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Y&R’s Jason Thompson Talks Billy Abbott & His Daytime Emmy Nomination: Will Sixth Time Be The Charm To Bring Home The Gold?

Photo: CBS.

Since making his daytime debut on General Hospital back in 2005, Jason Thompson quickly became one of soap operas most respected and critically-acclaimed actors, and after appearing on the ABC daytime drama for over 10 years, he racked up five Daytime Emmy nominations in a row for his role as Dr. Patrick Drake.

Fast-forward, Thompson came over to The Young and the Restless in 2016 to take on the highly-coveted role of Billy Abbott: a role that won its predecessors: David Tom and Billy Miller, Emmy gold.  Now in this year’s 47th annual Daytime Emmy Awards, Jason is nominated for the first time for his work on Y&R in the Lead Actor category.  Will his long-awaited and deserved Daytime Emmy finally come his way on Emmy night?  Tune in to find out Friday night, June 26th on CBS (8 p. m. EST).

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Jason to get his thoughts on his shot this year in the Lead Actor race after his riveting, commanding and demanding performances in the 2019 season, as Billy came off the rails, faced his inner demons, and regained his center … but how long will that last with Billy’s often recklessness?

Always thoughtful, introspective and self-effacing, here Jason not only talks about his Emmy submission, (which included scenes from his incredible standalone episode), but his friendly competition, plus what he thinks of Billy’s storyline as it was left before the coronavirus shutdown working opposite Christel Khalil (Lily), and more.  Here’s Jason.

Photo: JPI

There was gum-chewing in this nomination, correct?  (Laughs)

JASON: There had to be some gum-chewing going on; I’m sure! (Laughs)

I know some of the scenes on your Emmy-nominated reel were from the standalone episode where Billy is fighting his demons against his gum chewing alter-ego.  Were there other scenes as well that you included?

JASON:  Yes.  I started the reel with one of the scenes where Billy woke up in the Chancellor living room not knowing how he got there, and then got back to the master bedroom with Victoria (Amelia Heinle), and she was asking him what was going on, and he was confused about everything.  Then it went into some of the standalone episode, and then I had a scene from the therapist’s office in there, as well.  I kind of switched it up a little bit.  I didn’t put in the whole standalone episode: but I tried to tell a little bit of a story through the process of putting together scenes.

Photo: JPI

You wanted to tell the story of Billy’s emotional downfall, correct?

JASON:  I tried to encompass how he got to a certain way and then, you transition out to a certain extent.  It wasn’t easy to pick scenes.  It never is, but I was very fortunate to have some good story last year which is really the main focus, and really fortunate to get that from the team at Y&R.

What moments from the standalone episode did you pick?  I know the part at the end where Billy is being choked by himself was in your submission.

JASON:  Yeah, it was of one of those things near the end where he was really struggling through everything, and then he has a flashback of everybody who has come to visit him, and it’s that battle within him.

Photo: JPI

How was that episode to actually film for you?  Was it daunting, or amazing, or both?

JASON:  It was a little bit of both.  It was actually done over two days just because of scheduling with everyone coming in and out.  It was great.  I really enjoyed it.  It was something different that I had ever done before, and it was somewhat all encompassing in where you kind of found Billy and him going through the whole range and coming out of it.  Anytime you get to work with all of the people that I did in one day is fantastic.  So, it was super fun, I think what was really enjoyable about it was that it was different.  I think Sally McDonald directed a lot of it.  We were talking back and forth about different background music and different sound structures and everything with the sound guys too.  It was fun to collaborate in a bigger, more elaborate way than a usual episode.

When Billy goes to the therapist, what do you remember about that scene that resonated with you to put it in your Emmy reel?

JASON:  For me, I found a lot of who Billy is in those scenes   – vulnerable, but strong, but still confused   – willing to put himself out there, but trying to figure out what makes him tick.  The actress who played the therapist was great and super comfortable to be around.  So, it helped those kinds of scenes, and again, I think it was just a different level than what you saw in the other scenes on my reel.

Photo: JPI

Your performances last year were gut-wrenching.  I think there is something unique in the humanity that you bring to the audience in your work that resonates with them.  

JASON:  We all know that feeling when it kind of rings true for you.  That is really the biggest challenge of my job, which is also why I love my job.  I’ve got to work hard to make it feel real.  I think for me it starts where I can relate it to my own life, and then it’s not fake emotions.  I think as audience member, I appreciate that when I see it done in the right way with one of my favorite actors.  So, to me, that is the challenge – just trying to see something in that character that you relate to, and it’s not easy to do; to allow yourself to go there a lot of times, but that’s what I enjoy doing.

I know this is your sixth Daytime Emmy nomination, and we’ve talked every year you’ve been nominated.  And I know I have said you were going to win before, too!

JASON:  No, ring-a-ding-dings yet!  You have been wrong a couple of times, but I appreciate that.  This is my fourth nomination in the Lead Actor category and I had two previously in the Supporting Actor category.

Photo: JPI

However, this is your first nomination for playing Billy on Y&R.

JASON:  First for Billy, and I am actually really excited about that.  I thought it was kind of a nice touch in an interesting time.  You know, this is my fourth year and first nomination on the show and with this character, and it just feels kind of nice.  It’s been such a great time at Y&R over these four years.  I’ve appreciated the people I’ve worked with.  It’s important for me to earn trust from cast members and from our crew, and obviously the writers and producers, and of course the network and everything.  That is something that I try to pride myself on.  When your number is called, you want to be ready and you want to be prepared to go the distance.  It isn’t easy what we do in daytime, and it takes a lot of energy to come up with story, and write it, and get it Okayed from everybody, and you want to do your best to make it lift off the page.  So, like I said before, getting those opportunities with our great cast, and getting a nomination with this character that other people have played in the past because it’s such a great character, feels good.

Do you feel like you have now put your stamp on the character of Billy Abbott?

JASON:  I feel like Billy is constantly evolving.  He is always learning, so I am always learning more about him.  He is always in new situations, so I am learning how he navigates those kinds of situations and those moments.  I mean, is he mine?  That’s not necessarily for me to decide.  All I can do is what I have tried to do from the beginning, which I felt like I tried to do at GH also, which is to continue to evolve with the character which is part of what I love about daytime; because it is ongoing.

Photo: JPI

It’s was interesting in 2019 to see the reaction of the fans on social media to Billy because of his behavior.  Some were negative, and some would say, “Grow up, Billy!” Did that at all color your performance an actor, or did you have to block it all out and not listen to the noise?

JASON:  I try to not let too much of that stuff affect me.  I can’t just pick and choose to listen to all of the great things people say, or all of the nice things people say.  It goes both ways.  At the same time, you’ve got to try and play the long game with your character as much as you can, and be in the moment with your character, because you’re doing him a disservice if you’re not playing the real emotions.  It doesn’t mean you don’t have an eye on where you want to end up or where you want to go, but at the same time, yes, he’s being a jerk in this scene or he’s not communicating very nicely, let’s say, there is a story that you’re playing.  There is hurt.  There is vulnerability.  There is elation in a lot of ways, and the way Billy is, he gets to kind of roam all over the place.  He zig-zags.  He’s not a straight A to B kind of guy.  He likes to wander a little bit, which I really appreciate in him.  He is full of life in a lot of ways, and that life can really make him buoyant, or sometimes it can make him heavy, but that’s fun for me.  I think that’s what people really like the character for, whether it was me or anybody else playing him.  Billy does have a sense of recklessness that I think most people can kind of admire. Does it get him in trouble?  Yeah, it does, but he’s got a big heart, and I think that’s what he leads with.

Photo: JPI

You’ve got some gentlemen I think you know very well in your category: Jon Lindstrom (Kevin/Ryan GH), Thorsten Kaye (Ridge, B&B), Thaao Penghlis (Tony, DAYS), and Steve Burton (Jason, GH).  What do you think about being nominated with this group, and did any of them communicate with you; after receiving a nomination?

JASON:  Steve texted me a couple of minutes, and I kind of had another phone call coming through, so I kind of looked and saw he got nominated too.  That was great.  Steve was there when I first started on General Hospital as Patrick, and he was one of those guys who had been around a long time who still really enjoys his job and gets off on the acting part of it also.  Thorsten, I see all the time because we are across the hall from B&B.  Jon Lindstrom … I look up to Jon because I really admire his career.  He has been able to just keep working.  I see him pop up on HBO shows and then back at GH, and he is a very, very capable actor and nice gentleman.  Thaao, same thing.  I worked with him at GH also.  So, to come full circle and be in a group with the people who you are accustomed to working alongside and seeing them get accolades also is great.

Photo: JPI

Did you ever think, when you started at General Hospital years ago, you would now be a six-time Emmy nominee?

JASON:  Oh yeah, 100%.  I was just pissed it took me so long. (Laughs)  Truth be told, you don’t go play in the NHL if you don’t want to win MVP of the Stanley Cup.  You’d be lying if you said you wanted to be an actor and you haven’t given these speeches in the bathroom or your car before.  We have.  We all do.  So, yeah.  There is something about that.  That’s not the sole purpose of the work, but it does drive you to want to excel, and to me, that’s another one of those things.  One of the amazing things about this quarantine was being able to sit down and watch The Last Dance, the Michael Jordan documentary.  That is a powerful man right there with a psyche to go along with it, and a work ethic, and everything else.  Sometimes that’s hard to be around.  I’m nowhere near that, but what you can appreciate is that he finds his own little battles inside of him to power him, and those could be positive things, and those could be things that you want to overcome, and for me, you always want to try to be the best in your business.  That’s just what you want to do, and for me, I want to be along those lines.  The people who I look up to are: Tony Geary (Ex-Luke, GH) Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH), Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) and obviously Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R), Jane Elliot (Tracy, GH) Eileen Davidson (Ashley, Y&R), Jess Walton (Jill, Y&R).  They’re always at the top of their game.  So, you want to be among them.  You want to be in the same boat with those people, if you will.

I watched The Last Dance.  I thought it was riveting.  I thought it was so well done.

JASON:  Yeah, it was riveting.  My wife, Paloma has probably watched two basketball games in her life, and she couldn’t wait for the next episode to come on just because it’s about the psychology of it all.

Photo: JThompsonIG

It’s going to be a virtual Emmy’s.  Are you going to hang out with the family on Emmy night, or what are you going to do?

JASON:  It’ll probably be a little more spur-of-the-moment.  We’ll see.  We haven’t really started figuring out what we are going to do yet.  I’m assuming yes, I’ll be with my family and take it as it comes, and just enjoy the experience.  I’m stoked that CBS wants to do have the Daytime Emmys on network TV again.  I think it’s really, really cool for them to step up and want to do it, but let’s just hope that this is the last time that we do this kind of thing, virtually.  It is great to be together with people.  It is one of the things that I really love most about this time, especially when you are nominated, to get to go along the ride and kind of enjoy it, and get to talk to people like yourself and do the red carpet, and if your name gets called, you get to thank the people who helped you get there and all of the people who support you.  That’s an amazing thing.  So, I am going to miss not being with everybody and seeing old friends and making new ones, but at the same time this is a new experience like everybody has been having lately, so we will go for it and see what happens.

Do your children Bowie and Rome know; or understand, that their dad is an Emmy nominee?

JASON:  Well, I mean kind of, but no not at all. (Laughs)  We were on the beach when Y&R publicist, Matt Kane called us, and when I got off the phone, Paloma was like, “What was that?” and I said, “I got an Emmy nomination,” and she’s like, “Oh my God, great, great, congratulations!”  Bowie is like, “What’s an Emmy nomination?”  I’m like, “It’s kind of like… I don’t know… what is it?  I guess it’s kind of like potentially an award or something or whatever for doing good work.”   I was looking at a list of the nominees, and I said to him, “Oh, a couple of your favorite shows got nominated, Dino Dana,” which he loves watching.  So, he was more excited that Bubble Guppies and Dino Dana got nominated for Emmys along with his daddy. They don’t know what daddy does for a job yet or anything like that, so I don’t think it means much to them right now.

Photo: JPI

When we last saw new episodes of Y&R, prior to the production shutdown due to COVID-19, you had been working more in story with another Emmy nominee, Christel Khalil.  How do you feel where we left Billy when we last saw him? Are you enjoying that storyline?

JASON:  I think it’s great.  I’m excited to see where it goes.  Obviously, we’ve had a pretty decent break now too, so they’ve probably had time to think about things a little bit differently.  So, I really don’t know what’s to come, but I am really stoked that Christel is back.  I think she is an asset to our show.  She is a beautiful woman inside and out, and I think she is a very, very capable actress and she is really fun to work with.  I know Billy and Lily had a relationship in the past, but it’s new for me to explore.  So, anytime I get to do that, it’s always fun.  I think it is going to be exciting with working at Chancellor Industries.  Anytime I get to work with Jess Walton is great, and it starts to mix what I think Y&R does really, really well.  It’s love, family, and business.  I think those three worlds are really, really intertwined with Y&R, and I think that is when we are at our best, when those three things are working really well.

Photo: CBS

I just wanted to pass along: I was talking with Sally McDonald, and we were talking about the funeral episode for Neil, when Kristoff St. John had passed.  She said to me, “I just loved Jason Thompson in the memorial” because even though you weren’t speaking, when the camera would go to you in the pew you were just so in it.  She said, “I don’t know him as well as I know the other cast members because they’ve been here longer, but he is just amazing.”

JASON:  That was very kind of her, and that was a tricky day to shoot:  part celebration, part heartache, part all of those kinds of emotions everywhere. I just had the blessing of being a part of something like that, and to hear people speak so honestly about a friend that a lot of people had lost was so special.  Kristoff was very, very special to a lot of people, and had a long, long relationship on this show with the cast members and the crew.  I’d look at Christel and Bryton (Devon), and they were just incredible.  Eric Braeden got up there, and the honesty that was coming from him and everybody, I was so honored to be there.  So, there wasn’t really anything for me to do except sit there and listen, and nowadays we all could probably do that a bit better.  It’s a very natural reaction when you listen with compassion and empathy to people speak so highly of their friend.  I was glad to be a part of that episode.

Photo: JPI

Alright, Jason, I guess I should not conclude this interview with my pick of who I think will win Lead Actor. (Laughs)

JASON:  Only because you don’t want to be wrong!  Honestly, thank you for your support.  You’ve always been in my corner.  I appreciate that.

So, will you be rooting for Jason to take home the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Daytime Emmy this Friday night? What do you hope happens next for Billy Abbott when Y&R returns from its taping shutdown? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Maddy HayesClaudioPatricia WraggK:kayViolet Lemm Recent comment authors
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boes
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boes

I’m sorry, but I don’t think Jason Thompson’s version of Billy Abbott deserves anything other than either a trip to the backburner or termination and replacement with someone better. Jason was excellent on GH as Patrick Drake, one of the most consistently dependable actors on what can be a very uneven show. But his turn as Billy Abbott on Y&R has been a disaster. His Billy is petulant, unpleasant, selfish, unpleasant, delusional, unpleasant, unkind, unattractive and worst of all, utterly humorless. I don’t know who he’s playing but it’s NOT Billy Abbott. It’s one thing to put your own stamp… Read more »

Violet Lemm
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Violet Lemm

Of course I’ll be rooting for Jason. I think he can go toe to toe with any and all of the other gentlemen. Good luck Jason!

K:kay
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K:kay

Jason had the chops for this storyline to have been brilliant unfortunately Douglas Marland was not alive to write it ! My glorious Terry Lester was brilliant with the DID storyline on ATWT that Doug wrote then he passed away and poof the story went to hell! I would love if we had some of those brilliant minds back again not sure we will ever get back to the glory days ! Bottom line if Jason wins I will not have a problem he is a good actor just had some crap writing !i have major heartburn on what GH… Read more »

Patricia Wragg
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Patricia Wragg

I love Jason as Billy Abbott!! I truly hope that he wins

Maddy Hayes
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Maddy Hayes

Team Jason

Claudio
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Claudio

I love Jason, he deserves to win the Daytime Emmy. Jason is a wonderful actor.

General Hospital

GH’s Finola Hughes, Marcus Coloma & Josh Swickard Talk On 15,000th Episode Milestone

The juggernaut that is ABC’s General Hospital, is marking yet another accomplishment in its storied 59-year-history.  The iconic soap opera is set to air on Wednesday, June 22nd (unless preempted), its 15,000th episode.

As part of the celebration, General Hospital’s Finola Hughes (Anna Devane), Marcus Coloma (Nikolas Cassadine) and Josh Swickard (Chase), who all appear in the standalone episode, chat with Michael Fairman to mark the occasion.

During the conversation now on You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Finola and Marcus, and later Josh, who logged on later while at Disneyland, discuss: their beginnings on GH from landing their respective roles, who in the cast perhaps most intimated them, at first, and what it has meant to be part of the legacy of General Hospital.  In addition, Finola, Marcus, and Josh reveal some of their more challenging storylines, and more.

Photo: ABC

Later, the trio each gives us a tease of what’s to come now that Nikolas has slept with Esme (Avery Pohl), what lies ahead for Anna and her love-interest Valentin (James Patrick Stuart), and Josh talks on working with his on-screen love-interest, Amanda Setton (Brook Lynn Quartermaine).

Watch for a special appearance by GH’s Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos) within the interview, as we do a deep-dive of being part of the ensemble cast.

We also take a moment to send out our condolences to Kristina (Felicia) and Jack Wagner (Ex-Frisco) on the passing of their son, Harrison, and how you can donate to the scholarship fund in his honor.

Check out our GH 15K interview with Finola, Marcus, and Josh below, and make sure to ‘subscribe’ to the Michael Fairman Channel for more upcoming features, interviews, and upcoming Daytime Emmy red carpet coverage.

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Interviews

Sean Kanan Talks On The New Season of His Streaming Series ‘Studio City’ and The Life and Times of B&B’s Deacon Sharpe

The second season of the Emmy-Award winning, digital streaming series, Studio City is now available on Amazon Prime. The six latest episodes bring us back into the series of an aging actor, Sam Stevens, played by soap vet, Sean Kanan, who is one of the stars of the soap opera, Hearts on Fire, in the role of Dr. Pierce Hartley.

Throughout Studio City, viewers go on the journey of Sam’s foibles through life off-camera juxtaposed with his life on-screen. A sundry of delicious characters enhances the premise of the series portrayed by the likes of: Carolyn Hennesy, Anna Maria Horsford, Justin Torkildsen, Lilly Melgar, Tristan Rogers and more, all names familiar to soap fans.

While Sean is busy promoting the latest season of Studio City, and his book Way of the Cobra, he is also continuing to appear on The Bold and the Beautiful as bad boy – trying to straighten out his life after years in prison – Deacon Sharpe.  Since his return last year, Sean has been mixing it up in stories with the likes of Kimberlin Brown (Sheila) and Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke).

 

In this chat with Michael Fairman TV, Sean weighs-in on: what could be next for B&B’s Deacon, the struggles and the joys of continuing his streaming series, and the homage Studio City is to the soap genre and much more. Check out what he had to share below.

Courtesy/StudioCity

How challenging was it to shoot this season of Studio City?

SEAN:  When we do this thing on a shoestring, everything needs to fall into place in order for it to happen properly.  We know that everybody involved with the show was going to potentially get other projects, or do other things   One of the biggest issues we have, is that a lot of times, we didn’t know what locations we had because Studio City is the real world, and then it’s the show within a show (Hearts on Fire).  So, with the show within a show, those actors aren’t in the ‘real world’. For instance, Tristan Rogers (Doc), is only in the ‘real word’, so, if we have a location that isn’t for the ‘real world’, we can’t shoot Tristan because he doesn’t exist there.  We would have to literally decide what we were writing (sometimes the night before) based on the locations we could get.  It was just an enormous challenge.

Sarah Brown (Laurie) was not a part of the newest six episodes as well as some others cast members. Will she and others be back at some point?

SEAN:  Sarah was directing a podcast, and we kind of had to look at who was available to us, and what stories we needed to tie-up, and hopefully we are going to wind up doing another five episodes to finish up this season.  Then, hopefully we are able to get the actors who weren’t able to do the first six to come back and do the second five.

What I liked about the new six episodes is that I thought you built-in some really solid scenes for the actors.  How did you feel about the outcome?

SEAN:  We make the best show that we can make with the resources and time that we have.  I was glad that we got to develop the story a little more with Delilah (Juliet Vega), Sam’s would-be-daughter.  We always try to do something that’s socially responsive, and diversity is certainly and important issue in Hollywood, without a doubt, but I also think that you need to see the comedic side of everything.  I thought there was some really funny stuff about that with Sam doing the podcast and the scene with Anna Maria Horsford (Jolene) and Will Roberts (Dennis), where she comes in, and she’s like, “The production is too white.”  I thought that was some funny stuff there.  I loved the monologue my wife, Michele, wrote for Carolyn Hennesy (Gloria) about the soaps – that thing about how all of the soaps are dead, and Carolyn just railed in support of the soaps, about the soaps being this dependable thing.  For a lot of people, soaps are their point of emotional contact.

Photo: StudioCity

I talk to fans all of the time and for many times soaps are their lifeline.  Your character, Sam, lands a part in action-adventure film and screws that all up while on set. Where did that plot point come from?

SEAN: It came from a couple different places.  I think that there is not a male actor alive, who some part of him doesn’t harken back to when he was a little boy and doesn’t want to be an action star.  I think the funny thing about it is, of course, Sam is right on the precipice of being over the hill for it, and he’s not going to let that stop him.  Natalie Burn (Shelby Brock) is a legit action star.  She’s a terrific martial artist.  Our director, Timothy Woodward Jr. has done some action movies.  So, we sort of said, “Okay, we’ve set this thing up where Sam wants to get this film.  Let’s give him the film and have him struggle abysmally.”  Marching orders for Studio City are always to keep as much mishigas on Sam’s shoulders as we can.  You never want to see the lead of your show succeeding wildly because that diffuses all of the conflict.  I do think I’ve had some really great dramatic stuff.  I really liked the scenes that I had with Delilah in the sixth episode, and I loved the stuff with Tristan, and I loved the stuff with Lilly Melgar (Becky).  I thought it was really funny.  Lilly killed it and so did Justin Torkildsen (Jacob).  I thought Justin was great.

Courtesy/StudioCity

I thought when you utilized on-camera testimonials from the cast and the EP, that was really a hilarious piece to add to the story.

SEAN:  That was great.  I’d love to take credit for that, but it was Tim’s idea, and it was a really great idea from a production standpoint, because you can do one of two things.  You can either do a whole show where you’re using those, or you can chop them up and use them throughout different shows. From a production standpoint, we had to build some things into the show to insert those when we needed.

Courtesy/StudioCity

You also cast celebrity publicist, Anthony Turk, as a network executive in the series.

SEAN:  Yes. Way back when I created Studio City, there was a part for a publicist, and I had talked to Anthony about doing it.  We had eliminated the publicist part until Lilly became the publicist; which ended up in a completely different plot point.  I always knew I wanted to put Anthony in the series, because I think he’s a good actor. I was like, “You know, I didn’t write this part for you, but I think you can do it,” and I was really happy with how he did it.

 

Courtesy/StudioCity

I also liked the scene with Anna Maria Horsford’s Jolene where she tells Sam to keep his mouth shut while he is working on set. 

SEAN:  She is so fabulous.  I love that woman.  She is such a talent, and I was so happy when she got nominated for a Daytime Emmy last year.  I have such an affection for everybody on our show, because they really put their heart and soul in it, and it just means so much that they show up, and they support, and they do great work.

What I noticed is that the way Timothy Woodward Jr. captures you as an actor.  There is so much going on in the reaction in your eyes of what is happening to Sam.  He realizes the, “Oh, my God,” of each situation as he realizes what he just stepped into, or he finds the humor in it, or when he lets out his frustration, as he did with his daughter in the sixth episode.

SEAN:  That was one of my favorite scenes.  I wrote that one.   It was great because it’s my real-life stepdaughter, and I thought she really stepped up, and I was so proud of her.

For the first time in the realignment by the television academies, Studio City will now be competing at the Primetime Emmys instead of the Daytime Emmys, if the series receives nominations.  How do you feel about that?

SEAN: We are really excited to be competing with the big dogs now at the Primetime Emmys, and rather than being intimidated by it, we are saying, “This is the universe opening up and saying, ‘this is what you need to do,’ and so let’s embrace it.”  It’s going to be exciting.  In my 35 years in the business, I’ve never been to the Primetime Emmys.  So, we shall see.

Photo: StudioCity

Justin Torkildsen’s role greatly expanded this season.  In story, do you see Jacob attempting to thwart his Aunt Gloria and take control of Hearts on Fire as the EP? 

SEAN:  I don’t know if the goal is for him to take over for Gloria.  It certainly was a lot of fun to see what happened when he got just a little taste of power.  He’s got his own agenda, and I also love that he wants the love from his Aunt Gloria.  He’s not just a young guy trying to ascend the power ladder of the show.  He really does want his aunt to be proud of him and to love him, and she’s a tough nut to crack.

There was scene after the network executive tells Gloria, “You’re out, if you don’t fix the show.”  Doesn’t Jacob gloat in it for a minute?  Doesn’t he want payback for how she treats him?

SEAN:  I don’t know if he does.  I think he certainly does like to see when Gloria gets her little comeuppances, but when push comes to shove, I think he’s really got her back, I do.  Justin is so naturally funny.  He’s a great guy to have on set.  He’s got a great attitude, and he’s a very good actor.  I was really struck by a moment in season one where he’s coming up the stairs, and he had this abject fear of interrupting Gloria, and Justin didn’t have any lines.  He just played it beautifully with no dialogue.  I was like, “We’ve got to give Justin more to do,” and for me, it was nostalgic to work with him again because the very first scene I had on The Bold and the Beautiful was with Justin.

Photo: JPI

What can you say about Carolyn Hennesy; who often is the quintessential scene-stealer in Studio City when she appears on-screen?  Does she go with the script or ad-lib parts of the dialog?

SEAN:  She’s a gorgeous, red-haired, flaming beast.  She definitely did some wonderful ad-libbing to elevate what was on the page, and she made it her own, and that’s one of the things that I love the most about her.  I love that I can write a 20-page scene and give it to, for example, Tristan Rogers, 20 minutes before and know that he’s going to nail it.  That’s one of the things that I love about working with Daytime actors.   Say what you want, but when the chips are down, and your back is against the wall, a Daytime actor is going to be the one who can take the dialogue, digest it quickly, and give you a good performance.  With the way that we are run and gun in our style of shooting, you have to move really quickly.  I’ve worked on a lot of films, and with people who are recognizable in the business, and sometimes they get overwhelmed when they have more than a couple of pages in a day … and you know what we do in Daytime.

Courtesy/StudioCity

When you were writing the new season with Michele and Tim, was it laid out pretty definitively, or did it evolve?

SEAN:  We laid out some large arcs.  We knew the storyline that we wanted to do with Natalie and with Will.  Natalie, actually joined us as a co-executive producer.  She is Ukrainian and has family there.  So, she had a lot going on.  I just feel like she really stepped up.  She really helped the production both as an actress and as a Co-EP, and we were very fortunate to have her, and have her at a time when it would be completely understandable when her ability to even act would have been compromised, yet alone have the facility to Co-EP.  In addition, we knew we wanted to deepen the relationship between Sam and Delilah.  We had a different idea with what we wanted to do with Doc, and we wound up doing something another way than what we had originally discussed.  Sometimes, you have to make these decisions that are sort of production-based and you have to alter storyline.  Of course, we knew we wanted to continue to create the storyline that like a lot of soaps, Hearts on Fire was potentially on the chopping block.  At the same time, we really wanted to illustrate that the soaps are full of people who are talented, gifted actors, who love what they do, they work really hard, and they don’t always get the respect that they deserve.

Courtesy/StudioCity

It looks like Doc might be having a change of heart?  Will he begin chemo to save his life?

SEAN:  That’s what we are thinking, and we are hoping to bring Patrika Darbo back in, and finding out where she’s been and having some really nice scenes between, she and Doc.  I think things are going to develop between Dennis, who is the producer, and my character, Sam, and we are going to learn that all has not been revealed of who Dennis really is.

Courtesy/StudioCity

What did you think when you saw your performances in the latest six of Studio City?

SEAN:  I’m always super critical of myself.  I like the stuff with the podcast because I thought it was really organic, and I thought it was funny.  I loved the stuff with Lilly.  I always see things that I could fix and do better, but I also saw stuff that I liked, and I really liked a lot of what was going on with Juliet.  We had another take where Sam really breaks down, and unfortunately, we had a sound problem with that one, and we couldn’t use it.  That was really crushing to me, but again, you make the show that you can make. Michele and I always joke and say, “Making a 50-million-dollar movie is easy.  You want to really produce something?  Produce it when you have no money.”

Photo: JPI

What did your wife, Michele, say about how she thought the latest season of Studio City turned out? 

SEAN:  I do have to say that Michelle really stepped up this season of Studio City.  She ran the show.  She is an executive producer, but she was also the supervising producer, in charge, responsible for crewing up.  She amazes me to no end.  I couldn’t be prouder of her, and I’m so honored that she and I were able to both win out at the Daytime Emmys.  We have very different skillsets, which is great.  There are not a lot of areas where we overlap, but we compliment, and that’s why I love working with her.

Photo: JPI

You are also busy with The Bold and the Beautiful.  How has this most recent return been for you as Deacon Sharpe?

SEAN:  Oh, my God, it’s been fantastic.  The Bold and the Beautiful consistently ranks as one of the best professional experiences that I have ever had.  I love the people I work with.  I love the creative freedom that I have on the show.  I love what they write for me.  It’s just great.  Listen, I’ve done four Daytime shows, and by far and away, this has been the best experience.   It’s a great role.  I’m the only guy who has ever played Deacon, so I’m fiercely protective of the character.  I know I’m coming into a really big storyline right now, which is very exciting.  I can’t say anything about it yet, but I’m going to be working with a character who I haven’t worked with very much before, which is very exciting.

Photo: JPI

What did you think about Kimberlin Brown receiving an Outstanding Supporting Actress Daytime Emmy nomination? I believe you are in some of her submitted scenes.

SEAN:  I think it’s incredibly well-deserved. She just brought so much to it, and I’m just honored that I was able to be a part of what she did.

People are saying you’re going to get all wrapped-up in the Li (Naomi Matsuda) Sheila, and Finn (Tanner Novlan) storyline.

SEAN:  Well, I guess I already am to a certain extent.  I like to think that in his infinite wisdom, Brad Bell (head writer and executive producer, B&B) knew that Kimberlin and I would find humor in an eccentric relationship; rather than just being two kinds of ‘baddies’.  Deacon is not nearly as bad as Sheila, but rather than be two people with somewhat aligned wants and needs, I think hopefully Brad was like, “I think they’re going to come up with something interesting,” and I think we did.   The fight that Deacon had with Ridge (Thorsten Kaye), that is not something that you see on Daytime all the time.  That was really exciting and fun.

Photo: JPI

I love that Deacon’s home-away-from-home is the supply closet!

SEAN:  I was teasing Brad.  I said, “If I get a raise, do I get a Swiffer?”  I love it.  In terms of Sheila and Deacon, I didn’t know if we were going to wind up in the sack together or not, and I thought, you know, if that happens, that would be interesting, too.  By my calculations, Deacon has now been out of jail for how long, and he has not gotten any action.  No action for a guy who just got out of prison for 5 years.  So, I don’t know what’s going on in that broom closet. (Laughs)

What was it like working with Katherine Kelly Lang during the whole ‘New Year’s Eve drunken night with Brooke’ story?

SEAN:  You know, Kelly and I really were able to capture lightening in a bottle many years ago, and I think it was wonderful.  I always wondered, what was going to happen all this time later if we worked together again?  Are we going to be able to come up with something great?  I love working with her.  Poor Kelly, just broke her ankle, which is terrible, but she is a champ.

Photo: JPI

Do you think there is still chemistry between Brooke and Deacon?

SEAN:  Yeah, I do.  I try to create chemistry with anyone I work with, men or women, but don’t we do that in life?  We always want to be interesting and sexy with anyone we talk to.  Ultimately, what we are trying to do on some level, is we are always seducing as human beings.  That’s where I come from as an actor.  You’ve got a goal.  You’ve got a series of actions that you use to get the goal.  You usually fail a couple times in the scene, so you change the actions, and you try to overcome the obstacles.

Right, and seduce people …

SEAN: … And seduce.  Deacon is a very adept seducer.  I think a lot of it was from being a conman.  I think now, Deacon is finding that he can be seductive by being authentic.  I think that’s new to him.  I think ultimately, when you’re authentic, that’s a way more powerful brand of seduction than something that is some sort of a manufactured, fabricated, external seduction.

Photo: JPI

So, what would say in a tease of what’s coming up for Deacon on B&B?

SEAN:  All I can say is that I’ve been told that I’ll have an exciting story coming up, and I’m looking forward to it.  I always like when I get the ball, and you never know what another actor is going to bring out of you.  Whenever I work with someone who I haven’t worked with, I hope that they are going to allow me to tap into a part of myself that maybe I haven’t demonstrated before.  That’s what I look for, and that’s what keeps me enthused in this job.  We do have to give the same information a lot in Daytime.  That’s just the nature of the beast.  The challenge is, “How do I do this in a way that is not only interesting for the audience but allows me to stay engaged as an actor?”  If you start getting apathetic as an actor, you start doing bad work, and I can’t do that.

Have you checked out the latest six episodes of Studio City? What do you hope happens next for Deacon on The Bold and the Beautiful? Share your thoughts and theories in the comment section below.

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General Hospital

General Hospital’s Nancy Lee Grahn Chats On Her Daytime Emmy-Nominated Performance and Its Significance

When the nominations were revealed for the 49th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, General Hospital mainstay, Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis Davis), was recognized for her stunning work in the Alexis-centric standalone episode which honored her 25th anniversary with the ABC daytime drama series.

Grahn, is already a two-time Daytime Emmy winner.  She won back in 1989 in a tie for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her work as Julia Wainwright on Santa Barbara along with All My Children’s Debbi Morgan, and again received the honors in that category in 2012 for her work on General Hospital.

Now. she is vying for the gold in 2022 in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category against other formidable actresses including: B&B’s Kimberlin Brown, DAYS Stacy Haiduk, Y&R’s Melissa Ordway, and her GH castmate, Kelly Thiebaud.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Nancy to talk about her decision to enter the Emmy race this year, her powerful and moving scenes, why this nomination is significant and important to her, and her take on some very important social issues of our time.

Always candid, insightful, combined with great humor and wit, here’s what Nancy had to share below, and make sure to check out GH this week when sparks fly between Alexis and Gregory (Gregory Harrison). Will he turn out to be the new beau in Alexis’ life? Stay tuned.

Courtesy/ABC

Congratulations on the Emmy nomination.  How do you feel about being in the running again, especially with the material from your 25th anniversary episode?

NANCY:  You know, I don’t submit myself if I don’t think I have something, and I didn’t last year.  This year, I had the one show, and the first reason I submitted myself was I had the episode that was worthy of the competition. These judges have to sit, and watch this stuff, and very often, it’s hard to watch soap opera scenes.  It really is, unless you’re in it.  It’s a different kind of material that most primetime people aren’t used to watching.  So, it’s tricky business.  I don’t want to put them through anything too awful. I don’t want to torture them and I’ve judged before. It can be a bit tedious. So, for me to submit myself, I thought, it has to be something that isn’t going to torture another human being. The second thing is, older women get marginalized the older they get, and they get diminished very often, and every time we get nominated, it means something different to me.  This time, to me, I want it to somehow be symbolic, or a shoutout to women who are still producing, who have been doing their job for a long time and are still doing it good enough, and that it’s still worthy of respect and recognition.

When we were at the GH Convention back in March, I played the scene on-stage for the fans in attendance of when Alexis goes over to the corner of Kevin’s office and heals her younger self.  You saw the reaction just from the fans.  It’s such a beautiful moment within the story.  What did you think about how the standalone episode was crafted?

NANCY:  It was a different experience for me because GH co-head writers Chris Van Etten and Dan O’Connor, and script writer, Scott Sickles gave it the attention, but even more to that, they allowed me to participate in the creation of it.  They allowed the director, Phideaux Xavier, to participate.  We all sat in a room.  They said, “You know what?  Make it how you’re comfortable with it.”  There were so many people who gave it time and effort, and Phideaux gets a lot of credit because he came up with a lot of ideas.  So, the little girl in the therapy room wasn’t initially a part of it.  That was Phideaux’s idea, and they let us alter things, and they allowed me to write some words that meant something to me with the character.  Our producers, Michelle Henry and M.K Weir, who I both adore, were also a part of this.

Courtesy/ABC

That is great to hear that you were involved in the collaborative process of the creation of the episode.

NANCY:  We read through the whole script, and we worked it like you would on primetime. We went through it like, “Does this moment work?  Does that moment work?  Does this make sense?  Does that make sense?”  We never do that in soaps.  We don’t get to that.  So, it was a gift to me.  It really was. Chris and Dan, and Scott and Phideaux, and the two producers, generosity in gifting me that experience and making sure that it was to everybody’s liking, was really very special to me, and it meant a lot.

Did you come up with the key lines which summarized Alexis as a person and her journey: “I’m Alexis Davis, and I’m a fighter, and an idealist and an advocate?”

NANCY:  No. They designed it, but we were allowed to enhance and contribute creatively to it, and, we don’t normally have the time to do that.  They don’t have the time to – and you can’t allow people to do that with every episode, to be creatively participating, because it would turn into madness with everybody.

Then, when it came down to choosing the scenes from your anniversary episode to include for your Emmy submission, was that a challenging process of which moments to go with?

NANCY:  I just told a little story with it with the time that I had, and so, I edited it with a friend of mine.  I did a sort of pre-edit on it, I’m good at that, and handed the timeline to our editor, who nicely put it together. It took very little effort.

In my humble opinion, I think that episode featured one of your all-time best performances.

NANCY: Thank you. There was a nice effort from everybody, from the lighting to everybody else, and all the effort Phideaux put into it.  He worked so hard on that!  It was fun for us.  It was like the old days where you really got to work something out.

Photo: ABC

It truly harkened back to everything we knew up to that point about Alexis and her past as well, and included a montage of scenes over the years.

NANCY:  I think it was M.K. who put that together, but when you’re working at the pace we’re working now, to have to sit and put together a montage of twenty-five years, that’s not an easy feat.  Nobody has time for that anymore, but they did it, and like I said, it was really, really appreciated.  My only thought with it is that I wanted it to be relatable to other people.  I didn’t want it to just be some, you know, self-indulgent Alexis episode. I knew that by bringing in the little girl and talking about people being hurt in their childhood and how that makes somebody feel that it was probably relatable to many people, and so it became meaningful to other people and not just me.

Do you think you’ll attend the Daytime Emmys? I know the last time you won you were not present.

NANCY:  Yeah, I’m planning on it.  I mean, barring anything happening! (Laughs)

Does it feel nice to be recognized by your peers?

NANCY:  Of course, it does.  It always does, and way too often, women who are still producing well in their jobs, don’t get the respect and the acknowledgment for it.  So, that’s why I’m saying, this is no small thing, and that I want other women to know that I know that, and that I wish for them the same thing.

What was the reaction of your daughter, Kate and your fiancé, Richard, when you told them you were Emmy-nominated?

NANCY:  Richie goes, “What is this?  Your 18th nomination?” (Laughs). You know what I mean?  It was just kind of like, “Yeah, sure, why wouldn’t you be?” It wasn’t like, “Oh, my God!”  It was like they kind of expected that.  That was nice!  I’m glad they feel that way.  I’m glad they weren’t surprised.  They were like, “Sure!  Of course, you would be.  Why wouldn’t you be?”  I said, “You know, it doesn’t always work like that!”

Photo: JPI

Now comes the part of having to find a dress and all that goes with it for the red carpet.  Do you enjoy that part?

NANCY:  No, I hate that part.  That is my… oh ‘boohoo’, you know?  I mean, I have to find something to wear.  Also, the older you get, that becomes so much less important, and the more makeup, and the more hair, and the more foofy, the more ridiculous I look. I start looking like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.  You’ve just got to keep it simple.

You were talking about women and ageism.  Do you not feel that also exists for men?

NANCY:  It exists for men, but it’s not at all on the same par as women.  I mean, men still get paid more than women, and men still are valued more than women.  I mean, there are exceptions, but if you look in any place of employment, even the soaps, you will typically find the men making more money than the women, and the older the women get, the less they get.  Life’s not fair right now.  It’s fairer than it was, but still the equality game is not won yet.

Photo: JPI

I know how much all of this means to you in terms of equality for women, and people being run out of their jobs because of their age.

NANCY:  It’s just a reality.  It’s not something that I’m hopeless about, but I have a story to tell.  I’ll tell it when the time is right.  It’s life!  It happens in every field everywhere.  When my mom was 70, she was still producing the exact same way she was producing when she was 30, and she got run out, and was replaced by a man who was 40 or something, and there was no particular reason for it.  It was just, “You’re done.  We decided you’re done,” but like I said, it happens everywhere, in every line of work, and that’s why I just wanted to give a shout-out, when you still, after 36 years, can be recognized or shown respect or acknowledgment for what your do.  It’s a very big deal that I am appreciative of and grateful for.

So, rooting for Nancy to win the Outstanding Supporting Actress prize? Happy she was nominated for her work in the the milestone episode devoted to Alexis? Share your thoughts in the comment section below, and to tune-in to the 49th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on CBS and streaming on Paramount+ on Friday night, June 24th.

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Cameron Mathison talks with Michael Fairman on taking on the role of GH’s Drew Cain, the latest developments in Port Charles for Drew. his busy career outside of soaps and the loss of his mother and his public battle with cancer.Leave A Comment
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