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Tracey E. Bregman Dishes & Looks Back On 35 Years As Y&R’s Lauren: The Hair, The Catfights, The Leading Men!

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Photo Credit: CBS Monty Brinton

Last week, Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren Fenmore Baldwin) celebrated her 35-year milestone with The Young and the Restless, with an on set celebration in her honor.  Bregman, who has taken Lauren from bitchy bad girl, to wife and mother, to shrewd business women, and everything in between over three decades, is a beloved staple of the CBS Daytime drama series, and with her cast.

On-Air On-Soaps chatted with the Tracey to have her reflect back on those years featuring: big hairdos, catfights (yup, those Sheila Carter furniture slingers, hair-pullers, and steak knife accessory ones!), love stories, corporate backstabbing, and her on-screen love stories, especially the one that has stood the test of time between Michael (Christian LeBlanc) and Lauren.  One of the sexiest, effervescent, fun, and entertaining gals we know; what fun it was to take a quick trip down memory lane, and to gain some insight from Bregman herself on 35 years of life in Genoa City. 

Let’s talk historical Lauren! Starting with your big hair in that 35th anniversary clip package that went viral and was posted all over social media!  What are your thoughts when you see your vintage Lauren “dos”?

Courtesy/CBS

TRACEY:  I think it’s hilarious!  I always go, “How did I look in the mirror and think that looked good?” (Laughs)  But, you look at it back at that time.  Lisa Hartman (Ciji, Knots Landing) was wearing her hair the same way.  We all had this big hair! Quite frankly, I went to a dance class yesterday and my hair dried naturally and all curly, and I have this big hair today.  So, I am rivaling my 80’s hair!  I am like, “Oh, my God!  What happened?   I look like I stuck my finger in a light socket and it went poof! “(Laughs)

Lauren was such a vixen and troublemaker back in the day!  What do you think of those years now as you reflect back on them in 2018?

TRACEY:  Those were the years of being the femme fatale and the storylines were outrageous.  Somebody sent me the interviews the cast did for the 40th anniversary of Y&R, and I guess I was talking about Mary Williams and Paul’s centerfold! (Laughs) It was all so much fun.

Courtesy/CBS

Is there any character on daytime that has had more catfights than Lauren? 

TRACEY:  No, I don’t think so.  I said in my speech that I think I rival all the guys in the amount of fight scenes.

Lauren’s endless catfights with Sheila should be a compilation reel in any television academy hall of fame or archive!  Do you have one that stands out to you among the rest?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios/Courtesy Y&R

TRACEY:  I think it’s ironic, because it’s so crazy, but I would say the chemistry lab fight scene with Kimberlin Brow was right at the top of my list.  I was in bugle beads and heels and just slid across every table top!  And to think, I am the least physical person.  I remember, I had to slap Michael Damian and ten takes later I couldn’t do it.  My kids will tell you … all I would ever to do them is pinch their arm (laughs) that is like the worst thing I could do to anybody.  So for me, to then have to do all these fight scenes just goes against my grain.

So, what did you do when you read in the script, or you were told, “OK Tracey … here comes another catfight?” (Laughs)

TRACEY:  I was like “Oh, God.  It’s just not my favorite thing to do it all!”  However, Kimberlin and I had a trust between us when we had to get physical.  We were able to go farther and farther the more times we did catfights together.

Photo Credit: CBSCourtesy/CBS

And back in the day, Lauren got away with fat-shaming Traci Abbott (Beth Maitland).  I don’t think that would fly in the world today, and there would be immense blowback on social media for that!

TRACEY:  Oh, my God!   I was almost tarred and feathered back then.  Now, I would be toast.  I was toast for Lauren’s one kiss in the park with Cane (Daniel Goddard) … can you imagine?

With the cast, crew, and members of you family all in attendance at the celebration in honor of your 35th anniversary with Y&R, what were you most touched by during the festivities?

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

TRACEY:   I was so touched by everything – the people that were there, the people that spoke, the people that posted things across social media and what they said to me.   It was one of those extraordinary things where you kind of get a glimpse as to what people really think and you don’t always get to hear that, or know it.  I got the opportunity to have a whole day of it.  It was just so moving to me, and yes, it was celebrating 35 years on Y&R, and in fact, I opened my speech by saying, “I can’t believe I have been anywhere for 35 years!” It was hard for me to believe, but to hear people’s thoughts about me was such a gift.   It was such an extraordinary day filled with it, and that was really nice.

Did you ever think from your soap beginning as Donna Craig on DAYS that you would end up in a role for 35 years on another daytime drama? 

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

TRACEY:  I was hired in January 35 years ago on Y&R, and I thought this will be a great January to summer gig, period.  Never thought anything more, ever!

Let’s talk about your Y&R leading men!  You and Christian LeBlanc have created this enduring couple as Lauren and Michael.  Would you say, through your experiences working with Christian, that you have grown as an actor?

TRACEY:  Oh, how can you not grow working with someone like Christian?  The thing that I appreciate so much in our working relationship – and we talk about it a lot is – as actors you are at home and you do your homework. Then, when you come to the set you come to the table with what you have done at home.  What I love about how Christian and I work together is that we take all of that, and we throw it all out on the table and then we put the puzzle together.  It’s this collaboration.  It literally is us throwing up all the puzzles pieces and then putting together the puzzle.  There are times it’s almost impossible to try and act opposite Christian, because he is so good that I just want to watch him.  I want to be like a viewer!  Christian is so giving as a person and as an actor, and so funny.  The thing that he and I both spoke about in our speeches is how we love to dance together, and that we are true partners.  I said that, “He makes Lauren fall in love with Michael Baldwin on every single episode.”

Photo Credit: CBS

Then of course, there was Danny Romalotti and Lauren!  What was it like working with Michael Damian?

TRACEY:  Michael was so adorable, and we each tried to make our hair bigger than the others! (Laughs)  He was so much fun, great, and really amazing to me during the whole singing storyline, which was different for me.  Michael was always so helpful, and fun, and yet, we were learning 30 pages of dialog a night, and on top of that then he and I were at Capitol Records recording till all hours of the night.  It was a lot of work, and we had so much fun doing it together, which made is so special.

And of course, Lauren and Paul!  Tell me about working with the one and only. Doug Davidson.

Photo: CBS

TRACEY:  They used to call Doug and me, “The Instigators”. (Laughs)  He was the fair-haired boy who would make me laugh, and then everybody would be screaming at me, because I was laughing at him.  As you know, Doug is hilarious, and absolutely no one would be upset with him, and everybody would be yelling at me! (Laughs) “You need to concentrate” they would yell on set.  I go, “Oh, my God.  I was just standing here minding my business, and he just said the funniest thing I ever heard in my entire life!” (Laughs)  Doug was an extraordinary partner, and such a good actor.  I got really lucky, and as I said in my speech, “I won the co-star lottery!”

Everybody always tells me when working on Y&R that all roads to what is going on at the show lead to Tracey Bregman,  and that you the “411” on everything happening on set and behind the scene.  Is that true? (Laughs)

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

TRACEY:  It’s true!  (Laughs)  They call me “411”.  This happened because I listen, and I take notes.  I am interested in things my cast members may want to know.   I also keep things to myself until somebody asks, but I will get a phone call from a cast member and I always answer the phone by saying, “What do you need?” (Laughs)

Currently on the air shows, there are problems going on with Lauren’s company where Chelsea (Melissa Claire Egan) is seemingly embezzling from right from under her. What do you think of that storyline which seems “au currant”?

TRACEY:  I will tell you what I love about what Mal Young (EP and head writer, Y&R) has been writing.  He is writing about very current topics.  I love the partnership with the character of Phyllis; played by the adorable Gina Tognoni.  I love that we are these powerful business women that don’t resort to being bitchy, or underhanded.  We do things in an up-and-up way, but no one is going to get anything over us.  I love that he is writing us that strong, and that smart.

Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS

I even liked when Tracey brought former flame Eric Forrester (John McCook) to Genoa City to help her business dealings with Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) and Jabot.  She was showing that she was no dummy in the world of corporate takeovers.

TRACEY:  They make Lauren laser sharp.  Christian and I sort of early on had this thing with our characters that some men might be intimated by a powerful woman, but when he sees her taking over and being this powerhouse, it is like a turn-on for him. The same goes for Lauren when she sees Michael in court being this strong powerhouse attorney.  It’s a turn-on for her.  You have these two powerful entities, who are together as a couple, which could cause some friction, but it is what ignites us.  It makes us even prouder and hotter for each other.

Daniel Hall has been written out as of now, as your grown up on-screen son, Scott Grainger.  How do you feel that storyline played out? 

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

TRACEY:   I wish they had written more of the family dynamic.  It’s a very interesting relationship between Lauren and Scott.  She had wanted to spend her whole life with him, but she hid him away to protect him for his whole life. There has to be repercussions from that, and I don’t think we ever saw that. So, I wish there would have been a deeper storyline.  And yes, of course, Scott would need to have a love story, but a lot of us are the way we are because we have a lot of pain, and we have a lot of blocks in our own life, because of our childhood, parenting, etc.  I would love to have seen that explored more.

Would you like to have Kimberlin Brown come over to Y&R, or you go back to B&B for a visit, since Sheila returned last year to the canvas causing trouble for the Forresters?  Everyone wanted to see her mix it up with Lauren and Scott given the history.  Aren’t you also the record-holder for the amount of crossovers to another show on the soaps, and on TV, period?

Courtesy/CBS

TRACEY:  Right!  Exactly!  It would be amazing as long as I don’t get duct taped to something. (Laughs)  That was my only beef with the Sheila story.  Lauren went from this ultra strong character that when they brought on this other strong character it was sort of  “Victimize Lauren” time, and I always had a problem with it.  So, if they were to do it I would hope, and I would be open to doing it, but doing it by showing that two strong women could go at it.  I loved the story we did a few years back with Christian and Marco Dapper as Carmine, which was ultimately about; how far would you go protect your family?  I think you have seen Lauren in protection mode; where she was protecting her family. She killed Sarah Smythe, and she killed what she thought was Phyllis, but it was Sheila pretending to be Phyllis. In that story, Lauren was torn between her best friend Phyllis, and the fake Phyllis. She has to make a split second decision to kill the right one.  These moments and stories illustrated that Lauren is a very strong woman.

Courtesy/CBS

Was the Carmine affair with Marco Dapper, one of Lauren’s top Y&R trysts of all-time?

TRACEY:  The other affairs she was having were when she was married to Scott Grainger, and she was having affairs with Paul, and she almost did not marry Scott.

Maybe you should also consider being the continuity director at Y&R in addition to acting on the show! (Laughs)

TRACEY:   I am not sure I would remember everything to be honest! (Laughs) People tell me stories from the past on Y&R, and I am like “Oh, right!” Sometimes I am sent old scenes, and I am watching them, and I am going, “I wonder what I do next?” (Laughs)

Photo Credit HutchinsPhoto.com

What would you like to say to your fans, who have supported you through the years, and who have continually invested in Lauren? They always want the best for her, and they love her when she is a little naughty, they love her when she is flirtatious, and they love her when she is a goof wife. 

TRACEY:  I would say to the audience how much I have appreciated them – that they have watched all of these years and made Y&R number one for 29 years in a row – and that they are the reason we are number one.  In addition, how much I appreciate all the support for all these years, and that how amazing that we have all grown up together!

So, what has been your favorite Lauren Fenmore Baldwin moment in Tracey E. Bregman’s 35 years on Y&R? Who has been your favorite all-tine leading man for Lauren? Would you like to see Kimberlin Brown’s Sheila Carter terrorize Lauren one more time? Send your congrats to Tracey on her Y&R milestone below, and more via the comment section below!

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Jimh
Jimh

She looks like a young Nikki Newman in that picture with Danny…liked her on Days as Donna Temple Craig!!!!!!!

Satan
Satan

She’s been on Y&R for 35 years??

Don’t even watch that show, but I still remember when she was Donna Craig on Days of Our Lives. She disappeared from Salem shortly before her dad went out to get the mail and was never heard from again.

Jimh
Jimh

She left town to live with Don’s mom-Grandma Craig…that was when Days started their mass firings and some actors quit!!!

ADAM
ADAM

Congrats on 35 years that is awesome! I love Lauren, but more love to Tracey E. Bregman, she is just awesome all the way. I wished they give her a storyline soon, she deserves it. I know her turn is coming soon. Right now it’s about the Ashley/Jack and the mystery with Chelsea Lawson. Bottom line SHE ROCKS! and she is one of my favorites on the show!

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Mr. Fairman thanks so much for including the picture featuring Marco Dapper! And, oh yeah, thanks for the interview of Tracey E. Bregman. 🙂

Soaphound
Soaphound

Hello, James. I wish they hadn’t trashed the Carmine character; Marco had gotten really good by the time of the affair and I had great fun imagining being Lauren (well, an unmarried Lauren maybe) in those boudoir scenes. And I’ve always loved Tracey; I get the same silly look of glee when Lauren is on that I get when Traci is.

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

I’m with you 100%, Soaphound! Take care, Friend.

Vasilis
Vasilis

Love Lauren! Brad Bell bring her back for a visit to Sheila!

Maca
Maca

I used to love when Lauren sang she was so good with Danny !

James R. Poissant
James R. Poissant

I have said quite a few times in this forum that Tracey is the most beautiful lady in all of television along with Kimberlin. This interview was so good and it was very nice to read about her feelings on the old storylines she had along with what she’s doing now. Lauren has always been an exciting character to me and I’m so glad Tracey chose to play her for all these years. TRACEY FOREVER!!!

Carol
Carol

I fondly remember all of these periods……but, the Danny Romalotti years will always be my favorite. I would love to see him return.

soapqueenforever
soapqueenforever

I agree with you Carol. The Traci, Danny, Lauren storyline is what got me hooked on Y&R to begin with. Not to mention the wonderful cat fight the two of them had over Brad while he was in the hospital. I believe the fight took place in the hospital and two nurses had to break it up. Ah, the good old days!!! Now if we could only see more of the love story of Michael and Lauren, I would be extremely happy. The chemistry between Ms. Bregman and Mr. Leblanc, to md is one of the best in daytime. The perfect soap opera couple. I would rather see more of their romantic side, than listening to Hilary whine about a pregnancy that might not even be yet. She is chalking her recent crazy spells up to her “pregnancy”. If she is like this now and she is not sure if she is or she isn’t, if and when it actually happens, she will need a straight jacket when her pregnancy hormones really do kick in. Happy viewing, and thanks for listening.

Soaphound
Soaphound

Oh, soapqueenforever, can you imagine the memories Tracey and others of many years on the show must have? The halcyon days of soaps, the great sets and costumes, working with Jeanne Cooper and other greats. What an amazing legacy Tracey is part of and I, for my part, am very grateful to these talented, dedicated artists.

Michael
Michael

What a great article! Congrats Tracey on 35 wonderful and fun filled years on Y&R!

Celia
Celia

Lauren Fenmore has not changed in 35 years…..amazing!!
I am so envious. LOL.

damien
damien

love lauren!
she is y n r royalty!
i think they have a tour bus with her picture on it in nyc if im not mistaken!
top 3 wishes for lauren on her 35th anniversary:
1. with all the Fenmore business affairs taking place , time to bring back an updated Fenmores store set on the ground floor of Jabot like the good ol days
2. Her and Paul need scenes together, maybe even all together with their loves Michael and Christine
3. BRING BACK Carmine and Sheila!… with no Graham, genoa city really needs a villian.

Celia
Celia

Carmine…oh, WOW, damien…..he and Lauren sizzled!!!!!

Ron
Ron

Great ideas here. And I’d like to add one more: bring back Danny Romalotti (and Gina!) and see how it all goes between Lauren and best buddy, Phyllis.

Celia
Celia

HaHa, Ron….good one. ….neither Lauren nor Phyllis has a pristine past. Bad girls, both of them.
Most of Lauren’s shenanigans are before my time….but, my Gran gave me Y&R classes , LOL, on all characters and storylines….she’s been watching since its inception.
Lauren was a meanie….especially to Tracy, always ‘picking’ on her about her weight. Suddenly, they have become the symbols of virtue and all that is righteous in the world.
And, Phyllis? What she did to Danny was dedpicable. I wish Patty Weaver would return….she had the most melodic, beautifully warm, silver-toned voice….loved her singing.
This feels like deja-vu…..did I write these same words before?

Marie-Claire
Marie-Claire

Thanks to Michael and Tracey for this great interview. I love Tracey Bregman and am a huge Lauren fan. She is the one who got me addicted to YR.
I loved a lot of the Lauren stories, Lauren & Paul were my first favorite couple but I’m a huge Likey fan right now. They have great chemistry and I don’t understand they never are on and MY doesn’t take advantage of their great chemistry.
And Lauren is underused, she rarely is on. I love Phyllis and I love her friendship with Lauren and she works for Lauren. But in the Chelsea story hacking Fenmore’s, I don’t mind Phyllis being involved but she shouldn’t be the major player, that should be Lauren. Even Il should be brought back in this story, she’s the Lauren sister and in control of Fenmore’s with Lauren. And Fenmore’s needs a set, they need to give back her office to Lauren and even the boutique.
They need to bring back the Lauren children. Scott was brought back for Sharon and the Newmans, it was a big failure. Tracey is right the relationship with his mother should be explored more, there is a huge story there. And Fen should be brought back in that, it should have jealousy of Scott towards Fen who grew around Lauren.
And they should bring back Joanna, the Lauren mom for a visit. I don’t understand why they didn’t take this opportunity when Fenmore’s was in trouble the last year, she could give her some advice.
The Baldwin/Fisher dynamic was great but Mal Young totally erased this family. Gloria, being so loyal to Jack is ridiculous, he treated her like dirty after the John death.

There is a lot of other things I could say but Lauren is an iconic character, she shouldn’t be ignored or get so little.

Ron
Ron

Lauren should be on full contract. Beef up her storyline with Michael; they’ve been reduced to part-time-part-time players! I too miss Lauren’s mom– it would be a pleasant treat for the loyal fans.

Timmm
Timmm

EVERY woman out there can only hope and pray, what a beautiful mature women! I used go between her and Michelle Stafford but the gold medal has to go to Tracey!

Celia
Celia

LOL, Timmmy….I was being facetious….not envious, not one bit. Tracey is a beautiful woman…..but no woman is immune to aging. LOL.
Michelle Stafford is natural….she looks beautiful, naturally. I hope to keep my face and body as natural as she in twenty years or so…..
I am not averse to plastic surgery….I may change my mind when I start seeing a few wrinkles?
Never say never.

Mo
Mo

Congratulations Tracey!!! I’ve enjoyed watching you on Y&R. Just wish Lauren were on more!!!!

Dee
Dee

Michael and Lauren I have loved them since 2004. So many great stories and memories of this couple! Excellent actors and this is the perfect match! To bad mal Young is not using them to their potential. Nope he has to give us a double dose of Victoria constantly but My Likey I never see..always working those two. Guess they dont have sex or a life outside of work with Mal writing..I constantly ask the soap Gods to give us a writer is fair and balanced and not just for their favs..oh Well i dont miss YR but I sure do miss Lauren and Michael..Thank you for this wonderful interview Michael Fairman

k/kay
k/kay

Every ep has their favorites they don’t happen to be in his radar and a certain vet has less air time since MY took over but yet he was all over Twitter bitching about Sally . It took ten years of destruction and the idiots could not give Kay and Sally ten moths to try o put it back together. It takes times to rebuild

General Hospital

Bryan Craig Talks Javi In ‘Grand Hotel’, Recasting GH’s Morgan, And His Post-Daytime Career

When Grand Hotel finally makes its highly-anticipated debut this summer (Monday night, June 17th) on ABC, soap opera fans will see some very familiar faces in primo roles as this sudsy drama, based on the Spanish series Gran Hotel, tells the story of a family-owned hotel in Miami, the people who run it, and all of the secrets they keep from one another.

Brought to you by executive producers Eva Longoria and Ben Spector, the show explores the family dynamic of the Mendoza family. Longoria herself will play a mother in four episodes of the show, as well.

General Hospital fans will take note that Daytime Emmy-winner, Bryan Craig (Ex-Morgan Corinthos) is front and center in the cast as Javi Mendoza, the troubled son of the family who has some major obstacles in front of him.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Craig during the recent ABC TCA’s Press Tour for the network to get some insight into his new role, how he would feel if GH would recast the role of Morgan (he recently propped up former DAYS star Billy Flynn as a potential viable candidate) and what it has been like post-daytime in his burgeoning career in film and TV.  Here’s what he had to say about his TV life past and present.

What has this experience been like for you taping the episodes of Grand Hotel and working with such a stellar cast?

BRYAN:  It’s been incredible   It feels like it went by so fast.  It’s an awesome group of people.  We’ve got a fun show.

How would you say your character of Javi Mendoza stacks up against GH’s Morgan Corinthos?

BRYAN:  I think it’s one of the most layered characters that I’ve ever played.  There’s a lot going on with Javi.  He has a big disability, kind of like Morgan did.  It’s a physical disability, and there are a lot of challenges that come along with that.  He also has a substance problem.  So, some of the same issues and in the same world that Morgan was in.  Javi is a very troubled character, but he is also a lot of fun, and a ladies’ man … and sleeps with a lot of women! (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you think the audience will care for Javi, though?  

BRYAN:  Oh yeah, one hundred percent.  He was written in a very kind-hearted manner.  He’s a great guy, who has had a tough life.

Did they put you through a audition process to nab the role in Grand Hotel?

BRYAN:  They had read hundreds and hundreds of people for this role.  I came in at the tail end of it, and then the process went pretty quickly.  I read once, and the next think I knew, I was in a room with Eva Longoria and director, Ken Olin.  Then two days later, I was testing with Eva, and then I got the call that I had the part.

You’re a part of the core family, the Mendozas, on Grand Hotel, and on GH, you were part of the Corinthos clan.  How do the family dynamics stack-up?

BRYAN:  It’s pretty special.  There are a lot of similarities.  It feels like we have kind of shifted GH into prime-time.  In Grand Hotel, we have Demián Bichir, who plays Santiago Mendoza, and he is my Sonny Corinthos now.   They gave us a very heavy, heavy storyline … just like they gave Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH) and me.   So, I think the fans are really going to buy into it.   ABC, (I think) wanted to marry that bond a little bit, and I feel it was very apparent in the writing.  This network has been very good to me.

Courresy/ABC

Did you know that your co-star Denyse Tontz was in Prospect Park’s All My Children reboot as Miranda Montgomery and had a soap past, as well?

BRYAN:  Yes! I did know that.  Denyse plays my sister on Grand Hotel and we work together a lot on the show.  There were quite a few people on the show who came from soaps.  Even some guest stars who came in were big in soap at points.

So, this kind of all  worked out for you!  You left General Hospital, and landed a major primetime series, plus your other movie roles!

BRYAN:  It was a scary move, but it worked out.  I did a few things; a couple of movies, and I did a show for CW for a while, and then this.  So, it’s been back-to-back.  I’ve been fortunate.

Courtesy/ABC

How would you feel if General Hospital, ultimately, recast the role of Morgan?

BRYAN:  You know, if it was to behoove the show, then so be it.   I feel like it was a pretty nice end for me there, but I can’t sit here and be selfish and be like, “I’m the last person who could play that role!”  Would that be awesome?  I mean, yeah!  But, who knows?  They’ve got to do what’s best for the show.

GH’s Maurice Benard had great story in 2018 with the Alzheimer’s storyline involving Sonny’s dad, Mike Corbin (Max Gail).  Had you been checking it out at all?

BRYAN:  I know!   I do keep up with Maurice a lot.   We are good friends.

To remind those who have not seen the trailer to Grand Hotel check it out below.  Will you be watching Bryan in his exciting new role on Grand Hotel? Will you be OK with a Morgan recast on GH, or hope the show will wait for Bryan to return one day? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

Melody Thomas Scott Chats On 40 Years As The Young and the Restless’ Incomparable Nikki: The Men, The Booze, The Drama

Today marks Y&R icon Melody Thomas Scott’s 40th anniversary with the top-rated daytime drama series.  While CBS plans to air a special standalone episode (Nikki is in the slammer for confessing to J.T.’s murder, and she will reflect on her life in an emotional look-back), Michael Fairman sat down with the popular and beloved star for a deep dive into four decades in the life of stripper-turned-socialite, Nikki Newman for The Michael Fairman Channel.

During the interview, Melody first addresses her sadness at the loss of her longtime friend and co-star Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters): “I adored him.  I love him to bits.  I loved working with him; such a wonderful actor.  I don’t even know if he knew how good he was.”

When discussing Nikki’s colorful past, and when Y&R planned to have Nikki strip again decades later, Melody revealed she did refuse to play it: “That’s right, and I very rarely put the kibosh on anything on this show,  I was 48-years-old.  The head writer called me and I was up in hair and make-up.  They heard me say, ‘I’m 48-years-old .. that’s just not happening.”‘

Photo: TheMichaelFairmanChannel

Over the years, Nikki has faced many battles, perils ,and demons including her addiction to alcohol which has provided many a juicy story for Thomas Scott.  As to the fans always loving to see a ‘boozy’ Nikki, Melody remarked;  “Yes!  They love it!  I have great fun with it and I think it’s wonderful.”

During a segment of the conversation, Michael shows Melody some photos of Nikki’s past loves, and gets her thoughts on why Nikki fell for those men, and what it was like working with her co-stars through the years: John Enos (Bobby), Doug Davidson (Paul), Heath Kizzier (Joshua), Wings Hauser (Greg), Don Diamont (Brad), Vincent Irizarry (David), Peter Bergman (Jack), Sean Kanan (Deacon, and of course, her longtime on-screen partner Eric Braeden (Victor).

Later, Melody reminisces about her time working with the late great Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) and when asked by Fairman what she thinks Jeanne would say about her 40th anniversary milestone, Melody replied: “She would say, ‘I’m (bleeping) proud of you Mel!”‘

Photo: CBS

Check out the entire interview with Melody below (make sure to also subscribe to the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube for more feature interviews), and following that the special CBS promo honoring Melody’s 40th anniversary with Y&R.  Then let us know, what has been your favorite Nikki Newman moment over the last 40 years? Share your thoughts via the comment section below,

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Interviews

Executive Producer Michael Levitt Previews The Adorable 2019 ‘American Rescue Dog Show’

Dog lovers everywhere get ready! Coming your way on Sunday, February 17th and Monday, February 18th, the good folks at the Hallmark Channel will air a two-night special event (8pmET/7pmCT) that puts a spin on the traditional competitive elite dog shows, while at the same time championing an important cause for man’s best friend.

The 2019 American Rescue Dog Show honors some of the cutest rescue dogs from around the country going paw-to-paw in categories that will tickle-your-funny-bone, bring a smile to your face, or, potentially shed a tear.  This marks the second year for this oh-so-heartwarming show, where in its first year, it beat the Westminster Dog Show in the ratings; much to the delight of rescue dogs and their families, who take these wonderful animals into their homes.

The brainchild behind the concept is the executive producer of the event. Michael Levitt (Skin Wars, Daytime Emmys, TV Land Awards), who spoke with Michael Fairman TV to give us all the inside dish and insight into why this dog show is so personally important to him, and how its goal is to create awareness about the plight of millions of abandoned dogs in shelters each year, and to inspire viewers to think about rescuing one of these loveable pups.

Levitt has a collection of notable hosts and judges along for the ride who bring this one-of-a-kind doggy competition to life from the world of TV, film, and animal advocacy.  So, for the lowdown on the competition and more, here’s what Michael shared.

Photo: Crown Media

For those who want to check out the two-night event, is the American Rescue Dog Show in the same vein as the Westminster Dog Show, where the dogs are competing? 

MICHAEL: The format of the show is similar to a fancy dog show, such as Westminster, however, on the American Rescue Dog Show, we aren’t “judging” the dog.  In our show, they all have to be rescue dogs that are spayed or neutered in order to compete, and we are not judging them based on their bloodlines, we are celebrating their cuteness in such categories as, “Best in Wiggle Butt,” “Best in Couch Potato,” “Best in Snoring,” “Best in Special Needs,” and  “Best in Senior Dog” – those are obviously some of the most important.   We have the fancy arena floor with the judges and the tuxedos.  We filmed it at the Pomona Fairplex, which is the same place that they film the Beverly Hills Dog Show.

And you have a bevy of dog-loving celebrity judges along for the ride, too!

MICHAEL: Yes, and this year we are lucky to have the support of celebrity animal advocates that include: Lisa Vanderpump, Debbie Gibson, Brandon McMillan, host of CBS’s Lucky Dog, Bill Berloni, who is the dog trainer to a lot of the dogs on Broadway, and Dirty Job’s Mike Rowe.  Our prerequisites for them to be a judge were: they all needed to be rescue-friendly.  So, they either needed to have a rescue dog of their own or support rescue in some way.  Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell are the hosts this year, along with Ross Matthews and Home & Family’s Larissa Wall, who served as co-hosts and cover all of the action ringside.

Photo: Crown Media

So, did the judges get along?  Did they differ on their top picks?

MICHAEL: The judges absolutely got along famously, but as a producer of the show, I was a fly on the wall listening to them when they were deliberating as they were picking a winner.  That was quite entertaining, because each of them had a strong point of view on the dog, or dogs that they thought should win the competition. We found ourselves throughout the filming just turning to each other and saying, “I don’t know how the judges are going to pick just one, because they are all just so incredibly special.”

How was Lisa Vanderpump? 

MICHAEL:  Lisa was wonderful!  When she was being interviewed by Rebecca and Jerry O’Connell, they asked her what she would say to a potential family that is about to buy a dog from a breeder, and it was such a profound moment, because as someone who comes from her socioeconomic level, from her privilege, to see that she has embraced rescue might be incredibly meaningful to someone who might think that rescue dogs are second-hand animals.  Lisa Vanderpump disproves that just by being there, and being a part of it.

Photo: Crown Media

How did you decide on Rebecca and Jerry as your hosts with the most?

MICHAE:  I have a long history with Rebecca from producing my show, Skin Wars, which she hosts.  I knew that she and Jerry had four rescue dogs of their own, and that she is incredibly passionate about rescue and shedding light and creating awareness about the plight of animals that are sheltered.  They were not only organic and authentic to the cause, but they were a lot of fun and clearly had a lot of natural chemistry.  They also brought their own rescue dogs to the show, as did Lisa Vanderpump.  So that was fun.

You have two wonderful dogs of your own.  So, this is your passion project!

MICHAEL: This is a true labor of love for me, because in 2011 when my sister, Jennifer was dying of cancer, my partner and I decided to rescue a dog, and we rescued a pit bull named Trooper, and Trooper rocked our world.  My sister met him four days before she died, and it’s that old adage of “Who rescued who.”  Trooper really was there for me during a really difficult time of my life. I learned first-hand how special not only rescue dogs are, but pit bulls, and that really was the beginning of my animal advocacy.  I ended up taking a year off from producing just to rescue dogs.  I realized at the end of that year, that as a rescuer, I am saving one dog at a time, but as a producer, I could do so much more to bring awareness to the plight of animals in our shelters by creating rescue-themed programming.

Pit bulls seem to always get a bad rap.  Do you feel that way?

MICHAEL:  They absolutely get a bad rap, and after we rescued Trooper, we rescued another pit bull named Nelson, and it was really the two of them who inspired me to get heavily involved in rescue and to be an advocate for pit bulls.  With pit bulls it is such a unique human-animal bond that you don’t find with any other breed.  All they really want to do is please their humans, and it is absolutely true that when you hear these horrific stories about pit bulls on the news, these are rare incidents of pit bulls who have fallen into the hands of bad people who have treated them badly.  It’s really unfair to profile and entire breed of dog, because all dog breeds have some dogs that have behavioral problems.  I have come in contact with thousands of pit bulls, and I have only met one that was human-aggressive, and that dog was severely, severely abused.  Every other pit bull I have come in contact with has been nothing but incredibly sweet.

Photo: Crown Media

So, last year’s American Rescue Dog Show is currently in the running to earn a Daytime Emmy nomination in the ‘Special Class Special’ programming category!

MICHAEL:  Yes, “Special Class Special”. (Laughs)

You obviously know who wins this weekend’s American Rescue Dog Show competition.  Were you happy with the winner? 

MICHAEL:  Yes, but you can imagine how difficult it is for the judges to pick a winner because every single dog in the competition is beyond adorable. It is really the dogs who deliver on the show, and that’s what makes the show so heartwarming.  The real purpose of the show is to inspire the viewers to rescue their next dog from their local shelter, or rescue organization, so that people who are watching turn to the person they are with and say, “Honey, I didn’t know you could get a pure-bred dog at a shelter!  Let’s rescue our next dog!”  We have really powerful segments in the show about the joy of adopting a senior dog, or a special-needs dog.  We do a segment on debunking the myths about pit bulls, and we have messaging on why it is important to spay and neuter your dog.  So, through this wonderfully entertaining program, we are also educating people and hopefully touching their heart and their soul and inspiring them to be a part of the solution by rescuing their next dog; instead of being a part of the problem by purchasing a dog from a pet store or breeder.

Photo: Crown Media

When you look at what you have to take on as a producer when you do this type of show; as opposed to any other type of production you have helmed, what are the major differences?

MICHAEL: The biggest distinction is that on this show we are dealing with living animals, so I take that responsibility very seriously.  First and foremost: is the safety and well-being of the dogs that are participating on the show.  We have to consider everything from making sure that the animals are up-to-date with their vaccinations to having veterinarians on hand, having production personal on-hand standing by with treats and pooper-scoopers. This also means that the dogs are being treated like VIPs.  So, we have a VIP room, but that stands for “Very Important Pooch”, and all of the dogs that are participating have their own dressing rooms with a star on it and their name.  There were over 130 dogs that actually participated from all over the country.  In addition, we had a gifting suite like they do on the Oscars and Golden Globes, but on this show, they didn’t get swag bags, they got “Wag Bags”.

Knowing you as I do, it seems a lot this creative from the categories in the competition, to the backstage VIP room, are very YOU!

MICHAEL:  I have an incredible team of producers who I collaborate with.  None of this would be possible without the good people at Hallmark being such incredible animal advocates.  Specifically, Bill Abbott, who is one of the few network executives in the industry who is really walking the walk and doing so much to be supportive of dogs and cats who need homes.  So, this is right up my alley, because creatively I am so passionate about it that it is so easy to come up with fun ideas that hopefully resonate with the viewers.

Photo: Crown Media

Are there any other fun moments that you can tease?

MICHAEL:  We are celebrating the perfectly imperfect.  So, we love when a dog decides to roll on his back in the middle of the arena and decide he wants to get a belly rub in the middle of the competition.  We had a dog decide that he had to go potty on the middle of a flower arrangement on the arena floor.  Those are the moments that give the show its heart and feel-good sensibility.  We had a couple of dogs in the “Best Wiggle Butt” category where one of their forever parent brings them out initially, and their other forever parent was on the other side of the area, and we removed their leash so that they can run from one parent to the other so that we can really see their butts moving, but … we had a few dogs get so excited that they ran right out of the arena! (Laughs)  They ran right through the tunnel off stage and come running back in, and the whole audience erupted into laughter.  It’s just magical.

How did you find these dogs to compete? 

MICHAEL:  We put out a call-to-action on social media, and we got thousands of responses. People submitted their rescue dogs in as many categories as they qualified for, and they submitted photos and videos. Then, we have a team of producers and rescue experts who go through all of the submissions, ultimately picking the top semi-finalists in each category who come to Los Angeles to compete.  We had a wonderful partnership with Pedigree Foundation in which they provided $100,000 in grant money for the dogs that win for the rescue that saved him or her.  So, in the ten semi-final categories, each winning dog received a $5,000 grant for the rescue that saved him or her, and then the ultimate winner of the competition, which is crowned the title, “Best in Rescue,” received an additional $30,000 for the rescue that saved him or her, again, courtesy of Pedigree Foundation.  We also had a partnership with adoptapet.com, which is the largest online resource for people to find rescue dogs in their own communities. Throughout the show, we have a call-to-action for people to go to hallmark.com/bestinrescue and look for the adopt a pet icon … they click it… then enter their zip code … and they are instantly linked to thousands of available dogs in their own community who are patiently waiting for a loving home.

Photo: Crown Media

The dog handlers are the owners of these pets?

MICHAEL:  Yes.  We call it a member of their “forever family”.  Several of the dogs on the show are service dogs now, or companion animals, working in senior homes or working with military service people suffering from PTSD.  We celebrate each and every one of them.

Is your hope to do a third annual show, and keep the dog rescue competition going?

MICHAEL:  Yes!  My hope is that this show continues to be on for many years to come and be a platform for the 8 million animals that enter our shelters each year and are patiently waiting for their forever home, and that we can continue to be a voice for these dogs that don’t have voices of their own.  Of all of the shows that I have produced over the years, this one is going to be the most meaningful to me, and is going to be my legacy, because it is such a beautiful thing that I can bring my work and my passion together to hopefully make a difference in the lives of all of these animals.  As a result of this show, we heard from numerous shelters across the country that there was a definite uptick in adoptions.  That warms my heart beyond compare.

In closing, you know what they say:  it’s easier to work with animals than humans! Thoughts? (Laughs)

MICHAEL:  Every show has its challenges, but I would much rather deal with a diva Chihuahua than a diva celebrity.  So, on that level, this show is pure joy to make.

So, will you be watching this heartwarming, creative two-night rescue dog event?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below, but first, check out this behind-the-scenes video of how the American Rescue Dog Show is put together with co-host, Ross Matthews.

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