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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:

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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
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
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
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 sorry am so sick and tired of him. He caters to his favorite actors and actresses and ones he cares less about he throws aside. And his writing shows it loud and clear on this show. He has turn this show upside. It’s a mess and I don’t see it getting any better.

But thank you for at least bringing up Trevor. It’s good to know he has fan in you unlike the head writer of OLTL.

Jennifer
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 RC’s talk of core characters, but the characters he seems to reference are not the heart and soul of this show. That belongs to Viki and Dorian. It does not belong to the ever present teen and youth scene nor to the constant influx of uninteresting newcomers.

My patience is not infinite as an audience member and I have watched as a child since 1980. It is the trials and tribulations of this show’s only supercouple Dorian and Viki that has kept me watching not pale imitations or children. Give us back our show or at the very least give us some balance in story.

Debbie
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 matter all of Todd’s love one’s do not care weather Cole beat Todd to death. He’s getting special treatment and everyone bowing down to Cole. Todd means nothing. This is how this two bit writer, writes for Trevor and Todd and he doesn’t even take in account that there are Trevor and Todd fans out there that love both. He just doesn’t care about Trevor, Todd or his fans.

Am also so tired of the propping duty that he puts Trevor and Todd in. He must prop every single character on this show that are his favorites. He doesn’t write for Trevor or Todd, he can’t make Todd win, he must lose all time, Todd can’t have feelings or emotions. He can’t have his say, or tell those that are his favorites off. Because heaven for bit we can’t have his favorites tainted. We can’t damage or say anything against his favorites that he puts up on a pedasal and can’t touch. The show would come to an end.

With RC writing OLTL is not for Trevor, Todd or his fanbase. Because his fanbase keeps getting slapped in the face and screwed over by him constantly. Every Trevor and Todd fan out in internet know it, feel it and say it. He hates Trevor and Todd Manning and shows it in every show and everything he writes for him. You don’t have to blind to see it.

Debbie
Debbie

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

Dean
Dean

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

worried
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

Dominic Zamprogna Speaks Out On His Decision To Leave GH, His Final Scenes With Emme Rylan & How Dante Exited The Canvas

A few weeks ago, General Hospital fans watched as one of the series beloved stars, Dominic Zamprogna (Dante) exited the show in scenes opposite his longtime on-screen love interest, Emme Rylan (Lulu).  For nine years, Zamprogna brought authenticity, emotion, and heart to the son of Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) and Olivia Falconeri (Lisa LoCicero) to life.  While Dante’s journey started out with a bang, literally (thanks, Sonny!), over the years it appeared he was taking a backseat in meatier storylines.  All the while, Dante and Lulu remained one of the more popular duos with the viewers.

After much reflection, Zamprogna decided it was time for him to walk away from a place that became his second home.  His desire now shifted to play different characters in different projects, but it was not without taking many things into account with his life-changing decision.

Michael Fairman TV talked with Dominic to glean more insight into: if there was anything GH could have done to make him sign on the dotted line again, what went down to make those final scenes seem so rushed, how it was to say goodbye to his co-workers in front of the camera and behind the scenes, if he would consider a return at some point, and how would he feel if GH now planned on recasting Dante, and much more.

For us; we recall meeting Dominic for the first times just six months into his time at General Hospital for our first interview together.  We were instantly struck by his sincerity, humor, and his eagerness to learn from some of the best in the business.  Now exiting as a “soap vet“, per se, it is a full-circle moment that we had the time to conclude his GH journey with this conversation.  Here’s what Dom had to say about it all.

What were the factors that contributed to your decision to exit GH?  Was there a pivotal moment where you were feeling, and recognizing, that you were underutilized that you felt you needed to make a change? 

DOMINIC:  When you named me the “Most Underutilized Actor of 2017!” (Laughs) Well, my plan was never to stay forever.  But half-way through my second contract,  Emme Rylan (Lulu) and I were approached by our producer on set, who said words to the effect of: you guys have been on the sideline, time to get you into the game.  That led to the Dante cheating storyline, which gave us story for about a year … which was great!  But as that ended, so did any subsequent storylines, it seemed.  In the year that followed, I started entertaining thoughts of leaving.  By the next year, I started talking about it with my wife, Linda, who had started to notice that maybe I wasn’t happy anymore, and I wasn’t.  That’s not a good feeling, especially if you’re bringing that energy home with you.  Then, I made the mistake of going on social media, which is a terrible place to go sometimes.  But fans were saying the same sort of things I was feeling.  Was it all due to story or lack-thereof?  No.  I was starting to crave playing other roles, and that’s hard to do when you’re under contract.

Were discussions even had with Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) and the powers-that-be about your feelings of dissatisfaction over not being utilized more in storylines?

DOMINIC:  The discussions happened late.  Not until the negotiation process, actually.  I’m no squeaky wheel I guess, but I also don’t feel it’s in my job description to be one.  I did put out a few ideas here and there, but they didn’t happen.  I know other actors have tried the same and it didn’t lead to anything for them, either.  I was a creation of Bob Guza (former head writer, GH), and maybe I was spoiled by the amount of great writing I received while he was there.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

There had to be some sadness in walking away from GH.

DOMINIC:  Oh yeah… it was sad.  I built that character, and now here I was walking away from it, and essentially my second family.  That’s been the hardest part.  Lifelong friendships were made, and memories.  However, it’s been over a month and a half since I’ve been at GH and I feel happy.  I’ve been up in Canada shooting Tin Star, which has been a great experience.  I’ve stayed in touch with everybody and I miss everybody, in fact, I just spoke to Mo (Maurice Benard) yesterday, and I’m in class with Emme (she won’t leave me alone).  But, I feel like I made the right choice for me at this moment.

To clarify; were you actually trying to work out a deal to stay put, but both sides just could not hammer things out to a satisfactory conclusion?

DOMINIC:  We did try to work out a deal.  After more talks and conversations, I felt maybe we were going to get things done.  I was being told things would change and maybe shift things in the direction we wanted to go.  But at the end of the day, it’s gotta be in writing.  I feel like I’d been told similar things in the past which hadn’t come to fruition.  I was also reminded that it was me who needed to sign my name on that dotted line and live with that decision, and I chose not to do so.

If someone would have said to you: “We have an “A” story for you, and you are going to be driving it,” would you have been more apt to stay?   

DOMINIC:  There was talk about us sitting down and talking about storylines, but that didn’t end up happening, not sure why.  And even if it did, I don’t know that it would’ve changed my mind about leaving, anyway.   But just to be clear: I have no anger towards anybody.  It’s all a business at the end of the day.  Both sides did what they felt was right.  For me, I just felt this chapter had come to an end.

Photo: ABC

When, and how did you tell on-screen scene partner, Emme Rylan that you were leaving?  Was she happy for you and your decision?

DOMINIC:  Emme knew really early on.  Once January rolled around I was like: “I have been thinking for the last six to nine months that I am going to go.”   I wanted her to know, because we have been a couple for five years on the show.  Emme was very happy for me.  I went, “Wait a minute!  Don’t be this happy.  I’m leaving.” (Laughing)  

What happened when you told your on-screen mom, Lisa LoCicero ?

DOMINIC:  She was sad, but she is also said, “You’re in your prime, go see what’s out there!”   I wouldn’t have done this move if I did not get support at home.  My wife is the rock and the one that makes this household go.  Some things outside the show were starting to happen; I had a nice screen-test for a pilot, and then I booked these four episodes of Tin Star.  When you have choices in life; you have power and control over your future.  I think Emme and Lisa as actors realized that.  That’s what made them happy for me … for the future.  The last nine years were exciting.  However, when you can have a little bit more say in what you are doing on a day to day basis, that is empowering.  So, in saying, “no” to something, and saying, “Thank you, but that’s not what I am looking for right now,” that can feel good.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

It was a shame that through all the regimes that they rarely wrote any scenes between Dante and his father, Sonny.  What was Maurice Benard’s reaction when you told him you were leaving?

DOMINIC:  It has been pretty publicized that he and I were dissatisfied at the lack of  storyline, or scenes together.  Maurice asked the powers-that-be, “Why aren’t we working together more?”  We never had a clear answer as to why.  He didn’t know from one day to the next what was happening with my contract talks.  Mo saw me smiling one day and asked, “So does that smile mean you’re staying?”  And I said, “No, that smile is because I’m leaving.” (Laughs)  I said that more to mess with him, and make him sad.  He said, “As long as you are good financially, then I am all for anybody getting out of here and seeing what else is out there.” Really, Mo talks people into leaving so he can get more screen-time. (Laughs)

Let’s talk about the final airshow, and the story that came out of left field to facilitate your exit.  Was that written quickly to accommodate a shooting schedule or contract completion?  It felt rushed to the viewing audience.

DOMINIC:  Left field is right!  I still had a week and a half left of work when they found out I wasn’t going to re-sign, and within twelve hours I had six exit scenes written.  So, it wasn’t done to facilitate anything but a set (Lante’s house), I think.  My final tape date was May 18th, and Emme and I had scenes on the Wednesday or Thursday before that.  I guess they wanted my last scenes that aired to be with Emme, and that might have been the only scheduling day that worked for the set and the actors, and maybe that’s also why it felt so rushed.  All I could assume is that they didn’t think I was really going to leave so they didn’t plan for it, or they chose to protect themselves in this way, by not making a big deal about it.  I had another week of scenes in the PCPD with Chase (Josh Swickard) and Michael (Chad Duell) that was shot afterward.  But they had nothing to do with Dante’s “secret mission!”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I thought, “Wait!  Is that it?  Is this Dominic’s final show?  Dante doesn’t say goodbye to his mother… his father … or his son, Rocco?

DOMINIC:  Yeah, that was tough for me.  After 9 years you think you’re going to get a little bit better of a send off.   You also, hope they’re going to honor the character.  Dante wouldn’t leave to go to the 7-eleven without saying goodbye to his mother and kids.   Maurice and I talked about that.  He said, “I guess, they don’t want people to feel really sad.  You and me doing some goodbye scenes, people are going to be devastated.”   I agree with that.  However, I also think it’s a soap and that’s what fans want … good, ole drama.  I would have loved to have had scenes with Sonny, Olivia, and Dante’s kids, but when you make a decision like this, how you leave on-air is not up to you.  Both parties are going to handle it how it’s best for them.   I was very grateful they gave Emme and I something to seek our teeth into. 

They were very sad scenes.  You are one of those actors that can take the material and connect with it while delivering it in a very subtle and heartfelt way.  How was Emme after your final scenes?

DOMINIC:  She was kind of crying the whole time, going “Damn you! Damn you.”   I was having fun with it, because I love making Emme cry.  It’s not a very difficult thing to do.  (Laughs).  We were both pretty teary-eyed, actually.  Then, when we finished the scenes and I looked over and I saw how upset the crew was, that’s what really got me.  Barbara, one of the camera operators actually jokingly apologized; suggesting that if my last shot was blurry it was my fault!  As an actor, when you make the crew feel something it kind of gives you some extra good feels. That was always the best feeling, talking to Craig (our stage manager), or Donna (head of makeup department) after a scene to get the honest truth on how you did.  I’ll miss them.

Courtesy/ABC

Viewers, watching Dante have this flashback about the guy who was responsible for Lulu going overboard the Haunted Star a few years ago, probably needed a moment to connect the dots.  Some viewers were going, “What?  Dante is going after the guy that tried to drown Lulu from two years ago?”

DOMINIC:  When I read that in the script even I went, “What?” Who’s that?”  I had no idea, either. (Laughs)

Then there was this:  Dante was so hard on Lulu for her pursuing her dream as a journalist and how it inadvertently got Nathan killed.  Then all of a sudden in your final scenes, Dante has a line to Lulu in which he says something to the effect of: I understand now – you got to do, what you got to do.  In story, prior to these scenes it was leaning more towards Dante and Lulu were going to break-up over what had recently transpired.

DOMINIC:  Which, who knows?  If Dante had stayed in Port Charles it could have been the direction they were going in.  It certainly looked like they were building toward conflict, conflict, conflict, but with me leaving it was much sweeter to leave on the note that we left on, instead of Dante leaving, because he can’t deal with being around Lulu. This all leads me to believe that they didn’t want to do anything too permanent to give them time to make the proper decisions.

Courtesy/ABC

What was the last day of shooting like for you?  Was it hard to get through?

DOMINIC:  It felt like a regular day, and my final scenes were up towards the end of the tape day. They had a cake afterwards.  Frank briefly spoke and introduced Maurice; who said a bunch of sweet words.  That meant a lot to me.  I said “goodbye” to everybody and took some photos, and that was it.  I already had my room packed up.  Once you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go.  Afterwards, I went out with Ryan Paevey (Ex-Nathan) and Jeffrey Vincent Parise (Ex-Carlos) for some beers and wings at the bar down the street.  It wasn’t until everybody came back after a two-week break that it felt real, because then I was receiving text messages from people saying, “We’re back.  Why the hell aren’t you here?”

The door has been left open for Dante to return.  Would you ever come back?

DOMINIC:  Of course, at some point.  But it might not be my choice, they might recast.  They told me they won’t, but who knows what’ll be done.  Do I think you can just recast a role?  No, I think it’s always a tough sell, but they’ve done it with bigger names/characters than mine.  I would be a little surprised, only because there hasn’t been much story for Dante in the last three years.  For me, as of now, I’ve moved on, and I’m very happy with my decision and my life.  It’s sad in other respects, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve read things that people have said on Twitter, and I want everyone to know I’ve seen it all and it means a lot to me.  People have been beautiful to me.  I’m truly overwhelmed by the love.  I thought there would be more of, “Who cares?” when fans found out I left.   I must have done something right during the years I was at GH.

Did you think when you made the decision to leave they would kill-off Dante? 

DOMINIC:  No, not at all.  I don’t think killing off Dante would be a good idea, especially after they killed Nathan, and also because of the climate we live in with police involved shootings and violence, in general.  In a perfect world as an actor, you crave the opportunity to have one last moment with the other characters that have been important to your character over the years.  That’s all I would have wanted for myself, and Dante.  I’ll take what I got though.  It was extremely meaningful because of what Emme and I had and built.  I feel we got to the heart and soul of those two characters in a pretty short amount of time in our scenes.

Courtesy/ABC

Speaking of Nathan, I think thus far those funeral scenes, which you were wonderful in, and the story arc revolving around his death, are GH’s best bet for an Emmy in the Drama Series category next year. 

DOMINIC:  I agree.  It was so well-done.  We’d all would like to go out like that!  Tragic, but it made for great TV and great soap.  It was phenomenally well-acted across the board.  Lots of Emmy reel stuff for Michelle Stafford (Nina) and Kirsten Storms (Maxie), and Kathleen Gati (Liesl), and hopefully for our directors and crew, also.  They did an amazing job bringing that to life.

This now leaves Josh Swickard as the lone cop now by default on GH.   he PCPD is notorious for being the worst cop shop in the history of soaps! (Laughs) They can’t ever solve a crime.

DOMINIC: (Laughs) I know!  What is Josh is going to do?   Maybe between Chase and Jordan (Vienssa Antoine) they will solve crimes.  Maybe, they’ll bring on a new cop.  Josh is a great guy and I enjoyed working with him.  At the beginning, we had that contentious relationship between the two guys.  That would’ve been fun if it lasted longer, where they had this continual real dislike for one another.  Who knows?  With Dante gone, maybe they will start solving some crimes! (Laughs) Maybe now the PCPD will be the greatest police unit in the USA.

Courtesy/ABC

Over your nine years at GH, would you still consider that your best storyline was coming on to the show and then having Sonny shoot Dante, only for it to turn out that he just shot his own son?

DOMINIC:  Yes, I think you have to.  That was my intro.  They had this story planned eight months before they even cast the role.  To get to that moment, was a classic soap cliffhanger.  I grew up watching soap operas with my grandparents, and if they had been alive for that scene they would have lost it, because it was something that ‘old school’ soap fans would really dig.  For me, doing that story felt so special.  ABC also pumped it with the promotion, and the promos, and the TV spots, and amped it up.  I didn’t feel it disappointed.  It was actually the audition scene that I had to perform to get the part!  Then six months later you get to say these lines that got you the part, and you hope you don’t whiff on the softball.

While putting together and producing the GH 55th anniversary tribute package for this year’s Daytime Emmys, I included that moment between Sonny and Dante.  I remember watching the complete scene before editing it and the dialog was so good.  It still holds up to this day.

DOMINIC:  My manager was at the Emmys that night, and said what a great moment that was.  I meant to thank you for that, because I really appreciated it being in there.

Courtesy/ABC

Are there any other scenes that come to mind that you are most proud of?

DOMINIC:  I also really loved the scenes with Max Gail (Mike). He is a special guy.  There was so much in our scenes; where Dante finds him with Avery in the stables.  Those moments are going to stick with me for a long time.

On June 28th, the airdate of your last episode, you posted a tweet to the fans that read: “The love you guys have given me over the years and continue to give is overwhelming.  It is I that must thank YOU!”  I thought that was extremely touching and very appreciated by the fans.

DOMINIC:  I was thinking, “Man, I have to thank you, because I would not legitimately be here if you hadn’t liked this guy, Dante.”  It was bringing tears to my eyes reading what people were saying, and seeing how much love I was receiving.

Tell me about your role in the British-Canadian production of Tin Star?

DOMINIC:  It’s a recurring role,  I’ve been working on it since March.  It’s something very different from what I’ve been doing the last 9 years.  Can’t give much away, but I play a hired gun type of guy.  There are some great scenes and moments, and I was lucky enough to work with Christina Hendricks, John Lynch, and the legend, Tim Roth.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you feel now that you have had some time away now from GH, and have been playing another role, that the thought of playing Dante for you at this point is like: “Been there. Done that?”

DOMINIC:  I would never say Dante is done forever.  Right now for me, he is.  They left it open, hopefully they left it open for me, but every actor hopes that.  We want our cake and to eat it too!  I want to leave right now, but I want you to want me to come back some day.  No one wants their role to be recast.  But it’s an important character, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  Who knows what the future holds.  I left on good terms.  Just so everyone knows; I didn’t spring something on GH on the last day of my contract.  It’s important that I let people know that I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “See ya”.  This also wasn’t about money.  Sure, we want to be paid what we believe we’re worth.  But this in no way was about me asking for the moon, or I was going to leave.  It was a very, very difficult decision.

So, what do you think about how GH wrapped up Dante’s story for Dominic’s exit? Would you like him to return to GH sooner than later?  Do you think the role of Dante was problematic to write for?  What were your favorite scenes of Dom’s during his time at GH? Let us know via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Jonathan Jackson Talks Avery’s Love Quandary, Saying Goodbye To ‘Nashville’ & If He Would Return To General Hospital

With just three weeks before the series finale of CMT’s Nashville, Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) finds himself in a major conundrum.  The woman he has loved and had a child with, Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panetierre) has returned home after escaping a cult compound, just as Avery has opened himself up to the start of a new relationship with Alannah (Rainee Blake).  After not hearing from Juliette, added to the many times he felt she abandoned him and their child, will a betrayed and hurt Avery want to find a way to patch up their relationship … or try to keep Alannah by his side?

Michael Fairman TV chatted with five-time Daytime Emmy winner, Jonathan Jackson to get the lowdown on what transpired over the last few episodes and how it may end for Avery, as we inch closer and closer to having to say farewell to the Music City drama.

Since Nashville wrapped its sixth and final season a few months back, General Hospital fans have been wondering and hoping, if now is the time that Jackson would return to his role as the beloved Lucky Spencer, the son of Luke (Tony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis). Jackson originated the role in 1993 and stayed with the series till 1999.  He next returned in 2009 for a few years, then left again, and was cast on Nashville.  Jonathan made a special return in 2015 to appear in a storyline that reunited him on-screen with Geary one final time, before the soap icon retired from the show.  In this interview, Jackson addresses a return, some of his favorite moments of all-time on GH, what he learned from Tony and Genie, and more.

Those that follow Jackson are aware that his talent knows no bounds.  He is also focused on his music career, and his band Enation, which has been building on its success, playing recent sold out shows in Europe, while Jackson also had been on the final Nashville tour performing with the cast.  So, buckle up!  The next step in Jackson’s career will be one to watch.  Now, check out our insightful and heartfelt conversation below.

Avery is caught in a compromising position by Juliette, when she walks in while Avery is making out with Alannah, who has just has taken her top off.   What goes on in Avery’s mind at that point?  Is it, “Oh, no! I’m busted!” (Laughs)

JONATHAN:  It’s all sorts of things.  There is the visceral reaction, and then in his mind trying to figure what to do.  It’s sort of awkward, because they are in her house and her photos are everywhere (Laughs).  However clumsily and strange it is, he is trying to move on and get a life together with someone, and yet deep down he still has feeling for Juliette, which is mixed with anger and all of that.  He is having all different confusing conflicting emotions, all at the same time, and for Alannah as well.  It’s kind of a mess!

Courtesy/CMT

By the end of this week’s episode, viewers saw Avery and Juliette start to talk, with Avery letting her know just how he feels about her leaving him, and that he has decided to move out.  All Juliette is asking is that he keeps talking to her.  As Nashville moves toward its conclusion, the big question for the character of Avery will be … who is he going to end up with, if anyone?  I would assume many longtime fans would be rooting for Avery and Juliette, because they have gone through so much together.

JONATHAN:  Yes.  However, I have been receiving messages from fans, and talking to fans on tour, and they are slightly conflicted, too.  There is a lot of love for Avery and Juliette, but there is also frustration around the whole thing, and that they want Avery to move on and be happy. 

Courtesy/CMT

Where is Avery at with his relationship with Alannah?  He was getting close to her, and now she is attempting to put distance between them since Juliette resurfaced.

JONATHAN:  It’s difficult to pinpoint where Avery is at right at this moment.  There is a lot going on, and a lot of it is rooted in the fact that he went to Bolivia to try and bring Juliette home, and when she refused him that was so devastating for him.  The Alannah relationship snuck up on him. In some sense his heart is still attached to Juliette, but his mind is telling him it’s over, and that she is gone.  Avery and Alannah are connected to each other on a certain level.  It surprised both of them.  I think he has genuine feelings for her, but it’s also him pushing himself to move on from Juliette, which is something he has not been able to do.

Without Alannah, the band flounders with Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Avery, and then there is the health situation with Will (Chris Carmack).  Alannah’s presence really put a kink in Gunnar and Avery’s friendship.  She stared out with one guy, and was on her way to being with another.

JONATHAN:  Gunnar and Avery are really good friends and care about each other a lot, and it is certainly an awkward moment in their friendship.   In terms of the band, they lose Will who has been through this health crisis, and then Alannah.  The music components are kind of imploding and they are just trying to hold on to their friendship, and not have that implode along with the band.

Courtesy/CMT

Brad (Jeff Nordling) is making advances towards Alannah, and she originally tells Avery about it.  What does he think of the situation?  Now, she may do whatever Jeff wants her to do to get ahead in the music biz, since Juliette came back into Avery’s life.

JONATHAN:  I think Avery is trying to be supportive of Alannah.  It was a little bit of a blow for her to leave the band, but he generally wants to support her.  Avery has this instinct to be protective, as well.  He kind of has to hold himself back a little bit and not complain too much. He knows Alannah is an independent person, and may not want his help.  With the situation with Brad, Avery is aware of it, but she is walking into that in her own way.  It’s a moment for Avery to sort of step back and trust her that this is how she wants to go about her career.

Did you know Rainee Blake was going to be your potential love interest this season? Did you screen-test with her?

JONATHAN:  We did not screen-test together.  I think relatively earlier on I heard that this might happen, but it is one of those things were you never really know.  Often times, the writers and the producers bide their time and see how things develop as a couple, and how the audience responds to the on-screen chemistry.  You never really know if it’s going to materialize.  I actually did like how Avery and Alannah started to connect on the tour bus several episodes ago. The audience got a tease of a different side of Alannah, and Avery kind of brought that out.  Rainee was great to work with.

Courtesy/CMT

You have gotten the opportunity as Avery to tug on the heartstrings, as a dad raising his little girl, Cadence, all by himself, with a the runaway mother who never shows up.  How was the journey working with Hayden Panetierre?  You two had to battle, bicker, fight, and had to play all these ups and downs together to make the story work over many seasons of Nashville.

JONATHAN:   It was really amazing, and for me that is one of the things I will miss most about working on the show, and that is working with Hayden.  It’s such an interesting thing when you work with people for so many years, and all of the emotional ups and downs that the characters go through.  Often times, we would be doing a lot of intense and emotional scenes, but for whatever reason, we would find a way to have a lot of fun and find the humor when we are doing those.  I have a lot of love and respect for Hayden.  I think she is incredibly talented. We both started off in soap operas (Hayden was Lizzie on Guiding Light) and thus had a certain approach to our work, and our work ethic.  For me, it’s always a highlight in my career when I get to work with somebody that the scene is already great, because of the person you are working with.  We would constantly share ideas back and forth between us.  The thing about working on Nashville was the friendships we developed in the cast, especially going on tour with the cast and to experience all of that with everybody else.

Courtesy/CMT

What happened when you found out that this sixth and final season of Nashville would be its last?  Did you have any idea that this was coming down the pike when you wrapped season 5? 

JONATHAN:  No.  I don’t think anybody knew when we wrapped season 5.  We did not know till right before everybody else that this was going to be the last season.  We were in production maybe halfway through season 6.  I think that it helped having that time to adjust, and it gave us some time for reflection.  It really did help in a sense, because you know other shows they might wrap a month, or two later, and it’s over.  You don’t get to say goodbye, but we really did.  We got to say our goodbyes.

Courtesy/CMT

I can imagine that was heartbreaking.  When you think of the rollercoaster ride you and the cast had been through together which included: the cancellation by ABC, then the show coming back on CMT, only for it to be cancelled again, it’s quite a lot to deal with and not knowing if there is job security.  Do you recall your last day on the set?

JONATHAN:  I do remember it very well.  There were a lot of beautiful moments with people, and having so much love for the crew and so many amazing people that worked on the show.  We wrapped on April 10th and then we flew to the U.K. on the 12th   It was two days later that the tour started.  Even though filming was over, we were on a plane and then on a bus together, which was really good for all of us.  I know it was for me to have another ending.  In some ways, the end of the tour was even more emotional, because that really felt it was the end.

Photo Credit: CMT

Do you think there were more stories to tell on Nashville … or, do you think the series is going off the air when it should, as the stories can tend to get repetitive on any long-running series? Do you think this was the right time for Nashville to say goodbye?

JONATHAN:  I don’t know how other people’s perspectives are about it, but I know from my perspective, I think we told the story that was there to be told for these characters.  That is sort of the bittersweet reality of it.  It’s painful to say goodbye to a lot of people that I had become very close to, but at the same time, there was a sense of peace about it.  It really did feel like the right time.

What can you say tease about how Nashville concludes? The series finale airs on July 26.

JONATHAN:  One of the hardest things about being in a long form series; whether it be in the primetime format, or the daytime format, is often times the lack of resolution that takes place. You are pertually in Act 2 and in all the drama.  So, knowing that the show was over, allowed the writers to approach everything from the perspective of the end, and Act 3.  Certain storylines have resolution, and others are left open-ended.  There is a good overall balance from the writers of what the audience is going to experience with the end of the show.

Courtesy/ABC

I produced the General Hospital 55th anniversary tribute package for this year’s Daytime Emmys.  I remember looking at some of your storylines and touching performances all over again that still hold up to this day.  One in particular was Lucky pulling tough love on Luke (Tony Geary) during his father’s intervention.  Lucky is such a valuable character on the canvas.  Would you consider going back to GH? 

JONATHAN:  My perspective on that is; I don’t really put that off the table.  I really don’t have plans to do that, because after coming off six years on a series, that is a lot.  I am definitely looking for other projects that have an Act 1, 2, and 3, that happen a little sooner than Nashville did.  I always have going back to GH on the table, because it’s like a family for me.  I have always said that that even when I left in the 90’s; that GH would be something I would come back to.  But, I am very committed and excited about what is happening with Enation, and excited about some other projects that are out there on the acting front. I don’t see going back to GH in the near future, but I never write it off.

When you last returned you did come back to be part of Tony Geary’s exit.

JONATHAN: Yes, yes, which I was really happy to be a part of.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Still years later, when you think of all the stories you portrayed as Lucky, is there one, or two that stand out to you among the rest?

JONATHAN:   There are many.  There were a lot of stories, and the writers wrote so much material, and that is a double-edged sword.  It’s great to have, but it was so much that I really couldn’t continue. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: ABC

I remember saying to you years ago, “You cry so well on camera. They are going to keep expecting you to cry, and they will be throwing scripts like that to you every day!”

JONATHAN:  And that is exactly what happened!   But for me, it’s the moments with the co-stars that I will always carry with me.  There are endless ones in my memory with Tony Geary. “The intervention” was certainly one of those moments.  I had those moments as well with Tyler Christopher (Ex-Nikolas, now Stefan, DAYS), and Becky Herbst (Elizabeth).  I remember having these scenes with Maurice Benard (Sonny) when scenes on the soaps were much longer.  And of course, earlier on, with Genie Francis (Laura) as well.  I feel like as an artist, I was really formed by Tony and Genie’s presence and observing them and watching how they worked.  I asked so many questions to them as I really wanted to learn.  They really protected me in so many ways, and yet gave me the freedom to try to find my own way through a whole process as well.  Those are the things that really jump out at me, as well as working through the scenes prior to filming, especially with Tony.  He and I would go pretty deep with what we were trying to figure out; what the scenes were, and what they were about, and how to approach it.  That part of the process was really memorable to me.  The unique thing I think in this industry for me was that I started at 11-years-old and got to come back to the show in my mid-20’s, and got to have that connection with another actor, and explore this father and son relationship.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I don’t think, and I really mean this, that there has been a father/son relationship on television like Luke and Lucky’s.   It was so multi-faceted.   Have you stayed in touch with Tony?

JONATHAN:  We definitely stay in touch.  Again, when I left General Hospital, I did not know if anything like that would happen again in my career where I would form sort of long-lasting friendships with people.  Most of the time you do a film and you get to know some people, and you go your separate ways, and that’s just how it is.  So I was really grateful for Nashville, because I feel like we were able to have those long-lasting relationships. I can’t really put into words my relationship with Tony.  It’s just a lot of love and gratitude, and respect that I have for him.

Courtesy/JJacksonInstagram

Meanwhile, your music career is very exciting of late.  Last month, you played the Royal Albert Hall in London with your band, Enation.  How was that experience?

JONATHAN:  It was amazing.  I went overseas with the Nashville tour and then Enation did a couple of shows, and then we opened for Echo & the Bunnymen.  The last gig on that tour was at Royal Albert Hall.  I have loved Echo & the Bunnymen for such a long time, and so this was wonderful for us.

Will Enation be touring more coming up?  

JONATHAN:  We are looking to go back to Europe later this year, or the spring of next year, and are working out those details.  We are going to be touring in the United States later on this year.

Photo: JJacksonInstagram

Did your wife Lisa (Ex-Hannah, GH) meet up with you on this recent European tour?

JONATHAN: The Nashville tour ended in Ireland, and then my wife and kids came over for the last two shows there. Then, got to go around Ireland for a couple of weeks and drive around, and it was fun.

Did you notice a difference between the European music fans of Nashville as opposed to those in the U.S.?

JONATHAN:  Yes, and no.  One of the things I have noticed playing over there is that the distinction in musical genres isn’t quite as a sharp as it is in the U.S.  Over there, the radio seems to play a lot different kinds of music.  So, it was a pretty seamless transition for a lot of the people that came to the Nashville show.   We see a slight difference in the music fan base, and it mainly has to do with that they may go to a country show one week, and a couple of weeks later go to a rock concert, and not think twice about the genre.  It’s just they are looking for good music.

Courtesy/JJacksonInstagramm

Hard to believe we are turning the page on another great character played by Jonathan Jackson as Nashville heads towards its finale.  What would you like to say to the fans, the #Nashies, who have loved, and have stuck with show every step of the way?

JONATHAN:  Just a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for all the support, especially when the show was cancelled.  CMT saw the enthusiasm and support from the fans here and internationally, and that was a huge part for us to be able to get the last few seasons.  It has really meant a lot to us creatively to write that 3rd act, sort of speak, and have that sense of closure. I also would just say to the fans that have come out to the Nashville concerts as well, that it has meant so much.  We feel like we have had some beautiful moments with everybody, and so I am very grateful for that.

So, what do you think will happen to Avery at the end of Nashville?  Do you want him to end up with Juliette, Alannah, or by himself? Should GH try to lure Jonathan back to the his role as Lucky Spencer? Comment below!

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Interviews

Y&R’s Peter Bergman Talks On: Jack Finding His True Biological Father, His Co-Stars, And If He Would Like A New Love Interest

On The Young and the Restless turns out Ashley (Eileen Davidson) is not the only child raised as an Abbott; whose father is not John.  As viewers learned back at the end of March, Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) is not the biological son of the Abbott patriarch, either!  This has sent Jack on a pursuit to find out who he truly is, and who he truly belongs to, because being John Abbott’s (Jerry Douglas) son meant everything to him.

Once again, this story has given multi-Daytime Emmy winner, Peter Bergman an opportunity to play the complex layers of one of daytime’s best characters.  Recently, Jack had gone through his mother Dina’s (Marla Adams) old diary, where there was a key page missing out of it.  He then located a photo, which led him to believe that none other than late Phillip Chancellor II (played by the late Donnelly Rhodes) is his real father.  Is Jack a Chancellor?

Hell-bent on exhuming the body for DNA proof, Jack is getting massive pushback from just about everyone on Genoa City.  It is not helping the situation that Dina is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and her recollections of what transpired years ago when she had an affair, may not be accurate.  Now this week, Jack has a plan that may backfire and ends up involving his son, Kyle (Michael Mealor) in the process.  Will these two work together to get the proof of the truth?

Michael Fairman TV chatted with the actor’s actor, Peter Bergman to get his take on: the surprise story twist he never saw coming, if Jack has the purest of intentions, or if he is just chomping at the bit get his hands on Chancellor Industries, if he would like to see Jack have a new love interest, and more.  It’s always a treat to speak with Peter.  Here is what he had to say about Jack’s latest inner-turmoil.

Jack is not John’s Abbott’s son.  He is searching for the answer of who is his biological father.  Now, Jack believes he has found the answer in the photo he found that included Phillip Chancellor II, and then went to Dina to confirm the answer, even knowing his mother is battling Alzheimer’s disease.  Don’t you think he jumped on this notion of Phillip being his dad all too son?

PETER:  Jack has stumbled upon evidence that this is for real with the photo he found.  He went to Dina on what was a very lucid day for her, and she was pretty damn clear.  So, therefore it wasn’t just the ramblings of a lost woman.  Jack is very eager for an answer.  Could it be argued that he jumped on this as a possibility? Yes, and for a number of reasons.  First, he feels somewhat utter-less and needs to be connected to something, but he also knows his family, and the history of this family, and “Oh, my God” could that be a way out of this untethered feeling that he had.  So he is really grabbing on to this pretty quickly.  Second, it is not lost on Jack that part of inheriting all of Phillip’s traits might also bring him part of the Chancellor estate, which would belong to Jack and perhaps he could pick-up at the corporate level where he left off.  So that is exciting, but certainly not central to his thinking.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Everyone thinks from Cane (Daniel Goddard) to Jill (Jess Walton), to Billy (Jason Thompson) , that all Jack truly wants is to stake claim as an heir and to try to take control of Chancellor Industries.  Are they that far off from the truth?

PETER:  How honest is Jack being with himself?  We will find out!  He would want to stake his claim … and maybe a little bit more!

What was your reaction when you learned that Jack would be revealed to be the son of Phillip Chancellor II, when for decades you have been playing so much of what drives your character that he is the son of John Abbott?  Were you like, “What!??” (Laughs)

PETER:  I have been doing this much too long, to go “Why?”  I, quite frankly ask, “Where do you want to go with this?  Where do you want to take me?” The things that I have done in the past that I have fought the most have usually been the things that really led me somewhere.  I tell the story all the time of John Abbott dying.  They decided to bring him back as Jack’s conscious, and he would appear in scenes with Jack and talk to him.  I thought “C’mon. This is The Young and the Restless, and I am doing a ‘ghost’ storyline?”  I fought it and I didn’t like it, and I was wrong.  It was fantastic, and it worked great, and the audience liked it.  I learned from it.   I don’t go, “Whaaat?” that much anymore.  There have been a few of those including: the whole doppelganger story, while it confused me at times, and I thought this had gone a few steps too far, but it led us to Billy/Phyllis/Jack story. It was a direct line to that, and one of the most dynamic storylines I have ever been in.  So, I see this current story, and I go, “That is an interesting turn.”  Then, as an actor, I dig into it.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Jack wants to exhume Phillip’s body and everybody from Jill to Cane is objecting.  Esther (Kate Linder) is worried Mrs. C. will roll over in her grave if he does this move.  As we will see, Jack does not take “no” for answer.

PETER:  Jack eventually all but gives up, but then a door opens slightly for him to look at this a different way   Jack reluctantly walks through that door.

Do you think Jack has ever thought of the possibility of: “What if I am the son of someone from the circus … or the former pool boy at the country club?”

PETER:  I have thought it’s amusing when I have met people who have explored their past lives. They have always been a prince or a princess. They were never menial laborers.  I think he looks back and is kind of curious.  I think Jill points it out to him that he is not at all suspicious that he is the pool boy, or the golf pro’s offspring?  He knows the tryst happened at the country club, and so the first person you think of is one of the elite of the country club. 

Courtesy/CBS

It would be such a huge devastating fall for Jack if something like that turned out to be true!  Jack so wants to belong to a family that has wealth and prestige that goes along with their name.  I wonder what it would be like if he had to say, “Yes. It’s true.  I am the pool boy’s son!” (Laughs)

PETER:  I don’t know how that would fit Jack.

How is working with the latest Kyle, you’re on-screen son, played by Michael Mealor? The part had been recast multiple times and the actor didn’t stick.

PETER:  I cannot say enough good things about Michael.  This is an extremely disciplined, very talented, and very professional guy.  I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him.  I think he is doing a great job.  Michael gets looser every show.  He likes to take big chances and try a lot of things.  We have had a lot of young actors on the show and what they do is try to project that they are cool.  They don’t go outside of the, “I’m going to be cool, and honest, and real.”  They say, “I am going to be solid, and make simple choices.”  Michael takes big chances doing large stuff, and going overboard  That’s scary do to as an actor, but I watch him in scenes with Hunter King (Summer) where he is trying to appear cool, but just her physical prescience gets to him.  You can see it in his performances and it’s wonderful to watch.   It’s lovely to see in a 26-year-old and it’s fantastic.  I have high hopes for Michael.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

This version of Kyle seems to be a bit of a chip-off-the-old-block.  He can play dirty just like his dad!

PETER:  As far as where Kyle is at … he is like Jack Abbott.  He is not a good guy, nor a bad guy.  Kyle is a bit of an opportunist with a heart, who wants to feel a part of things, but he also takes advantage of the situation, in a way that sometimes works against that. 

We saw Jack stumble and drink again as he fights his addiction when learning the news that John is not is biological father.  Do you see him stumbling again, and going back to popping pills and booze, if Phillip Chancellor II were not to wind up being his dad?

PETER:  I don’t know if he will see him spiraling, but it is worth saying for someone who is a constant and has a had guiding light of  ‘what’s right, and what’s wrong” and that now has been taken away from him essentially when John Abbot goes “Jack!”, that is a game-changer.  What we can expect from Jack now may change.  Jack isn’t as bound by “what would dad do” as he once was.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, we may be surprised with a turn in attitude from Jack?

PETER:  You may be surprised.  So much of his life, and certainly so much of what I play is that Jack has spent his whole life trying to be like John Abbott, because John Abbott is his father.   Now that is not so. So, how much effort should Jack be putting in to being like John Abbott?

Good point!

PETER:  It will be interesting to see where that goes!

We have seen many actors in the soaps portray drug and alcohol addiction. When Jack’s played itself out originally, it was one of the most harrowing to watch.

PETER:  He got to a dark place very fast.  It was out of control.  It was an important part of the Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) and Jack story, because he honestly did not have the strength to do it by himself, and he had somebody to help him through it   As it turned out, it was a formative experience for Jack and for Phyllis; one that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. They know things about each other that the rest of the world does not know.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Billy recently read Jack the riot act, when Jack told his brother about being Phillip Chancellor’s son.  Having had it with Jack, Billy threw him out of his office.  Where do you think the relationship stands between the brothers at this point?

PETER:  It’s really hard for Jack.  He is still on the board at Jabot.  He has family ties there, and he still gets the checks, but it feels so weird for him, it really does.  He is trying to be a bigger man and let Billy do what Billy is going to do.  Deep down inside Jack has known Billy for a really long time, and when Billy sort of combusts, boy, does he go! Jack hates that Billy is holding the reins of Jabot, if things fall apart for Billy.

Viewers are seeing Billy turning to gambling again.  What would Jack do if he finds out what is happening to his brother?

PETER:  I don’t know what he could do.  I am not sure what he could do to stop the CEO of the company as things currently stand.  It’s hard for Jack to relax around Billy. It’s not a promising situation.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you think the Jack and Bill will ultimately be there for each other when the chips are down moving forward?

PETER:  Jack has a soft place in his heart for addicts for reasons we both know, and a soft spot for family.  It will be interesting to see how well Jack’s patience holds up, if Billy should go down that particular rabbit hole.

Do you think Jack might visit Chancellor Park and have a chat with the late Katherine about the revelation about Phillip and Dina?

PETER:  I think Jack is really trying to be realistic about all of this.  It could clearly be proven, but he is impatient.  He could wait for Chance and Phillip III to come back from their Himalayan trip, but he does not want to wait.  It’s just so easy if everyone would be practical about this, and get some fragment of Phillip’s remains, and there would be a DNA test.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Jack’s nemesis, Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) is having a lot of issues, too.  This includes his mysterious health diagnosis …

PETER:  Oh, damn! (Laughs)

How does Jack feel about Victor these days and the plight that he is in?

PETER:  Jack has such contempt for Victor.  However, Jack can occasionally see that Victor is important to some people, but Victor to Jack is everything that is wrong in the world.  As to the fact that he is struggling right now, does Jack wish bad physical health on him, or anybody?  No. However, if things didn’t go easily for Victor, Jack would not lose any sleep over it.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Don’t you think it’s time for Jack to have a real, honest-to-goodness, love interest?

PETER:  Jack should have a new love interest.  I think the writers and the producers of The Young and the Restless are paying me a lot for half of what I do.

Jack should find true love.  Someone who will be with him and whom he loves with all his heart, and someone who loves him back, flaws and all.  A romance where he is not manipulating her, or she is not manipulating him, for financial or corporate gain.   Do you think at this point that is even possible?

PETER:  I think that would be a swell thing, but that would be a daytime show investing in an actress that is over 40-years-old.  They have done it, but it’s a rare thing.  But yes, I do feel like we are seeing two-thirds of Jack.  There is another third of him that is completely unexplored and that’s a shame.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

We saw those heartbreaking scenes that aired last year where Jack had to admit to Ashley that his mother has Alzheimer’s.  How is he going to continue in his relationship with Dina knowing she has had multiple affairs throughout her life, and when married to John?

PETER:  This is a real difficult place for Jack.  Obviously, he has his mother back in his life in one sense, but his mother has been responsible for pretty much everything that has gone wrong in his life over the last two years.  It’s just one thing after another.  Had his mother been faithful to John, Jack would not be in this situation.  Had his mother not returned, we could have gone on with life as it was, and now all this mess is in part Dina’s doing.  Now, Jack has moved out of the house and so his mother is slipping away by the minute, and Jack is not around for it.  He keeps visiting, and he keeps stopping by, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough.  Jack struggles with that a lot.  He should be more in Dina’s life and be around for that, but being around for that means being in the Abbott house.  Everywhere he looks are reminders that he is not who he told himself he is for his entire life.

One of the more endearing moments came at this year’s Daytime Emmys, after Eileen Davidson (Ashley, Y&R) took to the stage to accept her award for Outstanding Lead Actress.  She thanked you while you were in the audience.

PETER:  This is in keeping with my new plan for the Emmys each year,  What I do is: I try to get a nomination so that I can sit in the audience after I have lost and hear the winner for Lead Actress thank me personally. (Laughs)  I am two for two in the last two years! (Laughs) Gina Tognoni had won that category the year prior.  Eileen Davidson is the greatest, and she has been for all intent and purposes my leading lady on Y&R.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Now, Eileen Davidson has announced, and made the decision to leave her role as Ashley.

PETER:   I can’t say enough things about her.  I adore her … I adored working with her. She is every bit as good as everybody thinks she is.  She comes to work prepared   She never needs hand- holding or spoon-feeding.  Eileen is the real deal; had she been one of Jack’s lovers that would have been over a long time ago.  The fact that she is his sister is fantastic.  Now with her exiting the show, I will miss her terribly.

In closing, viewers should watch for Jack’s next move?

PETER:  Jack is not leaving any stone unturned.  He has to figure out who he is, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

So, do you think Phillip Chancellor II is truly Jack’s biological father?  If not, who do you think is?  What have you thought of Peter Bergman’s performance in the storyline? Would you like to see Jack have a new love interest?  If so, who would you like to see the series bring onto the show to play opposite him? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Next week on Y&R, Hilary is fighting for her life, but the prognosis is not good. Friends and loved ones come to the hospital and ask for forgiveness and to tell her to fight. But how can she? Watch the latest promo from CBS Daytime below. Leave A Comment

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