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The Lauralee Bell Interview – Family Dinner

lauraleeMain.jpg
She is a member of daytime drama’s number one family…. the Bells. She is an actress, entrepreneur, wife, mother of a two, and now she can add “director” to her life credits. Lauralee Bell is one of soap opera’s most recognizable performers from her 18 years on The Young and the Restless playing “Cricket” as a young teen, to the more mature version of “Christine”. Reprising her role on occasion, the actress left the show full-time several years ago to pursue outside projects and interests. One, being her successful clothing store, “On Sunset”, which has a long list of celebrity clients who frequent its home on stylish Sunset Plaza, and the other, continuing to play different roles in prime time episodics and film.

However, today is a big day in the accomplishments of Lauralee. In a new project created and produced by her and her husband, Scott Martin, a new three-minute web series, “Family Dinner” launches online at www.familydinneronline.com. and www.funnyordie.com. In it, she plays an attention-starved mother, who along with whacked out family members and special guests, discusses anything but what to eat for dinner! Co-starring the legendary Phyllis Diller, the sexy and funny Dan Cortese, and the hilarious Aaron Lusting (Ex-Dr. Tim, “Y&R), you can expect one dysfunctional family gathering after another. The second episode will be posted the following week and premiere on June 17th at www.familydinneronline.com, with more hopefully on the way!

With the dramatic returns of Thom Bierdz (“Langley” or Phillip Chancellor III) and Tricia Cast (Nina) to the canvas in Genoa City, many soap fans are now clamoring for Lauralee’s return to “Y&R”. It’s something she tells me could not be so far out in the future. In this revealing interview, Lauralee discusses what it was like as a teen working romantically with Bierdz, who later would come out and admit he was gay. Having your father being the legendary Bill Bell, your brother being the Daytime Emmy-nominated Brad Bell, and your mother being Lee Bell, a legend in television herself, could be quite intimidating, but Lauralee excelled on her own. One of “Y&R’s” all-time most memorable heroines shares with me emotional moments and thoughts about her dad, and what she thinks of “Y&R” these days under the expert hands and guidance of sister-in-law, Maria Arena Bell.

So, what was dinner like at the Bell house? How does she feel about Bierdz, now? How funny is Phyllis Diller? And, when can we expect her back in Genoa City? Only the one woman who grew up living and breathing soaps, who searched and found an identify all her own apart from her family’s legacy, would know. Here’s Lauralee!

Listen to the audio:

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MICHAEL:

We are sitting at your store, “On Sunset” in Los Angeles conducting this interview. And your retail-clothing store still seems to be going strong. Did you ever think it would last this long?

LAURALEE:

It’s been almost nine years ago when I started this. I put too many things on my plate and I always thought I could handle that, but now I realized you have to prioritize. I am going to “ixnay” a few on the way. I can’t lose the husband and the kids! (She laughs) The store is managing through this difficult economic time, and it’s definitely another agenda in my life.

lauraleeSunglasses.jpgMICHAEL:

Your new web series, “Family Dinner”, premieres today online and I laughed
so hard at the trailer! How did this come
about? Is it your brainchild?

LAURALEE:

It is. I thought of it years ago and put in on the back burner. As time has gone by, I realized it was a one set feature with a low budget, which in this day is necessary. What my parents taught me is that a character-driven show will attract people, and you will get to know the characters and you don’t need all the hoopla. If you have great actors and sit them down at the table, and get them involved in their lives, you have something there. It is a three-minute episode, with time to get to know the characters, and we will talk about different things. Everyone needs a good laugh. At the end of the day with these hard times, everyone goes back to his or her families, because that’s all you got. And here is this crazy group. So, you can judge your family against this nutty family, and calculate how crazy your own family really is!

acting.jpgMICHAEL:

You had told me for years you strived to play the “bitch” after playing Miss Goody-Two-Shoes for so long on “Y&R”. This new character you play, strives to be on “Oprah”?

LAURALEE:

She does. She is just a burnt out, attention-needing mother, who is unfulfilled in her marriage. She loves her kids, but she just wants some “me” time, which any mother who has children, can relate to. You kind of get through the infant stage, and the time flies by and you lose a little bit of yourself. In “Family Dinner”, her kids are grown and now she thinks, “It should be about me. Everything should be about me.” She is nuts in the first episode and a little tamer in the second, and if we make a bunch more, she will only get more and more out of her mind. It’s very easy for me to play, as I lived this to a tinier degree, but I am in the same spot. OK, the kids are now in school and I am crazy to do so many other things. The Young and the Restless taught me it’s OK to make insane faces on camera and push it and scream. So I have incorporated that… and then to sit across from the amazing Phyllis Diller, you can’t help but be inspired by her level of great comic genius.

MICHAEL:

How did you get Phyllis involved in the project?

phylllisDiller.jpgLAURALEE:

My mother, Lee Bell (co- creator of “Y&R” and “B&B), has known Phyllis for years. I had seen Phyllis here and there, and only recently have they become inseparable, which is so cute. I told my mom that Scott and I were going to shoot this, and I said, “We are having a hard time casting grandma,” and she said, “Well, I am seeing Phyllis tonight.” I thought, “That is very sweet mom. But, she is Phyllis Diller and we are doing a three-minute web series. OK, you can try.” Then the next day, my mom did not mention anything about it. So I thought, that was that. Then the following day, my mom called and said, “Phyllis just called and she has to play grandma. She wants to play this woman,” and I said, “C’mon!” By later that afternoon, Phyllis and I were on the phone like two little girls giggling about how she should look and what she should wear. I was like, “You can wear and look however you want, if you really just come to this table.” And sure enough, three weeks later, she showed up and everyone on the set was blown away. She brought books and autographs and signed everything, and she steals the show!

MICHAEL:

Dan Cortese also makes an appearance as a reality show producer, who is considering doing a reality show on this dysfunctional family!

LAURALEE:

Dan and his wife, DeeDee…we have been best friends for years. My husband Scott and I, have dinner with them once a week. I have never asked him for a favor, so I said, “It’s a weekend. I know you are doing other things,” but he showed up. Aaron Lustig (Ex- Dr.Tim Reid), and I have been friends since his time on “Y&R”, and as soon as I knew we were going to do this I said to Scott, “There is no other husband to me than Aaron… Sorry”. (She laughs)

danCortese.jpgMICHAEL:

Who else is involved?

LAURALEE:

Phyllis is the middle of a line, and we hear this crazy voice, and its Jo Anne Worley from Laugh-In. Then, Cheri Oteri from “SNL” came over! She said, “I have been the biggest fan of yours since “Y&R”, and I am freaking out. I said, “You think you may want to come and join us for dinner?” I think we shouldn’t be surprised if we see her in the future.

MICHAEL:

So where can fans see all the hilarity?

LAURALEE:

On June 8th we would love for everyone to go to www.funnyordie.com, because it’s a great site, but our home site is www.familydinneronline.com.

MICHAEL:

Do you have more dinner-table scenarios, past the two episodes that will run online?

LAURALEE:

I have written episodes three and four. I would really like to incorporate fan ideas. Right now, it’s so hard to get anything published, and it’s very slow here in LA. So, if a “John Smith” from Tennessee comes up with a great idea, we will shoot his concept idea in LA, and put “Concept by John Smith” and we will give him a writing credit. We are going to do that, and we have recipe ideas, because who knows what we are going to have on the dinner table. We have a lot of little side goals that we hope to do in the future, but yes, I have many ideas.

lauraLeeScott.jpgMICHAEL:

You also directed “Family Dinner”. How was it to be in charge?

LAURALEE:

I have to be the actress first. But, I liked being in charge of this because everyone was so talented, that directing this was a piece of cake.

MICHAEL:

So, you and your husband Scott, started your own production company… Martin-Bell Productions.

LAURALEE

We started a production company. We have something in pre-production for possibly October, and it was great to work with Scott. He is so visual and an amazing photographer.
To be at that table, I needed someone’s eyes to watch all the monitors.

MICHAEL:

Switching gears, Lauralee, in my recent interview with openly gay actor, Thom Bierdz (“Langley” or Phillip Chancellor III “Y&R”), I asked him, “When you were the part of the “darling” couple on the show as Cricket and Phillip, did Lauralee know of your sexual orientation back then, and did you have any discussions with her about it?” He replied, “You know, I really have to have a talk with Lauralee and find out what she did know then. In my recollection, we had one discussion about it at a very awkward time. I don’t know her take on it. I know that Lauralee is an extremely open minded person today, but she was a teenage girl at that time and I was ten years older than she was. I would love to talk to her more.” Can you respond to that? At one point, did you have a crush on him?

LAURALEE:

Did I know with Thom? Sure, I had a crush on him. Probably, when I was working with Thom, I was fifteen or so. I am about as open as they come, and I think there are a lot of woman who are quite hot myself. In fact, our website guy and editor, left last weekend to go ride the San Francisco to Los Angeles AIDS/Lifecycle cross state challenge. I gave them huge checks and I made them “Family Dinner T-Shirts”. But back to Thom; what’s so crazy is when you work on a soap you learn so many lines and forget them so fast, and so my recollection is not so good, but I felt we did have the “talk”. I almost feel it was when we were off the show, though. And if it was, as I say at the end, then he knew it would be such a non-issue to me. So, I believe we talked about it when I was a bit older. We have stayed friends.

bierdz.jpgMICHAEL:

Are you happy the show brought him back, with a potential for him to be part of a gay storyline?

LAURALEE:

I am so glad Maria Arena Bell (co-executive producer and head writer, “Y&R”) is bringing him back, and hopefully, it should be a storyline where everyone learns from it. I wish Thom could get married to a man on the show. It would be so great. We need that.

MICHAEL:

Are you considering returning to “Y&R”? Now, seems like the perfect time!

LAURALEE:

Of course it’s possible, when you bring back Thom Bierdz and Tricia Cast (Nina)…

MICHAEL:

We are all waiting for you!

LAURALEE:

Well, that’s very kind, and if it’s the right thing, I would. I am so geared up into my own little projects right now, but there are a couple of things where it would make sense. For the funerals, and when Danny came back for our party, that kind of made sense. But, I knew it would be a couple of lines here and there, and wouldn’t have any meaning. And if I come back, I really want it to count. I wanted it to be a helpful discussion for Phillip, or Nina, or Paul. I don’t think I would come back for a long period of time. But, I certainly would be open to it.

MICHAEL:

Has Maria talked to you about returning yet? I am assuming that call to you happens quite often!

LAURALEE:

I get the call every two months. I think it’s understood with the right time and the right people. As I say, with Thom and Tricia back, my curiosity with each person piques more and more. It does make sense for me to come back into the fold now, and I would love to work with Thom. I saw a flashback the other day with Nina and Phillip. It was so weird, when you see all those scenes… and oh, the hair! Michael Damian (Ex-Danny) and I had bad big hair back in that day! (She laughs)

lauraLeeMaria.jpgMICHAEL:

“Y&R” has been on fire lately and it’s been an extraordinary show since Maria took over the reigns and Lynn Latham left. Why do you think it’s working?

LAURALEE:

I think it’s because Maria studied with my dad. (The late Bill Bell) I remember my brother, Brad Bell (executive producer and head writer, “B&B) and Maria sitting in conference call meetings. I would peek in and I knew they were on a couch for five hours, and then they weren’t even done. Maria has written tons of things, and as always, had great remarks whether it be for her magazine articles or scripts. She is extremely familiar with the show, which is important. You can’t come in and watch 20 episodes from the past of “Y&R” and think you get it. She knew my dad, and she knew his formula, which was again, characters and the people. I love how much Maria is using Jeanne Cooper (Katherine). I mean, how can you not?

MICHAEL:

When you turn on “Y&R” now, what stories are captivating you or tantalizing you?

LAURALEE:

Again, being so close with Tricia, I am just so glad to see her there. I am watching Paul and Nikki pretty closely. I start to itch a little bit when I see them kiss! Just because I have grown up with Jeanne Cooper, anything she is doing I am excited about. I have a special place for everybody, and I love seeing the show. I did not see it for the last few years, because I would be dropping off my daughter at school at that time. I would feel terrible when people would say, “Did you see it?” I am not a TIVO person. So by the time I get everyone situated and done, I am tired. I don’t want to have an accumulation of 6,000 shows to view. So, this is the first year I have been able to watch “Y&R”. With Maria at the helm, and so many of my friends back, it’s wonderful! I race back home with my salad and watch it. I am watching it on SOAPnet, too. What a gift that is. It’s so nice to have an option!

lauraAndLauraLee.jpgMICHAEL:

Did the Abbott dining room scenes from the past give you any inspiration for “Family Dinner”?

LAURALEE:

Yes, and what I used to love about the show was the Abbott dining room scenes. When I would watch Terry Lester (Ex-Jack) eat and talk at the same time, it was such brilliance that I could not wait for the next Abbott dining room scene. “Family Dinner” is a quirky, dysfunctional take on it and what people do as a family.

MICHAEL:

I had read in the TV Guide interview that your family dinners at the Bell house were not your presumed stodgy dinners. Tell me about dinner in the Bell house.

LAURALEE:

It was called a tray table. On Sunday we would have tomato soup and noodles. We would go from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin through Genoa City, and stop at the Cheesebox and get a hunk of salami, and a hunk of cheese. We would grab our trays, and walk by this kitchen counter that was never secure, and would catch on your clothing and snap back. No one ever fixed it! We would walk to a room and watch some sort of game show. As long as we were together, and yelling out answers, we would not talk. People would say, “You are a very close family, but you never talk!” and I would say, “My parents’ life was TV. It was a release to not think, and just eat. There was no formality at all.” It cracks me up that people think we had these traditional Bell family dinners.

billBell.jpgMICHAEL:

Do you miss your Dad?

LAURALEE:

I miss Dad more now then right when he passed away. It’s just different. I remember him not sick. I think about him all the time, and my kids love going to his gravesite, which is so cute, and so beautiful. I have gotten certain projects on his anniversary, or his birthday, or close to Fathers Day. This one is launching close to Father’s Day, so it’s weird! I know he would love the humor in “Family Dinner”. He was the most comedic guy around. I would say to him, “Can’t Cricket be funnier?” and he would say, “Well?” He was a serious writer, but to release it all, he was “Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky”. I kind of see it mirrored now with how actors approach my brother, Brad. My dad’s door was always open, and he would joke and pat people on the back, and be a bit sarcastic. He was a bit of a hound dog, too. He was funny and casual.

MICHAEL:

What do you think he would say about “Family Dinner”?

LAURALEE:

He would love that I am doing something with Phyllis Diller and he would probably say, “He loves that it is character-driven”, and he would say, “That it is a little goofy, and you should drag the story a different way,” but I am purposely doing this. But when you get kids at the dinner table things get thrown out constantly that are like, “What?” That’s real life. I don’t think people sit down and say, “Well, tell me about your day?” This is talk about peas and carrots, and dogs peeing, and just chaos. If you have young kids, really that’s your life!

michelleandLaura.jpgMICHAEL:

Brad got nominated for a Daytime Emmy for “B&B”, for Outstanding Drama Series.

LAURALEE:

He is amazing, and how he juggles four kids, a great wife and all of this, I have no idea. But I just hope this is his year that would be a dad’s dream come true. My dad could never believe we all were getting into the family business. He wanted it, if we were qualified. He was tough. I remember the first time he felt I really gave it to Phyllis on “Y&R”. He would come up to me and go; “You really gave it to her today. Michelle Stafford (Phyllis) did her thing, and you really gave it back!” That was such a great day for me. He was tough with Brad. He would be very proud and so would my mom. Brad in his own right, is a great boss, approachable, likeable, and fair. I don’t understand any other way to be, honestly.

MICHAEL:

What would you like to see happen with this project?

lauraLeeCute.jpgLAURALEE:

I just want the opportunity to have all that swells around in this brain to come out. When I was holding the slate for “Family Dinner” and it said “Director”,
I looked down and went, “How did this happen?”

MICHAEL:

In closing, if you were to tell people why they should watch “Family Dinner”, what would you say?

LAURALEE:

I would say, “Make sure you watch “Family Dinner” because there are great things to smile about in the world right now, but sometimes you need an extra boost. Hopefully, in these three minutes
it will put one on your face.”

Interviews

Y&R’s Amelia Heinle Talks What’s Next For Victoria & Returning To Work With The Newman Clan

Fiftteen years, and two Daytime Emmys later, Amelia Heinle has become a mainstay of CBS’ The Young and the Restless as Victoria Newman; the on-screen daughter of the iconic Victor (Eric Braeden) and Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott).

In Genoa City, Victoria has certainly had her share of issues in the love department, and has battled back time and time again for respect as a formidable power player and businesswoman.

Now with Y&R being back this Monday with all-new episodes; following the production shutdown caused by COVID-19, viewers can expect to see a tougher-stance from Victoria as she fights for what she rightfully believes is hers … and she may just to it by any means possible.

Michael Fairman TV caught with Amelia to get the lowdown on: what’s ahead for Victoria, working with her co-stars, Victoria’s future in business and in affairs of the heart, and much more.  All we can say is “Better watch out Adam (Mark Grossman) and Victor!”  Here’s what Amelia shared.

Photo: JPI

How has it been going back to work at Y&R during the coronavirus pandemic?

AMELIA:  The first week was an adjustment.  There were a lot of different protocols to follow, but now I think we are in week five or so, and things are kind of normalizing a little bit with all of the precautions that we have to take and trying to get used to them.  So, it’s not much different than what’s going on in real life and how all of us are taking precautions to stay safe.  We are kind of coming back a little slower because they aren’t having a bunch of people at the studio at one time.  It’s nice.  It’s been a lot of two-person scenes, and it’s good.  I think it is going to be well-received by the fans when we start airing new episodes Monday.

Did you feel any hesitation going back into production? 

AMELIA:  No, I was glad to go back.  I was really missing everyone and missing the show and working and just the whole thing.  So, I was very anxious to get back.  It feels good.

Are the actors far apart in the scenes … as in six feet apart?

AMELIA:  Yes, I even think the first day we were back; we were like ten feet apart!  (Laughs)  They were very careful, and I respect that.  It’s not easy to do what they’re doing, and they’re pulling it off beautifully.  I’m proud of them, and I’m proud of all of us, because I think everybody wants to be back so badly and to make it work, so they’re just doing what they have to do.

Photo: JPI

So where we pick back up in story; Victoria is pretty upset with Victor and Adam.  How is she feeling about Adam after we learned he supposedly killed a guy when he was a child?

AMELIA:  It was so funny when we came back, I forgot where we were.  I couldn’t remember.  I just was like, “Wait… what happened?” because it was so long ago!

You were like “Who is AJ Montalvo?” (Laughs)

AMELIA:  Yeah!  I totally forgot about that.  I was like, “Was that where we left off?”  (Laughs) We all just kind of just jumped back into the story … and Victoria was pissed off with her father because he, again, gave Adam her position at Newman Enterprises, and made an excuse for why he did it.  So, she is mad again.   I think they thought about my character over the break and made her a little tougher.

Photo: JPI

Do you think Victoria will want payback and be a little more vindictive than we’ve seen her?

AMELIA:  Oh yeah, for sure.  She seems to be channeling Victor more and I am more than happy to play that.  Since I’ve been back, it’s been a lot of fun because they’ve given me a lot of material.

Glad to hear that Victoria will have more of an edge.  At times through the years, the various writers have waffled with her.  Isn’t Victoria supposed to be the most like Victor of all his children?

AMELIA: Yes, she’s supposed to be, and I really like it when they write her to be strong with her father, which sometimes I find that they don’t.  Sometimes, I find she is not as strong with him, and it just depends on the writers we have, or the executive producer at the time, but now they’ve written her holding her own with Victor and passionate about Newman Enterprises.  I’m hoping that they keep going in this direction.  I like playing her A-type personality.  It just makes me laugh.  I get a kick out of the character being so tightly wound and just all about business because it’s fun to play.

Photo: JPI

What does Victoria think about Adam?  Doesn’t she want to strangle him?  What is her modus operandi where he is involved?

AMELIA:  I find her to have this daddy issue, and she is highly jealous of Adam, because he’s always getting a second chance.  What Victor has done to Victoria is really cold-blooded.  He does really keep dissing her business-wise.  She’ll have an opportunity, and we had this great scene a long time ago where he finally gives makes Victoria the CEO at Newman, and it was really nice, and six months later, or whenever, he gives it back to Adam.  So she gets stabbed and then he just gives the position to Adam.  Victoria is always just getting the short end of the stick when it comes to the company.  I think that in several of the new episodes that are coming out soon, Victoria is going to fight for what she wants … finally.  She’s getting a lot wiser to her father and what he does, so I think that’s what you are going to see.

As we come back into the story, Victoria is the CEO, correct?

AMELIA:  Yes.  She is the CEO, and Victor is actually retired.  Before the break, I couldn’t remember who the CEO was when I got back then I realized… it’s me!

Will Victoria use the ammo that Adam supposedly killed somebody as a child, to get rid of him once and for all?

AMELIA:  I don’t know if she ever wants Adam to go to prison.  I don’t think she hates him that much.  I know they write that, but it’s her brother, and I think she is just super jealous of the relationship that her father has with him. Victoria wants to get Adam into trouble, and I think she wants to demoralize him a little bit, but I don’t think she wants him to go to prison or to leave town.  I think there has to be an element of love.  There’s got to be a little bit of love there because they’ve had moments; that is her brother.

How do you think Mark Grossman has been as Adam?  It’s been over a year now since he’s taken over the pivotal role.

AMELIA:  I think Mark’s done such a wonderful job, and he came in like most characters like that, with all of the dialogue, and all of that workload.  I really like him.  He’s a nice man.

Photo: JPI

Where do you think Victoria’s relationship is with her other brother Nick (Joshua Morrow)?  Are they on good terms at this point?

AMELIA:  They;re still in love!  Come on! (Laughs)  I’m just kidding.  We always joke and say, “Nick and Victoria … they’re in love.”  It’s very Game of Thrones.  I haven’t had a scene with Joshua in a while, but they’ve been on good terms for many, many years.  I don’t think they’ve had them be at odds in a while.

So, you don’t think Victoria might get into cahoots with Nick to bring down Adam?

AMELIA:  I don’t know.  That’s a good question.  I haven’t seen any scenes with them together.  I’m sure the show will find a way to loop in everyone when they tie together this story with AJ Montalvo.  But there are some very interesting family dynamics coming up.  There is something Victoria does with her mom, Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott), that I’m not going to say, but something happens with her, and I like what they’ve written so far!

What about a man for Victoria?  Can she be okay without a guy? 

AMELIA:  She’s going to have to be; because I’m going to be six feet apart from whoever! (Laughs)  I don’t know how they’re going to do it.  I can’t wait to see.  They’re going to probably try some new loves, but not with a new character.  There might be some interaction with somebody coming up that I only know about, because I shot it last week. I think it is going to be cool. There’s some romance in Victoria’s future.

Photo: JPI

Okay, so it won’t be a loveless next six months for Victoria?

AMELIA:  No, I don’t think so.  I don’t think they’re going to do that to me.  I thought that too, but they’re teasing something right now, and I find it interesting.

What did you think of Jason Thompson (Billy) winning the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series back at the end of June?  I know you were in some of the scenes with him that won him the gold.

AMELIA:  It’s about time!  He’s such a great actor.  I can’t believe Jason hasn’t won one till now. It was long overdue; in my opinion.

Do you enjoy the Billy/Victoria dynamic? It can get very messy between them when either they come together or grow apart in story?

AMELIA:  I like it a lot.  Jason is great whenever we have scenes together.  He’s super easy to act with.  He is so natural.  Right now, we are not romantically entangled on the show, so we had scenes a couple of weeks ago that were really nice.  Victoria involved Billy in her business with Newman, which you’ll see later, but now they have a new dynamic, and they have a kid.  I like playing us co-parenting.

Photo: JPI

But they could end up back together at some point, I would think.

AMELIA:  Oh, for sure, 100%.  You know we’re going to go there … forever and ever.  It’s an endless loop.

Y&R just aired a classic episode of J.T. and Victoria’s wedding.  Did you happen to see it?

AMELIA: People were sending me GIFS, and I was like, “Holy crap!  I was so young!” and so was Thad.  He looked like a baby!

Photo: JPI

Do you remember taping those scenes? 

AMELIA:  Yes, I remember wearing Melody’s old dress on the show, which was supposed to be Nikki’s old dress.  I remember that I had just had my son, Rowe, so he’s twleve now, so that was almost thirteen years ago, and I remember back then I was trying to lose a little baby weight.  I also remember laughing because my hair looked like I was going to a quinceañera, and I had bows in my hair.  It was so cool to see that.  It felt like it wasn’t that long ago, but it was.  Looking back, it was fun, but I still just can’t get over how young we looked.  Twelve years really ages you!  Maybe it’s the kids, I don’t know!

It’s so interesting, and I was saying this the other day to someone, that in daytime, we’ve all grown up with each other – the people who have worked in the medium, and the fans.  In no other medium can you truly follow an evolution of a person the way you can on daytime.

AMELIA:  It’s so true.  There’s nothing else like it in the whole world.  It’s so cool.

Speaking of Thad as J.T., they ultimately resolved the story of J.T.’s abusive behavior towards Victoria in that a brain tumor was the culprit. How did you feel about that?

AMELIA:  I liked that they did resolve it.  Actually, looking back, Thad did such great work he should have submitted himself for the Daytime Emmys in the Guest Performer category.  I know the wrap-up of the story was a little silly, but the way that it turned out was good because with the brain tumor, he can still come back.  J.T. went to prison for a little bit which is a hell of a lot better than him being buried in Chancellor Park!

When Thad was off the show, did he know that Victoria, Sharon, Nikki and Phyllis buried J.T. in Chancellor Park? (Laughs)

AMELIA:  Yeah, he knew that he was buried there.  We laughed about it.  When he came back, it had to be resolved somehow, and sometimes on daytime you have to suspend disbelief a little bit.

Do you know what was really good about it?  There was still great Victoria/J.T. chemistry.  It was still there through all of the craziness.

AMELIA:  I don’t know if they’d ever have him Thad back, but it would certainly be cool.  It would be nice to just have regular J.T. because he is such a good character.

Photo: JPI

The fans are very much looking forward to all new episodes of Y&R this week.  They’ve been so patient.  I think Y&R did such a great job of coming up with these classic episodes, many of them that people hadn’t seen in such a long time, instead of defaulting to more recent episodes and just re-airing those.  I’m sure you’re hearing that from the fans that they can’t wait to see you guys.

AMELIA:  I thought people would be super excited to have the classic episodes, and I think they were to a certain point.  However, it was also nice to hear that they wanted us to come back because my thinking was, “If they see the classic stuff, I wonder if they’re going to want us back,” and they do, and it’s nice.  They want to see the development of the storylines continue.  They had their fun with the reruns.  They were well-received.

Let’s talk about being part of the iconic Newman clan of Y&R.  Do you enjoy working with Eric Braeden (Victor)?

AMELIA:  If I see that I am working with him (I just thought about this the other day because we hadn’t seen each other), I know that it is always going to be good even if it isn’t the way I want it to be written.  It’s always good.  Eric is just fun to work with, and he usually brings his A-game.  Sometimes we laugh and make fun of the material if it’s silly, but he’s just always on point with being there for you, and being in the moment with you, and supportive of you, and offering ideas respectfully; because he still really cares after all these years.  You can see how much Eric cares about the show, and his character, and making it good.  It’s just always nice to work with him.

Photo: JPI

Has Eric given you advice while on set with him throughout your time together on Y&R?

AMELIA:  We’ve talked about things every now and then.  Sometimes, I’ll just go talk about what’s going on in the show, and sit in his dressing room, and shoot the breeze about stuff.  He’s a really insightful guy, and he’s done a lot in his life, and it’s always interesting to hear his stories.  There’s just no one like him.  Eric is just such a unique man, and I respect him a lot.

And… your on-screen mom, Melody Thomas Scott has got her memoir, Always Young and Restless coming out in less than two weeks!

AMELIA:  I know!  I’m so excited.

Are you discussed in the book?

AMELIA:  I think so, because Melody said she needed a picture of me.  I can’t wait to read it!

Photo: JPI

Is this true that the Newman acting troupe knows their lines like nobody’s business and gets their scenes done quickly?

AMELIA:  It depends on the day.  Sometimes we are.  If people want to get done and get the show going and keep the ball rolling, everybody is on their A-game, and some days, we just come back from lunch and nobody can find their script or their lipstick, but it’s fun either way.  I love it.

Would you say that the Newmans can be an intimidating group on set; especially for newcomers to the show who have their first scenes with them?

AMELIA:  I would say that we are.  I’m not going to lie.  When we are all there, and it’s Eric, Melody, Josh, and me, and then there is somebody new it can be hard for them.  We’ve all been together for so long now that we have our inside jokes and everything.  When someone new comes in, and they’re just thinking they can kind of ease right into it with us, it can work or not work.  Mark Grossman was one that it worked with.  He held his own, but we are always kind, and we always make people feel comfortable and are always complimentary of new actors.  We really are.

Photo: CBS

So, a tough nut to crack those Newmans, but if you crack it, you’re good to go?

AMELIA:  Oh, once you crack it, it’s cracked. You’re “in like Flynn”.

So, excited to see what happens for Victoria in the coming months on Y&R? Who so you hope she is linked with romanitcally? Share your thoughts on our interview with Amelia via the comment section below.

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Interviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo; JPI

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

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

Photo: StudioCity

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

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

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

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

 

Photo: StudioCity

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

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

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

Photo: wireimage

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

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

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

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

Photo: Studio City

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Dark/Web

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

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

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

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

Photo: IMDB

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

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

Photo: Dark/Web

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: GSibleyInstagram

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

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

What are the names of your boys?

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

Photo: GettyImages

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

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

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

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

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

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