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The Lauralee Bell and Doug Davidson Interview – The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

If you watched today’s highly emotional tribute and memorial service to Katherine Chancellor on The Young and the Restless, you may have been caught by surprise, as were the actors who play Christine and Paul!  Of course, we are talking about Lauralee Bell (Christine) and Daytime Emmy winner Doug Davidson (Paul) who have kept the secret that during the memorial, Paul and Christine get married!  The shocking turn of events brings some happiness and hope to a rather heartbreaking day for Katherine’s loved ones, family, and friends who come together in Chancellor Park, the new set honoring the late Jeanne Cooper, to say goodbye to the Grand Dame of Genoa City.

On-Air On-Soaps chatted with Lauralee and Doug exclusively to get an inside look at what went down during the emotional taping of Katherine’s memorial, especially for these two who had such a deep and close bond to the legendary Jeanne Cooper.  Plus, we learn, what was their reaction when they learned that their characters would marry in the middle of the memorial?  Fitting, or, inappropriate?

For longtime fans of the number-one soap, Doug references throughout our chat the influences of Lauralee’s dad (Y&R creator Bill Bell) throughout this new storyline involving the letters Katherine left for the residents of Genoa City, that for many is a call to action, and for many a time to contemplate.  But for once in soaps, the good girl and the good guy finally get together.  What better way than to have their beloved friend and long time cast mate Jeanne Cooper looking over them from the heavens above onto the soundstage at CBS to watch the fictional union of two of her dearest friends in real life.  Here is what Lauralee and Doug have to share about the experience with all of you!

MICHAEL:

How was it for both of you to perform and participate in the memorial episodes for Katherine Chancellor knowing your deep personal relationship with Jeanne Cooper?

LAURALEE:

Courtesy/CBS

I don’t think Doug and I have ever cried so hard, honestly.

DOUG:

What happened was… the part that got me the first time was that during rehearsal Corbin Bernsen is up there as Father Todd, and where does the play stop and real life begin?  There are these big pictures of Jeanne around, and he started and he got caught up, and we were OK then, but then he goes to read this poem, and so much of the poem reminded me of Jeanne not really being away.  You could feel her presence in the studio.  She is such a powerful force.  Then having her son read this poem about herThen, suddenly Doug was getting more emotional than Paul should …

LAURALEE:

… Right, right!  We were all getting so emotional, especially our row.  If the camera were to have cut to us, it would have been an odd choice.  We could barely keep it together!  But there was one little segment apparently that Corbin said, “When I read it at home and was preparing to shoot the episode, I did not see this one sentence that said, ‘my blood lives within you,”’ or something to that effect.  It just choked him up immediately, because everything was, and is so real.

DOUG:

And, it’s so contagious.  It’s his mom, and you feel for him, and you feel for the loss of his mom, and our friend, and on so many levels, that you can’t anticipate how you are going to react with all of that coming at you.

LAURALEE;

Courtesy/CBS

It was a really hard day.

MICHAEL:

Were the two of your dreading taping the episodes, because of how close real life and art were this time?  Did you like the way the writers decided to deal with Katherine’s death?

DOUG:

What I liked is that Katherine is not off the canvas, and that is the bottom line, and that is why we were both thrilled how it was handled, because she is living beyond her departure through letters she gave to all of these cast members.  All of the letters are changing the lives of the people of Genoa City, and she is now still the topic of the show.

LAURALEE:

I had not really thought about if it would be difficult or not, because I felt like we had been through that.  But in some weird way, this was almost harder than Jeanne’s real memorial.

DOUG:

I think we were all eager to do it, because it was such a tribute to an iconic television character.  So, I think everybody involved in the story was honored to be there.  Our fans deserve a great tribute, and that she be honored in a fitting manor.  I guess if you are afraid of emotion, you have got the wrong job of being an actor on a soap opera.  From my perspective, it was a privilege to be able to honor her.  I don’t think anyone has been honored quite in this fashion: first a memorial for Jeanne, and now her character.

LAURALEE:

Courtesy/CBS

It all ended so nicely, too, because each cast member went up and singly had a sentence about her and for her as they put roses next to her ashes.  It was so well done.

DOUG:

Corbin brought some of Jeanne’s ashes to be in Katherine’s vessel.  It was very cool.

LAURALEE:

It was very intense.  And when you would look to your left and see the camera operators and the boom guys all choked up too, everyone on that set was involved.

DOUG:

There was no way out.

MICHAEL:

So, Paul is the last one to get a letter from beyond the grave that starts the turn of events at the memorial that sort of matches up with what Katherine said to Christine in her letter.

DOUG:

Paul is the last one to get a letter!

LAURALEE:

Christine’s letter said something to the affect of: “No one ever had on their tombstone, you put in great hours.  Take time to look at the sunset and take time to live your life, and if something is right there in front of you that you know it is meant to be, get it.  Don’t waste your life away.”  So the meaning was in there, and then Paul got his letter.

Courtesy/CBS

DOUG:

And Paul’s letter says, “What are you waiting for?  Marry her!”  That is all it said.

MICHAEL:

What happened to Nina (Tricia Cast) in all of this?  On Tuesday’s episode, Kay’s letter impacted her so much that she was ready to let go of Paul, and just in time!

DOUG:

Nina got a letter to forgive.  I must say since that story started, it has been more Bill Bell-esque in the style of the show, and character-driven with a heartbeat.  It has certainly felt more like Bill’s show since her passing, and that is due to the fact that Jeanne Cooper’s Katherine Chancellor is part of the original creation and concept of Y&R.  And, it’s carried through into all the other stories right now.

LAURALEE:

Plus, I hoped the fans loved all the flashbacks during the memorial.  It was great to hear Jess Walton (Jill) talk about how Jill and Katherine met.  And, how she was her manicurist, and that is something you forget.  Even as an actor on the show, to listen to everyone’s little vignette was. “Oh God. I forgot about that.  And Wow, there is such insane history.”  It was just all great!  So Paul says to Christine, “Will you marry me?”  It is a bizarre place, but at least we acknowledge it, like, “I don’t think we should crash Katherine’s funeral!” (Laughs)

DOUG:

But what was your reaction, Lauralee, when you heard about Paul and Christine getting married at Katherine’s memorial?

LAURALEE:

Personally, I did not believe it!

DOUG:

Courtesy/CBS

It was like, “What the heck?”

MICHAEL:

How did you first hear about the shocking fact that Christine and Paul would get married at Katherine’s Memorial?

DOUG:

I heard about it from the wardrobe department.  I was like, “Have they totally lost it?” (Laughs) And I have got to say when we got on the floor; it once again honored Kay and Jeanne.  It sort of all came together there … our emotions and our love for her.  It was about the things that stop us in life that maybe we would not have heard when she was here, but you hear loud and clear when she’s gone.  I will get messages from our viewers that they have so much more attachment to the veterans on the show since her passing.  And there again, they cherish what they lost, and are attaching to the people they have spent 25, 30 or 40 years with.

LAURALEE:

I went for a fitting for a wedding dress, and I was like, “Right?”

MICHAEL:

What did you think about how the marriage came about so quickly?

LAURALEE:

Well, Paul gets down on knee!  And … with Reverend Corbin looking on!  (Laughs)

DOUG:

Courtesy/CBS

Then Jill says, “This will be perfect!”

LAURALEE:

And Christine says, “I don’t think this is appropriate.  It steals focus.”

DOUG:

It makes it so right that it will honor her, in that we are starting a new life together and honoring a life that just past – so it’s a death and birth at the same time.

LAURALEE:

And there were instructions from Katherine, that this should not be a sad occasion but a party, and all of that.  So it did work.

MICHAEL:

You must have been concerned that this would come off as a bit odd?

DOUG:

In the beginning, yes … but then also what came into this was Lauralee’s relationship with Jeanne, and my relationship with Jeanne, and suddenly we looked at each other and we have our own history together.  So, then it becomes about Doug’s working relationship with Lauralee, and Lauralee’s with Doug’s, and suddenly your realize, all of our adult life has been spent in this environment.  Corbin pointed out that over half of Jeanne’s life was spent on Y&R, and suddenly we could all relate to the fact that what Bill and Lee Bell created lives on.  After the taping of the memorial was all done, Corbin personally challenged all of us in keeping the show alive and working as hard as we can.

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

LAURALEE:

He challenged us to take this and take it to the next level, and never give up.  Even when you worked with Jeanne, she would force you to work harder to make it a better scene.

DOUG:

At 84!  She would show up, ready to go.  It was amazing.

MICHAEL:

And where do you think things were between Christine and Paul before the letters arrived?  Were they in a good place where Katherine’s influence would have sparked this to happen so quickly?

LAURALEE:

All Christine says to Paul is, “I know you are a little disappointed that you didn’t get a letter.”   She has been away and she shows up and Paul says, “Do you want to just pass on the memorial?”   Christine says, “No, after getting this letter, I feel closer to Katherine.  And, I am sorry you did not get a letter.”   Paul just sloughs it off and says, “I will just share yours.”   But you can tell he is very sad he does not have a letter.  But it was pretty immediate, and probably better that way, because if there was too much thought about it, it would not have worked.  The whole thing had to be spontaneous.

DOUG:

I am delivered the letter towards the end of the memorial service, and I go off to a private area to read it. 

MICHAEL:

So all this time Christine and Paul loved each other from afar?  Lauralee has not been on the show as much recently.

LAURALEE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Well, she moved back from Washington to be with Paul.  I work a bunch more in the beginning of September, so I think things will become clearer.

DOUG:

I understand there were production reasons why Lauralee could not come earlier, and then for Lauralee she had family plans during the summer.

LAURALEE:

I don’t know if I will be on more. I hope so.  I am auditioning and doing my web series, and when I get the call to come back to Y&R, I am happy to go.  It is all good.

MICHAEL:

Nina seemed happy she got her letter, so she was satisfied to let bygones be bygones.  She even was Christine’s maid of honor! But what about Danny (Michael Damian), who Christine has a romantic past with?  He did not look to happy about this union!

LAURALEE:

Nina was happy because she got a letter from Katherine.  She was happy to be acknowledged, same with Danny who said something like, “I’ve moved on.  I don’t care.”  It was pretty funny. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Do you think Christine and Paul ever stopped loving each other?

DOUG:

I don’t think they ever stopped.  I think they were driven apart by Michael (Christian LeBlanc) and Isabella (Eva Longoria) and if not for that, I think they would have made it over the separation.  But having the two forces; Michael on Chris and Isabella on Paul, it drove a wedge between them when Chris was working in Hong Kong. Upon her return, I don’t think they stopped loving each other.  I think it was all still there.  I think they became jealous, and because of it, it shrouded their love, but if you recall none of that happened naturally.  It was all forced upon.

LAURALEE:

Courtesy/CBS

Paul’s competition really is Christine’s job.  That is her problem.  She has to figure out what she needs more … a career, or a life.  But at this point in life, as people get older this marriage has a better chance of working, because it’s a different stage in your life, and you do realize that life does not go on forever and you re-prioritize.  I think that other than the circumstances of Katherine’s wedding, it was an emotional ceremony, and that they are on now on a very adult level with each other in a different way.

DOUG:

The fact that they have such a strong foundation and relationship beyond husband and wife, is the reason it’s probably going to last forever.  And, I mean forever as anything is on a soap opera. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Do you think Jeanne would love the fact that Paul and Christine got hitched on the memorial episodes dedicated to the legacy of her character, Katherine Chancellor?

DOUG:

I think you go one step further, too; it was a pairing that was incredibly important to Bill as well.  And for me, it was quite an honor that he picked my character to marry the character his daughter plays.  If you know anything about Bill, he would never do anything like that lightly.  That in itself is an honor, but Jeanne being connected to that goes above and beyond.  There is a video clip of where she is talking to me about Chris that was 20 years ago.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Lauralee, do you think Dad would be proud of this story?

LAURALEE:

I think so.  The history is there.  It defines itself, and the audience knows what we are thinking without speaking, and it’s characters that our so embedded in the show.

DOUG:

We could not have done this without Bill Bell.  This goes so deep into the core and the heart of the entire show, that it’s all him.

LAURALEE:

Friends who never watched the show asked me, “Oh, you’re getting married again?”  Then they asked, “Well, what number is this for you?”  And I said, “Surprisingly, it’s only the second man I have married on Y&R.”   Again, this relationship was not so all over the place, where Paul was with this person, and that person, and Christine was with half the cast.  These two have such a special bond that when you see one; you expect to see the other.

DOUG:

I hesitate to use the word “old-fashioned”, but it was the hero and the heroine, and Bill Bell was very protective of both our characters, and what we got involved it.  I know from my perspective, Bill would never have Paul shoot anybody.  He wouldn’t even let me point a gun.  That is how pure that was…

LAURALEE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

… Or, let you solve a case! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Well, while Paul could never solve a case, Christine could!  She never lost a case in court! (Laughs)

LAURALEE:

When I went to The Bold and the Beautiful Ronn Moss (Ex-Ridge) said, “You’re my attorney?”  And I said, “You’re gonna win!”  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Do either of you have a favorite moment, or scene with Jeanne?

LAURALEE:

Well, I wouldn’t even know how to describe what we were talking about, but a few years ago, I think I came back for a couple of months.  I had a scene with Jeanne where I am assuming I was talking about Paul.  I bawled in the scene to her, and it didn’t ask for tears.  But in my brain, I had this thing like, “Oh, my God.  I bet I am never going to work with her again.”   Little did I know that she would live two years longer.  But it was so intense for me.  She did not say very much, but all I had to do was look at her, and it was sort of like the trust factor I have with Doug.  It was such a wonderful day for me. There was no panic about how am I going to say this big monologue with this person, and hope that it comes out right.  All I had to do was just look at her.  I don’t know if you can call it a favorite scene, but it was so beyond comfort in terms of working with someone, it was just such a gift that day.

DOUG:

Paul and Kay had a professional relationship, and it was not nearly as deep as Doug and Jeanne.  I have pictures of me in a scene with her, and she always made me laugh.  I would solve crimes, or loved ones for Katherine.  So that made my job kind of difficult. Paul would be sad, but not so heartbroken, that you can’t talk.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS Photo Credit: JPI

So Christine got this makeshift wedding, and wore what she had on for the memorial as her “wedding dress”!

LAURALEE:

Yes.  All the girls give me something borrowed, something blue and there is a makeshift bouquet! (Laughs)

DOUG:

Katherine did not want people wearing black, so no tears, no mourning.  So that colored the palette of what we were all wearing.  It was not a maudlin ceremony, and it took place in a place that never existed before.  So for the near future, this park is named after Katherine Chancellor, and we have scenes there with her plaque on the wall.  We honor her every time the park is up.  That is what I mean she is not off the canvas, and she will never be.  She will live on in the hearts of viewers, and all the people that had a personal relationship with her that remain on the show.

 

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mary jonas
mary jonas

Thank you for this. It was a really nice ending to #rememberKay. I like how it has a deeper meaning because Doug and Lauralee seem so close with Jeanne Cooper. Something sweet.

Dinah
Dinah

The only I dislike about today show, sorry this was should be only about Mrs C, besides they are very boring couple every been on YR

Dinah
Dinah

ever not every sorry

Chris
Chris

I love these actors and the characters they portray! I especially love Jeanne Cooper and Mrs. C. The tribute had some beautiful moments but the wedding was weird and upstaged why we all tuned in. Personally I thought it was in poor taste. I was emotionally involved the first half and then reminded that people who don’t get this show are running it.

JG and JFP don’t seem to know how to write/produce moments and just let that moment have its place in time. There is nothing deep in how they tell story.

Overall the episodes will remain with me because of the fact that we really did lose a loved member of the cast. That’s why these episodes worked.

Jules
Jules

I completely agree with your observation about the wedding. That wedding was entirely unnecessary in this particular episode. It was rushed, meaningless, no depth or poignancy and COMPLETELY took away from the otherwise lovely tribute they were giving to Katherine and Jeanne. Frankly, I would think JC would have been APPALLED that the show would try and upstage, or at the very least compete, with a tribute dedicated to her…in her humorous way of course, but you just know there would be truth behind her displeasure.

And moreover, it didn’t do anything for the characters of Paul and Christine either. I haven’t been watching long, but I do know the couple has been off and on for decades. This insta-wedding did such a disservice to their fans who have waited for years for them to find their way back to one another and get the wedding they deserve.

The episode was a mess and completely disjointed, and it’s a real shame not only because of what it was supposed to be about (which in and of itself is a damn shame), but also because it so easily didn’t have to be this way. I think Josh Griffin THOUGHT he was giving everyone what they wanted, and JFP THOUGHT she was creating her Emmy winning episode- balancing the sad and happy emotions, “a little bit of this, and a little bit of that”- but the final product was just a disaster. What started off as a really strong, sentimental and touching episode dedicated to the memory of one of the most legendary and enduring daytime divas of all time, was reduced to a pitiful, uninspired wedding after switching gears on a 180 degree turn at the next commercial break. RI-DIC-U-LOUS.

Jewell
Jewell

At least Nick and Avery decided to wait.. Paul and Christine only got married because of what Katherine said in that letter.. Also I learned Michael broke up their marriage last time, so Paul asks him to be his best man? Come on..

Mary SF
Mary SF

I watched the memorial shows and I never cried, got a bit misty eye at a few spots, but it was all done like I expected The clips were clips I had seen many times, but I enjoyed them. Maybe fatigue made me feel numb all through it;even the ghost at the end was a sweet, but lack the emotional punch of Edward and Lily’s ghosts going up the staircase did on GH. So here I thought nothing about it was going get me to cry– and then you tell me that Corbin placed some of Jeanne’s ashes in Katherine’s urn– now I am blubbering like a baby– thanks for giving me a real moment to say goodbye to great actress and character.

yogabba
yogabba

Lovin the good use of vets! sweet moments for a longtime couple. me likes. They need Isabella back now to go crazy on em!

Cupcake
Cupcake

Awesome soap I’ve been watching for 40 yrs and will really miss Catherine.

Judy
Judy

Great interview! I loved the wedding and certainly hope we do see more of Christine going forward!

Carole
Carole

Was very disappointed but not surprised that Christine would be suddenly brought into the story line and made the star of the show. The boss’s daughter has always been given the best storylines, clothes, close up shots, etc. Todays episode just proves it and was disrespectful of Jeanne Cooper and all the fans.

yogabba
yogabba

thats a stretch. she hasn’t been on much at all in recent years and suddenly she was ‘made the star’. i think it was just supposed to be cute.

lisa
lisa

It was a surprise – but I liked it.
In keeping with Katherine’s spirit ,I think she would have liked it too.
In death,life goes on.
I was very moved to see Jeanne’s real life son Corbin (Father Todd) performing the service – as he is cast as Paul’s brother on the show – I do hope he will make future visits.
It was a good episode.

Tom
Tom

At first I didn’t understand this storyline choice, but I always loved Paul and Cricket as a couple so I went with it. I haven’t agreed over the past few weeks with every story beat in the wake of Katherine’s passing, but take these memorial episodes as they were: we got a chance to see the show’s veterans in one last hurrah. With far too much of the past year–and years, for that matter–showing Genoa City awash in boring new faces, it was nice to just see the vets and legacy characters as well. We can’t predict what the future will hold, especially in the wake of the JFP/JG falling out, but I appreciate that I got to see a whole bunch of Bill Bell characters gathered together.

Joan
Joan

I know every one is entitled to their own opinion. Paul and Christine have always been a good match. I’m not surprised that they find their way back into each others arms.

Jewell
Jewell

The memorial was beautiful, when they shown the hologram of Jeanne Cooper at the end I lost it.. IMO the wedding didn’t belong at the wedding.. I would love to see Danny come back and fight for Cricket you can see that he still loves her.

k/kay
k/kay

Jeanne Cooper would have loved it Doug & Lauralee she loved hey it was her Dad’s creation you are suppose to love your children, don’t worry it is downhill all the way now The Steve Burton show. JFP you are welcome to it you and the golden boy deserve each other. I just pray that if Y&R goes first and he is out of work RC &FV tell him to kiss off.

Deborah
Deborah

BRAVO! Wonderful article. FAN-DAM-TASTIC Memorial. We ALL Wept like “the Family we are”….Hope the Chancellor Estate has a new portrait hanging over the mantle for the rest of time! Want to see the Duchess of Daytime Every time theyre is someoen in the living room! She will NEVER be forgotten … she’s “just in the next room.” The wedding was bizzare, but it was alright for this life-long fan. Jeanne would be as happy as Katherine that the wedding took place there. So thrilled to learn that she was present in the urn as well. Such a WONDER, REMARKABLE, UNIQUE EVENT and I am soooo proud and happy to have been able to virtually participate in paying my respects through my “attendance.” No other television star, has EVER been honored in such a way, by Millions of sincerely loyal fans. Just amazing, and soooo deserved. Great Lady!

PatF
PatF

It was a bit odd, but I do like that Josh G, who wrote it, was really doing so to keep all the veteran characters involved.

I’m suspecting that’s one of the reasons he was having creative differences with Ms Phelps, because she seems to want to get the show AWAY from our loved characters.

The entire two episodes really were pretty good and honored Kay’s and Jeanne memory. I love the park idea, but it better NOT replace the classic Mansion we want to continue to see.

I hope these new writers, who have no idea of the history of the show are able to continue the show with these characters we love.

Joy Mathys
Joy Mathys

Paul and Chris were my favorite couple when I started watching the show, years ago… and they still are. I loved these two episodes, I love Chancellor Park and I loved the wedding.

H Parson
H Parson

I love both of these characters, but I felt their wedding hijacked what should have been a second episode of our other characters strolling down memory lane.

And I think the park that was named in Katherine’s honour looked fake.

The new sets do not have the warmth of character Y&R sets have had in the past. In particular – the new ranch set is a disgrace. It’s so tacky and cheap looking.

Dee
Dee

I loved the dedication to Jeanne Cooper; glad to see Paul & Christine married and that Michael was best man(CLB is my fav actor) their friendship has grown as has their respect for each other. I think Josh did a great job and was sorry to see him go as I do not trust JFP to keep our beloved characters of the past front and Center..I have loved the fact that Christian LeBlanc Tracey Bregman and Doug Davidson have had more screen time since Josh took over..Now am waiting with bated breath to see how JFP and her cronies handle it. If they mess up me and my 7 friends who Josh got back to watching will all but quit as we almost did under MAB I only watched when CLB TEB and DD were on and you all know how seldom it was under MAB ..I was disappointed to see Josh G. go..lets hope the new writers are worthy of writing Y and R as it is supposed to be written.

Karen
Karen

I thought Katherine’s memorial was perfect. It had me in tears one minute and laughing along with everyone else the next. It must have been so hard for Corbin though. I don’t know how he got through it, but it couldn’t have been more appropriate. I was so happy to see some characters back for her memorial, but missed many others. As for the wedding – I loved it! It was a perfect way to end her memorial. And I have waited FOREVER for Paul and Christine to re-marry. Katherine would have been so happy. Will miss her always.

Agnes McKamey
Agnes McKamey

I wanted to find a copy of the poem that Father Todd read for Katherine. Please let me know since it was beautiful. The memorial service was outstanding and very fitting for a grand duchess!

Andrea
Andrea

If you find a copy of the poem read or even the name and author please e-mail me with the info.

Thanks

ellen
ellen

I’ve been searching for this too as I have an upcoming memorial that this would be perfect for. Thank you

Beacon
Beacon

Bill Bell knew that Cricket belonged with Danny. They were the love story of Y&R in the 80s. If Bill hadn’t have retired, Cricket and Danny would have found their way back together. There’s an episode from December 1995 I have where Danny is visiting Katherine and she tells him that Paul and Christine can’t last because Cricket’s heart is with Danny.

Daphne
Daphne

Actually, Bill Bell idolized Paul and Christine. Bill Bell was also the one who wrote the Danny character off in 1998 and put Paul and Christine back together to work on their marriage. Bill Bell only had the Danny character chasing after Christine while Danny always end up on the losing side.

Michelle
Michelle

Cricket better not hurt Paul. I feel that she is still in love with Danny and Nina still loves Paul!

lisette
lisette

PLEASE TELL ME WHERE I CAN HAVE THE POEM FOR MEMORIAL OF CHANCELLOR OF YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH

David
David

In the “you can never please everyone” category I personally thought this week was the best week in YEARS! The day Bill Bell retired was the day the show floundered. Kay Alden did a good job trying to maintain, but after she left so did the heart of Y&R! Stories sped up, didn’t make sense, and bad stories/characters interwove into the heart of the show.

No matter what I think of the show prior to this week JG and JFP did an AMAZING job. Every character that touched Mrs. C was a part of the show. Loved the Chancellor Park. Loved the slow build up of Chris & Paul then their wedding at her memorial service, and LOVED Jill’s speech. I lost it when Father Todd came up in the beginning and at the end. I dunno if it helped Corbin or dug deeper, but everything about this week FINALLY made sense.

Contrary to what people say this memorial will move story forward. Paul & Christine’s wedding (Loved when Jill called her Cricket). Nina forgiving Paul. Cane rushing up to Jill NOT Billy. Victor NOT learning the meaning of life lol I loved this. If they want to win the Emmy for best writing they need to submit this week’s episodes. The ghost of Mrs. C shocked me. I don’t watch GH so I never seen this done. I loved it.

I still want Wendy Riche and Claire Labine as Executive Producer and Headwriter respectively, but if the new writing regime can build off the momentum JG wrote I’ll be ok with that.

jaybird369
jaybird369

OMG!!!!! Leave it up to BOTH Josh Griffith and (especially!!!!!) Jill Farren Phelps to ruin Katherine’s memorial service on Y and R!!!!! That so-called (and forced) impromptu wedding of Paul and Christine was beyond ridiculous. What in the hell were JG and JFP each thinking????? Also, Danny didn’t look too happy as Paul and Christine were renewing their wedding vows. And, as for Nina (my all-time FAVORITE Y and R character…HOLLA!!!!!) being Christine’s maid of honor at the last minute…blah blah blah blah. If I were Nina, I would have left before those annoying and force-fed nitwit nuptials. But, that’s just me. Now that Paul and Christine are re-hitched (yawn), I think that Danny and Nina should hook up…that would truly ROCK!!!!! As for Jill Farren Phelps…STUPID WOMAN!!!!! And the DECLINE of Y and R continues……….

Betsy Dobrick
Betsy Dobrick

Thank you, loved the two-day tribute to one of my favorite stars. I am sorry for her family including the Y&R family. I liked the wedding as it finished off the “party” in a sweet way that was just fine. I loved the park dedication. I will miss her and the reunion was touching. Lots of loose ends tied up and look forward to the life and loves of the characters. She was very special.

Dave
Dave

I felt like Beau Kazer (Brock) should have had a lot more to say about his on-screen mother at the memorial. I felt a bit ripped-off that he was brought back after all this time and the writers had barely written a word for him to speak.

ellen
ellen

Please give the name of the poem read by Corbin (Father Tom) during the Memorial.
I Corintians…which verse was read?

beth ryker
beth ryker

I love Jeanne cooper (mrs.c) and miss her ever day.she was one great lady.she was ever one friend,mom and grandmother.i feel like I loss my mom all over again!!!

Jasmine
Jasmine

I enjoyed the tribute to Jeanne Cooper. I cried when Father Todd first came up, read the poem, married his brother to Christine and when he left. I was leasnantly surprised by the wedding of two of my all time faves. Also, loved Christine’s very pretty blue dress. I hope the marriage will be long and happy. I do hope their will be a complication if Dylan is Nikki’s son, I hope Paul is the biological father.

laryssa troniak
laryssa troniak

is doug Davidson leaving Y and R

General Hospital

GH’s James Patrick Stuart Talks on Valentin’s Downfall and Potential Rise to Power

After all his bravado, machinations and lies to keep the woman he loves, and believing he was the rightful heir to the Cassadine fortune, suddenly it all came crashing down for Valentin Cassadine (James Patrick Stuart) on recent episodes of General Hospital.

Payback can be a bitch, but for Valentin; who’s past has been fraught with numerous physical and emotional tribulations since his childhood, he now finds himself at the lowest point in his life; losing Nina (Cynthia Watros) who’s now taken up with Jax (Ingo Rademacher), realizing he is the biological son of the evil Helena Cassadine (Constance Towers), and not Mikkos, and having all his best laid plans and misdeeds backfire.  (Remember, he shot and “killed” Nikolas, and set up the ruse that led Sasha to pretend she was Nina’s bio-daughter.)  Now, enter Nelle Benson (Chloe Lanier), who could very well hold the ticket, to Valentin’s rise to wealth and power all over again.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with James Patrick Stuart to get the lowdown on: those heavy and emotional scenes opposite Constance Towers, working with Cynthia Watros as his newest Nina, if Valentin might really kill Jax the next time he thinks about it, and what about a potential relationship between Anna (Finola Hughes) and Valentin?

Not many can play bad as good as James in this industry.  He does it so effortlessly and still brings out the humanity in the guy that has t-r-o-u-b-l-e written all over him.  Here’s what James had to share about all of Valentin’s recent dramatic moments, a tease of what’s to come, and much more.

Photo: JPI

Valentin’s world has imploded at the moment.  When did you initially find out that he was going to turn out to not be a true Cassadine heir?

JAMES:  Well, there were some clues dropped by Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) back when we did the gallery auction where Helena’s portrait went up in flames.  Frank looked at me and goes, “Hey, Jack Nicholson it up.  Have some fun!  You’re not going to be feeling pretty good for a while.”  (Laughs)  I’m like, “Oh … what are the plans?”  He pulled me aside and goes, “Yeah, you’re going to lose Nina, but you’re going to try to take over ELQ.  That’s when I started to go, “Wait a minute!  That sounds to me like Valentin’s losing his money.”  (Laughs)  With the character of Nikolas (Marcus Coloma) coming back; it’s pretty great.  I think the writing was on the wall there.  I put it out on twitter the other day.  I said, “Look what they’ve done to my boy.”  Somebody chimed in, “They gave him a storyline!” (Laughs)

Who doesn’t love to see you, James Patrick Stuart, play tortured soul?  They audience loves to see you get the opportunity to go to those depths in your performances.

JAMES:  It’s been really interesting for me.  I’ve had a lifetime of playing bad guys because the line was always shorter. (Laughs)  Everybody wants to be Tom Cruise, but the Alan Rickman’s of it all, to me, were what was so interesting.  Early on, you play one dimensional kind of twisting of the mustache, tying a woman to the train tracks.  After a while, you start to watch the truly great actors.  They start to take you on a ride.  If you’re paying attention, you start to feel what it would be like to be that damaged, and that’s why you do it.  Then you start to see the vulnerability. To me, I thought, “This is a great time in my life because I’m ready to do that.” A lot of people say, “I don’t understand.  I feel like that makes no sense. because why would I root for a person who behaves like this?” and that to me, I feel is the greatest compliment of all.

So much happened recently to Valentin in one fell swoop; he overhears Nina telling Ava (Maura West) she kissed Jax, then he envisions shooting Jax and then he is drinking himself into oblivion and he gets a “visit” from Helena!  But … the scenes between Valentin and Helena really summed up the bitter truth for him, wouldn’t you say?

JAMES:  Yes.  In the “Helena” scenes, it all basically is revealed.  It all comes down in a moment where he “sees” her.  I think he realizes with the DNA test; he’s not the person he thought he was, but he certainly had no idea that he had her blood in his veins.  The truly tragic moment of the evening is when it dawns on him that he has a daughter with Helena’s blood in her veins.  Now, he would kill her a thousand times over in that moment.  He can’t do it.  He’s fighting phantoms.  That’s the bottom below the bottom, and things got worse than he ever thought they would get.

Courtesy/ABC

Does Valentin have any idea then, who his biological father could be?

JAMES:  I don’t think so.  I don’t believe so.  I know I don’t.  I think once he realizes that Helena is in fact the mother, I think he’d rather just go into oblivion.  I think at that point, he’s out of answers.  Enter Alexis (Nancy Lee Grahn) …which is wonderful because I think the world of Nancy, and she saves the day.   Alexis basically talks him out of hurting himself, telling him to count his blessings that he is not a Cassadine, etc, which was a really sweet moment.

I assume, when you have this kind of material to play, it must be exhausting, but exhilarating at the same time?

JAMES:  I think that’s exactly right.  As an actor, I think you want to do this stuff.  Maura West and I compare notes all the time.  I think it can be kind of emotionally draining.  You do feel it, and I felt it when I had spent a lot of time with Nina and Valentin, and when the actresses changed, and we brought Cynthia Watros in.  I worked twice as hard to make sure that Cynthia’s landing was as easy as possible, and I really grew attached to the Nina and Valentin connection.  So, when Jax steps in, Cynthia’s love life means nothing to me, I don’t care about that, but Nina’s love life means a lot to me!  And it bums me out, and I don’t know that I’ll actually be watching any future love scenes between them as much as I love them both!  I have a deep attachment to the Valentin connection to Nina.  So, the lines get burred because we just play these characters so long.

Photo: JPI

What was it like sharing those tough scenes with Constance? No one can play icy, evil villainess like her … and yet in real life, she is such a gracious and kind-hearted woman.

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JAMES:  In real life, Constance is such a sweetheart, and she’s so grateful to be there.  She was so ready to work, and rehearse, and play, and find the stuff, and she was great.  I’d been in scenes with her before.  Last time, we didn’t really talk to each other.  I was with the hump.  I was being Valentin pre-surgery.  It was some sort of moment in a graveyard, but this time we actually got to interact with each other.

You look at Valentin, and he’s not had the greatest life.  Do you bring his entire back-story into your performance; such as when he was deformed with the hump and how he had to literally reconstruct his life both in the physical and in emotional ways for many years?

JAMES:  Absolutely.  It’s the brokenness that he’s making choices from.  He was never truly and authentic person to begin with which is why his love fell apart.  He’s always been faking.  He’s always been putting on a show.  That’s not sustainable in matters of the heart.  It was unbelievably easy for Jax to swoop in, because it was inevitable that things were going to fall apart.  Of course, that anger and that brokenness were what lead him to want to kill Jax.  There’s no question.  He was prepared to do that.  If you look in the eyes in the fantasy sequence in the shooting, he just wanted to watch him die.  He wanted to watch the light go out in Jax’s eyes.  He was so furious … and even more tragic is … that was all he could think of, and somehow, he realized in that moment that wouldn’t work, because he’d lose his daughter.

Photo: JPI

Anna and Finn (Michael Easton) just kind of busted up.  Do you think Anna and Valentin will hookup? There is a connection and a history between the two of them whenever they seem to be in proximity of one another.

JAMES:  Personally, I’m waiting for that.  I hope so!  There is a finesse and elegance to that woman, and not only that, there is an effortless to the connection between Valentin and Anna, if one can say that about one’s own coupling.  I love to look at it!  I think we go together like a wink and a smile.  I just find that chemistry really great.  I think that’s mostly Finola, though.  She can probably have chemistry with most anything.

Valentin was going to leave Port Charles with Charlotte (Scarlett Fernandez), after Nikolas revealed all and the fallout began.  Interestingly enough, it was Anna who came to Valentin’s side and tried to talk him down from fleeing with his daughter and showed such compassion for him!

JAMES:  Wasn’t that great?  She was the one who got him.  She was the one who was able to calm the beast.  There was no one else he would have listened to.  In the moment in the police station, after Charlotte had been kidnapped, and there is that moment where Anna has that bruise, I thought it was such a tender moment.  I just said, “If I kiss my finger and touch your wound?” and she’s like, “Do it.”  It was just this moment where we had been bitter rivals and enemies for so long, but he just adores her so much it’s undeniable that he sees her wounded and wants to make it better.  It’s floating out there waiting to be done.  I know that everybody knows it.  It’s just a matter of what the right away to go about in the writing would be.

Photo: JPI

So, you’ve worked opposite two acting dynamos in the role of Nina – Michelle Stafford and now, Cynthia Watros.  Was the transition difficult for you when Cynthia came to GH?

JAMES:  It wasn’t.  It was scary because Michelle Stafford wasn’t just one in a million, I mean, she is one of a kind.  The last thing in the world that I would ever want to consider doing myself was recast that actress.  So, my deal was (and I’ve said this to Cynthia) I said, “I have no control over this.  All I can do is make the landing as easy as possible for Cynthia.”  We did a lot of photoshoots together, and I had flowers waiting for her, and I did everything possible to make sure that she knew that she had a friend and that she had somebody that was going to make it as easy as possible.  It was rough because a lot of the trolls on social media were just awful to her… just brutal, and she goes, “I have thick skin.  I can take it,” and then a week later, she goes, “I’ve closed all my social media accounts!”  (Laughs)  It’s been fun to watch those guys turn around and go, “You have a really special person.”  That wedding stuff was just incredible!  She came so prepared and she knocked it out of the park.  Cynthia has been wonderful.  I love them both.  I love her the reddest, and I love Michelle the bluest, and together I love them the purplest.  (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

It’s interesting that all the women in his life such as Anna and Nina, all have a soft-spot for Valentin; even though they don’t necessarily want to be with him.  These ladies are just drawn to this dysfunctional guy.

JAMES:  Don’t you think?  Is it that you want to help him, you want to fix him, you see the potential, you want to help him despite himself?  I think that’s what it is.

Courtesy/ABC

Do you think Valentin’s still going to try to win Nina back, or is that done? 

JAMES:  I don’t know.  I do know that the Valentin I know will never shake Nina, and when he loves, he loves forever.  He can be simultaneously in love with Anna whenever she’s near.  I don’t believe he ever truly got over Nina hearing his story and his brokenness and still loving him twice as hard.  Years ago, there was a moment where he said to her the stuff that he’s never said, and Michelle beautifully kissed my tears away and said, “You’re beautiful” to me.   I think in that moment his fate was sealed.  I think he knew that this was his woman forever.  So, I just don’t think that that goes away.  I think he will always carry a torch for Nina, for sure.

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Do you see Valentin becoming darker and darker now that he had found out he is Helena’s offspring?

JAMES:  Well, yes and no.  I remember watching these scenes and we’ve done a lot of this stuff, and you know how easy it is to sort of go, “Let’s go dark, let’s go dark, let’s go more dark,” and after a while, I go, “You know, maybe he does learn something.  Maybe there’s hope for this guy after all.”  Of course, more bad stuff will happen to him, and he will do more bad stuff, because that’s just who he is.  A leopard can’t change his spots, and those are his survival instincts, but there are some new colors, and it’s all a direct result of all of just these horrible things that have happened to him… mostly learning that he is part Helena and he can’t undo that.

Photo: JPI

We saw that Nelle (Chloe Lanier) called and then goes to see Valentin, because she wants to sell her shares of ELQ.  So, obviously he has the potential to become really rich here which is what would give him his power back.  How do you think that will go over with the rest of the Quartermaines? (Laughs)

JAMES:  (Laughs) A lot of the Quartermaine actors have been asking me that in the hallways of General Hospital!  Isn’t that interesting how he’ll just sort of switch families? (Laughs)

Of all the people, just as Valentin’s life is in the gutter and he is at his lowest, who should show up with a sort of lifeline, Nelle! How will he go about attempting to gain control of ELQ?

JAMES:  Valentin knows he has to get the majority shares to gain a control of the company, and he has to do it fast before people see that he’s doing it.  So, that’s where Michael E. Knight (Martin Gray) has been.  He’s gallivanting the states rapidly accumulating shares.  (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

It’s been so fun seeing you and Michael Knight on-screen and on a daytime soap together again, as so many remember you as Tad Martin and Will Cortlandt on All My Children.  How has it been getting the chance to work with Michael?

JAMES:  My God, are you kidding me?  He taught me!  He’s the guy who taught me.  I didn’t know how to do this.  Nobody instinctively knows… this is a very unique art form.  It’s more Jazz than anything else, and he showed me how to do it!  Walt Willey (Ex-Jack, AMC) showed me how to do my hair, and Michael Knight taught me how to break down a script!  And, what’s so funny is he is still doing it.  In a scene on GH, when he threw in that line, “From now on, you pay in advance,” I just about fell on the floor!  I thought, “There he is!  That’s the Michael I’ve always known and loved.”

Photo: JPI

Who would have thought that you guys would get to share scenes like that again on soaps?  You just never know in this life who may be wind up back in your orbit.

JAMES:  It’s incredible.  That’s what we say all of the time… “Who would have thought?”  You could never plan something like this and that we’d still be doing it at this point.

Now with Lulu (Emme Rylan) learning that Valentin is not a Cassadine, and Nina apparently moving on to a relationship with Jax, what do you think it will mean for their relationship in raising their daughter, Charlotte?

JAMES:  I think in the short-term, Valentin’s shelved any ideas of getting her out of Charlotte’s life.  He’s sort of putting out the fires in his own personal life.  Charlotte needs a mother in her life, and he’s quite willing to share custody as they always have been.  She seems to be looking at this as an opportunity to paint him as an unfit father, and she wants full-time custody.  So, we’re back to that again.  It looks to me like Lulu is kicking Valentin while he’s down.

Photo: JPI

It was so nice to see you, and some of your GH co-stars such as: Steve Burton (Jason) and Maurice Benard (Sonny) show up for Y&R’s Eric Braeden’s (Victor Newman) 40th anniversary on set celebration at CBS.  It was quite the event; speakers galore, and so many from our industry and beyond in attendance.

JAMES:  It was pretty profound.  Eric has always been kind to me.  I only worked with him on one movie, a western, called The Man Who Came Back, and that was probably 12 years ago.  He has been so complimentary of me in interviews and in his book.  So, if he does that with me, I can only imagine how many dear, dear friendships he has.  So, the fact that everybody showed up like that from the president of CBS Entertainment to local councilmen, and that they were willing to do be there for 2 hours was really proof of how much they love him.  Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R), who I don’t even think was working that day, came in for it and spoke at the event. There was so much respect shown for Eric and what he has meant to this medium.

Photo: JPI

Your album The Apple Tree was so well-received, and everyone always loves seeing you get the opportunity to sing on General Hospital as well.  Will you continue to put out more music in 2020?

JAMES:  Yeah, that’s the plan.  I have another one that I’m working on.  I have a bunch of songs.  I’m in no rush to get it out.  Unfortunately, I lost Glen Roven, who wrote the cello part for Book of Love, passed away right after the Nurses’ Ball where I played Book of Love, which is really heartbreaking, and then, Michael Sherwood, who helped me with a number of songs on the record passed away right after The Apple Tree came out.  So, I’m a little gun-shy.  But, I’m planning on having something out by December for Christmas.

In closing, what would you say the fans should look forward to in the weeks ahead from Valentin?

JAMES: Look forward to that moment where Valentin is so low that there’s nowhere to go but up!  The comeback is going to be one for the books.

So, what do you think of how Valentin’s life hit rock bottom?  Do you think he will ever win Nina back? Do you think he will takeover ELQ? Share your thoughts on James’ recent performances and his thoughts contained in this interview via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

Wally Kurth Talks DAYS Dramatic Twists That Gave Justin a Heartbreaking Story, a New Romance, and Unforgettable Moments

If you have been watching recent episodes of Days of our Lives, soap opera vet, Wally Kurth has been turning out the performances of his daytime career.  In one of the most heartbreaking weeks we can remember, DAYS took us back to ‘Mother’s Day’ one year ago, prior to their time jump, to show us how Justin’s wife, Adrienne (Judi Evans) died following a car crash, it’s aftermath, and assorted other key plots for the characters of Salem.

For decades, Wally Kurth along with Daytime Emmy winner, Judi Evans created the on-screen love story of Justin and Adrienne on DAYS, and while they were off the canvas for quite some time, they remained one of the most popular duos in the history of the show.  Saying goodbye to one daytime love story opened the door for another, and now Kurth has been paired with another Daytine Emmy winner, Mary Beth Evans (Kayla).  The romance of Justin and Kayla is really going to be tested with the recent return of Stephen Nichols who seems to have Steve’s body overtaken by the mind and soul of Stefano DiMera.   What will happen if, and when Steve, Kayla, and Justin enter into a romantic triangle?

But as daytime viewers know, Wally is not only recognizable for his role as DAYS Justin but that of General Hospital’s Ned Quartermaine.  Kurth has the distinction of being on two separate soaps (sometimes even airing on them at the same time), playing two different fan favorite roles.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Wally about: being handed the ball in the emotional storyline on DAYS that has had him acting his heart out alongside Chandler Massey (Will) and Freddie Smith (Sonny) that could just land him a Daytime Emmy nomination in just a few months.  Plus, giving us a glimpse of what is was like to tape all of those tear-filled scenes, his reaction to his latest romantic pairing, and having the gift of acting on two soaps at this stage of his career.  Here’s what Wally shared.

Photo: JPI

Let me just say; I’m all cried out watching your performances now.  I can’t cry anymore. (Laughs)  Did you watch everything back from the week-long flashback to Mother’s Day that changed the course of so many lives in Salem, and in particular, with the death of Adrienne?

WALLY:  Oh, yeah.  It was hard to watch.  It was interesting because the show must have been long as there were a couple of scenes that I was actually looking forward to seeing and they didn’t air.  One was on the Thursday episode and the other was on the Friday episode.  I remember seeing something about Matt Ashford (Jack) not having his scene air with Jack and Adrienne, and I wanted to tell him: “Hey, it was all around.”  It was probably just a little too much material to get it all in.

What do you remember doing that didn’t air?  Was Justin in even more tears?  (Laughs)

WALLY:  If you can believe it! (Laughs)  There was one scene with Sonny at her gurney that I really broke down.   There was a scene on Friday after Will leaves.  It’s a scene between Sonny and Justin talking about what Will had done that I thought was pretty intense, but that’s alright.  It’s part of the deal.  Shows run long and they’ve got to make decisions.  It’s all good.

Photo: JPI

What do you remember about the day you had to shoot those death scenes with Judi Evans?

WALLY:  It’s interesting.  I made a decision that I’m not going to go about those scenes with the normal method: thinking about something really, truly terrible in my life because first of all, I’ve never lost a woman I’ve been with for 30 years.  So, I decided just to use my imagination and use the words in the script, and just go there.  It was certainly a lot more fun.  I didn’t second-guess myself.  The words were beautifully written, and I just sort of played the scene; rather than try to regurgitate some kind of past memory and/or try to imagine one of my children dying or my wife dying.

You didn’t do “substitution”!

WALLY:  Yeah, I didn’t substitute.  I guess for people who don’t understand this kind of method in acting; you can substitute things in your real life, your personal life to help you feel something called upon to do in a script, and I’ve done that before.  I’ve done that a lot, actually.  I did that when I was first on the show with Judi.  But, on that day when Adrienne died, I didn’t.

Photos: NBC

It was so sad, and when they had the clip of a young Wally as Justin, meeting Adrienne for the first time, it was a sweet moment.  Justin sees her crying and is apparently smitten.  Did you see that flashback?  

WALLY:  It’s a famous one!  We got to talk about it, and the handkerchief in the scenes when she died.  I think in the scene that was cut, there was more about the handkerchief and that I gave her the handkerchief and that I needed a handkerchief now and Sonny gave me his handkerchief.  Years ago, I remember Al Rabin (Ex-director, DAYS) saying, “When you see her, she’s unlike anybody you’ve ever seen before.  That’s it,” and I went, “What?” and he said, “Yeah.  That’s it.”  So, I said, “Okay, she’s the one,” and I went in and just played that.  Like, “I don’t know who this woman is.  She’s crying on the bench.  She looks pretty miserable, but I’ll just try to talk to her” and that was Justin and Adrienne’s love story: coming in like a white knight and rescuing her.

You and Judi had worked together as Justin and Adrienne on and off for decades.  So, is there any sadness in saying goodbye to that on-screen relationship?

WALLY:  Yes, but in between it all we took like a 19-year break.  So, it’s not like John (Drake Hogestyn) and Marlena (Deidre Hall) who have been on continuously.  We fell back into that very comfortably.  It was 1987 when we were doing that scene at the park where she is crying.  Hello! That was 33 years ago!  And … oh, my God … the leather tie, the hair.  I had serious hair.  I remember that. (Laughs)

You had serious hair.  But … we all did!

WALLY:  It took longer just blowing my hair out than getting on make-up to hit the set.  I remember that little tweed jacket, and the black leather shoes.

Photo: JPI

What were we all thinking back then!? (Laughs)  It must have been hard for Judi on the day while you were grieving over her body?

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WALLY:  I remember Judi told me it was really hard for her, and I can understand it.  She’s such a good actress who really listens, so she’s always really affected.  We can be running lines in the makeup room, and if it’s an emotional scene, she can start crying.  So, she’s obviously really in touch with her emotions.  It was really hard for her to listen to Freddie, and me, and Matt and Mary Beth, and everyone tell her how much they’re going to miss Adrienne.  She was so good and professional.  She just kept her eyes closed all the way through the breaks.  She didn’t sit there and talk to us in between.  Probably, in her mind, she’s just trying to play dead.

She told me in the interview feature that I did for the DOOL app, that she intentionally didn’t want to see you and Freddie before those scenes.  

WALLY:  Yeah, that’s true.  I’m just thinking about that, and it really did help because we could just stay in that place and she never jumped up and went, “Hey!”   That’s just her professionalism.

Photo: JPI

When you originally found out that DAYS was going to kill-off Adrienne, and that they were going to do a time jump which paired Justin and Kayla, romantically, what was your reaction to all of that?  Was it like, “Oh, story for me!?” and/or did it make you feel bad about the character casualty in order to make that happen?

WALLY:  I guess, selfishly, you’re only thinking of yourself – when you’re selfish, and I did think like, “Wow.  That sounds like an amazing story,” and then I’m like, “Oh, well that sucks for Judi, and that’s going to be kind of crazy,” but then I also realized quickly (because I know Judi, and I know how much she loved playing Bonnie) that if they choose to bring her back, they could bring her back as Bonnie.  But yes, I thought about that as well, but mainly, I thought that this is something new.  As an actor and as an artist, you want a new challenge.  For Judi and me, we were just sort of playing the two greatest parents to Sonny.  Pretty much, that was our role.  We were happily married.  We hadn’t really had a story in about a year.  I mean, I’m mister lawyer in town.   At least for me, and it turns out, this has been an amazing story to play.  I have to say; never in a million years did I imagine Justin with Kayla.  So, it wasn’t like I was campaigning for it.

I know in daytime that sometimes actors campaign to be paired with certain actors on their respective soaps,

WALLY:  Yeah, so I think we were both surprised.  I worked with Mary Beth on General Hospital and of course, we are dear friends off set.  We thought that was probably going to be the hardest part, because we’ve been friends for so long, and it’s kind of nice that when you do a love story that you do have to kind of go there, and feel comfortable, and be excited, and it worked out.  I thought we both brought out qualities in our characters that really conveyed that a really good friendship morphed into a true love.  Justin and Kayla helped each other through this difficult, difficult time, and then…

… Then Stevano shows up in Salem!

WALLY:  Yup!   People fall in love.  That’s what happened, and then of course Stephen Nichols comes back, and all hell breaks loose.  I have to say, the audience is in for a really fun 6 months coming up.

Photo: JPI

What have you thought of Stephen Nichols portrayal as Stefano?

WALLY:  He has been amazing!   I told Stephen, and he appreciates it.   I don’t think anyone could do it as well as Stephen’s doing it.  I mean, when he blew up the other day in front of Anna (Leann Hunley), he sounded like Stefano.  He sounded like Joe Mascolo (Ex-Stefano)!  I think he’s done a really good job of pulling it off.  Only a really gifted actor could pull it off, and I believe it when he plays it.

You made a comment on Twitter to me about “the boys” (Freddie Smith and Chandler Massey), after I named the three of you Power Performance of the Week.  What can you say about Freddie in the scenes where he has to say goodbye to his mother, Adrienne, and then Chandler for his scenes with both Freddie and you in the aftermath, where he tells Sonny and Justin he was the responsible party that caused the crash that took Adrienne’s life?

WALLY:  Freddie went for it, and you have to.  He did, and I was so proud of him.   When Will tells Sonny that he was driving the car and he caused it, they were so in the moment.  They didn’t rush their emotions.  They took their time, and it was just totally believable, and not a false move, and then when I came in, it was just a really nice scene between the three of us, because I was checking in with Sonny, and then I was checking in with Will, and things took turn from there and it felt really solid.  I was very proud of it.

Courtesy/NBC

Then, when Justin tears into Will for the death of his wife, and Will goes, “I wish it would’ve been me.”  It was so intense; everyone was good in that scene.

WALLY:  I wanted to send out a tweet to everybody from that episode who were                       wonderful in it including: Stacy Haiduk (Kristen), Eric Martsolf (Brady), Paul Telfer (Paul), and Casey Moss (JJ)…

Oh, my Gosh, and then Casey was so heartbreaking learning of Haley’s (Thia Megia) death!

WALLY:  Good lord.  Three deaths in one day!

You’ve been on soap operas for a long time.   It was a lot to take in as the viewer, but it made for a riveting and can’t-miss week of episodes.

WALLY:  It was amazing that the show pulled it off.  It could have been really too much.  I thought that the production pulled it out.  It wasn’t too much.  That’s probably why scenes were cut, too.  It might have just been too much; all of that just grieving over dead bodies.

What is the reaction you’re seeing to all of this on social media?  The fans have been very favorable to the performances.  You’re in such an interesting position, because you’re on two soaps (DAYS and GH) and you’re able to have these two distinct and different characters to play. What’s that been like that you’ve been able to bounce back and forth for so long in your career from Salem to Port Charles, and back again?

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WALLY:  I couldn’t have planned it, obviously.  It just worked out that way; having created both roles, one 33 years ago and one 29 years ago.  I’m sort of integral on General Hospital because I’m sort of the lone patriarchal Quartermaine, and they want to keep that family going. So, that has been really kind of cool that I can keep breathing air into that legacy, and they’re recently brought in Amanda Setton as Ned’s daughter, Brook Lynn, too.  Then of course, with Days of Our Lives, they brought me back on as an attorney in 2009, and that was really out of the blue.  I hadn’t been on the show in 19 years.  So, to get a call to come back and be an attorney in town was just great, and at the time, I needed a job.  I kind of have to say, I owe Ken Corday (executive producer, DAYS) twice in my lifetime. He hired me as an actor when honestly; I could really use a job.  My first job was Days of Our Lives, and I was driving around in a moped then.

Photo: JPI

Speaking of Amanda Setton (Ex-Kimberly, One Life to Live) how do you think she is doing with the part of GH’s Brook Lynn?

WALLY:  She’s great.  She’s experienced, and nowadays you really have to be experienced on soaps.  We go so fast.  Unfortunately, the newbies take some time and have to get on track, but it’s a world of one takes and we go so quickly.  It really helps to have an actor who has done it before and isn’t daunted by the speed.

Speaking of keeping the legacy of the Q’s going, the one and only Jane Elliot recently came back to GH to reprise her role of Tracy Quartermaine. What was it like having her back on set to work with?  

WALLY:  It was great!  I hope she’ll make some future returns.  She had a good time.  The show is really much better with her.  I was just thrilled.

Photo: JPI

You must be grateful that Justin and Ned are still alive and kicking!

WALLY:  I love working on Days, and I love the crew.  I love the cast.  Both casts and crews from both soaps are fantastic.  I feel like the luckiest actor in town.  I don’t complain, and I won’t complain.  It’s interesting, when I was an actor on one show, I would complain, and I hear other actors on shows complaining about one thing or another.  I just don’t have a right to complain.  On my days off, I used to be the guy who would look at my lines the day before.  I probably could still do that, but I don’t want to.  I like spending a heck of a lot of time with my scripts so that when I go in there, I really know it.  I have a lot of different ways to play with it, and I get to be creative with it, and I pick that.  I don’t take that for granted.  So, every day when I get to work, I’m excited to be there, and I put a lot into it.

Photo: JPI

So, do you think we can foreshadow you winning a Daytime Emmy this year, or next year, or both for the performances we have seen and those yet to come?

WALLY:  (Laughs) I feel like I’ve already won an Emmy by having two jobs.  Honestly, I’m having the time of my life.

Do you think the audience will see Justin grieving still for Adrienne? With the time jump, in theory, we missed a year of that part of the mourning process.

WALLY:  You will see it.  But yes, you’re right.  You don’t see Justin the first three months, or the week after, or the weeks after.  However, more comes up for him that I think  will be very satisfying to the audience.  I know it’s been very shocking to the audience to see where Justin is at.  Most of the complaints I get are like, “Really?  It’s been three months, and you’re already making out with Kayla?”  People were kind of offended by that.  By the way, my wife is also offended by that.  (Laughs)  She was like, “You’d better wait longer than three months!

Photo: JPI

Did your wife watch your scenes when Adrienne died?

WALLY:  Yes, she did.   She liked them.   But she would say something like, “It’s hard to see you crying over another woman.”  I know she doesn’t really enjoy me making out with another woman and saying how much I love her.  I don’t usually show her all of the really romantic stuff, but I thought she’d be okay with the death scenes, and she was, but I am sure it was kind of strange for her.  She is a lawyer, not an actor.

Since she’s a lawyer, does she ever give you legalese tips for when you have courtroom scenes on DAYS?

WALLY:  She does, and I’m usually like, “Is there anything I can cut here?” and she usually goes, “Honestly, no.  You’d better say it.  I think it’s honestly pretty well-written.  You’d better say it as written. It’s pretty accurate.”

Courtesy/NBC

The other moment I wanted to bring up to you that was like the “perfect scene” is when Justin visited Will in prison and told Will to not give up on life. I think that was such a beautiful scene and performance.  I hope that is in your Emmy submission.

WALLY:  Thank you.  I was very proud of that.  I appreciate that, Michael.  I know you watch a lot of these, and, it is in my Emmy submissionIt was beautifully written.  I think the writers have really handed me just some wonderful stories to tell, and wonderful dialogue, and I used every word of it, and I feel very blessed.  As actors … you can work your ass off, but you really do also need stories to sometimes shine, you know?  I thought the writers really gave me a lot of great material to work with.

Photo: JPI

If they keep giving you more material like this every week you’ll be named the Power Performance of the Week, and then everyone will think something corrupt is going down! (Laughs) 

WALLY: They’ll think I’m paying you off, Michael! (Laughs)

So, what have you thought of Wally’s performances? Were you surprised at the Justin and Kayla pairing? Were you shocked at Adrienne’s death and what went down? Comment below.

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Eastsiders

Van Hansis and Kit Williamson Talk The Final Season of ‘EastSiders’, Their Journey As Thom and Cal, & The Impact The Series Has Made

It captivated the LGBTQ audience, expanded from there, and was a passion project and labor of love for series creator, Kit Williamson (Cal) along with his husband and co-producer, John Halbach as they tirelessly brought the digital drama EastSiders to life.  Over 4 seasons (and 7 years in and of production) fans of the series were brought: riveting characters, real, witty, and intelligent writing, and beautiful performances that leave you either crying, laughing, or just plain in awe of their depth.

Williamson brought in As the World Turns favorite, Van Hansis (Ex-Luke, ATWT), from the beginning of the creation of EastSiders, to play his on-screen other half, Thom, and over four seasons we have seen Cal and Thom’s relationship grow apart, come together, have a very open sexual relationship, deal with addiction issues, and anxiety in the day and age we live in; while giving us a glimpse of a set of characters who all are struggling with something … or trying to love someone, or just trying to love themselves.

In four seasons, EastSiders went from a show on YouTube to now a popular series streaming on Netflix.  And as season four of the series was finally released back in December of last year, fans of the show were clamoring to know if Thom and Cal will have their happily ever after? Well, if you saw the emotional final episode, you kind of know the answer to that, or do we? But just when you thought EastSiders was a fait accompli, Williamson and company released a behind-the-scenes documentary of the season that is also a must-see! (Check it out below).  And this week, EastSiders scored nominations in the Queerties Awards for the Best in LGBTQ media and culture. Van Hansis scored a nod in the Digital Performance category along with EastSiders cast member, Stephen Guarino, and the series is nominated in the Digital Series category. You can vote for the Queerties now through February 21st here.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Van and Kit in a full circle moment for all of us.  We conducted the first interview these two talented gents ever did to publicize the series seven years ago, and we couldn’t let EastSiders go without one last look, one last goodbye, and to talk to the heart and soul of the story itself.  So here, we put a bow on it, and chat it up with Van and Kit in this very special EastSiders wrap-up.

Photo: EastSiders

So, 7 years ago, the three of us met at a coffee shop in West Hollywood, California and you had this little show called Eastsiders, and we do your first interview ever about the show.  Now, 7 years later it’s grown into what it has become.  What did you think of this whole journey from the beginning to the end?  Did you have any idea that EastSiders would take off like this, and did it exceed your hopes and dreams?

KIT:  Personally, I had no idea that the show could have this many lives.  I really just set out to make something cool and to put it on the internet.  At every stage of this, I wondered, “Is this it?” and it’s been wild to see how it’s grown.  As I’m thinking back on it, you are right! It was the very first interview that we did with the show … period.

VAN:  I was thinking the exact same thing.  It was!

Photo: EastSiders

When artists in any field create something, you never know how it’s going to be perceived by the public.  I think your perseverance and how you went about it was so smart that you garnered an audience worldwide.  So, what are your thoughts about how the series wrapped up with season four?  Because I had heard, Kit, that you extended the storylines.  Is that true that the season was longer than what you intended it to be?  

KIT:  So, we ended up having the penultimate episode be an hour long because I just kept writing new scenes for people and discovering things on set, and I think that kind of speaks to all of our desire to not say goodbye to the characters.  It’s a very long goodbye, you know?  Also, I can’t imagine getting to the second to last episode of a series that I was watching, and if I loved it, wanting the episodes to go by quicker.  So, it felt like something that I could tactically do at the end there.  Van, what about you?  I know in the behind-the-scenes documentary that we filmed, stuff like, not even knowing what a web series even was when we first started doing this, came up! (Laughs)

VAN:  Oh, yeah! (Laughs) When we started I was sent the script from an acting teacher.  I loved the script.  I knew I wanted to be a part of it no matter what. I had no idea what it would be.  To see what it’s become is amazing, and to be a part of what it’s become is amazing, and that is literally all mostly Kit.  He has done so much with this, and he’s put so much of himself into it.  I feel fortunate to see some of the behind the scenes stuff that sometimes you don’t get to see as an actor on a show.  We need more Kit Williamson’s in our lives, because it takes someone like that to make this happen and to make it go worldwide from literally YouTube.  So, as far as the ending …  I love where it ends off and where all of the characters sort of end up.

Photo: EastSiders

Kit, are you ready to do an EastSiders reboot?  Are we coming back to visit Thom and Cal 5 years later?

KIT:  I have said that I don’t know that I’m done with these characters yet.  Van and I have had conversations about that.  I think that the show is definitely finished is this format.  Trying to shoot and independently produce, 6 half-hour, ensemble events like this, and to do it right, and to keep growing and scaling it, is just not really sustainable, but it’s been a hell of a ride.  I’m glad that we went on it.  To speak to what Van was just talking about; I really think it’s just alchemy.  It’s a set of perfect circumstances coming together that we all met at the right times in our lives, and Van Hansis, in particular, is the spark that ignites the show.  I don’t think that the show would have had the success that it did if: we hadn’t had the chemistry that we had, and if Van’s fan base hadn’t gotten so excited about the show. To be able to kind of grow and create something that people are excited to see is really empowering.  Knowing that there is somebody out there who wants it, who is waiting for it, is gratifying.

Photo: EastSiders

Van, what did you think about Thom’s journey throughout season four?  The audience is like, “Please ask him already.  Pop the question,” and Thom is holding onto that ring!  Do you think he realized that he had what he wanted all along in Cal?  

VAN:  I think in the end he does, but I also think he doesn’t know where that journey is going to go.  Very much like … he knows that what he has is something golden and precious, but I think that he doesn’t know how to hold onto something like that.  Throughout the series, with Thom and Cal especially, they know that they love each other, but they don’t really know how to love each other in the best way.  I don’t know if that story is fully finished yet, but I think that they’re really very much on their way to figuring out what it means … and what it means especially to them.  I think especially as queer people, you don’t have a set of outliers that are given to you, especially, queer people our age.  I think the whole series has been not just about Thom and Cal, but every character in the show figuring out what is their relationship and to be able to create their own, and not give a care about what society thinks of them, which is really kind of fun.

KIT:  One of the most recurring themes of the show in terms of motif is cartography: drawing the map of the world together as a couple.  We had that Daniel Zaitchik song at the end of season 2, Map of the World, that also reprises this season.  There’s a lot of discussion of directions and destinations that I think is something I really wanted to get at because I think as queer people, we often don’t have the benefit of being able to just go down the road laid out for us by our parents.  We have to chart our own course.

Photo” EastSiders

I was watching all the comments on social media, and do you realize how many people said (including myself) that they were in tears and needed hankies at the ending of EastSiders? They just were a ball of mess at the conclusion of the show; which speaks to the investment we all had with the characters.  Did you see how people were so emotional and how they were reaching back to you? 

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KIT:  It’s been so cool.  I’ve gotten hundreds and hundreds of messages.

VAN:  Yes!  I also want to go back to Kit.  That’s his writing.  There are so many amazing shows that go out with a whimper.  I have followed so many shows that I absolutely love, and the final episode comes about, and I’m like, “Wait.  That’s it?  That’s what we get?”  Glen Weldon on Pop Culture Happy Hour, which is a podcast I follow, he talked about how well it stuck the landing.  Everybody gets a sense of an ending.  Most of them are happy, or all of them are happy actually, and for these characters, you’ve stuck around with them since we were on YouTube, and the audience deserves to see their favorite character have some sort of hope.

KIT:  Yeah!  I like to say happy with an asterisk.  An Eastsiders happy ending is a little different from a traditional happy ending.   They all have things that they still need to work through, but I didn’t want to leave any character in a sense of uncertainty.  I wanted to make sure that all of the loose ends of the story we’ve been telling the last 7 years were tied up.  I do think that there is definitely more story there, but I do think that’s life.  Everybody’s story continues past what you are allowed to see.

Was your final scene together that you taped the proposal in the club, or was this shot out of order?

KIT:  Van’s last scene was actually the scene with Richard (Bryan Batt) in episode 5, when they’re reflecting on everything.

VAN:  That’s a good last scene to film.  I had to come back last January to film just the material with him and with Traci Lords. So, no, our last scene together was not the proposal, it was the scene at the restaurant together towards the end,

KIT:  Yeah, the restaurant itself.  We did that out of order.  We had to shoot the bathroom scene where our characters have our big come to Jesus moment.

Those scenes were great.  Traci Lords was wonderful, by the way.

VAN:  Oh, she’s so good.  I love her.

KiT:  The scene that really gets me the most this season was Cal and his mother in the bed, and the discussion they had between them.

Photo: Eastsiders

When you watched back the ending with the proposal, what did you think?

VAN:  I thought it was great.  I posted something on Instagram like, “I get to be in a romcom!”

KIT:  It’s your Drew Barrymore moment!

VAN:  It was!  That’s what I wrote!  It’s my Drew Barrymore moment.  I’ve never gotten to do something that joyful.  Kit, I have a question for you.  Was some of that confetti in the final scene CGI or was all of that there?

KIT:  It was all there!

VAN:  Really!?  I don’t remember.  I was just so deep into your eyes that I don’t remember all of that confetti falling on my face.  It looks amazing.

KIT:  It was at the end of the night.   We only got one shot at that scene.  That was one take, and it ended up perfect.

Photo: EastSiders

 

In season four, you really expanded Jeremy’s role.  Matthew McKelligon was wonderful in the story you provided him.

KIT:  Yeah!  I really have tried with all of the characters to subvert expectations.  With Willam Belli (Douglas) and Stephen Guarino’s (Quincy) characters, their introduced as kind of the commedia clowns and then revealed to be the lovers, and with Matt’s character, he’s introduced as the “other woman”.  He’s literally called “Jezebel” all throughout the first season and then starting in season 2.  I think a lot of people were probably surprised that we are still following this character.  Jeremy doesn’t just disappear from the story when he stops sleeping with Cal and Thom.  I think to be able to follow his trajectory as he’s going on a radically different path than I think he even expected was really fun for me … and for Matt.

Photo: EaatSiders

Kit, a moment I recall on your social media posts, was when you said you’d just watched the sex scenes you were in and you were like, “I hope my mother doesn’t see this.”  Were you really embarrassed?

KIT:  Yeah, I did a reaction video when I watched it.   I will be honest.  You disassociate when you’re editing something because you’re looking at it as a frame-to-frame perspective, and then I had a little distance from it and watched it on Netflix for the first time, and that was the first time it really sunk in that I was like, “Oh, that’s a sex montage starring me.”

Van, when you were seeing the story of EastSiders progress through the years, and how Thom and Cal were sleeping around and with multiple partners, did you ever have a moment of, “What’s happening here?” Or, were you like, “Oh … cool!?”

VAN:  That started in the 2nd season, but I wasn’t like scandalized or anything by it.  What I love about the show, and what I love about the 4th season especially is that there are basically 4 narratives of gay male relationships, like queer all encompassing, but specifically looking at gay men.  Each one is different, and I think if you are in this community, I think you’ve seen these types of relationships, and you fall into one, or you don’t, or you fall between them.  So, I wasn’t like, “Oh, my God, you’re having a sex montage in the 2nd season,” no.  I’m not like some Victorian lady who is fainting on a chaise when someone is shirtless.  The thing that’s funny to me is that this isn’t shown more.

Photo: JPI

Van, you know from portraying Luke Snyder on As the World Turns, on a daytime soap, that as a gay character they often tap dance around so much in the writing!

VAN:  Yeah, I do.  I lived that, and that’s what honestly pisses me off.  That this program is afraid to show something.  It’s because they’ve probably done tests of what people are comfortable with, so it’s like, “Okay, we live in this society where people are uncomfortable with X and X and X and X,” and really, why?  People just need to live their lives.

Kit, do you have a favorite scene that you’ve written in this entire 7 years of the creative lifespan of EastSiders?

KIT:  I would say season 3 episode 5, the “What do you see when you look down?” conversation between me and Van as Cal and Thom.  To set the scene a little bit: it’s the culmination of days of talking on the road trip when you run out of frivolous things to say to each other and the real stuff comes out.  My character is asleep, and he wakes up to find that Thom is kind of drinking by himself in the camper, and they have this conversation to really get to the heart of what both of them are most afraid of, not just in their relationships, but in their lives. You sort of get to realize that this fear has been shaping their decisions from the very first season, that they have been leading with fear, and that is something that maybe they can work through as a couple, that they can maybe address together.  I think that moment for me is the moment that I knew that Thom and Cal were meant to be together.

Photo: EastSiders

That was the scene where you both were in tears inside the camper?

VAN:  Yep.  That scene is on my reel.  That is one of my favorite scenes that Kit has written also.  I would say for me, my favorite full-on episode is probably the first episode of season 3.  The bottle episode in Palm Springs.

KIT:  I love that episode, too.

VAN:  I think that what you do so beautifully is that it is just so funny and uplifting, but you do get those undercurrents of the reality in the relationship with Quincy and Douglas. I think that is where we see them go from sort of the clowns into the lovers, and I love the way that you put that.  We see them get a little bit more grounded.  So, that’s my favorite episode, but I love that scene in season 3, but I love so much from the series!  In season four, I love the scene with Jeremy’s foster daughter.  It’s not like a huge deep scene or anything, but the stuff that you brought out of that little girl … she is just incredible.

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KIT:  Scout was just so brilliant.  If she wants one, that kid has a career ahead of her.  I have every confidence that her family is supporting her in whatever she wants to do because they’re just incredible.

Kit, in EastSiders, you wore so many hats within it.  Would you ultimately want your next projects to just be acting in front of the camera, and not worrying about producing and writing it?  Did you like doing it all?  It’s a lot to take on.

KIT:  Yeah, they’re different itches to scratch.  I would like to have less responsibilities as a producer in terms of the day-to-day responsibilities and nuts and bolts of things.  I would love to never print a set of sides or stock ‘crafty’ ever again.  I would love to have those sorts of things taken off of my plate, but ultimately, my goal is to be a showrunner, and that means that I want the buck to stop with me.  I want to be the person who is ultimately responsible for not just the creative vision, but the execution of that vision from concepts to finished product.  But, I want to do all of it.  I find it really empowering to wear fewer hats.  I think a great career model that’s emerged for me in recent years is Phoebe Waller-Bridge.  I love everything that she does.  I love that she is creating shows that she’s not acting in, she’s acting in shows that she’s writing, she’s punching up the new Bond movie, and she is acting in projects that she has nothing to do with as a writer.

How do you feel the door had been opened for you because of the series?

KIT:  Oh man, I’m getting a lot of opportunities, and I’m really, really grateful for it.

In the LGBTQ community, what do the guys say to you, and how EastSiders has impacted them? Do they ever say, “Thom and Cal showed me this?” or “I’m so glad this was portrayed?” 

VAN:  Yeah.  I got something on Instagram about a week or so ago from a guy who was really freaking out about being in an open relationship, and he was like, “Thank God for this show.”

KIT:  Definitely anytime I’ve been outside of New York or LA and in a gay bar or a gay space, somebody has come up to me, and I definitely love it because the whole point of this is to get people to engage with your work.  That’s the reward; is knowing that people are watching.  I actually have a “gratitude folder” on my computer where I save some messages that people have sent to me.  It’s something I started recently, and I wish I’d been doing it since the beginning, because I always try to write back to everybody that writes to me about the show, and if I missed some, I’m so sorry.  It was an accident.  I can read you a few.  One says, “I live in a very conservative family, in a developing country, El Salvador.  Thanks to EastSiders, I understood that discovering my sexuality wasn’t something to be ashamed of and that all expressions of love are equally worth it.  You guys basically saved my life since I thought about suicide many times.”  In other messages, many people told me that the show gave them the confidence to come out to their friends or family, or that it made them feel less alone in countries where being gay is illegal.  I have a message from someone in Saudi Arabia, someone from Iran, Nigeria, Mississippi, where I’m from.  I get a lot of messages from Mississippi, because I’m so outspoken about how coming from the south shaped me.  It’s just really overwhelmingly satisfying.  As a kid there weren’t any openly gay people around me, so the first gay people I ever met were characters on TV, and it made me feel, like maybe, I could have a life worth putting on a screen someday.

Photo: Eastsiders

Let’s go back in time. Van, what was your first impression of Kit when you met him?

VAN:  I feel like I met him through his writing first, because I had never met him when I got the script.  I remember we met at a coffee shop in Los Feliz in Los Angeles.  Kit was very professional, and I remember there was a question if I was going to play Thom or was I going to play Jeremy? I think I was sort of gravitating towards Jeremy at that point, but you were like, “No, you’re a Thom,” so I was like, “Okay.”  (Laughs) I remember leaving. feeling that it was very much like a business meeting, but that went away really quickly when we just got to know each other.  You came across as a lot more serious than I thought whoever wrote the script would be.

KIT:  Oh.  Cool.  I love that.

Kit, what did you think of Van when you first met him? 

KIT:  Well, I was super nervous, and I definitely wanted to convey that this was something that I took really seriously.

VAN: (Laughs)

KIT:  So, I’m glad he got that.

Photo: JPI

I get that you wanted to come across very professional.

KIT:  Yeah, because it was my first time directing so I wanted to come ready, and the first thing I thought when I met Van was, “That’s Thom.”  Literally a sentence comes out of his mouth, and I’m like, “Oh, yeah.  Absolutely.  This is absolutely correct.  Thank God.  We have our lead.”

VAN:  I love the role of Jeremy, but I’m so glad I played Thom.

KIT:  Honestly, a lot of people were almost a lot of different people in this thing.   At one point, John Halbach, was going to be Thom.  John, at one point, was going to be Jeremy.  We didn’t have a casting director.  I was in grad school.  I had no clue what I was doing, and I keep on coming back to the idea of alchemy.  We accidentally made gold because we did not know what we were doing.

How did you know about Van?

KIT:  Through a mutual acting teacher in Los Angeles, and of course, I was familiar with As the World Turns and all of that, but I didn’t know him, and it never would have occurred to me that I could even reach out to somebody at his career level.  So, it was very, very fortuitous that we were connected.

Photo: Instagram

Kit, you have a gazillion followers on Instagram.  Do you ever have a moment with yourself like, “God, I have to do another post today to keep this going?”  

KIT:  It’s a hustle, and it’s a balance that John and I are both constantly doing our best to navigate, because we started it to bring attention to the show, and now, sometimes people will recognize us from Instagram and not from the series, and that’s not what we are going for. (Laughs)

You’re Instagram stars!

KIT:  It’s a balance that we are trying to navigate.  You know, how many shirtless selfies is too many shirtless selfies?  At what percentage of shirtless-ness will you no longer be taken seriously?  But as Van pointed out, I’m a serious MF with a master’s degree and multiple Emmy nominations. (Laughs)  So, I take myself way too seriously, but I know that you have to play the internet like a video game.  You have to do certain things and get a certain response, and attention begets attention, and a lot of people have told me that they found the show by following me on Instagram.  So, it’s mission accomplished I suppose, but it’s something that we have to be really careful about especially as I’m moving into phase two of my career.

Did you guys submit yourselves for contention in the upcoming Daytime Emmys?

KIT:  Yes.  Absolutely.

Photo: EastSiders

You both gave two of the most memorable performances of the year in Eastsiders and within the digital drama space.  So, we’ll see how it plays out for you when the nominations are revealed.

KIT:  Thank you.  It’s really interesting because historically it seems like the Daytime Emmys have gone with more traditional soap narratives, and ours is definitely the weird kid on the block, but I’m really hopeful that this season we will have a good showing because I really believe in Van’s performance.  I believe in all of the actors.  I believe that they’re all operating at their series best … to put it that way.  I think everybody is just sitting in their power and owning their characters in a way that was really, really cool for me as a writer to see.

It was amazing.  Congratulations.  I guess this is our wrap-up interview for Eastsiders … for now.

KIT:  Who knows… maybe this isn’t the end.  We’ll see.

So, will you miss seeing the journey of Thom and Cal on EastSiders?  If you watched the four seasons. did you have a favorite moment within it?  Share your thoughts on our conversation with Van and Kit via the comment section below.  Then check out the documentary of the “making of” EastSiders.

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