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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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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.

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!!!!!

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.

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!!!

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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,

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

excellent interview michael!

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.

bold and beautiful is on CBS notNBC

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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 Melody Thomas Scott Talks on 45 Years as Nikki Newman, the Keys to Playing Drunk, And Those Genoa City Relationships

February is ‘Nikki Newman Month’ in soapland as the The Young and the Restless iconic Melody Thomas Scott celebrates her 45th anniversary in her leading role.

My how time flies! Nikki has had numerous marriages, and some to the same man, battled her addiction to alcohol too many times to count (and we loved it all), and faced so much heartache in the process.

Currently, on all-new episodes of the top-rated CBS daytime drama series, Nikki can’t quite get a grip as Jordan (Colleen Zenk) is out there and in the middle of her next master plot to make Nikki suffer, all the while Nikki is drinking again. Thanks to the heinous plot concocted by Jordan and Claire (Hayley Erin) that revealed itself last November.

Photo: JPI

In a special conversation for You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Melody shared her thoughts on a myriad of subjects including: her current story, those long tape days at Victor and Nikki’s weddings, why she plays drunk better than anyone on television, plus we take a mini-deep dive into Nikki’s past.

Y&R fans were stunned when the powers-that-be had Nikki kidnapped and then hooked her up to an IV of booze. Just how much did Melody know of the story going in? She elaborated, “I knew Nikki would be terrorized. That’s all that I knew. I thought that sounded like great fun. I didn’t know for a little bit that she was going to fall off the wagon in the process of it. And then when I heard how it would happen, I was thrilled to bits. I did kind of want to have a little leader (or crawl) down at the bottom of the screen saying, ‘Hey, people don’t put an IV with vodka in your arm because that will kill you.’ But, poetic license, I suppose.”

Photo: JPI

Melody also weighed-in on if she thinks Nikki will stop drinking anytime soon, expressing, “She just can’t get out of this. Then of course, Jordan’s not letting her out very easily. Just when Nikki thinks she is mentally strong enough to never take another drink, well, of course she does, because something else happens. I think it’s also a learning point for people who are watching the show who may have an addiction problem. Now, I could be wrong, but I think it’d be highly unusual for somebody to be just mentally strong to be able to stop.”

If you wondered if Melody enjoys playing a drunk Nikki, look no more, “I do. That’s simply for selfish reasons,” she shared. “That’s for my enjoyment. I take great pleasure in it. It’s fun for me, and just the process of pretending to be drunk. I love the end result. I try not to do too much because there’s nothing worse when an actor is overplaying drunk. So you have to kind of keep it a little bit underneath (the surface). However, sometimes because of Jordan, Nikki does get much sloppier than I normally would play it.”

Photo: JPI

In recent episodes, it seems that Jack (Peter Bergman) and Nikki are gravitating more to each other, as both are drawn together through their shared experiences with addiction. Victor (Eric Braeden) is not happy that his arch-nemesis is helping Nikki try to stay sober. Could Melody see Jack and Nikki becoming romantic again? “I love Peter. I mean, Peter was my second favorite husband on Y&R. It would be wonderful, but I don’t know if the fans would go for that,” she explained. “They’re so invested in Niktor that I think they would really be upset about that unless Victor did something really crummy, then I could buy that.”

Photo: JPI

One of the more ‘out there’ stories during Melody’s 45-year run, was when Nikki was paired with Crazy Edward, and he took her home to meet his mother … who was in an urn! You would think maybe Melody didn’t like the story .. but think again! “Bill Bell (co-creator, Y&R) was writing the show in those days, and Bill kept that information pretty tight. I don’t remember us knowing even a week in advance. Maybe, we would get our scripts, three or four days in advance and that was it. You knew nothing about future story, but I loved the story,” she raved. “It was almost Hitchcockian, shall we say. The actor who played Crazy Edward, Paul Tulley was so magnificent and such a sweetheart. We loved working with each other so much, but man, when that red light came on the camera, he scared the you-know-what out of me. He was absolutely terrifying. But then, the minute the scene was over, we’re fooling around and laughing and everything. He was so good. So good!”

Photo: JPI

According to Melody, the pairing of Victor and Nikki was not something she, nor Eric Braeden, initially thought would made sense: “I was a little terrified when I heard that he and I would be doing scenes. I thought, ‘What, what?’ He also wondered, ‘What am I going to be doing working with that young kid, that snotty kid?’ We had no idea what Bill Bell saw. He had a vision with us and somehow knew that we would have chemistry. It didn’t take Bill long to show us in the scripts why he put us together. Then, we started to see it. Although, it was hard to imagine at first, certainly we knew it worked by the time Nikki had baby number one during the ‘Who’s the father?’ storyline. Nikki and Victor weren’t even married yet. So, we did figure it out pretty early on.”

Photo: JPI

From her early years as Nikki Reed, Melody reflected back on some major story points in her character’s history, relating, “I actually did like her in the very beginning when she was just a little brat living with her sister and her father, who of course ended up trying to rape her…  and she had hit him over the head with a lamp … and he died. I did not care for the stripping storyline at all. Only because I knew that I didn’t have the natural dancing ability. I wasn’t fluid enough to really look good up there stripping. I know they hired wonderful choreographers and everything for me, but I just didn’t feel worthy of being up there … I guess is what it was. Of course, now I look back on it and I think, ‘Oh, I guess it wasn’t too bad.’ Later, there was a strip she did in the Colonnade Room. At the time, she was married to Jack. Victor’s sitting there with some other woman and she’s drunk. I saw that scene recently, and I thought it was great. I didn’t at the time, but looking back, I thought, ‘Wow, that was good.'”

Photo: CBS

Watch the full 45th anniversary conversation with Melody below.

Now let us know, are you enjoying Nikki being back on the bottle? Would you want to see Jack and Nikki try their relationship one more time? What has been your favorite storyline of Melody’s over the last 45 years on Y&R.  Let us know in the comment section.

 

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Days Of Our Lives

Days of our Lives Legendary Susan Seaforth Hayes Talks on the Horton House Fire Storyline, Mourning the Loss of Husband Bill Hayes & His Near-to-Final Performances

It has been an emotional time for longtime fans of Days of our Lives and beloved veteran, Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie Williams). On-screen, the iconic Horton home was burned to the ground in what appears to be a storyline-dictated decision that shocked many. In real life, Susan is mourning the loss of her husband and DAYS enduring favorite, Bill Hayes (Doug Williams), who passed away at 98 in January. Over the weekend, during the 2024 SAG Awards In Memoriam tribute, Hayes was remembered along with other motion pictures and television stars whom we lost over the past year.

Since the Peacock streaming soap opera tapes months ahead of air, the Horton home fire and its aftermath are currently playing out in all-new episodes with more on this story featuring Susan to come. Bill Hayes also appeared in several of these episodes making it all the more touching and heartfelt.

When Julie came back to the Horton home to see what remained of it after the fire, Days of our Lives fans were treated to a heart-tugging episode that streamed last Wednesday, February 21st. In it, newly-taped scenes of a young Tom (Zach Chyz) and Alice (Sydney Kathrann Smith) Horton telling the story of how they came to live in the house to raise their children, juxtaposed with Julie and Doug (and members of their family and friends), surveying what’s left of the beloved house, brought many a tear.

Michael Fairman TV talked with Susan Seaforth Hayes for this very candid and heartfelt conversation to get her feelings on the Horton house fire, and being given the opportunity to have a storyline at this point in her storied career. In addition, Susan provides some insight on what it was like for her ailing late husband to tape scenes at DAYS shortly before his death, what the series plans to do about writing off the character of Doug while honoring the legacy of Bill Hayes, and how she knew she had the greatest love affair that anyone could hope for in their lifetime, which in turn, has inspired all of us.

Photo: JPI

I was shocked when they decided to burn down the Horton house. Were you at first devastated … and did you know that there would be a big story surrounding it?

SUSAN: I did not know how big a story was with it. I knew that many years ago, another regime had planned on trashing the set and getting rid of the set because nobody cared about the Hortons anymore. It was stopped by one person, and I was eternally grateful for that. This time I thought, “Oh, my goodness! I guess I’ll be meeting people for a cup of coffee at the Horton Square. No home, no roots, no reason to be called in,” and thinking that’s the end of Julie. That’s the end of Doug and Julie. Then, when they began to structure a story around it, I think all of this came up during the writer’s strike. So of course, I was curious to see how this was going to turn out. I enjoyed the aftermath, because in the aftermath, and a little bit before the fire, if you saw the show, I get to talk a bit about the history of the household and the people in it.

Photo: JPI

In the special episode that aired last Wednesday, Julie gave Leo (Greg Rikaart) the family tree history of the Hortons for his story in the Spectactor.

SUSAN:  I’ve had a couple of good long soliloquies about the past. I’m fated to be the character that does that because I’m the one still standing. I must say, I do enjoy doing them. Emotionally, all I have to do is rerun some of the actors and my own family in my mind and the emotion starts to come, you know, the emotion starts to flow.

Julie talks to Maggie (Suzanne Rogers) immediately after the fire. She is upset that the Horton family Christmas ornaments are gone. Fans were not happy that they could possibly have burned up. Thank God! There was a happy ending when they were located and unscathed, or there would have been hell to pay! 

SUSAN: I knew that they were in the prop room and that they still existed. But how much they were going to put a story around their loss, I did not know. We don’t get to ponder the plot. We just get to show up and start doing it. I think on this particular matter, something as important as a structure of the original set of the show, there’s been quite a bit of interest. So, I can appreciate that.

Photo: JPI

I was thinking, ‘Did they decide to burn the house down, because they were finally retiring the old Horton home set?’ What was the purpose of it?

SUSAN: They’ve done everything to make quicker set changes, which is remarkable and very efficient right now. The set designer said, “I’ll be interested in your input,” which was nice. The one thing that I loved that had been done, didn’t work. You couldn’t shoot into it. It was a federal mirror over the mantle. I loved it. The size was perfect. I was just delighted. And then, we tried to shoot it, and because of the roundness of the mirror, you got a perfect view of camera one and camera three. So, it came down.

This is Julie’s project to renovate the home. She’s determined to bring back all the memories and redo it?

SUSAN: Absolutely, which is another nice note to play for my character. She’s determined to make the house something that her grandparents would recognize and still feel comfortable in.

Photo: JPI

What did you think of the episode that just aired where the show incorporated flashbacks of a young Tom and Alice Horton?

SUSAN: Well, I set it up. They had their own their own lovely scenes. I read them, and I’m sure the audience was charmed.

What do you remember when you first came to DAYS, and you were in that house, in that set?

SUSAN: What did I notice about the set? I noticed that it was a strange shade of green. (Laughs) It was explained to me that that dull color meant that your face would pop on color TV. I understood that. I loved the little window up the staircase. I’ve always loved that. And at one time, there was a model of the house that sat on the set on its own little pedestal, a little playhouse of the exterior of the house. Whenever the house was on (and remember this is when we were a half-hour and practically live, but not live, because there was no editing), there would also be the sound of a barking dog whenever we reached the Horton house neighborhood. We never saw the dog, but I’m sure his name was “Spot”, and I’m sure he belonged to someone.

PhotoL JPI

You shared so many scenes with Frances Reid (Alice) and MacDonald Carey (Tom) in the Horton living room set and up till they passed. Did they get along well with Bill? Looking back, how was your relationship with them?

SUSAN: They loved him. Well, Mac and Billy had worked together before in theater. Mac was very kind to me at the beginning and helpful. Frances was as well. As Frances got older, she got a bit testy. When someone says, “You’re not going to read the line like that … are you?” It catches your attention. (Laughs). I got peeved at Frances from time to time, but her intent was always to make everything as good as it possibly could be. I saw her come back from her stroke. learn to talk again, learn to do it all again. Not do it easily, but to do it at all was wonderful, and the same with Mac. In his last shows, he was very frail, but we’re actors. We liked being there.

Photo: JPI

During the taping of the episodes surrounding the Horton house fire, Bill was mostly in them with you. How was Bill doing at the time you taped these scenes?

SUSAN: He was okay. He was up for it. He had difficulty moving at that point. So, they restricted his movement a lot. Bill always enjoyed coming to work a lot, and it was extremely difficult for him because he was blind, and didn’t move very well. And now, to do a scene with people who may or may not, have rehearsed with you, who may or may not, give you the exact cue, and when they are attempting to have you look each other in the eye, you can’t see who’s eyes they are, that was the hard part. The easy part was working with him, which was lovely and was a gift. It was a gift from Corday Productions that he was able to work within three weeks of his death, which I thought was super and extraordinary.

Photo: JPI

That is amazing. Did Bill understand everything that was going on at the time of the tapings?

SUSAN: Absolutely. He understood what was going on. He just couldn’t see it or touch it.

The timing couldn’t have been easy for you with Bill’s declining health, and that the show was going to burn down the Horton home where you shared so many scenes and memories.

SUSAN: Well, it hasn’t been my greatest stretch. But I knew that life would be like this. I’ve had five decades of an absolutely wonderful, blessed marriage and a chance to work and a chance to live in my own home and travel, all good. And now, we’re going to have the epilogue. And the epilogue is the hard part, seeing rapid change around you and losing the people that were the center of your life. I’ve just been very fortunate to have cultivated some wonderful friendships, and to have a wonderful large family of Hayeses.

Photo: JPI

You do realize that you and Bill were the gold-standard of what we all should be lucky enough to have in our lives. What an incredible, beautiful, passionate, loving marriage that the two of you had. You don’t see marriages like that anymore. We were all just in awe of the two of you. To us, it was the greatest love affair. You got to have that which is so extraordinary.

SUSAN: I know, and it was all Bill. I mean, any idiot could have been married to Bill Hayes and been deliriously happy. The guy was so perfect in every way that you really would have to pick something and blow it out of proportion to ever complain about any of his traits of character. He was just all good character, goodwill, and good humor. I just followed along and tried to live my life for him, with him, and follow his style, which I hope to carry on. I hope to be as good to people as he was to people, and, not be selfish.

Photo: JPI

I always remembered how the two of you would come to the studio with your suitcases, ready to work no matter what material, large or small, they gave you. You showed up. You just had such great work ethic and you don’t see that as much anymore.

SUSAN: At the moment, it’s hard to find it everywhere. I think it’s probably generational. You cannot get too angry at people that are still holding up their phones in the one rehearsal that we have. I think it’s more convenient to receive your work electronically, but somehow it doesn’t seem quite as real. You don’t have a script in your hand anymore unless you print one up yourself.  Sometimes you haven’t met the person you’re working with. Well, that’s not unusual, but no rehearsal at all, that’s kind of marvelously new.

Photo: JPI

Does Julie lean on anybody for emotional support as she tries to rebuild the Horton home. Who’s there for her?

SUSAN: As far as I can tell, nobody. I’m supposed to be the wise woman, and Marlena (Deidre Hall) is supposed to be the other wise woman. I haven’t had any scenes with Marlena for help. I would think Marlena would be the person I would be going to for grief counseling, for friendship, for all of that. I haven’t seen it in the scripts, yet. I’m still deeply entwined with Chad’s (Billy Flynn) storyline.

How is Billy Flynn to work with?

SUSAN: A pleasure. Billy Flynn has grown a lot as a human being and as an actor since I’ve known him. I’m really enjoying his company and really enjoying doing scenes with him. We rehearse and then we get on other subjects and laugh and talk and inform each other. We’re interested in a lot of the same things. He’s a new parent. He’s really devoting himself to that, to that experience in the best possible way. So, I’m lucky.

Do Julie and Chad try to figure out who set the fire?

SUSAN: Oh yeah.

Photo: JPI

I kept thinking about how Julie got burned in the kitchen fire years ago and her face was scarred, At the time, your mother Elizabeth Harrower was writing DAYS and wrote that for Julie. Did you hate that story?

SUSAN: Well, I know where the story came from. It came up from something in mother’s own life. I knew the people involved, and I wasn’t crazy in love with the idea. Then, when it was supposed to go for six weeks and went on for months and months, I was concerned. Mainly, I was concerned that my face was going to be affected because of the appliance, the scars, that I was wearing. I was told by a dermatologist, “You’re going to have a little beard after this. Ripping your face every single day to get this off is going to be hard on you.” But, I seem to have survived.

Has the show even addressed with you how they plan to handle writing-off the character of Doug Williams, and how they want to honor Bill?

SUSAN: Only in the smallest way. I had a conference call with the producers and our head writer last Friday. I was informed about the immediate, immediate future. I’ve also been promised that they’re going to keep me busy. It’s a cast of over 40 people. I’ll be happy to show up and to be included.

Photo: JPI

I was just hoping that whatever they decide to do with the character of Doug that they were going to run it by you, first.

SUSAN: They have, and they have been very sweet about it.  I’ve got to tell you, this regime, they have a sign up on the wall now, that says, Things we expect on this stage.”  The first one at the top of the list is “kindness.”

Have you watched your work back all these years? I know some actor’s never like to watch the scenes they taped.

SUSAN: I think you learn by watching yourself, if you have an open mind, and if you are not hypercritical, or dismissive. I cannot be dismissive of a character that has given me such a wonderful life. I’m still interested in Julie, perhaps I wouldn’t have been if I’d been on the show for three years and never returned to it. But I’m quite interested in her now, and what she has to offer as a member of this ensemble.

Photo: JPI

Julie’s ties to the whole history of Days of our Lives from this point on are very important. How do you feel about that?

SUSAN:  There are those that don’t care about the history of the show. I know that. I know there are those that only care about continuing with something snappy to keep eyes on the screen through action, adventure, drama, death, kidnapping, missed opportunities, all that, which I suppose that’s what the audience craves. But, that’s not just what the show can do. What the show can do so well is character. There’s a lot of people over 70 who are still on the show now. I’m the oldest one, but I’m not the only one. We’re coming up on the 60th anniversary. I don’t think the show is worn out. And if it is, it’s had a remarkably successful six decades.

Lamon Archey (Eli) is back on DAYS for a stint. What has it been like to work with Lamon as his on-screen grandmother?

SUSAN: I think he’s terrific and visually he is so beautiful, so appealing. I think both Eli and Lani (Sal Stowers) are very appealing as characters. I’m delighted to be connected to Eli as a family member. That was a lucky break for me.

Photo: JPI

Do you think DAYS fans are going to continue to be emotional in the aftermath of this fire and all the story that comes out of it? Do you think we’ll be touched by what Julie goes through to get the remains all cleaned up for a new house?

SUSAN: I think anybody in America who’s gone through a disaster, and have unfortunately had the disruption of their home, will be sympathetic and interested in how it all turns out. It’s a nice note to play. We haven’t had to do that very often. We just go from one lovely apartment to another without much discussion. I think this is the one set that meant a lot to people. I was very sorry to lose “Julie’s Place,” as it turned into kind of a sandwich shop. I still loved having a business, a tangible place to be, and an alternate place for people to meet.

Photo: NBC

Upon reflection, what was your favorite scene with Bill? Was it when Julie and Doug got married on-screen, or was it something else that was much more intimate?

SUSAN: I think our last scene is going to be more important, emotionally. I think the first wedding was beautiful, but the material around the time of our second wedding, when Brenda Benet (ex-Lee) came back on the show and Doug stood up to her and says, “I’m not going to be manipulated anymore,” was also strong. There has been a lot of very important times – when Doug was killed-off by James Reilly, and we met in the tunnel of light. That was a day. That was a difficult day, which I certainly can’t revisit right now emotionally. When Julie found out Doug had run off and married her mother, Addie, that was a day. It was a day because, I went to the producer at the time, Jack Herzberg, and said, “Is this it? Am I not going to work with him anymore?”And he said, “Right! That’s it. You’re not working with Bill Hayes anymore.” We were not married at the time, and I thought I was going to go through the floor! That wasn’t a happy day.

Photo: JPI

In terms of Bill’s final day on the set with you, did you know that it was his last, and what would turn out to be his last scene?

SUSAN: Well, they didn’t know. But I knew. I had been allowed to rewrite it. So, I can’t tell you Bill’s last line now, of course, but I will in time.

What do you think about the sentiments shared by Susan on her late husband, and this storyline? How do hope the show properly honors Bill and Doug Williams when the series writes-off the character? Are you enjoying the Horton house fire story arc or does it upset you too much? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Trevor St. John Chats On His Latest Film ‘A Good Enough Day’, His Y&R Leading Ladies and the Loss of Kamar de los Reyes

The Young and the Restless multi-talented Trevor St. John (Tucker McCall) most recent film dropped last week on Amazon Prime, AppleTV+ and Tubi. Not only does St. John star in it, but he directed and co-wrote the feature, as well.

A Good Enough Day features St. John as Tyler Hamilton, a terminally ill photographer who has been saddled with enormous grief over a loss in his life for over 10 years, while trying to tie up loose ends before his death. Wanting to right his fractured relationships, Tyler interacts with his sister, and his daughter via phone calls in two haunting and moving moments in the film. St. John shot all of the scenes in the movie in his home state of Washington.

During a recent livestream conversation on You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Trevor spoke on the character he portrayed, the making of the film, the poignant phone calls and the takeaway he hopes lingers in audiences’ hearts and minds. In addition, Trevor shared his thoughts on his experience thus far on Y&R, and being in story with two strong leading ladies, Eileen Davidson (Ashley) and Zuleyka Silver (Audra).

Photo: AGoodEnoughDay

Many fans recall Trevor’s stellar performances as One Life to Live’s Walker Laurence/Todd Manning/Victor Lord Jr.  Recently, he and many other members of the OLTL family, suffered the loss of actor Kamar de los Reyes (ex-Antonio Vega). St. John takes a moment to share his thoughts on losing one of his dear friends. Coincidently, Reyes’ wife, Sherri Saum (ex-Keri, OLTL, ex-Vanessa, Sunset Beach), also appears in A Good Enough Day.

Speaking on embodying A Good Enough Day’s Tyler Hamilton, and what the journey he is going through during the film, Trevor shared, “We did our best to make this man, not all one thing or the other. If you heard the other end of those phone calls he was on, you think this guy’s a real piece of work. But then you realize he really suffered. He didn’t choose the grief, and maybe he made some choices out of that grief. Maybe he did not do enough to resist being all consumed by it. But as you pointed out, how can anyone know what that’s like to go through what he did?”

Photo: A Good Enough Day

As fans of St. John’s may know by now, when Tyler speaks to those on his phone, it all seemed so raw and real. Trevor gave us the secret as to why it worked so movingly and effectively. He explained,”The calls were shot and performed in a really unique way. We gave each character a very detailed biography. In particular, the detail of their relationship with Tyler, and their particular family life in the present day. But, we didn’t tell them anything else. So, none of those actors were ever told or were given the full material. We just said, ‘Here’s what you know about this man. Here’s in great detail what’s happened in the past 10 years and maybe even before. That’s all we are going to tell you. He’s gonna call you and you answer the phone as if this is all you know.'” Trevor added, “It was very risky, but once we shot that first scene I thought, ‘I think we might be able to get away with this.'”

Photo: A Good Enough Day

The beauty of A Good Enough Day is that it requires the viewers to think, interpret and go along on Tyler’s journey without hitting you over the head of exactly what is happening. However, by the final moments in the film, and we mean after the credits roll, you know everything you need to know. Trevor shared on laying out the movie: “You have to, you have to reveal everything. By the end, everything must be revealed. The question is the timing. The question is the intensity with which you peel layers away of information. The goal is to have the audience thinking, ‘I’m not sure I know precisely what’s going on here but man, I can’t really look away. I wanna see what happens next.'”

Photo: JPI

On The Young and the Restless, St. John has been in a red hot storyline with two-time Daytime Emmy winner, Eileen Davidson (Ashley Abbott), where Ashley’s sanity is now completely in question., Trevor expressed on sharing scenes with Eileen,”She’s terrific. She’s such a dear person.” St. John is also quite impressed with her recent work, “She’s become so open to the unexpected and the unknown, and that’s where you want to be. She’s a wonderful playmate and a really great person, supportive, and just super talented. I’m very lucky to be working with her.”

The CBS daytime drama currently has the relationship between Tucker and Audra taking several turns. St. John shares he is not sure where it’s ultimately leading,”That’s very difficult to say. When I get these scripts, I’m surprised as the audience. So I’m intrigued. Tucker has definitely some legitimately strong feelings for Audra.  She’s his best friend. She might be his only friend. The connection with Audra is profound. Whether he can communicate it, whether she can communicate, is another matter. But there’s something inherent there, something built up over years.”

Photo: JPI

So, just how is working with Audra’s portrayer, Zuleka Silver? Trevor remarked, “I just adore her. I light up when I’m around her. She’s just a lovely person and talented and we have great fun together. I like to tease her a little bit, but she’s also open to the unexpected, which for me, if you’re any good, you gotta be prepared for curve balls, you know, because as a human being you don’t know what’s gonna happen next. If you’re a good actor, you’re receptive to all of that, and she’s like that. ”

Photo: JPI

Back on Christmas Eve of 2023, Trevor’s former One Life to Live castmate, Kamar de los Reyes (ex-Antonio), passed away after his battle with cancer at the age of 56.  St. John opened up on this personal loss, explaining, “That was hard. He was a good friend of mine, a dear friend. I miss him. I miss him terribly. It still hasn’t even penetrated completely that he’s gone. It’s just that stage where you don’t believe it. He was a beautiful man. I saw Sherrie recently and she’s doing okay, all things considered. She’s got a nice support system. My heart breaks for her, and his family, and his boys. I appreciate you asking. It’s been very difficult.”

Photo: JPI

In case you missed it, watch the full interview with Trevor below, followed by the trailer for A Good Enough Day. 

Now let us know, if and when you watch Trevor’s film what was your reaction to it? Then, who do you want Tucker to end up with on Y&R? Audra, Ashley or someone else? Let us know in the comment section.

 

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Video Du Jour

Peter Reckell returns for a second visit with Michael Fairman following the wrap-up of his recent run as Bo Brady on Days of our Lives.Leave A Comment

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