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THE KIMBERLY MCCULLOUGH INTERVIEW – GENERAL HOSPITAL

Kimberly straigt hair.jpgJUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED

Kimberly McCullough serves up her prescription for soap success!

By Michael Fairman

Year after year, Daytime Emmy award winner Kimberly McCullough has been heralded for her moving, brave and believable performance of Dr. Robin Scorpio, the HIV-positive heroine on ABC’s General Hospital and its prime-time spin-off GH: NightShift.

Her HIV storyline began back in 1995 when she contracted HIV after having unprotected sex with then-boyfriend Stone Cates. What followed was one of the most compelling and moving portraits ever seen on daytime television. Robin not only had to watch her boyfriend die of AIDS, she also had to find the courage to cope and live with what had befallen her. This fall, Robin’s storyline marks another first for daytime soaps—she gives birth to her own child. Through her remarkable portrayal, Kimberly has been a constant in the fight against AIDS, as well as a hard-working actress and humanitarian. No stranger to the spotlight, this month she delivers the opening speech at AIDS Walk LA.

Listen to the audio:

MICHAEL:

Kimberly, you play the historic character of Dr. Robin Scorpio, the only HIV+ long running character on a daytime soap. It carries a lot of social importance, because people watch to see how Robin deals with her life and the issues surrounding living with HIV. How do you feel about that?

pregnant.jpgKIMBERLY:

I think it’s exciting, and it’s a different kind of attention that is paid to it. It’s just not the lover relationship storyline, because things have changed so much since when my character, Robin, was diagnosed. So, that is really cool.

MICHAEL:

Robin is living with HIV, and now is an expectant mother. How far do you think we have come since AIDS was first diagnosed and portrayed on television, to now in 2008?

KIMBERLY:

We didn’t really know much about

it when it first came in to our culture. We have come a long way, and certainly, there is a long way to go. People are living long lives, and that’s why the baby storyline is important, because most people don’t know that HIV+ women can have healthy babies.

MICHAEL:

Did you do a lot of research on pregnant women with HIV? God willing, in the “GH” storyline, will Robin have a healthy baby?

KIMBERLY:

From the beginning of the story, they have been as responsible as they can be, and because it is an HIV related story, you want to give people hope. I don’t foresee the baby being positive. I think the smarter thing would be, to portray a baby that was healthy.

MICHAEL:

When you first learned that “GH” was going to give your character, Robin, HIV+, how did you feel about that?

KIMBERLY:

That was 15 years ago, and I knew nothing about AIDS at the time. As far as character development, I thought it was really ballsy and a good idea.

MICHAEL:

Have you received any feedback from HIV+ women who are pregnant, and who are thrilled that you are portraying their concerns and struggles?

Patrick and Robin.jpg

KIMBERLY:

I have talked to a few HIV+ women who have children. I think they are just happy to see anyone who is going through something difficult, portrayed appropriately in the media. They want an actress to play it positively on TV. It helps them to relate to the character. This one woman was telling me that her kids were being made fun of in school, and other mothers’ would not let them look at their kids when they had AIDS, when in fact, they didn’t at all. It would be so cool if those people could watch the show. Entertainment has a way of getting into the minds of people who generally wouldn’t think that way.

MICHAEL:

On “GH” Robin is involved with Dr. Patrick Drake, who is HIV-. In their relationship, Robin is a very independent woman who seems to be resistant to marrying the man she loves and who wants to marry her. There seems to be so many manufactured arguments to keep them apart. Why?

KIMBERLY:

It’s very manufactured… it’s drama and soap. In general, Patrick and Robin have a more realistic relationship, meaning a relationship you would find in real life, which I like. It’s not too campy and over-the-top. Their problems are real problems; not some bad guy is going to kill them, and it’s not some, “Who’s the daddy?” story. It’s a real issue that people deal with, whether it is AIDS, or some other sexually transmitted disease.

MICHAEL:

Why is Robin constantly declining Patrick’s beautiful marriage proposals?

KIMBERLY:

I think it’s just for drama, and I have to justify it as an actress to portray it, but it’s like… finally, she does.

MICHAEL:

Why does Robin finally say, “Yes”?

KIMBERLY:

Her issue was that she thought Patrick was doing it because he should, not because he really wanted to. In a way, I do understand, because I do have a lot of similar issues to Robin… the intimacy issues and things like that. But it’s true, when you are dealing with somebody like that, you have to prove it to the ‘Nth’ degree before they believe it, you know.

MICHAEL:

But, she’s damaged because of other relationships; she’s afraid she could lose somebody or dies, and not be there for her child. Is that put into how you portray your character?

KIMBERLY:

Yes, because for her, Patrick committing to Robin, and the prospect that she might die and she may leave him alone, she knows what that feels like. I think ultimately why she does say, “yes” and agrees to marry Patrick is: (A) She does believe he really wants to marry her. And (B) if the worst thing was to happen, and they were to get married, and she dies, he would have rights to the child. Otherwise, he wouldn’t. And (C) She wants to be married.

JaggerandRobin.jpgMICHAEL:

On “GH NightShift”, in a recent episode Robin was talking to Jagger (Antonio Sabato Jr) about his brother and her ex-lover Stone, who died of AIDS on the show. Patrick overheard that perhaps it might have been better if both Patrick and she were HIV+. It was a very important scene that I think goes on in real-life with people in those relationship dynamics.

KIMBERLY:

My guess is that it does happen both ways. Some people are OK with it, and some people are not. I have a friend who has Herpes and she deals with that all the time. In a way, it’s a similar issue, but not because AIDS is a lot more serious. You are putting yourself at risk by being intimate with someone, and that can be really scary.

MICHAEL:

You have had three phenomenal leading men on “GH”. The first, of course, was Michael Sutton, who played the HIV+ Stone Cates, and eventually died of AIDS. How was working with him?

KIMBERLY:

It was interesting, because in real life Michael and I were very different. Michael and I had a good working relationship and never hung out outside of work. Mainly, because he was a lot older than me… and a lot cooler than me. I was just a dorky teenager, and he was this hotshot Beverly Hills kid. I was very intimidated by him, but for whatever reason, on camera, it worked.

michaelsutton.jpgMICHAEL:

One of your finest moments as an actress was in the scenes where Stone dies. Do you feel it was some of your best work?

KIMBERLY:

I absolutely do. Thank you for saying that. It was one of those things where the story took over. That’s one of those things, when you play a character so many times and so many days, it sort of becomes ingrained and you don’t really have to act anymore. It takes on a life of its own. Everyone in the studio had been with us, and it was really heavy. Our storyline was about life and death every day. I remember when

we did that scene; the cameramen and the men were crying and sobbing. Everyone was able to relate to what was going on at the time. Everyone knew, especially here in LA, someone who died of AIDS.

MICHAEL:

I lost my two best friends. One died in 1987 and the other passed away in 1989 and that was pretty difficult. I watched them both die. It was hard to say good-bye to them.

KIMBERLY:

Had they made peace with it or were they angry?

MICHAEL:

No, I think in the end they had made peace. I don’t know how they did it. I went to see one of my friends who went back home to die with his parents. My other best friend was in a coma in the hospital before he died. Personally, have you known people who died from it?

KIMBERLY:

I didn’t back then, I was a kid. You also have to remember, as you know, a lot of that stuff was hidden. I had a family member die, and it was not said, “He died of AIDS,” but everyone knew he died of AIDS, you know that kind of thing. People did not talk about it, especially if you were a gay man and your family wasn’t cool with that, you had cancer, not AIDS. I am sure there was more people that I did not know had AIDS, because back then, you could not be as forthcoming about it.

MICHAEL:

Robin was next involved with Jason Morgan, played by Steve Burton. How was working with Steve?

KIMBERLY:

It’s funny. I feel like Steve and I had great chemistry also, but our chemistry was based on a friendship. I felt like we had a lot of fun together, and I felt it was more innocent than the other relationships he had on the show which were all sexually-driven. Because his character, Jason, had amnesia at the time and was re-learning things, it was like we could be more playful and innocent about the whole thing.

Jason Thompson.jpgMICHAEL:

Now you are working with the wonderfully talented Jason Thompson as Patrick!

KIMBERLY:

First of all, we are really good friends in real-life. As an actor, he is willing to experience everything. He is really sensitive and vulnerable.

MICHAEL:

And Jason is a great crier.

KIMBERLY:

There are not a lot of male actors that

want to be seen crying or even go there. Jason also has a great sense of humor,

and for whatever reason, we have a competitive, playful thing that worked from the very beginning. We just have so much fun working together.

MICHAEL:

Over the years, have there been other favorite scenes you’ve had, as Robin?

KIMBERLY:

I had a fun scene that airs on “GH NightShift,” with Tristan Rogers (Robert) who gives me the talk. I don’t know if it happened to you, but it happened to me. It’s where your parents tell you everything they have ever wanted to say because they think they might die. So that was a rough scene for me to do, because I have actually had that experience in real life. It was really successful and beautiful for me. I really liked that scene. Other than that, I really enjoyed the scenes with the girls at Jake’s, drinking shots….

MICHAEL:

…. You’re kidding!

KIMBERLY:

They are really special, because I have formed a lot of great friendships. Kent Masters King (Lanie), Minae Noji (Kelly), Sonya Eddy (Epiphany), Nazanin Boniaidi (Leyla,) and Claire Coffee (Nadine), are all really good friends of mine now.

MICHAEL:

Does portraying a doctor on TV get tiresome, or do you like it?

Kimberlyand girls.jpgKIMBERLY:

I like being a doctor. It was a good challenge coming back to the show. When I was away from the show, I was not able to play my age because I looked like a child. So, it was a good grown-up challenge to come back.

MICHAEL:

Now, with being the face of HIV on daytime soaps, and seeing the current state of affairs with the disease, both domestically and globally, where do you think we’re at, as a country?

KIMBERLY:

It’s rising in young female African American women. That says to me, it’s an education problem, and a lot of that is politics and I won’t go into that.

MICHAEL:

You play such an iconic soap character, as Dr. Robin Scorpio, is there some storyline you would love to do but haven’t had a chance to play?

KIMBERLY:

I think because she wanted to be a mother so badly, it would be interesting if she fumbles through the whole thing, and she really isn’t a good mother. I think it would be really funny. I think it would be fun to play and for her to admit she needs some help.

MICHAEL:

What was your feeling on Robin’s “Video Blog” of her pregnancy? I didn’t like it! It was so ridiculous.

finolaandTristan.jpgKIMBERLY:

I hated it! I thought it was playing down to the lowest common denominator. You could tell I did not like it because I just rambled through all of them.

MICHAEL:

How is it to work with your on-screen mom and dad again on “GH NightShift”, Finola Hughes (Anna) and Tristan Rogers? Will we see more of them when season 2 of the show ends, and will they cross over to “GH”?

KIMBERLY:

It’s awesome. I am pretty sure Finola will be there for the birth and the wedding. It’s just that both Finola and Tristan are such phenomenal actors. They have a very long and complicated history on the show, and fans love to see that, and it’s incredible to watch them work together. They are really good to work with.

MICHAEL:

You have walked in The AIDS Walk before, yes?

KIMBERLY:

I have done it several times in San Francisco, New York, and in Los Angeles lots of times. I am walking this year and we have already raised $30,000 for our team… “Team Scrubs”!

MICHAEL:

Is “Team Scrubs” a fan group? I hear they come to walk from all over the country.

KIMBERLY:

They do come. I am not sure how we are going to do it this year, but the first year anybody could do it and sign up as a team member. Last year, they were able to just donate to the team members. Basically, there is a message board called the, “Scrubs Message Board”, and those people really take it upon themselves to raise money for the team. Whether they walk or not, is up to them.

MICHAEL:

Who might participant this year in AIDS Walk Los Angeles from “GH”?

KIMBERLY:

My guess it would be Jason, Minae, Sonya and me, and it will be those people who essentially work in the hospital on the show.

MICHAEL:

You have been asked to give a speech this year at the beginning of the AIDS Walk.

KIMBERLY:

Yes, at the opening ceremony of the AIDS Walk, and I have no idea exactly of how I am going to say it, but I would like to talk about policy. It’s really important right now because of the upcoming election. Some of my speech will have to do with Robin having a baby on the show and how cool that is.

MICHAEL:

Would you go to Africa and help fight and bring even more awareness to the pandemic of AIDS globally?

KIMBERLY:

Of course I would!

Kimberlyhairup.jpg

MICHAEL:

Will ABC Daytime continue their commitment of telling Robin’s ongoing story?

KIMBERLY:

I think it benefits them. It’s a talking point. I heard Brian Frons (President, ABC Daytime and SOAPnet) make a speech about how soaps are talking about certain issues and he brought up my character. It gives credibility to the soaps, and as long as they believe that, and that they are reaching people, they will continue to tell her story.

MICHAEL:

Are there ever times when you see a script and you don’t agree with the lines and you take issue with it?

KIMBERLY:

Yes, all the time. But, I am just an actress. I am not the writer of the show. I only have so much control. I try to put my two-cents in, and yeah, it’s a television show, and I am not the one in control.

MICHAEL:

Do you believe that “giving back” is important?

KIMBERLY:

I was just talking to my friend about this, because I was watching everyone talking about Sarah Palin on CNN. Oh, my God! I did not know if I wanted to throw up or cry. I am so infuriated. I feel like the main thing that frustrates me, is that sense of, “Well, I worked so hard for it, so I get to keep it.” It’s that whole greed thing. Then, if you are not greedy you are called a Socialist, because you want people to be successful. It’s so far from being a Socialist; it’s not even funny. If you had a lot of money you wouldn’t think twice about helping somebody who doesn’t have it. I think it’s just greed and being self-centered, when people do not give back.

MICHAEL:

Do you contribute to charities and how do you discern which ones to give to?

KIMBERLY:

Anything that moves me at the moment, I do. AIDS is something that happened, and then I became passionate about it because of my career. So, I have given a lot of money to AIDS.

MICHAEL:

Do you remember when your character was first were diagnosed with HIV and the powerful statement that it made with your viewing public?

KIMBERLY:

What comes to mind is when we first started the story, and I was thrust into the world, and that’s when a lot of that stuff would happen. When we would do an, “ABC After-School” special, I was able to get in to all these places, such as hospices and what not, that I would not have normally been exposed to

MICHAEL:

Was it hard to go to hospice?

KIMBERLY:

I am an observer, which is who I am as a person. So, it was kind of interesting to me to see how people handle death, and at that time having no hope. Things have changed. I have heard recently that they are happy that Robin is portrayed as someone who is living their life. They have AIDS, and they are just living their life, but they still come across people who don’t want to be friends with them, and they still have these old, bigoted ideas. You may not think it exists, but it very well does. So, it’s kind of like, “OK, yeah, we have dealt with the issue. We know a lot more about AIDS, and OK, we know you can’t get it with you breathing on me, but at the end of the day I don’t want to be friends with you.” It doesn’t change it that much, except in the community that is educated. That is why the education part is so important, because educated people don’t isolate other people just because they have a disease.

MICHAEL:

For those who don’t know, what are the fundamental differences of shooting the primetime spin-off, “GH NightShift” and the daytime soap, “GH”?

KIMBERLY:

There is a huge difference. I shoot “GH, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I shoot “NightShift” Thursday and Friday. We have more time to shoot on “NightShift”. We have two days to shoot one episode, where on “GH” we have one day. The way the structure of the story is set up, the stories are wrapped-up in each episode, so it gives you a chance to play an arc within an episode, as opposed to an arc for three or four months on the daytime version.

Patrickhug.jpgMICHAEL:

We hear there is a big cliffhanger ending on “GH NightShift”. Is Robin in the mix?

KIMBERLY:

Yes, it airs October 21. Robin will be in the cliffhanger. I don’t know how it’s going to play out, but I feel cliffhangers are kind of pushed reality. Anyway, it’s definitely an exciting cliffhanger!

MICHAEL:

Will things get back to normal for you and your alter ego, Robin, when it ends?

KIMBERLY:

It doesn’t end for awhile for me. The next few months of Robin’s life are really fun and crazy. We go into Patrick and Robin’s wedding and then I have the baby.

MICHAEL:

Do you think the gay audience has been vital to the success and endurance of Dr. Robin Scorpio on daytime?

KIMBERLY:

Totally. Especially back in 1995 when we first started it, and that was very interesting. It was taking the girl next store, the girl that everybody loves, and giving her a disease that back then, was considered a gay man’s disease. So it was really cool for people who would normally just write it off and go, “Well, it’s your fault because you are gay.” They are not able to say that if they love the character of Robin Scorpio. I think it was good for the gay community, and the conservative heterosexual as well.

MICHAEL:

When gay men approach you, what things do they say about your portrayal of Robin?

chadandKyle.jpgKIMBERLY:

They say things like: “She is so strong and happy and living her life, even though she has this thing.” I think they are happy to see someone positively portrayed, whereas, their lives may not be as positive and is very scary. It’s not all peaches and roses, but if you are going through something difficult, it helps to see something that is positive.

MICHAEL:

Recently, Adam Grimes (Kyle) and openly gay actor Chad Allen (Matthew) have embarked on a new gay love story on “GH NightShift”. What are your thoughts about that?

KIMBERLY:

Oh, it’s so awesome! It’s so good. Chad is so sweet and such a good actor. I think it’s so exciting that he is getting to play a gay character now, after coming out.  Adam is not gay, he lives with his girlfriend. But, that is also cool because he is not a gay actor and he and Chad are great together! Their whole storyline is not based on the fact that they are gay. I don’t know, because I am not a gay man, but I feel like the way they are portraying Kyle, is pretty cool.

MICHAEL:

How would you explain who Dr. Robin Scorpio is at her core, to someone that has never been introduced to her?

kimoncouch.jpgKIMBERLY:

Her core is survival. Even as a child she was faced with all kinds of life and death situations. She survived on her own or with the help of others, but mainly on her own. Even when she turned HIV+, she found a way to deal with it. Ultimately, that’s her greatest flaw; because she is so concerned with surviving on her own that existing with other people is hard for her. She is controlling and always in other people’s lives, and a busybody that way. In her own life, she can’t just relax and be happy. She is always second-guessing everything.

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Days Of Our Lives

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit/JPI Studios

What was the genesis of the idea for the series?

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

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

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

Photo Credit/JPI Studios

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

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

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

Courtesy/AfterForever

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

Do we see Jason die in this?

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

Courtesy/AfterForever

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

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

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

Courtesy/AfterForever

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

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

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

Would you do another season of After Forever?

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

Courtesy/AfterForever

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

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

Courtesy/AfterForever

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

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

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

Courtesy/AfterForever

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

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

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

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

Courtesy/AfterForever

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

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

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

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

Courtesy/AfterForever

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

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

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

Courtesy/AfterForever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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General Hospital

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

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: Yes, 15 years ago in New York.

And what did you think of her then?

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

You had to keep it under wraps, huh?

Wes: Yep!

Laura: I was married then.

Wes: She was pregnant with her second child.

Laura: And he’s a good Kentucky boy.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

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

Wes: Yes, yes, yes, yes…

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

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

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

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

You mean you thought he wouldn’t call?

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

Wes: I still am hitting on her.

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

Courtesy/Instagram

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

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

Wes: And I said, “Far from it.”

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

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

Photo Credit: Courtesy/ABC

Wes: Yes, a dream come true.

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

Wes: That’s true.

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

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

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: I did not.

Laura: I did! (Laughs)

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

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

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

Laura: We do, and we carpool.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

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

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

Wes: She lost her chauffeur. (Laughs)

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

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

Wes: Oh, my God, yes.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

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

Wes: … the long hours …

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

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

Courtesy/welcometolaurasworld Instagram

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

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

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

Wes: Leave it all out on the floor.

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

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

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Interviews

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

Photo : MF Soaps Inc

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

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

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

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

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Video du Jour

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

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Jason Thompson as Billy

The Young and the Restless

Airdate: 6-21/22-2018

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