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Y&R’s Greg Rikaart Talks The Complex Life of Kevin Fisher, His Co-Stars, and COVID-19

Photo: CBS

This week, fans of The Young and the Restless are getting to go back in time and see some of the memorable moments from the dysfunctional, complicated, yet loveable Baldwin-Fisher clan in encore episodes.

Daytime Emmy-winner, Greg Rikaart has brought his A-game for years as the misunderstood, often misguided, but beautifully redeemable flawed character, Kevin Fisher. From his troubled past to his relationships with his brother, Michael (Christian LeBlanc) and his mother, Gloria (Judith Chapman), Kevin has been one of Y&R’s more intriguing characters always bouncing from the  heavy drama to the comedic, all in the more than capable hands of Rikaart.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Greg to get his thoughts on: looking back at some of these key episodes in Kevin’s past, what it was like working with former on-screen love interest Emily O’Brien (Jana), his current on-screen love Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe), and first meeting his on-screen family.

As many are aware, back in March, Greg came down with the coronavirus and it took quite a toll on him. With what is happening now in our country with the spike in the pandemic, he also shares his perspective on what he went through, and reminds us all that COVID-19 is no joke; it’s real and taking people down with it.  One of the best guys we know … and one of the finest actors we know … here’s what Greg shared.

Photo: JPI

It is Baldwin-Fisher week on Y&R.  What do you remember when you first came to the show?  And what was your recollection of first meeting Christian LeBlanc?

GREG:  When I first came on, it wasn’t to be Michael’s brother.  So, I had been there already, and the first story that I was involved with was the internet predator storyline with Christel Khalil (Lily).  So, I had been there a while, and then I think Christian and I had, of course, crossed paths in the hallways, and we had a mutual friend, so we had even gotten together for lunch, and he kind of gave me the lay of the land a little bit.  It wasn’t until we had a fan event, and Jack Smith’s (Ex-writer and producer, Y&R) daughter, Asia, who had worked on the show for a little while, saw Christian and me sitting next to one another.  She said, “I never noticed that the two of them look like brothers,” and I think that’s where the impulse came from to make us related as brothers, Then after we found out that was happening, that’s when Christian and I got to know each other better and said, “Hey, let’s invest a lot of time and effort into making this relationship real.”  There was so much bad blood and history and a lot of stuff to play.  We really spent a lot of time really working on those early scenes when we were trying to figure out what the dynamic was.  I have really fond memories of all of that.  I think I have a great time working with Christian and developing the relationship, and also, it was so nice becoming a part of a family.  I think having a family on the show made me feel like a more integral part of Y&R.  It was a really great time.

Photo: CBS

What do you recall when Judith Chapman first came on to the show as your mother, Gloria?  

GREG:  Briefly, we had Joan Van Ark playing Gloria, and then, when they had cast Judith, I didn’t read with her.  I think Christian was the one, who had auditioned with Judith, but then I happened to be up in the office one day, and I saw her, and I kind of put two and two together, and I said, “Hey, wait, I think we are going to be working together!”  I also remember the way she jumped right in and filled some pretty big shoes epically … and really made the character her own, and again, added a fantastic layer to what the family dynamic was.  It was really wonderful.

Photo: CBS

I’ll never forget the scene when Kevin says goodbye to Gloria, which was your exit from Y&R.  It was a five-hankie moment.

GREG:  Oh, yeah.  It was so easy to play because I was leaving, and the hardest scenes were the ones where I had to say goodbye to Christian and to Judith because like I mentioned, we had invested so much into the relationships and into the characters, and so there is a lot of love, and I think the boundaries get blurred.  There is love between me, and Christian, and Judith, and love between Kevin, and Michael, and Gloria.  It was hard of all of those different reasons.  So, it was easy to channel it into Kevin having to say goodbye to Gloria.

On today’s encore episode of Y&R, we are going to see the ashram wedding between Jana (Emily O’Brien) and Kevin.  I loved you and Emily together!

GREG:  Me too!

Photo: JPI

What can you say about working with Emily and the whole Kevin and Jana story because it was crazy! Jana was so quirky and off-kilter and so, at times, is Kevin.

GREG:  I think Emily came on when Lynn Latham was head writing the show, and Lynn, who I think is wonderful, is a bit off-kilter herself, and I mean that in the best possible way.  Lynn always had streaks of wild colors in her hair.  I think in some ways, Jana may have been a manifestation of some part of Lynn.  Every week or two, Jana would say something, and we found out some other absurd thing in her past where she had been a paraglider at one point, for example, and all of these strange things, and you can sort of throw everything into the kitchen sink with that character, and it all sort of worked.  That was sort of happening when Kevin was very early on in his road of rehabilitation; I think it made sense for him to be with someone like that, although I think Jana’s off- kilter was certainly a little more straight and narrow than his. Jana was a good influence on him.  I loved their dynamic; I loved their relationship.

Photo: JPI

What do you remember about filming the ashram wedding?

GREG: I remember how beautiful the set was. It took up half of the stage.  Emily looked so great, and I remember not wanting to see her before Kevin would have seen her.  I remember the vows being really nice.  I believe it’s the episode where they first meet, Michael’s dad, who is the minister played by Michael Gross.  It was fun that we had a great centerpiece of a story, but it also propelled story for the rest of the family.

Photo: CBS

Coming up on Friday’s encore episode of Y&R: Kevin defends his relationship with Chloe (Elizabeth Hendrickson) to Gloria when is mother makes a “festive” return.  What was your initial reaction to being paired with Liz, who you were already good friends with?

GREG:  I was excited.  I think Liz is great.  We had wanted to be working together.  For a long time, we had lobbied for it.  I didn’t know what capacity it was going to happen in, but I think linking us romantically was really fun.  I think the world of her, so I love working with her.

Photo: JPI

When you look back at winning your Daytime Emmy, and all of the early storylines, do you wish Kevin were more like how he was then with his dark side, or do you like how the character has evolved? It would be hard to sustain a character being destructive and so dark for years and years on a soap without being shipped off the canvas at some point for crimes. 

GREG:  It’s kind of a mixed bag.  I think, certainly some of the stuff earlier on was more challenging, but I also appreciate and really love some of the more lighthearted stuff that Kevin gets to do.  I think when any combination of the Fisher/Baldwins are called in to be a bit more of the comic relief, I think that provides a fun element too and works nicely on the show.  I am absolutely grateful for the longevity.  It might be hard to sustain a character like Kevin the way he was early on, but it sure is fun to do stuff like blowing up restaurants or burning them down.

Photo: JPI

Have you watched any of the episodes so far this week on Y&R … and watched yourself in your earlier years? If so, what did you think?

GREG:  I watched Monday’s episode.  On one hand, it’s really fun to take a trip down memory lane, and there are moments that I remember, and then there are moments that I don’t.  So, it’s fun to rediscover things that way.  Also, I think I had maybe a false sense of my ability early on and what I was capable of.  Watching some of those earlier shows reminds me of how much I’ve grown, not just with Christian and Judith, but everyone there who I have continued to work with.  I think I feel a lot more confident about my acting ability today than when I look back.

You got the opportunity to come back to Y&R after being let go, how does it feel now?

GREG:  I was thrilled to come back.  I think Josh Griffith (head writer, and co-executive producer, Y&R)  really took some big swings to right the ship by bringing back Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea), Michelle Stafford (Phyllis), and Mishael Morgan (Amanda), and me, and Liz. I was grateful to be included in all of that and just thrilled to come home.  I’m glad that the last chapter wasn’t the last chapter for me.

Photo: RikaartG

You came down with the coronavirus and publicly let people know what happened to you and how you were feeling along the way.  As someone who has gone through getting very sick; how frustrated are you right now with what you see going on in California and Los Angeles, and the rest of the country as this pandemic has spiked, and there are new daily all-time highs in deaths and cases?

GREG:  I’m pretty frustrated.   It’s not over.  I’m negative now for the virus.  I am well on my road to recovery, but this is not a two-week recovery, and then you’re in the free-and-clear.  I’ve had some substantial post-viral issues that I was dealing with for a while.  It is insanely frustrating to see people not taking this seriously, and I continue to take it as seriously as I did in the beginning because there is no guarantee that antibodies really protect you from anything.  I feel just as vulnerable as the next person to get sick.  It’s mind-bogging to me that something as simple as wearing a mask over your face became politicized. I think we should all look to New York to follow their model for how to get back on track because they did it right.  California is different in the sense that New York had one epicenter for the entire state.  It was New York City where the battle was happening, whereas in California, we are a larger state geographically and population wise, and there are different heavily populated areas like Orange County versus Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and every place in between.  It is hard to shepherd 50+ million people through it as opposed to maybe a more tightly packed group of 10 million New Yorkers, but I still think Governor Cuomo of New York deserves all of the credit he is getting for handling this.  He is really the only one, the only politician who is kind of getting his people through it… at least in America.

Photo: RikaartIG

As a father, how do you feel about what you see happening with opening schools vs. not opening schools, and this debate?  Safety should come first, but you see how this is being politicized as well. Parents need to get back to work, and want their children safely in schools, but how can that be when the pandemic is raging?

GREG:  There is no decision that anyone can make in today’s world where there is not some level of risk that you take on; whether it is going to the grocery store, going back to work, or sending your kid to school.  I understand that there are parents who need to work and don’t have the luxury of childcare, and they need their kids to be in school.  I know there is a lot of evidence suggesting that kids are not specific transmitters of coronavirus, and even if they are, even if they do come down with it, they tend to fare quite well.  So, of course, no judgement on any parent who makes different decisions if they are well thought out, educated decisions and you’re using science to arrive at your conclusion. But for us and my family, I think we have a very intimate understanding of how serious this is.  You know, Monte is only in preschool, but his preschool went back last week, and we are just going to keep him home until we feel like we are ready to send him back.  At his age, I’m not concerned about there being things that he’s not learning.  I’m concerned about him socially, and developmentally with what he is missing out on, but we are finding ways to do things socially-distanced with friends and to socialize him that way, and we are fortunate in that we have childcare.  So, we have two extra hands on deck, 40 hours a week, which is super helpful, as there are no easy choices these days.

Photo: JPI

Y&R is going back into production this week.  Knowing what you went through with COVID-19, any trepidation on your part?

GREG:  I think going back to work would for sure do me some good emotionally, but like I was saying earlier, there is no decision that you can make these days where you are not taking on some level of risk.  So, I am excited.  I am also a little anxious.  We will see how it goes.

I was so concerned for you, as so many of your colleagues and friends were too, when we saw how you were kicked by this virus.

GREG:  It was awful, truly awful, and I hate to complain about it when I have a lot of gratitude for how much better I fared than so many other people.  I am out of the woods for sure, but if I exert myself a little too hard for a few days in a row, I have a day where it can be hard to get out of bed.  I have some friends who are dealing with even more substantial post-viral fatigue.  One friend of mine, he hasn’t gotten his taste or smell back for over three months, and doctors are skeptical that he ever will now.  So, fortunately, I’m not dealing with any of that, but you know, it’s hard to not wish that it just never happened, and that I was physically who I was a few months ago.

Photo: JPI

Closing out our conversation on Kevin Fisher, if you had to explain to another human being who doesn’t watch Y&R, who Kevin is, what would you say?

GREG:  I would say that he is the lovable ne’er do well.  Someone who messes up often, but I think he has earned a place in people’s hearts where they are forgiving of him when he does mess up, or they’re rooting for him to make better choices. When he does make good choices, they are into his choices.  I think that’s a good handle on who he is.

So, what is your favorite moment or story in the history of Kevin Fisher? Are you enjoying this week’s encore episodes on The Young and the Restless?  What do you think about the views shared by Greg, as someone who has gone through battling the coronavirus? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

Interviews

Y&R’s Eileen Davidson Talks on Ashley’s DID Storyline, the Challenges of the Alters, and Working with Trevor St. John

The Young and the Restless two-time Daytime Emmy-winning actress, Eileen Davidson, has recently been given the ball by series executive producer and head writer, Josh Griffith to tell the ltin the latest of Ashley Abbott’s emotional struggles. This time, Ashley has splintered into multiple personalities: Ash, Mrs. Abbott, and Belle.

Given Ashley’s history (which has included several mental breakdowns), Y&R has chosen to revisit her psyche in a brand new twist in 2024 by launching a Dissociative Identify Disorder storyline. When things spiraled downward to her marriage to Tucker (Trevor St. John), and a flashback to a car crash which took her unborn baby in 2003, Ashley began to hear voices in her head and her alters began to emerge.

Speaking live on a virtual appearance on Tuesday on You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Davidson shared her thoughts on the storyline, how she crafted Ashley’s various alters and what she thinks of her co-star, Trevor St. John.  Here’s a few key remarks from the chat below.

Photo: JPI

Eileen talked about Ashley’s overall emotional make-up, explaining, “Everybody always talks about her being so strong and so together, and they don’t like seeing her weak. I’m like, ‘Ashley’s never been as strong and together. She’s had issues from the gate out of the gate … years … forever.’  She had amnesia. She had all sorts of issues. I love her fallibility and her vulnerability.”

Taking on the different personalities is a challenge, but Davidson pointed to one, in particular, that she feels is the hardest to play, “Ash has been the most difficult one,” explained the actress. “Because I didn’t want to do anything too broad and too ‘teenagery.’  So it was just trying to be honest about somebody who’s kind of young and sees the world in a certain way and is perhaps defensive and is an angry teen.”

Photo: JPI

However, embodying Ms. Abbott was a lot easier for Davidson. “It wasn’t hard for me to figure her out,” she expressed. “It was the very first time she was introduced on paper. She’s in Tucker’s hotel room. She’s breaks in. I’m like, ‘Okay. she’s sitting in the chair and it, it says kind of like a ‘Sharon Stone-type moment.’  I felt pretty comfortable embodying that in control, kind of toying with a man. She knows how to put on vulnerability and softness to get what she wants, but is always in control. And her ugly side shows more and more as the story has been coming out.”

The newest alter to emerge was Belle. Davidson shared how much she knew of the alter before she began playing her, stating, “They gave me southern, flirtatious, likes tequila, and always looking for a guy’ and I was off to the races. It’s been really, really fun for me. I didn’t want her to sound like she’s from the South completely, because Ashley is not from the South. It’s just a persona of how Ashley thinks a southern person sounds. So, she’s not playing a southern character. She’s playing a personality that thinks she’s southern. It’s very different.”

Photo: JPI

Currently, it looks like Tucker’s life may be on the line as Ashley’s alters want to get rid of him once and for all.  Eileen explained why, revealing, “The most fascinating thing about DID and what I kept trying to inject into the performance is these alters are created to protect somebody. They all believe they’re protecting Ashley. Ms, Abbott thinks the way to protect Ashley is to kill Tucker because Tucker’s caused Ashley so much pain. So I mean, from that aspect, it’s good daytime drama.”

A lot of times in DID storylines, a very traumatic event from the childhood is revealed which caused a person to fracture into a multiple personalties. When Davidson was asked if she thinks something will come to light that the audience never knew happened to Ashley, she responded, “You would think so, right?  I mean, why not? The one thing that’s true about Ashley is that she had a traumatic childhood. Her mother abandoned her when she was very young, and then found out in her early twenties that her father wasn’t her biological father. So, who knows what happened. Whether or not they choose to explore that, I’m not sure. You have to kind of keep reinventing things to keep them interesting. I think like that stands true for characters (on a soap) as well.”

Photo: JPI

Over the years, Eileen has worked with several leading men. When asked how she feels the dynamic is working with Trevor St. John, she enthused, “I love working with Trevor. I just told him you breathe fresh air into the scenes. We work well together. We don’t really know what the other one’s going to do (in a scene), but we play off of each other. There’s a huge trust factor and that has been there from the get-go. When I first started working with Treb, I told him, ‘We got lucky.’ When you meet somebody out of the the blue and you start working together, we just had something and it just worked beautifully. I always know that when I work with Trevor, it’s going to be a terrific experience.”

Photo: JPI

Watch the full conversation with Eileen below.

Now let us know, which of Ashely’s alters do you enjoy seeing the most? Do you think something happened to Ashley as a child that we never knew about that is causing her DID? Share your theories via the comment section below.

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General Hospital

(INTERVIEW) William deVry Talks on His Roles in Hallmark’s ‘A Whitewater Romance’, New Film ‘Pocket of Hope’ and His Time on the Soaps

For soap favorite, William deVry life-after-daytime has been reinvigorating, filled with new projects and new directions. This Saturday, May 11th he can be seen in the latest rom-com from Hallmark, A Whitewater Romance (8pm ET/PT) starring Cindy Busby as Maya and Ben Hollingsworth as Matt who play intense business rivals, and featuring Will as Jim Burdett, set against the backdrop of the outdoors and Canada.

In addition, Wil has been busy prepping other projects in which he is executive producing and starring including: Colt & McQueen and Christmas in Bordeaux, and producing and starring in a very dramatic departure for deVry, as the lead in the new true-life story feature film, Pocket of Hope.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Wil to get the lowdown on his latest and upcoming roles, his expanding career aspirations, and to get his reflections on his three main soap roles: Julian Jerome on General Hospital, Storm Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful and Michael Cambias on All My Children. Read on for what deVry has been up to of late and his reflections of the past.

Courtesy/Hallmark

In A Whitewater Romance, you play the character of Jim Burdett, tell me about him?

WIL: My character runs this whitewater rafting company and the deal is that there’s a corporate retreat that is organized at my company. Jim is sort of old school. He’s been running the company for quite a lot of years. Jim’s not social media savvy. In the story, Maya and Matt get there, and they end up obviously enjoying themselves at this corporate bonding retreat. They discover that Jim was going to close down the company. He stayed open specifically to accommodate this corporate retreat. And then, of course, Cindy Busby’s character, and Ben Hollingsworth character do this little online thing for Jim and get business booming. Before he knows it, the entire summer is booked with clients and they basically saved his company. It’s a feel-good movie with beautiful, stunning locations.

And, are you a good guy in this?

WIL: It’s almost like, wait!  Will is playing good guy? It’s funny because our director, Jason Bourque knows I’ve been playing bad guys for so long. Even the Christmas movie that I did with Terry Hatcher, Christmas at the Chalet, I went through such an arc. My character was so focused in his business and kind of unhappy because he was living his life for other people, and you don’t really realize that you might be slightly unhappy because you don’t take time to do inventory for yourself. In A Whitewater Romance, Jason had this idea that I was this really kind of ‘happy-go-lucky’ guy. And by the second day of shooting, he goes, “I think maybe Jim is a former military …” We both laughed because it was a subtle joke, because you know, I can be a little bit serious.

Photo: Willdevry

How was it to work with Ben and Cindy?

WIL: Great. Cindy being a lead, they set an example for everybody. Cindy is so low key and very friendly, and basically the trailer door is open if you want to discuss anything. Ben was also a producer on this. He might have had a little more stress on him than just sort of acting. But honestly, you couldn’t tell. Both of them had a good sense of humor. I would work with either one of them in a heartbeat again.

You have some exciting news to share; as you are about to be the lead in a new film?

WIL: Yes, I’m the lead in a new film called Pocket of Hope. It’s based on the true story of Chad Gaines, and I am playing Chad. It’s a beautiful movie. It’s in the present day with Chad talking with his daughter. He’s always been reluctant to share his past with her, and because there was a lot of trauma involved, he didn’t really want to put her through that. She’s no longer a young lady and so he feels now is the time to share that. There are a lot of strong flashbacks in the movie. It goes back between the past and the present, which I think is really engaging. The budget is well over a million dollars. We start filming at the end of May in Los Angeles, and then we will go on location in August to shoot the remaining scenes.

Courtesy/Willdevry

How do you feel about tackling a dramatic role such as this with tough subject matter?

WIL: It’s a heavy-duty role. There’s a lot of responsibility. I’ve prepared my whole life for these kinds of roles. It’s really exciting to play a true life individual, who has a story to tell. I think it’s a great honor for me and for the director/producer David Kohner Zuckerman, as well. David is wanting to do Chad’s story justice. We’ve got a good team for this. Robert Altman Jr’s, Cora Atlman, is playing my daughter. When you find a troupe that you like to work with and you can collaborate with, you stick together. So, we have David, as I mentioned and also Deran Sarafian, who is consulting on the project. Deran and I have been working on my other project together, Colt & McQueen. We are the luckiest people in the business right now to be working with Deran. He has had a lot of successful pilots that he’s done for Fox, ABC, and NBC and also Marvel and Netflix shows. He was also a producer on House for Fox.

Photo: Willdevry

In Colt & McQueen, you play a former LAPD detective, right?

WIL: Correct. He was basically dishonorably discharged for something that he didn’t do. He is going be trying to clear his name of any wrongdoings. However, in order to make a living, he sort of does these unsanctioned assignments for the captain of the LAPD, who is also on his way out. He’s a good guy. Kin Shriner (Scott, GH) is in it and he kind of plays a man of the streets who goes by “The Professor.” Rebecca Staab (Elizabeth, Port Charles, et al) is in it, and she plays the character with the code name “Leather Jacket” within the LAPD system. We go into production on it in July.

You’re doing your own projects now. That must be liberating in some ways and harder in others.

WIL: I just said, “Look, if I’m going to stay in this business, I have to have some control over my career now as opposed to just auditioning blindly.” That can be a frustrating process. I am learning a lot because I’ve never produced before or executive produced, but the effort is there, and the will to do so is there.

Photo: RStaabIG

Speaking of projects, you have another one you are working on, a romantic comedy called Christmas in Bordeaux. What is the theme of that one?

WIL: It’s a tale of family traditions, renewed passions, for love and life and spiritual and cultural awakenings. Finding value in the time we have left. And of course, a happy ending for all involved.

As an actor, when you finally get to the point where you get to act you probably really enjoy that. It’s just the challenges of all the things it takes to get there that can be daunting for a performer.

WIL: As an actor, you have to be so good and so comfortable and embrace the rejection. The rejection has to feed you. It can’t defeat you. However, I kind of do take everything personally. If a casting director doesn’t want to bring me in for something that’s their prerogative. I don’t really get angry about it, but I take it personally because I kind of feel like, they should bring me. I can’t just sit back and accept my fate based on other people’s ideas of what I’m capable of or not capable of. Sometimes my resume is a benefit, and sometimes it’s a detriment. It’s up to me to change the narrative.

Photo: JPI

What would you want to say to the GH fans who had been so supportive of you through the years?

WIL: It blows me away how loyal they are, and their passion. I want them to be of aware that. I’m excited to work for myself, and if that doesn’t work out, I am very comfortable going on to do something else with my life. Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis, GH) and I had talked about it at one point, and how she absolutely loves the business. I have other things that interest me and move me. I hope every single fan of Julian Jerome comes along on this journey with me.

Photo: JPI

Looking back, do you think your best role on the soaps was Michael Cambias on All My Children?

WIL: I think with Michael Cambias that All My Children destroyed the character. I sat down with the executive producer at the time, Jean Dadario Burke, and she said, “You’ll be here as long as you want. We did a focus group and you’ve got a 96% approval rating. That’s through the roof.” Two days later, I was called back into her office as they had fired the head writer. I was told Megan McTavish was coming back and they were going to make my character irredeemable, which as everybody knows, Michael Cambias went on to do horrible things to Erica Kane’s (Susan Lucci) family and then he was off the show.

Photo: JPI

Then, you went on to portray Storm Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful and the heartbreaking suicide storyline which saved Katie’s (Heather Tom) life, but cost Storm his.

WIL: Storm had a lot of potential. When you’re going through such a beautiful, heart-wrenching, horrific story like that, I wanted to give the audience a lot of credit. Soaps have a smart audience. I wanted them to go on the journey with me. I didn’t want to ruin it for them by playing the problem. I didn’t want to create the drama before it was time to pay the price, if you know what I mean. I allowed it to play out on-screen without any foreshadowing. I think that’s why it worked and that’s why it broke everybody’s heart, and I think that’s why it won a Daytime Emmy for Best Drama Series. Brad Bell (executive producer and head writer, B&B) trusted me with a vehicle that ended up being the Ferrari for that year. I’m eternally grateful to him.

Photo: JPI

Do you ever check out General Hospital nowadays to see how your old castmates are doing and what is happening in Port Charles?

WIL:  I like to check in. I like to see what Kin Shriner (Scott) is up to, and I like to see who’s showing up and who’s going. I like to see Maura West (Ava) who is such a terrific actress and who played my on-screen sister. We had such a good working relationship and I hope she is on the show forever.  I was happy with my eight years on the show. I knew for 18 months it was time for me to leave. I knew in my heart the character was done. Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) was thrilled with how I left the show. Those six and a half years on General Hospital were a lot of fun. I really loved going to work.

So, will you be watching William deVry in ‘A Whitewater Romance’ this weekend on Hallmark? What do you think about his upcoming projects and roles? Miss him on daytime? Comment below.

 

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Interviews

(INTERVIEW) Y&R’s Peter Bergman Deconstructs Jack’s Desperate Move to Sober Up Nikki, the Repercussions Ahead, and the Loss of TV Mom, Marla Adams

This week on The Young and the Restless, the top-rated soap deliver first in its five decades. An episode aired involving only two characters; Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) and Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott).

At its epicenter was Jack trying to stage his own intervention, of sorts, to get Nikki to stop drinking herself into oblivion as her battle with alcoholism escalated to a whole new level. Alone in a suite at the GCAC, Nikki has bottles of booze everywhere.

Jack, who is Nikki’s sponsor, finds her and for most of an entire episode tries everything he can think of to make her sober up, but she continues to hit rock bottom and doesn’t want to be saved. After she ridicules him in a drunken stupor, about how he failed her as her sponsor, it sends Jack, an addict himself, over the edge. Next thing you know, Jack is drinking with Nikki, and then takes it one step further and orders some pills from his dealer. And from there, things take a deadly turn.

Photo: JPI

Peter Bergman and Melody Thomas Scott have a long history on Y&R together, plus she was instrumental in bringing him to Genoa City in the first place. In story, Jack and Nikki were married from 1990-1994, but things came crashing down between them due to alcohol. Years later, in a case of history almost repeating itself, it once again almost destroyed their bond, but instead, the powerful moments bonded them together for life.

It is without question, that Peter Bergman and Melody Thomas Scott are Michael Fairman TV’s picks for the Power Performance of the Week, and for Bergman, who has already nabbed 24 Daytime Emmy nominations in his storied career with 3 previous wins, this performance surely will land him his 25th next year and maybe even Emmy gold.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Peter shortly after the heartbreaking episodes aired to get his thoughts on: Jack’s motivations throughout the key scenes, what will happen to Jack now, and the passing of his on-screen mother, Marla Adams (ex-Dina), who passed away on April 25th at the age of 85. Here’s what this iconic actor, who is known for the excellence of execution in his craft, had to share in our conversation below.

Photo: JPI

Well, my mouth dropped. I just could not believe how gut-wrenching this episode was. It was like a twist on the classic motion picture, Days of Wine and Roses, but on steroids.

PETER: That was a wild trip, I’ll tell you. As it was presented to me, it was the story of Jack going too far to help Nikki. When I got the script and saw that it was one of those great, ‘the tables turn,’ suddenly you’re on the receiving end. And normally in daytime television, the table doesn’t turn for about four days. And, in one episode, this giant shift happens. It was really rewarding to do that stuff with Melody with whom I have so much history. Some of my first scenes on the show were with Melody. My first couple years I was glued to Melody. So, it was pretty powerful for me. It really was. 

When you saw the script and you saw that Jack put his sobriety in jeopardy for Nikki, you’re left with all these questions, because it’s such a severe turn. I’ve been kind of tracking the response on social media, and some people are like, “Oh, that would never happen.” But we also have to take into account the dramatic license Y&R is taking here. What are your thoughts?

PETER: I think we have to give dramatic license. But I think too, Jack kept appealing to the goodness in her. It was covered by all of this addiction and alcohol. And the best way he could find her kindness, her goodness, was by putting himself in jeopardy and watching her come alive.

So, Jack knew what he was doing?

PETER: Yes. He knew what he was starting, and then it went too far. Jack knew he wanted to shock her into sobriety, shock her into clarity and he went too far and he’s going to pay for it.

Photo: JPI

Peter, this is an Emmy-performance! I’m calling it now.

PETER: Oh, well, it’s very, very, kind of you to say. Maybe I can get my 91st nomination. (Laughs) It was a crazy journey in so many ways. I found out about this episode, strangely enough, when one of the audio guys said to me, “Hey, I heard about your show next week with Melody?” I go. “What show is that?” And the sound guy said to me, “They were talking in the booth yesterday. It’s like an episode with only the two of you in it.” I thought he had to have heard that wrong. We’ve never, ever done that. Turns out, he was right. It was a day later that Josh Griffith (EP and head writer, Y&R) came to me and said, “Well, you ready?” I said, “Ready for what?” And, off we went …

The episode was like watching a two-person play in many ways.

PETER: It was just that, and it kind of came out of nowhere, but certainly didn’t come out of nowhere history-wise with these two characters. Obviously, Jack’s been Nikki’s sponsor here for a while. I think what I’m happiest about is this undercurrent that was there all along – that Jack really wanted to be there for her. Jack and Nikki were married once, and it really fell apart around alcohol. Jack was not the right person to be there for her. Back then, he was an enabler. He could not help her. Everything ended because of that and eventually, Victor (Eric Braeden) stepped in to take over Nikki’s sobriety and everything went. I think Jack has seen this opportunity to redeem himself. It meant the world to him. And suddenly that’s on the line, and it’s “Oh, God. I failed her again.”

That was the gut-wrenching part. You could see that there was a shift in Jack the moment Nikki went in on him and how he failed her as a sponsor.

PETER: I’m very glad to hear you say that. That really was the turning point. That was when Jack came up with this wacky, crazy, dangerous idea.

Photo: JPI

Does Jack believe what he said, when he started to drink, and says, “I’m Mr. Uptight?”

PETER: In fairness, it’s something she called him. They had to cut parts of this thing. Nikki was just tired of laced up, uptight Jack. She said it in those terms, and we ended up kind of keeping it in there as “Mr. Uptight” because it is kind of true. Jack’s gotten awfully straight-laced and buttoned up. And, well, you saw how he loosened up a bit. Wow!

What did you think about the story point that Jack has his drug dealer’s number on his phone?

PETER: That’s what addicts do. They tempt themselves. “You see, I’m stronger than my addiction. There’s a bottle of vodka in this house, and I am beating it.” That was Jack’s bottle of vodka in essence, in his phone.

Courtesy/CBS

So, when he started taking the pills, did he literally lose control of himself by taking them, or, was he just doing it to keep proving a point to Nikki?

PETER: Oh, no. The first one was very strategic and very carefully planned. The problem is once you fail, once you cross that line, you’re tempted to see what else is over here on the dark side. Before he knew it, he’d had three of them and then more, and then another after that and mixed with the alcohol. It pretty much did him in.

Courtesy/CBS

I’ve seen people in that kind of state, and you nailed it. There was the moment that was heartbreaking. His teeth were clenched from the drugs, he was so high on the pills combined with alcohol and he was asking Nikki to dance with him.

PETER: I have, too. I’m sad to say, I too, have been in that position. Going to help a friend out who ended up dying for all his bad choices.

Courtesy/CBS

Later, Jack gets resuscitated by the paramedics and then later Victor shows up. How is Jack feeling after his arch-nemesis walks in on the aftermath of this traumatic scene with his wife and Jack?

PETER: When the paramedics show up, frankly, Jack isn’t sure what they did. They gave him an injection to counteract the drugs in his system. Jack didn’t come around for quite a while. And when he does, Nikki is just shocked sober, trying to get help for Jack, Eventually, Victor shows up. Jack kind of has no leg to stand on, and he eventually makes it home. His son, Kyle (Michael Mealor) is the first person to see him in the house, and there’s clearly something very wrong with Jack. He’s trying to get back on track, but he’s just had a near-death experience.

Courtesy/CBS

And now of course, it’s going to be what will happen when Diane finds out what happened with Jack and Nikki.

PETER: Oh, God. The next thing is Diane walks in, and I mean this poor woman, he never called her. He never called her to say “I’m safe.” She spent a whole night worrying, and then she gets to find out where he actually was. Oh, that’s got to be reassuring – he was in hotel room holed up with Nikki – that should comfort her.

Photo: JPI

Originally, Diane warned Jack that is was a bad idea for him to be Nikki’s sponsor.

PETER: Oh, yeah. That’s the worst part. She saw this coming. Diane literally meets the Jack she never knew and her argument is, “Wait! You’re capable of this? Did you once think of me? Where do I fit into any of this?” It’s a pretty powerful argument. Jack didn’t call her to say, “I’m in a weird situation. I will be home as soon as I can. I am safe. I am fine.” He could have been dead as far as she was concerned. And she comes home and he wants to get back on track. Yeah. It’s bad. He’s like, “I’m sorry about that. And let’s get back to our life.” Is she not ready for that!

With what he just experienced, and taking pills again, do you think Jack is very worried that he won’t be able to help himself and he will go down a path like Nikki just did, where he can’t help himself and fight off his demons?  

PETER: I think Jack has convinced himself this is a one-off. This happened once, and it went way too far, and it’s not going to happen again. And, you know how dangerous that talk is.

Photo: JPI

What did you think about Melody’s performance when Nikki hit rock bottom and was stinking drunk in the GCAC suite with Jack?

PETER: It was just stunning. I got to tell you, as an actor, the hardest thing in that sloppiness is you’ve got to keep the scene moving. She was just spectacular.

Courtesy/CBS

I know you don’t often get more than one take on the soaps, but what was the approach to taping this episode?

PETER: No, we don’t get a lot of takes, but for this, it was broken up a little bit such as, “Once we get to this point, we will move the cameras upstage, and we will pick up on that line. We will pick up there.” There was an 11-page scene and I think we did that in one or two takes. It was quite a lot. Incidentally, that week I had three other episodes to tape. Is that incredible? I had so many words in my head. I’m not complaining. They decided to do something that’s never been done before. They decided, “I want do it with Peter Bergman.” Of course, I am honored and flattered and really happy that it went as well as it did. I said to my wife, Mariellen, “What did you think of the episode?” She saw it before I did. She said, “Here’s what I think. I think it was very well- written.” You’ve got a drunk character there. She could say all kinds of stupid things, and she was still kind of sparky and snotty underneath that slurring and everything. She was also acerbic and sarcastic. There was a point at which, as you said, you watched Jack and everything just changed and that’s good writing.

As a viewer, to make this make sense to us, Jack had to do something drastic to stop Nikki from drinking because nothing else was working.

PETER: Yep, and then, he has all of that substance in him and alcohol, and he says, in the most clear terms, “I would do anything for you.” And it’s just, “yikes.” What just happened?

Photo: JPI

Eric Braeden was touting your performances on social media. He said, “Watched scenes between MELODY and PETER , NIKKI and JACK, and they were brilliant! Their scenes in the hotel! Performers of the damn year!!! It was very difficult to keep this up, scene after scene and not hit a bad note! You don’t realize how many pages of dialogue that was!” Did you happen to see that?

PETER: I didn’t know that. That’s very, very generous. I am beyond respectful to what Eric and Melody had built together, so that is giant generosity on his part to do that.

What do you think this means for Jack and Nikki? Do you think they could ever be together again as a couple given all they have been through together?

PETER: It’s hard for me to imagine they could be together. They’ve been through too much. She’s in rehab, and Jack will be answering to everyone’s vitriol about his bad choices. I think, when he sees Nikki again, she will be the only person that understands what they went through. It’s hard to define, this isn’t romantic. This is shared experience, shared trauma. This was such destructive behavior and desperation.

Courtesy/ABC

It was Melody who originally recommend you for the part of Jack Abbott, and here the two of you are decades later tearing up the screen and the scenes.

PETER: Yes, absolutely. Melody did recommend me for the part. As story goes, I was on All My Children. That job had come to an end. Back then, there were 12 or so daytime television magazines. I seemed to be on the cover of all of them, because everybody seemed a little surprised that All My Children decided to let Peter Bergman go. Melody was on a flight with Ed Scott, who was then executive producer of the show. She saw my picture on the cover and she pointed to him. They’d been looking for somebody to replace Terry Lester for months. And she said, “That’s Jack Abbott.” How she got that from what I did as Cliff I’ll never know. So, Ed called the casting people and put that in motion.

Photo: JPI

Here you are together years later in this exceptional episode.

PETER: And here we are! My first day of work at Y&R, I worked with Jess Walton (Jill) and Jerry Douglas (ex-John). My second day, I worked with Melody at the old Newman Set.

Photo: JPI

I wanted to get your thoughts on the passing of your on-screen mother, Marla Adams (ex-Dina).

PETER: The passing of Marla Adams is bittersweet. She was so happy to return to The Young and The Restless. I had a hand in it all happening. Tony Morina (former Co-EP, Y&R) had asked me one day, “Is there anything you haven’t played on this show?” And I said, “You know what? Jack has a mother out there somewhere who did more damage to him. Every woman who’s been with Jack has paid for her crimes. I think it would be interesting if we found his mom.” That kind of set it in motion. Tony asked me to call Marla to see if she was interested, and that’s how it all began. So, Marla showed up and was delighted to be there, and so eager to do great work. She was so ready to tell this powerful story of Alzheimer’s and dementia. And partway into this story, it was clear that she was struggling with some of that herself. So, when people were judging Best Supporting Actress the year that she won, they saw this woman who was clearly just on a different plane than all those characters in that scene. It was stunning. Marla was a sweet, sweet woman who brought me the story that for so long we forgot to tell about Jack.

Photo: JPI

If you were to tease what’s coming up next here with Jack, what would you say?

PETER: I’m really fascinated to see how Jack and Diane survive this. I hope we have established enough of a real relationship between these two that we can dig deep. I love those types of scenes, and that’s what I look forward to. If I can do those digging deep scenes with Susan Walters, I’d be thrilled. In story, Jack has got to keep his eye on Kyle. There’s a growing resentment, a growing discomfort. I’m not sure what it is, but Jack can see it in Kyle and it could spell trouble. He is, in fact, Jack Abbott’s son.

Photo: JPI

Should we be worried about Jack? Perhaps, another slip might be around the corner and he could be headed to rehab?

PETER: No. I think we’ve established pretty strongly that this was a one-time thing. Thank, God! He had to pay such a heavy price for one slip. There is just no one who thinks he made the right move there. So, it pulls him up short at the right time before we’re into a real dangerous territory. I think Jack’s going to be all right. However, the damage he did that night to the trust with his wife, to his relationship with Victor, to his son’s belief in him, he did some real damage. And cumulatively all of these things, Ashley’s (Eileen Davidson) mental issues, then Nikki, and Diane and Kyle, and all these things are weighing really heavily on Jack. I hope he’s strong enough to survive it.

What did you think of Peter Bergman’s performance in the two-person episode where Jack literally put his entire life on the line for Nikki, but went too far? What did you think will happen to Jack’s marriage to Diane? Will he be tempted to pop pills again and suffer a similar fate as his ex-wife, Nikki has with booze?

Share your thoughts via the comment section, but first check out a few of the scenes from Melody Thomas Scott’s and Peter’s work in the back-to-back episodes on this story.

 

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Peter Reckell returns for a second visit with Michael Fairman following the wrap-up of his recent run as Bo Brady on Days of our Lives.Leave A Comment

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