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The Wendie Malick Interview – Hot in Cleveland

Courtesy/tvland

There’s a storm brewing on the season finale of the sitcom Hot in Cleveland, and the shows central characters and its fans, better take cover and prepare for one hell of a cliffhanger!  For soap viewers, there is extra incentive to tune-in when Victoria Chase, played by Wendie Malick, prepares to head back to Los Angeles to try to win her long denied first Daytime Emmy.  Malick’s Hot in Cleveland alter ego is a former soap diva, who is set to go head to head in the competition with All My Children’s Susan Lucci (Erica), except she can’t get to the ceremonies!   Even La Lucci makes a guest appearance as herself during the episode, in a Daytime Emmy send-up that will surely leave you laughing.

On-Air On-Soaps caught up with Malick for details into the hilarious episode, working with Susan Lucci, creating her own fictional soap legend, and working with her Hot in Cleveland co-stars, including former B&B guest-star Betty White.  Wendie is such an accomplished actress from stage, primetime drama, and comedy that you will find her praise for the daytime genre enlightening.  Malick’s blend of dry humor, wit, and panache that she brought to our conversation make this quite the entertaining interview.

Hot in Cleveland airs this Wednesday night on TV Land 10PMEST /9CST, and don’t miss what could be in Elka’s (Betty White) secret storm cellar!  Could it be soap icons from the past?   Hmmm.  Wendie won’t tell, but she does give us a look into the creation of her fictional soap actress’ life and much more!

MICHAEL:

The soap opera angle of your character on Hot in Cleveland, Victoria Chase, is such a hilarious spoof.  I love it.

WENDIE:

I lobbied heavily for this when they told me she was going to be an aging actress.  I said, “Yes, I want to do that.”  It sort of parallel’s things we all actually are going through.  Of course, it’s an exaggerating version of our lives at a tender age, which is way more fun. (Laughs)

MICHAEL: 

Courtesy/tvland

I was digging into Victoria Chase’s background and bio and I see she appeared on the long running, now defunct soap, Edge of Tomorrow, in the role of Honor Saint Raven.

WENDIE:

Yes, she was on Edge of Tomorrow.  And, I remember Edge of Night was on when I was a kid.  I gave her the name Honor Saint Raven, which I have had in my back pocket for many years, which I think is the most hilarious name I could come up with.  It’s sort of a complete bastardization of every ridiculous name you have heard on daytime television. (Laughs).

MICHAEL:

That has to be partially based on one of the leading female characters on Edge of Night throughout its last years, Raven, formerly played by Sharon Gabet, which is really funny.  Now, Victoria was on Edge of Tomorrow for decades, correct?

WENDIE:

Yes. She was on it for 27 years and she started out as the ingénue. (Laughs) Then she was one of identical triplets, so she was the good sister.  Then there was the evil triplet-sister and then an ‘evilah’ triplet sister (laughs), who was named Magnolia, and she was from the south. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Wendie, what soaps did you watch previously, besides Edge of Night?

WENDIE:

© JPI Studios

As a kid I watched Edge of Night and All My Children whenever I could.  My parents would not let us watch television in the afternoons, or even Peyton Place, or any of those wonderfully juicy things. We would have to sneak around to watch them.  My first job in television was in New York as an under-five on All My Children, and I was beyond thrilled and excited.  Shortly after that, my first real acting job was on Search for Tomorrow and I played Nurse Jones.  It was canceled six months after I was on it, and it was dying a slow and painful death.  I remember as Nurse Jones I had no first name and all I would do was recap what happened the day before.  I had to wear the stupid nurse’s outfit/uniform including the stocking and the shoes everyday, and it was so not what I had in mind. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

How was working with Susan Lucci?  How does she figure into the plot on Wednesday night’s season finale?

WENDIE:

I had never met her.  I heard she was wonderful to work with, and she just looked so ridiculously good.  She has been doing All My Children for 40 years!  We had to wear identical dresses, and of course, hers was half the size of mine. (Laughs) She was a total pro and came in and nailed it every time.  Susan was charming and lovely, and happy to be there.  She was a really good sport because we abused her lot, as she is my character, Victoria Chase’s, arch nemesis.  Now Victoria is the longest running daytime actress who has never won a Daytime Emmy, as she has been on her soap for 27 years without capturing the prize.

MICHAEL:

I see.  So that is why Victoria would be up in the running for the Daytime Emmy this year because her soap was recently canceled, and so she could make it into the eligibility period. (Laughs)  Then, for those who don’t know, how did all the ladies in the show end up in Cleveland…which is the premise for the sitcom?

WENDIE:

What happened was: my character’s (Victoria) show was canceled, Valerie Bertinelli’s character’s (Melanie) divorce became final, and Jane Leeves character’s (Joy) business was going down the tubes, and she was losing clients in the eyebrow sculpting business! So we all decided at Melanie’s suggestion, that we all get out of Dodge and go to Paris, where elder women are appreciated like fine wine.  Then on our way we hit bad weather and landed in Cleveland, and decided to stay there because we can be fabulous there. Because, we are really hot in Cleveland! (Laughs) 

Courtesy/tvland

MICHAEL:

Since you watched Susan Lucci as Erica on All My Children, I would think that must have been kind of cool for you to get the chance to work with her.

WENDIE:

Absolutely, she is the face of daytime.  Susan plays the beautiful, and then sometimes evil, and then a character that sometimes goes through redemption as Erica Kane.  Susan Lucci has gone through all of it, and she has done it and held on to herself.  It seems like Susan has also really had a life, and a nice family, and figured out how to have it all. Bless her heart, and she is still doing it all amazingly!

MICHAEL:

So, a tornado hits Cleveland and Victoria’s dreams of being at the Emmys to possibly accept her big award are destroyed?

WENDIE:

Of course!  And apparently right now, they are really all over the Midwest.  It’s narly back there!  Anyway, Victoria is getting ready to go to the Daytime Emmys and then a tornado hits.  I mean, what kind of luck is that?  And she truly thinks she has a shot this year, because she faked a rare disease to get sympathy votes. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

So in Victoria Chase’s off-screen life she is saying this, not unlike the year at the Academy Awards when Elizabeth Taylor won the sympathy vote for being ill and took home the Oscar for Butterfield 8, when every one assumed it would go to Shirley MacClaine for The Apartment?

WENDIE:

Yup! So she is going for it anyway she can.  She will stop at nothing to win this award.

MICHAEL:

Victoria is up against Susan Lucci for the Lead Actress Daytime Emmy?

WENDIE:

She is up against Lucci, and against Kristen Macalister who pulled a really sneaky move… she died!  And so then, you might as well get an express ticket to winning.  It’s a cheap shot!  So Victoria’s way of being in the competition is to fake a really awful rare deadly disease. Then I get stuck in Cleveland in a tornado, and then I have to watch it on TV when the power comes back on. (Laughs) 

Courtesy/tvland

MICHAEL:

Will we see you and Susan Lucci together on screen?

WENDIE:

No. You will see her on television, and me in the basement in the same dress.

MICHAEL:

I know there is a big cliffhanger on Wednesday night’s episode!

WENDIE:

There are two cliffhangers in the season finale. The cliffhanger revolving around the Emmys will be revealed that night. Then there is something else that goes on after that, which really leaves all of us in the dark until next season.  Our new season begins in January.  The something else that is really serious is something that is about one of the other ladies in the cast, but I shan’t say who!

MICHAEL:

You know your castmate Betty White (Elka) has appeared on the CBS soap, The Bold and the Beautiful…

WENDIE:

Did she really?  She never told me!

MICHAEL:

On B&B, Betty White played Ann Douglas, a completely mean spirited mother figure that emotionally damaged her two daughters, in more ways than one.  Last year, the soap “killed-off” her character.  Ann died of pancreatic cancer in a short arc “dying with dignity” storyline, which just won B&B the Outstanding Writing Daytime Emmy.  Betty showed a side of her, which is nothing like the comedienne she plays on Hot in Cleveland.  Many in the soap industry thought she should have received a Daytime Emmy nod for those performances.

WENDIE:

Courtesy/tvland

Isn’t that fabulous that she is still pushing the envelope and still stretching as an actress?  She is absolutely remarkable!  I must tell you in all seriousness, being women in our second act and doing this show has been a great shot in the arm for women who don’t have to feel like their days are over.  Some people would say, “Oh, that was fun.  Now I have to crawl under a rock.  Now what do I do?”   It’s really up to each of us and the attitude we choose to have.  Betty White is this living example of someone who shows up everyday with this sense of gratitude, and leaves it all on the mat, and has this great time doing it and loves her life.  It’s contagious. We all feel so lucky to being doing the thing we love, with people we adore, and these seasoned fabulous writers, and this great crew. It’s kind of like coming home, and it’s such a gift to work on this show.

MICHAEL:

How is working with Valerie Bertinelli?

WENDIE:

I had never met her.  I remembered Valerie from the sitcom, One Day at a Time, when she was so young, and I thought, “Well, I don’t know if we would make sense as friends because I am from a different generation, and I am much more snarky.” (Laughs) But, I remember everyone telling me, “She has been through a lot. You are going to like her.”  And, I must say she is a very solid performer.  She is an amazing woman who has made huge strides in her life in terms of her own personal growth.  Valerie has still got a great body and a great sense of humor.

MICHAEL:

And, how about Jane Leeves?

WENDIE:

Jane Leeves I adore.  She plays such a dry witted character on the show, which I just love.  Jane and I got to know each other on Frasier. I played her mother-in-law.  My character married John Mahoney’s character of Marty Crane, and she married David Hyde Pierce’s character of Niles!

MICHAEL:

You know when I was reading Victoria Chase’s bio, it says the following: “She has five ex-husbands, three adopted children (she didn’t want to ruin her figure) and one grandchild.  She still suspects her third spouse may have been gay.”

WENDIE:

Courtesy/tvland

I don’t know too much about Victoria’s former husbands.  The writers actually came to us at the end of the season and said, “So, what do you guys want us to look at in terms of next season?”  And I said, “I would love to know who my children are, and what happened to them, and where did they come from? (Laughs)”

MICHAEL:

So she suspects her third husband was gay?

WENDIE:

Yes, she suspects after they hop into bed to have sex, and there is this great talk about stretch marks.

MICHAEL:

Do you think the powers-that-be at Hot in Cleveland will do another episode with a soap angle for Victoria?  They should keep this going.

WENDIE:

I wouldn’t be surprised.  She was offered a job to be the drama coach at the local high school.  She said she would fill in for awhile, but as soon as that phone rings with a real gig she is out there.  So, I have a feeling if the phone rings she would go back to L.A. for a brief visit, and work on a soap, perhaps.

MICHAEL:

Why not do some great cross-promotion between TV Land and the network soaps, and have Victoria Chase as Honor hit town… like do a cameo on All My Children?

WENDIE:

Oh yes, and have her eat up the scenery.  Just passing through Pine Valley… “Is that Honor Saint Raven?  What is she doing here?  I thought she was dead!”  Oh, the possibilities! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Do you think that in your neck of the woods of primetime television, that soap operas are perceived as the “poor step children” of the acting profession?

WENDIE:

Courtesy/tvland

You know, I don’t watch them because I don’t watch that much television, because I am usually working. Then when I am done I have dinner with my husband, and we have a niece who lives with us, too.  So my life is full, but I do Tivo a few shows.  I must say, I never watch any Reality TV, ever!   I hate reality.  I like make-believe.  So, I have never seen American Idol, or any of that stuff.   I thought that sitcoms were dead, and here we are with Hot in Cleveland, and the little engine that could.  So, I don’t think you should ever rule out anything.  It seems that there are some really talented performers who go back to working on soaps, because they get to stay in town, and have a normal life and do what they love.  I think there is a hunger for scripted television now that we have been so inundated with reality programming.  I have a feeling there will be a resurgence of a lot of the scripted shows.

MICHAEL:

There were awful sitcoms there for awhile.  They were so bad they all got canceled, and rightfully so.

WENDIE:

There were horrible sitcoms coming out. You really need to have good writers because without them, you are completely faking it and the audience can tell. We have a waiting list of writers that want to write on our show.  We have to actually edit out the laughter!  So it’s not like we add in any… they have to subtract it!  It’s a nice position to be in.

MICHAEL:

You know, soap actors have the daunting task of shooting their performances in one day and that’s it.  They then move on to the next day’s performance with so little time to prep.

WENDIE:

My hat goes off to those who work in soap operas.  They have to be on their game, and they have to learn so many lines every day that it is astonishing.  I remember you would have 20 pages of dialog in a day.  You would have to show up and know what you were doing, and there is no time to really rehearse.  I mean, it is fast!  So the people who do well on soaps and can nail it have done so much shorthand before they have gotten to actual episodic television or sitcoms.  It’s amazing how fast they have to work!

MICHAEL:

What is Hot in Cleveland’s production week like from an actor’s perspective?  I think its good to look at how your medium’s work week is structured to pull off what you do, as a comparison to what the soaps have to do on a daily basis.

WENDIE:

Courtesy/tvland

We rehearse from 10am-2pm on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  The thing with this show is; we have great writers, and they are always reworking the lines and fine tuning it and so every day there are script changes.  But they have gotten so good this season that none of the episodes were that difficult to do.  There was only one I think that got truly changed from Monday till Friday.  We rehearse for three days, and then do a run- through.  Then, the writers go back and re-work the script, and then on Thursday, we go in early and pre-tape some things that are not on the main set, or special effects, or tricky stuff, or prosthetics! I won’t go into that, but I have something like that at the end! (Laughs). Friday, we come in around noon and pre-shoot the show with the cameras, just to see if there are any odd camera angles they need to get.  Then that night at 6:30pm, we have the audience there. We shoot in front of them, and I have to say, I love shooting in front of a live audience.  

MICHAEL:

The infamous and hilarious still photo of you and Susan Lucci fighting for the Emmy in the identical blue dress… when did you shoot that?

WENDIE:

Susan came that night of the taping, and she did not even have to because she shot her material on pre-tape the night before.  Susan said to the producers, “I would love to come to it live that night in front of the audience.”  So, she did her part again, and came out in front of the audience, and they were so thrilled to see her.  It was wonderful!  So that night is when we did the photo opportunity of us in the same blue dress fighting for the Emmy… and we giggled the whole week!  She was like “Little-me!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

So Wendie, with all the storylines Victoria Chase’s soap character (Honor Saint Raven) played on Edge of Tomorrow, do you think there is something left for her on the soap to still play, if the show would have not been canceled?

WENDIE:

Well, I know she was researching monkeys on a small island for a while. (Laughs) 

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

Very Gorillas in the Mist!

WENDIE:

I don’t think there is anything they didn’t squeeze out of the 27 years she played that character, or anything she has left to revisit.  Maybe, she could be a grandmother someday, but she wouldn’t like that very much. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

As we wrap, why do you think soap fans should tune-in to the finale of Hot in Cleveland?

WENDIE:

I think they will get a kick out of it, because it’s truly an homage to all the daytime fans.

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Doe
Doe

This is a unique interview, Michael. I have watched Wendie Malik on so many shows and she is a class act. I saw her on ” Just Shoot Me” and she could throw out a line better than anyone. I also saw her on” Frasier”. She seems to always pick the best actors to work with and the most formidable. Now she is with Betty White who is the best of the best. Wendie is a funny lady who can deliver funny lines, also. I hope her show, “Hot IN CLeveland” will be on for a long time. We not only need women being smart and funny, we all need to relax and enjoy them. Thanks Wendie for the laughs, and thank you, Michael for this wonderful and different and joyful interview. Will be watching on her new sit-com……..

Deebs
Deebs

This should be good…

Deebs
Deebs

Yeah

All My Children

Eva LaRue Talks On Her Daytime Emmy Nomination, And Opens Up About The Loss Of John Callahan

For Eva LaRue, the past two months have been some of the most emotionally gut-wrenching and challenging of her life, following the passing of her ex-husband, father of her child, and dearest friend, John Callahan (Ex-Edmund, All My Children). The outpouring of support she has received not only from her former AMC cast mates, but the soap world in general illustrates just how dear Eva is to all of us, and how many people had special memories of their time with John.

While mourning the loss of Callahan along with their daughter, Kaya, there was some heartwarming and re-affirming news that any actress would love to hear. Eva was nominated for a Daytime Emmy in the Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series for her work as Celeste Rosales on CBS’ The Young and the Restless, and she is great company as her former AMC co-star Michael E. Knight (Ex-Tad) is also nominated along with her for his work on General Hospital.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit our country and world hard, but through it All My Children virtual reunions emerged as fans were engaged by the content, transported to happier times that brought them back to familiar faces in Pine Valley in which Eva participated along with her good friends, Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos and so many more, thanks to the EW. com weeklong event which concluded on Friday.

Michael Fairman TV talked with Eva in this very candid, at times heartbreaking, and open conversation where she shares details into the final days of her beloved John, her last moments with him, and how she tried to plan a memorial in his honor during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For so many of us, 2020 has certainly seen more lows then highs, but in the end for Eva, to receive a nomination now (an award she was last nominated for back in 1997 as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work as Dr Maria Santos on All My Children) couldn’t have come at a better time. Here now is our conversation with Eva.

Photo: JPI

I’ve been thinking so much about you.  I’m glad we could do this, and in the midst of the tragedy of losing John Callahan, and then receiving a Daytime Emmy nomination.  What was your reaction when you learned you were nominated in a category with none other than your former AMC castmate and good friend, Michael E. Knight (Ex-Tad, AMC, now Martin, GH)?

EVA:  Oh, I know!  He’s the first person I texted!  I was like, “Congratulations, Michael!  Did you ever in a million years think that you and I would be in the same category of anything?”  Then I said, “And when you win this, can I just borrow it for the weekend just to dress it up and take pictures with it… just want to borrow it, just babysit the trophy for a weekend, please?” (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

What did you end up submitting that landed you the nomination for your role as Celeste on Y&R?

EVA: I submitted a scene with Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R), who I have been friends for 30 years, if not more, and in all that time we had never worked together.  I met him when I was married to John O’Hurley (Ex- Dr. James Grainger) because John was over at The Young and the Restless at the time.  I went to a Christmas party with John to Peter and Mariellen’s house, and do you know who else was there?  Lisa Rinna (Ex-Billie, Days), and it was before she had gotten Days of Our Lives. She was dating Peter Barton (Ex-Scott Grainger, Y&R) at the time. We both ended up on soaps at the same time.  So, I submitted a scene with Peter, who is amazing, warm and open and such a great actor. Then I submitted a scene with my on-screen daughter Sasha Calle (Lola, Y&R) – I love that girl, and another one with Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, Y&R) who has also been my great friend for a couple of decades. The other scene I put on my reel was with me and Jordi Vilasuso (Rey, Y&R) who I also adore.  He is awesome and such a sweetheart.  I only had two months worth of material to draw upon.  So, I just submitted the scenes that I liked the best, and they all were within story, and all made sense.

Photo: Getty Images

Where is Celeste supposed to be now?

EVA:  She went back to Florida, and that was that. I would never say never to anything, but it was always supposed to be a short stint, and it was great.

So not only is it you and Michael E. Knight, but Jeffery Vincent Parise, Chrishell Stause, and Elissa Kapneck. This Guest Performer category is loaded!

EVA:  I know! I know and love, Chrishell (Ex-Amanda) because we worked together on All My Children, too, right before I left, and she is a doll.  She just might be the sweetest, kindest, girl on the planet.  She literally might be the sweetest person who ever lived!  I don’t know the other two nominees personally.  So, I’m excited for them too.  It’s such a diverse category.  It’s just really fun to be nominated with all of them.

Photo: Hallmark Channel

You were nominated before, though, for your work as Maria on All My Chldren during the emotional baby switch storyline; working opposite Susan Lucci (Ex-Erica) for a lot in it.

EVA:  Yes.  I was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for All My Children, and I was nominated for Best Original Song.  I wrote a song when Maria came ‘back from the dead’ to All My Children, with a producer friend of mine from Miami Sound Machine.

Photo: Live with Kelly Ryan

So, you’ve been doing all of these All My Children virtual reunions, which is so interesting that in this pandemic, people are looking for content, and they dip back into these beloved shows.  Was it fun doing the EW.com Santos Family reunion with everybody?

EVA:  Oh yeah, it was really, really fun.  I only saw in the big picture everybody else’s photo who was a part of it, and the people who I actually do hang out with the most, and see the most, and talk to the most, are Kelly Ripa (Ex-Hayley), Mark Consuelos (Ex-Mateo), and Sydney Penny (Ex-Julia).  I don’t see Sydney as much, but I do see her probably once every two years at least, but Sarah Michelle Geller (ExKendall) I see all the time and talk to all the time.  Kelly, Mark, and Sarah are the ones who walked me through that first week when John Callahan passed.  They literally were on the phone with me, the three of them, almost every day, but I got beautiful outreach, from what seemed like everyone.  This is when no matter how many years have passed since you have been in daytime, that the daytime family as a group – there used to be fifteen shows, now there are four – and people have bounced around and they are on other shows- – but the entire soap opera community reached out,   I cannot even tell you how much that meant to me.  It was overwhelming, and it was really, spectacularly beautiful.

Photo: JPI

I hope it was some solace to you knowing how much people loved John, and also that they love and care so deeply for you.

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EVA:  I mean, people who did not even work with John reached out.  Every soap was represented by getting a hold of me, sending a text or a phone call, or if they didn’t have my personal information, they tweeted, or whatever it was… literally from every reach of soapdom.  It was amazing.

And your relationship with John was amazing with all of the ups and downs you went through; that you remained such dear friends.

EVA:  We remained really great friends all the way.

Photo: JPI

I so remember when the two of you first got together and it was this storybook real life soap couple romance.  John was always so sweet to me.  I was so, so sad, and you know, my heart just broke for you.

EVA:  I think it was just such a shock.  I don’t think anybody, and even Kaya were talking about it, because she graduated this week, and her dad is not here.  We’re not having a graduation, because of COVID-19, which sucks on top of it, but we were just kind of talking through the feelings of it.  She said, “You know what’s weird?  I guess I never pictured dad getting old, and I always wondered why, and now I know.”  When I would get on John about his heart or his health, he used to always say, ‘Oh, don’t worry Evala, (he always called me “Evala”).  I’m going to be here.  I’m going to be here a long time.  I’m fine.  I’m going to be here to walk Kaya down the aisle and see her kids and all that.  Stop worrying,” Every time he said it to me, something in my gut said, “I don’t think he is.  I don’t think he is,” but I always just dismissed that.  But never in my wildest dreams did I think John wouldn’t make it to her high school graduation.  He was only 66.

Photo: JPI

I had heard you ended up running to Palm Springs to be near John.  I can’t even imagine what that must have been like.

EVA:  The only good thing about this pandemic is that we had been shut down for only two weeks at that point.  Kaya and I got in the car.  John had some heart procedures the day before, on a Thursday.  I called him in the morning before he went in for the procedure.  I said, “Call me as soon as you get out of there.  Call me as soon as you come-to again, and you’re good,” and he said, “Okay, I will.”  I said, “I’m going to send Kaya out to you on Friday for the weekend, just so you have somebody to hang out and watch you, and I might come out too,” And then, I said, “Maybe, I’ll come down too in case you are feeling weak, just to watch out for you for the weekend.”   So, he called me after the procedure.   I said, “I cannot believe they sent you home! You just had some major heart stuff done.”  He said, “Oh no, they said I’m fine.  It was just run-of-the-mill heart stuff, angiogram…”  I was like, “Are you sure?”  He said, “Yeah, I’m fine.  I’m just tired.  I’m going to go to sleep.”  I said, “Do you want me to send Kaya out tonight?” and he was like, “No, no, no.  Send her tomorrow.”  So, in the morning, I called him at 9:00am.  No answer.  I texted him.  He always texted me like Johnny on the spot, and then texts me immediately back.  So, I call him again at 10.  Nothing.  His best friend calls me about a half-hour later, “Hey, I talked to John at about 8:00 this morning.  He said he was feeling really, really shitty and was going to go back to the hospital, and then, I texted him again at like 8:30 to just tell him something, and he hasn’t texted me back, and he always texts me immediately back.”  I said, “Oh my, God, I’ve been trying to get a hold of him for two hours; he hasn’t texted me back,”   I said, “You know what, I’ll call you back.”  So, I called his friend who lives down the street from John, and I said, “Go to his house, please right this second, knock on the door, jump the fence, knock on his bedroom, he might be asleep, I don’t know.”  So, he gets there, nobody is answering.  I said, “Break into the house please.  So, he did, and John was collapsed in the bathroom.  They called the paramedics, and as soon as they called me back and said, “John is unresponsive in the bathroom,” Kaya and I threw everything in the car, and what usually takes us two and a half hours without traffic, we made it down there from Los Angeles in an hour and forty-five minutes.

Photo: JPI

I don’t know how you made it down there in one piece. Thank, God!

EVA:  I drove so fast, like literally broke all land speed records and thank God because we got there just in time.  He was in emergency.  He hadn’t been put up in ICU yet, where we wouldn’t have been able to see him.  They weren’t going to let us in the hospital.  Thank God the person answering the door was an All My Children fan.  She was the one saying, “Sorry, no one is allowed in the hospital, no one can come in,” and I was like, “No, no, no, my ex-husband just came in.”  She said, “Was it Edmund?” and I said, “Yes, it was Edmund!”  She said, “Okay, follow me.”  Thank God for All My Children.  Thank God.  So, we followed this woman secretly, and we get to spend a half-hour with him in Emergency.  He was already on life-support, totally unresponsive, but we got to play John his favorite music, we got to just sit there and hold his hand and talk to him, and tell him how much we loved him.  Sarah Michelle Gellar called right when we were in the hospital in Emergency, and she said, “Put the phone by his ear,” so I put the phone by his ear, and she talked to John too, and she told him how much she loved him.  She used to always call him “GP”, which was short of grandpa, because she came on the show when she was 15, and she didn’t have a dad, and John acted like a dad to her – but she used to always call him “grandpa”, and he hated “grandpa”, so he was like, “You can call me “GP”, but not grandpa,” so she always called him GP.  I just put the phone by John’s ear, and what was crazy is that when she talked to him, his feet started twitching.  He started moving his feet.  Then, when Kaya was talking to him about Yankee season, he started moving his feet.  We were kind of hopeful that something was changing for the better.  We had about a half-hour with him, and then, they took him up to ICU, and then, we knew we couldn’t see him again.  They called us later that night that he had passed.

Photo: JPI

I am just so thankful that you got to see John one last time.

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EVA:  I thank God every day that we got to say goodbye, because if we hadn’t gotten there in time to say goodbye, I just don’t know.

It’s very rare that a couple after a divorce, who have a child, and went from romance to dear friends, end up maintaining that relationship so many years later in their lives.  I know so many people who were together at one point in their lives, for years, and they don’t even talk to each other now.

EVA:  Well, you know, like any divorce, the first four years afterwards were super contentious but then, by year five, we kind of had this major breakthrough, and from then on, he was one of my closest friends, and one of the things we always kept alive for each other was we loved to  dance together. We fell in love, I think, dancing because originally our characters on AMC met at this country-western bar, and we had to take country line dancing lessons on the show.  They hired a choreographer for us so that during those scenes where we were falling in love, we would actually be able to do a two-step! So, we went out and practiced at Denim and Diamonds, which was a big country-western place in New York City at the time.  We used to go out with a whole group of us.  It was me, and Teresa Blake (Ex-Gloria) and Kelly Ripa, and her boyfriend at the time, Winsor Harmon (Ex-Del), sometimes Walt Willey (Ex-Jack); we just had a whole crew of us who would go out country dancing.  John and I also loved singing together.  He had the most amazing gravely kind of rockstar voice, but his real talent was harmonizing.  He could harmonize to anything.  So, when he would come over, we would sit in the kitchen and sing, and sing, and sing until the late hours because that’s what we loved to do, and that’s what he loved to do.  That’s one of my favorite last memories of us.  He was just over the month before, and Kaya’s bedroom is near the kitchen, so she came out and was like, “Can you two shut up?”  It was like two in the morning and we were still singing in the kitchen. (Laughs)  John was my dear friend and my confidant.

Photo: ABC

Were you able to have some kind of service during this stay-at-home pandemic we are all dealing with, in order to mourn the loss of John?

EVA:  It’s been so crazy.  We couldn’t even have a funeral.  That’s what made it all the more heartbreaking.  There were less than twenty of us, and we just got on a Zoom call and memorialized John.   I thought we were going to do a big Zoom memorial, but it seemed so overwhelming and so impersonal, it just was rubbing us wrong in every way.  Every way we were looking at it, we were like, “Oh my, God, we just can’t.”  We wanted to invite everybody he had ever worked with, and we were like, “No, we want to do that when everything can open back up again, and invite every person, and have a party” because John was always the life of every party.  Maybe we can do that in the fall or next year.  I kept trying to write something for the small memorial we did do for three days.  I kept coming back to this one song, because John was always the consummate bartender, too.  I sang a song that Bette Midler sang on the very last episode of Johnny Carson.  It was “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” and it’s about a bartender who has got a big personality and a lot to say.   I changed some of the words around a bit just to reflect who John was, and so, I ended up singing for it instead of speaking.  We always talked about that last episode of Carson; how stunningly emotional it was when Bette sang that song to kind of sing Johnny off for of all of his years on the air.  So, that’s what I did and because we loved to sing together, it just made sense.

Photo: HutchinsPhoto

I do think you touched upon something, earlier, too.  I don’t think any other genre would have that kind of unbridled camaraderie.  It’s such a family, like you said.  I don’t think you would find that quite like this; certainly in show business. 

EVA:  I really don’t think you can. Even though there is always a good amount of competition in the soaps as well; between the soaps it’s like they are any sports team, but there is always a level of respect, love, and familial connection within the community.  I think that is why they have stood the test of time.  I really do think that is what hooks our audience, that is what keeps them there after all of these years, even though unfortunately the genre is antiquated looking, there is something about it that is nostalgic, familial, and comfortable for people.

Photo: JPI

Every time I talk about All My Children, why do you think everybody go ga-ga for it, when it’s been off the air for several years now?

EVA:  It speaks to people’s childhoods.  It speaks to how we grew up.  You can’t undo nostalgia.  You can’t.  It’s in the way we grew up, the things we loved, the things that we scheduled our lives around, the people we fell in love with on the shows that we watched, who we cared about and loved their storylines. I grew up watching All My Children, General Hospital, and Days of Our Lives.

It must have been a spectacular moment for you when you realized you were actually in Pine Valley and a member of the cast of All My Children then?

EVA:  It was amazing.  I was a fan when I got the show.  I was a straight up fan.  I fangirled walking through that dressing room hallway for the first time! I was trying to keep it in check, but you know … (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

So, in closing, you would say, “Thrilled to be nominated”?

EVA:  Yes.  So fun.  It has really been a rollercoaster of a couple of months here.  That nomination was literally the bright, shining spot in all of this.

So, happy to hear Eva is in the running for a Daytime Emmy? Were you moved by Eva’s sentiments she shared on her relationship with the late John Callahan? Do you miss Pine Valley’s Dr. Maria Santos? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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All My Children

All My Children Reunion with Josh Duhamel, Ricky Paull Goldin, Cameron Mathison and More; Later Debbi Morgan Live

It’s a big finale of the weeklong virtual celebration of the iconic All My Children.  On tap today in EW’s series to benefit Feeding America during the COVID-19, some major names from the history of Pine Valley and who had story with each other participating in the chat, premiering at 10 a. m. EST.

Taking part in the walk down memory lane are none other than Josh Duhamel (Ex-Leo), Ricky Paull Goldin (Ex-Jake), Chrishell Stause (Ex-Amanda), Cameron Mathison (Ex-Ryan), Rebecca Budig (Ex-Greenelee) and Melissa Claire Egan (Ex-Annie).

But that’s not all folks! Daytime Emmy winner, Debbi Morgan will participate in a live virtual chat with EW.com today beginning at 3 p.m. EST/12 p. m. PST.  Now will be your chance to hear from the one and only Angie Hubbard from the beloved ABC daytime drama series.

Over the week, EW.com has posted other virtual conversations with notables from Pine Valley, you can check them out here.

So, will you be checking out today’s one-two punch of AMC favorites? Comment below.

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All My Children

All My Children Weeklong Virtual Reunions Kick-Off With Ripa, Consuelos, LaRue and Penny

Beginning this morning, Tuesday, May 26th, a weeklong virtual celebration with the cast of All My Children is on tap for fans of the beloved ABC daytime drama series, featuring a “Who’s Who of Pine Valley”.

The weeklong event is brought to you by EW.com and PEOPLETV.com and starts at 10 am EST/PST.   You can watch it right here.

Featured in the first installments are  the Santos family which includes: real-life marrieds, who met on All My Children, Kelly Ripa (Ex-Hayley) and Mark Consuelos (Ex-Mateo), as well as Eva LaRue (Maria) and Sydney Penny (Julia).

Episode 2 coming up on Wednesday will feature: Michael E. Knight (Tad Martin), Cady McClain (Dixie Cooney Martin), Jennifer Bassey (Marian Colby Chandler), Jill Larson (Opal Cortlandt), and Darnell Williams (Jesse Hubbard).

The weeklong event is in support of Feeding America helping those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information and how you can make a donation visit ew.com/allmychildrenreunion

So, let us know what you think of the first installment featuring the Santos clan from Pine Valley as they reunite for a good cause via the comment section below.

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