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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

B&B’s Scott Clifton and Don Diamont Talk on the Plight of Liam & Bill and Their Cover-Up of Vinny’s Death

If you are watching current episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful then you know that Scott Clifton (Liam) and his on-screen father, Don Diamont (Bill Spencer) have been spending plenty of time together in scenes in very dramatic and intense fashion.

In story, Liam is guilt-ridden over running down Vinny Carter (Joe LoCicero) by accident when he was driving Bill’s car.  Since the moment that Vinny was killed, Bill leapt into action, destroying any evidence tying the two to the scene of the crime and continually demanding that Liam let this go and move on with his life, or the implications for the both of them could certainly be a long jail sentence, or worse.

Photo: JPI

Now as Liam is finally making headway in a reconciliation with Hope (remember his last secret – sleeping with Steffy – was quite the doozy), this new secret of what he has done, and hiding, could up the stakes even more and take him away from his family for good … or would Hope (Annika Noelle) after finding out what Liam did be the nail in his coffin that ends their relationship once and for all and kicks him to the curb?

Courtesy/CBS

Both, Scott Clifton and Don Diamont chatted virtually with Michael Fairman exclusively for You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel to offer up for viewers and fans of The Bold and the Beautiful: an inside look at what goes on when they tape their scenes, how they see their characters motivations, and they serve up a preview of what may lie ahead in this tangled web that Bill and Liam have unfortunately weaved.

Photo: JPI

Check out the humorous, candid, and enlightening conversation with two of the leads and mainstays of this CBS Daytime drama series below.

Then let us know; how do you think Liam and Bill can get out of the mess they find themselves in? Will Liam crumble and spill the beans? Will everyone in town get on to them and figure out the secret they have been keeping? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section after taking a look at the virtual conversation.

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Days Of Our Lives

Kevin Spirtas Talks ‘After Forever’s’ Digital Special ‘Riley’s Unforgettable School Project’, The Loss of Michael Slade, and a Chance to Reprise DAYS Craig Wesley

The coronavirus pandemic has put to the test many content creators on just how they would keep their projects moving forward in ways they never dreamed of. However, out of that situation has come some of the most compelling, unique series, specials, and features currently streaming for viewers. One of which is Riley’s Unforgettable School Project, brought to you by the team from the six-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning series, After Forever.

Former Days of our Lives star, Kevin Spirtas (Ex-Craig Wesley) has starred in and created the first two seasons of what has become the most honored Emmy-awarded LGBTQ-themed drama series on any platform.  Along with his ‘After Forever’ writing/producing partner, the late Michael Slade (DAYS, OLTL, Passions, Another World), the two also conceptualized and delivered this latest documentary-style offering now on Amazon Prime Video.

What makes Riley’s Unforgettable School Project so noteworthy is not just how they were able to execute the series based on fictional 11-year-old Riley’s virtual school project and utilize its cast, which includes: Spirtas, Cady Huffman, Jamison Stern, Lenny Wolpe, Erin Cherry, Anita Gillette, Christopher J. Hanke, and Finn Douglas, but that it was made while Slade was succumbing to his battle with cancer, and that this special marks the final script from this talented writer.

 

Michael Fairman TV spoke with Spirtas about making the special during Covid-19, how the death of Michael Slade has made a lasting impact on his life, what After Forever has personally meant to him, and how an official third season is still in the works, and … if he would consider a return to Salem and Days of our Lives, should they come a-calling.  Here’s what Kevin had to say about it all.

Photo: AfterForever

I think the entire story of this digital special has become even more meaningful with Michael Slade’s passing. What was the genesis of the concept? You wanted to continue the telling of the story of After Forever … but we are all in the middle of a pandemic?

KEVIN:  Yes and… when we filmed season 2, we had the scripts for season 3 already completed. It was our hope and desire to film them at the same time, back-to-back, so that we would have had all of our cast and crew together, and we could have gotten through it because we’ve always imagined this story being told in a trilogy so to speak – a beginning, middle, and end to Brian (Spirtas) and Jason, (Mitchell Anderson) and Brian’s healing or his steps towards healing through grief.  Schedules turned out that they couldn’t really work out for us to hold all the people and hold all of the sets for that amount of time.  So, we thought, “We’ve got the scripts for season 3 ready.  We’ll come back to it in the following year,” and that was always the intention, and then the pandemic hit.  So, it was shut down immediately that we weren’t going to do anything, but we wanted to stay current, and instead of going back in and telling the third installment of After Forever as a Covid-19 story as well, Michael and I sat down and looked at a way of staying relevant and current with a story within COVID, and there was born the idea to do this documentary style story/special about the characters of After Forever told through the lens of the character of Riley, the 11-year-old boy, who is now being homeschooled during the pandemic. He gets an assignment to do a project about the most unforgettable person he has ever met, and he, of course, chooses his best friend, the late Jason Adams, and he enlists all of Jason’s friends and family to join in.  Michael actually said, “What if we tell a story about Riley being homeschooled?” And, not only is Riley a technical genius at 11-years-old in the story, but Finn Douglas, who plays Riley, is a technical genius.

And didn’t Finn perform and write the song “Forever There” contained within the special?

KEVIN. Yes. He is this incredible musician.  Michael thought, “What would it be like if we asked to have the character of Finn sing a song for Jason?”  I said, “Well, what kind of song would we have him sing?”  Finn could play anything, I’m sure, because he’s self-taught, he plays by ear – guitar, piano, and drums.  Michael said, “What if we ask him to see if he could write a song?” and when we heard this song, we all called each other and we all got on Zoom and went, “Can you believe this song?  Can you believe this came out of this 11-year-old?”  It’s pretty incredible.  Michael did a gorgeous job of weaving the stories in and out and how they just sort of dove-tailed into each other, and then it was framed by Riley opening the project and ending the project.  During the Zoom reading we wanted to hear the song out loud.  We said to Finn, “Would you want to sing the song?”  We all just watched everybody on that Zoom call just fall apart.  It was just so beautiful. He’s an amazing talent.

Where is your character within this?

KEVIN:  I still stand in the center of the story of Jason because my character, Brian, was married to Jason, and it sort of connects us all, and through Riley’s understanding of how we all connect to Jason, is how we are all sort of spread out throughout the story.  Michael jokingly said, “You know, you’re not going to be the star of this special,” and I said, “I don’t think it’s about being the star.  It’s really about the storytelling.”  The beauty of Riley’s Unforgettable School Project is that we get to see moments of each person’s relationship with Jason, which Riley sets out to say, “Answer these three questions: What did you like most about Jason?  What did you like least about Jason? And what’s your favorite memory?”  Those three things, cut back and forth is where we all kind of fit in.  Nobody has more of a story than the next person, and it’s all telling honest portrayals of how they’re dealing with their loss of their good friend, or their child, or partner.

It’s a very inventive idea during Covid-19 to continue it in a way where you weren’t having to go shoot a full season of episodes.

KEVIN:  Well, we couldn’t. I have to say, Allison Vanore, who not only produced this special, but she also stepped up saying, “I’d love to direct this,” and I said, “Yes, please!”  She knows the characters.  She understands the story because she’s been a part of it for the last two seasons.  Allison also has this extraordinary amount of knowledge and expertise with the camera and what was needed for a remote shoot, and to also be able to organize filming 13 people in 2 different countries and 5 different cities… that’s just the technical side of it, but having that in our back pocket, knowing that it was a remote shoot, we had to send the camera, the computer, the ring light, and the microphone to each person’s house.  We had to location scout over Zoom.  We had to do wardrobe over Zoom.  It was all this big puzzle putting it together, and once you look at that board of storytelling and how we were going to do it, it kind of fell into place.  I feel blessed that a) we still had Michael with us, at that point, and b) Allison had the know-how to do this.  We all feel that at least this pandemic didn’t keep us from doing what we love.

Photo: AfterForever

In terms of the contribution of Michael Slade in this special, was it the construction of the story, and how was he able to work and write this during his illness?

KEVIN:  Michael’s contribution to the special was no less than the contribution to season 1 and season 2, and the future of season 3, because the scripts are written.  We did everything on Zoom, and we worked around his schedule of treatment.  We scheduled 2 people per day, and we spread them out over two weeks.  He was very present, and when there would be a day where he would say, “I’m going to be an hour late, let’s just push that call time,” I would ask, “Is this too much right now?  We can shelve it; we can stop it.” He’d then say, “Absolutely not, otherwise cancer will win.”  He was determined to stay focused and to stay active because it took his mind off of what was happening to him.

Photo: AfterForever

It would be lovely moment if you both were to win a Daytime Emmy for this project. 

KEVIN:  It’s our last collaboration together as a team, as I said, season 3 has been scripted, and it is on the calendar to get made.  We are just waiting for the COVID restrictions to lift a little bit and everyone to get vaccinated.  Michael was really hit hard with cancer – to stay healthy was so challenging for him.  Sadly, he didn’t make it to see the final edit of the special, and he died four days before we launched, but he had seen the cuts before that and was very approving of it, and had made some decisions, and offered some suggestions, and if God gives him an Emmy for this, it’s not because he died.  It’s because it’s great work.  It just happens to be that the work that was involved in this particular special was very tricky.  It brought up everything, like life itself to have to deal with.  Here we are dealing with the loss of a colleague, the loss of a friend, someone’s brother, someone’s son, this is life imitating art, imitating art imitating life. I can’t tell you the darkness that I went through just experiencing the need to stay focused on getting everything edited, and everything ready, and everything aligned for a release of this project that we had put into motion.  On top of it, our editor lost his mother just before Michael passed, and Allison’s mom was sick at the time, as well.  It took a lot of heavy deep breaths with Michael’s death, and the pandemic, and the loss has, for me, on a personal level, sent me back to really questioning my spiritual muscle and to help remind me that we have to come out of this better than we went into this.  I had many dark nights of the soul this last year, and December was probably the darkest.  I feel like I’m just kind of coming out of it now with the spring revealing itself.

Photo: AfterForever

It must have been extraordinarily difficult for you to also go to New York during a pandemic and also knowing Michael did not have much time left.

KEVIN:  I will say this: I am grateful that I was able to stay in touch with my heart and my instinct and go out to New York to let that be my remote location.  Yes, maybe there was some risk involved.  I wore my mask; I was Covid-19 negative, and I was determined to be fine.  Once I got to New York, I would visit him very protectively with our masks and our gloves, and I’d sit across the room, and then I’d go back to the house I was at.  It was a gift that I was able to see him at that time.  We had some good talks then about how he was feeling, and I think he was still being optimistic, and then once we got the project in the can there was maybe this psychic letting go. That’s when everything really started to reveal itself as this could be the end.  I did go back to see him when he was in hospice.  I think I was there the last two days that he really was able to really stay coherent.  He would close his eyes and be at peace and quiet for a minute, and he would finish a conversation and sort of close his eyes, not to sleep and not to go away, but I remember watching him going, “Look how peaceful he is,” and then he’d open his eyes and he’d remember that he is in this body that has been given a time limit of life, and he’s on his way out.  I’d watch the fear go back in his eyes.  At one point, he did say, “I’m so scared,” and I just held his hand, and I said, “I’m scared too.  Let’s be scared through this together.”  I don’t know how to navigate grief like that.  We are all going to be in a position at some point where we are going to be on the other side of the hand holding.  The wonderful thing is that we were able to have honest communication about our feelings.  I thanked him for everything that he has done for me and how he believed in my talent and creativity and our partnership.  I will always take that with me.  I waved my finger at him, and I said, “Listen.  Now, we wrote a series about a man talking to his deceased husband.  You’d better talk to me!”  So, we laughed about that.

Photo: AfterForever

You’ve done a lot of things in your career from Broadway to television, and of course, daytime fans know you best as Dr. Craig Wesley on DAYS.  How does the entire After Forever project stack up to you within all that you have done?

KEVIN:  Former DAYS casting director Fran Bascom, sought me out and offered me this 2-day role on Days of Our Lives, and those 2 days turned into 8 years, and unbeknownst to me at the time, the final 3 months of that contract of those 8 years, Michael Slade was brought in to write.  We didn’t cross paths at that point, but years later, when we did cross paths in New York, and then After Forever was born, that was that universal crossing point.  I am most proud of the fact that we were able create something fresh, and real, and personal to ourselves that we didn’t have to cater to any “powers that be” that had their vision and their tinkering, that they thought that it could be better in this way or that way.  Then for After Forever to gain such recognition, within the film festivals, and the Emmys, and then, just after Michael died, we won the GLAAD award for Special Recognition this year.  We don’t even fit into one of their categories!  They found a way to acknowledge this project.  If another Emmy happens again, that might be another one to put up on the shelf for After Forever that would be beautiful, and I couldn’t have done it without Michael.

For the Daytime Emmys this year, what category have you entered Riley’s Unforgettable School Project?

KEVIN:  We are not a series this year, we are a daytime fiction special, and the “Daytime Fiction Special” category is a special class.  It’s anything that’s digital in the construct of less than 40 minutes.  NATAS (National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) is being bombarded with so much content, they’re trying to find ways to put categories together.

Photo: JPI

So, now, when we last saw Days of Lives’ Dr. Craig Wesley, where was he? (Laughs)

KEVIN: (Laughs) He was in a flash from the past or something in the DOOL app’s Last Blast Reunion series. I had a fun time working with Patrika Darbo (Nancy) and Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe), once again.

So, if they were to want Craig to come back to DAYS, would you be all for it?

KEVIN:  Hell yes!

Photo: JPI

Now, what story would you want to be told involving Craig? 

KEVIN:  When Craig was first on the canvas in Salem, there was a lot of mustache twirling and a lot of hand wringing.  He was always plotting; most of the time with Nancy.  It was kind of this high drama, evil villain storyline being told, but when the writers created an opportunity for us to be on after those first three months by bringing on Chloe without a father, there was something real about it.  It may have been told under the construct of soap opera storytelling, but there was a reality-based story about, “You have a daughter, and we are just now finding out about it?”  Then, finding a cure to her health was another realistic story, and finding out that Craig was her real father.  Anything that’s reality based is what I’m getting to.  I would welcome any job that brings me back and gives me an opportunity to dive into something real.

Photo: JPI

Would you welcome the opportunity to play a gay character on daytime; in a medium where there are very few represented in storylines?

KEVIN:  I’d have no problem with that.  Do you know anybody who is starting that?  Let’s do it!  (Laughs) First of all, there’s nothing to hide anymore.  There’s nothing to pretend you’re not anymore.  I would think that bringing in a storyline that deals with anything outside the norm that we are used to seeing would be interesting.  How many times can you retell a story?  How many times can you set the same story up with another couple?  So, why not be diverse and have a stylized story being told through the lens of a gay person.

Photo: AfterForever

In closing, so many go through life without acknowledging people who had an impact them.  We don’t give pats on the back, often enough, and especially in Hollywood, where people can be very self-involved.  You have already paid tribute to Michael Slade in our discussion, but what gift from him is your personal takeaway?

KEVIN:  The gift that Michael really gave to me is to remember to be kind to myself and to others, and to acknowledge and salute the person who is in front of us, because we don’t know when we will have, or if we will have, another moment to do that.

Now below, check out the trailer for Riley’s Unforgettable School Project.  Then let us know, what do you think of its concept? Kevin’s thoughts on the passing of his collaborator on the project, Michael Slade? And, do you hope DAYS brings back Dr. Craig Wesley? Share your thoughts via the comment section.

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General Hospital

GH’s Kin Shriner Talks on Franco’s Demise, Scott’s Budding Romance with Obrecht, and His Enduring On-Screen Partnership with Genie Francis

One of the most beloved actors in the history of General Hospital, Kin Shriner, currently finds his alter-ego, Scott Baldwin, in a new budding on-screen romance with none other than Liesl Obrecht (Kathleen Gati).

This comes on the heels of Scott learning the devastating news that his son, Franco Baldwin was shot and killed, thus writing-off the ABC daytime drama series, for now, popular actor, Roger Howarth.

Photo: JPI

Throughout his now almost 44-year-run on the ABC daytime drama series, Kin Shriner has brought his unique acting chops that helped mold the character of legal eagle Scott Baldwin into the humorous, at times cutthroat, endearing and many times heartbreaking character we have all come to love.’

 

In a brand new exclusive virtual sit-down interview with Michael Fairman on You Tube’s The Michael Fairman Channel, Shriner opens up about his history with GH and the times he stepped away to take on roles on Texas and As the World Turns, and then back again to the town of Port Charles and GH.

Photo: ABC

As well, Kin reveals his reaction to learning the news that Roger Howarth would be exiting the show as his TV son and how he shot the key emotional scene where Laura (Genie Francis) tells Scott that Franco had died.  Shriner shares that he does not see how when Howarth returns to the show in as a yet-to-be-revealed character, that it would be a stretch if the two were some how related, but that he will miss working with the talented Howarth as a scene-partner.

Photo: JPI

As to the women in Scott’s life, Kin addresses each of them from: Lucy (Lynn Herring), Bobbie (Jackie Zeman), Dominque (Shell Danielson), Laura (Francis), Ava (Maura West) – to which the character could never get that close to – and now Liesl (Gati), and working opposite all the powerhouse actresses who portray them.

Photo: ABC

For fans of General Hospital who have watched the series for decades, Kin also shares memories of working with his late TV parents, Peter Hansen (Lee), Susan Brown (Gail) and his friend and former GH castmate John Reilly (Sean), plus backstage stories with his longtime scene partner, Genie Francis.

Watch the entire conversation with Kin below.

Now let us know, are you all for the Scott and Liesl romance? Will you miss scenes between Scott and Franco?  Would you ever want to see Scott and Laura reunite romantically? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Y&R’s Joshua Morrow, Amelie Heinle, Mark Grossman, Hunter King and Melissa Ordway chat with Michael Fairman about being a part of and portraying the Newman Children as the show celebrates its 48th anniversary.Leave A Comment

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