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The Ron Carlivati and Kristen Alderson Interviews – One Life to Live

Courtesy/ABC

Today is the kick-off of the three-day musical event, and the highly anticipated culmination of May Sweeps on One Life to LiveStarr X’d Lovers. Yes, there will be plenty of singing, dancing, and lots of drama, especially for most of the couples in Llanview.  Starr X’d Lovers is the sequel to One Life’s successful, Prom Night: The Musical, which at its center featured the love story of Starr and Cole.  But in 2010, many lives on the canvas are intertwined, and the lives of the young set, and some of the shows most popular couples, could be changed forever.

On-Air On-Soaps spoke to two of the key ingredients in bringing the musical to the small screen.  First, we spoke with head writer, Ron Carlivati, to preview what lies ahead for many of the characters from Prom Night and beyond.  We also discuss the rumors that circulated on the return of Jean Passanante to the writing team at One Life, and what that meant for Ron.  Getting the insight into the intentions and the purpose behind certain writing choices is always a must- read for any avid soap fan, and Ron explains some of the components and decisions made to the stories you have been watching, and have wondered where they may be headed.

Next, we spoke with the central character of Starr X’d Lovers, Starr Manning herself, actress Kristen Alderson.  The talented young actress gives the perspective from the performer’s point of view, of putting the three-day musical event from the page to the stage and on to tape.  Kristen also teases what Prom Night 2010 holds for Starr, Cole, Langston, Ford, Dani, Matthew, and Markko!

So, let’s start with the man who gives One Life its voice (not the singing kind)…Ron Carlivati… and then follow it up with some chitchat with the sensational Kristen.

MICHAEL:

Before we get started Ron, can you comment on Bree Williamson’s Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress?  The pivotal scenes, where Jessica remembers switching the babies, were riveting.  Did you write those scenes that got her the nod?

RON:

Courtesy/ABC

I loved that story, and I even think Bree should have won last year.  I am crossing my fingers.  From the material that she submitted, I wrote part of it.  I really loved those scenes, where she has to break through from Bess to get to Jessica.  I thought they were both so emotional and so outstanding… both Erika Slezak (Viki) and Bree

MICHAEL:

Now, One Life will have many intersecting stories and dilemmas facing the major couples on the show in the next few weeks.  Was this the plan with Starr X’d Lovers?

RON:

When we pitched the idea of doing another musical, because we had such fun doing the last one, we had to make sure if we were doing it during May Sweeps, it was not just, “let’s stop everything… and have everyone sing for a couple of days.”  It had to advance story and affect story.  For Starr, it is a significant moment in her life.  It is her Senior Prom.  We wanted to have an event going around it on the show to make this feel big.  It is the prom night and the culmination of people who are at critical junctures in their love stories.  Cristian and Layla – has Layla had enough of this teen Jessica? (Laughs)  Jessica sees this as her last chance to get Cristian.  Brody sees it as his last chance to break through to Jessica.  Starr is heading to this prom, and Cole is in jail and it seems doomed.  Can they be together?  Langston has been cheating all of this time, and is this the night she will tell Marrko everything?  As well, we have a new little love story, sort of how we launched Marrko and Langston a few years ago at prom, and that is with Destiny and Darren (Laughs).  She finds him to be a total pest, and maybe she needs to see him in a different light at the prom.

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

How did you intend Nate’s character to be when you created him?  He was brought in as a foil for Matthew for the affections for Dani.  But is he going to be a good guy or could he turn into another town bad boy?  

RON:

We are already seeing this draw that Dani feels towards him.  I think you will see even more of it at the prom, and as we go into the summer.  I think she feels an attraction and connection with this boy that is going to pull her and Matthew apart.  He does seem to be a very sweet boy who seems to be very soulful. We will get to know more about him and his background, and where he comes from, as we get into the summer.  Jessica Leccia (Inez) will be coming on as his mom.  So, you will get to know more about his background, and some of the actions that he and Dani take over the summer will have a big effect for several people on the canvas.

MICHAEL:

As we head into the musical episodes, we also see that Natalie and John are at a critical juncture!

RON:

Courtesy/ABC

We tried to have other stories surrounding this musical that were not just the kids.  Because the theme of the show is Starr X’D Lovers, another pair like that is John and Natalie. They have their own critical moment and that is, Natalie decides she is leaving town and does not want to be in Llanview constantly under John and Marty’s nose.  So, I think she knows herself well enough to say, “I can stay away from them.”  But, I think we know Natalie well enough now that she is not always able to do what she says.  She makes this decision to leave and she leaves a letter for John that says, “I’m leaving.  And it’s not an ultimatum, but I just need you to know how I feel about you before I leave.”  She says, “I will be at Rodi’s at midnight if you have anything you want to say to me.”  So, I think we are hoping that John will show up and stop her from moving and declare himself.  But we see Marty gets her hands on the letter before John, and we get to see a bit of the old Marty, who thinks perhaps she will rip it up and not show it to John!  Roxy convinces Natalie to write her feelings down and to give John a chance.  So it’s not just Natalie being selfish going, “Here is how I feel.  I want you to be the same way and stop me from going to London.”  Roxy really prods her on in a vulnerable moment.  I will tell you this: John McBain will NOT be singing! (Laughs) No Cop Rock! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

So you are using one of the classic Soap 101 devices… a letter falling into the wrong hands to spin story?

RON:

I did not originate the idea by any shake of the imagination. (Laughs)  I mean I could go back to Shakespeare, and he can take the credit.  It’s very useful, and it’s about will it get into the wrong hands?  And, who will get the letter? 

MICHAEL:

So what happens on this night when people are star-crossed?  I assume people get drunk…

RON:

Courtesy/ABC

People get drunk.  Brody pushes Jessica a bit too hard to remember, and her rejection of him is so strong this time that he thinks he has really blown it, and so he does go to Rodi’s and gets wasted.  And Natalie, thinking John has made his choice, well…her and Brody see each other. And now they are kind of crying on each other’s shoulders about this. They think they have lost the two people they love forever.

MICHAEL: 

Many fans are noticing the on-air sizzle between Brody and Natalie.  Was that intentional?  It seems like it may have even shocked the OLTL writing team!

RON:

Yeah, I have got to say it took me by surprise.  It wasn’t something I initially thought of. Then early on, when Jessica first woke up after her electro-shock and lost her memory, I was on the set. There was a scene where Brody and Natalie were outside the hospital room commiserating about Jessica.  And I was looking at the two of them going, “Wait a second?”  And at that point we had written a lot further than that, and had not been crossing the two characters that much.  So it veered back that way.

MICHAEL:

So, is this a case of when you see something that works on-screen, it can dictate story?

RON:

Definitely.  We launched that story with Jessica going after Cristian, and then suddenly thinking what happens with Brody while this girl is gallivanting around town thinking she is 17.  Then you explore that aspect a bit more and go, “What about Brody and Natalie or Brody and Layla?  Would they get together while Jessica is going after Cristian?”  You see what you can make the most stories out of, and that is how you make those decisions.

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL: 

We saw Ford on-air this week flirt with Jessica, which sort of perked up Ford as a new possible “conquest” for him.  Can we expect things to unravel in his relationship with Langston on prom night?

RON:

So you have seen Ford’s interest in Jessica, which will have a pay-off after the musical.   I think what we have is Markko primed to discover the truth about Ford and Langston.  He planned this big night and got the same hotel room for them they had the year before, when they made love for the first time. We saw that on Markko’s camera he accidentally captured Destiny and Matthew talking about the fact that Langston is a cheat, and he is carrying this camera around at the prom.  I just throw that out to you! (Laughs) So there is a possibility he might see it.  I mean, I have Ford being his devilish self, trying to lure Langston away from the musical.  I think there is a part of Ford, that even though he is a “dog”…deep… deep… down, somewhere buried under that heart of ice, I think he is jealous.  I think he does not like that Langston is at the prom with her boyfriend, having a good time.  Part of it is a game for him… ‘Can I get her to dump him and come to me?’  But part of this is, he is alone in his apartment and lonely.  I can say Markko is going to find out the truth, and that is part of the musical, and that is going to blow-up.

MICHAEL: 

Was it always your intention to write Ford as a “dog”?  When we chatted back in February, he had just come back and we all were not sure how dark the character might go.

Courtesy/ABC

RON:

Oh yes, the audience will have a violent reaction to a character if they are like that from the beginning   Look at Stacy.  She was so bad.  She did not seem to have any redeeming sides.  I think the danger is if you make the character, and you see all their different facets from the beginning, it can sometimes lead it to be a bit water-downed.  We wanted to create a guy that seems like a heartless bastard!  We have a long way to go to see the other side of him.  Just look at Todd.  And again, I am not saying that this is Todd, but that was frat boy number one who was a total creep, and a rapist.  You did not see the other sides of Todd for a very long time.  So, I guess I would say, “You are supposed to hate Ford!”  But, I think what is really interesting is he has great chemistry with Langston. We need people like Ford to propel story.

MICHAEL:

Now you are tormenting fans of Starr/Cole with this bitch girl, Hannah!  Was she only supposed to be on for a short time?  It seems like her role has been expanded?

RON:

She is a great bad girl.  I think once we realized she could do more, and we could give her more to play, we knew how good she was.  We built it slowly.  We slowly realized this is a troubled girl, and we saw it right away when she did the suicide attempt.  Was that the real deal?  Or, was she doing that to get attention?  We see this is a very needy girl.  She took an overdose of pills because this guy, Ford, who she barely knew, dumped her. Then she transferred those affections to Cole, and we see how far she has taken her actions.  Hannah is a real problem for Starr and Cole, because this girl plays it all so well.

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

There has been such flack from fans tired of high-school Jessica.  Was this your intention to keep this going till now, or did you decide to now abort it?

RON:

I came up with the idea that she can’t remember anything past High School, and that began to play out in February.  I kind of geared the story on a semester, knowing it would culminate at the prom.  I let her go back to school and I did not want to see it go into summer, as it would have to culminate at the end of her senior year.   It brings us forward into so much more story.

MICHAEL:

So where is Todd at in all of the episodes?

RON:

Remember, Hannah has set up Todd, and he knows it, and knows he is innocent.  And this girl, who he thought he could swat away like a fly, is more of a force to be reckoned with then he thought.  He is trying to get her to admit that (A) she lied and (B) that she could have possibly been the one to push Marty down the stairs herself. And Todd still does not know about Tea’s condition, and that is going to throw him for a major loop!

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

There were so many reports that Florencia Lozano (Tea) was being killed off the show, and the brain tumor was to facilitate that.  Why the real decision to write Tea with a tumor?  And yet, in the end she could still go to heaven.

RON:

I was kind of thinking that Todd and Tea were kind of over because of Danielle.  We really wanted to pull these two apart, and then thinking what could we do to pull this family together.  What would bring Todd and Danielle finally together?  And that was the genesis of why do this.  It was to re-awaken the love story of Todd and Tea, and what kind of crisis would pull this family together.  It was a very real and tragic love story.

MICHAEL:

And in the middle of all the singing and the dancing, and the prom corsages, Rex and Gigi are out looking for Rex’s parents?

RON:

We do get some answers, but we are not building this around who is the father and who is the mother, but more about will Rex and Gigi come back together?  We know that they love each other.  The question is; do they love each other enough to try again?

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

I hear Bo and Nora’s wedding is coming up soon, too!

RON:

It’s the next big event after the prom and the next big event after May Sweeps at the top of June, and it is a blast!  It is hilarious!  To Bo and Nora fans, I will eat my hat if they are not happy! You will see all the stuff you want to see at a wedding.  Sometimes, we have so much going on with other stories with other characters at weddings, that we miss those great part or moments of a wedding.  This one has a ton!

MICHAEL:

All the rumors started circulating recently, when Jean Passanante was announced as returning to One Life to Live as associate head writer, once she concludes her gig as head writer at As the World Turns next month.  Online people were saying it was the end of the road for you as head writer, but then last month, the press and the fans were informed that you had asked Jean to join the team.  Can you clarify what went on?

RON:

We had room in our writing team.  I had worked with her before, and so I reached out for Jean to come onto our writing team.  I think it blew up into what her role would be. It was she who hired me at One Life to Live.  I am thrilled.  Jean is a fantastic person and a fantastic writer.  She gave me my first job, and it was she who hired me at One Life to Live. I have wanted to work with her ever since she left One Life to Live, and it never quite worked out.  And unfortunately, I am working with her because As the World Turns is going off the air, but I am thrilled she is coming on.

MICHAEL:

What does she bring to your team?

RON:

She is incredibly intelligent, and has a great sense of story that is well balanced.  There is comedy and romance, and she can balance all those elements and she has a really good sense of character.  She creates wonderful characters, and she sees the strengths and weaknesses of a character.  A lot of what you saw going back to the classic Todd/Marty story had to do with Jean!

MICHAEL:

In closing, there were the reports that a new One Life to Live is coming?  Can you speak to that?

RON:

To me, our show is always changing and evolving.  I think that is the nature of a soap opera.  At the heart of it, it will always be the same core characters and the same core values. To that extent, we are bringing in some new fun people and our stories are shifting around and changing, but I think that is what we always do.

KRISTEN ALDERSON

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

How was taping Starr X’d Lovers as compared to the original Prom Night: The Musical from a few years ago?

KRISTEN:

We have 32 dancers this time and seven already established songs.  It has a GLEE spin to it, but it also has seven original songs, which is similar to the one we first did.  Some of the established songs are songs from the 80’s and some established songs that you would hear right now on the radio.  And the songs… they really have to do with our characters. The emotions that are going on are very much like Prom Night: The Musical in that way.

MICHAEL:

Is Starr going to get back at Hannah?  She cannot succeed in breaking Cole and Starr up!

KRISTEN:

You know, she is not nice! (Laughs)  I think she is going to do everything in her power to find out what is going on.  She believes with all of her heart, that her dad is telling her the truth, and that Hannah is lying just to break them up.  I think it’s really frustrating for her because Cole is the love of her life, and she will do anything to salvage their relationship.  I think she is concentrating more on wishing Cole were there with her at the prom.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

The big question for Starr in the episodes is: will he get to the prom?  So Kristen, will there be a happy ending for the duo at the Prom? 

KRISTEN:

Maybe… maybe.  The thing is; Starr and Cole are so in love, but at the same time they haven’t’ been really able to not argue with each other lately.  But they get into these arguments of, “Will you stop believing in Hannah?  Will you stop believing your dad?” It will be interesting to see if Cole does make it to prom, and if so, will they even have a good time or not, or, if it will be that there is nothing more for them?

MICHAEL:

This is Starr’s senior year! Oh, my God!  Little Starr is graduating High School.  I am so old!

KRISTEN:

This is Starr’s senior year, and when we saw her three years ago at this time, it was her freshmen year in High School.  

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

Kristen, will you be performing in a lot of the musical numbers in the shows? 

KRISTEN:

I am in eight or nine of the musical numbers. (Laughs) That is the great thing about this time that we are doing the musical.  It involves a lot more characters and a lot more drama and a lot more story going on.  Before, you just followed Starr and Cole.  This time you are going to follow Starr and Cole, Langston and Markko, Langston and Ford, Danielle and Nate, Matthew and Danielle, as well as John and Natalie, and Blair and Dorian, and Roxy. The whole cast is involved.  You will see a lot more actors singing than you have probably ever heard before…ever!

MICHAEL:

So, who is a good singer?

KRISTEN:

It’s always great to hear and see Jason Tam (Markko) sing.  He was on Broadway and in A Chorus Line.  He is so talented.  There is a Starr and Blair singing moment with Kassie DePaiva (Blair), who is also so talented. 

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

What was one of the well-known songs that you will be singing?

KRISTEN:

One of the established songs that I sing is We Belong, by Pat Benatar.  I was so afraid of it.  Brittany Underwood (Langston), Kelley Missal (Dani) and Megan who plays Hannah were also a part of the song.  So we were all equally as scared about this thing!  Are you kidding me?  It’s Pat Benatar!  But once we got into the recording studio it felt good, and it turned out good.

MICHAEL:

So, for the young audience who follows the hit primetime series, GLEE, you think they will like this series of episodes?   Do you watch GLEE?

KRISTEN:

I did like the Madonna episode of GLEE.  I think they have a cool thing going on. I think that anyone who likes GLEE will love what we are doing.

MICHAEL: 

So will your brother, Eddie Alderson (Matthew) be kissing Dani at the Prom?  I mean last time we talked in New York; he came to his big sis for pointers!

Courtesy/ABC

KRISTEN:

They are looking better, right? (Laughs) There is a lot going on between Matthew/Danielle/Nate and that whole triangle, and so hopefully Matthew will be able to steal a kiss.  We shall see.

MICHAEL:

How is working with newbie, Lenny Platt (Nate)?

KRISTEN:

Lenny is so great!  I actually adore him.  Every time I see him, he cracks me up.  I don’t know why.  But, I think it’s because when I first saw him doing rehearsals for the musical…he is not a really a dancer or a singer, but he was giving it his all.  He was really cute doing it, because he does not know what he is doing! (Laughs)) But he is so great!

MICHAEL:

Is Starr going to stand by Langston when she finds out that Langston has been seeing Ford secretly now behind everyone’s back? 

KRISTEN:

It’s hard to tell.  Langston swore on their friendship.  So, I think it’s a really big deal when it gets to that, and especially since Starr has Cole lying, too.  So there is a lot of lying going on to Marrko that clearly Starr and Cole don’t want to be doing, but because Langston swore on their friendship, she says everything is going to be good.  So they trusted her.  It will be interesting to see if everyone turns his or her back on Langston or if Starr will stick through it and be there with her.  I feel like Starr is going through a really hard time right now, and so if she turned her back on Langston, I don’t know who else she would have to turn to.

Courtes/ABC

MICHAEL:

So Trevor St. John (Todd) is not going to sing a number?

KRISTEN:

Well, you know they had this big solo written, (Laughs) No!  Trevor will not be part of this, but Trevor St. John fans have no worries.  He will be seen throughout the episodes.

MICHAEL:

From an actress’s viewpoint, what did you feel about One Life’s head writer, Ron Carlivati’s scripts in the three day episode, and how it was all executed?

KRISTEN:

I think it has been over and beyond what our expectations were.  When we got the scripts and I read them, I could not keep my eyes off of them.  It is so great and wonderfully written.  I think from what I have seen, everything is going to tie together so well.  And what is cool is, there are a lot of references from Prom Night: The Musical, and if you had seen them or if you hadn’t…. I urge you to get on You Tube and watch them… but there are a lot of subtle things from the Prom Night: The Musical that are in this one.

MICHAEL:

What would you say to the naysayers who say “One Life to Live is only trying to do a rip off High School Musical and GLEE”?

KRISTEN:

Courtesy/ABC

First of all, when we did Prom Night: The Musical, it was right before High School Musical II came out.  So it was before all of that, and before GLEE was a thought in anyone’s mind three years ago.  One Life has always been a musical show… even before Prom Night: The Musical, we did Babes Behind Bars. I would say to the naysayers that we are very different from these shows or movies, because we are all completely different characters, and have very different storylines, and we do it in our unique way.  From what I watched, there will be some exciting chills and some sad moments in the story.   But I have to say; the good moments make up for it!

MICHAEL:

So have you and your brother Eddie shared war stories from the set on learning all the choreography from the musical?

KRISTEN:

Eddie has been great in the musical, and actually I am not in the performance of StarrX’d Lovers on the air show, but I am going to be performing it on The View.  Eddie goes, “Kris you won’t be able to learn it all, it was a lot of, you know, choreography.”  It’s really hard, and just now he helped me out in rehearsal with it.  He is really funny.  He feels really cool now that he knows the choreography.

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Doe
Guest
Doe

These two interviews of Ron and Kristen were very good. Seeing Ron’s take on the story of the Prom and what might come out of it. I was hoping Cole would somehow be there. Also, I couldn’t get over Destiny’s weight loss, She looks fabulous. I saw the soap today and also the cast singing on the View. Personally, I was not impressed with the song and the terrible choreography. Plus, there were too many dancers and fill ins’. Well, I hope next week will be better…

Jason
Guest
Jason

I watched the first day of the Starr X’d Lovers musical yesterday, and it was completely awesome! Loved the song choices, dancing, and of course the stories. 🙂 I so can’t wait for mondays. Also loved the interviews with ron and Kristen. I love her positive attitude.

Debbie
Guest
Debbie

Michael I find it amazing that if you didn’t bring up Trevor St John or Todd that Ron would of never brought him up. This tells me right here that Ron doesn’t care one bit about Trevor or Todd. Sorry am sick and tired of this head writing and his lack of interested in Trevor or Todd. This man constatly shows who he likes to write for and who his favorites are and who are his non favorites and Trevor and Todd is his non favorite. He doesn’t want to write for Trevor or Todd and makes it known. Am… Read more »

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

Thank you for the interviews. Your coverage of soap operas and behind the scenes processes offers wonderful insight. Thank you. I must respectfully disagree with the poster who feels Todd is not thought of in story. TSJ is consistently in the number one position in episode counts and this has been true for years. Todd is never lacking in story –whether the story is good or bad is certainly up for debate, but Todd the rapist’s overwheming presence on the show is not. I wish those in charge of this fine old show would return to its core. I appreciate… Read more »

Debbie
Guest
Debbie

Well we can agree to diagree Jennifer. With RC’s writing this show is not for Trevor St John or Todd Manning fans. Am so tired of watching Trevor playing Todd doing the same thing year after year. Either he’s getting accused of a crime he didn’t commit, in jail or just plain old ignored by the head writer with everything. Take example of today’s show. Cole beat Todd to death. He flatlined twice and all this show gave damn about was Starr having Cole at her prom without not giving one damn that he tried to kill Todd. For that… Read more »

Debbie
Guest
Debbie

Sorry Michael can’t help the way I feel my other post above. He brings the worst out in me.

Dean
Guest
Dean

great job Michael! loved all of it. when are they are on the View?

worried
Guest
worried

Micheal great job but I am really disappointed about the show lately its getting really bad its seems Ron is out of touch with what we want, The huge influx of teens and triangles that are being added dalily and Viki and Dorian playing non existant roles.

General Hospital

GH’s Finola Hughes, Marcus Coloma & Josh Swickard Talk On 15,000th Episode Milestone

The juggernaut that is ABC’s General Hospital, is marking yet another accomplishment in its storied 59-year-history.  The iconic soap opera is set to air on Wednesday, June 22nd (unless preempted), its 15,000th episode.

As part of the celebration, General Hospital’s Finola Hughes (Anna Devane), Marcus Coloma (Nikolas Cassadine) and Josh Swickard (Chase), who all appear in the standalone episode, chat with Michael Fairman to mark the occasion.

During the conversation now on You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Finola and Marcus, and later Josh, who logged on later while at Disneyland, discuss: their beginnings on GH from landing their respective roles, who in the cast perhaps most intimated them, at first, and what it has meant to be part of the legacy of General Hospital.  In addition, Finola, Marcus, and Josh reveal some of their more challenging storylines, and more.

Photo: ABC

Later, the trio each gives us a tease of what’s to come now that Nikolas has slept with Esme (Avery Pohl), what lies ahead for Anna and her love-interest Valentin (James Patrick Stuart), and Josh talks on working with his on-screen love-interest, Amanda Setton (Brook Lynn Quartermaine).

Watch for a special appearance by GH’s Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos) within the interview, as we do a deep-dive of being part of the ensemble cast.

We also take a moment to send out our condolences to Kristina (Felicia) and Jack Wagner (Ex-Frisco) on the passing of their son, Harrison, and how you can donate to the scholarship fund in his honor.

Check out our GH 15K interview with Finola, Marcus, and Josh below, and make sure to ‘subscribe’ to the Michael Fairman Channel for more upcoming features, interviews, and upcoming Daytime Emmy red carpet coverage.

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Interviews

Sean Kanan Talks On The New Season of His Streaming Series ‘Studio City’ and The Life and Times of B&B’s Deacon Sharpe

The second season of the Emmy-Award winning, digital streaming series, Studio City is now available on Amazon Prime. The six latest episodes bring us back into the series of an aging actor, Sam Stevens, played by soap vet, Sean Kanan, who is one of the stars of the soap opera, Hearts on Fire, in the role of Dr. Pierce Hartley.

Throughout Studio City, viewers go on the journey of Sam’s foibles through life off-camera juxtaposed with his life on-screen. A sundry of delicious characters enhances the premise of the series portrayed by the likes of: Carolyn Hennesy, Anna Maria Horsford, Justin Torkildsen, Lilly Melgar, Tristan Rogers and more, all names familiar to soap fans.

While Sean is busy promoting the latest season of Studio City, and his book Way of the Cobra, he is also continuing to appear on The Bold and the Beautiful as bad boy – trying to straighten out his life after years in prison – Deacon Sharpe.  Since his return last year, Sean has been mixing it up in stories with the likes of Kimberlin Brown (Sheila) and Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke).

 

In this chat with Michael Fairman TV, Sean weighs-in on: what could be next for B&B’s Deacon, the struggles and the joys of continuing his streaming series, and the homage Studio City is to the soap genre and much more. Check out what he had to share below.

Courtesy/StudioCity

How challenging was it to shoot this season of Studio City?

SEAN:  When we do this thing on a shoestring, everything needs to fall into place in order for it to happen properly.  We know that everybody involved with the show was going to potentially get other projects, or do other things   One of the biggest issues we have, is that a lot of times, we didn’t know what locations we had because Studio City is the real world, and then it’s the show within a show (Hearts on Fire).  So, with the show within a show, those actors aren’t in the ‘real world’. For instance, Tristan Rogers (Doc), is only in the ‘real word’, so, if we have a location that isn’t for the ‘real world’, we can’t shoot Tristan because he doesn’t exist there.  We would have to literally decide what we were writing (sometimes the night before) based on the locations we could get.  It was just an enormous challenge.

Sarah Brown (Laurie) was not a part of the newest six episodes as well as some others cast members. Will she and others be back at some point?

SEAN:  Sarah was directing a podcast, and we kind of had to look at who was available to us, and what stories we needed to tie-up, and hopefully we are going to wind up doing another five episodes to finish up this season.  Then, hopefully we are able to get the actors who weren’t able to do the first six to come back and do the second five.

What I liked about the new six episodes is that I thought you built-in some really solid scenes for the actors.  How did you feel about the outcome?

SEAN:  We make the best show that we can make with the resources and time that we have.  I was glad that we got to develop the story a little more with Delilah (Juliet Vega), Sam’s would-be-daughter.  We always try to do something that’s socially responsive, and diversity is certainly and important issue in Hollywood, without a doubt, but I also think that you need to see the comedic side of everything.  I thought there was some really funny stuff about that with Sam doing the podcast and the scene with Anna Maria Horsford (Jolene) and Will Roberts (Dennis), where she comes in, and she’s like, “The production is too white.”  I thought that was some funny stuff there.  I loved the monologue my wife, Michele, wrote for Carolyn Hennesy (Gloria) about the soaps – that thing about how all of the soaps are dead, and Carolyn just railed in support of the soaps, about the soaps being this dependable thing.  For a lot of people, soaps are their point of emotional contact.

Photo: StudioCity

I talk to fans all of the time and for many times soaps are their lifeline.  Your character, Sam, lands a part in action-adventure film and screws that all up while on set. Where did that plot point come from?

SEAN: It came from a couple different places.  I think that there is not a male actor alive, who some part of him doesn’t harken back to when he was a little boy and doesn’t want to be an action star.  I think the funny thing about it is, of course, Sam is right on the precipice of being over the hill for it, and he’s not going to let that stop him.  Natalie Burn (Shelby Brock) is a legit action star.  She’s a terrific martial artist.  Our director, Timothy Woodward Jr. has done some action movies.  So, we sort of said, “Okay, we’ve set this thing up where Sam wants to get this film.  Let’s give him the film and have him struggle abysmally.”  Marching orders for Studio City are always to keep as much mishigas on Sam’s shoulders as we can.  You never want to see the lead of your show succeeding wildly because that diffuses all of the conflict.  I do think I’ve had some really great dramatic stuff.  I really liked the scenes that I had with Delilah in the sixth episode, and I loved the stuff with Tristan, and I loved the stuff with Lilly Melgar (Becky).  I thought it was really funny.  Lilly killed it and so did Justin Torkildsen (Jacob).  I thought Justin was great.

Courtesy/StudioCity

I thought when you utilized on-camera testimonials from the cast and the EP, that was really a hilarious piece to add to the story.

SEAN:  That was great.  I’d love to take credit for that, but it was Tim’s idea, and it was a really great idea from a production standpoint, because you can do one of two things.  You can either do a whole show where you’re using those, or you can chop them up and use them throughout different shows. From a production standpoint, we had to build some things into the show to insert those when we needed.

Courtesy/StudioCity

You also cast celebrity publicist, Anthony Turk, as a network executive in the series.

SEAN:  Yes. Way back when I created Studio City, there was a part for a publicist, and I had talked to Anthony about doing it.  We had eliminated the publicist part until Lilly became the publicist; which ended up in a completely different plot point.  I always knew I wanted to put Anthony in the series, because I think he’s a good actor. I was like, “You know, I didn’t write this part for you, but I think you can do it,” and I was really happy with how he did it.

 

Courtesy/StudioCity

I also liked the scene with Anna Maria Horsford’s Jolene where she tells Sam to keep his mouth shut while he is working on set. 

SEAN:  She is so fabulous.  I love that woman.  She is such a talent, and I was so happy when she got nominated for a Daytime Emmy last year.  I have such an affection for everybody on our show, because they really put their heart and soul in it, and it just means so much that they show up, and they support, and they do great work.

What I noticed is that the way Timothy Woodward Jr. captures you as an actor.  There is so much going on in the reaction in your eyes of what is happening to Sam.  He realizes the, “Oh, my God,” of each situation as he realizes what he just stepped into, or he finds the humor in it, or when he lets out his frustration, as he did with his daughter in the sixth episode.

SEAN:  That was one of my favorite scenes.  I wrote that one.   It was great because it’s my real-life stepdaughter, and I thought she really stepped up, and I was so proud of her.

For the first time in the realignment by the television academies, Studio City will now be competing at the Primetime Emmys instead of the Daytime Emmys, if the series receives nominations.  How do you feel about that?

SEAN: We are really excited to be competing with the big dogs now at the Primetime Emmys, and rather than being intimidated by it, we are saying, “This is the universe opening up and saying, ‘this is what you need to do,’ and so let’s embrace it.”  It’s going to be exciting.  In my 35 years in the business, I’ve never been to the Primetime Emmys.  So, we shall see.

Photo: StudioCity

Justin Torkildsen’s role greatly expanded this season.  In story, do you see Jacob attempting to thwart his Aunt Gloria and take control of Hearts on Fire as the EP? 

SEAN:  I don’t know if the goal is for him to take over for Gloria.  It certainly was a lot of fun to see what happened when he got just a little taste of power.  He’s got his own agenda, and I also love that he wants the love from his Aunt Gloria.  He’s not just a young guy trying to ascend the power ladder of the show.  He really does want his aunt to be proud of him and to love him, and she’s a tough nut to crack.

There was scene after the network executive tells Gloria, “You’re out, if you don’t fix the show.”  Doesn’t Jacob gloat in it for a minute?  Doesn’t he want payback for how she treats him?

SEAN:  I don’t know if he does.  I think he certainly does like to see when Gloria gets her little comeuppances, but when push comes to shove, I think he’s really got her back, I do.  Justin is so naturally funny.  He’s a great guy to have on set.  He’s got a great attitude, and he’s a very good actor.  I was really struck by a moment in season one where he’s coming up the stairs, and he had this abject fear of interrupting Gloria, and Justin didn’t have any lines.  He just played it beautifully with no dialogue.  I was like, “We’ve got to give Justin more to do,” and for me, it was nostalgic to work with him again because the very first scene I had on The Bold and the Beautiful was with Justin.

Photo: JPI

What can you say about Carolyn Hennesy; who often is the quintessential scene-stealer in Studio City when she appears on-screen?  Does she go with the script or ad-lib parts of the dialog?

SEAN:  She’s a gorgeous, red-haired, flaming beast.  She definitely did some wonderful ad-libbing to elevate what was on the page, and she made it her own, and that’s one of the things that I love the most about her.  I love that I can write a 20-page scene and give it to, for example, Tristan Rogers, 20 minutes before and know that he’s going to nail it.  That’s one of the things that I love about working with Daytime actors.   Say what you want, but when the chips are down, and your back is against the wall, a Daytime actor is going to be the one who can take the dialogue, digest it quickly, and give you a good performance.  With the way that we are run and gun in our style of shooting, you have to move really quickly.  I’ve worked on a lot of films, and with people who are recognizable in the business, and sometimes they get overwhelmed when they have more than a couple of pages in a day … and you know what we do in Daytime.

Courtesy/StudioCity

When you were writing the new season with Michele and Tim, was it laid out pretty definitively, or did it evolve?

SEAN:  We laid out some large arcs.  We knew the storyline that we wanted to do with Natalie and with Will.  Natalie, actually joined us as a co-executive producer.  She is Ukrainian and has family there.  So, she had a lot going on.  I just feel like she really stepped up.  She really helped the production both as an actress and as a Co-EP, and we were very fortunate to have her, and have her at a time when it would be completely understandable when her ability to even act would have been compromised, yet alone have the facility to Co-EP.  In addition, we knew we wanted to deepen the relationship between Sam and Delilah.  We had a different idea with what we wanted to do with Doc, and we wound up doing something another way than what we had originally discussed.  Sometimes, you have to make these decisions that are sort of production-based and you have to alter storyline.  Of course, we knew we wanted to continue to create the storyline that like a lot of soaps, Hearts on Fire was potentially on the chopping block.  At the same time, we really wanted to illustrate that the soaps are full of people who are talented, gifted actors, who love what they do, they work really hard, and they don’t always get the respect that they deserve.

Courtesy/StudioCity

It looks like Doc might be having a change of heart?  Will he begin chemo to save his life?

SEAN:  That’s what we are thinking, and we are hoping to bring Patrika Darbo back in, and finding out where she’s been and having some really nice scenes between, she and Doc.  I think things are going to develop between Dennis, who is the producer, and my character, Sam, and we are going to learn that all has not been revealed of who Dennis really is.

Courtesy/StudioCity

What did you think when you saw your performances in the latest six of Studio City?

SEAN:  I’m always super critical of myself.  I like the stuff with the podcast because I thought it was really organic, and I thought it was funny.  I loved the stuff with Lilly.  I always see things that I could fix and do better, but I also saw stuff that I liked, and I really liked a lot of what was going on with Juliet.  We had another take where Sam really breaks down, and unfortunately, we had a sound problem with that one, and we couldn’t use it.  That was really crushing to me, but again, you make the show that you can make. Michele and I always joke and say, “Making a 50-million-dollar movie is easy.  You want to really produce something?  Produce it when you have no money.”

Photo: JPI

What did your wife, Michele, say about how she thought the latest season of Studio City turned out? 

SEAN:  I do have to say that Michelle really stepped up this season of Studio City.  She ran the show.  She is an executive producer, but she was also the supervising producer, in charge, responsible for crewing up.  She amazes me to no end.  I couldn’t be prouder of her, and I’m so honored that she and I were able to both win out at the Daytime Emmys.  We have very different skillsets, which is great.  There are not a lot of areas where we overlap, but we compliment, and that’s why I love working with her.

Photo: JPI

You are also busy with The Bold and the Beautiful.  How has this most recent return been for you as Deacon Sharpe?

SEAN:  Oh, my God, it’s been fantastic.  The Bold and the Beautiful consistently ranks as one of the best professional experiences that I have ever had.  I love the people I work with.  I love the creative freedom that I have on the show.  I love what they write for me.  It’s just great.  Listen, I’ve done four Daytime shows, and by far and away, this has been the best experience.   It’s a great role.  I’m the only guy who has ever played Deacon, so I’m fiercely protective of the character.  I know I’m coming into a really big storyline right now, which is very exciting.  I can’t say anything about it yet, but I’m going to be working with a character who I haven’t worked with very much before, which is very exciting.

Photo: JPI

What did you think about Kimberlin Brown receiving an Outstanding Supporting Actress Daytime Emmy nomination? I believe you are in some of her submitted scenes.

SEAN:  I think it’s incredibly well-deserved. She just brought so much to it, and I’m just honored that I was able to be a part of what she did.

People are saying you’re going to get all wrapped-up in the Li (Naomi Matsuda) Sheila, and Finn (Tanner Novlan) storyline.

SEAN:  Well, I guess I already am to a certain extent.  I like to think that in his infinite wisdom, Brad Bell (head writer and executive producer, B&B) knew that Kimberlin and I would find humor in an eccentric relationship; rather than just being two kinds of ‘baddies’.  Deacon is not nearly as bad as Sheila, but rather than be two people with somewhat aligned wants and needs, I think hopefully Brad was like, “I think they’re going to come up with something interesting,” and I think we did.   The fight that Deacon had with Ridge (Thorsten Kaye), that is not something that you see on Daytime all the time.  That was really exciting and fun.

Photo: JPI

I love that Deacon’s home-away-from-home is the supply closet!

SEAN:  I was teasing Brad.  I said, “If I get a raise, do I get a Swiffer?”  I love it.  In terms of Sheila and Deacon, I didn’t know if we were going to wind up in the sack together or not, and I thought, you know, if that happens, that would be interesting, too.  By my calculations, Deacon has now been out of jail for how long, and he has not gotten any action.  No action for a guy who just got out of prison for 5 years.  So, I don’t know what’s going on in that broom closet. (Laughs)

What was it like working with Katherine Kelly Lang during the whole ‘New Year’s Eve drunken night with Brooke’ story?

SEAN:  You know, Kelly and I really were able to capture lightening in a bottle many years ago, and I think it was wonderful.  I always wondered, what was going to happen all this time later if we worked together again?  Are we going to be able to come up with something great?  I love working with her.  Poor Kelly, just broke her ankle, which is terrible, but she is a champ.

Photo: JPI

Do you think there is still chemistry between Brooke and Deacon?

SEAN:  Yeah, I do.  I try to create chemistry with anyone I work with, men or women, but don’t we do that in life?  We always want to be interesting and sexy with anyone we talk to.  Ultimately, what we are trying to do on some level, is we are always seducing as human beings.  That’s where I come from as an actor.  You’ve got a goal.  You’ve got a series of actions that you use to get the goal.  You usually fail a couple times in the scene, so you change the actions, and you try to overcome the obstacles.

Right, and seduce people …

SEAN: … And seduce.  Deacon is a very adept seducer.  I think a lot of it was from being a conman.  I think now, Deacon is finding that he can be seductive by being authentic.  I think that’s new to him.  I think ultimately, when you’re authentic, that’s a way more powerful brand of seduction than something that is some sort of a manufactured, fabricated, external seduction.

Photo: JPI

So, what would say in a tease of what’s coming up for Deacon on B&B?

SEAN:  All I can say is that I’ve been told that I’ll have an exciting story coming up, and I’m looking forward to it.  I always like when I get the ball, and you never know what another actor is going to bring out of you.  Whenever I work with someone who I haven’t worked with, I hope that they are going to allow me to tap into a part of myself that maybe I haven’t demonstrated before.  That’s what I look for, and that’s what keeps me enthused in this job.  We do have to give the same information a lot in Daytime.  That’s just the nature of the beast.  The challenge is, “How do I do this in a way that is not only interesting for the audience but allows me to stay engaged as an actor?”  If you start getting apathetic as an actor, you start doing bad work, and I can’t do that.

Have you checked out the latest six episodes of Studio City? What do you hope happens next for Deacon on The Bold and the Beautiful? Share your thoughts and theories in the comment section below.

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General Hospital

General Hospital’s Nancy Lee Grahn Chats On Her Daytime Emmy-Nominated Performance and Its Significance

When the nominations were revealed for the 49th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, General Hospital mainstay, Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis Davis), was recognized for her stunning work in the Alexis-centric standalone episode which honored her 25th anniversary with the ABC daytime drama series.

Grahn, is already a two-time Daytime Emmy winner.  She won back in 1989 in a tie for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her work as Julia Wainwright on Santa Barbara along with All My Children’s Debbi Morgan, and again received the honors in that category in 2012 for her work on General Hospital.

Now. she is vying for the gold in 2022 in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category against other formidable actresses including: B&B’s Kimberlin Brown, DAYS Stacy Haiduk, Y&R’s Melissa Ordway, and her GH castmate, Kelly Thiebaud.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Nancy to talk about her decision to enter the Emmy race this year, her powerful and moving scenes, why this nomination is significant and important to her, and her take on some very important social issues of our time.

Always candid, insightful, combined with great humor and wit, here’s what Nancy had to share below, and make sure to check out GH this week when sparks fly between Alexis and Gregory (Gregory Harrison). Will he turn out to be the new beau in Alexis’ life? Stay tuned.

Courtesy/ABC

Congratulations on the Emmy nomination.  How do you feel about being in the running again, especially with the material from your 25th anniversary episode?

NANCY:  You know, I don’t submit myself if I don’t think I have something, and I didn’t last year.  This year, I had the one show, and the first reason I submitted myself was I had the episode that was worthy of the competition. These judges have to sit, and watch this stuff, and very often, it’s hard to watch soap opera scenes.  It really is, unless you’re in it.  It’s a different kind of material that most primetime people aren’t used to watching.  So, it’s tricky business.  I don’t want to put them through anything too awful. I don’t want to torture them and I’ve judged before. It can be a bit tedious. So, for me to submit myself, I thought, it has to be something that isn’t going to torture another human being. The second thing is, older women get marginalized the older they get, and they get diminished very often, and every time we get nominated, it means something different to me.  This time, to me, I want it to somehow be symbolic, or a shoutout to women who are still producing, who have been doing their job for a long time and are still doing it good enough, and that it’s still worthy of respect and recognition.

When we were at the GH Convention back in March, I played the scene on-stage for the fans in attendance of when Alexis goes over to the corner of Kevin’s office and heals her younger self.  You saw the reaction just from the fans.  It’s such a beautiful moment within the story.  What did you think about how the standalone episode was crafted?

NANCY:  It was a different experience for me because GH co-head writers Chris Van Etten and Dan O’Connor, and script writer, Scott Sickles gave it the attention, but even more to that, they allowed me to participate in the creation of it.  They allowed the director, Phideaux Xavier, to participate.  We all sat in a room.  They said, “You know what?  Make it how you’re comfortable with it.”  There were so many people who gave it time and effort, and Phideaux gets a lot of credit because he came up with a lot of ideas.  So, the little girl in the therapy room wasn’t initially a part of it.  That was Phideaux’s idea, and they let us alter things, and they allowed me to write some words that meant something to me with the character.  Our producers, Michelle Henry and M.K Weir, who I both adore, were also a part of this.

Courtesy/ABC

That is great to hear that you were involved in the collaborative process of the creation of the episode.

NANCY:  We read through the whole script, and we worked it like you would on primetime. We went through it like, “Does this moment work?  Does that moment work?  Does this make sense?  Does that make sense?”  We never do that in soaps.  We don’t get to that.  So, it was a gift to me.  It really was. Chris and Dan, and Scott and Phideaux, and the two producers, generosity in gifting me that experience and making sure that it was to everybody’s liking, was really very special to me, and it meant a lot.

Did you come up with the key lines which summarized Alexis as a person and her journey: “I’m Alexis Davis, and I’m a fighter, and an idealist and an advocate?”

NANCY:  No. They designed it, but we were allowed to enhance and contribute creatively to it, and, we don’t normally have the time to do that.  They don’t have the time to – and you can’t allow people to do that with every episode, to be creatively participating, because it would turn into madness with everybody.

Then, when it came down to choosing the scenes from your anniversary episode to include for your Emmy submission, was that a challenging process of which moments to go with?

NANCY:  I just told a little story with it with the time that I had, and so, I edited it with a friend of mine.  I did a sort of pre-edit on it, I’m good at that, and handed the timeline to our editor, who nicely put it together. It took very little effort.

In my humble opinion, I think that episode featured one of your all-time best performances.

NANCY: Thank you. There was a nice effort from everybody, from the lighting to everybody else, and all the effort Phideaux put into it.  He worked so hard on that!  It was fun for us.  It was like the old days where you really got to work something out.

Photo: ABC

It truly harkened back to everything we knew up to that point about Alexis and her past as well, and included a montage of scenes over the years.

NANCY:  I think it was M.K. who put that together, but when you’re working at the pace we’re working now, to have to sit and put together a montage of twenty-five years, that’s not an easy feat.  Nobody has time for that anymore, but they did it, and like I said, it was really, really appreciated.  My only thought with it is that I wanted it to be relatable to other people.  I didn’t want it to just be some, you know, self-indulgent Alexis episode. I knew that by bringing in the little girl and talking about people being hurt in their childhood and how that makes somebody feel that it was probably relatable to many people, and so it became meaningful to other people and not just me.

Do you think you’ll attend the Daytime Emmys? I know the last time you won you were not present.

NANCY:  Yeah, I’m planning on it.  I mean, barring anything happening! (Laughs)

Does it feel nice to be recognized by your peers?

NANCY:  Of course, it does.  It always does, and way too often, women who are still producing well in their jobs, don’t get the respect and the acknowledgment for it.  So, that’s why I’m saying, this is no small thing, and that I want other women to know that I know that, and that I wish for them the same thing.

What was the reaction of your daughter, Kate and your fiancé, Richard, when you told them you were Emmy-nominated?

NANCY:  Richie goes, “What is this?  Your 18th nomination?” (Laughs). You know what I mean?  It was just kind of like, “Yeah, sure, why wouldn’t you be?” It wasn’t like, “Oh, my God!”  It was like they kind of expected that.  That was nice!  I’m glad they feel that way.  I’m glad they weren’t surprised.  They were like, “Sure!  Of course, you would be.  Why wouldn’t you be?”  I said, “You know, it doesn’t always work like that!”

Photo: JPI

Now comes the part of having to find a dress and all that goes with it for the red carpet.  Do you enjoy that part?

NANCY:  No, I hate that part.  That is my… oh ‘boohoo’, you know?  I mean, I have to find something to wear.  Also, the older you get, that becomes so much less important, and the more makeup, and the more hair, and the more foofy, the more ridiculous I look. I start looking like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.  You’ve just got to keep it simple.

You were talking about women and ageism.  Do you not feel that also exists for men?

NANCY:  It exists for men, but it’s not at all on the same par as women.  I mean, men still get paid more than women, and men still are valued more than women.  I mean, there are exceptions, but if you look in any place of employment, even the soaps, you will typically find the men making more money than the women, and the older the women get, the less they get.  Life’s not fair right now.  It’s fairer than it was, but still the equality game is not won yet.

Photo: JPI

I know how much all of this means to you in terms of equality for women, and people being run out of their jobs because of their age.

NANCY:  It’s just a reality.  It’s not something that I’m hopeless about, but I have a story to tell.  I’ll tell it when the time is right.  It’s life!  It happens in every field everywhere.  When my mom was 70, she was still producing the exact same way she was producing when she was 30, and she got run out, and was replaced by a man who was 40 or something, and there was no particular reason for it.  It was just, “You’re done.  We decided you’re done,” but like I said, it happens everywhere, in every line of work, and that’s why I just wanted to give a shout-out, when you still, after 36 years, can be recognized or shown respect or acknowledgment for what your do.  It’s a very big deal that I am appreciative of and grateful for.

So, rooting for Nancy to win the Outstanding Supporting Actress prize? Happy she was nominated for her work in the the milestone episode devoted to Alexis? Share your thoughts in the comment section below, and to tune-in to the 49th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on CBS and streaming on Paramount+ on Friday night, June 24th.

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Cameron Mathison talks with Michael Fairman on taking on the role of GH’s Drew Cain, the latest developments in Port Charles for Drew. his busy career outside of soaps and the loss of his mother and his public battle with cancer.Leave A Comment
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Cynthia Watros as Nina

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Airdate: 6-3-2022

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