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WATCH: 44th Daytime Emmys Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series Nominated Performances!

Five powerhouse women have been nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series at this year’s 44th Annual Daytime Emmys to be live-streamed on Sunday night, April 30th.

This year the race features: General Hospital’s Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) and Laura Wright (Carly), The Bold and the Beautiful’s Heather Tom (Katie), and The Young and the Restless, Gina Tognoni (Phyllis) and Jess Walton (Jill). Every one of these actresses has previously won a Daytime Emmy, and in the case of several of them, multiple statuettes!

This hotly contested contest features two characters who bottled the battled as their lives spiraled out of control, a grieving mother who has to come to grips with the unthinkable, a woman who takes the stand and reveals how she was violated by an impostor and then reveals to her husband why she had an affair with his brother, and one who tries to cope as her son is near death.  All delivered riveting work.

Now after the jump watch the Lead Actress Emmy nominated reels.  Then let us know, who you think should take home the gold? Comment below!

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Mo
Mo

Probably Heather Tom.
Jess Walton is also good.

Patricio
Patricio

I’m with you Heather Tom is and has always been a great actress! She will probably surpass the legendary Erika Slezak EMMY record one day.

Celia
Celia

I don’t watch B&B, but I am familiar with Heather’s outstanding work as Victoria, on Y&R.
By the same token, I would not ‘entitle’ Gina Tognoni as a powerhouse. Nothing extraordinary in her portrayal of Phyllis, for me. If an actor/actress fails to touch me emotionally, I cannot, honestly, root for him or her. I never fell into the nuPhyllis hoopla!
Nancy is my pick, however, Laura and Jess are right behind her. Superlative performances!!

Newmanwins
Newmanwins

Gina was much better on OLTL than Y&R…she has failed to capture the flair and fun of Phyllis…plays every scene like a hardass with that scowling on her face…lacking the sensitive and texture of Michelle…it is like Gina is portraying a new character. So not Phyllis.

Missy
Missy

LOL, your troll game is superb.

Celia
Celia

Exactly,Newmanwins!
I have been saying this all along. Loved Gina on OLTL, but she is NOT Phyllis. Completely different personality.
However, I cannot truly fault her just because she’s not Michelle. This happens each and every time there is a character change. Especially an actor/actress we love, and are used to his/her idiosyncrasies and nuances. It is what it is. Sometimes the recast works for some of us; sometimes it does not.
Nonetheless, be that as it may; I do not believe Gina portrayed any of Phyllis’s characteristics, regardless of her quasi ‘good’ performance. She cannot compare to the other four, in my humble estimation.

Connor (AvidSoapFan)
Connor (AvidSoapFan)

And I bet you if Gina Tognoni even tried to mimic how Michelle portrayed the character of Phyllis, there would be many fans and viewers (alike) that would be complaining how “Gina isn’t doing her OWN version, isn’t putting her OWN stock in to the role…” Yada, yada, and yada…

Mo
Mo

I was watching Y&R yesterday and the scenes with Phyllis and Michael, my mother asked, “Why is she whispering?” I said, “She always does that.”

I am another who wants to love Gina as Phyllis, but her portrayal has just not connected with me. I don’t know why she whispers in scenes when it’s not necessary. Maybe she talks like that IRL. I don’t know. I am a Gina fan, but again, her portrayal of Phyllis has not totally connected with me.

JONNYSBRO
JONNYSBRO

Wow this category is the toughest one to call. Every actress here just delivered bigtime. Every reel was just amazing and outstanding. The best reels i have ever seen in a category. Here is how i would rank them

5: Heather Tom: Tom alwaya acts the hell out of anything and she did so here. Especially the last scenes where she says goodbye to Brooke. She was great my only problem is i have seen her do these scenes before in her other reels. There was nothing daring or gutsy. She played it a little too safe.

4: Jess Walton: The scene where she tells off the whole town is great acting. Her strongest part of the reel. She was strong as well confronting Phyllis. Great stuff bt a great actress. Only problem is she got a bit shouty but great.

3: Nancy Grahn: a 18 minute reel that is not as cohesive but i love all the facets she shows in this reel. Her best part of reel is the stuff with Julian in the end. She goes foe the gusto here.

2: Laura Wright: a 20 minute reel that is so cohesive as it tells a story about Morgans death. Wright was the most subtle of any of the actresses and not as actress showy. It was all powerful stuff and she was the best actress of 2016.

1: Gina Tognoni: had the shortest reel but her reel waa balls to the walls. The stuff with Phyllis on witness stand was phenom.stuff as lays into.Victor for what he did to her. Then loved the subtle scene with her and Billy afterwards. Then she was great with Peter Bergman. I loved how this reel kind of told an arc from Victor violating her to why she had an affair with Billy. Just sublime.

Any of these actresses could win.

Newmanwins
Newmanwins

Gina is the only actress in the category not dealing with a real life drama…a wife not knowing the difference between her husband and his doppelganger doesn’t make Phyllis sympathetic to the voting panel…it makes her look stupid as sin.

Laura is projecting perfectly the worst loss a mother can endure…the death of a child.

JONNYSBRO
JONNYSBRO

Listen no matter what character actions are all 5 of these actresses gave fantastic reels. Laura was fab she was most subtle of all the reels. Gina on the stand performance was an adrenline rush from beginning to end. It was really i couldnt take my eyes off.

Shay
Shay

Excellent point, Newmanwins….As GH’s grieving mother, Carly, Laura Wright is far more convincing whilst being sublimely subtle and restrained in expressing her deep sorrow, unlike the more overdone—and sometimes ridiculous or predictable—antics employed by the other drama queens, especially NLG’s plonked-up, faded tart, Alexis….Laura Wright for the win!

k/kay
k/kay

Why because she screamed and spit more? Case should have won this hands down the subtle acting always chwated

k/kay
k/kay

Cheated

k/kay
k/kay

I adore Case she is always on her game and steps up and takes the blows I adore her

k/kay
k/kay

She has never wore a sign saying I am acting please film me

Rhonda
Rhonda

Love Sharon Case, think she is underrated.
I also love Gina’s Phyllis. When she is on, I watch.

dmr
dmr

Hands down, Nancy Lee Grahn. She was given a real, authentic storyline dealing with the gravity of Alexis’ alcoholism-a real issue that many face and can relate to in some capacity. Also, I watched part of today’s episode while at home for lunch (the Alexis/Julian scenes)-WOW! I just wish TPTB did not ruin this couple by having Julian almost murder his wife. Unfortunately, as usual, I was BORED TO TEARS with Monotone Sam and Jason and then Elizabeth and Franco-UGH.

su0000
su0000

Laura Wright (Carly) GH ………

Lee (Phyllis)
Lee (Phyllis)

1. Laura Wright by far! . 2. Gina Tignoni

Newmanwins
Newmanwins

Laura nails every single emotion…brilliantly…it’s a twenty minute acting masterpiece.

I was going to pick Heather for the win…but then I watched Laura’s last and was blown away.

tony
tony

gina is as good as Nicole Kidman and other movie stars. Hands down, gina!

Rhonda
Rhonda

I couldn’t agree more, Tony

Missy
Missy

Easily Gina Tognoni.

The rest of the reels are either too long (Laura), have too much filler (Nancy) or take too long to get to the meaty and dramatic stuff (Jess).

Heather is good but it’s not much different than her usual – pretty similar reels and stories to stuff she has submitted in the past

Newmanwins
Newmanwins

Gina has the most ridiculous story in the category….voting panel won’t connect with such a ludicrous premise…not knowing the difference between your husband and his doppelganger is a joke…plus her reel is the shortest cause she only had one standout moment…it’s way too much shouty and baity like Sweeney’s two years ago that lost out…doesn’t match up to the overall acting repertoire of Laura or Heather…but still it’s this campy unrelatable Jack/Marco nonsense that will cost her votes.

Missy
Missy

Are you just going around trolling everyone’s comments to make Laura Wright’s reel look better even though it’s

1. Longer than the legal length for a reel (a reel is not supposed to be more than 20 minutes)
2. It’s boring, takes too long to get to the drama and has too much filler.

And Gina’s reel is the shortest because she knows nobody wants to sit through 20 minutes of repetitive scenes and dialogue (like that of Carly wailing about Morgan).

Celia
Celia

LOL. Agreed, again, Newmanwins. Who else can know….be most familiarly intimate with a man’s body but his wife? No two beings are exactly the same. Not even identical twins. I should know; I am one. LOL. My identical twin and I are not sooo identical !!
Stupid storyline..poor Gina will pay the price for its insipidness.

Dan
Dan

Missy, no one needs to make Laura’s reel look better than it is. The quality stands on its own. Good thing you don’t actually vote on the awards. You’re obviously a biased Y&R fan, which is fine. I’m a GH fan, but I can at least acknowledge that Gina and the other nominees did great work. I don’t need to denigrate the work of another actress and whine about a clip being 15 seconds over the limit, which obviously the Emmys didn’t have a problem with, because I want my favorite to win.

k/kay
k/kay

Gina was too young for the role but she is every bit plus thousands more the actress Stafford has proven to be that said Gina is playing Phyllis with a angry look 24/7 ! My pick nobody they all over act

Rhonda
Rhonda

Missy, you are right. And yes, Newman is also right when she mandates that the dopelganger story was ridiculous. However, that’s not Gina’s fault and she certainly rose above what was handed to her and made it work.
That’s how good she is.

Celia
Celia

I, for one, do not bother with reels, Missy. I would not be able to base my opinion on one reel presented by the actor/actress. It would not be enough.
To be fair, Missy, we like whom we like; I like Gina, but, she, as Phyllis, did not grab me. She is too hard!!

I have not been a fan of Nancy’s Alexis until her split with Julian and stint with alcoholism. I made a complete turnabout. For me? Nancy touched the stars.
We were asked what we thought and we opined. We may not agree with each others’ answers, but, c’est la vie!

dmr
dmr

I like Gina as Phyllis; although, I am rooting for Nancy. I can’t root for Laura. I was not invested in the character of Morgan. I couldn’t stand the actor or the character, so I didn’t feel the emotional tug when the character died. I know the actor won an Emmy for his work; however, I never liked the character and I think the storyline (on mental illness) was too big and serious of a story for him to play.

Celia
Celia

I did not like Morgan, nor the actor, either, dmr.
But, albeit Nancy is my pick, does not take away from Laura’s performance, as a grieving mother. As I said, I need to be moved, and Laura did that tenfold.
Perhaps, I identified with her loss knowing the void and pain a mother experiences over her child’s death.
Laura was so outstandingly authentic; she broke my heart.
Nonetheless, I saw such an unexpected change in Alexis…..I could not ignore Nancy’s dramatic hold on her scenes and/or on me.

Patrick
Patrick

Great summation of what this nomination process argh … leaves me

I’ve barked hollered and begged for TPTB to listen… ie: GH sonny and carly ; GH Jason and Sam; GH Finn and Hayden. absolute scream ( oh the pain ) and dulling of the senses. what a lot of cache’ to hire back… lost talent.

ta da : still prized – Nicholas, Paul, Morgan, Sabrina, and Jeffrey Vincent Parise.. Dr. Joe… just will not die or let up. LOL… YES YES YES… WIN one for the fans

sorry Missy.. back to

Laura Wright 20 plus minutes of just her…. OY the real problem of all that is GH ? I could hardly bear it. I thought it odd.. that she played her reel… as if her nuanced subtle deliveries were real… and that she downplayed how truly histrionic her character reels… just plowing down anyone and everything. just not exciting , is she

to this day… I will forever put a stamp on… the Corinthos clan are no more. without Morgan… they have lost all appeal… watching Michael with no personality .. always the middle man, between his mother and father… is just not cutting it. forever the heart and soul of the dullest family on GH. sans his “romance” with Nelle… this story fell so flat so quickly after the reveal. what a joke… and LOL… I just laugh at the characters of Laura and Sonny play emotion… what caricatures of themselves… think about it.. whenever the reel outside of one another… it’s embarrassing to know that this is the sole focus of the show. Jean and Shelley and Frank have lost .

I really think her REEL nosedived when her 20 plus tired minutes , ended with her bff Jason… as played by billy miller… he has no life in his eyes. as she clung to him… this long drawn out story for emmy nominations for the Corinthos… left the building and dimmed and soured … put these two out to pasture.

sorry Laura Wright… you do not deserve an emmy. outside of this sculpted and maneuvered emmy reel.

the “best” lead actress… belongs to either Nancy Lee Grahn and/or Jess Walton

that being said… I don’t think any of the actress lived up to their potential.. as was stated above… filler really lessens

outside of Gina Tognoni – NOT KNOWING – that the doppelganger wasn’t her husband…. meh? I thought she had the best reel.

rose
rose

All actresses were good. But for me to chose it may come down to the story they were selling, some of which I liked better than others. Very, very tired of Katie, Phyliss/Billy, and Carly. So that would leave Nancy and Jess as exceptional in my eyes.

Newmanwins
Newmanwins

Laura Wright has easily the best reel…with the most relatable character drama…it’s a tour de force performance.

Ricky
Ricky

I am sorry but Heather Tom hands down…6th time’s the charm 🙂

aria
aria

i’m not saying she’s not a good actress but should she win another emmy for Crying? every single emmy reel she submits its crying crying crying, she basically being rewarded for being a good cryer.

Mary SF
Mary SF

Because that is exactly how the reels are judged– if you look over past winners, male or female– the reel that wins is usually the one who cried the best or yelled the loudest– you win for either yelling or crying– subtle performances rarely win and comedic performance never do— if Heather wins this year– your’re right it is because she cried the best– and looked beautiful while doing it — that’s a plus in the Emmy race

Patrick
Patrick

Thank you Aria. I did not bother… to watch her.

it just gnaws at you doesn’t it… that after all the decades … years of raw talent… that graced our screens.

that some actors… do not know any better or difference to just pull the plug… what is her emmy wins about ? absolution… that she’s the best crier . one hell of an actor ? dag , right… Susan Lucci delivered. Heather Tom is such a non-entity.

Dan
Dan

I remember saying at the time when those episodes aired that Laura Wright would be walking away with some more Emmy gold. I still feel that way after watching all the reels.

I was impressed with all of the ladies, however. I watch GH, so I know how consistently great Nancy Lee Grahn is. She would be my second choice. Gina Tognoni, Jess Walton and Heather Tom were all very good as well. Out of all the categories I’ve seen the reels for so far, this category is by far the toughest competition. Any of the five would be deserving winners.

I’ll be rooting for Laura. The pain and sorrow of a mother losing her son that she conveyed through the screen, It touched me very strong emotionally and after watching GH for nearly 25 years, it takes a lot to move me anymore.

Soaphound
Soaphound

This is one fantastic category and a tribute to the talent and endless creativity of daytime performers. Personally, Laura Wright hit me the hardest and deepest with this year’s work. Something about her grief and sorrow just devastates me. But the great thing is, there won’t be any embarrassing wins here.

Cat
Cat

Gina tognini hands down her reel was that damn good u couldn’t take your eyes off it

Chris
Chris

Tognoni’s reel reminds me how horrid the Pratt era was. Will voters really be able to take this schlock serious enough to give her a win? That said, GT is a good actress, but terribly miscast as Phyllis. I have yet to connect with her in that part.

Walton’s and Tom’s reels are the strongest. I think it is a toss up between the two of them. While I have deep respect for JW, she was no lead during 2016. For that alone, Tom should take the gold home.

Cat
Cat

Why are most of u degrading Gina Tognini reel. Her reel was the bomb. Omg really though. Her reel did make sense. A women who didn’t know the difference between a doppleganger and her husband. I’ve known plenty of actors who won Emmy’s for reels that kinda didn’t make since like Anthony Geary’s 2004, 2008, & 2015 wins,

Cat
Cat

Maura West’s 2015 win (cryptic sex lol) ( I loved her better on atwt as Carly), Jonathan Jackson’s 1995 win (Jason Biggs had a better reel that year), Kimberly McCulloughs 1989 win (Martha bryne n Anne heche had great reels), Justin Gockes 1989 win (Gina’s wheel of Fortune episode), Finola Hughes 1991 win (Anna & The Alien/Casey), just to name a few. It’s more about the performances n the range of it not what u picked. Otherwise none of them would have ever won a Emmy. I remember how people got upset because Drew Tyler Bell, Jen Landon, Tyler Christopher, and Bryton James won Emmy’s. It’s either Heather, Gina, or Nancy, more towards leaning to Gina.

Nikki
Nikki

I don’t even have to think about this one Gina Tognini was the best followed by Laura Wright but it will probably be Tom that gets it. I’m kind of sick of her putting her reel in every year. She is a good actress but they need to give the others a chance and I also think sometimes she over acts.

Mary Papcun
Mary Papcun

Love Heather Tom but why give others a chance I would n’t Its too bad for them constraints she deserves it.

Mary Papcun
Mary Papcun

She deserves it Heather is great

Rhonda
Rhonda

I like Heather Tom alright but when she cries all open mouth, she looks like one of the characters from the Peanuts cartoons.

Nikki
Nikki

I like Heather Tom too and I think she’s a great actress but I see her throw her name into the pot every year. Now I know anyone can and then whoever’s in charge picks from the bunch. As in if 50 throw their name and reel I think only a few are picked but I get sick of her being picked all the time from B&B. There are so many others like Quinn, Steffy, Brooke etc. I think after awhile they just don’t bother throwing in their reel. I don’t blame them. Just give her the statue already. It’s like Y & R so many times I think actresses like Sharon Case, Tracey Bregman etc. know who’s going to get it so they don’t bother throwing in their reel. JMO

Mary Papcun
Mary Papcun

Not true you must love peanuts

Breaking News

Brandon Barash Replaces Tyler Christopher At DAYS

According to reports from Soap Opera Digest and Daytime Confidential, former General Hospital favorite Brandon Barash has temporarily replaced Tyler Christopher, in the role of Stefan DiMera at Days of our Lives.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Brandon played mobster Johnny Zacchara on GH from 2007-2016.

Because DAYS tapes well in advance; look for Barash to hit the air sometime in early 2019.

What are your thoughts on Brandon as temp replacement for Tyler as Stefan O? Comment below.

Continue Reading

Breaking News

GH’s Maurice Benard Takes On Role Of John Gotti In Upcoming Lifetime Movie

Who better to use their mobster experience playing the iconic role of Sonny Corinthos on General Hospital, and put it to good use, when taking on the role of a real-life mobster than Daytime Emmy winner, Maurice Benard?

As revealed over the past weekend, Maurice Benard is hard at work filming a Lifetime Movie based on the life of Victoria Gotti called “The Victoria Gotti Story”.

Sharing the news via his social media, Benard expressed: “Thank you lifetime and everyone involved 4 a Beautiful opportunity.”

Recently, John Travolta played the notorious New York mobster in the movie Gotti released earlier this year.

The infamous Gotti, had a wife and a daughter both named Victoria.  So as to which point of view the film is focusing on is yet to be released.

So what do you think of the casting of Maurice as John Gotti? Intrigued to see the Lifetime Movie when it debuts? Comment below

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General Hospital

General Hospital’s Max Gail Opens Up On Portraying Mike’s Battle With Alzheimer’s & Making A Difference In People’s Lives

“What happens the day I wake up, and you guys are the strangers,” says Mike to his son, Sonny and his wife Carly (Laura Wright). “I left you before to my everlasting regret, but it’s going to happen. I’d do anything if I didn’t have to do it again, but it’s going to happen – one way or the other.  At least this way I could leave some good feelings, instead of disappearing before your eyes.”  Those words were said during a gut-wrenching scene on Friday’s episode of General Hospital, as Mike tries to come to terms with his deteriorating mental state in his battle with Alzheimer’s, and the hard realization that he may be better off in a care facility, instead of at his son’s home.  These scenes, as all the scenes in this storyline, have been exquisitely played by Max Gail (Mike) and Maurice Benard (Sonny).

When Max Gail arrived on the GH canvas as the recast Mike Corbin in a role made soap-famous by Ron Hale, viewers did not know what to initially expect.  What they did know was that Max is an accomplished actor with a body of work from primetime dramas and comedies, film, and the stage, and that if he is coming to GH, he must be coming on board for something major.  Before GH, suffice to say, Gail is most remembered for his role as “Wojo” on the ABC sitcom Barney Miller that aired from 1975-1982.

In story on GH, Mike, who abandoned Sonny as a child, once again re-enters his son’s life, but soon we learn that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and that the soap is tackling a story that is an important medical, social, and familial issue of our time.

Gail has been a revelation in this role.  A clear frontrunner for an Emmy, playing the facets, the levels, the characteristics, and the heartbreak of a person who is slowly losing everything they know near and dear to them, as in the end they are ultimately stripped of their dignity from this most horrific of diseases.

On a personal note, and as part of this conversation with Max, it was important for him and for me to share, that I lost my mother at the end of April of this year to Alzheimer’s.  So his work hits close to home, this story hits close to home, as it has also resonated for many viewers who have shared their stories on social media and when Max makes personal appearances.

Here now is this very special interview for Michael Fairman TV with an actor whom we can all agree is touching all of our lives.

You’re portraying a person suffering from Alzheimer’s and play the progression of the disease.  Do you feel pressure as an actor to get it right for those who have loved ones, or person’s afflicted with it?

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  It’s more like an urge, or a calling to find some kind of truth in it that I can connect with.  One of the things I’m inclined towards showing is someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia often just drifts off somewhere else.  “Where am I going?”  This has happened to me many times in life.  For instance, when I was a youngster, I can remember getting in my car, and I’d driven a long way from some party or something like that, and I’d been drinking, and I didn’t remember it.  I knew I’d gotten home somehow.  So, it’s not out of my realm.  I’ve learned that there are no set behaviors really… other than that it usually ends up being really difficult for caretakers, and seemingly really painful for many, if not most people suffering with Alzheimer’s, and losing connection and losing the ability to just function.  We are kind of on the cusp of that in story at GH.  I think it was originally proposed that I would play the part for just a few months, and to give me an out if it wasn’t working.  Maybe, there was a placeholder idea to ship Mike off to a home or something, but the storyline has touched so many people that it has been continuing.

The story has been so effective.  You’ve done such an amazing job, and the fans love Mike and what you’re doing with the character, and they’re on board on this journey.  It’ll be interesting to see how far they will take this with Mike.  Will we actually see him not being able to communicate anymore?  How far will the writers go to show the horrific aspects of Alzheimer’s? 

MAX:  I’m not sure.  You know, I’ve had times where I’ve got the scene, I get the writers, and I get the heart of it.  Other times, I find where that transition is from where Mike is lucid and clear, and other times what that state of mind is and that switch is, and what that is in behaviors and energy level.  I think there’s an ongoing downturn for Mike, and for me as an actor finding something in the moment and finding how it works with things that he does remember.  They’re trying to find a place for Mike within all of the interwoven drama of General Hospital.  I, frankly, had no idea how complex the range of storylines was.  Mike doesn’t really have control over his story.  I don’t want that as an actor.  Mike has some intentions that are really important to him.  I’m trying to find that balance where there are times when he has a pathetic, very sad remorse about what he has missed.  I think that underlies his feelings for his son, who he never could quite reach, because of his own failings as a father.  Sonny’s formative experiences growing up were then with his abusive stepdad.  Finding all of that is really important to do in a way that doesn’t make Mike just this sweet older man with Alzheimer’s.   It’s a wonderful challenge to be presented with.

Courtesy/CBS

You brought up that Mike is seemingly very sweet in his demeanor now.  My mother, who I shared with you died a few months ago from Alzheimer’s was a strong-willed, feisty woman.  As the disease took hold of her, she became very sweet.   She became almost childlike.  The fire had gone out of her eyes.  You knew she didn’t know who you were, and so, all of that, as you know is so tough to witness as her son.  In terms of Mike and his ultimate care, everyone says they love him and want what is best for him, but that he needs to be taken care of because he gets confused, doesn’t know where he is sometimes. etc.  Sonny has been grappling with putting him in a care facility to be looked after, or to keep him with the Corinthos family under their roof.  However, Mike has come to a realization that he may need to be in facility all on his own, and doesn’t want to burden his son by living with him anymore.  That was a poignant moment, and another one of the best scenes has been when Mike couldn’t remember that Sonny was his own son. 

MAX:  Right and he doesn’t know if he’s around friends or around enemies.  This can be true of Alzheimer’s patients.

I had that happen with my mother when she came out to Los Angeles to see me for the last time.  She was out of her element, she was confused, and she broke down and cried in the hotel room.  She asked my father, “Why did you bring me here?” and he told her, “We came to see our son.”  It was heartbreaking.   Later, she had a moment of clarity and realized more of what was going on.  I think it’s those in-and -out moments that you portray so well on-screen.  I feel that they are very realistic to what I, and others, have experienced.

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  I appreciate that and sharing that with me, because you never know as an actor.  That place of “Where am I?  What is this?” makes me think of that “Summer Wind” moment from the Nurses’ Ball when it wasn’t just, “I’m embarrassed.  I don’t remember the words.”  It was, “I don’t know where the f**k I am.  I thought there was a band there, but there’s not.”  So, in a way, I just had to be there on this big soundstage and just feel this big space around me.  I could barely see that there were people out there.  It’s kind of a terrifying thing to a lot of people, but I think Mike has something in him that makes him want to be okay with all of this.  He doesn’t have to freak out and get accusatory.

Courtesy/ABC

What has it been like working with Maurice Benard as your on-screen son?  Do you watch back your scenes together and ever go, “Oh, that was great!?”

MAX:  Yes, there have been a lot of those!  There are some scenes that are so emotionally focused, and we get a lot of delight in each other.  He has been playing this character in this situation for so long, so it’s just kind of in him.  Maurice has presence.  I think when I went in to read for the part of Mike, I had gone through pilot season and had gone in for some interesting pilots.  I didn’t feel like I was really connecting in the readings, because most things are by tape these days, anyway.  When this part came up, a soap hadn’t really been on my radar.  I knew I’d be going in to read with the actor, so I said, “Okay,” and I looked at the material, and then I checked out Maurice on IMDB.  One of the things that got my interest was that he has been diagnosed and takes medication to deal with bipolar disorder, and that’s become a part of his life, and it’s become part of his character.  I thought, “Wow, that’s really interesting.  This is a survivor, and he’s risen to something that takes a certain kind of balance and courage.”  I watched some clips, and when I went in for the reading of this kind of an amalgamation scene of what the story elements were going to be, I felt like we connected before we’d even started the dialogue.

Well, Maurice certainly loves working with you! He has been very supportive and vocal about that.

MAX:  It’s mutual.  We can take really little simple moments, and we can find something deeper in it, and it doesn’t have to be an, ‘I’m going to start crying now’ moment.  Although, I would love for Mike to have a moment of self-observation where he goes, “Gee.  I cry a lot more than I used to.”  I think there are people who are like that, and it’s okay for certain people to cry, and for other people it is not.

Courtesy/ABC

There was a part of my mom that knew something was wrong.  She’d go, “Why am I crying?  I don’t know why I’m crying.”  She got confused as to why she was feeling that.  She couldn’t connect it all, and at times she kept saying, “I don’t understand.  I don’t understand.”  Those were the things she would try to express.

MAX:  I have a feeling that Mike has those moments too, but he finds a way for it to be okay.  There may be a point where someone with Alzheimer’s can’t pull it off anymore, but how we find those and those specifics, I don’t know.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Working on a classic sitcom such as Barney Miller is vastly different than working on a daytime soap opera.  While now being at GH, have you found any commonality within the experience?

MAX:  If I can take a moment and reflect on Barney Miller, because it was a great experience and one that I found was not so easy to find again over the years.  One of the things that really resonates is that when we started shooting the studio audience laughed too easily.  We would end up retaking the scenes.  Sometimes, we didn’t have the end of the show written, because they tended to let certain things start to show up in the earlier parts of the script.  Danny Arnold who was the writer, creator and producer of Barney Miller would always take over the way Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) does in a way … looking to be respectful of the director, but still seeing things on his own.  Frank has a really wonderful eye.  He’s much more connected into the overall storylines, the motivations that went into the writing, and what he sees in the moment.  I always welcome him on the set because the directors, who have a range of talents and sensibilities, are tasked with coming up with a whole lot of shots to cover, a whole lot of tricky angles, and all of that.

Courtesy/ABC

Vernee Watson has been amazing as Stella, who is also Mike’s social worker.  Does Mike have romantic feelings toward Stella?

MAX:  Vernee is wonderful.  I didn’t know Vernee had been on the show when I came on board.  She won an Emmy, and I’m not surprised.   She is so present and so specific, and she’s very bright and gets what all of these elements are, and so, I think they have a connection.  For whatever ways Mike has lived in his like, there isn’t some strange, exotic draw that she is black, and Mike is white.  I like that because both my first and late wife, and my second wife, with whom I’ve had children (and we’ve been separated for awhile, but have a great relationship) are African-American.  So, in my world that is not a big deal.   I think there’s an affinity there between Mike and Stella.  You know, he’s alive.  He’s old, but he’s not dead.  There’s an ease with women he likes.  I think there are a whole lot of reasons for them to not get involved.  One is just professional, and she’s a social worker.  We just shot something where I say something to somebody else about, “back when I still had all my marbles,” you know, he’s in another stage of life, which many people go into gracefully, while many don’t.

 

What do you think about how Mike knows about who was buried at Charlie’s Pub?  He was trying to keep the truth about Charlie Delaney from coming out, which turned into a gas leak that blew up the bar!  This storyline ties in to Sonny’s mobster dealings as well.

MAX:  Well, this is where they put this effort in the storytelling to connect Mike in some way and be intertwined with Sonny.  Of course, it reveals certain things about Mike that he’s never revealed to anybody before.  So, that’s kind of cool.  I think when he knows what and how much sometimes is not clear.  That’s why I started talking about Barney Miller because the other thing was a lot of times when we go together for the table reads, they didn’t have the end of the story.  They had a first draft, maybe. Dan would talk about it, and they’d say, “Next week, the main story is going to be this man in his fifties who is coming to terms with the fact that he is gay,” or whatever those underlying themes may be with the different characters reactions.  So, we knew elements going into it and that sometimes I  didn’t know what the writers are really intending.  In terms of Mike, he’s kind of back and forth in certain moments.  I have to resist the idea that they trap me by just being careless.  I’ve learned that just trying to fix the script often gets you into a place where you “rehearse yourself out of it,” as they say.

Courtesy/GoodDayLA

You appeared on the morning show Good Day LA  a few months back with Laura Wright (Carly), and Maria Shriver, who has founded the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.  What was that like meeting Maria, and helping get the word out about the effects of this disease and the work Maria is doing?

MAX:  It was great to do.  Maria had sent out a tweet that is was wonderful what was going on, on General Hospital.  On Good Day LA, she talked about her work, particularly focusing on the fact that more women are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than men.  So, then Laura and I sat down and did an interview alongside Maria.  We actually had a nice conversation before.  They did a web interview also as a follow-up.  That was very cool, because Maria is very smart, and I’d never met her, but it was great to see what she was doing.  Whatever we are dealing with in the show is sort of my opportunity in the real world to bring awareness and shed light on the subject.  I’d love to see an ongoing conversation online amongst people who can share their stories with each other.  That’s a lot of what they’re doing.  They’re raising money for research, but people need to be able to talk to each other when you’re a caregiver.  Coming out of the early sixties and early seventies when I was playing a cop on TV, I never was a fanatic activist.  I certainly got the behavior of the Chicago police at a certain time in terms of the energy and conflicts of the time.  There was something to think about, but at the same time, I had opportunities to kind of share that all cops aren’t bad, just look at the show, Barney Miller.

Courtesy/ABC

You were my favorite character on Barney Miller as Detective Wojciehowicz!  I think for many who watched the show you were, too!

MAX:  I think “Wojo” ended up being the heart of the show.

Max, you’re helping people through your beautiful performances including me.  Congratulations on that.   I’ll continue have to have a box of Kleenex handy as I watch how it all unfolds for Mike.

Photo: IMDB

MAX:  Well, I really appreciate your questions.  I’m just planting that seed.  That is really what I would like to do after talking to you and so many people.  That’s something I’d like to put out there.   We each have our own domains and responsibilities and all of it overlaps, and you can kind of get in touch with that; if you just go around the circle and share it, and then go around again.  I’m looking to help people out there in the world who are watching and are looking to share in the conversation.

So, what did you think about the heartbreaking scenes on Friday’s episode of GH between Mike and Sonny?  What have you thought of Max Gail’s performance throughout his GH run?  Have you experienced the loss, or are watching someone you love, or care about slip away from Alzheimer’s?  Share your thoughts via the comment below.

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Video du Jour

This weekend we mourn the loss of General Hospital’s beloved Susan Brown who played Gail Baldwin. Here is her final scene from 2004 when Gail and her husband Lee (the late Peter Hansen) showed up at Lila’s funeral and had an exchange with Alan and Monica. Share your thoughts on Susan’s passing via the link below. Leave A Comment

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