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The Jim Romanovich Interview- 37th Annual Daytime Emmys

Associated Television International’s, Jim Romanovich, President, Worldwide Media and Entertainment spoke to On-Air On-Soaps to bring us up to date on the just announced plans for the telecast of the presentation of the 37th Annual Daytime Emmys.  Soap fans were somewhat in a state of shock this past Friday, when it was revealed that CBS has agreed to air the broadcast this June, and so the Emmys are back on network television!  However, one major difference; the show won’t be emanating from Los Angeles or New York, but “Sin City”…Las Vegas.  Jim shares his thoughts, and gives us a peek at what went down behind-the-scenes with NATAS and CBS to give daytime fans another year to see their favorites honored and recognized.   He also responds to issues concerning last year’s creative decisions and inherent problems, and how it may or may not be different this year.

MICHAEL:

What can you speak to, as far as special presentations and honors for the televised broadcast?

JIM:

I can’t give too many details, but one tribute we are planning is the Lifetime Achievement Award.  We did not choose the recipient, but NATAS did and that person has not been contacted yet.  If they agree, then they will be honored by it. I think a lot of people in the soaps would agree and will love it.

MICHAEL:

Why Vegas?

JIM:

The Vegas idea has been going and has been a done deal since November, because of the success we had in last August’s Emmy presentation. And, it’s the 40th Anniversary of the Las Vegas Hilton.  It’s a big milestone for them.  I think Vegas and Daytime have a synergy about fashion, glitz and glamour, and all that.  We did not want to repeat what we did last year.  We thought we brought something back, and we are taking it to the next step.  CBS took a while and NATAS took a while for all this to become a reality.

MICHAEL:

What were the stumbling blocks that dragged out the confirmation of a televised broadcast?

JIM:

The stumbling block with NATAS was the same thing it always has been, which is money, because their survival is always on ticket sales.  Did it make sense to do a TV show in Las Vegas?  Or, did it make sense just to have a dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, and keep their overhead low and get a bunch of people to come?  Our feeling is, and still is, that the Daytime Emmys deserve to be on television, and it’s important for NATAS’s survival be on TV.  It was a long process because you are dealing with board members, and trustees, and everything is by committee. 

MICHAEL:

Vegas seems a very odd choice.  Are you going to fly people there, when last year it was hard to get people to LA from the NY shows?

JIM:

Well, first of all, there are less people in the soaps now in New York. (Laughs) Listen; if we were living in a perfect world, everything should be in New York, in my opinion.   LA was never supposed to be the soap town; it was always supposed to be New York.  What we are trying to do is rebuild it for what today’s realities are, and that is the daytime community is really more west coast based now.

MICHAEL:

Was it somehow a cost effective move, deciding to mount the show in Vegas?

JIM:

No, not really.  It can be more expensive.  Last year we wanted to make a point with the Orpheum.  We wanted to give it a sense of grandeur.  The location was not ideal by any stretch of the imagination.  Would we have rather been in the Kodak Theatre? Absolutely, but the Kodak was not available.  So what we tried to do is improvise it and make it a mini-Radio City Music Hall feel.  And because of that, we are now taking it to the next level of showmanship and entertainment.  The CBS deal would have never happened had it not been for Las Vegas.  It gave them another angle to promote. They wanted a real show, and they wanted something that they felt would boost the ratings.

MICHAEL: 

© JPI Studios

People were shocked that CBS was going to air the show when they canceled two of their soaps, As the World Turns and Guiding Light within the last year and a half.  What would you say to those that are feeling that CBS is sending out a mixed message to the soap fans?

JIM:

CBS is a business.  They are not emotionally involved in anything, and that includes Let’s Make A Deal, or if 20,000 Pyramid or Password comes back.  What they are looking at is money. They want to be in the business of making good shows and making money.  Unfortunately, As the World Turns – as great as the strides have been the last year – they had been declining for the past several years.  TeleNext tells me they would have loved to continue it.  I know CBS is not looking to get out of the soap business, and that is not their mantra.  They have two of the top rated soaps.  B&B is the number one show internationally, and Y&R is the number one daytime show, and does better ratings then many primetime dramas.  Daytime is very important to them, and everything that goes along with it.  They want to boost their morning show, and all of that. 

MICHAEL:

So what will be the theme of the show?

JIM:

I can’t talk specifically because we don’t have any thing set in stone, but the feel is Vegas Salutes Daytime.  So, I know our hard-core Daytime Emmy viewers like award, award, award, and then credits.  I think that is why the ratings have been slipping because that had been the case.  We started to bring in some entertainment value last year and that pissed off some of the diehards, who would have rather have had another award category. But for the people watching in primetime that are flicking channels, they are going to stop and watch if there is some entertainment.  The Oscars, Grammys, and the Tonys do it.  I guarantee you, if we had not done the entertainment value like we did this last year; we were not going to be able to save the Daytime Emmys being televised.

MICHAEL:

What can you say to people who want to see their favorite soap stars glammed up and getting more time on primetime?  Last year you got pushback when viewers saw host Vanessa Williams and Gilles Marini in a dance number, instead.  Soap fans felt the show became more diluted then in the past.

JIM:

That is valid because it’s very personal to them, and soaps second to sports, I think have the most vehement fans in the world.  I am the same way.  You have to look at it from a perspective that there are seven, soon to be six, soaps. And even so, 85% of the viewing time of the Daytime Emmys is about the soaps, even though there is only six hours of daytime television devoted to the genre.  We don’t spend that much time on children’s shows or half the amount of time on court shows, and there are a ton of those.  The soaps are really the reason the Emmys exist, but we have to acknowledge the other types of shows.  I look at this as a celebration of daytime in which everyone is represented, but because ATI is involved, and me personally, we are going to make sure that the soaps are very well represented.

MICHAEL:

Good to reiterate you are a champion and friend to the soap genre.   Now, after last year’s broadcast and feedback, and memorable incidents that did not sit well with the viewing audience, what changes is ATI going to make?  Or, what have they learned from last year’s show?

JIM:

One thing we are going to try to do is to get CBS to agree not to cut us off at ten o’ clock! (Laugh) This time we are on from 9pm-11pm, which I think will improve the amount of viewers, and this time we are on Sunday instead of Friday.  Remember, CBS scheduled this on Sunday, as opposed to Friday as it had been.  And, Friday is next to the graveyard on television because no one is home on Friday night.  Sunday night is a great night for award night.  We did the last show as if it was the last one, and we are doing this show as if it is the last one. I believe we now have the option for one more year because of this.  It all depends if we can improve upon what we did, and if there is enough support, and I look at the soap fans for this.  I read a lot of stuff they say.  Some I don’t agree with, and some I do.  There are others who write, “If Crystal Chappell doesn’t win they will never watch this show again.”  She is a wonderful actress, but you have that fan base. They will crucify you if their person doesn’t win…because sometimes fans think politics is a factor… and they say, it’s a joke, and the show’s a joke.  And it is like you said, Michael, why show Vanessa and Gilles dancing when you could show soap stars?  Our point of view is because of the entertainment we brought last time out, CBS agreed to do it.

MICHAEL:

But you are looking to tailor the show to the broadest primetime audience, correct?

JIM:

I am a huge soap and daytime fan, but if you are running in primetime, you have to cater to a primetime audience.  That is just the way it is.  There was a time in the late 80’s and early 90’s, where the daytime audience was eclipsing the primetime audience, and when you had Liz Taylor on GH.  Back then daytime was the money mill.  It’s a shame it’s not anymore.

MICHAEL:

One of the things that was a big issue last year was viewers were hard pressed to find any on-air promos to properly promote tune-in.  Will there be more promos this time?

JIM:

We were very upset about that last year, because we took a lot of care to bring this thing back, and the network treated it like we were lucky to be there… when in fact they were lucky to have us!  CBS said they would help us with on-air promos, and it’s in their best interest.

MICHAEL:

Will you be having a Daytime Gives Back segment like you did last year?

JIM:

We do have a Daytime Gives Back again this year.  And this time it’s Americans Feeding America for a change.  We are going to do a food drop in South Central L.A.  We are putting another contingent together where we are going to be giving back to soldier’s families, and these are soldiers that are just back from Afghanistan and Iraq.  They come back and they find their homes and life is different.  It’s a frightening and sad thing that these men and women come back and have all these debts.  I think it’s a positive message for daytime to be involved in.

MICHAEL:

So, is there a game plan in place to move forward with a tribute, in some fashion, to As the World Turns? Previously, you had stated that it didn’t look like that was a reality, but instead you were thinking the show would do a tribute to All My Children celebrating their 40th anniversary?  Where does this all stand?

JIM:

I don’t have a game plan yet, because we are waiting on those who make those decisions to tell us.  I met with TeleNext in Cannes.  I said, “We are planning to do the Daytime Emmys on June 27th, and I wanted to talk about getting the ATWT cast there so the possibility of a tribute can be done.”  And they said, “It’s a bad week.  We are shooting our last episodes right around that time.  I don’t know if we can even make it.”  So, we are trying to figure out what to do there.

MICHAEL:

Why not have one star, Julianne Moore, come out and just introduce a clip package befitting the show?

JIM:

© JPI Studios

I mentioned Julianne Moore to the Academy and CBS.  I would love her to do this.  We are going to do everything we can to do something for As the World Turns.  I think there may be an acknowledgment with All My Children for their 40th anniversary, but I think the most important thing with AMC is to document their move west, which was the most important thing that happened to them, and what it meant, but that may be part of something else.  All of these things are on the plate.  I did not think there would be an ATWT tribute for these reasons: One, the cost value of getting everybody out there.  Two, P&G, TeleNext and NATAS wanting it to happen… and three, CBS wanting it to happen.

MICHAEL:

If CBS is involved and P&G is packing up boxes and closing shop in Oakdale, why can’t CBS supply ATWT clips to your Emmy production team?

JIM:

I do not think it was a clip issue.  You saw the interview with the P&G guy who said, “We are out of the soap business,” and that does not bode well for helping with the Daytime Emmys.  I think people that watch the Emmys are soap people.  I know that.  I am pushing for things involving the soaps really hard.

MICHAEL:

Is there going to be a Pre-Show this year?

JIM:

CBS is not going to do a Pre-Show.  I have talked to a variety of cable networks – and no, not SOAPnet they are just not interested.  I am talking to the E’s and TV Guide Network’s, and telling them we are going to have a red carpet and in Las Vegas. I know the ET’s and Access Hollywood’s will be there, but we will not do gavel to gavel coverage like last year. We produced that third hour last year because we wanted to expand our show.  CBS is not going to do that.  They are not going to use a red carpet meet and greet when they can run Undercover Boss. Actually, I would rather have them run Undercover Boss because I want that lead in.  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

What about host candidates?

JIM:

Courtesy/NATAS

There have been some bantered around.  However, I do think that the person chosen will have a “Vanessa Williams” quality… meaning they have to have an appeal and be an entertainer. 

MICHAEL:

Final question that many fans want to know:  Does NATAS dictate the awards that are presented, or do you, as the production entity, have a say in what makes it to air and what categories get cut?

JIM:

ATI does not decide. The two entities that decide what categories absolutely have to be on the air, are NATAS and the broadcaster.  Then we plot the show around that.  I don’t feel for a moment that it won’t be an entertaining show.  I think there will be moments of hilarity, song and dance, sadness and nostalgia.   I think all of those things will be there. We do this with the sense that if this is the last one, lets go out with something memorable… and if it’s not the last, then we gave them a great show.

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allison6071
Guest
allison6071

I think it was very unfair for Mr. Romanovich to single out the fan base of one specific actress as an example, as I’m sure many fan bases are passionate about who they support. I’m also certain the letters and/or responses he receives from Ms. Chappell’s fans are nothing new to him or the industry. Therefore, in my opinion, If Crystal Chappell wins the Emmy for Best Leading Actress in a Daytime drama, which I believe her work from 2009 reflects she so rightfully deserves. There will always be a question behind it and that is very unfair. I’m very… Read more »

Jordy Lee
Guest
Jordy Lee

I am confused. I have always thought of Jim and the Emmy’s to be professional. I am quite disturbed at the comment about Crystal Chappell. If fans have written those comments then, that is unfortunate, but does not take away from this awesome actress and her talent. I find it hard to believe that NO other actress has had fans write in about being upset regarding their favorites not winning. I mean in the 19 years it took Susan Lucci to take home the Emmy, there were no distraught fans Jim? Why single out one particular actress? So, should we… Read more »

Justin
Guest
Justin

You certainly are confused because you didn’t read what the man had said. He was obviously citing an example of how some fans will not support The Daytime Emmys if they feel their favorite star was snubbed. Last year, Ms. Chappell was constantly in the news as being snubbed for her excellent work in GL for the 2009 Emmys so his comment was relating to that. You criticize a person who has done everything he can to save your shows? He also offered to to fund a new GL. Anybody else coming to the rescue? You should be ashamed.

Jordy Lee
Guest
Jordy Lee

Ashamed…. for speaking my mind and adding my opinion…sorry for you , but NO….For anyone that tried to save GL, we are all appreciative. It is my understanding that the funding of a new GL was an overseas venture that would have had a completely new cast, so that option would not have helped this cast have jobs. This year, we are loosing ASWT. I would be as upset if any other actress fan base was apparently called out. I am sure they deal with numerous fan bases that are upset. My ONLY problem was calling out one actress as… Read more »

Katie
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Katie

I love that Jim has worked so hard to get the show on the air, that said I don’t think its fair to have a daytime emmy show and cater to primetime viewers look I wouldnt of minded Vanessa Williams dancing if it had been with Cameron Matheson (yikes I dislike Ryan) since he’s a daytime star and the primetime audience knows him from Dancing with the Stars. I also don’t like how he called out Crystals fans but I don’t think he has any say in who wins. I know that the emmy’s wont be perfect, nor were last… Read more »

bottomchef
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bottomchef

http://goldderbyforums.latimes.com/eve/forums/

Here’s a link to suggestions from goldderby members on how to improve the awards show.

Potassium
Guest
Potassium

Entertain me!!! Sorry I don’t agree with the bulk of the suggestions on goldderby. I watch one soap opera. I am not going to waste my time watching a show that simply hands out odd looking statues to a bunch of people I don’t know. Showing me an endless array of clips of tortured characters that I am unfamiliar with will make me scramble for the remote. I think Jim and the NATAS are on the right track. The show is in June, just like my kids’ end of year awards ceremonies. By the time the Emmy’s roll around I… Read more »

ben
Guest
ben

Nowhere does he say that Crystal Chappell doesnt deserve to win or to be nominated, nor does he bash her acting skills. IMO it was just an example. I will never not watch an Awards show just because one actor or actress isn’t nominated. Thats ridiculous.

Iheartmusic
Guest
Iheartmusic

I’m looking forward to the Emmy’s!!!!!!!!!! So excited! <3 u jim

Frances Nonenmacher
Guest
Frances Nonenmacher

There indeed should be a Tribute to As The World Turns. They have kept me watching for 54 years. I have always considered them Daytime best and always will.

No one does it better then As The World Turns. I will keep fighting for the show until the very end. I am praying they get a new home.

Torrey
Guest
Torrey

I don’t understand why NBC doesn’t pick up ATWT. They are down to DOOL and I think they could use a little more daytime soap drama in their lineup. I don’t watch ATWT, but I am a fan of daytime television, so I hate to see yet another show yanked off of television. There used to be a time when there were like 13 soap operas on TV, now we will be down to 6. Someone needs to step in and save our soaps.

rita
Guest
rita

Please do not cancell DOOL..Love that soap…for many years. What would they replace it with??…Another infomercial or talk show UGH!!! At least we are not getting reruns and how wouldl I know all the new products!!!!!! I wouldn’t be watching daytime TV anymore..because no soaps..Get with it sponsers!!!!!!!

Charles
Guest
Charles

The advent of cable should be the tool to save AS The World…………….but it won’t because it has too many judge shows…………two of the could easily go…….and in its place AS The World……….but we’re dealing with actors and the salaries of actors……….reality television will never let go of these lucurative time slots and place a group of talented actors……..and a script…………..maybe their last hope is to ask Oprah to sell/but it for her network………………….

Janine
Guest
Janine

I would like to know why there are no tickets available to the public who will happen to be in Vegas at that time and would love to see their favorite stars, and not in the sweltering 120 degree heat of the the red carpet event.

Days Of Our Lives

Kevin Spirtas Talks ‘After Forever’s’ Digital Special ‘Riley’s Unforgettable School Project’, The Loss of Michael Slade, and a Chance to Reprise DAYS Craig Wesley

The coronavirus pandemic has put to the test many content creators on just how they would keep their projects moving forward in ways they never dreamed of. However, out of that situation has come some of the most compelling, unique series, specials, and features currently streaming for viewers. One of which is Riley’s Unforgettable School Project, brought to you by the team from the six-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning series, After Forever.

Former Days of our Lives star, Kevin Spirtas (Ex-Craig Wesley) has starred in and created the first two seasons of what has become the most honored Emmy-awarded LGBTQ-themed drama series on any platform.  Along with his ‘After Forever’ writing/producing partner, the late Michael Slade (DAYS, OLTL, Passions, Another World), the two also conceptualized and delivered this latest documentary-style offering now on Amazon Prime Video.

What makes Riley’s Unforgettable School Project so noteworthy is not just how they were able to execute the series based on fictional 11-year-old Riley’s virtual school project and utilize its cast, which includes: Spirtas, Cady Huffman, Jamison Stern, Lenny Wolpe, Erin Cherry, Anita Gillette, Christopher J. Hanke, and Finn Douglas, but that it was made while Slade was succumbing to his battle with cancer, and that this special marks the final script from this talented writer.

 

Michael Fairman TV spoke with Spirtas about making the special during Covid-19, how the death of Michael Slade has made a lasting impact on his life, what After Forever has personally meant to him, and how an official third season is still in the works, and … if he would consider a return to Salem and Days of our Lives, should they come a-calling.  Here’s what Kevin had to say about it all.

Photo: AfterForever

I think the entire story of this digital special has become even more meaningful with Michael Slade’s passing. What was the genesis of the concept? You wanted to continue the telling of the story of After Forever … but we are all in the middle of a pandemic?

KEVIN:  Yes and… when we filmed season 2, we had the scripts for season 3 already completed. It was our hope and desire to film them at the same time, back-to-back, so that we would have had all of our cast and crew together, and we could have gotten through it because we’ve always imagined this story being told in a trilogy so to speak – a beginning, middle, and end to Brian (Spirtas) and Jason, (Mitchell Anderson) and Brian’s healing or his steps towards healing through grief.  Schedules turned out that they couldn’t really work out for us to hold all the people and hold all of the sets for that amount of time.  So, we thought, “We’ve got the scripts for season 3 ready.  We’ll come back to it in the following year,” and that was always the intention, and then the pandemic hit.  So, it was shut down immediately that we weren’t going to do anything, but we wanted to stay current, and instead of going back in and telling the third installment of After Forever as a Covid-19 story as well, Michael and I sat down and looked at a way of staying relevant and current with a story within COVID, and there was born the idea to do this documentary style story/special about the characters of After Forever told through the lens of the character of Riley, the 11-year-old boy, who is now being homeschooled during the pandemic. He gets an assignment to do a project about the most unforgettable person he has ever met, and he, of course, chooses his best friend, the late Jason Adams, and he enlists all of Jason’s friends and family to join in.  Michael actually said, “What if we tell a story about Riley being homeschooled?” And, not only is Riley a technical genius at 11-years-old in the story, but Finn Douglas, who plays Riley, is a technical genius.

And didn’t Finn perform and write the song “Forever There” contained within the special?

KEVIN. Yes. He is this incredible musician.  Michael thought, “What would it be like if we asked to have the character of Finn sing a song for Jason?”  I said, “Well, what kind of song would we have him sing?”  Finn could play anything, I’m sure, because he’s self-taught, he plays by ear – guitar, piano, and drums.  Michael said, “What if we ask him to see if he could write a song?” and when we heard this song, we all called each other and we all got on Zoom and went, “Can you believe this song?  Can you believe this came out of this 11-year-old?”  It’s pretty incredible.  Michael did a gorgeous job of weaving the stories in and out and how they just sort of dove-tailed into each other, and then it was framed by Riley opening the project and ending the project.  During the Zoom reading we wanted to hear the song out loud.  We said to Finn, “Would you want to sing the song?”  We all just watched everybody on that Zoom call just fall apart.  It was just so beautiful. He’s an amazing talent.

Where is your character within this?

KEVIN:  I still stand in the center of the story of Jason because my character, Brian, was married to Jason, and it sort of connects us all, and through Riley’s understanding of how we all connect to Jason, is how we are all sort of spread out throughout the story.  Michael jokingly said, “You know, you’re not going to be the star of this special,” and I said, “I don’t think it’s about being the star.  It’s really about the storytelling.”  The beauty of Riley’s Unforgettable School Project is that we get to see moments of each person’s relationship with Jason, which Riley sets out to say, “Answer these three questions: What did you like most about Jason?  What did you like least about Jason? And what’s your favorite memory?”  Those three things, cut back and forth is where we all kind of fit in.  Nobody has more of a story than the next person, and it’s all telling honest portrayals of how they’re dealing with their loss of their good friend, or their child, or partner.

It’s a very inventive idea during Covid-19 to continue it in a way where you weren’t having to go shoot a full season of episodes.

KEVIN:  Well, we couldn’t. I have to say, Allison Vanore, who not only produced this special, but she also stepped up saying, “I’d love to direct this,” and I said, “Yes, please!”  She knows the characters.  She understands the story because she’s been a part of it for the last two seasons.  Allison also has this extraordinary amount of knowledge and expertise with the camera and what was needed for a remote shoot, and to also be able to organize filming 13 people in 2 different countries and 5 different cities… that’s just the technical side of it, but having that in our back pocket, knowing that it was a remote shoot, we had to send the camera, the computer, the ring light, and the microphone to each person’s house.  We had to location scout over Zoom.  We had to do wardrobe over Zoom.  It was all this big puzzle putting it together, and once you look at that board of storytelling and how we were going to do it, it kind of fell into place.  I feel blessed that a) we still had Michael with us, at that point, and b) Allison had the know-how to do this.  We all feel that at least this pandemic didn’t keep us from doing what we love.

Photo: AfterForever

In terms of the contribution of Michael Slade in this special, was it the construction of the story, and how was he able to work and write this during his illness?

KEVIN:  Michael’s contribution to the special was no less than the contribution to season 1 and season 2, and the future of season 3, because the scripts are written.  We did everything on Zoom, and we worked around his schedule of treatment.  We scheduled 2 people per day, and we spread them out over two weeks.  He was very present, and when there would be a day where he would say, “I’m going to be an hour late, let’s just push that call time,” I would ask, “Is this too much right now?  We can shelve it; we can stop it.” He’d then say, “Absolutely not, otherwise cancer will win.”  He was determined to stay focused and to stay active because it took his mind off of what was happening to him.

Photo: AfterForever

It would be lovely moment if you both were to win a Daytime Emmy for this project. 

KEVIN:  It’s our last collaboration together as a team, as I said, season 3 has been scripted, and it is on the calendar to get made.  We are just waiting for the COVID restrictions to lift a little bit and everyone to get vaccinated.  Michael was really hit hard with cancer – to stay healthy was so challenging for him.  Sadly, he didn’t make it to see the final edit of the special, and he died four days before we launched, but he had seen the cuts before that and was very approving of it, and had made some decisions, and offered some suggestions, and if God gives him an Emmy for this, it’s not because he died.  It’s because it’s great work.  It just happens to be that the work that was involved in this particular special was very tricky.  It brought up everything, like life itself to have to deal with.  Here we are dealing with the loss of a colleague, the loss of a friend, someone’s brother, someone’s son, this is life imitating art, imitating art imitating life. I can’t tell you the darkness that I went through just experiencing the need to stay focused on getting everything edited, and everything ready, and everything aligned for a release of this project that we had put into motion.  On top of it, our editor lost his mother just before Michael passed, and Allison’s mom was sick at the time, as well.  It took a lot of heavy deep breaths with Michael’s death, and the pandemic, and the loss has, for me, on a personal level, sent me back to really questioning my spiritual muscle and to help remind me that we have to come out of this better than we went into this.  I had many dark nights of the soul this last year, and December was probably the darkest.  I feel like I’m just kind of coming out of it now with the spring revealing itself.

Photo: AfterForever

It must have been extraordinarily difficult for you to also go to New York during a pandemic and also knowing Michael did not have much time left.

KEVIN:  I will say this: I am grateful that I was able to stay in touch with my heart and my instinct and go out to New York to let that be my remote location.  Yes, maybe there was some risk involved.  I wore my mask; I was Covid-19 negative, and I was determined to be fine.  Once I got to New York, I would visit him very protectively with our masks and our gloves, and I’d sit across the room, and then I’d go back to the house I was at.  It was a gift that I was able to see him at that time.  We had some good talks then about how he was feeling, and I think he was still being optimistic, and then once we got the project in the can there was maybe this psychic letting go. That’s when everything really started to reveal itself as this could be the end.  I did go back to see him when he was in hospice.  I think I was there the last two days that he really was able to really stay coherent.  He would close his eyes and be at peace and quiet for a minute, and he would finish a conversation and sort of close his eyes, not to sleep and not to go away, but I remember watching him going, “Look how peaceful he is,” and then he’d open his eyes and he’d remember that he is in this body that has been given a time limit of life, and he’s on his way out.  I’d watch the fear go back in his eyes.  At one point, he did say, “I’m so scared,” and I just held his hand, and I said, “I’m scared too.  Let’s be scared through this together.”  I don’t know how to navigate grief like that.  We are all going to be in a position at some point where we are going to be on the other side of the hand holding.  The wonderful thing is that we were able to have honest communication about our feelings.  I thanked him for everything that he has done for me and how he believed in my talent and creativity and our partnership.  I will always take that with me.  I waved my finger at him, and I said, “Listen.  Now, we wrote a series about a man talking to his deceased husband.  You’d better talk to me!”  So, we laughed about that.

Photo: AfterForever

You’ve done a lot of things in your career from Broadway to television, and of course, daytime fans know you best as Dr. Craig Wesley on DAYS.  How does the entire After Forever project stack up to you within all that you have done?

KEVIN:  Former DAYS casting director Fran Bascom, sought me out and offered me this 2-day role on Days of Our Lives, and those 2 days turned into 8 years, and unbeknownst to me at the time, the final 3 months of that contract of those 8 years, Michael Slade was brought in to write.  We didn’t cross paths at that point, but years later, when we did cross paths in New York, and then After Forever was born, that was that universal crossing point.  I am most proud of the fact that we were able create something fresh, and real, and personal to ourselves that we didn’t have to cater to any “powers that be” that had their vision and their tinkering, that they thought that it could be better in this way or that way.  Then for After Forever to gain such recognition, within the film festivals, and the Emmys, and then, just after Michael died, we won the GLAAD award for Special Recognition this year.  We don’t even fit into one of their categories!  They found a way to acknowledge this project.  If another Emmy happens again, that might be another one to put up on the shelf for After Forever that would be beautiful, and I couldn’t have done it without Michael.

For the Daytime Emmys this year, what category have you entered Riley’s Unforgettable School Project?

KEVIN:  We are not a series this year, we are a daytime fiction special, and the “Daytime Fiction Special” category is a special class.  It’s anything that’s digital in the construct of less than 40 minutes.  NATAS (National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) is being bombarded with so much content, they’re trying to find ways to put categories together.

Photo: JPI

So, now, when we last saw Days of Lives’ Dr. Craig Wesley, where was he? (Laughs)

KEVIN: (Laughs) He was in a flash from the past or something in the DOOL app’s Last Blast Reunion series. I had a fun time working with Patrika Darbo (Nancy) and Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe), once again.

So, if they were to want Craig to come back to DAYS, would you be all for it?

KEVIN:  Hell yes!

Photo: JPI

Now, what story would you want to be told involving Craig? 

KEVIN:  When Craig was first on the canvas in Salem, there was a lot of mustache twirling and a lot of hand wringing.  He was always plotting; most of the time with Nancy.  It was kind of this high drama, evil villain storyline being told, but when the writers created an opportunity for us to be on after those first three months by bringing on Chloe without a father, there was something real about it.  It may have been told under the construct of soap opera storytelling, but there was a reality-based story about, “You have a daughter, and we are just now finding out about it?”  Then, finding a cure to her health was another realistic story, and finding out that Craig was her real father.  Anything that’s reality based is what I’m getting to.  I would welcome any job that brings me back and gives me an opportunity to dive into something real.

Photo: JPI

Would you welcome the opportunity to play a gay character on daytime; in a medium where there are very few represented in storylines?

KEVIN:  I’d have no problem with that.  Do you know anybody who is starting that?  Let’s do it!  (Laughs) First of all, there’s nothing to hide anymore.  There’s nothing to pretend you’re not anymore.  I would think that bringing in a storyline that deals with anything outside the norm that we are used to seeing would be interesting.  How many times can you retell a story?  How many times can you set the same story up with another couple?  So, why not be diverse and have a stylized story being told through the lens of a gay person.

Photo: AfterForever

In closing, so many go through life without acknowledging people who had an impact them.  We don’t give pats on the back, often enough, and especially in Hollywood, where people can be very self-involved.  You have already paid tribute to Michael Slade in our discussion, but what gift from him is your personal takeaway?

KEVIN:  The gift that Michael really gave to me is to remember to be kind to myself and to others, and to acknowledge and salute the person who is in front of us, because we don’t know when we will have, or if we will have, another moment to do that.

Now below, check out the trailer for Riley’s Unforgettable School Project.  Then let us know, what do you think of its concept? Kevin’s thoughts on the passing of his collaborator on the project, Michael Slade? And, do you hope DAYS brings back Dr. Craig Wesley? Share your thoughts via the comment section.

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General Hospital

GH’s Kin Shriner Talks on Franco’s Demise, Scott’s Budding Romance with Obrecht, and His Enduring On-Screen Partnership with Genie Francis

One of the most beloved actors in the history of General Hospital, Kin Shriner, currently finds his alter-ego, Scott Baldwin, in a new budding on-screen romance with none other than Liesl Obrecht (Kathleen Gati).

This comes on the heels of Scott learning the devastating news that his son, Franco Baldwin was shot and killed, thus writing-off the ABC daytime drama series, for now, popular actor, Roger Howarth.

Photo: JPI

Throughout his now almost 44-year-run on the ABC daytime drama series, Kin Shriner has brought his unique acting chops that helped mold the character of legal eagle Scott Baldwin into the humorous, at times cutthroat, endearing and many times heartbreaking character we have all come to love.’

 

In a brand new exclusive virtual sit-down interview with Michael Fairman on You Tube’s The Michael Fairman Channel, Shriner opens up about his history with GH and the times he stepped away to take on roles on Texas and As the World Turns, and then back again to the town of Port Charles and GH.

Photo: ABC

As well, Kin reveals his reaction to learning the news that Roger Howarth would be exiting the show as his TV son and how he shot the key emotional scene where Laura (Genie Francis) tells Scott that Franco had died.  Shriner shares that he does not see how when Howarth returns to the show in as a yet-to-be-revealed character, that it would be a stretch if the two were some how related, but that he will miss working with the talented Howarth as a scene-partner.

Photo: JPI

As to the women in Scott’s life, Kin addresses each of them from: Lucy (Lynn Herring), Bobbie (Jackie Zeman), Dominque (Shell Danielson), Laura (Francis), Ava (Maura West) – to which the character could never get that close to – and now Liesl (Gati), and working opposite all the powerhouse actresses who portray them.

Photo: ABC

For fans of General Hospital who have watched the series for decades, Kin also shares memories of working with his late TV parents, Peter Hansen (Lee), Susan Brown (Gail) and his friend and former GH castmate John Reilly (Sean), plus backstage stories with his longtime scene partner, Genie Francis.

Watch the entire conversation with Kin below.

Now let us know, are you all for the Scott and Liesl romance? Will you miss scenes between Scott and Franco?  Would you ever want to see Scott and Laura reunite romantically? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Newman Kids Talk 48th Anniversary, Storylines, Camaraderie, and Take the Trivia Challenge

On Friday, to celebrate the 48th anniversary of The Young and the Restless (which premiered back on March 26th,1973) Michael Fairman chatted virtually with the actors who comprise the adult Newman family children; Joshua Morrow (Nick), Amelia Heinle (Victoria), Mark Grossman (Adam), Hunter King (Summer) and Melissa Ordway (Abby).

During the conversation, on You Tube’s the Michael Fairman Channel, the actors discussed what it was like coming into the iconic Newman clan when they first debuted, behind-the-scenes moments and laughs they share working with each other, and what it has been like for them to share scenes with their iconic TV father, Eric Braeden (Victor) and for some of the kids, their on-screen mother, Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki).

In addition, each touch upon their current Y&R storyline where:Nick is involved with Phyllis again, Adam is on to Chelsea, Victoria is trying to be in the woman in charge of the company and she finds herself boyfriend-less, Summer has her hands full with the arrival of Tara Locke and Sally Spectra who may all destroy her relationship with Kyle, and Abby wanting to have a baby via surrogacy with the sperm donor being Devon.

Later, Michael plays a round of “Stump the Newman” trivia where the actors are put to the test to see just who knows the history of the Newman clan best. Watch what happens when the mention of the notorious and ill-fated reliquary storyline is brought up!

Joshua, Amelia, Mark, Hunter, and Melissa also express what it has meant to them to be a part of the legacy of The Young and the Restless, and still later Joshua’s daughter, Charlie, even makes a special guest appearance.

Now watch the conversation in full with the Newman kids below. 

Then let us know, what was your favorite moment of the interview? How do you hope their current storylines resolve? What was your favorite and least favorite storyline of all-time for Nick, Victoria, Adam, Abby, and Summer? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Y&R’s Joshua Morrow, Amelie Heinle, Mark Grossman, Hunter King and Melissa Ordway chat with Michael Fairman about being a part of and portraying the Newman Children as the show celebrates its 48th anniversary.Leave A Comment

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