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The Peter Bergman and Jason Thompson Interview – The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto/CourtesyCBS

On The Young and the Restless, Billy (Jason Thompson) and Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman), give new meaning to the phrase, “Oh, brother!” for there is a major scandalous affair that is sure to rock this loving and sometime contentious brotherhood.  At the epicenter of it all is Jack’s wife Phyllis (Gina Tognoni), who finds herself drawn into a passionate and deep connection with Billy.  Only, Billy and Phyllis are betraying Jack in the most personal and explosive way.  What will happen to these three central characters when the truth finally comes to light?  On Tuesday’s episode of the CBS daytime drama, viewers witnessed Billy’s mom, Jill (Jess Walton) stumble upon a romp between her son and Phyllis.  You can add Jill to the mix now, and conjure up just how she might leverage her knowledge in her attempt to get Billy away from the woman he protests to love.

On-Air On-Soaps sat down with two of daytime’s finest actors; Peter Bergman and Jason Thompson in their first joint interview together as the Abbott boys of Genoa City.  After his successful run on General Hospital, Thompson has come to the number one soap opera making the pivotal role of Billy Abbott his own.  As for Bergman, this icon is still a class act personified, and able to move audiences no matter what storyline comes his way.  Together their work ethic and on-screen scenes along with the sensational Gina Tognoni continue to deliver to Y&R fans plenty of emotional, suspenseful, and heartfelt drama.

So, what does Peter Bergman think of Jack’s current predicament?  Is Billy truly, deeply, madly in love with Phyllis?  What about his ex-wife Victoria (Amelia Heinle)?  And let’s not forget that Chloe (Elizabeth Hendrickson) is back in town and what that could mean for Billy!  As for Jack, can Phyllis ever love him in the same way after she feels destroyed and victimized by his doppelganger Marco and Victor Newman (Eric Braeden)?  Read on and you will find out the thoughts of two pros at the top of their game that understand their craft, and know the importance and meaning of “teamwork” in a one of a kind genre.

MICHAEL:

Peter, when you found out Jason was going to be the new Billy, what was your immediate reaction?

PETER:

Courtesy/CBS

My immediate reaction was … fantastic!  I have been aware of Jason’s work for years now.  You know, I’m a student of daytime, and so I know what people are doing on other shows.  I have long admired his work.  I was very happy about the news.

MICHAEL:

Jason, you were nominated against Peter at the Daytime Emmys a few times. Obviously, you were aware of who he was, and what he means to the legacy of Y&R, and how big of deal it was to come here to play his brother.  What were your initial thoughts?

JASON:

I was nominated along with Peter Bergman, I prefer to say (Laughs).  I was really excited and nervous, because I know what this role means to this show.  Peter and I have had a few moments over the years where we briefly talked about that it would be great to get to work together some day.  So, I was very, very excited to work with Peter, because the amount of work this man has accomplished over the years is extraordinary.  I was not at all surprised by, not only the level of integrity, but his talent since I got into the ring with him.  It’s been a blast ever since.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Peter, you have seen some great actors play the role of Billy Abbott.  In your opinion, what does Jason bring to the character that is different, and sets him apart?

PETER:

Jason brings a dark brooding color to it.  I think what Jason also brings is a new kind of intelligence to Billy.  He is too smart for his own good, this Billy, and Jason brings that. That is a cool color to have.

MICHAEL:

Jason, you obviously are aware and knew the other actors that have played Billy.  Going in to it, how have you tried to interpret it to perhaps make it different, and illustrate that the role belongs to you now?

JASON:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

I haven’t tried to make it any different, or interpret it a certain way, other than this is my interpretation of the character.  Unlike Peter, I don’t watch that much daytime.  I just try to come in here, and do my job.  On discussing the character over the last several months, I totally understand why Billy does what he does, because I learned a lot from Peter, because of him being a student of daytime.  So saying that, I wasn’t really sure what other people had done.  I did my research.  I talked to the writers for weeks.  I had notes, and notes, and notes.  I had emails from head writers and other people, and from talking with Peter, Amelia Heinle (Victoria) and Gina Tognoni (Phyllis).  Everybody had their own input to what Billy’s relationship would be, or is, to their character.  I kind of looked at where this character was when I took over, and took stock of what happened in the past, and somewhat of where he could be going in the next couple of months.  Further than that, I had no idea.  I just do what I do, and make it personal for myself, and for what I think this character would be going through.

PETER:

I am a replacement, Jason is a replacement, Gina is a replacement, and Jess Walton (Jill) is replacement.  I would work with these people any day of the week, and if there is a champion for replacements, his name is Peter Bergman.  I believe in that.  What Jason very humbly didn’t mention is: ‘that after you do all your studying, and find out where everybody has been – then you throw it out.’  Then you decide what story you want to tell.  It’s only actor’s of his stature that can do that.  They can say, “That Billy was this and that.  Now I’m here, and we’re going to go with a slightly different Billy.”  It’s been lovely to watch.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Jason, I have to echo Peter here.  It has been lovely to watch your work as Billy, and to watch you take the character on this path.  He is now your Billy.   Big kudos to you for that.

JASON:

I appreciate that.  I am sure everyone has their opinion which Billy they prefer along the way, but it doesn’t necessarily matter, because there is a bigger picture here, and that is the overall show.   I am just a small little spoke in the wheel.  My job is to come in here, and put my head down and tell the story, and have the show and the story evolve.  That’s the fun part.  If a new person coming in brings a different energy to the character that does change the story a little bit.  For me, it’s been really fun to come in, and mix it up with everybody and watch it happen, let alone in front of my own eyes, but for the audience.  I hope it’s enjoyable for them.

MICHAEL:

At what point did the two of you know that Billy would be having an affair with Phyllis?  Clearly, the audience could see it was heading in that direction for months.

PETER:

It wasn’t for a couple months after Jason joined the show.  Certainly there were some signs there.  I thought, “What a great idea!”  I think for Gina, I was so accepting of it.  She was a bit concerned. (Laughs)  That’s because it’s great story for all three of us!  Story is everything.  Gina just thought, “Uh, could you fight it a little bit?” (Laughs)  My investment thus far is that this will throw my relationship with Billy, and my relationship with Phyllis into a whole new thing, and that’s exciting as an actor.   You know, I have been around a long time.  I love it when I get to do something completely new.  Something that’s uncharted waters: Your own brother!  That’s wild stuff!

Courtesy/CBS

JASON:

Obviously, we could feel it happening in a way, but it wasn’t anything that was brought up to me when talking to the writers that this was the plan.

MICHAEL:

Jason, you have to play these hot passionate love scenes; and Billy is having a full on affair with his brother’s wife.  He says he loves Phyllis, but does he truly?

JASON:

Yes!   Flat out.  Billy is deep.  When it’s real for him, it’s deep.  But it’s hard for him to trust that depth because he’s been hurt; which gives the relationship with his mother so much energy.  The point is … Billy loves hard.  What I have learned, and enjoyed so much about this storyline is along the lines of what Peter said: ‘The personal relationships that are going to crumble, or whatever is going to happen, when the truth comes out.’  I have developed a fun relationship now with Ashley, played by Eileen Davidson.  There is Billy’s ex-wife Victoria, and the kids, his brother Jack, obviously, and Phyllis.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

But Billy is pushing this with Phyllis A LOT.  He keeps saying, “I know you love me! I know it!” (Laughs)

JASON:

Oh, yeah! (Laughs)  He is.  I think Billy is a guy who wants to win.  At the same time, I think he has a big heart inside of him, and that had been the interesting part for me, which is to try and expose that in a way.  Billy doesn’t obviously always make the right decisions when he leads from his heart, or from his groin (laughs), or wherever he is leaning from.  He goes for it.  I think that’s interesting as an actor to go there, and not know where the pieces are going to fall all of the time.  Then come up for air and be like, “Holy cow! What just happened?”

MICHAEL:

Does Jack have blinders on and not seeing the signs here?  There were a few clues, and a few times that he sort of dismissed when Phyllis was able to talk herself around his questioning.

PETER:

Courtesy/CBS

Blinders, no.  Nothing had been done right in front of him.  I am a very careful actor.  So if there are any glances going on in a room then I don’t see them.  Jack doesn’t see them, not because he has blinders on, but because he has a busy life, and he absolutely trusts his wife, and he loves and trusts his brother.  He has no reason not to.  They’re the two closest people to him, and you can add Ashley in there, too.  They are part of his inner circle, so there is no reason to mistrust them.  One of the things Jason elaborated on is these are two people that the world wanted to get on with it.  Yeah, you lost your daughter, get on with it.  We all feel bad for you; now let’s get back to life.  Phyllis had this God-awful experience with Marco, which went darker than dark.  She comes out of that, and finds out the entire town knows about it.  For the first time in her life she is a victim.  Phyllis?   Now she hates that.  Billy has been beaten up by life, and Phyllis has been beaten up by life.  When she is in Billy’s arms she doesn’t feel like a victim.  It’s really that simple, and for Billy she is the answer to everybody telling him, “You’re with Victoria.  Get over the loss; get on with your life.”  Phyllis doesn’t expect that of him at all, and so there has to be a giant comfort there.

MICHAEL:

It was interesting that viewers recently saw Billy in scenes with Victoria and their kids when they came to help paint his house.  There is a connection between the two of them still that is very apparent.  Does Billy still feel drawn to Victoria?

JASON:

Courtesy/CBS

It’s obviously there and they have history together and children.  But at the same time that was a moment, where there is a part of Billy that is really happy about spending this time with Phyllis.  She makes him feel really good.  There’s a lot that goes into that.  There’s a lot of deceit.  There’s a lot of lying, and a lot of planning that doesn’t necessarily feel good, but in those moments when they find themselves there, Billy cannot deny that he loves Phyllis.  It is the most freeing that he feels.  So, when he sees Victoria there is a certain amount of guilt there, but he is willing to risk all of that to continue to have that feeling that he has with Phyllis.  I think Billy and Victoria is a couple within the soap world that you never really say “no” to.   They will always be “Billy and Victoria” in a way, just like it will always be “Jack and Phyllis”.  But as for what is going to happen, and where it’s going to go, who knows?  That’s the exciting thing for me too, and for us. We don’t know where we are going with it, or how it’s going to explode, or fall apart, or how it’s going to be put back together again.

PETER:

Here’s the cool thing: you have three seasoned actors so we know the points we need to hit.  It is such fun playing scenes with Billy, where Jack tells him how grateful he is that he’s his brother, and that he has his back, and that he supports him, and he supports Phyllis, and that he is such a good friend to her.  Those scenes are a joy to play, because they set the stage.  I have such fun in scenes with Phyllis (Gina) where I say, “Keep an eye on my brother.  I worry about him all the time.  He doesn’t seem himself.   He seems weird with me.  There are lot of things that just seem off right now, so can you just keep an eye on him?”. “Make that work” is my credo at the top of any of those scenes, but that’s a fun challenge.

JASON:

Courtesy/CBS

Yes, and it’s not only the scenes, but I am kind of blown away by this relationship that we have been able to build, too.  It’s so fun.  I didn’t know that much about Peter and Gina.  But coming into it, they love the craft, and they love what they do.  So for me, and you have known me long enough that I enjoy getting in there and talking about the scenes.  I mean, I will talk about this stuff for hours for a two-page scene! (Laughs)  Peter and Gina are the same way.  We will talk about it, and intellectualize it, and get personal with it, so that when you go to do the work you just let it all go.  You just let the relationship tell the story, and you open your mouth and let the words come out.  You don’t have to do anything else.  That is such a huge, huge relief in a way.  That you can trust the people you are working with, and it’s a giant comfort.  You come back from doing a scene, and I will get a text message from Peter going, “I was just thinking about what we did today, and I had so much fun.  I’m having a blast.”  With Gina, the three of us will text back and forth!  We will be like, “Man, that stuff was so fun today.  Can’t wait to see what happens.”  I get home and I’m telling my wife the same thing, “What a great time it is right now at work.”

MICHAEL:

Peter, are you telling your wife Mariellen the same thing? 

PETER:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Yes!  Same thing.  She has seen me through happy times, and not so happy times, and this is a really happy time, Michael.

MICHAEL:

Have you guys thought of what that scene would be like when the reveal happens?

PETER:

I am in the process of opening every script that comes to my room as soon as I get it!  I thought the reveal of the affair was going to happen in a script that was in my room the other day … and it did not.

MICHAEL:

Does Billy want the truth of his affair, and love for Phyllis to come out?  He has intimated that a few times.  We saw today that Jill now knows the secret, and has the ammo to blow the whole thing wide open!

JASON:

Courtesy/CBS

There have been moments where Billy has said he wants it to come out.  But we are at the point now where it’s changed – the affair has totally changed for reasons that Billy has been told, but that he doesn’t necessarily believe, and that obviously isn’t true.  We know it’s going to come out at some point.  How it will?  I don’t know.

PETER:

We can’t wait to find out! There are all kinds of possibilities.

JASON:

In regards to what Peter was saying about how Jack is in the dark … it’s not like anyone else is thinking, “What is going on with those two?”  Up to now it’s been just Billy and Phyllis. Victoria doesn’t know, and Cane (Daniel Goddard) doesn’t know, either.

MICHAEL:

What does Jack think about how Phyllis is transfixed on bringing Victor down, and now she can’t stop her thirst for revenge where the moustache is concerned?

PETER:

Courtesy/CBS

In the time I have played Jack, he has changed and grown a lot.  He was quite a cad when I first got here.  He pretty much didn’t give a shit about anyone else.  Being the kind of defacto patriarch of the family is something he didn’t ask for.  His dad died.  So the job fell upon him.  There is a whole new kind of empathy in Jack that wasn’t there before, but more than that, Jack realizes now that hate and revenge ruled his life for decades.  He knows that’s a dead end, and he doesn’t want to see people he loves go down that road.  You never get even.   Does Jack think Victor is a swell guy?   No.  Does Jack want to go on a fishing trip with Victor?   Probably not.   But Jack doesn’t want the center of his life – his wife, his brother, or anyone deciding the center of their life is getting back at Victor. This was such a part of Jack’s life for decades!  He doesn’t want to do it.  At this moment, Jack is not planning on getting back at Victor anymore.  He doesn’t want that, doesn’t need that.  Jack thinks: let Victor bore everyone else to death.

MICHAEL:

Now in the business side of things, there is drama galore being set-up.  We see the Cane/Billy feud being sparked up again, thanks to Jill’s business decisions, and now Jack wants Billy to work with him and Phyllis at Jabot.  What does Billy want in all of this?  What a mess! (Laughs)

JASON:

I think he is going to play along with his mom a little bit, and see what’s going on here.  I don’t think he 100% trusts her.  That is another relationship I am just floored by, and that is mine with Jess Walton.  She has just been so magical.

PETER:

Courtesy/CBS

The Billy and Jill relationship is one that is a very complex.

JASON:

Yes, it is very complex.   I am so fond of Jess.  I have never been able to play a mother and son relationship on the soaps before.  Jess has said a few times about how I kind of look like her, and how she loves looking at me, because it feels different for her, and that is exciting for her, too.  It’s been an exciting relationship to unravel.  Billy does not trust a lot of people right now.  I think the only person he trusts is Jack at this moment, and he knows he is pulling the wool over his brother’s eye, very far down, too.  Billy knows it’s going to be devasting for his brother.  So when Billy talks about going back to work for Brash & Sassy, he is like “Let’s see what happens here.”  In terms of Jack asking Billy to come back to Jabot, it’s way too close for comfort.

PETER:

Yes.  Jack would like Billy to work with Phyllis.  He thinks they are a great team.  They were a great team before, so why shouldn’t they be a great team again?

MICHAEL:

And Billy is protesting this move!

JASON:

Courtesy/CBS

I just think we are playing on different teams right now! (Laughs)  I do think Jack, Phyllis, and Billy would be a great team, but not that team.   It is one of those things. Billy and Phyllis are good together.  Everybody says that, so in Billy’s mind let’s trust it and run off into the sunset!  The business angle is new for me to play, but it is such a great catalyst to spark story where you walk into a boardroom and an office and there is stuff going down all of the time.  At the end of the day, it’s really the emotional world that these characters live in, and the business is another setting for that to play out.  It’s constant!  You can’t walk into a room without something going down with everybody.

MICHAEL:

Elizabeth Hendrickson is back on Y&R as Chloe, and she may have had Billy’s child off-screen, which will provide plenty of story ahead, too!

JASON:

I have known Elizabeth for years.  I didn’t know if Chloe was ever going to come back on to the canvas, but that is exciting.  So now I get to explore: “What do we mean to each other?  What is going on here?”  Elizabeth is a lovely person, and we have had a few scenes together thus far, and they were great.  I mean, I felt good about them. (Laughs) We will see how they turned out on-air!

MICHAEL:

What can you guys say about working with Gina Tognoni?

PETER:

Courtesy/CBS

Here is my favorite thing about Gina:  She comes to work very prepared.  She knows her lines, and she is ready to go, but she hasn’t made any firm decisions yet on where she is going with them.  So we run the lines together, and then we do a run-through together.  She’s free to say something like, “If you play it that way, I can’t do this.”  I can do the same thing with her, but I will be in a run-through with her thinking going, “Oh!  So she’s not going to play that.”  We get to taping as they countdown, “Five-four-three-two …” and I don’t know what is going to come out.  It’s fantastic!  She is grounded, and she can’t fake it.  Gina won’t push.  What comes out is going to be honest, true, and I am challenged by that, because I have to watch her and listen, because I have not seen this today.  Now, not all of it is a surprise, because we rehearse, but she adds something while we are taping that always gets me more alert, and more in the scene, and more alive.

JASON:

You can’t say it any better than how Peter did.  Gina is just very professional, and knows the genre, and knows and trusts herself.   She knows when push comes to shove it’s going to be there and work.  To be in that situation, to not know what is going to happen, is actually the most exciting thing as an actor, because it not only makes you work harder and be prepared for it, so again you can just let go of everything, and just say the words and let the emotional life to the work.  When you have a partner that works similarly in the same way, you can trust it.  Trust does not mean complacent.  It means let’s see where this goes.  Afterwards it’s like: “Whoa!  That was different!  I didn’t expect that to happen!”   I don’t know how many times we have said that.  It’s then like, “Great! Moving on!”   When you get one take in a bunch of scenes, what you hope for is a bunch of moments that carry you through.  Being new here, there are a lot of people on that set you can trust and do that with, and that is very comforting to know.

MICHAEL:

Photo: DanielGoddardTwitter

Mal Young is the new executive producer of The Young and the Restless, what do you think he brings to the table?

PETER:

So often the producer job in the past has been about not upsetting the apple cart.  This has been a successful franchise for a very long time; let’s not try to do anything new.  Let’s just try to keep this baby, and keep the people who are watching continuing to tune-in.  That is not Mal’s thing.  Mal is looking to reinvent, revigorate, and to re-energize a medium he respects a lot, but he wants to try new things.  He wants to see if there’s another way we can push the envelope a little bit, and try something different.  He has a different future in mind than keeping just what we have.

MICHAEL:

Jason, obviously it is widely-known that one of the reasons you came to the show is your relationship with former EP Jill Farren Phelps.  How is it for you now working under Mal?

JASON:

Courtesy/CBS

Yes.  Jill was the executive producer when I got here, and that was a pretty big reason why I came here.  But at the same time, we are all grown-ups.  We know this is a part of the business.  At the same time, you just don’t know always know how solid you are.  There was a moment where I went home and talked to my wife and said, “Jill got let-go today.  I don’t know what that means for me, exactly.”  However, you just go do the work.  Mal and I started here rather closely at the same time.  I started in December of last year, and Mal started in January of this time.  We were able to build a little bit of a relationship from the start.  He was very supportive of us from the get-go.  He would come down from the booth, and he would say, “I love what you guys are doing.”  Mal was able to slowly integrate himself into our set life.  I think it goes without saying that he is very enthusiastic, and he sees a ton of potential.  I have confidence in Mal. Slowly, but surely there are some differences happening within the show.   We are taking a bit more time for our scenes, and there is some interesting stuff coming up we haven’t done before.

MICHAEL:

Peter, one of the classic quotes I recall you giving to me, and other reporters and journalists, is that you never want to presume that you have your job and your role even after all of these years on Y&R.   Does that still hold true?

PETER:

Courtesy/CBS

I never assume it’s all going to work out.   I know how quickly it can fall apart.  I know how quickly it all just doesn’t add up.  My mettle is not what it was last week.  So, I am constantly having to prove myself.

JASON:

That doesn’t go away, but that is also the thing that keeps you young, enthusiastic, excited and wanting to work hard.  It spreads that kind of energy.

PETER:

The last part of this is; if people like Jason and Gina keep going to the set and you are watching the monitor in your dressing room, and these people in one take are doing such amazing things, it gets everybody wanting to work like that.  And if everybody here works like that, wow!  We have a good thing.

JASON:

Courtesy/CBS

I could not be happier here at Y&R, across the board, from top to bottom.

PETER:

This is a guy who walked away from a really good thing.  So, I love hearing that!

So, what did you think of what Peter and Jason shared in this interview? How do you think Billy’s affair with Phyllis will finally come to the attention of Jack? Are you rooting for Jack and Phyllis or Billy and Phyllis to end up together? What have been your favorite scenes thus far between Peter and Jason? Share your thoughts in the comment section. (Note:  To make a comment, go to the top left side of the interview and click on “Leave a Comment”)

 

 

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Caitlin
Caitlin

This disgusting storyline has completely taken over the show and crashed Y&R’s ratings. I cannot wait until it’s over.

Jeanne
Jeanne

What about the Newman show propping rape?

Harry
Harry

It’s so disgusting, revolting and grotesque that must replay Phyllis and Billy’s love scenes over and over just to make sure I am right to feel that way.
All kidding aside, it’s not just about sex, it’s about how this affair is going to bring up all these feelings between two brothers and between a husband and his wife.
It’s going afford us viewers some good old fashioned soapy fun.

Meaghan
Meaghan

I never post but I have to say that Billy and Phyllis have the best chemistry I have seen in any soap pairing in years. This is the only storyline that I am currently enjoying. I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

Soaphound
Soaphound

I agree, Caitlin. Some plots are just soapy fun and we accept the terrible behavior. But, for me, when characters cross a line and deliberately hurt someone who has done nothing but love and support them, I tune out and grow to hate their conduct so much that I no longer care about them AT ALL. That’s where I’m at with Billy. I realize that he’s being written “darker” because Jason Thompson doesn’t have Billy Miller’s range or even Burgess Jenkins’ “aw-shucks” frat boy charm. But why does dark have to be mean and spiteful? To me, that’s lazy writing. The only bright spot will be watching the sublime Peter Bergman square off with powerhouse Gina Tognoni. Guess I’ll have to be happy with that.

Trudy
Trudy

I think that Jason Thompson is great as Billy and has been since day 1. Billy M’s range as an actor is mostly about charm and rom com, and he’s good at it, but not so much at drama. He’s really struggling on GH as Jason Morgan. JT can do everything that Billy M can do and drama, too. I’m loving JT as Billy A. Imo, JT owns the role now.

meg
meg

great interview Michael , I really hope MAL GIVES THEM BOTH GREAT S/LS

meg
meg

LUV WHAT PETER SAID ABOUT JACK WANTING TO LET VICTOR BORE OTHERS TO DEATH .LOL.

Harry
Harry

HA!!! Hilarious.

su0000
su0000

WHOOPIE!!
I am going to love it !
Hopefully he’ll bring us into the 21st century era of modern media!

Something new and exciting is always a good thing..
I hope Mal will send my screen into the WOW mode..

GO MAL !!! ….. Shake it up! Please, rock me baby !

elm1951
elm1951

fabulous interview michael………peter, gina & jason are all phenomenal actors!!

padange
padange

First of all, this triangle/affair storyline is one of the best (if not the very best) soap storylines in a very very long time (and I mean not only Y&R).
It’s pretty remarkable that even these days when everything on soaps happens in lightning speed, the show has managed to write a story with slow and suggestive buildup. When you now re-watch the scenes from January (or even last year) to July you can clearly see how carefully it was written and executed on-screen. It has so much depth to it and so many beats. The characters aren’t black or white. you van easily understand what everyone in this story is coming from and why they are acting like they are acting. I just hope they don’t destroy what they’ve so carefully build.
I’m a Phyllis/Billy (Philly) fan, and I became one because of the story, incredible chemistry and heartfelt performances. They’re such a joy to watch.

padange
padange

Can, not van, and built, not build.
I wish we had an edit feature here.

Jeanne
Jeanne

Team Philly!

I love Jason’s words about them.

Faithy
Faithy

The love triangle is over and done with. They have a tiny small fan base and no one is crawling over pews to see this foolishness.

Jeanne
Jeanne

A tiny small fan base? Just check Twitter.

Faithy
Faithy

All 10 people on Twitter only proves my point.

Jeanne
Jeanne

LMAO. You are delusional. Philly have a strong fan base on Twitter. Face it.

Faithy
Faithy

I’m delusional because I can use basic math to count… I was thank you for the compliment of being delusional.

padange
padange

Without representative research nobody can know how big/small the fan base (or any fan base, for that matter) is. All we can do, is express our opinion, so the use of words like “all”, “no one” is absolutely meaningless.

Faithy
Faithy

And as I said before, all 10 fans on Twitter.

padange
padange

I get that. You know 10 Philly fans on Twitter. Good for you, I guess. I know 2 who are strongly opposed. Does it say anything about the fan bases? No, it doesn’t.

Faithy
Faithy

So I take it and so you are one of those 10 fans… which is why you continue to reply covered something that is meaningless aa wasted oxygen.

Harry
Harry

Thank you, Mr Fairman, for asking the good and pointed questions which gets to the heart of the brothers’ story.
Peter Bergman is such a class act. For as long as I remember he’s been singing the praises of his co worker without showing even a glimmer of arrogance. He’s very generous in that way. I appreciated how he said Jason is bringing darker nuances to the characterization of Billy. He’s exactly right.
That was a fun and interesting interview.

omari
omari

jill has to tell jack about the affair if phyllis or billy doesn’t

Timmm
Timmm

Michael always does a fine job. You can tell by his questions he loves his job! I just wish he would have asked a little more about Mal’s vision with the show from the two actors. I love Peter Bergman. He IS Jack Abbott! Jason, well he was so good on GH, I’m not buying Billy Abbott yet! But with all the turmoil with trying to find the right Billy, I’m willing to wait it out a bit. He and Jess Walton do seem to click. Maybe this is a positive start?

Soaphound
Soaphound

I may not be happy about the story, but am grateful for this in-depth interview. I love the dedication of daytime actors and have said for decades that their concentration and professionalism is the best in the business. I’d put some of the work I’ve seen over the years from Jeanne Cooper, Billy Miller, Michelle Stafford, Peter Bergman, Sharon Case, Adrienne Frantz, and now Gina Tognoni as equal or superior to nighttime or feature film acting. It’s always fun to hear these actors’ thoughts on their craft and characters. THANKS!

Trudy
Trudy

Nice interview, Michael. Thanks. Seems like they are loving working together and I think that it shows on the screen.

Zandra
Zandra

I despise the Billy and Phylllis affair storyline. Billy should love his brother enough to tell him the truth. Everyday he is lying to his big brother. Phyllis is worried about what she might lose by leaving Jack. It is time she left Jack. She has abused his love for her and for Billy. Her affair with Billy is unforgivable. All three are on my favorite actor list.–GH, OLTL. I am just too tired of watching them in this story. And I must say Jack seems pathetically clueless. End this storyline now.

dmr
dmr

I don’t even watch the show; but, I do DVR it when I know Phyllis and Billy are on that day. I love this storyline. It’s what I remember daytime television to be-a tad scandalous, but believable. It reminds me of the storyline on All My Children, when Erica was having an affair with Jack, her husband Travis’ brother. The actors are doing a great job with the storyline. I agree with Peter, that his character is closest with Phyllis, Billy, and Ashley-I like Jack’s relationship with his sister, Ashley (and I love Eileen Davidson)!

Bart
Bart

The Jack Abbott character has become a wuss-puss under Chuck Pratt’s so-called writing – an emotionally castrated eunuch! Perhaps under a new writer, he’ll grow a pair, man up and be the Jack Abbott character the viewers USED to love!!

I don’t think much of Jason Thompson as Billy Abbott – all he does is brood and look down – that’s acting???

Jaime
Jaime

Im not a fan of the changes to billy.
And worse the hypocrisy of the cheater running to Victoria to denounce someone who slept with someone else. Does Billy think he deserves applause or a medal or even consideration?

General Hospital

GH’s Tamara Braun Talks On: Kim’s Plight With Her Son Oscar, Her Relationships With Julian and Drew & Coming Home To Port Charles

When Tamara Braun stepped back on to the canvas of General Hospital back in November of last year, the one-time and wildly popular Carly Corinthos #2 was now taking on the role of Dr, Kim Nero – a single mom of a teenage son (who is very protective of him), top-notch gynecologist in the medical profession, and a woman with a past with Drew Cain (Billy Miller). It was eventually revealed that Drew is her son Oscar’s (Garren Stitt) biological father.

Now as viewers have seen on recent episodes of the ABC soap opera, Oscar’s life looks like it could very well be cut short after the story shocker that now has the young teen diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor from cancer.  Kim had kept the truth from her son until he confronted her upon learning the news on his own (with an assist from Cameron) and putting two and two together.  This sets the stage for some difficult and heartbreaking moments ahead.

As for Braun, she rose to the top as one of soap operas most critically-acclaimed actresses after having the challenging task of taking over the role of Carly #1 in 2001 from three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Sarah Brown.  Tamara not only met this challenge, but made Carly her own scoring an Emmy nod along the way.  After departing GH in 2005, Tamara returned to daytime in 2008 in the role of Ava Vitali on Days of our Lives, which indeed earned her an Emmy.   Next, she headed to Pine Valley and All My Children to take on the role of Reese Williams, the love interest to Bianca Montgomery (Eden Riegel), who eventually married from 2008-2009.  Tamara even came back to DAYS for awhile in the role of Taylor in 2011, and later reprised the role of Ava in 2015-2016.  With an impressive resume, GH is lucky to have her back and Braun finally felt the time was right to take on a new role on her first soap home  upon her return in 2017.  Viewers hope that they get to see more of those emotionally raw, honest performances that Braun is known for as more layers of Kim are revealed,

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Tamara to get her take on: the latest storyline involving Kim, Oscar and Drew, where Kim’s relationship with Julian Jerome stands, and how she feels it’s important to shed light on causes of the day needing our help and how we can all ultimately live in a kinder, more thoughtful world.  Here’s what Tamara had to shared below.

In the episodes we saw last week, Kim had no choice but to tell Oscar the truth. What have you thought about this whole story where now Oscar is hating his mother, and upset with her, when she did not come forward with the truth about his medical condition to him, because in her mind she was protecting him?

Courtesy/ABC

TAMARA:  Yes, that was reasoning.  She did all of this to protect him so that he could have a normal teenage life without all of that hanging over his head.  What do I think of it?  I think that it has been hard for me, Tamara, to play.  It has been hard for me to wrap my head around why a physician would not tell her son that he’s ill.  It’s also been hard for me to wrap my head around because the way the writers have made Oscar and Kim’s relationship such a beautiful one that has been seemingly full of honesty and openness, that they can really talk to each other, which is one of the things that I really like.  In terms of the storyline, what it does do is create conflict which is what’s needed in shows.  Things can’t be ‘happy, happy, joy, joy’ all of the time, so it’s created conflict for Oscar and Kim and now Drew, because Kim dragged him into keeping the secret too for a little bit. 

Courtesy/ABC

We just also learned that Kim’s reasoning to come to Port Charles in the first place was indeed because of Oscar.

TAMARA:  Like Kim said, she came because she did an ancestry report, and it turned out that he has relatives in Port Charles.  So, she wanted for them to get the opportunity to know him and him to get the opportunity to get to know them.  I’m sure we will learn something about Kim’s past which would explain why in her mind she felt this was the right thing to do.  We know that it seems like a very controlling thing.  As a mother, take the physician out of it, I still think that Kim would have shared his diagnosis with him, but I don’t think one ever knows what they would do in that situation.  You think you know what you would do, but perhaps she felt that she could control it; she could figure it out.  Perhaps, Kim felt that because she is a physician she’ll find some answer, and she’ll be able to fix it.  These are the questions, and these are the things that as an actor, I have to put in my head because it’s not what I believe I would do.  It’s not even what I believe the character of Kim as I knew her would have done, but it’s what the writers have written.  So, they have to have a reason, and I think that it has got to be more than just to create conflict.  That’s what stories rely on.  It’s soap, and a lot of people on soaps have to do crazy things and find out ways to justify them when they seem out of character.

You’re right.  Kim and Oscar had a very open relationship.  Yes, she was a “controlling mother,” if you want to say that, but they were honest with each other.  Garren Stitt has been very endearing in the role.  What can you say about working with him?

TAMARA:  I just adore Garren. I have adored him from the minute I met him.  I think he’s a lovely, sweet, kind person, and I feel so fortunate to get to play his mom.  I really do.  I think he’s wonderful, and I’m lucky.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Now as to the situation with Drew, Kim truly did not know he was in town when she got to Port Charles, right?

TAMARA:  Correct.

What does she feel towards Drew now, and does this situation ultimately draw them closer together?

TAMARA:  I think it absolutely draws them closer together, because now they have to deal with Oscar.  Because once Kim accepted Drew back into their lives (she thought he was dead long ago), she opened up her arms to him in the capacity of being a father for Oscar.  Kim has had to deal with everything with her child all on her own for fifteen years.  It’s just been the two of them.  So, I think that at some point it has got to be difficult to allow someone else in to help make decisions, and to lean on, and to co-parent with.  I think it was difficult at first, but I think now she is grateful to have him to share it with, even though they may not see things eye-to-eye all of the time.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you foresee Kim and Drew, at any point, growing closer romantically?

TAMARA:  I don’t know.  It’s not looking like that.  It’s looking like a nice friendship and one that is very caring and understanding, but as of now, I don’t see hints of it.  You never know.  As you know, it’s a soap.  Anything could happen.

How has it been working with Billy Miller? He has also done some wonderful work as the devastated father.

TAMARA:  It’s been great.  The last few scenes that we had to do, there have been those special moments you get as an actor where the angels are just with you.  It all just kind of connects and flows together.   I think we’ve been lucky to have gotten a few of those as of late, and that’s been really nice.

Courtesy/ABC

In story, it was revealed that Oscar could enter an experimental trial that could help his tumor and the cancer, is that what Kim wants her son to do?

TAMARA:  Absolutely, because she feels anything that could possibly save his life or give him more time, she wants for him.

I also like that they made Dr. Terry Randolph (Cassandra James), Oscar’s pediatric oncologist.

TAMARA:  Yes.  Cassandra is really lovely to work with, and she’s just a lovely human being as well.  I’m fortunate right now.  I get to work with some lovely people.

Courtesy/ABC

Do you think Kim’s going to let Julian (Will deVry) know about what she is dealing with?

TAMARA:  Julian does not know.  Oscar doesn’t want anyone to know and especially Julian.  He wants his mom and dad together, so he’s decided not to let Julian know.  I think only for those reasons.  Kim really didn’t honor Oscar by keeping this news of him being ill from him, so she has to honor him in his request not to share this with Julian.

Is Kim aware of how Cameron (William Lipton) is trying to maneuver himself into a relationship with Josslyn (Eden McCoy)?  Does she understand what’s going on there? 

TAMARA:  Kim doesn’t know anything about it.

Photo: ABC

Does Kim want Josslyn to be with Oscar?

TAMARA:  She does, because she knows that Josslyn makes Oscar happy, and to be happy, is what’s most important right now, because that also can help any type of recovery.  When we are happy, or are doing things that make us joyful, or raise our endorphin levels in a positive way, that’s good for health.  That’s good for recovery, and she wants her son to be happy.  What mother doesn’t want her son to be happy?  Especially now, with everything going on.

Kim was having an issue that Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst) and Franco (Roger Howarth) knew about Oscar’s prognosis.  Do you think she’ll be more lax about that now, or do you think she’ll be more even intense about people not finding out?

TAMARA:  I think she doesn’t want people to know because Oscar now knows, and he doesn’t want people to know.  I think that she wants to keep his confidence.  I think she doesn’t want anyone else to know because she needs to respect Oscar’s wishes.

Courtesy/ABC

Do you think that it’s possible that Drew’s twin, Jason (Steve Burton) is somehow the bio-dad of Oscar, and not Drew?  The character of Jason has a history of brain injuries and trauma.

TAMARA:  I never thought of that! (Laughs)  That would be a fun kind of plot twist!  I don’t think so because there have been lines a couple of times when Kim is with Jason and she says, “You know, you look exactly like him.  It’s kind of hard to wrap my head around that, but you act so differently.”   You know what?  Even if Jason did have a brain tumor, he is Drew’s twin, and Drew is Oscar’s father, so that does still genetically match and run in the family.  It’s an interesting twist there that you bring up!

I remember watching the episode where the audience learned Oscar was dying and I was completely shocked!   I had no idea where the writers were going with it after the seizure.  When the powers-that-be filled you in on what was going on, what was your reaction to that part of the story?

Photo Credit: ABC

TAMARA:  Illness in any form on a soap gives you something to play.  So, that’s good.  When they start saying in the dialogue, “terminal,” you’re like, “What!?” But then you also have people saying, “There’s always hope,” so, you never know where it’s actually going to go, or how the story lines will play.  I understand how people keep saying that it came out of the blue and they didn’t even hint at that.  So, I will say they did write a scene the day that Michael (Chad Duell) lost the baby, and I believe Sonny (Maurice Benard) and Michael were in the church. There was a scene that I was ready to shoot that day, and it was a monologue in the church.  It was after Nelle’s (Chloe Lanier) baby had died and after Kim and Nelle had scenes.  Kim goes to the chapel and she has a monologue talking to God, and it was a bit of a hint, but they had to cut the scene because the tape day ran long.  I didn’t even shoot it.  I think that had they had left it in; people would have been like, “Oh, that’s what that meant.”  I think now that I see the reaction of viewers and you’re bringing it up, that would have been the moment you could have gone to and said. “Oh!  That’s the moment.  That’s what she meant,” or when it happened, the audience have been like, “What’s going on?  What don’t we know?”  I think had that scene been in there, people wouldn’t have been taken aback so much.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, what would you say the audience can look forward to with Kim coming up?  Are we going to see her with a lot of stress on her relationship with her son?  Do you see her holding it together, or falling apart? 

TAMARA:  I think probably all of the above… trying to pull it together, falling apart, a rift between them, trying to bring it back together, making mistakes, doing the right thing … I think it’s everything.  I think reality just smacked Kim in the head, and her son… but when you’re so closed and tight about something in life, and when you no longer have control over it… you’ve got your best-laid plans, and you know what they say about your best-laid plans.  (Laughs).  It explodes, and then you have to deal with the aftermath.  So, hopefully we will see some nuance in there.  I’m hoping for it.  Hopefully, we will see Kim and Oscar work through stuff because people make mistakes; people do the wrong things for what they think are the right reasons all the time.  If Oscar is dealing with an inoperable, terminal brain tumor here, then time is of the essence for them to get it together and come together.

Well, I hope that it’s hankie-inducing, poignant and does have those beats for you to play, and they don’t kind of skip story beats.  As you said, time is of the essence for them and there is, usually no matter what, an unbreakable bond between mother and son.

TAMARA:  I hope so, too!  We can keep our fingers crossed for that!

Photo Credit: ABC

What attributes of Kim do you like playing?

TAMARA:  Kim’s no pushover, which I do like about her.  She’s strong, but she’s a quiet strong.  She doesn’t come at somebody charging, blazing, knocking things down or with a baseball bat like Carly does.  She has strength as a woman, and it’s in a very different way.

Do you think Kim is in love with “Charlie” AKA Julian? 

TAMARA:  I think she loves him.  It’s been a long time since she’s been in a relationship.  Her primary relationship, for better or for worse, has been her son all these years.  She’s made him her number one and didn’t feel she had time or that there was anyone who was worth that time.  So, I think that with Charlie, or Julian, whoever the hell he is (laughs)…

… Wait! She knows he’s Julian, right? (Laughs)

TAMARA:  Yes, she knows, but she likes to call him, “Charlie” because of the bar.  It was a cute little thing from the beginning.  I think that he doesn’t pressure her.  It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s light, and that’s what I think she can handle right now.

How has it been playing the mother of a teenager?  Is that odd for you?  It seems like a bit of a jump.

TAMARA:  It seems like a jump from what people have seen me do for a long time.  If you think about it, the last time people saw me on General Hospital with a kid, it was Michael (formerly Dylan Cash), and I mean, not in soap terms, but in real life terms, he was playing I think 6 when he was 8, and now he’s 23 so he would have been playing 21 if he had stayed.

Courtesy: TBraunTwitter

Is it ever odd for you that you aren’t the character of Carly anymore when you see Michael and characters that you have shared and played emotional attachments with your first go-round on GH?  I would suppose as an actress you can switch that on and off, but what about as a person?

TAMARA:  Yes, as an actress you switch it off, but as a person Michael is not the same Michael.  I think if he had been the same because we were so close, and we were so connected it might have been more difficult.  If it were him on set playing him every day, I’d be like, “Hi honey!   Hi my son!”   He was so in my heart.  I think because it’s Chad Duell now playing the part, who is lovely and wonderful, there’s no history with us, and that made it really okay.   I loved Dylan as a little boy.  I still love him.  He stopped in at my fan event, which was wonderful!

When you think back on all of your soap roles, it’s pretty amazing what you’ve done. Although we hated the end of the Reese/Bianca wedding on All My Children, it was the first same-sex wedding, and was a landmark moment.  You were a part of it.  Forget what happened afterwards, but that moment was key.  When you were on General Hospital, you received a Daytime Emmy nomination for your performance as Carly.  And then there was Days of our Lives’ Ava Vitali!  You got to play the psycho.  You won the Supporting Actress Emmy for your performance.  Do you think Ava is somehow still alive? 

TAMARA:  I think she may be alive.   I mean, no one really saw.  They put a sheet over her and rolled her out.  You didn’t see her dead.  I mean, come on now.  Joey (James Lastovic, Ex-DAYS) can strangle, but I don’t know that he’s that strong.  Ava’s got some fire in her.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Such a great role!

TAMARA:  I have been really, really blessed to play very strong or pivotal or interesting, dynamic roles on daytime.  I have been very fortunate to do that, and I have been very fortunate to work with people who allow me to do my thing.  They don’t hamper it.  They say, “Go.  Go for it.”

I love your Instagram posts, and I love when you talk about social issues and things that are important to you.  Could you talk a little bit about how you’re using that platform to make a difference?

TAMARA:  I just like to post things that are important to me. There are a lot of people who are using social media for brand identity.  I’m glad that I don’t even know what that is.  I mean, maybe I should know.  (Laughs)  It probably would be better for me, but –

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

You realize on Instagram; if you post a shirtless pic along with a quote from something unrelated and are a guy, or are a very sexy woman, you’re going to get millions of likes.

TAMARA:  Yeah, and that’s not my brand.  (Laughs) I guess if I had to say what my brand is; it would be “Truth. Real. Honest.”  You know, here’s the real deal from me.  I think it’s important to bring awareness to what’s going on that touches your heart.  I think that if you can shed light on issues in a positive way, to make people think, to make people feel; that is important.  I have always wanted to do good things in the world, and you can do that at any place and time in your life as a human being, but when you have a bit of a platform, I believe it is a responsibility to use that to share things of importance to the world for humanity.  We’re given this one life.  Whether you come back, or whatever you believe this is the one life we have, if we don’t do something good with it, what’s the point?   I think there’s too much, “Me, me, me, me, me.”  I mean, that’s what this business is, right?  But we need to step back, and we need to remember that there is a real world going on out there where people are dealing with issues, and we need to be kind.  That being said, I do post stuff of myself, and people want to see it, so I want to give them what makes them happy, but I think that as long as I’m doing that too, I think it also makes people happy to see things good going on in the world, bring light to issues that need light brought on them.  I really just feel that we need more kindness.  We need more positivity because right now is a really hard time in our world, in America especially. It’s important to be more generous and kind-spirited than what we’re so often seeing these days.

So, what have you thought about the way Kim handled telling Oscar of his cancer diagnosis?  Do you hope Kim continues to stay in Julian’s orbit, or would you want her to become involved with Drew?   What do you think will happen next in the story … will Oscar survive?  What has been your most favorite performance of Tamara Braun of all her soap roles through the years? Comment below.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Hunter King Talks Summer’s Clash With Phyllis, Seducing Billy, ‘Life In Pieces’ & Being Newly Engaged

On The Young and the Restless viewers just watched the summer of …  Summer!  When the top-rated soap brought back two-time Daytime Emmy winner, Hunter King to the canvas, you knew it was going to be to stir up some major drama.  But, little did viewers know that Summer came back a vixen, ready to steal her mother’s man!

Last month, it became game on between mother and daughter after their epic showdown, where Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) got wind of Summer’s attempts to put the moves on Billy (Jason Thompson) and her plans to meet up with him in Philly! (And that spelled trouble for the couple known as “Philly” too)  Oh yes, and there was that well-deserved bitch-slap!  So, where will it all go from here?

Michael Fairman TV caught up with King where we discussed: Summer’s new attitude, if Summer will get her wish and have sex with Billy, her real-life engagement, and her upcoming return to the CBS sitcom Life in Pieces, and more. Check out what Hunter had to say below.

Summer is so pursuing Billy! When you came back to Y&R, did they tell you we need her to be really vampy and this seductress?  What has happened to her? (Laughs)

HUNTER:  Yes.  I understood where it was coming from, and I was excited to play the same character, but being able to play it totally different.  I get to sort of reinvent her.   I think when Summer went away she discovered herself, and kind of grew into Phyllis’ daughter … maybe.  But I will say, it has been very vampy, and you don’t even know yet what’s to come!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

How is working with Jason Thompson?

HUNTER:   Working with Jason is great.  He is always so professional and prepared and always willing to collaborate on scenes.  Jason is just so creative, and so in it, and loves to work so much that he just exudes that the scenes.

Let’s just say when Summer and Billy “finally” hit the sheets … (Laughs)

HUNTER:   We don’t yet … we shall see.  The way this whole storyline unfolds you think it’s going one way and then there is a twist, and then twists on top of twists.  The more layers that come into play you start to understand why everything is happening the way it is.

Now, Summer had no idea that Billy had a gambling addiction, which put this whole spiral of his in motion?

HUNTER:  I guess not?  (Laughs)  It’s hard to know. I would say she evidently did not know about his gambling.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Viewers saw Phyllis slap her daughter in the face as the fight between them escalated; when Summer admitted she was going after her mother’s boyfriend!  How was it taping that scene, and working with Gina Tognoni?

HUNTER:  She’s amazing! Gina didn’t really slap me, but I will say afterwards they wanted to put red blush on my cheeks, and I said, “Oh, just pinch my cheek instead, and I wound up bruising my cheek.”  So Gina goes, “I really didn’t hit her!”  It was the funniest banter on set.  Gina was scary in those scenes, like a good scary.  I went, “Damn!”

On August 18th, you got engaged to your beau, Nico Svoboda.  Were you expecting him to propose when he did?

HUNTER:   I was so shocked, even though I had wanted it to happen, very much.  But, I had no idea when it was coming. It was amazing, and the best day of my life and, we are engaged!

Photo : HKingInstagram

And he got down on one knee for the proposal!

HUNTER:  Yes!  I thought it was sweet.  It’s something you dream about when you are a little girl.

What it is about Nico that makes him the guy for you?

HUNTER:  Besides the amazing qualities he has as a person – he’s compassionate, he’s caring, he’s driven, he’s loving, and just cares for others so much – I love the way that he loves me.  I have never felt so loved before, and so accepted, and he is very supportive of my career.

Courtesy/CBS

Are you excited to go back to your role as Clementine on the sitcom, Life in Pieces?  It is slated for a midseason premiere.

HUNTER:  I am super excited to be back.  We are back taping again   I am excited to do the sitcom and Y&R   As an actress, it’s so exciting to get to do different things:  a sitcom and soaps … why not?! (As noted in the press: King took a three-episode break from Y&R to film some episodes of the sitcom due to a scheduling conflict.)

Then speaking of “All in the Family,” it was just announced, your sister, Joey is coming onto Life in Pieces.

HUNTER:  Yes!  How crazy. She will be on for a few episodes, and it will be fun.  I think we will interact a little bit on the show, and we have never had the chance to work together before.

Photo: HKingInstagram

You and your sister have the funniest Instagram videos.  Do you plan those out?

HUNTER:  Joey is so funny.  It kind of just happens when we get together.  Sometimes we film something and sometimes we don’t.  But Joey is so much fun and my best friend. She is the funniest person in the entire world, and so it’s just easy to laugh when I am with her.

So, what did you think of the showdown between Summer and Phyllis?  Are you glad Phyllis slapped her daughter, or was it a mistake?  What do you think will happen next?  Will Summer ultimately sleep with Billy? Do you want Summer to end up with Kyle (Michael Mealor)? Will you be checking out Hunter on Life in Pieces? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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General Hospital

General Hospital’s Max Gail Opens Up On Portraying Mike’s Battle With Alzheimer’s & Making A Difference In People’s Lives

“What happens the day I wake up, and you guys are the strangers,” says Mike to his son, Sonny and his wife Carly (Laura Wright). “I left you before to my everlasting regret, but it’s going to happen. I’d do anything if I didn’t have to do it again, but it’s going to happen – one way or the other.  At least this way I could leave some good feelings, instead of disappearing before your eyes.”  Those words were said during a gut-wrenching scene on Friday’s episode of General Hospital, as Mike tries to come to terms with his deteriorating mental state in his battle with Alzheimer’s, and the hard realization that he may be better off in a care facility, instead of at his son’s home.  These scenes, as all the scenes in this storyline, have been exquisitely played by Max Gail (Mike) and Maurice Benard (Sonny).

When Max Gail arrived on the GH canvas as the recast Mike Corbin in a role made soap-famous by Ron Hale, viewers did not know what to initially expect.  What they did know was that Max is an accomplished actor with a body of work from primetime dramas and comedies, film, and the stage, and that if he is coming to GH, he must be coming on board for something major.  Before GH, suffice to say, Gail is most remembered for his role as “Wojo” on the ABC sitcom Barney Miller that aired from 1975-1982.

In story on GH, Mike, who abandoned Sonny as a child, once again re-enters his son’s life, but soon we learn that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and that the soap is tackling a story that is an important medical, social, and familial issue of our time.

Gail has been a revelation in this role.  A clear frontrunner for an Emmy, playing the facets, the levels, the characteristics, and the heartbreak of a person who is slowly losing everything they know near and dear to them, as in the end they are ultimately stripped of their dignity from this most horrific of diseases.

On a personal note, and as part of this conversation with Max, it was important for him and for me to share, that I lost my mother at the end of April of this year to Alzheimer’s.  So his work hits close to home, this story hits close to home, as it has also resonated for many viewers who have shared their stories on social media and when Max makes personal appearances.

Here now is this very special interview for Michael Fairman TV with an actor whom we can all agree is touching all of our lives.

You’re portraying a person suffering from Alzheimer’s and play the progression of the disease.  Do you feel pressure as an actor to get it right for those who have loved ones, or person’s afflicted with it?

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  It’s more like an urge, or a calling to find some kind of truth in it that I can connect with.  One of the things I’m inclined towards showing is someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia often just drifts off somewhere else.  “Where am I going?”  This has happened to me many times in life.  For instance, when I was a youngster, I can remember getting in my car, and I’d driven a long way from some party or something like that, and I’d been drinking, and I didn’t remember it.  I knew I’d gotten home somehow.  So, it’s not out of my realm.  I’ve learned that there are no set behaviors really… other than that it usually ends up being really difficult for caretakers, and seemingly really painful for many, if not most people suffering with Alzheimer’s, and losing connection and losing the ability to just function.  We are kind of on the cusp of that in story at GH.  I think it was originally proposed that I would play the part for just a few months, and to give me an out if it wasn’t working.  Maybe, there was a placeholder idea to ship Mike off to a home or something, but the storyline has touched so many people that it has been continuing.

The story has been so effective.  You’ve done such an amazing job, and the fans love Mike and what you’re doing with the character, and they’re on board on this journey.  It’ll be interesting to see how far they will take this with Mike.  Will we actually see him not being able to communicate anymore?  How far will the writers go to show the horrific aspects of Alzheimer’s? 

MAX:  I’m not sure.  You know, I’ve had times where I’ve got the scene, I get the writers, and I get the heart of it.  Other times, I find where that transition is from where Mike is lucid and clear, and other times what that state of mind is and that switch is, and what that is in behaviors and energy level.  I think there’s an ongoing downturn for Mike, and for me as an actor finding something in the moment and finding how it works with things that he does remember.  They’re trying to find a place for Mike within all of the interwoven drama of General Hospital.  I, frankly, had no idea how complex the range of storylines was.  Mike doesn’t really have control over his story.  I don’t want that as an actor.  Mike has some intentions that are really important to him.  I’m trying to find that balance where there are times when he has a pathetic, very sad remorse about what he has missed.  I think that underlies his feelings for his son, who he never could quite reach, because of his own failings as a father.  Sonny’s formative experiences growing up were then with his abusive stepdad.  Finding all of that is really important to do in a way that doesn’t make Mike just this sweet older man with Alzheimer’s.   It’s a wonderful challenge to be presented with.

Courtesy/CBS

You brought up that Mike is seemingly very sweet in his demeanor now.  My mother, who I shared with you died a few months ago from Alzheimer’s was a strong-willed, feisty woman.  As the disease took hold of her, she became very sweet.   She became almost childlike.  The fire had gone out of her eyes.  You knew she didn’t know who you were, and so, all of that, as you know is so tough to witness as her son.  In terms of Mike and his ultimate care, everyone says they love him and want what is best for him, but that he needs to be taken care of because he gets confused, doesn’t know where he is sometimes. etc.  Sonny has been grappling with putting him in a care facility to be looked after, or to keep him with the Corinthos family under their roof.  However, Mike has come to a realization that he may need to be in facility all on his own, and doesn’t want to burden his son by living with him anymore.  That was a poignant moment, and another one of the best scenes has been when Mike couldn’t remember that Sonny was his own son. 

MAX:  Right and he doesn’t know if he’s around friends or around enemies.  This can be true of Alzheimer’s patients.

I had that happen with my mother when she came out to Los Angeles to see me for the last time.  She was out of her element, she was confused, and she broke down and cried in the hotel room.  She asked my father, “Why did you bring me here?” and he told her, “We came to see our son.”  It was heartbreaking.   Later, she had a moment of clarity and realized more of what was going on.  I think it’s those in-and -out moments that you portray so well on-screen.  I feel that they are very realistic to what I, and others, have experienced.

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  I appreciate that and sharing that with me, because you never know as an actor.  That place of “Where am I?  What is this?” makes me think of that “Summer Wind” moment from the Nurses’ Ball when it wasn’t just, “I’m embarrassed.  I don’t remember the words.”  It was, “I don’t know where the f**k I am.  I thought there was a band there, but there’s not.”  So, in a way, I just had to be there on this big soundstage and just feel this big space around me.  I could barely see that there were people out there.  It’s kind of a terrifying thing to a lot of people, but I think Mike has something in him that makes him want to be okay with all of this.  He doesn’t have to freak out and get accusatory.

Courtesy/ABC

What has it been like working with Maurice Benard as your on-screen son?  Do you watch back your scenes together and ever go, “Oh, that was great!?”

MAX:  Yes, there have been a lot of those!  There are some scenes that are so emotionally focused, and we get a lot of delight in each other.  He has been playing this character in this situation for so long, so it’s just kind of in him.  Maurice has presence.  I think when I went in to read for the part of Mike, I had gone through pilot season and had gone in for some interesting pilots.  I didn’t feel like I was really connecting in the readings, because most things are by tape these days, anyway.  When this part came up, a soap hadn’t really been on my radar.  I knew I’d be going in to read with the actor, so I said, “Okay,” and I looked at the material, and then I checked out Maurice on IMDB.  One of the things that got my interest was that he has been diagnosed and takes medication to deal with bipolar disorder, and that’s become a part of his life, and it’s become part of his character.  I thought, “Wow, that’s really interesting.  This is a survivor, and he’s risen to something that takes a certain kind of balance and courage.”  I watched some clips, and when I went in for the reading of this kind of an amalgamation scene of what the story elements were going to be, I felt like we connected before we’d even started the dialogue.

Well, Maurice certainly loves working with you! He has been very supportive and vocal about that.

MAX:  It’s mutual.  We can take really little simple moments, and we can find something deeper in it, and it doesn’t have to be an, ‘I’m going to start crying now’ moment.  Although, I would love for Mike to have a moment of self-observation where he goes, “Gee.  I cry a lot more than I used to.”  I think there are people who are like that, and it’s okay for certain people to cry, and for other people it is not.

Courtesy/ABC

There was a part of my mom that knew something was wrong.  She’d go, “Why am I crying?  I don’t know why I’m crying.”  She got confused as to why she was feeling that.  She couldn’t connect it all, and at times she kept saying, “I don’t understand.  I don’t understand.”  Those were the things she would try to express.

MAX:  I have a feeling that Mike has those moments too, but he finds a way for it to be okay.  There may be a point where someone with Alzheimer’s can’t pull it off anymore, but how we find those and those specifics, I don’t know.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Working on a classic sitcom such as Barney Miller is vastly different than working on a daytime soap opera.  While now being at GH, have you found any commonality within the experience?

MAX:  If I can take a moment and reflect on Barney Miller, because it was a great experience and one that I found was not so easy to find again over the years.  One of the things that really resonates is that when we started shooting the studio audience laughed too easily.  We would end up retaking the scenes.  Sometimes, we didn’t have the end of the show written, because they tended to let certain things start to show up in the earlier parts of the script.  Danny Arnold who was the writer, creator and producer of Barney Miller would always take over the way Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) does in a way … looking to be respectful of the director, but still seeing things on his own.  Frank has a really wonderful eye.  He’s much more connected into the overall storylines, the motivations that went into the writing, and what he sees in the moment.  I always welcome him on the set because the directors, who have a range of talents and sensibilities, are tasked with coming up with a whole lot of shots to cover, a whole lot of tricky angles, and all of that.

Courtesy/ABC

Vernee Watson has been amazing as Stella, who is also Mike’s social worker.  Does Mike have romantic feelings toward Stella?

MAX:  Vernee is wonderful.  I didn’t know Vernee had been on the show when I came on board.  She won an Emmy, and I’m not surprised.   She is so present and so specific, and she’s very bright and gets what all of these elements are, and so, I think they have a connection.  For whatever ways Mike has lived in his like, there isn’t some strange, exotic draw that she is black, and Mike is white.  I like that because both my first and late wife, and my second wife, with whom I’ve had children (and we’ve been separated for awhile, but have a great relationship) are African-American.  So, in my world that is not a big deal.   I think there’s an affinity there between Mike and Stella.  You know, he’s alive.  He’s old, but he’s not dead.  There’s an ease with women he likes.  I think there are a whole lot of reasons for them to not get involved.  One is just professional, and she’s a social worker.  We just shot something where I say something to somebody else about, “back when I still had all my marbles,” you know, he’s in another stage of life, which many people go into gracefully, while many don’t.

 

What do you think about how Mike knows about who was buried at Charlie’s Pub?  He was trying to keep the truth about Charlie Delaney from coming out, which turned into a gas leak that blew up the bar!  This storyline ties in to Sonny’s mobster dealings as well.

MAX:  Well, this is where they put this effort in the storytelling to connect Mike in some way and be intertwined with Sonny.  Of course, it reveals certain things about Mike that he’s never revealed to anybody before.  So, that’s kind of cool.  I think when he knows what and how much sometimes is not clear.  That’s why I started talking about Barney Miller because the other thing was a lot of times when we go together for the table reads, they didn’t have the end of the story.  They had a first draft, maybe. Dan would talk about it, and they’d say, “Next week, the main story is going to be this man in his fifties who is coming to terms with the fact that he is gay,” or whatever those underlying themes may be with the different characters reactions.  So, we knew elements going into it and that sometimes I  didn’t know what the writers are really intending.  In terms of Mike, he’s kind of back and forth in certain moments.  I have to resist the idea that they trap me by just being careless.  I’ve learned that just trying to fix the script often gets you into a place where you “rehearse yourself out of it,” as they say.

Courtesy/GoodDayLA

You appeared on the morning show Good Day LA  a few months back with Laura Wright (Carly), and Maria Shriver, who has founded the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.  What was that like meeting Maria, and helping get the word out about the effects of this disease and the work Maria is doing?

MAX:  It was great to do.  Maria had sent out a tweet that is was wonderful what was going on, on General Hospital.  On Good Day LA, she talked about her work, particularly focusing on the fact that more women are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than men.  So, then Laura and I sat down and did an interview alongside Maria.  We actually had a nice conversation before.  They did a web interview also as a follow-up.  That was very cool, because Maria is very smart, and I’d never met her, but it was great to see what she was doing.  Whatever we are dealing with in the show is sort of my opportunity in the real world to bring awareness and shed light on the subject.  I’d love to see an ongoing conversation online amongst people who can share their stories with each other.  That’s a lot of what they’re doing.  They’re raising money for research, but people need to be able to talk to each other when you’re a caregiver.  Coming out of the early sixties and early seventies when I was playing a cop on TV, I never was a fanatic activist.  I certainly got the behavior of the Chicago police at a certain time in terms of the energy and conflicts of the time.  There was something to think about, but at the same time, I had opportunities to kind of share that all cops aren’t bad, just look at the show, Barney Miller.

Courtesy/ABC

You were my favorite character on Barney Miller as Detective Wojciehowicz!  I think for many who watched the show you were, too!

MAX:  I think “Wojo” ended up being the heart of the show.

Max, you’re helping people through your beautiful performances including me.  Congratulations on that.   I’ll continue have to have a box of Kleenex handy as I watch how it all unfolds for Mike.

Photo: IMDB

MAX:  Well, I really appreciate your questions.  I’m just planting that seed.  That is really what I would like to do after talking to you and so many people.  That’s something I’d like to put out there.   We each have our own domains and responsibilities and all of it overlaps, and you can kind of get in touch with that; if you just go around the circle and share it, and then go around again.  I’m looking to help people out there in the world who are watching and are looking to share in the conversation.

So, what did you think about the heartbreaking scenes on Friday’s episode of GH between Mike and Sonny?  What have you thought of Max Gail’s performance throughout his GH run?  Have you experienced the loss, or are watching someone you love, or care about slip away from Alzheimer’s?  Share your thoughts via the comment below.

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Video du Jour

This weekend we mourn the loss of General Hospital’s beloved Susan Brown who played Gail Baldwin. Here is her final scene from 2004 when Gail and her husband Lee (the late Peter Hansen) showed up at Lila’s funeral and had an exchange with Alan and Monica. Share your thoughts on Susan’s passing via the link below. Leave A Comment

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