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The John McCook Interview – The Bold and the Beautiful

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

For the past 25 years fans of The Bold and the Beautiful have witnessed the ups and down of the show’s patriarch and matriarch, Eric and Stephanie Forrester.  And now with the departure of series star and multiple Daytime Emmy winner, Susan Flannery (Stephanie) a new chapter will begin, but not before viewers, the characters and the actors themselves are put though the emotional ringer of having to say goodbye to this soap icon, and central figure to B&B’s ongoing drama.

And while Susan Flannery, and rightfully so, is receiving all the accolades for her bravura final performances, it is her on-screen partner John McCook (Eric) who has been doing some of his most subtle and heartbreaking work of his career.  So what does John think the on-screen death of Stephanie will mean for Eric?  A new lease on life?  A deep grieving process?  You will find out as On-Air On-Soaps sat down with John in his dressing room to get him to share his thoughts on the end of a 25-year plus on-screen relationship.

From Stephanie’s goodbye party to Susan and John’s final scenes, one thing is for certain; John feels a tremendous amount of respect for what Susan Flannery has meant to B&B and to the genre.  However, as one door closes another one opens.  Hopefully, this will give John the opportunity to explore new story arcs… and as he expresses, after the dust has settled… with the stunning departures and losses of both Ronn Moss (Ridge), his on-screen son, and Susan, his on-screen wife.  The series is turning the page, but not before we all have a very good cry.

MICHAEL:

John, what did you think when you found out that there was going to be an on-screen party celebrating Stephanie’s life, which for all intent and purposes was going to be the vehicle for Stephanie, and for Susan Flannery, to say goodbye on-air to all the characters?

JOHN:

Courtesy/CBS

The premise of the party was Eric wanted to throw her a celebration of her life.  Stephanie originally told Eric, “I don’t want to have a party.  Everyone will just sit around and cry.”  And he said, “No.  Not like that… a real celebration of your life while you are still here to enjoy it.”  So she decides to go for it, and then Stephanie comes up with the idea to handwrite invitations to people that she loves and that she wants to be there.  So, she hand-delivers them personally to people, which was a wonderful device for our show, that as she delivers them to different people we see flashbacks of her with whatever character Stephanie is delivering the invite to.

MICHAEL:

Have you gotten to see any of those episodes?  The one where she delivers the invite to Brooke, and the performances of Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke) and Susan was fantastic.

JOHN:

Yes I have.  It was a great opportunity to indulge in these flashbacks, instead of just sticking them in when she is dead.  So instead of having a party where we go back and look at all of that, we do that beforehand.  Eric is kind of the host and is the ringmaster of the party.  He says to the guests, “No long faces!  No crying.  I want everyone to enjoy themselves.  I know this is a difficult thing.”  But then he sits down and serenades Stephanie at the piano with When Irish Eyes are Smiling, and then starts to cry himself.  He does a short little rendition of it, but quietly, and it’s sad.  And then Eric hired Celtic Woman, who came from far and wide to be at the celebration, and he brings them in from outside and they come in to the party and sing.

MICHAEL:

Did you know before this arc of the story that Stephanie was even Irish?

JOHN:

Courtesy/CBS

Well, I could tell from time to time with her temper! (Laughs) And, she can drink like an Irishmen! (Laughs)  Brad Bell, our executive producer and head writer, said to me one day up in his office, “You’re Irish, right?”  And I said, “Yeah. some, but I am Scottish mostly.”   Brad replies, “Good, because we are going to do this party…”   It wasn’t exactly out of nowhere, but it was. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Is Eric breaking inside?  This has got to be so deeply painful for him dealing with the impending death of his beloved, Stephanie.

JOHN:

He and Stephanie decided to commiserate a lot before the party.  We see them in the doctor’s office.  They heard the news that her cancer had returned.  They are mourning together.  And as a couple and a team, they decide they are not going to do that anymore.   They decide, “Let’s show everybody that we can rise above this.  Let’s be matter-of-fact about this, and try to get everybody to be as joyful as humanly possible.”  Is he dying inside?   Of course, but only very little.  It’s very important for him to have this whole thing be a celebratory thing for her and for everyone.  They want to leave the party at the height of it, and they do.  So Eric and Stephanie say goodbye, and everyone realizes it’s the last time they are going to see Stephanie, and she says, “When Eric comes back, he is going to be by himself.  You are going to need to help him.”  And, oh my goodness, we leave and we go away and she doesn’t return, and there you are.  I am very pleased by the way that Brad and the show was able to handle this, and that Susan Flannery was gracious enough to be selfish as an actress in a good way, and that is to say, she said, “I want to play this!  I don’t want you to sweep her death under the rug.  I want you to kill Stephanie Forrester.  I want to stay here and play it out, so that we have really wonderful drama.”  Brad then rolled up his sleeves and created a really terrific way to salute her character, and salute Susan.

MICHAEL:

How was it for you and the rest of the cast to step on set and film those heart-wrenching and emotional goodbye party episodes? 

JOHN:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

This was real and those feelings were real, when we look at one another in the scenes and indulge in the reality of losing our friend.  It wasn’t just the characters losing Stephanie; it was also all of these actors losing Susan as an actor and everything else she brings to work.  Susan brings a great deal to work.  She takes up a lot of room, and she makes choices and she forces you to believe what you need to believe in a scene, and you argue with her if you think you are right.  If you are right, then Susan will let you do it in a scene.  But Susan is probably one of three of four most knowledgeable actresses on daytime television for this genre.  What she knows about this type of material is more than all of us combined.  I really give her that credit.

MICHAEL:

How was the taping of your final scenes with Susan?

JOHN:

It was wonderful.  And as the two old war horses that we are, we love it when it is real.  We have years and years of manufacturing, in our way, big emotions and big love, and being actors together.

MICHAEL:

Will Eric go through a deep grieving process?

JOHN:

So far, yes.  When you lose a character like Ridge and you sweep it under the rug until you decide what to do, it’s not very fulfilling and it’s unsatisfactory.  The audience is going to mourn the loss of this Stephanie character like crazy.  You don’t sweep that under the rug.  You mourn with them, and show how Eric mourns the loss, and how Brooke mourns her loss, and how Pam mourns her loss.  These characters all of had relationships with Stephanie.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

There have been some recent scenes between you and Alley Mills (Pam) that have been very sweet.  There was one in particular where Eric held her when she started to cry at work after Stephanie delivered more invitations to the party.  Could it be that Pam and Eric could eventually develop a romantic relationship coming out of their grief and loss for Stephanie?

JOHN:

I think Eric and Pam will continue to enrich the relationship that they have, whatever that is.  We wanted to indulge in that at the beginning when Pam first came on the canvas.  At that point, they started to write a competition between the sisters for Eric.  But then we got away from that.  Pam is very sad about losing Stephanie.  She says to Eric shortly before Stephanie passes, “Are you going to send me back to Chicago?”  And he says, “What?”  And she goes, “Well, I am not family here.  I don’t have anybody here.”  She then says, “Wait, and remember when I was in love with you?”  And Pam just does not know what to say or do at the moment.  She is like ten years old in those scenes.  She is alone in the world now having lost both her mother and her sister.  Eric says to her, “This is your family now.”  There is sweetness between them that both Alley and I want to mine. I don’t know what is going to happen down the road, but certainly they can mourn together.  My opinion is that Pam and Eric depended on Stephanie in a way that nobody else did.  They can grieve in a way that is private, and in a way that nobody else sees or knows about.  I would love for Eric to see Pam weeping on the floor at Forrester Creations, and for him to comfort her, and for her to comfort him through the loss of Stephanie.

MICHAEL:

We heard from many of your co-stars when Ronn Moss (Ridge) decided to exit the series so abruptly.  Were you shocked by his decision to leave, and then Susan’s?

JOHN:

Susan has been talking about leaving for ten years and she never left.  Of course not, she has been snarking about it for years!  But when this negotiation began, Ronn, Susan, Katherine and I went out to dinner one night after taping the show.  Ronn said at that meeting, “I am not going to stay.”  And then Susan said, “I don’t know if I am either.” But in fact in the next coming weeks when Ronn’s deal did not happen, Ronn was willing to go.  He was very excited about leaving.  That is because he had the music thing going on and was looking forward to it.  Ronn was not bitter, or angry, or anything like that.  He felt that he had really given the show a lot and he loved doing it, and that it was time to turn the page and move on.  We all said, “We respect that.”  The fact that Ronn was being so honest with us, and did not hide it from us was really cool.  Katherine was going, “Oh, my God!”  And then Susan said, “I am going to leave! But I am going to go talk to Brad and tell him to kill my character.  I will stay the weeks it will take to give my character a proper send-off.”  She did not want to just go up to the toilet and not come back down for the next three months! (Laughs)  I am very happy for what the show had done for her, and for the fans.

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

MICHAEL:

Now as B&B move into the future, there are only two of the “core four” original cast members and characters … played by yourself and Katherine Kelly Lang!

JOHN:

And then there was two … Katherine and myself.   On-screen, she and I cross paths in the night.  She and I have not had scenes together about anything, about the kids, let alone our past relationship.  Things have changed around here, though.   Katherine is in Susan’s old dressing room now.  It’s refreshing for her to have a new environment.  And, it is not about “getting” Susan’s room; it’s about having a new beginning for all of us.  My dressing room has been cleaned up a bit.  I have a parking space now, and I never had one before.  Katherine has one now that is hers, too.  This is not the beginning of the end for this show; it is the end of the beginning.  We have turned the page … Katherine and me, and Hunter Tylo (Taylor) and the young couples, and the Spencer family.  That is good.  That has plugged in here very well.  Don Diamont relishes the part of Bill Spencer.  He has brought to the show a different flavor and spice that we didn’t have before.  I salute that.  And, to put Heather Tom (Katie) with Don is a brilliant move.  I am glad that Rick (Jacob Young) is back, also!

MICHAEL:

With the current battle over the top spot of Forrester Creations raging on since Ridge is now off the canvas, don’t you think Eric should step in there and take the reins over Thomas and Rick?

JOHN:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

I hope I get to be a mentor in there and a referee, and get to step in there.  We shall see. That is a very key part of losing Ronn Moss as Ridge.   Now it’s about who is going to run the business?  It’s an international fashion house.  I get that Thomas and Rick want to run the family business, but I think Eric needs to step back in.

MICHAEL:

What is your takeaway from working with Susan Flannery for these 25 plus years? Good, and or bad?

JOHN:

When I got here 25 years ago to do this show, I was armed and educated for what I needed to know to work with Susan Flannery, or anybody else.  What I learned from Susan was how wonderful it is to trust another performer and another performer’s opinion, and what it is like for years and years to be dependent on each other’s talent, preparation, and commitment.  Susan has stolen scenes from me over the years.  I have been able to do that to her, too.  When it happens, she goes, “O.K.”  When she would do it to me, I would go home and yell at my wife, Laurette! (Laughs)  I have had times when I wanted to play a scene a certain way and Susan absolutely refused.  You pick your battles.  Stephanie has been wearing the pants in the family for a long time.  I have used the expression that Eric has been in Stephanie’s shadow quite a lot over the last few years on the show.  So as an actor, I look at this as an opportunity to be, “all about me” for a minute, because that is what actor’s do.  I relish the opportunity to be out in the light, and be part of the future here for a while.

MICHAEL:

We know viewers hope to see Eric really going through the appropriate stages of grief, and the isolation of that.  Will we see that play out on-air?

JOHN:

Courtesy/CBS

We are just beginning to do that now.  We have so many viewers that are more than 70 years old, and a lot of grown up viewers.  Some of them have experienced this.  So we can’t be cavalier about, “Oh, he is going to drink too much now and start having sex with younger girls.”  I think that is kind of cliché, folks.  That is soap opera cliché.  We could do it and do it well, but let’s have Eric mourn in a real way, and be alone and feel what it is like to be left behind.  I don’t think he feels he was ready to be left behind.  Yes, your family is there for you.  However, when you are alone in your house, it doesn’t matter how much your family loves you.  At the end of the day she is not there anymore.

MICHAEL:

Clearly, you would tell fans to have their boxes of Kleenex ready as the final moments of Stephanie approach … and even past that?

JOHN:

No question about it.  People have cried all ready just at the idea of losing Stephanie.  I am going to even say, I think that would be true of any of your favorite beloved characters on any soap opera.  When one of those dies, the show needs to honor that, and go there and indulge in that loss, and show the audience that, “Yes, we know how hard it is going to be, as in this case, for Stephanie not to be there.”

MICHAEL:

So when all is said and done, John, what direction do you hope B&B takes with Eric once Stephanie is no longer on the canvas?

JOHN:

Photo Credit: Gilles Toucas

What are they going to do with Eric?  I am not sure.  I know I will be rattling around that house for a while.  Will Pam be there?  Sure.  But everybody else is going to be there too, trying to help Eric.  Is he going to have a new relationship and get laid?  Who cares!  That is not what the story is about.  What we need to do is show Eric being by himself for a while, and coming back into his work life for a while.  Just about him trying to get through the day where he is thinking to himself, “Where is my coffee?  Where is she? Where is my Martini?”  These are sad things.  It would be so funny for Pam to try to make a Martini for him, and for him to say, “I am never going to have a Martini ever again in my life.”  And for her to say, “O.K.” and then she walks away, but then all of a sudden for Eric to say, “Do you know how to make a Manhattan?”  (Laughs)

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k/kay
k/kay

I hope they have the character of Eric and Brooke have some growth after all this I do not care to see either one jump into relationships. The one thing I would disagree with is Winsor Harmon has played Thorne the longest he should have a meatier role but maybe it is because I disdain the actor who plays Rick. The show will go on but I fear we will get back to the horrid teenybopper triangle. Mr. McCook has done some good work this last month.

CINDY MORRISON SCOTT
CINDY MORRISON SCOTT

I love the show and have been watching it since the beginning. I’m ready to carry on with the young people and see what will happen with Liam, Steffy,and Hope. I’m already seeing Katie and new baby Will back together and Dollar Bill will follow. As for Brook, don’t know maybe she will be laid back and alone for a while like Taylor. Bring back Jackie and her gang. The next few weeks or months will be something to see. Like always I will be glued to the T.V. everyday at 12:30 on CBS. Great Show!!!!!

AJ
AJ

It appears that Eric will not be supporting Thomas. He sides with his snake-of-a-son Rick over Thomas every time, which is funny because Rick can’t design a dish cloth!

Many viewers would like to see the Logans – Brooke, Donna and Hope — gone from Forrester Creations and have the Douglas/Forester clan can pull together. Thomas is the star designer and Rick is supposed to have business savvy, too bad their bad blood will not allow them to work together.

GreatFlannery
GreatFlannery

I just watched the last episode of the great Flannery. KKL and SF both made incredible performances. For me this was really the end of The Bold and The Beautiful. The show lost a lot when the late great Darlene Conley passed away, but with SF in the key role, B&B stayed alive though show’s golden years were gone (90’s). It’s extremely sad to see Flannery retiring (she absolutely deserves it!!). In the last 10 years, she has been the only reason to watch this show that has become only a shadow of what it once was! Thank God we will always have the clips from the golden days 🙂 KKL is a wonderful actress but no one can replace SF!!! Thank YOU SUSAN from the bottom of my heart for the unforgettable years. You are my true acting idol! The greatest actress of daytime!!! <3 Take care!!!

normadavis
normadavis

Iagree susan was and is a great actress,. she was in another soap years ago but i cant rember which one and she wa great in that one to . SoSUSAN COME BACK TO SEE USin spirit on occasion,like john does on y&r. thank you for such great acting it was so beliveable

Robin
Robin

GR8 interview, Michael. I just watched the final Stephanie scene and am still sniffling. It’s hard to imagine the show without her. Still miss Ronn Moss. I hope that John McCook is right and the writers give us something different than expected soap mourning. I’d love to really see Brooke and Eric mourn before jumping in bed with new relationships, and more focus put on their characters not the teeny boppers (which has gotten old fast). I find myself missing Nick, Jackie and Bridget too. Enough of preachy Taylor and her “entitled” kids. BORING.
But excellent writing here, Michael. You painted a wonderful inside portrait of what’s going on!!!!!!!
I loved Susan Flannery’s work. She was a major part of B & B. She will be so missed.

Julie Manning
Julie Manning

I have watched this show from day 1 and I love Susan and Katherine. The writers did a wonderful job with the hate love relationship between these 2 women. I cried my eyes out today to see Stephanie go but I think it was wonderful that Brooke was with her. I hope to see more exciting things for this show so that I can watch for another 25 years.

Patrick Mulcahey
Patrick Mulcahey

Nice interview, Michael. And I am one of McCook’s biggest fans.

Julie Manning
Julie Manning

I have watched this show from day 1 and I love Susan and Katherine. The writers did a wonderful job with the hate love relationship between these 2 women. I cried my eyes out today to see Stephanie go but I think it was wonderful that Brooke was with her. I hope to see more exciting things for this show so that I can watch for another 25 years. John is the back bone of this show I hope he is not planning on leaving any time soon.

Terri
Terri

SUSAN I HAVE ENJOYED WATCHING YOU ON B & B, I HAVE WATCHED THE SHOW SINCE THE VERY FIRST SHOW IN 1987, SF WILL BE MISSED, I ALSO MISS RONN MOSS, HOPEFULLY YOU BOTH WILL HAVE A GREAT TIME IN WHEREVER LIFE TAKES YOU BOTH. I WILL MISS YOU BOTH BUT THE SHOW WILL GO ON & BE GREAT AS EVER, SO MANY NEW YOUNG CHARACTERS BUT THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER SF.

Earlene Cutter
Earlene Cutter

I just want to say the very best to Susan for alll the years on t.v. You are one amazing lady B&B will not be the same without you May our LORD be with you and Bless you in whatever you intend to do love you Susan and will miss you

Kimberly Reid
Kimberly Reid

Stephanie Forrester it was a pleasure watchin you on th B&B..
I wish you didnt have to leave the show, you really made my day
When i watch you on the show, you were a woman not to mess with..
Well all must come to an end.. I wish you luck in everthing you do…
You will be missed!! <3

Sharon Drame
Sharon Drame

I am so sad to see Susan leave I am glad though her and Brooke had quit feuding that was getting tiring I still dont understand why they gotr
id of Nick and Jackie they just quit showing them I wish they would bring them back. i was hoping they would do more with Deacon and Ambers characters it doesntlook like they will though,I wish I could write for them.

CINDY MORRISON SCOTT
CINDY MORRISON SCOTT

Today was a great day for B&B. I cried and am still upset even through I knew it was coming that Stephanie would die on the show. I think Brook did a great job and I wonder if those tears were real because they sure looked real and always do when she cries. Great ending for a new beginning. Looking forward to all future shows with all the young and old . Thank you B&B . At one time I watched 2 soaps everyday but sometime way back I only tune in for the B&B and if I miss an episode I’ll turn on the computer and kick back and watch,

Syreeta
Syreeta

These last couple of weeks have been hard I have road with BB for the entire 25 years ever since they took ove the Capital spot,even though the selfish side of me wants things to stay the same,with the oringinal characters, I understand that people must move on and make room for the next generation the next chapter,but it is still sad, we the viewers forget that these actors work as we do and there comes a time when wanting to retire kicks in, be it acting ,bus driving, people want to retire,people want to experience new horrizons,I wish Susan and Ronn well on their journey and thank them both for the dedication that they have given,God Bless to you both. Afaithful fan Syreeta

ethel
ethel

excellent interview michael!

Stephanie
Stephanie

WOW!!! What can I say. I have been there the whole 25 years of the show also. I think it is wonderful that they let Stephanie & Brooke end with a good relationship. Susan will be missed so much. She was one of those characters that you had a love/hate moment with. I like watching the new actors on the show but the old ones are the best. It is hard to replace those. I would love for NBC to make B&B a hour long Soap Opera. There seems to be a down fall on the Soaps now. I am beginning to think that they are trying to do away with all of them now. My generation and the older ones were the die hard fans who never misses a episode. The generation now just don’t watch them as we have. I hope that B&B will keep Katherine & John for a long while. I know he is getting on up in age and his time will come when he is ready to retire also. I know Leslie Downs had to fight with cancer for a while and I think that is why she did not sign another contract. Also Jack Wagner and Brandon Beemer contract ran out also. There has been a lot of soap stars lately who are not signing new contracts. It seems that they are getting out of it I guess. I hope that this is not the end of my favorite soaps. There is only a few of them left on daytime TV now. So if you are a devoted fan to the soaps that are left on NBC, please keep on viewing them because if there ratings go down they will take them off like they did the other shows. God Bless Susan, may your retirement be very fulfilling. Ron I hope your next journey is very fulfilling also. I never knew that you were in that group until I read your interview. I miss seeing your face on there. If they decide to replace you on the show, I hope it is someone who favors you because it will seem so strange looking at a different person. Good luck to all the cast & crew in the future episodes.

normadavis
normadavis

bold and beautiful is on CBS notNBC

Kristina
Kristina

I really enjoyed this interview. I hope JM will get the chances to shine in the spot light again. When I watched the flashbacks and saw how beautiful his hair was I almost swooned. I remember those days so well. (He is still a handsome man but when he was salt-and-pepper he was so debonair.) The actors who have recently left will be missed, but I know that JM and the rest of the cast will make the show so interesting that we will all continue to wait impatiently for it to begin every week day! I am an Irish girl, btw, and the party scenes, and those leading up to it, were some of the most enjoyable on television during the past few years — in any time slot.

STEPHANIE
STEPHANIE

I have not seen the passing of Stephanie yet .here in Cyprus we are behind……….have watched entranced since 1987.in South Africa now here in Cyprus……………..I salute you Susan and thank you for the many many years of great entertainment i have enjoyed in my living room…will miss Ron too………Blessings and thanks to all at B AND B

normadavis
normadavis

SUSAN SPASSING WAS A WONDERFUL SEND OFF DONE WITH PASSION WARMTH AND SO VERY WELL DONE WITH GRACE AND DIGNITY. THANK YOU WRITERS.

normadavis
normadavis

MICHAEL. THANK YOU FOR THE WONDERFUL INTERVEIW YOU DID ON THE bold&beautiful.

James
James

Is Eric going to leave the show and the people on there should let him be with the woman he wants in his life

Peggy Miller
Peggy Miller

In the Sept 30th episode di John Mccook leave the show?

dante williams
dante williams

I don’t think he did, he said in an interview that he was glad to have frontburner for the first time in years. I think he just passed out again in today’s episode though.

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Alum Kevin Spirtas Chats On His Heart-Tugging Series ‘After Forever’ & Love and Life In Your 50s

Filling the void in the digital drama series arena, the eight episodes first season of After Forever (available on Amazon), tackles the journey of a two middle-aged gay men in their 50’s in a deep romantic relationship, and looks at it through its various stages of love, loss, and moving on with one’s life when suddenly your world is turned upside down, when one of them has died.

While the LGBT community has seen other love-centric and dramatic web series, none have really taken a deep dive into the difficulties of starting anew in your 50’s or even older.  Leave it to former Days of our Lives alum and Broadway producer, Kevin Spirtas (Ex-Craig Wesley), along with another DAYS alum, writer, Michael Slade, and the two put their shared experiences, and dramatic ideas into this emotional series, that is not limited to anyone who is gay, but touches on the universal themes that anyone may have, or will experience, at one time in their lives.

Spirtas, brought along with him none some notables for his passion project.  First, none other than former Prospect Park One Life to Live EP, Jennifer Pepperman, to bring his vision to life, and some amazing co-stars: Mitchell Anderson (Ex-Party Of Five), MIchael Urie (Ugly Betty), Cady Huffman (Ex-OLTL), Anita Gillette, Colleen Zenk (Ex-Barbara, ATWT) to  name just a few.

While the series bowed a little over a month ago, if you haven’t taken a look, check out our interview with Spirtas for some juicy insight into the making of and the construct of, After Forever.  Following that, check out the teaser for the series, and the video for the theme song, “My Forever” by Lio Nicol which becomes available tomorrow June 4th on Amazon and iTunes.

Photo Credit/JPI Studios

What was the genesis of the idea for the series?

KEVIN:  Patrika Darbo, came to New York close to 7 years ago. She had called me ahead of time, and said, “I was asked to present at the ISA Awards, and you’re coming with me.”  She was getting very involved in the world of the web series. I looked at this amazing presentation of content that was being shown at the ISA’s.  I was blown away. It was better than half the stuff on TV, theater, or film. At that point, I made a mad rush for a gentleman by the name of Sebastian La Cause.  Sebastian had won several awards that night and his material was so well presented, and beautifully shot, and his acting was very unique.

Sebastian La Cause was the star of the web series Hustling, right?

KEVIN:  Yes, it was Hustling, the first season.  I went up to him and I said, “I’m Kevin Spirtas. I’m an actor, I did a soap …”  He goes, “Kevin, I know who you are.” I was starstruck, and impressed, and inspired, because he is exactly the kind of person I want to work with.  He is talented, and creative and I want to work with those kind of people. I said to him, “If you do a second season, I’d love to be considered for anything you might be doing.”  Wouldn’t you know? He wrote me in. I fell in love with the story. I was very clear to me, that you have to start creating for yourself, because creating your own content in this industry now is king.  The third season of Hustling then crossed me over to appearing in Winterthorne.  That was also the first year that NATAS opened up the judging to the digital world.  I got nominated for an Emmy. It inspired me to start thinking about, ‘What do I know?  What do I have in my life that I feel is worth sharing and putting out there to help heal, or inspire?’  I had been producing in New York City for 3 years at this point.

Photo Credit/JPI Studios

It becomes every performer’s concern, as they get older, that they can still be considered for the roles they would like to play.  Sometimes, actors can grow into the types of roles, and sometimes they’ve expired past those types of roles. Was creating After Forever also a way to re-enter being part of the conversation?

KEVIN:  Well, I was hoping to write something for myself … because I just didn’t see the roles coming toward me anymore.  My name wasn’t on them as I imagined them or had seen them in the past. I was worried about that. I thought, “If I have a chance to keep working, I’ve got to keep current.”

And somehow, you and Michael Slade ran into each other, and thus, a collaboration began that would eventually turn into After Forever?

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  Then, I ran into Michael Slade at a gym… I had never met him before, he was a writer on Days as I was leaving the show.  And I remember saying to myself, “wouldn’t it be great to work with somebody, and see what kind of story we could come up with?”  Unbeknownst to me, Michael, at that particular time in his life, was working on the very same type of story and idea about what it’s like to be who he is, at his age, where he’s at, and what he knows.  I pitched him this idea: “I think there’s some really funny ideas I could express to the world about my experience as a single gay man at this point.” He said, “Call me.” In short, he was living life as a single gay man, and I was living life as a single gay man, and that’s how After Forever was born.  Michael had the experience of losing his long-time partner of 25 years.  There’s a part in the story where Brian and Jason are going along and they have everything in their life that they could possibly want, and then they don’t, because Jason is diagnosed with cancer and it takes him away.

Do we see Jason die in this?

KEVIN:  You just might! … It’s how we incorporated him in the story…

Courtesy/AfterForever

After Forever bounces back and forth in time, obviously, that was part of the unique structure of the storytelling?

KEVIN:  It does do that.  It tells the story through a lot of present, and a lot of flashbacks.  There is also the present with Brian, and his memory of Jason. As Brian is going through the next chapter of his life as a single man, he has to look at his life and learn how to continue to love even though the person’s not there.  When someone dies, the love doesn’t die, the relationship doesn’t die, it keeps growing on a certain level. So, if he turns around, and he sees him, is it real? Is it him working it out in his own mind? It’s a tool to tell more story …

Tell me about casting Mitchell Anderson?  He had retired and moved to Atlanta, and he ends up playing the love of Brian’s life.

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  When Michael and I were writing, we threw out, “Who do you think would play this part?”  One day, I just dropped the name “Mitchell Anderson” I said, “I just see him as Jason.” Michael said to me, “Kevin, he’s retired.”  I just knew Mitchell and I had great history in the business. We started off as actors together in class. He went one direction, I went another, then he left the business, but I just felt there was something about his persona – not to mention his talent – his unique humor, his sensibility, and style, so I said, “I think we should ask him.”  We did. Mitchell said, “Okay, Kevin. Let me read the script.” He called back immediately after receiving it, and said, “I would love to do this!” I have not stopped thanking him every day. He’s so good in it.

The main character of Brian goes on this journey: he meets other guys, some appear younger than others! (Laughs)

KEVIN:  It’s a year after Jason is gone, Brian is trying to settle into his new life, but he’s guilty that his partner has died.  He has sadness, grief, and so much love for Jason that he’s having trouble moving forward, and everyone is trying to push him forward.  Brian is not necessarily ready, but sometimes his body is ready, while emotionally, he’s not. It’s how we deal with all that navigation of seeing good-looking guys.  He meets a guy in the middle of the series, and it starts to open up the doors. That’s the beauty of what happens when he starts to let himself open up to the possibilities.  There are some great rollercoaster moments that you’ll see.

Would you do another season of After Forever?

KEVIN:  Oh, my God!  Michael and I have already started to script out seasons 2 and 3.

Courtesy/AfterForever

Middle-aged gay men do have it rough in the relationship department, if they’re not already partnered up by this point in their life.  Younger guys think they’re over the hill, older guys aren’t necessarily interested either, and unfortunately, the LGBTQ community is unforgiving to community if you’re not young and pretty, and not in your 20s or 30s. There aren’t a lot of LGBT-oriented shows out there like this.  On that level, I think the concept of the show is an important story to tell.

KEVIN:  We were absolutely committed to writing not just another gay story.  We’ve seen those. I think the beauty of After Forever is that it’s not just a gay story- even though it’s told through two gay men… but, it’s a story about love … it’s a story about loss.  Everyone is going to have to deal with this in their life.

Courtesy/AfterForever

Dealing with loss is part of the circle of life, whether it’s a parent, a child, a lover, a friend, or your longtime partner. Many in the LGBT community succumbed to AIDS in the ‘80s and ‘90s, which was a pivotal moment in the gay movement.

KEVIN:  We lost half of our community.  We lost half of our brothers. To jump back to that history with Mitchell, he and I had so many mutual friends who aren’t here anymore.  We would look at the scene that was at hand, take a breath, look at each other, and they’d say “action” and we’d step into these people. Yes, it’s gay themed, because it’s told by two leading male characters who are gay.  But, I have heard more people in the last two months since this has come out, who have not only stopped and said, “Thank you for writing such a wonderful story about love and loss, and new beginnings, but also, what it’s like to have to confront that loss.” They also went on to say, “For so many years, gay people have had to watch the heterosexual world. People are trying to fit themselves into our world now, into our story, and how they would feel navigating it.”

Michael Urie is in it too? And you have some pretty accomplished people in your cast.  

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  Yes, there’s Michael Urie, Cady Huffman who sings in one of the episodes.  Tere is a scene in episode 3 that it still floors me, I can’t watch it without losing it.  Then, there’s Anita Gillette, Lenny Wolpe, David Dean Bottrell. Everyone is perfect, and everyone was able to show up, and everyone delivered a million percent.

What’s the response you’ve been getting from people who have watched After Forever?  You mentioned it’s been very positive.  

KEVIN:  Everyone has been touched.  The majority who have seen this, are just moved to tears and full of excitement.

I saw that Jennifer Pepperman, ex-executive producer of One Life to Live, directed your series.  What was it like working with Jen?

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  We had a lot of people who we could have pulled from.  Jennifer came up in conversation, because she had sent Michael an invitation to go see her new short film that she had done with Austin Peck (Ex-Austin, Days) and his wife, Teri Conn (Ex-Katie, ATWT).  I said, “Maybe if I go see the show and I like it, I can introduced myself to Jennifer.”  I called him right after and I said, “If we don’t get her, we’re crazy!” She’s so good. What she did is perfection.  We shot the whole thing like a movie. It was shot in 12 days. She knew everything she wanted to do and it shows in the edit.  And, this extraordinarily, talented girl named Colleen Kwok, who was the director of photography. She’s the real thing. She got it.  She got the style we were going for immediately.

So, we want to tell people to binge watch the series on Amazon.

KEVIN:  Binge it, or make it last for 15 days…

How many hankies will I need for this? 10? 5?

Courtesy/AfterForever

KEVIN:  I say Kleenex is not included … Anybody who has ever loved, anybody who has ever lost, must see this show, because it unifies all of us, it shows us that we are the same.  It shows us that we still have love in our lives, regardless of if that person is gone, the relationship never ends, it never dies. That’s what people are getting from this.  That’s what people are taking away from it. You and I were raised with the symbols of a straight world and how we had to fit into that certain way of life. That’s changed now.  We have Will & Grace … we have RuPaul … all these great things that are illustrating our diversity.  Now, people are going, “it’s just a story being told.”

What was Mitchell’s reaction when he saw the final product?

KEVIN:  We saw it together…We just sat there and cried.  It’s hard. Especially, the first two episodes and the last two episodes.  We served it up, Michael, we served it up!

Courtesy/AfterForever

I think you spoke to a greater issue, as you move through this career, you have to remain relevant as things change.  So, you’ve dipped yourself into this pool and now you can do more.

KEVIN:  I hope so.  You and I talked about this along time ago, when I first started on Days Of Our Lives, it was still a different world.

It was so different back then.  Actors couldn’t be out. There was still that stigma that if the audience at home knew they were gay, they wouldn’t buy into what they were portraying.

KEVIN:  That’s where I kind of worked it out, because I didn’t pretend not to be me, I just wasn’t very open about everything in my life.  Not that I still am. There’s certain things that I don’t talk about, because it’s not relevant, or it’s no one’s business.

So, do you get the obligatory question, “What’s a guy like you doing being single”? (Laughs)

KEVIN:  Michael said to me one day, “How come a guy like you is single?”  I made a joke out of it and said, “Have you seen me eat? Come on!”

So, intrigued to check out After Forever? What do you think about its central theme looking at what happens when one loses their partner at middle-age and more?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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General Hospital

GH’s Laura Wright and Wes Ramsey Talk Their Love Connection & The Demands Of Daytime

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

After presenting for the first time together, at the 45th Annual Daytime Emmys since they’ve been a couple, Laura Wright (Carly) and Wes Ramsey (Peter aka Henrik) of General Hospital have certainly been in the throes of a romantic, fun, and cherished relationship. The two former stars of Guiding Light reconnected last year at Emmy time. Now, sharing their over one year anniversary, Michael Fairman TV caught up with Laura and Wes to get some insight into what makes their relationship work amidst the hustle and bustle, and pace of both being on a network television daytime drama series, and with the pressures of Hollywood where often relationships between two actors seem to start hot and heavy but then fizzle out.

If you caught this week’s GH, you witnessed that the town of Port Charles has found out that Peter is the notorious Cesar Faison’s son, and the ramifications that will be felt for weeks and months and potentially years to come. Meanwhile, Carly is in all sorts of trouble, thanks to naughty Nelle (Chloe Lanier). Nelle is making Carly look awfully unstable and what happens next could change Carly’s life forever.

So, what do these two lovebirds have to say about their relationship and their passion for working on the soaps? Check out what they had to share below. 

Wes, you had met Laura originally years ago on Guiding Light.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: Yes, 15 years ago in New York.

And what did you think of her then?

Wes: Well, I was smitten, but I had to keep it to myself.

You had to keep it under wraps, huh?

Wes: Yep!

Laura: I was married then.

Wes: She was pregnant with her second child.

Laura: And he’s a good Kentucky boy.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: Uh-huh! But we would run lines in the green room and I would try very hard to make sure she didn’t catch me staring at her… too often. But we laughed, and had great conversation.

Laura: I would always say, “Wes, will you run lines with me?,” because I would want to run my lines.

Wes: We never had story together, but she always knew I was game to hang out with her for a moment.

It’s good when you’re in a relationship with someone and you can laugh with them. You seem to be able to do that a lot!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Laura: Oh, gosh. I think that’s all we do.

Wes: Yes, yes, yes, yes…

Laura: Like, we belly laugh. It gets to the point where people would think we were ridiculous. We’ll say things and just think it’s the funniest thing ever and people would be like, “You guys have a problem …” and we’re like, “Yeah.” (Laughs)

Laura, and then he comes back into your life years later…

Wes: That’s right, it was Emmy weekend 2017.

Laura: I totally was not expecting it at all. Even when I gave him my number I walked away going “huh…”

You mean you thought he wouldn’t call?

Laura: No, I didn’t feel that… because he hit on me hard. He’ll tell you that.

Wes: I still am hitting on her.

Laura: I remember I walked away quick after he got my number. I was like, “Oh, my God … I gotta go.”

Courtesy/Instagram

Wes: There was an assertiveness on my part that was for sure 15 years in the making. I did not expect to run into her. I also did not expect for her to tell me that she was recently single. In that split second, it was one of those, “stop the presses!” moments. Like, you need to give me your number, I’m taking you to dinner.

Laura: I go, “Oh, be quiet! Are you like, 32, because I can’t do that.” (Laughs)

Wes: And I said, “Far from it.”

Laura: He’s like, “I’m getting ready to be 40.” And I’m like, “I can do that!”

Then, on top of all of this, Wes, you land a primo role on General Hospital. That of Henrik aka Peter, Cesar Faison’s son.

Photo Credit: Courtesy/ABC

Wes: Yes, a dream come true.

Laura: I’m going to jump in and say it’s a role that he worked all on his own for. He had to screen test against 8 plus guys, 3 different auditions, 2 different days.

Wes: That’s true.

Laura: I can’t say strong enough that the best actor got the role. Meaning, Wesley is so talented and has the ability to give this character the depth, and emotion, and layers that it needs to tell the story that needs to be told. I just think he’s incredible.

So, did you know from the get-go who you were going to be playing?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: I did not.

Laura: I did! (Laughs)

Wes: I’m thrilled that the writers have been giving me such incredible material to dive into.   Each month that goes by, it becomes more and more complex, and more and more layered and intense. I love the depth… I love the conflicts… I love the humanity… I love the desperation… I love the psychology behind it. It’s a very interesting story and a great journey to tell.

Laura: I was getting ready to say, where you mentally have to go to be the son of Faison and Anna Devane (Finola Hughes)! To blend that together is amazing. It’s incredible to watch.

You used to run lines together on Guiding Light. Do you run lines together now on GH? It’s like a full circle moment.

Laura: We do, and we carpool.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: Something we were trying to manifest together. We thought it would be a lot of fun to work together one day.

Laura: The last week we worked, we didn’t. He worked all afternoon. I worked all morning. I was like, “Are they doing this on purpose?” I was so mad! I was like, “Why are you in the afternoon everyday?” (Laughs)

Wes: She lost her chauffeur. (Laughs)

Laura: I did! He always drives us to work. I also love when we both have afternoon calls, because we love having mornings together. So, I didn’t get my morning, nor did I have my chauffeur!

So, two actors can have a good relationship? You see so many Hollywood relationships with actors and they go bust. But that’s not always the case …

Wes: Oh, my God, yes.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Laura: I’m going to say this; I think I can see it being more difficult for daytime actors, because the work we do is so intense. I know the weeks he’s getting ready to go into, and I’m getting ready to go into. Where we go emotionally and psychologically to tell these stories, on the level that we tell them, as quick as we tell them, you kind of have to become really in a headspace. The fact that we can …

Wes: … the long hours …

Laura: Yes, and exhaustion! You really have to go, “Wow! It’s not about me right now. It’s about us individually as actors.” Thank God, we know the workload. I know what he’s getting ready to go through.

Wes: I have always had so much respect for Laura’s work. On Guiding Light, I’ve always been in awe of what she’s capable of doing. So, the level of respect is obviously there. But also, the understanding whatever it is that you need from a personal assistant in one moment… or a life partner in another moment … or a best friend in moment … or whatever it is in order to get through the day-to-day and the week-to-week, so we can do what we love to do. We know we’re very lucky to have the opportunity to do what we love.

Courtesy/welcometolaurasworld Instagram

Laura was such a great co-host on my Soap Nation Live! Daytime Emmy Nomination Specials, in particular when she talks about acting. It’s so rewarding to hear the other actors who are guests on the show listening to what Laura has to say about her craft and respecting the hell out of her.

Wes: Without a doubt. You can’t watch her work and not be in awe. It speaks for itself.

Laura: I just love the journey of going to the places that we go; to bleed for it.

Wes: Leave it all out on the floor.

Laura: I know that process. So, when I see another actor that’s bleeding, I just bow to them, because I know what it takes to go there. I know the work that Wesley does. When I see that he’s spent at the end of the day, I’m like, “Babe, I so get it.” So, I can see where it could be really difficult for people that haven’t been there, because it’s a lot of work and you’re spent. It’s hard! For us, that works.

What do you think of Laura and Wes’ love connection? What do you think of the latest developments for GH’s Carly and Henrik? Comment below.

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Interviews

EXCLUSIVE: 45th Annual Daytime Emmys Winners & Backstage Video Interviews!

Photo : MF Soaps Inc

The 45th Annual Daytime Emmys are in the record books.  And as previously reported, it was a big night for NBC’s Days of our Lives taking Outstanding Drama Series, Writing and Directing in a Drama Series Awards, plus top acting nods to James Reynolds (Abe) and Greg Vaughan (Eric).

Behind the scenes while the ceremony continued on-stage, and as the night’s big winners and several presenters were whisked away backstage following their victory, they took to the Winner’s Walk and chatted with Michael Fairman who got their reactions to winning the gold, or presenting important moments of the night during the live-stream broadcast.

From DAYS Deidre Hall (Marlena), Dr. Oz, The Ladies of The Talk, and GH’Chris Van Etten to DAYS head scribe Ron Carlivati, to Y&R’s actress winners: Eileen Davidson (Ashley) and Camryn Grimes (Mariah), and GH’s Chloe Lanier (Nelle, Vernee Watson (Stella) and more now you can watch the complete backstage series of conversations on The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.  Make sure to “subscribe” for these and more celebrity interviews.

After the jump, check out some of the winners and backstage interviews with Michael.  You can also go directly to the video you are looking to view, by clicking on the blue hyperlink on the interviewees name. (more…)

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Video du Jour

This week, Nick lost temporary custody of Christian leading to a defiant and emotional turn by Joshua Morrow (Nick) as he has to say farewell to the little boy he has come to love as his own son, and give him to his father, Victor, who wanted and was granted custody of the child. Watch the hankie-inducing moment! Leave A Comment

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Airdate: 6-14-2018

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