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Y&R 45 INTERVIEW: Janice Lynde and Jaime Lyn Bauer Reflect On Portraying The Brooks Sisters, Their Storylines, On-Screen Loves, & The Ups and Downs Of Being Soap-Famous!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

When The Young and the Restless make its unforgettable debut on CBS back on March 26, 1973, daytime audiences would soon be deeply entrenched in the perils, the loves, and the betrayals of two sisters from the wealthy Brooks clan – Leslie and Lorie Brooks.  Played to perfection by Janice Lynde (Leslie) and Jaime Lyn Bauer (Lorie), “sibling rivalry” was given a whole new name.

Leslie was the talented concert pianist, who found it difficult to open up, while her sister Lorie was more out-going and ruthless, determined to never play second fiddle.  These two were seemingly always in love with the same men, and Lorie even drove her sister to a mental breakdown, making Y&R must-see drama.

As part of Y&R’s 45 year anniversary celebration, Lynde and Bauer were asked back to the series to reprise their signature soap roles.  Janice had left the soap in 1977, while Jaime had stayed with the show through 1982, with a few reprisals along the way in 1984 and 2002.  In this candid, touching, and often humorous chat, the two powerhouse actress talk about what it was like being front and center on a new soap opera that took off like a rocket, shared some fond memories and backstage tidbits, reflected of their triumphs and struggles, gave us the real deal on their former leading men, including John McCook (Ex-Lance, Y&R, now Eric, B&B), plus how the late Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) impacted their lives and more.

What a treat it was to walk down memory lane with these two, who were a main part of the reason, we all fell in love with Y&R in the first place.  #YR45 begins for us here with this chat with Janice and Jaime.  

At the beginning of Y&R, you got cast as Leslie and Lorie Brooks.  How did you land the parts in the first place? What happened that led you to Genoa City?

Photo: CBS

JANICE:   I was cast in New York.  John Conboy (original executive producer, Y&R) flew me out on a Saturday, and Sunday morning at 2am, we made a deal.  Bob Fosse kept saying, “No, no.  You can’t do this.  Ask for more money!”  They had already started taping with someone else in the role, but I started on a Monday and taped five shows.  So it was all a whirlwind.

Were you like, “What did I get myself into?” (Laughs)

JANICE:  It’s terrible to admit it, but I had never had seen a soap.  I came up through classical music the opera, and theatre.  I had never watched television that much.  It was my first experience even seeing one, and it was thrilling.

JAIME:   For me, it was kind of wild.  I was coming out of a casting director’s office and it’s my third week in the business! I am walking down the hall and this other casting director says, “Would you come in here and read this? It’s not really anything.”  It was for The Young and the Restless, but he would not admit it was for the show.  So I read for him and I leave, and don’t think anything of it.  Now, I had already been cast to play this android sidekick for Gene Rodenberry’s show.  At that point, Universal had offered me one of the last player contracts, and then Y&R came about and I interviewed with John Conboy.  I had been a model, previously, He wanted me to do a screen test, and then I had a choice between three years on a soap, or seven years at Universal.  So I said to myself, “I will do the three years, because nobody watches the soaps so they would pay me to act and I would learn.”  The first six months of the show I was a wreck.  It was live to tape; you could not make it a mistake.

Courtesy/CBS

JANICE:  I was so awaiting her casting, because John kept teasing me with “You are going to have a sister, and then Leslie will have a breakdown…”

JAIME:   Instead, I was the one having the breakdown … (Laughs)

JANICE:  When Jaime came on the show, she was so gifted and lovely, but she hadn’t done a lot.  I use to take her home!  She would follow me up Laurel Canyon and I would make pasta, and I would say, “I’m going to make pasta, and we are going to rehearse.” That is how we worked out our scenes the first couple of months.

Everyone hated Lorie.  However, she was one of the first soap opera characters to go from ‘throw-something-at-the-TV-hated’ to a beloved heroine!  And along the way, poor Leslie suffered that mental breakdown, thanks to Lorie!

JANICE:  They did the story of her breakdown so well.  I’m very proud of it, because I went into a locked ward in LA and I did research, and I made notes.  The cast of women were extraordinary.

Photo: CBS

Both your characters seemed to have a penchant for falling in love with the same man.  Let’s start with Brad Eliot, played by Tom Hallick.  How was Tom to work with?

JANICE:  He was heaven to work with, easy to work with, and really solid.

JAIME:  He always had his lines down.

Lorie wanted Brad all to herself!

JANICE:  Lorie told Leslie that Brad wanted her, which destroyed me! (Laughs)

JAIME:  Well, of course, everyone wanted me! (Laughs)  Don’t be ridiculous. (Laughs)  Leslie was so insecure that she couldn’t believe the guy wanted her.  She was a child prodigy, but socially inept!  She did not know how beautiful and talented she was, and that she was the true rose.  But you got to give it to Lorie, because she was the second child, and the second child always has the rough times.

Photo: CBS

After Tom Hallick, the two of you worked in romantic storylines with the Prentiss brothers, Lance (John McCook) and Lucas (Tom Ligon).  How were those two to work with?

JANICE:  I worked with John first, and fell in love with John.

JAIME:  He was hard not to love!

JANICE:  At one point, I was in discussions about doing TV specials, and what the format would be like, and then John came on the show.  I did several scenes with him where Lance was running around the world following Leslie at every concert.  John is a great musician and so funny, so we were thinking about doing these specials together.

Courtesy/CBS

JAIME:   I loved both Tom and John and they were so different as people.  I remember a funny scene with Tom.  I am pregnant, and they are taping pencils on the floor because my belly is so big, and I can’t see my mark. Tom is supposed to pull me in his arms and kiss me passionately.  I said to him, “You need to feel my stomach,” and he pulls me to him with this big embrace, and bounces off me, and screams! (Laughs) We had to do the scene over again, obviously. (Laughs)

When you think back to your time on Y&R, what were some of your favorite scenes?

JAIME:  One of the dramatic ones for me was a scene that I did with the actor who played our father, Robert Colbert (Stuart Brooks).  He had started putting Lorie down, and Lorie started responding back.  It got really ugly between us.  I sat down afterwards and people came up to me and went, “Oh, my Gosh. That was brilliant.”  I was sitting on a bench, and I was shaking uncontrollably, and I am like, “Where did that come from? “ One of the funnier scenes, because we were doing live tape, was with John McCook (Ex-Lance, B&B, now Eric B&B).  We were jumping on this bed together, but we had no idea that it was actually two beds, and they separated, and the two of us went down right in the middle of it, and we just had to go with it. The two of us just started laughing and joking.

Photo: CBS

JANICE:  I would say … I did love the story of Leslie being in the mental institution.  I thought it would bring awareness, help some people, and not be such a stigma anymore.  There were so many interesting things within that.

JAIME:  Even though it’s nice doing comedic stuff, and John McCook was very funny, truly for actresses that are more serious, the best parts are playing the complex characters. You have to do the research, you have to think, and you have to study people all of the time. John McCook took me into the control room one day and he ran a tape of something I just had done, and he said, “See that! That was really sexy!”  I said, “What?” He said, “What were you thinking when you did that?”  Of course, I didn’t know.

Wait … but, Lorie was the sexy one!

JAIME:  But you know what I used to do?  I used to go to Hugh Hefner’s on Friday night’s because he had free meals there.  I was watching people on the stairs, and that is how I learned how to play Lorie.  I also knew watched this woman I knew just turn it on a dime with this sexual energy toward either a young man, or a very old man. So between her, and Hefner’s, that is how I developed Lorie.

Can you recall some of the fans reactions you received, or were on the other end of, if people would see you at personal appearances, or, out and about, or, via fan mail? Back then, there was no such thing as social media for everyone to let out their opinions and feelings.

Photo: CBS

JAIME:  I remember driving down Sunset Blvd one night and we were in a convertible, and another convertible is next to us, and they start shouting at me, “Oh, my God!  It’s Lorie! It’s Lorie. We hate you!”  Then they go, “No, no, no. We love hating you!”   There was another time where I was shooting a movie of the week with Leslie Nielsen, and he saved me.  I was sitting in the lobby in a building in Century City waiting to be called to set.  This woman comes up to me in the lobby and she literally puts her hand around my throat.  She must have just watched me on TV in her room upstairs.  Leslie helped me get her off of me.  People hated me, but it was a compliment.  What was so amazing for me as a human being is that I never knew what sexy was?

JANICE:  I don’t buy that for one second! (Laughs)  For me, I had amazing reactions.  I was at a dinner one night and Dean Martin came up to me and said, “You are my favorite actress and singer.”  He then asked me to open for him in his nightclub act, and we became very close friends. Then, in either second or third year of Y&R, because we were all seen internationally there was this incident.  I was in the Sistine Chapel and trying to get away from it all, and needed a vacation.  All of a sudden I this place where you take a vow of silence before you enter it, someone yells, “Leslie!” Then everyone was crowding around me, and then the Vatican guard grabbed me and helped me out of the chapel. But then I was told the Pope wanted to meet me, and we did!   The scariest one was at the Farmer’s Market near CBS and these three women came up to me and said, “What are you doing out?  What can we do for you?  You need care!”  I swear, if they knew where to take me they would have taken me to some mental institution!”

In the mid 70’s, the most compelling story on the soaps was centered around Leslie and Lorie, and the other two Brooks sisters, Chris (Trish Stewart) and Peggy (Pam Peters).  But Jaime, what I want to know is … what did you think of K.T. Stevens (Vanessa) when Vanessa was always wearing that veil over half of her face? (Laughs)  I always wanted to just yank it off of her!  I know Vanessa’s  face was supposedly disfigured from a fire, but I didn’t understand why she was always wearing it! (Laughs)

Photo: CBS

JAIME:  Vanessa was really evil, but K.T. Stevens on her own was so sweet, loving, and supporting. Vanessa killed herself and blamed it on Lorie! Sometimes, I wanted to rip her veil off so bad, too! (Laughs)

Y&R always had the most beautiful cast, along with the exceptional writing, the singing, and the production values that set the bar high after it debuted in 1973.

JAIME:  We were one of the first soaps to also do important topics for the times.  We did storylines on: breast cancer, rape, and mental illness.

Janice, at one point did you decide to leave Y&R?

JANICE:  There was never time to have a vacation, and I was working so hard without a break.  If not for that, I would have stayed a long, long time.  Bill Bell (Y&R co-creator, and head writer) and John Conboy were great to work with, and were great about letting us out to do other projects, but the show was garnering a lot of ratings so the hours just became insane for me.

JAIME:   And remember in those days, daytime shows paid for primetime.  So we were so important to the network that we were not given a break.  I walked illegally, because I thought I just have to escape.  I got on a plane to Hawaii and I stayed at a girlfriend’s house there for two weeks.  I came back to Y&R and had a meeting. I said in my negotiations that I do want all the women to have their own dressing rooms, and this is before AFTRA had any strength at all as a union.

Jaime, what happened when you decided to exit Y&R?

Photo: CBS

JAIME:  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I am nine years in, and the only reason anyone replaced me was when I was on maternity leave and having babies. When I came back I was working five or six days a week, and had kids at home.  At one point, I could not even think of my own name, and I got scared.  I went to them and said, “I need you to put a ceiling on the number of episodes I work a week, unless it’s a big storyline.”   We were just so successful at the time that they couldn’t do it, and so I left.  Then, Bill Bell, God bless him, because I had said to him and John (in tears), “please don’t make me feel guilty’:, did something so unbelievably touching.   What Bill didn’t tell me was that he fired everyone to do with the Brooks’, and in our entire storyline, because I was his favorite character.  I think that was because I was named after his daughter, Lauralee, and he couldn’t envision the show without the character, so he had to change it and make it a whole new show. I will thank him forever for that, because if I had known I would have stayed.   I loved Bill and John, and I would have done anything that I could for them.

There was another tremendous actress when you started at Y&R, the incomparable and iconic, Jeanne Cooper (Katherine).  What was your relationship like with Jeanne?

JAIME:  Jeanne was a second mom to me.  The first play I did was Plaza Suite, and we were in the same play together, and it was a touring company.  I went to the director before we opened on opening night and I said, “I think you made a mistake.  I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I’m funny.”  He goes, “Nope.  I haven’t made a mistake. You will be just fine.”  Well, I cried for two hours the day of opening night, because I was terrified.  But it was Jeanne Cooper who stood there, and had her arms around me saying, “You’re going to be fine.  You will see.”  My cue came and she is standing there, and she literally shoved me onto the stage.  Jeanne was an amazing, sweet, incredible woman and at a time I was dating her son, so I was over at ber house a lot of the time, so we were tight.

Courtesy/CBS

JANICE:   Jeanne was the cast mom.  It was such a joy, because we were all very collaborative. There were times I was given a script late on one day and had to do a big song and dance the next; like this one in Lance’s apartment, where he dares Leslie to come out of her shell so she can perform at this party. (Laughs)  I said to Jeanne, “How am I going to do this?  There is not even the staircase, or full set to work with up yet.” She said, “I have an event, but I will meet you at midnight.” We got Bob Fosse on speaker phone, because the number was “If You Could See Me Now” from Sweet Charity, and between Jeanne and Bob, and me, running up the stairs and landing on top of the piano, we got it figured out.  But Jeanne would do things like that. She would do anything for the work.  She was a great friend, and a brilliant talent, and had some demons, but she conquered them.

How did it come about that you are returning to Y&R on-air this week as part of their 45th anniversary episodes?

Photo: CBS

JAIME:  I was laying on the beach in Cancun, and I get a call.  I go, “What?  Who? The Young and the Restless? You want me to return for their anniversary? Sure … just let me know. “

JANICE:  I got a call while I was in a ballet class in New York.  I was at the ballet bar, and I get a call from my agent.  So, I thought I should go out in the hall and take this.   I ran out and I said, “Really?”  My agent said, “How do you feel about that?”  I said, “Absolutely, would love to do it.   It’s a reunion!”  But honestly, I didn’t believe it was going to happen, because I had gotten a lot of calls over the past years and decades and we could not work it out, for one reason or the other.  This time we did, and I was so excited to be back.

Did you think Y&R would have lasted this long, from when it began?

JAIME:   I am not surprised at that at all.  It has been number-one overall for a reason. The writing has been quite good.  They still have that great look and that great lightning.

What would you want to say to Y&R as it celebrates its 45th anniversary?

Courtesy/CBS

JANICE:  “You are the tops!  And 45 more …”

JAIME:  “45 more that would be brilliant … than we can actually show up at 90!” (Laughs)

So, what were your favorite memories and storylines of The Brooks sisters? Are you glad Y&R asked Janice and Jaime back for the anniversary episodes?  What did you think about Janice and Jaime recalling the beginning years of Y&R? Share your thoughts via the comment section below!

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Michael (not Fairman)MarieShayModiane Recent comment authors
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su0000
Guest
su0000

That was 1973 — the Brook Sisters..
I wasn’t yet born.
But– I’m looking forward to seeing them it will be interesting and even fun to go that far back..

Celia
Guest
Celia

Same here, SuzieQ…But, I am very familiar with all these characters….my Gran is a great storyteller—I feel as if I had been there 45 years ago watching with her…..looking forward “seeing” them again. LOL.
Aside: through all this, I must give praise to Marla, again….WOW!!!!…. gets better and better.
Dina’s disdain with Ashley is soooo pungent but a revelation at the same time. She resents her daughter because she’s a constant reminder, subconsciously, of what she did to John…..
It would be the greatest twist and sweet irony if Jack were the Pro’s son. HaHa….

Celia
Guest
Celia

PS…or, Jack is the issue of another affair. OOOOUUU-LALA!!!! Are any of Dina’s children John’s, su??

su0000
Guest
su0000

I am the one and only (both sides of family) that ever watched a soap..
ahaa I’m virgin soap family ..

Shay
Guest
Shay

Looks like Traci is going to be the only genuine article Abbott to spring from John’s loins and Dina’s womb, CeeCeeGirl! How ironic is that? From the beginning, this girl was always the awkward, odd child out, constantly paling in comparison to her handsome older brother Jack and glamorous big sis Ashley, and now both are apparently not even real Abbotts…what an identity crisis, eh???

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

What a wonderful interview, Michael. So happy to see original veterans, such as Janice Lynde and Jaime Lyn Bauer back in Genoa City. What a beautiful way to celebrate The Young and the Restless‘ 45th anniversary! I’m hoping this might lead to more appearances, though, I don’t know if these two are the ones who might be making further appearances past the anniversary. Hearing them speak about their time on the soap, and even Bauer’s words about her asking to leave, were powerful. They helped change the face of daytime during a time when daytime was most powerful.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

OMG: I feel for Jaime Lyn Bauer… she had two predicaments… CLOSE TO HER HEART. maintain her STAR reign… or go home to her children. this is why I feel for women… who make the sacrifice. for the heck of it…. I wonder how long she coulda woulda shoulda stayed … past her original 9 years. she committed to 6 more years past her 3 year contract. “… We were just so successful at the time that they couldn’t do it, and so I left. ” that’s a lot of tears … heart mind and soul ripped torn and tattered.… Read more »

Shay
Guest
Shay

Jaime Lyn was one of daytime’s most quintessential soap goddesses! So sleek, slim, statuesque and drop-dead gorgeous in all of her designer finery! Her character was of a time and place when women each had their own highly-distinct looks, not the cookie-cutter botoxed features that we see today….how I miss those golden days when the soaps were an endless parade of exquisitely original beauties decked out in the latest and greatest fashions! What a feast for the eyes they were! Welcome back, Lorie Brooks!

Kevin C
Guest
Kevin C

I have yet to read the interview but I am so excited to have them back and wish they were back permanently for I loved Y&R from the beginning till 2006…I started watching again when Sally and Kay returned as headwriter and story consultant…I started to stop watching once Sally and Kay left but decided to stick with it through the 45th anniversary and I haven’t been impressed Mals writing until this past week and not I am interested in where it goes from here…

Kevin C
Guest
Kevin C

I failed to mention that I have the conversation on a cassette tape of when Leslie was asking Lorie to help her unlock the key to her past for Leslie didn’t know what happened to her for losing her memory….such a wonderful and very well acted storyline and oh how I miss those days…

Kevin C
Guest
Kevin C

I just finished reading the interview, LOVED IT and again how I miss these two beautiful ladies on this show…I loved all the storylines with Lorie and Leslie, they were all great…but the two that really come to mind is of course the sister rivalry and the Lorie and Vanessa storyline with Vanessa staging her own death and setting the stage to make it look like Lorie pushing Vanessa over the balcony, CRAZY WONDERFUL storyline…I remember Vanessa yelling, STOP LORIE, STOP and Vanessa KEPT on saying this LOUDLY and Lorie was wondering what on earth was going on with Vanessa… Read more »

diane
Guest
diane

I was 11 when the show started and I would watch it at my sisters house when I was out of school, which was a lot!! I will always remember the Brooks family and Jill’s family. They are Y&R to me.

Michael
Guest
Michael

The show was such a gem in the 70’s and so forward-thinking. I note the ladies mention the lighting – it was so flattering compared to other shows of the time. And the cast was already an attractive group! And Leslie-Lorie-Lance-Lucas – the Alliterative Quadrangle! Easy to poke fun at – but a riveting story, thanks to the actors. Looking forward to seeing this week’s reunion!

Mo
Guest
Mo

Didn’t watch then. I have seen Jamie on Days so I’m familiar with her, but not on Y&R.

Looking forward to seeing them and what brings them to town.

Marilyn
Guest
Marilyn

I was 9 when Y&R started and I remember it vividly still. I was so bummed when the Brooks family was gone that I stopped watching. I started again for a bit when Lily and Daniel were together and Cassie died. Still a great show though not one I regularly watch. What a blast from the past though. Great interview1

vinman
Guest
vinman

GREATNESS @Y/R….LESLIE,LORIE,CHRIS&AMY BROOKS…ALSO MR.&MRS.BROOKS;along with the FOSTER’S and PRENTICE BROTHERS LANCE&LUCAS…mother Vanessa.Brad,Sally and Robert.And the DUCHESS MRS.C…JEANNE COOPER.#@Y&RHAPPY45.

Max
Guest
Max

I was about 15 when they went on the air and was so impressed by the production values. It was the first Hollywood daytime drama I watched. I loved the Brooks family and now I know why they were written out. Thanks for the interview, Michael. I was thrilled when Janice Lynde showed up on my favorite soap One Life To Live. One other thing that I enjoyed on early Y&R was the use of music and songs. If I recall, Leslie’s song was “If A Picture Paints A Thousand Words”, loved when they used the song “Bless The Beasts… Read more »

Kevin C
Guest
Kevin C

Hey Max, you are right on with the music and the song that Leslie sing, a Bread song, IF…and I loved when the played Bless the Beast and the Children…and like you said such good/great memories of the first 20 years of Y&R…

Farhan
Guest
Farhan

It’s so great to have the Brooks sisters back again! I remember their rivalry over men and when Dennis Cole played Lance. Vanessa hated Laurie and I remember when she jumped off the balcony to her death and made it look like Laurie pushed her. A definite jaw dropping moment for that show. I also loved the episodes featuring Leslie’s concerts. Incredible moments. It would be nice to have Y and R revisit some of the history with these old characters again including the Fosters. Its great to have them back and I hope to see more of them in… Read more »

Ron
Guest
Ron

THANK YOU FOR THE INTERVIEW! It was great to read what a couple of the original cast members thought of the show, their characters, and the trend they set for daytime programming. My favorite Brookes family storyline was Jennifer Brookes’ breat cancer– the reaction of Stuart, how each daughter struggled with it, and the beautiful and agonizing depiction given by the actress who played their mother… as Kevin and Max noted in earlier posts, THE MUSIC brought the great acting and the great dialogue together. Also, loved the courtroom scenes regarding Lorie being accused of Vanessa’s death– great drama, especially… Read more »

beacon
Guest
beacon

They should bring Lorie back permanently and give us a new generation of Brooks characters. Surely Lorie has kids?

Mo
Guest
Mo

I didn’t think much of Janice’s acting yesterday. A little blah. Maybe she has been out of practice.

I didn’t know all the history with the Brooks and Jill so it was nice to get to find out. I thought, Jill sure likes wealthy older men and then Billy said it! Yes!

Karen R
Guest
Karen R

I was watching back then, loved the Brooks family and the Fosters. Jill, her mom and brothers. Been watching it throuout the years And it is still my favorite.

Judith
Guest
Judith

I miss the Brooks family.

dmr
Guest
dmr

I am not familiar with the past storyline; and although I found the scene to be funny, I also found it to be awkward. I’m not a “Jill” fan, so I wasn’t too keen on this, but it was funny and “catish.”

Mo
Guest
Mo

I thought it was a bit awkward too. The two sisters sitting at the bar and then Jill. It looked weird.

diane
Guest
diane

I was hoping they would share more of the 45 year old history through flashbacks this week!! I was also hoping to see the Brooks sisters for more then 2 whole minutes!!! The other storylines can wait till next week!

Marie
Guest
Marie

I don’t remember this Leslie. I remember the one with the dark hair and the porcelain complexion. That said, this was a great interview.

Jess Walton still drives me up the wall. I’ve always thought she was a terrible Jill – she’s always so miserable. Being a villain should be fun! At least the other Jill thought it was.

Michael (not Fairman)
Guest
Michael (not Fairman)

That was Victoria Mallory, Marie. She took over the role when Janice Lynde left and played it for four or five years. I liked her a lot; probably one of Y&R’s best recasts.

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B&B’s Matthew Atkinson Weighs-In On Daytime’s Wildest Storyline, The Hope Mannequin & What’s Really Going On With Thomas

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In B&B’s thriller-esque storyline, complete with tight close-ups and tilted angles of Thomas and his co-star, the Hope Mannequin – yup, you read that right, the series is taking the audience on one wild ride, something we have not seen the likes of since back in the hey day of the late head writer, James Reilly, during his tenure on Days of our Lives or Passions.

Photo: JPI

Inspired by, believe it or not, true life events, B&B’s head writer and executive producer, Brad Bell and his creative team have served up a story generated off all of the buzz the show was receiving for using mannequins as scene partners for the actors in intimate moments to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.  B&B was the first American show back in production amid the pandemic.

 

Within this twisted tale, Thomas has the life-like version of Hope Logan Spencer (Annika Noelle) at home with him.  Those who have stumbled upon him with the mannequin, well, he has been able to explain that away by saying that having the doll with him is helping him create some of the best designs of his career.

The problem is the mannequin is talking to Thomas, it’s eyes have often turned devil-red, and on Friday’s episode it walked!  It’s objective is to get Thomas to kill Liam (Scott Clifton) and to get Hope back to be his one and only. Throughout many of the scenes in the storyline, Thomas suffers from what appears to be severe headaches.  All of this leading the audience to believe either … he has a brain tumor … he is being drugged … he is suffering from a severe mental break and disorder, or something else.

Photo: JPI

In a very candid and often humorous conversation with Michael Fairman for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Thomas’ portrayer, Matthew Atkinson, discusses some of the craziest scenes to shoot thus far including Thomas having dinner with the mannequin!  In addition, Atkinson reveals how he and Annika Noelle tape the scenes where she is the voice of the Hope mannequin while adhering to safety protocols,  and how Liam is the only one, apparently, thinking something is off with Thomas, and so much more.

Photo: Gilles Toucas

One thing is for certain, Matthew Atkinson is sinking his teeth into the material and making it must-see daytime drama through his performances while we all wait to see what the possessed mannequin does next.

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

Then let us know, what do you think is happening or wrong with Thomas? Are you getting a kick out of the Hope Mannequin storyline? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

 

 

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Interviews

Eric Nelsen Talks Latest Film, Becoming a Tony-Nominated Producer, ‘The Bay’, and His Elizabeth Gillies & Ariana Grande Connection

You can catch All My Children reboot alum, Eric Nelsen (Ex-AJ Chandler), just about everywhere this month, and that’s hard to do given that we are all living in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this Daytime Emmy-winning actor has his hands in a myriad of projects of late including: appearing on season six of The Bay (new episodes every Tuesday on Popstar! TV) where he continues to play Daniel’s journey after the character has come to terms with his sexuality and finds love, plus his comedic turn in the film, 1 Night in San Diego, and recently becoming a Tony-nominated producer along with his wife Sainty for the critically-acclaimed, and now 11 times nominated Broadway play, The Inheritance.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Eric to get the lowdown on his busy professional life, and we were in for some surprises along the way including: what the producers of AMC had in mind for the character of AJ that ultimately did not happen, and that Eric starred on Broadway with Elizabeth Gillies (Fallon, Dynasty) and Pop superstar, Ariana Grande – and there’s more to that story below.

 

What makes Nelsen so good at what he does on-screen is that he is a like a chameleon; adept at playing the quirky, to the troubled bad boys, to the emotional heart-tugging anti-hero. So here’s what Eric had to say in this fascinating conversation.

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

Your latest film appearance in 1 Night in San Diego is out this week on multiple streaming on-demand platforms from: Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and more. Tell me about the movie and when did you film this?

ERIC:  We filmed it near San Diego, not this past February, but last February, and it’s hilarious.  It’s a female-driven comedy.  The cast is incredible.  Alexandra Daddario, who is just epic, and Jenna Ushkowitz, and Laura Ashley Samuels, they truly bring it in this powerhouse comedy, and it’s just one of those make-you -laugh movies from beginning to end, just silly, stupid stuff happening the whole time.  General Hospital’s Mark Lawson (Dustin) is also in the film.  While we don’t work in scenes together, I did get a chance to meet him and he’s a really great guy.  I play this off-the-wall character, named Gordo, who is a real burn-out, think Matthew McConaughey meets space cadet, which was a lot of fun to play.  Gordo is a great role.  I had more fun with this part than I’ve had in a long time.  So, it was cool to throw a comedy into all of the drama I have been playing in my other projects.

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

ERIC:  One of the girls knew him back in the day, so they were in town looking to reconnect, and she’s like, “Oh, we want to party and let’s hit up Gordo,” and they do.  He has just gone completely off the rails, off the deep end with spirituality and kind of in his own world. They find themselves in quite a predicament when they come visit what they didn’t know was a commune, basically.  Gordo creates this hippie commune for a bunch of outcast musicians, (laughs) and I don’t want to give too much away, but a lot of interesting stuff happens there.

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

In addition, you are now a Tony-nominated producer for the play The Inheritance!

ERIC: That was crazy, because it’s always been a dream of mine to produce for Broadway.  That was how I got into the world of film and TV acting, which was through the theatre.  That’s where I started.  I was lucky enough to star on Broadway when I was 16 and 17, in a musical called, 13.  I started with Ariana Grande! It was so fun.

Wait, what?

ERIC:  Yeah, that was her first big show, and Elizabeth Gillies’.

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

ERIC:  Oh yeah, and you know she and I dated for two and a half years during the whole run of the show 13.  Elizabeth is very talented.   She is amazing.  The funny part of it is, we were dating forever, and kind of had a bad breakup, and then Sainty, my wife, gets cast in her show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, in the pilot to play Liz’s best friend on the series.  So, all of the sudden, I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, out of all the shows, all of the things, this is who you have to get cast as best friends with?” and so they actually became really, really, close friends.  So, I’d actually come home from work or filming, and Liz would be on my couch sitting there giggling with Sainty.  I’m like, “This is just becoming too much.  This is a full-circle moment here.  I can’t deal.” (Laughs)

Now, you and Elizabeth are broken up at this point?

ERIC:  Yes.  We had been broken up at this point.  Sainty and I were actually together.  I started dating Sainty in New York and the pilot she was shooting was in New York, and she gets cast as Liz’s best friend, and I was like, “Oh, of course.”

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

ERIC:  Yes, so dying.  Dying.   You know, it’s just one of those things that in a million years, you would never expect this to happen, and of course, Sainty and her had to become best friends in real life because they’re both great girls, and naturally, they would be friends, but now, I’m like this guy stuck in the middle who can’t believe what’s happening, and thought that was one chapter, and this is a different chapter, and now the chapters are combining.  It’s kind of a comedy act.

Photo: JPI

Since Ariana Grande was on Broadway with you and Liz, what was she like back then before her meteoric rise to fame?

ERIC:  Ariana was literally the sweetest, most innocent, and cutest – like my little sister.   To me, it was like, Liz and I were dating, and Ari was kind of like the little sister.  All of a sudden the show ended. Ariana got a Nickelodeon show, and after that, she became the most famous person in the world and was like this sex icon, and I couldn’t get over it.   She’s always had that talent with her voice and in 13 she was an ensemble member.  She wasn’t even one of the leads, but her voice was so incredible, even then as a young teenager.  I thought she was going to go on to have this great Broadway career as an actress and do musicals her whole life just because of her voice.  Then, all of the sudden, right after the musical, we all auditioned for the same Nickelodeon show.  I ended up going to the finals for the boyfriend role, Liz got the girlfriend role, and Ari got the funny friend on the show role.  That kind of catapulted them into the TV world, and Ari got a spinoff because of her character on that show for another Nickelodeon show, called Sam and Cat, and then after Sam and Cat, she went from this innocent, sweet, little Nickelodeon girl that I knew to being the biggest star.  It was unbelievable to me.

Photo: Broadway World

So, you started on Broadway as a teenager, and you found you always wanted to produce for the Great White Way? 

ERIC:  Yes, I did the Broadway thing, and then I got into film and TV, and then I got into film and TV producing.  As an actor, there are a lot of ups, a lot of downs.  So, in between the ups, I wanted to fill my time, so I got into producing, and I loved it.  I loved creating.  As an actor, we just show up, and everything is already done.  All we have to do is say our lines.  We get pampered, and we go home, but I wanted to know how it got to that point, like what happens before that.  So, I started producing film and found some success doing that, and it was so much fun for me.  Sainty’s and my first love, and what feels like home, is theatre.  So, I wanted to take it full circle and produce a Broadway show.  I just thought that would be such an incredible moment, and so that’s what I did.  I started emailing all of the Broadway producers who I had worked with as an actor, letting them know what I had been doing, kind of the success I had gotten from producing The Bay and some of these other things. Different shows came across my desk that I didn’t quite bite the bullet on, a couple of which I wish I would have, Dear Evan Hansen being one of them.  I would have been so rich by now!  (Laughs)

I just want to clarify for people who might not know, the word “producer” can mean different things.  There are “producers” who are putting money in … they’re backing projects or shows.  There are other people who are “producers” on the creative side of projects.  So, when you’re talking about producing a Broadway show, it is as an investor?

ERIC:  So for theatre, unless you’re the head producer who kind of gets creative control, every other producer listed in the credits is basically helping raise finances and is also very heavily involved in the process of everything else along the way, which is also what makes it special.  So finally, The Inheritance came across our desk, and it checked every single box.  It was just an epic play.  It’s a two-part play, and it’s just hours and hours and hours long.  You see it in multiple days or in multiple shows.  I remember reading the script and not stopping until I finished.  I was like, “This is amazing,” and it had just come off of a huge commercial successful run in London.  It won the Olivier Award for “Best New Play” and just about every other award you could win, and so I was like, “This is the one.  This is incredible.  I love the piece, love the message, and pulled the trigger,” and I would have done it all over again if we could.

Photo: Broadway World

The Inheritance is a generational piece centering on gay men during the AIDS crisis.  What can you say about it to those who don’t know about it, or have not seen it yet?

ERIC:  It takes place in the past, and then it fasts forward to the future.  You see two generations of gay men in New York City, and it’s all about the AIDS crisis, and so you’re bawling crying, and then you’re laughing throughout it.  It’s just one of those epic plays that pulls at every single emotion and you feel like you’re watching a movie.

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s definitely its own thing.  It’s actually an adaptation of Howard’s End, the novel by Forster, definitely different from Angels in America, but the two-part show is kind of what I was meaning by that.  People have said it is kind of our generation’s Angel’s in America in tone and subject matter.  It was just a dream come true, and like all other theatre that was open during our season, it had to close because of the pandemic, and it will have life after Broadway.  We are already slated for the Geffen Playhouse in LA, so I’m very excited for all of my LA friends and the public to get to see it.

Courtesy/ENelsen

And you get nominated in the year that the coronavirus pandemic shut down live theatre! But it is my understanding we still do not have a date for handing out this year’s Tony Awards.

ERIC:  No, we do not.  They finally announced that they were going to announce nominations, and for a while we didn’t even know that they were going to do that.  We received 11 nominations, which is incredible.  We were so excited.  I truly thought the American Theatre Wing and the Tony committee were not going to do the Tonys at all, and so we were just like, “I can’t believe the one year we pull the trigger on the show, this isn’t going to happen for us,” but then thank God, they came to their senses.  There were plenty of shows that opened and needed to be recognized.

How long was it open on Broadway?

ERIC:  We were open from September 2019 through February or March.  So, as long as your submission was open on Broadway before Covid-19 and had at least all of its previews and an opening night before Covid-19 hit, then you could qualify, and then in the play category, there were like 10 plays that had opened last year that were contenders.  So, that was definitely the hardest category.   It will be interesting to see what happens after all of this.  The only good thing I know that is going to come from this is the amount of creatives who have had so much time sitting at home to create and write, that there will be so many new scripts and plays and musicals that are going to come from this.  I think it’s’ going to be the biggest boom that we’ve probably ever seen in theatre, just because there’s been so much time to develop stuff.  At the same time, it’s piggybacking on the darkest time that theatre has ever seen.

Throughout the pandemic, I always stream all of the Broadway Actor’s Fund events.  It’s really sad.  It’s just a difficult time, those in the arts are struggling and especially in the live theatre and also musicians who can’t tour or play gigs in front of an audience. I know they said Broadway is closed through May 31, 2021.

ERIC:  It is really hard.  I’m happy that we are able to find other ways like streaming shows.  I’m actually producing a big benefit for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS that will be airing on World AIDS Day, December 1st.  It’s a show called Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.  The cast we have is everybody from Nathan Lane, to Academy Award winner J. K. Simmons.  It’s insane.  It will be streaming online on the Broadway HD network.  It is a huge list of Broadway stars and a lot of movie and TV stars as well that are participating.  We’ve got people from all over the map.

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

ERIC:  (Laughs)  Ari is not in it, actually!

Photo: Prospect Park

So, in this week’s latest episode of The Bay, your character of Daniel Garrett makes his final choice for love between Caleb (Mike Manning) and Matthew (Randy Wayne).  When you came to the show, did you know that this part was going to wind-up being a gay character?

ERIC:  No, I did not.  I think I dropped a bird in Gregori Martin’s (creator, The Bay) ear by telling him that before All My Children ended, they were going to have my character of AJ Chandler have a storyline where he is gay.  The producers sat me down and talked through an entire storyline arc with me.  Basically, Ginger Smith (ex-executive producer, All My Children) and Alison, our casting director, and one other person from the show, took me to lunch in New York. They pitched me what they wanted to do for my character, and asked me if I would be comfortable with it, and they wanted my opinion, everything.  It was really cool how they approached it, and I was like, “100% completely.”  I look at what Chandler Massey (Ex-Will Horton) did on Days and where that brought him and his storyline, and I thought, “Yes, there’s going to be so much more depth and stuff to play than just being this fun little rich kid.”  At the time, there really wasn’t much depth to AJ.  So, I was like, “Yes.  I will be all over it.  Absolutely.”  So, I told Gregori that, and I don’t know if he already had something in his mind or not, or if that influenced it at all, but maybe he just figured that was something that would work well, and up till that point, I guess they didn’t really have that on the show.  Regardless, no, I wasn’t aware that that was the direction it was going in, but I was really happy with my storyline and it’s grown a lot since then, and in this current season especially.  It’s really given me an arc to play, which I’ve enjoyed.

Photo: LANYEntertainment

So for those who may not know let’s do a re-set.  Where is the character of Daniel at? It seems like he is at crossroads, and is making some important decisions, or trying to.

ERIC:  So Daniel was a wild party boy in the beginning, just head in the clouds, lives life with thinking there’s no repercussions and just doing what you want to do all of the time, and that got him into a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol. Then, we realize why Daniel has been the way he is, and why he acts out, and why he has been so all over the place, and it’s because he hasn’t been able to come to terms with who he is.  Then, he admits it to himself and for the first time to somebody else – who happens to be his priest in a catholic church, ironically –  that he is gay and this is what he has been battling with.  For the first time (and I don’t know where on television it has depicted it this way), but the catholic priest looks at Daniel, and he’s like, “What’s your sin?  You haven’t sinned.  This is perfectly fine.”  So, I love that Gregori made that the outlet for which Daniel was able to basically come to terms with who he was, because he grew up in the church, and so he was always told that it was wrong.  Obviously, it’s not wrong, or obviously the church needs to change their mindset, but on The Bay, he chose that to be the outlet through which he came out, which I thought was really powerful.  Through that, Daniel experimented with other boys and such to figure out where he wanted to land, and then in this newest season, I can’t say much that gives anything away, but for the first time, we really see Daniel’s growth, and he’s making decisions, and the most mature we’ve ever seen him, and it’s been really cool to see that come full circle.  He’s making commitments to himself.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

ERIC:  Obviously, that’s who it works with,  Caleb is a teacher and a great guy.

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

ERIC:  He is… he’s just not the great guy for him.

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

This season of The Bay is heavily steeped with social issues of our time.  Covid-19 has come to Bay City and the Black Lives Matter movement also plays prominently.

ERIC:  Yes.  It’s kind of the beginning of the pandemic in The Bay and within all of the intense drama that Daniel has been having, he is still, for all intent and purposes the comedic relief of the show, and so there is a funny scene where I’m carrying like 28,000 rolls of toilet paper like, “Come on, guys.  We’ve got to stock up!”  We all remember those days, don’t we?

Photo: JPI

How do you feel about this season of the show and your work in it? You’ve previously won a Daytime Emmy for your performances on The Bay.

ERIC:  This season is more cemented in a character that has truly grounded himself.  So, the first Emmy I won was for a storyline of coming out and uncertainty and struggle and pain, whereas this season Daniel knows what he wants and is going for it.  There is much more passion and love in this season for Daniel, as opposed to struggle and heartache.

The cast and crew of The Bay all went away and quarantined at this ranch this past summer to get the new season completed.  What was that like?

ERIC:  We were actually in Santa Barbara, and filmed on this epic ranch up there.  It’s like this 500-acre ranch that we all quarantined on.  We had to do the testing, and temperatures three times a day, and the whole thing.  So, it was really structured, tough to pull off, but we were all so grateful that we were able to do this.  Luckily, we had this incredible kind of bubble of a ranch to live and work on while we were shooting.  They were really good about block shooting it all, so we’d kind of shoot one person’s character, then the next, so we wouldn’t have to ever be leaving the ranch before we were done.

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

ERIC:  Oh, it’s amazing.  I just can’t believe how fast the time is flying by because of it.  We just had Molly’s first birthday on October 1st, and I feel like yesterday she was born.  I sound like my parents when I say this, but it’s like the time keeps getting faster, but it’s so true.  She’s awesome.  We play Broadway musical soundtracks to her all day, and she sings.  She sits at the piano with me when I play, and she kind of plunks notes out next to me.  She loves music, and we’ve introduced it to her from day one.  We always joke that she won’t be able to watch any of daddy’s stuff until she’s 18 probably, but Sainty is a voice-over actress.  She has done parts for animated films and TV shows such as Trolls, and Barbie, and Boss Baby, so everything from the first part of my daughter’s life is all going to be Mommy’s stuff, and then, in the later part of life she can start watching Daddy’s stuff.

Right, she can’t watch anything that you do!  (Laughs) So, basically forget that!

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

Check out the trailer for 1 Night in San Diego below.  Then share your thoughts on Eric’s current role on The Bay, if you hope he wins a Tony to go with his Daytime Emmy, the six degrees of separation between him, Elizabeth Gillies and his wife, and that the All My Children reboot considered making the character of AJ Chandler gay via the comment section below.

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B&B’s Matthew Atkinson chats with Michael Fairman about the wild ride of the Thomas/Hope Mamnequin storyline currently on The Bold and the Beautiful.Leave A Comment

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