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THE KYLE LOWDER INTERVIEW – THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

KyleLowder1.jpgBy Michael Fairman

Listen to the audio:

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TV SOAP:
Kyle, how has it been working with Hunter Tylo (Taylor) in the new budding romance between Rick and Taylor?  Did it come as a surprise to you?

KYLE:
It has been great working with Hunter.  The switch in storyline was a bit shocking for me, because I thought the characters of Rick and Ashley were going to come about, but it’s now been interesting with the Taylor situation.  The fact that she is Phoebe’s mother and Rick and Phoebe had a relationship stirs the pot.  This show, in my opinion, has been very good at taking situations like that and making them very dramatic and believable, and not out of this world far-fetched. Working with Hunter is great!  She is such a gifted actress. The scenes with her have been fun and challenging, and we have had a good time thus far.

TV SOAP:
Challenging in the way that once again Rick is involved in an older woman/younger man romantic situation?

KYLE:
Yes.  It’s challenging because again, it’s the ‘older woman/younger man’.  Eileen Davidson (Ashley) and I would have that conversation where we would say, “I have never done this before in work and in reality.”   Hunter was the same way.  She said, “This is interesting.”  It’s definitely something new for me as well.  I had a little experience with Eileen last year.  The whole younger man/older woman thing is challenging to make work, not personally because of the actors, but the story itself.  I want to make sure that Rick going to falling in love with Phoebe, to falling in love with Ashley, to falling in love with Taylor, is believable with this character.

TV SOAP:
So, to make it work you need to justify it as an actor.  Does it concern you?

KYLE:
I have to justify it, or it becomes an actor just playing this role and playing what’s on the page.  I think at the end of the day, it could be a bit unwatchable, not because the story is poorly written.  You need a character that people can become emotional attached to and not just blow him off because he is man who has no substance to him.  I want to make Rick a guy with substance and believability, and someone a woman can get attached to; otherwise, the fans are not going to take it seriously.

TV SOAP:
Did Brad Bell (exec prod and head writer) “B&B” give you any heads up that this story with Taylor was coming?

KYLE:
I had a brief talk with Brad.  But to be honest, he did not tell me any details.  But he thought of the possibility, and the seed was planted in my head.  I never gave it too much thought till I actually started seeing the scripts.  Now, I have seen what’s going to happen, and it’s well written, and it’s up to me to get people to jump on board and become emotionally involved with it.  Otherwise, they will say, “Oh God! Rick, he is such a weirdo.”

TV SOAP:
Are you at all concerned that it may appear to viewers and fans that they keep testing the character of Rick with different females on “B&B” to see what works?

KYLE:
That’s a good question and I think about it all the time.  Especially on ”B&B” where you do not have a lot of contract players, where at “DAYS” where I came from, you have an hour-long show with 40 cast members, and the possibilities are endless.  Here at “B&B” it can turn into that.  I have heard fan on message boards saying, “Oh, they are just testing chemistry.”  They are not saying, “Oh look at this story,” and “Oh, B&B is testing again.”  I don’t want it to come across that way.

TV SOAP:
How then would you ultimately like the fans to react to the new Taylor/Rick pairing?

KYLE:
In the first script, Rick shows up at Taylor’s house to give her a gift and we see what the writers want to do, and that’s great.  It’s my job to say, “How would this really happen that somehow Rick would become interested in Taylor and fall all in love with her?”   I want to turn it from a chemistry test for the fans to, “Ooh. I like this sexy, hot story with Taylor.”   Or, they have a strong feeling that its not.   I want the fans not to just look at it as a chemistry test between two actors.  That is the challenge.

TV SOAP:
What about Phoebe?  Have you had scenes yet where she finds out that her “ex” is now dating her mother?

KYLE:
I have.  They are fresh and I have taped scenes like that.  I will say, it’s definitely on my mind, like, “What about Phoebe? What happens when the three of us have a scene together?”   It’s pretty crazy though, and I cannot divulge anything more on that.

TV SOAP:
Hunter Tylo has a very unique working style on set.  She is very committed to the work and likes to take lots of notes.  How does her style mesh with yours?
KYLE:
She does take lots of notes, and it’s inspiring.  Working with her is different and her approach is, too.   Hunter is very experienced and talented.  I love her process, and she does have a lot of notes.  She takes the dialog that’s on the page, and the scene at hand, very seriously. She goes above and beyond normalcy to make the scene very believable in her own eyes.  She takes everything to heart.  It is evident when you look at her scripts.  There is chicken scratch written all over them.

TV SOAP:
Is your process similar?

KYLE:
Mentally, I am on the same page as her, but I am not as thorough.  I try to take a situation in the script, and I spend a long time seeing how it would play out.  First, I take my own reactions on how I would react to it.  Then I see how Rick would react to it, which is more dramatic and messed up than mine, only slightly. (He laughs)  I then come up with an average between the two and go with that.  The cool thing about Hunter is we recently filmed some dramatic scenes, and I give her credit.  She was so not just standing on set and really was in the situation mentally.  She is very inspiring!

TV SOAP:
How do you think the recent writers strike affected the scripts you were getting at “B&B”?

KYLE:
If I had to formulate an opinion, because the writer’s strike was a sensitive situation and I don’t want to single out “B&B”, but daytime in general kept going.  Scripts kept coming, writers were tentative, or not entirely comfortable, not experience wise, but just going to work.  My perception of it was that the writing was a bit conservative.  I am saying on the safe side.   I am not saying the scripts were bad or good.  I am just saying, because of the tentativeness of the situation, it came through in the writing a bit.

TV SOAP:
How has Eileen Davidson reacted to the defecting of Rick to a new romance with Taylor? Was she upset?

KYLE:
We had a funny talk about that.  It’s no secret that we felt there was something there between Rick and Ashley, and quite selfishly with me and Eileen, in terms of working together.  We love to work together.  We were teased around a bit when we both first came on the show.  Then the show focused on Rick and Phoebe, which was also great. Now, we come back from the holiday and think maybe something can start up again between Rick and Ashley and we find out, no, it’s Rick and Taylor.  For Eileen, and me we were laughing.  We were saying, “Just give us story!”  Then we thought could we have an Ashley/Rick/Taylor triangle?  I don’t know.  That remains to be seen, but at the end of the day, Eileen and I do have a laugh about it, like, “C’mon! Just give us a chance. One chance, to dive head first into the pool.”

TV SOAP:
So, you were both a little upset?

KYLE:
I don’t want to say we were upset, that would be a bit dramatic. We were more tongue and cheek. We were not pissed off about it.  We just felt we dipped our toes in the water, if you will, and we just wanted to dive in and see where the story would go.

TV SOAP:
Over at “DAYS” so much has been going on behind the scenes. First, with the news that the entire writing staff at “DAYS” was just fired!

KYLE:
Oh gees!  Oh dear. I did not know this.   My wife Arianze Zuker, who played Nicole Kirkiakis, is returning to “DAYS”.

TV SOAP:
That’s great to know, but you mean your ex-wife, don’t you?

KYLE:
No, we are married.  The press kind of jumped the gun on that.  We were never divorced.  Long story short, we, like many normal people in this world, we had issues.  These issues have been resolved.  Thank God!  The press jumped the gun a little bit and our personal statements leaked out and they were never official.  We are still married.  Ariane is going back to “DAYS” in March.

TV SOAP:
Have you been watching “DAYS” and all the mentions of your former character’s name of Brady all the time?  Is something in the works to bring you back to Salem?

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KYLE:
Because Ariane was returning I have been watching “DAYS” with her, and much to my surprise, I am like, whoa!  They are talking so much about Brady and it was an issue.  People have been asking me, “What is going on with that?”  It’s kind of a surprise, because in the States it’s been in Soap Opera Digest, and they posted an article, “Is Kyle Lowder coming back to “DAYS”?  And people are calling me, and I am going, “Nothing is going on!”

TV SOAP:
So, are you saying for the record, there has been no contact with “DAYS”?

KYLE:
I do not want to say there was no contact, but from my standpoint, there is never an issue as to where I was going to be.  But, I don’t want to comment further on the details.  At the end of the day, I am here at “B&B” and I want to be here

TV SOAP:
But it must be hard to watch “DAYS” knowing they are talking so much about Brady?

KYLE:
From my standpoint, quite truthfully, if I am not going to be there, are they recasting Brady?   Because they are talking so much about him, how could they not have that character return?  It’s bizarre!  At the end of the day they will recast.

TV SOAP:
How would you feel about “DAYS” recasting the role of Brady, knowing you had originated the role?

KYLE:
I don’t know.  I don’t want to be one of those soap operas cliché actors, saying, “It’s my role.” At the end of the day, it would be hard to watch somebody else step into that role.  When you invest in any business, or part with six years of your life in an area, and somebody else takes over when your hands are tied…. it is a bit hard to swallow.

TV SOAP:
But of course, you took over the role of Rick Forrester on “B&B” from another actor, so you know what it’s like.

KYLE:
Completely!  I have said that from day one, that the recast situation in this genre is a very sensitive issue because soap fans love their stories and their characters.  My first feature in a magazine, when I came on this show, was about how I looked at the recasts on “DAYS” when I was there, in particular, with Martha Madison jumping into the role of Belle on the show.  For a major contract player on the show, I was looking at it going, “Wow. I don’t envy that situation because fans get attached to the character, and the actor playing the character.”  And that’s been from day one here at “B&B”.  I am still respectful to the character of Rick and what’s been done.  It was not my intention to come into this show and do something new with the character.  I wanted to continue the work of the previous actors, and to add my own spin to it, and not to just dominate the character.

TV SOAP:
Have you spoken to Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe, “DAYS”) about the recent developments there?

KYLE:
We have spoken a bit.  We spoke a bit before she returned to the show, and we did speak right before the holidays.  Nadia received the scripts for the storylines that are airing now on the show.  She said, “We are talking about you a lot.”  And I said, “I don’t know what you are talking about?”  I will just say I find it a little intriguing… let’s just say that.

TV SOAP:
What would you like to see happen with Rick, and what are your goals moving forward with the character?

KYLE:
My goals with Rick in general, in the zany world of endless money, high fashion, high profile, and beautiful women where ever he looks… it’s a recipe for disaster!  My goal is to keep him as likeable and charming as possible, but at the same time, to keep the edge on him to keep him from being boring.

TV SOAP:
It must be tough to try and strike the balance of not being so “goody-goody”, correct?

KYLE:
You want to be charming and likeable, but you don’t want to be the “goody-two shoes”.  I want to create a balance with him.  At the end of the day, he is a chip off the old block with his mom, Brooke.  He wears his heart on his sleeve.  He is the kind of guy who leaps before he looks, in terms of getting involved in situations.  For instance, with the Phoebe situation, he was smitten with her.  He did not look at all the factors; like the age difference, the fact that he worked with her, and the fact that they thought they were related their entire lives.  Now with the Taylor situation, he is not considering the fact that this is his ex- girlfriends mother, and this is his own mother’s long enemy.   He just doesn’t think about that stuff.

TV SOAP:
Will we get to hear you sing on the show sometime soon?

KYLE:
I don’t know.  I hope so.  It’s definitely something I’d love to do, but that remains to be seen.

Days Of Our Lives

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

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

Photo: TOLN

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

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

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Interviews

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

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

 

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

Photo: Gilles Toucas

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

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

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

 

 

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Interviews

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

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

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

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

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

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

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

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

Wait, what?

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

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

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

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

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

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

Photo: Broadway World

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

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

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

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

Photo: Broadway World

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

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

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

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

Courtesy/ENelsen

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

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

How long was it open on Broadway?

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

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

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

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

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

Photo: Prospect Park

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

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

Photo: LANYEntertainment

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

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

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

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

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

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

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

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

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

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

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

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

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

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

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