producer along with his wife Sainty for the critically-acclaimed, and now 11 times nominated Broadway play, The Inheritance.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Eric to get the lowdown on his busy professional life, and we were in for some surprises along the way including: what the producers of AMC had in mind for the character of AJ that ultimately did not happen, and that Eric starred on Broadway with Elizabeth Gillies (Fallon, Dynasty) and Pop superstar, Ariana Grande – and there’s more to that story below.

 

What makes Nelsen so good at what he does on-screen is that he is a like a chameleon; adept at playing the quirky, to the troubled bad boys, to the emotional heart-tugging anti-hero. So here’s what Eric had to say in this fascinating conversation.

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

Your latest film appearance in 1 Night in San Diego is out this week on multiple streaming on-demand platforms from: Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and more. Tell me about the movie and when did you film this?

ERIC:  We filmed it near San Diego, not this past February, but last February, and it’s hilarious.  It’s a female-driven comedy.  The cast is incredible.  Alexandra Daddario, who is just epic, and Jenna Ushkowitz, and Laura Ashley Samuels, they truly bring it in this powerhouse comedy, and it’s just one of those make-you -laugh movies from beginning to end, just silly, stupid stuff happening the whole time.  General Hospital’s Mark Lawson (Dustin) is also in the film.  While we don’t work in scenes together, I did get a chance to meet him and he’s a really great guy.  I play this off-the-wall character, named Gordo, who is a real burn-out, think Matthew McConaughey meets space cadet, which was a lot of fun to play.  Gordo is a great role.  I had more fun with this part than I’ve had in a long time.  So, it was cool to throw a comedy into all of the drama I have been playing in my other projects.

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

ERIC:  One of the girls knew him back in the day, so they were in town looking to reconnect, and she’s like, “Oh, we want to party and let’s hit up Gordo,” and they do.  He has just gone completely off the rails, off the deep end with spirituality and kind of in his own world. They find themselves in quite a predicament when they come visit what they didn’t know was a commune, basically.  Gordo creates this hippie commune for a bunch of outcast musicians, (laughs) and I don’t want to give too much away, but a lot of interesting stuff happens there.

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

In addition, you are now a Tony-nominated producer for the play The Inheritance!

ERIC: That was crazy, because it’s always been a dream of mine to produce for Broadway.  That was how I got into the world of film and TV acting, which was through the theatre.  That’s where I started.  I was lucky enough to star on Broadway when I was 16 and 17, in a musical called, 13.  I started with Ariana Grande! It was so fun.

Wait, what?

ERIC:  Yeah, that was her first big show, and Elizabeth Gillies’.

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

ERIC:  Oh yeah, and you know she and I dated for two and a half years during the whole run of the show 13.  Elizabeth is very talented.   She is amazing.  The funny part of it is, we were dating forever, and kind of had a bad breakup, and then Sainty, my wife, gets cast in her show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, in the pilot to play Liz’s best friend on the series.  So, all of the sudden, I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, out of all the shows, all of the things, this is who you have to get cast as best friends with?” and so they actually became really, really, close friends.  So, I’d actually come home from work or filming, and Liz would be on my couch sitting there giggling with Sainty.  I’m like, “This is just becoming too much.  This is a full-circle moment here.  I can’t deal.” (Laughs)

Now, you and Elizabeth are broken up at this point?

ERIC:  Yes.  We had been broken up at this point.  Sainty and I were actually together.  I started dating Sainty in New York and the pilot she was shooting was in New York, and she gets cast as Liz’s best friend, and I was like, “Oh, of course.”

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

ERIC:  Yes, so dying.  Dying.   You know, it’s just one of those things that in a million years, you would never expect this to happen, and of course, Sainty and her had to become best friends in real life because they’re both great girls, and naturally, they would be friends, but now, I’m like this guy stuck in the middle who can’t believe what’s happening, and thought that was one chapter, and this is a different chapter, and now the chapters are combining.  It’s kind of a comedy act.

Photo: JPI

Since Ariana Grande was on Broadway with you and Liz, what was she like back then before her meteoric rise to fame?

ERIC:  Ariana was literally the sweetest, most innocent, and cutest – like my little sister.   To me, it was like, Liz and I were dating, and Ari was kind of like the little sister.  All of a sudden the show ended. Ariana got a Nickelodeon show, and after that, she became the most famous person in the world and was like this sex icon, and I couldn’t get over it.   She’s always had that talent with her voice and in 13 she was an ensemble member.  She wasn’t even one of the leads, but her voice was so incredible, even then as a young teenager.  I thought she was going to go on to have this great Broadway career as an actress and do musicals her whole life just because of her voice.  Then, all of the sudden, right after the musical, we all auditioned for the same Nickelodeon show.  I ended up going to the finals for the boyfriend role, Liz got the girlfriend role, and Ari got the funny friend on the show role.  That kind of catapulted them into the TV world, and Ari got a spinoff because of her character on that show for another Nickelodeon show, called Sam and Cat, and then after Sam and Cat, she went from this innocent, sweet, little Nickelodeon girl that I knew to being the biggest star.  It was unbelievable to me.

Photo: Broadway World

So, you started on Broadway as a teenager, and you found you always wanted to produce for the Great White Way? 

ERIC:  Yes, I did the Broadway thing, and then I got into film and TV, and then I got into film and TV producing.  As an actor, there are a lot of ups, a lot of downs.  So, in between the ups, I wanted to fill my time, so I got into producing, and I loved it.  I loved creating.  As an actor, we just show up, and everything is already done.  All we have to do is say our lines.  We get pampered, and we go home, but I wanted to know how it got to that point, like what happens before that.  So, I started producing film and found some success doing that, and it was so much fun for me.  Sainty’s and my first love, and what feels like home, is theatre.  So, I wanted to take it full circle and produce a Broadway show.  I just thought that would be such an incredible moment, and so that’s what I did.  I started emailing all of the Broadway producers who I had worked with as an actor, letting them know what I had been doing, kind of the success I had gotten from producing The Bay and some of these other things. Different shows came across my desk that I didn’t quite bite the bullet on, a couple of which I wish I would have, Dear Evan Hansen being one of them.  I would have been so rich by now!  (Laughs)

I just want to clarify for people who might not know, the word “producer” can mean different things.  There are “producers” who are putting money in … they’re backing projects or shows.  There are other people who are “producers” on the creative side of projects.  So, when you’re talking about producing a Broadway show, it is as an investor?

ERIC:  So for theatre, unless you’re the head producer who kind of gets creative control, every other producer listed in the credits is basically helping raise finances and is also very heavily involved in the process of everything else along the way, which is also what makes it special.  So finally, The Inheritance came across our desk, and it checked every single box.  It was just an epic play.  It’s a two-part play, and it’s just hours and hours and hours long.  You see it in multiple days or in multiple shows.  I remember reading the script and not stopping until I finished.  I was like, “This is amazing,” and it had just come off of a huge commercial successful run in London.  It won the Olivier Award for “Best New Play” and just about every other award you could win, and so I was like, “This is the one.  This is incredible.  I love the piece, love the message, and pulled the trigger,” and I would have done it all over again if we could.

Photo: Broadway World

The Inheritance is a generational piece centering on gay men during the AIDS crisis.  What can you say about it to those who don’t know about it, or have not seen it yet?

ERIC:  It takes place in the past, and then it fasts forward to the future.  You see two generations of gay men in New York City, and it’s all about the AIDS crisis, and so you’re bawling crying, and then you’re laughing throughout it.  It’s just one of those epic plays that pulls at every single emotion and you feel like you’re watching a movie.

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s definitely its own thing.  It’s actually an adaptation of Howard’s End, the novel by Forster, definitely different from Angels in America, but the two-part show is kind of what I was meaning by that.  People have said it is kind of our generation’s Angel’s in America in tone and subject matter.  It was just a dream come true, and like all other theatre that was open during our season, it had to close because of the pandemic, and it will have life after Broadway.  We are already slated for the Geffen Playhouse in LA, so I’m very excited for all of my LA friends and the public to get to see it.

Courtesy/ENelsen

And you get nominated in the year that the coronavirus pandemic shut down live theatre! But it is my understanding we still do not have a date for handing out this year’s Tony Awards.

ERIC:  No, we do not.  They finally announced that they were going to announce nominations, and for a while we didn’t even know that they were going to do that.  We received 11 nominations, which is incredible.  We were so excited.  I truly thought the American Theatre Wing and the Tony committee were not going to do the Tonys at all, and so we were just like, “I can’t believe the one year we pull the trigger on the show, this isn’t going to happen for us,” but then thank God, they came to their senses.  There were plenty of shows that opened and needed to be recognized.

How long was it open on Broadway?

ERIC:  We were open from September 2019 through February or March.  So, as long as your submission was open on Broadway before Covid-19 and had at least all of its previews and an opening night before Covid-19 hit, then you could qualify, and then in the play category, there were like 10 plays that had opened last year that were contenders.  So, that was definitely the hardest category.   It will be interesting to see what happens after all of this.  The only good thing I know that is going to come from this is the amount of creatives who have had so much time sitting at home to create and write, that there will be so many new scripts and plays and musicals that are going to come from this.  I think it’s’ going to be the biggest boom that we’ve probably ever seen in theatre, just because there’s been so much time to develop stuff.  At the same time, it’s piggybacking on the darkest time that theatre has ever seen.

Throughout the pandemic, I always stream all of the Broadway Actor’s Fund events.  It’s really sad.  It’s just a difficult time, those in the arts are struggling and especially in the live theatre and also musicians who can’t tour or play gigs in front of an audience. I know they said Broadway is closed through May 31, 2021.

ERIC:  It is really hard.  I’m happy that we are able to find other ways like streaming shows.  I’m actually producing a big benefit for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS that will be airing on World AIDS Day, December 1st.  It’s a show called Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.  The cast we have is everybody from Nathan Lane, to Academy Award winner J. K. Simmons.  It’s insane.  It will be streaming online on the Broadway HD network.  It is a huge list of Broadway stars and a lot of movie and TV stars as well that are participating.  We’ve got people from all over the map.

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

ERIC:  (Laughs)  Ari is not in it, actually!

Photo: Prospect Park

So, in this week’s latest episode of The Bay, your character of Daniel Garrett makes his final choice for love between Caleb (Mike Manning) and Matthew (Randy Wayne).  When you came to the show, did you know that this part was going to wind-up being a gay character?

ERIC:  No, I did not.  I think I dropped a bird in Gregori Martin’s (creator, The Bay) ear by telling him that before All My Children ended, they were going to have my character of AJ Chandler have a storyline where he is gay.  The producers sat me down and talked through an entire storyline arc with me.  Basically, Ginger Smith (ex-executive producer, All My Children) and Alison, our casting director, and one other person from the show, took me to lunch in New York. They pitched me what they wanted to do for my character, and asked me if I would be comfortable with it, and they wanted my opinion, everything.  It was really cool how they approached it, and I was like, “100% completely.”  I look at what Chandler Massey (Ex-Will Horton) did on Days and where that brought him and his storyline, and I thought, “Yes, there’s going to be so much more depth and stuff to play than just being this fun little rich kid.”  At the time, there really wasn’t much depth to AJ.  So, I was like, “Yes.  I will be all over it.  Absolutely.”  So, I told Gregori that, and I don’t know if he already had something in his mind or not, or if that influenced it at all, but maybe he just figured that was something that would work well, and up till that point, I guess they didn’t really have that on the show.  Regardless, no, I wasn’t aware that that was the direction it was going in, but I was really happy with my storyline and it’s grown a lot since then, and in this current season especially.  It’s really given me an arc to play, which I’ve enjoyed.

Photo: LANYEntertainment

So for those who may not know let’s do a re-set.  Where is the character of Daniel at? It seems like he is at crossroads, and is making some important decisions, or trying to.

ERIC:  So Daniel was a wild party boy in the beginning, just head in the clouds, lives life with thinking there’s no repercussions and just doing what you want to do all of the time, and that got him into a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol. Then, we realize why Daniel has been the way he is, and why he acts out, and why he has been so all over the place, and it’s because he hasn’t been able to come to terms with who he is.  Then, he admits it to himself and for the first time to somebody else – who happens to be his priest in a catholic church, ironically –  that he is gay and this is what he has been battling with.  For the first time (and I don’t know where on television it has depicted it this way), but the catholic priest looks at Daniel, and he’s like, “What’s your sin?  You haven’t sinned.  This is perfectly fine.”  So, I love that Gregori made that the outlet for which Daniel was able to basically come to terms with who he was, because he grew up in the church, and so he was always told that it was wrong.  Obviously, it’s not wrong, or obviously the church needs to change their mindset, but on The Bay, he chose that to be the outlet through which he came out, which I thought was really powerful.  Through that, Daniel experimented with other boys and such to figure out where he wanted to land, and then in this newest season, I can’t say much that gives anything away, but for the first time, we really see Daniel’s growth, and he’s making decisions, and the most mature we’ve ever seen him, and it’s been really cool to see that come full circle.  He’s making commitments to himself.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

ERIC:  Obviously, that’s who it works with,  Caleb is a teacher and a great guy.

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

ERIC:  He is… he’s just not the great guy for him.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

This season of The Bay is heavily steeped with social issues of our time.  Covid-19 has come to Bay City and the Black Lives Matter movement also plays prominently.

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s kind of the beginning of the pandemic in The Bay and within all of the intense drama that Daniel has been having, he is still, for all intent and purposes the comedic relief of the show, and so there is a funny scene where I’m carrying like 28,000 rolls of toilet paper like, “Come on, guys.  We’ve got to stock up!”  We all remember those days, don’t we?

Photo: JPI

How do you feel about this season of the show and your work in it? You’ve previously won a Daytime Emmy for your performances on The Bay.

ERIC:  This season is more cemented in a character that has truly grounded himself.  So, the first Emmy I won was for a storyline of coming out and uncertainty and struggle and pain, whereas this season Daniel knows what he wants and is going for it.  There is much more passion and love in this season for Daniel, as opposed to struggle and heartache.

The cast and crew of The Bay all went away and quarantined at this ranch this past summer to get the new season completed.  What was that like?

ERIC:  We were actually in Santa Barbara, and filmed on this epic ranch up there.  It’s like this 500-acre ranch that we all quarantined on.  We had to do the testing, and temperatures three times a day, and the whole thing.  So, it was really structured, tough to pull off, but we were all so grateful that we were able to do this.  Luckily, we had this incredible kind of bubble of a ranch to live and work on while we were shooting.  They were really good about block shooting it all, so we’d kind of shoot one person’s character, then the next, so we wouldn’t have to ever be leaving the ranch before we were done.

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

ERIC:  Oh, it’s amazing.  I just can’t believe how fast the time is flying by because of it.  We just had Molly’s first birthday on October 1st, and I feel like yesterday she was born.  I sound like my parents when I say this, but it’s like the time keeps getting faster, but it’s so true.  She’s awesome.  We play Broadway musical soundtracks to her all day, and she sings.  She sits at the piano with me when I play, and she kind of plunks notes out next to me.  She loves music, and we’ve introduced it to her from day one.  We always joke that she won’t be able to watch any of daddy’s stuff until she’s 18 probably, but Sainty is a voice-over actress.  She has done parts for animated films and TV shows such as Trolls, and Barbie, and Boss Baby, so everything from the first part of my daughter’s life is all going to be Mommy’s stuff, and then, in the later part of life she can start watching Daddy’s stuff.

Right, she can’t watch anything that you do!  (Laughs) So, basically forget that!

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

Check out the trailer for 1 Night in San Diego below.  Then share your thoughts on Eric’s current role on The Bay, if you hope he wins a Tony to go with his Daytime Emmy, the six degrees of separation between him, Elizabeth Gillies and his wife, and that the All My Children reboot considered making the character of AJ Chandler gay via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

Peter Reckell Reflects On His Time As DAYS Iconic Bo Brady, Life In New Zealand & Christmas Music Project

Last week, Days of our Lives  turned 55-years young, and the historic long-running NBC daytime drama series has been home to some of the most memorable stars and characters of the soap opera genre, perhaps none more so than anti-hero Bo Brady played by Peter Reckell.

Reckell who appeared on the show for several runs that lasted over four decades, premiered as Bo back in 1983.  He then stayed through 1987, came back from 1990 to 1992, again from 1995 to 2012, and back again in 2015 during DAYS 50th anniversary and to wrap his run as Bo, when the character was killed-off, after Reckell made it clear that he wanted to give the audience closure for the character.  He later made another return in 2016 to help the character of Hope (Kristian Alfonso) move on with her life.  Hard to believe for all of those heart-tugging performances, Peter was nominated only once for a Daytime Emmy.

Photo: JPI

In this candid, deeply personal and enlightening new interview for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Reckell opens up as to: what led to many of the decisions he made throughout his time as Bo, how he helped craft the role from the start, the accident that almost took his life, how he handled all the fame that came his way as part of the Bo and Hope supercouple pairing, and how two women in the cast; the late Frances Reid (Alice) and Peggy McCay (Caroline) made lasting impressions on him that he will carrying with him for the rest of his life.

Photo: JPI

What would Peter say if somehow DAYS wanted him back and Bo was actually alive and well?  Find out as Peter weighs-in and wishes his former show a happy anniversary  In addition, he even shares how he felt when Robert Kelker-Kelly took over the role of Bo when he decided to leave the show at one point, and his time playing Johnny on primetime’s Knots Landing.

Photo: JPI

Reckell has moved his family to New Zealand, and this conversation was conducted from his home.  Peter is married to singer/songwriter/producer Kelly Moneymaker and the couple have a daughter, Loden.   It was not wanting to miss the moments of his daughter’s life growing up that has been much of the impetus for some of Peter’s career choices.

Photo: BlueAeris

With Christmastime approaching, Kelly and Peter are part of a brand new Christmas LP entitled Joy.  The album is now available for download on Spotify, Apple Music and major music streaming platforms.

In an exclusive during the interview, we give fans a sneak peek of Peter’s new music video for “Under the Mistletoe”, the song he sings that appears on Joy, which was written by his wife.  For more on the album project visit BlueAegis.com

Photo: BlueAegis

Now, check out the interview with Peter direct from New Zealand below! Then share your thoughts on Peter, Bo, and more via the comment section.

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B&B’s Matthew Atkinson chats with Michael Fairman about the wild ride of the Thomas/Hope Mamnequin storyline currently on The Bold and the Beautiful.Leave A Comment

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