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THE KELLI MCCARTY INTERVIEW – EX-PASSIONS

She was a former Miss USA hailing from Kansas, and played the whacked-out Beth Wallace on the now defunct soap “Passions” from 1999 to 2006. Now she has taken her career in a new direction, which is an adult film star. This stunning revelation has rocked the mainstream and soap press for the last few weeks, with the bombshell of the release of her first porn title, “Faithless: From Beauty Queen to Porn Queen” on February 4th. Kelli has appeared on many of the top entertainment news shows due to this unconventional choice in her career path.

“On-Air On-Soaps” however, caught up with her in a bit of a different atmosphere than a porn set. This past Saturday, Kelli was the guest host with the famed Los Angeles, ACME Comedy Theatre Sketch Comedy Troupe. She participated in their “Saturday Night Live” weekly take-off; the highly successful, ACME This Week. Kelli,
who has a background in improv and
riding the wave of PR for “Faithless”,
showed the audience that an ex-beauty
queen, soap star, and current porn star,
could also be innately. . . funny!

In this very revealing interview, Kelli chats with me about her decision to enter Porn, her parents, friends and former “Passion’s” cast mates reactions, how she cast the film, what it’s like shooting sex scenes, the code of ethics in the adult film industry, and being the former Miss USA to boot. From her humble beginnings in Middle America to a XXX adult film, I think we can safely say, “Kelli, you are not in Kansas anymore.”

kelliMain.jpgListen to the audio:

[display_podcast]

MICHAEL:

I’m with Kelli McCarty backstage after her performance at the ACME Comedy Theatre. First off, how it did feel being up there doing sketch comedy? What skits did you enjoy appearing in?

KELLI:

I loved being up on stage. It’s the first time I did sketch comedy, and it was definitely intimidating, but I was looking forward to it. They actually did not tell me there was a teleprompter. So I was overly prepared, as far as knowing my lines, which was cool. But I loved doing the spoof on pageant moms. As Miss USA while traveling, I met so many pageant moms and stage mothers, and they really are out of their minds sometimes. So, it was fun to take that over the top and put a spin on it.

MICHAEL:

Now what about all the preparation the troupe does for the show, since you did a porn movie and that would be something they would spoof. Were they asking you “Yay” or “Nay,” for approval about certain skits? How does that work?

KELLI:

They threw 20 sketches at me, some spoofing the pageant and some spoofing the porn. Then we did pick and choose what were the funniest ones of all of them.

faithless.jpgMICHAEL:

This has been a whirlwind for you, since you released your porn film, “Faithless”. There is so much publicity, and obviously, that was the plan. Now when you look at what’s happened because of it, are you uneasy about it? How do you feel at this point, honestly?

KELLI:

Honestly, when I decided to get into the adult film industry, I knew it was going to cause a bit of a stir, not only in the pageant world, but the soap world and press world in general. I’m really happy about what happened. I want to let people know you can do mainstream entertainment and then go into the adult world and then go right back. In the meantime, I am talking to a lot of different people in radio and television, and it’s cool. We are getting offers from mainstream
shows when they weren’t interested before.
The phone is ringing a lot, which I always
think is positive.

MICHAEL:

Did you do “Faithless” partly to jump-start your career post-“Passions”? Is that why you decided to get into the adult film business?

KELLI:

I did not do an adult film to jump-start my career. I just did it because I thought it would be interesting. I was sort of bored, and one day I woke up and I thought, “You know, I want to know what it would be like to be a porn star, and let me see if I could make that happen.” So I approached Vivid Entertainment, and they said they would like to work with me and it went from there.

MICHAEL:

Did you create the concept and script for your XXX film, “Faithless”?

KELLI:

I went to Vivid with the idea for a storyline and they put me in touch with the writers. So I had it in my contract that I would also cast the movie and help edit the movie, and have final approval over everything….

MICHAEL:

…With you putting people on, “The Casting Couch”?

kelliWinston.jpgKELLI:

Yes, I put them on the, “The Casting Couch”.

MICHAEL:

You obviously picked the people you wanted to have sex with, since you were involved in the casting process. How did you choose? What were your criteria?

KELLI:

If I am not attracted to someone, I am not going to want to have sex with him, and especially on camera. I wanted it to come off very real and passionate. So I waited till the right guys walked in the room and I said, “OK. Perfect! That’s who I am going to go with,” and they agreed.

MICHAEL:

There are people who like to do voyeuristic amateur porn in their homes, and like to watch themselves having sex. Were you like that? Voyeuristic sexually, as a woman? Did doing this film fulfill that in a way for you?

KELLI:

I am not a voyeuristic person in general. I really hate watching myself on-camera doing anything, whether it’s with my clothes on or off. So this was not about that at all. I did sit in the editing booth for hours. I sort of had to disconnect and try to make this the best that I can, so it was not the most fun for me to watch myself.

MICHAEL:

Ok, so now when you see the film and you watch it back, do you look at it like actors do, who are sometimes uncomfortable watching their work?

KELLI:

I am really critical and hard on myself. I could knit-pick forever, and at the end of the day I had to say, “I am really happy with this and let’s release the movie.” Otherwise, I could keep tweaking it forever and it would never get released for years.

MICHAEL:

You went from Miss USA, to a successful soap career and mainstream acting, to porn. Some people may not understand this interesting journey.

KELLI:

Well, for me, life should be interesting. My motto is, “Let’s just mix it up,” and I don’t want to feel I am being pigeonholed for the rest of my life. So, I would encourage other people to step outside whatever they are doing and say, “You know what? This is what I have always been interested in, and let me explore something else,” not necessarily adult films, but in general. Life is too short.

Galen2.jpgMICHAEL:

What are your ex-“Passions” co-stars saying?

KELLI:

I have not spoken to any of them.

MICHAEL:

None of them?

KELLI:

None of them. They have not face booked me or called me. Nothing! I guess they do not know what to say to me. That’s my guess. I expected to get a lot of calls, and I have gotten very few.

MICHAEL:

Once you got into doing the production on the film, was there one part of it that you realized was not comfortable for you and you had to overcome it, like an actress would have to overcome some obstacle playing a scene?

KELLI:

It wasn’t really uncomfortable; it was more funny to me and different, because on a regular set you are going to go grab some potato chips and a cup of coffee, and going to Kraft services. And a couple of times during the sex scenes they yelled, “Cut” and they were changing their lighting. I was going to go get a bottle of water and I look over and my co-star was “keeping himself up” sort of speak, to continue the scene. When the “five” was over, I was like, “Well, that has never happened to me on the “Passion’s set.” So it was silly and I laughed out loud. There are no “fluffers” left in the porn industry, so they have to do it themselves.

KelliApe2.jpgMICHAEL:

There was a “No Viagra” clause in the performer’s contracts, right?

KELLI:

In this day and age, a lot of porn stars do take sexual enhancers, but I wanted it to be very real. I did not want to be having sex for an hour or three or four on camera. I just did not want to go there. It was overwhelming for me to begin with. I needed it to be as tame as possible, and it still came out very sexy, but I had to taper the time limit.

MICHAEL:

There is this whole adult film industry protocol, that they test you for STD’s, correct?

KELLI:

The porn industry is completely pro ‘safe sex’. If people are not getting tested, they are not going to work. If they do not have a clean bill of health, month after month, they are not going to work.

MICHAEL:

So, does the production company check that?

KELLI:

The production company has it as a requirement overall in the sex industry, so they are not playing around. They are in the business to work. They have to do the blood and urine tests monthly, and they are not taking any chances, otherwise their livelihood is gone.

kathleen.jpgMICHAEL:

How do you look back on your time on the soap “Passions”? Were you sad when they killed you off as Beth Wallace in 2006?

KELLI:

I was disappointed that they killed me off

MICHAEL:

She was wacky!

KELLI:

Yeah, she was psycho, and that’s the next step. When your character is crazy, they blow you up on a train or something. They were talking about bringing my character back to life, but they canceled the show. So I did not have a chance to come back, but it was a great run, and I would not trade it for the world. It was a great experience.

MICHAEL:

Was it fun working with on-screen mom, soap vet Kathleen Noone (Ex-Edna)?

KELLI:

It was fun working with her. She is a pro and has been a long time. She definitely added spunk to the show.

MICHAEL:

Where do you keep your crown from your win as Miss USA 1991?

usa91b.jpgKELLI:

The crown is kept very safe at my parent’s house in Texas, and my mom keeps a very watchful eye on it.

MICHAEL:

Do you still look back on how cool it was? Or, do you now think about all the stigmas that some people attach or think about beauty pageants? Do you have a different perspective on it?

KELLI:

I don’t know specifically what other people think, but for me, it was an amazing experience. I met so many people and traveled around the world. It made my
mom really happy to see me win, and
that’s important, too.

MICHAEL:

Do your parents know about your new porn career? If so, what have they said to you?

KELLI:

My dad has not said anything, like “no comment”, and he’s fine. I don’t think most porn stars talk to their dads about their sex life or working careers. My mom is very supportive and a cool woman. That’s how she raised me, to do what I want and to make things happen, so that is what I am doing.

MICHAEL:

Will you do more adult films?

KELLI:

I do not know if I will do more. I am seeing how this movie turns out. I might end up writing some or directing some. I might want to write and direct again. We will see how this movie does and go from there.

MICHAEL:

In closing, what would you want people to take away from this interview, for those who might say, “I can’t believe she is doing this? What’s with her?”

KELLI:

I would say, what’s with me is, I do whatever I want to do as long as I am not hurting other people. I would encourage everyone to do that. This was not something I expected to do for years and years. It just came to me one day. I just made it happen. Hopefully, people will like the movie, and if they are not supportive, then they don’t have to watch it.

kelliJohnMcKee.jpgMICHAEL:

You have this rockin’ body. So are you picky about what you eat and what you look like? You know, many people obsess about their body. Do you get like that because you are nude in front of the camera and in show business?

KELLI:

I don’t obsess over anything except my dogs. I do Yoga. I have been doing it for ten years, and I take care of myself. I do allow myself to eat what I want in moderation. I am from Kansas. I was raised on fried chicken and potatoes and I still eat and cook that type of stuff.

MICHAEL:

But you are OK with seeing yourself naked in movies? (He laughs)

KELLI:

I don’t think I would have chosen to do an adult film if I had any reservations. (She laughs)

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I wonder what her kids will tell her mom when they grow up and by accident buy a porn movie called “Faithless” and see their mom f*cked with different guys.
Anyway It’s very good porn =)

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Cady McClain & Rob Scott Wilson Talk Being Recasts, All My Children Reboot, Future of Cin & Jennifer’s Bitch-Slap

Current Days of our Lives and former All My Children reboot stars, Cady McClain (Jennifer, Days, Ex-Dixie, AMC) and Rob Scott Wilson (Ben, Days, Ex-Pete AMC) chat with Michael Fairman in an enlightening and exclusive conversation for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

McClain, who recently took over the role of Days of our Lives beloved heroine Jennifer Horton from mainstay Melissa Reeves (who chose to stay with her family in Nashville during Covid-19 thus forcing the series to recast the role for now) talks about stepping into the key part of the Salem canvas, plus the recent Jennifer/Kate fight over Jack (Matthew Ashford), and how the legacy series is coping with production during Covid-19.

Cady is no stranger to be a recast.  She was the second actress to play Dixie on ABC’s All My Children, as well as the second actress to play Rosanna on As the World Turns, and she had previously taken over the role of Kelly Andrews on The Young and the Restless.

Photo: JPI

Rob, talks about landing the role of Ben and being a recast, and in an emotional moment, reveals how he credits the opportunity to the late producer, Lisa de Cazotte. Wilson also shares his hopes for his Salem alter-ego who is struggling to move on with his life after the supposed death of his wife, Ciara.

The actor also opens up on if DAYS decided to recast the role of Ciara, since Victoria Konefal is not presently with the NBC soap full-time, how he would feel about it and thus the future of Cin.

Photo: JPI

Both Cady and Rob first appeared together in Prospect Park’s online revival of All My Children. In this interview, they discuss how they had high hopes for the continuation of the series, how it ultimately fizzled, and what it was like to be a part of the then, groundbreaking first, for a daytime drama series along with One Life to Live.

Photo: TOLN

In addition, Cady gives the viewer insight on how she runs lines for both DAYS and GH at home with her real-life husband, Jon Lindstrom (Kevin and Ryan, GH), while Rob talks about his recent storyline where Ben was kidnapped and tortured by a vengeful Eve (Kassie DePavia) and much more.

Check out the full chat with Cady and Rob below. Then weigh-in: How would you feel if there was a Ciara recast? What are your hopes for the holidays for Jennifer? What did you think of the stories shared by Cady and Rob in the interview? Comment below, and if you have not done so already make sure to “subscribe” to the Michael Fairman Channel for more celebrity interviews.

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Interviews

B&B’s Matthew Atkinson Weighs-In On Daytime’s Wildest Storyline, The Hope Mannequin & What’s Really Going On With Thomas

If you think you’ve seen it all on daytime soap operas, think again! Over the past several weeks viewers of CBS Daytime’s The Bold and the Beautiful have been witness to fashion designer Thomas Forrester’s (Matthew Atkinson) descent into madness, or is it?

In B&B’s thriller-esque storyline, complete with tight close-ups and tilted angles of Thomas and his co-star, the Hope Mannequin – yup, you read that right, the series is taking the audience on one wild ride, something we have not seen the likes of since back in the hey day of the late head writer, James Reilly, during his tenure on Days of our Lives or Passions.

Photo: JPI

Inspired by, believe it or not, true life events, B&B’s head writer and executive producer, Brad Bell and his creative team have served up a story generated off all of the buzz the show was receiving for using mannequins as scene partners for the actors in intimate moments to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.  B&B was the first American show back in production amid the pandemic.

 

Within this twisted tale, Thomas has the life-like version of Hope Logan Spencer (Annika Noelle) at home with him.  Those who have stumbled upon him with the mannequin, well, he has been able to explain that away by saying that having the doll with him is helping him create some of the best designs of his career.

The problem is the mannequin is talking to Thomas, it’s eyes have often turned devil-red, and on Friday’s episode it walked!  It’s objective is to get Thomas to kill Liam (Scott Clifton) and to get Hope back to be his one and only. Throughout many of the scenes in the storyline, Thomas suffers from what appears to be severe headaches.  All of this leading the audience to believe either … he has a brain tumor … he is being drugged … he is suffering from a severe mental break and disorder, or something else.

Photo: JPI

In a very candid and often humorous conversation with Michael Fairman for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Thomas’ portrayer, Matthew Atkinson, discusses some of the craziest scenes to shoot thus far including Thomas having dinner with the mannequin!  In addition, Atkinson reveals how he and Annika Noelle tape the scenes where she is the voice of the Hope mannequin while adhering to safety protocols,  and how Liam is the only one, apparently, thinking something is off with Thomas, and so much more.

Photo: Gilles Toucas

One thing is for certain, Matthew Atkinson is sinking his teeth into the material and making it must-see daytime drama through his performances while we all wait to see what the possessed mannequin does next.

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

Then let us know, what do you think is happening or wrong with Thomas? Are you getting a kick out of the Hope Mannequin storyline? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

 

 

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Interviews

Eric Nelsen Talks Latest Film, Becoming a Tony-Nominated Producer, ‘The Bay’, and His Elizabeth Gillies & Ariana Grande Connection

You can catch All My Children reboot alum, Eric Nelsen (Ex-AJ Chandler), just about everywhere this month, and that’s hard to do given that we are all living in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this Daytime Emmy-winning actor has his hands in a myriad of projects of late including: appearing on season six of The Bay (new episodes every Tuesday on Popstar! TV) where he continues to play Daniel’s journey after the character has come to terms with his sexuality and finds love, plus his comedic turn in the film, 1 Night in San Diego, and recently becoming a Tony-nominated producer along with his wife Sainty for the critically-acclaimed, and now 11 times nominated Broadway play, The Inheritance.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Eric to get the lowdown on his busy professional life, and we were in for some surprises along the way including: what the producers of AMC had in mind for the character of AJ that ultimately did not happen, and that Eric starred on Broadway with Elizabeth Gillies (Fallon, Dynasty) and Pop superstar, Ariana Grande – and there’s more to that story below.

 

What makes Nelsen so good at what he does on-screen is that he is a like a chameleon; adept at playing the quirky, to the troubled bad boys, to the emotional heart-tugging anti-hero. So here’s what Eric had to say in this fascinating conversation.

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

Your latest film appearance in 1 Night in San Diego is out this week on multiple streaming on-demand platforms from: Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and more. Tell me about the movie and when did you film this?

ERIC:  We filmed it near San Diego, not this past February, but last February, and it’s hilarious.  It’s a female-driven comedy.  The cast is incredible.  Alexandra Daddario, who is just epic, and Jenna Ushkowitz, and Laura Ashley Samuels, they truly bring it in this powerhouse comedy, and it’s just one of those make-you -laugh movies from beginning to end, just silly, stupid stuff happening the whole time.  General Hospital’s Mark Lawson (Dustin) is also in the film.  While we don’t work in scenes together, I did get a chance to meet him and he’s a really great guy.  I play this off-the-wall character, named Gordo, who is a real burn-out, think Matthew McConaughey meets space cadet, which was a lot of fun to play.  Gordo is a great role.  I had more fun with this part than I’ve had in a long time.  So, it was cool to throw a comedy into all of the drama I have been playing in my other projects.

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

ERIC:  One of the girls knew him back in the day, so they were in town looking to reconnect, and she’s like, “Oh, we want to party and let’s hit up Gordo,” and they do.  He has just gone completely off the rails, off the deep end with spirituality and kind of in his own world. They find themselves in quite a predicament when they come visit what they didn’t know was a commune, basically.  Gordo creates this hippie commune for a bunch of outcast musicians, (laughs) and I don’t want to give too much away, but a lot of interesting stuff happens there.

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

In addition, you are now a Tony-nominated producer for the play The Inheritance!

ERIC: That was crazy, because it’s always been a dream of mine to produce for Broadway.  That was how I got into the world of film and TV acting, which was through the theatre.  That’s where I started.  I was lucky enough to star on Broadway when I was 16 and 17, in a musical called, 13.  I started with Ariana Grande! It was so fun.

Wait, what?

ERIC:  Yeah, that was her first big show, and Elizabeth Gillies’.

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

ERIC:  Oh yeah, and you know she and I dated for two and a half years during the whole run of the show 13.  Elizabeth is very talented.   She is amazing.  The funny part of it is, we were dating forever, and kind of had a bad breakup, and then Sainty, my wife, gets cast in her show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, in the pilot to play Liz’s best friend on the series.  So, all of the sudden, I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, out of all the shows, all of the things, this is who you have to get cast as best friends with?” and so they actually became really, really, close friends.  So, I’d actually come home from work or filming, and Liz would be on my couch sitting there giggling with Sainty.  I’m like, “This is just becoming too much.  This is a full-circle moment here.  I can’t deal.” (Laughs)

Now, you and Elizabeth are broken up at this point?

ERIC:  Yes.  We had been broken up at this point.  Sainty and I were actually together.  I started dating Sainty in New York and the pilot she was shooting was in New York, and she gets cast as Liz’s best friend, and I was like, “Oh, of course.”

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

ERIC:  Yes, so dying.  Dying.   You know, it’s just one of those things that in a million years, you would never expect this to happen, and of course, Sainty and her had to become best friends in real life because they’re both great girls, and naturally, they would be friends, but now, I’m like this guy stuck in the middle who can’t believe what’s happening, and thought that was one chapter, and this is a different chapter, and now the chapters are combining.  It’s kind of a comedy act.

Photo: JPI

Since Ariana Grande was on Broadway with you and Liz, what was she like back then before her meteoric rise to fame?

ERIC:  Ariana was literally the sweetest, most innocent, and cutest – like my little sister.   To me, it was like, Liz and I were dating, and Ari was kind of like the little sister.  All of a sudden the show ended. Ariana got a Nickelodeon show, and after that, she became the most famous person in the world and was like this sex icon, and I couldn’t get over it.   She’s always had that talent with her voice and in 13 she was an ensemble member.  She wasn’t even one of the leads, but her voice was so incredible, even then as a young teenager.  I thought she was going to go on to have this great Broadway career as an actress and do musicals her whole life just because of her voice.  Then, all of the sudden, right after the musical, we all auditioned for the same Nickelodeon show.  I ended up going to the finals for the boyfriend role, Liz got the girlfriend role, and Ari got the funny friend on the show role.  That kind of catapulted them into the TV world, and Ari got a spinoff because of her character on that show for another Nickelodeon show, called Sam and Cat, and then after Sam and Cat, she went from this innocent, sweet, little Nickelodeon girl that I knew to being the biggest star.  It was unbelievable to me.

Photo: Broadway World

So, you started on Broadway as a teenager, and you found you always wanted to produce for the Great White Way? 

ERIC:  Yes, I did the Broadway thing, and then I got into film and TV, and then I got into film and TV producing.  As an actor, there are a lot of ups, a lot of downs.  So, in between the ups, I wanted to fill my time, so I got into producing, and I loved it.  I loved creating.  As an actor, we just show up, and everything is already done.  All we have to do is say our lines.  We get pampered, and we go home, but I wanted to know how it got to that point, like what happens before that.  So, I started producing film and found some success doing that, and it was so much fun for me.  Sainty’s and my first love, and what feels like home, is theatre.  So, I wanted to take it full circle and produce a Broadway show.  I just thought that would be such an incredible moment, and so that’s what I did.  I started emailing all of the Broadway producers who I had worked with as an actor, letting them know what I had been doing, kind of the success I had gotten from producing The Bay and some of these other things. Different shows came across my desk that I didn’t quite bite the bullet on, a couple of which I wish I would have, Dear Evan Hansen being one of them.  I would have been so rich by now!  (Laughs)

I just want to clarify for people who might not know, the word “producer” can mean different things.  There are “producers” who are putting money in … they’re backing projects or shows.  There are other people who are “producers” on the creative side of projects.  So, when you’re talking about producing a Broadway show, it is as an investor?

ERIC:  So for theatre, unless you’re the head producer who kind of gets creative control, every other producer listed in the credits is basically helping raise finances and is also very heavily involved in the process of everything else along the way, which is also what makes it special.  So finally, The Inheritance came across our desk, and it checked every single box.  It was just an epic play.  It’s a two-part play, and it’s just hours and hours and hours long.  You see it in multiple days or in multiple shows.  I remember reading the script and not stopping until I finished.  I was like, “This is amazing,” and it had just come off of a huge commercial successful run in London.  It won the Olivier Award for “Best New Play” and just about every other award you could win, and so I was like, “This is the one.  This is incredible.  I love the piece, love the message, and pulled the trigger,” and I would have done it all over again if we could.

Photo: Broadway World

The Inheritance is a generational piece centering on gay men during the AIDS crisis.  What can you say about it to those who don’t know about it, or have not seen it yet?

ERIC:  It takes place in the past, and then it fasts forward to the future.  You see two generations of gay men in New York City, and it’s all about the AIDS crisis, and so you’re bawling crying, and then you’re laughing throughout it.  It’s just one of those epic plays that pulls at every single emotion and you feel like you’re watching a movie.

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s definitely its own thing.  It’s actually an adaptation of Howard’s End, the novel by Forster, definitely different from Angels in America, but the two-part show is kind of what I was meaning by that.  People have said it is kind of our generation’s Angel’s in America in tone and subject matter.  It was just a dream come true, and like all other theatre that was open during our season, it had to close because of the pandemic, and it will have life after Broadway.  We are already slated for the Geffen Playhouse in LA, so I’m very excited for all of my LA friends and the public to get to see it.

Courtesy/ENelsen

And you get nominated in the year that the coronavirus pandemic shut down live theatre! But it is my understanding we still do not have a date for handing out this year’s Tony Awards.

ERIC:  No, we do not.  They finally announced that they were going to announce nominations, and for a while we didn’t even know that they were going to do that.  We received 11 nominations, which is incredible.  We were so excited.  I truly thought the American Theatre Wing and the Tony committee were not going to do the Tonys at all, and so we were just like, “I can’t believe the one year we pull the trigger on the show, this isn’t going to happen for us,” but then thank God, they came to their senses.  There were plenty of shows that opened and needed to be recognized.

How long was it open on Broadway?

ERIC:  We were open from September 2019 through February or March.  So, as long as your submission was open on Broadway before Covid-19 and had at least all of its previews and an opening night before Covid-19 hit, then you could qualify, and then in the play category, there were like 10 plays that had opened last year that were contenders.  So, that was definitely the hardest category.   It will be interesting to see what happens after all of this.  The only good thing I know that is going to come from this is the amount of creatives who have had so much time sitting at home to create and write, that there will be so many new scripts and plays and musicals that are going to come from this.  I think it’s’ going to be the biggest boom that we’ve probably ever seen in theatre, just because there’s been so much time to develop stuff.  At the same time, it’s piggybacking on the darkest time that theatre has ever seen.

Throughout the pandemic, I always stream all of the Broadway Actor’s Fund events.  It’s really sad.  It’s just a difficult time, those in the arts are struggling and especially in the live theatre and also musicians who can’t tour or play gigs in front of an audience. I know they said Broadway is closed through May 31, 2021.

ERIC:  It is really hard.  I’m happy that we are able to find other ways like streaming shows.  I’m actually producing a big benefit for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS that will be airing on World AIDS Day, December 1st.  It’s a show called Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.  The cast we have is everybody from Nathan Lane, to Academy Award winner J. K. Simmons.  It’s insane.  It will be streaming online on the Broadway HD network.  It is a huge list of Broadway stars and a lot of movie and TV stars as well that are participating.  We’ve got people from all over the map.

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

ERIC:  (Laughs)  Ari is not in it, actually!

Photo: Prospect Park

So, in this week’s latest episode of The Bay, your character of Daniel Garrett makes his final choice for love between Caleb (Mike Manning) and Matthew (Randy Wayne).  When you came to the show, did you know that this part was going to wind-up being a gay character?

ERIC:  No, I did not.  I think I dropped a bird in Gregori Martin’s (creator, The Bay) ear by telling him that before All My Children ended, they were going to have my character of AJ Chandler have a storyline where he is gay.  The producers sat me down and talked through an entire storyline arc with me.  Basically, Ginger Smith (ex-executive producer, All My Children) and Alison, our casting director, and one other person from the show, took me to lunch in New York. They pitched me what they wanted to do for my character, and asked me if I would be comfortable with it, and they wanted my opinion, everything.  It was really cool how they approached it, and I was like, “100% completely.”  I look at what Chandler Massey (Ex-Will Horton) did on Days and where that brought him and his storyline, and I thought, “Yes, there’s going to be so much more depth and stuff to play than just being this fun little rich kid.”  At the time, there really wasn’t much depth to AJ.  So, I was like, “Yes.  I will be all over it.  Absolutely.”  So, I told Gregori that, and I don’t know if he already had something in his mind or not, or if that influenced it at all, but maybe he just figured that was something that would work well, and up till that point, I guess they didn’t really have that on the show.  Regardless, no, I wasn’t aware that that was the direction it was going in, but I was really happy with my storyline and it’s grown a lot since then, and in this current season especially.  It’s really given me an arc to play, which I’ve enjoyed.

Photo: LANYEntertainment

So for those who may not know let’s do a re-set.  Where is the character of Daniel at? It seems like he is at crossroads, and is making some important decisions, or trying to.

ERIC:  So Daniel was a wild party boy in the beginning, just head in the clouds, lives life with thinking there’s no repercussions and just doing what you want to do all of the time, and that got him into a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol. Then, we realize why Daniel has been the way he is, and why he acts out, and why he has been so all over the place, and it’s because he hasn’t been able to come to terms with who he is.  Then, he admits it to himself and for the first time to somebody else – who happens to be his priest in a catholic church, ironically –  that he is gay and this is what he has been battling with.  For the first time (and I don’t know where on television it has depicted it this way), but the catholic priest looks at Daniel, and he’s like, “What’s your sin?  You haven’t sinned.  This is perfectly fine.”  So, I love that Gregori made that the outlet for which Daniel was able to basically come to terms with who he was, because he grew up in the church, and so he was always told that it was wrong.  Obviously, it’s not wrong, or obviously the church needs to change their mindset, but on The Bay, he chose that to be the outlet through which he came out, which I thought was really powerful.  Through that, Daniel experimented with other boys and such to figure out where he wanted to land, and then in this newest season, I can’t say much that gives anything away, but for the first time, we really see Daniel’s growth, and he’s making decisions, and the most mature we’ve ever seen him, and it’s been really cool to see that come full circle.  He’s making commitments to himself.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

ERIC:  Obviously, that’s who it works with,  Caleb is a teacher and a great guy.

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

ERIC:  He is… he’s just not the great guy for him.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

This season of The Bay is heavily steeped with social issues of our time.  Covid-19 has come to Bay City and the Black Lives Matter movement also plays prominently.

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s kind of the beginning of the pandemic in The Bay and within all of the intense drama that Daniel has been having, he is still, for all intent and purposes the comedic relief of the show, and so there is a funny scene where I’m carrying like 28,000 rolls of toilet paper like, “Come on, guys.  We’ve got to stock up!”  We all remember those days, don’t we?

Photo: JPI

How do you feel about this season of the show and your work in it? You’ve previously won a Daytime Emmy for your performances on The Bay.

ERIC:  This season is more cemented in a character that has truly grounded himself.  So, the first Emmy I won was for a storyline of coming out and uncertainty and struggle and pain, whereas this season Daniel knows what he wants and is going for it.  There is much more passion and love in this season for Daniel, as opposed to struggle and heartache.

The cast and crew of The Bay all went away and quarantined at this ranch this past summer to get the new season completed.  What was that like?

ERIC:  We were actually in Santa Barbara, and filmed on this epic ranch up there.  It’s like this 500-acre ranch that we all quarantined on.  We had to do the testing, and temperatures three times a day, and the whole thing.  So, it was really structured, tough to pull off, but we were all so grateful that we were able to do this.  Luckily, we had this incredible kind of bubble of a ranch to live and work on while we were shooting.  They were really good about block shooting it all, so we’d kind of shoot one person’s character, then the next, so we wouldn’t have to ever be leaving the ranch before we were done.

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

ERIC:  Oh, it’s amazing.  I just can’t believe how fast the time is flying by because of it.  We just had Molly’s first birthday on October 1st, and I feel like yesterday she was born.  I sound like my parents when I say this, but it’s like the time keeps getting faster, but it’s so true.  She’s awesome.  We play Broadway musical soundtracks to her all day, and she sings.  She sits at the piano with me when I play, and she kind of plunks notes out next to me.  She loves music, and we’ve introduced it to her from day one.  We always joke that she won’t be able to watch any of daddy’s stuff until she’s 18 probably, but Sainty is a voice-over actress.  She has done parts for animated films and TV shows such as Trolls, and Barbie, and Boss Baby, so everything from the first part of my daughter’s life is all going to be Mommy’s stuff, and then, in the later part of life she can start watching Daddy’s stuff.

Right, she can’t watch anything that you do!  (Laughs) So, basically forget that!

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

Check out the trailer for 1 Night in San Diego below.  Then share your thoughts on Eric’s current role on The Bay, if you hope he wins a Tony to go with his Daytime Emmy, the six degrees of separation between him, Elizabeth Gillies and his wife, and that the All My Children reboot considered making the character of AJ Chandler gay via the comment section below.

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