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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.

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Cady McClain & Rob Scott Wilson Talk Being Recasts, All My Children Reboot, Future of Cin & Jennifer’s Bitch-Slap

Current Days of our Lives and former All My Children reboot stars, Cady McClain (Jennifer, Days, Ex-Dixie, AMC) and Rob Scott Wilson (Ben, Days, Ex-Pete AMC) chat with Michael Fairman in an enlightening and exclusive conversation for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

McClain, who recently took over the role of Days of our Lives beloved heroine Jennifer Horton from mainstay Melissa Reeves (who chose to stay with her family in Nashville during Covid-19 thus forcing the series to recast the role for now) talks about stepping into the key part of the Salem canvas, plus the recent Jennifer/Kate fight over Jack (Matthew Ashford), and how the legacy series is coping with production during Covid-19.

Cady is no stranger to be a recast.  She was the second actress to play Dixie on ABC’s All My Children, as well as the second actress to play Rosanna on As the World Turns, and she had previously taken over the role of Kelly Andrews on The Young and the Restless.

Photo: JPI

Rob, talks about landing the role of Ben and being a recast, and in an emotional moment, reveals how he credits the opportunity to the late producer, Lisa de Cazotte. Wilson also shares his hopes for his Salem alter-ego who is struggling to move on with his life after the supposed death of his wife, Ciara.

The actor also opens up on if DAYS decided to recast the role of Ciara, since Victoria Konefal is not presently with the NBC soap full-time, how he would feel about it and thus the future of Cin.

Photo: JPI

Both Cady and Rob first appeared together in Prospect Park’s online revival of All My Children. In this interview, they discuss how they had high hopes for the continuation of the series, how it ultimately fizzled, and what it was like to be a part of the then, groundbreaking first, for a daytime drama series along with One Life to Live.

Photo: TOLN

In addition, Cady gives the viewer insight on how she runs lines for both DAYS and GH at home with her real-life husband, Jon Lindstrom (Kevin and Ryan, GH), while Rob talks about his recent storyline where Ben was kidnapped and tortured by a vengeful Eve (Kassie DePavia) and much more.

Check out the full chat with Cady and Rob below. Then weigh-in: How would you feel if there was a Ciara recast? What are your hopes for the holidays for Jennifer? What did you think of the stories shared by Cady and Rob in the interview? Comment below, and if you have not done so already make sure to “subscribe” to the Michael Fairman Channel for more celebrity interviews.

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Interviews

B&B’s Matthew Atkinson Weighs-In On Daytime’s Wildest Storyline, The Hope Mannequin & What’s Really Going On With Thomas

If you think you’ve seen it all on daytime soap operas, think again! Over the past several weeks viewers of CBS Daytime’s The Bold and the Beautiful have been witness to fashion designer Thomas Forrester’s (Matthew Atkinson) descent into madness, or is it?

In B&B’s thriller-esque storyline, complete with tight close-ups and tilted angles of Thomas and his co-star, the Hope Mannequin – yup, you read that right, the series is taking the audience on one wild ride, something we have not seen the likes of since back in the hey day of the late head writer, James Reilly, during his tenure on Days of our Lives or Passions.

Photo: JPI

Inspired by, believe it or not, true life events, B&B’s head writer and executive producer, Brad Bell and his creative team have served up a story generated off all of the buzz the show was receiving for using mannequins as scene partners for the actors in intimate moments to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.  B&B was the first American show back in production amid the pandemic.

 

Within this twisted tale, Thomas has the life-like version of Hope Logan Spencer (Annika Noelle) at home with him.  Those who have stumbled upon him with the mannequin, well, he has been able to explain that away by saying that having the doll with him is helping him create some of the best designs of his career.

The problem is the mannequin is talking to Thomas, it’s eyes have often turned devil-red, and on Friday’s episode it walked!  It’s objective is to get Thomas to kill Liam (Scott Clifton) and to get Hope back to be his one and only. Throughout many of the scenes in the storyline, Thomas suffers from what appears to be severe headaches.  All of this leading the audience to believe either … he has a brain tumor … he is being drugged … he is suffering from a severe mental break and disorder, or something else.

Photo: JPI

In a very candid and often humorous conversation with Michael Fairman for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Thomas’ portrayer, Matthew Atkinson, discusses some of the craziest scenes to shoot thus far including Thomas having dinner with the mannequin!  In addition, Atkinson reveals how he and Annika Noelle tape the scenes where she is the voice of the Hope mannequin while adhering to safety protocols,  and how Liam is the only one, apparently, thinking something is off with Thomas, and so much more.

Photo: Gilles Toucas

One thing is for certain, Matthew Atkinson is sinking his teeth into the material and making it must-see daytime drama through his performances while we all wait to see what the possessed mannequin does next.

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

Then let us know, what do you think is happening or wrong with Thomas? Are you getting a kick out of the Hope Mannequin storyline? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

 

 

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Interviews

Eric Nelsen Talks Latest Film, Becoming a Tony-Nominated Producer, ‘The Bay’, and His Elizabeth Gillies & Ariana Grande Connection

You can catch All My Children reboot alum, Eric Nelsen (Ex-AJ Chandler), just about everywhere this month, and that’s hard to do given that we are all living in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this Daytime Emmy-winning actor has his hands in a myriad of projects of late including: appearing on season six of The Bay (new episodes every Tuesday on Popstar! TV) where he continues to play Daniel’s journey after the character has come to terms with his sexuality and finds love, plus his comedic turn in the film, 1 Night in San Diego, and recently becoming a Tony-nominated producer along with his wife Sainty for the critically-acclaimed, and now 11 times nominated Broadway play, The Inheritance.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Eric to get the lowdown on his busy professional life, and we were in for some surprises along the way including: what the producers of AMC had in mind for the character of AJ that ultimately did not happen, and that Eric starred on Broadway with Elizabeth Gillies (Fallon, Dynasty) and Pop superstar, Ariana Grande – and there’s more to that story below.

 

What makes Nelsen so good at what he does on-screen is that he is a like a chameleon; adept at playing the quirky, to the troubled bad boys, to the emotional heart-tugging anti-hero. So here’s what Eric had to say in this fascinating conversation.

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

Your latest film appearance in 1 Night in San Diego is out this week on multiple streaming on-demand platforms from: Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and more. Tell me about the movie and when did you film this?

ERIC:  We filmed it near San Diego, not this past February, but last February, and it’s hilarious.  It’s a female-driven comedy.  The cast is incredible.  Alexandra Daddario, who is just epic, and Jenna Ushkowitz, and Laura Ashley Samuels, they truly bring it in this powerhouse comedy, and it’s just one of those make-you -laugh movies from beginning to end, just silly, stupid stuff happening the whole time.  General Hospital’s Mark Lawson (Dustin) is also in the film.  While we don’t work in scenes together, I did get a chance to meet him and he’s a really great guy.  I play this off-the-wall character, named Gordo, who is a real burn-out, think Matthew McConaughey meets space cadet, which was a lot of fun to play.  Gordo is a great role.  I had more fun with this part than I’ve had in a long time.  So, it was cool to throw a comedy into all of the drama I have been playing in my other projects.

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

ERIC:  One of the girls knew him back in the day, so they were in town looking to reconnect, and she’s like, “Oh, we want to party and let’s hit up Gordo,” and they do.  He has just gone completely off the rails, off the deep end with spirituality and kind of in his own world. They find themselves in quite a predicament when they come visit what they didn’t know was a commune, basically.  Gordo creates this hippie commune for a bunch of outcast musicians, (laughs) and I don’t want to give too much away, but a lot of interesting stuff happens there.

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

In addition, you are now a Tony-nominated producer for the play The Inheritance!

ERIC: That was crazy, because it’s always been a dream of mine to produce for Broadway.  That was how I got into the world of film and TV acting, which was through the theatre.  That’s where I started.  I was lucky enough to star on Broadway when I was 16 and 17, in a musical called, 13.  I started with Ariana Grande! It was so fun.

Wait, what?

ERIC:  Yeah, that was her first big show, and Elizabeth Gillies’.

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

ERIC:  Oh yeah, and you know she and I dated for two and a half years during the whole run of the show 13.  Elizabeth is very talented.   She is amazing.  The funny part of it is, we were dating forever, and kind of had a bad breakup, and then Sainty, my wife, gets cast in her show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, in the pilot to play Liz’s best friend on the series.  So, all of the sudden, I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, out of all the shows, all of the things, this is who you have to get cast as best friends with?” and so they actually became really, really, close friends.  So, I’d actually come home from work or filming, and Liz would be on my couch sitting there giggling with Sainty.  I’m like, “This is just becoming too much.  This is a full-circle moment here.  I can’t deal.” (Laughs)

Now, you and Elizabeth are broken up at this point?

ERIC:  Yes.  We had been broken up at this point.  Sainty and I were actually together.  I started dating Sainty in New York and the pilot she was shooting was in New York, and she gets cast as Liz’s best friend, and I was like, “Oh, of course.”

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

ERIC:  Yes, so dying.  Dying.   You know, it’s just one of those things that in a million years, you would never expect this to happen, and of course, Sainty and her had to become best friends in real life because they’re both great girls, and naturally, they would be friends, but now, I’m like this guy stuck in the middle who can’t believe what’s happening, and thought that was one chapter, and this is a different chapter, and now the chapters are combining.  It’s kind of a comedy act.

Photo: JPI

Since Ariana Grande was on Broadway with you and Liz, what was she like back then before her meteoric rise to fame?

ERIC:  Ariana was literally the sweetest, most innocent, and cutest – like my little sister.   To me, it was like, Liz and I were dating, and Ari was kind of like the little sister.  All of a sudden the show ended. Ariana got a Nickelodeon show, and after that, she became the most famous person in the world and was like this sex icon, and I couldn’t get over it.   She’s always had that talent with her voice and in 13 she was an ensemble member.  She wasn’t even one of the leads, but her voice was so incredible, even then as a young teenager.  I thought she was going to go on to have this great Broadway career as an actress and do musicals her whole life just because of her voice.  Then, all of the sudden, right after the musical, we all auditioned for the same Nickelodeon show.  I ended up going to the finals for the boyfriend role, Liz got the girlfriend role, and Ari got the funny friend on the show role.  That kind of catapulted them into the TV world, and Ari got a spinoff because of her character on that show for another Nickelodeon show, called Sam and Cat, and then after Sam and Cat, she went from this innocent, sweet, little Nickelodeon girl that I knew to being the biggest star.  It was unbelievable to me.

Photo: Broadway World

So, you started on Broadway as a teenager, and you found you always wanted to produce for the Great White Way? 

ERIC:  Yes, I did the Broadway thing, and then I got into film and TV, and then I got into film and TV producing.  As an actor, there are a lot of ups, a lot of downs.  So, in between the ups, I wanted to fill my time, so I got into producing, and I loved it.  I loved creating.  As an actor, we just show up, and everything is already done.  All we have to do is say our lines.  We get pampered, and we go home, but I wanted to know how it got to that point, like what happens before that.  So, I started producing film and found some success doing that, and it was so much fun for me.  Sainty’s and my first love, and what feels like home, is theatre.  So, I wanted to take it full circle and produce a Broadway show.  I just thought that would be such an incredible moment, and so that’s what I did.  I started emailing all of the Broadway producers who I had worked with as an actor, letting them know what I had been doing, kind of the success I had gotten from producing The Bay and some of these other things. Different shows came across my desk that I didn’t quite bite the bullet on, a couple of which I wish I would have, Dear Evan Hansen being one of them.  I would have been so rich by now!  (Laughs)

I just want to clarify for people who might not know, the word “producer” can mean different things.  There are “producers” who are putting money in … they’re backing projects or shows.  There are other people who are “producers” on the creative side of projects.  So, when you’re talking about producing a Broadway show, it is as an investor?

ERIC:  So for theatre, unless you’re the head producer who kind of gets creative control, every other producer listed in the credits is basically helping raise finances and is also very heavily involved in the process of everything else along the way, which is also what makes it special.  So finally, The Inheritance came across our desk, and it checked every single box.  It was just an epic play.  It’s a two-part play, and it’s just hours and hours and hours long.  You see it in multiple days or in multiple shows.  I remember reading the script and not stopping until I finished.  I was like, “This is amazing,” and it had just come off of a huge commercial successful run in London.  It won the Olivier Award for “Best New Play” and just about every other award you could win, and so I was like, “This is the one.  This is incredible.  I love the piece, love the message, and pulled the trigger,” and I would have done it all over again if we could.

Photo: Broadway World

The Inheritance is a generational piece centering on gay men during the AIDS crisis.  What can you say about it to those who don’t know about it, or have not seen it yet?

ERIC:  It takes place in the past, and then it fasts forward to the future.  You see two generations of gay men in New York City, and it’s all about the AIDS crisis, and so you’re bawling crying, and then you’re laughing throughout it.  It’s just one of those epic plays that pulls at every single emotion and you feel like you’re watching a movie.

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s definitely its own thing.  It’s actually an adaptation of Howard’s End, the novel by Forster, definitely different from Angels in America, but the two-part show is kind of what I was meaning by that.  People have said it is kind of our generation’s Angel’s in America in tone and subject matter.  It was just a dream come true, and like all other theatre that was open during our season, it had to close because of the pandemic, and it will have life after Broadway.  We are already slated for the Geffen Playhouse in LA, so I’m very excited for all of my LA friends and the public to get to see it.

Courtesy/ENelsen

And you get nominated in the year that the coronavirus pandemic shut down live theatre! But it is my understanding we still do not have a date for handing out this year’s Tony Awards.

ERIC:  No, we do not.  They finally announced that they were going to announce nominations, and for a while we didn’t even know that they were going to do that.  We received 11 nominations, which is incredible.  We were so excited.  I truly thought the American Theatre Wing and the Tony committee were not going to do the Tonys at all, and so we were just like, “I can’t believe the one year we pull the trigger on the show, this isn’t going to happen for us,” but then thank God, they came to their senses.  There were plenty of shows that opened and needed to be recognized.

How long was it open on Broadway?

ERIC:  We were open from September 2019 through February or March.  So, as long as your submission was open on Broadway before Covid-19 and had at least all of its previews and an opening night before Covid-19 hit, then you could qualify, and then in the play category, there were like 10 plays that had opened last year that were contenders.  So, that was definitely the hardest category.   It will be interesting to see what happens after all of this.  The only good thing I know that is going to come from this is the amount of creatives who have had so much time sitting at home to create and write, that there will be so many new scripts and plays and musicals that are going to come from this.  I think it’s’ going to be the biggest boom that we’ve probably ever seen in theatre, just because there’s been so much time to develop stuff.  At the same time, it’s piggybacking on the darkest time that theatre has ever seen.

Throughout the pandemic, I always stream all of the Broadway Actor’s Fund events.  It’s really sad.  It’s just a difficult time, those in the arts are struggling and especially in the live theatre and also musicians who can’t tour or play gigs in front of an audience. I know they said Broadway is closed through May 31, 2021.

ERIC:  It is really hard.  I’m happy that we are able to find other ways like streaming shows.  I’m actually producing a big benefit for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS that will be airing on World AIDS Day, December 1st.  It’s a show called Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.  The cast we have is everybody from Nathan Lane, to Academy Award winner J. K. Simmons.  It’s insane.  It will be streaming online on the Broadway HD network.  It is a huge list of Broadway stars and a lot of movie and TV stars as well that are participating.  We’ve got people from all over the map.

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

ERIC:  (Laughs)  Ari is not in it, actually!

Photo: Prospect Park

So, in this week’s latest episode of The Bay, your character of Daniel Garrett makes his final choice for love between Caleb (Mike Manning) and Matthew (Randy Wayne).  When you came to the show, did you know that this part was going to wind-up being a gay character?

ERIC:  No, I did not.  I think I dropped a bird in Gregori Martin’s (creator, The Bay) ear by telling him that before All My Children ended, they were going to have my character of AJ Chandler have a storyline where he is gay.  The producers sat me down and talked through an entire storyline arc with me.  Basically, Ginger Smith (ex-executive producer, All My Children) and Alison, our casting director, and one other person from the show, took me to lunch in New York. They pitched me what they wanted to do for my character, and asked me if I would be comfortable with it, and they wanted my opinion, everything.  It was really cool how they approached it, and I was like, “100% completely.”  I look at what Chandler Massey (Ex-Will Horton) did on Days and where that brought him and his storyline, and I thought, “Yes, there’s going to be so much more depth and stuff to play than just being this fun little rich kid.”  At the time, there really wasn’t much depth to AJ.  So, I was like, “Yes.  I will be all over it.  Absolutely.”  So, I told Gregori that, and I don’t know if he already had something in his mind or not, or if that influenced it at all, but maybe he just figured that was something that would work well, and up till that point, I guess they didn’t really have that on the show.  Regardless, no, I wasn’t aware that that was the direction it was going in, but I was really happy with my storyline and it’s grown a lot since then, and in this current season especially.  It’s really given me an arc to play, which I’ve enjoyed.

Photo: LANYEntertainment

So for those who may not know let’s do a re-set.  Where is the character of Daniel at? It seems like he is at crossroads, and is making some important decisions, or trying to.

ERIC:  So Daniel was a wild party boy in the beginning, just head in the clouds, lives life with thinking there’s no repercussions and just doing what you want to do all of the time, and that got him into a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol. Then, we realize why Daniel has been the way he is, and why he acts out, and why he has been so all over the place, and it’s because he hasn’t been able to come to terms with who he is.  Then, he admits it to himself and for the first time to somebody else – who happens to be his priest in a catholic church, ironically –  that he is gay and this is what he has been battling with.  For the first time (and I don’t know where on television it has depicted it this way), but the catholic priest looks at Daniel, and he’s like, “What’s your sin?  You haven’t sinned.  This is perfectly fine.”  So, I love that Gregori made that the outlet for which Daniel was able to basically come to terms with who he was, because he grew up in the church, and so he was always told that it was wrong.  Obviously, it’s not wrong, or obviously the church needs to change their mindset, but on The Bay, he chose that to be the outlet through which he came out, which I thought was really powerful.  Through that, Daniel experimented with other boys and such to figure out where he wanted to land, and then in this newest season, I can’t say much that gives anything away, but for the first time, we really see Daniel’s growth, and he’s making decisions, and the most mature we’ve ever seen him, and it’s been really cool to see that come full circle.  He’s making commitments to himself.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

ERIC:  Obviously, that’s who it works with,  Caleb is a teacher and a great guy.

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

ERIC:  He is… he’s just not the great guy for him.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

This season of The Bay is heavily steeped with social issues of our time.  Covid-19 has come to Bay City and the Black Lives Matter movement also plays prominently.

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s kind of the beginning of the pandemic in The Bay and within all of the intense drama that Daniel has been having, he is still, for all intent and purposes the comedic relief of the show, and so there is a funny scene where I’m carrying like 28,000 rolls of toilet paper like, “Come on, guys.  We’ve got to stock up!”  We all remember those days, don’t we?

Photo: JPI

How do you feel about this season of the show and your work in it? You’ve previously won a Daytime Emmy for your performances on The Bay.

ERIC:  This season is more cemented in a character that has truly grounded himself.  So, the first Emmy I won was for a storyline of coming out and uncertainty and struggle and pain, whereas this season Daniel knows what he wants and is going for it.  There is much more passion and love in this season for Daniel, as opposed to struggle and heartache.

The cast and crew of The Bay all went away and quarantined at this ranch this past summer to get the new season completed.  What was that like?

ERIC:  We were actually in Santa Barbara, and filmed on this epic ranch up there.  It’s like this 500-acre ranch that we all quarantined on.  We had to do the testing, and temperatures three times a day, and the whole thing.  So, it was really structured, tough to pull off, but we were all so grateful that we were able to do this.  Luckily, we had this incredible kind of bubble of a ranch to live and work on while we were shooting.  They were really good about block shooting it all, so we’d kind of shoot one person’s character, then the next, so we wouldn’t have to ever be leaving the ranch before we were done.

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

ERIC:  Oh, it’s amazing.  I just can’t believe how fast the time is flying by because of it.  We just had Molly’s first birthday on October 1st, and I feel like yesterday she was born.  I sound like my parents when I say this, but it’s like the time keeps getting faster, but it’s so true.  She’s awesome.  We play Broadway musical soundtracks to her all day, and she sings.  She sits at the piano with me when I play, and she kind of plunks notes out next to me.  She loves music, and we’ve introduced it to her from day one.  We always joke that she won’t be able to watch any of daddy’s stuff until she’s 18 probably, but Sainty is a voice-over actress.  She has done parts for animated films and TV shows such as Trolls, and Barbie, and Boss Baby, so everything from the first part of my daughter’s life is all going to be Mommy’s stuff, and then, in the later part of life she can start watching Daddy’s stuff.

Right, she can’t watch anything that you do!  (Laughs) So, basically forget that!

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

Check out the trailer for 1 Night in San Diego below.  Then share your thoughts on Eric’s current role on The Bay, if you hope he wins a Tony to go with his Daytime Emmy, the six degrees of separation between him, Elizabeth Gillies and his wife, and that the All My Children reboot considered making the character of AJ Chandler gay via the comment section below.

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

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