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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
Guest
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
Guest
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

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

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

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

Photo: ABC, NBC, CBS

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

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

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

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

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

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General Hospital

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

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

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

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

 

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

Courtesy/ABC

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

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

Courtesy/ABC

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

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

Did you get emotional seeing it? 

CHRIS:  Oh, personally, I cried.

Courtesy/ABC

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

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

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

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

Photo: ABC

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy/ABC

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

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

Courtesy/ABC

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

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

Photo: ABC

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

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

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

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

Coutesy/ABC

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

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

Courtesy/ABC

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

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

Photo :ABC

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

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

Photo: ABC

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

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

Courtesy/ABC

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

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

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

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

Photo: ABC

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

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

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

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Stephen Nichols and Lucas Adams Talk Salem Longevity, Tripp’s Predicament and Their Co-Stars

Days of our Lives stars Stephen Nichols (Steve “Patch” Johnson) and his on-screen son, Lucas Adams (Tripp Dalton) are in the middle of plenty of drama on the long-running NBC daytime drama, which recently celebrated its 55th anniversary in November and its 14,000 episode milestone in December.

In a new chat with Michael Fairman on the Michael Fairman Channel, Stephen reveals his surprise at still being with the iconic show. while Lucas talks about how his first run on DAYS came to an abrupt end, but now he is deep in-story involving Allie (Lindsay Arnold) and the brother he is yet-to-know he has, Charlie (Mike Manning), who is Allie’s actual rapist.

Both Stephen and Lucas discuss having the opportunity to work with Daytime Emmy winner Tamara Braun (Ava) again, as well as James Lastovic (Joey) in recently aired scenes. In story, Ava has returned back-from-the-dead and realizes she has major trouble brewing with her two sons, Tripp and Charlie.  How will it all play itself out?

 

Check out what Stephen and Lucas shared below.  Then, be on the lookout beginning this week, as Steve and John (Drake Hogestyn) work together to figure out who is responsible for Allie’s rape and just who is the biological father to her child, when it is not Tripp!

Share your thoughts on the sentiments shared by Stephen and Lucas in the interview via the comment section.

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