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The Ron Carlivati Interview – One Life to Live Farewell

Courtesy/ABC

Courtesy/ABC

As we say our final goodbyes today to the unbelievable and magical run of One Life to Live on daytime television, there was one last interview we wanted to bring you, exclusively at On-Air On-Soaps.  Fans have watched over the final months of the series, and especially in this final home stretch, some of the most heartfelt episodes ever given to its loyal audience. A celebration of what life in Llanview is truly about at its core; high emotional drama, clever and imaginative episodes, dark and edgy plot twists, romance and love, but most of all the families and their connections to one another which is the foundation of the series.

Pulling all the strings for the storylines, scripts, and characters you see on screen everyday is the master puppeteer behind the scenes, who has given to us such a rich and delicious conclusion to the 43-year-run of One Life to Live, head writer, Ron Carlivati. It is no secret that Ron and his brilliant writing team endured more trials and tribulations behind the scenes than some of their fictional characters, in an effort to wrap-up the series in a satisfying way.  First, there was the cancellation of the series by ABC, and then Prospect Park announcing they were going to move the show online, only to pull out at the most inopportune time, after filming of the final episode was completed.

Daytime fans are extremely fortunate to have Ron on their side, and as a true fan of the genre. After reading this interview you will come to understand that what you are feeling at home, Ron is feeling also. And, as we watch the curtain come down this afternoon on OLTL, Ron wanted to pay homage to all the eccentricities, love and life, in the town of Llanview. Nowhere is this more apparent than in recent episodes such as: Fraternity Row’s fantasy episode, Viki returns to heaven as lives hang in the balance, the Statesville Prison Break returning many nefarious characters from the show’s past, and an array of touching and humorous nods and episodes to the show’s legacy and to its fans.

Now, Ron has moved on to be the head writer of General Hospital, a position he officially started this past Monday. And, with that came the news that four of your favorites from OLTL will be joining him to kick-start his new tenure. Ron filled us in on that decision, and the making of the final episodes of OLTL.   And with that, here’s our last stop together in Llanview … with Ron!

MICHAEL:

Ron, you crafted some amazing episodes for the final weeks of One Life to Live. Monday we were treated to the episode where Viki goes to heaven and Clint ends up in hell, and a host of other characters lives hanged in the balance. Was it an homage that was inspired by the fact that Agnes Nixon’s original title for One Life to Live was Between Heaven and Hell?

RON:

Courtesy/ABC

Yeah, that has always kind of stuck with me, and Viki’s first trip to heaven I obviously loved, and it was sweet. Then, we did homage to it on our anniversary and that and the idea that given that the title of the show is One Life to Live, I wanted the ending of the show to have some life and death stakes to it, and not everybody sitting around and just reminiscing about their life.

MICHAEL:

Monday’s episode was almost like watching a three-act play and really showed the power of One Life to Live.  It was just a simple two or three person scene with minimal settings or trappings.  And there were so many gut-wrenching dramatic moments, and you gave all the actors amazing words and emotions to play!

RON:

It was a nice way to also have some returns that had a specific reason and purpose to it, like matching Gabrielle with Bo, and Megan with Viki, and even Luna with Cole.  For me, it really made sense.

MICHAEL:

You have been on an amazing roller coaster ride with the show being canceled, and then Prospect Park coming to save the day, and then that being ripped away.  How did all of this upheaval alter what the audience will ultimately end up seeing on the final episode?

RON:

Courtesy/ABC

It was obviously a rollercoaster.  We found out we were canceled and that was really hard.  Then we had those several weeks to let it sink in and then go through that mourning process, and just get to that moment where we all were starting to accept it, finally. That is when the Prospect Park guys came along to save it, and then that took us on this whole other rollercoaster ride.  Of course, we were thrilled with the idea that it would continue, and also excited about it being in a new forum even.  It was like a new adventure.  For most of us it was a relief that these characters could continue, and of course, it did have an impact on me.  The minute I heard of the cancellation, you immediately start thinking, “Well, how do I want to wrap this up?”  I then started to plot out where everyone would be and everyone would end up.  And then, knowing it wasn’t going to end really does change things, because you really don’t want everything tied up in a neat little bow.  I have to still keep telling story, so I want to keep moving story forward.  So you start thinking about what things will we leave unresolved, and what things will we leave with a hook to get people to follow us online?  Obviously, we changed some stuff around.  I definitely think I kept the spirit of the ending and it is very similar, but obviously, I would have written some things different and I will talk about that at a future time.  But, on the whole, it helped to know that some actors were pretty certain that they didn’t want to continue with the show when it was to move online. So we were able to give them closure and happy endings, which are Rex and Gigi.  David Gregory wasn’t continuing, so our decision to kill Ford was informed by that.  It was always my plan that if we were going to create such life and death stakes, at least one person had to die, or I think it would be a big cop out.  And that was an agonizing decision, because I truly love all the characters in Llanview.  Even though they are fictional, it is really hard for me to make that decision.  So certain things stayed the same, and certain things did change and were impacted by Prospect Park.  And then of course, we didn’t find out it wasn’t happening until we had already taped our very last scene.

MICHAEL:

The thing that has been the constant from industry insiders and the fans has been, “Why couldn’t they go back and revise the ending, once Prospect Park suspended their efforts to bring One Life online?”  What would you want people to know about that?

RON:

We actually could not go back and tape anything after the fact.  The last tape day had already happened. There was no going back into the studio at that point.

MICHAEL:

So then, as had been rumored, was there one alternative ending shot?

RON:

Courtesy/ABC

Yes, but more has been made of that then it is.  We didn’t do that very much and really that came about when knowing certain actors were not continuing.  With the story I wanted to do moving into Prospect Park’s platform, I wanted to go back and change something at the end of our show as another way to have another hook and another cliffhanger. So we went back and added that. Then once we knew it wasn’t happening it didn’t seem to make sense, so what we did was go back to the original version.  I do want to say that on the whole, I feel it is a satisfying ending.  I do know there are people that are upset that if only we had known this, or if only we had known that, and I have to admit yes, while there are things that I would change, on the whole it is the same spirit of the same ending that I wanted, that I hope will make the audience happy.

MICHAEL:

The Fraternity Row Episode it a classic!  It has to be the funniest spoof ever, while the ending with Roxy and David was heartbreaking!

RON:

I had the writers over to my apartment to watch it the day that it aired and we were laughing our heads off over it, and it was also so incredibly touching.

MICHAEL:

When you were scripting this out, you guys and gals must have had a field day with this?

RON:

Courtesy/ABC

Oh, yeah we really did!  One thing led into another into the other.  Weeks before we had come up with the idea of Fraternity Row being canceled, and then things just started to fall into place at that point.  It really made sense to have a story that mirrored what the audience was going through and what our characters were going through.  It was cathartic for us to write it.  And then when we had the idea for Roxy to wake up in that world, it was just a way to send up the soap genre as a whole and poke a little fun at our own storylines, and give the actors a chance to play something different. Everybody from the top down did such an excellent job!  I think the audience really understood what it was.  It was a love letter to the fans, and in no way was it to make fun of our audience or the genre, because I love both of them.

MICHAEL:

You have to watch these last series of episodes, Ron, and be very proud of what you have done for this show.  No soap opera that has been canceled have I ever seen go out like this.  I think this is because of you and the creative team at One Life.  It is has been truly stunning to watch.

RON:

Thank you, I really appreciate that.  Of course, I am proud and proud of my team.  I am proud of our cast and crew who took what we wrote and far exceeded what I could have possibly imagined in the way that it was executed.  I thought that the montage on the previous Friday of Starr singing, and everyone in peril, and in the hospital hovering between life and death, played out so beautifully.  It really, really broke my heart.   I think the part that got to me the most was when Clint reached to get the phone and he had a heart attack. I knew it was coming and yet I thought they did it so beautifully that it was so powerful.  And yes, it is incredibly sad for us that the show is ending, but it is going out on top, and we don’t feel that we are limping to the finish line.  I think we are all very proud to go out on top creatively, and with the ratings being strong, it really means a lot to me.  It really does!

MICHAEL:

And to think you were an attorney who made the switch to daytime, and now you will be remembered as the head writer, who wrote the final episode of this iconic series, created by Agnes Nixon.

RON:

Photo Credit: Steven Bergman

I was an attorney and I gave that up wanting to work on One Life to Live.  I was lucky enough to get a job as a writer’s assistant in 1996, and it is pretty amazing that I am sitting here about to watch the last episode of the show, and I am the head writer.

MICHAEL:

It has to be so surreal for you?

RON:

It is pretty amazing.  I am having the reaction of the fans, but it is a whole other level as well, because I have worked at One Life to Live for fifteen years.  I am part of helping to bring it to its close.

MICHAEL:

Throughout the course of wrapping up the show, there were so many important and key goodbyes, such as Viki and Dorian’s last scenes, and countless others.  Did you feel pressure to get it all right and to the level that the fans would accept?

RON:

Each time you wrote a goodbye it was difficult, because you want it to be satisfying for the audience. You do sit there and try to cover every last thing that everybody wants covered.  Knowing that we thought we were going to continue, there were certain moments where we did not feel that unbelievable pressure that this will be the last time that these two characters will have a scene.  We thought there would be more opportunity for that.  But that being said, I did want there to be satisfying closure for people watching it on ABC.  We did try our best to write it like an ending, even thought we thought it was going to continue.

MICHAEL:

I was surprised and thrilled that ABC let you do your thing with the telling of the Fraternity Row storyline after they dumped the show!  Do you think you snuck one in under the radar on the network execs?  Or, did they know exactly what you were doing and scripting out?

RON:

Courtesy/ABC

I got to hand it to ABC as well, for giving us the greenlight and letting us just do that. With the show being canceled, I really did not know if they would let us have our fun with that, and they really did.  I am really grateful that they did not stand in our way of telling that story.  It wasn’t about attacking anyone who was involved in the canceling of the show, it was more about finding a way to help say goodbye to it, and for us to tell the audience, “We understand what you are going through, and we are going through it, too.” And because they know our characters, and our characters are like their family, we can say, “You know what?  These characters are going through the same thing and the same shock and loss and pain that you are, and that we were as well.”

MICHAEL:

What do you think is the legacy of One Life to Live?  What you would like to leave behind and be remembered for?

RON:

I think it’s a very special show.  I think it’s the show that in a lot of ways people would call the “hammock” show, because it fell between two very successful shows, All My Children and General Hospital.  Sometimes we were the “Rodney Dangerfield” of soap operas that got no respect, or what some people would call, “The red-headed step-child”. I think in a lot of ways it makes me love the show even more.  It is very special and unique.  It could be completely outrageous or unbelievably poignant, and we were able to tackle real issues, and we were able to do wacky and funny things.  So that makes me really proud, that if we could make people laugh or cry and forget their problems for an hour a day, I think to me, that is what the legacy of the show is.

MICHAEL:

There was something just off-center with the soap that set it apart from all the other daytime dramas.  At times, it was a very dark soap, which I also loved.

RON:

Courtesy/ABC

We tried to push the envelope either in a humorous way or a serious way.  We would not be afraid to take it to that edge.

MICHAEL:

As we are head toward the finish line with the last episode about to air nationwide, what can you say as a preview of what to expect?

RON:

I don’t want to give anything away, but it goes back to what I said earlier in taking the show to heaven.  It is about One Life to Live, and all the things both positive and negative that happen in life.  There is a lot to celebrate about life in the last show, which I think gives you a pretty good idea what it is about!  And of course, what would a good soap opera be without a good couple of surprises and twists in there, too.  I think there is romantic pay-off, there is some familial pay-off, and there are some twists and surprises that I hope will make people happy.

MICHAEL:

So, are we going to need the hankies, or are our mouths going to drop?  Or, both?

RON:

(Laughs) Well, hopefully both.

MICHAEL:

When you finished up OLTL and penned the final episode, was it hard for you? Was it like a “Thank God that’s done” moment, or an “Oh my God, I just finished the last episode of One Life to Live, kind of moment?  I would think it was incredibly difficult.

Courtesy/ABC

RON:

It was hard, and you didn’t want to let it go. You think, “Was this good enough? Was this the best that I can do?”  But in the end, you put it forward and we believe in what we did, and we were proud of it.  But it was incredibly hard to write the last show, because the writers were the first group of people to be done at One Life to Live.  It was mid-October that we wrote the last show, and we were the first to really feel like, “Wow, we are done!”  But it did allow me as a participant, to just be at the show and watch them tape some of the last material without having the pressure of my own job hanging over my head at that point.  So I was able to watch some of the last stuff, but I liked to be surprised when I watch an episode to see how it turned out. I was able to do that for the last tape date.  The last moments and the last scene that was taped with Erika Slezak (Viki) was quite emotional.  I was happy and proud to be there. We had a wonderful wrap party, which had everybody there.  And yes, while we were sad, there was a lot to celebrate.  Now, I have been sitting down at 2PM Eastern time every day to watch the show.

MICHAEL:

Will you watch the finale alone, or with other people?

RON:

Yeah, there is a gang that wants to get together to watch it, but I don’t know if I am going to do that.  I think I will stop in and see them after. I just don’t know if I want everybody to see me, you know, as a blubbering mess.

MICHAEL:

I understand exactly!  I will be a blubbering mess, too. With the actors, you have delivered stories that have given them an opportunity to knock it out of the ballpark time after time with their performances, and especially in the final weeks of the show. It must be very heartwarming for you to see.

RON:

Well, absolutely.  People will say to me, “Well, why are you doing this when the show is about to end?” And what you just said Michael is the reason … to see these people we love in these life and death situations and to really watch them act, and break our hearts.  That is what soap operas are all about.

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

OLTL fans received some exciting news the other day, in the midst of the sadness of this week when it was confirmed that you and GH exec producer, Frank Valentini are bringing over, Kassie DePaiva, Kristen Alderson, Roger Howarth and Michael Easton from One Life and transplanting them to GH.  Obviously, first and foremost, this is an effort to bring fans of OLTL over to GH to help increase the ratings of the ailing soap.  How come this group from Llanview; the Mannings and John McBain, were chosen and given a one-way ticket from Llanview, PA to Port Charles, NY?

RON:

It is definitely something I thought about right away.  I think that anything we can do to help GH and bring up the ratings and bring any more eyeballs on to the screen from OLTL, is absolutely the reason we should do it.  I think creatively it makes sense.  It will give OLTL fans an opportunity to get a glimpse of what happened after the finale.  And what I want to say to the General Hospital fans is, “This is meant to help enhance the show not take anything away from GH.  It is a wonderful show and I would not be going there to write it, if I didn’t think so.”  It is a story and it is about weaving some of these people into Port Charles.  First and foremost, it is about the people of Port Charles, and I will talk more about that when the time comes. I just want to say to everybody that may have concerns, that it’s all going to be good.

MICHAEL:

And finally, what would you say to the wonderful and passionate fans that have watched OLTL and stood by the show?  It has been heartbreaking to read their comments over the last few weeks on my website. They are going to go through their mourning process, just like you, and everyone connected with the show.

Courtesy/ABC

RON:

I want to say, “thank you” obviously. The show would not be on for 43 years without such devoted fans. The other thing I want to say is; I understand what you are going through because I am going through the same thing.  I am a fan at heart.  I think we have the most passionate fans of any genre, and not just OLTL, but all soap fans. During the final weeks of taping One Life to Live, the fans were standing outside our studio every day, even when it’s freezing cold. We would walk out the door and they would greet you with such love. It really was an amazing thing.  It helped us to say goodbye knowing that we had this support system of people that felt the same way and understood what we were going through.

 

 

 

 

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Lili
Lili

With all the fairy tales in the press about the actors GH has to cut, and the actors who didn’t get a good ending, I’m offended that the top money people from OLTL are going to GH. Don’t tell me that my favorites aren’t in the budget. They have history!

barbara t
barbara t

Most of the actors at gh want to leave ,and one life to live is on a budget or I should say, was on a budget.they know how to save money and put on top notch programing ,so the actors coming over arent that high paid.abc spent far more money on gh then they ever did for oltl.and I like that some of my favorite friends from landview are heading to port charles.Ive watched both soaps so Im not just a oltl fan I am a all my children ,one life to live and a 49 year fan of general hospital.and gh needs saving before its to late.and if fans from oltl come over because there are a few people from landview moving in ,thats good for general hospital ,more ratings for the hopefully not canceled soap.and for the one life to live fans a little bit of happiness over the stupid cancellation out a good soap that should never have been let go.

Splum
Splum

Wouldn’t call them the “top money people” but I get your point.

Mark
Mark

Michael,
Thank you for posting this interview with Ron Carlivati. I read it just minutes before watching the finale here on the east coast. I have to admit I stayed home from work today so I can see the last epsisode as it is broadcast on the network, just like we had had to watch it when the series went on the air, before VCR’s and soapnet.
Mark

Outlandt
Outlandt

Thank you Michael… now I feel a lot better. Ron and Frank are the DT (DreamTeam), I knew they loved our soap… and still do. Beautiful, touching and open conversation… great job to everyone involved with the production… great job and THANK YOU!!!!

Soapgirl21
Soapgirl21

I love that a few Llanview favs will go to GH. I wouldn’t watch it otherwise… I started watching ATWT after AW went off the air b/c of a cpl characters moving over… it’s a great idea…

Denise
Denise

Tissues please!

Carol Painter
Carol Painter

I Loved This Interview, as I do All of The Interviews with OLTL actors…I Loved the Finale Today..I just Loved it..
OLTL is The most Well written Fun Soap EVER. And I have Watched ONLY all 3 soaps on ABC…IMO, CBS soaps, NBC soaps can not compare.. I could never get into them…they always missed the mark for some reason…
ABC soaps, especially OLTL was The Funniest, silliest, most entertaining…and at the same time balanced a series of serious topics. Ron C, and his Team…should be VERY PROUD of Everything they have ever written, They did a beautiful Job, especially under the stress, and circumstances tossed their way this year……A BEAUTIFUL JOB!
I Loved the way we were surprised at the end…and I hope after the cross-over to GH…someone will find OLTL a new home to Continue this Show.
I lOVED and Totally “GOT” the FR storyline…It was GREAT! Thanks for that also…
PLEASE find a way to keep this program on ..even if it goes to cable..WE WOULD ALL PAY!! WE WOULD!!

Michael
Michael

Well, as I said on twitter yesterday after the Finale aired, that OLTL’s finale EASILY was the BEST finale when you compare it to GL and ATWT. Both of those finale’s were not all that great. So, when I watched the Finale of OLTL, I was extremely pleased with how the show went out and they went out on top! I’ve got to hand it to Ron Carlivati for his genius mind in crafting that final episode. And what a shocking ending! I just cheered when I saw that final scene with Allison Perkins and the script that she threw at the person who was tied up and gagged (not giving it away in case anyone hasn’t seen it yet).

Again, Ron, Frank, the producers, writers, crew, and cast all did a superb job with the final episodes. It never missed a beat and nothing was out of place and skewed, like GL and ATWT was during their final week’s on the air on CBS.

Right now, all I watch is B&B, DOOL and Y&R. I could never get into GH, so even with Ron bringing several Llanview residents to Port Charles, it’s not enough to get me watching GH. I made a promise to myself that I would not watch anything else on ABC after OLTL went off the air and I intend on sticking to that promise. Sorry GH fans, but a promise is a promise.

1loveabcsoaps
1loveabcsoaps

Damn, a lover of the show, and a man of his word regarding a promise.

Very hard to do when characters are going to their neighborly show, that you can catch them on.

And you sound Firm. Hummm, what’s your sign? lol

Carol Painter
Carol Painter

Hi Michael,
I hear you…and I completely get it..I honestly feel so much Hate For ABC Disney for What They Allowed Frons to do…That I Have Boycotted everything They are connected to……with the exception of Soaps, And Two nightly programs Castle, and Greys Anatomy.
I feel Good About Supporting Programs that are Well written…That Have Writers, Actors, etc…I feel The movement to Get Rid of these programs by Idiots (I should say Greedy idiots) Like Frons/abc /disney…has been a trend for many years..It started when they Took NORM McDonalds sitcom off for “Millionaire” with Regis Philben….10 – 15 yrs ago?…and has continued..
I will Never watch The Chew, The revolution..The View…EVER.
But I will Watch GH…And I am excited to see MY PEOPLE, (LOL) on there in Feb..I will support Soaps Always..And I still hold out hope, that SOMEONE will bring OLTL back..It doesn’t make any sense NOT TOO……
But I totally understand how You feel……..And you are entitled to feel this way…It’s SAD to me..It really is…
I may have to watch reruns over and over, LOL! I need to get through somehow!!
I’ve been trying to get into, NBC soap ,I think it’s DOOL? I watch because Sara Brown is on…But still…doesn’t compare to OLTL…it’s hard to watch…but I’m Tryin’!
Oh..well..I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

MySoapsinheart
MySoapsinheart

I have watched all 3 of the soaps from AMC OLTL and GH. I will continue to watch GH. Can only hope they will bring Natalie into the mix since she and John just got back together. Though its not the same and I still hold hope that someone somehow will get all of our soaps restored to production and airing. Yet I will continue to watch GH as I have watched all my soaps for decades. It is the only show that I watch for that particular station.
Thank you One Life To Live cast and crew, as always you gave us your all and we thank you and we love you. You are in our hearts always.
p.s. name the baby Drew Asa.
Thank you

Susan M.
Susan M.

Pl;ease answer my question.. Tried your site Michael but, can’t get past your captcha code.. Can’t get it right.. What ever way I type ii in.. very frustrating… Please answer my question : Is Natlie & baby Liam joing John (michael Easton) on GENERAL HOSPITAL…… What will happen to that??? Will it carry over on to GH?????Waiting for response… Need an answer .. Need to know…And I didn’t like the last episode of OLTL… Left you crying for more.. A lot of things left unsaid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Again,please answer my question!!

Paul James Hurlburt Jr
Paul James Hurlburt Jr

I am glad One life to LIVE Characters are going over to Gh I really am.

Susan M.
Susan M.

So am I !!!!!!! I hope more actors from OLTL join GH!!!!!!!!!!! Such as Melanie Archer (Natlie)… Has to join Michael Easton (John Mcbain) & baby Liam on GH!!!!!! I miss most of all Erika Sleak(Vicki)….. Clint , Bo & Nora !!!!!!! OLTL was the best soap opera..It was like a family OLTL.. you could see the closeness among the actors.. The warmth.. OLTL FAN

Gerardo Ramirez
Gerardo Ramirez

Ron C. did a wonderful job as head writer & I wish him well in his GH endeavour

Peggy Kempfer
Peggy Kempfer

I am very disappointed that ABC soaps are being cancelled. I will not watch anything that takes the place of any of the soaps. In fact, I watch Revenge and General Hospital and that is all I will watch on ABC. I have started watching the cable stations.

Brian Greene
Brian Greene

Thanks Ron–We OLTL Fans In Northwest Illinois Appreciate & Love What You & Frank Have Accomplished For This Show Very Much! 😀

Alley
Alley

RC was right about one thing. The Mannings and McBain will have me (and I’m sure a few others) tuning into GH. Before I heard the news, I was boycotting ABC for good.

My boycott of The Chew and The Revolution stands. I will not watch that crap. EVER.

Jared
Jared

I loved the finale. LOVED it! I had a suspicion that Alison was reading her script to TSJ, but I was still shocked, because of what I read about TSJ not filming the finale. Great job on keeping this a secret, because it was truly a treat for us fans! Maybe I will give GH a chance because I’m curious what happens next. At the same time, I know we’re supposed to support all the soaps, but recent events, like RC/FV moving to GH, as well as OLTL characters moving to GH, I feel it just proves (to me, at least) they canceled the wrong show. Hopefully, RC/FV can fix GH and make it watchable again; but even if they succeed, I don’t trust the empty network executives to do the right thing. SO, I’m hoping that in the case GH is canceled that Y&R will pick up this dream team. Long live ONE LIFE TO LIVE…….

1loveabcsoaps
1loveabcsoaps

Yeah, TSJ returning in the finale, was the best kept secret in daytime, and almost active entertainment.

M. H.
M. H.

I have watched OLTL since day 1. When I worked I taped it, now I have it saved on cable. I will not watch ” The Revolution ” . We have enough of these ” help” sbows. Sometimes people need ” escapism” too, a chance to look at others problems and forget your own for awhile.

PaulaKate Prince-Meserole
PaulaKate Prince-Meserole

I know that things are in uproar right now since Friday’s last episode. But i am keeping a positive thought about this whole thing. The fact that One Life To Live Characters are being added to the canvas of General Hospital is good news! I refuse to borrow trouble or be upset by anymore of the millions of depressing rumors flying around out here like feathers after a pillow fight. This is no time to choke.

OLTL live viewers need to continue to boycott “the chew” and “the Revulsion” but for everything that we have been fighting to accomplish tune into GH because raising their ratings will reveal the need for our soaps to be restored to Television and hopefully ABC will see the light we have been fighting so hard to shine. GH has been suffering from sub par writing for quite some time now, but I trust in Frank and Ron and their abilities to produce great show.
For goodness sakes…lets be grateful for this opportunity and give this thing a chance.

barbara t
barbara t

alot of people dont like the idea ,I do ,I think its the best thing to happen to general hospital .for years ive been watching gh go down hill ,everything evolves around sonny and his kids and his problems ,and watch me get in trouble for this but I did not like the brenda story ,they thought if they brought her back the ratings would go up ,but instead went down ,and still going down for 3 weeks now.robin is leaving lucky is leaving ethan is leaving ,there the main people ,the quartermaines ,the fans love them, and the old writers put them on a back burner alan and aj should never have been killed off emily to ,whats that all about ?I know what its all about ,the sonny show.I love what frank and ron did to one life to live right to the last scene with victor, brilliant ending.So i have complete faith in there writing to make general hospital the best soap going .oh yeah ,and hopefully jax is back ,to stay,why was he let go ?Oh yeah ,the sonny corinthos show.

Elhu
Elhu

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to Ron, Frank, all the superb stars of OLTL, the crew behind the scenes, and to you, as well Michael (for keeping us so well informed of everything going on with our soaps and the people on them, as well as for being a wonderful fan yourself). This show was exceptional and will be greatly missed, but it went out with the utmost class and style. I so enjoyed every second of each of the last week’s episodes (I love every episode, each day on this soap, but I am referring to the heightened excitement of the last week). The laughs, the joy, the tears, the excitement, the shock, the suspense, the happy endings and the cliffhangers were all the best and written so very well, honestly, the BEST I have seen (as Michael said), and I have been a fan of all three ABC soaps for over 38 years now. I am thrilled to see the Mannings and John McBain head over to GH, I only see that improvinig the canvas. Kudos for making that move Ron. I am already picturing the possible pairings and storylines in my mind. I can just see the electrifyinig scenes that I am guessing will take place between Carly and Blair, Sonny and Todd, Michael C. and Star, and John and Dante vs. Sonny and Todd – that is what I am picturing in my mind, but I will be happy in whatever direction Ron takes it, as I know it is in very capable hands. BTW, I can also see Rex as the new Lucky Spencer, or someone, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that he makes the move to GH, as well as some others, while still keeping the intergrity of GH’s history. I am very sad over the loss of OLTL (and still hope that somehow it will be resurrected one day), but I also look forward to the GH/OLTL combo becoming the “POWER SOAP” on ALL of Daytime TV!!!! Good luck to all involved with OLTL, and I hope you all find happiness in the next ventures in your life, and may we, as fans, be able to enjoy all of your work again. Michael, thank you again for having such a close relationship with OLTL and the ABC soaps, and for all of the great reporting and information you bring back to us, and I look forward to this for many years to come. Your website is the first on my “favorites” line and is the one I always check out the second I have a free moment. Again, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to everyone at OLTL for your many years of hard work, and great entertainment that you have given us, and we look forward to seeing all of your creativity again.

1loveabcsoaps
1loveabcsoaps

Nicely stated. Rex would be great as Dillion, not Lucky. And the 2 Todd’s playing out would be wonderful, especially with Trevor St. John, opposite Sonny, which I spoke on in depth on this site as it relates to their complex /cool style (paired) opposite one another.

Elhu
Elhu

Totally agree with you 1loveabcsoaps, Rex would be a perfect Dillon, and Trevor St. John opposite Sonny, would also be fun to watch play out for sure, for the exact reason you stated, their totally different personas. Here’s hoping our wishes come true!!!!

Jay
Jay

You had me until you made the enormous blunder of suggesting JPL play Lucky Spencer. That’s a big, fat NO! Jonathan Jackson IS Lucky Spencer, and he’s already made it clear that he’s open to returning. There should never be another Lucky recast.

barbara t
barbara t

yeah jonathan jackson is lucky,but,he is leaving .general hospital needs a lucky and if jj doesnt want to play him anymore maybe jpl will ,never say never ,anything is possible in the magic world of the soaps.thats what keeps me tuning in ,I looooove drama.

1loveabcsoaps
1loveabcsoaps

I concure, unless they find another TSJ to recast the role. The other 2 Lucky’s weren’t bad, they won emmy’s for it. Jacob Young (AJ, amc) Greg Vaughan. I think JPL as lucky is more like Jacob Young when he played it. Johnathan Jackson, (although free spirited like JY, and JPL) JJ goes from free sprit Lucky to good concious cop/bad boy cop, to dark and deep places one wouldn’t even call acting, if you didn’t know better. No, JPL could easily be Dillion, and GUESS what, he would be a BETTER Dillion. But no one can be Lucky, and that is ALSO bc of the relationship that Tony Geary (Luke) cultivated with him when he was a kid., calling him Cowboy. How difficult it musta of been having to call JY and GV cowboy at times. JJ was….cowboy to Geary, rather they were filming or not.

kay killgore
kay killgore

I agree totally Paula and I will give GH a second look when they start airing their episodes!!! Everybody else should do the same NBC has survived several years with just one and I was furious when they cancelled Another World, so who knows they may return it to must see TV!!!

heidi
heidi

Great Interview Michael… thank you!!! However RC is the one who should get thanked for such a great finale… last week… last month… last few months… just phenomenal story and writing!!! You gave us great story…. great use of the characters… great emotion and you treated everyone (fans and cast) with such care… but with a nice nudge to something coming… very well done!!!

Michael has had such great content and such great conversation and a safe place for fans to vent and mourn their loss!

The discussions about the last two epidodes has been fun. I now can say that if Thursday’s episode had been the last I would have felt cheated… while it was for us completely and for most of the cast, crew and writers… it was not reality for the characters and for the cast, crew and writers. It was helping us with our emotions on losing something very special, but I needed more wrap up with the characters and the true OLTL story! I loved how you did it with a bedtime story theme that turns into a fairy tale! Maybe the use of the script and the use of the word sequel could spring this into somthing like a Hallmark series… like “The Note” or the “The Good Witch” series. Maybe we could get semi-annual glimpses into the OLTL world in a 2 hour movie made for TV? There are many other possible venues that would allow all of the cast, crew and writers to do new things while comng back to the old and the familiar,

Thank you RC and the wrting team… the cast and the crew for a lovely ending with a hope of a continuation… fairy tales can come true!

Jay
Jay

In the 20 years I’ve been watching OLTL, Ron Carlivati is my second favorite headwriter (behind Michael Malone). I am so grateful to have experienced this man’s resurrection of OLTL, which was nearly unwatchable for me before he took up the reigns. His passion for this show, and the genre at large, is as obvious as it is refreshing. And he’s talented. No other ABC writer was able to navigate the landmines of suck dropped by Brian Frons with such aplomb. I think you, Frank Valentini, the writing team, the crew, and all the actors, for making this final week of OLTL one of the best weeks I have ever seen of ANY soap. I also would like to welcome Ron Carlivati to General Hospital. I have been visiting Port Charles as long as I have been visiting Llanview, and I have never seen it in such shambles. We need you Ron…badly. As we face likely cancellation, all I hope is that we go down fighting, with a quality show that really blows the roof off. I have all the faith in the world that Ron, and Frank, can pull that off!

Jan
Jan

I cant even read but I didnt watch anything on abc today. Wouldnt dream of it.

kay killgore
kay killgore

My understanding as of today is the 4 oltl characters coming to GH is short term. According to Kassie DePaivia.

jason
jason

great interview

cheyanne
cheyanne

I will not be giving my ratings to GH until Ron’s favorites from OLTL are gone. I’ve watched GH for 30 yrs and i’ve watched OLTL since day one. I don’t want OLTL characters on GH. Just like i didn’t want AMC charaters on OLTL. Hmm wonder why Ron didn’t bring AMC characters to OLTL yet he’s bringing OLTL characters to GH RME. GH has a big cast that needs him to write for as well as bringing vets back. That should be what his main priority is not bringing his favorites over from OLTL to keep. Yet only bringing 3 vets back just to send off Robin for a few weeks. It’s messed up on so many levels.

Jill
Jill

I’m trying to get throught the first week of a non-existant OLTL and it is not easy. I’ve watched OLTL faithfully since the early 90s. I refuse to watch THE CHEW or THE REVOLUTION, so I flip to the cable channels (mainly ID and HISTORY CHANNELS). I’m hoping that the OLTL characters coming to GH will bring back the GH I once knew and loved. I was one of those people on the Luke/Laura bandwagon back in the early 80s….those were the days huh? And I also enjoyed GH in the early 90s with the return of LNL, Lucy Coh and the Nurses Ball, the Quartermaines were still the core family along with the Webbers. But the new writers at GH destroyed all that when they killed off A.J. and Alan, split up the super couple LNL, and focused all their attention on Sonny/Carly/Jason/Sam to try to make GH become THE SOPRANOS II!!!! What a mistake that was. I drifted away from GH and all my attention was on OLTL….never in a million years did I think that OLTL would be cancelled. Way to go ABC….nothing like taking your golden goose and slaughtering it in front of the viewers!!!!

Scott
Scott

Yeah, sorry, I don’t believe what he says about it being about Port Charles and the people on the show. I see him turning it into OLTL 2.0, I never found OLTL to be entertaining and found their finale to be below the bar of what I expect a series finale to withhold.

I give RC/FV one full month of airtime before I decide whether to keep GH or ditch it.

Grand Hotel

Denyse Tontz and Lincoln Younes Preview Forbidden Romance & Intrigue As ‘Grand Hotel’ Premieres

When Grand Hotel opens its doors to its audience tonight on ABC (10PMET/PT), it will have a very familiar feel to soap fans for several of its series regulars and its executive producer all come from the world of daytime or serialized storytelling.

Executive Producer, Eva Longoria (Ex-Y&R, Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, Telenovela) brought to the screens a provocative drama with Miami Beach as its backdrop of the last family-owned hotel (by the Mendozas) with a contemporary take of an upstairs/downstairs story of 2019.

Former General Hospital’s Bryan Craig plays Javi, who is joined by two other soap notables; former All My Children reboot star, Denyse Tontz (Ex-Miranda Montgomery) and Australian-born actor, Lincoln Younes (Ex-Casey, Home and Away) who’s characters are interlocked in some very sexy and mysterious ways.

Tontz, plays Alicia Mendoza the strong-willed daughter of the Mendoza clan, who is fresh out of business school… and who will make a huge discovery about her dad, but is also set to embark on a romance with a new staff hire!  And that staff hire is Danny played by Younes, whose character Danny is not who he says he is at all … and he has one goal in my mind which brought him to the hotel … but things get complicated for him when he feels a massive attraction to the hotel owner’s daughter … Alicia!

Michael Fairman TV took part in a press roundtable discussion with Tontz and Younes to get some teasers of what’s to come when Grand Hotel premieres.  Here’s what they shared in some questions posed by us and others below.

Photo: ABC

Danny and Alicia definitely have an instant attraction in the season premiere. Where can you tease that it might go?

LINCOLN:  Well, it can go in a number of directions, but hopefully towards a positive one.  They each have their own motivations for why they’re at the hotel.

DENYSE:  Alicia’s main goal, or at least from the beginning, is to prove herself, just having graduated business school and sort of step into her mother’s shoes a little bit. She’s had a lot of pressure on her for most of her life to sort of fill that role and keep the family together.  I think it’s really tough to have to juggle that and the desire to explore this potential romance with this person who is so intriguing to her.

LINCOLN:  I think with Danny, his reasons are kind of unknown as to why he’s at the hotel.  He comes in as a new employee, but there is something off about him.  It is complicated by the arrival of Alicia and the chemistry the kind of ensues between them.  I think that’s kind of the interesting thing to watch is them navigating their priorities and their initial motivations with the inevitable chemistry and dynamic that has appeared.

Photo: ABC

The main family in Grand Hotel is Hispanic.  And what is intriguing about the premise is that their ethnicity is not the backdrop of the story, it’s just who they are.  Would you agree?

LINCOLN:  Eva is kind of a trailblazer in that way because this is about the story of a family, and a hotel, and the guests, and the employees, and the employers, and all of the different things these people go through.  It’s not so much the color of their skin and their background.  I think as soon as you take away the magnifying glass of how a person appears and really look at what is going on inside, that’s a step in the right direction.

DENYSE:  I think that even though we are really a diverse cast and crew, that really has nothing to do with the actual premise of the show, and I think that’s really cool even to just see that.  To just play a character who happens to be Hispanic, and that’s not the central theme of this character, I think there really are no stereotypes that are perpetuated in any way.

LINCOLN:  It’s the perfect melting pot of culture, and the fact that it is set in a hotel where anyone from any part of the world can come into, it creates this show that I don’t see anything like this on TV, and that’s very exciting.

Do you see Danny and Alicia as a duo to root for with their dysfunction and all throughout the series?

DENYSE:  I think there is this sort of allure to the forbidden romance aspect of it all.

LINCOLN:  They have these obstacles in front of them.

DENYSE:  But you want it to happen. (Laughs)

LINCOLN:  You want it to happen, and it’s just against all odds.  That complicates things.

Photo: ABC

You have such a great cast to work with; chief among them Demián Bichir, Roselyn Sanchez (Devious Maids)!

DENYSE:  Oh man, working with Demián and Roselyn and Eva Longoria was a dream.  They’re each so special in their own way.

LINCOLN:  Three powerhouses.

DENYSE:  Yeah, three powerhouses and very different.  They each have their own way of approaching a scene.  Demián is mostly a movie actor, and it really shows in the way he approaches scenes, and the way he is not glued to the lines, and it’s kind of cool to watch him and learn from him in that way.  He’s so funny too.  He makes it a really comfortable environment, and you feel safe to try stuff.   Eva … same thing.  She has a clear vision for what she wants.  She can direct in such a way that I think a lot of directors can’t, because she has been on the other side of the camera, and she has got a really good perspective.  I think she’s really great at articulating what she wants you to do.

LINCOLN:  Yeah, she’s very meticulous.  I think the thing about all of the people who you’ve just mentioned is that they all have levity.  They are all very specific, but they are all very authentic.  That carries through in both their acting and how they carry themselves off set.  That was really great to kind of learn from them.

Photo: ABC

Many in the cast are from daytime dramas, or soap operas previously, including both of you!  Was that a coincidence in the producers casting choices, you think?

LINCOLN: I think, just knowing Eva so well now, and Brian and Ben, the creators behind it, they searched long and hard for the people they wanted to play the roles.  So, it might just be a happy coincidence.

When the scripts came out, how did the cast handle the twists?

LINCOLN:  There was a lot of speculation going on.  There was a lot of gossiping on set and off set.

DENYSE:  Lots of gossiping, stealing scripts… a lot of bombshells though.  There really is no shortage of plot twists.  A lot of these characters you think are going to start out a certain way, and then you find yourself completely changing your opinion of them halfway through the season. Without giving too much away, nobody is really who they appear to be.

Photo: ABC

How do you both feel about the fact that the wait is over and Grand Hotel is finally premiering?

DENYSE:  It’s super exciting.

LINCOLN:  It’s very surreal.  This is my first American show, so I have no idea what to expect.  I just go to Denyse for advice.  I’m like, “What do I do?”  (Laughs).  It’s all very exciting.  I think when you love a project; there is another element when it is released to the public.  Everyone on the show loves it.  Everyone is so passionate about it.  So, I just hope that the audience feels the same and that we get to keep doing it.

So will you be checking out Denyse, Lincoln, Bryan, Eva and more on Grand Hotel?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below. But first check out this promo for the kick-off tonight!

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General Hospital

GH’s Cynthia Watros Talks On Taking Over The Role Of Nina & Ingo Rademacher Dishes Jax’s New Love Interest

Today on June 3rd, Daytime Emmy winner, Cynthia Watros is set to begin taping all-new episodes of General Hospital as she steps into the role of Nina Cassadine, last played by Michelle Stafford, who has left the ABC daytime drama series and headed back to The Young and the Restless to reprise her signature role of Phyllis Summers.

Watros, best-known for her delicious portrayal of Annie Dutton on Guiding Light, and who was last seen on daytime on Y&R, is back to the grind of the soaps taking on the complex Nina.  Add to that, it is clear that GH is setting up a potential love triangle, or new love interest for her, now that Jasper Jacks is back in Port Charles with GH fan favorite Ingo Rademacher returning to the show.

Last month on the recent GH Nurses’ Ball episodes, we saw Nina (then Stafford) lock eyes with Jax, and the two demonstrated an instant attraction to each other.  Add to that in story; Jax was revealed to be the new 50 percent owner of Aurora Media, which Nina’s Crimson Magazine falls under, putting them in each other’s path in more ways than one.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Cynthia and Ingo along with other members of the media at last week’s ABC Summer Press Roundtable junket, and here were some intriguing and insightful moments from the conversations below.

When we asked if Cynthia had a conversation with Michelle Stafford on taking over the role of Nina, Watros responded: “I did.  We had lunch together, and I have to say, Michelle is an amazing, lovely, giving woman.  Just to be able to sit across from her and talk about Nina and to talk about the show, I was just in awe of her generosity.  I will always be a fan of Michelle’s.  She actually reached out to me and said, ‘If you ever want to call or text…’ and I said, ‘Let’s have lunch!’  So, we found and afternoon and spent like three hours just talking about it.”

Photo Credit: ABC

Since Watros has brought the cray-cray to her best known role of Annie on GL and is so adept as an actress to go from that to playing grave reality, Cynthia weighed in on how she sees Nina and the challenges of being a recast in a soap role: “Nina has all of this stuff that I can’t wait to play.  She’s got stuff that she hasn’t explored for a long time because her life is going pretty well right now.  What happens though when your life doesn’t go really well?  You start exploring those things that you thought were sleeping a little bit, you know, that weren’t necessarily bubbling up to the surface.  So, I like it all: when a character’s life is going well and when a character’s life is not going well. Because I’m playing Nina now, it’s going to be different.  It’s going to be challenging.  It’s the first time I’ve ever taken over a role that someone else has played.  I don’t want to totally go off, so people go, “Wow.  Nina’s totally different,” but of course, I want to make it my own.  Again, I’m an actor who likes to use all of the tools.  I like it all … the funny, the not so funny, the playful, and the crazy.”

As to the timing of Watros returning to the soaps at this time in her life … and how it went down that she landed her new gig at GH, she revealed: “It sounds not very dramatic, but I got a phone call.  Just a phone call asking, ‘Would you be interested?’  Guiding Light will always be in my heart because I had such a good time doing Annie, and I was on Young and the Restless and Another World for half of a second.  So, daytime has always been in my life and in my world.  My last show was in Atlanta, and my daughters were in high school in LA, and it’s hard to go back and forth for them, for me, and for my life as a mom.  So, I kind of took my acting and said, ‘Well, I’m going to slow it all down until they graduate high school.’  They graduate high school June 2nd and I start GH June 3rd.  So, it just seemed like it just made sense.”

Photo: ABC

As to what the future holds for Nina as she takes over the role, Watros shared: “I can tease that I get to play with this guy (Ingo) a lot, and Nina is trying to find a stronger role in the magazine where she is really going to step up in making that a success and her love for the magazine , and trying to navigate her relationship with Jax.”

Cynthia will also get to work with Nina’s present love interest, James Patrick Stuart (Valentin), which the actress is also excited about:“I have to say, I have not met him, but I have been watching the show, and he is just phenomenal.  I love his character.  I love how he is this sort of like bad guy, but it seems like the women really dig him.”

Watros says she is excited to work with Maura West (Ava), Laura Wright (Carly), and Billy Miller (Drew) from the cast.  She has previously worked with Laura and Billy in her soap career. As to her nerves for her first week at the ABC studios where GH is taped, Cynthia shared that she is: “Less nervous, more excited. I feel like a 20-year-old back in soaps.  I remember Kim Zimmer (Ex-Reva, Guiding Light) back in the rehearsal room, and I was off script, and she was on the show for a long time before me, and I was new. I was yelling my lines, and she goes, ‘Excuse me! Can you tell this actress not to act so early in the morning?’ (Laughs) I feel like I’m going to do that again.  So, I’ve got to tone it all down.” (Laughs)

Photo: ABC

For Ingo, he certainly has a view as to how Jax fits into the canvas of Port Charles: “Jax is to me, and I’ve only just been able to put it into words now that Captain America came out, but he’s ‘Captain America’.  He’s all about fairness.  If he sees a bully, he will stand up for the person who is being bullied.  So, that’s who he is.  He’s the white knight.  He’s the person who will always do the right thing.”

Now that Jax has big time ownership in Aurora Media and thus Crimson, does he see the sparks flying with Nina? Ingo reveals: “Yeah, basically he walks in, and she goes, ‘What are you doing in my office?’ and he goes, ‘Actually, it’s my office.’  When I heard about him doing that magazine, I was a little surprised because that’s usually much too small for Jax.  He’s more of a Richard Gere in Pretty Woman character, corporate leader, takes corporations apart, sells pieces … this is, I think really for his daughter, Josslyn (Eden McCoy).  He’s thinking about the future.  Also, to keep him busy in an actual job that he might be good at.   I think it’s a big change in lifestyle for him where before it was about businesses which were much more global.”

Photo: CBS

As to what is behind Jax’s attraction to Nina, Ingo summed it up by sharing: I think Jax is attracted to Nina the first time he sees her.  I have a feeling he already knew who she was the first time he sees her at the Nurses’ Ball, because he’s been studying Aurora Media before purchasing it.  He’s done his background work, and to piss off a Cassadine is just a bonus.  Also, I think what is interesting for Nina’s character is the two different guys.  She’s engaged to this more mysterious character, and then, you’ve got this jolly, upfront one going, ‘Hey!  How’s it going?  Everybody having a good day?’ (Laughs)  He’s very confident as well, but in a different way.  I think it’s nice for the story for Nina to be tugged between two completely different men.”

So, excited to see the debut of Cynthia in the role of Nina? Are you up for a triangle between Jax/Nina/Valentin? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.  But first, watch Cynthia’s Emmy-winning moment as Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work on Guiding Light.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Arianne Zucker, Stacy Haiduk & Paul Telfer Talk On Masks, Villainy & Their Wildest Storyline Yet

Take three great actors, add a prosthetic mask into the equation, and let them have at it! That’s just what NBC’s Days of our Lives is in the midst of serving up to its fans with this latest plot device and twist.  Last week, it was revealed that the nefarious Kristen DiMera (Stacy Haiduk) is alive and well and pretending to be Nicole Walker (Arianne Zucker) donning a mask, a voice alternating device, and some other body tweaks!  The goal …  to be with Brady Black (Eric Martsolf) and she will do anything to accomplish that!

Enter Xander (Paul Telfer) who has been in the thick of the plot being the only one we know of, so far, who knows that Kristen is parading around as Nicole.  They hatch their next moves inside a room at the Salem Inn.  They even went so far as to set it up to appear that Nicole’s daughter, Holly was killed, so she could blame Eric (Greg Vaughan) and cause a break-up of the long-suffering lovebirds and play it off as she needs to be consoled by Brady!

Michael Fairman TV chatted in an entertaining and wickedly funny interview with Arianne Zucker, Stacy Haiduk, and Paul Telfer to get the lowdown on what happened when they learned they would be wearing or working with a mask, how they pulled off the emotions in the storyline twist, and what to look forward to from here.  Under the clever pen of head writer, Ron Carlivati looks for the hits and twists to keep coming as this storyline continues to rock the world of Salem for some time to come.  Here’s what Arianne, Stacy, and Paul had to say about their latest on-screen predicaments and schemes!

Ari, at what point did you know that you really weren’t Nicole … and that you were Kristen playing Nicole?

ARIANNE:  I actually didn’t find out until a little bit after the van went off the road in the storyline; thinking it was Holly who was killed.  Sometimes, the less I know makes it fresher, and I think if I had known before those scenes, and the scenes with Eric (Greg Vaughan), and when I first came back, I would have had a little too much Kristen on my mind, and I don’t know if I could have been as raw as I felt in those scenes.  So, anyway that’s my long explanation.  I found out after I started back on the show! (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Additionally, did you have a conversation with Stacy about certain mannerisms hat Kristen has if you’re “masquerading” as Nicole?

ARIANNE:  Our co-executive producer, Albert Alaar had talked to me about watching Stacy because everything was happening fast.  Stacy and I really hadn’t had a chance to even talk to each other even from the last round of me being thereI remember Stacy was inundated with dialogue up the wazoo when I came back for that twelve-episode arc.  So, because of all of that, Albert said, “Watch Stacy! Watch her mannerisms, watch what she does,” and then I’ll throw a little Ari in it.  I just hope that I do as good of a job as Stacy does.

Paul, you and I talked about this on the NBC ‘Inside Salem’ podcast, when we played back for you (for the first time) the clip of Kristen taking off her Nicole mask.  Xander had the perfect set-up line for the reveal: “The part of Nicole Walker is being played by Kristen DiMera!”  Did you not have a good laugh doing that scene?  How did you get through doing that moment?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

PAUL:  Oh, yeah, I was laughing my ass off the whole time.  This is an insane storyline with masks and doppelgängers.  But, it looks great on-screen, and that way it’s edited.  So, I was really happy.

STACY:  There was one moment when Nicole would hold steady to unfold the neck.   So, Ari started that to the point where I’m pulling it off completely.  I think it’s cool.  It’s “Mission Impossible”.  How nice!

PAUL:  That’s what I going to say.  If Tom Cruise can make a hundred million dollars doing this stuff …

STACY:  … then, we can do it!

ARIANNE:  Right?  We can make a quarter of a quarter of a quarter of a quarter of that.

STACY:  We’ll make it look good!

What is the real deal between Xander and Kristen?  They are conspiring and in cahoots, but there’s this underlying sexual tension between them.  I think Xander respects Kristen in a way, because she can one-up him!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

PAUL:  I think every character who Xander has interacted with who isn’t a member of his family, he’s trying to either get something from, or get into bed with, and he can’t really do either with Kristen, because she’s crazier and more dangerous that he is up until this point.  That’s certainly the way that it feels.  The way Stacy plays it, she is not to be messed around with. Honestly, I think that turns him on.

STACY:  Yeah, there you go.  That sounds good. (Laughs)

PAUL:  I mean, it makes sense.  Just like, “Wait a minute.  This is a bit spicier than I’m used to,” so, he’s excited, but at the same time he knows which side his bread is buttered on, and he doesn’t want her to murder him!  (Laughs)

STACY:  Well said.  I like that. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, what does Kristen think of Xander at this point?

PAUL:  That, he’s a useful idiot.

STACY:  She actually needs him to go out into the world because she can’t leave.  When she does, she has to leave as Nicole, and then it becomes a whole other storyline.

PAUL:  It’s fun because Kristen is actually the boss, and Xander is convinced that they’re actually partners and that becomes our whole dynamic where she’s treating him as her lackey, but he’s like, “No, we’re partners, because I know your secret.”  Then, it becomes kind of a bargaining chip between the mask and all of that.  It’s so crazy because certain evil characters when they come back, they have to come back in disguise; whereas Xander’s always quite happy to be just jogging through town square with his shirt off after holding someone ransom or kidnapping a baby like, “Ah, whatever.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Arianne, it’s been awhile since you got to play the villainess side of Nicole, and with this return to DAYS you get to play that side of her as well, even though it’s really Kristen. Do you enjoy playing the bad girl?

ARIANNE:  Stacy and I were just saying today that you have these conversations about the villain character, (and Paul, I’m sure you’ve felt a lot of this too) people hate you or they love to hate you, and you’re like, “Hey, it’s a good thing because I’m doing my job if you hate me,” but in order for the storyline to move, you’ve got to have a villain.  Nicole used to be kind of villain-ish but playing someone like Kristen who is such a valued villain on this show is just … oh, my God!

Stacy and Paul, what do you think is the most heinous thing your characters have done so far?

STACY:  The most heinous?  (Laughs). Wow.  You know what’s funny is that she’s done all of these things, and I don’t think she thinks what she does is bad.

PAUL:  It’s so funny because you totally would expect her to be like, “The other characters are evil.  We’re the good guys!”

STACY:  I mean honestly, so she kidnapped Nicole, and took her baby.  There’s Marlena and the window.  I mean, it’s hard when she’s done all of these crazy, horrible things.  I’ve just really enjoyed playing her because she’s smart, she’s sassy, she’s this brilliant, deviant person who just wants one thing, and there’s one thing on her mind, and everything else gets in her way.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Is the one thing Brady?

STACY:  Brady, Brady, Brady, and I think even Xander has to repeat it over and over again.  We were playing in rehearsal, and I think I had him do that.  I don’t remember the line, but I said something, and he goes, “Brady Black,” and I go, “Say it again,” just because I want to hear him say it again.  That’s her driving force.

What did Greg Vaughan and Eric Martsolf say when they found out about what the twist was?  Did you tell them?  How did they find out?

ARIANNE:  Well, Eric Martsolf always has a great chuckle.  He has a great laugh, and I think Greg Vaughan just stared at me for a minute.  Then, I told him about the mask process … about making the mask …. and how I thought I was going to pass out and die.  (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Is putting on the mask an extremely weird experience?  How long does it take to put on? 

STACY:  About an hour?  It’s quick, and I thought we were going to suffocate when we were under that because I’ve never done my whole face before, but I’ve done body things. Make-up department is like, “You’re going to be fine.”  It was heavy too, really heavy.

ARIANNE:  Yeah, and because it’s so heavy, after a while, it starts to pull your skin down a little bit, and you’re like, “No, no!” (Laughs)

Did anybody else go running around with the mask on?

PAUL:  Oh yeah.  Everybody!

I knew it!

ARIANNE:  How could you not?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, what is the relationship between the real Nicole and Xander, which we saw play out before her death?

PAUL:  She’s my wife!

So, Xander sees Nicole as his wife?

PAUL:  I’m happy to give Xander’s perspective on Nicole, and then Arianne can feel free to correct it.  (Laughs)

ARIANNE:  Alright, that sounds good.

Photo Credit JPI Studios

PAUL:  The way I’ve tried to handle it over the years in our ins and outs of this failed romance is that they’ve saddled poor Arianne with: this psycho chasing after her, and kidnapping her and her baby, and whisking her off to foreign lands – and also to Nashville.  When Xander first came into town, before they decided to make him a total psychopath, it was all working nicely, and Nicole wasn’t really on the up and up with Xander, and she wasn’t really honest about what her intentions were.  Meanwhile, Xander was involved in all of this chicanery with Serena, so once that metastasized into full-blown evil, and Nicole was aware of this, it shifted from, “I just really wanted to take this girl to the movies,” to, “Well, I guess I have to kill her now.”  (Laughs)  So, I think he’s just been playing that out ever since.  “Well, if I can’t date her, and if she won’t love me, then I guess I just have to torture her for the rest of her days.”  I think now on the other side of her supposed death, I think Xander has probably reconciled that his twisted romantic notions, or torture, or whatever he was doing with Nicole, is probably over, and he’s moving on to greener, more alive pastures like Sarah.  To be fair, I do think they’ve purposely made it confusing.  Not just for the audience, but for us.  There’s a real sense of, “Am I playing this to Nicole as Kristen, or do you want me to play this just to Nicole?”  Very often they just go, “No, just play it to Nicole,” because it’s funnier if for Xander it just occasionally slips his mind because she looks just like Nicole.  I’m kissing her… like he’s just enjoying the fact that he can.  “I never really got to kiss Nicole much, but this is Nicole’s face, so I’m going to.”  (Laughs)

ARIANNE:  That’s hilarious.

Ari, what would you say is their relationship?

ARIANNE:  Well, I’m certainly not as long-winded as that.  (Laughs)

PAUL:  He’s a creep!

ARIANNE:  He is a creep.  What cracks me up coming from Nicole is, “Ew, what a jerk.  He’s so gross.  Yuck, yuck!”  Like, really?  You’re not going to make that one work, huh Nicole?  When you reach that far back to the history of Xander and Nicole, it doesn’t have a lot of depth for the two characters because the next thing you know he’s trying to kill her and Eric.  It’s like that scary online dating when you go on one date and it didn’t work out because that guy is going to kill you.

PAUL:  Xander is like the ultimate bad Tinder date.

ARIANNE:  Totally. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

That is classic.  The bad Tinder date.  That’s basically it.  Xander also apparently feels bad for Maggie (Suzanne Rogers) as she is having her bout with alcoholism.  Is that correct?

PAUL:  Yeah, I’m actually excited to see some of that stuff.  It was great doing it because I love Suzanne to bits.  I was very afraid of ruining Xander by making him too nice, but at the same time when I was first brought on to Days, I wasn’t offered a villain role originally.  Xander morphed into a more severe villain than I’d been led to believe he would be, and it happened quite quickly.  So, I’m actually quite happy to right the ship a little bit back towards he’s bad but he has some occasional glimmers of goodness in him.  So, Maggie really represents that because she’s actually quite nice to him and nurturing in a way that no other character on the show is.  When she has her dalliance with alcohol, he’s one of the few people who doesn’t judge her for it, and we finally get a little bit of Xander’s back story.  I’m actually excited to see those scenes because they felt nice to do, so hopefully they come across well.

Stacy, how did you track this storyline, when Arianne would be playing Kristen as Nicole? 

STACY:  Well if I didn’t get the script, I didn’t know about it.  So, if I wasn’t in the script that time, then I would be looking at Paul going, “What are we talking about?” and then, Ari had obviously already shot those scenes, so they were written for me, so I’m like, “What did I do?  What did I do?” It’s just scenes between Xander and Kristen at the Salem Inn.  Occasionally, you’d get somebody knocking at the door, but then I’d have to quickly put on my mask. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, Ari did you ever have to go to Stacy to get tips about Kristen’s past or anything?

ARIANNE:  It was all about the future moving forward.  I think old, former Nicole had some crazy similarities with current Kristen because it felt kind the same as pulling some things from what she used to do … you know, just a couple of crazy chicks in one crazy character. (Laughs).

The other big part of this is Rolf’s diary that Xander has in his possession.  Is Kristen in cahoots with him on that?  Is she trying to get that from him?

STACY:  I think she is.

PAUL:  Yeah, that’s when she starts to get mad at him; when she realizes that he’s not just being her underling and he’s off scurrying around with his own agenda in the meantime.

ARIANNE:  He’s manipulating and doing his own thing.

PAUL:  I use it to start manipulating Eve (Kassie DePaiva).

So, what would you say to the fans to look forward to?  “You never know who you’re talking to on DAYS?” “Gird your masks?”

ARIANNE:  I definitely think fans know that’s not Nicole the way she is.  And, you never know who is going to give you a shot in the butt and turn you into somebody else.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Well, that’s true.  You never know.  One day they’re going to tell you that you’re playing Julie today! (Laughs)

ARIANNE: “Today the character of Julie will be played by…”

STACY: “… you will never guess by whom!”

PAUL:  This was fun.  This is a fun way to do it.  Let’s all do all of our interviews together moving forward!

So, what have you thought of the plot twist? What do you think of the Nicole mask and the performances and comments made here by Arianne, Stacy, and Paul? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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