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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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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… Read more »

normadavis
Guest
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
Guest
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… Read more »

Julie Manning
Guest
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
Guest
Patrick Mulcahey

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

Julie Manning
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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… Read more »

Syreeta
Guest
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… Read more »

ethel
Guest
ethel

excellent interview michael!

Stephanie
Guest
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… Read more »

normadavis
Guest
normadavis

bold and beautiful is on CBS notNBC

Kristina
Guest
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… Read more »

STEPHANIE
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
normadavis

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

James
Guest
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
Guest
Peggy Miller

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

dante williams
Guest
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.

Freeda Perera
Guest
Freeda Perera

I am from Sri Lanka, I am trying the best to contact John McCook and Stephanie for over 10 years. It’s a shame, because I am a very good fan of both of them. I cn even giv my personal no.0094767733195
Pls contact me. I love both of u.
God bless both of u
With love, Freeda

Interviews

Y&R’s Brytni Sarpy Talks On Her Emotional Week of Scenes & The Fallout From Elena and Devon’s Break-Up

Talk about self-sabotage! Over the last few weeks, fans of CBS’ The Young and the Restless have seen how one decision, or moment in time, can have an effect on several residents of Genoa City, such as the case with Elena Dawson (Brytni Sarpy), after she had sex with her colleague Dr. Nate Hastings (Sean Dominic) … at the clinic they work at!

It all starts unraveling for Elena when her fears get the best of her thinking that the current-love-of-her-life, Devon (Bryton James) will fall for the sister of his late wife, Hilary, in the form of Amanda Sinclair (Mishael Morgan).  And thus sets the stage for a potential quadrangle, and perhaps … some baby drama?

Since coming to Y&R from General Hospital, actress Brytni Sarpy has been developing the character of Elena and playing her for all she is worth and then some in recent heavy-duty heart-tugging scenes where viewers saw Elena confess to Devon that she cheated on him with his cousin, Nate! Then later, she gets kicked to the curb by the man she loves, leaving her wondering, “What did I just do … and why?”

 

Well, Michael Fairman TV has some of the answers as we chatted with Brytni to get the lowdown and the insight on these pivotal moments in Elevon’s love story, and if there is even a future for them, or is it on ice for good? Plus, Brytni opens up about falling for her co-star and recent Daytime Emmy winner, Bryton James, and taping what would normally look like a red-hot passionate sex scene on the soaps with Sean Dominic, but having to do it under strict CDC Covid-19 protocols. Here’s what Ms. Sarpy had to say about it all!

Courtesy/CBS

You’ve got this big storyline unfolding now on Y&R.  Did you know when they brought on Sean Dominic that they were going to bust up  Elena and Devon?

BRYTNI:  Yes and no.  When Sean was first brought in, there had been another actor playing his role, so technically his character has already been on-screen.  So, I didn’t necessarily think it was going to cause any type of conflict, or a love triangle, or anything like that.  However, I think that there were little hints about it along the way in the writing, and our characters similarities in both being doctors.  The writers are pretty tight-lipped, so I only know things two or three weeks in advance.

Were you playing that Elena had this attraction to Nate for a while now?

BRYTNI:  There was a point where I decided to play it, and that is when I felt that it was in the material. It was when things got a little crazier with Amanda coming around and Elena being at the height of her insecurity about that, and her really choosing to only confide in Nate.  I think that kind of relationship and comfortability that she was finding and that dynamic of being at the clinic with Nate, and establishing that with him, she was not having with Devon.

Courtesy/CBS

Right, and so do you think once Elena knew Amanda was interested in Nate, she subconsciously stepped up her own interest in him?

BRYTNI:  No, I think around this time she was hoping for Amanda to date Nate, and she was asking a lot of questions and things to egg on that whole relationship.  I think in her subconscious she really felt like, “Oh good, if I can put these two together, then my fears about this woman who looks exactly like my boyfriend’s dead wife… that resolves that.”  I think for Elena it was just kind of putting them together.  It wasn’t about Nate.  It was about someone to occupy Amanda so that Elena’s insecurities didn’t have to come out and she didn’t have to worry about Devon, or anything with those two being together.

But didn’t Elena have a nightmare/dream about Amanda and Devon having sex?  Wasn’t she freaked out about Amanda being Hilary’s sister?

BRYTNI:  This was when she had already jumped down the rabbit hole of being insecure about what was going on about Amanda and Devon and how much time they were spending together and hoping that he didn’t fall back into those feelings he had for Hilary that he had just gotten through.  For Elena, I think it was a lot of PTSD; for her.  She felt the first half of their relationship was trying to get over Hilary.  Once it finally turned to a point where Amanda was spending a lot of time with Devon. and she had started only confiding in Nate and not Devon about how she felt, that’s when I think those insecure feelings came up, and her talking about it so much manifested into her dreams, and she set herself up for her own trauma.

Courtesy/CBS

So, you have to do this sex scene amidst Covid-19 protocols with Sean Dominic.  How was filming that scene with Sean because Nate looks at Elena, she looks at him, signaling they want to have sex right now, right there at the clinic, and then it cuts out.  Was it awkward filming it?

BRYTNI:  Yes, it was certainly awkward because his double was Bryton, so it’s hard to play that you’re cheating on a character with the actor who plays the character that you’re cheating on. (Laughs)

We are going to give you the Emmy right there for that!  (Laughs)

BRYTNI:  Right! (Laughs) Then in some of the scenes we are looking into each other’s eyes, and we appear to be close, but of course we are not that way.  So, I am staring up at a mannequin that it is at Sean’s eye-level, and he is staring down at a mannequin that is at mine.  It is not easy to try to sell that energy that is between two people in such an electric, heated moment, so it was definitely challenging.

Do you buy Elena’s rationale that they were on a euphoric high from saving Jared’s life at the clinic, as the impetus that leads her and Nate to have sex?

BRYTNI:  I don’t think she really understands what happened.  I think she is trying to put it together.  Right after it happens, she goes into that whole monologue about how, “I’m not blaming you, but this happened, and we were just coming down from a high.”  I think it’s just her trying to figure out why her emotions brought her to this place because I think this is one of the few times in someone like Elena’s life when she has acted without thinking or without forethought to the consequences.  I think she has just been exhausted with trying to battle her emotions, trying to be a doctor with a residency in a hospital, and then also trying to do as much work as she is doing at a clinic.  Then, coming off of an emotionally-charged partnership with Devon after seeing what he was going through with the ghost of Hilary for so long, and going back into this after finally having a calm and peaceful few months, it rocked the whole boat again.

Courtesy/CBS

Viewers have seen what played out over the last week and half, a lot of scenes were you as Elena are called upon to do a lot of breaking down, and crying.  So, how are those scenes to perform? Do you like those types of scenes, or are you like, “Oh, God! These are so soapy!”

BRYTNI:  For me, personally playing that, I think with all the tears and all of that, it’s been exhausting, because there are certainly levels of reality to this where I have to go for it to not be me just trying to emote on-screen, but actually feel the depths of what my character would be going through.  It’s a lot.  I’ve had a few migraines after work sometimes, but I do enjoy it.  I enjoy getting those emotions out.  I think that because of what I’ve established with her character for a little over a year, I’ve been building up Elena, and more importantly, building up her relationship with Devon.  I think to understand her actions, it had to come from a really solid place.  I don’t think she is ill-intended in any of her emotions.  I think she really cares about and wants to protect her partner, Devon throughout all of this, and then she finds herself unprotected and vulnerable in making decisions that inevitably do the complete opposite.  So, I think at the end of it, she really is disappointed in herself and also, she has just created this entire disruption of her life in the matter of a moment, and I think there is a lot of mourning, and there is a lot of guilt.  I just don’t think that it is intentional of her character to do something like what she did.  I think that for me to make it what it was… something that my character would do or did … it had to come from a real place that didn’t sit well with her, and it just happened, and she feels guilt-ridden.  It’s as serious as a character attempting to murder someone, or any other kind of character who would go to the extremes of who they are in their characteristics.

Courtesy/CBS

For you, since you are romantically-involved with Bryton James in real life, does that make it harder or easier to play?

BRYTNI:  I’d say both.  It makes it harder because it’s more real, but it also makes it easier because it’s more real.  These are situations that could at some point come up or have come up, and to put yourself in those positions, and to have him look at me the way that he does and to jeopardize something that real, to go to that place, is a dark place to have to portray.

… And then Devon throws her out! 

BRYTNI:  He does.

Devon tells her to leave the penthouse and he tells her to pack her stuff and go.

BRYTNI:  Rightfully so.

Courtesy/CBS

Doesn’t Elena deserve that reaction for her actions?

BRYTNI:  I think so.  She made a mistake, and she has to learn from it.  I think if there is any potential for these two to ever reconcile, there has to be space given, and there has to be understanding.  You can’t just pretend like everything is normal even though she is sorry.  Sorry isn’t a reason why and sorry isn’t proactive.  She has to fix the issue.

They brought Jared (Michael Maclane) back to be the catalyst that was ended up being the spark that ignited Nate and Elena’s passionate moment together at the clinic. What did you think of that plot point?

BRYTNI:  The point was actually, that it was a patient who they had invested in and cared about, and she was able to do something for this kid and save his life with someone who she has been leaning on, someone who she has had a shared connection with, someone who shares her perspective, and helped her through situations with Devon, and who has seen her ugly side and her insecure side, and it was a bonding moment, I guess, that they were able to save a kid’s life who they both knew added another layer to their relationship that caused things to go grey.

Coming up, it appears that Amanda is going to be instigating a lot of stuff, and Nate is going to still have feelings for Elena.

BRYTNI:  Yeah, I mean, it’s not over.  Now that the cat has been let out of the bag, they still have residual feelings.  I think Nate is starting to make it very clear why he went the direction he went.  I think he has more of an understanding of where his feelings lie and that they are with Elena.  I think with Amanda, maybe a part of her ego just got bruised, and maybe she wants to unearth the truth of all of this because she was kind of caught in the middle of it.

When you and Bryton are together in real life, are you rehearsing all of these scenes and playing all of the other characters in them?

BRYTNI:  Typically, we run lines together.  I have voices for everyone.  I have a Nate voice.  (Laughs)  I have an Amanda voice; I have a Lily (Christel Khalil) voice.

Photo: Sonja Fleming/CBS

You are in one of those interesting situations where you are with the person in real-life and in story.  I have talked to Bryton about this, but what was the moment when you knew it clicked with him? 

BRYTNI:  We certainly liked each other since day one just as people.  He was a great scene partner to do a screen-test with, very giving, just really professional, but just a down-to-earth nice guy. Then, just moving forward from that and working with him as my scene partner on Y&R, I think it was during our first group scene, it was the opening of Society, and we did a tribute to Neil Winters (Kristoff St. John), and that was the first time I had spent long hours on a Y&R set.  You’re with the whole group all day because you’re doing group scenes.  We just discovered and learned that we are both really goofy, and we were just laughing and talking about stories.  I think we found that we had a lot more in common than we would have realized… very similar pop-cultural references, and upbringings, and all of that.  From there, we’ve just gotten along really well, and it progressed.

Photo: Sonja Fleming/CBS

Back in late June,  there was this viral video of you jumping up and down when Bryon’s name was called as the winner of the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series during the 47th annual Daytime Emmys telecast.  What do you remember of that night with him?  You seemed more excited than he was!

BRYTNI:  Yeah!  I was really excited for him.  The year before – well, I didn’t know that it was our first date –  but,  I guess it was our first date at the 46th Daytime Emmys, because I honestly thought that Matt Kane (publicist, Y&R) had asked me if I wanted to go along, and apparently, Bryton had asked if he could invite me.  So, we spent that time together, and he was nominated that year as well and lost.  Cut to this year where Bryton is a person who I have actually worked with and have seen how he works, and after Kristoff’s passing, and just seeing the amount of work that Y&R put into it, and the time that they spent on those episodes, and how beautiful they came out, everyone deserved an Emmy for that.  It was really beautiful work, and it was really touching, and it was really true and honest.  I really thought Bryton deserved it.  I think he was just as happy.  He’s just more reserved than I am.

What do you want to see happen for Elena moving-forward?  Do you want to see more of her extended family pop up so she is a character who has more ties to Genoa City?

BRYTNI:  I do, I do.  A lot of the characters never know who their father is.  I’d love to know who that is. (Laughs)  Like when I played Valerie on General Hospital, she didn’t know who her father was either.  Things like that are interesting to play.  I’d love to start closing those little holes about her because that helps me.  It helps me to create more dimensions in her character and to make firmer choices, and give her somewhere to go, and it gives more richness in her story.  I would love to also cement her to the Y&R canvas if she has any relation to anyone else there.

Courtesy/CBS

There have been rumors that Elena will become pregnant.  What would you say to that?

BRYTNI:  What do I think of that?  I don’t know.  It could happen.  Crazier things have happened on soaps.  Will it be the classic, “Whodunit?”

You mean, who could be the baby daddy?

BRYTNI:  (Laughs) Yes, that would be interesting, and yes, I’ve seen those rumors, too.

Do you think Elena will fight and claw her way back to Devon, or do you think she is going to let it be? 

BRYTNI:  I think even from the scenes that aired this past week, you can see the extent of how sorry she is.  She is laying it all out there, in a puddle of tears, exactly how she feels even though she is not able to really understand why she did what she did, her sorrow is there.  I don’t think there is really much more for her to do as far as pleading to get him back until he is ready, if he ever is ready.  I think her respecting his wishes in the situation is probably the best thing that she can do at this point.

Photo: IG

Meanwhile, if you have any more romantic scenes with Sean Dominic, Bryton will step in, so you will still be in scenes with him, even if Elena and Devon aren’t together. 

BRYTNI:  (Laughs) Yes, that’s true!

So, are you rooting for Devon and Elena to get back together quickly?  Do you think she may end up in a relationship with Nate? What have you thought of Brytni’s performances in this storyline? Comment below, but first watch Devon tell Elena to move out!

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Interviews

Y&R’s Peter Bergman Talks On Dina’s Death & How It Will Impact Jack, His Final Scenes With Marla Adams & Taping During COVID-19

The Abbott family is reeling from the death of their mother, Dina Mergeron, who passed away from complications from Alzheimer’s disease at the end of last Friday’s episode; signaling the end of an era for Dina’s portrayer, Marla Adams.  In a pivotal and heart-breaking scene, Dina shares one last goodbye with her children: Traci (Beth Maitland), Ashley (Eileen Davidson) and of course, Jack (Peter Bergman).

Today, the drama continues as the Abbott’s grieve Dina’s death and its aftermath while they remember the life of their flawed mother. This puts Jack at the epicenter of the family, and like it, or not, the new head of the clan.  What does the future hold for him now?

Michael Fairman TV chatted with three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Peter Bergman, who has embodied Jack for over 30 years on the top-rated CBS Daytime drama, to get his thoughts on: how Y&R needed to handle Dina’s death within the confines of the coronavirus pandemic and its safety protocols, what he felt about playing those final scenes with Marla Adams and the significance of the ‘teardrop of love’, and a preview of what fans can expect in the coming days as the impact of Dina’s death will be felt by the Abbott children and extended family.

 

An actor’s actor, you can always expect a conversation with Peter to be forthright, candid and enlightening, and this one was no different.  Here’s what one of the genre’s absolute best had to share about the significance of this story and more.

How has it been returning to Y&R during the pandemic?  I bet you never thought in all of your years in daytime, that you would be doing your scenes socially-distanced, sitting or standing, so far apart from your castmates.

Courtesy/CBD

PETER:  Just getting back to work felt great, loved that.  I wasn’t involved really in romantic scenes at this point, so that I didn’t have to do.  So, all in all, I was very happy to be back, and socially-distancing didn’t really bother me at all, and then Dina died.  Doing that from six feet away was just awful.  You saw the limits at a time where not any of us could be within six feet of each other; where you would usually hold a hand, stroke a brow, and talk softly.  So, I think the writers did what they needed to do to make it work for Dina’s exit.  We are in the middle of COVID, in case anybody forgot, and so you have to ask, ‘Does America really want to watch an elderly woman die in the middle of the Abbott living room or anywhere else?’  So, we had to have Dina’s exit without looking at a dead body, out of respect for the times we are living in.  We had to do a strong, powerful, pivotal scene with our hands tied behind our backs.

Courtesy/CBS

It’s so interesting that you say that because that’s how I felt watching it, knowing what it would have been like, if Jack, Ashley and Traci would have been with Dina at her bedside, up till the end, for instance.  But all of that said, Peter, I got so choked up in your last moments with Marla.  Jack is just sitting there and Dina is telling him how much she loved him and you’re doing the thing that only Peter Bergman can do as the tears well-up in your eyes.  As we have talked about previously, my mom died from complications from Alzheimer’s, so these are always tough types of scenes for me to watch.  I am sure it was also for those in the audience, who have lost a loved one to this disease, many of whom reached out to me on social media following its airing.

PETER:  It’s got to be tough for you to watch.  I get that.

Photo: Ed McGowan/Plain Joe Studios

Yes, so I felt for Jack and Dina in the moment as a son and his mother.  But what did you think about how the scene was written, and what Dina was saying to Jack and his sisters as her final goodbyes to her children and their reactions to it?

PETER:  As written, something in this necklace triggers something in Dina that brings her out of a stupor, brings her out of the murk, the fog for a brief instant to tell the people who she cares the most about that she loves them in slightly different ways.  I have, with everything in me, a struggle to always add in there, “I have a complicated relationship with my mother.”  I’ve added that line in there so many times over the years, you have no idea.  It was a complicated relationship because by the time she dies, there is no kind of straightening that out, there is no kind of Jack looking for answers. The depth of what Ashley is feeling, what Traci is feeling, what Jack is feeling, were kind of lost because of the way we had to do it. The writers had to do it, so I’m not blaming anyone, but because of the way we had to do it, there was no, “Wow, why isn’t Ashley crying?  Why is she just so stoic that this isn’t touching her at all?” because she can’t go there. Traci feeling like she found her place in the family simply by Dina saying, “You’re the beating heart of this family,” and Jack, who is doing the right thing, “She should leave peacefully, she should leave feeling loved, we should all be here, we should give her nothing but love,” damn, this is complicated.  You couldn’t have any of those things.  .  Hopefully, some of that slid in there and we wedged some of those complexities into it, but it was hard to write a complex scene with the situation as it was.  We needed to get it done it one day.  We did not need to drag this out.  Again, were it not COVID time, sure, let’s drag it out.  Let’s spend some time on this.  People die.  Let’s watch the family process a death.

Photo: CBS

I just think of what it all means for Jack moving forward.  Dina basically tells him, “You’re in charge of the family. Look after the family.” That’s kind of where it’s been going for Jack this whole time.  I don’t know if that’s what Jack wanted, but that’s where he is ending up.

PETER:  Right!  That’s where he ends up, and you know, this has been a long time coming.  Dad dies, and it is pretty clear that he’s got to step up, and his mom comes into town, and she’s not just his mother.  She’s Ashley’s mother; she’s Traci’s mother, we’ve got to look out for her and give her the dignity and things like that.  Now, there is just no getting around it.  Jack is the head of the family.  That’s the way it fell.  Twenty-five years ago, was Jack ready to be head of anything?  Absolutely not, but I think enough has happened to Jack now: enough heartache, enough growth, enough introspection, enough losing people, that Jack might just be ready for this job.

Courtesy/CBS

When Marla Adams came back to Y&R 2017, and they started telling the Alzheimer’s storyline, it brought up such abandonment issues for Jack and rightfully so, about how a mother could just leave her family and children,  Throughout all that,  you did such poignant work.

PETER:  I wanted that to be in there at the very end.  One of the powerful parts in this whole thing is that Jack wanted to scream at Dina every bit as much as he wanted to hug her.  That was there for quite a while, and Jack had to kind of come to terms with, “Hey, you’ve been leaning on this excuse for quite a time.  She’s here.  She can’t do you any harm.  She feels bad about what happened.  What do you want, Jack?”

Photo: CBS

One of the highlights of this storyline was when Y&R explored the history and relationship between the siblings, Jack, Ashley and Traci.  We saw their younger versions as the show flash-backed to when Dina left John and the Abbott family.

PETER:  Between the writers and Peter Bergman, we built this story that the night that Dina left, Dad was upstairs with the girls, they were weeping inconsolably, there was no fixing it, there was no telling them that everything was going to be all right.  He didn’t want to lie to them and say she will be right back, he told them, “She’s not coming back,” and he comes downstairs, and Jack is fourteen-years-old, and a little confused, but decided to say to his dad, “Hey, can I help?”  He looks across the room, and his dad is weeping, first time he had ever seen that.  His father is weeping, and he said, “Jack, you’re going to have to help me with the girls.  I can’t do all of this,” and it changed Jack’s life forever.  Jack was a parent to Ashley for a good part of their relationship.  So, all of this stuff with Jack’s identity, all of the fighting with Ashley, all of the Jabot madness is Ashley finally getting to say, “I don’t need a father!  You’re not my father.  Stop talking to me like you’re going to fix things for me!  I’m sick of it.”  All done by Dina … all truly caused by Dina.

Courtesy/CBD

In my interview with Marla, she told me that at the end of her last scene, you and many others came back to the set to pay tribute to her.

PETER:  We did.  The show had arranged it, and Tony Morina, the executive producer, stepped out on the soundstage with a microphone, and Marla sat on the sofa in the Abbott living room. Tony began telling a lovely, lovely story about how far back his relationship with her goes because Marla and Tony wife’s, Sally Sussman (Ex- head writer, Y&R), also had a long-standing relationship.  Tony was just so grand and gracious in saying that there are some people who, if they weren’t an actor, they’d be this or that or the other thing, but that Marla was born to be an actress.  That’s what she is, and it was so generous.  I think she got three and a half years that she didn’t expect to get out of this.  It was supposed to be a six-month storyline, and four years later, she was still there, and it was a good thing for her, and a unique story turn for the rest of us.  It really was.  It was a powerful thing, and now the Abbott family has a new shape.  There are three adults there: Ashley has established her independence, she is not around as much, she is back and forth between Paris, and Genoa City, Traci is trying to be as supportive and kind as she can be, but essentially, Jack is in the big house by himself.

Yep!  Well, now we’ve got to find Jack a good woman.

PETER:  Yes, or a bad woman.

… Or a bad woman!  I’ll take him in a relationship with someone to stir things up.  I also hear coming up, there will be the reading of Dina’s will.  Is there anything you can tease about that?

PETER:  There is a will read, yes.  No one knows what to expect, and Dina … in the end… comes through for almost everybody…

Courtesy/CBS

Well … that ought to be good.

PETER:  Yep… really comes through for almost everybody, and you know, the Abbott children are wealthier, and all three of them are alone, and in no small thanks to Dina for that.  These are three adults who have been very unlucky in love.  Of course, this is the next challenge.  I don’t mean to assume that I have any idea of what you went through in losing your mom, but there is a point at which you also have to let go and say, “Okay, now it is just me, and what do I want to do with this life?  I’ve used this as a reason not to move forward for a good while.  What am I going to do now?”  I think the next turn in the Jack Abbott story comes pretty organically.  Dina’s death frees Jack to be just as alone as he has ever been.

No matter what Jack does, including the bad things, you always see the inner-pain that is very palpable within him, as you have portrayed him.

PETER:  Yes, but he really has grown in the last 30 years.  Jack is hungry for more right now, and he couldn’t really be that way with Mom in the house.  He didn’t have time for that.  Now he has all of the time in the world.  So, we’ll see what he does with that.

Courtesy/CBD

I understand there is a funeral for Dina, but it will be off-camera?  I guess, because of COVID, it is better that way.

PETER:  That’s true and it’s off camera, that’s correct.  What’s important at most of these things isn’t what happens at the gravesite, it is what happens at the reception afterwards, and that is also a fun turn.  So, they all agree as a family they are going to do it at Society, and they kind of close the joint and make it their own little party, and someone shows up who isn’t expected, and it throws a really, really different vibe into the whole thing, and everybody has to adapt.  It’s actually fun, what it turns into.  It turns into a memory fest with crazy stories of Dina.

Courtesy/CBS

Do you have a favorite moment, or memory, of a scene you played with Marla?

PETER:  I think I had a day where Jack tried to get through to her and tell her, “Do you realize the damage you did?  Do you realize?” and she wasn’t able to take it in, and he went to Traci, and he said, “I want to shake her.  I want to yell at her… and I want to protect her.”  I thought there was something just so rich about that.  That was my favorite moment, my favorite part of it, when Jack finally said, “She’s going, man.  We’ve got to get this conversation done now.  We’ve got to talk this through,” and he was too late.   She was too far along with Alzheimer’s.  She wasn’t up to it.  She couldn’t do it.

Photo: JPI

And now here is Jack; and his parents are both gone.  There is no Jerry Douglas or Marla Adams on the show as both John and Dina have passed on within the history of The Young and the Restless.

PETER:  Again, you were generous enough to share your own personal experience, but isn’t it amazing?  Wow, you’re the grownup now.  Isn’t it amazing?  That’s what the Abbott’s are going through: just what you went through.  There is no older generation to turn to for anything.  We are the older generation.  It’s powerful stuff, and I’m really, really grateful for anytime that Ashley, Jack, and Traci are together talking about those things, talking about, “Wow, okay, that just happened… where do we go from here?”  It’s going to be really interesting.  If you asked me, “Over the last 30 years that you’ve played Jack Abbott, have there been many times where you’ve thought, ‘I’ve got no idea where this is going!’”  I would say, “Yeah, right now.”  I’ve got no idea where we are going with this.

Courtesy/CBS

There has been much speculation that the “teardrop of love” necklace will lead Jack to a new romance, or some new adventure in his life.  They spent a lot of time mentioning it in short order, that it would seem it’s not just to bring Dina some closure.  What are your thoughts on it?

PETER:  I think it has legs.  I think you’re going to hear about it again. There is something in there, and I don’t know if it’s the teardrop’s magic charm or that its history is not what it was, or it gets stolen.  I don’t know, but I think we have spent enough time saying ‘teardrop of love’, that there could be a story there.

In Dina’s final moments where Jack brings her the ‘teardrop of love’, wasn’t it symbolic to her because it was her acknowledgement of having her family back together and with her at all times? There is a back-story to that piece of jewelry as well.

PETER:  The point of the necklace is, “This was when I was truly happy, when I had this necklace, when it is all back together,” and maybe we are to know something more about the teardrop…?  I don’t know.  So, this was a gift to her before Jack was born.  She wore it home from the hospital when she brought him home, but we don’t know exactly what year she got it, and we don’t know exactly what year she lost it.  It was stolen, and it was on the black market for a while, and Victor (Eric Braeden) was looking into it.  It was clear that it was very important to Dina.  So, Jack, against his own wishes, said, “No, I’ve got to do the right thing.  I’ve got to try to trace this thing down.  It clearly means something to her.  Maybe she is trying to tell us something.  God only knows.”  So, he did the right thing, not because, “I want to make Mommy happy,” but because he forced himself to do the right thing, to find the damn necklace, and to see what this is about.  Then, we saw the affect it had when he gave it to her.

Photo: CBS

It’s always good to chat and check-in with you during these key and historical moments in the life of the character of Jack Abbott.  There have been many throughout your time on Y&R, and it will be interesting to see where this goes from here.

PETER:  It will be, and I’m telling you, this is a real moment.  Normally, we just go from one story into the next, into the next, and this one has been hanging for so long that, “Okay, now that it is over, wow, what is going to happen to Jack?”  I’m just as curious as everybody else.

So, what do you think will happen next for Jack?  Did you reach for the hankies in Peter’s final scenes with Marla Adams?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Marla Adams Talks Her Final Scenes As Dina Mergeron, The Alzheimer’s Storyline, and Her Touching Farewell

Today on The Young and the Restless marks the end of the enduring run of Marla Adams in the role of Dina Mergeron. In story, Dina passes away from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a storyline that started four years ago when the CBS Daytime drama brought back the character and Adams; and one that has deeply affected many in the viewing audience who have also had their own personal experience of losing a loved one to this dreadful disease.

If you have not seen today’s episode yet, you may not want to read any further, but needless to say, make sure you have the hankies ready for Dina’s final moments with her children and how she leaves this earth, which will be remembered for quite some time to come.

Marla originated the role of the rich and spoiled Abbott matriarch back in 1983 and portrayed the role on and off for what amounts to five decades. Her classic scenes with Jerry Douglas (Ex-John), Eileen Davidson (Ashley) and so many more from the iconic soap, always made for great and complex stories.

 

With this her final airdate on Y&R, it also puts an exclamation point for Marla on an incredible daytime career having also appeared on: The Bold and the Beautiful. Capitol, Days of our Lives, Generations and The Secret Storm

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Adams in this very special conversation where she shared with us how it was to play these heartbreaking last scenes, the importance of the ‘teardrop of love’ necklace to the story, how Y&R gave her the most overwhelming and beautiful send-off, and her ‘thank you’s’ to all of you, who have been her extended family and are sad to see her go. She is one-of-a-kind …and now, here’s Marla.

Photo: Getty

Marla, I am so glad we have the opportunity to chat in this full-circle moment as you have brought the character of Dina to a close.

MARLA:  It’s such a joy to talk to you.  It seems like yesterday and an eternity as well.   I thought of you so much, and I remember talking to you specifically with all of the different interviews over the years, when I was at the studio.  But I will always remember the interview you did with me and Beth Maitland (Traci), my darling soul sister, and you talked to me about your mother who has since passed on from Alzheimer’s.  I’ll never forget what you had to say all those months ago

Photo: HallmarkChannel

Yes, and when as audience members we watch these stories unfold with characters we have loved, or watched on our screens for years, and there is a death, we feel connected to them as well.  And in this case, as a child who has lost a parent to Alzheimer’s, like many in the audience, you ask yourself first, “Can I watch this?” It hits very close to home, but I’m sure when people watch today’s episode of Y&R and see Dina pass away, they will be extraordinarily moved.

MARLA:  Oh, my gosh.  Wait until you people see Friday’s show.  I know they will be moved.  They should be!  I’ve got friends who I’ve already said to, “Get your Kleenex box out.”  It’s so beautiful what happens at the end of the episode.

Courtesy/CBD

How did you feel about playing Dina’s final scenes?

MARLA:  It was wonderful because it showed her lifetime of sorrow and regret, and what was so wonderful was the fact that the hero of the whole thing is the kindness and respect that she really did have for her whole family.  They had the most beautiful sendoff for me.  They sent me a limo!  I went to the studio, and dear Patti Denney (Make-up artist, Y&R) was there, of course with all kinds of makeup and everything else, and she looked like she was entering the ER room for Covid-19, because of all the safety protocols we must have.  It was unbelievable, the kindness that was served to me.  After we finished taping my final scenes, I came back to the soundstage and they totally surprised me.  Dear Tony Morina (executive producer, Y&R) and Sally Sussman (Ex-head writer, Y&R) were there, and Tony spoke about me, and so did my Y&R extended family and on-screen children: Peter Bergman (Jack), and Beth Maitland, and Eileen Davidson, and much of it was put on tape (see excerpts in video below).  Afterwards, Tony gave me beautiful flowers.  I was driven back home after this, and I felt really special, and it was just amazing to me. I had written Josh Griffith (Current head-writer and co-executive producer, Y&R) a ‘thank you’ for writing the show with his wonderful people, but I never heard back, but when I walked in my apartment, the phone was ringing.  Guess who?  It’s Josh!  He said, “I waited until I knew you would be home to thank you,” and I felt so lovey-doved up, I couldn’t believe it.  I want to read something to you that I received in the wonderful flowers that came the next day from CBS Daytime executive Margot Wain and others.  The flowers were so big that they didn’t fit on the bar!  The card read: “Thank you for bringing the amazing force that is Abbott matriarch, Dina Mergeron to countless fans of The Young and the Restless.  Your vast contribution to Y&R and CBS for more than five decades is unparalleled.  We are forever grateful for all you’ve brought to Y&R as both a consummate professional and a cherished co-worker.  All our best wishes.”  I was just so touched by the sentiments.

Photo: CBS

I also want to share something with you.  When it was revealed in the promo that came out last week that this would be your last show, I received so many notifications on social media, saying, “Oh, my God!  We love Marla!  You have to interview her!”  You are loved by the Y&R fans.  I hope you know that!  They’re sad to see you go, because you’re a legacy character to them, and soap fans have deep connections to characters that have been on their favorite soaps for decades.

MARLA:  Five decades!  My God!  I’m eighty-freaking-two.  I can’t believe it.

Courtesy/CBS

In story, Jack was on a mission to get the ‘teardrop of love’ necklace back to Dina before she died, hoping that she would have one last moment of lucidity and would recall it and it would hopefully make her happy.   He moves heaven on earth to get it, and does, and brings it to her and viewers saw her reaction. 

MARLA:  The necklace had never been anywhere before in story except recently, but I said to myself that I would play it ‘quietly and graciously’, because it made for such a beautiful moment for Dina with her children.

Courtesy/CBS

For Dina, the necklace was a symbol of remaining connected to her family and her children, even when she was not with them all of those years.  In your final scenes, Dina had these moments to say goodbye to each of your children.  Do you remember looking at Eileen, Traci, and Peter taping those highly emotional beats?

MARLA:  Yes, they were so there for me.  They are an extended family that is so precious to me, and playing this iconic character has been, too.  I remember when Sally Sussman told me a few years ago, “ I’m going to bring you back on The Young and the Restless, but you’ve got Alzheimer’s,” and I said, ‘What!?  You’re bringing me back so you can kill me off?’ and she said, “Oh no, it’ll be about a year.”  That dissolved into four years, and now five decades had passed and I was still on Y&R.  I am beyond grateful.

Courtesy/CBD

As an actress, was it hard to play Dina’s final moments when she goes to the light to join her beloved, John?

MARLA:  It was heart-wrenching for me.  In the story, Dina died when she went outside and to the front door of the Abbott home.  They did not tell me before-hand, and that’s why it was so wonderful.  I hope they came in for a closeup of that because I had no makeup on, it was beautiful, and then, Dina said, “Oh, John.”  I’ve done everything from movies, to daytime, to nighttime, to Broadway, but that was the iconic moment for me, to do this gig with wonderful, wonderful actors and friends, and to do this particular storyline.

Photo: CBS

It was 1983 when you first appeared on Y&R.  And through the years, Dina did not do such great things! She had an affair with Brent Davis who was the biological father of Ashley that caused such a rift between mother and daughter for years.  She abandoned the Abbott children and walked out on them and her marriage to John, and that’s just for starters! Dina was a complicated character. Did you love the fact that she could be very selfish at times?

MARLA:  You think?  That’s why I loved her.  Of course!  I can be very selfish, too.  You have to be selfish if you’re an actor, good God. (Laughs).

Courtesy/CBS

It was great that The Young and the Restless brought you back four years ago so that through the telling of the Alzheimer’s storyline that Dina was able to somewhat repair her relationships with her children.  Obviously, over the last many months the audience could not witness the more day to day progression and toll the disease took on Dina and her family in its final stages, but unfortunately with the way COVID-19 has affected shooting daytime soap operas, and all of our lives, including safety protocols, I am sure plans had to be altered,

MARLA:  Of course.  As an actress, this was the most important role of my life, and to have her final moments spread out in one day really is because of all of the fans who have been writing in and wanting to see Dina again,

Photo: CBS

People were rooting for you to win the Daytime Emmy back in 2018 when you were nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. That must be a nice moment to carry with you from playing Dina’s final storyline.

MARLA:  Yes, and I should have won!  Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) was furious. (Laughs)  He said, “What do you mean, darling, you should have won!  Goddammit!” He’s a wonderful man and a good friend.  He came to pick me up several times to go to the studio for my last few shows, and that’s the kind of mensch he is. So, I feel just so blessed and I feel great love and loss.  I would like Dina to come back as a ghost, but I have no idea, if that will happen or not. But if the fans would be interested in seeing Dina as a ghost … make sure to write in to the show and tell them!

Courtesy/CBS

Speaking of the fans that have followed you for decades on Y&R, what would you want to say to them now that Dina has passed on?

MARLA:  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for all of the love, the support, and the chance to play Dina out… and I’m thankful that you cared, and loved her, up till the end.

So what did you think about Dina’s final moments on today’s Y&R? Will you miss Marla Adams?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.  But first check out the special behind the scenes tribute for Marla, followed by The Michael Fairman Channel’s interview with Marla and Beth Maitland from Y&R’s 45th anniversary celebration referred to during the above conversation.

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