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Y&R’s Jess Walton Dishes On Her 30-Year Milestone As Genoa City’s Jill!

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Photo credit: JPI Studios

August has been a month of celebration for The Young and the Restless enduring star, Jess Walton.  The two-time Daytime Emmy-winning actress has played the one and only Jill for now 30 years in Genoa City.  Not an easy milestone to reach, or feat in the world of soap operas.

On Friday, August 18th, at a gathering in her honor: cast, crew, CBS and Sony executives, and Y&R creatives came together to praise and thank Jess Walton for her outstanding performances and efforts as a legacy member of the number-one daytime drama series.  From Y&R’s executive producer and now head writer Mal Young, to Sony’s Steve Kent and Jason Clodfelter, to Walton’s cast mates, Peter Bergman (Jack), Kate Linder (Esther), and Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki), everyone shared fond memories, and their love for Jess, and her one-of-a-kind brilliance, that has made Jill a character soap fans have either loved to love, or loved to hate for over three decades.

When it was her turn to speak, Walton noted those along the way who helped her and meant so much to her with some touching and humorous stories including those of her longtime scene partner, the late Jeanne Cooper (Katherine). In a surprise for Walton, Y&R producer, Jimmy Freeman put together a clip package of memorable Jill moments through the years illustrating the series love for Jess. 

On-Air On-Soaps sat down with Jess following the tribute in her honor to get her thoughts on the 30-year celebration, and her fantastic series run.  To kick things off though, here is what a few of her co-stars had to say about Jess on her big day.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Peter Bergman (Jack): “People always ask who my favorite person to work with is, and I always say Jess Walton, because I have so much fun history with the character of Jill, and our scenes just play themselves.”

Sharon Case (Sharon):  “Jess is amazing.  I have watched her work over the years.  My favorite storyline with Jess was with Jerry Douglas as John Abbott, when they were having a custody battle over baby Billy!  That was just so well-written, and performed so well that it was one of my all-time favorite storylines on Y&R.  Jess is a really powerful actress, and she is so talented that she can play anything. 

JESS WALTON INTERVEW

Jess, you mentioned when you got up to address those in attendance, and to make your speech that it’s hard for you to speak publicly.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

JESS:   Yes.  I don’t like public speaking.  I hate it!  It was harder than I expected and I didn’t know where to begin, because I had so many ideas in my head and so many memories. When I got up there to speak, I thought I couldn’t possibly fit all of this in; people are waiting for their lunch. (Laughs)  So, I just did a hodgepodge of memories.  I remember one of them was Ed Scott (Ex-EP, Y&R) running down the stage to me a million times at the beginning.  I then remember going to Bill Bell (Creator, Y&R) and saying, “Do I have to cry when it says in the script to cry during a speech, because it would always make me freeze up?”   Bill said, “No. You don’t.”    I went to Ed Scott and told him that, and then Ed said, “I’m going to kill him” (Laughs) Ed did not want me to have permission not to cry, because Ed loved seeing the actors cry. (Laughs)

When you watched the stroll down memory lanes in the clip package that was shown featuring those memorable Jill moments, what was your reaction?

Photo Credit: CBS

JESS:   I loved seeing me when I was younger.  I loved the Jeanne Cooper scenes, and I know it would have been magnificent if she was here with us for this, but I know she is watching. Jeanne shaped me so much, and she was such a strong person, that she made me strong.

I don’t know if you are aware, but so many over the years have told me how phenomenal they think you are as an actress, and many out there, who are your peers,  revere you as one of the penultimate actresses of the genre. 

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

JESS:  I can’t believe that, and I have never felt that!  That’s amazing to me and makes me feel very humbled, because all of that makes me uncomfortable, but I am very proud that people think that.  It’s funny, one of the great things and gifts on being with this show is that you could be really mediocre one day, absolutely feel bad about your performance the next day, and then do a kick-ass job on Thursday. So, you always have another chance. It used to be if you were a guest star on a weekly primetime show, if you blew it during your one shot that was it.  I remember when I felt that.  I would want to kill myself for the next month! (Laughs) Now, the crew and the cameramen at Y&R have seen me be good, bad, and indifferent.  I don’t have to prove a thing to them.  They know what I can do.  You can always do your best work when you feel comfortable, and I feel comfortable when working in front of them. 

In your 30 years, which were the storylines you disliked, or you thought were real stinkers for your character, Jill?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

JESS:   I didn’t like when they sent Jill off into the witness protection program with Bobby played by John Enos. I did not like that; to leave to be the nanny to their baby?  Jill hated Brittany Hodges (Lauren Woodland), who was the mother of the baby, and Jill had worked all her life to be an executive at Jabot.  So when Jill says, “I will just go off with you two and be your nursemaid”, I thought, perhaps, that wasn’t the easiest scene to play.  A similar thing happened when I was in scenes with Michael Nouri (Ex-Elliot Hampton), and his character came in to steal Jabot.  Jill was supposed to run off with him and leave all of her family, friends, and everything she worked for behind.  That was another one where I went, “I don’t think so!” (Laughs)

On the flipside, what has been some of your favorite storylines?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

JESS:  I particularly liked when Jill has both John Abbott (Jerry Douglas) and Rex Sterling (Quinn Redeker) on a string, but they did not know about each other.  I thought that was hilarious, because Jill always had to back herself out of a corner, and it was really a lot of fun.  There was also the storyline with David Kimball played by Michael Corbett.  It wasn’t that long, like maybe two years of the 30 years, but Michael is one of my dearest friends to this day. 

You replaced Brenda Dickson in the role.  What do you recall about that time, and coming on to Y&R as the new Jill?

Courtesy/CBS

JESS:  I did not know much about The Young and the Restless at all, but Nicolas Walker (Ex-Trey Clegg, Capitol) who was my co-star on Capitol, had been on the show for a little bit.  He had come over for a day and filled me in on the story. Nicholas would run lines with me and play Jeanne Cooper’s part as Katherine.  He truly filled me in on a tremendous amount of stuff! 

In closing, you know live in Oregon.  However, when all is said and done, do you want to continue coming back to Y&R, and being part of the fabric of the show?

JESS:  Oh sure, yeah.  I wouldn’t want to do it day in and day out anymore, but I like to come down in chunks.  It has been an amazing run for me on Y&R, and yes, I would like to keep coming back.

Share your congratulations to Jess Walton for her 30 years as Jill Foster Abbott Atkinson in the comment section below.  Then let us know what has been your favorite Jill scene over the three decades, and let us know your thoughts in subjects shared in our conversation with Jess.

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Daianavickie jean spiarsJoy TewMarita LilleySara Ouzts Recent comment authors
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Mateo
Guest
Mateo

Jess Walton is always a breath of fresh air. I love her gritty determination that she shows in each and every scene, be they big or small. Her storylines always true and most often are performed with precision and pure talent. Congrats on 30 years Ms. Walton, I am grateful for each and every one!

Brenda klyce
Guest
Brenda klyce

Jess/Jill thanks for all the tears, the laughter, the love and the tension you so eloquently portray when you come to the show….I’ve watched the Y&R since the beginning and you are one of my favorite charActers. I live in a small southern time and am widowed .. Watching the show I can live vicariously and get a piece of the star lifestyle I would never get without you and the show I really have been enjoying the private pictures of Oregon and you dog. That’s all I have when I come home now and they are just like your… Read more »

diane
Guest
diane

I always loved to hate Jill..lol

Ray
Guest
Ray

Two words: Class act!

JK
Guest
JK

CONGRATULATIONS TO A REAL CLASSY LADY AND WONDERFUL ACTRESS. FROM THE TIME I STARTED WATCHING ,YOUR SCENES WITH JEANNE COOPER WERE AWESOME……TODAY YOU ARE A BREATH OF FRESH AIR AND I HOPE YOU WILL RETURN OFTEN…. THANKS FOR SOME OF THE BEST SOAP MOMENTS EVER.

Paul
Guest
Paul

The show needs Jill but not as a baby sitter for Billy or Cane but as the tremendous talent the actress brings to the character. She could fly in and take down Hilary in one clean swoop, put Victor in his place and even Cane.
I miss the character and the actress

Celia
Guest
Celia

Love you, Jess. You are Queen….the epitome of grace, and in-your-face, savoir faire acting.
Wishing you the best of the best in life……and more Jill, please!!

Lew S.
Guest
Lew S.

Totally miss her on a day to day basis. The show isn’t the same without her. Yes, a class act!

James R. Poissant
Guest
James R. Poissant

I love watching Jess own her scenes. She can really give a powerhouse performance when she has to rise above it.

Helen
Guest
Helen

Jess is the total package! I enjoy every scene she is part of and sincerely hope her presence continues. Living a short distance from Jess, it would be neat to pass her on a sidewalk or spot her out shopping ~~ but alas, no such luck. She deserves privacy and peace and I believe she has found that in OR.

soapqueenforever
Guest
soapqueenforever

I have always loved Jill. She has always been my favorite character. I loved the cat fights she had with Katherine. Classic soap opera at its best. Also the scenes with Jill and Esther have always been priceless. I am hoping we can see more of this class act in upcoming shows. Especially now, that her bbeloved Cane got himself into such a mess. Here’s to hopefully seeing more of the wonderfulness that is Jess Walton in future episodes. And on a side note, and I know what I am about to say has nothing to do with the abovementioned… Read more »

Kevin C
Guest
Kevin C

Soapqueen, I am loving Wyatt and Katie together, wonderful paring and YES, for sure they have chemistry…

Judith
Guest
Judith

I still miss the dynamics between Jeanne Cooper and Jess. What great characters they played. Hopefully Jess can turn up from time to time on Y&R. It always makes me feel good when she’s on. Miss the old days of Y&R.

Celia
Guest
Celia

Yeeeessss, Judith!!!!! Everything you said!!

jaybird369
Guest
jaybird369

CONGRATULATIONS on 30 years…and here’s to MANY MORE!!!!! CHEERS!!!!!

Timmm
Guest
Timmm

See, this is the problem, Jess only wants to come in and work in chunks. NO! Y&R needs that character full time! Jess has earned the right to do what she wants in her life BUT when a production calls for Jill to be front and center, you have to be there. Imagine if Tome Brady only wanted to play 5 or 6 games a year! Its time for Jess to walk away. I love and respect her but they made a mistake not recasting Kathrine and they shouldnt do the same with Jill. Its about the show, not one… Read more »

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

Recasting Katherine Chancellor in anything but a short-term stint, a-la Michael Learned’s tenure, would be a major mistake and insult. As for recasting Jill, it’d be a daunting task, but it would be done. Though, I’d rather see Jess Walton continue her portrayal, even if it is in chunks. But more consistent chunks, than pieces here and pieces there, much like Traci Abbott.

Soaphound
Guest
Soaphound

Amen to that, Timm. Can you imagine the memories Jess Walton must have after 30 years? The scenes with Jeanne Cooper alone must make her proud. I wish we had more flashback scenes of their best tender and/or explosive moments. Not more of this insane Charlie & Mattie takeover!

Tomas Torquemada
Guest
Tomas Torquemada

Everyone deserves a happy retirement. She clearly enjoys hers.

She’s needed. She’s a great actress. But – and I hate saying this – either they retire the character or they recast.

Mo
Guest
Mo

Congratulations! Can’t wait for you to return to Y&R.

damien
Guest
damien

still waiting for tricia cast to return as nina and reignite the jill vs nina feud!
after katherine , nina was jill s second arch nemesis…now that cane s single and broke and a snake maybe he can cozy up to nina?! this could amp up the chancellor war again!
the newmans are tired, give the chancellors some love
…give lily and cane a break, they re better apart. bring back redaric as tyler who had real chemistry with cristell.this jordan characters not cutting it. his lame history with chelsea who is also lame without adams pointless

Barbara from Atlanta
Guest
Barbara from Atlanta

I like Walton and congratulations on the milestone. That being said, Walton has barely been on screen for the past 5 years (averaging about 10 shows a year) that I’m having a hard time with the significance of the event. Mal Young has been with the show for less than 2 years. Anyone else wonder exactly what “memories” Mal Young shared about his time working with Walton on Y&R?? I bet Walton hasn’t been on the show for a total of 30 episodes since Young has been employed there. I like Walton and hope that she is enjoying her (clearly… Read more »

janet
Guest
janet

I do not watch Y&R .Can’t stand eric B, But I loved Jill on Capitol. She was great with Nickolas. She is a very talented actress.

Ann
Guest
Ann

Congratulations Jess – I have enjoyed your portrayal of Jill Abbott over the years – especially your scenes with Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor).

Ann
Guest
Ann

I have also enjoyed the smartalic comments that use to go back and forth between Jill and Jack Abbott when she was married to John Abbott

Gia
Guest
Gia

I miss seeing Jess Walton, Excellent actress.

Jerry
Guest
Jerry

She’s amazing and always has been!

Sara Ouzts
Guest
Sara Ouzts

We love Jill…she is such a professional!

Marita Lilley
Guest
Marita Lilley

I doubt that there is an actress who could fill Jess Waltons’ shoes as Jill! She was/is inimitable in that role!

Joy Tew
Guest
Joy Tew

I have watched Y&R since Jess was a manicurist on the show. Jess is one of the greatest actress and miss her a lot. Wish she was on more often. Love that she shares with us on face book. A beautiful lady!

vickie jean spiars
Guest
vickie jean spiars

My favorite schene was the time Kathryn and Jill’s mom was dying and didn’t know at the time about Jill’s mother whom was actually Kathryn Chancellor. When the time they told Jill, I thought she was going to have a heart attack or just have a moment without words but she was just Jill and said you got to be kidding me. But it was true and Jill’s mom whom raised her all those years wanted Jill to know, because, sorry, can’t remember Jill’s mom at this moment but she like and loved Kathryn and wanted Jill to know and… Read more »

Daiana
Guest
Daiana

Congratulations you are a focal point on Y&R and your bubbly personally can always be felt!! Well deserved !!!

Interviews

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

If you think you’ve seen it all on daytime soap operas, think again! Over the past several weeks viewers of CBS Daytime’s The Bold and the Beautiful have been witness to fashion designer Thomas Forrester’s (Matthew Atkinson) descent into madness, or is it?

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

Photo: JPI

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

 

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

Photo: Gilles Toucas

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

Check out the full interview with Matthew below. 

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

 

 

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Interviews

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo: : Metropolitan Entertainment,

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

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

How does Gordo know the girls in the film?

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

Photo: InheritancePlay

 

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

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

Wait, what?

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

Photo: AP

I think Elizabeth Gillies is terrific in Dynasty.

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

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

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

Photo JPI

But Sainty knew you’d dated Elizabeth?

ERIC:  Yes, she did.

You must have been dying.

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

Photo: Broadway World

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

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

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

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

Photo: Broadway World

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

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

It seems reminiscent of Angels In America, but different.   

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

Courtesy/ENelsen

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

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

How long was it open on Broadway?

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

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

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

And … Ariana Grande? (Laughs)

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

Photo: Prospect Park

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

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

Photo: LANYEntertainment

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

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

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

In story, Daniel chooses Caleb.  Why so?

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

… And Matthew is not a great guy?

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

Photo: LANY Entertaiment

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

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

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

Courtesy/ENelsen

Finally, how is being a dad?

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

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

ERIC:  (Laughs) Yep!

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

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Days Of Our Lives

Peter Reckell Reflects On His Time As DAYS Iconic Bo Brady, Life In New Zealand & Christmas Music Project

Last week, Days of our Lives  turned 55-years young, and the historic long-running NBC daytime drama series has been home to some of the most memorable stars and characters of the soap opera genre, perhaps none more so than anti-hero Bo Brady played by Peter Reckell.

Reckell who appeared on the show for several runs that lasted over four decades, premiered as Bo back in 1983.  He then stayed through 1987, came back from 1990 to 1992, again from 1995 to 2012, and back again in 2015 during DAYS 50th anniversary and to wrap his run as Bo, when the character was killed-off, after Reckell made it clear that he wanted to give the audience closure for the character.  He later made another return in 2016 to help the character of Hope (Kristian Alfonso) move on with her life.  Hard to believe for all of those heart-tugging performances, Peter was nominated only once for a Daytime Emmy.

Photo: JPI

In this candid, deeply personal and enlightening new interview for the Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube, Reckell opens up as to: what led to many of the decisions he made throughout his time as Bo, how he helped craft the role from the start, the accident that almost took his life, how he handled all the fame that came his way as part of the Bo and Hope supercouple pairing, and how two women in the cast; the late Frances Reid (Alice) and Peggy McCay (Caroline) made lasting impressions on him that he will carrying with him for the rest of his life.

Photo: JPI

What would Peter say if somehow DAYS wanted him back and Bo was actually alive and well?  Find out as Peter weighs-in and wishes his former show a happy anniversary  In addition, he even shares how he felt when Robert Kelker-Kelly took over the role of Bo when he decided to leave the show at one point, and his time playing Johnny on primetime’s Knots Landing.

Photo: JPI

Reckell has moved his family to New Zealand, and this conversation was conducted from his home.  Peter is married to singer/songwriter/producer Kelly Moneymaker and the couple have a daughter, Loden.   It was not wanting to miss the moments of his daughter’s life growing up that has been much of the impetus for some of Peter’s career choices.

Photo: BlueAeris

With Christmastime approaching, Kelly and Peter are part of a brand new Christmas LP entitled Joy.  The album is now available for download on Spotify, Apple Music and major music streaming platforms.

In an exclusive during the interview, we give fans a sneak peek of Peter’s new music video for “Under the Mistletoe”, the song he sings that appears on Joy, which was written by his wife.  For more on the album project visit BlueAegis.com

Photo: BlueAegis

Now, check out the interview with Peter direct from New Zealand below! Then share your thoughts on Peter, Bo, and more via the comment section.

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

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