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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.

Interviews

Digital Drama Daytime Emmy Preview: Patrika Darbo Talks On Her Nominated Performance in ‘Studio City’

In Sunday night’s Digital Drama Daytime Emmys (9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST) former Days of our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful star, Patrika Darbo (Ex-Nancy, Ex-Shirley, respectively) is one of the notable nominees of the night for her powerhouse performance as Violet in Studio City.

Darbo is always working on projects in Hollywood, and her resume is long … whether it is in sitcoms like Seinfeld, series like Desperate Housewives, daytime dramas, the hottest digital drama, commercials, and more.

Having a complicated history with the Emmys; Patrika has won a Primetime Emmy for her work in Acting Dead, had her previous Daytime Emmy for The Bay rescinded, and now has a shot at another one when the winner is revealed in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Digital Drama Series category in which she is nominated.

Studio City was nominated for 8 Daytime Emmys this year including for Darbo, and series creator and star, Sean Kanan (Ex-GH, B&B, Y&R).  The show tells the tale of the cast of a fictional daytime drama as they navigate through the chaotic world of soap operas and their own very messy personal lives.  In it, Darbo delivers a tour de force monologue which just might have sealed the deal for Emmy voters.  She has already won, along with Studio City castmate, Carolyn Hennesy (Diane, GH), an Indie Series Award for her work, when the two actresses tied in their category.  They are both nominated together again for the Daytime Emmy.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Patrika to talk playing those heavy emotional moments in Studio City, longevity in Hollywood, and Emmy night.  To watch the first season of Studio City via Amazon Prime Video click here, and to watch the Digital Drama Daytime Emmys click here.  Now here’s what Patrika shared with us.

Photo; JPI

We all knew that your memorable scene in Studio City was so strong.  Your performance is really such a standout that I just thought, “Of course she is going to get nominated for this,” and you did!  How did you feel about this nomination?

PATRIKA:  I have been through the many ways that Sean Kanan has put this show together.  I mean, he has worked on it for a long time.  I read for it with him, as his mom, being a comedy, and now we’ve gone all the way to the dramatic. I think Sean did some pretty good rewrites and gave me some great, meaty material. I so appreciate the fact that he recognized the fact that I am not just a comedic actress, that there is a dramatic part of me.  

Photo: StudioCity

The big moment in Studio City for your character was just so heartbreaking.  Did you deliver that performance in one take?

PATRIKA:  Yes, and then of course I had to do it a couple of times because we had to see it from Sean’s side for his reaction shots to what I was doing.  I come from the school that even though the camera is on my back, it is now on my partner’s front.  So, I tried to give Sean as much to react to when the camera was on him as when it was on me, and I got the same from him, so it was a very nice collaboration.

I watched Sean in that scene.  He was so good in it.  So, whatever you were doing, it triggered such honest reactions from him.

PATRIKA:  I think just as far as actors go; it is not that we always have to remember that it is not about us as an individual.  It is about the end product, and the end product is about who you are working with.  I got from Sean things to work with that made Violet’s emotion’s there, and then I wanted me to be able to take my emotions and give them back to him.

 

Photo: StudioCity

Was it hard to go there for you, to that deep emotional place; that Violent had been traumatized in her not so humble beginnings in Hollywood?

PATRIKA:  You know, I have great admiration for all of these women who have come forward in the whole #MeToo movement.  I have always been a short, round, fat, little character woman, who was never approached in those ways.  So, there were things I couldn’t relate to.  I had to go to my own personal darkness, which is mine to use when I need it, but to try to be sure that I made sure that women who had faced what I was talking about could appreciate that I was showing tribute to them, because that is a horrible thing, and any kind of situation when you are bullied into something that you don’t want to do or taken advantage of, those kind of situations.

For Violet, all of this stemmed from her desire to be in show business; that at an early age she found herself in a horrible situation with a scuzzy show biz type.

PATRIKA:  Yes, she got into town and it was like a dream come true. She got invited to parties, and everything was wonderful, and “Oh, he’s going to put me in the movies,” you know.  I think that’s what happens: Hollywood is so glorious, and kids come in and get off the bus to be a star, and the first thing you have to do is wait tables … and the second thing is sometimes when you are very pretty, and thin, and attractive, and bad things happen, and I’m not just saying it happens just to women.  It happens to young men as well, and it can happen to some older people.  It’s just a thing that we have now identified, and I think people are being made aware of it.

Photo: JPI

It almost seems like you get nominated for all sorts of things in you career: primetime, daytime, stage etc.  Have you ever figured out in your own mind, why you think you get the recognition? 

PATRIKA:  I think because people know me, and I try to give out what I want back.  You know, I treat people the way I want to be treated, which means that if there are a thousand things you’ve got to watch, and you go, “Oh, there’s Patrika, let’s see what she is doing now!  She’s always so nice to me,” they take a look at my work.  Do you know what I am saying?  It’s a numbers game.  We think about how many are in primetime at this moment, and even though there are only four soaps left on the major daytime calendar, there are still the new digital shows that are coming up.  I think I am very fortunate that people know my name, they know me, and they want to take a look and see what I am up to again, and the young actors and actresses that I mentor, and kids who I’ve work with, the most important thing, I always say, is to be nice.  No one should have to tell you that, but sometimes you have to reinforce it and say, “You know what?  The casting assistant today is the casting director tomorrow, the assistant director today is the director tomorrow.  The kid over here is the writer today, and tomorrow he is the show runner.”  I don’t think you should approach your life like “What’s in it for me?”

Photo: wireimage

What did you think of the whole of Studio City?  I think it’s a little gem.  I loved its look and feel, as well.

PATRIKA:  As we go along in this digital world, it is becoming more film-like, more real life looking.  We’ve kind of gotten away from the flat, three-camera take.  It’s bringing more things to life, and people are just enthralled with it. This is the new genre of the hour-long soap.  I think with the attention span of people these days; digital drama they may wind up enjoying more and because it looks more real, they will enjoy it more.

You were in a middle of a firestorm, in 2018, when your Daytime Emmy win for your wok in The Bay was revoked.  Did you at all think about that when you found out you got nominated For Studio City?

PATRIKA:  At first, you kind of go, “Are they giving me this nomination for this reason?” but then you kind of go, “You know what?  It really has nothing to do with NATAS.  It has to do with my peers appreciating my work.  So, I know even though I had some problems in the past, NATAS was so apologetic and they’ve made a lot of changes to try to make sure that things like that don’t happen to anyone else, which I am so appreciative of, but this nomination came from my peers.  So I feel I earned it, and I don’t think it has anything to do with what happened in the past except for the fact that there are changes that are for the good.

Photo: Studio City

Now, you are nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Digital Drama Series category along with your Studio City co-star, GH’s Carolyn Hennesy.  You both tied in this category at the recent 11th annual Indie Series Awards as well.

PATRIKA:  Carolyn is wonderful in anything that she does.  I wish Sarah Brown had been nominated for her work in Studio City, too.  She is a wonderful actress. You kind of go, “Oh, they didn’t acknowledge her this time,”  but it’s like she is still in the show, the show is going to keep going, so she will have another opportunity for people to recognize her work.  Listen, Carolyn and I could cancel each other out this time, because people know us and like us and appreciate our work.

Photo: JPI

As a working actress in Hollywood, how to you feel about production starting back now for several shows, and concerns amidst the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled the show business community with the loss of so many jobs over the last several months?

PATRIKA:  I think there are still going to be concerns.  Listen, my husband has a heart problem.  He’s had a couple of stints, so he is going to be a high-risk.  So, if I am asked to go to work, I want it to be very safe where I am going, so when I come home, I don’t bring something to him, or I don’t get anything.  I think we are all going to be a lot more careful, but I think what people have to realize in general is that it is not just the actors who did not have work.  There are the camera people, there’s the director, there’s props, there are the electricians, there are a lot of people involved to make a show, whether it’s a daytime show or it’s a film.  So, things will be a little different.  There are going to be a lot of changes, but I’m hoping that we will at least get back, and are safe, and that we take care of each other.

On virtual Emmy night this Sunday, will you be participating and watching from home?

PATRIKA:  I’ll be at home, absolutely.  I’ll be trying to figure out how to push the Zoom button or the what button, and trying to figure out the computers. I’m a dinosaur in a digital world, but I’ll be doing my best!

So, will you be rooting for Patrika in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Digital Drama Series category on tomorrow night’s Digital Drama Emmys? Did you see Studio City and if so, what did you think of it?  Do you hope Patrika comes back to daytime soon? Comment below.

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Interviews

Digital Drama Daytime Emmys Preview: Graham Sibley Talks On His Nominated Performance In ‘Dark/Web’

In one of the hotly contested contests on Sunday night’s Digital Drama Daytime Emmys, Graham Sibley is going for gold for his riveting and tense performance in the 7-time nominated series, Dark/Web. Sibley’s work had been recognized in the Outstanding Guest Performer in a Digital Drama Series category.

In Dark/Web, Sibley plays Leland, a ride share driver who’s just trying to make it through the night when the app on his phone takes on a frightening intelligence and tells him he has to make the world a better place, even if it means he has to kill to do it.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Mr. Sibley to get his thoughts on: playing a ride share driver, being given this tour de force role in such a unique series which landed him an Emmy nod, and much more.

And, don’t miss the Digital Drama Daytime Emmys beginning at 9 pm EST/6 pm PST here, and you can watch the entire Emmy-nominated season of Dark/Web via Amazon Prime Video here.

Now here’s what Graham had to share with us below.

Photo: Dark/Web

In Dark/Web, you were in the first installment of the season, correct?

GRAHAM:  Yep, so it’s an anthology show, and there is a narrative through in that goes through it as well. I’m in the first episode.  It’s called, “Rideshare,” and it sort of explores this ride share driver named Leland Adler.

What can you share about your interpretation of what happens in your Emmy-nominated performance?

GRAHAM:  First, I have to say, Boman Modine, Matthew Modine’s son, is a real talent.  He’s just a really adept storyteller, and he wrote a fantastic script for “Rideshare”.  In Dark/Web, each one of these anthology episodes are written and directed by different people. There is an overarching narrative that goes through that, and there are these individual episodes which are directed by other artists, guest writers, and directors.  So, Boman wrote and directed our episode.  He wrote a really complex character who is a new husband and father, who loses his job and is forced to get into the ride share business, and he is kind of desperate, and he needs to provide for his family, and there is sort of dark web that starts to infiltrate this app.  Leland starts hearing a voice through his earbuds, and you don’t know if he is going crazy … or if he is really hearing these things.  You’re assuming he is really hearing these things.  This character is sort of victimized by this presence.  Over the episode, he starts to give into this because the messages he is getting through his earbuds, through this voice, through the dark web, is information about who these people are who are his passengers, and the terrible things that they have done.  He starts to get messages that he should maybe start to get rid of some of these people, and so he takes the leap and does, and that causes this reaction in him.

Photo: IMDB

Dark/Web in its totality is about a genius programmer whose disappearance leads to these strange stories that are interconnected.  When you speak of the ride share theme and episode, it harkens me back to the character of Travis Bickle played by Robert DeNiro in the classic, Scorsese film,Taxi Driver.

GRAHAM:  Oh yeah, of course.  I think as you go through the journey of “Rideshare,” at the beginning of it, you don’t think Leland is troubled.  He is okay, and then by the end of it, you’re like, “This guy is okay, but something is happening, and now he is on this mission, and now he has done these things that he can’t ever go back on.”  It’s interesting, and it’s interesting that you’re making a parallel with Taxi Driver because Travis was convinced what he was doing was right.  I don’t know if my character at first is.

Photo: Dark/Web

You have not been a ride share driver in real life at some point … or have you?

GRAHAM:  You know… I haven’t.  But, I did sign up when I booked this job.  I went through the process of it just so I would know what it was going to be like.

When you submitted your reel for the Daytime Emmys, did you submit a few scenes, or how did you put your submission together for the competition?

GRAHAM:  I had so much material to choose from.  I was so fortunate to be the lead in this episode, and the episode I think is 25 minutes. It was really hard to pare it down, but I got it down to about 9 or 10 minutes that I felt told the arc of his story.

It’s always important to tell an arc because it does feel like, for the most part, the winning reels are the ones where somebody who doesn’t know the show or your character, could literally follow from point A to point B, if they’re a judge.  You have some solid competition in your category as well! 

GRAHAM:  There are some really amazing performances and some really great actors in the guest performer category, so I’m just honored to be in with their names. Rene Hagler had a couple of different episodes in Dark/Web, so we did not share any scenes together, but he is great.  Lin Shaye and I did a movie together a couple of years ago called Grow House, and then I’ve seen Scott Turner Schofield’s work in Studio City, who is amazing, and Mary Beth Pell, … she’s a legend!

Photo: GSibleyInstagram

Of course, you end up nominated the year that it’s the virtual Emmys. So, what will you wear to the virtual Digital Drama Emmys?

GRAHAM:  I don’t know!  I’ll send you a picture! (Laughs)  If you look on my Instagram, my wife. Marilyn and I staged a picture, because we were like, “Well, we are never going to be able to go to the Emmys,” so we staged a picture with our boys in our backyard with a kiddie pool and us lounging with drinks, and I was in a tuxedo, and she was in this beautiful yellow dress.

What are the names of your boys?

GRAHAM:  They are twins, Lyon and KP, and they just had their first birthday on July 2nd.

Photo: GettyImages

Now, let me ask you this. If they say, “The Emmy goes to Graham Sibley,” what would it mean to you if you were awarded a Daytime Emmy? 

GRAHAM:  I think what it would mean to me is that it would sort of be a pat on the back to say, “You did something that made someone else feel something.”  I hope that’s what we are all aspiring to is to either, be in our own lives trying to make someone feel something, or in cinema or in television or the web.  I’d just be like, “I was honored for being truthful, and that’s cool!”

So, intrigued to see Graham’s performance in Dark/Web?  Who do you think will take home the gold in the Outstanding Guest Performer in a Digital Drama Series on Sunday night? Comment below.

But first check out this promo for the Dark/Web series featuring Graham which has been nominated in multiple Digital Drama categories for the Daytime Emmys.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Greg Rikaart Talks The Complex Life of Kevin Fisher, His Co-Stars, and COVID-19

This week, fans of The Young and the Restless are getting to go back in time and see some of the memorable moments from the dysfunctional, complicated, yet loveable Baldwin-Fisher clan in encore episodes.

Daytime Emmy-winner, Greg Rikaart has brought his A-game for years as the misunderstood, often misguided, but beautifully redeemable flawed character, Kevin Fisher. From his troubled past to his relationships with his brother, Michael (Christian LeBlanc) and his mother, Gloria (Judith Chapman), Kevin has been one of Y&R’s more intriguing characters always bouncing from the  heavy drama to the comedic, all in the more than capable hands of Rikaart.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Greg to get his thoughts on: looking back at some of these key episodes in Kevin’s past, what it was like working with former on-screen love interest Emily O’Brien (Jana), his current on-screen love Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe), and first meeting his on-screen family.

As many are aware, back in March, Greg came down with the coronavirus and it took quite a toll on him. With what is happening now in our country with the spike in the pandemic, he also shares his perspective on what he went through, and reminds us all that COVID-19 is no joke; it’s real and taking people down with it.  One of the best guys we know … and one of the finest actors we know … here’s what Greg shared.

Photo: JPI

It is Baldwin-Fisher week on Y&R.  What do you remember when you first came to the show?  And what was your recollection of first meeting Christian LeBlanc?

GREG:  When I first came on, it wasn’t to be Michael’s brother.  So, I had been there already, and the first story that I was involved with was the internet predator storyline with Christel Khalil (Lily).  So, I had been there a while, and then I think Christian and I had, of course, crossed paths in the hallways, and we had a mutual friend, so we had even gotten together for lunch, and he kind of gave me the lay of the land a little bit.  It wasn’t until we had a fan event, and Jack Smith’s (Ex-writer and producer, Y&R) daughter, Asia, who had worked on the show for a little while, saw Christian and me sitting next to one another.  She said, “I never noticed that the two of them look like brothers,” and I think that’s where the impulse came from to make us related as brothers, Then after we found out that was happening, that’s when Christian and I got to know each other better and said, “Hey, let’s invest a lot of time and effort into making this relationship real.”  There was so much bad blood and history and a lot of stuff to play.  We really spent a lot of time really working on those early scenes when we were trying to figure out what the dynamic was.  I have really fond memories of all of that.  I think I have a great time working with Christian and developing the relationship, and also, it was so nice becoming a part of a family.  I think having a family on the show made me feel like a more integral part of Y&R.  It was a really great time.

Photo: CBS

What do you recall when Judith Chapman first came on to the show as your mother, Gloria?  

GREG:  Briefly, we had Joan Van Ark playing Gloria, and then, when they had cast Judith, I didn’t read with her.  I think Christian was the one, who had auditioned with Judith, but then I happened to be up in the office one day, and I saw her, and I kind of put two and two together, and I said, “Hey, wait, I think we are going to be working together!”  I also remember the way she jumped right in and filled some pretty big shoes epically … and really made the character her own, and again, added a fantastic layer to what the family dynamic was.  It was really wonderful.

Photo: CBS

I’ll never forget the scene when Kevin says goodbye to Gloria, which was your exit from Y&R.  It was a five-hankie moment.

GREG:  Oh, yeah.  It was so easy to play because I was leaving, and the hardest scenes were the ones where I had to say goodbye to Christian and to Judith because like I mentioned, we had invested so much into the relationships and into the characters, and so there is a lot of love, and I think the boundaries get blurred.  There is love between me, and Christian, and Judith, and love between Kevin, and Michael, and Gloria.  It was hard of all of those different reasons.  So, it was easy to channel it into Kevin having to say goodbye to Gloria.

On today’s encore episode of Y&R, we are going to see the ashram wedding between Jana (Emily O’Brien) and Kevin.  I loved you and Emily together!

GREG:  Me too!

Photo: JPI

What can you say about working with Emily and the whole Kevin and Jana story because it was crazy! Jana was so quirky and off-kilter and so, at times, is Kevin.

GREG:  I think Emily came on when Lynn Latham was head writing the show, and Lynn, who I think is wonderful, is a bit off-kilter herself, and I mean that in the best possible way.  Lynn always had streaks of wild colors in her hair.  I think in some ways, Jana may have been a manifestation of some part of Lynn.  Every week or two, Jana would say something, and we found out some other absurd thing in her past where she had been a paraglider at one point, for example, and all of these strange things, and you can sort of throw everything into the kitchen sink with that character, and it all sort of worked.  That was sort of happening when Kevin was very early on in his road of rehabilitation; I think it made sense for him to be with someone like that, although I think Jana’s off- kilter was certainly a little more straight and narrow than his. Jana was a good influence on him.  I loved their dynamic; I loved their relationship.

Photo: JPI

What do you remember about filming the ashram wedding?

GREG: I remember how beautiful the set was. It took up half of the stage.  Emily looked so great, and I remember not wanting to see her before Kevin would have seen her.  I remember the vows being really nice.  I believe it’s the episode where they first meet, Michael’s dad, who is the minister played by Michael Gross.  It was fun that we had a great centerpiece of a story, but it also propelled story for the rest of the family.

Photo: CBS

Coming up on Friday’s encore episode of Y&R: Kevin defends his relationship with Chloe (Elizabeth Hendrickson) to Gloria when is mother makes a “festive” return.  What was your initial reaction to being paired with Liz, who you were already good friends with?

GREG:  I was excited.  I think Liz is great.  We had wanted to be working together.  For a long time, we had lobbied for it.  I didn’t know what capacity it was going to happen in, but I think linking us romantically was really fun.  I think the world of her, so I love working with her.

Photo: JPI

When you look back at winning your Daytime Emmy, and all of the early storylines, do you wish Kevin were more like how he was then with his dark side, or do you like how the character has evolved? It would be hard to sustain a character being destructive and so dark for years and years on a soap without being shipped off the canvas at some point for crimes. 

GREG:  It’s kind of a mixed bag.  I think, certainly some of the stuff earlier on was more challenging, but I also appreciate and really love some of the more lighthearted stuff that Kevin gets to do.  I think when any combination of the Fisher/Baldwins are called in to be a bit more of the comic relief, I think that provides a fun element too and works nicely on the show.  I am absolutely grateful for the longevity.  It might be hard to sustain a character like Kevin the way he was early on, but it sure is fun to do stuff like blowing up restaurants or burning them down.

Photo: JPI

Have you watched any of the episodes so far this week on Y&R … and watched yourself in your earlier years? If so, what did you think?

GREG:  I watched Monday’s episode.  On one hand, it’s really fun to take a trip down memory lane, and there are moments that I remember, and then there are moments that I don’t.  So, it’s fun to rediscover things that way.  Also, I think I had maybe a false sense of my ability early on and what I was capable of.  Watching some of those earlier shows reminds me of how much I’ve grown, not just with Christian and Judith, but everyone there who I have continued to work with.  I think I feel a lot more confident about my acting ability today than when I look back.

You got the opportunity to come back to Y&R after being let go, how does it feel now?

GREG:  I was thrilled to come back.  I think Josh Griffith (head writer, and co-executive producer, Y&R)  really took some big swings to right the ship by bringing back Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea), Michelle Stafford (Phyllis), and Mishael Morgan (Amanda), and me, and Liz. I was grateful to be included in all of that and just thrilled to come home.  I’m glad that the last chapter wasn’t the last chapter for me.

Photo: RikaartG

You came down with the coronavirus and publicly let people know what happened to you and how you were feeling along the way.  As someone who has gone through getting very sick; how frustrated are you right now with what you see going on in California and Los Angeles, and the rest of the country as this pandemic has spiked, and there are new daily all-time highs in deaths and cases?

GREG:  I’m pretty frustrated.   It’s not over.  I’m negative now for the virus.  I am well on my road to recovery, but this is not a two-week recovery, and then you’re in the free-and-clear.  I’ve had some substantial post-viral issues that I was dealing with for a while.  It is insanely frustrating to see people not taking this seriously, and I continue to take it as seriously as I did in the beginning because there is no guarantee that antibodies really protect you from anything.  I feel just as vulnerable as the next person to get sick.  It’s mind-bogging to me that something as simple as wearing a mask over your face became politicized. I think we should all look to New York to follow their model for how to get back on track because they did it right.  California is different in the sense that New York had one epicenter for the entire state.  It was New York City where the battle was happening, whereas in California, we are a larger state geographically and population wise, and there are different heavily populated areas like Orange County versus Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and every place in between.  It is hard to shepherd 50+ million people through it as opposed to maybe a more tightly packed group of 10 million New Yorkers, but I still think Governor Cuomo of New York deserves all of the credit he is getting for handling this.  He is really the only one, the only politician who is kind of getting his people through it… at least in America.

Photo: RikaartIG

As a father, how do you feel about what you see happening with opening schools vs. not opening schools, and this debate?  Safety should come first, but you see how this is being politicized as well. Parents need to get back to work, and want their children safely in schools, but how can that be when the pandemic is raging?

GREG:  There is no decision that anyone can make in today’s world where there is not some level of risk that you take on; whether it is going to the grocery store, going back to work, or sending your kid to school.  I understand that there are parents who need to work and don’t have the luxury of childcare, and they need their kids to be in school.  I know there is a lot of evidence suggesting that kids are not specific transmitters of coronavirus, and even if they are, even if they do come down with it, they tend to fare quite well.  So, of course, no judgement on any parent who makes different decisions if they are well thought out, educated decisions and you’re using science to arrive at your conclusion. But for us and my family, I think we have a very intimate understanding of how serious this is.  You know, Monte is only in preschool, but his preschool went back last week, and we are just going to keep him home until we feel like we are ready to send him back.  At his age, I’m not concerned about there being things that he’s not learning.  I’m concerned about him socially, and developmentally with what he is missing out on, but we are finding ways to do things socially-distanced with friends and to socialize him that way, and we are fortunate in that we have childcare.  So, we have two extra hands on deck, 40 hours a week, which is super helpful, as there are no easy choices these days.

Photo: JPI

Y&R is going back into production this week.  Knowing what you went through with COVID-19, any trepidation on your part?

GREG:  I think going back to work would for sure do me some good emotionally, but like I was saying earlier, there is no decision that you can make these days where you are not taking on some level of risk.  So, I am excited.  I am also a little anxious.  We will see how it goes.

I was so concerned for you, as so many of your colleagues and friends were too, when we saw how you were kicked by this virus.

GREG:  It was awful, truly awful, and I hate to complain about it when I have a lot of gratitude for how much better I fared than so many other people.  I am out of the woods for sure, but if I exert myself a little too hard for a few days in a row, I have a day where it can be hard to get out of bed.  I have some friends who are dealing with even more substantial post-viral fatigue.  One friend of mine, he hasn’t gotten his taste or smell back for over three months, and doctors are skeptical that he ever will now.  So, fortunately, I’m not dealing with any of that, but you know, it’s hard to not wish that it just never happened, and that I was physically who I was a few months ago.

Photo: JPI

Closing out our conversation on Kevin Fisher, if you had to explain to another human being who doesn’t watch Y&R, who Kevin is, what would you say?

GREG:  I would say that he is the lovable ne’er do well.  Someone who messes up often, but I think he has earned a place in people’s hearts where they are forgiving of him when he does mess up, or they’re rooting for him to make better choices. When he does make good choices, they are into his choices.  I think that’s a good handle on who he is.

So, what is your favorite moment or story in the history of Kevin Fisher? Are you enjoying this week’s encore episodes on The Young and the Restless?  What do you think about the views shared by Greg, as someone who has gone through battling the coronavirus? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

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B&B’s Heather Tom talks with Michael Fairman immediately following her record-tying win in the Lead Actress category during the 47th annual Daytime Emmy Awards.  Heather and Erika now hold the most wins for an actress with 6! Leave A Comment

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