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The Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante Interview – The Young and the Restless

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In their first joint interview with On-Air On-Soaps as co-head writers of The Young and the Restless, Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante discuss many of the hot button topics, and latest storylines that are playing out in Genoa City, and tease what to look for as we approach the summer months of drama on the CBS soap opera.

As soap fans know, Shelly was already at Y&R when she got the nod to replace Josh Griffith and became the number one soap’s co-head writer.  Then Jean joined her after finishing up her time on the writing team of ABC’s General Hospital.  The last daytime soap where Jean made her mark as head scribe was As the World Turns in its final years, and she is known in the industry as one of the top writers of character development.  This twosome’s collaboration really kicked-off in the late fall of last year (when we last spoke with Altman) and now viewers have begun to get a sense of this team’s style, pace of storytelling, and ebb and flow of crafting stories.

Since Shelly and Jean have been steering the script ship many casting changes, replacements, and departures have affected The Young and the Restless, where beloved favorites have left for various reasons, and certain characters such as Phyllis and Adam will be recast.  During our chat, Shelly and Jean reveal how, if at all, that impacted the plans for their long range stories.

So, what is the next reveal in the Mariah/Cassie look-alike story?  Do Sharon and Nick stand a chance at happiness with a comatose Phyllis looming with the knowledge of the “secret”?  How will Ian try to tear apart the lives of the denizens of GC?  Will Victor and Nikki’s rift grow wider?  Is it Billy and Victoria, or Victoria and Stitch that is the romantic end game?  Will Chelsea and Billy come to love each other only for Adam to walk back into Chelsea’s life?  Will Kevin be devastated upon the departure of Chloe?  Could Hilary be the most viable romantic pairing for Neil since Drucilla’s death?  Read on to find out the answers to these questions from the writers themselves.

So let’s start with The Young and the Restless garnering 26 Daytime Emmy nominations!  But I know since it was for the 2013 calendar year, Jean was over at General Hospital writing at that time for most of it.

SHELLY:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

We are very proud of the number of nominations!

JEAN:

I had nothing to do with it.  I would be very happy to take credit for it.

SHELLY:

You know, Jean was moral support nonetheless even before she joined the team. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Jean, how has this been for you coming over from GH to work with Shelly as co-head writer of Y&R?

JEAN:

Shelly and I worked very briefly together on Another World for two weeks and on One Life and General Hospital.  So we have always wanted to do something like this, and so it turned out to be a wonderful thing.  I can’t imagine a better partner.

MICHAEL:

How do you play off each other in the writing process in terms of ideas, stories, and character development?

SHELLY:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

We have a very similar story sensibility… which is good … but we bring different touches to different characters in certain stories.  I think we compliment each other very well.

JEAN:

We have slightly different styles of working.

SHELLY:

I am hysterical and you are calm! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Have you had a moment between the two of you over a difference of opinion of a direction of a character on the Genoa City canvas?

JEAN:

I don’t really think so.  We are very respectful, and so I think if one of us felt absolutely passionately about something we would both try hard to see it that way.  We don’t scream at each other.

SHELLY:

We listen to each other and that is big thing, and like Jean said, if there was something that she felt super strongly about, I would take a step back and listen to her and hear why it wasn’t working, and I would come around to agreeing.

MICHAEL:

Let’s talk about the current stories on Y&R beginning with the Cassie lookalike storyline, and the set-up.  In a recent interview with TV Guide, Jill Farren Phelps (executive producer, Y&R) revealed that Ian (Ray Wise) was originally not intended to be part of this story.

SHELLY:

That was the one addition to the story that came later.  Other than that, going back as far as last August, it was already in long story that Cassie would be exposed as a non-ghost, and in fact, she would turn out to be Mariah.

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

MICHAEL:

At what point did you decide to erase Sharon’s (Sharon Case) memory to keep her secret?  Jean, did you come up with that? (Laughs)

JEAN:

(Laughs) How could you say that?  It just seemed like there had to be way to bring Nick (Joshua Morrow) and Sharon together, and if she continued to lie about what happened that would have been very difficult.  Sharon is in much better shape now.

MICHAEL:

The character of Sharon had been ruined by different writing regimes.  She was the younger heroine for the show, and then it became hard to care about her when her antics were all over the place, even after giving her bipolar disorder.  Do you think this is your imprint on the history of Sharon now … to reset her?

SHELLY:

Yes. That, and that this was being done as much for Nick as it was with Sharon, that we needed some way to deal with what she had done.  Nick is a hero, and it didn’t seem right for him to be drawn more and more towards her while she was holding this enormous secret that affected him so deeply.  With the removal of that in her own mind, and in her own heart, she doesn’t know that she did anything, so she can be more purely Sharon, the Sharon that she was once, and therefore more viable a partner for Nick.

JEAN:

Courtesy/CBS

I totally agree, and it makes her be able to be loved by Nick.

MICHAEL:

Some fans remarked that this story with the Cassie lookalike (now Mariah) does not make sense, because when Cassie appeared before to Sharon she was a “ghost”, and now she is all of a sudden a real person who gaslighted her.

SHELLY:

That was true.  Sharon was having visions that Noah (Robert Adamson) knew about and told Victor (Eric Braeden) about.  Victor simply seized upon an opportunity to take it a step further.

JEAN:

When Mariah started appearing as Cassie, she made some mistakes.  She did not know what the figment of Sharon’s imagination found out as Sharon’s secret.  So Mariah does not know the secret.  The only piece of information she gleaned is that Phyllis also knows the secret.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

What do we know about the relationship between Ian and Mariah?  Is that a major mystery to this story?

SHELLY:

We have not yet revealed the full nature of their relationship.  But, it is clear that Ian cared for her differently than the way he relates to other people.

MICHAEL:

When you found out that you would be able to have Ray Wise (Ian) on longer than just several episodes, and through watching his performances, did it inform your story?

JEAN:

Sometimes the presence of an actor inspires storytelling.  Ray was so delicious and fun to watch.  It was an opportunity to pull him into more story.

SHELLY:

Seeing him triggers ideas for us as writers.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

Everyone is betting that Sharon gave birth to twins, which explains why Mariah looks exactly like Cassie.  When do you see viewers getting more insight into who this character is?  Are you planning on revealing it? (Laughs)

JEAN:

We will reveal who this girl is.  I think that will be a lot of what this summer is about.  It has a lot of ramifications.

MICHAEL:

Camryn Grimes has really won over the fans of the show with her performance as tough gal Mariah.  What do you think about how she has handled the material … and were you surprised to see her that way?

SHELLY:

She is a revelation and wonderful.  I couldn’t be more pleased.  She has really delivered the many colors of this character.

JEAN:

I think it has been so much fun.  I wasn’t there from the beginning when she played the actual figment of Sharon’s imagination.  When I started watching, she was doing that and I thought, “Wow, what a sweet girl.  We are betting a lot on this sweet girl being a nasty critter.”  Then the minute you see her with Victor you could see that kind of edge.  It was startling and exciting, and there again, I think it’s a case of an actor inspiring story and where it might go.  It poses all sorts of possibilities given what the actress is capable of.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/SONY

JEAN:

You think?  (Laughs) ‘At some point’ are the operative words!

SHELLY:

I think it is clear that we have kept Phyllis alive as a character.  And even in her absence, she continues to be an extremely important player in Jack’s life, Summer’s life, and of course, in Sharon’s life.  But Sharon is unaware of how at the moment.

MICHAEL:

Do you have any reservations in recasting a character such as Phyllis?  Many times fans have knee-jerk reactions into seeing a different actor replace someone who has made their mark in the role, and until such time passes, they either come to accept them and like them, or reject them.

SHELLY:

Judy Blye Wilson (Casting Director, Y&R) is brilliant.  We do trust that she will find what we need and want for it.

JEAN:

I also think that we are in a sort of ‘Scarlett O’Hara mode’ where we will, “Think about that tomorrow!”  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Then you had Cynthia Watros leaving the role of Kelly, and Cady McClain coming in.  Was the impetus to keep Kelly on the canvas, because Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) needed a new love interest?

SHELLY:

The story was in place already.  Kelly was going to continue in becoming that love interest for Jack before we knew Cynthia got the pilot, which we are very happy about for her. 

MICHAEL:

Cady is a very different kind of an actress than Cynthia.

JEAN:

I think you do write with an actress in mind.  I have written for Cady on All My Children and As the World Turns, and I love her.  I love Cynthia too, but you are right.

MICHAEL:

I immediately thought of Cady’s time as conniving Rosanna on As the World Turns, when the decision was made to cast her as Kelly.   I have seen her play the complicated darker side to a character.

JEAN:

Photo Credit: Hutchins Photo

Exactly, and I think people were surprised by Cady that she could play that after playing the sweet Dixie for so long.  Cady is a very complicated actress, and very interesting.  I think we are going to see all of that and more with her as Kelly, who is a complicated character with a lot of baggage.

MICHAEL:

With the departure of Billy Miller, and the switch to bringing back David Tom as Billy Abbott, did that casting change prompt you to think, “What are we you going to do with Billy and Victoria now, since it’s a different vibe seeing David with Amelia on-screen together than Billy with Amelia?”  Billy Miller and Amelia Heinle (Victoria) had developed such a unique quirky couple as Billy and Victoria.  How did the decision come about to mess with all of that … and perhaps, change the course of who would end up with who?

SHELLY:

Again, that was the long story.  We certainly had the heads up for some time that Billy Miller was going to be leaving, and the story was designed that the exit of Billy and Adam coincided.  We knew the character of Billy would emerge on the other side of that.  In general, recasts happen in this genre quite a bit.  We try to stay true to our story and right for the characters as much as possible.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/Twitter/CBS

Nick and Sharon are star-crossed lovers on Y&R.  Recently Billy said to Stitch (Sean Carrigan), “There will always be something between me and Victoria!”  So are they really the couple to root for here?  And is Stitch’s ‘secret’ a vehicle to make him less than the wonderful doc?

JEAN:

What Billy said was true.  I think Billy and Victoria, to our audience and to us, will always be bonded.  There is something between them that we will want to see again, and we automatically want to see them happy again, but I think with the character of Stitch, he is a good guy.  It’s a horse race with a little caveat that there is something out there about Stitch that we don’t know about.

MICHAEL:

And … do you actually know what that ‘secret’ is?  (Laughs)  I remind myself of something along the lines of the movie Soap Dish, where the writers and the executives throw something in the script, but don’t really have any idea of where it’s going! (Laughs)

JEAN:

Oh, yeah!  I remember when I first started on soaps.  I was a network executive at ABC and completely naïve.  I went to one of the head writer’s office on one of the shows that I shall not name.  There was a big competition going on within the show between two characters and I said, “So who’s going to win?”  And he said, “I don’t know. Who do you think should win?” (Laughs)   I was completely stunned at writing in that kind of improvisatory way, which was just wild.

SHELLY:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Art imitates life, and we don’t necessarily know the outcome of our own dramas.

JEAN:

Right, but we tend to, Shelly and me, when we write.

SHELLY:

We do.  I think both of us tend to know the end of the story before we begin.  That doesn’t mean we don’t take side trips along the way, but it helps when you are headed towards a goal.

JEAN:

… And sometimes the goal changes.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

You have put Chelsea (Melissa Claire Egan) and Billy (David Tom) in each other’s orbit now.  What do you think of their on-screen chemistry when you watch back the episodes you have written?

JEAN:

I think there is a lot of fun there.  It’s surprising and unexpected.  These are two people that really shouldn’t be hanging out together.

MICHAEL:

There would be nothing worse for Adam than to walk back into Chelsea’s life, and who should she be with … Billy!

JEAN:

Exactly! What a great idea. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/MuhneyTwitterFanPop

So that brings us to the subject of Adam.  The Adam character is pivotal to the show.  You are planning on bringing the character back.   So, are you going to be, or have you been, heavily involved in the casting of the character?   And as the head writers, what qualities do you think the actor who plays the part has to have in order to pull this kind of role off?

JEAN:
We are in Tara again; theoretically.  We are in on all casting decisions involving roles as important as Adam.

SHELLY:

I think the actor would have to have an edge, and be the son of Victor Newman and all that entails.

MICHAEL:

Victor and Nikki are now having a huge rift, after Nick exposed Victor’s machinations with Mariah to try to get the secret out of Sharon.  Nikki then said to the mighty moustache that, “You are no better than Ian Ward!”  So is it major splitsville … again … for the most storied coupled in the history of Y&R?

JEAN:

Photo Credit: Jeremy Fraser/LA Exposures

I think Victor and Nikki are bonded no matter what, and she has been furious at him before, and he has been furious with her.  They never really throw in the towel for sure, but now we have thrown a huge obstacle in their path.  Over the summer, there will be another bombshell.

SHELLY:

Yes, their relationship will be challenged.  And as Jean said, they have certainly weathered storms before, but it remains to be seen whether this storm will be of biblical proportions! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Elizabeth Hendrickson has wrapped as Chloe, and fans will get to see her final episodes on-air later this month.  What can you say about losing a talent such as Elizabeth?

SHELLY:

She is terrific, and she did such an amazing job, in particular this past year with the emotion over the loss of Delia and her conflict.  We just wish her all the best, and again actors may leave but the characters will have left their imprint on the canvas, and Chloe will remain a factor even when she is gone.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Did you have ample time to write an exit story for her, once you found out she was officially departing the show?

JEAN:

I really liked how we wrote her off.  I think probably it is something we could have done over a longer period of time, but I don’t think it suffers the way we did it.

SHELLY:

I think it came to a very logical conclusion.

MICHAEL:

What are your plans now for the talented Greg Rikaart (Kevin), post-Chloe?  Kevin needs a story!

SHELLY:

I think in broad strokes we can say Kevin will go on a journey of self exploration.  Kevin’s computer skills will be called on by other characters in a major way.  He will be involved in big revelations.

JEAN:

We can add that he will be certainly shaken up by everything that has happened with Chloe and her departure, and that causes the self exploration that Shelly talks about.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Jean, you wrote and helmed the same-sex love story of Luke and Noah on As the World Turns.  And you and I have talked previously about how much I admired that story.  Can you now foresee Y&R tackling a same-sex romance between two men?  Isn’t it time that the number one daytime drama represents this part of the population?

JEAN:

I think this show has historically pretty much taken on everything.  I can say that it’s part of the world we live and the show has touched on everything, and the experiences that people go through in life in a sensitive way, and so anything is possible.

MICHAEL:

The Neil/Hilary/Devon story is starting to become interesting.   Everybody always wants Drucilla with Neil (Kristoff St. John), and there is no Drucilla.  Neil has been paired with so many women and all the romances have fizzled.  So speaking of fizzling, at what point did you decide to break Neil and Leslie (Angell Conwell) up in favor of Neil/Hilary?

JEAN:

It felt like it could be more interesting to leave Neil in his state of dull panic of: “What have I done … and why did I get treated this way?  How did I suddenly lose this woman that I loved? And what does this mean about me?”  It puts him in an interesting perceptive state, and it does some interesting things to Leslie, which you will see later.  Neil is vulnerable and open.  He is trying to figure out “where did I go wrong?”  And then there is this gorgeous woman who nearly destroyed his life, but he was able to forgive.

MICHAEL:

And so was she apparently!

JEAN:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Exactly!  He is kind to her and she is so susceptible!  She goes right from a crush on Jack to a crush on Neil.  Maybe she has a bit of a ‘daddy thing’ going on.   To add Devon (Bryton James) to the mix, there is a flirtation that we had already seen between Hilary (Mishael Morgan) and him.  Then add Lily (Christel Khalil) who despises this woman.  It just seemed like a great big mess, with much story opportunity.

MICHAEL:

Is there a couple to root for here?  Is it Neil and Hillary, or Devon and Hilary?

JEAN:

I think we will have to wait and see.  I think there will be some complications thrown into the mix that will turn the rooting-ness factor on its ear a bit.

MICHAEL:

Do you now see Leslie as a bad person for her ditching of Neil, and marrying the yet-to-be seen Barton (Terrell Tilford)?

JEAN:

No.  I think she is a little impulsive.  She thought she didn’t want to be married, but what that meant is she probably didn’t want to be married to Neil, for what ever reason.  I think she meant what she said when she said it, but I think then she met this other guy and felt differently.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

The Dylan/Avery cooking show storyline has some fans up in arms!  This has to be a set-up to something more, where Steve Burton (Dylan) will actually be given some meaty material other than tasting Avery’s (Jessica Collins) recipes? (Laughs)

JEAN:

I think it’s really a show about putting yourself in the public eye and the consequences, and also this blooms into a bigger and more global story with characters you probably wouldn’t obviously connect that are part of the story.

SHELLY:

It becomes a much bigger umbrella story.

MICHAEL:

So, you are touching on Internet crazed fans and obsession within this story that has become now part of pop culture?

SHELLY:

It certainly is an element of it, and all of us who work in the world today and are involved in social media know that there is a positive and a negative to that.  We are exploring that.

JEAN:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

But I would not say that is what the story is about.  It’s an element of it.

MICHAEL:

Is there a particular character, when you looked at the canvas, that you felt needed some propping up, or building up?

JEAN:

Yes.  I think in the summer you will see more of Summer (Hunter King).  She is a very important character and we get to put her in a completely new situation, and that is something we needed and wanted to do, and are glad we are doing that.

SHELLY:

I think that is true. We want to invest in the younger generation of the core families of Genoa City.

JEAN:

One of the things about this show that is so great is that the history of the show is so guarded and preserved, and so you do get to play younger characters in multi-generational stories, and being an important member of an important family.  We are planning ahead with something that will impact, Kevin, Michael and Lauren, Gloria and everyone else in their family.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

What is next for Michael (Christian LeBlanc) and Lauren (Tracey E. Bregman)?  Will Lauren’s false pregnancy dovetail into something that will come between this popular duo?

JEAN:

I think they came through that very well.

SHELLY:

They are in a better place than they have been in a long time, and yes, there will be more story for them on the horizon.  There is a lot of story being generated for many characters, and we hope fans will continue to tune-in to see what happens in the months ahead.

 

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bob kern
bob kern

I always have story ideas and I believe one of my ideas were used in the past. I will miss the Adam Newman character played by Michael Muhney and Phillis Newman played by Michelle Stafford. NOT THE SAME WITHOUT THESE ACTORS.

Elaine
Elaine

Bob,I am with you two brilliant actors and we need these characters in the present time not months and months from now.

Gail
Gail

Im ssssssssooooooooooo happy they are trying to make Sharon a better person. I loved all the Sharon days. Adam should brake up with Chelsea when they recast. i never seen them with chemistry . Adam needs a new leading lady or Sharon back

Jay Willis
Jay Willis

I watched Y&R to watch Michael Muhney. I’ve been reading how bad it is since he left. Now I know why after reading this interview. Glad I quit watching.

Melissa
Melissa

You and me both. Glad I took the Muhney Walk on Jan 30. My time is too precious to waste it on this garbage.

Tommy Moss.
Tommy Moss.

Sharon is my favorite character. i would love to see her married with a big wedding for summer and maybe a new baby 😀 I think Adam loves Sharon they also were great

Ella Broen
Ella Broen

I really dispise Victor and what he did to Sharon

Sherwood
Sherwood

My Lord, these two are running this show into the ground. The exodus of viewers is over 20% since the end of January. What does that say? It says the show is a true mess and the audience is leaving. When you hit all-time lows in the key demo of Women 18 to 49, these two should be shown the door.

David Tom’s nuBilly is a disaster. Now nuPhyllis and nuAdam are on the horizon. Just like Billy Miller, Michelle Stafford and Michael Muhney won’t be replaced either. So long Y&R.

Cassie
Cassie

Nu Billy was an awful decision. They should’ve found a way to keep Miller or written Billy Abbott off canvas for a bit

Jimmy
Jimmy

David Tom is not nearly as good in the role as Billy Miller was. As far as nuPhyllis is concerned, I think there is a plethora of great actresses in daytime that could do well in the role, like Robin Christopher or Sarah Brown. I’m with you on the Adam front, though. The only actor I could see doing well in the role is Trevor St. John, anyone else will likely fail, just as DT is doing as Billy now.

Lawrence
Lawrence

The show sure does suck with 2 headwriters. Y and R has not had an episode of interest in a while. The show is suffering from too many casting changes. The ratings have tied all time lows for 4 weeks in a row. Your audience is leaving y and r. Phelps, Altman, and Passanante should be fired. They are so delusional that they are actually thinking that the show is moving in a positive direction.

Rita Hopkins
Rita Hopkins

Sadly it sounds like these writers are going to completely ruin this show. With all the new characters plus re-casts of Phyllis & Adam & the departure of Billy Miller real fans do not even recognize Y&R. There is something to be said about popular characters. They keep people watching. The new writers & the producer care nothing about how important these characters are to the fans. There has been a mass exodus of really talented people from the show. Soon all the characters with a few exceptions will be newbies. There are so many actors that the show could do without, but these are the ones that are kept and that all the story lines written for. I watched Y&R for many years and was hoping against hope that the powers that be could see how bad the show has gotten & would get Y&R back on track. I see that that will not happen and Y&R will struggle to survive. I also noticed that Y&R received a lot of nominations for the daytime awards. I would just like to know who decides who is nominated. Some nominations are deserved and others absolutely are not. I guess in the end it really will not matter, because those awards don’t do much for an actors career, and the nominations will not turn Y&R around. Thank you for this interview, but it just confirms to me that the show will continue to feature mediocre actors and pathetic story lines.I am very sad to feel this way about a show that I once watched everyday.

Dee
Dee

The headwriter said their news would profoundly and
suprisingly effect those close to them. So we had
Chrstine and Paul considering trying for a baby after
talking to Like. Niw Chloe will ask Billy to have a
baby after talking to Lauren about babies. I wonder who
will be next? Kevin realizing he wants a family with a
woman who loves him after talking to Michael about
feeling sad about no baby? It does feel like salt in
the wound at this point, especially when that is all
they are being used for. Why are we not surprised we
always get the shaft one way or another they gave us a
story line yeah big BS all we saw was Lauren in Bed
with Carmine and yet we don’t get half of that amount of
time with Michael we saw her on a weekend getaway and
we NEVER got that with Michael although we have asked
for it for years. Should I go on at how we have been screwed over by the writers time and time again
It sucks and they have no respect or care about loyal Likey fans bring back Jack Smith and Kay Alden real writers DEE

chuck
chuck

Dee I hear you about the writing, But fans have to know is Not everybody is going to be “Pleased” BY what the writers write for example Jack smith when he wrote the on the run story Most Fans threw a Fit due to lack of Vets, He also got Thrown under the bus when he rewrote the Kay/Jill story of her being Kay’s daughter. I do think However Josh G was better then this two, He was doing well .

Dee
Dee

I agree Josh had a lot more variety of actors on these writers seem to be stuck once again on the Whole freakin Newman Clan and I dont mind others being on I just want Likey on more then once every 3 weeks

lelablanson
lelablanson

What happen to Cane and Lily Ashby? and Colin and Jill Atkinson ? are they still on Y&R ??

Laurel Twist
Laurel Twist

No, they are not. Colin and Jill are too just run around talking about how/if they love each other. Cane and Lily are too just be support and filler for the Triangle from Hell.

Eliza
Eliza

No questions about Jill? She’s Y&R’s only original character that remains and some of us have followed her since the very beginning.

How about…. is Jill ever going to become rich and/or powerful? We’ve had 40 years of Jill attempting to make it. I still remember Jill’s first trip to the Chancellor mansion. It seems she’s still only half way ( if that) to her goals. I’m a little tired of the never ending quest always ending in failure. Katherine is gone and Y&R is in desperate need of a strong, powerful, and confident women. Jill has the business savvy and the strength, and we know and follow her- she should have the role. It’s time. Enough of chasing wealth it’s time for Jill to have the same problem as Katherine…..keeping it.

Jill’s story with Colin would have much more impact if Jill were truly rich and the owner & CEO of Chancellor Industries. Instead CI has disappeared into Newman & made no difference in the character of Victor, whereas it would have been a life-changer for Jill.

Not everyone can relate to a male dominated home life. I don’t live it, neither do my sister, brother, parents, or grandparents and neither does anyone of my husbands family. I can accept Victor & the Newman family as one type of family, but other types, and stronger women need to be represented. If that’s a problem for Victor (or Eric Braden) keep the story lines separate. The Chancellor’s used to have their own stories, so they don’t have to threaten Victor’s never ending predictable superiority in everything.

Linda
Linda

TOTALLY AGREE … Jill has been marginalized and this never ending jewelry box story and wedding to Colin who we all know is a cad and money sucker is beneath her at this point in her life! She has been single FOREVER and would never want a creepy old thing like Colin in her life–she’d rather be alone! And How about CBS NOT posting a portrait of Katherine in Chancellor Mansion? What’s up with THAT? Stephanie Forrester is over the mantel, JR Ewing’s portrait is at Ewing Enterprises, no KATHERINE CHANCELLOR??? She’s bigger than all of them! The fans of this show should be recruited to write this show …. instead of these idiots who bounce around from show to show and have no historical knowledge or vested interest! SMH!

Mysty
Mysty

I gotta disagree, the Jill and Colin pairing is about the best thing about the show right now, yes, Jill would be totally romantically involved with him because there’s true, true love there, it’s a pity that the writers can’t be bothers with given this pairing much care and at least talked about them in this interview. Jill should’ve had CI from the get go. They start up this musicbox and still doesn’t know what to do with it. That’s the problem..End this story with Jill getting CI, I don’t believe Katherine would’ve left CI for Victor anyway…But among the Rubbish? Jill and Colin are 1 bright spot on this otherwise dull show.

Geena
Geena

Wasn’t Jill supposed to challenge Victor for Chancellor when he inherited the company?? Wow was that dropped like a new york minute when these two became the new writers. Poor Jill is now stuck with Colin in this neverending sitcom, much ado about a music box.

Elaine
Elaine

Well Rita, I agree completely with every word you have written, I believe that my beloved Y & R is on a very slippery slop it is getting to me after 40 years I am thinking of leaving thank goodness for Peter, Eric, Melody and a few good acting youngsters is why I keep hoping the S/L will improve.
The S/L are pathetic ! With ll,due respect to both writers they have to wake up and give us some excitement
I can remember being so excited I couldn’t wait for the next days episode, I haven’t felt that for 3 years or so,there are so many new characters now who are really medioca a few exceptions have arrived this last few weeks thank heavens they are old soap actors and know the ropes !
I hope they hurry up and replace Phyliss and Adam because they are sorely missed in every way, Billy Miller is another wonderful actor gone I wonder how many more they will loose ?
Thank you Michael for your hard work trying to keep us up to date with things you are really much appreciated.

Laurel Twist
Laurel Twist

Again, YR is in big trouble….. Once again, we have a team who does not know what the hell they are doing.

Sue
Sue

Laurel, So true! I don’t think these so-called writers know anything about Y&R back stories..Y&R’s needs help soon!

Linda
Linda

TOTALLY AGREE ….. They should have this stuff mapped out to know where they are going … instead they are flying my the seat of their pants, and ruining the stories and the families!

Lawrence
Lawrence

I think what would help these writers would be to get some familiar faces back on y and r. Spice up the romance. Bring back the boardroom battles and bring back the Friday cliffhangers. It may not be the best but it sure would be more watchable than what we are getting.

Kim
Kim

Dylan is Paul’s son, Ivan can’t have kids….that’s the secret he told his lawyer. Now he’s setting Dylan up to get back at Nicky. Didn’t take a rocket scientist !! And who really killed Deedee ?? Adam didn’t hit anything….remember ??

Desiree
Desiree

I don’t even recognize YR anymore. It’s falling apart and if they don’t do something the show will be can
Canceled because they have torn apart everything that was good on YR
They need to change and bring back Kay . Kay knew what the fans wanted and she listened thats why YR was so fantastic. Fix YR and Save YR.

Lawrence
Lawrence

I agree, Kay Alden worked closely with William Bell and she understands the show’s history. Unfortunately delusional Angelica McDaniel will allow Phelps to remain at Y and r until it tanks and they can have reality programming all afternoon

jaybird369
jaybird369

Desiree…OH, YES!!!!! And…Kay Alden (1) respected us soap fans, (2) cared about what we wanted and (3) valued and appreciated ALL KINDS of opinions from fans. UNLIKE those very laughable 3 SOAP STOOGES JFP, SA and JP!!!!! Yep.

marley j
marley j

I want some Jess Walton on every day but her living in northeast wherever must make things hard. Glad I have what I have when she is on cuz nobody is better.

hopeful for the Kevin story and for goodness sake make him gay. It’s time and more Gloria too plz.

Need a business story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joan
Joan

Michael I appreciate your interview with these new Y&R writers. It lets me know that after over 20+ years watching Y&R, I won’t continue. I loved Y&R’s fast moving and breathtaking episodes. Current stories are an insult to long-time viewers, especially since they make no sense. Favorite characters (smart, savvy, business people) are always victimized by new characters and written as clueless. That is ridiculous and old. Then these new writers make the characters behave in ways they would never behave. Plus, who wants to watch long-time couples always break up, as if they can’t do anything else.

I read that there are new Y&R viewers and ratings are higher. More recently I read that at least 111,000 viewers have stopped watching. It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that Michele Stafford (Phyllis), Billy Miller (Billy), etc., all have left Y&R and then turned up recently on a different soap opera! Y&R has become too confusing and depressing for me. I’m glad that the writers are happy with it, but many viewers are not!

EC
EC

Summer is definitely not a character I care to see more of.

Cassie
Cassie

This just seems like a bunch of mumbo jumbo and the same crap we’ve been seeing.

I don’t have any clue what these writers are thinking. The show has lost more than a fifth of its audience since Michael and Billy left and the demos get lower and lower.

Is there a plan in place to fix this? Because these two certainly are not the answer. Where is Jack Smith or Kay Alden or Sally Sussman Morina. JFP’s regime has become a failure.

Sinny
Sinny

Shick is so passe. Been there done that over and over and over. Everyone on the show is a pathetic loser. These writers are the worst of the bunch. I thought this was one of the lamest interviews every. Nothing was really said other than them trying to pay themselves on the back for destroying the best soap in the business.

Geena
Geena

That’s the impression I got! Trying to make themselves sound like geniuses when they have no clue what they are doing. They knew from the beginning that Mariah was fake Cassie? No way!! Not from what we saw and heard on screen.

King
King

Haha! I won’t tune in because they only use Cane and Lily as fillers! They deserve so much better than this! Seriously why did they fire MAB? I hated MAB but there was no need to fire her FOR THIS!!! Those 2 head writers are horrible and JFP is even worse! MAB had better ratings when she was fired so let’s hope JFP and all her friends are given the boot (very) soon! It can’t get worse at this point except JFP stays… SONY and CBS better take action now before it is too late!

bunting
bunting

Hey at least they get screentime and love scenes. They put Likey through hell and back last year and when they spoiled a “passionate” encounter for Likey which fans got excited about it ended up being them sadly hugging in bed for 20 seconds because they found out they weren’t having a baby. They are lucky if they get a one minute long love scene a year. Now they have been backburned and are shown once every couple weeks and their family members are on even less. The Baldwin stories garnered Y&R four emmy nominations this year, and as a reward all three Baldwin actors have been shoved to the backburner.

Dee
Dee

Well said friend I am so disgusted at the treatment of Likey since Josh left. I h had hoped we would see them in as many love scenes as Lauren had with that disgusting pig Carmine and yet NOTHING and I thought MAB was bad.

big blue
big blue

This interview only confirms my conclusion that neither CBS or Sony give a damn about the future of Y&R. These two writers don’t have a clue about the history of the show or respect for its audience. How insulting. They know nothing about the characters they are writing for. It’s just plot driven drivel. To think they would have any input in selecting the replacement actors for Michael Muhney’s Adam and Michelle Stafford’s Phyllis is scary. Their selection of David Tom for Billy Miller’s Billy Abbott just shows how incompetent this regime is.

These two failed writers’ track records says it all. Y&R is headed for the same fate as ATWT, OLTL, and AMC. Get rid of them or just cancel the show.

Lawrence
Lawrence

I agree with you 100%. The writers are only interested in current new characters and could give less of a damn about the show’s history. I can’t see how Passante is praised for character development when she did the exact opposite at ATWT

Jewell
Jewell

Another thing that should have been brought up,is that many fans think Paul is really Dylan’s dad,which I hope turns out to be true,would have great storynooortunities.. After watchibgbtheir scenes,I would actually like to see Billy and Chelsea together..

Real Deal
Real Deal

These two writers don’t have a clue as to what the hell this show is about. Their description of Nick as “the Hero” was astounding. The man is serial adulterer and lied about his being the father of Summer. The man is not a hero.

The interview gave real insight as to why they have been writing for shows that have folded, like AMC and ATWT. This is just so sad. Y&R is a wreck right now. Now I know why. These two, plus the Executive Producer that hired them, need to be shown the door.

Sinny
Sinny

Nick is such a loser, he and Sharon are FF stuff now. He is not a hero. He is a cheating scumbag. Lily and Cane.. really? All they do is screw like rabbits while old man cane leers at Lily and rubs her in public like they are 12. DT is not working as Billy. I can only imagine how bad the Phyllis and Adam recasts will be.

Linda
Linda

We want to invest in the younger generation of the core families of Genoa City.
I’m calling “BS on JEAN”: “One of the things about this show that is so great is that the history of the show is so guarded and preserved, and so you do get to play younger characters in multi-generational stories, and being an important member of an important family.” Then WHY IN THE HELL did you kill Delia? She was the ONLY blood-related granddaughter of Jill Foster Abbott, the ONLY Grandchild of Esther, the ONLY child of Chloe (who is the Goddaughter of Katherine), ONLY Daughter of Billy Abbott!) THESE ARE CORE MEMEBERS OF THE SHOW! So much for preserving the younger generation of the CORE! You could have killed Fen or Summer and No Fans would have cared!

bunting
bunting

Bull, many would have cared if Fen or Summer would have been killed off. I hated Delia being killed off but that doesn’t mean they should have killed off Michael and Lauren’s only child or Phyllis’ daughter instead. ME and HK, who play Fen and Summer, are arguably the two best young actors they have on the show.

Millie P
Millie P

Are these writers for real? I couldn’t believe how unknowledgeable they are about the characters. The long time fans of this show should be respected instead of making up stories out of thin air that defy the show’s history. It’s disrespectful and insulting.

I have tolerated a lot of garbage these past five years or so. My favorite actor, Michael Muhney, was treated like trash by the show and the cast, but I stayed with Y&R. Now, I think I’ve had it. These people don’t know what they are doing. Passanante ruined ATWT. She’s destroying Y&R with her little friend right now. No thanks.

Name*Lon
Name*Lon

This interview did not help. These people have no idea what they are doing. And don’t seem to care that they are failing. Now our Michelle S. is on General Hospital and I am still p…ed about Michael M. He is Adam Newman! No one can play that character like Michael! He was treated unfairly. With the loss of three irreplaceable actors and this writing I can’t …

Katie
Katie

No mention of any of the black characters. Are we supposed to believe the people talking in this interview know squat about Y&R when nothing about Jill, the Winters, Lily, Cane are mentioned. You people do remember at one time 25% of this shows audience was African American. Shame on you Michael Fairman for ignoring these characters and for the writers in this interview to completely sidestep them.

Goodness and enough about Billy/BM and Adam/MM. You’d think they were the only 2 characters recast on this show. How about recasting Kyle with someone with some presence and talent, a greyer character with some brains to stick it to Jack, Billy, and Victor. And for god sakes, give Jill Foster Abbott Chancellor and let her anchor a part of the canvas. It’s ridiculous.

Donna
Donna

They did talk about Neil, Leslie, Devon and Hilary. So I don’t understand this comment. Are they not black?

Jimmy
Jimmy

If they really want to beef up the African-American set, they need to bring back Drucilla and Malcolm, two characters with boat loads of history and several connections to the canvas. Neil hasn’t had a real relationship with anyone since Dru “died” and Malcolm was a very interesting character, albeit not when Darius McCrary played him (terrible recast decision!) I’m still hoping Leslie’s husband Barton turns out to be Malcolm, because Terrell Tilford would do well in the role, IMO.

jane thomas
jane thomas

if these two are the writers for Y&R. I don’t expect to start watching again..I’ve never seen such low=brow SLs…and the nuBILLY? I can’t imagine a daughter to VN even being remotely interested in the little creep….his facial contortions, when he speaks, are laughable……..where did you find this actor…JR-HIGH drama club??? and NICK is a HERO????? He is a serial adulterer….he has sex with anything he can put on a desk.!!

George
George

Fire them please , I want my old young and the restless back with the original music, this show is unwatchable!:)

Sarah
Sarah

Nick Newman a hero?!! Thanks for the laugh. If this spoiled, selfish, hypocritical caveman is a “hero”, then I guess Victor Newman is the Easter bunny. Cute and cuddly. But seriously, this is the misogynistic crap we get with 3 women in charge?!! Female characters always have to be redeemed to become worthy of controlling and unapologetic men who never pay for their misdeeds. (And by “pay”, I don’t necessarily mean go to jail, but have other characters come down on them hard and stay mad longer than a day.) I agree with other posters who feel that these writers, (and basically every HW/EP since Smith and Alden) just don’t get who these characters are at core. Too much plot-driven, let’s-make-the-character-do-whatever-we-feel-like-to fit-a-dumb-story, hack writing. It’s insulting and NOT entertaining to watch our faves be altered to prop other characters (e.g., Dylan, Avery, Chelsea) or fit agendas. This longtime viewer is finally done.

k/kay
k/kay

At this point my dear ladies/writers I am Rhett saying to you “Frankly my dear I don’t give a dam,” Please continue to think about the Adam & Phyllis recast tomorrow like never. Adam, Billy & Phyllis were hard hitters to replace them bad move. You just admitted that David Tom is not cutting it you just too naïve to realize it.

YnRNoMore
YnRNoMore

I want Sharon and Nick to stay together this time. Just let them be a family and give them drama, but let them stay together already! Enough of this make-up-to-break-up stuff!

I don’t miss MM’s Adam or MS’s Phyllis. Out with the old, in with the new!

Jimmy
Jimmy

“Out with the old, in with the new?” Take me to the water so I can be baptized! There are only very few actors that can do as well as MM and MS did in their respective roles. Look at what David Tom is doing to the role of Billy. Technically, he is the old, as he was on Y&R fifteen years ago as the first adult Billy. Billy Miller was so much better in the role, and I highly doubt the show will find an actor suitable enough to play Adam as devilishly good as MM did, or an actress that will play Phyllis as fiery and sexy as MS did.

Shannon
Shannon

I’m over Y&R after reading this interview. It’s been made clear the new HW don’t plan on having what Sharon did to Summer and Phyllis come out and I have much better things to do then watch this garbage.

Wise
Wise

Despite, what I see daily on my screen, I have had the hope that things would get better and time and stories would evolve for other characters. This interview has quashed all hope. IMO, The show is now worse than it was in the last days of Maria Arena Bell.
The show no longer attempts to show their disdain for the audience. I was told that the show owes nothing to the audience, so, apparently the audience owes the show nothing. It is time to let go and find something else.

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Scott (ATWT Fan)

Shelly and Jean, despite my reservations, have truly continued making Y&R a soap once again worth watching. They’ve been writing interesting and compelling storylines, and I cannot wait to see what the next three years has in store for them. I’d love for Y&R to truly have an LGBT storyline; Phillip could return and have a lover, or lovers. I think it’s the one sole thing missing from the series.

They don’t write perfect couples, which there should never be in soap operas. They are compelling writers, and I cannot wait to see what comes next for the residents of Genoa City!

Truth Detective
Truth Detective

Scott, sorry but I’ve got to laugh. Jean Passanante destroyed ATWT and now she’s doing the same to Y&R. You’re comments just cracked me up.

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Scott (ATWT Fan)

Sorry that you feel this way, TD, but I disagree with you on every account. She has been saving Y&R, It’s Maria whose reign utterly destroyed the show. It’s funny how people complained about her story-dictated characters, but now that they’re character-driven, y’all complain more. Why are you never happy with the show? It’s the best it has been since before Maria Arena took reign.

And Jean did amazing work on ATWT.

Lawrence
Lawrence

“And Jean did amazing work on ATWT”

Too bad that her Amazing work led to cancellation

“She has been saving Y&R”

To bad that her saving y and r has led to the show hitting lows in the target demo for the last 4 weeks.

Barbara from Atlanta
Barbara from Atlanta

I feel exactly the same as True Detective. I watched (“suffered” is probably a more accurate verb) the final years of ATWT pinned by alleged writer Jean Passanante. I will go to my grave thinking that woman’s writing killed ATWT.

So far, it seems that she is doing the SAME thing with Y&R —- bland, uninteresting plots that focus on new, uninteresting characters while inanely ignoring all the potential in the history of the show that could drive future plots.

The strange decision to revisit the minor plot from 30 years ago about Nikki in a cult in order to make Dylan her son (done thru Ian Ward, a character who NEVER appeared in that old plot!) reminds me of the type of things Jean did on ATWT —– revisiting Allison’s birth to reveal another fertilized egg that became her brother; constantly mentioning “Susan Hughes” during the Nancy Hughes funeral but NEVER mentioning Don or Penny, the only siblings of Bob that we actually knew. Meanwhile, she can’t seem to write enough for Dylan — who quickly is becoming the Janet Cicconi of Y&R.

Jean just completely is off the mark and, sadly, has absolutely NO clue what she is doing or that her writing is so godawful.

How does this woman remain employed writing for soaps??? She worked on AW when it was cancelled, was the head scribe for ATWT for several years until it was axed, then scurries over to OLTL to write just in time for it to get the hook. With a track record like that, who in the world would hire this woman to write for their show??

Is someone intentionally trying to get Y&R low ratings and cancelled??? It sure seems like that to me with the hiring of folks like alleged writer Passanante. She is producing the same quality of swill that she gave us on ATWT and we all saw where that ended.

I like this site. However, I would MUCH prefer if there were some hard-hitting questions for a writer like Jean Passanante, given her well-known background. This interview seems nothing more than a “puff”, PR piece.

Sinny
Sinny

LOL I had to laugh too Truth. This team of wack writers have ruined this show,.

toronto
toronto

You guys are ridiculous really…..I agree totally with Scott the show has been awesome lately and i feel the writing team has done a great job with character development and recovering from the mess of the previous regime….the show is now focusing back on character driven stories, lots of romance, intrigue and humour…..if you are such a YR fan then support the show through its highs and lows …right now it is on its high and very proud of the writers in making the show watchable again….Kudos to Jill, Jean and Shelly !!!!

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Scott (ATWT Fan)

Finally glad to hear a refreshing and positive take, such as yours TORONTO!

MPMAJOR
MPMAJOR

First of all, I want to say “Thank You” to Michael Fairman, for your interview with the headwriters of Y&R. I have to say after reading and gaining more insights or getting a feel of these two headwriters, I can finally heave a sigh of relief. I realized that as a whole, Y&R will never ever completely feel like Bill Bell’s Y&R again. Maria A. Bell and her headwriters left Y&R a complete mess and chaos. Character or characters were no longer recognizable and some destroyed and the Sharon character got the worst of this terrible writing. I am very happy that the headwriters realized that they have to clean up the previous regime’s writing in order to fix a character or characters so these characters can move forward or evolved. I think the writing team is finally hitting its stride at this point and I’ve been following all of their stories and now that the stories are coming full circles, the twists and turns, are very intriguing and full of surprises, and really been enjoying some of the acting chops of the younger generation, specifically, Camryn Grimes’s as a hallucination first, then a real lookalike, hired by Victor Newman, for example. I am invested in Ian, too, and how he is influencing the lives Genoa City folks, specifically Dylan and Avery, and the whole cooking show, and if Avery and Dylan are sitting ducks or being conned. So, it looks like there are going to be a lot of reveals coming up and who Mariah really is and what Ian is up to will have major effects on lives. Can’t wait to tune in for that.

Donna
Donna

I am loving Ray Wise as Ian Ward! They’ve definitely found gold in this very talented actor!

Donna
Donna

Are we ever going to find out who really hit Delia with their car? Most of us don’t buy that Adam was responsible.

And I really wished this show could have worked out something with Billy Miller. I believe he really wanted to stay, but Y&R didn’t seem to want to work things out. Big mistake because with Michael Muhney leaving too, this left a huge gap. David Tom was alright on the show all those years ago, but he definitely does not have the charm and amazing talent that Billy Miller had. And I used to love Billy and Victoria as a couple. But that magic is gone.

Donna
Donna

I am happy to see Sharon finally finding some peace and happiness. I never thought it would be with Nick, but I’m okay with this as long as Nick stands by Sharon and never hurts her the way he did after Cassie died when he cheated with Phyllis. And I know Phyllis will be waking up at some point, but maybe she won’t remember a darn thing. One can hope.

Geena
Geena

Y&R is failing on all fronts! Nothing in this interview is getting me excited about upcoming story. Just more of the same recycled stories we have already seen with the exception of Fassie becoming Mariah. How many stalkers can we have? How many baby daddy triangles can we have? WE already did these stories in 2013. Please give us something brand new!

I wish they would hurry and bring back Adam and Phyllis but they seem to be totally stalled. I wonder what actor will decide to leave next…that’s all they seem to do under JFP!

Nanci
Nanci

Failing on all fronts?
I so disagree!
Despite a few frustrations, I have confidence for
the future, am enjoying some of the current storylines,
characters, etc., too. I for one will never jump ship!

As for Adam, I think next week or the following week, he
will make his appearance. Hope so. Curious to see the new
guy, and how his return affects Chelsea, etc.

Carlos
Carlos

Michael, Thank you for a great interview of these two talented Head Writers. For those of you fans with limited space in your brains, it’s really time you should move on, stop watching Y&R, stop the hate, enough MM, is gone get over it already!!!!!You really don’t have a clue on what it takes to write a story….the story arch is great, and interesting, if only to me.unlike GH, which core family ties have been marginalized, and almost disappeared underneath the crime laced family ties, Sonny C……..his kids his connections…..the Young Restless is a great show

Kellie S
Kellie S

Funny thing Carlos, everybody has a right to their opinion and a lot of folks don’t like it right now. To insult those that disagree with you shows your own lack of respect for other’s and their views.

Y&R has damaged itself with its audience. Jill Farren Phelps has allowed this show to sink into a mess and they blame her for the exits of several big actors, including Stafford, Miller, and Muhney. Any you know what Carlos? A lot of people aren’t going to get over it, so you just need to deal with it.

The show is lousy and these two women write it. Well, they stink and so does Y&R.

Nanci
Nanci

“Y&R has damaged itself with its audience.”
What does that mean??

Sinny
Sinny

Amen to this. We all have the right to our views without some jerk trying to tell us we don’t. This show is failing and failing in a big way to obviously MOST of us. Count the comments here and you can see way more are unhappy then are happy. I also think this was a real puff of an interview with very weak questions. I think there is a real lack in the leading lady department. All of the women are written as weak and needy and that is not why I tune in. We need some strong female characters . SHARON the wackjob is not it. The show is boring.. that is the worst part about it.. B O R I N G

Paula Jackson
Paula Jackson

Wow, I’d hate to be married to you Carlos. How insulting can you get?

Deal with this: I miss MIchael Muhney A LOT! I WANT HIM BACK!

I think the show STINKS.

That’s my opinion…you can deal with it.

Nanci
Nanci

I agree about the challenge of writing a soap.
Day after day. Pretty much every day of every year.
No summers off, like primetime. Gotta keep the
drama going, the ideas flowing…constantly…all the
while dealing with actors suddenly needing time
off, or deciding to quit altogether to pursue other things,
and having to switch gears to work around these changes,
etc. etc.

But having said that, that doesn’t mean the networks don’t
have a responsibility, in my opinion, to stay on top of hired
writers and keep them accountable. If the ball is dropped
too often, then obviously the whole show suffers and viewers
walk. I will never walk away, but the current writing does need
some improvement. For now I will focus on all that I still love
about Y&R.

Lynda
Lynda

Dear Jean and Shelly

Thank you for the “reset” on both Sharon and Nick. Both of them were trashed by the previous regimes and I am just so happy to finally see them both return to the wonderful characters they were.

Now, if it could just come out that Sharon never changed anything about Summers paternity and it was all just a hallucination on her part.
Summer fits in as an Abbott much better than as another entitled Newman brat like Abby. I love seeing her mentored by her daddy Jack and hope to see more of her at Jabot as an executive in training..

Jimmy
Jimmy

I think it would be interesting to make Sharon Ian’s daughter, and bring her mother, Doris back to the canvas – played by Kim Zimmer! There would be so many story possibilities there, like maybe Stitch helping Doris recover from her injury and allowing her to walk again. Plus, it would bring a powerhouse actress to the show, and start a new storyline for Sharon, which she is in desperate need of. The interaction with Sharon and Dylan as brother/sister would be interesting, and seeing KZ and RW go head to head as Doris and Ian would be fantastic!

As far as recasts go, I think Robin Christopher would be a great choice as Phyllis, and the only actor I could see remotely replicating what Michael Muhney had as Adam is Trevor St. John. Obviously, I would love to see MS and MM return to their roles instead, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

As far as Billy goes… I don’t even know what to say other than David Tom is ruining the character. Some people say he’s the “real” Billy and the show made a good choice bringing him back, but Billy Miller was so much better in the role. Billy and Victoria were my favourite couple, and now I don’t want them together anymore because DT and AH do not have the same chemistry she had with BM.

Nate
Nate

OK–I agree Summer is a great actress, and the character, as annoying as she has been in the past, needs to be made more likable. BUT–as so many have said in the past, I hate when soaps in general focus more on the younger cast (in the summer months), and the core players become background for the stupid woes of the younger cast. We need to remain focused on the core characters, while having the younger cast woven into their stories. And PLEASE–I want to see Fen in a same-sex relationship!

Jared
Jared

I do believe these two writers are doing the best job since since the failed LML/MAB eras, but that’s not saying much, unfortunately. LML came in like a bull toward a china cabinet, and MAB was plain clueless. I guess that Bell name didn’t mean much after all, because she ruined this show like no one could. The best person to write Y&R, frankly, is I. I have watched this show since the 1970’s, and I understand its history and its rich character palette like only a handful of other people do. I would push to bring back Ashley Bashioum (Mac), Eileen Davidson (Ashley), Thad Luckinbill (JT), Greg Vaughan (Diego), Michelle Stafford (Phyllis), and Heather Tom (Victoria). I would purge this show of all its excess baggage and return it to its legacy of cross generational character driven drama. New characters would be established slowly before integrated fully into the canvas. Old characters would remain true to their personalities and histories. I have storyline arcs for each of the main characters, and I’m ready to go. 🙂

Timmm
Timmm

Michael, great questions, terrible answers! These two women gave ZERO insight! A waste of your time and the readers time!

Sylvia Fisher
Sylvia Fisher

What I don’t understand is that iff these women are such terrible head writers, why were they hired? You can look up anyone on the Internet these days – see their history – see what their strengths and weaknesses are. Is there such a dearth of good head writers? These women gave non-answers. I am not amused.

Paula Jackson
Paula Jackson

These two have ruined soaps all over the dial. How did they get their jobs? Phelps hired them, so they must be two of her FOJ’s. It certainly isn’t talent that got them these jobs.

Look at how many soaps they wrote are gone. Passanate wrecked ATWT and snuffed it out. Altman nearly killed General Hospital until she got the boot with Phelps. Things look bad for Y&R.

Sinny
Sinny

They are bad.. GH is doing so much better now those 2 idiots are gone.. Y&R is tanking in a BIG way.

Lawrence
Lawrence

Sometimes I think that a cartoon writer will have more insight and creativity than these writers

jaybird369
jaybird369

Lawrence…your comment made my day…LOL!!!!! I agree. Also…ANY cartoon writer would do WAY BETTER than those clueless Shelly and Jean chicks. Yep.

Garrett Godwin
Garrett Godwin

I only have one or two things to say: bring back Michael Muhney! Reunite Adam & Sharon so they can be a family with Faith and Connor (little ‘Peanut’), take their revenge on Victor, the Newmans and the entire Genoa City hypocrites, rule Genoa City, and take on the entire world!

Lynda
Lynda

They are trying to “reset” Sharon, not further destroy her.

Amy Martin
Amy Martin

Bring back Michael Muhney and Billy Miller. Big big mistake to let them go.

I have an idea… have a contest (Sony and CBS) and let fans submit scripts. Can’t possibly be worse than what these two ladies are coming up with. They do not know the show; they do not care about the fans. Sad. This show was classy. Kind of an embarrassment now. Bring back Michael Muhney and Billy Miller.

Gail Gentry
Gail Gentry

The truth of the matter is they aren’t going to bring MM or BM back so what is the real reason they fired them because the fans are not happy at all and most of them are not watching the show anymore so then another soap gets taken off the air because of one jerk who don’t look into things before she starts firing somebody and then they need to get rid of her instead I wish they never let her get into this soap it has be on top for how long now and now it is going down hill because of her and her alone get her OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lael
Lael

Y&R needs a total *Reset* not just a single character! Its a complete and utter mess obviously with the penmanship of these writers and JFP. Reading this interview and their history explains volumes. The 26 Daytime Emmys nominations? They had categories to fill. I just do not understand all the recasts, firings of key actors, story lines that are going nowhere and frankly don’t care anymore to watch. This fiasco has gone on too long for this former viewer. I would rather watch my clothes dry in the drier…it would be more interesting than Y&R now.

Alan
Alan

“I think it’s really…about putting yourself in the public eye and the consequences, and also this blooms into a bigger and more global story with characters you probably wouldn’t obviously connect that are part of the story.”

I’ll be very surprised if the cooking show yawn-fest doesn’t end up being nothing more than Austin the camera-man becoming Summer’s first boyfriend and then turning out to be a stalker obsessed with Avery.

Didi
Didi

Good God. The last thing we need is MORE Summer Newman/Abbott. Blech. Zzzzz.

Connie
Connie

The show has lost alot of excitement. Sharon has been raised way higher than she should be. To write about Sharon, you have to remember all the things she did and said before she is considered the person we are supposed to except as the best person.
Sharon has been convining her whole time on Y&R. We viewers that have been watching for the full time remember all and hate to see it slip by the writers that have been added to the show.
Phyllis fans are at great numbers and want her to come back and settle the score with Sharon. Phyllis should be the hero of this storyline. Phyllis should be the one to get Ian out of Summer’s life. Phyllis is the one that needs to protect her child. Many of Phyllis’ fans are wanting to see Phyllis put Sharon in her place. Let Nick keep sucking up to Sharon because he has always been to her rescue. She will never be able to stand on her own. Now, when the writers try to get her to stand alone and pass over her muddy past, the Y&R fans really don’t like it.
Just let Y&R come back to the dark side it was on. Loved it when the show went off one day and you sat on the edge of your seat to see what was really going to happen. Finger bitting endings. I, along with many others would love to see that type of excitement return. Another thing is the show needs to end the storyline before moving on. Who killed Hightower?, who really killed Delia? ETC. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to express myself here. I love the show the way it was. I am now beginning to not care if I watch it today or not. 🙁

jaybird369
jaybird369

Huh??? Are these two chicks for real??? This is, like, the most LAUGHABLE interview ever!!!!! Also…Nick is a hero and Sharon is in much better shape now?!?!? Oh, really…on what planet?!?!? Gimme a break already!!!!! Nick is acting like a clueless and lovesick college frat dude in heat and Sharon is becoming more and more dim-witted each day. It makes me sad that the character of Chloe is now off the Y&R canvas. But…I DO NOT blame Elizabeth Hendrickson for abandoning the sinking Y&R ship. At all. I APPLAUD her!!!!! EH did the right/sensible thing by leaving Y&R. Bottom Line Here: Shelly and Jean DID NOT answer any questions at all. All they did was give answers that were BLECH AND EVEN MORE INSULTING!!!!! No wonder Y&R continues to sink further and further!!!!!

TOTAL LAMENESS ALL THE WAY!!!!!

General Hospital

GH’s James Patrick Stuart Talks on Valentin’s Downfall and Potential Rise to Power

After all his bravado, machinations and lies to keep the woman he loves, and believing he was the rightful heir to the Cassadine fortune, suddenly it all came crashing down for Valentin Cassadine (James Patrick Stuart) on recent episodes of General Hospital.

Payback can be a bitch, but for Valentin; who’s past has been fraught with numerous physical and emotional tribulations since his childhood, he now finds himself at the lowest point in his life; losing Nina (Cynthia Watros) who’s now taken up with Jax (Ingo Rademacher), realizing he is the biological son of the evil Helena Cassadine (Constance Towers), and not Mikkos, and having all his best laid plans and misdeeds backfire.  (Remember, he shot and “killed” Nikolas, and set up the ruse that led Sasha to pretend she was Nina’s bio-daughter.)  Now, enter Nelle Benson (Chloe Lanier), who could very well hold the ticket, to Valentin’s rise to wealth and power all over again.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with James Patrick Stuart to get the lowdown on: those heavy and emotional scenes opposite Constance Towers, working with Cynthia Watros as his newest Nina, if Valentin might really kill Jax the next time he thinks about it, and what about a potential relationship between Anna (Finola Hughes) and Valentin?

Not many can play bad as good as James in this industry.  He does it so effortlessly and still brings out the humanity in the guy that has t-r-o-u-b-l-e written all over him.  Here’s what James had to share about all of Valentin’s recent dramatic moments, a tease of what’s to come, and much more.

Photo: JPI

Valentin’s world has imploded at the moment.  When did you initially find out that he was going to turn out to not be a true Cassadine heir?

JAMES:  Well, there were some clues dropped by Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) back when we did the gallery auction where Helena’s portrait went up in flames.  Frank looked at me and goes, “Hey, Jack Nicholson it up.  Have some fun!  You’re not going to be feeling pretty good for a while.”  (Laughs)  I’m like, “Oh … what are the plans?”  He pulled me aside and goes, “Yeah, you’re going to lose Nina, but you’re going to try to take over ELQ.  That’s when I started to go, “Wait a minute!  That sounds to me like Valentin’s losing his money.”  (Laughs)  With the character of Nikolas (Marcus Coloma) coming back; it’s pretty great.  I think the writing was on the wall there.  I put it out on twitter the other day.  I said, “Look what they’ve done to my boy.”  Somebody chimed in, “They gave him a storyline!” (Laughs)

Who doesn’t love to see you, James Patrick Stuart, play tortured soul?  They audience loves to see you get the opportunity to go to those depths in your performances.

JAMES:  It’s been really interesting for me.  I’ve had a lifetime of playing bad guys because the line was always shorter. (Laughs)  Everybody wants to be Tom Cruise, but the Alan Rickman’s of it all, to me, were what was so interesting.  Early on, you play one dimensional kind of twisting of the mustache, tying a woman to the train tracks.  After a while, you start to watch the truly great actors.  They start to take you on a ride.  If you’re paying attention, you start to feel what it would be like to be that damaged, and that’s why you do it.  Then you start to see the vulnerability. To me, I thought, “This is a great time in my life because I’m ready to do that.” A lot of people say, “I don’t understand.  I feel like that makes no sense. because why would I root for a person who behaves like this?” and that to me, I feel is the greatest compliment of all.

So much happened recently to Valentin in one fell swoop; he overhears Nina telling Ava (Maura West) she kissed Jax, then he envisions shooting Jax and then he is drinking himself into oblivion and he gets a “visit” from Helena!  But … the scenes between Valentin and Helena really summed up the bitter truth for him, wouldn’t you say?

JAMES:  Yes.  In the “Helena” scenes, it all basically is revealed.  It all comes down in a moment where he “sees” her.  I think he realizes with the DNA test; he’s not the person he thought he was, but he certainly had no idea that he had her blood in his veins.  The truly tragic moment of the evening is when it dawns on him that he has a daughter with Helena’s blood in her veins.  Now, he would kill her a thousand times over in that moment.  He can’t do it.  He’s fighting phantoms.  That’s the bottom below the bottom, and things got worse than he ever thought they would get.

Courtesy/ABC

Does Valentin have any idea then, who his biological father could be?

JAMES:  I don’t think so.  I don’t believe so.  I know I don’t.  I think once he realizes that Helena is in fact the mother, I think he’d rather just go into oblivion.  I think at that point, he’s out of answers.  Enter Alexis (Nancy Lee Grahn) …which is wonderful because I think the world of Nancy, and she saves the day.   Alexis basically talks him out of hurting himself, telling him to count his blessings that he is not a Cassadine, etc, which was a really sweet moment.

I assume, when you have this kind of material to play, it must be exhausting, but exhilarating at the same time?

JAMES:  I think that’s exactly right.  As an actor, I think you want to do this stuff.  Maura West and I compare notes all the time.  I think it can be kind of emotionally draining.  You do feel it, and I felt it when I had spent a lot of time with Nina and Valentin, and when the actresses changed, and we brought Cynthia Watros in.  I worked twice as hard to make sure that Cynthia’s landing was as easy as possible, and I really grew attached to the Nina and Valentin connection.  So, when Jax steps in, Cynthia’s love life means nothing to me, I don’t care about that, but Nina’s love life means a lot to me!  And it bums me out, and I don’t know that I’ll actually be watching any future love scenes between them as much as I love them both!  I have a deep attachment to the Valentin connection to Nina.  So, the lines get burred because we just play these characters so long.

Photo: JPI

What was it like sharing those tough scenes with Constance? No one can play icy, evil villainess like her … and yet in real life, she is such a gracious and kind-hearted woman.

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GH's James Patrick Stuart Talks on Valentin's Downfall and Potential Rise to Power

JAMES:  In real life, Constance is such a sweetheart, and she’s so grateful to be there.  She was so ready to work, and rehearse, and play, and find the stuff, and she was great.  I’d been in scenes with her before.  Last time, we didn’t really talk to each other.  I was with the hump.  I was being Valentin pre-surgery.  It was some sort of moment in a graveyard, but this time we actually got to interact with each other.

You look at Valentin, and he’s not had the greatest life.  Do you bring his entire back-story into your performance; such as when he was deformed with the hump and how he had to literally reconstruct his life both in the physical and in emotional ways for many years?

JAMES:  Absolutely.  It’s the brokenness that he’s making choices from.  He was never truly and authentic person to begin with which is why his love fell apart.  He’s always been faking.  He’s always been putting on a show.  That’s not sustainable in matters of the heart.  It was unbelievably easy for Jax to swoop in, because it was inevitable that things were going to fall apart.  Of course, that anger and that brokenness were what lead him to want to kill Jax.  There’s no question.  He was prepared to do that.  If you look in the eyes in the fantasy sequence in the shooting, he just wanted to watch him die.  He wanted to watch the light go out in Jax’s eyes.  He was so furious … and even more tragic is … that was all he could think of, and somehow, he realized in that moment that wouldn’t work, because he’d lose his daughter.

Photo: JPI

Anna and Finn (Michael Easton) just kind of busted up.  Do you think Anna and Valentin will hookup? There is a connection and a history between the two of them whenever they seem to be in proximity of one another.

JAMES:  Personally, I’m waiting for that.  I hope so!  There is a finesse and elegance to that woman, and not only that, there is an effortless to the connection between Valentin and Anna, if one can say that about one’s own coupling.  I love to look at it!  I think we go together like a wink and a smile.  I just find that chemistry really great.  I think that’s mostly Finola, though.  She can probably have chemistry with most anything.

Valentin was going to leave Port Charles with Charlotte (Scarlett Fernandez), after Nikolas revealed all and the fallout began.  Interestingly enough, it was Anna who came to Valentin’s side and tried to talk him down from fleeing with his daughter and showed such compassion for him!

JAMES:  Wasn’t that great?  She was the one who got him.  She was the one who was able to calm the beast.  There was no one else he would have listened to.  In the moment in the police station, after Charlotte had been kidnapped, and there is that moment where Anna has that bruise, I thought it was such a tender moment.  I just said, “If I kiss my finger and touch your wound?” and she’s like, “Do it.”  It was just this moment where we had been bitter rivals and enemies for so long, but he just adores her so much it’s undeniable that he sees her wounded and wants to make it better.  It’s floating out there waiting to be done.  I know that everybody knows it.  It’s just a matter of what the right away to go about in the writing would be.

Photo: JPI

So, you’ve worked opposite two acting dynamos in the role of Nina – Michelle Stafford and now, Cynthia Watros.  Was the transition difficult for you when Cynthia came to GH?

JAMES:  It wasn’t.  It was scary because Michelle Stafford wasn’t just one in a million, I mean, she is one of a kind.  The last thing in the world that I would ever want to consider doing myself was recast that actress.  So, my deal was (and I’ve said this to Cynthia) I said, “I have no control over this.  All I can do is make the landing as easy as possible for Cynthia.”  We did a lot of photoshoots together, and I had flowers waiting for her, and I did everything possible to make sure that she knew that she had a friend and that she had somebody that was going to make it as easy as possible.  It was rough because a lot of the trolls on social media were just awful to her… just brutal, and she goes, “I have thick skin.  I can take it,” and then a week later, she goes, “I’ve closed all my social media accounts!”  (Laughs)  It’s been fun to watch those guys turn around and go, “You have a really special person.”  That wedding stuff was just incredible!  She came so prepared and she knocked it out of the park.  Cynthia has been wonderful.  I love them both.  I love her the reddest, and I love Michelle the bluest, and together I love them the purplest.  (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

It’s interesting that all the women in his life such as Anna and Nina, all have a soft-spot for Valentin; even though they don’t necessarily want to be with him.  These ladies are just drawn to this dysfunctional guy.

JAMES:  Don’t you think?  Is it that you want to help him, you want to fix him, you see the potential, you want to help him despite himself?  I think that’s what it is.

Courtesy/ABC

Do you think Valentin’s still going to try to win Nina back, or is that done? 

JAMES:  I don’t know.  I do know that the Valentin I know will never shake Nina, and when he loves, he loves forever.  He can be simultaneously in love with Anna whenever she’s near.  I don’t believe he ever truly got over Nina hearing his story and his brokenness and still loving him twice as hard.  Years ago, there was a moment where he said to her the stuff that he’s never said, and Michelle beautifully kissed my tears away and said, “You’re beautiful” to me.   I think in that moment his fate was sealed.  I think he knew that this was his woman forever.  So, I just don’t think that that goes away.  I think he will always carry a torch for Nina, for sure.

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Do you see Valentin becoming darker and darker now that he had found out he is Helena’s offspring?

JAMES:  Well, yes and no.  I remember watching these scenes and we’ve done a lot of this stuff, and you know how easy it is to sort of go, “Let’s go dark, let’s go dark, let’s go more dark,” and after a while, I go, “You know, maybe he does learn something.  Maybe there’s hope for this guy after all.”  Of course, more bad stuff will happen to him, and he will do more bad stuff, because that’s just who he is.  A leopard can’t change his spots, and those are his survival instincts, but there are some new colors, and it’s all a direct result of all of just these horrible things that have happened to him… mostly learning that he is part Helena and he can’t undo that.

Photo: JPI

We saw that Nelle (Chloe Lanier) called and then goes to see Valentin, because she wants to sell her shares of ELQ.  So, obviously he has the potential to become really rich here which is what would give him his power back.  How do you think that will go over with the rest of the Quartermaines? (Laughs)

JAMES:  (Laughs) A lot of the Quartermaine actors have been asking me that in the hallways of General Hospital!  Isn’t that interesting how he’ll just sort of switch families? (Laughs)

Of all the people, just as Valentin’s life is in the gutter and he is at his lowest, who should show up with a sort of lifeline, Nelle! How will he go about attempting to gain control of ELQ?

JAMES:  Valentin knows he has to get the majority shares to gain a control of the company, and he has to do it fast before people see that he’s doing it.  So, that’s where Michael E. Knight (Martin Gray) has been.  He’s gallivanting the states rapidly accumulating shares.  (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

It’s been so fun seeing you and Michael Knight on-screen and on a daytime soap together again, as so many remember you as Tad Martin and Will Cortlandt on All My Children.  How has it been getting the chance to work with Michael?

JAMES:  My God, are you kidding me?  He taught me!  He’s the guy who taught me.  I didn’t know how to do this.  Nobody instinctively knows… this is a very unique art form.  It’s more Jazz than anything else, and he showed me how to do it!  Walt Willey (Ex-Jack, AMC) showed me how to do my hair, and Michael Knight taught me how to break down a script!  And, what’s so funny is he is still doing it.  In a scene on GH, when he threw in that line, “From now on, you pay in advance,” I just about fell on the floor!  I thought, “There he is!  That’s the Michael I’ve always known and loved.”

Photo: JPI

Who would have thought that you guys would get to share scenes like that again on soaps?  You just never know in this life who may be wind up back in your orbit.

JAMES:  It’s incredible.  That’s what we say all of the time… “Who would have thought?”  You could never plan something like this and that we’d still be doing it at this point.

Now with Lulu (Emme Rylan) learning that Valentin is not a Cassadine, and Nina apparently moving on to a relationship with Jax, what do you think it will mean for their relationship in raising their daughter, Charlotte?

JAMES:  I think in the short-term, Valentin’s shelved any ideas of getting her out of Charlotte’s life.  He’s sort of putting out the fires in his own personal life.  Charlotte needs a mother in her life, and he’s quite willing to share custody as they always have been.  She seems to be looking at this as an opportunity to paint him as an unfit father, and she wants full-time custody.  So, we’re back to that again.  It looks to me like Lulu is kicking Valentin while he’s down.

Photo: JPI

It was so nice to see you, and some of your GH co-stars such as: Steve Burton (Jason) and Maurice Benard (Sonny) show up for Y&R’s Eric Braeden’s (Victor Newman) 40th anniversary on set celebration at CBS.  It was quite the event; speakers galore, and so many from our industry and beyond in attendance.

JAMES:  It was pretty profound.  Eric has always been kind to me.  I only worked with him on one movie, a western, called The Man Who Came Back, and that was probably 12 years ago.  He has been so complimentary of me in interviews and in his book.  So, if he does that with me, I can only imagine how many dear, dear friendships he has.  So, the fact that everybody showed up like that from the president of CBS Entertainment to local councilmen, and that they were willing to do be there for 2 hours was really proof of how much they love him.  Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R), who I don’t even think was working that day, came in for it and spoke at the event. There was so much respect shown for Eric and what he has meant to this medium.

Photo: JPI

Your album The Apple Tree was so well-received, and everyone always loves seeing you get the opportunity to sing on General Hospital as well.  Will you continue to put out more music in 2020?

JAMES:  Yeah, that’s the plan.  I have another one that I’m working on.  I have a bunch of songs.  I’m in no rush to get it out.  Unfortunately, I lost Glen Roven, who wrote the cello part for Book of Love, passed away right after the Nurses’ Ball where I played Book of Love, which is really heartbreaking, and then, Michael Sherwood, who helped me with a number of songs on the record passed away right after The Apple Tree came out.  So, I’m a little gun-shy.  But, I’m planning on having something out by December for Christmas.

In closing, what would you say the fans should look forward to in the weeks ahead from Valentin?

JAMES: Look forward to that moment where Valentin is so low that there’s nowhere to go but up!  The comeback is going to be one for the books.

So, what do you think of how Valentin’s life hit rock bottom?  Do you think he will ever win Nina back? Do you think he will takeover ELQ? Share your thoughts on James’ recent performances and his thoughts contained in this interview via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

Wally Kurth Talks DAYS Dramatic Twists That Gave Justin a Heartbreaking Story, a New Romance, and Unforgettable Moments

If you have been watching recent episodes of Days of our Lives, soap opera vet, Wally Kurth has been turning out the performances of his daytime career.  In one of the most heartbreaking weeks we can remember, DAYS took us back to ‘Mother’s Day’ one year ago, prior to their time jump, to show us how Justin’s wife, Adrienne (Judi Evans) died following a car crash, it’s aftermath, and assorted other key plots for the characters of Salem.

For decades, Wally Kurth along with Daytime Emmy winner, Judi Evans created the on-screen love story of Justin and Adrienne on DAYS, and while they were off the canvas for quite some time, they remained one of the most popular duos in the history of the show.  Saying goodbye to one daytime love story opened the door for another, and now Kurth has been paired with another Daytine Emmy winner, Mary Beth Evans (Kayla).  The romance of Justin and Kayla is really going to be tested with the recent return of Stephen Nichols who seems to have Steve’s body overtaken by the mind and soul of Stefano DiMera.   What will happen if, and when Steve, Kayla, and Justin enter into a romantic triangle?

But as daytime viewers know, Wally is not only recognizable for his role as DAYS Justin but that of General Hospital’s Ned Quartermaine.  Kurth has the distinction of being on two separate soaps (sometimes even airing on them at the same time), playing two different fan favorite roles.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Wally about: being handed the ball in the emotional storyline on DAYS that has had him acting his heart out alongside Chandler Massey (Will) and Freddie Smith (Sonny) that could just land him a Daytime Emmy nomination in just a few months.  Plus, giving us a glimpse of what is was like to tape all of those tear-filled scenes, his reaction to his latest romantic pairing, and having the gift of acting on two soaps at this stage of his career.  Here’s what Wally shared.

Photo: JPI

Let me just say; I’m all cried out watching your performances now.  I can’t cry anymore. (Laughs)  Did you watch everything back from the week-long flashback to Mother’s Day that changed the course of so many lives in Salem, and in particular, with the death of Adrienne?

WALLY:  Oh, yeah.  It was hard to watch.  It was interesting because the show must have been long as there were a couple of scenes that I was actually looking forward to seeing and they didn’t air.  One was on the Thursday episode and the other was on the Friday episode.  I remember seeing something about Matt Ashford (Jack) not having his scene air with Jack and Adrienne, and I wanted to tell him: “Hey, it was all around.”  It was probably just a little too much material to get it all in.

What do you remember doing that didn’t air?  Was Justin in even more tears?  (Laughs)

WALLY:  If you can believe it! (Laughs)  There was one scene with Sonny at her gurney that I really broke down.   There was a scene on Friday after Will leaves.  It’s a scene between Sonny and Justin talking about what Will had done that I thought was pretty intense, but that’s alright.  It’s part of the deal.  Shows run long and they’ve got to make decisions.  It’s all good.

Photo: JPI

What do you remember about the day you had to shoot those death scenes with Judi Evans?

WALLY:  It’s interesting.  I made a decision that I’m not going to go about those scenes with the normal method: thinking about something really, truly terrible in my life because first of all, I’ve never lost a woman I’ve been with for 30 years.  So, I decided just to use my imagination and use the words in the script, and just go there.  It was certainly a lot more fun.  I didn’t second-guess myself.  The words were beautifully written, and I just sort of played the scene; rather than try to regurgitate some kind of past memory and/or try to imagine one of my children dying or my wife dying.

You didn’t do “substitution”!

WALLY:  Yeah, I didn’t substitute.  I guess for people who don’t understand this kind of method in acting; you can substitute things in your real life, your personal life to help you feel something called upon to do in a script, and I’ve done that before.  I’ve done that a lot, actually.  I did that when I was first on the show with Judi.  But, on that day when Adrienne died, I didn’t.

Photos: NBC

It was so sad, and when they had the clip of a young Wally as Justin, meeting Adrienne for the first time, it was a sweet moment.  Justin sees her crying and is apparently smitten.  Did you see that flashback?  

WALLY:  It’s a famous one!  We got to talk about it, and the handkerchief in the scenes when she died.  I think in the scene that was cut, there was more about the handkerchief and that I gave her the handkerchief and that I needed a handkerchief now and Sonny gave me his handkerchief.  Years ago, I remember Al Rabin (Ex-director, DAYS) saying, “When you see her, she’s unlike anybody you’ve ever seen before.  That’s it,” and I went, “What?” and he said, “Yeah.  That’s it.”  So, I said, “Okay, she’s the one,” and I went in and just played that.  Like, “I don’t know who this woman is.  She’s crying on the bench.  She looks pretty miserable, but I’ll just try to talk to her” and that was Justin and Adrienne’s love story: coming in like a white knight and rescuing her.

You and Judi had worked together as Justin and Adrienne on and off for decades.  So, is there any sadness in saying goodbye to that on-screen relationship?

WALLY:  Yes, but in between it all we took like a 19-year break.  So, it’s not like John (Drake Hogestyn) and Marlena (Deidre Hall) who have been on continuously.  We fell back into that very comfortably.  It was 1987 when we were doing that scene at the park where she is crying.  Hello! That was 33 years ago!  And … oh, my God … the leather tie, the hair.  I had serious hair.  I remember that. (Laughs)

You had serious hair.  But … we all did!

WALLY:  It took longer just blowing my hair out than getting on make-up to hit the set.  I remember that little tweed jacket, and the black leather shoes.

Photo: JPI

What were we all thinking back then!? (Laughs)  It must have been hard for Judi on the day while you were grieving over her body?

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WALLY:  I remember Judi told me it was really hard for her, and I can understand it.  She’s such a good actress who really listens, so she’s always really affected.  We can be running lines in the makeup room, and if it’s an emotional scene, she can start crying.  So, she’s obviously really in touch with her emotions.  It was really hard for her to listen to Freddie, and me, and Matt and Mary Beth, and everyone tell her how much they’re going to miss Adrienne.  She was so good and professional.  She just kept her eyes closed all the way through the breaks.  She didn’t sit there and talk to us in between.  Probably, in her mind, she’s just trying to play dead.

She told me in the interview feature that I did for the DOOL app, that she intentionally didn’t want to see you and Freddie before those scenes.  

WALLY:  Yeah, that’s true.  I’m just thinking about that, and it really did help because we could just stay in that place and she never jumped up and went, “Hey!”   That’s just her professionalism.

Photo: JPI

When you originally found out that DAYS was going to kill-off Adrienne, and that they were going to do a time jump which paired Justin and Kayla, romantically, what was your reaction to all of that?  Was it like, “Oh, story for me!?” and/or did it make you feel bad about the character casualty in order to make that happen?

WALLY:  I guess, selfishly, you’re only thinking of yourself – when you’re selfish, and I did think like, “Wow.  That sounds like an amazing story,” and then I’m like, “Oh, well that sucks for Judi, and that’s going to be kind of crazy,” but then I also realized quickly (because I know Judi, and I know how much she loved playing Bonnie) that if they choose to bring her back, they could bring her back as Bonnie.  But yes, I thought about that as well, but mainly, I thought that this is something new.  As an actor and as an artist, you want a new challenge.  For Judi and me, we were just sort of playing the two greatest parents to Sonny.  Pretty much, that was our role.  We were happily married.  We hadn’t really had a story in about a year.  I mean, I’m mister lawyer in town.   At least for me, and it turns out, this has been an amazing story to play.  I have to say; never in a million years did I imagine Justin with Kayla.  So, it wasn’t like I was campaigning for it.

I know in daytime that sometimes actors campaign to be paired with certain actors on their respective soaps,

WALLY:  Yeah, so I think we were both surprised.  I worked with Mary Beth on General Hospital and of course, we are dear friends off set.  We thought that was probably going to be the hardest part, because we’ve been friends for so long, and it’s kind of nice that when you do a love story that you do have to kind of go there, and feel comfortable, and be excited, and it worked out.  I thought we both brought out qualities in our characters that really conveyed that a really good friendship morphed into a true love.  Justin and Kayla helped each other through this difficult, difficult time, and then…

… Then Stevano shows up in Salem!

WALLY:  Yup!   People fall in love.  That’s what happened, and then of course Stephen Nichols comes back, and all hell breaks loose.  I have to say, the audience is in for a really fun 6 months coming up.

Photo: JPI

What have you thought of Stephen Nichols portrayal as Stefano?

WALLY:  He has been amazing!   I told Stephen, and he appreciates it.   I don’t think anyone could do it as well as Stephen’s doing it.  I mean, when he blew up the other day in front of Anna (Leann Hunley), he sounded like Stefano.  He sounded like Joe Mascolo (Ex-Stefano)!  I think he’s done a really good job of pulling it off.  Only a really gifted actor could pull it off, and I believe it when he plays it.

You made a comment on Twitter to me about “the boys” (Freddie Smith and Chandler Massey), after I named the three of you Power Performance of the Week.  What can you say about Freddie in the scenes where he has to say goodbye to his mother, Adrienne, and then Chandler for his scenes with both Freddie and you in the aftermath, where he tells Sonny and Justin he was the responsible party that caused the crash that took Adrienne’s life?

WALLY:  Freddie went for it, and you have to.  He did, and I was so proud of him.   When Will tells Sonny that he was driving the car and he caused it, they were so in the moment.  They didn’t rush their emotions.  They took their time, and it was just totally believable, and not a false move, and then when I came in, it was just a really nice scene between the three of us, because I was checking in with Sonny, and then I was checking in with Will, and things took turn from there and it felt really solid.  I was very proud of it.

Courtesy/NBC

Then, when Justin tears into Will for the death of his wife, and Will goes, “I wish it would’ve been me.”  It was so intense; everyone was good in that scene.

WALLY:  I wanted to send out a tweet to everybody from that episode who were                       wonderful in it including: Stacy Haiduk (Kristen), Eric Martsolf (Brady), Paul Telfer (Paul), and Casey Moss (JJ)…

Oh, my Gosh, and then Casey was so heartbreaking learning of Haley’s (Thia Megia) death!

WALLY:  Good lord.  Three deaths in one day!

You’ve been on soap operas for a long time.   It was a lot to take in as the viewer, but it made for a riveting and can’t-miss week of episodes.

WALLY:  It was amazing that the show pulled it off.  It could have been really too much.  I thought that the production pulled it out.  It wasn’t too much.  That’s probably why scenes were cut, too.  It might have just been too much; all of that just grieving over dead bodies.

What is the reaction you’re seeing to all of this on social media?  The fans have been very favorable to the performances.  You’re in such an interesting position, because you’re on two soaps (DAYS and GH) and you’re able to have these two distinct and different characters to play. What’s that been like that you’ve been able to bounce back and forth for so long in your career from Salem to Port Charles, and back again?

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WALLY:  I couldn’t have planned it, obviously.  It just worked out that way; having created both roles, one 33 years ago and one 29 years ago.  I’m sort of integral on General Hospital because I’m sort of the lone patriarchal Quartermaine, and they want to keep that family going. So, that has been really kind of cool that I can keep breathing air into that legacy, and they’re recently brought in Amanda Setton as Ned’s daughter, Brook Lynn, too.  Then of course, with Days of Our Lives, they brought me back on as an attorney in 2009, and that was really out of the blue.  I hadn’t been on the show in 19 years.  So, to get a call to come back and be an attorney in town was just great, and at the time, I needed a job.  I kind of have to say, I owe Ken Corday (executive producer, DAYS) twice in my lifetime. He hired me as an actor when honestly; I could really use a job.  My first job was Days of Our Lives, and I was driving around in a moped then.

Photo: JPI

Speaking of Amanda Setton (Ex-Kimberly, One Life to Live) how do you think she is doing with the part of GH’s Brook Lynn?

WALLY:  She’s great.  She’s experienced, and nowadays you really have to be experienced on soaps.  We go so fast.  Unfortunately, the newbies take some time and have to get on track, but it’s a world of one takes and we go so quickly.  It really helps to have an actor who has done it before and isn’t daunted by the speed.

Speaking of keeping the legacy of the Q’s going, the one and only Jane Elliot recently came back to GH to reprise her role of Tracy Quartermaine. What was it like having her back on set to work with?  

WALLY:  It was great!  I hope she’ll make some future returns.  She had a good time.  The show is really much better with her.  I was just thrilled.

Photo: JPI

You must be grateful that Justin and Ned are still alive and kicking!

WALLY:  I love working on Days, and I love the crew.  I love the cast.  Both casts and crews from both soaps are fantastic.  I feel like the luckiest actor in town.  I don’t complain, and I won’t complain.  It’s interesting, when I was an actor on one show, I would complain, and I hear other actors on shows complaining about one thing or another.  I just don’t have a right to complain.  On my days off, I used to be the guy who would look at my lines the day before.  I probably could still do that, but I don’t want to.  I like spending a heck of a lot of time with my scripts so that when I go in there, I really know it.  I have a lot of different ways to play with it, and I get to be creative with it, and I pick that.  I don’t take that for granted.  So, every day when I get to work, I’m excited to be there, and I put a lot into it.

Photo: JPI

So, do you think we can foreshadow you winning a Daytime Emmy this year, or next year, or both for the performances we have seen and those yet to come?

WALLY:  (Laughs) I feel like I’ve already won an Emmy by having two jobs.  Honestly, I’m having the time of my life.

Do you think the audience will see Justin grieving still for Adrienne? With the time jump, in theory, we missed a year of that part of the mourning process.

WALLY:  You will see it.  But yes, you’re right.  You don’t see Justin the first three months, or the week after, or the weeks after.  However, more comes up for him that I think  will be very satisfying to the audience.  I know it’s been very shocking to the audience to see where Justin is at.  Most of the complaints I get are like, “Really?  It’s been three months, and you’re already making out with Kayla?”  People were kind of offended by that.  By the way, my wife is also offended by that.  (Laughs)  She was like, “You’d better wait longer than three months!

Photo: JPI

Did your wife watch your scenes when Adrienne died?

WALLY:  Yes, she did.   She liked them.   But she would say something like, “It’s hard to see you crying over another woman.”  I know she doesn’t really enjoy me making out with another woman and saying how much I love her.  I don’t usually show her all of the really romantic stuff, but I thought she’d be okay with the death scenes, and she was, but I am sure it was kind of strange for her.  She is a lawyer, not an actor.

Since she’s a lawyer, does she ever give you legalese tips for when you have courtroom scenes on DAYS?

WALLY:  She does, and I’m usually like, “Is there anything I can cut here?” and she usually goes, “Honestly, no.  You’d better say it.  I think it’s honestly pretty well-written.  You’d better say it as written. It’s pretty accurate.”

Courtesy/NBC

The other moment I wanted to bring up to you that was like the “perfect scene” is when Justin visited Will in prison and told Will to not give up on life. I think that was such a beautiful scene and performance.  I hope that is in your Emmy submission.

WALLY:  Thank you.  I was very proud of that.  I appreciate that, Michael.  I know you watch a lot of these, and, it is in my Emmy submissionIt was beautifully written.  I think the writers have really handed me just some wonderful stories to tell, and wonderful dialogue, and I used every word of it, and I feel very blessed.  As actors … you can work your ass off, but you really do also need stories to sometimes shine, you know?  I thought the writers really gave me a lot of great material to work with.

Photo: JPI

If they keep giving you more material like this every week you’ll be named the Power Performance of the Week, and then everyone will think something corrupt is going down! (Laughs) 

WALLY: They’ll think I’m paying you off, Michael! (Laughs)

So, what have you thought of Wally’s performances? Were you surprised at the Justin and Kayla pairing? Were you shocked at Adrienne’s death and what went down? Comment below.

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Eastsiders

Van Hansis and Kit Williamson Talk The Final Season of ‘EastSiders’, Their Journey As Thom and Cal, & The Impact The Series Has Made

It captivated the LGBTQ audience, expanded from there, and was a passion project and labor of love for series creator, Kit Williamson (Cal) along with his husband and co-producer, John Halbach as they tirelessly brought the digital drama EastSiders to life.  Over 4 seasons (and 7 years in and of production) fans of the series were brought: riveting characters, real, witty, and intelligent writing, and beautiful performances that leave you either crying, laughing, or just plain in awe of their depth.

Williamson brought in As the World Turns favorite, Van Hansis (Ex-Luke, ATWT), from the beginning of the creation of EastSiders, to play his on-screen other half, Thom, and over four seasons we have seen Cal and Thom’s relationship grow apart, come together, have a very open sexual relationship, deal with addiction issues, and anxiety in the day and age we live in; while giving us a glimpse of a set of characters who all are struggling with something … or trying to love someone, or just trying to love themselves.

In four seasons, EastSiders went from a show on YouTube to now a popular series streaming on Netflix.  And as season four of the series was finally released back in December of last year, fans of the show were clamoring to know if Thom and Cal will have their happily ever after? Well, if you saw the emotional final episode, you kind of know the answer to that, or do we? But just when you thought EastSiders was a fait accompli, Williamson and company released a behind-the-scenes documentary of the season that is also a must-see! (Check it out below).  And this week, EastSiders scored nominations in the Queerties Awards for the Best in LGBTQ media and culture. Van Hansis scored a nod in the Digital Performance category along with EastSiders cast member, Stephen Guarino, and the series is nominated in the Digital Series category. You can vote for the Queerties now through February 21st here.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Van and Kit in a full circle moment for all of us.  We conducted the first interview these two talented gents ever did to publicize the series seven years ago, and we couldn’t let EastSiders go without one last look, one last goodbye, and to talk to the heart and soul of the story itself.  So here, we put a bow on it, and chat it up with Van and Kit in this very special EastSiders wrap-up.

Photo: EastSiders

So, 7 years ago, the three of us met at a coffee shop in West Hollywood, California and you had this little show called Eastsiders, and we do your first interview ever about the show.  Now, 7 years later it’s grown into what it has become.  What did you think of this whole journey from the beginning to the end?  Did you have any idea that EastSiders would take off like this, and did it exceed your hopes and dreams?

KIT:  Personally, I had no idea that the show could have this many lives.  I really just set out to make something cool and to put it on the internet.  At every stage of this, I wondered, “Is this it?” and it’s been wild to see how it’s grown.  As I’m thinking back on it, you are right! It was the very first interview that we did with the show … period.

VAN:  I was thinking the exact same thing.  It was!

Photo: EastSiders

When artists in any field create something, you never know how it’s going to be perceived by the public.  I think your perseverance and how you went about it was so smart that you garnered an audience worldwide.  So, what are your thoughts about how the series wrapped up with season four?  Because I had heard, Kit, that you extended the storylines.  Is that true that the season was longer than what you intended it to be?  

KIT:  So, we ended up having the penultimate episode be an hour long because I just kept writing new scenes for people and discovering things on set, and I think that kind of speaks to all of our desire to not say goodbye to the characters.  It’s a very long goodbye, you know?  Also, I can’t imagine getting to the second to last episode of a series that I was watching, and if I loved it, wanting the episodes to go by quicker.  So, it felt like something that I could tactically do at the end there.  Van, what about you?  I know in the behind-the-scenes documentary that we filmed, stuff like, not even knowing what a web series even was when we first started doing this, came up! (Laughs)

VAN:  Oh, yeah! (Laughs) When we started I was sent the script from an acting teacher.  I loved the script.  I knew I wanted to be a part of it no matter what. I had no idea what it would be.  To see what it’s become is amazing, and to be a part of what it’s become is amazing, and that is literally all mostly Kit.  He has done so much with this, and he’s put so much of himself into it.  I feel fortunate to see some of the behind the scenes stuff that sometimes you don’t get to see as an actor on a show.  We need more Kit Williamson’s in our lives, because it takes someone like that to make this happen and to make it go worldwide from literally YouTube.  So, as far as the ending …  I love where it ends off and where all of the characters sort of end up.

Photo: EastSiders

Kit, are you ready to do an EastSiders reboot?  Are we coming back to visit Thom and Cal 5 years later?

KIT:  I have said that I don’t know that I’m done with these characters yet.  Van and I have had conversations about that.  I think that the show is definitely finished is this format.  Trying to shoot and independently produce, 6 half-hour, ensemble events like this, and to do it right, and to keep growing and scaling it, is just not really sustainable, but it’s been a hell of a ride.  I’m glad that we went on it.  To speak to what Van was just talking about; I really think it’s just alchemy.  It’s a set of perfect circumstances coming together that we all met at the right times in our lives, and Van Hansis, in particular, is the spark that ignites the show.  I don’t think that the show would have had the success that it did if: we hadn’t had the chemistry that we had, and if Van’s fan base hadn’t gotten so excited about the show. To be able to kind of grow and create something that people are excited to see is really empowering.  Knowing that there is somebody out there who wants it, who is waiting for it, is gratifying.

Photo: EastSiders

Van, what did you think about Thom’s journey throughout season four?  The audience is like, “Please ask him already.  Pop the question,” and Thom is holding onto that ring!  Do you think he realized that he had what he wanted all along in Cal?  

VAN:  I think in the end he does, but I also think he doesn’t know where that journey is going to go.  Very much like … he knows that what he has is something golden and precious, but I think that he doesn’t know how to hold onto something like that.  Throughout the series, with Thom and Cal especially, they know that they love each other, but they don’t really know how to love each other in the best way.  I don’t know if that story is fully finished yet, but I think that they’re really very much on their way to figuring out what it means … and what it means especially to them.  I think especially as queer people, you don’t have a set of outliers that are given to you, especially, queer people our age.  I think the whole series has been not just about Thom and Cal, but every character in the show figuring out what is their relationship and to be able to create their own, and not give a care about what society thinks of them, which is really kind of fun.

KIT:  One of the most recurring themes of the show in terms of motif is cartography: drawing the map of the world together as a couple.  We had that Daniel Zaitchik song at the end of season 2, Map of the World, that also reprises this season.  There’s a lot of discussion of directions and destinations that I think is something I really wanted to get at because I think as queer people, we often don’t have the benefit of being able to just go down the road laid out for us by our parents.  We have to chart our own course.

Photo” EastSiders

I was watching all the comments on social media, and do you realize how many people said (including myself) that they were in tears and needed hankies at the ending of EastSiders? They just were a ball of mess at the conclusion of the show; which speaks to the investment we all had with the characters.  Did you see how people were so emotional and how they were reaching back to you? 

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KIT:  It’s been so cool.  I’ve gotten hundreds and hundreds of messages.

VAN:  Yes!  I also want to go back to Kit.  That’s his writing.  There are so many amazing shows that go out with a whimper.  I have followed so many shows that I absolutely love, and the final episode comes about, and I’m like, “Wait.  That’s it?  That’s what we get?”  Glen Weldon on Pop Culture Happy Hour, which is a podcast I follow, he talked about how well it stuck the landing.  Everybody gets a sense of an ending.  Most of them are happy, or all of them are happy actually, and for these characters, you’ve stuck around with them since we were on YouTube, and the audience deserves to see their favorite character have some sort of hope.

KIT:  Yeah!  I like to say happy with an asterisk.  An Eastsiders happy ending is a little different from a traditional happy ending.   They all have things that they still need to work through, but I didn’t want to leave any character in a sense of uncertainty.  I wanted to make sure that all of the loose ends of the story we’ve been telling the last 7 years were tied up.  I do think that there is definitely more story there, but I do think that’s life.  Everybody’s story continues past what you are allowed to see.

Was your final scene together that you taped the proposal in the club, or was this shot out of order?

KIT:  Van’s last scene was actually the scene with Richard (Bryan Batt) in episode 5, when they’re reflecting on everything.

VAN:  That’s a good last scene to film.  I had to come back last January to film just the material with him and with Traci Lords. So, no, our last scene together was not the proposal, it was the scene at the restaurant together towards the end,

KIT:  Yeah, the restaurant itself.  We did that out of order.  We had to shoot the bathroom scene where our characters have our big come to Jesus moment.

Those scenes were great.  Traci Lords was wonderful, by the way.

VAN:  Oh, she’s so good.  I love her.

KiT:  The scene that really gets me the most this season was Cal and his mother in the bed, and the discussion they had between them.

Photo: Eastsiders

When you watched back the ending with the proposal, what did you think?

VAN:  I thought it was great.  I posted something on Instagram like, “I get to be in a romcom!”

KIT:  It’s your Drew Barrymore moment!

VAN:  It was!  That’s what I wrote!  It’s my Drew Barrymore moment.  I’ve never gotten to do something that joyful.  Kit, I have a question for you.  Was some of that confetti in the final scene CGI or was all of that there?

KIT:  It was all there!

VAN:  Really!?  I don’t remember.  I was just so deep into your eyes that I don’t remember all of that confetti falling on my face.  It looks amazing.

KIT:  It was at the end of the night.   We only got one shot at that scene.  That was one take, and it ended up perfect.

Photo: EastSiders

 

In season four, you really expanded Jeremy’s role.  Matthew McKelligon was wonderful in the story you provided him.

KIT:  Yeah!  I really have tried with all of the characters to subvert expectations.  With Willam Belli (Douglas) and Stephen Guarino’s (Quincy) characters, their introduced as kind of the commedia clowns and then revealed to be the lovers, and with Matt’s character, he’s introduced as the “other woman”.  He’s literally called “Jezebel” all throughout the first season and then starting in season 2.  I think a lot of people were probably surprised that we are still following this character.  Jeremy doesn’t just disappear from the story when he stops sleeping with Cal and Thom.  I think to be able to follow his trajectory as he’s going on a radically different path than I think he even expected was really fun for me … and for Matt.

Photo: EaatSiders

Kit, a moment I recall on your social media posts, was when you said you’d just watched the sex scenes you were in and you were like, “I hope my mother doesn’t see this.”  Were you really embarrassed?

KIT:  Yeah, I did a reaction video when I watched it.   I will be honest.  You disassociate when you’re editing something because you’re looking at it as a frame-to-frame perspective, and then I had a little distance from it and watched it on Netflix for the first time, and that was the first time it really sunk in that I was like, “Oh, that’s a sex montage starring me.”

Van, when you were seeing the story of EastSiders progress through the years, and how Thom and Cal were sleeping around and with multiple partners, did you ever have a moment of, “What’s happening here?” Or, were you like, “Oh … cool!?”

VAN:  That started in the 2nd season, but I wasn’t like scandalized or anything by it.  What I love about the show, and what I love about the 4th season especially is that there are basically 4 narratives of gay male relationships, like queer all encompassing, but specifically looking at gay men.  Each one is different, and I think if you are in this community, I think you’ve seen these types of relationships, and you fall into one, or you don’t, or you fall between them.  So, I wasn’t like, “Oh, my God, you’re having a sex montage in the 2nd season,” no.  I’m not like some Victorian lady who is fainting on a chaise when someone is shirtless.  The thing that’s funny to me is that this isn’t shown more.

Photo: JPI

Van, you know from portraying Luke Snyder on As the World Turns, on a daytime soap, that as a gay character they often tap dance around so much in the writing!

VAN:  Yeah, I do.  I lived that, and that’s what honestly pisses me off.  That this program is afraid to show something.  It’s because they’ve probably done tests of what people are comfortable with, so it’s like, “Okay, we live in this society where people are uncomfortable with X and X and X and X,” and really, why?  People just need to live their lives.

Kit, do you have a favorite scene that you’ve written in this entire 7 years of the creative lifespan of EastSiders?

KIT:  I would say season 3 episode 5, the “What do you see when you look down?” conversation between me and Van as Cal and Thom.  To set the scene a little bit: it’s the culmination of days of talking on the road trip when you run out of frivolous things to say to each other and the real stuff comes out.  My character is asleep, and he wakes up to find that Thom is kind of drinking by himself in the camper, and they have this conversation to really get to the heart of what both of them are most afraid of, not just in their relationships, but in their lives. You sort of get to realize that this fear has been shaping their decisions from the very first season, that they have been leading with fear, and that is something that maybe they can work through as a couple, that they can maybe address together.  I think that moment for me is the moment that I knew that Thom and Cal were meant to be together.

Photo: EastSiders

That was the scene where you both were in tears inside the camper?

VAN:  Yep.  That scene is on my reel.  That is one of my favorite scenes that Kit has written also.  I would say for me, my favorite full-on episode is probably the first episode of season 3.  The bottle episode in Palm Springs.

KIT:  I love that episode, too.

VAN:  I think that what you do so beautifully is that it is just so funny and uplifting, but you do get those undercurrents of the reality in the relationship with Quincy and Douglas. I think that is where we see them go from sort of the clowns into the lovers, and I love the way that you put that.  We see them get a little bit more grounded.  So, that’s my favorite episode, but I love that scene in season 3, but I love so much from the series!  In season four, I love the scene with Jeremy’s foster daughter.  It’s not like a huge deep scene or anything, but the stuff that you brought out of that little girl … she is just incredible.

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KIT:  Scout was just so brilliant.  If she wants one, that kid has a career ahead of her.  I have every confidence that her family is supporting her in whatever she wants to do because they’re just incredible.

Kit, in EastSiders, you wore so many hats within it.  Would you ultimately want your next projects to just be acting in front of the camera, and not worrying about producing and writing it?  Did you like doing it all?  It’s a lot to take on.

KIT:  Yeah, they’re different itches to scratch.  I would like to have less responsibilities as a producer in terms of the day-to-day responsibilities and nuts and bolts of things.  I would love to never print a set of sides or stock ‘crafty’ ever again.  I would love to have those sorts of things taken off of my plate, but ultimately, my goal is to be a showrunner, and that means that I want the buck to stop with me.  I want to be the person who is ultimately responsible for not just the creative vision, but the execution of that vision from concepts to finished product.  But, I want to do all of it.  I find it really empowering to wear fewer hats.  I think a great career model that’s emerged for me in recent years is Phoebe Waller-Bridge.  I love everything that she does.  I love that she is creating shows that she’s not acting in, she’s acting in shows that she’s writing, she’s punching up the new Bond movie, and she is acting in projects that she has nothing to do with as a writer.

How do you feel the door had been opened for you because of the series?

KIT:  Oh man, I’m getting a lot of opportunities, and I’m really, really grateful for it.

In the LGBTQ community, what do the guys say to you, and how EastSiders has impacted them? Do they ever say, “Thom and Cal showed me this?” or “I’m so glad this was portrayed?” 

VAN:  Yeah.  I got something on Instagram about a week or so ago from a guy who was really freaking out about being in an open relationship, and he was like, “Thank God for this show.”

KIT:  Definitely anytime I’ve been outside of New York or LA and in a gay bar or a gay space, somebody has come up to me, and I definitely love it because the whole point of this is to get people to engage with your work.  That’s the reward; is knowing that people are watching.  I actually have a “gratitude folder” on my computer where I save some messages that people have sent to me.  It’s something I started recently, and I wish I’d been doing it since the beginning, because I always try to write back to everybody that writes to me about the show, and if I missed some, I’m so sorry.  It was an accident.  I can read you a few.  One says, “I live in a very conservative family, in a developing country, El Salvador.  Thanks to EastSiders, I understood that discovering my sexuality wasn’t something to be ashamed of and that all expressions of love are equally worth it.  You guys basically saved my life since I thought about suicide many times.”  In other messages, many people told me that the show gave them the confidence to come out to their friends or family, or that it made them feel less alone in countries where being gay is illegal.  I have a message from someone in Saudi Arabia, someone from Iran, Nigeria, Mississippi, where I’m from.  I get a lot of messages from Mississippi, because I’m so outspoken about how coming from the south shaped me.  It’s just really overwhelmingly satisfying.  As a kid there weren’t any openly gay people around me, so the first gay people I ever met were characters on TV, and it made me feel, like maybe, I could have a life worth putting on a screen someday.

Photo: Eastsiders

Let’s go back in time. Van, what was your first impression of Kit when you met him?

VAN:  I feel like I met him through his writing first, because I had never met him when I got the script.  I remember we met at a coffee shop in Los Feliz in Los Angeles.  Kit was very professional, and I remember there was a question if I was going to play Thom or was I going to play Jeremy? I think I was sort of gravitating towards Jeremy at that point, but you were like, “No, you’re a Thom,” so I was like, “Okay.”  (Laughs) I remember leaving. feeling that it was very much like a business meeting, but that went away really quickly when we just got to know each other.  You came across as a lot more serious than I thought whoever wrote the script would be.

KIT:  Oh.  Cool.  I love that.

Kit, what did you think of Van when you first met him? 

KIT:  Well, I was super nervous, and I definitely wanted to convey that this was something that I took really seriously.

VAN: (Laughs)

KIT:  So, I’m glad he got that.

Photo: JPI

I get that you wanted to come across very professional.

KIT:  Yeah, because it was my first time directing so I wanted to come ready, and the first thing I thought when I met Van was, “That’s Thom.”  Literally a sentence comes out of his mouth, and I’m like, “Oh, yeah.  Absolutely.  This is absolutely correct.  Thank God.  We have our lead.”

VAN:  I love the role of Jeremy, but I’m so glad I played Thom.

KIT:  Honestly, a lot of people were almost a lot of different people in this thing.   At one point, John Halbach, was going to be Thom.  John, at one point, was going to be Jeremy.  We didn’t have a casting director.  I was in grad school.  I had no clue what I was doing, and I keep on coming back to the idea of alchemy.  We accidentally made gold because we did not know what we were doing.

How did you know about Van?

KIT:  Through a mutual acting teacher in Los Angeles, and of course, I was familiar with As the World Turns and all of that, but I didn’t know him, and it never would have occurred to me that I could even reach out to somebody at his career level.  So, it was very, very fortuitous that we were connected.

Photo: Instagram

Kit, you have a gazillion followers on Instagram.  Do you ever have a moment with yourself like, “God, I have to do another post today to keep this going?”  

KIT:  It’s a hustle, and it’s a balance that John and I are both constantly doing our best to navigate, because we started it to bring attention to the show, and now, sometimes people will recognize us from Instagram and not from the series, and that’s not what we are going for. (Laughs)

You’re Instagram stars!

KIT:  It’s a balance that we are trying to navigate.  You know, how many shirtless selfies is too many shirtless selfies?  At what percentage of shirtless-ness will you no longer be taken seriously?  But as Van pointed out, I’m a serious MF with a master’s degree and multiple Emmy nominations. (Laughs)  So, I take myself way too seriously, but I know that you have to play the internet like a video game.  You have to do certain things and get a certain response, and attention begets attention, and a lot of people have told me that they found the show by following me on Instagram.  So, it’s mission accomplished I suppose, but it’s something that we have to be really careful about especially as I’m moving into phase two of my career.

Did you guys submit yourselves for contention in the upcoming Daytime Emmys?

KIT:  Yes.  Absolutely.

Photo: EastSiders

You both gave two of the most memorable performances of the year in Eastsiders and within the digital drama space.  So, we’ll see how it plays out for you when the nominations are revealed.

KIT:  Thank you.  It’s really interesting because historically it seems like the Daytime Emmys have gone with more traditional soap narratives, and ours is definitely the weird kid on the block, but I’m really hopeful that this season we will have a good showing because I really believe in Van’s performance.  I believe in all of the actors.  I believe that they’re all operating at their series best … to put it that way.  I think everybody is just sitting in their power and owning their characters in a way that was really, really cool for me as a writer to see.

It was amazing.  Congratulations.  I guess this is our wrap-up interview for Eastsiders … for now.

KIT:  Who knows… maybe this isn’t the end.  We’ll see.

So, will you miss seeing the journey of Thom and Cal on EastSiders?  If you watched the four seasons. did you have a favorite moment within it?  Share your thoughts on our conversation with Van and Kit via the comment section below.  Then check out the documentary of the “making of” EastSiders.

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