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The Lauralee Bell Interview – The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: CharlesBush.com

Photo Credit: CharlesBush.com

If you are watching The Young and the Restless this week, the past is truly being revisited, which will have far reaching consequences for many of the citizens of Genoa City!  To kick things off, Christine (or known best to those from her past as Cricket) has just returned to Genoa City with a job to do, and Danny Romalotti has returned to check in on his son Daniel, after all the young man’s trouble with Daisy!  So enter soap favorites Lauralee Bell (Christine) and Michael Damian (Danny), who after a long stretch of time not being on Y&R together, finally have their reunion!  And it’s quite a spectacular one!  The old on-screen lovers end up hitting the sheets in short order!  But then comes the fallout!  Where do these two go from here?

But that is only half of the story!  As Lauralee talks and previews with On-Air On-Soaps, there is much more to her exciting return and the upcoming components of this story, where an unsolved crime puts her smack dab in the middle of all the controversy.  Cricket was run down by a vengeful Phyllis back in the day, and Phyllis never paid for the crime!  She got away with it!  Now with evil Ricky, the bad seed spawn of Paul and Isabella wanting to teach Phyllis a lesson, old wounds and old rivalries will be reopened, which gives the actors in this story some meaty material to sink their teeth into.

So, how does Lauralee feel Y&R is doing, while the series is receiving such backlash from fans unhappy with many of the current stories?  What was it like trying to capture the magic decades later with Michael Damian on-screen?  And, will this story be the one to finally make Lauralee want to stay on Y&R more long-term?  The answers to these and more burning questions can be found below in our conversation with the always “tell-it-like-it-is” Bell!

MICHAEL:

Finally, soap fans get to have both you and Michael Damian on Y&R at the same time and in scenes together … and in bed together!

LAURALEE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

On last Friday’s air show, I would say it was how a classic Bill Bell moment would be where we built it up to where Danny and Christine just see each other!  Then came the three day Memorial Day weekend!   For me, as a viewer, I really get into stuff like that.  It was almost painful to have them just stare at each other, and so Tuesday’s episode was intense, and then Friday’s episode is wicked.  Every day is intense, but where Michael Damian and I had big scenes was on Tuesday and then Friday.  Those are the big days.  My time is not quick this time around at Y&R.  I am there.

MICHAEL:

What really brings Christine back to Genoa City this time?  All of a sudden there she was!  Did it make sense to you why was she was there?  Many times you have chosen not to return for a guest-arc to Y&R if it didn’t feel right to you.

LAURALEE:

Well, it did make sense for her to come back.  Genevieve is in such hot water, and it has become a much bigger issue than the Genoa City cops can handle.  It is now a federal investigation.  So it did make sense that Christine was there, and it did make sense for Danny to be there with all the stuff going on with his son, Daniel.  That is what I was so excited about, because it wasn’t really forced.  I did like that we were both in Genoa City, but did not see each other the first few days we were back.  A lot of things occur in these few weeks!

MICHAEL:

The cool thing about how Christine and Daniel were brought back onto the canvas was they were there for completely different reasons, which I thought was a good way to write it.

LAURALEE:

I liked that, too.  So we are having scenes and then all of a sudden on Tuesday’s episode Danny and Christine end up in bed, and that is a shocker!  That is showing again the growth and the history of the couple, but the growth of them as adults knowing they can just do some things on the spur of the moment, where it’s like, “I have a couple days with you and I am going to make the most of it.  And after that, we will deal with it.”  The history of their relationship justifies basically anything at this point.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

After they have sex, some territory is covered about their relationship and if they could ever be back together.

LAURALEE:

At the end of it all, there is a question of, “Do these two want to get back together?”  It really comes down to logistically how would they make that work?  He loves being a rock star and she loves working for the Justice Department … and who is going to give that up?  It sounds great and could be fun for a couple of weeks, but the reality is; who is going to drop everything?  Which one of us is going to drop everything and go to the other and really be happy?  I think they both love their careers so much that the sacrifice would cause them to hate being with the person that they wanted to be with, because they changed their life.

MICHAEL:

Then they come down the stairs from the GCAC from their romp and who should be there but their exes, Phyllis and Paul!

LAURALEE:

I think there is a little bit of  “Sorry, we don’t want to hurt you.”  But you know what?  None of us are technically together.  Paul is going through a lot, so he doesn’t need that in his face, but it is touched on so briefly, which I think it’s great.  We are all adults and Paul has been with Nina, so there are no dibs on anyone.  But it is always nice to throw something back in Phyllis’s face!  Lord knows, she deserves everything she gets.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Your return is part of this overall story arc of the show reopening the cold case of when Cricket was mowed down in a hit and run, thanks to Phyllis, who has never paid for her crime.

LAURALEE:

There are some scenes coming up with Michelle Stafford (Phyllis) which I will need to ask the production manager to get me a copy of the old scenes, so I know what I am talking about.  I don’t mean the actual hit and run, but there are scenes around that time that I start snipping with Phyllis over.  The lines are great, but I would like to have that vision of what I am talking about. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Phyllis hated Cricket!

LAURALEE:

Yes she hated Cricket.  It’s interesting.  I didn’t remember that Paul and I were about to get married, but she apparently saw Danny and I saying goodbye to each other and it made her very upset.  Cricket was on to Phyllis’ shenanigans.  For some reason, I feel like Paul and Cricket had people that were angry with them because of their work.  So it was always just assumed that it had to be someone from his P.I. work, or Cricket’s legal work, that had a vendetta against us.  I don’t think Phyllis was ever really considered.

MICHAEL:

So this cold case involving Cricket’s hit and run is really the spark for Ricky’s revenge plot against Phyllis, and there seems to be lots of twists coming up with many long time favorites involved in it.   How has taping gone have so far, in particular the scenes with Michael Damian?

LAURALEE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

When Michael Damian and I were sitting there running lines, it was interesting to see the crew there and their reactions to us, and when Michael and I taped our goodbye scenes.  It was so intense and people came out and said, “Oh my God.  That was very emotional.”  It’s Cricket and Danny, and that is one of the reasons I did not come back a couple of years ago when Michael was back.  Because if you don’t do it right, it could go wrong.  I have to say this was done so well, in terms of the reasons why they are there … the surprise of seeing each other, the intense quickness with them recognizing even though they have not seen each other, the connection is there.  They have such a strong connection, and then it’s goodbye.  That is why I have been eager for people to tune-in.  If you don’t watch Y&R that much anymore, but you were a fan back then, you have got to watch these episodes.  Watching the last few days of episodes with Jack and Victor and Nikki, these seem to be really strong shows.  And what is great now too, is that there is a lot of suspense.  You have Ricky getting creepy on everyone.  I kind of like those feelings where you are nervous.  I think there are multiple emotions going through the viewer’s mind when they are watching these days.

MICHAEL:

But Danny comes to town, and then is gone pretty quickly.  What’s up with that? How much of Danny/Cricket can we expect to see?

LAURALEE:

I think we are on for five days together.  Danny is on tour ‘baby’ and he has to get back on the road!  We were laughing in rehearsal when Danny tells Cricket he has to go.  It’s like, “Hello?  Maybe you should have told me this four hours ago, before we hopped in the sack.”  What is so great with Cricket at this age and point in her life, as we saw with Nick, I think she is very much in control of this, as you saw on Tuesday.  She is not the weak “Oh, I am not so sure if this is the right thing to do.”  There is none of that in her anymore.  There is the kindness in her, but no longer the naïve or scared side to her.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

So, Danny calls you Cricket, and not Christine!

LAURALEE:

I know, and he had to!  What was great about it was how it was addressed.  Michael, Michelle Stafford and I have this great scene where he is defending Cricket.  Phyllis says, “You know what? You have to move on, because she has.  Her name is not even Cricket anymore.  She is working woman.  So you have to get on with it and not live in the past!”  I am all for calling out what the audience was thinking and she nailed him with, “What era are you living in?”  To Nina and Danny, she will always be Cricket!

MICHAEL:

Should we expect some key showdown scenes between you and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis?)

LAURALEE:

I work with her a bit more coming up.  She came up to me my first day back and she was like, “I love what your character brings to the character of Phyllis. I immediately feel like the old Phyllis.“  I think people love seeing her like that.  I think by making her pregnant and having her do all these weird things because her hormones are out of whack, that is the Phyllis people want to see.  They don’t want to see her motherly and sweet, or if they do, they want to then see her flip out the next day so you can see she is not entirely stable.   What is great about their dynamic is… you can grow up, but it’s that deep- seated jealousy that is always there, even if you are sugar coating it.

MICHAEL:

Jeff Branson (Ronan) is coming back to Y&R, too!  Will you be working with him? Do you think Ronan and Christine could have a thing for each other?

LAURALEE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

I did not know that at first, but I got my scripts for this week and we are working together.  Jeff is a really good actor, and I like Christine and Ronan.  There is an element of “Have those two gotten together?”  We both try to play it like that, because again, you don’t know what we do on our off hours.  I think that is what is so fun about playing my character now. You can sort of manipulate the story a bit, because I am off the canvas a lot and the audience has no idea what I do with my nights … whether Christine is drinking scotch alone, or at a strip club?  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

If you and Jeff Branson could both stay on the show long enough, (laughs) what about a Phyllis/Ronan/Christine triangle?  Phyllis was having sex with Ronan!  And Phyllis is pregnant with what we believe is Nick’s child… but what if it is Ronan’s?

LAURALEE:

I know!  How crazy was it that those two hooked-up?  And again, having all of us back now make senses, and it is all very justified.  Now with Michael Baldwin becoming the D.A. and then Heather Stevens coming back into his life.  I met Jennifer Landon (Heather, Y&R) and she is great!  What I can tell you is Jennifer is very real, there is nothing in her acting that will come across forced or fake.

MICHAEL:

Y&R has taken a hit by its fans in recent months with consistent criticism that the stories are not to their liking, and it doesn’t feel like the show they remembered wanting to tune-in to every day.   They have been very disgruntled, to say the least.

LAURALEE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

My big request to people is this: I know the story is there and I understand people are frustrated, but I am just saying, if you are going to give it a week and you are asking for classic Y&R, then you have to watch this week!  This is the beginning of a lot of good story.  I am all for watching shows that I don’t like and saying, “Why are they doing this? Why are doing that?”  I think what we can all agree on is it’s a lot people you know so well.  And I love watching a scene where you could have no dialog, and you put five Y&R characters that you have grown up with, you just know what they are all thinking about because you know them so well.  Everyone has their dynamics with everybody, and this is the time to watch.  If we don’t do in story what the fans are hoping for, it will break my heart, but I really feel like they are strong shows.

MICHAEL:

So has this return whet your appetite for possibly making it the real deal and coming back to the series on a more permanent basis?

LAURALEE:

Judging by what I will be taping next month, it looks like I will be around for a while.  There is a pretty steady amount of Christine.  But you know me!   I always like to wait to see how it is received before I make any other commitments.  I really have a bunch of shows that I am pitching full force right now, so I am in that mode to get them out.  I don’t want to commit to anything, but fingers-crossed, I can move forward with one of these.  And by the way, they are not my web projects.  So I believe things happen the way they are supposed to.  I will be on a ton on Y&R in June and July.  Then I will be taking a trip with my kids, and then we will see in August if this was all successful.

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

MICHAEL:

How was it for you, personally, working with Michael Damian again?

LAURALEE:

He is great!  It was odd, I have to say, because we haven’t seen each other in years. Rebecca Street called me and said, “I’m in town”  So we arranged to have lunch together and 40 minutes into the lunch she said to me, “Do you ever talk to Michael Damian?” And literally within 30 seconds he tapped me on the shoulder!  He happened to be in the same restaurant!  So that was so weird.  And this was not intentional!  And after that, I had not seen him in 2 years.  You can’t spend the kind of time Michael and I spent together, without having a really tight relationship.  It was great seeing him at Y&R.  But I did tease him that he was telling the same jokes he did back then.  Some things never change.  (Laughs)  But it was nothing but great, and I think it showed on camera.

MICHAEL:

Who do you think is Christine’s true love?

LAURALEE:

That is a tough one!  It’s hard to pick between your first and then your adult relationship. I think she only has two true loves, Danny and Paul.  I think there is always something about your first love, because it was the first time you ever experienced those feelings that are that intense.  On the goodbye scene, you will see how intense Danny and Cricket’s relationship is.  They weren’t planning on this.  It dredges up feelings.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Speaking of dredging up the past, the Danny/Cricket romance was 80’s Y&R, and you wearing the typical look of the times, and sporting the big hair!  Can you look at those episodes and pinch yourself at all the cool things you did in story, or are you mortified when you see yourself in those days?

LAURALEE:

I am mortified, and that is why I never read the message boards.  I would be the first one to say that I looked ridiculous, but that is what it was back then.  I wouldn’t be defending how silly we looked, but it was a sign of the times and it is funny that I now can say, “We look better now than we did 20 years ago!” (Laughs)  You have got to laugh at yourself.  I am always trying to find the humor in everything and people take life to seriously, and if you do, you will just stay locked up and cry all day.

MICHAEL:

Where is Christine at with Paul?  The two of them to me look like there is still such love there between them.

LAURALEE:

I don’t think that is done.  Doug Davidson (Paul) and I purposely play that they still do love each other where we can.  With Paul and Christine, when they need support, or help or a friend, they always go to each other.  It’s hard to do that without crossing the lines for Paul and Chris. 

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: CharlesBush.com

So what do you hope unravels as the story kicks into high gear and Phyllis’ crime could be exposed?  Do you hope that it will put Christine in grave danger from Phyllis or Ricky?  Or, do you hope she will be able to finish the job she originally set out to do when she returned to GC?

LAURALEE:

It’s too soon for me to say.  I would like to play both, knowing that there is huge danger and fear looming for her, and also knowing she has a job to get done.  Christine comes to help Paul do a whole background check on Ricky and finding out his past, but she really comes back because she knows Paul is not doing well and that he needs some guidance. (Laughs)   I am just a flight away from Genoa City via Washington D.C.! (Laughs)

 

 

 

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SusanAlyssaStacyjackietash36 Recent comment authors
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Michael
Guest
Michael

Michael, you had to know that Lauralee wasn’t about to badmouth her sister-in-law, Maria Arena Bell. I don’t even know why you asked her about the extremely negative publicity that the show has been getting thanks in large part to MAB’s horrific writing of the show. For her and for the sake of “family harmony”, she had to keep her personal opinions about Maria and her writing to herself, even if she absolutely HATES what Maria has done to her late father’s show. I’m now in Week 4 or 5 of not watching Y&R. I refuse to watch the drivel… Read more »

kay killgore
Guest
kay killgore

Michael I am with you 110% but the Bell family has always been about nepotism as a lot of familes are and that is fine but MAB to my knowledge had no previous writing experience. This could be a good plot if I was writing I would have the character Ricky whack Daisy and pen it on Phyllis. It would be a kick to have some Karma finally come back to her, it is amusing how they have whitewashed her character to complete boredom.

jackie
Guest
jackie

michael i need { ya to stay on young ^ restless ‘
huge fan of you _ on the show + danny w / christine + late 8o _
great seen you + jackie } no#1 fan

tash36
Guest
tash36

Hi Michael. How r u? Yes, I am asking same question and I know u r tired me asking. Bit do u have any news about Jack Wagner returning to GH and reuniting with Kristina Wagner(Felica) and Maxi? I wish they bring him back. I hope u have good news about that or any info y
ou can,give us fans.
Again Michael I thank,you for answering my question. I appreciate it so much.

Tash10204@aol.com

jackie
Guest
jackie

how are ya michael _? miss seen ya on the young & restless _ so much +
great to see ya on the show with laurnelle _ { danny & christine __
* how is your music coming along & movies _ coming out soon _
*
i appreicted you staying with the show +
*
i am hard of hearing + and talk + & single +
*

jackie
Guest
jackie

wish you was coming to pgh pa – so i can met you in person = handsome -& tall –
as i remember danny and chrisitne married – and have children _ and become granparents – when they do marries + please – michael + as danny +
love ya * you need ya & christine toqther ] please =please & stay on the show

Stacy
Guest
Stacy

They really need some good story lines. Who ever was writing the story lines in the mid to late nineties did an awesome job. After that, I basically stopped watching . They have to realize that y and r is shown in many countries including the one I’m from. They have to please the world, not just America.

Alyssa
Guest
Alyssa

I hope someday you can be back on The Young and The Restless for good. I am a huge Danny Romalotti fan. And a huge Cricket Blair fan also. You two are my fav couple on Y&R. I hope they can get back together. Well thanks for reading! Bye

~Alyssa~

Susan
Guest
Susan

After reading this interview almost a year after, I have to say almost if not everything has changed. Almost all the people mentioned in the interview are gone. Christine is now back with Paul. The question I would love to ask Lauralee now is: Is Paul the great love of her life because she gave up her job in DC in order to make the sacrifice of moving back to GC with the man she loves. I remember her stating to you that logistically speaking, she cant give up her job for Danny.

Days Of Our Lives

Watch the Replay: GH, DAYS, Y&R, B&B & OLTL Stars at Michael Fairman’s Virtual Birthday Party for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 Relief Fund

Earlier this week on Monday night, several of the stars of General Hospital, Days of our Lives, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, and One Life to Live, took part in a virtual livestream “party” for Michael Fairman’s 60th birthday.

The event was held virtually to help performers in need who have been deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic by letting viewers know where to make a donation to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Covid-19 Relief Fund.

Photo: ABC, NBC, CBS

Participating throughout the 90 minute livestream were: The Young and the Restless, Jason Thompson, Sharon Case, and Christian LeBlanc, General Hospital’s Maurice Benard, Laura Wright, Wes Ramsey, and Chloe Lanier, The Bold and the Beautiful’s Katherine Kelly Lang, Days of our Lives’ Rob Scott Wilson, Eric Martsolf, Galen Gering, Arianne Zucker, Shawn Christian, Santa Barbara favorite, A Martinez, One Life to Live’s Kristen Alderson and Eddie Alderson, and Studio City’s Sean Kanan.

You can catch the replay of the birthday benefit event below or on The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

Throughout the evening, the actors shared stories of how they got their SAG card, played a game of Michael’s trivia, and revealed stories about themselves and other “party” guests in a wonderful display of community and camaraderie at all went down live!

Since March of 2o2o, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation has given out more than $6.2 million in emergency aid to over 6,500 SAG-AFTRA performers and their families facing hardship and uncertainty during this pandemic. Thousands of SAG-AFTRA artists have found themselves in dire need of assistance to help pay their rent, buy groceries, cover health care premiums and other bills.  You can still make a donation of any dollar amount to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 relief fund here. https://members.sagfoundation.org/donate 

Now, check it out below, and let us know if you enjoyed the virtual birthday party livestream via the comment section.

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General Hospital

GH Co-Head Writers Chris Van Etten and Dan O’ Connor Interview – “Soapmakers of the Year” Honors 2020

In a year which saw production of your favorite soaps shutdown for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic, everyone in daytime had to pivot.  As original episodes aired, they eventually ran out, giving way to rebroadcasts, while the audience eagerly awaited the return of the current stories.

At General Hospital, once production resumed over the summer, head writers, Chris Van Etten and Dan O’ Connor had teed-up: surprising homecomings (Dante, Britt) shocking twists and revelations, the conclusion of what will become an all-time soap classic, the Alzheimer’s storyline, dipping into the rich 57-year history of the iconic soap to tie story to the present (Laura, Cyrus, Martin), and crafting stories for its A-list cast which gave 2020 some of its finest on-screen moments.  GH became can’t-miss television again, coming back even stronger than its pre-pandemic self; which also kicked the year off in high-style with the reveal of Nikolas to his family, alive and well, and the long-awaited truth about baby Wiley.

Chris and Dan’s depiction of Mike’s heartbreaking battle with Alzheimer’s gave viewers many tears through its unrelenting and realistic storytelling, plus their commitment to air the standalone episode to honor the passing of the 19th amendment of the women’s right to vote in November.  Both were noteworthy, and illustrated what daytime can do best.

 

Each year, Michael Fairman TV gives our highest honor to a creative or creatives who most delivered to its audience and whose quality of work continues to keep us engaged, on the edge of our seats, or reaching for the hankies. That is why this year’s Soapmkers of the Year honor goes to GH scribes: Chris Van Etten and Dan O’Connor.  Shortly after receiving their acknowledgement, the duo spoke to us about some of the 2020 highlights in Port Charles, and how they work so well together to bring their stories to life.  Here’s what they shared.

Courtesy/ABC

First, and foremost, I want to commend you for the Alzheimer’s storyline  As I’ve shared publicly, my mother died of Alzheimer’s, and I have seen the progression of this disease and the effects it has on a family and loved ones, and the person afflicted with it.  You did a beautiful job of telling every beat of the story within the context of what you could do within a soap opera.  What can you tell me about crafting that and seeing it through to the end?  You never abandoned the story, which at times, can happen on daytime.

CHRISNo, we didn’t abandon it.  Soap operas have a power that I am sure we have acknowledged before, to allow audiences to really get to know characters in a deeper and more profound way than I think most other mediums do.  We get to see characters’ lives day in and day out.  For us to tell a story about Alzheimer’s, which is a disease that is devastating in so many ways, not the least of which is the fact that it can take years to develop and years to finally claim a life, we felt that among our audience, there had to be many people who had experienced this in an up-close and personal way.  So that to tell the story too expeditiously would really deny their experience and would take away from their appreciation of the show as a reflection of reality.  Of course, soap operas don’t do that in every sense on every episode, but when you’re telling a story about a disease that people experience every day, you have an obligation to reflect the real-world experience.  So, by bringing it to a close too fast and by doing it in a way that didn’t honor what at times is the horror of the disease, felt like it would be a cop-out.  We wanted to do our best within the constrictions of the medium to depict that; while at the same time, of course, not wanting to leave people so depressed as to not want to tune back in.  It was a really delicate dance.  We are very grateful to have had the support of the network and Frank Valentini’s (executive producer, GH) ingenious production team as well as a great repertory of actors who were willing and able to give their all to this story.

Courtesy/ABC

Maurice Benard (Sonny) did some of his finest work of his career in this story, and you gave him the ball to do it, and Max Gail (Mike) was amazing.  Two standout episodes included: when Mike passed and was taken to heaven by Courtney (Alicia Leigh Willis) and Mike’s funeral episode.  Did you realize when you were writing it, the impact it would have on the audience?

DANAs for the funeral, I’d say that we knew as we were writing it that not only did we want to give the characters and the audience a chance to say goodbye to Mike, but we also wanted to give the performers a chance to say a goodbye to their relationship with the actor, Max Gail as well.  Max is a fantastic, phenomenal actor, and he formed close relationships with many of our performers.  So, when we wrote the episode, yes, we did want to give the audience a chance to say goodbye to the character, but we also knew that because of the close relationships that these performers have made with each other that the actors were going to bring their all, and it was going to provide the audience with some powerhouse performances.

Did you get emotional seeing it? 

CHRIS:  Oh, personally, I cried.

Courtesy/ABC

I know you both love and appreciate the soap genre and understand that the audience often wants a good cry and is invested in these characters.  So because of that; what’s it like for you when you see these emotional moments play out that start in your mind, go to the page, then to the stage, and now are out in the world for people to see and experience?

CHRIS:  I can’t speak for any of the other writers, but I’m not crying when I’m writing it, but I’m crying when I see it realized and how the actors, and the producers, and the directors realize it.  I personally am always surprised by the nuance and the beats that they find that we, in our first draft kind-of-lifestyle that we have as soap opera writers; where we are writing six or seven episodes per week, we don’t have the time or the luxury to really sit with an episode and mine it for every single beat and every emotion. That’s why we have great directors and great actors who take these scripts and find these extra moments.  So, it is really gratifying to watch – yes, to see something that we’ve imagined be produced and personified, but then to see how the production then takes it in other directions, that’s the best.  I think that’s the most gratifying part of writing for a show, not seeing what you’ve written produced, but seeing how it was parented into life.  When you have a baby, I think you have all sorts of ideas about what the baby will be, and then the baby becomes something else as the result of its environment and of the people who are influencing and guiding it along and that may be a bit of a stretched metaphor, but it kind of feels relative.

As co-head writers of General Hospital, how do you work together to come up with long-term story?  What is your process?

DAN:  Chris and I will meet regularly and discuss the long-term stories that we are telling, and plan to tell, and maybe some adjustments that we have to make along the way.  We get to meet with our writers several days every week as we figure out the best way to tell that story in the form of however many episodes we write a week.  Chris and I also write episodes along with our great breakdown script team, and every week we figure out the best way to either stay on the path of the story we are intending to tell, or find new opportunities or new twists and turns we can take along the way.

Photo: ABC

Do you get into friendly, creative disagreements? Is one of you more protective of a certain character than the other? 

DAN:  Chris and I have known each other for close to 15 years at this point, and we are not just colleagues, we are also friends.  There is a certain amount of shorthand that we have with each other which is just invaluable in telling story.  What’s great is that we sometimes come at the story from different angles or we have a different point of view, much like any two fans of the show wouldn’t agree on necessarily everything, but in our discussions about the show’s needs, wants, and haves, and the story trajectory, we ultimately get somewhere better than where either of us could have come up with on our own.  At the same time, there are those moments where we both come to the same idea at the same moment, and that’s definitely when we go, “Okay, we’re onto something good.”

CHRIS:  I can add as a partial translation that I can get really snippy, and Dan has the patience of a saint.  So, often times, I need 24 hours to go away, and sleep on something, and wake up, and say, “Oh Dan, you were totally right about that.  I’m so sorry I was snippy the other day,” and he doesn’t seem to hold it against me.

Do you ever get a writer’s block; as has to happen often with scribes in the unrelenting medium of daytime drama, and if so, I would think having a writing partner would be an asset during those times?

DAN:  I think it’s the nature of the beast.  At a certain point, you might hit a roadblock somewhere, but that’s why having a partner is so valuable that there is somebody else that you can bounce ideas along with, and just as, if not more importantly, our team of writers are always there to sometimes give us even better ideas than what we would have come up with on our own.

Courtesy/ABC

This year you utilized and delved back into a lot of GH history.  How did the idea come about to bring back the character of Jackie Templeton and have former All My Children and NYPD Blue favorite, Kim Delaney, take on the role?

DAN:  Jackie Templeton is a character who has been an Easter egg on the show for many years now.  Whenever we needed to namedrop a famous journalist, she was always our go-to.  It always felt like the character was in the ether of Port Charles for awhile, and we were excited to bring this take-no-prisoners character back and explore her history with Robert (Tristan Rogers), and at the same time, we were finally teed up to tell the story of Finn’s (Michael Easton) falling out with his father and step-mother, and we realized we had a great opportunity to have the character serve both stories and collide with not just Anna (Finola Hughes) and Finn, but Robert as well. Those three played wonderfully with each other. When we heard that Kim Delaney was interested in playing with us, we were just over the moon.  .

Courtesy/ABC

You have also been delving back into Laura’s childhood past and her history. I love that you brought up the death of David Hamilton and her teenage years, which hasn’t been discussed for a very long time on the show while tying it into the present.

DAN:  We were always aware of the story just because we love General Hospital and we love the character of Laura, and there is nothing else like daytime drama, and one of the great things about it is that you can reach decades into the past and expand on stories and themes that the audience actually witnessed. Long reaching history is a tool in our toolbox that not many other series have.  Chris and I love honoring and using our characters’ histories to propel the show into the future with some serious momentum.

Photo: ABC

You created and brought the character of  Cyrus Renault (Jeff Kober) on to the canvas. Was it originally a case of, “We need an uber-villain to come and shake things up,” and then you decided to connect him to Laura?  It’s been an intriguing shocker for viewers.  Jeff is playing the multi-levels of Cyrus with great finesse, and whenever you give Genie something, the fans go nuts, and she, in turn, delivers every time.

CHRIS:  The story of Cyrus has a couple of phases to it.  We wanted to bring on a villain who would not only be an adversary to Sonny, but someone who we could use to really test Jordan (Briana Nicole Henry) and Curtis (Donnell Turner), and we knew going in that the first phase of this story would really hit the Corinthos family and also the Ashfords, and as we developed it, we thought about what the act two would be, and we knew that we had an opportunity to really engage Genie Francis and to expand her sphere and expand her footprint on the show, and by connecting her to Cyrus, who is not your typical face or presence for a soap, but is also not your typical person who I think Laura would encounter in her daily life.  So, we knew, as we really developed Cyrus as a villain, that for Laura to find out that this man is her brother, would really allow us to play with Laura in a different context and in a different light and really give Genie a new kind of challenge.

Speaking of Genie, what did you think when you watched back her performance in the episode where you wrote that Laura has to say goodbye to her comatose daughter, Lulu (Emme Rylan), before she was sent off the canvas to a long-term care facility?

CHRIS:  I mean to me, that’s vintage Laura.  I came to General Hospital personally in the late 80s to early 90s, so my experience of Laura really only begins with her, and Luke (Tony Geary), and Lucky (Jonathan Jackson) at the Triple L Diner.  I think that what we’ve gotten to see with Genie is really reflective of the high emotion that she is capable of delivering.  At the same time as the high emotion, you’re also seeing really small human moments that she really breathes a lot of life into.  I can speak for Dan and myself when we say that we are just really thrilled with what she has been able to bring to the screen.  Thrilled, but I guess not surprised.

Coutesy/ABC

Nelle (Chloe Lanier) was such a great interloper and threat throughout the year in story; whether it’s hatching plots to gain custody of baby Wiley, or her “death” scene and confrontations with Carly (Laura Wright).  However, through all of this, when was it decided to make Nina (Cynthia Watros), Nelle’s biological mother?

DAN:  There are very few things that are as exciting on a soap as a character that makes you wonder what they are going to do next, and Chloe and Nelle provided that role with just gusto.  The truth is, the idea that Nelle was Nina’s daughter has been a part of the conception of that character, and over the last few years, the story evolved, and we ultimately got to reveal the truth to the audience.

Courtesy/ABC

As writers, there has to be characters that are just so delicious and treacherous to write for that you have to get a kick out of it! Chloe Lanier is so good that she makes the audience want to slap Nelle when she takes the dialog and then brings it to the screen.  

CHRIS:  It is tremendous fun.  Yes, yes, we love writing for these characters who are willing to do and say anything to get what they want.  We are constrained when writing for characters who have morality.  It takes a moral character a lot of really difficult circumstances for them to make a decision that might go against the grain, but when you have a character like Nelle, who is not shackled by certain societal norms, then you really get to live out the worst impulses that a person could have, and it’s really fun, especially when you take a really great performer like Chloe and see her as Nelle unleash all of the poison that she’s capable of.  At the same time, she can turn on a dime and rip your heart out a little bit when she turns on the water works.

Photo :ABC

Ava Jerome’s (Maura West) story this year had her moving into a relationship with Nikolas (Marcus Coloma).  We, the audience, didn’t know how that was going to go – if they were just going to use each other, or ultimately fall in love.  Was that the plan all along … that they would develop deep feelings for each other, or did you want to see how it progressed and played out on-screen, and then make that determination?

CHRIS:  I think that once we saw the chemistry between the two actors, we knew we had gold. So, we wanted to take our time, especially the way that it was constructed.  These were two people who had little use for each other emotionally, and in fact, probably wanted to see one another’s downfall, and that’s what makes it so great to write – that these are people who, in a similar vein as Nelle, don’t live by the same rules as most of the rest of us, and therefore, they might do things to each other that the rest of us would not do to anyone let alone whether we like them or not.  That’s what makes Ava and Nikolas so delicious is that from one moment to the next, you don’t know if they’re going to hatch a plot against each other or fall into bed and ravish each other. That’s what I think we hope to continue to play as we go forward because they certainly have very strong, passionate feelings for one another.  When you’re talking about Ava and Nikolas, these are two people who do not have a lot of fans necessarily in Port Charles, and there are a lot of people who don’t necessarily want to see them achieve happily ever after.  Knowing that there was so much initial mistrust and suspicion between the two of them could really provide the foundation for their own undoing or their undoing from someone who does not want to see them happy.

Photo: ABC

Back in November, GH made good use of a standalone episode spotlighting the history of the women’s right to vote and the suffrage movement; just as the presidential election was happening.  What made you decide to write this special show, and how do you feel it turned out as it also spotlighted the female cast?

CHRIS:  We had long intended to honor the one hundred years of American women’s suffrage with a special episode to air on the anniversary of the 19th amendment’s passage, but we missed the date due to the pause in production.  We realized we had a second chance as the election neared.  Going forward was a no-brainer. The biggest challenge was in distilling such an epic story into one episode. We think ABC would do well to consider a spinoff: “Port Charles, 1920”

Courtesy/ABC

You have such a powerhouse cast to write for.  It’s loaded.  It’s got to be a challenge for you to construct the story for GH when you’ve got to front burner people and back burner people, and then you’ve got these huge daytime stars all in one show.

DAN:  It’s an embarrassment of riches to have a cast as talented as we do quite frankly.  We are fortunate enough that we know that we have these amazing performers that we can trust with whatever stories that we throw their way.

CHRIS:  I will say that we do have a great cast.  They’re all wonderful, and when you have a show that is only approximately 35 minutes of airtime on any day, it’s a real balancing act to make sure that everybody gets a story that really is worthy of their talents, and we’ve got one for everybody.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of which story takes precedence in which moment, which is why occasionally some characters aren’t featured on a daily basis, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be.  If you were to ask me, “Who are the standouts?”  I would say all of them.  You saw this year: Maurice Benard, Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis), Maura West, Genie Francis, and Laura Wright (Carly) to name but just a few.  They’ve all done such fantastic work, and we can’t wait to give them more material to give them more moments to shine.

DAN:  A priority of ours is every week, we meet up and look (well, it’s virtual now during Covid-19) at the big board of our cast photos and we go through each character and always make sure that they have some story percolating even if it’s not on the air at the moment.

Photo: ABC

As we close out 2020, and look forward to 2021, any parting thoughts, and perhaps a tease of what GH fans can look forward to in the New Year?

CHRIS:  In general, I would just say that despite all of the challenges of the year, we are really grateful to our cast and the crew back in Los Angeles for realizing and improving the show that we imagined, and we are so excited for everything that is coming in 2021.  We hope to continue to throw a lot of surprises at the audience, and at the same time give them a lot of moments and stories of heart and love and excitement.

So, what did you think of the year in story on General Hospital in 2020? Share your thoughts on Chris and Dan’s comments and their year-end honors via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Stephen Nichols and Lucas Adams Talk Salem Longevity, Tripp’s Predicament and Their Co-Stars

Days of our Lives stars Stephen Nichols (Steve “Patch” Johnson) and his on-screen son, Lucas Adams (Tripp Dalton) are in the middle of plenty of drama on the long-running NBC daytime drama, which recently celebrated its 55th anniversary in November and its 14,000 episode milestone in December.

In a new chat with Michael Fairman on the Michael Fairman Channel, Stephen reveals his surprise at still being with the iconic show. while Lucas talks about how his first run on DAYS came to an abrupt end, but now he is deep in-story involving Allie (Lindsay Arnold) and the brother he is yet-to-know he has, Charlie (Mike Manning), who is Allie’s actual rapist.

Both Stephen and Lucas discuss having the opportunity to work with Daytime Emmy winner Tamara Braun (Ava) again, as well as James Lastovic (Joey) in recently aired scenes. In story, Ava has returned back-from-the-dead and realizes she has major trouble brewing with her two sons, Tripp and Charlie.  How will it all play itself out?

 

Check out what Stephen and Lucas shared below.  Then, be on the lookout beginning this week, as Steve and John (Drake Hogestyn) work together to figure out who is responsible for Allie’s rape and just who is the biological father to her child, when it is not Tripp!

Share your thoughts on the sentiments shared by Stephen and Lucas in the interview via the comment section.

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B&B’s Matthew Atkinson chats with Michael Fairman about the wild ride of the Thomas/Hope Mamnequin storyline currently on The Bold and the Beautiful.Leave A Comment

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