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The Peter Bergman Interview- The Young and the Restless

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Ten days ago on November 27th, 2009, Peter Bergman celebrated his 20th anniversary on the number one daytime drama, The Young and the Restless. The actor, who has won three Daytime Emmy Awards for his portrayal of bad boy Jack Abbott, is one of the most respected actors of the soap genre.  Bergman first came into prominence as one half of Pine Valley‘s “super couple”, Cliff and Nina (Taylor Miller) on All My Children.  After a twist of fate that had the actor being let-go by the soap, Bergman came kicking and screaming to Y&R where this stalwart performer set up new digs to take over the coveted role of Jack, played originally by the late Terry Lester.

Bergman met the love of his life Mariellen on a blind date, set up by his former AMC cast mate Michael Minor (Ex-Brandon) who happened to be going out with her cousin at the time, and she has been with Peter every step of the way during his soap career.   In this revealing interview with On-Air On-Soaps, Peter discusses his beginnings on Y&R, favorite moments, favorite leading ladies, and the heart and soul of a veteran actor in daytime, who has been through and seen it all… including the notorious real life fight with his co-star Eric Braeden (Victor Newman).  But it is Victor and Jack’s on-screen rivalry that has lit up the television screen for decades, thanks to the amazing performances by Bergman and Braeden.  And as we head into 2010, Jack may be getting a new lady love and Victor will be on his way back to town to reignite the feud.  Here’s Peter on his journey to Genoa City and much more!

Listen to the audio:

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MICHAEL:

Peter, you just celebrated your 20th anniversary as Jack Abbott. Do you feel old?  I feel old knowing this! (Laughs)

PETER:

It’s funny.  The first time anyone mentioned this 20th year thing, I thought, “Geez, it felt like yesterday.”  Then when I thought about it, when I started on this show, my daughter was four weeks old.  My daughter is now a sophmore in college.  So, I guess 20 years is a long time.

MICHAEL:

Peter-and-Mary-Ellen

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What did your wife, Mariellen, have to say about this accomplishment?  We all have watched Mariellen’s reactions on-camera during your Emmy wins, which have been so touching.

PETER:

It kind of went unnoticed in our home, and what I think is interesting again is; Mariellen and I were only married five years when I started on Y&R.  We had new kids. We were just starting our lives together and it will be 25 years together this coming March.  So, I have been here along time.

MICHAEL:

When you took over the role from the former Jack Abbott, actor Terry Lester, were you familiar with his work?

PETER:

No.  I had seen so little of Terry Lester’s performances.  The Young and the Restless was opposite All My Children in New York.  So, I never really got to see what he did.  He certainly was a prominent member of the daytime community.  We knew who he was, but I did not know his work that well, and that probably was to my benefit.

MICHAEL:

Right. So you could make this your own.   Do you remember the events that got you to this coveted role in Genoa City?

PETER:

Melody--Thomas-Scott

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My job at All My Children came to a sudden end.  I think everyone was as surprised as I was.  The best monitor of that is the fact that every soap magazine had me on the cover that week saying, “OMG! OMG! All My Children let Peter Bergman go!”   Now, Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki, Y&R) was traveling with her husband Ed Scott, who was our executive producer at the time, in Canada.  She pulled out an issue of Soap Opera Digest with me on the cover of it saying, “We let Peter Bergman go,” and she thought, “We have been looking for a Jack Abbott. This is Jack Abbott,” she said to Ed.  So Ed came back home and the first I heard of it was through my agent.  He said, “We just heard from Y&R and they wanted to know how tall you are.”  And I said, “That is insane!  Don’t even return that call. What do you mean how tall I am?  They can figure that out.”  It really bothered me.  Then they called another time and asked if I would be OK replacing someone.  I was on All My Children and replacing someone was shear death, and it never worked on All My Children. We have never had a recast that really sustained and frankly, I was just finishing a soap and my wife was eight months pregnant.  I thought, “No, I do not want to do this!”  Y&R called a third time and it kind of coincided with some bad financial news I got.  I thought I should at least go out to LA and audition for this thing.  So, leaving my wife behind, her due date was a week away, I thought, it would be just my luck.  I will be in Los Angeles where I don’t want to live, and replacing somebody which I don’t want to do, and it’s on a soap, and I don’t know if I want to do another one.  So, I audition on a Friday, and they said they were going to get back to me within the next two weeks. On Monday, Ed Scott called to say I got the job.  Then Maryellen and I sat there and literally wept.  We loved New York!  We just bought the apartment next door. We were going to adjoin the two as we were expecting a baby any minute and this was going to be cataclysmic in our lives.  It was all the wrong things.  So the answer to your question is; I was dragged out kicking and screaming to the best thing that ever happened to me.

MICHAEL:

Once you finally got here to Y&R, and you were figuring your way through the character of Jack Abbott, was there a point where you knew, “This is such an amazing role”?

PETER:

Everyone told me, but the person who told me the most was Debbi Morgan, who plays Angie on All My Children.  Debbi caught wind that I was auditioning for the role on my last day at AMC, and the following morning I was heading to Los Angeles.  I told her, and only her and I did not know she was a mad Y&R fan.   She said, “OMG!  Peter this is one of those roles.  This is Erica on AMC.  This is Viki on OLTL, and this is a giant role, Peter.”  So she convinced me that, “Well, maybe this will be a good thing.”   I got the job and I was grateful for it, but once I got here, every prop guy, every camera man knew more about Jack Abbott than I did.  It was a lonely first few weeks.  I knew I’ve got to make it my own.  The assumption was we bring all those Cliff Warner fans with us to Y&R, and all the people who were used to Terry Lester would eventually be OK with me in the role. Well, oddly enough the people who were used to Terry Lester got used to me pretty quickly.  It took about six months and they forgot what he looked like. But the people from All My Children, OMG, it was two to three years later!  They were saying, “He used to be so nice….”   It took a long time to bring them around.

MICHAEL:

So, was there any trepidation for you with the success of playing Dr. Cliff Warner, who was the leading man and a goody-goody, with now coming over to Y&R and playing a rather bad and caddish character?  Was there any thought of, “I don’t know if I should play this,” or did you look at it as an actor’s dream to play Jack?

PETER:

Frankly, I have been doing daytime television for 30 years and it has never crossed my mind what the audience likes or what the audience wants of me.  I just want to tell the story like it’s written.  I come to this dressing room as these scripts are sitting here now, and I cannot open them fast enough.  I don’t want to write it.  I want to play what they wrote and it’s worked for thirty years.

MICHAEL:

Eric-and-Peter

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Ok! So of all the storylines and plot points of Jack, which stick in your mind as some of your most memorable?

PETER:

The ones that really move me….the ones I have trouble watching without getting emotionally upset….Nikki spirals into this alcoholic mess and in his effort to help her Jack cannot do it, and in his frustration he comes that close to punching her.  It was a giant moment and I went to tell my father, John, “Dad, I almost hit her in the face!” Giant moment!   Jack is in Victor’s office and Victor has what appears to be a coronary episode. Victor is left on the floor and Jack has two choices…. call for help or walk out of the room. On his way out of the room, I decided Jack would kick Victor’s hand out of the way. To Eric Braeden’ credit, his body was limp. I kicked his hand and I thought, “The cameras are probably not going to catch this.”  Boy, did they catch this!

MICHAEL:

He did not move his hand…..his hand…..

PETER:

…..his hand flopped.  He looked like a dead guy.  Giant moment!  Nikki and Jack lose a baby and a woman comes to my office one day.  We had donated the baby’s’ organ’s and she wants to introduce me to her son, who would not be alive without my child’s heart. Giant scene to play!  Finding out about Nicholas and Phyllis!  It went on forever and finally Jack finds out.   Frankly, my latest favorite is the day that Sharon finally tells Jack everything that is going on with her and Nicholas, and Jack knew every single thing she is telling him, but she is telling him.  It was a giant moment to play.  I had no words and you could just watch Jack’s face and know what he was thinking.  This is what he has been waiting for: Sharon to tell him and to be this honest with him.

MICHAEL:

In all the interviews I do with the soap actors, everyone tells me the same thing: “Peter Bergman is so professional!”  How does it feel to be so well regarded by your peers?

PETER:

The-Abbotts

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It does feel really good.  I would love to be able to tell you I am the consummate professional because I know things and it firms up my powerbase.  But frankly, I have nightmares about coming to work and being unprepared.  I have nightmares that our cameramen get frustrated and are taking their headsets off because Bergman does not know his lines.  I also lost my job and did not expect it to happen and no one expected it to happen.  And, when it came to an end I promised myself, if ever I lost this job at Y&R or any other job, I would never look back and wonder what more I could have done.  So frankly a lot of it is paranoia and it’s not being a bold egalitarian.

MICHAEL:

I think it’s very human and honest of you to say that, because who wouldn’t feel that way given those circumstances.

PETER:

I am amazed that people will come to work and not know their lines for the day and be able to come out on set.  I would be a nervous wreck!  So it’s probably by needs that I have to be really, really professional.

MICHAEL:

Eric Braeden and you had a much-publicized fight many years ago and a stormy relationship.  I was reading recent articles and interviews and people still bring it up.  What do you think about the situation now?  It’s part of the history of your time on Y&R that people tend to focus on.

PETER:

It is part of our history here. Eric and I had a number of problems when I first came here and they climaxed in an ugly situation that Eric wished would never had happened and I certainly could have done without it in my life.  But Eric and I worked together for 20 years, and we have this enmity that the audience clearly loves.  It’s a crazy rivalry and it still has legs, and I am very grateful for It.!  We work together just fine.

MICHAEL:

I loved, True Soap Stories of Mr. Kitty… the cleverest and original video of the year, bar none!   You were the on-camera host of the video parody.  How did that come about where you ended up in that position?

PETER:

Greg Edwards, (content manager, Y&R website) who put the whole thing together, came up to me and said, “Hey, Peter, would you be the anchor on this thing?”  I said, “Sure!”  Anyway, it was an improv thing.  We did it really serious and it was really funny. Everyone in the cast was so great in it. And if people have not seen it on the CBS website, it’s quite, quite funny.

MICHAEL:

Haiduk--Mr,-Kitty

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How has it been working with Stacy Haiduk, who now plays dual roles as Patty Williams and Emily Peterson?

PETER:

Stacy Haiduk (Patty/Emily) has been one of those wonderful stories, where she is a generally trusting actress.  I have talked to her a lot in all of this. When she got here I said to her, “If you are willing to go there and I know it seems like the audience is not going to like you or deems your character unlikable….”  I said, “Stacy run with it. We can redeem you in two episodes.  I don’t care!  Just don’t kill anybody and we can redeem you.”  Anyway, this actress came in and gave everything and just threw herself at the madness of Patty Williams, and now she is playing Emily, the psychiatrist who has to be very different than Patty Williams.  Stacy brought a whole new bag of tricks and she is terrific.

MICHAEL:

Is Jack truly falling for Emily or using her?

PETER:

Oh no!  Jack is falling for this psychiatrist.  Jack is at a funny place in his life where he is coming to the realization that he is the head of the Abbott family now.  John is gone and he is not coming back.  Somebody has got to anchor this family.  Jack has long aspired to be like his father, and it’s kind of hard to do that without a woman of the house and someone in his life.  Colleen’s death reminded him to do what you want to be doing; be with somebody and share a life.  So Jack is going through a whole new phase, and the moment he is in this searching mode in walks Emily Peterson, this gorgeous woman who he is really quite taken with!

MICHAEL:

I am sure though, there is a twist… on a twist…. on a twist coming!

PETER:

Michelle-and-Peter

© JPI Studios

Well again, sitting in an actress’s dressing room and saying, “If you play this other character really different from Patty, then down the road imagine how fun it would be to play Patty Williams playing who she thinks Emily is.”   It’s a treat most actors would kill to do.  I have never done it and those actors who have done well are legends in daytime television.

MICHAEL:

Let’s talk about a few other former leading ladies… Michelle Stafford (Phyllis) and you!

PETER:

Michelle Stafford…. when they first told me I was going to be working with her she was coming back to the show, and all we had seen of her was crazy Phyllis.  She was Danny Romalatti’s crazy woman with the lying about the birth certificate and all the crazy shenanigans she had done.  So they told me, “We are going to put her with Jack.”   I thought, “Well, this is crazy!”  Well, it was just crazy enough.  These two were perfectly wrong for each other.  These two people cared about each other and wanted this to work in the worst possible way, but just couldn’t make it work. That is not normal for soaps. It was fun to play and for the audience to watch, because these two people were desperately loving each other and they are destructive of each other, and someone is going to hurt someone here. These are two type “A” personalities!

MICHAEL:

How about Sharon Case (Sharon) and you?

PETER:

Bergman-fan-event

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Sharon Case is my new favorite thing to talk about, because when they put Nick and Phyllis together, I thought it was clever as can be, and hotter than could be.  It was a great hot secret that they had.  I played the cuckold and Sharon played the cuckold fool, and I think the writers perhaps did not have a plan.  So I guess they thought, “Let’s throw Sharon and Jack together.”   Sharon Case and I knew this. So we sat in this dressing room and said, “How about we make it work for them?”  So every opportunity we had to make it as real as possible, we jumped all over it.  We sat in this room and ran lines like crazy.  We tweaked scenes and fixed scenes and changed the pace of scenes; until suddenly it turned into a three-year storyline and was one of the most realistic couples on the show.  I think Sharon changed Jack in a major way.  There was goodness and honesty about Sharon in her general approach to life.  She was not a manipulator.  She challenged Jack to be an honest person, and he wasn’t up for the task.  He has never forgiven himself for that. So honesty now becomes a very important part of Jack Abbott’s life?  It is now, thanks to Sharon!

MICHAEL:

In closing Peter, after 20 years, what do you want people to remember most about your portrayal of Jack Abbott?

PETER:

I would love for people to say, “He was fun to watch and he did not hold back. When a scene called for something, he never phoned it in or dialed it in.  He always was there and always found as much emotional weight as he could find.”

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LuChera HuntleyOlive OlsoncabcFannieDoe Recent comment authors
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Mandel
Mandel

Good interview. Really good actor

Doe
Doe

What a great interview, Michael. Peter was so honest, and you can’t help but like and respect him. He has kept those of us watching his prowess as an actor constantly delivering his character, and we wait for the shoe to drop as to what he will do that is nasty. We wait in anticipation…..

Fannie
Fannie

Peter Bergman is right, it did not take long for us to forget Terry Lester whom I loved very much as Jack Abbott. It’s true that those 20 years went by so fast and thank you Peter Bergman and all the other wonderful characters to have helped me and I guess so many others, to have helped us go through the ups and downs of this wonderful life by being part of our life for those 20 wonderful years. Long live the Y&R and Peter Bergman.

cabc
cabc

I am so glad to know that Peter loves his character Jack, cause I’ve been a faithful viewer for over 20 years, and I just love, and I mean love me some Jack. He’s sophisticated, and a bad boy, and I love bad boys. Thanks for the wonderful interview it makes me love him more knowing that he has a beautiful wife of 25 years, and has been able to be a loving husband and father in real life while being the bad boy of Y&R for over 20 years. We love you Jack! I love to hate Victor, but you’re the man Jack.

Olive Olson
Olive Olson

I like Jack. I would have to say that he’s undoubtedly my fav. male actor. He reminds me of someone I dated a long time ago and I think he’s one handsome dude !! : ) It would be fun to meet him for real. I guess I can only hope about that one.

LuChera Huntley
LuChera Huntley

Hey Peter Bergman!!
Good Job!!!

Interviews

Y&R’s Gina Tognoni Opens Up About Billy’s Bombshell With Summer & What’s Next For Phyllis

Talk about walking in at the wrong moment and getting an earful!  That’s exactly what happened to The Young and the Restless’ Phyllis on Wednesday’s episode.  Taking the moment to level his revenge and payback for Phyllis’ romp with Nick (Joshua Morrow), her beau Billy (Jason Thompson) tells Phyllis that he slept with her daughter, Summer (Hunter King), right as Summer is standing there!   With that moment now out in the open, and Billy’s intention behind it, look for fireworks to fly!

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Daytime Emmy-winning gem, Gina Tognoni, who brings the complex Phyllis to life on the CBS daytime drama series, to get her take on how Phyllis handles this shocker, and the ramifications it poses to her, and the key relationships in her life.

As to what happens in the near future, looks like Phyllis is not going to do too well with what has just come to light, and that may set her on a whole new trajectory!  But will it be to Jack (Peter Bergman), to Nick (Joshua Morrow), or to someone else?  And, oh, there is that little item of her part in the death of J.T. Hellstrom.  Will that ultimately prove to be her downfall?  Here’s what Gina dished on the latest developments from GC.

When Phyllis gets the bombshell dropped upon her that Billy had sex with Summer, in that immediate moment what does this mean for Phyllis’ relationship with her daughter?

GINA:  Phyllis never saw this coming.  She is gutted and disgusted with her daughter in the moment, and in disbelief that her daughter would turn on her like this.

What about Billy saying to Phyllis and Summer that he had revenge sex with Summer to get back at Phyllis for sleeping with Nick?  Is she disgusted with him?

GINA:  I mean, she is speechless with him.  She’s speechless that he would stoop so low.  In her mind, this is a different offense.  Her sleeping with Nick is something that can’t be put in the same ballpark as Billy sleeping with her daughter.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you think Phyllis knew in her gut that Billy would sleep with Summer; after the truth about her tryst with Nick came out at Sharon and Nick’s wedding?

GINA:  I think she was consumed with her own guilt and her own loss of control that it was not in the forefront of her mind.  So, when he plops that on her, that’s what leaves her to be absolutely speechless.  Whether you call it karma, or whatever, she got knocked with some of that, and she doesn’t know what else to say.  She’s devastated by both of these people.  In Phyllis’ mind she had moved on and was trying to make things right, but Billy sleeping with her daughter just crosses a boundary.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I actually thought Phyllis knew in her gut that Billy would go to Summer, after the Shick wedding busted wide open, as she drank out those tiny liquor bottles!

GINA:  She was drinking the bottles, and it was all out, and her life was beginning to unravel, which caused her to want to numb the pain, because it was getting so intense.  It came out at the wedding that she slept with Nick, but what she was upset about was how Billy and she had now imploded, and their relationship has been forever changed.  That’s what that drinking was about.  They had overcome so much.  Here they were trusting each other, she was supporting him, brought him out of his gambling addiction, and she ‘drowns’ herself, and then we come to today. She walks in, and he just unloads it, and says, “I slept with Summer.”   From that moment on, we start to see that she has a break, and the break is in her personality.  Not that she’s a multiple personality, but it’s literally so painful for her that it changes something within her, and we’ll see something within the next two to three weeks on-air of what that means.  Phyllis gets really drastic, which has been fun to play.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Does she think at all, that this is her fault, because she did sleep with Nick?

GINA:  Oh, yes.  She’s so confused and so overwhelmed by how screwed up it’s gotten that she is in survival mode.  We’ve seen Phyllis go in and out of that during the almost five years that I have played her. This is good stuff to play, and the writing is much more detailed than I have ever seen it.  When you see the scenes that are airing the rest of this week, they were done in one take.  Jason Thompson’s performance is so good, and Hunter King is really wrapping her arms around this role in such a cool way, that I just think the viewers are going to feel something.  Phyllis is just wrecked.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

One of the great scenes that you’ve had this year was when Phyllis realized that Summer is going after her man and she confronts her.  Phyllis slapped her own daughter and then went on the offense to keep her daughter from meeting up with Billy.  Summer did try to seduce Billy, and his gambling addiction wouldn’t have resurfaced at this time in his life, if it weren’t for her.

GINA:  Yes. Summer did push it.   I think in life, people disappoint us in such a profound way.  People are human.  We will be disappointed.   You pray to God that it’s not to certain levels, but it happens.  At the end of the day this is still her daughter, and it’s that bond that you have forever, and you love them, and you have to find a way to forgive because it’s natural: that love in your heart for your child.  That’s all I can say about this story, because it’s bizarre. (Laughs)  It sounds so funny, “My daughter slept with my boyfriend.” (Laughs)  You know what I mean?  However, when you really think about it, Summer broke her mother’s heart.

Even though Summer was a big contributor to the combustion of Billy and Phyllis’ relationship, Phyllis wants what’s best for her?

GINA: That’s the way Mal Young (EP and head writer, Y&R) is writing it.  I think that’s the most human way to do it.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t be angry, or that you have to be trusting in a situation like this.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

What does this mean for any future for the duo known as “Philly”?

GINA:  I was just saying to Jason Thompson: “I don’t feel like we’ve really worked together or hung out, because we’ve broken up on this show, so I never see you,” and he said, “I know! It’s so bizarre,” and it really is, because you get into such a rhythm with somebody.  You develop this shorthand where you understand each other’s rhythms.  Now, I’m getting to work with different groups of people.  Phyllis and Billy have such a very good dynamic.  It works.  So, to mess with something that’s not broken, (I mean, obviously it’s broken in Genoa City) it’s a bummer.  The good news is, maybe we’ll find our way back to one another.  She loved Billy very much.  That’s very much her soulmate.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Where does Phyllis see Jack in all of this?  At times, in scenes, it looks like maybe she could rekindle her relationship with Jack.

GINA:  Here’s the thing … Jack represented wisdom to her.  Jack is the type of man that no woman should ever walk away from.   Phyllis screwed that up.  She also screwed up her relationship with Billy, but I actually think that Billy had a lot to do with that too.  They both have demons.  Billy and Jack are two great men that she has failed at.  How does she live with that much failure?  How does she see herself?  What does she do?  She can’t make Billy come back, and she can’t be forced to love him.  They’re both so hurt by all of this.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Joshua Morrow was on my podcast Soap Nation Live recently, and we were talking about the hotness that is Phyllis, and how there’s this constant sexual tension between Nick and Phyllis, and how they play videogames as their foreplay, before they have sex.  (Laughs) Where is that relationship at now?

GINA:  Yes, there is that foreplay with the video games. (Laughs)  Gina and Joshua have never really explored the dynamic of Phyllis and Nick.  It was Michelle Stafford (Ex-Phyllis, Y&R, now Nina, GH) and Joshua who played that.   Now we are getting a chance to get Gina and Joshua’s take on it.  Joshua is very present when you work with hum, and that’s a very powerful thing.   So, we’ll see what happens with those two, but right now it seems to be a very physical thing between them.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Then, there are the ramifications of Phyllis’ part in J.T.’s death and the four women in collusion to hide what happened to him. What is it like for Phyllis having to work with Sharon on this, when Phyllis was the cause of Sharon’s wedding to Nick to blow up?

GINA:  Well, she’s compartmentalizing.  She’s got the J.T. thing that she wants to control as much as she can, and she’s got to also be successful in her business career.  She’s proving something to herself, and she’s proving something as a woman.  Phyllis wants to be taken seriously, but she’s got this conflict that’s telling her that she’s a fraud.  She’s got this murder cover-up that she’s involved with.  Again, like in life, you try to go forward, but everyone has demons and things inside them that take them off their game.

Is there any part of her that thinks she could wind up in prison for this crime?

GINA: Yeah!  Her whole life could just blow up to a whole other level! That’s how I see it!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I know throughout your soap opera career; the writers and producers have loaded you up with heavy material, because you are an accomplished actress who can always deliver.  But, how do you feel now getting all of this material and trying to work through it?

GINA:  I’m getting to a place just now where I’m going, “Okay.  We’ve got this.”   For the last month and a half to two months, it’s been a lot.   Now, I’m starting to find my center and balance.  At first, it was a lot to digest.  I even felt emotional not working with Jason, and not working with Peter Bergman.  There is that attachment, were you go as an actor: “That was ours.  We built that, man!”  Then it moves on and it takes its shape, and you have to remind yourself that’s your job: that you are the chameleon.  You have to come in and sell it, and commit emotionally, because that’s your job.  There are certain days that I feel too much, and I have to remember to just breathe.  Day by day is how I take it, but I feel good.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

If you could preview to the audience what they should watch for with Phyllis, what would you tell them? 

GINA:  Watch the subtle differences within Phyllis.  There is even a different look in my eyes.  I’m bringing her to a place, and she’s bringing me to a place that I have never

So, what do you think Phyllis should do now in her relationships with Summer and Billy? Are you glad the truth is out that Billy had sex with Summer? Who should be the new man in Phyllis’ life? What changes do you think will happen to her personality as previewed by Gina in this interview? Comment below.

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Dancing with the Stars Juniors

Adam Rippon Talks Judging Dancing With The Stars: Juniors And Stepping Away From His Olympic Figure Skating Life

If you want to talk about perseverance, facing adversary, keeping your eye on the prize, and at the same time sending a powerful message to the world about the LGBT community through his celebrity, look no further than Adam Rippon.

The bronze medalist at the 2018 Winter Olympics for the U.S. Team in the Team Figure Skating competition in Pyeongchang, South Korea made a comeback at 28-years-old to complete his Olympic career after fracturing his foot in 2017; which left him off the 2017 U.S. National Team.

Outspoken, candid, charming and with that oh-so-wicked humor, Rippon launched into his post-skate career with some lateral moves that made sense:  he won the Dancing with the Stars: Athletes competition taking home the Mirror Ball Trophy he has made numerous TV appearances, including one coming up on Will & Grace, and currently he can be seen as one of the three judges on Dancing with the Stars: Juniors, the newest reiteration of ABC’s celebrity dance competition this time featuring; 12 celebrity kids who take on the world of the ballroom.

Michael Fairman TV recently caught up with the talented Rippon to get his take on: how he plans to handle critiquing the kids after their Cha Cha’s and Paso Doble’s, but also how he feels putting his skates aside and moving on to the next phase of his life.  Here’s our chat with Adam.

America and the world has come to know your personality from everything you went through during your journey at the Winter Olympics. That is to say you’re humor, off-the-cuff remarks, and being your authentic self.  What will be your take on how to judge and critique the kids on Dancing with the Stars: Juniors?  How did you end up as one of the picks for the judges table?

ADAM:  It was just the perfect storm.  It was so great, because it happened right after my season of Dancing with the Stars, which happened right after the Olympics.  I think the fun thing is that it’s with kids.  So, sometimes I have to turn down my ‘potty humor’ a little bit, but in the skating world, I’ve worked with kids for a few years teaching.  I think that’s kind of the mentality that I bring.  I’ve always found that you want to talk to them like you’re on their level.  You’re still able to find humor in that.  I think that when you’re able to laugh at yourself, you automatically break down that barrier, and you’re ready to listen, and that’s what I hope to do on the show.

Photo: ABC

Could you see yourself doing the Johnny Weir/Tara Lipinski coverage or commentary on the Olympics during the figure skating competitions?

ADAM:  I think that they do such a great job, and they are such a fun duo.   I hope I can continue to do some different things, because I think that they are so good at what they do.

When you look back on your journey at the Olympics now, what do you think? You made such an impact representing the U.S. the gay community, and skaters who never give up to finally live their Olympic dream.

ADAM:  You know, it’s a little surreal.  On one side of it, I’ve just lived in my own world and had my own experience, and yes, I’ve talked to, and met with some really crazy and incredible people.  I think I really focus more on the journey, and how I got there, and how I get to even just be here now at Dancing with the Stars: Juniors.   I focus on each day and every project that I get, giving one hundred percent, and when I really focus on that really cool and special things come along.

Photo: ABC

A lot of good things have happened.  So, when we watch this season of DWTS: Juniors, will you be giving some snippy remarks, or will you be positive and upbeat, too?

ADAM:  You know what?  I think I’ll be giving some honest remarks.  I want the kids to laugh.  I want everyone at home to enjoy the show, and I want to be honest, because I think when you’re honest, kids improve.

Would you ever go back and try to make the U.S. Olympics figure skating team again?

ADAM:  No.

It was so emotional watching your last journey during the Olympics!  So, you’re done with all of that, right?

ADAM:  I am way done.  I have my medal.  It’s done.  I’m done.  When I was at the Olympics, I knew it was it.  It was a one and done sort of thing.  It’s such an amazing and incredible honor, but there are moments where you’re about to go out there, and you’re standing backstage and you’re like, “I could just completely diarrhea-s**t-my-brains-out right now, why do I do this to myself?” (Laughs) It’s crazy, but when you push yourself to those extremes, really amazing things happen. Within skating, I achieved so many of the dreams and goals that I wanted, that to step away, feels right.  

So, will you be checking out how Adam judges Hudson West and the kids competing in Dancing with the Stars: Juniors?  Have you followed Adam’s personal and professional journey form champion skater to TV personality? Share your comments below.

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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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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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